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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

WC 053123: Someplace I'd like to visit someday.


Today's topic: Someplace I'd like to visit someday.

It's only wishful thinking now. Age and health prevent me from taking such a trip, but here goes.

The dream trip I couldn't afford was offered by a teacher at my school who was coordinating it, when I had a family of four, a dog and mortgage. 

An EF package offered that was a flight from New York to Rome, then to Naples where you went on a cruise through the Greek Islands and then left for home from Athens. Two weeks total $10,000 for two, plus flight to New York and back from New York.

I did get to visit the state where I was born, on a Marine Corps base and left still an infant. 

I sponsored four students from New Mexico the YMCA's Council On National Affairs in Asheville, NC.

We flew to Dallas, met up with the delegations from Texas and Oklahoma then boarded a bus and drove nonstop from there to Asheville, same on the trip back. Two sixteen-hour drives with 50 high school students was a true adventure.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

WC 051723 Non book related hobbies.


Today's challenge is non book related hobbies. 

1. I've spent a lot of time in my front yard the last couple of weeks replacing a nearly dead lilac bush and rose bushes that died over the winter. My back yard is a constant battle against tumble weeds, goat heads and other problem native plants at the same time encouraging native flowers to cover a big dry area. Digging up weeds, planting new plants and spending time watering keep me pretty tired.

2.Trying to do daily walks around the neighborhood since I've dropped the gym.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

WC051023: A story about my first crush.


Hmmm? A story about my first crush.

Fantasy Crushes:

I remember watching one of the first Saturday Night at the Movies, How to Marry a Millionaire with Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. I was around eight years old, and I loved Marilyn. Then it was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Don't get me started on Raquel Welsh in 100 Rifles standing under a train water tank in a wet top. Other crushes include Diana Rigg, Farrah Fawcet, Morgan Fairchild, and many more.

Okay real down to earth girls and women I've been infatuated with. Starting in 7th grade. In band there was KG, she looked 21 at 13. Eye candy, but don't even think about it! Every senior in high school knew about her, not much hope for a prepubescent boy sitting across from her in the simi-circle playing clarinet. She was also one of the most stuck up and insufferable classmates I knew until we graduated high school, she was naturally prom queen.

I sat next to JS in band playing clarinet. She was friendly and for the first school sock hop I asked if she would go with me and she said yes. The day of the dance she passed me a note saying she wouldn't. I was crushed. The next year she moved away. Side not here. Years later wife is in hospital after delivering our son, I was with her and a nurse brings Edward for wife to feed, and JS is the nurse.

I sat next to VT in a number of classes in 8th grade. She was friendly and looked great in a mini skirt. I danced with her at school sock hops, but in 9th grade. I asked her to go to a dance hosted by DeMolay's, which I belonged to, she refused. She was staunchly Catholic, and I was rabid Baptist.

In high school there was RC, my lab partner in Chemistry, but she had a boyfriend.

SV was the most pleasant girl I've ever met. We had Latin class together and there was a mutual friendship. I was going with a girl from church, and SV was a year behind me, I also ran track with her brother. Senior year girlfriend was going to UNM, and she dumped me for college boys. I asked SV to our JROTC dining out on Kirkland Air Force Base. The only time we dated. She already had a date for prom, so I asked another girl I was friendly with for that dance. I still remember her fondly, what kept us apart was she was Mormon, and I was still a rabid Baptist.

In college there were a number of really great looking women. The one I and most of the men on a campus of only fifteen hundred students fell head over heels for was RB. Great face, fantastic body and friendly, not stuck up at all.

For a year I tried to get the courage to ask her out and chickened out every time. Sophomore year I got the courage, she said yes, and we went to a concert. I was scared stiff and couldn't think of a thing to say the whole date. It was the only time I was tongue tied on a date. Never had the courage again. 

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Friday Book Review: Art & Fear


Art & Fear is an eye-opening book. I didn't buy it. My church has a bookcase that people can leave books, and all are welcome to take one or more to read. This one caught my eye. It's a short book only 122 pages, but it is filled with good advice and explanations of what it is like to be an artist, and why so many who start on the journey drop out.

One interesting chapter was about teaching art, in high school or university even graduate school and becoming teachers and professors. He focuses here on art classes, but the same could be said for many teachers in all subjects. 

I've always aspired to be a writer. From Junior high on I wrote poetry and dabbled in short stories in times of depression and loneliness or boredom during summer break. I found writing to be frustrating because what was in my head had a hard time being put onto paper. My hand couldn't write as fast as my thoughts.

In college I continued but found it really frustrating to type on a manual typewriter or even an electric one. I knew though that I had stories in me, and I'd be a writer.

After college and the five years before getting my methods courses and student teaching out of the way I had time to start writing. I started a science fiction story and am still trying to whip it into shape for publication. When I started teaching, I found little energy for writing. Life did get in the way. Married with two children and trying to make a living.

Then the computer and word processing freed me of the tyranny of typewriters and liquid paper. I wrote my first novel, Vander's Magic Carpet on a 386 IBM computer without a hard drive on 51/4" floppy disks, over a summer and sent it off to an awards contest. Then my writing dried up.

I began writing Optimus: Praetorian Guard and it took me ten years as I could only write on it after two weeks of decompressing from school. 

Bayles & Orland their chapter The Academic World talk about how teaching art kills the teacher of being able to produce art. They never mention the C-word or creativity or the A-word adrenaline. This explains why settling for a paycheck in teaching erodes the teacher of devoting themselves to art.

Since I retired my adrenaline level is way down and I'm financially secure enough to devote hours per day to my writing and that's made all the difference. I never feared that I wasn't good enough I instinctively knew Bayles & Orland's first point. Art if for the artist. I write because the story is in me, and I have to get it out. If others like or appreciate what I've written that strokes my ego and makes me feel better, but I don't lose sleep if no one wants to read my books.

There is mention of censorship which is prevalent today with artwork being burned and books banned, but that's been the norm for all art.

One interesting fact they mentioned. Many civilizations have come and gone. Most took centuries before they developed writing, but all from day one had art. Even before there were civilizations there was cave art painting and clay sculptures. Art is always present.

I want to end with their summation:


To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn the only voice you need is the voice you already have. Artwork is ordinary work, but it takes courage to embrace that work, and wisdom to mediate the interplay of art & fear. Sometimes to see that the universe is not formless and dark throughout but awaits simple the revealing light of your own mind. Your art does not arrive miraculously from the darkness but is made uneventfully in the light.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

WC 050323: Small Talk


My views on small talk.

I'm not much of a person for small talk. For me it's the usual: "Hi, how are you doing?" With "Just fine." As the answer. Then "How are you doing?" to the other person and they answer the same.

Most of my social interactions are at church. What I mentioned above is what transpires before or after the service. We then go to the fellowship room for what is called Friendship Cafe. 

There is coffee and tea, people sign up in advance to bring snacks. We sit at round tables, nibble and chat.

We know each other and don't have to find out what job they had, it's more about what's going on in their lives right now.

I've had a nice conversation with an American of Japanese descent who is a veteran from WWII, we celebrated his 94th birthday recently. He had some interesting stories, none of them about the war.

A group of women are planning a social tea at the end of the month with the proceeds of $10.00 per person going to the Heifer Fund. A group that buys a family a cow in a third world country for them to help on their farm. There is much planning still.

We talk about how our last week went. Someone returned from vacation to find their plumbing was backed up and the cost of fixing it. 

Another person is going to Africa in a few months, he's an electrician and the group he's with is maintaining a water station so the people in the village don't have to walk miles to a river for water. Our church has taken up a collection to help him with this project.

I shared that my son is driving down to Tuscon, (he got back yesterday) to visit his son, my grandson, before he's going into the Marines.

My wife and daughter belong to the craft group that meets one afternoon a week, and they talk the latest projects they're working on.

To me "small talk" is about the inconsequential, we tend to talk in our group about what's important to each person. Sometimes the weather is important: "Damn, it's cold outside," or "My what a beautiful day."

Sometimes someone will tell a joke and others then tell theirs. It can become a competition.

Then some of us go into Bible study where we tend to share some deep secrets while trying to relate to the topic we're studying.

Outside of church, I don't come into contact with that many other people for small talk, the benefits or consequence of being retired, and not being able to golf anymore due to a bad back.


Monday, May 01, 2023

Monday Musings: Sales in UK


In 2011 I bought my first Kindle and started publishing on Amazon.  Amazon required a set amount and I set my price at .99. Then I went crazy writing short stories, took my first novel out of mothballs, updated it and it became my second published novel, originally written over twelve years earlier.

I bought the publishing rights from the vanity press and converted my first printed novel into e-book.

This was the early years of Kindle and e-books. What I wrote sold well for about three years. In that time, I earned $200.00 in royalties. At .39 per download fairly good. Then it dried up.

Publishers started converting better known author's books into e-format and no matter how many new novels I wrote only a few have sold since.

I had one short story that had 720 downloads, but Amazon put it out as free. Didn't get a dime, and only one review. It was shortly after this that they came out with Unlimited. 

 If someone downloads your work, you are paid per page read. I've received two dollars here or there from those royalties and it's disappointing how many people start to read the book and stop at ten or twenty pages and that's it. Hey, I try to write good hooks.

UK Amazon only paid in checks, and they wouldn't write one until it reached a hundred dollars. Around 2017 I received a check for twenty dollars, glad they realized it was unreasonable to expect small time writers to reach that standard. I also received a check from Amazon Australia for a buck ninety-eight.

The last few years I've started turning my e-books into paperbacks as the price of printing and buying them from Amazon has gone way down. I can set my own price and royalty. Also buy copies and sell them.

I compiled three of my short stories together into Three Medieval Battles: Crecy, Poitiers and Flodden.

Suddenly the last few months downloads and sales of this book have gone up. Mostly sales of e-books, but last month someone bought a paperback and on unlimited someone read the whole book. All in the UK.

I know this is a drop in the bucket to most authors, but I'm proud that an author from Albuquerque, New Mexico has in the last twelve years sold my words and wisdom not only in America, but in Australia, Canada, and the UK. It seems the UK likes my books the best. Most of that money from the check sent by them was for Vander's Magic Carpet.