Live Now.

An  art friend of mine has recently begun posting some secular humanist perspectives over on G+. He turns off comments, perhaps to avoid discussion…or, maybe, to fend off trolls.  Of course, it could be that he considers anyone who might choose to discuss the topic to be a troll.  He’s rather odd that way–easily offended, easily riled, easily disquieted.

Anyway, his posts got me to thinking about the mindset of atheist secular humanists, especially those who perceive life and reality as reducible to clear, concise mechanical processes that include chemical reactions and Newtonian physics. He’s a retired engineer, so this mindset comes quite logically and naturally to him and his. Dwelling in the strictly empirically measurable pragmatic, any idea of something more than life as a chemical reaction and consciousness as a neurological function is quite alien. Having myself dwelled in mechanism, pragmatism, atheism, and stoicism for a solid decade or more of my own existence, I can understand the very solid, stolid stability provided by it. What bothers me is that what he’s doing is no different than the proselytizing of the fervently religious. In truth, it’s no different.

Here’s the thing, though: Does it really matter what he believes versus what someone else believes? No. His beliefs give him solace, just as those who believe that their loved ones have gone to join Jesus or entered Nirvana or…do them. The fact is there is no proof or disproof of continuance of the self/soul/spirit upon the body’s demise, and, truly, it really doesn’t matter. Live now.

Not Yours, Only Mine.


A couple of days back, there happened amid the staid and stolid pages of a writer’s community a small foofaraw ←(a very suitable word for this, used thanks to one S. Bradley Stoner, author, who reminded me of its existence). It was a kerfuffle over the audacity of authors using social media to promote themselves and their books, specifically by sharing their latest customer satisfaction reviews. Someone was very bent about it. And, yes, personally I’m not in favor of the practice, except for the most occasional share of a nice five-star review that’s got meat and flavor. But the sharing isn’t the problem I’m going to address.  The problem that steps up is the attitude and actions of the complainant, namely, “Not yours; only mine.”  First some background, though.  (If bored with any background, skip to paragraph 4)

There are millions of authors on social media all trying to bring attention to their literary endeavors (books, anthologies, shorts stories, poems….). Most of them have swallowed the old ideas that if you just proliferate enough noise about the existence of your book and how good it is, people will buy and you can retire to scribbling more, rather than working for the man.  Oh, and corral as many people as possible into signing up for your newsletter, then remind them of your existence and your wonderful books at least twice a month, if not once a week. Whatever you do, keep posting updates about anything and everything happening in your writing and publishing and book sales life. That’s the ticket, by cybergads, and don’t you forget it. Do especially post about your loss leaders–freebies and 99 centers–because everybody wants what they can get on the cheap, and, especially for free. (This is all said now quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. None of these things really work, anymore, and haven’t for quite some time. Not really. And I mean pretty much NOT AT ALL.)

What worked for folks who got in early–“early adopters”–might have worked way back when…for about six months to, maybe, two years at longest when self-publishing and the various ‘hot’ social media platforms were all relative infants in the cyber world, but then social mediaville–the people who live there along with the platform owners–caught on. People on social media began to ignore all these self-promotion efforts, even (gasp) to the point of blocking those proliferating the feeds with what resident denizens considered ‘spam’…and it was and is spam. (Nobody likes spam, not even the meated variety still occasionally, nostalgically smiled upon by those still ‘lost in the 1950s’.) Platform owners? They chuckled and began to utilize the desires of people to gain exposure for themselves and their product to their advantage. I won’t bore you with the details, but, yes, it worked out quite well for the platform owners, if not so much for everyone else.

Meanwhile, back to the denizens. Social media denizens want quality ‘stuff’ in their feeds. They vehemently object to what THEY consider ‘noise’. A lot of them (and me) just ignore the noise, scrolling right on past, thanks. But some take extreme affront and, foaming at the mouth, will unfriend, unfollow, even block or mute someone whose content they consider ‘noise’ or ‘spammy’. In fact, they’ll unfriend, unfollow, block, or mute someone just for posting more than they consider “appropriate”, even when the shared stuff is of interest to them. It’s the fact that the person doing the posting is sharing stuff that does nothing whatsoever to promote the affronted’s own agenda–say, his/her books or product, his/her brand, and his/her online enterprise(s). And that’s the root of what’s at issue here–this ‘only mine, not yours’ attitude. Because, you see, these same individuals are the ones who post about their own stuff almost exclusively, and I mean exclusively. Check out their feeds on FB or G+ or anywhere else–it’s all about them. They don’t up-vote anything that isn’t about them. Almost never, IF ever. They won’t follow folks who aren’t in it for them.

Selfish, self-centered, self-interested, and disinterested in anything that doesn’t feed them and theirs, they go out of their way to castigate others for doing exactly what they themselves do–promoting their own projects and products. They grumble, they dis(respect), they dismiss and despoil, and, when, having been discovered and labeled as Machiavellian, they find themselves left out, they start rattling the bars, editorializing their blame of others for doing exactly what they do, never mind that at least most of those others they berate do, unlike the affronted, up-vote other people’s promotional efforts and interests.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, from me to you, if you’re one of those who is affronted by somebody doing something that you yourself do, then I think you’d best either swallow it or get TF off of social media completely. If you’re one of those who promotes and expects to be promoted by others, you have to reciprocate. If you don’t, then you’ll get left out in the cold once discovered that you’re only in it for yourself.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all this fuss and blather is just don’t promote yourself and your books, enterprises, or products on social media, except in the most conservative manner while promoting others works at a moderated pace. It’s the only way for others…other than the “only mine, not yours” folks not to get affronted.


The Most Bang for the Buck in Successful Book Marketing


I’m a statistics girl. I can, by the numbers, tell you what works and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you who your target market is, though, because I haven’t read your book…and probably won’t. What I can do is, in a nutshell, tell you what does NOT work. You promoting your own novels and books via social media DOES NOT WORK. Further, you don’t need a Facebook page, you don’t need a Google page, you don’t need Tumblr, Pinterest, Linked-In, or Instagram. You need to buy advertising targeted to your demographic market. FB advertising works. Amazon advertising works. Goodreads advertising does not. Your newsletter might generate some sales, but, anymore, if you’re late to the party, which most of you are, then, no.

Will your work catch fire? That’s completely dependent upon luck and the ever-fickle tastes of the mobs.

Good luck.


Nothing There.


I regularly read articles across a broad range of subjects.  Today, I read an article in Forbes about problems with mutual funds, another about scientists meeting at Oxford about climate change, and others, still, about varying subjects including writing, employment, the global economy, US job projections, space exploration, new scientific discoveries and theories…. Of those articles, only the scientific ones reported anything substantial. The rest were a bunch of words that simply stated and then restated the general issue, quoted a few “names” who said nothing more than, yeah, we may have an issue here, but no proffered solutions; not even a list of the issue’s problems-in-need-of-solutions.  They offered nothing.

Waste of time, waste of bits and bytes, and my main objection to most of what I find being proliferated across all the varied communication media available–audio, visual (including textual) and multi-media.

So why is content so lacking therein? I’ve come across five basic reasons:

  1. there is, as yet, no solution (The Halting Problem);
  2. exposing the solution destroys that solution’s effectiveness (marketing strategies);
  3. the communicator won’t share the solution unless you pay for it (any capitalist enterprise);
  4. the solution and consequences is/will be unpopular (Climate Change);
  5. the communicator doesn’t know of a solution, whether because of ignorance or laziness.

If you’re going to communicate about something, at least list the issue’s problems. If you are going to point out those problems, be up front if there are no solutions as yet or offer up potential solutions–those tried, those which have failed, those which have had some greater or lesser degree of success. It’s relatively easy, and it follows the same formula of all effective communication: opening statement (thesis statement), supporting evidence and arguments, conclusion (restatement of the thesis, summary of major points).

We really need to stop rewarding vacuousness. Really.


Contingency Employment Planning


Most American citizens are members of one of two groups–the employer or the employee–usually, the latter.  Simplistically, as an employee, you are answerable to your employer; as an employer, you are answerable to yourself.

Again simplistically:

  • As an employee working for someone else, you may have seeming autonomy in some jobs and in some positions, but, actually, you have no autonomy. You have a job to do and often changeable definitions of what that job entails.  You earn according to what the business owner deems you’re worth, and, when that worth increases or diminishes, so may your compensation and, sometimes, even employability.
  • When you are the employer, which includes the self-employed sole proprietor, you earn according to the success of the business and what you deem prudent to maintain continuing business success. (Failure to properly limit your ‘take’ can lead to business failure.)

Are you one of the few who are perpetually employable? Will automation and technology never threaten your job? Will your job never be outsourced? Will every birthday you have once you hit thirty-six years of age (thirty-five for women) have no effect or decrease your employability? Few in the U.S. can honestly say that, and, unless you have some sort of alternative financial support, you might be in trouble, especially once you hit forty, because, no matter how good you are, that’s when employers start looking to fill positions with younger workers. In fact, it’s encouraged, (Article has been edited from its original) , as was noted quite pointedly in Bob Sullivan’s article in MSN Money: .

In the U.S. since somewhere in the mid 1970s, but especially during the 1990s, employment models dramatically changed. (Alternative PDF: how-the-relationship-between-employers-and-workers-changed-latimes ). Lifetime employment became, for the most part, a thing of the past as companies sought to maximize profits and minimize labor expenses. Aging workers became especially subject to termination, and, today, an older worker is classified as anyone reaching thirty-five or thirty-six, and, by forty, you’ve definitely reached that category. ( Between automation, technology, a flooded labor market, and maximizing profits for stock holders, jobs are harder and harder to find and keep, no matter your education and skills.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, some of us, including me, decided that self-dependency–self-employment–was preferable to the ever-increasing climate of job instability. I left a corporate position where I was highly valued, the CEO actually visiting my home to demand my continued employment with the company after I gave notice and resigned.  Working for myself was frightening, but it proved out, despite having to work longer hours, despite having no guarantee of a dependable, stable income.  But, honestly, when you’re employed by someone else, there is no actual guarantee of that next paycheck. ( ) Everything from outsourced, downsizing, department reorganization, and automation to a fire in the building, a tornado, or an earthquake can put you out of work either temporarily or permanently. In fact, keeping a job long term is tough unless you’re a key employee or ‘keyman‘.  Unemployment compensation is a painful substitute.  I’ve been a ‘key employee’. It’s still no guarantee of retention when a business gets sold or assimilated by another company.

Because of today’s unstable employment climate, anyone in their thirties who isn’t independently well off needs an employment back-up plan, including the potential of having to self-employ. Ongoing education and increasing your skill set are key to retaining a place in someone’s employment roster, but, even then, your job security is not a sure thing. Your best option is to plan for the eventuality that you will have to employ yourself and/or seek alternative income strategies to maintain a comfortable income level from your forties onward. Build toward that while you are gainfully employed. Don’t wait till you get that pink slip and are escorted out of the building.



Hounded for the Next One

My   friend, Kathy, is the latest. Only the latest. She wants the next Dr. Warren Jeffreys book that follows Old Hickory Lane. So do a bunch of other folks. But I’m not sure I want to go on producing novels. I’ve been completely petulant about finalizing any manuscript since I discovered how most of those readers who got the OHL eBook were people who chose to download copies from scammer sites, rather than paying for a legitimate copy…rather than paying me. If stories are worth nothing, then why should authors bother to write them, much less pay in time, effort, and money for ISBNs and all the rest of what goes into producing a novel? Why should authors, in essence, work, even pay, for others to read our novels, which is what it amounts to? So, yes, I’m sitting on manuscripts, drafts, and outlines of novels because, honestly, what’s the point?

Anyway, for those who do want to know if there’s more, here are the first two chapters of Come-Back Road, the next book in the Dr. Warren Jeffreys’ tale.


Come-Back Road

by D. L. Keur writing as E. J. Ruek



The Cold

The howl of a dog or, maybe, a wolf drifted in the eerie stillness.  It was just after 2:00 A.M. with a late moon still visible through the trees.

Dr. Warren Jeffreys started his assigned clinic truck, Lewis and Clark’s newest RAM 3500, then headed back inside for his parka.  Though the temperature on Marti’s outdoor thermometer read 30° F., he had a bad feeling niggling at the back of his brain.  And a touch of the start of a migraine.

Mares always chose the most inconvenient times to foal, and early morning was one of their favorites.  It took him half-an-hour to reach the Menlows’, but, by the time he got there, the foal, a beautiful little Morgan colt, had suffocated.

The owners were hysterical, then grief-stricken.  Warren did what he had to and took the body with him for cremation.  He was on his way to the clinic when he got the second call, this one at Annie Lane’s.

Dread filled him.  The last foaling there had been a nightmare, the old woman refusing Caesarian on a bad presentation.  Then there was the problem of Elise.

But when he got there, Elise’s truck wasn’t parked in the drive, and the mare didn’t need a c-section, just a little help getting one of the fetus’s legs repositioned.  After that, a shot of oxytocin got things moving again.

A spry filly, the animal would be a light dun, the faint stripes and spots of Annie Lane’s mysterious blood stock already suggesting themselves on the still wet hide.  “Nice,” was Warren’s comment.

“She is,” Annie agreed.  “Could have come a day earlier when we weren’t heading into a storm.  …Or, maybe better, a week from now.”

So it wasn’t just him.  Old Annie felt it, too.  He watched her rub the filly down with a soft piece of flannel, marvelling still at the woman’s agility and strength.  Annie was, at last count, in her late eighties, though she looked sixty and moved like she was two decades less than that.  “Weather Channel isn’t predicting one,” he said.  “I checked.”

“Never do, even with that fancy satellite tracking.  They’ll be a storm come roaring by daylight.  Mark my words.”

Annie turned to look at him.  “Glad you’re back, Jeffreys.  This country needs you.”

Warren felt himself flush.  It was the first time Annie Lane had ever said a welcoming word or made him feel more than some second class citizen, though she still had yet to call him ‘doctor’, at least to his face.  “Thanks.  I’m glad to be back.”  …I think.

“Coffee at the house?”

This was also a first.  Annie had never invited him in, not even into her barn office.

“El’ isn’t here, if that’s what you’re worried about,” the old woman muttered.

El’—the reason he’d left Lewis and Clark’s and what had actually looked, until last September, like the fulfillment of his dreams.  El’—Elliot who’d turned himself into Elise—a…person Warren had courted and planned to marry.  Until the man had come clean in a nightmare confession, a confession forced by Annie’s threat to expose the truth herself.

Uncomfortable, Warren hesitated, then, with a glance toward the old woman who watched him, said, “I’d love some.”


ANNIE GAVE HIM HOMEMADE coffee cake and steaming brew, Ed, her pet, one-winged bantam rooster, joining them at the kitchen table to his own bowl of crumbs from the same coffee cake.  “El’ is teaching down in Baker City, Oregon, so you don’t need frettin’ running into her here or in town.”

Always forthright, Annie Lane could tear you down with a single word.  This side of her—civil, almost charitable—was new to Warren.  “Thank you,” was all he could think to say.

A long pause, Annie serving him up another hunk of cake, then getting up to grab the pot and refill their cups.  Then, “It isn’t as if I didn’t try to warn you off.”

He grimaced into his mug.  Annie Lane had worked very hard to do just that.  Caustically so.  He’d assumed it was him she’d objected to.  He said that to her, now, and watched her nod.  “You would think that, I guess, you bein’ so damned sure the world’s out to get you just cuz you’re Injun.”

Warren swallowed hard.  He’d probably never get used to Annie’s bluntness.  “Half,” he said softly.  “Half Cree.”

“Have it your way—half Cree, then.  …You look full blood.  Especially with that long, black hair.  Mine used to be long,” she said wistfully.  Then, “Where you livin’?”  She swung her head toward the door.  “Not out back, I hope.”

So, she’d known he’d been camping out by the creek last summer.

“I’m staying at Marti Ryan’s place in her spare room until I can find a rental.”

She nodded.  “That workin’ out?”

He chuckled.  “Sort of.  I just feel like I’m…well, in her space.  She’s putting me up in what’s supposed to be her work-out room.”

“Marti was always big on fitness, even as a kid.  Well, if you need a place to roost, I’ve got a shack over on Come-Back Road you can let.”

He thanked her, and, after a moment’s pause, asked after the terms and if he could see it.

“After the comin’ storm, sure.  It ain’t much, but it’s warm and sound.”


5:45 A.M., AND THE SKY wasn’t even hinting at dawn, though sunrise was technically only three-quarters of an hour away.  There should have been some morning twilight by now.

The truck’s road temperature indicator still hovered at thirty, so maybe the storm both he and Annie felt coming had stalled, or maybe the weather service was right—there was no incoming storm, at all.

Warren got to the highway and turned south, pushing his speed up to just over legal.  He’d be late for his first breakfast as a full working partner of Lewis and Clark’s Veterinary Service, but, if his luck held, he wouldn’t be that late—five minutes, maybe—just enough to give Doctors Jim Clark and Bill Lewis the ammunition they needed to rib him.  He looked forward to it, memories of their animated discussions over hot eggs and bacon, their camaraderie, warm in his mind.

When he got there, though, the partners abruptly stopped talking, stood up, each of them formally shaking his hand.  When they sat back down, they were stiff-faced and silent.

The waitress came, and they ordered.  Jim—the man Warren considered “first boss”—handed him an envelope with a company card and another with his health insurance paperwork.

Warren tried breaking the ice with a report of his first two days on the job over the weekend—of Dr. Haber’s difficulty with a lambing case, the dogs and cats that had come in after hours on Saturday and the loss of the Menlow’s Morgan foal.  He mentioned Annie Lane’s filly, expecting Bill—Warren’s idea of “second boss”—to utter some happy, better-thee-than-me comeback, especially considering last year’s near disaster.

None of that happened.  Nothing happened.  Even the FedEx man noticed the difference.  His usual chattiness stalled.  Silently, he handed over the parcels, got Jim’s signature, then beat a hasty retreat.

“Time to go,” Bill muttered, rising.  Jim nodded and stood, got his coat on, then led out.  Trailing behind them, Warren left the café completely confused.

Back in the truck, he figured it out, though.  They were setting him up.  He’d get to the clinic, and there’d be some surprise staff party waiting.  He grinned, shook his head, happy to finally be back where he really belonged.

But, when he got there, there wasn’t a party, not even doughnuts.  There wasn’t even the cordial “good morning, Dr. Jeffreys” he’d gotten so used to in the months prior to his decision to take a job back east.  It was “Dr. Jeffreys” with a curt nod…from Marcia in reception to the attendants and groomers—two groomers, now, and both new to him.

Even the techs were reserved, especially Head Tech, Denise.  “Your first call is at the Faulkner’s,” she said, handing him a hardcopy printout after they’d finished morning rounds.  “Preg checks on three mares, removal of wolf teeth in a yearling colt, a handful of Coggins, and a sperm check on their premier stallion.  Call when you’re done, so I can meet you over at Bergen’s for the brucellosis vaccinations.”

For Warren, Denise had been the biggest surprise.  In the few months he’d been gone, she’d dropped weight—a lot of it—fifty pounds, at least.  And she’d had her brown, curly hair styled.  She was beginning to look like a girl instead of a frumpy blimp.

 Done with the run-down, she walked off with not so much as a by-your-leave.  Not even a nod.  Warren watched her disappear through the walk-through to the clinic’s small animal side, confusion and hurt turning to anger by the time he’d grabbed his gear and shrugged himself into his coat.

Outside, a sudden wind hit him.  It was bitter cold.  Annie’s prediction and that of his migraine had proven themselves.  The barameter had to be plummeting.

Reaching the truck, he didn’t stop to check the vet box, just jumped in and slammed the door against fresh swirling gusts that were blowing up ice crystals.  His breath was a fog in his face.  Any residual warmth in the cab from his drive over from Panner’s Café was gone.  He turned the key.

Nothing happened.

Cussing, his fingers tingling in the frigid air, he tried again with the same result.  Opening the door, he noticed the dome light didn’t come on; the irritating ding, ding, ding that always accompanied door-open, butt-in-seat-without-belt was silent.  He should have spotted those clues immediately.

Pulling gloves from his pocket, he headed for the utility shed that stored, among other things, a jump starter for just this problem.  He slid his ID card through the slot—nothing.  The security light stayed red.

He groaned and started back to the clinic, then thought better of it.  He had jumper cables in his Outlander.  That would be quick and a lot less painless than dealing with Jim trying to troubleshoot the security system.

Fifteen frozen minutes later, his nose burning off his face, he was heading down the highway to Faulkner’s, the truck’s road temp indicator reading ten degrees, ambient.  With the wind, it had to be twenty degrees colder than that.  Happy April Fool’s Day.

*     *     *



FAULKNERS BRED, RAISED, RACED, and showed Thoroughbreds.  Those horses that failed on the track as two-year-olds were destined for a life as sport horses—dressage or jumping, maybe both.  The farm’s premier herd sire was a grandson of Northern Dancer.  Old—twenty-six—his sperm count and viability didn’t show the normal drop that occurred in aging stallions.

“He’s like his grandsire—hot and horny to the end,” Mr. Faulkner chuckled, patting the relatively small, fifteen-three-hand animal.

The horse reached his head around, teeth snapping in a play at savaging.

“Quit, you old gun,” was the man’s grinning response, a pop of hand on the horse’s shoulder accompanying the words.  “Onto the mares, then.  The missus thinks that Sherry didn’t take.”

Sure enough, an ultrasound showed Mrs. Faulkner right about the mare they called Sherry.  “It’s not the stallion’s fault,” Warren said.  “She’s got a cystic ovary.”  Warren pointed to the image on the screen.

He turned and saw stricken looks on the faces of the owners.  “Chances are it’s benign,” he assured.  “If we remove it, the remaining ovary will resume fertility in about six to eight months.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Mrs. Faulkner muttered.  A mannish woman with a hawk nose and pointed chin, she was tall, emaciated, and pale to the point of looking anemic, strong contrast to her portly, robust husband.

“Has she been showing any stallion behavior?” Warren asked.

The woman shook her head.  “No.”

Warren nodded, but frowned.  “I’d like to draw some blood before we schedule her for surgery.”

The mare objected, but Warren got his blood sample once they got a twitch on her.  “She’s never been easy,” Mrs. Faulkner said with a hiss of disgust.  “Just like her mother.”

After pulling blood from a handful of horses headed for the track or the spring shows, it was time for the yearling’s wolf teeth removal.  That wound up being the easiest job, the Faulkners’ confinement stocks, the use of a speculum, and expert help from both Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner making it so.  It was rare for both partners in a family-owned operation to be equally skilled.  The Faulkners were the exception.  Warren sedated the colt and, within minutes, the offending teeth were removed.

“He’s destined for the track next year, and he seemed really bothered when we tried bitting him.”

“I’d let his mouth heal for a couple weeks before trying again,” Warren advised.

“Oh, definitely.”

“Well, that’s it, then,” Mr. Faulkner said, handing off care of the still woozy animal to an employee.  “Coffee or cocoa at the house?”

“Thank you, but no.  I’ve got to meet a tech over at a dairy, and I don’t want to keep her waiting.”

“Well, just so you know, we’re very glad you’re back.”

“I’ll open the doors for you,” Mrs. Faulkner said, pointing a remote she took from her jean pocket.  The big barn doors behind where Warren had been invited to park in the heated barn’s broad central aisle slid open.  Cold came roaring in.  The wind was worse.  And it was snowing.

NORTH IDAHO IN SPRING could be balmy one day, then plunge fifty degrees to turn into arctic hell the next.  Unfortunately, the arctic blasts usually lasted at least three days.  A check on his Smartphone showed the weather service now predicting that this one would last the week.  They had no estimate of expected snow accumulation, yet.  Warren groaned.  “Day late, dollar short, NOAA.”

A week was a scary thought, considering the number of calvings and lambings common this time of year, and Warren would likely be handling most of them, despite the fact that he was a board certified equine specialist, top in his field, with a Ph.D. on top of his D.V.M. to prove it.  He dialed the clinic.

And got the answering service.

“Power is out,” the woman said.  “The phones have switched over to us.”

The wind buffeted the truck, making it tilt side-to-side with each gust.  Visibility was bad—very.

Warren accepted the woman’s offer to call Denise.  “Tell her I’ve left Faulkner’s and am headed to Bergen’s.”

A twenty minute drive later found Bergen’s dairy starting to drift in.  They were running back-up generators to finish a morning milking that should have been done hours ago.  “You’ll have to start on your own,” Parker Bergen snapped.  “The heifers are in the loafing shed next door.”

Warren waited fifteen minutes, then another ten, but Denise’s truck didn’t appear.  Reluctantly, he pulled on insulated coveralls, then disposable whites over that and trudged into a black hole of a barn.

Rustling and the occasional bawls of young bovines greeted him.  At least it was warmer in here, but how the hell was he supposed to vaccinate heifer calves if he couldn’t even see them?

“I’ll get set up,” Denise’s voice said behind him, making him jump.  A light came on—a portable floodlight she’d brought with her.  “As soon as the Bergens are done with milking, they’ll switch the generators over to run the lights in here.”

“That would be nice.”

“Sarcasm won’t make this any easier, Dr. Jeffreys.”

His eye roll got lost on her back as she headed back outside.  At least, she’d left the light.

Two miserable hours later, his fingers, feet, and knees stiff with the cold, he was headed for his next call.  There, the drifts in the drive were already two feet deep at their crest.  They defeated the big four-wheel-drive with its all-season radials, and Warren didn’t want to chain up.  He wound up walking in, carrying his kit.

“Didn’t expect you with the power out, or I’d have cleared the driveway,” a late thirties, sandy-haired man called Rob Littlefield drawled.  Affectations of ‘Texan’ were on proud display in his fake accent, the block of his Stetson, and his too fancy cowboy boots.  “Stallion’s in the barn.  So are the mares.”

Another set of preg checks showed all but one mare bred.  A look at Rob’s over-muscled, palomino Quarter Horse stud showed him tender on both forelegs.  Warren knew the cause—the start of navicular disease, despite the fact the horse was only three years old.  It was common now in Quarter Horses like Littlefield’s who carried an obscene amount of muscle tissue and large bone on delicate, even puny, lower legs and feet.

“Can you fix it?” Littlefield asked, his drawl suddenly gone, when, after another trip back to the truck, X-rays confirmed Warren’s initial diagnosis.

Warren shook his head.  “I can try some interarticular injections, but the long term prognosis isn’t good.  I’m going to x-ray his hind feet and check them, too, if that’s alright?”

The man eyed him.  “He’s not showing lame in the back.”

“I still think we should check.”

“You’re the vet.”

Two more X-rays showed what Warren already knew from his hands-on assessment.  The hind feet were also compromised.  Warren gave the owner instructions on the corrective shoeing the horse would need.  “Sheldon Murphy is who I suggest,” Warren said.

“I’ll call him.”

“And the horse needs to lose weight.  As much as possible.”

The man stared at him.  Finally, he said, “You mean starve him.”

“No.  Just get him down to a nice, healthy lean…take some weight off those small feet.”

“Ah…I’ve got halter classes coming up, and he starts reining trials in May.  He’s in training, plus he needs that weight to look good.”

“Any kind of athletic training and trials are completely out of the question.  Sorry.”  Warren didn’t address the ‘look good’ comment.

“Can’t we bute him up?”

Fighting to school his tone, Warren said, “No.”  Normal treatment included pain inhibitors and steroids, but Warren wasn’t about to administer them.  Short, young, and cocky, Rob Littlefield had a mercenary reputation when it came to his horses.  There were notes all over his client file—both Jim’s and Bill’s.

“How the hell am I supposed to get him to cover that last mare, then?”

Warren felt like saying, “You don’t.  He should be gelded and his get sterilized,” but didn’t.  He also didn’t offer artificial insemination.  He just said, “Sorry,” again, and handed over a hand-written copy of the charges.  “Marsha will invoice you.”


The man stalked off, and Warren let himself out of the barn to struggle back down the drive, juggling his kit, his tablet, and the portable X-ray, no help from Rob.  It was after one, and he still had five calls left on his day list.  The lot of a country vet, and to think he’d signed up for a lifetime of this misery when he could have accepted the better offer and been warm, welcomed, and worshipped at WSU.  What was he thinking?!  His third day back in, and he was regretting his choice.

“We’ve got a horse here with a nasty-looking, abscessed wound on the hip.  When can you be here?”

That was the message left on his voicemail by Denise.  He groaned as he hit the speed dial for the clinic.  He’d left his phone in the truck.  Again.  Marcia would be furious.

But she wasn’t.  Surprised, he assured her he’d stop by on his way south.  She acknowledged—barely—and rang off.

He had to chain up to get the truck free from where it was stuck.  He left it chained up till he got to the highway, more and growing drifts beginning to bury the county road.  Ambient temperature now down to minus six, with the wind chill it had to be nigh on thirty below.  “Kill weather” his father called it.  Warren pitied the stock stranded in the fields without any shed or shelter of trees.  He pitied the dogs stuck on chains.  If this wind kept up, the mortality rate was going to be high.


THE DRONE OF GENERATORS greeted him back at Lewis and Clark’s.  “Power’s going to be out for awhile, they say,” Tech Sonya Meyers told him.  “Dr. Clark thinks you’d better hunker down here tonight.  He’s going to, too.  Expects a rash of late night emergencies.  Always happens during these storms.  Oh, and Dr. Haber is stuck over on Corduroy Road.  She’s got at least a four hour wait for a tow truck.  The horse Denise called about is in stall four.”

Denise was with the mare.  She’d put a battery-run warming blanket on her and was taking her temperature.

Warren took a breath and stepped in…touched the animal’s shoulder.  Immediately, his body began shaking, savage pain in his hip almost buckling him.  He let go.

“You okay?”—Denise.

Hands on his knees for support, three huge breaths later, he nodded.

“Looks like she’s been shot.  Months ago.”

He knew that.

“Sheriff’s Office brought her down this morning.  Snowshoers found her tied to a tree up on the High Drive yesterday.  She’d eaten all the bark off as high as she could reach on all the trees she could get to.  The S.O. wants to know when you think she was shot, and they want the bullet that’s in her.”

Unable to stop himself, he retched, vomiting bile.

“You’re not okay.”

He wiped his mouth on his sleeve.  Then, with another huge breath, he forced himself upright and stepped up to the mare, again.  “I’ll be fine,” he snapped.

Denise looked skeptical.

Ignoring her, he ran his hands over the mare’s emaciated body, a body so lacking fat of any kind that it was a wonder she was alive.  He approached the horror on her near-side quarter.  A tentative touch told him that, though ugly and painful, this wasn’t the critical need.

He went to her head.  There, dull eyes stared through him—no hope.  Luckily, she was tame.

“Increase the temperature of the warming blanket to maximum.  Get me five liters of Ringer’s, also warm, and an I.V. set-up.  …And a couple of thin slices of apple from my lunch box.  It’s in the break room.”

“You’re going to try to save her?”

Warren turned to look at the girl…woman.  “…And five milliliters of molasses.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, and trotted off.

Alone with the mare, now, he started crooning to her, gently running his hands along her neck till he reached her withers.  Plying stethoscope, he was surprised to find that the lungs were clear, the heartbeat very slow, but steady.  “You’ve been through hell, but you’re body’s not giving up, is it?” he whispered.  Her spirit was dead, though—no hope.  She was maybe six years old.

“You think you can save her?” came the question.

Warren turned to see Jim standing there.  “I’d like to try.”

“The S.O. thinks she belongs to Old Man Reeves.  He disappeared up on the High Drive day after Thanksgiving.  Hunting.  He was never found.”

Denise had returned and stood just beside and a little behind.  Her face was stone.  Her blue eye matched it.  Her brown one betrayed her sympathies, though.  “So, do I try?” Warren asked.

Jim nodded.  “Denise, note on the file that Dr. Jeffreys has assumed her care and has full responsibility.  You’re her assigned tech.”

“Yes, Dr. Clark.”

“Get on with it, then, people.  I’ll help with the surgery if…when the time comes.”

So Jim believed he could save her and was willing to help.

Warren looked to Denise.  “Let’s get her out of the cold.”

*     *     *


An Awesome Message

So You Wanna Succeed....


I watched a good friend’s business die this year.  It only took a few months.  And it was all very avoidable. She has good luck; she’s smart, experienced, hard-working, good at what she does, has excellent credibility, and is canny about people–well, most people, anyway.  Her Achilles heel is her spouse–a flake and lame loser.  And that’s what crumbled her business along with her personal finances.  She depended on a flake and the flake brought her down.

Biggest critical key to success? Depend on yourself. Only.

Let’s go through the whole short course, though.  Let’s look at the actual process of success.  It isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s downright simple.

The first key to success is realizing that, yes, your success depends on you. You cannot depend on someone else to succeed for you…or even with you.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Oh, sure.  People can and will help when you engage them, but, ultimately, it’s you who has to check their work and make sure that work is going to move you along your road to success.   If it isn’t, then forget them, and DO IT YOURSELF.

Success isn’t easy for most people.  Though the process of success is easy, it is a fact that succeeding can require downright tedious work–which is where most people fail.  But let’s start at the beginning, rather than get muddled with “middle stuff.”

First off, know what you want to succeed at.  That’s important–very.

Next, learn what it’s going to take for you to achieve success in what you want to do…which means learning everything from the bureaucratic necessities to the most menial tasks, and learn them inside and out.

Now, marshal your assets and organize.  Organization–setting things up so they run as smoothly and seamlessly as possible with potential and even unlikely problems factored in–is the biggest and most important part of your entire enterprise, and that organization scheme is in a constant state of dynamics, because, as external conditions change, so do your organizational procedures have to change to accommodate those external forces.

Establish your routine, including within that routine a daily check on all critical functions from the administrative on down to the most insignificant. This is where organization is there to help you.  At any given moment you should be able to know when any filings are due to whatever agencies your enterprise must answer to, when any payments are due and how much they are, what your bank balance is, what your cash flow projections are, what tasks are scheduled for when, etc., etc., etc.  And, by the way, yes, you should always be running at least three full months ahead on your cash reserves.  More is even better.

Most importantly, never depend on someone to do things for you.  Oh, sure.  You can hire an office aide.  You can hire a bookkeeper.  You can task anyone you want with whatever job you want.  But YOU have to check to make sure they did it, and that they did it right, before it’s due–before they send off the quarterly report to the state and federal governments, before they screw up a payment, before they fail to file the appropriate form, before….  Do not blindly depend on others to do it on time or to do it right, because that will come back to bite you, and bite you badly.

And that’s pretty much it.  Honest.  Do the work–all the work–making sure that every ‘t’ is crossed and ‘i’ is dotted, holding yourself and only yourself accountable for that work getting done right and on time, and you will succeed.





zentao, a lifeway book cover in its final stages


When Progressives Turn to Hate, Racism, Bullying,Tyranny, and Violence


Do you wonder at your fellow humans where those supposedly fighting for human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and against intolerance, racism, bullying, and violence exhibit intolerance and racism, promote the curtailing of human rights, doing it by employing violence and bullying to force their will upon those others they perceive as prohibiting these things?

Upon mentioning that irony to an activist the other day, I was met with froth-mouthed screaming and thinly veiled promises of assault upon my person.

Exactly my point.

Fighting human rights violations, intolerance, and racism seems to now mean singling out a target demographic and subjugating, even eradicating, them by force.

Ending bullying now means mobs of people bullying others to the point that they flee in fear for their welfare and even their lives.

Freedom of speech and thought now means only thinking and speaking as approved by mob decision.

Ending violence now means angry masses of people using anything at hand as a weapon to beat down those they claim as violent.

And, of course, these folks all claim themselves to be educated and intelligent, while those they declaim and disdain are labeled ignorant dolts.

Interesting, ironic, and, yes, frightening–a world torn apart by violence employed in the name of nonviolence, humanity, equality, freedom, and fairness.

It’s insane and it’s ugly, destined to become even more ugly, and I sincerely doubt, bearing human history in mind, that it will end well. The millennial crisis has gained momentum, and that momentum is founded on a complete refusal to accept less than total annihilation, by force, if necessary, of any perceived opposition, even if those perceptions of the opposition are inaccurate to reality and fly in the face of the very principles upon which the movement is founded.

And, yes, Progressives, I’m a Bernie supporter and Move-On member who’s saying this. Until and unless Progressives walk the walk and act the act, they are nothing but hypocrites and fakes, a petulant, hate-riven, hate-driven mob no better and, sometimes, worse, than those they claim as persecutor.


Part of an NF Book Series I'm Writing


The weather forecast predicted a low of 48°F. and a high the next day near 62° with partly cloudy skies. I sat on the cement apron under my awning, reading one of my manuscripts, a novel I was planning to publish the following month. Around me, a few wasps and hornets still sipped at the water saucers put out expressly for them. Others worked at the dried beef strips provided them because their normal fare of garden insect pests was long since depleted.

Out in the garden, my tomato plants were heavy with green tomatoes slow to ripen, everything else having been harvested, except for a couple of winter squash and pumpkins. We had yet to have a frost.

These were the lazy days of autumn, when you get a lull between the heavy work of a summer spent preparing for winter and the miserably hard work that ice and snow brings to the north country. It’s my favorite time of year, not too hot, but not yet cold enough to warrant wearing a shirt over my t-shirt.  My mom calls them ‘gravy days’, and it’s an apt term.

Happily occupied on finding where reader flow could falter in the novel, I ignored the first nudge.  And the second.  When I got up to get a cup of coffee, though, the nudge became impossible to ignore.  I groaned.  I didn’t want to and reminded myself that NOAA (the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) was predicting continued mild weather.

The nudge turned into an insistent pressure, like a nag, but silent, just known…like when your mom is watching you from across the room when you haven’t done your homework or your chores, yet.

Okay!  Enough, already!

The pressure backed off, but its presence didn’t leave.  I got dressed to go over to the local farm store where they keep a supply of straw on hand.  Starting up the truck, I felt my usual, pragmatic terseness about giving up my afternoon for something that, while it needed to be done before the freeze, certainly wasn’t critical right now. The thought of the empty fuel containers came to mind, and I groaned.  Got out.  Got them.  Tied them in the back.  The neighbor was outside lighting his barbeque as I pulled past his place.  He waved.  I waved back.

I don’t argue with my nudges. I’ve had too many proofs of just how important it is to listen to them. So, begrudging the fact that I often get smirked at by neighbors and friends, I do what’s suggested, when suggested, regardless of how illogical and impractical it might seem.

At the farm store, the high school kid who loaded the bales of straw onto my flatbed wondered out loud to me on why I was getting a full load today instead of my usual handful of bales.

I thought about hedging.  Decided against it.  “Because it’s time to winterize the garden and stock up for a blow.  Livestock can’t go without straw in the cold.”

He gave me what, locally, we call ‘the hairy eyeball’, pointedly looked up at the blue skies and sinking sun, then, more pointedly, said, “Su-ure,” sarcasm dripping.

I grinned, finished strapping the load, then followed him inside to pay, grabbing a couple of rolls of heavy plastic and some snow blower sheer pins, to boot.  Then, I stopped at the gas station and filled my empty gas cans, bought some fuel stabilizer, and got some oil, just in case.

Once home, I spent the rest of the afternoon on into dark harvesting the green tomatoes and squash, pulling the houseplants in, winterizing the roses and banking the house, then loading the rest of the straw into the storage barn.  Last, with the yard lights on, I stapled the heavy plastic up around the north end of the open air barn.

Exhausted, I fell into bed around 10PM.  The thermometer reported the outside temperature at a pleasant 54°.


I rise early.  And I don’t keep the furnace on all year.  At 3:30AM, upon rising, the house felt chillier than usual.  Not much.  Just a bit.

I poked my head outside.  It was brisk, but it hadn’t frosted.  I shook my head.  “So much for following nudges,” my surly side grumbled inside my brain.  “Hey, the job is done, and I won’t have to do it later,” my ‘glass-is-half-full’ side shot back.

Not to be outdone, the pragmatic self responded with, “If it stays warm, the roses will rot. I’ll have to uncover them during the day, at least.”

I damped down all comments, moving to ‘not-think,’ the only sane way to deal with all the arguments and counters the rational, pragmatic brain will spawn.

Daylight showed gloomy overcast.  By 8AM, a chill wind had started.  By 10AM, the temperature outside had dropped from 42° to 35°.  By noon, the grass was frozen stiff, a winter storm warning in effect according to the National Weather Service, and the wind chill put the outside temperature down near 10°.  By evening, it was much, much worse.

If I hadn’t ‘listened’, which is another way of saying, paid attention to my instincts, my inklings, my nudges, I would have been scrambling to get everything done, working in miserable conditions to do it, and, believe me, it’s no fun stapling up plastic in the wind, to say nothing of trying to binder twine leafs of straw around roses to protect them from the bitter wind’s frost burn with freezing fingers.  Instead, I prepped the snow blower, then, bundling up, went over to help the neighbor with his frantic winterizing.

That night, snow started, the wispy, nasty stuff that creeps into every crevice and burns your face like stinging nettle when it hits you.  By the following morning, we were sitting at an ambient temperature of 3° F. with a wind chill of -26°.  It stayed that way for three solid weeks, no breaks.


People ask me how I know when to do what. Above, I gave you a simple example, not life critical, certainly, and probably inconsequential to most, but very demonstrative of how following nudges, following ‘flow’, allows you the luxury of avoiding unnecessary panic, toil, and suffering.

Oh, and the next time I visited the farm store, that high schooler grinned at me.  “You were right about the weather!  How’d you know?”

I gave him the easy answer, one that doesn’t give people willies: “A little bird told me.”

Incoming_6-5-2016 web

The Radical Vegan


I sometimes give dinner parties. Some of those I invite only eat Kosher. Some only eat vegan. Some won’t eat gluten. Some won’t eat pork or shellfish. I respect that. And they all know I do. I cook accordingly. When I visit their homes, I eat what is served or politely decline and drink water.

When I visit their homes, though, they don’t go out of their way to cook to my dietary needs and choices. And I would never ask them to. And they, usually, don’t ask me to; I do it voluntarily, even when I don’t relish their choices.

Enter the radical vegan to my house, a guest of a guest. Upon seeing that meat as well as purely vegan offerings were present at my table, the individual launched into a tirade, then proceeded to spit on the meat dishes and into the plate of deviled eggs. into the casseroles and salads that were clearly marked as either Kosher or non-vegan.

The meal was ruined. I was shocked. I told the person to leave my house and property and never return. The guest with whom the vegan came escorted her out and saw that she drove away…which left him stranded. (They’d both come in her car. Later, someone kindly took him home.) Once she was gone, he came back inside. He was mortified, as were the rest of us, and he offered to pay for the meal. I took him up on his offer by asking him to order from a local good restaurant that delivers. The folks around the table were conservative in their orders, and, within forty-five minutes, we were seated to a fresh table of not quite as extensive a meal.

The point of me recounting this ugly little drama is this: Today, vegans seem to think that they have the right to dictate what I and others put in our mouths. But these same vegans don’t want anyone dictating to them what they put in theirs. Vegans, I ask you: what if some radicalized meat-eaters group coerced the politicians to legislate the enforced eating of meat upon vegans, just like vegans are attempting to do via legislation to others? You vegans wouldn’t like it. In fact, you would feel your rights were being violated. Well, radical vegan, you are violating the rights of others with your actions and demands. Please stop, because, just like you don’t want someone dictating that you must eat meat, omnivores don’t want their choices dictated by you.

What you put into your mouth is your business. What someone else puts into theirs is not.


Post Vacation Horror

Forrest_1-13-2015_900web I wrote about the beginning of Forrest’s week off, about how he went out of his way to try to make the newbie driver’s experience taking his run as easy and successful as possible. So, returning to his truck after his vacation, Forrest finds that said driver left the trailer with a driven-on flat that was ruined and off its bead, a larger-than-golf-ball-sized rock hit in the windshield, and the inspection reports falsified.

Added to that, there was spilled popcorn, candy, chips, and nuts, plus lots of cast-off, sticky, gooey wrappers all over the interior, including in the lower bunk. There was a bottle of this guy’s urine stuffed behind the driver’s seat. In short, Forrest’s clean truck was trashed, and it took hours to clean and disinfect.

Whatever happened to ‘return something in the same or better condition than when you received it’?


White Bread

WhiteBreadTc“Could you play it a little less ‘white bread’?” Forrest asks, his eyes kind, but steady on mine, his fingers, as always, delicate in their grip on the neck of his newest guitar, a beautiful instrument that sounds as exquisite as it looks.

We’d just finished a run through of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ and, despite it being a challenging piece for me rhythmically, I’d done a pretty darn near perfect, note-for-note performance of it.

I blinked, stared, blinked again. “Ah…oka-aay,” I said, hedging.  “Which part?”  I asked this because, honestly, I know I’d just done it as written.

He tells me.

I blink.

He’s talking about two embellished notes, same pitch, the first three-sixteenths in length coming a sixteenth after the fourth beat and a quarter note coming on the one beat of the next bar.

He explains what he wants, then demonstrates it vocally.

I nod. He starts the riff; I come in when I should, mimicking his vocalization.

“Not really,” he says, stopping, again.

I laugh. “Okay. What, then?”

“Feel it more.”

He starts moving his fingers, playing out the riff, his head bobbing in that just-off-the-beat kind-of-way that seems pervasive among rock musicians. He looks at me, his eyes urging me to come in.

I do.

He stops…shakes his head. “Feel it. Don’t count it.”

“Oka-aaay.” I try again.

A huge sigh answers that attempt. “Could you try not playing it like a classical musician? …Try playing like a…a….” He shrugs. “…LIke you don’t have a rod up your backside.”

By now, I’m practically in hysteria. Damping down my giggles is taking supreme effort. “But I am a classically trained musician.” Then, more soberly: “And I’m really trying, here.”

“I know….” He groans. “…But it’s just so…’white bread‘!”

He’s getting exasperated. Perfectionist that he is, I know how serious he means this. Still, I can’t help myself: “I like white bread,” say I.

His eyes flash. “You don’t even eat bread.”

“That’s true.” (I’m grinning, and I know that exasperates him even more, but, honestly, I can’t help myself.)

“Then, don’t play it!” he practically bellows.

I sigh. Watch him fondly. Finally, I shrug a bit. “Hon-, I can only do me. I’m not a ‘bro-‘. I ain’t got no rhythm that way. But I did play with Santana for a few weeks long time passing, and they loved my playing.”

“It’s too ‘white bread’,” he repeats. Emphatically.

“Yes, dear. I’ll work on it.”

…Anyone know how to make white bread brown?

The Rise of the American Bully Tyrannists


There’s a complete and utter irony to it. It comes from all sides right and left–from the homophobes, bigots, and religious fanatics to the vegans, the anti-war, the anti-racists, the anti-discriminists, animal rights crowds…you name it. On the right and the left, we have calls to arms, calls to action against anyone perceived to be exhibiting any trait or tendency that one or another group fears, despises, or finds abhorrant and intolerable, whether in the name of human rights or in the name of outright extreme fanaticism.

The most ironic is to hear activists scream out their hatred and intolerance of anyone they consider to be … spewing hatred and intolerance. And all of them, including the self-named pacifists, are willing to wield weaponry and go to war to force everyone to comply with their vision of ‘what should be’ …which, of course, is exactly what tyrannical governments do, what slave-owners did and do, what every exclusionary group does and has done on down the line through history.

“But,” you scream, “our cause is just!”

So said the Catholics of the Spanish Inquisition, so said Robespierre of French Revolution infamy, and so said and says every dictator and tyrant the world has ever known. Can’t you see that you are only promoting the exact same system that you claim brought about the institutions you abhor?

Maybe you can. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you think your version of tyranny is sanctified. But your version of tyranny is, in actuality, no different than the worst version of tyranny ever seen in human history–it subjugates, coerces, punishes, oppresses, and eradicates.

Do you realize that the only reason why you are free to repudiate those things to which you object is because you have the freedom to disagree, to choose differently for yourself? Yet, you want to take that right away from others. Don’t you see the danger in that?

Be careful what you promote, because the system you support and in which you engage to force others to bow to your agendas will, ultimately, enslave you, your children, your kin, your friends, your neighbors, your community, your country, your world.

Think about it. Then adjust what you support and how you support it accordingly. Tyranny is not the way forward to a better society.


Hate is Hate, whether it comes from the Right, Left, or Middle. Get Down Off Your Outraged Pedestal.

bullent hole, snippet_web

I just read an article linked to by a gentleman in my feed. Now, this gentleman and I don’t see eye-to-eye. At all. But, still, I like to read his viewpoints, just like I do folks who hold other perspectives which I might or might not share. Listening to different perspectives with which I might disagree allows me to learn and to constantly question my own perspectives. I like alternative narratives. I love it when some new viewpoint makes total sense to me and changes my mind…using legitimate arguments, well-substantiated by fact and logic.

I listened to Black Lives Matter…and wound up dismissing them as just more hate-mongers and racists. I listened to the new feminists and came to the conclusion that they were the Female Supremacists, just like, previously, I’d dismissed the Black Panthers, the Christian Coalition, the White Supremacists, and similar groups, finding in them just more hate and intolerance, advocating violence against those who didn’t share their faith, mores, ideologies, and/or perspectives.

I’ve listened to the [insert label of choice] and found, by and large, that most groups, most movements, are simply promoting hatred and unfairness toward some other group, using blame and scorn, encouraging castigation, excoriation, punishment, subjugation, and even eradication of whichever group they decide is their victimizer, responsible for all injustice in the world, all of their fervor fueled by self-righteous rage masquerading as righteous outrage.

The article I just read, concerning the murder of MP Jo Cox, used phrases like ‘toxic masculinity’ and blames homophobia, misogyny, the right-wing, and a basket-full of other buzz-terms as promoting hate and fear, never acknowledging that ‘toxic feminism’, heterophobia, misandry, and the left-wing are equally to blame.

The only thing in the article that actually speaks any fair truth is this, and we need to apply it INDISCRIMINATELY<Important!:

…that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”


It’s not too late to pump this poison out of the system. One brave woman is dead. Others must work now to emulate her example: to place compassion above fear, hope above hatred, to fight against the intolerance tearing apart our communities. To work and speak and vote against bigotry and blame.


bullet hole, copyright 2016 DLKeurLKeur2016_web

Caring About a Stranger

Forrest_1-13-2015_900webMy husband sacrificed his first vacation day and night because he cared. A stranger is taking over his weekly LTL run through Canada’s Alberta and BC provinces this week while he takes a short vacation. But, upon reaching the shipping dock, Forrest discovered that, instead of the usual load he’s been getting the last couple of weeks, it was one of those “loads from Hell.” The load topped the weight limits, and even getting it loaded right took hours with the forklift driver so the rear axles weren’t overweight. Then, even with the load shifted as far forward as possible, the rear axles are maxed.  And, of course, the run includes just about every tricky, nasty receiver on the list of possible delivery locations. It was the kind of run that Forrest says can push him to the limits.  And, so, he worried. For the driver taking it, a driver who’s never done this run, or even one like it, a driver who has about one year of driving experience and has never driven a heavy haul.

So Forrest sat down with the driver, and they went through all the problem areas–all afternoon, five hours worth. Then, because the driver’s GPS doesn’t do Canada well, at all, and he wouldn’t use Forrest’s because he didn’t understand how to use it, Forrest came home and spent all night till 5:45AM this morning typing out explicit directions and reminders of ‘how to’ so this guy had a reference sheet on where to go, how to best get there, what problems to expect, and how to negotiate all the very nasty potential problems as well as regular, legacy problems at each receiver.

Caring about a stranger–I wish all of us did that…for everyone.

Thank you, Forrest.



How I See It, the Super Short Version


A friend of mine, with no intended malice, labeled my perspective in a particular thread on G+ as providing “a yummy dystopian outlook.” At first, I was taken aback, surprised that he would consider me thus, and a bit hurt, too. Then, he went on to explain when I challenged the charge. He said:

I find that many of your outlooks on society verge on the dystopian.

Personal opinion of mine, but I’m not ready for my robot overlords to take over or a Basic Living Wage. That’s very nightmarish to me although incredibly realistic in regards to how fast society is buzzing along.

And, yes, thinking on it, I tend to agree with his evaluation. I, too, am not ready for robot overlords or robot servants, for that matter, and, while the basic income model may make some sense, it’s neither practically functional nor possible, not in our present economy, neither the national one nor the global one. It’s beside the point, though. Yet, I will provide you my response, which was:

What I aim to do with my ‘dystopian’ posts is to bring an awareness of potential consequences, consequences that we are already seeing. I’m not and have never been ready for some of the horrible, absolutely horrible, consequences that have come to pass since I was a kid. I’m watching the worst and the best unfold, and it’s a compelling experience.

But Ken Beghtal’s words stirred some thinking, always a dangerous thing, yes. So, here, in a nutshell, is my outlook encapsulated in two, short bullet lists:

The Awesome

  • Advances in technology and science across every field have opened up the greatest potentials for us to truly move ourselves from primitive savages to a responsible, enlightened, benevolent species, capable of achieving wondrous things.
  • Multitudes of us care, share, and work hard to tame our species’ destructive nature, promoting good for all, promoting tolerance and caring, preserving what’s best and what is wonderful and native to our planet, from nature and the biosphere, from cultures, our own and not our own, from intellect, reason, and, yes, even ideology, utilizing every tool possible, including artificial intelligence.

The Terrible

  • Simultaneously, advances in technology bring us ever closer to enslavement, loss of freedom, loss of our own free will and thought, along with hellish war machines and weaponry so destructive that we face planetary annihilation every moment of ever breath.
  • Multitudes of us fear and hate, craving violence and wishing death upon those, human and other, with whom we share the planet, but of whom we have no tolerance. From microbes to plants and every type of animal on up to other humans, we eradicate, destroying, in ignorance, greed, arrogance, intolerance, and callousness, life around us, life that sustains our very own existence.

We live in a wondrous age of extraordinary potential. We live on the brink of self-imposed and self-perpetuated annihilation.



Life 6-2-2016


Just finished this piece. I like it, therefore nobody else has to. Isn’t that called artistic arrogance? =D


People Ask 'When'.


People ask me ‘when will the next [book title] sequel come out’?

Well, here’s the thing. I’m not sure. I’ve got sequels completely drafted, yes. I’ve got full manuscripts ready for the re-writing phase, yes. I’ve got new stories begging to be written, and writing them doesn’t take me that long since I can produce a 90k novel in less than thirty days.


There’s a lot of effort to releasing a novel. There’s a lot of hard-earned money–my money–that has to be spent to launch another novel. There’s even more time–my time–to be devoted to that launch. And, when, out of more than ten thousand ‘downloads’ of just the eBook version of one title nets me less than twenty-five cents per downloaded book because the majority of those eBooks were stolen and continue to be stolen, why should I put more books out to suffer the same fate?

I could go the DRM route, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. I admit I made a HUGE mistake in using Smashwords for two of the titles before bringing them back to Amazon’s Kindle Select program. But even the KS eBooks are out on the free download sites. They get there within hours of release.

Of course, I could spend my day writing cease and desist orders to all the sites presently carrying my titles, but, tomorrow, all those sites will have removed my titles and those sites’ databases containing my titles will have moved to new addresses, so I’ll have to start all over again.

No thanks. I’ve got better ways to spend my time.

So, I’m not sure I will release any more novels. What’s the point? It certainly isn’t paying the majority of my expenses, even the cost of producing those novels. It’s not rewarding me in any way. It’s just providing content for scammer sites and making me resent the people who steal from me.



The Start of Today


I wake up, refreshed and looking forward to a productive, happy day. The air outside brings joy. The wind brings a freshening. The sky is bright and overcast, feeling of potential storminess. It’s wonderfully invigorating.

Downstairs, I clean up the usual disasters from my mom’s misfit dogs. I clean her bathroom, so, when the CNA arrives to give her her shower, there’s no trace, no sight or smell, of Mom’s bad habits. I change her bedding once the CNA has her in the shower. Done, I grind coffee and set the 40 cup percolator to doing it’s job…after having drained the last of the previous batch into my carafe.

I head upstairs to my office. My cell phone rings. It’s Forrest, the love of my life. Unfortunately, hubs is Mr. Grumpkin, today. He spilled his coffee.

I suggest a different cup. (Because, damn it, he’s always spilling his coffee, though I don’t mention that.)

He gets grumpier, bellowing at me that he doesn’t need my advice.

Okay. Sorry.


I share tidbits about his favorite cat’s antics. I mention some of the latest discoveries in science. I talk about one of his pet interests, our music project.


It’s a non-conversation. I tell him so, beg off, and end the call.

He’s on vacation, starting Saturday. I think I’m going to have to find another place to stay for those eight days he’s going to be home. I really do.


A Rape Culture? Humans ARE Specialists.


I’m so tired of “new” feminists and their male proponents. I’m tired of the attempts to culturally castrate men…and other women, for that matter. I’m tired of people mouthing the words ‘rape culture’, when, honestly, they have their heads up their varied anatomical holes about rape.

I was raped–sexually, in fact. I didn’t talk about it for years…decades. I rarely speak of it, now.  Why? I was traumatized. Brutally. Because the rape was brutal, done by a bunch of jocks–yes, gang-raped by those privileged boys, black, brown, and white, whose ‘bad boy’ behavior and aggression society–almost ALL human societies–encourages and celebrates.

Do we live in a ‘rape culture’? Really? You bet we do. And it ain’t just the men.  It ain’t just them who have a penis and testicles. Women rape, too. And I’m NOT limiting this to sexual violation, folks. Rape is an act of domination, of overpowering and subjugating others. And it isn’t limited to males dominating, overpowering, and subjugating women or even men dominating, overpowering, and subjugating other humans, regardless of gender. Women are just as guilty of raping those around them, both women, especially women, as well as men. They may not commit a sexual violation to do it (though some do that, too, and, yes, even to men) but they do, in fact, practice forms just as or even more onerous…because they are HUMAN.

Humans are specialists in domination–dominionism. They are specialists in subjugating others–hierarchy. They are specialists in overpowering anyone and anything they can–oppression. It’s the nature of humans to do so. It’s how primitive humans survived hostile environments to become what they think is the top of the food chain–by subjugating, overpowering, and dominating.  To change that, you’re going to have to change YOU and the entire species. Genetic tampering would do it. Attempting to dominate, subjugate, and overpower your perceived victimizer is only perpetuating more rape, that is you raping–subjugating, overpowering, and dominating–those you blame as YOUR rapists.


SJWs were New to Me. I Wish I'd Stayed in the Dark.


Frothing, frenzied, enraged, loud, brazen, brash, prone to using force, and, sometimes, even oftentimes, violent — that’s the meaning I’ve come to recognize as SJWs (Social Justice Warriors to those, like the past me, who are ignorant of that acronym).

To hear them, to study them, to realize the methods they’re willing to employ to achieve their goals, is to realize that the SJWs are, quite literally, tyrants, totalitarians, and fascists, combined. Should they succeed in their agendas, they would force everyone within their reach to conform, else they would punish, even eradicate, all non-conformers. (And, yes, they want complete and comprehensive control.)

To say that these frenzied mobs are, in fact, willing to force, coerce, and subjugate everyone to their will is counter to freedom and human rights. I don’t care which ‘social justice’ they align with, the tactics and mindset seem the same: force change to their version of how things should be according to them or else. Whether it’s veganism or animal rights, whether its racism, sexism, ageism, genderism, worker rights, freedom of belief/disbelief, or anything else…whether I agree in principle or not, the tactics being employed are those of dictatorship, not of freedom, and I cannot abide tyrants and fascists.

To me, they are no different than any other tyrannical overlord. To me, they are no different than Islamic extremists, Christian extremists, totalitarian rulers, military dictators, absolute-power monarchs. They are no better than Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, or any other megalomaniac the world has seen and known. They can claim ‘greater good’, but their actions and words demonstrate the awful truth. They are, in fact, nothing but more would-be overlords, their mantra: We shall subjugate. It’s our turn to wield the whip.


With Myself!


We’re doing my husband’s arrangement of a tune called Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden. Our instruments are flute and guitar, electrified flute and guitar, that is. And effected. It’s a seemingly easy piece to play. Not much technical difficulty there, no. Not at all. Unless you want it to sound like ‘something’. And, both of us, professional musicians and extremely picky about ‘getting it perfect’, insist that it sound like ‘something’. Which it certainly does when I’m playing analog, or even just mic’d up. Add in ‘all the other stuff’, and things fall apart for me.

For me, a piece as unchallenging as Black Hole Sun is a snap to play first time, everytime…until you add in, not just the headset, but a 14 switch, ten knob, 15 button, 10 toggle stomp box with a chain of yet other myriad effects via other, smaller stomp boxes, added into the stomp loop. Suddenly, what was simple becomes overwhelming. I’m an analog player. My entire life, I just picked up my flute, warmed-up, put my music up on the stand, and off I went. (Classical musicians have it easy. Yes, we do. Just master the instrument, intonation, the music, pay attention to the conductor, and there you are.) Well, Forrest isn’t a classical musician. Forrest is a rock musician with a penchant for perfection as bad as old Frank Zappa’s. He’s a tyrant when it comes to how it will sound.

Enter Dawn, who, though master of her instruments, namely flute and piano, is just totally lost amidst the toggles, switches, knobs, and buttons. And, when attempting to get the right toggle toggled, the correct switch switched, the appropriate knob turned x amount of degrees, and the necessary button depressed, well, things go south in a hurry.  Then, there’s the issue of mic feedback! If I move my flute just the wrong way, suddenly that gain setting that we worked so diligently to set doesn’t work anymore. Expensive flute acts like some sort of signal amplifier or antenna or something. Then it’s dive for the soundboard or, if I remember, the stomp box patch #1, any bank, before I don’t have any hearing left.  Whew!

Forrest gets frustrated with me. I get frustrated with me. It is no fun being the neophyte in a world where electronic effects and amplification ‘make’ the sound, the instrument mastery an expected given.

If I ever hear another classical musician moan about how hard their job is, a job that only entails mastering their instrument and their repertoire, then attending the conductor, I think I’ll invite them to sit in on one of our sessions and watch the meltdown.

Copyright 2016 DLKeur

Copyright 2016 DLKeur

Resolve to be Kind


I have an aversion to cruelty. I especially have an aversion to cruelty perpetuated by humans. I think it, not just unnecessary, but the true evil, the only real evil–sentient-made and sentient-perpetuated.

We humans don’t need to perpetuate cruelty/evil. We don’t need to embrace and accept it, much less applaud it.  Yet, we do. And, while I very much understand the underlying factors which contribute to the behavior, I refuse to give credence to any permissive-minded excusing of it.


As sentient beings, we humans have choice–a choice to refuse to act out our fear-based hatreds and craving-based greeds. We have a choice to be kind or cruel in any circumstance. And we have an obligation to be kind, not cruel. To ourselves and to all other entities, sentient and insentient. To do otherwise, to choose cruelty over kindness, condemns us in our own self, by our own memories–etched in our brains, our cells, even our DNA, to self-condemnation.

You can scoff. You can cry out that your personal savior, be that Jesus or some other, will wash away your every sin and you are forgiven. But the fact of your deeds is indelibly scribed, and while your personal savior might forgive you, you remember and, by your every cruelty, will self-condemn.

Now, psychologists will argue that self-condemnation requires conscience, and conscience is determined by cultural conditioning and neurology. They will point out that cultural norms define what is and what is not identified as cruel, as bad or good. They will point out that the sociopath has no conscience.

Right and wrong, according to psychology, is relative, yet science identifies a moral generator that develops in primates and in human children, the latter beginning at the age of four, despite culture and upbringing–a sense of fairness, scientists call it. It’s genetically ingrained, probably rooted in evolution of the species. Regardless, it exists and can be measured. It’s very much past time that we employ it for our own peace of mind and for the betterment of ours and every other living thing’s existence. To do less, even if conscience must be learned, as in the case of the sociopath, is to condemn yourself and the human species as truly, remorselessly evil.


Forrest's Night Out


Someone screaming in anguish, their guts being ripped from their body. Someone laughing, the sound maniacal. The audience members munch popcorn and sip their favored beverages, unmoved, almost bored. I leave my seat, climbing the spilled-pop-sticky carpet to the entrance/exit. I don’t want to see those kinds of “Coming Attractions,” thanks.  We’re here for a newly released blockbuster Forrest wants to see on the ‘big screen’, not to see unmitigated gore and celebrated cruelty.

My husband catches up with me out in the lobby. “Are you going out to the car?”

I turn. Smile. “No. I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back. No worries,” I assure him.

His eyes plead.

I smile, again.  “Be right back.”

He nods and, relaxing, turns to head back down the dark entry to Theater #3. He knows why I left. I don’t like graphic violence. I see no need for it, except in the rarest of circumstances, and, even then, it can be done in a way that has astonishing impact without resorting to real-to-life depictions. I know. Because I write it, have written it, have made voice actors audio recording my stories choke up, unable to get a clean take time after time–professional voice artists.

In the bathroom, a little girl is waving her hands underneath the faucet, but she’s too short to get it to come on. I wonder where her mother is. I wonder at the architects and engineers who didn’t think about the needs of children and others of small stature. I wave my hand over her faucet, and it turns on. She smiles, mumbles ‘thanks’, and puts her hands under the running water, then manages the electronic eye on the paper towel dispenser by herself, though it’s a stretch.

I check my make-up–rarely wear it. My clothes–black–lay impeccably. My five-inch heels give me an illusion of elegance and grace, despite my petite frame and calloused hands.  My hair, freshly styled, is suitably mussed and tousled. I look like I just stepped out of a magazine instead of rural North Idaho. On purpose. I’ve dressed up especially for my husband. I want his evening to be the best, because these chances happen so rarely for us with his job.

I wash my hands. Think. Head back out to stand near the dark opening that leads down to where Forrest is saving my seat. The “Coming Attractions” are still playing. Sound says that they’re still cruel, mean, and gory. Oddly, the movie we’ve come all the way to the big city to see isn’t that kind of movie, so why are they showing horror and violence trailers is my wonder.

Some tall, teen girls walk by, heading for Theater #4. They sneer, make some comment I don’t understand in some alien-sounding jargon, then spit in my direction. Their efforts fall short. I don’t ‘see’ them, don’t react. The cop standing near the concession stand starts walking over, and the girls vanish down the dark hole that’s Theater #4. He asks if I’m okay. I assure him, “Yes.”

Finally, I hear the opening theme for the movie we came to see. I head back to my seat, Forrest grasping my hand as I settle in…offering me his popcorn.

It’s a rare treat–a night out in the big city a hundred-plus miles from home. The special effects alone will make worthwhile suffering the soles of my shoes sticking to the carpet, the crude “Coming Attractions”, the teens with their hatred. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to be with my best friend and soulmate. It’s Forrest’s night out.


Surprise! The One-Liner Five.

ToInheritAMurderer_AmazonCrunchI blinked. Double blinked. Sipped coffee. Blinked again.  Decided to check….  Really?!  REALLY?!

“Yep,” said


My sleeper…well, one of my sleepers, but I don’t much count the SF…actually garnered interest … and a five-star, one-liner review that says a LOT, coming from a pleased reader. YESTERDAY.

I’m still blinking.  And I haven’t even released this lengthy ‘thing’ I’m doing on the novel–a thing that takes a lot of work and a lot of painstaking attention to ‘where was my intent’.

To Inherit a Murderer, (Book 1: The Ward) actually garnered a five-star review. And it’s been selling copies.  Wow!  Totally WOW.

Makes me happy.  Because the book’s been sleeping for a good long time with only the most occasional of reader. The last review before yesterday’s was in the summer of 2015.

Now, I don’t get a lot of reviews from my readers. Not for OHL (Old HIckory Lane) and not for my C. J. “Country” James novels. They sell well, but their readers don’t review. To have To Inherit a Murderer garner a review, though, well, that’s like a MAJOR DEAL.  To me.

Wow.  Made my day yesterday. Unfortunately, I was so busy patching databases due to a plugin update fault that I couldn’t spend the time to gloat.  So I’m gloating today.


Popular Misconconceptions Purposely Contrived and Cultivated


I can be a controversial irritant. I know this. Still, I have a lot of people who, while afraid to admit it out loud, totally agree with me. And, privately, they applaud me for saying what they feel they can’t. That they won’t publicly support my saying it isn’t necessarily a sign of cowardice. It is a sign of fear–fear of crowd scorning, of cyber bullying, and of ruining their smiling, online, positive images purposely designed to try to gain market traction.

Yes, I do get groans from some of them, too, even the ones who agree with me. I get outright disfriending and snarling responses, private and public, from those who don’t. But you know what? The groaners and the muck slingers don’t bother me and don’t deter me. That I irritate them tells me that I cracked the plastic veneer.

Occasionally, I get a response that bears attending. One such came from my old publicist, who still, it seems, keeps tabs on me. Lately, he sent me applause with one hand while lecturing me about inadvisability with the other hand, admittedly typing with his thumb from his Smartphone, “so I’ll make this brief.”  Since I’m “in business” to sell my books, he suggests, “Wouldn’t it be prudent to rein in posting [my] opinions,” opinions that are, as he puts it, “often counter to popular misconceptions purposefully contrived and cultivated?”

That one made me blink. I immediately noticed the lack of qualifiers and quantifiers–normal. But for him to outright say what he did was astounding to me. This is a man who is, at all times, cautious in his every action, deed, and word.

‘Popular misconceptions purposely contrived and cultivated’–yes, exactly.

And why are misconceptions purposely contrived and cultivated in the public at large? Profit and power.

Sad, isn’t it? The public, the people, are being purposely fed artfully contrived misconceptions, and they swallow them whole. It’s ‘whole cloth’, completely fabricated and false, completely contrary to their best interests, proliferated by the blind who have been sold on the process. And I ain’t talking about U.S. or world politics, here, though the same applies. I’m talking self-promotion, the selling-my-book business, the World Wide Web, social media. and effective marketing strategies.

The sighted blinding the credulous.




They float on surface tides, siphoning whatever they can harvest for free, never sharing, never giving back, never caring of those who they, in their lustful greed, are starving.  I watch them, safely protected from their undying appetites, and I marvel at their ignorance of the vortex soon to swallow them into extinction.


Canyon Forbes watched his streams, aware that, at any moment, he’d be told to shut them off, his duty station shifted to security.  Glad that he was ‘inside’, glad he wouldn’t be among those stranded, he wondered at the ignorance that had, decades past, permitted this kind of exploitation, and decided that he wasn’t smart enough to figure out that answer.

It didn’t really bother him that millions, even billions, would perish.  It was inevitable.  Leadership had known the consequences for a century…longer, if one believed interpretations of the organization’s founders’ writings.  And, logically, there could be no other outcome.

(To be continued…or not. I think this one is too dystopian for my liking.)


Monsters Fighting Monsters


Angeline Trevena posted a link on G+ this evening. A paying market is open to submissions for stories of monsters fighting monsters. Immediately, my writer’s brain spawns a scenario–a perfectly legitimate one. A creature wakens to find his home overrun with vermin, those vermin destroying the entire habitat his kind…all kind depend upon for survival. In his three thousand year sleep, what were seemingly insignificant irritants have grown from pesky to pestilence, and the damage wrought is all but irreversible. The world as he and his depend upon is in terminal throes.

What creature? Oh, I don’t know. Some stone mountain that wakes up to reveal itself a sleeping dragon, maybe, though I’ve used the dragon motif before.

The monster pestilence? Why, man, of course.

Will I write it?

No. No point.


It's the Possibilities


One of the questions I’ve asked most in my life, from the time I could first form the word, is ‘why’? Drove my mom nuts. Drove my bad teachers nuts. Gave my good teachers a thrill, and they delighted in spurring on my curiosity. I was reading adult newspapers at three years of age…and comprehending them. I was doing algebra before third grade, quadratic equations and calculus by fourth. I read the Encyclopedia Britannica from Vol 1 through the addenda the company sent each and every year. I explored…and I’m still exploring. I’m still asking ‘why’.

For me, it’s not the answer that’s most important. It’s the question and where that question leads…to other questions. It’s the potential possibilities inherent in those questions that most intrigue me.


How Not to Sell Me on Your Novel

book_NotAuthors, really.notimpressed Do I care that you’re having a “huge sale”?

No. I’m not a bargain basement book shopper, willing to spend my time on anything that comes my way because it’s cheap or free.

I also don’t care if you’ve won some award or contest with your book. I know how contests and awards work from the inside, so I know that, chances are, the only reason the book won is for reasons that have nothing at all to do with its actual quality and value as good reading. Likewise with professional reviews.

Next on my list of “I don’t give a damn” is whether or not you made some best seller’s list or, worse than that, some “pop” list voted on by Joe and Josepha Public. BS lists are just that–bullshit lists–manipulated by skill and subterfuge, and “pop” lists rank even lower, being manipulated by cliques and back-scratchers.

What will convince me to buy your book? Good hook, good writing, and a riveting story I can’t put down, written in a genre I like…which is most anything that, A, doesn’t dwell in the dreary, disheartening, perverse, stupid, insipid, banal, and/or trite and, B, which lacks any descent into gratuitous sex, gore, and/or violence.

How do you catch me? First off, a good slag-line. Second, a good description. Third, a first page that makes me want to read on…and that continues to pull me along all the way through the excerpt provided by Amazon. Then, yes, you’ve just made a real sale, and, despite being a KU member, I will actually pay you your full asking price…because I believe GOOD writers should be paid.

Image by D. L. Keur with base image By Raúl Ruano RuizOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Experiential Distortion

by D. L. Keur writing as herself and/or one of her numerous pen names

02142016ExDistortSqStepping into the shower, she listens to the giggling in the walls, watches light refracting in the streaming spray, smells the fragrance of freshness. Tastes it, too. She closes eyes, lessening visual stimulation. While spatially disorienting, this decreases distraction.

Narrowing focus, she concentrates upon sensation. Sound and odors fade; touch, the lesser skill, can now dominate attention. She revels in sensation: tingling, stinging, punctuated hot; dripping, streaming flow sweeping all around, swirling at her feet. Immersed in movement of the stream, her mind explores vectors and trajectories.

“Raynie, did you take the garbage out?”

The sound explodes around her. The world spins, threatening to topple her.

She extends a hand, but can’t find ‘solid’.

Concentrating, she manages to still herself enough to hold stability, despite the violent buffeting of tidal swirls that threaten to upend her. She trues to that hold, but the effort is immense. Still, she knows it’s necessary. Doing less will bring unending queries and more violent disturbances.

With a will, she splits attending from single- to multi-dedicated focus. She seeks and finds ‘speech’, the least of her capabilities, but the one most critical to maintaining comfort levels within those with whom she shares experience.

The effort makes her breathless. She coheres the necessary communication from conceptual instance into distributed linear stream, making sure the energy within that stream congeals into: meaningful, simple, concise.

Once sure, she finds, then engages mouth and tongue, that finding and engagement also requiring of her immense concentration.


“No, Mom. I’ll do it when I’m finished showering.”

“Well, hurry up. The bus will be here.”

Dedicated concentration fractured, she struggles to stabilize herself as every sense goes overload. She struggles and, with a breath, just manages appropriate response—“Okay”—then she hopes that Mom will go away so she can regain control.

Silence answers, and, as the metasphere around her calms, the skirls and buffeting exponentially diminish until they become mere ripples dissolving into echoes as they fade off down the here-now’s timeline.


A New Poem

Snow Fog


Branch, twig, and needle etched with rime,
Each tree white lace against cold sky,
The snow fog waits, a ghost upon horizon,
For noonday sun to turn its ice to liquid diamonds.

                    D. L. Keur, January 18, 2013

Dragonfly Rain, a Video by undertheturnpike

A Quarter Inch of Joy

I was out watering my ever-bearing strawberries, and, in the process, knocked a tiny black creature — a quarter inch long little black wasp — into the rain cistern. Reaching down with a gentle finger, I scooped her out and put her on my t-shirt sleeve before finishing my task while keeping an occasional eye on her revival progress.

It took her about two minutes of rubbing herself on the soft cotton material of my shirt sleeve, then another three or so of “tidying” before she considered herself “presentable” to the world again.  Watching, I was captivated by the meticulous attention she paid to every part of herself — her antenna, her thorax, her legs, her head, her wings.  She was not hasty; she attended every detail in a thorough, methodical, and almost leisurely, never panicked fashion.  Her lack of fear, her sense of “safe”, brought me a great measure of joy — that the small creatures around me know that I will never intentionally swat, hit, squash, or harm them.  It brings me a greater measure of joy to watch these wonderful living things go about their daily business in peace and harmony with every other creature who shares their life journey.

Be kind. The life you save could very well brighten your own well-being.

The Power to Help.

I have two ants safely harbored in a peanut butter jar, a piece of screen keeping them inside.  They came here inside my husband’s lunchbox from the construction site.  Of course, they didn’t come on purpose.  They weren’t particularly interested in visiting places far, far away.  They were after goodies and got hijacked by the lid being closed and zippered shut.  So home they came…surviving what had to be a very dangerous and uncomfortable trip, jostled between empty lunch containers, locked inside a plastic and nylon environment in 100 degree heat. 

So hubs opens lunch box to dump his containers into the sink and does the old, “Ants! Oh, great.”

Now, I have a “thing” about ants.  It’s the one creature…en masse…which will send me screaming off in a frothing panic. (I was bitten by red ants when I was a child and have never quite recovered from the experience.)  But I also have a “thing” about life and its being precious.  I have a “thing” which demands me respect all life…and non-life.  And, me, a human, has the power to help.  And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?  If I have the power to help, doesn’t that obligate me to help where I can, when I can?  I think so.  Caring matters.  If one doesn’t care, if things don’t matter, what’s the point?

So back to the story.

So, lid open, one of the two ants trapped inside started perambulating around in a bit of a frenzy.  One got outside the box and disappeared.  The other was just doing laps inside. 

I see all manner of containers, but everything is plastic or styrofoam — death to insects put inside because they are saturated with things like pesticides or made using formaldehyde. (Nice to think that our food comes in these things, right?) Quickly, I grab the clean, empty, glass peanut butter jar, wondering where the “outside” ant went off to, and how I would be able to find her to get her safely inside the jar for the return trip home tomorrow.  Ah!  There she is!  I manage to get her to walk inside the jar.  Now for the other one.  She’s not so easy, but, with the help of a piece of paper towel, she’s induced to take a ride inside safety.

Screen lid anchored in place, and they are ready to roll, no longer “lost ants,” but simply on an adventure and ready for the return trip home.

I used my power to help. 


Yes, they made it safely back to their ant homes.  Hubs was very conscientious about getting them back to exactly where he ate lunch the day before.  And he watched them as they made tracks out of the jar and onto “familiar ground.”  They immediately ran into more ants, did the “feeler thing,” as he called it, then made tracks, following other ants headed to a “known ant home.” 

I really like the construction crew.  They are very conscientious.  All of them.  And that’s as it should be since the two owners, Hubs and partner, are both eco-minded.  If the crew wasn’t, I guess they wouldn’t be crew very long, right?

Oh, and, I failed to mention, I put a bit of water on aforementioned paper towel the morning of transport back home, and both ants made quite an elaborate show of drinking.  Those were some thirsty ants.  They must have snacked on some of hubby’s favorite Triscuits!