Yard Sale Today

I’m not making much of a post today, as we are having a yard sale. Back in early 2009 my mother-in-law moved from her house to a nearby apartment. We had a sale then, getting rid of most of the furniture she didn’t need/we didn’t want. But we put several boxes on the shelf. Then, in March 2014 she went to live in an independent living retirement apartment, smaller, and she didn’t need as much. Several of her things came to our house; some to the basement; some to the garage.

The, in August 2015 it was determined she couldn’t live alone any more. It was either assisted living (more than $4000 a month) or move in with us. We had her move in with us. We sold off some of her things, but most of it went into the garage, a little going to the basement.

Our plans all along were to have a sale, adding a fair amount of our own stuff. But other things got in the way. All winter I was reclaiming the back yard from the forest. All spring and summer I was trying to spiff up both the back yard and front yard. Then there was finishing the flower bed so we’ll have someplace to plant next year, and clean up the basement storeroom. I had a number of reasons for doing that, including finding and moving things to the garage for the sale.

That stuff all being done, while the wife was out of town helping our daughter’s family with the new baby, I began moving stuff to the garage, and arranging for tables, and arranging stuff on tables. It’s now or never for this sale.

So, today and tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, the sale is ON. We live in a somewhat remote place, and to be honest I don’t expect a lot of traffic. If we can sell some of the stuff I’ll be happy. I’ll take a bunch more to thrift stores, while we’re in the mood to declutter and reduce our overall amount of stuff, accumulated in almost 41 years of marriage. And, what my mother-in-law accumulated in 91 years.

So, I wrote nothing last night, as I was making preparations. I’ll write nothing tonight. Maybe I’ll get to do a little Friday night, but we’ll see. I suspect that Saturday I’ll be too tired to write, but again we’ll see.

I’ll be back Monday, and will report in on how we did.

Restored: We the People

Our pastor, Mark Snodgrass, started a new sermon series last Sunday. It’s titled “Restored”, and the first sermon in the series was titled “Restored: We the People”. His text was Matthew 7:1-6, part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says we should not judge others, or we too should be judged. Then there’s the bit about the speck in your brother’s eye and the blank in your own.  The series, he said, would be about current events.

It wasn’t terribly long ago when Mark addressed current events, i.e. the election season, saying he has been asked many times by various organizations if he will distribute their voting guides in our church. He then said, “So long as I’m your pastor, the only voting guide I’m going to give you is this,” holding up his Bible. I thought that was very good.

To start this sermon, he took the Sunday edition of our local newspaper, and read various headlines. He then got back to the idea of not judging, or rather judge, but know why, and that you are going to be judged the same way. Some key phrases he said, some of which are paraphrased:

  • The government can write a check, but it can’t create a community.
  • Restoration begins with me not you…with us not them.
  • the world is too complex to parse it into red or blue.
  • the Church must become a community of truth, beauty, and goodness.
  • I’m less concerned that abortion become illegal than that it become unconscionable. [paraphrased]

This is good advice, good leadership. I’m going to do my best to put it into practice. Although, I may still give an opinion or two about the election.

Writing and Publishing


Publishing and writing tasks have been proceeding apace. No, that’s passive construction. Let me rephrase. I’ve been able to spend a decent amount of time on writing and publishing tasks of late, with some positive results. No, I’m not where I’d hoped I’d be, not even where I’d planned to be. But I’ve made progress, and that will have to suffice.

I’ve been able to spend time every day working on Preserve The Revelation either writing or researching. Yesterday I added over 2,000 words, and my word count is somewhere around 23,700, I think (my count is at home; I’m writing this at work). If I’m correct that it will take about 90,000 words to tell this story, that means I’m about 26% done. Is that good news, or bad news? If I average 500 words a day, I’ll be done in 133 days (very doable), around the end of March 2017. That seems like a long time from now. If I can bump that up to 750 words a day (doable), I’ll be done in mid-January. If I can do a little better and average 1,000 words a day (a stretch based on all that the world expects me to do), I could be done just before Christmas this year. That sounds so much better. It’s what I need to shoot for.

Apart from that, I continue to work on Thomas Carlyle: A Chronological Composition Bibliography, or whatever exact title I eventually give it. Why? I’m not sure, except I can’t let it go. Most days I spend a little time on it, rarely more than thirty minutes. I’m looking through Carlyle’s letters for references to his publications, checking reference materials for the same, reading a few works by or about Carlyle, and typing/reprinting as I have enough changes to warrant doing so. I have no schedule for completing this. I’m past the most difficult years of Carlyle’s literary life, it seems to me, so maybe this will go fast henceforth. I still have significant editing to do in the years 1823-1832. Right now I’m in 1836-37 and moving forward. I’ll edit those earlier years later.

In late August or early September I wrote a poem for an anthology and submitted it. I found out this morning that the anthology fell through. I still have the poem, a villanelle, that perhaps I’ll do something with. It’s submissions season for many literary journals. What the heck, might as well submit it and see what happens. I’ve written one other poem since, a tanka, that needs some work.

As far as publishing tasks, in September I published the fourth short story in my series Sharon Williams Fonseca: Unconventional CIA Agent. Titled “Hotel, Whiskey, Papa: Sharon Williams Fonseca in Salzburg”, I’ve had one sale of it, no reviews. That’s about par for the course. I had a mere nine sales in 3rd Quarter 2016, and zero sales so far in the 4th Quarter. Since I added to the series, I republished the first three books in the series to include the reference to the new one. All of this was on Amazon. I haven’t done the same on Smashwords yet.

The other publishing task was getting into print my baseball novel, In Front Of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I was ready with the interior of the book in August, but have had trouble finding a cover designer who could work me into their busy schedules. I plugged along at doing it myself, and finally, with some help from a man in our office, got it done last Friday. The full cover “wrap” is at the start of this post. I uploaded the book the same day, and within six hours had word back from CreateSpace that it met their criteria. I accessed the online proof, and saw only one place that needed a slight tweak in format. I then tried to order a proof copy, but, somehow I hit the wrong button, and the book was published! This was last Saturday. There was one change I wanted to make to the title page, but figured I’d do this after viewing the proof. Oh, well, I’ll republish it with the correction before too long.

One other item of significance was a contest I ran, through my Facebook timeline, to give away copies of my poetry book, Daddy-Daughter Day. Contestants had to guess the name of my [then soon-to-be-born] latest grandson, which would begin with E, as have the names of his brothers and sister. I allowed two guesses. Seven people got it right. The books have been ordered (it’s only available in print) and should be here Thursday. My hope is that somewhere among these seven will be people who will like the book and leave a review on Amazon and other sites. We’ll see.

So, I’m busy and productive, if not productive enough. Alas, the day job and life in general get in the way of full writing productivity.

A Time Crunch is Coming

My mother-in-law, with Elijah, five days old
My mother-in-law, with Elijah, five days old

This past weekend I went to Oklahoma City to see my new grandson. My mother-in-law went with me, and had a couple of hours with her four great-grandchildren, then I took her to her step-daughters for her to stay the remainder of the weekend. It would have been a bit of a challenge for her to function with three noisy children all around her. I’ll add a couple of pictures to this post.

Esther with Elijah and Elise, previously the baby of the family
Esther with Elijah and Elise, previously the baby of the family

So, I did little writing Friday through Sunday. That evening, after getting home, I managed to bang out a few words on Preserve The Revelation. Last night was the same thing. I think my two-day production was close to 500 words, which was to be my one-day goal. But, I had to go to the store after work, and I’m playing catch-up from the weekend trip, so I didn’t feel that I could dedicate much time to writing. I did sit and plan the next couple of chapter, reading in Revelation for research.

At the “Between The Lines” blog today of Books & Such literary agency, the issue of time logjams was the subject of the post. I wrote and posted a comment, telling of my own current logjam. Here’s what I said was in it.

– find whatever it is that’s dead in my garage and is causing a big stink. That would be easy, except…
– …with the garage full of things, waiting for that garage sale, I need to make a major effort in getting ready for that.
– finish the front yard flower bed project. I’m two hours of work away from that. I think.
– ongoing: be the primary caregiver for my 91 year old mother-in-law while my wife is out of town, helping our daughter’s family following the birth of their fourth child.
– either figure out cover design with G.I.M.P. or find a designer who can do quick work on the cover of my first baseball novel; it would be nice to get the print version out before the Cubs win the World Series. E-book is already published.
– ongoing: finances and filing. Will I ever catch up?
– ongoing: participating in my wife’s home business
– start preparing for the family to come for Thanksgiving; yes, it takes that long.
– ongoing: this pesky day job.
– If time allows, add 500 words a day to my novel-in-progress.

That pretty well sums it up. I don’t think I need to write more than that. The time crunch has caused my blog regularity to suffer. I’ve missed my normal days for the last two posts. You can see “Update blog” isn’t even on the logjam list, so far is it down.

A better day is coming. “All in God’s timing,” as was stated on the blog.


So, a few of you “tune in” every Monday and Friday to see what news I have to post. I must disappoint you at the moment, for I have no news. Or, actually, I have a little news but no time to write. I’ll hopefully get back here before the end of the day and add what the news is.

Searching For A Metaphor

It’s approaching 6:00 p.m. on Sunday as I’m writing this, taking a moment away from working on my novel to work on this post. It’s been a busy weekend. My wife is still away, in Oklahoma City, on grand-baby #4 arrival watch. Due date is still more than a week away, but his brothers and sister all came early, so she went up early, and will be there a while after the birth. My mother-in-law is also away, visiting her relatives and friends in southwest Kansas. She won’t be back till around Oct. 3 or 4. So it’s just me in the house.

I’m in The Dungeon, which is where most of my serious writing takes place. After Life Group, church, buying a sandwich and fries from Arby’s, making a quick stop at the Neighborhood Market for something I forgot yesterday, and dropping recyclables off, I got home to the empty house. I ate my lunch while channel jumping between NFL football games that really didn’t interest me and one of the Star Wars movies, which some channel is showing over and over again this weekend. Then I went to The Dungeon to write. I could tell, however, as I started, that I would have difficulty adding coherent words to Preserve The Revelation, so I decided to go to the couch in the nearby family room and take a nap.

My nap lasted a little less than an hour, but I woke up with greater powers of concentration. I guess I was wiped out from Saturday’s labors. While I was working on Saturday it didn’t seem like I was working very hard. Oh, I was getting things done. I went to Wal-Mart early for groceries and building project materials. I removed cut branches and pulled vines from the front and back yard to the forest; worked on the flower garden project in the front yard, getting the edging blocks in place (I think; I may yet modify the layout a little, but it will be minor). Then I came inside and set up a new shelf unit in the storage room, to replace the old, old computer table which took up a lot of room but didn’t have all that much storage capacity. I’m not looking for more room to store more stuff we’ll just have to get rid of some day, but I want a neat storeroom, and the computer desk was frustrating those effort.

All that done, I fixed a salad for lunch, then went to The Dungeon to write. But, I was so exhausted from the work I’d done, I couldn’t write. I added a few words to the novel, but knew I wasn’t going to make major production as I’d hoped. So I searched YouTube for a medley of my favorite oldies, and spent a few afternoon hours just listening to some girl group songs and doo-wop. Then it was drive to town to the church to set up stairs for today’s worship service, then home to cook supper, then to study to teach Life Group lesson, while doing laundry, then to drop into bed and sleep the sleep of the dead for seven hours.

What, you ask, does all of this have to do with the title of the post, “Searching for a Metaphor”? Perhaps it’s a weak connection, but I have been searching for a metaphor for my writing for a while. As I read other people’s writing, such as Mark Twain’s short stories, or Thomas Carlyle’s non-fiction, I find them to be rich in metaphor. As I look back on my own writing, especially my poems, I know the ones that are best are those which are rich in metaphor. My poems of late, alas, have been more focused around imagery, not metaphor. Images are important too, but I think metaphor is a higher use of language.

I look out The Dungeon windows. The tall oaks are swaying, so it much be windy outside. Now they’ve stopped, so obviously it’s intermittent wind. There they go again. Dusk has come upon us, plus, it’s cloudy. We were supposed to have rain this afternoon, but it has never come.  I find no metaphor in the trees, however; nor in the lack of rain, the busyness of the weekend, the usefulness of a nap, or the significance of writing with good, solid production.

I wrote a poem on Friday. It started out as a haiku, based on the eastern sky during my morning commute. This is often a time that inspires a haiku. However, I wanted to make a little more out of the poem. The tanka poetic form takes a haiku and expands it by two lines. It’s supposed to have only more information on images already presented, not present new images. Friday evening I worked on it, being just a few words short of the complete tanka. In the evening I was able to add those lines. But the tanka, while probably not too bad, is not a metaphor.

Alas, I will keep searching. Perhaps by the time winter comes, I’ll have much less work to do around the house and property, and will be able to quiet my mind for a while, and train myself to think in metaphors, instead of, at best images, or at worse to-do and to-purchase lists. One can always hope.

Staying Busy

I’m a day late with this post. The last two months, since I established my Monday and Friday posting schedule, I normally try to write my Monday post on the weekend, or at worst on Monday morning before the start of my workday. I’ve missed a couple of times, but I’ve been doing better about regular posting.

This weekend, however, I did nothing concerning a post. By the end of Sunday I realized that, but it was too late in the day to write it. I decided I’d do it Monday. Monday came and went, and alas, I did nothing on it. Shame on me. I’ll do better going forward.

So what’s keeping me so busy that I didn’t do my blog post? On Saturday it was first work around the house, followed by writing on Preserve The Revelation. The house work included a major cleaning job on the refrigerator, thinning the blackberry vines, cutting a lot of low hanging branches, and weeding in our back yard. I also had chair set-up at church, and trips to Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Sunday was Life Group and church, followed by lunch at a community event. That put me home around 1:45 p.m. I should have written.

Instead, I began work on the print cover of In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People, using G.I.M.P. to assemble the graphics. As always, G.I.M.P. defeated me. I was able to create a palette the size of the cover, and add and size the front and back covers. But on the back cover I needed to hide three corporate logos. I had planned how to do this, and got two done quite easily. However, when it came to the third one, I stalled. I was using the same procedure as for the first two: cover it with an opaque layer. Only on this one I had to add text. Somehow the layer that is the back cover was deselected, and I couldn’t add the opaque circle. Without the circle, the text was meaningless. I worked more than three hours on it, and finally quit in frustration. I went back to Wal-Mart to pick up one thing I hadn’t the day before, then spent the evening reading.

Yesterday was the normal busyness of work and house. In the evening I went to The Dungeon, intending on writing. But there, on my work table, was the box of photos from our time in Kuwait, with several batches of photos out on the table. I had dug into the box last Wednesday to select some photos to scan and post on Thursday. In the box I found batches of photos not in envelopes, hence not matched with their negatives. I decided getting those photos matched was a better use of my time than writing. I don’t say that facetiously, either. Some day we’ll pass those photos on to our children, and having them properly organized is critical. It was a good use of my time—not that I finished, but I made significant progress. But by the time 9:00 p.m. came I wanted to be about my evening reading. No time to write the blog.

So here I am on Tuesday, writing Monday’s post, and it’s about nothing but why I didn’t write on Monday. But it lets my few readers know what’s going on in my world.

Since the weekend, one of my cover designers contacted me, saying he’d done work on it. We discussed it. Hopefully he’ll complete it very soon. In case not, I’ve contacted a third cover designer and am in discussions with her. Today I sent off a letter to an influencer, a seminary professor, concerning Doctor Luke’s Assistant and things he’s written that dovetail nicely with it. This is by snail mail, as the seminary doesn’t post faculty e-mails. We’ll see what comes of it.

Tonight, when the work day is through, I plan on staying about an hour after to do some research and typing on our fact internet and computer. When I get home, I have one small task to do in the yard, then I’ll heat some soup for supper, and descend to The Dungeon. No photos tonight. I need to add at least 1,000 words tonight, and 3,000 in total, before I will allow myself to return to those photos and finish that big task. I’m looking forward to it.

It rains! It rains!

Today, Friday, we are having band after band of thunderstorms pass over us here in Bentonville. As I’ve mentioned before, I like the rain; it does my heart good. So, on a Friday afternoon, I’m upbeat. I have completed a number of miscellaneous tasks this week, including today, and am ready for the weekend. If the storms continue (as, I believe, they are forecast to do), I shall read and write, file and discard, clean and organize to my heart’s content. If the rain holds off, I have plenty of outside work to occupy my time.

My writing work has been slowly progressing of late. I add a little every now and then to Preserve The Revelation. I do the same to Thomas Carlyle: A Chronological Bibliography of Compositions. Almost every day I review and add to my Bible study titled “Entrusted to My Care”, which we are scheduled to study in our adult Life Group beginning in four weeks or so. Of poetry, I add nothing. The villanelle I wrote last month I hope to get back to in a week or so, tweak it, then submit it to the anthology; the deadline for submittals is Oct 31.

Then, the other major task I have at hand is the cover for the print version of In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I’ve been waiting for two talented cover artists/creators to get to it. For a variety of reasons, some legitimate, some not, they haven’t gotten to it in over a month’s time. So, my top priority is to get it done this weekend, uploaded to CreateSpace, a proof copy ordered ASAP, and the book published ASAP. It won’t be as good as if a pro did it, but it will be done, and the book will be available before the Cubs win the World Series—if they do.

My cell phone just gave me a severe weather alert, the first one I’ve received on this. Yet, the thunder has about quit. I may not go by Home Depot on the way home. We’ll see.

An Open Letter to Colin Kaepernick

An open letter to Colin Kaepernick:

Dear Colin:

According to Wikipedia, you are in the midst of a 6-year, $126 million contract. I’m sure the contract is complex, may not be linear, and might involve performance bonuses. But that works out to $21 million a year. After your agent’s cut (I assume it’s 20%) and taxes (which I’ll assume are 60% of the remainder after the agent’s cut), that gives you $6,720,000 a year to live on. I’ll go further and assume you are putting away 15% of your gross (i.e. before taxes) income for retirement, which is what financial planners advise prudent people to do. That would leave you with $3,570,000 a year to live on. I realize I’m guessing here. Let me round down, and estimate you have $3 million a year to live on.

That’s a sizeable sum, which should allow you to live quite luxuriously and have a lot left over.

We all know now about your refusal to stand to honor and respect our nation when the national anthem is played before 49er football games. I assume you don’t do this because the USA has been unfair to you, but because you believe it has been unfair to other Blacks, and I suspect you mean more specifically young Black males at the hands of law enforcement. I assume the trigger for you to do this now is the reported police shootings of Black men who refused to comply with police instructions over the last two years. The issue of race relations is complex, thus the issue is complex, and I’m sure your protest actually is more complex than that.

As a talented athlete and a highly paid professional, you are a role model for the nation and a spokesperson for the USA to the world. These are thrust upon you whether you want them or not. It’s a price you pay for the position you hold. As a former pastor of mine once explained, the higher you go up the ladder of success or positions of influence or authority, the fewer options you have in terms of behavior. You have relatively few options in the position you’re in. Oh, legally you have those options and many more. But morally, I believe, you have few.

You have chosen to use your position of influence to disrespect our imperfect nation as a means of protest. You are thus telling others who look up to you that this is how you bring about change where change is needed. I suggest to you that what you are doing will not bring about the results you want; it only draws attention to you. Change doesn’t come from shouting about a problem, but by doing meaningful things that will change behaviors.

So, I’d like to suggest a few things I believe you could do to bring about change that will make the USA a better place, a safer place for Blacks, and actually for people of all races.

1. Talk to young people, especially young Blacks, about obeying police commands rather than resisting the police. I haven’t dug into the statistics, but I suspect that approximately zero people who comply with police commands are shot and killed each year.

2. While you’re doing this, you might want to say a few things about living within the law and eschewing lawlessness.

3. Speak to police groups, sheriffs groups, and any other law enforcement groups, about better ways to deal with those who fail to comply with police commands. I believe our law enforcement officers want to do a good job, and would respond well to hearing from someone in a position of influence such as yourself.

4. With the $3 million a year you have to live on (if my math is close to correct), learn to live on $200,000 a month, and give $600,000 a year to works of charity that help inner-city youth to break the cycle of poverty and violence, and, through education and having role models to look to, will find a way out of their conditions. I did some research to see if you are doing any of this, and found some articles from a couple of years ago about your charity works, along with a couple of newer ones. This includes a $1 million donation to “organizations that work with the community.”  I also saw that you’re planning on donating recent jersey sale income to charity. Thank you for that. I commend you, and suggest that the more you do of this the more you will change our nation into a better place, the more you will extend your influence.

In the few public statements I’ve seen you make since your first sitting protest, you came across as whining that people would hold you accountable for your actions. May I suggest you rather accept responsibility for what you have done. Explain that your protest is heartfelt and sincere and that, if it costs you in terms of finances and influence you are ready to accept that as a consequence. Maybe you’ve done that and I missed it. If so I apologize. I’m sure I haven’t heard or read every statement you’ve issued.

Of course, if you think that through, you might realize there is a better, more effective, and longer lasting way to achieve what you want. Assuming what you want isn’t just more fame for yourself.

Author | Engineer