Sunday, December 4, 2011


The last several weeks of November 2011, have been unusually special for me. This is the first time since 1962 that I haven’t had Thanksgiving with my immediate family. I have traditionally cooked the bird and all the dishes; generally for about ten to fifteen people. Now they, my family, are grown and have set their sails, boxing the compass in their directions, building their lives.

My good friend Joan asked me to spend Thanksgiving with her, her family, and friends in Cincinnati, Ohio. For a couple of months I labored hard around Windsong to leave her in good shape for winter. The leaves have been raked and piled away from the trees that shed them; mostly elderly oaks, some yellow popular and walnut. Select piles destined to be used as soil enriching mulch and some burned, adding to the earthy aroma of fall.  The half a dozen ricks of firewood I split are covered against the elements and neatly stacked for easy access from the house and fireplace. Rye winter grass planted earlier and mowed just a few days ago will hold the ground during winter storms and spring flooding.  The gravel road, slopes down to the creek and then across the sturdy railroad beam bridge, rising to the now dormant orchard and winding out onto the county blacktop, about 1500 feet, lays nicely dressed by the tractor rake for all to see.

 Assured that the Ranch lay turned-out, well groomed and able to fend for herself, I loaded up my Supra Turbo, her powerful engine faithfully maintained over her twenty-three years. She could growl if called upon, instead we used her understated purr to set the pace on the interstates. I eased out onto the county highway, I was ready for this trip; a journey of about six hours of easy listening, running on cruise control for most of the trip. Being a guy, you all do know that the "man-code" won’t allow us guys to stop until we get there.
Fortunately, my gas tank had enough capacity to get me to Joan’s without needing a refueling; some three-hundred and sixty miles. Oh the joy of a large bladder and a nonstop trip.

Still, all who drive this land speak of its beauty; the quilt of pastures, forests, streams, shimmering city spires; and satellite navigation, a guarantee of never being lost. On second thought, I’m not certain that I really want that assurance. The “less traveled road” forever beckons, thank goodness.

Crossing the Ohio River, I turned off the cruise control and wound through the Cincinnati traffic, not all that heavy though. I called Joan on my cell phone to give an update on my ETA.

On my arrival she, being Joan, had a gaggle of activities for us to engage in. I can’t begin to tell you all the boards that Joan sits on, classes she teaches or takes, and the seemingly innumerable “close” friends and family this talented woman has nurtured and sustained over the years; not to mention her personal life style of physical activities; tai chi, endurance swimming, hiking, kayaking, sailing, and on and on; oh yes, and watching copious hours of funky TV in her entertainment center, on her new sixty (yes I said 60) inch flat screen with a Blu-ray DVD player. Joan a very classy lady, is an occupational therapist, patiently tutored me in the mechanics of the remote controls, the bane of my life. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fruit Flies and Remotes

Not too long ago I began to notice annoying little critters flying around the kitchen. I compost, so decided that the small compost canister I kept under the sink was the birth place of the nasty little buggers. When I opened the lid, I was swarmed by a flying wedge, literally a legion of gnats (fruit flies?). Look, I’m a guy and can stand a little bio diversity. These guys, I was pretty certain, were from the family Drosophilidae, whose larva feeds on ripening or fermenting fruits and vegetables. The celebrities of their clan are the especially pesky species of Drosophila melanogaster, because of their noble karma of volunteering (?) for use in genetic research. They even have alias; pomace fly, vinegar fly. Anyway, I got my can of Raid and blasted the composter and the entire underneath of the kitchen sink. They seem to thrive and swarmed even more the next day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Splitting A Branch Of James Monroe

The autumnal equinox is just a few days away and I’m preparing for winter here on Windsong. You know the drill; get storm windows ready to install, sweep the chimney with a wire brush, clean and condition lawn furniture for storage, keep ahead of the falling leaves, finally, start splitting wood; enough for a three month supply, about three cords. I have a high efficiency fire place that keeps the place warm, and if it gets really cold – below zero – I  have a wood burning Elvira kitchen stove from Canada.

By the way, the wood comes from dead-fall trees on Windsong. Except this year my son Alfred lost to a storm, a behemoth oak tree that fronted his commercial building in Dunlap, in the Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee. He transported some of the larger limbs, already bucked, up the mountain and piled them by my woodpile. The trunk of the tree was taken by some folks that apparently needed the wood more than the owner, bless their little hearts. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011


There is a sea in the sky, and the earthbound forests wave in the currents like the kelp beds to the lee of Anacapa Island. Almost daily, gusting winds lay the golden wattle grass flat on the windward side of the island where several goats, sure footed on the steep cliffs, munch their way through the vegetation. Rare golden eagles languidly bum rides with the off shore air currents, hungrily watching to see what fauna the goats flush from the flora below. The immense fetch of the Pacific endlessly rolls grinder waves past the Channel Islands towards the California mainland.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Assimilation of Literary Characters Not Recommended

I suppose I’m influenced, to some degree, by whatever current author I’m reading. I recall at the age of ten, when I first read Sir Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” I tried to effect a Professor Moriarty like, British accent, and wear a monocle; an old chipped watch crystal, which kept falling from my untrained eye. When I finally returned the long overdue Collected Works of Sherlock Holmes, the school librarian didn’t fine me; instead, she glued a shoe string to my monocle and sent me to see Mother Superior. The good Sister laughed, but insisted on calling my mother, telling her that her son was possessed and couldn’t return to class until he, meaning me, was cleansed of the malevolence. My mother cleansed me that evening with a hairbrush and confiscated the monocle. I was back to normal, for me, the next morning … sans accent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Eyeless In Luminary" Preview

Eyeless in Luminary presents both reality and magical realism “- allowing them to pass through each other with that special moment when they blend undifferentiated, becoming inseparable, suspending disbelief, and then – when  exhausted – separating again,” leaving in their wake their signs and symbols to be pondered.

Dr. Sark Saint John, a present day Southern university professor of archeology and paleontology, and his autistic savant assistant, Davio Gonzales Garcia, set out on a quest to find the existence of a hidden Slav settlement of retro villagers, rumored but never proven to exist. The quest began over ten years ago, but came to a sudden halt eight years later when disaster struck the researchers’ efforts, causing Sark’s motivation for further research to bottom out completely. The university’s new president quickly tired of Sark’s reclusive, non-productive behavior, and was just about to ask for his resignation when Sark decided to re-open the quest . . . one more time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Miss Long-belle

Possibly I had been out in the sun too long picking some fruit from the orchard at Windsong. Needing a break I came back to the house and with a cool drink set up in a lounge chair on my shaded deck. Almost immediately an old pal made her appearance. Over the years of our association of me observing her forays onto the stage of my deck, her antics always seemed to spool before my eye(s) without pause, no breaks for commercials, or final scene stage adjustments, no prima donna this gal. And so in that vein I’ll share what I observed; and how I know this … her thoughts ... I do not have a clue. So here in run-on format:
She, the lizard Long-belle, after traversing the narrow rope supporting the hammock, next traveled down onto the bundle it held suspended, and darted over onto the cool upper epidermis, dodging the stalks of black fiber erupting from the surface, curiosity satisfied she scampered back onto the comfrey leaves, applied earlier to an abrasion of the bundle’s epidermis, there she paused and sniffed the poultice’s natural composting gases, instantly she became giddy from the residual ethylene oxide absorbed by those healing fibers covering the bundle, after which she chased her tail for awhile and darted in pirouettes, and imagined herself a haughty, imperial Gila in a tutu, but abruptly she tired and curled up immobile, resting her head on what humans would recognize as a button, from her vantage she could see the other hammock bundle across the room beginning to erupt and shake, but soon lost interest when instinct instructed a frozen pause; her ogles stopped darting, and a cold eye-lock-on stare at where a hussy female mantis stood with her fat haunches on a canvas backpack a half mile away in lizard distance, then a slow bending of Long-belle’s tail, followed immediately by the two gun metal gray right legs pulled forward in conjunction with the two left legs pushing backwards; this locomotion cycle could be maintained at two-hundred and fifty-sixty repetitions a minute for up to four minutes, all the while she would maintain her sight on the hussy’s yet unchallenged presence in her domain, calculating that the challenge free status of a natural enemy permitted her return to the shelter of the earthen roof chamber; ouch … suddenly complicating matters, little grains of angular clear quartz had lodged in the skin fold between her left front leg and belly, probably picked up from her exploration of the comfrey, causing a painful abrading as she scampered up the wall, not a good day, she bent to the task of flicking them out with her tongue, then continued to her penthouse chamber; unexpectedly another reflex look, head rigid, and then firing of the puce tongue, an instrument longer than her body, darting without pause in her locomotion, to snatch a nutritious, al dente, frog flea into her mouth – dinner for two young hungry, alone at home, children awaiting their mothers return; all this as seen and from and reported from her level of observation.
 That frog, another old confident who supplied the flea I mentioned, is another story I’ll share later with you all. Look, all I got to say and at risk of repeating myself … the level of observation will produce the phenomenon; so if you care to venture into other realms, then try looking closely at the small world around you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eyeless In Luminary

My newest novel is currently being made ready for publication.  It will be available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle. I'll let you know the minute it goes live.

"The Genre I am writing in is “meta fiction or magical realism”. To some extent, I have tried to avoid the pro-forma and formulaic writing, and have inserted some unusual techniques that may entertain or may bother. I do not view my story as a wide net cast to retrieve the greatest number of readers, rather those few who want to travel down the same road with me, for whatever portion of the trip they find interesting.

The “Theme” of my story is presenting reality and magical realism and to have them pass through each other with that special moment when they blend undifferentiated, becoming inseparable, suspending disbelief, and then when exhausted, separating again, leaving in their wake the semiotics to be pondered.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Inside Out: Walt's Poetry (and Photos) - Preview

Life is a journey better traveled if you understand with whom your're walking . . . from beginning to end. Self. Inside Out is a collection of poems that reflect and project in a perfect blend of then and now, forward, and beyond.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How The Hell Do You Play Rock/Paper/Scissors?

(From "Inside Out")

What kind of breezes will we set sail on…you and I
Wet headwinds to labor through tack after tack
Cold wet decks beneath our bare feet
Or run on before warm gusts

Climbing then sliding down shiny sheets of blue
Why don’t we make it easy on ourselves and fly?
Oh…but after all… we’re the crew
In either mode, it’s so easy to die

It’s not the cars we have driven in life that are important
Only the roads we have traveled
That looping cable of time we latch onto
Throws us off when our fare runs out
It’s that simple, our tickets have been punched

If we glance modestly askance
To see where we are
And if we refrain from peering to the rear
The more time we have to stare ahead

Some peer and do not see
While others hallucinate all wild eyed and tell it as truth  
But you and I keenly observe
Smug and snuggled with our convictions


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where do you start with rocks?

“Rock solid” can have several implications, besides the accolade of a person’s dependability. In my case, it has meant over the past seventeen years the digging up from the soil of Windsong, by hand,  thousands of calcareous sandstone rocks. They range in size from a fist to three to four hundred pounds. They came my way up on the Cumberland Plateau, courtesy of ancient geological processes, and the product of formation fracturing due to folding in the Mississippian formation during the Paleozoic era . After digging up the rocks, I transport them to places on Windsong Ranch to control erosion. I have a couple of wet weather streams and a pond that overflows in heavy rain. I appreciate the gentle contours that the land has formed over the centuries and try, in the main, to leave them as I found them. In addition to the front fields and or
chard, I have about ten acres of deciduous forest that surround my “rustic” hemlock pine home. A nice feature of the Ranch that my son, Alfred, and I developed was the stream that has been “tuned” to sing as the water flows by rocks placed at appropriate spots. You can walk from one end of the stream to the other and get different pitches as the water accelerates over, between
and around sets of rocks. Of course, I also use them to make steps, and Stonehenge like, as vertical statements pointing to particular constellations on certain calendar days. Orion is my favorite and the star Betelgeuse my pick. In my novel “Bleed County,” I reference the star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes, high in the northern skies. In the coming months I plan on building a cairn to point to it on the vernal equinox.