Sunday, December 31, 2017

Insecurely Grateful

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
Helen Keller, The Open Door

2017 is an impossible year to grasp, to understand... To absorb. There have been so many moments of pride, of achievement - a doctor in the house, a daughter traveling long distances to help others, another staying closer to home being a supportive voice in parents' darkest hours, a son preparing to help men and women who have spent themselves in the service of others embrace the chance to step aside in peace.

We have left so many good people behind. Two friends whose lives ended by their own hand, another whose time with us ended abruptly, and far too soon. We are not alone in our grief, nor in our insecurity. One of the vices of our modern means of communicating is to share the news, and despair, of hardships once born only by those close at hand.

But, this has also been a year of personal illumination, best told with two stories:

Killer hurricanes brought death and destruction of biblical proportions far and wide, two into an area of the world we have visited repeatedly, and grown to love. The lives, and livelihoods, of the people in the storms' paths were profoundly altered, or vanished forever. Yet, amid the suffering - an outpouring of love, of support and sacrifice. People opening their wallets, their homes, their businesses to ensure that those who had lost everything were cared for. One of our family members deployed with his military unit, seeing it all first hand. A voice among the ruins rose to make a simple, eloquent, powerful statement of human perseverance - "If it's only a generator, a door on two saw horses and a blender, we'll be making Painkillers on the beach while everyone is rebuilding."

Individual achievement belongs, first and most obviously, to the person in the arena. Others may cheer, shout encouragement or pick the contestant up when they falter, but it is the one who meets the challenge head on who suffers, and stumbles and, ultimately perseveres. Over the last six years I saw, up close, the inner strength it takes to earn a doctorate. My wife had every reason to boast and strut. This is what she said (in part), the remarks she made in front of friends, colleagues and a live audience of thousands:

"Winnie the Poo said that sometimes the littlest heart contains the most gratitude."

Some of us didn't make it to the end of 2017. We will never forget them. But, the rest of us - in all of our insecurity and uncertainty - carry on with a lot of gratitude in our little hearts.

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Place in the World

The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.” Rob Sheffield.

Fiction writing is about balance. Too much of a good thing is still too much. So, when I get feedback from other writers, people I trust, who say "Too much" I listen to them.

Sequel works play this balance to the hilt. At some point, any writer worth their web page wants their reader to feel, not just know, that the character has a past that begs exploring. It is way too obvious to insert "Here, you might want to pause and buy the first/second book in this series." So, hints are necessary once in a while.

But, it may be one of those cases where life doesn't imitate art. Maybe it's the other way around. Fixing dinner, listening to music from my smartphone (what an amazing time to be alive). Dan Fogelberg, straight out of the '70s.

There's a place in the world for a gambler. There's a burden that only he can bear.

The 1976 Winter Olympics took place in Innsbruck, Austria. Among the memorable moments was the downhill run of Austrian Franz Klammer, the favorite. He skied last in the group from which the winner would surely emerge, on a gorgeous day in the Alps. The call by Frank Gifford (1930-2015) and Bob Beattie built to a crescendo as Klammer flirted with disaster ("He's almost into the hay bales, Frank!" Beattie screamed after one moment of mortal peril). Behind most of the race, Klammer pulled out the gold by the slimmest of margins. 

NBC put together a slow motion montage of Klammer's winning run, interspersing bits of the Gifford/Beattie call. Overlaid was Fogelberg's song - beautiful, haunting, simple. Perfect. Klammer had gambled, and he'd won, the calm in the eye of every storm.

I was all of twenty-one, living with my parents, preparing for my cross-country cycling adventure and helping coach a hockey team. It was a year of supple physical strength, boundless energy and limitless dreams. There were few guarantees for the future, but there was always a place for a gambler.

This was a mix tape with only one song, recalling deeply buried memories of a past that was filled with hope, supported by love. 

Facebook let me know, between chopping carrots and cooking chicken nuggets, that someone else had commented on a picture of me, holding my granddaughter's hand - Donuts and Airplanes at DIA with daughter Katy and her children. 

There's a place in the world
For a gambler
There's a burden that only
He can bear
There's a place in the world
For a gambler,
And he sees
Oh, yes he sees

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I'm a...Freelancing

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” —Colin Powell

Post-Christmas. Bags of crumpled wrapping paper, new pictures to put up in my office. The scrubbed remnants of cooking for roll call air drying in the kitchen. Coffee. Several cups of coffee.

And, working. Not the "Seriously, are you people not paying attention?!" kind of 7-5 workday I usually "enjoy." No uniforms (even the soft Academy wear), no guns, no cat-herding.

I'm writing, freelancing. Working on Karen 3. Reviewing some input from a writing group colleague. Writing this blog. Staring outside from time to time, happy that it's warm in here despite being ten degrees outside. The coffee is hot.

I have something of a new dilemma, or a new challenge. Probably a new opportunity to write more. went live about two weeks ago. I've seen some great numbers, lots of visits and more than a few people lingering. I've even sold a few books - which, admittedly, is the point of marketing things I have for sale. 

Now that the Christmas rush is over, stop by. There are a few unpublished stories, some insights into the characters and a blog. Some of the blog posts are going to be copies of what is on Bikecopblog, and some will be new, different. Check it out. I'm going to try to make it fun. And, given the climate of...frankly...bullshit rhetoric about LE (on both sides) don't you want to know who these people really are?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

At Peace

2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD. 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The Gospel according to Luke.

To the men and women serving who are missing some, or all, of Christmas with their families - firefighters, police officers, doctors and nurses, dispatchers, EMT/Paramedics and all of those others behind the scenes, to the men and women in the military on bases, in the field or in the air or at sea... The miracle of Christmas is about peace, good will and hope. You are the ones guarding those aspirations, sacrificing so that we may celebrate in peace and freedom.

God bless, be safe. From all of us here at Bikecopblog, a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Blogging the Beach

I had the distinct pleasure of blogging for Beach Bar Bums today. It's a fun site, especially if - like us - you find not just serenity but life, love and fun there. Please give it a read. Many thanks to Tom at B3... I love everything about your site. The link is here:

The Memories We Make

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Oh, What a Tangled Web

Just go on to one of the web host sites, I said. How hard can it be to put together a web site, I said?

Uh huh.

I'm glad I didn't do that. The new web site -, is live. It looks awesome! There are links to places where you can buy my books. There are short stories, partial unpublished manuscripts and some of the inside information I haven't had a chance to share. You'll not only meet some of the characters, you'll read how they came to be, what I hoped to say through them and the kind of help I've had in making their stories seem real.

James Greer OnLine!

There will be frequent updates, to keep readers informed about novels-in-progress. We'll also have some contests, give you a chance to read other writers and link to this blog.

Huge Kudos to Heather Grady. She's a busy person, with a number of high-powered clients. She took out the time to make this project shine.

I hope you like it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Take Kleenex, that was the advice we got. Well, give me a break. It's a cartoon.

Yeah, bring Kleenex.

It isn't just the great music, or the gorgeously-drawn visuals. It isn't only the examination and celebration of a beautiful Mexican tradition, Dia de Muertos. It's not even (this is the writer in me) the vivid characters, compelling story and the stunning plot twist. 

No, it's the striking conclusion one draws through the tears. Human beings share deeply-felt qualities of family, possibilities and hope. The movie doesn't make a political point, it makes a universal observation. 

We came home and gave our spirit animals big hugs. See the movie, you'll understand why.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

There's a Word For That

“There's never enough of the stuff you can't get enough of.” Patrick H. T. Doyle.

Things. Stuff.

We are reorganizing, yet again. "Front spare bedroom" into study. More appropriate - Man Cave. Sleeper sofa, drop-leaf desk, book shelf. Vacation photos (I especially love the one of a young couple floating along on the underground river in Xcaret, Mexico). A comfortable place to read, to write... To contemplate our next adventure.

To accomplish the task required removal of a queen bed. Standard type, mattress and box springs, very nice metal scroll headboard. For its age, it's in great shape

We purchased it in the early 2000s. All of the kids were "out of the house," adults. Only one, our youngest, might use it more than occasionally during breaks from college. As it turned out, she quickly embraced independence and set her own course. The bed went virtually unused, save for the occasional visit from out of town relatives.

We moved it to our present house, mostly because...we did. December 2010 was tumultuous, frantic and fraught with emotion. We set up shop in a manner requiring the fewest decisions. And, left it that way.

Making room for the new furniture, I disassembled the frame and walked the pieces out to my truck, to donate. There are years of use left. And, in the darkening solitude unkempt emotion washed over me with the chill evening wind.

I wandered back into the house struggling with what I was feeling. It was metal. It was fabric. I asked friends for the word I was missing, one to describe why this inanimate object evoked such a strong reaction. I received a number of great responses, spot on point. Animistic. Sentient. Anthropomorphism. All excellent suggestions from great writers.


I looked up touchstone. It's a standard, or a test. Not exactly what I was looking for, until I read the third definition, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

"A black siliceous stone related to flint and formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal."

Everything pure and wonderful about this piece of metal I was shouldering had rubbed off on me as I loaded it up. There were the guests who had slept on it, and the wonderful times we'd had with them. There was the night our master bed collapsed, and we took refuge. And there were the wonderful mornings...

Many years ago, I'd woken up my daughters for school. Their mother and I were separating, and would soon divorce. One of them - I honestly don't remember who, was describing a distance. She spread out her arms as wide as they would go and exclaimed "It was at least two kids wide!" It was the most profound example of what I would soon be missing, the random and irreplaceable moments encountered as a new day unfolded.

They all grew up. First our son, who was 16 when I married his mom. Then the girls in succession. The house was quiet, breakfasts far less raucous. No requests for eggs or toast. A full coffee pot not drained like it once was.

But, sometimes, our home was a base. They would bring their new lives with them from Baltimore, or Ft. Myers or Maine, and sleep in the bed in the spare room. In the mornings, tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, they would emerge and say good morning. A new day was dawning, and one of our children was ready for us to make them breakfast.

A touchstone. Everything that was good and pure about those moments had rubbed off on the inexpensive frame and headboard that would soon find a new home. And now, one more time, it was rubbing off on me.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Were it not for the creepy cultishness of the bloody, senseless murders and the notoriety of some of his victims, the piece of self-ambulatory trash whose pointless existence ended yesterday in a California prison would have been just another nobody creep. Nearly fifty years after the crime spree that left nine totally innocent people dead, it is easy to mourn the victims whose lives were snatched from them to make some obscure, daft point.

Who am I talking about?

If his name is mentioned once more in public, that would be a damn shame.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Special Breed

"We talked about some old times, and we drank ourselves some beers. Still crazy after all these years." Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul Simon (1975).

Mourning the passing of Tim Meyer, bon vivant.

Bill Clement, hockey great, tells the story of riding in a car with the owner of the Washington Capitals, a team to which he'd been traded. Clement was an all star with Philadelphia's Flyers - now, he was part of an effort to get the Caps to the next level. "We need to find some guys who love to win," the owner commented.

"Everybody loves to win," Clement observed. "We need to find guys who hate to lose."

TC Meyer hated to lose.

There is no louder sound on a hockey rink than that made by the puck hitting the netting behind your team’s goalie. For the goaltender, it is deafening. I never met anyone who hated that sound more than TC.

My first memory of him is as a small figure in seemingly oversized equipment, skating slow turns around the ice. Tryouts for Pittsford-Mendon High’s varsity team in Western New York.

I’d tended goal for Pittsford High when there was one building, one high school. Population growth soon required two schools – my alma mater became Pittsford-Sutherland. My brother was trying to earn a place on “Mendon’s” inaugural team (he did, and would play three years as a mainstay defenseman). I was taking time off from college working as a security guard at Xerox, preparing for a summer cycling adventure. Time on my hands, so I drove my brother to the rink and settled in with a book. The head coach, who would become a life-long friend, approached me one afternoon and asked if I’d like to “help out.”

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, not just with Coach M, but with TC. Tim was a rare individual. I think he was more demanding of me (a volunteer coach, as it were) than I of him. If the drills we did uncovered a weakness, we worked to overcome it. If it didn't, if it appeared he'd mastered it, it was my fault - I hadn't designed a drill that was useful. When the puck entered the net, even in practice, we tried to figure out why. He drove himself to be better at the end of practice than the beginning. He was never discouraged, he was determined. Every time the puck entered the net, that was going to be the last time. Ever.

He wasn’t a one man show, of course. The Vikings of the 1975-77 era, when I was part of the team, were a group of high quality, high spirited, hugely talented individuals. They fed off one another in a way great groups of people do. They had an exceptional leader as their coach, one of the best X and O guys I ever saw.

The day of reckoning came, as they always do. The championship game against, of course, Pittsford-Sutherland. Our team was shorthanded – three of the four regular defensemen, guys who had given everything to get the team to that day, were kept off the ice due to the German Measles. That’s right.

Others have told the story better – suffice to say, TC’s performance in net was epic. A win in overtime, the MVP trophy to the little goalie with the big heart.

It would be my last game as goalie coach. Life took me to Colorado, and I lost track of Tim. Brother Mike, who played out his senior year at Mendon, attended The University of Colorado at Boulder, and lived there for several years after graduating. Our own lives, our own destinies, the years passing.

And then, glorious, maddening Facebook intervened. A friend request from TC, now living in California. Prosperous, with a great family and a bright future. We traded stories, and he reminded me how much he loved my mom, who ran the elementary school cafeteria up the street and would pile his plate high with extra food all through grade school. Ever the charmer. TC had grown into a strapping six footer, but had never lost the smile with a bit of the devil in it.

Over the following years we shared moments, recipes and playful kidding. I would post my latest rib dinner, him his famous meatballs. Always beautifully plated, always tempting. It wasn’t one up, it was one for a brother.

I was in New York for a visit the last time I saw him. He had come back to Pittsford for something. We really hadn’t seen much of each other since the day at the rink, and to be honest I’d probably not seen him in 35 years. But, as I entered the pub our eyes locked and, true to the man he was, he bounded across the room to give me a huge bear hug. He and I, Coach M (now a retired school superintendent) talked about some old times, and drank ourselves some beers.

This isn’t fair.