Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pub Chatter # 84

     I let Lloyd close up last night and shuffled off to the sawmill just after midnight. I managed to saw enough logs to fill my quota before the dogs got into an argument at five-thirty. Never fear, I will call on my super power to nap anywhere, anytime around noon today. Got to make hay while the sunshines. Except this is Washington and sunshine is at a premium even in summer.

     There’s been a lot of talk around the pub lately about the Republican health care bill. It’s speculation mostly. Anyway, that’s the chief complaint. Folks say we don’t know what’s in the bill. Glad to see folks getting smarter. We’re still feeling the effects of the last health care bill that got passed without people knowing what’s in it. Wasn’t that a disaster?

     I think if health insurance is going to be mandatory, it ought to be modeled after auto insurance. It covers accidents and damage, but maintenance is up to the owner. Can you imagine billing your insurance for an oil change? What? An oil change on my pick-up is more expensive than an office call at my doctor’s office. I change oil more frequently too.

     You think I’m kidding. You weren’t working with me last weekend taking care of bug bites. That’s right, bug bites. It was the first summer time weather this year, people were out an about and so were the bugs. I spent Saturday night listening to, “A bug bit me. It’s red and swollen and it hurts.” Well, duh. I work with some great doctors, but they can’t fix stupid or implant backbones.

     The point is, would people be whining at the Urgent Care about bug bites if they had to pay for it? The answer, if you are having a hard time with it is---Hell No. Unless, of course, you are in favor of Obamacare and limitless medical care for veterans. In which case it’s, come on in and let us see your ouchie.

     I’m in favor of helping folks out with health care. That crap’s expensive. But, because someone else is paying, doesn’t mean it’s free. Use it like you are paying for it. but that concept is like beer commercials with the flash of print at the end saying, “Drink responsibly.” Folks just don’t get it. Car crashes are up in Washington and Colorado. Insurance companies blame marijuana. Proponents say, “Whoa dude, you can’t prove it was the weed.” Smoke responsibly.

    Meanwhile at the ER:

     “Dude, I’m dizzy and like numb all over.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pub Chatter #83

     I haven’t given up on Bryn Bou and company. While they have been busy fighting their way out of Shiloh, I have been having a battle of own. I call it the Werewolf Syndrome. Those afflicted with this disease have periods of nearly uncontrollable rage at everything and everyone that has the misfortune to get within reach. The only effective treatment I’ve found is solitude, meditation and time.

     Hmmm, now that I think about it, this sounds like a virus. And with that thought at this very moment, springs the possibility of a new story. That’s how this writing thing works. It truly is a kind of therapy.

     I plan on spending the next few days finishing up Trails of Trouble and making up for some lost time on my blog posts. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Nevertheless, perceived difficulty should never be an excuse for not trying. On the contrary, I’ve found charging the difficult head on is often the easier road.

     My current website is coming down on July 8. Go Daddy isn’t doing it for me and so I am going to be making a change. Hopefully, I will be able to come back with the same URL. Meanwhile, the blog will continue from its present location at Blogspot.

     We are being joined this morning by a Stellar jay that has moved into the neighborhood to take advantage of our bird feeders. He’s a handsome fellow, but a little shy with strangers. The dogs have decided he can stay. That is, they discovered barking does not deter his coming around.
     Okay, enough chatter for this morning. I’ll try to make it back before closing time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pub Chatter #82

   We’re having a special night at the Raven and Owl. All the computers are down and, for a little while, old times are back. I’ve been writing paper receipts and everything. Woo Hoo. Makes me wonder though, if our devices have sucked the self-reliance from us all. I used to be able to make change in my head. I suppose I still can, but it takes more effort nowadays. Anybody else remember having to figure sales tax for yourself? Now there’s a trick only old dogs can do.
      It’s one thing to talk about all the things we didn’t used to have machines to do. It’s quite another to give the toys up altogether. I think people could and should put down their phones more than they do, but I’m no advocate of giving them up. People complain that I only answer my phone when I want to. Don’t we all? Although, I confess I do miss more calls than most people. It’s because the thing isn’t always in my hand.

     Life is full of mixed messages. Like when the makers of adult beverages tell us to drink responsibly while trying to sell us as much as we can carry. Or what about medical facilities who talk about their cures while posting in print how we shouldn’t expect the same results. Why tell me about it then? It’s like come spend a fortune--just don’t expect much. At least with a pint I know what to expect for the money.

I’m not a fan of reality shows. That’s because there’s usually nothing real about them, but that’s not my point. I found an exception--or at least what should be an exception. I chanced to watch a movie the other night called “What We Do In The Shadows.” It was a movie about a crew filming an episode of a reality show about four vampires who shared a flat. Good stuff. Made me wish it was on every week even though it wasn’t nearly as scary as Mama June and Honey Booboo.

     There’s another of those mixed messages. We have hundreds of channels and thousands of shows, none of them worth watching. Did you hear the one about the pub owner with nothing to say, but he keeps right on talking?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pub Chatter #81

     I’ve been away from the pub and writing duties for a couple of weeks. I am loathe to admit weakness, but I have not been myself. I’m not sure who I have been only that I have not been my jovial, cheery self. Whoever I was, I don’t like him. This particular character comes and goes. No, he is not getting a blog of his own.
     Trails of Trouble will be back next week. I’m thinking three or four more blog size chapters. I try to limit those to around a 1,000 words. In the book version, it’s more like a chapter and a half. There are lots of revisions to do and    I’m going to add some early chapters to flesh out the characters, but we are getting near the end.
     I started a ghost story last week. It was to be entered in a story competition and was some of the best writing I’ve ever done. How it vanished from the thumb drive is a mystery still. I suspect ghosts. Unwilling to give up and unable to get the story out of my head, I began again today. I have hopes it will be the centerpiece of my next collection of short stories.

     You know long before there was Google, when we needed answers to life’s questions, we relied on the encyclopedic knowledge of General Orton B. Thumb. The complete works of Gen. Thumb take up several volumes so there’s much more than I can share here. I’m good with that because not everyone had access to every volume. Most of us had one, maybe two volumes at most. There was no Amazon back then and distribution was slow.
     Passing on Gen. Thumb’s notes relied on an ancient version of Facebook called visiting. people who physically go to the homes of family and friends, sit around the kitchen table or out on the porch and network. That networking was called “Visiting.” It never failed during a visit someone would mention Gen. Thumb’s book, The Rule or as some called it, The Rule of Thumb.

     Due to time, space and attention span constraints, I’d like to list my Top Ten Rules of Thumb.
     10. Mind your step. The world is full of bull droppings and you have to mind your step when the chips are down. Where you go and who you associate with is a direct reflection on who you are as a person. So, mind your step.

     9. The book is always better than the movie. Sorry cinema fans, it’s true. Books open your imagination. Movies are the director’s vision. Now, aren’t you better at your emotions than some Hollywood type?

    8. Go to school because you have to, but don’t miss getting an education. They are not the same thing. The further you progress in the school system, the more teacher’s vision you get as fact. (Remeber, the movie director.) Dig, read, study for yourself. Be scientific, do your own experimenting.

     7. No good deed goes unpunished. Being kind and respectful will cost you, learn to tell when it’s worth the price. One of my favorite movie lines, “All the wounds of honor are self-inflicted.”

     6. This too shall pass. It may leave a scar, but it will pass. Life goes on, the world turns and you must go with it. Walk away from trouble when you can; fight when you must, but remember it will pass.

     5. There are two bad teachers in the world. Substitute boss, friends, or any other position for the teacher as needed. You may get them both--it could happen. The third time, start looking at yourself as the source of the problem.

     4. Principle trumps Style. I’m not wearing bell bottoms again unless I’m going to a masquerade party. Love is a good choice even though it still looks the same.

     3. Mama said. The worst mother is a teacher, even if all she taught you was not to be like her. If you are lucky enough to have a loving mother and are faced with a decision---go with Mama.

     2. That’s why they play the games. There is always someone bigger, stronger, better looking or smarter that you. However, big, strong, good looking and smart doesn’t always win. You may not believe it now, but you never lose when you give something your all.

     1. Silence is golden. Your right to remain silent is a shield against every kind of attack. Remember Mark Twain’s version. “Better everyone thinks you’re a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”


Friday, June 9, 2017

Pub Chatter #80

     Every now and then I hear customers at the bar apologize for not being “politically correct." Here at the Raven and Owl, save your breath. Folks around here know that there is no such animal in America. “Politically correct”  is a code word disseminated by the political left to lend credence to their viewpoint while silencing opposition. If I were a liberal, I’d say it was a micro-aggression directed against white males. (Except no liberal would really say that because no liberal believes white males deserve equal treatment.)

     No matter what CNN tells you, in this country there is not a right or correct political side to whom respect is due and a wrong or incorrect political side that may be suppressed. The NAACP and the KKK are equally entitled to blow smoke up everyone’s ass even though neither has anything to say worthy of merit. In America everyone gets a voice; that’s how we roll.

     Labeling one view as correct assumes no only that there is a mistaken view, but there is an appointed moderator who decides. Who determines correct and incorrect in American politics? The news media would love for everyone to believe that they do, but the truth is they are no more qualified to decide what is correct than anyone else. What constitutes political soundness on CNN is often so much bovine feces to those outside the studio. Every American citizen decides.

     You can disapprove of my word choices. My political leanings may be unpopular. They are not correct or incorrect choices. They are my choices. So, unless you are ready to invite me to judge your choices---butt out.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pub Chatter #79

     God has a unique sense of humor. If you don’t believe it just look at all the ugly people walking around. A quick trip to Wal-Mart reveals His wit in action even while He is about the never ending business of answering life’s important questions. Who hasn’t asked, “God how high can ugly be stacked?” Turn down Aisle 8---Boom, there’s the answer. A word of caution here. Never ask Him how long a woman’s nose hair can grow.
     Who do ugly people look at and go, “Damn they’re ugly?” Don’t get me wrong, ugly people are important. There will always be clocks that need stopping and bulldogs to be backed off of meat wagons. You can’t do that with a super model. Cinderellas are out of here by midnight. You can always count on ugly girls to stay around here until closing time. No one inspires guys to buy drinks at last call like ugly women.
     Memes tell us how beauty is on the inside. Take it from me some people who are real assholes on the inside are ugly as sin on the outside too. It’s like a perfect storm. Just look at Hillary Clinton. I know, right? In the words of Fred Sanford, “Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.”
     There was an old 60's song that went, “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, make a pretty woman your wife. But, for my personal point of view get an ugly girl to marry you.” It was written by Moms Mabely. A surprising number of guys fell for it and a whole new generation of ugly was born.

      The sad thing about being ugly is that ugly people don’t know they are ugly. No one meets them and says, “Man, you’re one butt ugly sumbitch.” We tell everyone else how ugly he is, why not be honest with the guy? People have been lying to him since his parents began showing off his baby picture.
     I’m closing with this thought. Have people been lying to you?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trails of Trouble---Chapter 47

The sun set the eastern sky ablaze, red, gold and yellows reflected in the sea spread across the horizon chasing away the remnants of nights lingering gray and purple. An onshore breeze laced with the scent of salt blew overhead. Beneath towering coastal firs, an army of outcasts lays concealed among the laurel and jasmine. The city gates of Shiloh opened only minutes before and the waiting throng pushed its way through to the markets. Two dozen men dressed in ragged clothes left the trees and joined themselves to the line of market-goers. They were a motley collection of thieves, drunkards, and beggars who shared one trait. They were fiercely loyal to the remaining Prince of Shiloh. Eli was far away commanding disciplined ranks of veterans. The martial wolven were with him. The mob following the Valirian seer was on their own. Their task sounded simple when you said it, but none of those trembling under the cover of laurel leaves believed it would be simple or easy. Bryn Bou shivered at the thought of how many he was about to leave dead in the streets of Shiloh. He pushed away the thought that he might be one. He had to see them through and deliver the Queen to safety. Death was preferable to failure.
One way or the other, there was no turning back now. Bryn motioned for his troops to begin moving through the bushes. They hoped to stay concealed until the men moving down the road reached the gates. On the northern side of the city, One Eye and his troops did the same. Neither would know whether the other succeeded until retreat was too late.
The men Bryn sent forward quickly dispatched the soldiers lounging at the gates. Bryn broke from cover with a shout. The masses behind him added their voices as they charged down the hill for the open gates. Those going to market, suddenly caught up in a battle, scattered in every direction screaming for mercy. Bryn was counting on the added chaos and was not disappointed. The stampeding crowd ran over soldiers rushing to the aid of their fellows manning the gate.
Four of the attackers, disguised as rope merchants, threw their wares to those fighting their way up the towers. The gates were tied open while those on the ground fought to hold their position. Bryn and the leading edge of the army hit the gates at a run. The soldiers were swept aside by the sheer number of attackers. Beside him, Faryn sent a pair of defenders reeling, blood spraying from deadly wounds. Bryn launched his dagger into the chest of an oncoming soldier and bent to retrieve it as he ran passed.
Valirian archers mounted the gate towers raining arrows into Zett’s forces. The advance slowed as the street, red with blood, became slippery underfoot. The assault pressed forward reaching the palace.
“There’s no king’s guard,” one of the men with him said.
The man grabbed Bryn’s sleeve and waved his hands.
“No king’s guard,” he repeated.
Bryn stopped on the upper steps of the palace to look around. Something wasn’t right. He should have known sooner. The push into the city was easier than he anticipated and he let dreams of victory cloud his judgment. Those detailed with rescuing the Queen ran by him on their way into the palace. Bryn let them go. He wandered back down the steps for a better look at the dead. They were regular army, but far from Zett’s best. Older veterans lay bleeding beside young cadets. The attack was expected. Bryn’s heart sank. Their prize was either dead or gone.        
“Eli is riding into a trap,” he said aloud.
“Of course,” he thought. “The Queen was never at issue. It was Eli that Zett wanted.”
He was hit by another bit of bad news. Where was One Eye? He should have reached the palace by now. Bryn dashed up the steps and into the palace. he was met by a trio of men. The Queen was with them.
“We have to get out of here,” Bryn said. “Back the way we came. Move.”
He emerged from the palace shouting orders for the troops to retreat the way they had come. The plan had been to link up with One eye and escape through the north gate. That plan would have to be scraped. The north gate might still be in enemy hands.
It took several minutes, but they got their ragged army turned around. The Creator smiled on them. The way to the west gate was still open. Bryn could make out his troops still atop the gate. The bravado of the attack evaporated. They ran for their lives.

One Eye wandered into the rendezvous tired and bloody. The assault on the north gate had not gone well. They ran into a solid core of Zett’s regular troops. The assault never gained control the gate; not even close. One Eye stumbled away from the attack worn and bloodied. Less than half his original number was still with him. The city gate remained closed; there was no pursuit of the beaten force. Once beyond the range of the troops on the city walls, One Eye and the remnant of his troops fell down exhausted.
Their rest was short lived. The sound of battle erupted to either side of them. Then came word from the scouts. Cavalry was coming fast. One Eye got the weary soldiers on their feet and began herding them towards the northwest. The forested hills would slow the cavalry and, perhaps, give them a chance to escape. One Eye scooped up a wounded Valir and threw him across his aching shoulders. As many as were able followed his lead and tried to carry off the wounded. But, there were too many. The ground behind them remained strewn with bodies too broken to travel any further.
The cavalry came at a run. One Eye urged his troops on, but he knew in his heart they were not going to make the safety of the woods. He lay the wounded Valir on the ground beside him and drew his sword. A few of the others did likewise. Thirty yards short of One Eye’s position, the leader of the cavalry threw a hand in the air calling for a halt. Horses were reined in; wheeled about and drew their weapons. The leader continued to advance toward One Eye at a walk.
“Eli,” One Eye exclaimed. “Thank the Creator, but what are you doing here?”  
“We were about to ride into a trap,” he said. “Zett was laying for us at the caravan. We are not out of it yet. We had to ride through infantry to reach you. They are moving this way. Get your people moving. Once inside the tree line turn due west and try to meet up with Bryn. We will watch your backside.”
“It’s going to be slow going,” One Eye told him. “We’re pretty cut up.”

One Eye and the walking wounded slogged through the woods until twilight before stumbling into Bryn. He had made camp on a sheltered hilltop about ten miles west of Shiloh. A few tents were scattered among the trees, but most of the fighters lay on the ground. There were no fires burning. One Eye found his way to Eeryn’s tent. He was surprised to find an agitated Bryn pacing before the Queen and the seer. Despite the presence of the Queen, Bryn did not look happy at all. They had their prize, but something must have gone terribly wrong.
“One Eye,” Bryn stopped pacing. “Thank the Creator, what happened?”
“We got our tail feathers handed to us,” One Eye said and plopped down on the ground. “Looks like you did alright.”
“They were expecting us,” Bryn said.
“Tell me about it,” One Eye replied.
“No,” Bryn corrected. “They anticipated that Eli would attack the force headed to Marah. We only ran into reserves. The prince is marching on the bulk of Zett’s army. They will be slaughtered.”
“N, he won’t,” One Eye said. “He’s right behind us. He somehow sniffed out the trap and called off the attack. He saved us from an army Zett sent to finish us off. He should be here any time.”
“We’re going to need him,” Bryn said. “There’s another army waiting for us just over the next hill. We’ve been pulled into a giant box. We are going to  fight our way out or be crushed.”
“Let’s fight,” Eli said from the open tent flap.

Pub Chatter #78

‬I am a confirmed believer in the credo that no good deed goes unpunished.‭ ‬Nevertheless,‭ ‬I have dared the occasional foray into benevolence.‭ ‬I blame these lapses in judgment on a combined religious and military background where service is essential to good order.

I am a quiet person by nature. I also have the unfortunate preference for face to face communication. That combination has resulted in my involuntarily being selected as spokesman for other people. I’m fairly certain the word “spokesman” is another word for a target. Lightning rod might be a better comparison because speaking up can be a shocking experience.

I work hard to avoid sharing unsolicited opinions. I’m the first to admit that I am not always successful. Sometimes when the wheels are turning, my mouth kicks into gear all by itself and I collide with sacred cows crossing my path before I can hit the brakes. That’s on me.

Speaking‬ for people who can and should speak for themselves is the best way to totally piss everyone off.‭ In fact, ‬some folks ask for support for the express purpose of being offended. Never, and I mean never,‭ ‬do someone else’s bidding for them.‭ ‬Let them do their own talking‭; ‬let them learn for themselves‭; ‬and above all,‭ ‬let them bear the consequences of their own choices.‭

I know that little tidbit is trying to turn back the clock on a society bent on being responsible for nothing and the victim of everything. Facebook is the perfect forum for expressing an opinion and then boohooing because the world doesn’t break out into a chorus of Kumbaya. In the spirit of personally expressed opinion, I am granting a seat at the bar to Col. Yancy Theophilus Saulteen (CSA Ret.) His blog will be coming this way soon.