Animal Observations

Our cat, which we originally acquired to be a barn cat to keep down the mice, is a needy little SOB. Every time I go outside he comes running and mewls pitifully for attention. He doesn’t do it for my wife and daughter, just me. I’ve had spinal fusion surgery and can’t bend down to pet him and my knees are so bad I can barely squat and get back up. As a compromise, I stand next to a rabbit hutch on the porch where his food dish is and let him jump up there. That way I can pet him without too much physical inconvenience. I don’t know what we’ll do when he gets too old to jump that high. I wish there was a way to do something like blow a kiss to him, but it doesn’t work that way. I really had to revise that sentence to avoid the phrase ‘blow him’.

Our dog is getting old, but he must still be fairly spry because we found half a cottontail rabbit on the porch. He wants to take care of us despite our kids having outgrown him, my wife’s avoidance of him for fear of fleas, and me not being able to bend down far enough to pet him. The only time I can do anything for him is when I’m sitting in my camp chair on the porch. Then he comes by and lays down at my side and I can pet him. I know he has a few fleas, even though I treat him monthly.  If he sees, hears or smells anything out of the ordinary he stands on the porch and barks a warning. Once he was raising hell about something and I went out to check. Oddly, he was facing the house and barking. When I looked, there was a rattlesnake coiled under the porch. He’s a good boy, my Sonny.

My chickens remind me of internet trolls and extreme biased media. I threw feed out to them this morning and most of it went to a big area where they eat, but a few grains scattered near where I was standing. Did they pounce on the bounty piled up in one place? No. They fought over the few nearest me. They are not nearly as entertaining as the guineas we used to have. Those things were pure bipedal hell on the grasshoppers. I loved to watch them chase bugs around the yard.

The Square Root of Texas

The Square Root of Texas released today on Amazon KDP.

QED Morningwood is a liar, braggart and teller of tale tales. When he shows up at the domino parlor with a mysterious Russian crate in the back of his pick-up truck, he confides to the players he is a ‘Shadow’ member of the NRA, not on their official membership roll, and has a load of rocket propelled grenades – all lies. The news spreads to the real Shadow NRA, the FBI and Homeland Security. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Cultural Preservation sends an agent to retrieve the crate, the actual contents known only to the Russians.

The Russian agent, an FBI team, a DHS undercover agent and a Shadow NRA hit team arrive in Heelstring, Texas looking for QED and his crate. Their convergence is followed by interrogations, seduction, lies, arrests, jailbreak, kidnapping and rescue – along with car chases and explosions. If not for Cotton Widdershins, an ancient black man with secrets of his own, who acts as QED’s mentor and savior, the Morningwood line would be doomed to end, or at best spend life in a federal penitentiary.

Book Review: The Man Who Rode Midnight

THE MAN WHO RODE MIDNIGHT

Times change too fast for some folks to keep up, no matter how hard they try. Then there are folks who flat out refuse to accept change because it’s not always favorable.

The Man Who Rode Midnight is set in the early 80’s when the cattle market was depressed, and the town of Big River has fallen on hard times. The community has plans to dam the river, flood the valley and reinvent itself as a recreational tourist haven. While the townsfolk are eager to abandon their rural and agricultural heritage, there is one ranch owner who opposes them.

Wes Hendrix, whose ranch would disappear under the proposed lake, is a genuine old-time cowboy. He is a man who works his own cattle, strings his own fences and loves the land he spent 50 years building. Recently widowed, he accepts a summer visit from his only grandson and begins to turn the city slicker he calls ‘Tater’ into a capable ranch hand. Jim Ed Hendrix, aka Tater, is a failed college boy from Dallas, sent by his father to convince Wes to sell the ranch and retire.

The irresistible force of change and adaptation to modern realities rams headlong into the immovable object that is Wes Hendrix. Wes and a cast of loyal friends, all grounded in a common history, stand against what they see as a rape of the land.

Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) won seven Spur Awards and The Man Who Rode Midnight is one of the reasons he can be considered one of Texas’ greatest storytellers.