Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

bits and pieces

September 9, 2019

This is a photo of a sort of landmark on my neighbor’s land out near my cabin. “If you come to the burned out truck, you missed the turn.” This was a working vehicle when it was parked. When we would come to our cabin, we would see it moved, so we knew he was using it for something. Then we found it looking like this. The story I heard later was that he was doing some controlled burning of the dry grass nearby and pretty much lost control of the fire. (You can see that this sits on a ridge top, thus wind.) So it sat like this for years but then one visit we saw that it was gone. I suppose it was worth something as scrap metal.


I’ve gotten into a little flame war on Facebook about submission fees for journals. My position is that I will not pay to have my story considered for publication. (We’re all cautioned not to pay to have our novels published, so why should it be different for short stories?) When I see a call for submission that interests me, and I click the link, if I see that there is a submission fee that they “forgot” to include in the text of the call, I graciously add the fee in a comment below. And I’ve found I’m not the only one to do this. My submission-to-acceptance ratio is such that I can’t throw $3 (or as much as $25) in with each story I submit, even if they do pay for published stories.

Some editors have gotten feisty about this, writing at length about their cost of doing business, and I understand that, but I feel that they’re transferring this cost onto the submitter. I don’t make any money doing this either, so why should the funding onus fall on me?


I was also a little feisty myself when I saw a different call for submission to a magazine I had submitted a story to several years ago. I had never received a response from the magazine, and I logged it as No Response in my tracker. Now I realize this is one way to manage the deluge of responses, but if so, it seems that the publication ought to say so. The same thing happened with a submission to the magazine a year ago. So when I saw their call, I added my comment that I’d never received a response. Factual, if a little embittered. The editor then responded to my comment with a profuse apology and noted that I was not the only one to raise such a concern. He said they are working hard to correct this. Then he sent me a personal message saying the same thing. That was nice, but it wasn’t really necessary.


Sometimes I think writers are seen as merely commodity producers and revenue streams. (Note: I feel much this way when I go to the doctor.)


I rode the 26+ mile Indian Creek/Blue River Trail on Saturday. Probably my best ride so far, not only because it was cool in the morning, but because my muscles and heart and lungs seem to be getting on board with the plan. (Just in time for cooler weather when I’ll put the bike away for the season.) On Sunday, I was struck down with a throat cold and wandered the house in a semi-conscious state, when I wasn’t napping. I don’t think the two are related, though I have no idea where I picked up the cold.

random photo Tuesday

August 27, 2019

There are several things you can see in this photo. One is a selection of books from my Philip Roth shelves. I understand The Plot Against America is being made into a film. American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and The Dying Animal have already been done.

Another thing to notice is the relatively fine finish of the table top. This is not a piece of fine furniture; that’s a veneer on top of particle board. But it no longer looks as nice. The grands have all made contributions to its “seasoning.”

The third thing is that Sisyphus bookend. I made that at a several-weekends class at the nearby community college. I’m sure you know the story of Sisyphus from your general knowledge of Greek mythology and/or your familiarity with the writings of Albert Camus. (Right?) I created the form out of wax then dipped it repeatedly in the slurry that then dries and forms a shell around it. The wax is melted out of the shell, and the shell is filled with the molten brass. Then it’s a simple (and satisfying) matter of shattering the shell with a hammer to reveal the work of art within.

Were I to do this again — and I had wanted to make a pair of bookends at the time — I would probably just cast Sisyphus and then attach his hands to one of my round rocks. As a hobby, bronze casting is not cheap.

October blue ~ Skywatch Friday

October 19, 2018

This was the sky recently over the park where I walk my dogs. I’d seen this trick in an art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico some years ago. “Santa Fe blue” being an actual color, and the sky there being so blue, the clever photographer combined them in a single image.

I’ve also heard of “October blue” as a color, more as a wistful reference than a point on the palette, and I always liked it since I had noticed the skies in October seemingly bluer. Then someone pointed out that this was likely due to lower humidity, and that took all of the romance out of it.

But we’ve had a lot of rain hereabouts so far in October, so an afternoon with clear skies was welcome.

principles and politics

July 4, 2018

On my long-gone blog, Roundrock Journal, I would post some variation of the below each Fourth of July. I came upon this among some files and thought the sentiments still applied


I remember reading some years ago an observation by a political writer that has stayed with me. People who had never before heard of “hanging chads,” he wrote, suddenly found that they had deep and unshakable opinions about them. That one point seems to crystallize so much of what I think is wrong with contemporary politics.

Too many people, I think, base their principles on their politics when I think you really ought to come to your politics based on your principles. This is what I think or believe. This is what I have observed. This is what my heart tells me. Now which political approach seems best in line with what I value and understand?

Long-time readers of this blog know that I don’t make political posts here. This is a natural history and personal discovery blog, and the very few times I have made oblique political jibes or observations have been so subtle that no one has ever seemed to notice them. (Does that make me an excellent writer or a poor one?)

But today I will make an exception. Here are some of the things I think and believe. Here are some of the things my heart tells me.

  • I believe that every time we do something that limits the rights of others, we make it that much easier for someone else to limit our own rights. Therefore, the best way to protect my own rights is for me to fight to protect the rights of others.
  • I believe that if the racial/ethnic/cultural group I happen to be a part of is some day to be a minority, then I ought to do everything I can to treat existing minorities well since my behavior might serve as an example of how I will be treated.
  • I believe that a society is ultimately judged by how it protects its weakest members.
  • I believe that we are all obligated to provide some form of voluntary, long-term service to our communities and that there are many ways that this can be done.
  • I believe that we should vigorously exercise each of our rights, even to voting in the most obscure local elections, so that no one can take away our rights by asserting that we never used them anyway.
  • I believe that while all of us are entitled to the rights and privileges we enjoy as citizens, very few of us have actually earned them and that we only have them by the good luck of having been born here. Therefore, those who suffer and struggle and fight to share in the benefits of our society may be more entitled to them than I am.
  • I believe that we should read banned books.
  • I will support those who seek to expand the rights we all enjoy and not those who find it necessary to restrict our rights. I do not believe that we must destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

These are some of the things I believe, and I will make my political choices based on them.

off kilter

March 5, 2018

I traveled to and from St. Louis over the weekend to help my son and his wife move into their new apartment. (Larger apartment in the same complex. The moving effort took less time than the drive there.)

I didn’t get any writing done, though eight hours of driving in two days does give me plenty of time for reflection and plot planning. So when I got home yesterday, I was busy making notes on my ideas lest they evaporate from my mind. I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but they generally come back to me.

Anyway, here’s a photo from across the street of the hotel where I stayed:

According to Webster, the word “kilter” is of unknown origin.