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Maddigan - My Story. And Other Words

 
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MADDIGAN – MY STORY.
AND OTHER WORDS]

[
by
**
MIKE BOVE]

Maddigan – My Story. And Other Words

Mike Bove

 

Published by Mike Bove at Shakespir

copyright © 2016 Mike Bove

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations within critical articles and reviews.

This book is available in print at most online retailers.

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

DEDICATION

For my wife, Jane.

[
**]

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
MADDIGAN. MY STORY
SHORT ARTICLES
MISCELLANEOUS SHORTS
BLOGS
A CHAPTER FROM WILLOWTREE
A CHAPTER FROM STINGER MAGUIRE
PREVIEW FROM BRUCE DELRENO MYSTERY BOOK THREE
MY REVIEWS OF OTHER BOOKS
RECIPES
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

INTRODUCTION

This volume is a collection of my archived writing projects that have appeared in various places over the past few years. That means they are still on my computer.
Included are excerpts from works-in-progress that may or may not ever get finished or published.
Some items never left my computer, but others have been in many places like my website, websites of other authors, libraries, book promoters, or their blogs. One essay was published in an anthology. Some of the blog entries are mini stories, some offer insight into parts of my books and writing.
I have put this collection together to rid my computer of the megabytes and save the ones I like in one place, this book. I intend to offer the e-book free at least part of the time for those who have expressed a liking for my writing style. There may be some redundancy since I have reprinted the blogs as they appeared on my website. I realize this collection reflects my varied interests and will not appeal to all readers. I hope most readers will find a smile here or there, maybe a recipe to try, or a book recommendation to check out.

This book is not meant to be read in any order. Starting anywhere, skipping sections, or skimming, is allowed.

MADDIGAN – MY STORY

Maddigan – My Story is the first draft of part one of a new book which I started when we got our new puppy, Maddigan, or as she prefers, Maddi. Most of it is from true incidents, but since Maddi is telling the story, the poetic license is all hers.

MADDIGAN – MY STORY

CHAPTER 1 – NEW PEOPLE

There he goes again. Always writing, everyday a new tidbit of my life put into that little blue book with the wire coil. I tried to get it once. To see if I could tear all the pages off the coil. He sometimes tears off just one, crumples it and tosses it in the red wastebasket. I got some of those, lots of them until he put the basket in the closet with all of the other neat stuff I’m itching to get my jaws and paws on.
He writes my name a lot. I can’t read, but I know it is my name because he sometimes says what he’s writing out loud. Sometimes he only mouths the words, but I am a good lip reader for my age. I am seventeen weeks old; they tell everyone four months. When I say ‘they’ I include his wife. They say they’ll feed me at five o’clock, but some times I wait until twenty past. Maybe it is because they are old and forgetful. They forgot where I was one time while watching the news at dinnertime. I was four months and over thirty pounds and I got a juicy boneless chicken breast off the kitchen counter. They found me sucking the last moisture out of the paper towel. Of course I got away with only a brief scolding since I was only still a puppy. A cute four month old golden retriever.
My name is Maddigan. They call me Maddi. Of course, the first week I was with them I didn’t have a name. Oh, I had one, but they didn’t like it and I don’t remember what it was. It could have been Brittney, or that could have been my sister’s name. They could not decide on a new name for me and looked in books and on the computer a lot. I hoped for a good one, since possibly I would be called it the rest of my life. I like it. Maddigan. Maddi. Mad Dog!
He wanted to name me Tsu. Not S-U E, short for Susan, but spelled T-S-U, short for tsunami. I went head first, full speed after everything I could see or smell. They smiled and giggled, but I could tell they did not like it much. Too bad, I want to check out mostly everything I see and go at it with open mind and mouth. Except the cat, she was bigger than me when I got here and hisses and claws if I get close. I figure if she leaves me alone I can do the same.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to go back to the beginning, before they met me.
They first saw me when I was just six and a half weeks old. I lived in Queen Creek for forty-six days before they showed up and took me away from my mom and six brothers and a sister. Another brother and sister disappeared that same day. I don’t remember ever seeing my father, but people that came by and petted us and let us piddle on their feet said he is a dark and handsome stud, whatever that means.
My mom is a small dark golden retriever, not a blonde. They say she had a hard time with us. You know, pushing out ten kids and nursing us. We were always hungry, I know I was. Mom’s name is Charlena, but they call her Charley. We all stayed outside, where I was born, in a nice fenced in grass yard. My new people were told Charley was all worn out from us kids and climbed onto the picnic table at night so we couldn’t get to her. That is true.
It was fun being there with my brothers and sisters. We climbed all over each other even after we could see. We climbed into the big bowl of food and the water bowl. Now I have my own, but the cat thinks my water bowl is hers. I don’t mind because she can’t drink much with that tongue technique.
My sister with the red splotch on her head and me with a blue splotch were the only two girls my mom had left that day my new people came for me. The owner of all us dogs has a daughter who is nice. She took the most care of us and got to pick one of us to keep in Queen Creek. She picked red.
My new people gave the owner of all us dogs some money. I hope it was a lot. She gave them a bag of food, some papers, and a towel I liked with smells of my family and Queen Creek on it. They took that stuff and me to their white car leaving the nice girl, who didn’t pick me, and what was left of my family in the only world I knew. The girl cried. Me, too.

I cried a lot more during the long time in the white car. They live far away in Cottonwood. That’s way past Chandler and even Phoenix. I cried, squealed, and tried to bark. They must have known I had to pee badly, because we stopped at McDonalds in Anthem and I peed a gallon in the parking lot. The rest of the trip went quickly because I must have fallen asleep. It was dark in Cottonwood.
I followed them into their yellow house. They trusted me to stick around without a leash. No problem, I was staying close. I didn’t know anyone in Cottonwood. I didn’t know what a leash was. I do now, I can’t go anywhere without it, I even drag it around in the house so they can pull me away from things I really want to chew. Goodbye, trust. Anyway, I got some food and water, and there were no greedy pups competing for it. I didn’t have to gobble it up, but I did just in case.
The cat was bigger than me but I was not scared. I walked over to her and she swatted and missed, hissed, and ran away. I could tell she did not like me, thought she owned the place.
Then they brought me outside because I peed on the rug and I did not have to pee again. So we went back inside and my new people went into what they called a bathroom. I followed. They put a nice big bed in there and said it was mine to keep. I cried and cried after they left me there. I was a prisoner because of the barrier in the doorway. I squealed, and scratched the floor and the barrier. I made such a racket because I hoped the neighbors would hear me and think I was being tortured, and then come save me. They did not come and I fell asleep.
I woke up later and started the tirade again. My people thought I had to pee. I did, and pooped as well.

CHAPTER 2 – DR CHRIS

One day my new people, who I now knew were really old people, looked at the paper on the wall near the telephone. One said, “Gee, Maddi is seven months old today.”
The other one said, “Look at the size of her. She’s almost as big as Céile full grown.”
I’d heard that name a lot. Céile. Céile this and Céile that. I think it was another dog because of the past tense. Another dog that they compared me to all the time. Maddi looks more like Céile every day. She sits and lies in the same places Céile did. Remember Céile always followed you around the house? Well, duh! If I look like her, we’re both golden retrievers. That’s what we do. We follow the one who goes to the kitchen, fridge, and keeps snacks at his desk, bedside, and in the car.
So, I was now seven months old, time to scare the poop out of me. I got a long ride in the car, which I did not mind, because I got to stick my nose out the window and raise a commotion for cookies all the way to Sedona. I was there once before to see Dr. Chris, who stuck a needle in my butt, and one into my neck. I didn’t like it, but she gave me this humongous cookie after, not a tiny cat-bite sized one like they gave me.
This time they left me there. Geez, the place smelled like a zoo. I sniffed many odd smells from different animals, and I believe one was from a guinea pig because I matched it with a stupid little squeak I had heard before. My girl in Queen Creek had a guinea pig. Some odors were not from food, persons, or animals, and I couldn’t imagine what they were. I wasn’t finished with my smelling game when Dr. Chris came in with another needle which had an awful, unknown smell.
Then I blacked out. When I awoke there were other bad smells in the room. I heard human voices and saw two persons who were quite blurry. They pawed at me for a while, and a short time after they left, my vision became clear enough to see what they had done to me. Yikes! My whole belly got shaved and I had a scar there. I wondered if they took something out of me, or put something into me. A spot on one forepaw was shaved. I couldn’t bark or stand up. I was woozy. I had no desire to eat. This was serious.
I just lay there for the longest time thinking I had died and gone to the farm, which is what some people call dog heaven or hell. The woman who I thought was nice when I arrived came in and helped me to my feet, attached my collar and leash, talking to me all the while. I did not think she had anything to do with putting me in this condition because she smelled good, for a person.
I trusted my people were happy to see me alive and were sorry for bringing me there. I’m a golden, I trust and I make people happy. They said goodbye to the one who liked me and to Dr. Chris, who once called me their “beautiful monster.” He lifted me into the car and attached the seat belt to my harness, but I wasn’t going to be doing any jumping, climbing, or being mischievous that day. I just wanted to lie behind the toilet on the cold floor of the bathroom, my safe place. I was fixed.

CHAPTER 3 – GOING PLACES

The longest trips I’d been on up to my first nine months of life (over 5 years in people life) were to see Dr. Chris in Sedona. I went a few times in the car to the dog park by the river. It was awesome. It was divided by sky-high fences into one field for ankle biters, another for scaredy-cat dogs, and a real big one where I could run and get tired before I reached the other side.
Mostly people sat with their dogs on benches under a tall cottonwood tree. Some dogs stayed close by without being held on a leash. They were mostly the old, white-faced dogs and bitches, or unadventurous puppies.
It’s not fair that a male dog is called just plain dog and a female is called by that nasty name. I’m one. A bitch. I some times get confused when my people call me a son of a bitch. Anyway there should be a nicer name for us females. Maybe, “Goddess.”
Some of us have to stay on the leash. Not speaking for the others, but in my case I would simply run around like a crazy rabbit being chased by a dozen greyhounds. My person knows that. He let me off the leash the first time we came to the park. He couldn’t catch me and we stayed probably an hour later than when he wanted to go home. He was pissed. He doesn’t know I know it, but it’s my game. I get him to chase me for no reason at all except for the game. In the house I always get caught after he blocks my route and I am trapped over near his desk. He says, “Won’t you ever learn. It’s the same thing every time.” He doesn’t get it.
Anyway, we don’t go to the park often because it is too damn hot. Arizona in the summer. Not news.
One trip wasn’t very far in the car, but lasted many days. They went back East. I heard Cape Cod and New Jersey mentioned, but I stayed at the Applewood Kennel. It was strange and scary at first, but there were other dogs to bark with and some people that talked to us, played with us, and fed us earlier than I was used to. It wasn’t too bad, except for long hours in the cage, but I had my own bed. I kept thinking maybe they left me there for forever, or I was brought to the farm and I was dead.
There was play time with other dogs, which was a lot of fun. I got to smell the breaths and butts of a Chihuahua, and a harlequin Great Dane. I thought it could have been dog heaven. Back to the cage. Guess not.
Many days later they came for me and we went back to the house and the cat was still there. I had missed the little gray fur ball, not that I liked her, but she was amusing and puzzling.
Then, a month later they went on a long, very long car ride. I know it was long because they took me along and we stopped for lunch in Payson. I never get lunch, maybe a cookie. In Payson I got a bite of a burger, and then another because I wouldn’t stop begging. We ended up in Lakeside staying in a two room cabin, which was fine, since it had a refrigerator and a TV. But, then two other people came. I got excited and jumpy and peed a little because I had never smelled them before and they were a bit timid because they did not have a dog. I settled down quickly because it was getting dark and the four people unpacked stuff and we had dinner, pizza, and they opened the sofa into a bed so the TV room was now a bedroom.
Where was I going to sleep? Except for the days in the cage at the kennel which wasn’t the farm I had always slept blocked in the bathroom by a baby gate. I hoped for the bathroom but did not get it and was told many times to “lie down” near the bed my people were trying to sleep in. That turned out to be a good idea. Do you know how many times four old people can go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
We slept in that cabin a few nights, a thousand late night pee trips. I got a lot of walks during the daytime. Short walks and longer walks. My he-person walks a lot, exploring new places, and takes me sometimes. He brings a little bag and picks up my poop when it is still warm. I don’t know why, he just tosses it into the trash.
One day we went to the lake and the rule was I had to stay on a leash. It was still a great time since they walked me everywhere. I waded in the water for a while, walked in the mud, and in the grass, and on the dock. There were a hundred ducks, all kinds, swimming and quacking. I am a retriever. I waited for a duck to fly off, get shot and fall to the lake or ground. I would run or swim after it and bring it back in one piece to the hunter person, not tear it up like I did all of my stuffed animal toys, a couple of which were ducks. Well, I was leashed, there was a rule.

CHAPTER 4 – I TURN ONE

So, I turned a year old. Full grown, 60 pounds, age of reason, got weaned off puppy food. Magic number! One.
I had learned quite a lot so far. Like, dog food tasted the same as puppy food, only the morsels were bigger. And that my humans loved me so much they’d fall for all of my tricks. For example, the food, which wasn’t bad, got boring, same every day especially when it was dry or just moistened a bit. So I would eat a small portion of my meal, which I normally would devour like there was no tomorrow and walk away, lie down and watch them. They would think I was sick and feel my nose, scratch my snout, look at my tongue, and talk baby-talk, “Is Maddi not feeling well?” “You okay, Maddi girl?” “Want a cookie?”
Of course I couldn’t control myself when I heard, “cookie,” my favorite human word. Eventually, maybe the second day, they mixed table scraps, or a spoonful of cottage cheese into my dog food. I’d eat it all up quickly, and everyone was happy. It turned out that my standard meal became the expensive no-grain dog food with a quarter of a can of junk-food (Kroger’s Chunky Beef in Gravy, or similar) mixed into it. Yum! Love dinnertime. No more baby-talk.
Some things didn’t work out so well. A favorite thing that I did was look out the big window in the big room. I could hear all of the sounds in the street or from the neighbors’ yards. Cars went by and I didn’t pay much attention, unless they stopped. But a truck, every truck, mostly big noisy trucks, really got me excited. I’d see the trash truck stop out front, a robot pick up the barrel, lift it high in the air and turn it upside-down. I saw all of our crap fall out. I got on the couch in front of the big window, put my paws on the sill and my nose on the glass. I was in the front row. Great view. I watched the small mail truck stop, go a little further, stop again, and then go on. I hoped the man would get out and come with a package to our door. He did sometimes, I ran to the door, but he never came in.
I watched the left neighbor get into his big white pick-up and listen to it start up a lot. I wondered where he went five or six times every day. The right neighbor had two pick-ups and a scrawny half-breed mutt that barked for nothing, but they were mostly always inside the fence. Sometimes they had parties at night and I could hear foreign language music. Their friends parked their pick-ups all along our street. Fun!
People walked by with their own dogs and I barked hoping they would stop in, or if they didn’t look friendly I barked to scare them away.
But, like I said, it didn’t work out for the best. Not for me. One day two men came in a big truck and backed into our driveway. My man-person let them in and they took the green leather couch away. I saw it happen through the glass door from the back patio where I was tied to my wire run so I couldn’t smell the men and jump on them or maybe lose control and pee on the floor. I thought I’d now and forever have to stand with my front paws on the window sill to see anything in my street. I’d miss that comfy old green couch which was a perfect voyeur perch. But soon the men brought in another couch, later referred to as a sofa, and placed it exactly where my green one was. Wow, bow-wow, I thought this would be even better; it was brown, but higher and looked softer than the old one.
I found out later that it was wonderful to sit or stand on for observance of my street. But, right away I was yelled at, chased off my new perch. Then again, when I got back on it. I recalled this had happened before when I was much younger. They yelled and pulled or pushed me off the green couch. They eventually gave up and the couch was mine. I figured I could resolve this situation before long. Wrong.
It became clear I was not to even look at the ‘sofa’ and that it was not mine, but I persisted until the shocker came. The box read, “Scat Mat.” They unrolled it on the ‘sofa’ and flipped a switch. They went across the room and though I knew they were watching me I figured it was to protect their precious ‘sofa’ and okay for me to climb up. When my front paws touched the plastic mat I got electrocuted for a second. I instantly jumped back and walked around looking at my beautiful new couch but did not dare touch it again. I tried later when they weren’t looking. Ouch! Same thing! To this day I have never got up on the couch/sofa again. It’s hard for me, I’m a climber. They called me a cat and a billy goat. I can’t help it. I must be able to see what’s happening on my street.
After that I had to stand on those ottoman things to see out my window. They let me do that but I could tell they didn’t like it. I got on the coffee table a couple of times and got a better view but got whacked and chased off. I didn’t get on it anymore when they were around. If I was alone (besides the cat) in the house I’d climb up. Of course I could see the white car come in the driveway and them walk to the house and jump down when they got to the door.
I got away with a lot of stuff mostly because they got tired of the disciplinary routine, them being quite old and having eroded endurance for my puppy behavior even though I was one year old when the ‘sofa’ came into my house.

SHORT ARTICLES:

CAN ONE BEER CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

Can a beer change your life? I suppose one-too-many has changed a lot, some in a bad way. Though, perhaps sometimes people have learned from the experience and bettered themselves.
I had one cool draft, a Miller High Life, about twenty-five years ago in a local establishment next to our small town’s post office. The postmaster, who was an acquaintance, was having more than one. He was on lunch break. He was not our postmaster for much longer. His life was changed; I hope he learned from that.
So, he bought me a refill as we chatted. Okay, I had two that day. But over this one he suggested I take the post office test. This interested me, since my father was a retired postman, and I knew the benefits of such a job. I took the rural carrier test and was soon hired in another town. I delivered mail in that Cape Cod town for nine years, enjoying my new career and many new friends. One of those friends was considering swapping jobs with a carrier in Arizona, but declined the deal. I believe it was over a Miller High Life that he told me about it. With our sons grown and gone, my wife and I had tossed around the idea of moving further south and escaping the New England winters. Arizona? Why not?
A year later I was delivering mail in Sedona, Arizona, 86336, and did so until I retired with twenty-five years of service. I retain a love for every town I have lived in, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to witness and be a part of their wonderful and diverse cultures.
I am now an old guy from New England writing stories and playing golf in Arizona, wondering where I would be if not for that one-beer-okay-two-maybe-three, with certain people long ago.

(This was written in 2012 for Stacy Juba’s book, 25 Years Ago Today-52 Authors Look Back.)

***

TRY SOMETHING NEW

I suppose not many people knew twenty-five years ago where they would be, or what they would be doing today. Certainly I had not the wildest idea that we would be retired in Arizona. Our families were born in New England and stayed there, often in the same town. Two of my seven siblings moved to Florida to take good jobs at resorts, but the rest of our clans are mostly still four-season New Englanders. We moved from Vermont with our two sons, far away to Cape Cod, which was still New England.
As a teacher, and as parents, we supported and encouraged students and sons to try something new, but only if the activity genuinely interested them. As a coach, I always encouraged a player to try a different position or event if he showed an interest. I have seen many great successes from those attempts. One sometimes can find a lifelong enjoyable activity, place, or friend he would not have known if not for the daring first attempt.
So, when our second son graduated from college about 25 years ago, and decided to escape the cold winter, New England lost another of our family. He “tried” New Orleans with a college friend and is still there. Soon after that, first son and his wife fled Vermont for New Jersey.
When the opportunity arose for me to swap Post Office jobs with a person in Arizona, we sold our house and snow shovel. Many folks would be perfectly happy and content to be born and die in the same house, and that is fine. Good for them. Others have a bit of wanderlust. I am happy to have held many different jobs, and to have lived in unique parts of our country. Many have tried and failed at things, but to forgo an attempt at a dream, even a small dream, would be inexcusable.
Regrets? Sure. And what-ifs? Sure. But there would be those questions no matter where a decision had taken you, or left you. Not to decide is to decide.

This is an unfinished essay I wrote, but did not submit, for Stacy Juba’s “25 Years In The Rear View Mirror:52 Authors Look Back.” I submitted “Can One Beer Change Your Life?” instead.

***

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? AT THE LIBRARY

Where Have You Been? At the Library.

“I spent a lot of time in the library at school, that’s where the smart girls were.” I wrote that for one of my books, but it’s true. I spent a lot of time in a lot of libraries, and sat with a lot of smart girls, mostly at different tables.
Not so much in grade school, I stayed clear of girls then, and the librarian was a big mean nun, Sister Mary Something.
But, by Jr-Hi there was a blonde named Alice who often sat next to me in classes because our last name initials were the same. And, boy was she ever smart. I was kinda smart, so we were in a bunch of the same classes. She was also pretty. I was nervous. Alice knew everything the teachers asked, and the teachers knew she knew all the answers so they stopped calling on her. They started calling on me!
This continued in HS, and I still never spoke to Alice, except saying “Hi,” or “Scuse me.” I hung out in the library, because I thought that’s where the smart girls would be, and sure enough, I’d see her there frequently. And then, one day (it seemed that sudden) I manned up and began initiating conversations with her. Eventually, she took part. Later we would meet in the library after school to do homework. Later we would meet other kids at the Rexall after school for cherry cokes.
Then we graduated and I never saw Alice again until our twentieth HS reunion, and she may have still been smart, but was not still pretty.
However, in the meantime, there was college.
There was a girl I liked, but she wasn’t in any of my classes. Naturally, I looked for her at the snack bar, dining hall, and in the library. I kidded her about drinking tea, and she was amused when I turned my cake upside down because the icing was too sweet. I bugged her in the library, especially in the library, because there was not a ton of people around, annoying her at first, mostly about her being left handed, or her long auburn hair and abundant freckles. We soon were laughing often and loud enough to get thrown out. More than once. The first time was when I drew a picture of her with just a few short hairs sticking out of a bald head with predominant freckles and big ears with big holes and dangling rubber chicken earrings. That was because she wanted to get a short haircut and her ears pierced. I wasn’t sure I’d like her that way. She didn’t do it, not until a long time later.
By then we had discovered the grass behind the library.
Not right behind the building, but past some trees, up a small hill, and between some other pine trees. Standing at our spot we could see the library, but not if we were lying in the grass. The first time was for a walk, to get some air, since we had been studying seriously for a couple of hours straight. I was a Phys Ed major so I was able to help her out with her nursing courses. I think she was smarter than she let on so that I would help with the anatomy stuff. We often brought a blanket with our books to our spot in the grass up the small hill and studied more there than in the library. Weather permitting.
We went to our grass spot several times with no book or blanket, just to sit and talk during tough times, or to walk silently hand-in-hand at odd times. Back of the library, turn right. Where have you been? At the library.
While I was a public school teacher I spent a lot of time in the library. Working, planning classes. I noticed smart girls there. And smart boys, too. I knew what was going on. The boys were flirting, I mean studying, with Alices and future nurses. I would smile and secretly wish them luck, just a bit of the luck I had.
That was many years ago and I am still holding on to my luck, my nurse, my wife.

This story appeared on the Camp Verde Community Library blog on 1/24/2016

***

GRAND CANYON WALK

Every year millions of people make the long journey to the Grand Canyon in hope of seeing someone fall to the bottom. Thank God only a dozen or so actually do trip and fall into the magnificent pit. Mostly they go unnoticed.
“Where’s Aunt Ethel? She was right behind me. Where is she? Oh, God!”
Some don’t stumble, but make the leap voluntarily. It is believed they all close their eyes. Blind to the beautiful panorama, they are focused on quickly reciting their final prayer of contrition.
The Grand Canyon police and Chamber of Commerce do not publicize these events. Maybe because no journalist photographer has caught the action on a flash card. One would think that a German or Asian visitor would inadvertently capture an active jumper in the background of one of their snaps.
Last Sunday millions of people did not have to drive to the Grand Canyon in an attempt to witness a fool try not to trip or plunge into it. They all could hope to witness such an event on live TV during their Sunday dinner.
The Discovery Channel had found a guy in jeans wearing a tee-shirt which read “The Discovery Channel” on the front. He had a rope long enough to reach across the Grand Canyon when pulled real tight. He was electronically connected to Jesus, who could hear every word he would say on his slow-stepping across the Grand Canyon on that rope. He also had a magic pole, and magic elk skin slippers. He called them ‘shoes’ not slippers. His pretty wife and a TV clergyman waited for him on the other side. Superman was there, too.
That guy walked across the Grand Canyon on a rope pulled very tight, braving high winds, pollution, and condors. His time was a world record 23 minutes. Most viewers hadn’t got to their dessert yet.
On side B he high-fived and hugged, kissed the ground, and drank vodka from plastic water bottles, which are outlawed at the Grand Canyon Village. He separated himself from the crowd and looked up to the sky, wondering, “Where are the condors?” Maybe.
He had thanked Jesus on every successful step. Now, with both feet on the ground, he said, “I did it!”
The millions of viewers were glad he was safe. They were glad their TV-dinners and the show were over. They said, “Thank you, Jesus.”

I wrote this after watching Evel Knievel walk his tightrope across the Grand Canyon.

[
**
*****
**]

MISCELLANEOUS SHORTS

QUOTES (A few of the most quoted things I have said.)

-“Did the baseball umps and football refs screw up a lot this year?
Yes. But I don’t know which I hate more, a blatant mistake or a video review.”

-“I’ve always liked the library, any library. Even in 2013, with 100’s of books on my Kindle machine, I go to the library often.
There are people there.”

-“I turned 70 this year. I’ll never do that again.”

-“I doubt I will make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Those are worse than best-of-last-year lists.”

-“Smart Phone: I finally got one. Now I know why I see everybody sitting everywhere fiddling with theirs. They are trying to figure out how it works.”

“I spent a lot of time in the library at school, that’s where the smart girls were.”

-“If I had to think it over for a few weeks and take a vote on it, I’d not bomb anyone.”

-“The good characters in my book are loosely based on folks I know. All of the bad stuff is made up.”

-Why are there no children in Bruce DelReno Mysteries?
“In real life many children unfortunately have to deal with murder, maybe a murderer or a victim in the family. There are kids who are killed and kids who kill. I’m sure there are enough of them in fiction. I would rather not have youngsters involved in that business. Bruce chooses the dead bodies he finds very carefully. They never have young kids.”

-About Camp Verde Community Library.
“I like that this library has the word ‘community’ in its official title, and I saw many people engaged in various activities during my short time there.”

-About Facebook:
“I don’t like it when people say ‘Like my page’ even if they say ‘please.’
So, I have never asked anyone to Like my page, but I wish somebody would.”

“I have friends who are Black, Asian, Gay, Fat, Old, Canadian, Funny Looking, and Republican. I like and ‘Like’ them all. Exception: the Republicans I like get no ‘Like’.

-“I brushed the dog. Got a nice pile of hair off her back, so she’ll look presentable when she goes for grooming tomorrow.”

-“I don’t waste quite so much time on the computer as I did in the past. I waste a lot on my Kindle Fire now.”

-“TV commercials annoy me more than ever. Why can’t I watch the news or a sporting event without Viagra? Why is there a DirecTV ad every 5 minutes? I’m watching DirecTV. Whoever invented the MUTE button – thanks a million.”

-“When I was a kid my grandfather’s home-made wine was the best thing I had ever tasted.
Now, I remember it still is.”

-“When I was a kid we believed it was butter, and we drank whole milk. Now, coffee, cheese, flour, oil, sugar, salt, beer, and ice cream are bad for us, and we should eat foods that are improved, no-fat, lo-cal, lite, organic, unsaturated, decaffeinated, artificial, or taste awful, and contain enough dyes and preservatives to look appetizing and last a long time in their pretty packaging that is 43% of their retail cost figuring in advertising."

-From my imagined conversation with Kurt Vonnegut:
“MB: There’s not much golf or food in any of your books, Kurt. Why not?
KV: I had to leave something for you to go on about.”

-On authors claiming bestseller status:
“‘Bestseller’ is supposed to mean ‘sold more than any other’. There can only be one.
Please use ‘betterseller’ if it sold more than another.
You can use ‘goodseller’ if you think it had more than paltry sales.”

-On Baseball:
“Baseball: Best game ever invented. Three strikes, but four balls. Ninety feet. Genius.”
-On the Designated Hitter Rule:
“Poor pitcher, you can’t hit well, in fact you suck at it, so, we will let this guy, who can hit better but can’t throw very well, bat for you.”
“I still love baseball, the game, but not as much as in the 1950’s when I was an infatuated boy listening to Mel Allen and Red Barber on my transistor radio, when I could rattle off the current batting average of my whole team. And before I knew what technology and money could do to it.”

“My short term goal as an author is to have someone I don’t know tell me he/she has read my book. That has happened. Yea! Long term goal? To be the four-letter answer to a crossword puzzle clue.”

TOP 10 REASONS YOU’RE GLAD YOU HAD THE SURGERY

You’re glad you had the surgery because…
10. It’s a good feeling to contribute to some doctor’s kid’s college fund.
9. Everyone was so nice to you.
8. You get many hugs and kisses… without asking.
7. Taking a piss was never easier.
6. Now you can say, “Wanna see my scar?”
5. You have to take a pill that constipates you; but you have another one to
loosen it up.
4. You might not complain about little things as much.
3. You get six weeks off work.
2. You are reminded that many people really love you.
1. No more cancer.

I wrote this while recuperating from my radical prostatectomy in 2005. The cancer was caught very early thanks to Jane suggesting I go to a free PSA screening.

THE CRUCIFIXION

This was an idea which was a possible first page of a chapter of a crime story.

The body was spread-eagle on a diagonal grid. The dead head fallen to one side like Christ on the cross at Mt. Calvary. It looked like a modern crucifixion. No nails. The corpse was strapped to the chain-link fence. The fence was an eight-footer, so the body seemed to be a bit under six feet tall.
The straps were those plastic ties that hold toys or watches to their packaging, so hard to get off when you impatiently try to separate your new purchase from its security. The police use a larger version of those ties as handcuffs. They wrap one around a wrist, slipping the plain end through the loop at the other, making a snug bracelet. Then, a second tie is put around the other wrist and through the bracelet, through its loop, and pulled tight. Neat. No key required.
The ties holding Joe to the fence were the size the cops use, one around each wrist and ankle. Not long enough to go around the neck, so two or three were hitched together. That necklace held up Joe’s slumping head.
The chain-link fence surrounded the parking lot, slash, playground of the Jesus of Nazareth Church and School. A large cross topped the church steeple. Its shadow lay on the ground behind Joe’s silhouette. If somebody looked from the perfect angle, it would seem that Joe was on that cross.
Cool. Eerie. Coincidence?
It was quiet at Joe’s crucifixion site except for the intermittent tap, tap, taps of the basketball being dribbled by some boys under a hoop at the opposite end of the yard, near the school building. One could hear their voices, the taps of the bouncing ball, and occasionally a clang off the backboard. The boys probably had come from the building, or the other side of it. They were not aware of Joe’s hanging out on the other side of the fence.

“Jesus!” I yelled as I came upon a guy splattered on a fence, like a bug splattered on a windshield.

JAVELINA STORY (03/20/2012)

I am incorporating my real life interactions with javelinas in the new book, Stinger Maguire. I found a piece I wrote to my Mom, which explained my experience with the pests since she had never seen any.

THE JAVELINA (have-a-leena) STORY.

For a time after we moved to Arizona, we were always on the lookout for wildlife that we didn’t see in New England. You know, coyotes, roadrunners, lizards, bald eagles, scorpions, armadillos, rattle snakes, and of course, javelinas. We have seen, through the years, all of these animals; even mule deer, gray fox, quail, buzzards, king snakes, jackrabbits, and Canadians [for Mom’s benefit, an inside joke]. We are still thrilled when we see a family of quail. Or a mule deer, or even a coyote. We were always excited to see javelinas on the golf course or in the street.
Javelinas are not boars or related to pigs. They are peccaries, but they still stink. They usually don’t bother people, just look at you and ignore you. But, if provoked will defend themselves and their young. A man in Sedona was attacked this month. Recently a gang of them have visited our property often in their nightly rounds. We planted pansies in several large pots placed along the walk to the front door. We found the plants pulled up, eaten and dirt all over the walk. We replanted. Same story. After a couple of weeks we planted portulaca, small succulents with rose-like blossoms that do well in the summer heat. Same story. Boy, the javelinas really like the portulaca blossoms, stems and roots. We planted again. I know, insanity, expecting a different result.
This time we were up at 10 PM when they arrived. Lights on and shouting finally scared them off. Next night we left windows open so our dog, Céile could hear and smell them. They arrived at midnight. Not after the flowers though. In the back yard eating birdseed off the ground under the bird feeder. This was time for Tiger Woods/Nolan Ryan action. We got a bunch of golf balls and started throwing at the critters. This happened twice at midnight, and once at two AM. We’re sure they set their clocks for when we’re not expecting them. Dratted varmints. We only hit two with golf balls, but the balls landing in the area scattered them. Usually 2 or 3 were at the birdseed. Turn on the light, shout, they turn and look at you. Throw a ball, they scatter about 20 feet behind the bush, then walk back looking at you. We put cayenne pepper around the flower pots. Also mothballs in and around the pots. We installed a motion detector to turn lights on. We got a power squirt gun. Put a little ammonia in the water and squirt the damn things. They don’t like that, but I didn’t get close enough for the stream to reach very often.
One night there were 6 adults (40 to 75 lbs) and two little babies the size of a cat in the front yard. They were gone before we could throw the third golf ball. Two nights in a row now…no intrusion.
Fingers are crossed; but cayenne and mothballs are in place. Golf balls, lights and squirt gun are by the door.

BLOGS FROM MY WEBSITE

CONVERSATION WITH KURT VONNEGUT (08/05/2011)

It would be nice to be compared to my literary hero, the man whose words I most like to read. We do have some similarities, or maybe coincidences. Anyway I was speaking with Kurt Vonnegut one night while asleep. And so it goes…

KV: Mike, I understand you sold aluminum storm windows as a struggling young author. I did, too.
MB: I wasn’t an author then, I was a teacher. But, yes, I did. I heard that you sold storm windows. Ever install any?
KV: No.
MB: Well I hung a lot of them, doors too.  I guess I have you beat on this one, huh, Kurt?
KV: So, you want to make this a competition?
MB: It’s gotta be, if I want to be compared to you.
KV: OK, give me something.
MB: I know your first wife’s name was Jane. So is mine.
KV: So? Coincidence. You lived on Cape Cod, so did I.
MB: Go ahead and google my alter-ego, “Bruce DelReno.” First thing that comes up will be my book, Willowtree. Google “Kilgore Trout” and you get thousands of pages about fish.
KV: I wouldn’t google, if I knew what it was. What about politics? I sure think the Bush administration and the war in Iraq did our country a lot of harm.
MB: Well, I’m right with you on that one. But, I got you on the storm windows and the google thing.
KV: I have a very famous quote, bet you don’t.
MB: I know, I know. “So it goes.” Damn, I wish I had thought of that. I was so pissed at General Mills when they sued you over using their phrase, “Breakfast of Champions.” You’d probably sue me if I used “So it goes.”
KV: I thought you liked me. Why the hostility, Mike?
MB: Well, you beat me to “So it goes,” then you wrote the coolest thing ever in Deadeye Dick. I won’t be able to use that either.
KV: Yeah? What was that?
MB: You know, randomly shooting a gun out a window and killing a pregnant woman.
KV: What’s so cool about that?
MB: It was on Mothers Day. Don’t you remember?
KV: Oh, yeah. Cool.
MB: There’s not much golf or food in any of your books, Kurt. Why not?
KV: I had to leave something for you to go on about. Say, after me, who’s your next favorite author?
MB: Well, there’s you, me, Shakespeare, then Mark Twain.
KV: By the way, Mike Bove, who the hell are you?
Then I woke up.

(The references in this piece are true. Except the google of Kilgore Trout. 524,000 pages came up, most concerning Kurt Vonnegut.)

***

I’LL BE BRIEF (08/02/2011)

Jane got me into reading mysteries. I’d look through a dozen of her books and pick one or two that I might be interested in. Always the ones I picked would have a larger font, and short chapters. They never would be very thick. I’m not lazy (not usually), but I cannot read for hours at a time. One or two chapters, ten or 20 minutes, and I have to turn the light out or do something else. Once in a while there will be one I can’t put down, such as Garth Stein’s, The Art of Racing in the Rain (sorry, not a mystery).

Some books I give up on. If a writer has to use 500 words to describe something others might have used 300, those extra 200 words had better be entertaining or I’ll close that book. My point is the mystery book is supposed to be read for pleasure. If I wanted a book to read without pleasure, I would dig out an old college textbook, or my uncle’s master’s thesis.

Maybe it’s just me. If you have talked to me you know I will correspond in short sentences and often one word answers. Terse Mike. You’d be surprised I could write a book longer than 12 pages. Well, I did; and it is over 230 pages. Surprise. I think my book, Willowtree has enough words, and many sentences long enough to be adequate and tell a story. My language certainly will not qualify as being flowery or bombastic.

You might enjoy reading a mystery by William G. Tappley, one of my favorite authors. His stories are well constructed with enough description to be informative and entertaining, not flowery. We don’t do flowery.

***

MY BOOK AND ME (08/01/2011

As a teacher, coach, and drama director I always thought my book would be about track and field or acting for young people. I never got to write that book because of the first and second jobs. Then, there were two sons to teach, coach, and direct. I left teaching and Vermont for various jobs on Cape Cod, which was a very good place to fish, golf, and work for the Postal Service.

Though I was a jock, I read a lot. My favorites back then were Vonnegut, Wambaugh, and Ross McDonald. Though I wrote for school newspapers in high school and college, my post graduate typing was limited to letters to editors, management, and family. I did adapt, produce, and direct a Russian folk tale, The Nosebag, for the stage.

In retirement I play a lot of golf. In between rounds I read a lot of mysteries.  Among my favorites are William G. Tappley, Stuart Woods, and Tony Hillerman. I do not claim my writing style to be like any authors I may have been influenced by. I would say I write in the style that I speak, which is tersely. From me you will likely get a short answer to your question. To me effectively concise is better than unnecessary words.

My first book, Willowtree (a fictitious Arizona town) A Bruce DelReno Mystery, is of course about a retired mailman who plays a lot of golf. To quote Vonnegut, “and so it goes.”

***

LABOR DAY 9/3/2011

Another holiday approaches. Holiday. No work for a lot of people who have work. Picnics instead. Labor Day. I am wondering if extreme conservatives, especially in Ohio and Wisconsin will have a burger and beer at the beach or at a family gathering on Labor Day.

History review: In 1894 the Pullman Car Company cut workers wages, workers who were putting in 16-hour days. This led to boycotts of trains and refusal of members of the American Railway Union to run trains having Pullman Cars. Other unions joined the strike and it became a national problem because there was much violence. President Grover Cleveland called in the US Marshals and 12,000 US Army troops because several laws were being violated and the strike interfered with the delivery of mail. Thirteen were killed and fifty-seven wounded. Six days after the strike ended. Congress made September 5th a national holiday, Labor Day.

The irony: Labor Day was created to keep the mail being delivered. The US Postal Service and Congress are now (September, 2011) considering cutting the workforce by 20%, seriously reducing benefits, and eliminating some bargaining rights.

***

BREAD

In Willowtree, Bruce DelReno bakes some bread. So do I. I have been experimenting for years trying to make the perfect (to me) loaf. My perfect bread is what my friend, Joe, made in West Rutland, Vermont back in the 1970’s. I was working with him building an addition to his restaurant. Joe would leave for a while every day saying, “I gotta make the bread.” He would return with flour all over his shirt and trousers. He made fantastic Italian bread that was the biggest draw to the restaurant. A cheeseburger using two thick slices of Joe’s crispy whole wheat bread was the lunch I usually was given. I didn’t tell Joe, but I would have worked all day for just that as my pay.
I have tried many recipes, tweaked them, and even developed my own. There are several I make regularly.
Why am I talking bread? Many folks who have read Willowtree noticed the food theme, and have suggested I put recipes in my future books. Some have asked specifically about the bread. I am thinking of adding a recipe or two, maybe at the end of the Bruce DelReno book I am now working on. Maybe I’ll put in one of my favorite bread recipes, though I never got close to duplicating Joe’s.
Let’s call it DELRENO’S OLIVE OIL BREAD. It is a soft, light bread, good by itself, toasted, or sopping up Sunday gravy.

1 1/2 TBS active dry yeast
2 CUPS warm water (at about 110 degrees)
2 TSP salt, (sea salt if you have it)
6 TBS olive oil
1 TSP sugar
5 CUPS all purpose flour (4 1/2 WHITE, 1/2 WHOLE WHEAT, or all white)
EXTRA Oil and Salt for crust
1 500 mg Vitamin C tablet, crushed. (Optional, will act as preservative and bread will stay fresh longer.)

-In a large bowl mix the yeast, sugar, salt, vitamin C, oil, and water.
-Stir in 4 cups flour (3 1/2 white, and 1/2 whole wheat, or all white)
-Put onto floured surface and knead in another cup of flour.
-Put in oiled bowl, turn to coat; cover with wet towel.
-Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
-Punch down, cut into 2 or 3 equal parts, form into 2 or 3 round balls, dusting with flour to work more easily.
-Spray 2 or 3 pie pans with cooking oil, and sprinkle corn meal.
-Put loaves in pans. Cover, and let rise to double (about 1 hour) -Pre- heat oven to 400° F. Place a sheet pan with 2 or 3 cups of water on the bottom of the oven. Steam will make a crispier crust. Alternately, spray the loaves with water several times during baking.
-Cut 3 slits across top of loaves with a sharp knife or razor, not deep. Brush top with oil and sprinkle with salt. Optionally, sprinkle tops with sesame or poppy seeds.
-Bake until internal temp is 200 degrees, or about 25 to 30 minutes. Crust will be light brown and it will make a hollow sound if you tap on the bottom of the loaf.
-Cool on wire racks.

***

WHEN I WAS A KID…AND NOW (01/14/2012)

I was speaking with a friend the other day and he commented that as kids we couldn’t wait to grow up and get settled down. We agreed that as kids we didn’t believe adults who said, “Time goes faster, the older you get.” To us youngsters it seemed to crawl by sometimes, and now in retirement it is in full sprint. Then we played “Remember when?” until the coffee was gone. When my pal left, I jotted down a few things.

When I was a kid…I admired authors.
Now…I admire them a great deal more.

When I was a kid…My heroes were Mom, Dad, and Mickey Mantle.
Now…they are Mom, Dad, and Bruce DelReno.

When I was a kid…we played baseball until dark.
Now…I don’t see baseball in empty lots.

When I was a kid…we didn’t have cell phones, and a telephone was for important correspondence.
Now…cell phones are used for nonsense while driving to a place we don’t really have to go.

When I was a kid…Betty White was old.
Now…Betty White is old.

When I was a kid…my grandfather’s home-made wine was the best thing I had ever tasted.
Now… I remember it still is.

When I was a kid…I didn’t have a lot to reminisce about.
Now…I can’t remember what I was reminiscing about yesterday.

When I was a kid…We believed it was butter, and we drank whole milk. Now, coffee, cheese, flour, oil, sugar, salt, beer, and ice cream are bad for us, and we should eat foods that are improved, no-fat, lo-cal, lite, organic, unsaturated, decaffeinated, artificial, or taste awful, and contain enough dyes and preservatives to look appetizing and last a long time in their pretty packaging that is 43% of their retail cost figuring in advertising.

When I was a kid…I couldn’t remember the good ole days.

***

MY BEST THINGS OF 2011 (01/02/2012)

In no particular order. I never planned to write a Best-Of-The-Year thing because I thought nobody cared what I thought. I guess now that I am a (famous) author, and we are in the period of last-year- new-year-musing, folks do care what I think about certain things. At least some things, like those below about which they keep bugging me.

So, I thought about it…

1-MOVIETHE HELP is the best overall, Viola Davis was brilliant.
HORRIBLE BOSSES was the funniest.
CONVICTION, BRIDESMAIDS, THE FIGHTER, are all worth a mention. A great surprise was WELCOME TO THE RILEYS.

2-BOOKTHE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach.
My review on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/221610448

3-NEW TV SHOWPRIME SUSPECT starring Maria Bello.
NBC is now officially the worst network for not renewing this show. What else do they have worth watching?

4-WEBSITE—GOODREADS.COM.
The social site where I least feel like I’m wasting time. http://www.goodreads.com/

5-BLOG—THE CREATIVE PENN
by Joanna Penn, award winning author and blogger, a must read for writers.
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

6-JOKE—Herman Cain running for president.

7-GOLF SCORE (MINE)—65, at a par 66 course.

8-POLITICIAN—BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT.
No nonsense, Bernie truly puts the people first over re-election, PACS, or party loyalty.

LIVE EVENT—USA WOMENS SOCCER TEAM vs. SWEDEN.
The most electric live sporting event I have attended. Ever.

10-FREE THING—FOXIT PDF READER.
I used this to convert my manuscript into a print ready PDF file for submission to the publisher. I have ADOBE, but I use FOXIT.

11-NEW RECIPEZITI WITH ROASTED ZUCHINNI.
A recipe I got from BON APPETIT.

***

IS YOUR AVATAR YOU? (04/27/2012

I frequent many book and author websites. I think many authors should quickly change their photo or avatar.
Sometimes the author photo makes me think that I would not buy or read anything written by that guy. Other times I think I would consider buying anything he (usually she) is selling. Most lie somewhere in between.
I just wonder if a guy using a picture of himself in a torn tee shirt standing outside the door of a restroom at a bus terminal is someone who could write anything I’d enjoy. Maybe he writes great stuff, but I’ll never know. I won’t click through because of the poor mug shot. The photo does not need to show the person as extremely handsome or beautiful; simply ordinary, sane, and having the eyes visible will do.
Okay, you saw my ID photo, and wonder who am I to talk? Well, it’s a fairly good
likeness of the recent me. That’s all it is. It’s not an ad for a movie, cosmetics, or a new medication.
All I am saying is that maybe there are other readers like me who pass by the goofy, or generic avatar, only to click on one that looks like someone who could at least sign his/her name. Maybe I’m wrong and more folks will click on the one with the tonsils showing.
Maybe I’ll experiment and replace my ordinary head-and-shoulders shot with the picture from that Halloween party in college. The one that friends claim is me.

***

A SUNDAY MORNING WALK (05/07/2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012.
I am writing this in New Orleans, a very favorite place with many fabulous memories which include the obvious—Mardi Gras, French Quarter, great food, universities, history, voodoo, the super dome, golf, above ground cemeteries, music everywhere, especially blues and zydeco, and great restaurants which is where the great food is. Are there more obvious things in New Orleans than anywhere else?

I am here because of cold winters in New England that are too cold for my son. After college, he came here for the comfort of snowless ground and high humidity air, with the occasional hurricane. We visit often because we love our son, grandkids, and the city.

Nine-fifteen A.M.
After being awake since six-thirty, alternately dozing and dealing with persistent automatic thoughts, I sneaked out through the door in the bedroom. I had learned to use deliberate and quick motions to minimize the noise and time required to unlock three deadbolts and pull open a door swollen by constant high humidity, slip out, close it, and walk briskly away believing I did not wake anyone. All this to have the simple pleasure of walking alone in this wondrous place. I juked my way down the concrete path, ducking lush vegetation invading its airspace, to the street corner.
It was partly cloudy and bearably humid. An unnecessary walk in the Garden District is a favorite activity of mine when I’m in Nola. I would probably get a coffee and a newspaper, but could do without both.
I wanted to see the buildings, the trees, and the people.
Approaching St. Charles Avenue I spotted a street car, several joggers, people walking dogs and riding bikes along the tracks. Walking slowly, admiring some huge, and all old and unique homes for five blocks, I eventually came to the corner of Napoleon Avenue. There, a man was standing on the curb next to several stacks of the Sunday Times-Picayune, hoping to sell them all to folks stopped for the traffic light or walking past. I picked up a copy and tipped him a buck, then wondered if that was expected or common practice.
Continuing up the street I saw about a dozen people in front of a neat brick building which was St. George’s Church. Some walked in and others came out of the open door carrying white plastic bags. These were not worshipers, but I assumed were needy folks collecting a weekly bag of food.
Two blocks further I got the coffee because I couldn’t resist the warm sugared beignets. Not the Cafe Du Monde, but just as yummy.
Walking down Milan (mylan) Street (pronunciation in New Orleans is another story) I suddenly heard the sound of rain hitting rooftops and the canopy formed by treetops and wide spreading branches. Looking up I saw the dark sky meet the blue a couple of blocks north. Within a few minutes, after turning the corner on Prytania Street the sprinkles caught up with me. I got hardly wet at all, only when in spaces where two trees were not close enough to provide cover. I waited outside a CVS store during a downpour and nodded to a couple I had seen earlier at the beginning of my walk carrying folded umbrellas. Now, each lowered the vinyl barrier from above their heads, shook water off and refolded it. They each had a white plastic bag from St. George’s Church.
The little storm left as suddenly as it had appeared. I resumed my sight-seeing, scrutinizing the architecture of the Garden District, which is an awesome mosaic of mansions and bungalows, fit closely together with no two pieces being the same. The buildings are painted in more colors than any paint store has color chips, purples and pinks included. Of course there are black and gold houses, more numerous since the Saints won the Super Bowl. Many other homes of fans simply have a 4 foot high fleur de lis painted on the wall or door. I saw several of those on my short walk home.

Big tree roots have cracked and lifted sections of concrete sidewalk and now puddles and small ponds exist in the low spots. They will not dry up nor drain quickly with the humidity and moist soil.
I completed my jagged loop, arriving at the big yellow house in bright sunshine, and was quickly inside before anyone missed me.

***

THE OLYMPICS: MY TAKE (08/16/2012)

The Olympics are over, but I still keep thinking about some of the great thrills I got from of my many hours of viewing. I also remember disappointments, but those are fading faster. Thanks to DVR I can save and PLAY some of the former and FF through the latter.

My favorites are, of course the sports I played, coached, or officiated—soccer, track and field, gymnastics—but I very much admire the skills of athletes in any other sport. I just am not interested in watching very much of beach volleyball, though I would like to play it if I were 50 years younger, and the cooler was filled with cold pilsners.

I am not a swimmer, but enjoyed the racing and diving maybe because of the similarities to track and gymnastics. Water polo and team handball might have similarities to soccer, but ugh! I know, many people love water polo, and many hate soccer. Good for them.

And good for me, I was able to watch events on six different channels.

NBC received much criticism for their coverage, some from me, but I appreciate their spreading coverage to all of their channels, especially dedicating soccer games to one place with limited commercials. The soccer experience alone made London 2012 a wonderful experience for me.

Random Notes:

-The fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, is indeed a [+ legend+] in my opinion, no sprinter has ever looked better; but his antics are a big detraction. I like Bullet Bob Hayes more.

-Playing not-to-win: The badminton teams that were DQ’d for not trying were blatant, pathetic and insulting to athletes and fans of all sports. The Japan soccer team also played a game wanting to tie, not win, to gain a favorable match-up in the next round. They, however, played with much effort, and did not make a mockery of the match. Knowledgeable fans knew what they were doing, but also realized the risk, and skill involved in pulling it off.

-I was quite displeased to hear all of the talk of medal counts. Some sports (athletes) do not have the opportunity to enter many events; for most it is one event and done. Bravo to Michael Phelps and winning 20? medals. He is a great athlete and worked hard for them. He deserves the acclaim. But, I got tired of hearing about it.

-I never looked at, or paid attention to the tally of medals by country. Nice that the USA won a lot, and GB won a bunch, too. I hope all of the countries won at least one, as did Uganda.

-Delayed broadcasts and so many commercials. Yuk!

-Yea! for USA women’s soccer and gymnastics, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, David Boudia, Meb Keflezighi, [+ Jennifer Suhr+], and a lot more who provided us with thrills watching their great achievements

-Sad that softball was absent from the Games.

-I like that some sports limited professionals from eligible performers. Men’s soccer limited its roster to 3 players over the age of 23. I watched none of the basketball, though I greatly admire Lebron, coach K, and the others. Members of professional leagues should not be in the Olympics. I hope the golfers in Rio 2016 are amateurs. I will not watch Tiger, Phil, Rory, or for that matter Jack, Arnie, or Gary, if they are competing in Rio. I ordinarily can’t get enough golf, but that would be too much.

***

MY YARDWORK PLAN (09/03/2012)

The early morning sunlight coming through my patio door brightens a large rectangular patch on the sage green carpet, the same carpet that needs a shampoo.
I have delayed that chore with a pretty good excuse—it has been much too humid lately for it to dry properly. Outside, I see clippings on the ground surrounding the hedge, evidence of my twenty minute yard work commitment for last week. We have had a good monsoon this summer and I am grateful for the much needed rain, which is never enough here in the high Arizona desert. I can judge the success of the monsoon by the proliferation of weeds in my yard that I see through the door. Perhaps I will tackle those weeds for twenty minutes this week. Pull some big ones and spray the rest. The photina, oleander, bird-of-paradise, lilac, and mesquite tree all need trimming. I try to keep the tops of the oleanders below the roof line, but somehow they are now three feet above it. I have a note, in my head, to take the clippers to those guys, but I seldom come across it.
I can see the Chevy and have a mental note to change the oil and filter. The new oil and filter I bought two weeks ago are in the garage, but I can’t see them. Now, the dog is at the patio door wanting to come in. I’ll have to bring baggies out and collect her things, later. I sat here to work on Stinger Maguire, my new book, and I actually did some research, but only wrote this blog post. I shouldn’t have opened the drapes and seen all the work opportunities outside; it’s too hot to work out there.
I can also see the hot tub on the patio, which often helps form my daily itinerary. My plan is this: fifteen minutes in the hot tub, make a peanut butter sandwich, and eat it on the way to the golf course.

***

MY VISIT TO THE HEARD MUSEUM (10/03/2012)

I recommend visiting the Heard Museum in Phoenix if you are at all interested in Native American culture. There are many fabulous displays of Indian art, memorabilia, customs, and history. The most important and impactful part of my visit was learning more about the Indian Boarding Schools. Many of these schools opened in the mid 1800’s through the early 1900’s, the first being in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Their purpose, simply stated, was to “civilize” or “Europeanize” the children of the “savages.”

One particularly moving display was a barber chair, long black hair on the floor, and a quote on the wall reading in part “We’d lost our hair and we’d lost our clothes; with the two we’d lost our identity as Indians.” The image of the hair under the barber chair and that quote will stay with me forever.
p.
The Heard Museum has good parking, a nice restaurant and wonderful shops. 

Indian Names:

In Willowtree Bruce wonders why so many Indians have common English first names for last names, two first names, like Robert Peters, or Ben Samuel.
I admit when writing about that I did no research, only made an observation. After learning some of what happened at the boarding schools, I did look into the origin of these names. One interesting account from the superintendent of a school for Crow in Montana can be found at the University of Virginia Library website.
Frank Terry, the superintendent, not an Indian but coincidentally having two first names, gives insight into this naming and renaming of Indians for their benefit, which, of course, means for the White Man’s ease in keeping track of them. He says frontiersmen chose to give them “uncouth” names like Jim, Sam, or Pete as their last name. Later, authorities changed to “more stately names” as James, Samuel, or Peters.

***

ONE ONE THIRTEEN (01/01/2013)

Not saying happy new year.
Not asking about your resolutions, or telling you mine.
Not listing the 10 best, or worst, of 2012.
Not making predictions, or saying I-told-you-so.
Not ruing unfulfilled promises or expectations, or making new ones.
Not liking or sharing cute, clever, political, or photo-shopped posts.
No punch line.

***

EBOOKS ARE/AREN’T REAL BOOKS (02/18/2013)

I was reading a conversation in the March 2013 Harper’s with Maurice Sendak and Emma Brockes of The Believer (Dec.2012). It is all interesting, as Sendak is, but his answer to, “What do you think of e-books?” is what stopped me.
“I hate them,” he said. “A book is a book…really like a lover…I think I spent more time sniffing and touching them than reading.”

I recalled conversations with my wife about e-books versus real books. We agreed as aged and avid readers that we preferred the old fashioned kind, and couldn’t understand why anyone would rather have a Kindle or Nook. Well, now we both have e-readers and read from them daily. We do not visit the library as frequently before, but often are into a pages-bound-with-glue-book that lies nearby. We do digital and paper.

I wondered if other famous authors have answered the question posed by Brockes, or have given their thoughts about e-books. Yes they have.

“There is no future for e-books because they are not books.”
-Ray Bradbury.
Ray is wrong there, about the first part anyway.
“A paperback has a sense of permanence…I can spill water on it and it will still work.”
-Jonathan Franzen.
And drop it and throw it without worry.
“It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd.”
-Penelope Lively
Best quote I’ve heard in a while.
“How do you press a wildflower into the pages of an e-book?”
-Lewis Buzbee
That’s what old books are for, Lewis.
“I read fast, carelessly, superficially on the screen, and don’t enjoy it. I don’t know why.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin
I sometimes experience this as well 
“Life without a Kindle is like life without a library nearby.”
-Franz McLaren
Sure. But if I had a choice, give me the library.
And there are the kids:
“You can tap on a word to see what it means and you can make the words big or small.”
-A 9 year-old girl

One more thing (This is true):
A few days ago before turning off the light and going to sleep, I used my Kindle as a bookmark, saving my place in the hardcover of a Harlen Coben mystery I am reading.

***

APRIL ALREADY (04/03/2013)

April already.
Gee. I just got over Christmas.
I’m simply jotting down a few of my recent random thoughts.
-So Amazon is going to take over GoodReads. I can’t decide if it is good or bad. I’ll wait to see what happens. But I know I would favor it and be excited if GoodReads would take over Shelfari.
-So, there’s a new Pope. I like Bill Maher’s take: Francis is a good name, but his real name, Jorge Bergoglio, is a great one. It sounds like a brand of expensive shoes. Oxfords or pumps by Jorge Bergoglio.
-Baseball is back. Baseball, the seven month show preceding football. I prefer the real baseball of the NL…no DH.
-Winter is over, I guess. My golf course in Arizona was closed one whole day.
But that could happen any time of the year if enough rain falls. I think the average is once a year.
-I noticed some Facebook ‘improvements’ as they call ‘em.
When I see my pages look screwier, I know they made an improvement.
-I would plant some flowers along the walk and driveway in the front like we used to every spring.
The javelinas would like it, too.
-I worry a little bit about Iran, North Korea, and our southern red states.
-Next month I turn another decade. I’m old enough to be Pope, get discounts on lots of stuff, and have strangers call me ‘Sir.’ I have a long and event-filled history; I can remember some of it.
-It’s not just me who can’t make a decision. I hear “I don’t care” and “It doesn’t matter to me” quite a lot.
-I served on a jury recently. We got hung; we were 6 vs. 6.
-I don’t waste quite so much time on the computer as I did in the past. I waste a lot on my Kindle Fire now.
-There are a few TV shows that I like to watch. (Alert! Call the Midwife Season Two started on PBS this week)
Commercials annoy me more than ever. Whoever invented the MUTE button – thanks a million.
And speaking of annoying commercials and being old, I resent all of those drug companies targeting me for their drugs-with-side effects-worse-than-the-illness during the news programs.
Can I watch one sporting event without Viagra or Cialis? Commercials, I mean.
-My wife wants a cat. I do and I don’t. -My WIP is at nearly 50% completion.
-Oh, my! It’s April?

***

MY TV, McCAIN, AND ME (05/20/20130

John McCain (R-AZ) is my senator and a senator with whom I seldom agree. He is sponsoring a bill that would create ‘a la carte’ cable and satellite TV pricing, something I have wished for since my basic DirecTV bill began ballooning. Thank you, Mr. McCain. He compares the cable and satellite package bundling to “forcing customers to pay for the entire menu at a restaurant in order to get what they want to eat.” My point exactly.
I have a higher priced package than the most basic package only because I want the local channels. (See what I mean?) That gives me more than a hundred channels I have excluded in my favorites list. I don’t watch the kid’s, Christian, shopping, music, Spanish, or many other channels. In fact, the reason I got a satellite dish in the first place was because my cable provider, at that time, did not have Comedy Central, the place I get my kid’s, Christian, shopping, music, and Spanish information.
I think they can switch on/off any individual channel for each customer. They switched on the local Fox Sports channel for me when I called and said I wasn’t getting it
I once bought a set of 12 Magic Markers because I needed only a brown one. I recently bought a 6-piece accessory kit for my Kindle. All I needed was the charger, but the kit was cheaper than just a charger from Amazon. So, I am willing to pay for something I don’t want to get something I really want, if it’s a one-time event. The TV package is monthly with ever increasing cost. I don’t like that. I’d rather be able to pick the channels I want even if a channel I pick has some shows I would never watch.
So, I hope McCain gets a bundle of support for this bill. I hope it becomes the law so I won’t have to pay for Jewelry Television, though I’m sure many people couldn’t live without it.
But it won’t pass. AZ will be a Blue State before that happens. Why not? Same reason a lot of good bills don’t pass—lobbies.
Opponents say customers would not save money. Smaller channels would not survive. Prices of popular channels would be high. Etc.

Again, thank you Sen. McCain for working in my interest. I guess the DC lobbies are more powerful than you and me.

***

BIRTHDAY SURPRISE (06/06/2013)

May and June.
I am reflecting on family events that occur frequently in May and June.
Many members of our family have been born during May or June.
Some have died during these weeks. I lost a dear brother and sister near the beginning of a May. I lost one of my best friends, my Grandfather Bove in May, 1965. Recently a dear aunt and an uncle have passed on May days. Our beautiful and beloved mother left us in May, two years ago at the age of ninety-three. We are nearing Fathers Day, when a remarkable brother-in-law died unexpectedly a year ago.

Why am I thinking about this now? Our large family is scattered across the country- VT, MA, ME, FL, NJ, LA, AZ, MD, CO, and China. We get together for, you know, funerals.

Here’s the good part:
My birthday (70) was last week and my eldest son (NJ) planned a visit which made me ecstatic.
I would get a chance to beat him at golf for the first time ever, since I’ve been retired and play a lot; he has to work a lot so plays only on occasion. (I didn’t).
He arrived in AZ; we had a nice dinner at home. Then the doorbell rang.

A big surprise walked in, my youngest brother (MA).
Wow, I had my son and brother to celebrate with, but before he could sit down the doorbell rang again.
In walks another brother (FL). My wife and I could not believe it. His first time in AZ.
Two minutes later I answered the bell to welcome my baby sister (VT), a world traveler but her first time in AZ. She is the gem of this family. The rest of the family knows what I mean.
Doorbell. Another jewel of a sister (VT), joined the party. I looked outside to see who else might be there, but figured I was indeed so happy to have them all here though one brother (VT) was missing.
We are all still hugging when we were interrupted by the doorbell. It was the last of my living siblings and we six were all together.
I looked at them. Boy, they are old now.
But still handsome and pretty. But I am still older.

We laughed and hugged and cried and toured AZ and ate and ate.
We got up early and stayed up late.
We ate some more and man, there was coffee and coffee.
My birthday lasted five days. Then it was Karen’s birthday, the first of her, how many? First one in AZ. We had cake. We had fun. Lots.
So for the better part of a week my life was a wreck.
In a good way.
Thank you brothers and sisters for the best surprise anyone could have.
Thanks to the rest of your families, spouses, and children, for sending them off to visit me and my dear wife.
The surprise worked. I had not even a hint of it, though it was months in the making.
The plan to get together for a happy time is not a bad idea. It is wonderful.
Peace and love.

***

SUMMERTIME (07/25/2013)

SUMMERTIME

The time speeds by leaving me wishing I had more motivation, ambition, drive, or what is it called? Geritol?
I have done a lot of activities, but wasted a lot of non-activity in between.
Today I sprayed the darn weeds in the back, and planted some nice portulaca in the front. I posted some stuff on FB, and some on Twitter, if retweeting and favoriteing counts. I checked my e-mail and played solitaire. I watched a little of the Canadian Open, That’s quite a lot I’ve done and it is not dark outside yet.
I also made pesto. It’s a bountiful basil season. Oh, yeah, I made the bread dough.
Pop it in the oven tomorrow morning.
I almost forgot that I brushed the dog.
Got a nice pile of hair off her back, so she’ll look presentable when she goes for grooming tomorrow.
After that, I vacuumed the dining and living rooms. Had to.
That reminded me I wanted to wash the kitchen floor, so I did.
I also printed handout sheets and recipe cards for my speech tomorrow.
I learned how to change the ink cartridge in my new printer.
What? My speech is tomorrow?
I guess there will be no ballgame tonight.

I wrote this the day before my presentation at the Camp Verde Community Library Adult Summer Reading Program. I am honored to have been accepted in the CVCL community.

***

ME AND FACEBOOK, LIKE IT OR NOT (08/12/20130

-I don’t like it when people say/post ‘Like my page’ even if they say ‘please.’
So, I have never asked anyone to ‘Like’ my page, but I wish somebody would.
-I don’t play games on Facebook.
So if you invite me to play any, I will ignore the request and block that app.
-I don’t usually post what I am doing unless it is unusual or noteworthy.
For ex: I will not post “Going to play golf.” I will post “I got another hole-in-one.”
-I hate those ads that come up suggesting a page I might ‘Like’.
I never like them. I never ‘Like’ them.
-I love seeing the photos of family and friends, especially those living far away, even cousins and their kids.
-I follow many authors, book related pages, and I belong to book, reader, and author groups. I occasionally offer opinions or post something on them and ‘Like’ a lot of posts. But, I skip over any post about books in certain genres. I don’t read much fantasy or romance or sci-fi or paranormal, just some.
I am not interested in vampires, something happening in the year 2065, or 50 shades of anything.
-I try to keep my personal page separate from my author page but Zuckerberg won’t let me. It’s about an error I made in setting them up – an irreversible error that FB magic cannot undo unless I change my name, move to Antarctica, or do both and start over from scratch.
-I have signed a few petitions and joined a few causes, but I don’t like being asked to sign or join 50 more because I am now on a list.
-I have friends who are Black, Asian, Gay, Fat, Old, Canadian, Funny Looking, and Republican. I like and ‘Like’ them all.
-I heard that ‘everybody’ is on FB, but it’s not true.
I have some dear friends and family members that I still e-mail or must contact by phone or US Mail. I usually don’t bother to e-mail or snail-mail messages to them if all I have to say is “At McD’s with Keely” or “I Like Wal-Mart.”
-Sometimes you may post something and expect I will ‘Like’ it.
Sometimes I like it, but don’t ‘Like’ it.
-Remember the old FaceBook, before they changed to the Timeline thing?
I don’t.

***

CHARACTER INSPIRATIONBEN SAMUEL

A FAVORITE CHARACTER IN WILLOWTREE

Many readers have said that Ben Samuel, the eccentric Apache friend of Bruce DelReno, is their favorite character in Willowtree.
Where did the inspiration for the character come from?
It came from a real person and friend of mine.
His name is not Ben Samuel, but he has two first names.
He is not an Apache, but a Yavapai from the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe whose Reservation was established in Prescott, Arizona in 1935.
My friend is a genuinely friendly, humorous, generous, and likeable individual who is more of an avid golfer than Bruce or me. Better at it, too.
I have learned a lot about Native Americans from him and others while living in Arizona and from playing golf with many of them. The Indians, they call themselves Indians, to me at least, are enthusiastic golfers. There are many Indian Tournaments; I have been privileged to be able to play in some sponsored by Tribes.
Every Indian I have met seems to be proud of his heritage and also proud to be an American.

I met my friend about fifteen years ago when we were made members of the same team in a celebrity pro-am tournament in Prescott.
Later that year a new golf course opened in my town and we met again. He also lived nearby and we soon began our Sunday foursome skins game. We have played together with two others nearly every Sunday since then. We sometimes will play different courses in the state, and often as a team in area tournaments, winning our share.
So, Ben is inspired by my friend, but Ben is not this friend.
They are their own persons, though they both are good golfers and quite funny.
The only stolen attribute (besides low handicap) given to Ben was his habit of loudly stirring multiple packets of sugar into his coffee. Of course, my friend was not aware of the annoyance until the book, and for some reason does not do it anymore.
When I took the photo that was eventually used on the cover, I had not realized that my friend had moved into the frame. I was shooting the desert willow tree from the cart path looking toward the fairway. I decided to leave him in the photo when cropping it.
He thinks it’s Ben.

***

COLUMBUS DAY. WHY? (10/12/20130)

Another holiday for Americans. Monday, October 14 is Columbus Day.

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937 to commemorate his landing in, or ‘discovering’ the ‘New World’.
It was celebrated in New York long before 1937.
In recent years there has been controversy and efforts to remove CD as a holiday. Indeed, the state of California is trying to rename it ‘Native American Day’.
In Berkley, they call it ‘Indigenous Peoples Day’. To some Native American Tribes October 12 is ‘Native American Recognition Day’.
It has been celebrated across the country with parades and other festivities, I think, more to celebrate the Italian-American Heritage, even though he sailed under a Spanish flag. It was a brave and major accomplishment, as many thought he would fall off the edge of a flat earth.
Parades will be held this week-end from New York to San Francisco.
Still, the Native Americans have a point. You must have seen images or tee-shirts with a picture of Geronimo holding a rifle and the caption, “Homeland Security. Fighting terrorism since 1492.” See their point?
Why should they celebrate over 500 years of domination, exploitation, and worse?
Personally, the holiday has always been about my Italian Heritage.
Since moving west and having Native American acquaintances and friends, I have become more aware of their culture and of their hardships since Christopher arrived.
I have visited or attended many festivities like powwows, rodeos, museums.
I have been a welcomed visitor.
They are proud of their heritage, as I am, as we all are. If our country is great because it is a ‘melting pot’ of peoples and their cultures from everywhere in the world, we will surely include those who were here first.
On Columbus Day, I will be thankful for my new friends, and perhaps share some lasagna.

I have received both praise and criticism from Italians and Native Americans for this and other Columbus Day comments. So it goes.

***

NO DELRENO KIDS (10/07/2013)

Do Bruce and Genny in Willowtree have any kids?
Maybe, I’m not telling.
In real life many children unfortunately have to deal with murder, maybe a murderer or a victim in the family. There are kids who are killed and kids who kill.
No one, I hope, enjoys reading or hearing those stories. There are enough of them on television and in newspapers.
I’m sure there are enough of them in fiction.
I wouldn’t like reading those stories either.
In mysteries the murder is only the impetus for the story.
The story is the investigation and resolution.
I would rather not have youngsters involved in that business.
I have purposely not included children in my Bruce DelReno Mysteries.
I will not ever write about a youthful villain or victim.
And I may not even introduce any child character, however cute and innocent I want him/her to be.
Being a senior sleuth, it is easy for Bruce to not mention any children when telling his tales. All of his friends are geriatric, or close to it. All of their children are grown and off on their own adventures.
Bruce chooses the dead bodies he finds very carefully. They never have young kids.

Bruce DelReno, I guess, is my alter ego. Roughly.
He’s an ex-postman who loves golf and eating. He’s very smart and handsome.
He would never think of having a pet snake or going cliff diving.
But, though he never mentions it, he does love children.
Me, too. My Mom had eight; I got used to them.
My wife and I have two grown men, who are our kids. They are the greatest joy and pride in our lives. Our five beautiful grandchildren are each a unique wonder.
I hope no one, young or old, has to come close to being affected by murder in their lives.
With Bruce DelReno kids are safe. His stories, childproof.

***

TO LIST OR NOTYEAR END THOUGHTS (12/23/2013)

If you know me you know I hate certain lists, not grocery or honey-do lists, but the kind that are in overabundance at the end of the year.
I like knowing what a friend thinks are the best movies, books, actors, TV shows, or cookie recipes. What I hate is media frenzy over a writer’s opinion of what are the best things of all things that can be categorized.

With that said…
I recommend FROZEN, the best animated movie I have seen in recent memory. (One movie is not a list)

My favorite nine books read in 2013 (not a Top Ten List) are, in no particular order:
Italian Shoes, Henning Mankell
Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth
Kurt Vonnegut:Letters, Dan Wakefield
The Mill River Recluse, Darcie Chan
Recovered, (The Shapeshifters’ Library) Amber Polo
Natalie’s Revenge, Susan Fleet
One Small Victory, Maryann Miller
The Girl From Tenerife, Bernard Shaffer
The Night I Danced With Rommel, Elizabeth Merrion

Some random thoughts about some things I liked or didn’t like this year:

-The AZ Cardinals and the PHX Suns are exceeding anyone’s expectations this season.
Good for them. I watch a lot of the NFL games, but prefer the college games.
I watch no NBA games. None. Not since Larry retired. In the Bird Era I watched every Celtic game available.
-I’m excited that baseball begins in about two months. I read all of the ‘transactions’ and am trying to figure out if my D-Backs have improved or not.
Love the game. Not what money has done to it.
-The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood was good.
Take it easy, you media types; it was not intended to replace the original. On its own, I liked it, and I am not going to compare Ms. Underwood to Ms. Andrews.
-Susan Rice, former UN Ambassador and present advisor to the President, is my Person of the Year, if I had to name one. Her integrity and accomplishments should rise far above the better publicized mistreatments by others including a recent 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl.
-Best politician? There was one. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
-I like Duck Dynasty. I don’t think of anything political, religious, or whatever, I only judge the entertainment.
-Did the baseball umps and football refs screw up a lot this year?
Yes. But I don’t know which I hate more, a blatant mistake or a video review.
-I’ve always liked the library, any library. Even in 2013, with 100’s of books on my Kindle machine, I go to the library often. There are people there.
-I served with eleven of my peers on a jury this year. Criminal case. I couldn’t decide guilt, so voted ‘no’ and we were hung, 6 vs. 6. A retrial hung him.
-I turned 70 this year. I’ll never do that again. A surprise visit by far-away family was the best thing in many years.
-I wasted a lot of time this year when I should have been writing.
-I doubt I will make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Those are worse than Best-Of Lists.

***

I GET IT. NOT REALLY. I DON’T GET IT (12/14/2013)

I wrote the following after reading my local small-town newspaper and the Wall Street Journal on December 5th, twenty days before Christmas.
I read both regularly and understand they are two different types of periodicals as to the typical information published and the target audiences. I get it.
Today both contained a good number of Christmas ads, as I would expect. I’m okay with that. I get it.
The WSJ had one article concerning the Christmas Holiday. It was about the most popular color of the hot items in stores, the family of hues from pink to orchid.
The local paper had many articles about Christmas ranging from food, photos of decorations at homes and businesses, and several with information about local charities and support groups.
Again, I agree these two publications are at opposite ends of the news spectrum, I am simply pointing out some interesting differences.
Which one would you expect to have a large article about homemade cookies?
Wrong, the WSJ. A company sells hand decorated cookies. The popular box of 23 cookies (not 2 dozen) of which one cookie is over 4 inches and most are less than 2 inches in size sells for $95.00. If you don’t buy them at Sak’s, shipping is $17.25 more.
The WSJ also had ads for things like a pair of sandals for $950 having the top strap made to look like a fish skeleton. The first three pages had 8 large ads for watches, nice men’s watches. I looked up the price of two of them. An Oris was $3,500 and a Bucherer was $44,000. I stopped looking up the price of watches, and my $14 three year old watch showed I had an appointment soon.
Of course the WSJ was not full of flyers from Wal-Mart and Office Max. I remember one insert the other day though, offering a good deal on a latest jet plane model. I get it. I’d want a Bucherer if I had a jet.
In the WSJ there was a full-page ad from a big oil company saying they care about the community. I’m guessing the woman and child in the ad were models, not members of the community.
In contrast the little paper had articles, complete with names and addresses, of local charities and events. A local business collects used cell phones which are given to a company that refurbishes them for resale. In turn that company donates (for each phone) two and a half hours of free phone service to soldiers.
A caregiver group had already installed 700 medical alert devices to elderly persons who live alone. They had 50 more and were seeking a few volunteers to install and maintain the devices.
Another group put out a call for donations of items like sleeping bags and warm socks, or cash, for homeless individuals they shelter temporarily and help in finding jobs and housing.
A Parkinson’s disease support group was having their regular meeting and inviting others to come, suggesting all wear something like a Christmas sweater or a Santa hat.
Notices told of caroling, a concert, and when Santa would arrive in town to meet little children.
Nothing like that in the big paper. It did have an article on Super Bowl TV ads. Some will cost 4 million dollars for a 30 second spot. I don’t get that.
I think those on my list will get the usual jar of jam or trinket. And a couple of local charities will get a little something, not a nice Swiss watch or a $4.88 cookie, but a little help in providing food or warmth.

A local needy person will most likely not see those award-winning Super Bowl ads. He’s not in the target audience of big newspapers and corporations. I get it.
But, I don’t get it.

Happy and Merry Christmas Holiday to y’all.

***

MLB’S CATCHER INTERFERENCE RULE – I HAVE A FIX (08/02/2014)

Recently a base runner was headed toward home plate and the catcher with the ball was partially blocking his path. He avoided the catcher by running around him. He was called safe by the umpire, though to this day he never has touched the plate. Video review upheld the safe call, citing it followed the interpretation of the rule.
Of course, one team was happy and applauded and the other team was frustrated and felt cheated.

The purpose of the new rule is to avoid a collision when a player is speeding home and attempting not to be tagged out, or beat the throw on a force play. Serious injuries to catchers and runners have occurred. Runners have intentionally barreled into the catcher to knock him over, prevent him from catching the ball, or knock it from his hands. That was legal; the runner has a right to a path to the base. The catcher had a right to try and block the runner from scoring. Players got hurt, and I understand maybe something had to be done about it.
The new rule puts most of the responsibility on the catcher. Awaiting the ball, does he get in front of the plate? Behind it? He has to move to catch a less than perfect throw; that may bring him into the path. Yet, the base runner can waltz around him and score the winning run without even touching home plate. Not right.
And, it is not the runner’s fault; he’s following the rules. It’s not the umpire’s fault; he’s following the interpretation of the league. It’s certainly not the catcher’s fault being put in an awkward position to do his job.

Should the league abolish this rule and go back to the way it was?
Maybe, the catcher knows he may be run over; the runner knows he must run him over. It’s baseball. A player may cause an injury to himself or another player by making an over-zealous collision. That over zealousness, or god forbid, intention to harm the other player, which has happened, is what should be dealt with. That’s not baseball.

The idea is to score runs. It is not good sense to make a rule so difficult to comply with and interpret when players are doing their job-score, or prevent a score.
In baseball if you do not touch the base—you’re out.
My proposal simply stated: treat all plays at home plate as a force out.
That means the catcher only has to touch home plate before the runner does. The catcher can stand with a toe touching the plate like a first baseman. The runner can run past the plate, or slide. If he beats the throw, he’s safe. It means the runner cannot go back to third if he has committed to run home.

Radical, I know. But not stupid like the DH rule, having a player bat without playing in the field.
An aside: “Poor pitcher, you can’t hit well, in fact you suck at it, so, we will let this guy who can’t throw very well bat for you. How’s that?”

The only problem I see with my proposal is when a runner rounds third base and has to decide to run home or not.
Easy solution: if he gets more than halfway home he cannot go back.
A little line at 45 feet, halfway, gives him plenty of time to decide and the umpire a definitive answer to whether he committed or not.
Commitment Rule: If a runner passes third base and passes ‘the commitment line’ which is a mark equidistant from the base and home plate, he cannot retreat to third base. Any play at home will be considered a force-out. The catcher, or any defensive player with the ball, can tag the runner or the plate to record an out.
Some baseball people will like this, and some will not. I get it, it is smart and crazy. But not as much as this other proposal to fix the home plate collision rule. It is the DR Rule, the full name being The Designated Third Base Runner Tag Rule.
The DTBRT rule allows the runner to tag a DR runner after touching third base. The DR would stand in the base coaches box (which isn’t used anyway) and becomes the new runner when tagged. The DR will usually be a guy like Jim Brown or another 260 lb fullback, in full protective gear, which certainly will make the damn catcher get out of the way.
Some critics say this won’t work because there will be so many video reviews since the umpire will often be uncertain if a tag was actually made. That problem can be solved by having the home plate umpire give each batter a relay baton. (The ump can keep a few in his big pocket, the one that holds hundreds of baseballs.) After rounding third base the runner must pass the baton to Jim Brown before reaching the commitment line.

Some of this post is an attempt at humor.
Some is serious.
I still love baseball, the game, but not as much as in the 1950’s when I was an infatuated boy listening to Mel Allen and Red Barber on my transistor radio, when I could rattle off the current batting average of my whole team. And before I knew what technology and money could do to it.

***

STUFF: SEPT. 2014 (09/29/2014)

First of all, let me wish a happy—th birthday to my beautiful daughter-in-law, Jill.
Now, a few more short notes (random thoughts) so that I get a post in my blog this month.
Baseball:
Best game ever invented. Three strikes, but four balls. Ninety feet. Genius.
D-Backs, mercy! Thought Gibby would be gone at All Star break.
Too many injuries, backward K’s, .200 hitters, and little-command pitchers. Video reviews overturned nearly 50% of the umpire decisions they looked at. Proves to me the umps made a whole lot of bad calls this season. Some were obvious. Some needed split-second-slo-mo to decide. Not what Mr. Doubleday had in mind. The game is for humans. The officials are not infallible. C’est la vie!
Can’t wait for the World Series, then spring training. Jeter!
Sorry Lee Child:
I had never read a Lee Child book until a few months ago when I enjoyed Echo Burning. Then I got an ARC (advance review copy) of his latest book, Personal, from his publicist. Halfway through it, I began hearing of his comments concerning the book price dispute between Amazon and Hachette. I am one of thousands of independent authors publishing through Amazon and agree with their position on the price of eBooks (lower than what Hachette wants). Mr. Child has lost me as a reader due to his comments about the dispute and Indie Authors. Personal was not nearly as entertaining as Echo Burning anyway, and I thought of ditching it before he said those things about me/us. Sorry, Lee, it’s personal.
Smart Phone:
I finally got one. Now I know why I see everybody sitting everywhere fiddling with theirs. They are trying to figure out how it works.
October 13:
10/13/2014 will be Thanksgiving Day in Canada, Columbus Day in the USA, and many Native American tribes will have their own celebrations.
The day will also mark our 20th anniversary of arriving in Arizona.
Cheers!

***

STOP CHANGING MY BASEBALL GAME (10/02/2014)

This is my latest baseball rant brought on by the latest from Major League Baseball.

MLB announced experimental rules changes to help speed up the game
They will be tried out in the Arizona Fall League.

First of all, there is no clock in baseball, and that is one of its attractions.
A player does not have to beat the clock as in a last-second shot in a tied basketball game. But, I dare say that a batter facing a closer in the last of the ninth with two out, game tied, has all of that drama and suspense. In my opinion, more, since the batter gets up to three strikes or four balls.

Without a doubt there is much wasted time in Major League games. But having a clock and timing certain actions is absurd. A clock will not affect umpire decisions, good calls or bad calls. MLB has already given umpires the manager play challenges and video review process. I have accepted that, but still do not agree with the whole thing. Will umpires now have to deal with challenges that a pitcher took too long to pitch the ball, or did the batter get into the batter’s box soon enough?

Here are the basic proposals:
1) The batter must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box between pitches.
Of course, there are numerous exceptions, like on a wild pitch, foul ball, passed ball, umpire takes a bounced ball in the groin, etc.
Nonsense. Can they list all possible exceptions like if the batter gets dirt in his eye, or needs to adjust his body armor? The rule sounds good, because players do not really need to adjust their batting gloves after every pitch.
How about making the rule that batters cannot wear gloves? Babe Ruth didn’t wear them. That would be ridiculous. Yes, and so is the proposal.

My basic opposition to this rule is the same for all of the proposals, and many that have been already adopted. Baseball was a perfect, ingeniously constructed game. Lifestyle changes and technology have influenced changes that reduce the human element. The greatest unwritten rule has been greatly compromised.
The umpire(s) are to have total control of the game. Period.
Umps have not, and will not, get every call correct.
Frustrating and disastrous sometimes?
Yes. That’s the game of baseball. Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, and Cy Young lived with it.

2) The manager can give a signal for an intentional walk to eliminate four meaningless pitches.
Okay with me as long as the pitcher (manager) has the option to throw the four pitches if he wants. I’ve seen managers change their mind, and seen batters swing at “meaningless” pitches.

3) 20 Second Clock. OMG!
This stupidity would give the pitcher 20 seconds to be “ready to deliver the ball.”
If he is not “set” to throw it, the umpire calls a ball.
If the batter is not in the box, it is called a strike.
Jeez, Selig, there cannot be a ball or strike called if no baseball was thrown.

4) Limits to be set on time-outs and the time taken between innings.
The ump handles visits to the mound by the manager or pitching coach pretty well now. Sometimes catchers visit the mound too often. Fix that.
Time between innings is too long. I blame TV for that. There are more minutes of commercials per hour in all shows, not only sports. Money.
We can’t fix that because: money.
There are some rules changes that could help speed up the game. However, if we just follow that unwritten one, The umpire(s) are to have total control of the game, we’d be okay.

How? The ump tells the pitcher, “Throw the damn ball,” if he dilly-dallies too much.
He tells the batter, “Get in the damn box.”
He tells the manager, “Get off the field.”
He warns them. They keep it up. He throws them out of the game.
He says, “Play ball,” without waiting for a signal from a TV producer.
MLB does away with replay video.
Maybe the pitcher doesn’t need a new ball because one touched the dirt.

Much of the complaining that a baseball game is boring, too slow, or takes too long comes from folks who do not understand the intricacies of it.
Real fans do not simply wait for a spectacular catch or a home run.
Almost every pitch can change the game situation. Real fans, on every pitch, put themselves into the situation, looking at things like defensive alignment or shifts at every position. Which pitch (fastball, curve, etc.) should the batter expect, which should the pitcher throw, with each ball-strike count? The guy on first base, should he try to steal? When? Lefty-righty match-ups. Late game strategy. Pinch hitter? Who? A guy that gets on base, or a slugger? Did he throw to the right base? Hit the cut-off man? He should have hit to the right side. Etc. Etc.
Endless situations to foresee, think about, witness, and second guess.

Mr. Commissioner, please do not continue to ruin this beautiful game for real enthusiasts by catering to some who really do not care very much about it, or whose only interest is to make more profits from it.

And, Mr. Selig, before you go, please put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame.
I know. He is an idiot and gambling is one of his problems.
He was also one of the elite players, one of the best ever, one who fans, not only from Cincinnati, paid to see.

***

WHO IS ORME DUGAS? (04/15/2015)

Who is Orme Dugas?
Who is Harold Lloyd Jenkins?
There are differing stories about how Harold got renamed.
His given name of Harold Jenkins didn’t seem marketable as a singer.
He or his producers decided on the new name after flying over the area and looking at a roadmap noting Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas.
Conway Twitty.

Who is Dennis W. Harwich?
He was a radio DJ on Cape Cod in the 1980’s.
Real name, I couldn’t find out.
I heard that he took the name from an exit sign on the Mid Cape Highway (US 6) on Cape Cod.
Turn L for Dennis, or R for West Harwich.
←DENNIS
W HARWICH→

Who is Orme Dugas? (or-may do-gaw)
Orme Dugas is a character in my book, Stinger Maguire.

He is pro golfer Maguire’s lawyer/agent.

He is not named after two adjacent towns.
I thought so at first, but they are not towns but roads. Well, Dugas was a town.
The sign always caught my eye traveling on I-17 midway between my home and Phoenix, AZ.
←ORME ROAD
DUGAS ROAD→
I thought it once read: “Orme, Dugas” and referred to two towns.

Turn westward on Orme Road to the Orme School, Mayer, AZ.

Turn to the east onto Dugas Road, Mayer, AZ, to a small ghost town which is the geographical center of Arizona.

I took liberties with my character describing the origin of his name (chapter 16). Some of it is true.
I have recently learned there is a real person named Orme Dugas (or-may do-gaw), though I can find nothing online about him except a mention by Dektown Wine Cellars, who with Page Springs Wine Cellers, produced Orme Dugas Fallout wine in 2012 and 2013.
“Orme Dugas, the man, was an inspiration, even before Dektown Cellars harvested a single grape. He was always the first to greet us on trips to Northern Arizona Wine Country with a grin and a nod. His passion continues to inspire”.

I enjoyed Conway Twitty on the radio years ago.

I might have heard a song of his introduced by Dennis W. Harwich.
I enjoyed writing my character, Orme Dugas (or-me do-gaw), in Stinger Maguire.
He turned out to be quite important to the story.
I’d surely enjoy a glass of wine with the real person named Orme Dugas.

***

BASEBALL (03/30/2016)

I grew up as a Yankee fan with my dad, Mickey and Yogi.
Later in life I became a bigger fan of the National League whose teams I had hated (baseball term) when they met my Yanks in the World Series.
The National League was formed in 1876 with 8 teams, 4 called ‘Stockings’.
- Boston and Cincinnati (both Red), Chicago (White), and St Louis (Brown).
The other teams were
-Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, NY Mutuals, Philadelphia Athletics.
The 1st game played was on 4/22/1876 in Philadelphia. Boston beat Philly 6-5.

The American League was formed in 1901 and promoted their silly (Americans-want-more-offense) idea with the DH rule in 1973.
Designated Hitter: my reason to switch to the NL.
Not a fan of inter-league play either.

There’s nothing better than being at a live baseball game, as long as it is a Little League, high school, college, or sandlot game. I can’t take the Major League circus ball parks anymore. Distractions.
Too many people who are not there to watch the game and activities that have nothing to do with a baseball game are distractions.
Food, souvenirs, yelling at the ump or players and coaches, are all okay. Loud music, flashing lights, bringing your dog, Star Wars Day, $150+ tickets, $6 Cokes, etc.? Not okay.
I’ll watch my MLB on TV with great camera work and slo-mo replays, without so-called fans walking in front of me every few seconds.
I can mute the commercials or pause the game if my dog needs to go out.
See you in the World Series, AL.

***

[AN EXCERPT FROMWILLOWTREE”,
The First Bruce DelReno Mystery]

WILLOWTREECHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

I figured Miggy was working as his pickup wasn’t at the bunkhouse. No vehicle parked at the big house either. I pulled in near the front porch steps. I expected Squeek to be alone, but walked around the back of the house to see if a car was there. Nothing but the old golf cart was under the carport.
I went back to my car and picked up the bag of burgers and fries I’d stopped for at Sonic. I closed the car door, turned and saw the door of the house open.
“Hey, there! Ya need somethin?” It was Squeek stepping onto the porch, in his sunglasses. Not wearing his old jeans, just sunglasses. The skinny, wrinkled, old naked man, his jewels exposed to the sun, yelled at me. “What you sellin, buster?”
“Hello, Mr. Grey.” I said, “Annabel sent you some lunch. Like a cheeseburger? Real Angus beef?”
“Had some real good Angus here, Herefords, too. Where’d they go off to? What you do with Annybell? Where is she?” I tried not to look, but he was quite animated, and parts of him were swinging in the sunlight.
I went up a couple of steps, offering the opened bag from Sonic. Maybe his sense of smell would be working. “How about a cheeseburger and fries, Squeek? I’ll tell you about Annabel.”
“Set there at that table, will ya? It’s cold out here, I gotta get a shirt on.”
I went to the table with the tin can ashtray, pushed it to the far edge, pulled a chair out for Squeek, and sat in the other. He was back in a minute wearing cotton, striped western shirt, unbuttoned, and plopped his bare buttocks into the chair. I focused on his face the whole time. Same pallid complexion as the first time we met. Gray skin, gray hair, gray teeth. Mister Grey.
I placed a burger on napkins for each of us and the french fries on the folded bag so we both could reach them, with several packets of ketchup. I said I was sorry I forgot to buy drinks.
Squeek tore open all of the ketchup and squeezed it onto his burger, without first removing the top part of the bun. He lifted it to his mouth, ketchup dripping off it, and took a huge bite. At least one packet worth of ketchup bounced off his chin and landed you-know-where. Not bothered, he said, “Umm, good.”
Squeek had eaten about half of the cheeseburger, and the fries that didn’t end up on his lap, when he decided he was still cold. It was about 75 degrees and we were sitting in the light from a high in the sky, mid-day sun.
“It’s cold out here.” He said, getting up and leaving a trail of red droplets and potatoes on his way into the house. Man, this guy was weird. And I hadn’t decided if he was high or not. He was back in a minute.
Squeek was now wearing sunglasses, unbuttoned cowboy shirt, a pair of old man’s mule slippers, and Hunt’s ketchup on his limp manhood. He sat, sipped the beer he brought out for himself, then went back to work on the burger. I was finished mine, and I passed on the fries.
“Squeek.” He rolled his eyeballs toward me. I continued, “Squeek, do you know where Annabel is?”
“Work’s down the road. Brings me lunch.”
“Squeek, do you know where Vernon is?”
“Nope?”
“Do you know that your brother, Vernon, died? He died in this house.”
“Guess so. Don’t know where he’s at.”
“Bob,” I said, thinking maybe using his other name would spur cognitivity, “Do you know Hannah? That pretty girl, Hannah. She ever come out to the ranch?”
“Bitch.” Then, “Want another beer?”
“No, thanks. When was Hannah here last?”
Sipping his beer, “Who?”
“Hannah Snowberry.”
“Nope. Annybell brings me lunch.”
Why would he say, “bitch,” unless he knew Hannah? Otherwise this conversation was not informative, yet it was entertaining. This guy didn’t seem to be strung out on the locoweed. He wasn’t having those spaz attacks like before. But he sure wasn’t in the neighborhood of reality. Annie said he was really sick. I figured he had alzheimeral schizophrenia. I didn’t know if those were real words, but to me they described his malady.
“Have another Bud,” he said.
“No, thanks, Squeek.” I began picking up the trash, “I’ll throw this away. Waste basket in the kitchen?” I wanted a peek inside; he did not seem to object as I opened the door. I went in. He followed with his beer, silently.
I was in a very large living room, very dusty. The furnishings looked old, but of quality. A pair of worn jeans was laying on a stuffed sofa, a coffee mug on the end table next to it. Otherwise the room was neater than I had expected. I spotted the kitchen through a doorway next to an old upright piano against the far wall. I went in to dispose of our lunch wrappings, which I tossed on top of beer cans in the basket next to the fridge. I was a practicing snoop, so I peered into the refrigerator. More Bud, milk, eggs, bread, and not much else. I did notice a can of Folger’s coffee. Beer didn’t really explain the schizoid behavior. But I was no expert, since I quit beer in favor of lemonade many years ago. My reasoning was that the money I saved would be better spent on greens fees.
The freezer section was stocked with TV dinners. I noticed a coffee bag, less than half full, in the freezer door. It had a rubber band around it. I removed the band, unrolled the top of the bag, and read the label. BLACK MAGIC ESPRESSO, from Vermont Coffee Roasters.
I returned to the other room. Squeek was standing, unsteadily, one leg in the jeans. He hopped, trying to get the other foot in, and fell onto the sofa. I helped him to a sitting position, then to get his left foot into the jeans. I did not want to, but I noticed the ketchup.
He said he was feeling fine and seemed to be resting on the sofa. I told Bob, Squeek Grey that I enjoyed dining with him and I’d see him another time. I left the house, proud to have at least fed and clothed someone in need.
I walked to the back of the house for a look beyond what I’d seen around the carport previously. Another road or trail led into the brush and a stand of junipers. This led to the north. I had never before thought of anything on that side of the ranch. It must be another former horse riding trail, one that now has tire tracks. There were tracks from a golf cart, also from a full sized automobile. One third, the outside third of the tread mark, looked like bent fingers pointing toward one end of the vehicle. The inner third like fingers pointing toward the other. The middle third reminded me of two Mr. Peanut shells at an angle.
Driving out, I stopped at the end of the long dirt driveway leading from Squeek’s house, in front of the old, unused mailbox. The dirt road to the right, or south, soon turned to pavement and led back toward the golf course and the town. I had thought it ended here at the driveway of the Grey’s ranch. I certainly did not notice on my first trip here, or my second, with Ben, that the road continued past the ranch. I would have noted it, especially if there were tire tracks, like the tire tracks I was now looking at, maybe from an off-road vehicle. They looked similar, if not the same as those near the house. Fingers and Mr. Peanut.
The old all-wheel-drive Subaru did well on the rough, narrow, dusty, northbound road, which quickly turned left. I followed the car tracks about a quarter of a mile. They abruptly ended behind Squeek’s house. I had made a circle. I could, anybody could, visit this house using the back driveway, maybe part of another old horse riding trail. I could arrive quietly through the junipers, park there, and go into the house through the carport. I would be unnoticed from the bunkhouse where Miggy-Mike lived.
Driving home I thought maybe Vernon was surprised, or secretly visited by his killer, who had come in the back way. Whoever shoved Calvin off the cliff came from the ranch the front way. Or from the golf course. The trails and roads and paths formed a maze. The killer or killers had found their way through the labyrinth. As I tried to get through it in my mind, a dead body made me start over, and the maze became larger. I had gathered some clues traveling through the maze. I had to find others elsewhere.
Genny would be home at around four o’clock. I learned long ago that a 7 to 3 nursing shift ended closer to 3:45. My plan for the evening was to put the clue search on hold and convince Genny to go out to dinner.
We enjoyed a luscious French chicken dish at the hotel in Jerome. Gen had a funny story about a male patient who would hide under his bed from time to time. Today he was missing and not found under his bed. The frantic search throughout the facility and grounds ended with a loud screech from the lady in the room across the hall from his. This lady had found him under her bed when she retrieved a dropped letter. I asked if he was naked. She said he was dressed. I related my story about a naked man.
At several spots during our twelve mile ride from Jerome, down the steep twisting road, we could catch glimpses of lights in Willowtree. A peaceful, whiteness glowed from homes and streets in our little town in the center of the darkness of the national forest. A tiny speck of that light could have been from the murderer watching a reality show on TV. Or maybe, under a speck of darkness, he was lying in his bed having PATS about his own reality show.

[
**
*****]

[AN EXCERPT FROM STINGER MAGUIRE,
The second Bruce DelReno Mystery]

[
**]

STINGER MAGUIRECHAPTER 11 – SEAN

I rapped on the door to the modest condo at 1145 Navajo Circle in Sedona, since the yellow paper taped over the doorbell button read “done work.” I was hoping Stinger’s dad, Sean Maguire, was home and willing to speak with me. He was home, because the door opened four inches and he looked out at me and barked, “Yeh?”
I could see the large bulk with a huge, gray, curly-flanked face that continued over the top of his pink head, eyeballing me through the crack. “Hello. Are you Mr. Sean Maguire?” I asked.
“Yeh, I’m him. If you’re selling something, just go away right now.” A sharp Irish accent was prominent in his speech.
“No, sir, I’m not here to sell anything. My name’s Bruce DelReno, I work with the Willowtree police, and I would only like to speak with you for a minute.”
“I talked to the shades, don’t remember you. And you ain’t no peeler, or you’d a flashed a badge.”
I started to say something, that is, make up something when his big left arm pushed through the door, stopping short of my face and he shushed me. At the same time he retrieved a cell phone from a pocket and pressed some buttons with his right thumb. Into the phone he said, “Name’s Maguire. Wanna talk with Chief Holton.”
The guy was calling Pete to check on me. Not good for me. This conversation is over, I thought.
“Yeh. Sean Maguire. I got a wanker here. Hold on.” He looked at me, “What’s ya name, again?”
“Bruce DelReno,” I answered slowly.
Maguire held up an index finger, turned, moving into the house, the door closing behind him. I assume it meant wait a minute, because he returned in about a minute, opening the door fully, “The shades, er, cops say you should leave. I don’t have to talk to you.”
I’d surely catch a heated reprimand from Pete, but as long as I had Maguire, I pressed on. “That’s right, Sean, you do not have to talk to me, but I can help the police find out what happened to Taryn. They’ll find out who did it in time, I can help them do it sooner. The cops aren’t here now, I am.”
“You ain’t one of them, watcha-call-its? Profilers? Are you a psycho doc?” “No. No, I’m just a- a consultant. The important thing is I want to get this case over with quickly, too. I’m the one who found Taryn’s body. Sean, I found your son. I want to find his killer as soon as possible.”
A strange look came over his face, I couldn’t decide if he needed consoling or if I should run. Was he mad at Stinger’s killer, or mad at me?
“Come on in,” he said shoving the door open, “have a beer.”
I followed him into a dusty, cluttered living room, and stood watching him go to a once white refrigerator and return with two Lite beers in cans. He motioned to a worn sofa covered with a homemade woolen afghan thrown over it, and said, “Sit,” placing one can on the end table near it. He stood looking at me, popping the top of his beer.
“I’m sorry about what happened to your son, Mr. Maguire. What a horrible thing. I was looking forward to his demonstration and maybe playing a round of golf with him.”
He sat. He stared at me, taking big sips from his beer.
“Did Taryn visit you? I mean did you see him before last Saturday?”
He didn’t answer right away, but eventually stood up, squeezing the can so beer spurted from it. It dropped from his hand to the floor as he grabbed at what hair he still had and shouted, “I haven’t seen my boy for over ten years.” He was beginning to tremble, repeating slowly, “Over ten years.”
I rose and stepped toward him. “I’m sorry—”
“I’m okay. Sit down. Drink your beer.”
We both sat uncomfortably. I got up again, picked up his beer can and asked if I could get him another. After a nod, I went to the kitchen and dropped the crushed can into the sink, then picked one of many more from the package store that was his fridge.
“Over ten years not seeing my boy, he comes to my door and I send him away. They kill him that night. Then I see him last Sunday laid out in a box at the morgue. And Wednesday I see him in another box. I’ve seen Taryn twice in ten years. Inside boxes.” He took a swig, and continued, “He was on TV playing golf. I never watched him on TV. I seen Tiger and the others, but turn it off if he was on. I never saw him play as a professional. Never. I was a dumb, stubborn, bolloxed Irishman. Still am. He had a beautiful swing in high school, hell, even before that. A bit unconventional, but beautiful. It’s what let him hit that low liner so well, you know, what’s called a stinger. I’m the one started calling him Stinger. I’m the one that deserted him, him and his ma. I let him down, a sloshed da that just quit on his cub for no good reason.”
I let him continue in his reflective mood hoping to get a picture of Taryn’s life before becoming a pro. He apparently now regretted losing the close relationship they once had. I said nothing, simply listened as he seemed to be releasing pent up thoughts that were hurting inside him. I was the audience he subconsciously needed, trying to look receptive and appreciative of his rambling. I enjoyed listening even more because of the Irish dialect.
He sipped, eyes rolling up, thinking of what next to say.
“I did it all arseways. Took off and went back to Ireland. He got sponsors to get him going, didn’t need me no more. Funny, I worked in a copper mine with my da in Ireland, and came to America when I was about Taryn’s age when he started on tour. Got a job at the Copper Queen Mine and worked there ‘til it shut down in ‘74. I got work at the golf course in Clarkdale. It got shut down in ‘91, but I had everything then. I met Mona, we got married and had our little gingernut, Taryn. He took to golf right away, eight years old he was hitting old balls into Peck’s Lake, then go in looking for them. Mona started with her health condition, I started with the bottle. My bucko had a sick ma and a bolloxed da, no wonder he went poof. He never was molly, just a strong bucko, had a nice girlfriend, I thought, and I didn’t understand. I don’t understand. I just stayed away. He came by. I would not want to look at him. Turned away my own blood. He took care of his ma. Better for them both I wasn’t around, being off me face all the time.”
He paused to sip his beer, eyes glistening with salty moisture. I sipped mine, I don’t know why, hadn’t had one in years and hated the awful taste of any lite. But this story was interesting, at least the history part, I didn’t quite get all the Irish slang. Taryn went “poof?”
Sean Maguire kept talking and I listened, even asked a few questions, mostly for clarification of his Irish language. I knew roughly what bolloxed meant, and found out that a gingernut is a redhead. Poof means homosexual. I also learned that Natalie D’Agostino, the pretty young woman at the funeral service, was called “Chris” and she left when Stinger admitted to her that he was gay.

I left Sedona after thanking Sean for the conversation and apologizing for being there without an invitation or announcing myself first. He said he was glad I dropped by and that I could, “come back for a beer and blather any time.”
I had been searching for clues to who killed Stinger. I got two. Not a good one, but at least a new angle was this: if a father would abandon his family when learning his son was a poof, then anything was possible. Did Sean kill Stinger, a da kill his own bucko? Possible, but I did not think so. I liked the guy, at least felt sympathy for him as he rued his past impulsive actions that cost him an irreplaceable relationship with his only son. Also possible but I didn’t think probable was that Chris, the girlfriend killed him. I couldn’t buy that either. They both left him for apparently the same reason, but still loved him. Sean made some poor decisions, but I do not think he was psychotic. That would be necessary for a father to murder a son, no matter what lifestyle the son followed. The same goes for a girlfriend.
Knowing what I knew at that point, if I were a peeler, there was still no suspect. The only potential suspect might be Nacho’s killer. I thought I should work on finding out more about who that might be.
And there was this: Stinger Maguire was gay, another angle for investigators to consider. Was this a hate crime?

[
*****]

[BRUCE DELRENO MYSTERY BOOK THREE
PREVIEW]

BDM, book three is far from finished. The following is a draft of Chapter One
[
**]CHAPTER 1

Ben Samuel had turned himself into pretty good amateur golfer and at 72 years of age he was a top-ten player in his section of the Arizona Amateur League–Senior Division. He’d been ranked as high as number two and in the past seven seasons made the top-ten six times. He would say, “Pretty good for an old Indian from Willowtree, eh?” The only other player to have a better record was Tony Navas from Prescott. He and Ben had a long history as golf rivals in Northern Arizona.

Tony Navas is dead.

Tony Navas’s body was found early Monday morning by a groundskeeper at Antelope Hills North Course in Prescott while dumping a load of grass clippings. Jake Kline reported finding the body at 6:20 am. “He’s got a big bloody wound in his neck. And there’s a steel shaft sticking in his gut. The grip on the shaft is blue.”

AAL tournament matches had played there on Sunday.

Navas was last seen alive in the clubhouse bar with Ben Samuel. They were awaiting the final posting of results among a crowd of other hopefuls.

Ben and Tony had more history than what occurred on or near a golf course. Tony was once married to Ben’s sister, Clara. The divorce resolution statements cited physical and psychological abuse. So, Ben did not care much for Tony Navas. Folks around Willowtree knew of the fisticuffs between the two.

Tony Navas won the tournament that Sunday.

Ben had placed second. Many folks knew that the grips on Ben’s golf clubs were blue. He was questioned extensively by Prescott police and not formally charged. He was told they did not have enough evidence to hold him. Yet.

Ben thanked the detectives for coming to Willowtree and not making him drive over the mountain to Prescott. He explained, “Those right breaking hairpin turns are a little scary lately because of the cataract in my right eye.”

His attempt at a little humor, perhaps sarcasm, went unrecognized as they left him with only a blank stare. But Ben was genuinely concerned, worried that he was a prime suspect in the murder of a person he detested. He had intended to visit, or at least call, his best friend before the police visit. He wondered why Bruce DelReno, if they were still best friends, had not called him about the tournament.

Bruce DelReno was not as accomplished at golf as his friend, Ben Samuel. He did not enter the more elite tournaments, but played in many charity scrambles. While Ben was in the final day of the big tournament in Prescott on Sunday, Bruce was playing at Coyote Trails, a nice little course down the road from Willowtree in Cottonwood. While Ben was being questioned by the police on Monday, Bruce was in the Verde Valley Hospital.

Bruce’s wife, Genny, did not have a cell phone, but at his request, brought Bruce’s to him. She retrieved it from her purse and handed it to him when it began ringing, or specifically, playing Dean Martin’s That’s Amore.

“Brucie, where the hell are you? Guess you’re not home, tried that number. Had to look for your cell phone number. Haven’t used it in about a year. I played in the Amateur, you know, and you haven’t called me to see if I won it. You could buy me lunch to celebrate.”

“Slow down, Ben. You really won?”

“No, I didn’t win. I need to see you, Brucie, when’ll you be home?”

“Tomorrow, Ben. I’m in the hospital. I’m okay, don’t worry. Just a little accident.”

“What room? Never mind, I’ll find it. Stay right there, I’ll be right over.”

Genny said, “I should have called Ben, huh? I figured you asked for your phone so you could call him.”

“It’s fine, Gen, he’ll be okay. He’s on his way over here.”

She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead, “I’ll be going now. I have Keely’s appointment at the vet. Four o’clock.”

The DelReno’s ten year old golden retriever, Keely, has been living comfortably with medications for chronic leukemia, but has recently showed signs of decline. Bruce and Genny realized the good times with their beloved pet were nearing the end.

Ben came into the room, stopped beside the bed holding out a can of lemonade. “You can drink, can’t you? I don’t see a tangle of tubes and wires stuck in you. Can’t be too bad, eh, Brucie? A few scratches on your face and arms. Nice bandage on your shoulder.”

“I’m fine, Ben. How are you?”

“I’m sick. That’s why I’m here. Not the hospital. To see you. But, you first. What happened? Meet up with a bobcat?”

“I fell off a golf cart, Ben. That’s all.”

“Finally happened, huh? I warned you about your reckless driving on those hills on the course. At Mesquite?”

“No, at Coyote Trails. The hill between six and seven. Remember the sharp left hand turn coming away from the sixth green?”

“Yeah, I often thought I’d lose my passenger if I went around that turn too fast.”

“Well, you’re right. I was a passenger. Some rocks were in the path, probably rolled down after the rain Saturday night. Anyway, a front tire hit a rock and the cart flipped. I was tossed over the bank.”

“Who was driving? Is he blind?”

“No, Ben, we were talking. He didn’t see the rock. Artie Lowrie. I saw him there, we paired up. He jumped out when the cart went over. Lucky me, the cart missed hitting me as it rolled to the bottom.”

“You’re okay, though, right?”

“Yes, Ben I am fine.”

“How about the cart? Totaled? They need new carts over there anyway. Artie gotta pay for it?”

“I don’t know, but there’s more, Ben. Maybe Artie drove into the rock because he was shot. We were shot. This bandage on my shoulder. Gunshot wound. Artie wasn’t so lucky. He is upstairs in intensive care. That’s all I know. Who and why? No clue. Maybe Artie can help if he survives.”

“Damn! Sorry, brother. You talk to Pete?”

“Holton was here, but it’s not his case, Ben. It happened in Cottonwood. They were here last night and this morning. I know nothing. They’re waiting for Artie to come around. Hope he does.”

“You want this lemonade or not?” Ben was still holding the can.

Bruce reached for it with his good arm and said, “Thanks. So, what did you want to see me about?”

[
REVIEWS]

The following are reviews I wrote of some books I like and can recommend.
Some were written by friends I have come to know personally since publishing Willowtree in 2011. Others were written by authors I feel I know personally, though our relationship exists solely in cyberspace from reading each others works and some other correspondence. Still others were written by authors I wish I could hug, just for being so marvelous. Kurt Vonnegut, sadly, died before getting the opportunity to sample my writing. Had we ever met, I’m sure he would have said, “Pleased to meet you.” And I would have been so awestruck I’d have said something incomprehensible and spilled my lemonade on his shoes.

My review of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by KURT KONNEGUT

I recently read S5 again after 30 or so years.
I loved the writing even more this time. I re-read Breakfast of Champions several months ago, and I am leaning toward abandoning my “to-read list,” or rather pushing the rest of my KV library to the top of the long list. I am not so easily distracted while reading Vonnegut, nor do I need to rest as often. I laugh out-loud. I go back to read paragraphs, or whole pages again, and sometimes, a third time. I need to have a pencil for notes when reading.
So, this is not really a review of Slaughterhouse Five. There are plenty of those. It’s more a review of all the KV books I own.
Ditto.
Ditto.
My all time favorite writer is Kurt Vonnegut.

The following are real reviews of some other books I enjoyed.

My review of NATALIE’S REVENGE by SUSAN FLEET

I had to read this book after noticing Boston and New Orleans references. I have spent a great deal of time in both cities and know them well. Like many readers I will perhaps enjoy a book more when I can relate to characters, and places. In this case the descriptions often put me at the scene. This is a unique tale, and had it taken place in Bangkok or New Orange, I would have still enjoyed it a great deal.
Natalie’s Revenge is masterfully constructed with vivid descriptions of action occurring when Natalie was ten, and also many years later.
I always love great dialogue, and there is plenty here. Detective Frank Renzi’s back and forth with other cops is delightful, as are Natalie’s conversations with whomever she speaks.
I developed a love/hate relationship with the villain, sometimes rooting for her and other times being disappointed in her actions. The ending to this story could have gone several different ways. I am glad of the author’s choice.
I must warn some folks about a bit of rough language, though I did not find it overly vulgar or obscene. Natalie’s Revenge was a lot of fun. Frank Renzi is my new favorite cop. And Susan Fleet is a new favorite writer.

My review of FLEISCHERHAUS by MELISSA BOWERSOCK.

There usually has to be a murder or two, sans unending sex and fantasy, for a story to interest me. As a rule I do not read romance or supernatural themed books. So, the idea of an American woman reincarnated from a person murdered in a Nazi concentration camp had enough mystery for me to pick up Fleischerhaus.
I am glad I did, and enjoyed the direct and pleasant writing style of Bowersock. Vivid descriptions and character development, even the necessary romance, were not overdone; but concise and sufficient to move the plot, and hold my interest.
So, a young woman learns of a past life that ended with her murder. How and where could that premise go? It is the story of Julia, with horrors, history, and humor. Fleischerhaus. Bravo!

My review of ROCK AND ROLL HOMICIDE by R J MCDONNELL

Inside R J McDonnell’s home I’d expect to see a guitar leaning against a chair, maybe a holstered police revolver hanging on the post. Without a doubt a portrait of Dad in dress blue would hang on the wall. Well, maybe the gun would be locked in a closet, but those items were close at hand when Jason Duffy’s character was ‘put on paper’, as they used to say. Duffy, the hero of Rock and Roll Homicide, is determined musician, son of a cop, and stubborn Irishman; those make him a darn good, though new private investigator.

On his first murder case, working for the accused wife of a well-known, now dead band leader, Duffy finds himself in the midst something much bigger than it first appeared. He learns quickly as he and his associates are forced to deal with the police, thugs, druggies, and among others, the Russian Mafia. The reader is given a close inside look at the lives of the band members and the business of big time music promotion and production. Duffy gets himself into, and out of, some dangerous and sometimes comedic situations. The story from choice of murder weapon to finally trapping the killer is filled with many surprises and twists, and enough exciting action to keep your Kindle hot.

This is a great PI story told with a good insight into the lives of rockers, the music industry, police procedure, and personal relationships. A bonus is that it is told with a tremendous amount of humor, sometimes hilarious. But there’s more. Favorite parts of mine were Duffy’s family dynamics, and his take on ethnicity. Sláinte!

My review of RECOVERED, THE SHAPESHIFTERSLIBRARY BOOK #3
by AMBER POLO

BLISSFULLY DELIGHTFUL.

I had read Released, The Shapeshifters’ Library #1, after enjoying Amber Polo’s writing in other genres –Mystery, Romance, and Self-help. Paranormal and Fantasy are not my usual reading choices, but, I enjoyed it so much, I wanted more. Book #2, Retrieved, did not disappoint, so I grabbed Recovered, #3 in the Shapeshifters’ Library as soon as it came out. I can say “blissfully delightful” because I am one of the first to offer a review of Recovered.

Bliss D. Light is the librarian heroine, and she now proudly tops the list of wonderfully quirky character names. Again we have a beautiful young librarian shapeshifter, and she is also a beautiful white greyhound. Bliss and Harry, her boyfriend/werewolf, set out on a dangerous adventure to locate and save an ancient library from destruction by evil werewolf shapeshifters. Harry, of course, is a good werewolf. The bad werewolves are led by Sybilla, Harry’s ex-wife, who has corrupt political connections. During the trip from Ohio to New Mexico Bliss and Harry survive capture, mistreatment, and injury, but their love matches their persistence throughout the journey. The best part for me (no spoiler here) was what Bliss found in New Mexico, besides the Library of the Ancients.

I recommend you let the author’s imagination take you into her world of shapeshifting dogs who have taken on the responsibility of preserving books for mankind. That’s a noble enterprise, since books emanate from and encourage our imagination in the real world. And, with books and dogs, we will be okay. Change into your dog form, go to Starbarks, order a chai latte and read Recovered, by Amber Polo.

If your puppies can read, they’ll like it, too.

My review of MILL RIVER RECLUSE by DARCIE CHAN

I enjoyed every bit of Mill River Recluse, a story I did not want to stop reading, and I did not want to end. Darci Chan is a talented storyteller. As a reader I like to be able to follow the story without struggling for meaning, or dealing with unnecessary passages. This book is not without its subtleties, but is straightforward prose with terrific characters, great dialogue, humor, and unexpected and predictable events. Having lived in the Rutland, Vermont area for nearly twenty years, it was a pleasure to read of familiar places Chan describes. Changes from past to present and back again in narratives are sometimes confusing to me, but not in this case. Chan’s scene-time shifting technique is flawless and interesting. The reader learns what is necessary in due time. Without a doubt, Mary, the recluse, is a unique literary character who will be referenced in many discussions of other characters. Other characters in MRR, especially Father O’Brien, are well developed. Their personalities and activities become important details in fulfilling the essence of the story. I now understand what all the fuss is about concerning Darcie Chan’s first best-selling novel. And, there are spoons.

My review of: CALL THE MIDWIFE by JENNIFER WORTH

[I wrote this as a comment on Goodreads, not primarily as a review.
__]
I don’t write a review without finishing the book. I promise I will finish it tonight, even if it means missing the ballgame. After another wonderful chapter I could not wait any longer to recommend this to others.
This is a book of watery eyes. The humor will make your eyes water. Then, the banal, but poignant human moments of life near the London docks after WWII will bring tears.

I started watching Call The Midwife on PBS and loved all aspects of the production. The script, acting, staging, wardrobe, music, and direction are all marvelous. The show is not a movie made of the book. It is the telling of stories using the characters, the setting, and subject matter of the book. Why had I not heard of Jennifer Worth’s great book before that?

A comment on PRODIGAL SUMMER by BARBARA KINGSOLVER

After finishing Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer I read many of the fine reviews of it here at Goodreads. I agree with the general assessment. Most of the reviewers are big Kingsolver fans, as I am. Most agree it is not her best work as far as reading entertainment goes. There is more about moths and goats than I need to know. The three stories that make up the novel are fine in themselves and their connection is well crafted. The writing is poetic, thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful, which is my main draw to Kingsolver. Statements like these are what I treasure in her writing: “A bird never doubts its place at the center of the universe.” “Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot.”

I enjoyed this book very much. It was a bit tedious at times (moths, goats, chestnuts, coyotes, weeds) but I can put up with that for the gems of language that I find along the way.

My review of THE ART OF FIELDING by CHAD HARBACH

I usually won’t read a book if it is more than 400 pages.
I picked up The Art of Fielding after my wife’s mentioning it when reading a newspaper review.
The word “baseball” caught my interest. The book is 512 pages.
Like me, Harbach is a first time novelist. However, Chad Harbach will soon be a household name.
His writing is that good. All 512 pages of it.
It is a baseball story and a good one. A young phenom is destined to become the greatest shortstop ever. He wants it and works incredibly hard for it. Then something happens, he cannot perform on the field. Is it in his head? Can he right his mind and get back to the performance level he once had achieved? I’m not telling. His life becomes intertwined with others at the small Westish College. His gay roommate, the manly catcher, the College president and his daughter, all affect the shortstops life, and each others. One can sympathize with each character and care what happens to them.
This story is beautifully told one can easily sympathize with each character and root for them.
Harbach has a knack for relating physical, emotional, and spiritual situations.
512 pages. I wished there were more.

My review of NIKE’S WINGS by VALERIE DOUGLAS

Nike’s Wings is the perfect title for this book. At first I was thinking Fantasy or Sci-Fi, but this book is neither. It is a thriller-romance. I had to look up “parkour,” but became intrigued with it and its use by the heroine, Nike. The title and cover both offer a fantastic representation of this character and her story. Although Nike develops unrivaled, perhaps exaggerated skills, she is mostly a believable character the reader can sympathize with, as she struggles to find her true self and place in society. Her story in the settings involving the CIA, international crime, government deception, and in cities and jungles, is told with much attention to detail. I don’t do romance books, but the meeting, re-uniting and further acquaintance of Nike and Ty, is a beautiful tale. I especially like Nike’s holding on to her secret through all of her ordeals. Valerie Douglas is a gifted writer, and I will certainly read more.

My review of SHE WALKS ON GILDED SPLINTERS by GENE DWYER

This is a historical novel spanning four centuries; it is at the same time modern crime fiction. The basis if the story is events which brought Negroes to America to be sold as slaves, and the effects of those events on the lives of descendents of both trader and slave.
The mix of incidents happening in 1590 through 1990 is a brilliantly crafted narrative. The reader travels from Africa, on the slave ships, and to the port of New Orleans with vivid details of the journey.
The modern part of the story follows New Orleans cops trying to piece together information concerning Marie Laveau, the black woman whose activities and life is a real legend in the city. How much of her legend, the voodoo religion, and circumstances involving horrific murders one believes are true is up to the reader. Accurate descriptions of various neighborhoods in the city and the development of likeable characters, especially Marvin and Laureen, lead one to believe all of it is true. Then, invisible demons can be seen, and one wonders how much, if any of it, is true.
This is a thoroughly entertaining book that also awakens thoughts about the present social condition in our country. Especially in New Orleans which stands out as one of the greatest places for music, fun, education, and tolerance, but also is notorious for murder, racism, and occult influences.
She Walks on Gilded Splinters by Gene Dwyer is top-shelf literature. I’ll be looking out for more of his work. And awaiting the return of Marie Laveau.

My review of MIDWIVES by CHRIS BOHJALIAN

I scanned some of the reviews here about Midwives and carefully read others. There are 1-star reviews and 5-star reviews. I understand the chocolate-vanilla thing, but I find it hard understanding why the same person who likes the author’s style, the character development, the suspense, humor, and the basic story can give low-stars simply because he or she does not agree with home birthing.
All I knew about midwives and home births, before reading this book was that I have a nephew and niece who were born at home. Now, that I know more about it, it still doesn’t matter what I think about home birthing. Five stars.
This is a remarkable book. The writer is a master craftsman, he has taken high quality materials and shaped them into a masterpiece. I enjoyed the use of excerpts from Sybil Danforth’s notebooks throughout the book, and therefore was pleasantly surprised at their importance at the end. Though the narrative jumped through time, backwards and forwards, it was not a bit confusing.
This is a book I will read again, though I know the outcome of Sybil’s situation. I will read it again because it is a pleasure to read a good story as well written as this. And, other reviews won’t deter me simply because my mother chose to have a doctor “catch me” in a hospital.

My review of THE NORTH END ITALIAN COOKBOOK
by MARGUERITE DiMINO BUONOPANE

This is my favorite cookbook of the dozens I own. I have tried many of the recipes, and have found none that I would not try again. Several have become regulars in my house for many years. I have given this book as a gift many times. We had the Macaroni Pie tonight. An easy and wonderful appetizer is the Pepperoni Pie. My favorite entree is the Chicken Braciolittini with Mushroom and Wine Sauce. You must try Vincenzo’s Zucchini Bread. Goodbye. I’ll be in the kitchen.

My review of THE GIRL FROM TENARIFE by BERNARD SHAFFER

There is a lot I liked about this book. Foremost is Shaffer’s writing, which is smooth, insightful, humorous and serious, and not a bit tedious. It is enjoyable for its life situations without resorting to shock or overkill in description or scenario. I picture the girl as a youthful Sophia Loren and the author (main character) as not Paul Newman, but Oliver Platt. I am not a fan of characters having dreams or hallucinations, but the author’s relationship with Ernest Hemmingway fits and is well conceived. I am not talking about plot lines, except to say there are several good ones, none about space ships. I highly recommend The Girl From Tenerife.

My review of KURT VONNEGUT LETTERS by DAN WAKEFIELD

Thank you, Dan Wakefield, for “the autobiography Kurt Vonnegut never wrote.” All I can say is that I cherish this book about a terrific humanitarian and teacher who was at the same time deadly serious and funny. And, it turns out he is the one who wrote many of the books in my library.

RECIPES

The recipes are my variations, I like to say improvements, of others I have used. I have somehow changed ingredients and methods of preparation.

MIKE’S CORN CHOWDER

1/2 lb bacon
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 carrot, diced
1 sm/med onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
3 – 4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
salt, pepper, parsley, butter, turmeric

-Cook bacon in soup pot until crisp.
-Remove from pot and put bacon aside on paper towel.
-Remove all but about 2 TBS bacon fat from pot.
-Sauté onion and carrot until onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
-Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
-Add potatoes to pot and enough water to just cover them.
-Cook until potatoes are “al dente”.
-Add milk (use as much as you wish to get the consistency you like.
You can always add more later)
-Add corn, salt, pepper, 1 TBS butter, and 1/2 tsp turmeric.
-Cook on low heat until heated through.
-Sprinkle parsley over top before serving.
Note: if you wish, you can bring to a simmer and stir in 1 or 2 tsp flour to thicken.

***

MIKE’S EASY SAUSAGE BEAN SOUP

3/4 to 1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or remove casing and chop links.
1 med. onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced d
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 oz) cannellini or navy beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained.
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, crushed or chopped, DO NOT DRAIN
3 cups beef broth, or 3 cups water and 3 bullion cubes
2 TBS fresh basil, chopped, or 2 tsp dried basil
2 TBS fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
dash of hot sauce or pinch of cayenne, you know, something to heat it a bit.

-Cook sausage with onion and garlic in a soup pot. Add a little oil, if sausage is too lean.
-Add all other stuff. Simmer 20 minutes–or an hour–until you are ready to eat.
-Add more water if needed.
That’s it! We like to grate a little parmesan or asiago on the top.

***

MIKE’S FARFALLE AND SAUSAGE

This is a recipe adapted from Giada’s and Mario’s. Farfalle is bowtie shaped pasta.
You can use shells, or elbows, or any kind of pasta; but the farfalle are classic.
This is simply a mixture of pasta and sausage; and you add what you want.
Here is my version and suggested options.

12-16 oz sausage meat (pork, Italian, hot, mild, ground turkey, hamburg)
1 lb farfalle (shells, elbows, rotelle, or any bite size pasta)
14 oz tomatoes, can of diced or crushed, or cut up fresh tomatoes
8 oz mushrooms, cut up (any kind, canned or fresh)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz frozen peas
1/4 cup red wine optional
3/4 cup chicken broth, or bullion
basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil

-In a large skillet or sauce pan, cook the onions in a little olive oil, over low heat until softened.
-Add the sausage and cook over medium heat until browned.
-Add the rest of ingredients to the sausage, and simmer slowly.
-Boil water in a pot and cook farfalle al dente.
- Drain farfalle and add to sausage mixture, and mix.
Add a little pasta water if too dry.
Sprinkle grated cheese over top when serving.

This serves 4 – 6. This is how I make it. You can add, or omit any ingredient, or change amounts. Ciao.

***

EGGPLANT CAPRI

Tomatoes, basil, and cheese make up the classic Caprese Salad. Here we have the ingredients inside an eggplant boat.

1 medium eggplant (serves 2)
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup parmesan, grated, or other hard cheese
salt and pepper
3 TBS olive oil

-Preheat oven to 350° F
-Wash the eggplant and cut in half, lengthwise
-Cut out flesh of eggplant leaving boats with 1/4” walls.
(I use a grapefruit knife with a curved blade. A tablespoon may work)
-Dice the removed eggplant.
-Put oil and garlic in a skillet and heat only until hot, don’t burn garlic.
-Add eggplant and cook for 5 min at medium heat, stirring often, until soft and browning.
-Put tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the basil, and salt and pepper in a bow and mix.
-Mix in the eggplant.
-Divide the mixture into the two boats. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
-Bake 15 minutes.

***

TOURTIERE
Canadian Pork Pie

pastry for 2-crust pie
1 lb ground pork
2/3 cup onion, finely diced
2/3 cup celery, finely diced
2/3 cup carrots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup potatoes, finely diced
2 TBS oil
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sage

-Heat oil in skillet; sauté onion, carrots, garlic, and celery for four minutes.
-Add pork, cook until browned.
-Stir in seasonings, potatoes, and chicken broth.
-Cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.
-Cool completely.
-Put 1 crust in 9” pie pan, add meat filling.
-Cover with 2nd crust, seal edges, cut vents on top.
-Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, until crust is browned.

***

MIKE’S MUFFALETTA

A New Orleans favorite, basically cold meat, cheese, and olive salad. Olive salad is available in jars in stores, but I prefer my own.

THE SALAD:

1 jar (8-10 oz) each: stuffed green olives, pitted black olives, pickled vegetable salad (must have cauliflower, carrots, pepperoncini)
If no pepperoncini, add a small jar (4 oz)
Onions and peppers are good to have in the mix, if none in the jar of salad, add your own.
1 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, smashed
sprinkle of black pepper
-Drain and process all so you have chunky relish; do not over blend
-Put in jar; add olive oil to cover.
-Marinate at least 24 hours.
(If you save salad in fridge the oil will solidify. OK, just let it get to room temp)

THE MUFFALETTA SANDWICH:

Italian bread, toasted, or Ciabata, or Panini.
cold meats: ham, salami, mortadella, etc.
cheese: provolone, mozzarella
olive salad

-Drizzle a little olive oil an the bread.
-Put olive salad on bread.
-Layer on lots of meat and cheese.
-Put olive salad on top and then other piece of bread.
-Use panini press or press with flat plate or pan, just to compact some, not squish.
-Heat until cheese melts before serving.
Piachere!

***

MIKE’S CHICKEN PAOLISI
A skillet I dish named after the Italian town of Paolisi, hometown of my grandfather.

4 chicken pieces (breast, or legs, or thighs)
1 med onion, diced
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2-3 ounces green olives, pitted and halved (not Spanish, unless that’s all you can get)
1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken broth,( or bouillon and 1/2 c water)
olive oil, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, basil

-Brown chicken in hot olive oil. 4 min. each side. Remove and set aside.
-Cook onion, carrot, pepper, celery, zucchini until tender; about 5 min.
-Add garlic and wine; cook 2-3 more min. until wine is mostly evaporated.
-Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and spices to taste.
-Cook until thickened, about 5 min.
-Add chicken and olives.
-Simmer until chicken is cooked through; about 30-40 min.
-Serve with pasta, rice, or polenta.

***

MEXICAN LASAGNA
Mike’s variation (improvement) on Martha Stewart’s.

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
5 scallions coarsely, chopped
salt and ground pepper
2 pkg frozen spinach, thawed, drained well (squeeze).
cooking spray
6-inch corn tortillas
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
approx 2 cups marinara sauce
small can diced green chilies (mix into the sauce)
2 cups ricotta
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

-Preheat oven to 400° F
-In a food processor, combine cilantro, scallions, salt, pepper, and spinach; pulse until coarsely chopped. Do in two batches.
-Coat an 8-inch square or 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray.
-Lay tortillas in bottom of dish (they will overlap slightly).
-Layer in this order: half of the beans, sauce, ricotta, spinach mixture, and Jack cheese. Press down gently.
-Repeat: another layer of tortillas, beans, sauce, ricotta, spinach, and, Jack. Press down gently.
-Cover dish with foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet.
-Bake until bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
-Remove foil, and continue baking until golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.
-Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

***

MIKE’S LEMON GRANITA

2 cups hot water
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

-Dissolve sugar in hot water
-Mix in lemon juice
-Put in pie plate or 8×8 cake pan
-Cover with plastic wrap an put in freezer
-When slushy, mix with fork
-When pretty solid break up with fork
-Can transfer to bowl. Store in freezer.
To serve, scrape top with a fork and collect shavings.
***

MIKE’S TIRAMISU ICE CREAM

I got an ice cream maker and played around a lot with different flavors. Ate a lot of ice cream then. This is a simple recipe for pretty darn good tiramisu flavor.

For truer tiramisu likeness you can add crumbled ladyfingers, or vanilla wafers with the chocolate. But, I do not like the texture.
Also, you can add 1 TBS of rum or coffee liquor to the cream cheese mixture.
Makes two batches for a 1 1/2 Qt machine.

2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cream cheese
2 TBS strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate shavings

-In a large saucepan heat the milk and cream over med-low heat.
Stir occasionally. Heat through only, do not scald.
-Meanwhile whisk together the sugar and egg yolks.
-In another container mix the cream cheese, coffee, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
-Add some of the hot milk to the egg mixture, mix until smooth.
-Add the rest of the milk and mix. Put this into the saucepan and heat until heated through and small bubbles form. Do not boil.
-Turn off heat and whisk the cream cheese mixture into the custard. Mix until smooth.
-Pour half into each of two containers. Cover.
-Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

-Pour one container of custard into ice cream machine.
-Add 1/4 cup of chocolate shavings when the ice cream is not quite done.

***

FRUIT JAM, the easy way.

This makes excellent plum and strawberry jam.
I’m sure this would make good jam with other berries or fruit. Peach, apricot, blackberry.

For each 1 lb fruit or berries:
use 1 cup sugar, and 2 TBS lemon juice.
1 1/2 lb strawberries make about 2 cups jam.
1 1/2 lb plums make about 3 cups jam.

-Wash fruit. Remove pits if any.
-Chop coarsely.
-Put fruit, sugar and lemon juice in saucepan.
-Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
-Raise heat to boil gently until it seems to thicken. Stir often.
-Simmer, do not boil hard. Depending on fruit can take from 20 to 45 minutes.
-Test by putting a teaspoonful on a plate, put in freezer; if after 2 minutes it has a good jam consistency, it’s done. If not, simmer some more.

-Let it cool. Put in jars.
-Refrigerate. Freeze extra.

***

LIMONCELLO NOTES

My recipe follows. I experimented with many recipes that are around. Some are good, some not so good. I believe my formula and technique makes a nice limoncello. Many taste-tester friends told me so.

Pronounce: “lee-mon-chay-lo”
Use organic lemons, if available.
Keep bottle in freezer. Drink from shot glass.
ARANCELLO: same recipe using orange peel.
Product contains: 0 fat, 0 fiber, 0 sodium, 0 cholesterol, 0 protein.
3 grams carbohydrate and 30 calories per ounce.

Limoncello is Italy’s most popular digestivo. It is made from lemon peel only, no juice or other flavorings.
Limoncello was invented on the Isle of Capri, where some of the world’s best lemons are grown.

SOME ITALIAN:
Digestivo—after dinner drink, said to aid digestion
Conservo in frigoifero—store in freezer
Per cento alcole—per cent alcohol
Recetta originale—original recipe
Mezzo litro—half liter
Serv molto freddo—serve very cold
[_Piacere

Some equivalents:
30 ml=1 ounce
750 ml=25 ounces=3 cups+1 ounce
1 75 liters=58 ounces=7 ¼ cups
1.75 liter vodka+2 cups water, yields 74 ounces of 62 proof liquor

Making good limoncello takes about two weeks. Be patient, it’s worth the wait.

***

MIKE’S LIMONCELLO

15 LEMONS use organic if available. Use more or less depending on size and condition of skin.
1.75 liter VODKA, 80 proof, cheap vodka is fine.
2 cups SUGAR
2 cups WATER
gallon jar, cheesecloth, bottles with caps. I like to use 16 oz bottles.

DAY 1: Wash lemons in hot water to clean and remove any coating produce guys may have applied.
Peel a very thin layer of skin from the lemons. (I use a small sharp knife. You can use a vegetable peeler, or food grater. Important! You want only the yellow part of the skin. Any white will greatly harm the flavor. Scrape off any white part from your peels.)
Put skins and 4 cups of the vodka in jar and cover. Save the rest of the vodka for DAY 8.
Place jar in cupboard for 7 days.
If skins become very pale (no yellow left) before 7 days, you can go to Day8.
If there is much yellow left after day 7, you can let it stand longer.
(Making arancello (orange), I usually will let stand 14 days.)

DAY 8: Put sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Let this cool. Add it to the jar with vodka and lemon peels.
Add the rest of the 1.75 liter vodka. Cover. Store it in a cupboard (out of light) for 5 days.

DAY 13: Strain peels from mixture, squeezing them well.
Strain a second time, putting liquid into bottles.
Cap. Store in cupboard or fridge.
Keep the bottle you will be using in the freezer.
For first straining, cheesecloth is best. Can use a coffee filter for second strain.
NOTE: The characteristics of your limoncello can vary greatly.
Most important is that you have good lemons and get only yellow peelings.
Second is the time the mash stands. 20 days will yield a better flavor than 10 days; but only if there is essence or oil left in the skins.
The quality of the vodka does not matter.
You can adjust the amount of sugar to change the sweetness.
You can adjust the water-vodka ratio to change the proof. This recipe makes a liquor of 31% alcohol, or 62 proof.
***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Bove is a retired Vermonter who participated as an actor, stagehand, producer, and director in high school, college, and Community Theater. He also coached several athletic teams during his first career as a teacher. He wrote sports and current events articles for school newspapers, and adapted a radio play for the stage. Mike moved to Cape Cod and later to Arizona in his second career with the US Postal Service. After retiring, voracious reading, especially mysteries, led him to try his hand at writing one. Willowtree was published in 2011, Stinger Maguire in 2013.
[
__]Bruce DelReno Mysteries by Mike Bove:

WILLOWTREE (Book One)

STINGER MAGUIRE (Book Two)

Mike’s website:
http://www.mikebove.net

Follow Mike on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/bovemike

Check out Mike’s author page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/brucedelreno.mysteries


Maddigan - My Story. And Other Words

MADDIGAN - MY STORY is part one of a golden retriever’s memoir written in the dog’s voice. AND OTHER WORDS is a collection of short writings, a sampler, if you will. It includes chapters from my published and yet unpublished books. There are some of my essays, blog posts, and musings that appeared on my website and other places. Also included are some opinions and observations from the news, insights into my fictional characters, reviews of books I can recommend, and some recipes. The book is meant to give newbies an intro to my mysteries, and folks who know me and my writing a look at some of the other stuff I care about. It includes chapters from the two Bruce DelReno Mysteries, and a preview from the third. And, I reveal my secret recipe for limoncello.

  • ISBN: 9781370766956
  • Author: Mike Bove
  • Published: 2016-09-07 23:20:34
  • Words: 28648
Maddigan - My Story. And Other Words Maddigan - My Story. And Other Words