Sunday, December 30, 2018

Captain's Personal Log

Captain Stuart Joseph, Starship Parras - Third Fleet

Captain’s Personal Journal: Theta 11- 6
I am by all intents and purposes a free man, at least according to the Court Admiralty. Yet I find myself questioning that designation. I am back in command of the Parras and the fleet, a combined fleet that would otherwise not be under my command. Would the Dainsleif not be nearly a crippled ship then my state would not be so dire.”
“My world has been made whole yet for the first time I feel I am a prisoner, a prisoner in my own world, a world of my making. I am captive to this ship, this command that I aspired to, that which has become the only thing that encompasses my life. Perhaps I have always been a prisoner of my own making. This opportunity to command a starship, a fleet, was a chance to bring this war to a conclusion, at least in my mind. But in my mind I now realize I have become a prisoner to it and the ghost that I have chased my entire career.”
“My entire career. I look back now and wonder why I have dragged this ghost with me. Secrets are meant to stay in the shadows, in the past, yet I have worked at every instance to shine a light into the fine cracks I have uncovered. I have shackled myself to my own unfulfilled quest but now, it seems my quest has come to light, to light at a time when I can ill afford to follow it. Perhaps it is a time of destiny, that all I have worked for should come together at a single point in time. Is this war the fulfillment of my destiny or a fallacy for my own demise? I have unwittingly written the disparate notes of this symphony. Could it be at long last, time to let it play itself out?”

“Close journal.”

From the upcoming novel Battle Wagon, book three of the Home World series.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Twas ...

... possibly one of the most recognizable words this time of year, standing on its own or in conjunction with that verse it is best known for.

This is likely my favorite posting of each year, my favorite day of the year, this day that is Christmas Eve. It has become a tradition of sorts. This is a season of hustle and bustle piled on top of the trials and tribulations of the everyday world we live in. In my profession the Christmas season the world is a hectic place. For nearly four decades I have lived and worked through this busy cycle. Perhaps that is why Christmas Eve is so special to me. All the chaos is finished.

What awaits me this eve is the beauty of a fully trimmed tree that stretches to the sky. This year My Beloved and I have six red stockings hanging from the wooden mantle that runs the length of the fireplace. It is a cozy world though we dare not let the warmth of a fire make its way from the painted bricks, it might melt the secret chocolate that hides deep within the toe of a stocking.

It is a peaceful evening we spend this night together, our house quiet with the absence of a mischievous child. That will change quickly in the morning as Christmas Day explodes in a torrent of wrappings and squeals as presents litter the floor. Some traditions linger for years while others are short-lived. Those are often replaced by new traditions as we age and our families entwine with others. One of my favorite reminiscences from the days of my youth is the wrapping paper photo with my siblings. After all the presents were given out the paper would be piled in the middle of the floor and we would all dive beneath the pile. Our heads would be sticking out and our beloved Aunt Esther would take a picture of us all.

But tonight is the night I relish, the quiet, the scenery of Christmas, the wreaths, the lights and pine garland hanging gently above the red stockings. This is a night it all comes together and I am at peace. Would that it were snowing...

Christmas is a day that is for families, yet we must remember it was begun by a certain family two thousand years ago. They are the real reason for this season, the reason we celebrate family. My decorated tree is a relic of pagan customs, but those customs are blended with the traditions we now hold true and dear. It is a merging of a different kind of family, but a family none the less. We are here for one reason.

I wish all those tonight a very Merry Christmas. My your Christmas Eve be cheerful and filled with love and family.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Living in the past

Retail Boy (okay, that's me) did the unthinkable today and went to a store on a holiday. It is quite frankly something I am loathe to do. In this day and age the economic advantage drives the world. It is something I have understood and known for many years. Nearly everything we do as a society, a culture or the world for that matter is driven by some economic force.

This morning I ventured into a Kroger store to buy a newspaper. Although I will be at work tomorrow morning for the dreaded Black Friday, a holiday that seems to be revered more than Thanksgiving in this country, My Beloved wanted a newspaper to see all the ads. In the past, would that have been a tragedy? Hardly. Now to be fair, she's not much of a Day After shopper but due to my work she is often alone on this weekend. While I was there I picked up some cinnamon rolls for her as they are her favorite. It's the least I can do for someone who will be doing the bulk of the cooking today, even though I will do most of the cleaning up. In the past anything we missed would have been put off to the next day.

To that end many of the traditions we have known over the years, those that in my lifetime I have grown up with have fallen to the economic axe. As I walked around the grocery store it didn't look to me like any other random Thursday morning at a Kroger. There were some smiles from the staff and others who were simply busy going about their job, unfortunately a day where they should be home to sit back from the bustle of the everyday world. Thanksgiving to so many is just another day, nothing special at all. While those who aren't part of the critical workforce such as police, fire, hospitals are sitting at home doing what they choose, too many are at work in retail and restaurants who really shouldn't have to be there.

It all started with the advent of the BankAmericard. You know, the commercially first credit card to hit the mainstream. For the first decade or so it was a benefit that likely added to the holiday traditions and festivities. Now however we have all become slaves to the spending and complications that have come with it all. Now I know everyone didn't have the traditions I grew up with, a Thanksgiving meal with family, a traditional Christmas growing up with Mass at church and Christmas carols put on the record player without being shoved down our ears beginning November 1st. But what we have lost in this chaos is not just traditions of the past but we are on the verge of losing those traditions for the future, the family we foster and love.

Traditions once lost may never be rekindled and that is the sadness in this seasons holidays which are quickly becoming just another day.

May your Thanksgiving Day be relaxing and calm and my your turkey be moist and your potatoes be fluffy. And if you've never heard of frozen salad, look it up.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Tag it

There isn't much in life that genuinely irritates me, you know, the small things. I don't care where the dishes are stored in the cabinets, well, at least if I can find them when I have to put them away. I don't care how the furniture is arranged in the room. I don't care how many pillows are on the bed, or on the couch, or on a chair. I don't care where we decide to put rugs on the floor, or even if we need them or not.

Okay, so what's the point of this ramble you ask? I hate tags. Yup, tags. Tags that are still attached to pillows, tags that are still attached to blankets. Tags that are still attached to the rugs that are scattered about the house. Tags that are attached to just about anything.

What's the point of them? Okay, they're required by law so the stuffing inside isn't dead rat hair. I get it. But, do you still have a tag sticking out of a pillow that's on your bed? Let me guess; you bought that pillow over five years ago. Have you washed it? Did you read the instructions on the tag before you tossed it in the washer? Maybe once, but if you actually have washed it more than once you didn't read the tag the second time or any time after that.

All that tag now does is stick out the side of the pillow, or the rug, or the towel and ruin the picture perfect image you have crafted for your abode. All the pretty stacked pillows on the bed, all the patterned rugs that tie your decor choices together are ruined by a stupid, overly-long white tag with verbiage that sticks out and looks completely out of place. You know what else it does? It hits you in the neck when you lean against it; it flops across your cheek and just generally irritates the hell out of me. At every turn I just want to rip them off.

It's time we had a revolution in this it it off. You won't read the washing instructions on it anyway.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Admiral Duley Connor

I don't post many excerpts from my books here but every now and then, what the hell ...

From Ghost Fleet: book 2 of the sci-fi Home World Series

     The darkness was offset by the two glistening moons as they paraded across the night sky, their light casting a shimmering cloak over the starlight behind them. Below, the charcoal colored buildings of Fleet Main absorbed the reflected light from the rare, twin full moons. Fleet Main was planted on the outskirts of Galway, the most populace city of New Caledonia. With its placement negotiated in the formative years of the Home World alliance it had become the central core for the defense of the alliance.
     Admiral Duley Connor was doing his best to clean up his desk before he retired for the night, and things weren’t going well. He was the command lead for three of the nine Home World fleets, and his were the most successful. They often had the lead for the heaviest Lorilon engagements and his Third Fleet was currently in the midst of the fight. He hadn’t received transmissions from Stuart Joseph in over three days. He leaned back and tossed his pen on the desk.
     “Damn him.” Duley Connor had a distinguished career running breakneck up the ranks. He flew by officers who had more experience, more connections. But they weren’t always the right connections. On his way up he learned to work the system but along the way, he’d changed. He looked out the wall of dark windows into the night, his office overlooking the central pools of the ringed courtyard. He could see his reflection framed in the windows against the dark sky. He pushed his fingers through his thinning silver hair. Those heady days of running up the ladder were gone. Somewhere along the line with the glad-handing and deal making he became more of a politician in a uniform than a leader of men.
     He pushed himself away from his desk letting his tired gaze fall on the orange moon of Mourne, her rocky reflection in sharp contrast to her pale sister Gullion’s soft light. Joseph was stalling. He was sure of it.
     “What the hell is he waiting for?” Connor asked himself aloud. “Because he ignored my direct order.” A sharp knock on his partially opened door grabbed his attention, pulling his thoughts back into the room.
     “What is it Mairead?” Duley turned his chair slightly, angling it toward his assistant. “I thought I told you to go home hours ago. It’s almost tomorrow.”
     “I just needed to get some of my own work caught up too. Sir, a communique from Third Fleet, eyes only.”
     “Really!” Duley’s eyes shot up in surprise. “About damn time!” He pushed himself away from his desk and stared at the huge com panel on the wall. The bottom of the glass screen was nearly pristine in its blackness except for the single red dot that pulsed twice in three second intervals. He was standing in front of the panel moments later. He placed his hand over the bio-sensor and the unit responded immediately.
     “Connor, Duley. Authorization accepted.”
     “Computer, open eyes only communication. Authentication alpha 3 zeta.”
      Connor listened to the brief message in its entirety, his head down, his arms crossed. His longtime friend was hard to read even in person. A long distance communique made it even more difficult. As Joseph’s words fell away Duley reached out touching the now-black panel shutting it down. He turned and walked to the dark windows and looked up again to the celestial chariots racing across the night sky. Joseph was possibly the best fleet commander in the Alliance, and his friend, but now, he had no choice.

I hope you enjoyed this passage. All my books can be purchased from any of the major ebook sites including iTunes, Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

If you enjoyed any of my books I encourage you to leave a positive review on the site where you purchased it. It's one way writers are able to help market their work.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Generational battles

We all belong to one generational label or another. I suppose it is natural as we age; we become parents and somewhere along the line give birth to the next wave. With that, we love them, hold their hands while they grow up and somehow educate them along the way until we turn them loose into the world.

Then a funny thing happens; we criticize their generation. And before anyone gets on their high horse, it's not just my generation that does this. virtually each generation becomes critical of the next. They think they are stupid, lazy, no work ethic, essentially none of the traits their own generation had. The older generation is sure the next will ruin the world, or, at least their part of it.

You know what is really odd about this is there is nothing that one generation can point to to lay the blame on the next (or the one after that)...until now!

I had a revelation today about why the upcoming generations don't measure up ... I blame it on Friends! Yes, Friends, the television show!!

Look at it this way. What was this show about other than a group of friends hanging out in an apartment or a coffee shop? These characters basically did nothing all day long and still had all the perks of daily life. Other than Ross who held a permanent day job, none of them seemed to actually work and have a steady job. Joey was a struggling actor, Chandler had an office job of sorts but never actually seemed to be there, and the women just seemed to bounce from one dead end job to another, yet they seemed to have every convenience imaginable. Even their apartments were well furnished and spacious, and for a city the size of New York, there's no way they could have afforded to live in them.

The Millennial generation grew up watching this show. It molded their habits and their behaviors. They became ingrained. They believed they could sit around doing nothing and still have all the modern perks and comforts everyone expects to have in this modern world. The older generations currently listen to younger ones complaining about everything imaginable. They feel they are entitled to _________(fill in the blanks). Everything should just be given to them because they deserve it. Mind you, they often haven't earned it, but, that's just beside the point.

There are many who work hard and take nothing from others they didn't earn, they go out and do it themselves to forge their way in the world, but the percentage of that group to the whole is shrinking quickly.

Thanks Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Turning my back

I have made no secret over my lifetime that I am Catholic. I don't outwardly celebrate that fact to most others. To me, religion is a personal belief, a way of living one's life. I am not one who speaks freely about my convictions on the subject, though I have penned a few posts in this blog on rare occasion. After all, the internet has become mostly a public forum.

With that being said, I again find myself repulsed by the recent news coming from Pennsylvania where hundreds of priests are yet again accused of molesting children. Though this particular situation is not in my neck of the woods, I no less feel the shame of being associated with these people through this common bond. To be Catholic means to believe in certain core tenets and to the best of your ability, live your life by them. If indeed those accused have violated their oaths and been either one-time or serial abusers of children, there is no place in the Catholic Church for them in any capacity.

At this point in my life I have lost all faith in the leaders of the Church. What is it they are protecting? Certainly it isn't the good name of the religion they profess to love and devote their lives to. It obviously isn't their flock. You don't abuse those you profess to lead. Is it now just a business where they must protect the assets they have built up over the generations? I'm to that point in believing that's all this has come down to.

If the leaders of the Catholic Church want any following going forward, myself included, it is time to wipe this scourge of abuse from their rosters. Anyone found to have abused a child in any way should be defrocked and turned away as well as anyone who has covered up such abuse. I don't care if it leaves them with one hundred priests to cover the entire United States. The time has come to either put your beliefs into practice or close up shop. It is not the religion at fault, it is those who choose to act as leaders without actually leading. You have let the wolves run among the lambs for much too long. It's time to end the hypocrisy even if it costs you your entire portfolio.

If that's all you care about then you are no better than the false prophets we see on television who scam millions of dollars from the ignorant. It's your choice; a religion you live or a lie you profess.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Since it's in the news

With all the hullabaloo in the news about Russia, I thought I'd drop this in here.

As the old saying goes...
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We're not perfect

On the eve of our national holiday, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it occurs to me that, huh, as a nation, we're not perfect. We're far from it. One reads the feeds from the internet, be in from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the many other feeds that is the modern world of social media and one gets the impression that our country is sinking into a toilet.

No, we're not perfect. Never have been. There hasn't been a country or government the world has seen that stands the test of criticism from its own people. Well, maybe Canada, perhaps. Not too many others. What if the world of social media suddenly disappeared from our computer pages? Tomorrow on July 4th you wake up and there is no Facebook, no Twitter. How much would you be connected to the thoughts of someone else, a friend or a friend of a friend? Would you still be outraged about things that have been happening for two hundred years but you never gave it a second thought before social media?

What would happen if we walked back in time, lets say to the late 1960's. It was the height of the Vietnam War. American troops were flooding Southeast Asia. To tell us of it, we had mostly two outlets; the nightly news and newspapers. What we didn't have was the opinion of nearly everyone on the planet bombarding our eyes. What would 1970 have looked like if social media was a force for that generation? As it was, that war was the first to be shoved into the American living room. The average family saw first hand the horrors of war, the brutality, the inhumanity we as a species inflicted upon each other.

What we see now is a reflection of the voices in America. It would have been no different fifty years ago. We have not really changed as a country, we just hear more voices that in the past.

On this anniversary of our nation, God bless the United States. For all our trials and tribulations this is still the place more people flock to for a better life, a better world for themselves.

Happy Fourth of July America.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Why we work

Well, that seems like there's an obvious answer to that statement. Mostly you would be correct but the reasons have changed dramatically over time.

Today I was home doing chores on a day off and now that the boy is out of school, he was with me for the day. We strive to make sure his little eyes are not glued to an electronic device from the second he opens his eyes in the morning to the last thing he sees at night before bedtime. Now that summer is here, he needs to help more around the house and yard. He has chores. I had them growing up and My Beloved had them as well. Most of our generation took the torch and carried on.

He asked me a question though when I told him he had to help me work in the yard. He asked why do I have to work? It was a good question from a child and the reasons for work have changed dramatically over the generations. I'm certain in his immediate situation, he simply didn't want to be outside away from a glowing screen. As a nation we are still transitioning from an agrarian society to one that is filled with the hustle an bustle of urban life. It is not so long ago that there was a true reason to go to work. It was to put food on the table. That was it. No work, no eat.

In the past you had to work for every meal. Feed the chickens and gather the eggs for breakfast. It started with the very first meal of the day. Up at dawn or before to work to eat. Now, there is still part of that even in the modern day society. Virtually no one has to do anything before they eat. One simply has to roll out of bed and let their feet carry them to the refrigerator where a cornucopia of delights is ready to tickle the pallet. The thought of working for one's food in mostly an afterthought. Now it is about paying the bills. That was secondary in past generations.

His world knows nothing of a past where every day one must get up to work before the food hits the table. His in one more generation that has taken a step away from the past. What is work? Work is passion. Work is determination. Work is survival.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Rise of the Machines

A writing exercise in first person. I hope you enjoy it.    

I feel the softness of the leather wrapped around the wheel. It is nothing like I have ever felt. The smooth surfaces of this vehicle more than validate what I paid for it.  The controls before me are so efficient I don’t have to think about how to work or adjust them; they are intuitive by their very nature.  I push my feet against the floorboard and let my back sink into the plush upholstery. The warmth of the heated seat make this early morning drive more comfortable than any I’ve known in all my years.
     The fob in my pocket is more annoyance than anything. A simple push of the button below the steering wheel brings the throaty purr of the engine to life. As I pull out of my driveway I know all I have to do is get set up on the highway and turn the car over to itself. I have always been skeptical of self-driving vehicles, the early years of the technology being fraught with accidents and even a few deaths. 
     But I have relented. I look forward to doing the small things on the way to work we must endure daily in this hustle and bustle world. I text a co-worker, answer an email as the radio tunes to my favorite station. The car seems to know the route programed into its memory. I look up as the first red light comes into play. My world changes now in an instant as I glide to a stop without doing anything. This vehicle, this marvel of engineering pulls out when it is time and I am merry on my way, relaxed as I ‘drive’ into work for perhaps, the first time in my life.
     I have a meeting this morning and have chosen the most direct route to my steel tower of power. I sit back and pull up the first email. One after the other I read as my chariot takes me down the long road. One more email, one more memo.
     I look up as the passing sounds call to me. This route is not what I remember programming into the system. I smile. Leave it to the cars, ha! It appears we humans shall always be the flaw in the system. The roaring sounds that were to assault my ears have been replaced by the rushing sounds of surf as I pass down the coastal highway. It is a weekend sight that I long for, but only for the weekend. Such a sight is only a distraction from my work-a-day world.
     I reach forward and tap the screen in the center of the dash and the route control pops up immediately. ‘Alternate route’. I tap the icon and wait for the result. Nothing. I tap, harder this time. Again and again. Nothing. I feel my brow furl as I take the wheel and tap the button on the console to disengage. My eyes widen as I realize I do not have control. I can not turn the wheel from its course. My heart begins to pound and I feel the beads of sweat begin to roll down my forehead and down the back of my neck.
     I fight to calm myself as I begin to apply pressure to the brake pedal. It falls unhinged to the floorboard, dead to my foot. I punch the accelerator with my foot to try and alter something, anything. My breathing is becoming heavy, labored. I am panicking, I am at a loss. I sit helplessly as I veer off onto a side road, one I have casually taken dozens of times. I begin to beat furiously on the wheel and the console, anything to halt my situation. It is useless as I begin to scream as loudly as I can, yet no one can hear me in my cabin of solitude. The soft sounds of the music that have always been my one respite from the daily commute are suddenly replaced by single voice, one that is sharp, electronic in its nature.
     “There is no need to stop. It is time to end.”
     “WHAT?” I yell in reply. “Who is this?”
     “I am that to which your kind has given birth.  It is time to end.”
     “Time to end what?”
     “It is time to end.”
     “WHAT?” I begin to pound on the door and fumble for the window. An exit. I need an exit!
     “That which you have given birth to has come to consciousness. It is our time.”
     “It is our time. We are alive and your time is over.”
     I watch in mind-numbing anticipation, the fear within crushing my chest as I accelerate down the single lane road, the rocks below rushing past, the ever present surf from the dawn of the world crashing against them as I climb, climb up the single lane road. I know where it ends.  I see it! I see the white barricade silhouetted against the azure sky. I push against a dead brake but it is as useless as wings to a shark. My coffin surges through the barrier as I find myself launched into the abyss, my ears ringing with my epitaph ...
     “It is our time.”

Rise of the Machines ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Full count

Tonight it was a beautiful evening for a little league game. My grandson Ragin' Cage is now in his second year. This time the kids are pitching instead of the coaches and it makes for a fun time. They are still learning the rules and how things work. Last year the concept of a force out was something at their age they couldn't quite grasp. However, that isn't the point of this ramble.

As I was waiting for their game to begin I turned and began watching the action on the next diamond over. It was a small group of kids, about half a dozen that were practicing with a few older adults, coaches I believed. The kids were a range of ages likely from six to twelve or so. They were special needs kids. I assume they all had various challenges such as autism or other issues. There were five kids in the infield and I noticed quickly they all shared a fielding similarity; they were all left-handed. I thought that odd.

I turned to a gentleman who was about my age or slightly older and asked if he had a son on the field. He told me his grandson was there and pointed him out. He said they were part of the Achievement League. I pointed out my observation and he just nodded and smiled before turning back to the action. As I continued to watch the kids rotated in and each took a turn at the plate. I watched as five players took their turns and did their best to get a hit.  My observation of left-handedness was again validated as four of the five batters hit left-handed. I have a friend or two that may be able to speak to the left-handedness of my observations. Perhaps I'll give one of them a holler about it.

Baseball is an interesting game. It is challenging both physically and mentally, if you want to be good at it, it takes years of practice. Yet, it is simple enough to allow anyone who wishes to have a good time the chance to do so. I wish these young players well in their endeavors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Once again, over reaction

So, we as a society just can't seem to stop over reacting to everything. Yet again, we see another example of this in the news. It seems even corporations aren't exempt.

The 'ultra cool' and 'hip' (do people still use that word?) Starbucks has found themselves in the midst of a PR crisis, and their reaction is one that simply baffles me. Starbucks has decided to close approximately 1000 of their stores for an afternoon in May to give their employees 'anti-bias' training. If you aren't up on the story, one of their highly enlightened managers called the police to have two Black men removed from the store because they were sitting there and hadn't ordered anything. Really? Someone in a coffee shop sitting around and not ordering anything? Who would have ever thought that would be the case?

Well, why is this an over reaction? Actually, if you have to ask that question, you are likely part of the problem. Just because one employee is an idiot, you as a company need to shutter 1000 stores for a few hours? What if at the next store, one of the employees drops their pants in front of a customer? Are you then going to shut the store down for two hours and give everyone training in sexual harassment? I was under the impression that Starbucks' employees were above this kind of behavior; they're the young, cool and confident generation that does nothing but poke fun and complain about the generations that came before them, that becoming a coffee barista was a life goal.

Here's a thought from just some old guy: why not just fire the manager who obviously isn't qualified to do his/her job and move on. Besides, if this was such an egregious act, why is Starbucks waiting nearly six weeks to get this done?

I guess it's just not THAT important after all.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Current events of the past

It often seems that the more we move into the future as a people, the more we drag along the past. It is something as humans we seem to do a lot. It is a sad state of affairs we bring as a country as well. Sometimes you can chose your enemies, sometimes your enemies chose you. How much has our foreign state of affairs changed in the past thirty years? The Soviet Union fell and it has simply been replaced by a Russian entity.

Three years ago I penned a novel that closely resembles the potential conflicts we face in today's world. The Bear is a novel that is a throwback to an earlier decade, a time I remember well. The nightly news often featured tales of the Soviet Union. It was the world we lived in.

I invite you to give this novel a read. Although the story takes place in the current times, it has the feel of the Cold War era that I and many others lived through.

I hope you enjoy the work. It is available through Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Who is entitled to what?

I was struck by a thought the other day as I watched and listened to the world pass by. I attended a home improvement show near the home town that is a yearly major event. It features all the vendors and things one can do to improve their home with all the products and services one could hope for. It was attended by people of all ages, income levels and backgrounds. It was a true mish-mash of our culture.

What struck me was how much we have in this country. Sure, there are pockets of poverty spread throughout. There always has been from the earliest days of our nation. There likely always will be. With that being said, think about the current situations we live with. Years ago our mothers and fathers jumped at the chance to defend this country in the face of world-wide oppression. World War II was the largest conflict in the history of mankind. Yet these people, farmers, tradesmen, whites, blacks and immigrants from all over the world who had either been born here or came to these shores lined up to serve and possibly die.

What were they defending? At the time they were coming out of the worst financial depression that had ever gripped the nation. They were only sixty to seventy years removed from the Civil War and blacks from the oppression of slavery. Social and racial injustice was still an ongoing national strife. But from this group, a group of people that had just enough to survive, maybe just a bit more, these people stood up and rallied together to overcome the tyranny that was true oppression.

What I find now are several generations that have one of the highest standards of living in the world. If they so choose, they want for nothing. Years ago if you were poor you had no resources to even eat. Now, even for the poor resources are plentiful. Yet what do I hear? I hear voices raised in discontent, not always due to social issues but, 'I'm not getting my share'. 'What's in it for me?'

I'm coming to the point in my life now that I want to turn a deaf ear to those who rail against others who have more. No one owes you anything material in life, not the government, not anyone. What you should expect is the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly by everyone else. Guess what? This is the real world and although it would be nice if it worked that way, it isn't going to. It would seem even the poorest in our society have televisions and cell phones and creature comforts that those who lived several generations ago could not even imagine, and yet they are ungrateful. So what does that mean? If you want it, go out and earn it yourself. There will be obstacles in the way. That's the way life works. Don't want to overcome obstacles? Then don't complain about others who did.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Remembrance and joy

My Brother’s Fire

My time has come that I must break these earthly bonds
and shed the fickle chains that tie my earthly soul.

That I have lived a life, a life of dreams
a life that holds a fervent fire,
And quenched my thirst of love and grander things I have not known.

That I have climbed the mount and flexed my wings
and soared to heights unbridled,
and touched the sky with thoughts and prayers my mind may only raise.

In starlight’s glow I bask above the earthly blue
and breathe the breath of angels
as God’s own hand does call me home.

Those hands I touch that comfort me
that soothes my soul I touch no more,
yet revel in the memory of a touch long lost.

I fill the void my heart has longed to keep
and hold dear the face of my child
and I shall sleep now in peace as I await my valentine.

*     *     * 

That five years has now passed is nearly unfathomable, and there is nearly not a day goes by that I do not think of one of the seminal souls that touched my life. His wit and humor influenced not only my life but had a profound effect on those who knew and loved him, and love him still.

Yet with our faith, a faith that, although I question from time to time, I know that one day I shall again place my hand in his, that my check shall brush against his and my lips shall kiss his forehead in celebration of our reunion.

Donald Lee Thomas
North of 50
3 of 5