Friday, August 25, 2023

Fiction Snippet

First, I would like to give a shout out to frequent reader and occasional commenter OldAFSarge. Do yourself a favor and go checkout his WWII historical fiction posts. It's very good stuff especially for a history geek like me. 

As many of you are aware, My Sister...The Devil is the aspiring smut serious romance with fantasy elements author in the family. My dad has written a book or three as well though he has not yet, to my knowledge, published any to date. I, too, have been bitten by the writing bug (duh...that's why this blog exists), and I've had a novel idea kicking around in my head for the better part of a decade. 

The idea started back in the dark days of The Queen's Mystery Illness when she found comfort in "treasure hunt" novels. She had a particular affection for Clive Cussler novels which I find interesting as well. I also am a huge SciFi fan, and I once read a book by Mike Resnik called Ivory. This idea is taking those two elements, stuffing them in a blender along with a heaping liberty or ten with certain Biblical elements, hitting the puree button and walking away to find the right setting and characters for the story.

Since this idea was hatched, several snippets have been drafted. Some of which are temporarily detained on a crashed hard drive that I have not had opportunity to get to a competent computer geek to seek retrieval. What I am about to offer up to you is the "prologue" of what I hope will be a novel length story. Only a few people have seen this since it was first written. I'm going to try to crank out more snippets as time allows. Feedback, comments, constructive criticism and gentle corrections are welcome in the comments. Be kind. I've been nurturing this baby for a long time.

So, without further adieu, I give you the "prologue" to what I am tentatively calling "The Garment": 


Cana in the province of Galilee during the reign of Emperor Tiberius

Walking through the marketplace of Cana is always a challenge for anyone. The crush of humanity all around can be overwhelming at times. There are people everywhere going about their business whatever that business happens to be. The bustling crowds make a vibrant background noise that is an ever present rumble of conversations, arguments, negotiations, meat sizzling over open fires, footsteps on cobblestones all punctuated by frequent shouts of vendors hawking their wares. Fortunately, the stables and animal pens were at the other end of town. Otherwise, the already confusing mix of aromas made up of equal parts produce, cooking food, flowers, spices, human sweat, bad breath and dry, dusty air would be impossible for him to breathe.

The stench of animal excrement would have ruined the lovely, mouth watering smell of the roasting lamb coming from one of the many merchant stalls in the market. Which stall in particular was not readily apparent, but he was certain he could follow his nose to the source were he so inclined.

For him, walking in the market was even more of a challenge than for most. Not that he stood out in a crowd. His appearance was unremarkable looking every bit the part of a Jewish carpenter that he had been to this point in his incarnate form. Those who did not know him barely gave him a second glance, a trait that would serve him well on occasion in the near future. The reason he had to exercise great care was to avoid leaving a trail of miracles in his wake before it was time for his true nature to be revealed. 

Just last night, his mother had asked him to turn water into wine at a wedding feast. Fortunately, the servants weren’t paying enough attention to what he was doing to remember that little feat. He had more to be mindful of now that the baptism his cousin John gave him a few days ago had resulted in a small group of disciples. They followed him everywhere he went, hung on his every word, and he had to see that their needs were taken care of as well as his own in addition to teaching them the things his Father had sent him to teach.

As he made his way through the market, he came upon a garment maker’s tent and heard the unmistakable voice of his Father once again.

Go see the garment maker.” The Father’s voice said.

The life of a carpenter is hard on garments. His own garment, which covered his well muscled frame and tanned skin, was tattered and threadbare. As he reflected on this, he instantly knew the reason for his visit to the garment maker. His time was coming soon, and he needed to look less like a carpenter and more like a teacher.

He turned to his small gathering of disciples as they stopped behind him and spoke. “Cephas, I must see the garment maker. You and the others continue on the road to Capernaum, and I will follow soon.”

“Are you sure, Rabbi?” replied Cephas. Simon, a brash man with the worn hands of a fisherman and all the subtlety of a Roman Legion laying siege to a single house, still didn’t understand why he called him Cephas (meaning “stone”), and Simon wasn’t sure he was prepared to know the reason why since stoning was still a very popular punishment in Israel, Roman occupation or not.

“I am sure Cephas. Go.” he said.

As his disciples continued on, he stepped up to the garment maker’s tent. He took a moment to examine the garment maker’s work before turning to the garment maker herself. The garments were very well made, and he could tell that the maker had been at her craft for a long time. The garment maker was a woman not unlike his own mother though maybe a few years younger. She had dark hair that would have accentuated emerald green eyes had her head not been bent down over her work. She addressed him without looking up as she continued her work on a tunic.

“Your tunic will be ready before the sun goes down, Lord.” she said with the understated confidence of someone who knows her business.

“You do excellent work, but are you sure that garment is for me?” He answered to test her.

“Lord, I am quite certain this garment is for you.” She said emphatically. “You are the Messiah, and this is the garment that I was commanded to make for you.”

“Tell me how you came to know this.” he probed.

The garment maker answered him humbly saying, “Lord, an angel visited me in a dream four Sabbaths ago and told me to make a garment like no other. He said I should weave a tunic of the highest quality, of one color with neither spot nor blemish, simple in style but woven without seam from the top. He said that the tunic would need to last a lifetime and that it would be worn by the King of Kings. I was told to come to Cana, set up my tent and wait until the day after the wedding feast. He said that I would see only one person today, and this garment would be for that man.”

“You did this all because of a dream?” he asked.

“Yes, Lord.” She answered in a whisper.

“What is your name?” he asked her gently.

She seemed to ignore him for a short time as her hands continued about their appointed tasks. Finally, she stopped her activity for a moment, took a deep breath and heaved a tired sigh.

“Lord, I am but a simple garment maker, and my name is not worthy to pass your lips.” She said as she once again continued her work.

He was amazed by the intensity with which she worked. Her movements were precise. No effort was wasted. Her eyes were focused on the garment, and he realized that she had yet to look at him at all.

“Nonetheless, please tell me who you are and where you come from so that I can give you a blessing.” He said.

“You are too kind, Lord. I am of the tribe of Benjamin, and I come from Tarsus. I have a son, Saul, who is about your age. He is a tent maker and student of Gamaliel. I ask no blessing for myself, but I pray you will remember my son.” She answered.

“Your faith and humility are rare in Israel woman of Tarsus. Because of your faith in performing this service for me, I will remember your son as you prayed. If it is the will of God The Father, I will call your son and raise him up to perform a great work to spread the Word of God far and wide even to Rome itself.”

Tears began to form in the garment maker’s eyes as she whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”

She took a moment to wipe her eyes with a scrap piece of fabric and compose herself. Taking another deep breath, she finished stitching the hem of his garment. With a look of contentment that comes with a job well done, she straightened herself and held the garment out to him saying, “It is finished, Lord.”

He took the garment in his hands and examined her handiwork closely. The color was perfectly uniform with no stray threads of darker color mixed in nor any spots or blemishes just as she had said. The weave was tight and strong. It felt soft to his skin yet he sensed that it was more durable than the rough carpenter’s garment he was wearing. He knew instantly that the garment would fit Him comfortably.

“Your work is excellent, Susanna, daughter of Benjamin. I have never seen a garment of such high quality. It will serve me well. Thank you.” The Lord said.

She was momentarily stunned to hear her name spoken from his lips; but, just as quickly, she relaxed and reminded herself that she should have expected him to know everything about her. “A higher compliment I could not ask for, Lord.” She answered. “I must go now and return to my people. There is one other thing, Lord.”

“Yes?” he asked.

“The angel said that you would wear that tunic on the day you die three and a half years from now. I pray that the angel is wrong, Lord.” She said with a heavy heart.

“Angels are only messengers who speak the words they are commanded to by God the Father. Nevertheless, I too pray that my Father will spare me the suffering that has been foretold. Go, and peace be with you.” He said knowing that she had not told him everything of her dream, but the parts she had withheld were not about him or his future.

The day was coming to an end as the sun was getting low in the sky. The garment maker began packing her things for the long trek home after he had taken the road to Capernaum on the trail of his little flock of disciples. Just as the sun set, she lifted her burden and stood. As she straightened, the angel from her dream appeared before her. There was no mistaking him as his white robe was immaculate and perfect in every way gleaming as if in the full sunlight of midday despite the both of them being in the deepening shadows of sundown. He said nothing and merely tilted his head as if he were listening for a distant sound. Suddenly, he nodded once and took the garment maker’s hand. She trembled slightly at his touch both out of fear and awe. Had anyone been watching, they would have seen the two of them standing there one moment and gone the next as if they had never been.


 All copyrights reserved by author 2023

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Thoughts on Gun Safety

I was doom scrolling my Facebook feed here a day or two ago when I landed on a post by an acquaintance I "met" here in blogger land who used to have a blog of her own. She has since taken it private and relegated most of her other musings to Facebook. She leans left of center politically, and her post was a photo of her nightstand upon which a revolver (Taurus snubbie in .38 or .357 by the look of it) was prominently displayed. She proceeded to state that she "hates guns a lot" and wanted "all the gun control". 

I chose not to comment on her post because I had more important tasks on my plate at the time, and I know the person well enough to know that no good would come of me opening that particular can of worms. For reasons that most of you will already guess, that post set my habitually firearm oriented mind spinning like a game of Russian Roulette.

Setting aside (for the moment) the irony of someone who hates guns and wants all the gun control leaving a revolver out unsecured on a nightstand, it got me to thinking about gun safety. Not the liberal left's view of of gun safety, but the actual-for realsies-don't shoot yourself in the face-gun safety. 

So, I thought I would share a little vignette from my deep past to illustrate the point which is guns, by themselves left to their onesome, cannot hurt a sole. For crying out loud, someone found a Winchester leaning against a tree in the woods after 130 years. The silly thing was rusted to Hell and gone, but it was sitting there for 130 years right where the original owner left it bothering nary a soul. 

Back to our story. Once upon a time in the early 1990s, I was a young lad getting back into the shooting sports after coming of age and having my own money to spend. At that time, semi autos still hadn't made the full transition to being the primary sidearm of choice for pretty much anyone beyond the military. Heck, this was a few short years after taking my driving test with a state trooper who was carrying a huge revolver. So, I was the proud owner of a 6 inch Taurus .357 revolver. This was back in the day when Taurus quality was a crap shoot, and I didn't have the money for a Ruger much less a Smith & Wesson. Colts were already discontinued by that point. So, that wasn't an option either. 

Small digression, I worked in the layaway department at Walmart for a time while in college back when Wally World still sold handguns and cool stuff like Marlin Camp Carbines. I was working the desk one night when one of our sporting goods guys (great guy named Bud who was a WWII/Korea fighter pilot who flew F2G2 Corsairs [the Goodyear version of the Vought F4U]) brought an attractive lady back to put a revolver on layaway. It was a monster 7.5" barreled Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum. I asked her what she intended to shoot with it. Her response: "Husbands". Priceless. 

On with the main part of our story here. There's a point in here. I promise. So, during college, I was dating this young woman. She had 3 sisters, the youngest of which had never shot guns before. I offered to take them both out shooting at what was then my grandmother's property. We load up the Taurus, my Remington 870, I think I had the Marlin 60 back then, as much ammo as I could scrounge, targets and set off for the back pasture. 

After a little warm up, I gave the Taurus to my lady friend for her to have a go. She took a couple of shots, and then proceeded to take a pose in which she rested her chin on the hand holding the gun with her other arm supporting the gun hand's elbow with the Taurus sticking out at about the 10 o'clock position WITH HER FINGER ON THE (please enjoy this soothing music while our author vents a spleen in colorful euphemisms using all permutations of the universal adjective) TRIGGER. Now, granted, she was unlikely to receive a .357 caliber Qtip out of the deal since the muzzle was pointed at the stratosphere instead of her dome, but she'd have had the potential to be deaf in one ear for life had I not gently reached over and secured the gun before catastrophe struck. Besides, I don't like cleaning blood spatter of guns; and, contrary to popular belief, stainless steel isn't stainless. Ask Number One Follower about his Colt Mustang II. 

The moral of the story is that gun's are not to be taken lightly. If you don't like them, don't get one. If you don't know what you're doing, get some training. If you like guns and want to keep them, start educating people about how to safely handle them. 

Thus endeth the sermon. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

14 Years and Counting

 I wasn't paying attention, and I failed to realize that this little blog's birthdate came and went last week completely unnoticed. That makes this little corner of the interwebs older than my daughter. Who'd a thunk it?

According to Blogger, this is my 750TH post, something over 700,000 page views since we drove this puppy off the lot, a little over 3000 comments probably half of which are mine since I am in the habit of trying to respond to everyone's comments here, and a very rough estimate of anywhere from 250 to 450 people who come here for their meme fix when I collect enough to make it worth everyone's time. 

I'm on my fifth residence and fifth job (not including temp positions) since starting the blog. There was a brief dalliance with law school in there. Six foster kids, one successful adoption, one failed attempted adoption, two layoffs and a firing. 

We took care of The Queen's parents and went through The Long Goodbye with Alzheimer's in The Queen Mum. I suppose you could say we've covered a lot of ground here in these posts. 

Thinking back on the people who have visited here and left their tracks in the comments of these posts, I have appreciated the opportunity to connect with a variety of people even if only at a distance or, in rare cases, in person. I do wonder sometimes what happened to some of the people who seem to have moved on without a word. Kymber, Mr. Daddy, Jane of Virginia, Mel and others were quite active in the comments early in this blog's life. I hope you all are doing well in wherever part of life you find yourselves. 

Others have come along and taken up the helm of frequent commenters. Cederq, Bear Claw Chris and Big Macus to name a few. Thank you all for taking the time. I know I am terrible at commenting (mainly because I don't have ready access to a technology solution that will allow me to sign in to Blogger to make a comment on a regular basis). 

Anyway, I know I'm not the most frequent poster and there are probably squirrels with more consistency of thought than I. Hopefully, I give you a smile, a chuckle or something to think about once in a while. Nonetheless, thanks for dropping by. 

Take a moment to drop a note in the comments. I look forward to seeing you there. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Advice for RV Living

1) Without fail, your propane tanks will run empty in the middle of the night when it's below freezing and wet forcing you to stumble out of a once warm bed, grope around in the dark for something approximating warm clothing, wrestle full tanks into place (you did remember to buy spares and keep them full, right?), hook everything back up, stumble over the dogs and cats, get quietly out of your warm clothes and back into bed without waking up the spouse or kids or engaging in creative, interpretative cursing.

2) You don’t know what a honey wagon is? You are in for such a surprise. Why should monkeys have all the fun? I highly recommend the 4 wheel wagon over the 2 wheeler. 32 Gallons of...ahem...liquid weighs approximately 256 pounds. Pray you don't have to pull it very far. 

3) Learn how to do your own maintenance. Stuff breaks. Things need to be checked, inspected, replaced, etc. You can do it less expensively and with less hassle than the dealer or a mobile technician. 

3a) Some things are worth hiring done. Especially anything involving the black tank. 

4) If you intend to use you RV in cold weather, I recommend a unit with internal water connections and filters. Wish someone had told me that. 

5) Trip planning is part art part science. Don't assume you will have a gas station nearby when you get close to empty especially in flyover country. Gas stations are few and far between in some places. 

5a) Gas mileage? Heh. HA!! HAHAHAHHAAHAAA!!!! My buddy and I got RVs around the same time. He went with a Diesel 3/4 ton while I went with a gas V8 3/4 ton. Our trailers are roughly the same weight. His is slightly taller. He gets a gallon or two better mileage than I do under most conditions. Your gas mileage will suck no matter what your set up is. Consider anything over 8MPG to be doing good. Anything over 10MPG it rock star territory.

6) Your sewer drain hoses WILL spring a leak at the worst possible times. Those things aren't cheap either. I also recently learned that crows like to peck at them for some reason. Stupid birds.

7) Checklists are a must. REMEMBERING to USE your d*** checklists is even more imperative. 

8) Boondocking is not for the feint of heart, and full hookups are worth their weight in gold. 

9) Shade in the summer time is your friend. 

10) Walls are thin. Privacy is a foreign concept. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Monday Madness

Or from the guy who comes around your office on a regular basis with an Igloo cooler full of tamales made by his Tia or Abuela (that aunt or grandmother for you gringos out there). You may risk a serious case of food poisoning and you might wish you were dead, but those tamales are some seriously good magic in a tin foil wrapper. 

This has been the hottest summer in North Texas in a lot of years. I've seen as high as 115 on the truck's temperature gauge. Friday, I got in the truck, and it said it was 122 outside until the truck started moving at which time it settled in at 111. It's beyond brutal. No rain since I don't know when, ponds are bone dry again, the 10 day forecast shows 100+ everyday, and going outside after 11:00AM feels like you are being roasted on a spit. 

Objectively, I know that modern, polymer, striker fired guns are better in almost everyway. I can shoot them as good or better than anything else. Subjectively, I could not care less. I am disciple of John Moses Browning as well as a revolver degenerate. Blue steel, wood stocks, excellent triggers...This is the Way.

I REALLY want to send this to a particular female at church, but...then I'd have to see that face for realsies. 

The car would also have to be made without plastics, synthetic fibers and rubber tires. Good luck with that. 

This is 100% true. Money is simply a fictional representation of a concept that few people truly understand. That $10 bill in your wallet has no intrinsic value on its own except that we all buy into the idea that we trade our time and skill for an easily transferable representation of that time and skill. No one likes to admit that some time and skill is more valuable than others. The idea that a 16 year old kid with no marketable skill is worth $15 an hour is ludicrous. Conversely, complaining that a mechanic who has spent 30 years learning his trade is not worth $125 an hour ignores the value that he or she brings to the table. End rant.

Gen X for the win. Take your safe place, and shove it up Lili Von Shtupp's (bell rings loudly).

M&M laughed at that one. 

I've always heard the joke as: What's the difference between Catholics and Baptists? Baptists don't recognize each other at the liquor store. 

I never knew this existed until a friend posted it on Facebook. I'm not sure who the marketing genius at Oscar Meyer was that came up with this little gem, but there are too many jokes in that for me to even figure out where to start. "Magic Wiener Whistle": sounds like something a child molester would think up. 

Start with Hillary, swing by and get Joe and Hunter, grab whoever was snorting coke in the White House while you are there (assuming that's not being redundant), pull the buses up to the Capitol building and load up Congress, then you'll really have to gear up to clear our all the Federal building swamp creatures....

I am so trying this next time I go to Colorado.


See....the first 4 words of that text that would probably be all that I read before reaching for a gun. M&M starts public school for the first time ever this week. I might or might not have volunteered to be a school security guard. We shall see how this works out and whether her class is "thinned" by the end of the week. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Public Service Announcement: Grill Safety

With Labor Day coming up, I just thought I would offer a friendly, neighborhood reminder to clean the grease trap and bottom end on the grill once in a while. 

I turned around for just a moment to put something down after loading the grill with 16 burgers and 8 hot dogs from a butcher nearby that specializes in high quality, grass fed beef. When I turned back to the grill, it was all literally in flames, the temp gauge was maxed out, the flames were reaching about 4 feet above the grill surface (threatening to ignite the siding on Mimi's house), and I felt like Shadrach, Mechach and Adednego trying to salvage anything edible out of the conflagration. 

It was not a happy making event. There might have been a singed arm fur hair or two. Close to a Code Brown moment.