Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Be Puckin

Three years ago he hovered near death, as did his mother. Frail, ill, skin and bones. Ten weeks early to his own birthday party.

Tonight, he went trick-or-treating in the outfit his mother made him. She asked what he wanted to be.

"I be puckin."

Katy and Steve, you did really well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ninety-Three Likes

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier - Colin Powell

Every activity has its "in crowd," that small, self-satisfied band who have seen it all, done it all and exude a detached level of cool that outliers can only gaze at in wonder. Or, so they think. More often, boorishness is the only impression they leave.

Recently, Cruise Critic, a travel company with a significant on-line presence, posed the following on Facebook:

"Nothing screams I'm a cruise newbie like...."

There was the usual parade of answers from cruise veterans - SeaPass on a lanyard around your neck, the wrong kind of shoes, overpacking, underpacking.... Appearing, somehow, confused. One person offered that cruise newbies don't know bow from stern. 

My contribution? Newbies are readily identifiable because they are amazed at the whole thing. A big, gorgeous ship - food, fun, shows. A chance to go amazing places and have extraordinary experiences.... What's not to love? Who knowingly takes that for granted?

I submitted my comment and forgot about it.

I got ninety-three "likes" within the first twelve hours. People want to be charmed. They want to be positive, even downright giddy, about things that are fun.

How 'bout - let's stop being so dour. Let's start remembering what it was like as a kid, seeing something for the first time and trying to recapture the wonder, the awesomeness of discovery. Just because it isn't the first time doesn't mean it can't be the best time.

I'm a total newbie, especially about travelling. Sign me up to be silly, astonished, enraptured. Every time I get on a plane, especially in the company of my wife, it's.... "Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.*" We're going flying! 

I don't exude the "cool" of an experienced cruiser, or hiker or diner?

Thank God!

High Flight, John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hopping Blogs

Tonight I'm delighted to welcome Dorothy A. Bell to my blog. Dorothy writes for several imprints, has a number of excellent books and an amazing blog. Thank you Dorothy, for stopping by! She blogs at

The Reprobate

A Laura Creek Western Romance
Fiddle playing, hard drinking Royce O’Bannon believes he’s worthless like his old man, no woman should have anything to do with him.
Music teacher Cleantha Arnaud, her virtue long spent, believes her life is over; crippled and barren, no man would want her. When these two outcasts become lovers, hopes and dreams blossom within their parched souls.
Royce’s vengeful daddy begins a campaign of retaliation against his traitorous sons and the town that gave them a second chance.
Driven by a fledgling sense of responsibility, Royce follows his daddy into the dark tunnels beneath Pendleton’s streets intent on putting a stop to the old man’s vengeful crusade. With a swift crack on the head, all of Royce’s newly found hopes and dreams could be shattered like candied glass. Who would miss a reprobate, a worthless man?

$ 5.99 To purchase e-book

The Cost of Revenge
A Laura Creek Western Romance
Quinn O’Bannon knows it’s time he settled down. He has two likely candidates, both sensible, attractive, young women. However, his fantasies keep straying to Tru McAdam, that thieving, sloe-eyed vixen with the grudge against the whole darn O’Bannon family.
Tru McAdam wants to believe the O’Bannons, all of them are rotten, heartless cheats. God help her, most of all she wants to believe the handsome, arrogant flirt Quinn O’Bannon is the worst of the lot.
When destiny shuffles the cards, strange pairs show up in the hand. Who can fight destiny, not the handsome, flirtatious Quinn O’Bannon, not the thieving, sloe-eyed vixen, Tru McAdam.

$5.99 to purchase e-book

Hi, everybody, Dorothy A. Bell here. Thank you, James Greer for hosting me on your good-looking blog today. As an introduction, I thought I would give visitors a glimpse into my life so far.
I grew up in southern Iowa, moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley at the age of eleven. I was in the sixth grade when I started school in Oregon. On my first day of school, I encountered the boy I would eventually marry. He kept pestering me, trying to kiss me. I held out until I turned sixteen, then I kind’a got the hang of the kissing thing. We’ve been married for forty-eight years, he’s still a pest, bless him.
I started out writing Regency Romances to entertain myself. I took writing courses, but I think I learned the most by submitting my work to publishers, editors and agents, and getting feedback. Laid low for nearly twenty-five years with arthritis, forced to use a battery-powered cart, I took up aquatic exercise and became an instructor. After two surgeries to replace my knees, I went to work on myself and lost eighty-five pounds, which I have kept off.
My husband and I live in Central Oregon with two West Highland White terriers, an energetic, longhaired Dachshund and one big, angora tuxedo cat. When I need a break from writing Oregon historical western romances, I work in the yard or my garden.
This year I am proud to announce the release of two Laura Creek romances “The Reprobate” and “The Cost of Revenge”, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  Good Reads, and Freya’s Bower, as e-books.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Those who served, and those who continue to serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard took an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and we can never forget the importance of their commitment to our Nation.
Robin Hayes 

USCGC TaneyAlthough the sun was out, the sky deep blue, there was a cool breeze blowing over the water. My daughter Katy, her husband Steve, their almost three-year-old son Graham and I enjoyed a day of touristing Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Katy and I were only hours removed from the all-night drive leaving their former home outside Detroit for their new one in suburban Laurel. Though groggy, the sights and sounds of their new home town washed over me.

Baltimore has a breathtaking history. It was created in 1706 as a port, incorporated as a town twenty-three years later. The Second Continental Congress met there in 1776, making Baltimore temporarily the Nation's capital. Historic Fort McHenry guards the entry to the port. Francis Scott Key, aboard the British warship HMS Tonnant negotiating the release of American prisoners, witnessed the barrage in 1814 that inspired his poem to become The Star Spangled Banner.  It is home to Edgar Allen Poe, The Baltimore Orioles and Charm City Cakes of Ace of Cakes fame.

The harbor, once an eyesore, has been revitalized. Upscale dining, the National Aquarium and a Barnes and Noble housed in an old power plant - what's not to love? Among the attractions are historic ships, moored and available to be boarded. One of them is the Coast Guard ship USCGC Taney, a large cutter that was present in Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack.

As we walked up to her a man climbed the brow, the gangplank leading to the ship. He was tall and stocky, wearing a black wool cap and windbreaker against the fall harbor chill. He smiled at someone on deck, turned toward the stern and placed his hand briefly over his heart. Then, he went aboard.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Meanwhile, Outside the Beltway

In this very real world, good doesn't drive out evil. Evil doesn't drive out good. But the energetic displaces the passive.

William Bernbach 

Some young man brings the family firearm to a middle school. He kills a teacher, wounds a couple of classmates and then ends his own life. "Authorities" are trying to determine how the student obtained the weapon and why he engaged in the rampage.

Meanwhile, the national conversation is - who was to blame for "shutting down" the government. Was it the evil Republicans, the spiteful President or some other devious political operative pursuing some hope of future electoral gains? Perfect.

At what point do real world problems become a national passion? Passing symbolic laws like Colorado's magazine limits accomplishes nothing concrete. Rather - is there some way to keep firearms out of the hands of people who would use them to kill others?

Maybe the answer is no. Can we at least stop talking about the idiots in Washington for ten seconds and focus on the things that the other three hundred million of us care about?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hearing Voices

Yeah-hah!!!The voices in my head tell me where to go and, sometimes, what to do. They are pleasant. Conversations ensue, exchanges. Female voices. Men, too. A cacophony of information. A slight rise in tempo, or a shift in tone of voice is immediately evident. I stop what I'm doing and listen, even pausing mid-sentence in my latest repetitive anecdote. My coffee partner smiles - she knows the symptoms only too well. The voices resume a normal pattern and I am once again "in the moment." They will not stop, nor relent, until....

Thursday, October 10, 2013


We watched the black and white TV in class, images broadcast live from Cape Canaveral. Wisps of vapor, spotlights and innumerable holds in the countdown - it was experimental technology, after all. It wasn't until I stood next to an Atlas rocket at the Kennedy Space Center that I understood what the early astronauts risked to carry our country's flag into space.


Scott Carpenter grew up in Boulder and attended the University of Colorado. He was a Navy test pilot and became one of seven men chosen to fly the Mercury space craft - America's first. Carpenter was fourth to fly, second to orbit. Banging on the wall of his tiny ship, he loosed "fireflies" into space. They were actually flakes of frozen liquid adhering to the metal skin separating him from a nearly absolute vacuum.

Carpenter's craft, named Aurora 7, malfunctioned during reentry but he was able to compensate, returning safely. The rudimentary control system allowed for little precision and he overshot his intended landing site by several hundred miles. America held its collective breath during the hours it took to find him - bobbing contentedly in a raft, satisfied at a job well done.

He never flew in space again.

Commander Carpenter died today here in Denver at age 88. His legacy? In his time the dangers of space flight were largely unknown, and unexplored. A significant number of launches rose inches above the pad before exploding catastrophically. Yet he and the others of the Original Seven allowed themselves to be bolted into a can, plopped upon tons of highly explosive fuel and launched into the skies above Florida in the service of science, their country and ultimately beginning the peaceful exploration of space.

God speed, Scott Carpenter.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Farewell, Mr. Clancy

"The U.S. Military is us. There is no truer representation of a country than the people that it sends into the field to fight for it. The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them, because they're protecting us." Tom Clancy (1947-2013).

His characters were vivid not because they were unique but because they were ordinary. Submarine Captain Bart Mancuso commanded his Los Angeles-class attack submarine with a competence common among his peers. CIA analyst Jack Ryan, recurring main character in so many Clancy novels, began his government career as a Marine Second Lieutenant. He exhibited the kind of reluctant bravery one finds in American fighting men and women - afraid to fly, he boards a Naval carrier plane in the midst of a raging a storm. US combat equipment sucked almost as much as their adversaries', but the ingenuity of the men and women crewing the vessels overcame shortcomings.

Tom Clancy worked as an insurance broker. He wrote a book. He pestered a woman into becoming his agent, then pestered her to promote his novel. Only the Naval Institute Press would touch it - so the story goes, as a favor.

Fifty million books later, he'd become a genre.