Irish Adventure #3: From the Fog

I’ve had these two introductory paragraphs and the final action scene done for years. Now I’m finally going to write what comes between.

As soon as I finish Jake Calcutta story #3 next week.

I looked down at my shoes, and I smiled.

Mossie had bought me a very nice pair so I would, as he said, “look the part of heroic best man” at his wedding. I doubted a pair of shoes could manage that without oodles of help, but it was Mossie and Clare’s big day. Who was I to argue?



Gratitude Journal

Last summer I started journaling my gratitude in earnest; three things, every day, I appreciated. My goal has been to come up with three new things every day, so after the initial ease of listing my wife and daughter, friends, food, shelter, spirituality, it became a bit more challenging. Not that I don’t have plenty to be thankful for, but focusing on the moment, what am I grateful for right now? as opposed to one time there was this good thing and I think I remember it.

With almost 600 entries so far, it runs the gamut from “vinegar” (I love cooking) to “the coolest spring since we’ve lived in Arizona” while passing through “no more finger wrap for my arthritic finger” and “finding the patch kit for Sue’s bike tire.”

I’ve also mentioned over 60 people by name, endless features of nature right outside our windows, and things I try not to take for granted like indoor plumbing, air conditioning, reliable internet access, and working from the comfort of our own living, especially the part about working with my Best Beloved.

Thinking our gratitude isn’t as effective as writing it down. Writing has power, for ourselves, and to share with others.


600 Short Sentences About Writing

I’m struggling through a book on writing with a title very much like the title above.

There are some real gems.

They are obscured by the style.

The entire book is composed of short sentences, sometimes fragments, sometimes intentionally split across two lines to appear as two short sentences when it is, in fact, one.

If this were fiction, I might find it avant garde.

Instead, I merely find it hard.


Arthritis Finger

I’ve had some flexible squishy tape wrapped around the last joint of my left index finger for over 5 weeks. The doctor is treating a symptom of the severe arthritis in that joint.

On the surface, that sounds like typical old guy stuff.

Let’s dig below that surface.

First, a conundrum: the same joint on my pinkie finger on the same hand has the same severity of damage, yet feels no pain, no discomfort of any kind.

Next, the deeper issue: as a musician, the top joint of my index finger is vital to playing any instrument. You use your left hand to choose the notes you’re playing, and it has to be strong and flexible. Arthritis is neither of those.

The damaged joint affects me physically, and concern about its future affects me emotionally.

There’s good news. The pain and swelling has been exacerbated by a cyst at the end of a bone spur. The bone spur is quite small; the cyst was growing. And painful. And causing swelling and pain in the joint.

Large doses of anti-inflammatory meds plus a 6-week regimen of light pressure (thus the wrap) has almost eliminated the swelling, and reduced the pain, even when I’m playing an instrument, to negligible levels.

Videos of Les Paul, a great enough guitarist to have the most famous guitar in the world name for him, show his aged hands twisted with arthritis, the knuckles swollen.

He was still Les Paul, still one of the greatest jazz guitarists in the world, ever.

I’m gonna hang on to that image.


Binge Reading

Since October 1st I’ve read 120 books. That’s 4 books a week, every week, for 7 1/2 months.

a pile of booksI’m a big reader, but even for me that’s some serious binging.

Part of it was discovering a new author (John Lescroart) who falls squarely into the category I like to read. And part of that was that I re-read the entire works of Robert Crais and Michael Connelly. There were a few one-offs, a little nonfiction, things like that. There were some I started but didn’t finish; I’m not counting those.

During the same time period I’ve dealt with some emotional trauma, financial concerns, very special events, a big business upswing, starting a new story series with a character who’s been waiting ages to see the light of day, and finishing a book I start long, long ago.

Over the past two months I’ve been shifting, physically. Taking on more projects that require shopping at the home improvement store, sawing and hammering, digging and planting and whatnot. After a year and a half of extreme fatigue, getting my energy back has been highly motivating.

Most of that reading time is going to be spent on my own writing, and on a little more physical activity now that I can do that again.




The Stranger on the Road

a barnEver since he’d set the barn up as a recording studio, he’d wanted a window so he could see his farm while he played. Windows not being inherently sound-deadening, it was a complication, but over time he’d hit upon a solution involving multiple layers of glass embedded in spongy soft stuff that helped reduce sound transmission.

So when the old man in the battered brown hat headed up his gravel driveway, he didn’t have to wait for the surprise of someone banging on the big barn door and messing up the track he was recording. He’d stopped playing his old Telecaster to watch as the stranger trudged up the drive, never raising his head enough to reveal his face.

But there was no banging on the door. With no windows anywhere else in the barn, he didn’t know if the old guy had gone around, or was just standing there.

Easy enough to find out.

He hung the guitar on the wall and crossed to the door, sliding the crossbar and pushing outward.

Mr. Brown Hat stepped back, blinking, obviously surprised.

“Um, hey, I’m sorry, uh, I was just . . . ” His hands wiggled around as he talked.

“Did you need something? Like, I mean, are you lost? Long way from anywhere, sir.”

The elderly gent chuckled. “I’ve been lost a long, long time, but not how you mean.” He shuffled his feet, glanced toward the road, shoved his hands in his pockets.

“I was passing, y’know, just walking down the road, and I heard the music, and, well, it drew me. I wasn’t trying to trespass, just getting closer to hear it better.”

That brought a chuckle. “You do realize that’s the shortest route to a musician’s heart, right?”

He pushed the door open wider. “If you want to listen, you might as well come in and get comfortable.”

The traveler pulled his hat off and held out his hand. “Morris. Morris Michael Miller. For which I apologize on behalf of my long-departed parents.”

“No apology necessary, Morris Michael Miller. I’m Reed. Reed Smith, most common last name in the English-speaking world, I guess.”

“There’s a reason for that, but instead of boring you with that, what if I sit down and shut up and you can play some more of that hopeful-sounding stuff you were playing.”

Reed smiled. “Hopeful? I guess the words made the music lean that way. Come on in.”

Morris found his way to one of the battered old kitchen chairs near the biggest speakers, and Reed grabbed the Tele and sat down to play.

He had no idea he’d just begun the greatest friendship of his life, nor that the stranger he’d taken in would live out the rest of his long life on the farm he’d been passing for no reason except that was where the road took him.


wading naked into my stream of consciousness

the sky is grey instead of blue that’s one thing here, the sky is almost always blue but that’s because it’s too hot for clouds they burn away before they’re born borne on the wind to somewhere else past the mountains snagging on the peaks leaking leaks we do get rain maybe even some later this week but it’s a desert after all so not much eh and let’s face it july through october it’s just too hot seriously any time the temperature is over 120ยบ that’s not okay and the ac chugs and chugs but hey it still costs less than it did in Sacramento eight years ago half as much if only we could balance the upstairs and downstairs the music room is too too hot and it’s not good for the instruments but if I shower four times a day and we keep the air on and now that I have shades for the three hottest windows maybe four hottest windows and I’ll do the fifth maybe this summer it’ll be better because one way or another I’ll make it better we’ll make it better together