Monday, September 30, 2013

How I Love the Government

Every year for the past few years we have come to the end of September with the two parties struggling to get a federal budget approved before there is a threat to shut down the government. The last time the threat was real was 17 years ago, but it doesn't look promising that we will avoid it this year. All this because the people in Washington cannot act like responsible adults.

Here is one of the latest reports from USA Today on the squabbling and impasses that are mucking up the process. In all of the rhetoric, there is little that is about the welfare of the country and the common man, it is all a power struggle between the two leading parties.

I was curious as to what will happen if the powers that be fail to come to agreement,  and I found this on CBS News online:
If the government shuts down, programs deemed "essential" -- traffic control, airport security, Medicare and food inspections, for example -- will continue to run. But as many as 800,000 federal employees considered "non-essential," including about half of the Defense Department's civilian employees, will be furloughed, with no guarantee of back-pay.
About 20 of the 1,600 national Head Start programs would feel the impact instantly: Grants expiring Oct. 1 would not be renewed, and over time, more programs could be affected. And the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides food and health care referrals to pregnant women and mothers, could be shut down.
Social Security checks and veterans' benefits would likely be held up, since there would be fewer workers to process them. Passport and visa applications could be put on hold, as well as small business and home mortgage lending programs. National parks around the country and Smithsonian museums would be closed.
While monuments in Washington, D.C., would also be closed, the U.S. Capitol building would remain open. Congress is exempted from the furloughs, though some lawmakers have threatened to protest that rule.
 Emphasis mine, as I think it is deplorable that the people who got us into this mess will continue to get paid.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nothing New Today

Obviously did not get a book review up today. Other things kept interfering. One of the not-so-fun-things was trying to understand a customer service rep who did not speak clearly.

Then I had to listen to the most horrid music while on hold. Seemed like it was forever while I waited. I'm sure it was only a few minutes, but audio assault feels like an eternity.

That said, I wanted to move on from what I posted Friday. Moving on is part of the process. As soon as I finish some online business, I'm going to go watch a movie.

This picture has nothing to do with anything in particular. It was just a pretty mushroom I saw this morning in my yard. We had a good rain yesterday and a number of mushrooms have popped up.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Tribute

Earlier this month I posted that there was a death in my family and that is why I would not be blogging very much. I was a bit circumspect - as that is my way - and I was not sure I would actually publicly say who died. Many of my cyber friends do know as I did share privately, but I have always had a reserve about what I share publicly on social media.

Today, however, I do want to share publicly because a dear friend did a wonderful tribute to my husband, Carl. He died September 5th while volunteering at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts where I have been so active in theatre. My husband fully supported my thespian activities, and was even known to take a small role now and then.

Lynn Adler, one-half of the singing duo Adler and Hearne, Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne, did this musical tribute to Carl at a recent concert at the Art Center, and I just wanted to share the video here. Lynn and Lindy also sang at Carl's funeral, along with another talented friend, Shannon Monk, and their gift of music was such a comfort. Lindy did one of his original songs that he wrote with Lisa Aschmann, "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God" and that truly summed up a good part of who Carl was.

Here is the video, which was made by Jim Willis, another dear friend.

This next video is Lindy and Lynn doing "Do Justice, Love, Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gone Fishing

This is from a blog I did a number of years ago when I wanted to share some of my experiences as a hospital chaplain. The blog is called The Many Faces of Grief, and I have been reading some of those older posts as I walk this path of grief. One thing I have discovered is that it is much easier to deal with grief professionally than it is personally.

Anyway, I found this piece about a wonderful experience I had during the years I worked at a hospital, and I thought I would share it.

Sometimes ministry takes strange turns. One wouldn’t necessarily consider fishing a ministry, but in the case of Mr. Charles it was.

Mr. Charles, a retired Presbyterian minister, was our neighbor in Omaha and about a year after his wife died, he was diagnosed with leukemia. It was not the virulent leukemia that kills so many young people, He had Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which is a slow-progressing form of the blood cancer and is very treatable for several years.

I first met Mr. Charles when I was out walking my dogs, and we would pass by his yard. He was one of the few neighbors who would be outside no matter what the weather was like, and we would often chat for a few minutes. He was thrilled to find out that my husband was a minister and that I am a chaplain, finding a common bond in shared ministry.

When I would stop to visit, some of our other conversations revolved around fishing and the great walleyes that could be found in lakes north of us, although Mr. Charles preferred the trout at a lake much closer. One day he told me how much he missed fishing, and I was surprised to find out he was no longer going out. He explained that his children, both of whom lived some distance away, were afraid for him to go out alone now that he was sick, and the friend he used to fish with was no longer able to.

He talked about this a couple more times when I stopped on my daily walk, and finally it hit me that maybe he was really grieving for this loss in his life. I asked if he would like to go fishing with me sometime.

“Oh, I thought you would never ask,” he said.

“But why didn’t you just ask me?”

“Because a black man cannot invite a white woman to go fishing,” he said. “That is the way I was raised. I could never be that forward. But there is nothing in that code of conduct that says I cannot accept your invitation.”

So, for the next year, Mr. Charles and I went fishing about once a week in prime fishing times, stopping only when winter snowed us in.

Sometimes we would talk about the beauty and bounty of God, and other times we would talk about social issues, or books, or whatever topic struck our fancy. That would always be on the drive to and from the lake, however. The time at the lake was spent in quiet contemplation of the warmth of the sun, the gentle splash of water against the dock, the screech of a gull, or the drone of a curious bee circling our can of soda.

Actually catching a fish was never a criterion for measuring the success of a fishing trip.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review- Secrets by Frederick Ramsay

Thank you, Carl, for so graciously sharing another review here. I would be so lost without my friends who are so willing to share blog material, especially now.

By Frederick Ramsay
ISBN: 1590581881
Poisoned Pen Press, August 2005
290 pgs

Small town, male sheriff protagonist, religious murder with larger implications

The sheriff, Ike Schwartz, has retired from the world stage of law enforcement. He likes this small town of Picketsville where most of his time is spent smoozing with the citizens and dealing with the administration of his small department.

The characters in his department are close to being clich├ęs. And we have a classic town vs. gown dance. But every time the novel starts to drift into the ho-hum, a couple of things make a big difference. First, there is Samantha Ryder, a slick, leggy and very bright computer wizard who not only towers over the sheriff in height, but her understanding of the use of computers in law enforcement even in this small municipality, is becoming legendary. That’s particularly true with the sheriff who sometimes can’t find the power switch on the things.

Then there’s the local college president. There’s no denying the attraction between the highly educated, sophisticated president of Callend College and the sheriff, even if an observer might be hard pressed to figure out why. But they don’t really care, except that Sheriff Ike seems to have a predilection for tossing barbed comments at her faculty on frequent occasions. It keeps the relationship fresh.

Then Waldo gets murdered. Now here’s a quiet inoffensive not-very-talented church organist. Who’d want to kill him? And in the very place he works of a Sunday, the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Episcopalian Church. And why did some people think he was a little creepy? Not only that it’s a double tap. That is, twice shot, once dead.

The solutions will amaze and satisfy you in this crisply written novel.


Carl Brookins  BLOG:  -BOOKS:  Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Home-Town Service

My good friend, Slim Randles, may be the Wednesday Guest for the next few weeks, but I didn't think anyone would mind. He always has something fun to read, and the other authors who were scheduled to guest this month understand that I rescheduled their appearances. The graciousness and kindness of so many people has been very comforting. Enjoy....

A building project (for those of us who are carpenterially challenged) can be a confusing nightmare of little whatchits we never learned the name of and have no idea how to use.
Oh, if we need a two by four that's eight feet long, we're on pretty safe ground and can head on over to MundoSlab, the building center that dedicates about half an acre to just tar paper. It's fun going over there just to see what the new foreign doo-dads are for construction this month, and you never know when you'll find something you can't live without. You can buy all the stuff in there from either the kid who mowed your lawn up until a month ago, or from that nice girl your boy used to take to the movies.

But when the real tough parts of a project come along, you know, things that involve plumbing or wiring, there's only one place to go ... the surviving old-fashioned hardware store. MundoSlab coming in sure cut down on the number of old-fashioned hardware stores, but there's always one in every town that survives, and for a good reason.

They have gray-haired guys standing just inside the door to help you find just what you need, even if you don't know what it's called and have no clue how to install it, or even if anyone's invented something to fix this particular problem.

I walked in the hardware store the other day, and a guy with plenty of gray came over and asked if he could help.

"Well," I said. "I have a float thingie on the horse trough that broke. It's that little doo-trammy that's kinda copper-colored and fits on top of the whiz-gidget."

Without breaking stride, he looked at me and said, "Right-hand threads, or will you need an adaptor?"

Let's see MundoSlab top that.
Brought to you by Henry Repeating Arms, continuing the tradition of top-quality rifles made completely in America.

If you liked this, you will enjoy Slim's book, Home Country, which is a compilation of essays similar to this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm still not feeling very social. This grief work is hard.  Next week I will post some reviews and guest blogs that were scheduled for earlier this month, and hopefully I will slowly get back to a regular routine here.

One thing I learned when I was facilitating grief support groups is that there is no timeline or no right or wrong when it comes to grief issues. It was, however, much easier on the other side.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sale on E-Books

 All Untreed Reads And Distribution Titles On Sale 50% Off This Month At Kobo!

The folks at Untreed Reads just let me know that Kobo is running a special sale for the rest of this month. There is a coupon code that will give readers 50% off their purchase. Every title by Untreed Reads and all of its distribution clients can be purchased at 50% off with the code, and there is no limit.   Nearly one million titles are part of the sale, and the coupon can be reused!

  All books purchased through Kobo are EPUBs, meaning they can be read on every single device or computer in the world except for a Kindle or the Kindle app.
  Kobo has its own free app for all reading devices and computers. The person who notified me said he has it installed on a Mac, an iPad, a Galaxy S3 and a Barnes and Noble Nook.
  Readers from around the world can buy from Kobo, and the markets included in this sale are US, Canada and the UK.
  Kobo has a program that supports your local bookstores and enables your local brick-and-mortar to sell ebooks and stay open.

To take advantage of this promo, simply head over to Kobo. Add as many titles as you'd like to your cart and enter coupon code Sept50 during checkout. This includes all of my books that are distributed through Untreed Reads.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I'll be Away For A While

There has been a death in my family, so that is why I have not put up a new post since Wednesday. I will probably be offline for the next few weeks as I adjust to a new way of life.

Remember to hug the people you love every day and tell them how much they mean to you. You never know when they will be gone.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Be My Guest - Jeremy Hawkins - Silly Things

Welcome to the It's Time blog tour with Jeremy Hawkins as my Wednesday's Guest. Jeremy has been on tour for over a week already, and he has been scrambling his brain on this blog tour. So, instead of offering something of great seriousness, he thought he would change it up a little and share some really silly things and give you a short list of dumb warnings and stupid laws. Now here's Johnny.... no hereeeesssss Jeremy.

I want to thank you all and Maryann for letting me stop over and do a guest post. As she said, I decided to let seriousness go for a day, so here we go with a few things that may make you scratch your head and a few that may even make you laugh. These are some great scattered warnings I've run across from time to time:
  • Keyboard not detected. Press F1 to continue
  • This camera will only work when film is inside.
  • Caution: Avoid dropping air conditioners out of windows.
  • Warning: Do not use while sleeping.
  • Warning: Never iron clothes on the body.
  • This is NOT a life saving device!!!
  • Street closed to traffic when flooded.
  • State Prison: Do Not Stop for Hitchhikers.
  • Do not make grilled cheese in the waffle makers.
  • Warning: Not for Human Consumption.
  • Warning: Do not ignite in face.
  • Warning: For indoor or outdoor use only.
  • WARNING: This bag is not a toy.
  • Some assembly required.
  • Warning: do not use as a floatation devise. Do not ingest.
Did you have a great “Duh” moment, or as Homer would say “Doh”, its funny? Though my favorite is always going to be  coffee  contents might be “Hot”.

 Now, here is a small group of some silly state laws. You know you are in trouble when:
  • Illinois - You may be arrested for vagrancy if you do not have at least one dollar bill on your person.
  • California - It is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale.
  • Washington - When two trains come to a crossing, neither shall go until the other has passed.
  • Wisconsin - State Law made it illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese.
  • Indiana - One man may not back into a parking spot because it prevents police officers from seeing the license plate.
  • Hawaii - You may only have one alcoholic drink in front of you at a time
  • Kansas - Rabbits may not be shot from motorboats.
  • Alabama - It is illegal to wear a fake moustache that causes laughter in church.
  • Alaska - While it is legal to shoot bears, waking a sleeping bear for the purpose of taking a photograph is prohibited.
  • Texas - A recently passed anticrime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed.

Thank you again, if you are interested in entering the giveaway just stop on over my site at the link below.  For those following the tour, next time I give you the Captain!

The above cover is book two of a four book series, each 40 pages long. The books contain artwork of things I have designed over the years. It's a mish-mash of images that I saw in my head... and some are future designs that will become shirts. The books include places I wanted to go artistically, traveling from where I was to where I am now. Is has been a great journey! Titles came from time "12:34, 35, 36 and 37”as it seems that is when my best ideas came to me... day or night. It's funny I never considered myself a "writer" just a man who likes to paint a canvas, whether the paint be words or images. 

As part of the tour there are some great prizes being given away; books, artwork and more. Please stop over at my main page “BEING RETRO” and look just below the header for the “It’s Time” Tour Giveaway link and enter today.

Thank you to all who took the “time” to read this… you are all the best.

Jeremy Hawkins
Being Retro

Buy the books at Amazon

Monday, September 02, 2013

Happy Labor Day

Just a short note this morning to wish all my U.S. readers a happy holiday. For many people this is a special holiday to wrap up the summer and start looking ahead to fall. Families gather for picnics and cookouts, and when I was growing up, this holiday was almost as big as the Fourth of July.

And I fully intend to as soon as I finish this post. LOL
After I married, I was inducted into the Miller family tradition which was to picnic at a local park with the whole Miller clan. The primary celebration was for Mom Miller's birthday, which was September 5th, but it was also a challenge for the kids to cram all the last of the summer fun they could into one day. They played hard until we ran out of daylight, and slept through their baths. Moms and dads were tempted to just fall into bed fully clothed.

The holiday was started to honor the American workers, and I always think of the song, "40-Hour Week" by Alabama. My roots run deep in blue collar America, so this song speaks to me and my family. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

No Book Review Today

Since I thoroughly messed up my blogging schedule by posting a review on Friday, I thought I would just skip it for today. Remember, I said "sometimes a review on Sunday." (smile)

Instead, I want to let you know that this coming Wednesday I have a guest coming, the "Retro" guy, Jeremy Hawkins, who is on the "It's Time" tour to introduce his new books and his new site "Being Retro" where he shares all things retro, and may include a zombie now and then. He is a terrific writer, musician, and artist and has promotional materials available for folks who are trying to spread the word about their business, book, film, music, or whatever. Plus he's just a heck of a nice guy.

I first met Jeremy via the annual Blogging From A to Z Challenge, and even though I don't care for zombies, he let me be on his Minion Team last April. It was fun working with him, and I am so excited for his new venture. Plus I like his website better with fewer zombies on it. (smile)

He sent me some pictures from his books, and they are terrific. Not all are my style, but he already knows my taste in art, music and books is more traditional. However, I can appreciate his talent, and he does have some lovely pictures that satisfy this traditional soul. I do love the covers of the first two books. Here is book one, and you can see book two cover on Wednesday. And the book titles, as well as the name of this tour will all make perfect sense. I'll admit I wondered about the titles.

Please do come back on Wednesday to see what he has ready to share with us. In the meantime, you can catch up with his tour schedule on his Being Retro site.

I also wanted to mention a terrific Labor Day sale going on at Untreed Reads. Many of the books and short stories there, including some of mine, are discounted 40% through Monday. No special codes needed. Just go pick out the book of your choice and get it for the lower price. You can get any of my short stories, including the popular retelling of the Goldilocks story, The Visitor.