Sunday, January 31, 2016

Haw, Haw, the Laughing Dead

Jesus Rob
Mercy, it's been way too long since I went out on a lengthy, invigorating trail hike to hunt a bunch of geocaches — something that not so long ago was at least a weekly, sometimes daily event. One of the drawbacks of being an avid geocacher is caching out the nearby environs and having to travel farther and farther afield to find any appreciable concentrations of caches. Add to that our recent bout with severe winter weather and the fact I'm now having to manage virtually all of my mom's affairs in addition to my own, and the opportunities to get out there have been pretty slim. But thanks to a new extension of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Haw River in Alamance County, a balmy day, and a bunch of new caches courtesy of the nefarious "Yoda" Rob Lee, regular caching crony "Bloody" Rob Isenhour and I were able to put in
Can you undeerstand?
a good five to six miles in the woods and claim seven caches, with first-to-finds on three of them. Most stimulating for us, along the trail we came upon numerous crumbling, abandoned structures; discarded implements of death and destruction; and a few wrecked, rusting vehicles. We also witnessed a number of strange figures around (and in one case on) the river, some shambling silently through the shadows, others wailing and screeching in what might have been an alien tongue. By keeping a low profile, though, we passed more or less undetected through the woods, and thus lived to tell our tale.

The journey was not without some physical challenges of its own. While for the most part the trail is not terrain intensive, and none of the caches required any significant acrobatics to retrieve, several times we ventured into the surrounding environs to check out some of the more intriguing sights, and there is one stream crossing where no bridge, deep water, and a trail of submerged rocks make for an interesting experience. Neither Rob nor I fell in, but we each did our own version of a victory dance at the end, and neither were what I would call graceful.

I did discover what looks to be the perfect spot to place an evil, monstrous, dangerous, devious, heart-stopping, maybe kinda cool cache. This will require a return trip. Whether I can survive this endeavor remains to be seen. You'll no doubt hear about it one way or the other.
No survivors
One of the myriad structures near the trail we detoured to explore. We went with caution, for we figured
there might be Walkers nearby.
One of several implements of death and destruction we came upon. Hark! What's that sound?
Oh, lord, yes. There be Walkers here. Run! Run like hell!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Doodie Gloves

Another random tale from days of yore....

I was in third grade, at Druid Hills Elementary — I'm reckoning fall of 1967. One of my young friends, whom I suppose I ought not name, as he is still alive and kicking, came into class one day wearing a look of marvel on his face, as if the heavens had opened up and revealed all of God's deepest secrets. After a while, he dug in his pocket and pulled out a dime, which he showed me.

"I swallowed this dime last night," he said.


"It seemed like the thing to do at the time."

"But you're holding it."

"Yep." He beamed at me. "I got it back this morning."


"When my mom checked my doodie, it was in there."


"Yep. But it was okay, my mom just put on her doodie gloves and got the dime back for me."

"Doodie gloves?"

"You know, for checking your doodie in the morning."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"Doesn't your mom check your doodie every morning?"


"She doesn't have a pair of doodie gloves?"


He looked a little crestfallen. "I thought everyone's mom had doodie gloves."

"I don't think so."

"How does your mom know if you have a healthy diet?"

"Because she feeds me."


He offered me the dime, but I didn't take it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

When It Rains...

Any idea what you're looking at in the photo? No? It's a handy-dandy little improvised space heater, the idea of which I got from Brugger, who is something of a dilettante in matters of do-it-yourself and crafty things, last year when the power went out. You take a heat-conducting basin of sorts, a grill or other surface that allows air to pass through; a small candle, which rests on the grill; and a clay pot. Then you set them all up to create the contraption shown above. Right now, I'm sitting with this apparatus next to my chair in my office, and the heat radiating up through the hole in the base of the pot, while hardly considerable, is definitely noticeable.

As it is, here I sit, snow and iced in, my car broken, and my heat pump suddenly gone out. For the moment, at least, I still have electricity, but this is Greensboro, so I have no idea how long this fair fortune will continue. Don't know what happened to the heat pump, but it doesn't appear to be the circuit breaker or the fuses. Had a similar issue just a few months back, so I shall be taking it up with Central Carolina Heat and Air, whenever they can get someone out here. I know it won't be today, so I'm looking forward to at least one very cold night.

As yet there's maybe three inches of snow on the ground, with sleet falling, and possibly freezing rain yet to come. Perhaps with the above contraption nearby and a couple of cats to bundle up with, I'll avoid turning into an icicle.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wind, Wine, Bones, and Snow

Hey, those two are drinking wine again! That's what you just said, isn't it? Well, we did, for a bit. Ms. B. and I spent a couple of days in Martinsville taking care of so much business that had to be taken care of, but we did pause now and again for some stress relief. On Friday night, a nice dinner with Mum at The Third Bay, and on Saturday, a fine sushi lunch at Chopstix, a relatively new Asian place in the Ville. On the way back to Greensboro, we hit Autumn Creek Winery, near Mayodan, NC, which made for a pleasant afternoon, despite a constant chill breeze as we sat outside; and then I went after a fun geocache — "Tower of Power" (GC69D9J), in Oak Ridge — where I discovered a particularly wily cache guardian. Enjoyable little respites during what has been — and will be, as I have previously alluded — a long and trying time for my family.

Woke this morning to a bit of white stuff falling. Hasn't amounted to much, but in Greensboro, it only takes someone spitting on the road to knock out the power. We'll see how things hold out.
Dem bones, dem bones...
A little white stuff. So far, haven't lost power, but knowing Greensboro, it's almost inevitable.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blue Devil Beauty

What a nice package to receive from Crossroad Press — my contributor copies of the new paperback edition of Blue Devil Island. As expected, Crossroad did a bang-up job on the book overall, complete with M. Wayne Miller's dynamite cover art from the original Marietta Books release. Both inside and outside look awesome, and I hope the content does the package justice. Before sending the final draft to Crossroad, I did a pretty thorough re-edit on it, so the text is much cleaner, leaner, and meaner than the original. Blue Devil Island is a blend of World War II historical drama and vivid Lovecraftian terror, with a focus on authenticity beyond anything else I've written. I'll mention to you here that if, in the novel, it indicates there was rain in a specific location at 2:30 PM on November 2, 1943, it's because actual combat reports indicated rain at 2:30 PM on November 2, 1943. Make no mistake, the focus here is the story, but to me, the myriad actual historical details add to an atmosphere of realism that I hope — and think — will engage you from start to finish. It won't cost you much to find out for yourself. On, the Kindle edition is only $3.99 and the paperback is $15.99. Or you can order the paperback or other eBook edition directly from Crossroad Press — the former at a special discount of $11.04. You can't even get mellow on some wine for those prices.

Come on now... we're gonna make it mellow!

"I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a long time. I was right there on the edge of my chair during the flight missions, ducking and juking along with the pilots, and I was biting my nails as the more sinister elements of the island itself came into play. Adventure. Great humor. Undercurrents of unsettling suspense and wallops of terror. Blue Devil Island...had everything I wanted from it. And more."
 —Scott Falkner,  The Daily Cave Reviews...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Going Back to My... Roots

Actually, the blog title is the name — more or less — of a fun little geocache (GC695ET) I found this afternoon in Eden, NC. Quite enjoyable little hide, which I went after on my way back to Greensboro from Martinsville for the umpteenth time in the past few weeks. The caching is now more therapeutic than ever, and I've had several nice ones to claim this week. Their timing couldn't be better.

As I insinuated in my previous blog entry, it's been a surpassing strange and stressful couple of months, with more of the same yet to come. I'm having to go back and forth to Martinsville constantly to deal with legal, medical, and other personal issues, the already difficult situation compounded by a nervous breakdown on the part of an individual whom my mother has assisted in uncountable ways over the past 15 years but has, in the past few months, been forced to rely upon for assistance as her health has become more and more tenuous. It's a sad situation all around, one that behooves me to forgive but not forget. This little chapter of life is proving to be not one of but the most difficult I've ever had to face, with minor and major life changes coming on like express trains in rapid succession.

I tend to not go into too much detail during the storms because, really, such blogs are more for me than the casual reader; in their way, they're cathartic, and I find that as time passes they provide perspectives I might otherwise forget or fail to recognize. If you're one of my followers, I beg your indulgence. And for those friends of mine who have offered their support in various ways, I appreciate it more than you know.

Nobody ever said life was for the faint of heart.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ringing It In

The last few months of 2015 weren't bad, necessarily. I got to experience many good things — even wonderful things — over the holidays of the year's last quarter. Halloween proved more than enjoyable for Kimberly and me, downright sublime, even, with a couple of excellent days at the View Cabin at the Stonewall Bed & Breakfast in the mountains of Virginia. Our festivities included visits to Villa Appalaccia Winery and Chateau Morrisette. After a warm and relaxing Thanksgiving at the old homestead, Kimberly and I returned to both Villa Appalaccia and Chateau Morrisette, which proved even better than on our previous visit — and en route, we went after a geocache called "Trout Slayer" that took us to one of the most beautiful locations I have ever visited in the state of Virginia. My extra-long Christmas/New Year's vacation has been largely relaxing, with several much-needed days to myself, as well as gathering with friends and family. Kimberly and I enjoyed a fabulous, if overly expensive New Year's Eve dinner at The Golden Leaf Bistro in Danville. In their ways, these experiences could not have been better — or better timed.

Over all of this has hung the specter of a most loved one in prolonged distress. I won't go into detail here, not now; but I'm sure that any of you who have faced the severe decline of a parent or other family member can relate to what this feels like. It's the heaviest, most grievous burden I've ever had to bear. And it's less the immediate burden than the fact there's no true resolution on the horizon; just a long, slow, downward spiral leading inevitably to death, not to mention a whole new and very unwelcome uncertainty about the future. I've never felt such a sense of loss, even when my dad passed away in the early 2000s. Yes, the stress is taking a terrible toll on my sleep, on my health in general. I'm tired.

Of course, I will press on, and at some unknown time in the future, new life changes will replace those of the present. Some for the better, others not so much. This is just part of that journey we all undertake — a particularly rough stretch of rapids in the river, the terminus of which remains unknown, thankfully offering a few small pools of tranquility amid the rocky shoals.

Amid it all, good things have been happening on the writing front (and on that note, there's only a couple of days left to pick up Gods of Moab for your Kindle for only 99¢); I have geocaches to hide and seek; activities to pursue with my favoritest, loveliest lady; the world's best friends; a day job where my work and personal presence are valued. What was that blog I wrote the other day? Oh, yeah: That Which Doesn't Kill You....

I may need a lot of those burgers coming up.
Sunset on Christmas Day, 2015, viewed from the place I have always loved most.