Monday, December 22, 2014

In my lifetime

I have lived in a world that has changed dramatically throughout my lifetime. I was born in the days of the Cold War. For you environmentalists, I'm not talking about the fight over global warming. The world war had ended only a decade before (give or take), and the world was divided into two camps. It was us versus them. It became a decades long struggle for territory and political gain. It took many years and thousands of lives before the game was settled, at least for some.

Fifty years has come and gone and a tiny island is cemented in the past. The lone satellite of Cuba has remained committed to its fervent revolution. Well, at least its leaders have. Fidel Castro has remained a thorn in the side of the most powerful nation in the world. And his people have suffered for it.

So what has changed? How has the foreign policy of the US tilted that nation away from its revolution? It hasn't. That's the point. It's always been said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Although I have no 'dog in the fight', this has always been a subject that has sparked my imagination. I fully understand there is a long line of Cuban nationals living in the US that will do everything in their power to fight the change in policy. I won't fault them for it.

What I will ask them to consider is this: where is the outrage of the Cuban people who still live on the island? Why is it the only ones objecting are the ex-pats and their families who are tucked away on US soil? Their outrage is at history. Fidel Castro and his regime is faltering. The island is changing right before his eyes; an agonizingly slow process, but it is a process nonetheless.

Where better to be than at the vanguard of this change? The US has been able to do little to the Cuban leaders other than to keep their people impoverished. It's time for a change. The change will take time. Not everything will happen overnight, or in a year, or even in a decade. But their revolution is grinding to a halt. Its legs have given way and all that will be left as the Castro brothers die is a vacuum to be filled by someone else.

If you want to effect change on a tiny island ninety miles off our shores, it seems the only way to do that would be to actually stand on the island, without a rifle in your hand. It's time the Cuban population who lives in the US swallow their hatred so they can help their people into this century.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Twilight before tomorrow

I watch as the sun sets, its rays slipping below the horizon. My abode, silently lingers on the threshold of tomorrow. I feel the heat lapping from the hearth, tickling the stockings hanging by a cut nail in the mortar.

Above, I hear the slumber of young ones, tucked tightly beneath a winter's blanket to fend off the cold. I long for the call of a pillow, soft as new-fallen snow and I slide between linens cool to the touch. I snuggle close and inhale the breath of My Beloved as she nestles deep within her comforter.

Before I am able to surrender to night's lament, an unnatural call beckons from beyond my wall of solitude and my curiosity is bent upon exploration. My eyes behold the solitude of a pristine world caressed by the kiss of a winter's moon. The crescent light reveals a tiny traveler whose cherub face sings to his herd in the silent world.

His flight of fancy screams skyward, rocketing above the fold in which I am now embraced. My eyes, once tired and dreary widen to embrace the magic of his world. I fall back onto my bed as the sounds above me tap their way across my rooftop. I am aghast.

As quick as a dart, I dash from my room toward the halls below. My thoughts outpace me as I scamper down the stair, the rails aglow, polished by the light dancing from the chimney. I stop and stare in amazement as my visitor steps cleanly across the hearth, its bricks laden with fresh-cut wood, his cloak awash in pillows of soot.

His thick hand straightens his cap as he turns, his eye inspecting the table for his work this night. His cheeks are alight with a thousand years of joy as he slings his pack to the floor, its contents now a torrent of treasure awash across the worn, broad planks. The sparkle of wrapping and bows, enlivens my soul.

My chuckle slips to his ear as he turns and winks, his nod an acknowledgement of the secret we shall both keep this night, a night that lifts my heart to the heavens. He is gone in the blink of an eye and I am left with only the crackling flames dancing upon the logs on this winter's night.

"Twas the Night Before Christmas"

Monday, December 8, 2014

The List

It's that time of year again. Yes, I'm asked to put up a list so my family will know what to tell Santa to get me for Christmas. I'm fairly certain Santa already knows this, as we have been long-time pen pals since I was a wee lad. Okay, so Santa never actually wrote back, but hey, he gets a lot of letters. He can't respond to them all.

As I have grown older, my list gets shorter and shorter. It has almost been non-existent for years. Occasionally I run into something I need. The last couple years it was a two-wheel dolly, some might call it a truck, for around the house. It only took Santa three years to get it here. Most years it consists of the same few things, simple for most, I grant you, but needed or wanted by an old man.

What is difficult for me each year is making others understand I don't really require much. I'm about as simple as it comes when the subject of presents comes around. My joy on Christmas morning is watching others open their gifts, my children and theirs, my grandsons and My Beloved. If I get a tube of socks and a nice bag of licorice, I'm happy.

So, now comes the list my family has been begging me for.
Black socks
Black licorice (Twizzlers suck, don't bring that crap)
A nice bottle of bourbon to keep me warm during the winter
A nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (does the same thing the bourbon does)
Ear buds - my cheap $4 pair quit working, one side of it at least

I don't have a lot of material needs in my life. I truly enjoy the season for what it is, commercialized and all. The nice thing about it is it is not confined to a single day, but it is a season to be enjoyed. As a retailer, I do wish it didn't start the way it does. Those who work in stores and restaurants must give up so much of their time for the good of the business they work for. It is a thief in the night to their holiday.

Okay, one last thing. I was the beneficiary of my parent's record collection this year. Yes, actual records that hold music. Most of these albums are older than I am, their songs spanning the years of the fifties and some in the early sixties. A phonograph/turntable to hook into my stereo system to hear these again would bring back a lot of memories.

I hope everyone gets what they want or what they need. Remember, Santa's watching.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time to leave the village

Several years ago, the expression 'it takes a village to raise a child' became popular in the United States. It was a result of a quote from Hillary Clinton which went on to become a book. I believe much of the trouble in society, Ferguson, MO notwithstanding, is a direct result of this thought process.

Now, a family or person can't entirely go through life without help in the modern world. In urban areas specifically, one needs the physical help of grocery stores, utilities, schools and all the inter-workings of the structure that supports those entities. But that's where it needs to end.

I believe too often the village is a detriment to parenting and the family structure. It has become a place to put the blame when things go wrong. One's child will always be exposed to outside influences, but how those influences are controlled is the job of the parent. Reactions such as 'I didn't raise my child like that' doesn't hold water if you have no idea where your child is at ten o' clock at night. Those who have teenagers or even younger that are out on the streets late into the evening, isn't being a parent. Biology, has nothing to do with being a parent. It is my conviction that the parents of Michael Brown did not truly know their own son. It's one thing to shoplift; it's another thing to bully a store clerk and confront a police officer. Video evidence in the carryout points to that. Or, they didn't care or take responsibility for that.

I am not naive enough to realize ones child can, and will do things outside for their upbringing. At some point, they will be on their own and they will make choices, some good, some not so good. I'm a parent. I've been there. I also know there will be instances where a single parent has to work and can't be with their children. It's life. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to put food on the table. These are the parents that need the safety net of support.

You can't completely divorce yourself or your family from the world. But you can to a great degree control how those influences affect your children. It's time to wake up, put on your best walking shoes and leave the village. When the village is burning down, you can watch it from afar.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson

As a rule, I don't normally comment on social issues, although I have done so in the past. Tonight, we await the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri on the killing of a black teenager by a police officer. Is it a tragedy? Yes. Do I have a pretty good idea of what will happen after the announcement? Yes again.

The problem is no one on the outside has all the facts. They think they know, but they don't. To that end, the crowds will react, likely with brutality and rage if the police officer is not charged. It is unfortunate that many times when a black person is killed by a police officer, it is not taken by the black community that it could actually be the fault of the black citizen, be it a teen or an adult. The police officer is always at fault. He or she is not given the same consideration of innocence they demand for their own. Why is that?

Police are in place to keep order. Police usually patrol areas where there is disorder and crime. In my opinion, if you get into a scuffle with a police officer, whether you are guilty or not, you should understand you risk getting tased or even shot. If you get into a fight with police, you are a stupid human being. I understand the history of blacks in this country. I've been alive for a long enough time, and grew up in the sixties during the start of the civil rights push. Do I agree with equal civil rights? Oh, absolutely. However, there will always be pockets of uneducated bigots where ever you go, be it north, south, east or west. It is an aspect of being human. Most gravitate to those like themselves.

I'm fairly certain what will happen if the police officer is not charged by the grand jury. The streets of Ferguson will become a riot zone. Businesses will be looted, windows broken and televisions stolen. What does that have to do with a grand jury probe? Nothing. The people of Ferguson will do nothing but hurt their cause and the cause of blacks and civil rights everywhere in the eyes of the rest of the country if they again clash with police. If you want to protest, protest. Carry signs and yell your disagreement with the decision. Anyone who simply takes advantage of the situation to riot, is simply hurting their own community and the small business owners trying to provide a service to the community and eek out a living.

If that comes to pass, I for one, won't feel sorry for them or their cause. Protesting is a right guaranteed to each citizen, but rioting is nothing but wanton blood-lust, and it's about time the leaders who demand equal treatment under the law, and rightfully so, begin to understand this.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Thanksgiving treat

I usually try not to plug my books a ton on my blog, well, at least as far as posting about them. If you didn't notice, they do line the margins. You did notice, didn't you?

Anyway, for the next two weeks through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Sands of Nevertime, the first book of The Last Elf Prophecy series is on sale for ... a dolla ninety-nine ($1.99). That's 33% off the regular price. Hey! What a deal!

In all seriousness, for those who have followed along with this blog for the many years I've gone on rambling about things, this is my little gift to you. I hope those who truly enjoy the fantasy genre will give it a try. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season, or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year.


 Sands of Nevertime at Amazon.com

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bag it

Well, my first vacation, stay-cation in six months leaves me the tasks of all the things I haven't had a chance to do for months. Not that I mind. I like working around the house. Not that I wouldn't mind a beach-filled trip somewhere, but cleaning the basement and insulating the garage is task work that I enjoy. It feels productive.

The basement is challenging because of what it is. It is a gathering spot for all the things we save. This year we cleaned out much of our largest crawl space, some things tossed while others gave us a little jingle in our pocket from a yard sale. As I tackled the smaller space today, I looked at what was there. Although this is where our seasonal things are, much of it can go away. I like 'go away'.

But, why is it there in the first place? I come from a time where we saved things. My Beloved did as well. We weren't well off, and we could generally find a use for something down the road. It's the, "I think this could be used" mentality. I am very guilty of this when it comes to the workbench. Since I fix things on my own, my mind tends to work this way. Unfortunately, that mentality has worked its way to other things.

As I pulled out the decorations for the upcoming seasons, I kept pulling out bags. Bags? Yes. Bags. We have red bags and blue bags and now-dingy bags from places we traveled to. They'll come in handy. Well, they didn't. They've sat in the crawl for a decade. Guess what? It's time they go away. The truth is, they are just now in the way. They hold no memory of what they were. They just are. They take up space. They need to be moved to get to something else. They are clutter.

One of the great joys of getting older for me is finding you no longer need much of what you have accumulated over the years. All that stuff becomes an anchor around your neck. When you think of the Christmas decorations we all have, how much of it really comes out? We likely leave 2/3 rds of ours in the tubs they are stored in. Each year we think our homes will become the showcase for the season. We'll have the perfect holiday because we will decorate to the nines. But then we don't. It's a chore, and then we have to take it down again.

Of course, I can't just start pitching things. My Beloved certainly has a say in what stays and what goes. This river I travel is her life as well; we paddle with two oars and not one. But we've both come to the realization that we aren't dirt poor and we don't need to save every scrap. Some things hold memories and anchor us to the past, while others are nothing more than an anchor to our happiness.