A Gathering of Rebels, science fiction > epic space opera

Last modified on 2017-02-14 15:28:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Novel trailer for the epic sci-fi novel, A Gathering of Rebels by Aeros (D. L. Keur pen name). This science fiction novel is by, for, and about aliens, a space opera that will take you deep into the real cosmos. The books–there are two volumes to the epic–are available in eBook and print at Amazon here: Volume 1 (Part 1): https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Rebels-1-ebook/dp/B00LQZM9H0/ and Volume 2 (Parts 2 & 3): https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Rebels-2-ebook/dp/B00LQZMATM/

A Gathering of Rebels will be available in audio and in audio/visual later this year.

To Inherit a Murderer Novel Trailer

Last modified on 2017-02-14 15:28:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Credits: eye clip CC1: skymountain of videvo.net, other clips CC0: videvo.net; CC0 sounds from varied artists at freesound.org. Codec: Hitfilm Pro 2017.

Yes, We Might, But I've Got Red Light Fright

recording music and red light fright

I just finished a new page devoted to music here on the site, and, sharing it around, the question of whether we, that is, Forrest and I, are going to release an album came up. The answer is ‘yes’. Certainly, in time, we’ll be putting out one and several albums. And Forrest mentioned maybe doing a Christmas album this year. This would come after we get the rest of fifty-some songs and their videos on our release schedule out for free listening. For an album, though, I have to get over having my diaphragm seize up as soon as the red light comes on, because, right now, when that little red glow indicates to me that we’re live recording, suddenly my whole body becomes rigid, my fingers start to quake, and I can’t draw breath.

Flute playing requires the ability to breathe deeply, and breathing deeply requires a relaxed, engageable, working diaphragm, never mind that vibrato is impossible when the thing (the diaphragm) that runs the bellows (lungs) is in lock-down. Vibrato comes from control of that sheaf of muscles, and, when it’s seized up, well, it just doesn’t work. At all. So, getting over Red Light Fright is one of my major hurdles.

Red Light Fright is a lot like stage fright, in some ways, and I used to have really bad stage fright — so bad, in fact, that I’d pass out cold, toppling face down. The first time it happened, during a music jury, I damaged flute and my face, both. Henceforth, at music juries, they always had somebody standing next to me to catch my flute and me as I toppled stiffly, felled-tree-like, face-first toward the floor. (For those unfamiliar, ‘juries’ are when you perform, standing before your teachers and other conservatory staff whose job it is to judge you, your performance, and your progress since the last jury. For me, they happened every six weeks throughout the year.)

Over time, because of repeatedly being forced to perform on stage in front of audiences at recitals, juries, and in concert, I got over my stage fright. I remember the night it happened, when, suddenly, finally, I looked out over the sea of upturned faces all waiting for me to play Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3 arranged for solo flute and orchestra, that I was unafraid, not tense, not frightened, but, rather, supercharged …exhilarated, even happy and excited to be there. And, when I began to play, it was like I was drawing power from that audience. This was such an unusual experience that that night is vividly branded in my memory. It was my first time ever as a soloist that I actually enjoyed playing the flute when somebody else was listening. (Orchestra performance was always a joy. I never suffered stage-fright when deeply embedded in the middle of an orchestra. Only when having to play as a soloist.)

How bad was my stage fright? Well, usually when stepping on stage to perform, I’d be quaking. I’d be blind to anything and everything, my soul, my spirit, and my brain crushed down deep inside this dark, internal cave, just overwrought. All feeling in my hands and body left. My legs would be lead. I would be inside a dark tunnel, barely able to see.  It’s why I always knew my pieces so well that I could play them even in that state …because I was always in that state whenever I had to perform, or even practice, around anyone, even just Mom, Dad, or a teacher, never mind some one or many strangers where the focus was on me. So, I always knew my repertoire so well that, no matter what happened …provided I was able to stay upright, on my feet (You play standing when performing as flute soloist.), I could play the piece flawlessly …on auto-pilot.

That night, though, for the first time in my life, I came out of my shell. I actually PLAYED, interacting with the audience, enjoying their reactions, their expressions, their attention, their empathy with me and mine with them.  Suddenly, the audience became my friend.  They were gifting to me their attention in exchange for me gifting to them the glorious sound of wonderfully composed music.  Our participation in the event of that music being released to the universe at that moment in space and time was a mutual expression of and participation in utter joy — a celebration of sound.

It was a huge breakthrough, and one I’ve never, ever forgotten. And, from that night on, I’ve never again felt embarrassed or shy of performing live in front of an audience, not even if and when mistakes happen.  Mistakes on stage don’t bother me anymore.

But the red light? Wow.

Red Light Fright — now that’s a whole different experience. It’s a fear of making a mistake and ruining the take. It’s the devastation of letting down the other player(s) who did get all his/her/their parts right. No matter how well I’m playing prior to that, no matter how relaxed I am, as soon as that little red light comes on, the terror rises, the freeze-down and shaking starts, and the stress level goes through the roof.  It weighs as soon as, and only upon, that little red light coming on. And getting Red Light Fright practically ensures that I am going to flub something. Guaranteed.

So, I’m working on getting over Red Light Fright by constantly doing it, by recording myself repeatedly, staring at that light as I record, that light that makes my body tense, my breath get short, my fingers quiver. This, like stage fright, will vanish. Somehow, someway. With time and effort and persistence. Call me resolute!

XLR cable


A Forced Abandon

The Internet went down. Soggy cables of a crumbling infrastructure will do that when a melt happens. Of course, it happens other times, too, but that’s usually either rodents chewing through the lines…or somebody’s highway construction project severing the main trunk. Gleefully, I took advantage of the hiatus granted me from the Net–from having to deal with servers, email, and everything cyber. It let me concentrate…or should have, on working on my projects.

First day down and, yes, me without any withdrawal symptoms (I never suffer withdrawal from losing connection. The opposite, in fact.), I worked on my audio project…until the cyberzombies who were suffering withdrawal descended, wondering if I had Internet access some way. (They know me too well, I think…and, uh-huh, I did have a way to connect, but I didn’t tell them that, because, for me, it’s only for emergencies. Using it is hyper-expensive.) Second day down, and it’s Mom’s birthday, which means everybody and their puppy either calls or shows up–no appreciable work done.

And, then, the DSL came back up…earlier than predicted. (Grumble.) There is something to be said for having no connection to the world at large, except for what’s outside your door. Life is cleaner, less cluttered, less stressful, less concerned. I prefer it that way, but the reality is that, without connectivity, I become insulated from the reality in which most people live, experiencing only the reality of localized here and now. I would have no idea if nuclear war broke out…until I became a shadow burned into the ground–no terror possible.

I remember when I lived as a recluse for long years, only coming out maybe once a month if I needed some fencing material or food staples. And to get the mail. Back then, I had an early form of Internet, too–all black screen or telnet white screen, delivered via braided copper cable that I paid a substantial amount to have run to the property from miles away. Communication was limited to text, used by few, and completely devoid of trolls, advertising, and, mostly, malevolence from black box intruders. It also was devoid of inanity, breakfast bagels, and surf-by spammers. I was reminded of that time today when, coming back online, Nathan Lowell poked his head out long enough to type of few conversant lines with Anita Lewis and me. It was refreshing to commune with people you know are intelligent and of sound character.

The point? I don’t know if there is one. Yet, I know that the Net as it stands today is completely unfulfilling as a communication and connection medium. At least, for me.

 


The Mix-Down Session

So, today, my husband is back to working on the mix-down of our performance of Carry On Wayward Son. As I listen to the balances he’s trying to achieve between sounds produced by un-effected me — pure, raw flute (loud) — and sounds produced by me through an effects unit (loud, but not as), I’m thinking to myself, I really like the sound of my instrument. I’m really not that thrilled with sounding like a saxophone, a lead guitar, a chorus of instruments, or any other warping of my sound waves.

Of course, what I think is irrelevant to what we’re trying to do. It took me a lot of practice and frustration to be able to manage the foot-switching on the effects unit at a fraction of a second prior to when the sound was supposed to happen …which, in the case of this piece, sometimes happens every two-and-three-quarter beats apart: Clean, effected, clean, effected — do it, do it, do it, do it.

There’s a lag — just a fraction of a second — that happens when you punch a button on an effects unit. It’s just a minuscule amount of time, but it’s critical. And, trained classically, which comes ‘on the beat’ rather than just before the beat like rockers play, my training coupled with the effects engagement lag compounds my problems, because it’s got to be right.

So, prior to recording day, I spent a week working very hard on my feet — an odd thing for a flutist to have to attend. I practiced …and recorded that practice — thank the cosmos for good recording software — then began adjusting my playing to ‘anticipate the beat’ and come in sounding ‘on time’ the varying micro-fractions (depending on which patch…and, yes, they all require different lead times) ahead of when normally one should. That worked. I was…happier. (Can’t say happy, just happier.) Next was trying to figure out the lag that happened between stomping on the effects unit button (switch banks, engage POG, step on one or another button, 1-10, and, simultaneously, with the other foot, ease on the volume pedal to the exact level specified in the performance notes, reversing the process two-and-three-quarters of a beat later.)

The lag was, literally, .121 seconds according to the sound wave and beat division markers contrasted against the actual time in thousands of a second. Right. I guessed at what I had to do, trying over and over …and I was running out of time. This was Thursday. We were recording on Saturday.  Finally …finally, I got it.  The wave form lined up.  When Forrest came home from driving truck all week. I was ready. He was happy with my results, though I’m still not completely convinced. I feel I can do much better. (Intonation suffers. Posture suffers, me sliding into ‘hunch back’ with having to keep an eye on the LED readouts at my toes. I fall back into the bad habits, letting my fingers fly off the keys when I’m concentrating too much on getting everything digital right and not on just playing my flute.) I hope that, given time and experience, all the electronic ‘stuff’ becomes second nature so that I’m more comfortable and can, once again, just concentrate on playing, not coordinating all the paraphernalia required for plugged-in performances.

…Then, there’s getting over ‘red-light fright’, which happens any time Forrest hits the space-bar that starts everything recording us — instant diaphragm freeze and shaking fingers….   I WILL get over these pitfalls, just like I did the extreme stage fright I suffered in my youth. I am determined.


Now, There's More Hate, Less Tolerance!

So, this morning, the first thing that comes in on my feed is…a rant about hating Baby Boomers. And, along with that social media post, comes a blast of support from a whole bunch of other haters. I move on, but there’s more, a whole wave of rants about everyone from liberals to conservatives to Bernie supporters to ‘deplorables’ to….

And that’s just the US feeds. Next comes in the UKers and the AUers and the NZers and the…and it’s all hate, hate, hate.  The indigenous and other POC hate the whites, the nationalists despise the immigrants, the young hate anyone beyond their generation, the middle-aged blame the young adults, and so it goes.

I sit back, blink, think, send out a quickly scripted bot to mine, for just thirty minutes, the trends around the main interactive communication net spheres–Faceplant. G-, Mediocre, Twitchirp…. I go down for coffee, walk the dogs, again, then come back.

Sure enough, today’s Internet theme to the posts and comments, even to innocuous posts completely unrelated, generate streams of venomous remarks concerning anyone and everyone the contributor blames for:

  • the state of the world political situation;
  • the state of the environment;
  • lack of jobs;
  • taxes;
  • …you name it, and there are lots of ‘it’s.

Millennials and, what are they, Gen Zers?, hate anyone they classify as a Baby Boomer, within which they lump the very aged WWII Gen, the true BBers, the Gen-Y and the Gen-Xers, too, blaming anyone older than them for everything they find wrong with the world and life. For example: lack of protectionism and slowing globalization, simultaneously. (Ok-aaaaay. Hmmm. There’s consistency all rolled up in one pulpy, irrational burp.) Or the millennial raging on about having to support all the aging previous generations on her dime paying into social security. (They paid a lot more than you did into social security. Honest. You haven’t been working long enough to significantly contribute. And it is something they are entitled to, because they contributed every week, every month, every year, their entire working lives for that benefit. Same thing with Medicare.)

There’s the diehard Clinton supporters blaming everyone else for Hillary losing…except the DNC and the liberal elite, labeling everyone except themselves as bigots and calling for their eradication from the population. (Really!)

And the Blacks–excuse me, African-Americans–blame the whites, calling everyone not sharing both their skin color and their sentiments a bigot, even other Blacks.  Meanwhile, the white supremacists are busy raving against anyone not sharing their intolerances, and the same applies, just swap out pigmentation genes.

The rich blame the poor and the poor blame the rich, while rural points at city and city derides rural, never mind it’s where their food comes from.

The Christians blame anyone not of their faith, especially condemning the atheists, while the atheists blame religion for all the ills in the world.

And so it goes.

Wow. Just wow.

I grew to majority (look up the idiom, if you don’t understand it) prior to the rise of the Internet. By the time the Internet became available for public consumption and, yes, abuse, I had lived all over the world, all over the U.S., as well, and gone to schools located in both the  ghetto and in privileged communities. Do you know what? Never, and I mean never, have I experienced the kind of hate, bigotry, and intolerance I now find saturating our cultural landscape. Never.

You know what else? I tolerate bigots. I had to learn to growing up, because, honestly, they were nice people, except for their prejudices. And, once they got to know me, they got over those prejudices (most of them did, anyway).

And I embrace the tolerant, because they demonstrate the finest art of living in their open-minded, unbiased forbearance. They demonstrate charity. (Definition of charity in this use: kindness and tolerance in judging others, usually number 3 on the list of definitions in common dictionaries.)

I tolerate those who hate me because

  • they think I’m white, they think I’m Asian, they think I’m Native,
  • and those who think, because of how I dress and wear my hair, that I’m a lesbian, even lesbians, then hate me because I’m not,
  • those who hate me because I’m female,
  • because I’m older than twenty-something,
  • those who hate me just because they can….

And I embrace those who put aside their skepticism, their fear, their suspicions ingrained from bad experiences, their crowd-sourced brainwashing, and discover me for who I really am and love me for it, learning tolerance…because that’s how I love others.

In point of fact, I’ve never met anyone, one on one, I couldn’t love for who they are. I may not like how they act–their cruelties, their bigotry, their hate–but, still, when laying that aside, when getting to know them for what they cherish, there is gold there. Everything else is just a product of their negative experiences and conditioning.

I’m sorry to live in a world, in a nation–the U.S.–where those younger than me want me dead and gone, every trace of who I am eradicated from memory, where those a different flavor want me enslaved or at least subjugated to their benefit, where those of different ideology want me silenced. And, when you get your wish, through your own actions, instigation, or through legislating my de-existence, maybe then you’ll find it in you to tolerate and even love those who come after you who condemn you for who they THINK you are and for all the ills they claim you have perpetuated by your existence, even when you were, like I was, fighting for the same causes for which, now, they claim as theirs.

 

 


Stirring the Hornet's Nest

On 9/11/2001, terrorists attacked the U.S. I was at work when it happened. I watched the men and women around me–rugged men and women–truckers, ranchers, farmers, mechanics, loggers, construction contractors–every one a patriot–walk around in stunned silence. And all of us were feeling the same exact thing. We were, all of us Westerners, thinking the same thing.

I knew it in my bones in that moment that the world had changed, because, I, too, mostly a liberal, felt it inside me. Those terrorists hadn’t struck a blow so much at the U.S., as they had struck a blow to themselves.  Their actions had awoken a terribly powerful nation of patriots who are, even me, unafraid of death and who will stand forever uncowed in the face of tyranny. Americans–the Americans I know and love (and we are multitude, if mostly silent)–are, in fact, rugged individualists and freedom-lovers. We are, by nature, forgiving and pacifists–we mind our own lives and our own business. But, stir us at your peril, because, once stirred, we are unyielding in our response.

Fast forward to 2016: A bunch of loud-mouthed, fuzzy-brained SJWs coupled with a government and two stupid political parties incapable of comprehending that Americans don’t like the direction globalization is taking us leads to a complete rout of the Democratic party from power, even though we know that Republicans are oligarchs. But, for Americans, better the oligarch, than the tyrant, because that’s what the left now stands for–social and economic tyranny, with preferential treatment their standard, not unpreferential equality, fairness, and justice. And Americans believe in equality, fairness, and justice–we do.

To this day, even this day, though, Democrats just don’t get it, even after losing the Senate, the House, and the White House, even after losing control of the greater majority of states in the union. So, here it is for you, Democrats, in a nutshell: Americans would rather battle it out with the oligarchs than suffer tyranny. We’d rather go it alone than suffer our nation become part of some global collective beehive, our liberties and voices denied for fear of giving offense.  Hell, it’s our RIGHT to be offensive if we so choose, so, in other words, fuck you if you think we’re going to tow your party line. We won’t. Get used to it, get over it, or go live in the EU while their collective beehive lasts, which probably won’t be for long.

But are the Republicans any better? Well, they mostly don’t get it, either–them with their hands in every cookie jar–but I think they have a real sense of self-preservation and at least are getting the idea that they probably ought to keep their ear to the ground and hear the thunder. I think they’re beginning to realize that missteps, now, will mean being pounded into bloody pulp under the feet of men and women who aren’t afraid to say, ‘HELL, NO!’

Don’t Tread on Me is no longer the assimilated property of the Tea Party. It’s the sentiment of the real American silent majority.

 

 

 

 

 

 


February 16, 2017 - Changing Weather, Virtual & Real

This morning’s chores included spreading traction sand on treacherous, water-slicked ice, because it’s so darned slippery, even with traction gear on feet and wheels, there’s just no way not to fall on butt or wind up in the snow bank. It’s raining…and, of course, flooding in some places where ice dams prevent drainage. (Not here. The water drains downhill from here. But, yes, out there.) Little cars wind up in trouble where water crests the road to levels where even jacked-up pickups roll through very slowly, carefully.

Another thaw has hit us, stripping all the remnant ice and snow from roofs and ledges. squashing down the giant snow berms and making icy slides of the mountains scraped and shoveled off the roofs. Nobody will be sledding down the garage roof, anymore, a favorite winter game for some. (Not me.)

I’m done with any labor, now, for at least an hour. Checking stats, I fill in my Excel spreadsheets with copy/paste, then nod as pre-set formulas churn out results, broadcasting them to a selected handful who will, in their turn, pass them on to others in the group. Miles away–thousands of them–my cohorts chatter on my live feed. We launched our latest project right on time in January, and, yes, our suspicions prove themselves already, though it’s only February.  Six-and-a-half weeks of tracking for specific patterns already shows the trends. I’m glad I’ve made my plans. I’m glad I’m already prepping for the changes that we suspect are happening.


An Uncommon Market

One thing I get asked a lot via email/formmail and private message (and, now that I’ve been dragged into Quora, pestered about), concerns marketing my novels. My hand always reaches fingers through my hair at that point. Why, I wonder, are these people–people who mostly write novels that fit in popular genres that aim to fulfill the reading delights of people who prefer standard and predictable, even simple, cause and effect–ask me about this?  I write to a narrow audience and very cross-genre, mostly to people who enjoy thinking for themselves and making their own decisions about what is real, what is true, and what is significant, as well as who enjoy puzzling things out, not having it spoon-fed to them.  In essence, I write the kind of stories I prefer to read–where the questions and the answers aren’t apparent, where individualism and character, rather than accepted/acceptable norms, determine, not just actions, but results.

I write about life, not fantasy…though, admittedly, I usually stick to stories that end well, rather than tragically, but, then, what I consider ending well would be an ending like you find in The Last Samurai where most all the good guys get slaughtered, but hold onto their honor and integrity. Or, closer to what I write, where which side is actually good and which one bad gets blurred and that decision is left up to the reader, who I hope comes away with the idea that there’s no simplistic truth.  But, yes, my novels don’t resolve in tragedy. I’m an optimist, despite my droll, sometimes snarling, tongue and slightly(?!) cynical eye when it comes to politics and human antics.  I always hope for the best in life, but prepare myself to accept the worst, should it come to pass, but, honestly, in my world, the good always wins, even if and when it loses.

But I digress. Back to book, or, more specifically, novel marketing, my style.

I don’t like to be marketed to. By anyone.

I don’t like sales. I don’t bite on loss leaders that attempt to trap me into buying something else, as well.  And, in fact, I’m suspicious when something is on sale, wondering why. (What’s wrong with it?!)

If an advertiser screams ‘clearance sale’, I pointedly avoid them. And you can bet that I always avoid going anywhere near a store on infamous Black Friday…and, now, Black Thursday, too.

I believe in paying a fair price for goods and services, not taking advantage of some shop or worker because they’re desperate for enough funds to pay their overhead. And, yes, I tip. Generously.  …But neither will I pay exorbitant prices just because something’s popular or prestigious. Nope. I’ll take the unpopular and that which lacks prestige, so long as it’s high quality…which is usually the case, the prestigious actually shoddy in its quality. (A certain ‘high end’ car that wound up proving itself ‘lemon’, one and all, is an example, its warranty not honored by its manufacturer when new owners started to discover significant problems.)

Because I know how much I despise and avoid businesses that employ all those tactics that I mention, and because I know that readers of my novels feel likewise–it’s characteristic to their demographic group–I don’t ‘market’. I’ll advertise–judiciously–offering my ‘product’ honestly and very forthrightly, but I don’t pound the pavement, hawk my wares, beat on doors, or flood your mail with junk mail, not in the real world and, most importantly, not in virtual space.

Mine is an uncommon market, so I employ an uncommon strategy. If you write genre-normal, though, I suggest you use the most common schemes. Google it. It’s everywhere.

 


February 15, 2017 - Diamonds in Experience

Frozen diamonds greeted my bare feet this morning. Refreshing to the toes and soles, I delighted in the sensation of those crisp, frozen water nodules crackling underfoot. It sleeted sometime in the night–just a little–and it coated the truck, the drive, the ground with glowing shimmers.

Experiencing what we, in zentao, call ‘moment’ keeps me vital and life enraptured. For me, that’s important for my writing, my artwork, and, yes, even for playing my husband’s music. It keeps me enthused and refreshed. Without those experiences, what would life become? Just drudgery and duty? I don’t know.

I do know that I’m never bored, never lacking passion. There’s always something fresh and new to me. For me, experiencing compounds a desire to learn more, and, then, to express anew in word, in sound, in imagery, through my art, my novel writing, my musical performances.  So, no, never lonely, never bored.

Life is full and sweet, full of delight. It’s also, of course, filled with hardship, toil, and danger, but, even inside the frenetic and the frantic, there lives ‘moment’–the play of light and shadow, the scent of soil, of wood, of sweat or blood or mud, yes, even muck, the sound of snapping wood and of the storm wind’s turbulence, the sting of frozen fingers thawing, the taste of terror fading on the tongue as panic eases. There’s always something to stimulate an awe in me.

I guess that’s why I’m flummoxed when acquaintances arrive, bemoaning loneliness and boredom. Even when I worked at a job requiring me to perform repetitively like some machine, I never experienced what they suffer, so I never know quite what to do or say. It’s not a shared experience.


February 14th, 2017, A Tribute to True Love

I’m in love. I have been for decades. Oh, yeah. In love with life–that, too–but I mean with the man who is my husband, Forrest Wayne Lineberry. For years, after a very ugly divorce, due to the bills that divorce wound up ladling upon me, we lived in a space that measured 14×18. Feet. It included one tiny bathroom with a shower, one tiny kitchen, and the bedroom/living room. Two cats, three birds, a hamster, a frog and a tercel in an aquarium, plus a 55 gallon fish tank filled with very old, very long-lived fish resided there with us. My horses and livestock didn’t. The horses I boarded. The livestock went to Dad’s.

To say we were poor is an understatement. Still are. The divorce took everything and more. (Yes, I got screwed, having hired an attorney who was honorable, while my ex- hired one who was Machiavellian, more the fool me.)  The divorce took my relationship with my father, as well, a man who, because of his Dutch Reform upbringing, believed marriage was for life, never mind any abuse.

Anyway, I fell in love. With my bodyguard. If you ever want to know about that, watch the movie, The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.  Except, unlike that movie, the bad guy wanting to do me harm wasn’t some wacko or some jealous relative, but rather the man divorcing me. I wasn’t a wealthy, successful singer with a beautiful voice, and Forrest was only a skilled martial artist, not a trained ex-Secret Service man.  Oh, yeah.  And, in the end, we stayed together.

I’m wishing for you all the same love and commitment we have with and for each other–a cherishing–in your relationship with your significant other. There really is no substitute for it. So, find it, keep it, and don’t ever settle for less, no matter what you have to give up.

Sincerely,

Me.

 


Ruffled Feathers, the Dead Wood, Entitlement, & the Right of Choice

Whenever I open my mouth to say what I think…or, rather, type on my keyboard (because the Internet is where it happens most, now), feathers get ruffled. What I consider a common sense viewpoint is, more often than not, objected to by a specific mindset owned by those who claim entitlement to any and everything, and by those whom the entitlement claimers have brainwashed into believing their pap.That happened this morning when I posted a rather mild rant about attitudes about piracy, specifically piracy of eBooks and audiobooks–piracy of my books.

Enter the self-appointed publishing expert who, after chiding me on the use of the word ‘bullshit’, claiming it to be cursing (an antiquely Puritan viewpoint, IMO) ‘informs’ me that:

  • of course I’m wrong;
  • of course the statistics gathered from an eight-month study that I instigated last year in my private webmaster group of skilled and learned people is also erroneous;
  • of course it’s not costing anyone really–no, not at all.
  • And, he insists, after all, according to [reference] and [reference], it’s no big deal.

(Remember The Emperor’s New Clothes? Remember Stone Soup? Obviously, he has deluded himself into seeing the emperor’s clothes and thinks hucksters are heroes for tricking people into sharing their hard-earned assets with clever vagabonds.  …Remember The Ant and the Grasshopper?)

…Then there’s the gamer who somehow added 1 and 1 and got 31, claiming that I must be against friends loaning to friends.

Ah, duh, that feature is enabled on my eBooks, and you can, with a click, share your eBook purchase through Amazon with a friend or several, albeit one at a time…and Amazon is the only place I publish, right now.

Then he added that I must have a problem with libraries, too.

No, not, and never. It’s stealing I have a problem with, dufus. Jumping to erroneous conclusions that have nothing at all to do with the topic demonstrates, at least, your level of desperation to support your stance, never mind your lack of foundation.

There’s a whole generation of you–comprised mostly of youth and Gen-Y-ers, who believe you’re entitled to access anything on the Internet for free. You claim It should be free, and, one way or another, you’re trying to force it to be free. Well, it’s not free…just like the clothes on your back, the shoes on your feet, the food that you eat, and drinks that you swallow aren’t free, much as you’d like them to be. My book sales are my income.  It’s the work I do.  I should be paid for that work, and, in fact, I insist on being paid for that work. If you don’t want to pay, then go entertain yourself with one of those ubiquitous free books out there. (Psst! There’s a ton of them, with slack-skilled authors just begging you to download them, all for free. In fact, they’ll even pay you to read their books! Have at it.)

In point of fact, I’ve loaned or even given my eBooks and print books away. Yep. But that’s MY choice to do it…when and if I choose to do it, which, admittedly, isn’t often. But it’s MY choice of when to do it and upon whom to bestow my gifts–my right as the intellectual property owner. It’s also MY choice to set a price that I think is fair and reasonable…just like it is YOUR choice to choose whether to pay for the privilege of reading my novels and books. (“Oh, gads,” they mutter. “She has the audacity to say ‘privilege’!” …Yep, I do.  Because it is.

You don’t want to pay the price?

Don’t.

I’m not begging you to read my work. Not at all. The key word there is CHOICEMY choice not to let you read my work for free, and YOUR choice not to pay my price for the privilege of reading it.  But a lot of you want to take that right away from me. You object to the very fact that it is my right, a right you don’t think that I, as the creator, should hold. You actually promote and sanction a policy that I, the creator, should be denied that right, not just nationally, but globally!

You think you are somehow owed the right to consume whatever content you want to and not be required to pay for it. And when somebody says, “No!”, you throw a hissy fit. (You should see the private messages…or should I say the private scolds and castigations I received. Too bad they weren’t posted publicly. I would have loved to share them, especially the ones decrying me as a “capitalist [c-word]”, “a selfish control freak”, and…well, we won’t go farther than that, thanks.)

I knew when I posted that editorial, I was going to get the rats, termites, and maggots crawling out of the walls.

And crawl you did.

I was prepared for that, and was, actually, quite surprised I didn’t receive more text-lashings. The few I did receive just prove my point. You’ve proven to me just how stupid and unabashedly hypocritical you are–you who demand fair wages for your work, but would deny me mine. And you’ve convinced a lot of gullible authors of that, too, demonstrating just how well the very people getting ripped off by your ‘content-should-be-free’ meme–authors who accept and even sanction it–can convince themselves that they’re so very lucky to be getting hung with a new rope, rather than a used one.

Of course, on the up side, I got nice support, too. Not so many in private messages, but in the sharing, plussing, and the few brave souls who commented.  Thanks, all.

Meanwhile, of course, the response I got allows me to separate more chaff from wheat. I love pruning out the dead wood and keeping those who hold a vital mind.


February 13th, 2017

Twice a day, a flurry of activity breaks the peace and solitude. Livestock squeals, bawls, and whinnies. Dogs bark. Cats yowl. Diesel engines rumble. Then, the frenzy passes, and, for the most part, quiet returns, broken only occasionally by the shriek and rhythmic clucking of a hen announcing her successful laying of an egg.  It’s late winter, here, the unbroken snow fields where animals don’t roam waist deep in snow.

Today, sunshine bathes the land, delighting eyes weary of the past week’s storms. Birds sing and peep, crows and ravens cackle, happy for reprieve. A moose wanders by, still chewing on leaves and branches stolen from the rhododendrons.  She adores them this time of year, those and the twigs and branches stripped from the aspens and the maples by the ice storm than followed last week’s heavy snows.

Inside the house, faintly you can hear the washing machine cycle through its rinse and spin, rinse then spin, again, while, outside, you hear metal pounding metal and the occasional muttered oath when that pounding falters. Somebody’s smacked their thumb, again, while driving in a latch pin.

A while later, chains clank as a tractor rumbles up the track to park inside the shed. The engine dies.

Footsteps clomp upon the porch.  Chores done, it’s time to get to work up in the office.  It’s Monday morning in North Idaho.


Last week’s snow


The 'Content Should Be Free' Mindset

 

Most of you know that I quit publishing more books because of piracy problems. Since then, I’ve done a lot of research on the subject.

The common indie author response to this problem is (paraphrasing): “Piracy is okay, because the people who download your book wouldn’t buy it anyway, so you’re not really losing any revenue, and, besides, it’s actually good because your work is being read and you’re potentially gaining fans.”  Then, of course, there’s the ‘content should be free’ people–people who think that ‘liberating’ (stealing) intellectual property isn’t wrong, at all–that any creation that doesn’t require tangible resources should be given away, the creators not compensated except maybe for voluntarily dumping some pennies into a tin cup…if that.

To which I now, after a whole year’s worth of intense research, say ‘bullshit’!

In March of 2016, I discovered that I had over fifteen thousand illegal downloads of two of my books. (The number has gone up a lot since then, btw.)  And my numbers aren’t but a scratch to what other authors, both indie and trad pubbed have suffered, even from just a single torrent site. For just one novel, from just one site, their numbers rank anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of downloads–that’s for a single title. (Luckily, my books appeal to very narrow niche of readers.)

Figure that out, even at pennies in royalties per copy, rather than several dollars in royalties, like my books are set,

So, a couple of days ago, I found out that my audiobook of OHL has also been pirated, an audiobook only available, supposedly, from Audible, an Amazon company that is very keen on protecting that content…and their attempts to foil pirates still failed.

So, now, after a year of research, picking the brains of experts in encryption, licensing, and in protecting against piracy, including the top, most successful company at protecting games, at least during the game’s initial month of release, which is all they’ll guarantee, it comes down to this: There is absolutely no way to prevent piracy, not of eBooks, not of games, not of music, videos, audiobooks, artwork…nothing…when they are offered for sale online.

One expert suggests that the best answer to combating piracy is to create a better delivery service to consumers. He cites Netflix as an example of his thinking–that Netflix makes it so cheap and easy to watch just about any movie or TV program you want with their huge catalog that you don’t bother trying to locate pirated versions or pirate them yourself.  I can see the logic, but, again, I say bullshit.

My take, after a year’s worth of research, is that It’s a mindset we’re doing battle with, the mindset that says “I should be able to get it all for free, and, if I can’t get it for free, then I’ll steal it and release it to everyone because content should be free.”

I wonder how these “content liberators” would feel if someone broke into their bank account and liberated all their cash to anybody and everybody.  You can bet they’d be REALLY upset.  Well, that’s exactly what they’re advocating, that’s exactly what they’re doing and supporting with my own and every other creative artist’s intellectual property when you and they pirate it, distribute it, and when you and they download those pirated copies.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on a solution to my dilemma of how to publish and release my creations and at least net enough to live on without my husband having to put his life in jeopardy every bloody day so we can make ends meet…and, yes, I do think I’ve come up with a solution.  It will take planning, it will take effort and time, but at least I won’t feel violated by hypocritical assholes.

 


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.

eyestrip

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.

eye_web


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.

drwarrenjeffreys_web

Come-Back Road

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

 

1

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 painfull 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.

*     *     *

2

Killweather

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.”

“Yeah.”

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.”

*     *     *

 


zentao, a lifeway book cover in its final stages

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Part of an NF Book Series I'm Writing

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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.”

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How I See It, the Super Short Version

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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.

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Resolve to be Kind

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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.

No.

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.

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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.

“Raynie?”

“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.

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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. 

BELATED ANT UPDATE:

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! 


 


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