Thursday, April 30, 2020

O Happy Day

It's another day in Pandemic Land, and I'm alive and kicking. I suppose that's not too shabby.

I always set the timer on the coffeemaker before I go to bed so that I can head straight for it as soon as I come downstairs. This morning, though, some errant grounds had apparently clogged up the works, and a bunch of my precious coffee spilled all over the countertop. I still had coffee, but that little incident should have warned me it was gonna be one of those days.

A while back, water began backing up in the downstairs toilet. My efforts to remedy the issue proved for naught, so I called my trusty plumber, who determined there was an obstruction in the sewer line that leads out to the road. Using a snake the size of the Anaconda in Anaconda, he cleaned out the line enough for it to be usable for a time. However, he indicated a boulder had somehow gotten lodged in there, created a helluva clog, and that, eventually, that section of line would need to be dug up and replaced. That job was set for today.

Unfortunately, here in Greensboro, we rarely get rain. We get torrents. Deluges. Floods. And last night, we got one. Front porch under water again. The stuff was still coming down this morning, but the plumber called and said they'd come on out as soon as the deluge moved to another town.

Well, I needed to do a small bit of laundry, and I figured I'd do it before the guys came out and dug a hole to China in my front yard. I got it done, all right. But then what do you suppose I found? Yep — due to the deluge, that sewer line had gone right ahead and backed up real good. So good that all the water in the washing machine had flooded the laundry room, the kitchen, the closet under the stairs, and a portion of the living room. Not only that, the downstairs bathtub was, quite literally, full of shit.

Why, yes, I did use every towel in the house, not to mention a lot of paper towels from my almost-depleted stock, to get stuff cleaned up, inasmuch as possible. There was nothing I could do about the shitty tub.

Eventually, the plumbers arrived, dug the hole to China, and commenced to working. Along the way, they discovered an underground electrical line, and — POW! — out goes my power. Fortunately, being kind of an emergency and all, Duke Energy guy popped right on over, and after a couple of hours, got my power restored. (Whew).

The plumbers finished the job right about 8:00 p.m. And it appears that water can once again depart my property unimpeded. In torrents, even. Things are mostly cleaned up, including the shitty bathtub, and I've even set up the coffee pot for tomorrow's early treat.

Ah. Another happy day in Pandemic Land.

So how was your day?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Alien Artillery

Yep, I put out a couple of new geocaches today in the Richardson Taylor Preserve, out there along the Bigfoot Trail (a.k.a. the Bill Craft Trail, for them what don't know any better, as I've mentioned on other occasions). Space for geocaches out there is just about used up, but I did find a few slivers of land that looked good for a couple of new hides. These, like most of mine, are themed (see images above). As with Threnody (GC8P8P4), which I placed a couple of weeks ago, the science-fiction/horror theme draws from a plethora of sources — my own fiction, movies, television series, books, short stories, etc.

So, I did fall out of a tree today. But only once, and I landed on my feet. Sure enough, one of the hides involves a pretty hairy tree climb. In this tree (that's the bloody bastard there to the left; if you enlarge the pic and look closely, you can actually see the cache), there's precious little to grab onto, and on my first attempt up, I managed to miss my only handhold. Fortunately, it wasn't a long way down, and the ground was soft from the recent rainfall. I hope prospective finders will be careful for their own sakes as well the cache's, since I don't want to have to truck out there to do maintenance because someone's reach (and grasp) fell short.

Anyhoo, the day proved beautiful for hiking, and since I was pretty far into the outback there, I barely saw a living soul today — only a couple of folks near the parking area when I was coming and going. That's my idea of a day in the woods anyhow.

Here's the write up for "Alien Artillery #2," the one in the tree. Try not to fall out of anything while you're reading.

Special Agents: Following the discovery of the nearby anomaly, code named THRENODY (Ref: GC8P8P4), an entirely new and unexpected situation has arisen. Possibly IN RESPONSE to that anomaly, an unknown party (likely the same one involved in prior incident report code named TRIPODS (Ref: GC690XE) appears to have launched and successfully made two precision strikes at coordinates very close to Anomaly THRENODY. We call the first of these ALIEN ARTILLERY #1: PROBE (GC8PVCC), the second one ALIEN ARTILLERY #2: TRANSMITTER BEACON.

On 4/14/20, Listening Post Beta detected a pair of projectile launches from the Planet Mars. LPB tracked the projectiles to their points of impact, which occurred on 4/26/20 — two sets of coordinates, both in close proximity to ANOMALY TH. (These are NOT thought to be warheads, but data-gathering pods; the purpose for data gathering is as yet unknown.)

This is case file ALIEN ARTILLERY #2: TRANSMITTER BEACON. Your task is to discover the exact location of the beacon and inscribe the requisite agent code on the mission log we believe you will find at the site (this will require you to detour some distance off the Bill Craft Trail). We predict our investigations will prove that we are on the brink of something — in the words of Special Agent Dale Cooper — “both wonderful and strange.” Please be aware that this particular case involves an element of danger. Depending on your height, agility, and overall physical ability, retrieving object at the site may require a partner or specific “tool of the trade.” You are certainly encouraged to avoid undertaking this task alone. If you are unable to retrieve and then return the object to its exact original state and location, please do not attempt its retrieval.

Good luck on your mission of discovery!
Federal Bureau of Investigation Project Director Gordon Cole
Here's a few shots of the woods in the area of the new hides. Very pretty out there now, it is. It's been a gorgeous spring, pandemics be damned.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

R.I.P. Joe Pulver — The True King of Carcosa

After a long, agonizing battle with myriad health issues, Joe Pulver has gone home. His wife, Katrin, was with him through every up and down, every hope and setback, of which there have been so many over the years. I used to semi-regularly hang out with Joe and editor/author Robert M. Price at the Price estate in Selma, NC, on the far side of Raleigh from here. We referred to those gatherings a new kind of Kalem Club, where Lovecraftian lore ruled the day. Our discussions of fiction, movies, philosophy, food, drink, and fun always went on until well into the wee hours. Since the Prices live a couple of hours from home, I'd always stay overnight so we wouldn't have to end our evenings too early.

Back then, I always slept in gym shorts, and on my first visit, I took a bright red pair with me. Joe loved to rib me about those, and whenever we made plans to gather, he always admonished me to "bring those bright red 'PUH-jamas'!" His wit and wisdom always kept us in stitches, and it's hard to believe the last of those was almost a full decade ago, just before he moved to Germany.

After Joe moved, I never saw him again in person, though several times in the past few years I have participated in Mike Davis's Lovecraft eZine videocasts, in which Joe was a regular panelist. During those episodes, the old-time banter came to life again, as if he were sitting just across the room from me, rather than across an ocean.

Joe's affection for Robert W. Chambers' King in Yellow was legendary. He paid tribute to the Yellow King in the stories he wrote and the anthologies he edited. His work has deservedly received much critical acclaim and, near as I can tell, he almost single-handedly brought about a new appreciation in the dark fiction field for Chambers' work. I had read Chambers years before I met Joe, but it was Joe's influence that prompted me to get into it all over again, this time with a whole new perspective and appreciation. His fondness for the Old King is certainly what prompted me to write what I consider one of my best short stories — "Masque of the Queen" — which appears in In the Court of the Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass and published by Celaeno Press.

By all indications, Joe and Katrin couldn't have made a more perfect match. Seems like it was right after Joe left the States that the two of them became one. I always enjoyed their posts on Facebook relating the ins and outs of their lives, and, once Joe's health issues became evident, it was Katrin that kept his huge online family apprised of his condition. His downward spiral wasn't consistent; so often it seemed he was going to bounce back, to resume life as the Joe we all knew and prayed to see again. Eventually, though, it became clear this was not going to happen. But he could not have been in better hands than with Katrin, whose efforts to safeguard his life and health were monumental. My heart sure goes out to her during this shattering time.

Joe is gone, but he left a personal and creative legacy that I believe will endure. You can find much of his work on here. If you have yet to sample any of his gut-wrenching tales of horror and surreal chills, I urge you to dive in. And you can still look at his blog here.

Goodnight, dear Joe. Perhaps, in some way, some day, that little Kalem Club of ours will happily reunite in Carcosa.
Photo by Lady Lovecraft

Friday, April 24, 2020

Night Crier at 34 Orchard

The first issue of 34 Orchard, a new, online literary magazine edited by Kristi Petersen Schoonover, has just gone live. It features my story, "Night Crier," which is what I call an autobiographical account of events that never happened. This one explores a concept I found particularly challenging to commit to a work of fiction, and I hope I rose to the task. Here's a snippet for you:

His mother’s dull gray eyes were focused inward, her smile wistful. After some long reflection, she looked up at him from her bed.

“I remember when you were little, you were always scared on Halloween. Do you remember that?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“It didn’t seem to be the trick-or-treaters or the decorations. It was something else. I never really understood it. Did you?”

“I can’t say I did. It was just a kid thing, I guess.”

“You always were a good son. You’re still a good son, and I thank you for all your care.”

“I try my best.”

“Tell me your name again.”

“It’s Bill, Mom.”

“I’m so sorry. I know I repeat myself.”

“It’s all right.”

“It’s frustrating not to remember.” She looked into the mirror atop the dresser at the far end of the bed, her face beaming, as if memories of every wonderful thing in her life had come rushing back. That would be too much to hope for. Mom was just a shell, a poorly drawn caricature of the loving, intelligent woman she had always been. Her disease was killing him.

“I’m so glad you’re here. It’s lonely when you’re not. Sometimes I’m afraid.”

“You don’t need to be afraid, Mom. When I’m not here, you have good nurses staying with you.”

“I don’t remember them.” She stared into the distance before looking back at him. “What was your name again?”


“Oh, yes. I remember when you were little, you were always scared on Halloween. It didn’t seem to be the trick-or-treaters or the decorations. It was something else. Do you remember that?”

“Yes, Mom. I remember.”


The first issue of 34 Orchard may be downloaded as a PDF here. You may read it for free, but please consider a donation of $1.99 (a Paypal link is available on the site).


Here's a little teaser of the tale, with a scary author doing the reading.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Idiocy on Parade

I've always said that stupidity should be painful, but now more than ever it can be deadly. The problem, of course, is that it's not just Stupid up yonder who might die (or suffer serious, long-term health complications, which are too frequently overlooked in COVID-19 coverage), but those who come in contact with Stupid. If you think the current unpleasantness is a hoax or that you've lost your freedom(!!!) or that people need to just suck it up and die for the sake of the economy, why don't you try dying. For most people, death tends to be a bit more than inconvenient, since it's forever. Sure, everyone is going to die. Some today, some unexpectedly, some in worse ways than being unable to take in a lungful of air. However, hastening it for yourself is one thing (would that Stupid go right ahead and do so); the problem is that it's not Stupid's right to make that decision for others. That is usually called murder (or manslaughter, or reckless endangerment, or any number of labels for egregious infringement of others' RIGHTS to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). There are penalties for such egregious behavior. Some of you forget that rights come with responsibilities. You might recall that one person's rights hit a brick wall when they infringe on the rights of others. I know some of you couldn't care less; it's more important that you're free to go to your church and gather in a group and holler to your deity to your heart's content—no matter that all that hollering might kill somebody—and proclaim how you're PRO-LIFE because you want to save the precious fetuses. Go back and think about what PRO-LIFE really means, why don't you.

If you think this unpleasantness is a hoax, go talk to my daughter or my friend Rob or any number of other folks on the front line, who are doing everything in the world to mitigate this bad business so you can go back to screaming your idiocy to the four winds with less chance of dying than you have today.

I just saw a couple of acquaintances post that they'd now lost loved ones to the virus. They don't really matter in the bigger picture, though, do they?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Altitude

Acting as Old Rob's "tool of the trade" to acquire the cache.
For him, there is no charge. This time.

WARNING: first-world problem rants are sometimes found here.

No, I haven't changed my attitude about puzzle caches. For me, they mostly suck (note the emphasis on "for me" here). A lot of people actually enjoy puzzle caches, and more power to them. But many—and around here, most—puzzle caches require a considerable amount of dedicated computer time to decipher cryptic passages. Me, I started geocaching to get away from the computer. I'm on the computer day in and day out, first at work, then with my writing. Not that this is a complaint; these are necessary things, which I do willingly. But I'm not willing to spend a shitload of time on the computer to get to the place where I can go out and do what geocaching is supposed to be all about, and that's GOING OUT GEOCACHING. If puzzle caches—which, in my view, make up too large a percentage of new caches in the area—had been my introduction to the activity, I would have simply said the heck with it and missed out on so many of the greatest adventures of my life. Thankfully, there are a few local cachers who do enjoy working the puzzles and are usually happy to offer nudges to set the rest of us geocaching fools on the right course to go out hunting. Sadly, the focus on a lot of the puzzle caches is the puzzle, and when you go out and find the actual cache, it turns out to be unremarkable.

Not so today. Now, as is often the case, I had spent no little time trying to decrypt the puzzle in question, only to fail miserably several times before saying the hell with it. On the upside, I was at least partly on the right track. For my efforts, I did manage to barter a bit and acquire the coordinates necessary to hunt the cache. So, this morning, I met friend Robgso (a.k.a. Old Bloody Rob) near the cache site that we might conquer this beast. The location is back in some woods behind a shopping center, and a pandemic is definitely a plus as far as moderating the population such areas. Naturally, as I had no inclination to catch any contagious crabbiness from him, I kept a considerable distance from him at all times. We had learned from prior finders that our quarry lay at an altitude above our heads, and since Rob is forbidden by marital law from ascending to such altitudes, I offered my services—free of charge, as always.

Sure enough, at GZ (ground zero), we came upon an interesting tree leaning over a stream. It appeared to be the only climbable specimen for some distance around, and even though we couldn't see the cache, we figured that had to be our target. So, I hauled myself on up the trunk a ways, peered into a gaping hole, and—joy of joys—found the cache. So, in this case, we found ourselves a very fun, memorable cache, not just a pain-in-the-ass puzzle.

The rest of the day, I worked hard on New Hampshire: Ghosts From the Skies and made danged fair progress. In the realer world, things are pretty tough, and they may get tougher. If they end up warranting a good blather, then blather I shall.

Till then.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


My newest geocache, placed in the Richardson Taylor Preserve near what I call The Bigfoot Trail (a.k.a. the Bill Craft Trail, for those who don't know better), is one that features a work of fiction on the cache's webpage. This one draws on lore I've included in several previous cache listings, incorporating elements from my own fiction; stories by Karl Edward Wagner, H.P. Lovecraft and others; movies such as Sinister and The Blair Witch Project; Twin Peaks, and more. The graphic above is one I put together to provide a bit of background to the cache story.

And here it is:

Recently, a digital dossier containing images and documents pertaining to certain occult phenomena in our local area came to the attention of the FBI. The dossier contained reproductions of materials dating back many decades, as well as a sound recording of an inexplicable event that reportedly occurred in the woods between Reedy Fork and Route 150 in the mid 1960s. This recording supposedly captured a supernatural "threnody," emitted from what appeared to be nothing more than an ancient, long-dead tree. Intensive research has determined that this tree was once used as part of an altar devised by an individual named Lillian Gadwick, a self-proclaimed witch (ref: The Curse of Lillian Gadwick & The Witch's Woods). Gadwick achieved notoriety in the late 18th century for abducting numerous individuals—children in particular—whom she offered as sacrifices in various black rituals.

The threnody in question is said to be a kind of code—a means of obtaining protection against the witch's restless spirit—actually produced by the spirits of the dead. Among the deities Gadwick worshipped was a Sumerian entity known as Bughuul (ref: SINISTER), sometimes called "The Eater of Souls." Some occult scholars are convinced that the threnody in question was produced by actual victims of Bughuul dating back many decades, if not centuries.

In order to protect themselves from Bughuul's hunger, ancient occultists signed their names on the Scroll of Moloch. The scroll itself was usually hidden near one of the Bughuul's "gateways" to this earth—in this case, a ancient tree possessed of preternatural power. The scroll could not be hidden at the gate, but had to be placed somewhere nearby. If you choose to investigate this case, be aware that danger is present. For your own welfare, you are encouraged to sign the scroll—if you can find it. Those who hid it took pains to keep it out of the reach of Bughuul and his minions.
To get the coordinates to the cache, one must listen to audio file that contains a "threnody" as well as a code provides the necessary information. The cache was published this morning and found not long afterward by friend Dave (a.k.a. Rhodorooter). Anyhoo, I do enjoy mixing geocaching and storytelling. My favorite things all in one basket.

And so. There it is.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Storms a-Comin'

We've had a very pleasant, cool, sunny spell for the past few days, although there are violent storms predicted for the next 24 hours or so. I rather hope we miss the worst of it, as I'm working at home and really can't afford a prolonged power outage. And in this area, any power outage is usually prolonged.

Anyhoo, it's been a beautiful Easter weekend. On Friday (Good), I headed on up to the old homestead in Martinsville, as I have quite regularly on the weekends.

Yesterday, just as I was preparing to head back to Greensboro, I received notification of a new geocache, courtesy of friend Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) on the newest leg of the Dick & Willie Trail, very close to my neighborhood. How fortuitous! So, I very quickly packed up to leave (a little too quickly, as it turned out) and headed to the trailhead at the Smith River Sports Complex. From there, it was most of a mile hike to the cache, which I managed to find quickly — and I snagged the coveted FTF (first-to-find) honors. (There are no actual honors; a cache is a cache is a cache. The FTF doesn't mean diddly except perhaps for the bragging rights.)

There were a good many people on the trail, but everyone did a good job spacing themselves out and moving away to maximize social distancing. I was just about back at the Rodan Mobile when I noticed the Big Blue fellow you see in the photo above. He was hanging around on the stone base of one of the floodlight posts. I believe it's a Giant Stonefly (family Nemouroidea), about two inches long. These are not uncommon in the area, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen one this blue before. Very striking!

Last night, Ms. B. and I enjoyed takeout dinner from Uptown Charlie's as well as a nice bottle of Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja. We finished watching the French series Marianne on Netflix, which is well-done and creepy as hell. One of my favorite horror properties of the recent past.

I mentioned upstream that I had left Martinsville too quickly yesterday. What happened was I headed back home leaving behind important computer accessories. Oy! So, this morning, I decided to drive back and set right my boo boo. However, happily, another new Natalie cache had just come out on the Dick & Willie. So, for me, that meant another FTF, bright and early. Once again, she asked if I'd be kind enough to check the coordinates on a couple of other unpublished caches out there, to which I enthusiastically agreed (mind you, I do not claim FTF on caches I find prior to publication, as this would not be sporting). I was also able to do some much-needed maintenance on a few of my own caches in that area. So, while it was kind of a pain in the tail to go back so soon, I had a most enjoyable time and got in plenty of exercise.

Now, it's back to working on New Hampshire: Ghosts of the Skies. Just to remind you, in case you've forgotten: Watch the skies! Keep watching the skies!
A beautiful Easter morning on the Dick & Willie
Lots of space for social distancing this morning.
Spoiling my fun, they are! Actually, it's not out of the question that I may be the reason
for the new signs and railings at the pipes....

Saturday, April 11, 2020

A Sad Day in April

Dad coached my City Recreation League basketball team, circa 1970.
My dad passed away on this day in 2001 — somehow, that was 19 years ago. I've written about him here extensively over the years. On today, I'm thinking of him a lot. It was nice that I spent most of last evening in his den at the old homestead, writing, watching movies, and listening to music. A peaceful, warm evening of remembrance.

April is a bad month for mortality. I've lost a lot of friends and loved ones, including a couple of cats, in April. Such a beautiful yet sad month.

A few links to older blogs about Dad, collected in one place:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Bigfeetz, Big Cachez, Big Bugz

Another day on the Bigfoot Trail, another geocache hidden by Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom) and Punkins19 (a.k.a. Linda). Sadly, this will probably be it for a while out there; Tom and Linda put out five, which have been released over the past few days, and now I've found them all. The day proved perfect for hiking — not as hot as all that, sunny, no rain, not a living soul on the trail. Unlike most of the others in this bunch, the cache itself was a big one, with plenty of room for swag. I knew there was some alternate parking for the trail, so today I opted for it, which cut off a little distance on the hike. On my outbound trip, however, I left the trail altogether and decided to bushwhack my way back to the Rodan Mobile.

It was cool. I found some very lovely scenery I'd not encountered out there, plus a great big wood beetle, who was wandering about on a fallen log — no doubt getting in some exercise of his own.

I've gotten so accustomed to visiting the Bigfoot Trail over the past week that I don't know what I'm going to do without new caches to hike after out yonder. Well, there is some available space out there in those woods. Perhaps I'll hide one of my own.

Maybe even two.
Found a buddy.
The Green Ravine
More Green Ravine

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Busted Teeth and Bigfoot Trailin' Days

Yessir, it was raining real water out there. Dumping, as a matter of fact. So I got wet on the trail
At least Bigfoot didn't get me.
But for the threat of ultimate doom hanging over our heads during the COVID-19 pandemic, this working at home/social distancing/minimum travel thing would be downright agreeable.

Apart from occasional trips for groceries, which we've mostly managed to get via the express pickup lanes, Ms. B. and I are keeping a lot of distance between us and the rest of the world. Well, except for today. Today, I had to make a trip to the dentist for a minor emergency: last night, just before bedtime, I busted a tooth. Took a bite of cereal, and — DAMN, that sumbitch was crunchy! Oh, wait. That's not cereal. That's half a freaking molar. Yep. So, first thing this morning, I hollered at my dentist; woke her up, even. Despite being a little grumpy at the disturbance, she was able to get me in at midday, round off the jagged corners, and fill the gaping gap with some composite material. The tooth will need a full crown, but we're hoping this patch will keep me in jawbreakers until such time as her office can re-open for crowning achievements.
Map of the Bigfoot (a.k.a. Bill Craft Trail)
at the Taylor-Richardson Preserve

Three days straight I've made it out to the Bigfoot Trail (a.k.a. the Bill Craft Trail) in the Taylor-Richardson Preserve just north of Greensboro. Happily, several new geocaches have come out there over the past few days, courtesy of friends Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom) and his wife Punkins19 (a.k.a. Linda). Our local reviewers have wisely spaced out these releases, timewise, so there won't be a mad rush for a slew of caches all at once. As it is, these newest are located in an area that is generally little-traveled. (It's entirely possible that Bigfoot may have thinned the herd.) On Sunday, I put in over eight miles on the trail; yesterday, about four miles; and today, about two miles. My feet have complained a little, but otherwise, it's been most invigorating.

Yesterday, after knocking off from work, I headed out to the northernmost trailhead, intent on hiking after the newest published cache. I had no sooner arrived when the bottom fell out, so for the next twenty minutes I sat in the car while the bright, clear blue sky dumped tons of water and rumbled with thunder. After a while, I said fuckity-fuggit, pulled out my umbrella, and set off down the trail. After another ten minutes or so, the rain stopped and the steam began. It is one winding trail, I can tell you. Anywhere along the way, if your GPS indicates your destination is a quarter mile away as the crow flies, you can count on hiking at least a mile. Anyhoo, I did snag another nice FTF (first-to-find) after getting a couple the day before.

I had just scrubbed up, signed the log, scrubbed the container, returned it to its hidey hole, and scrubbed my hands again when I heard a Bigfoot approaching. Oh no! But wait... That's not Bigfoot. It's just friend Night-Hawk (a.k.a. Tom). OH NO! Anyhoo, we commenced the social distancing, and some pleasant social distancing it was. Once back at the trailhead, the goats at nearby farm started hollering friendly greetings at us. One of the little guys was up on the roof of a small shed, and he made like he wanted to come visit with us, except he couldn't quite figure out how to get down.
Nice little goat taking the air near the trailhead
Today, another new cache, another trip out to the Bigfoot Trail. This time, as I much anticipated, friend Robgso (a.k.a. Old Rob), being retired and all, got out there midday to snag the FTF. No matter; a cache is a cache is a cache. This one resides near an overlook platform just above the marsh out there. Now, yesterday, Night-Hawk and I got the idea that one of the upcoming scheduled caches might just be hidden by that overlook. So, on our hike back to our respective socially distanced vehicles, we detoured to the overlook and gave it a pretty good once-over to see if we could find a container. Alas, we did not. Had we expanded our search area just a tad, we almost certainly would have found it in advance of its publication at But I claimed it today, and I quite relished the opportunity to get out in those woods again. There's at least one more cache out there, just waiting for publication, so I'll have soon another trip to look forward to.

And, this evening, it's back to working on New Hampshire: Ghosts From the Skies, on which I'm making slow but steady progress. I think this is going to be one fun little entry in the Ameri-Scares series.

Stay well, you.
The woods around the marsh. Bigfoot lives around here, doncha know.
A view of the marsh from the platform

Sunday, April 5, 2020

"Timber!" at Last

Lots of cars at all the local trails
Since getting out for exercise is one of the few legitimate reasons for going out and about under the current lockdown, the local trails are packed. Now, I frequent these trails, and I'm often out here when not another living soul is using them. I'm assuming that massive numbers of people now need alternative venues for exercise and hit the trails, rather than walk on neighborhood sidewalks and such. I had planned to come out after "Timber" (GC8NHY3; see "Quarantine Spring," April 3, 2020), which I had failed to locate last week, so about 11:00 this morning, I headed up to the Bigfoot Trail (a.k.a. the Bill Craft Trail) at the Taylor-Richardson Preserve just up the way.

About the time I got there, I received notifications on my phone that two new caches had been published — right there on the Bill Craft Trail! Thing is, the trail is almost 4 miles long, and both these new caches resided up yonder at the other end. I contemplated moving the car to the far trailhead, near Northern Guilford High School, but I decided against it and opted to put in the big hike. And... lord have mercy... did I ever hike.

I occasionally encountered folks on the trail, but in all cases, we kept considerable distance between us. After the first mile or so, I hardly saw a living soul out there. Rather than stop at "Timber," which lies at about the halfway point, I kept on trucking, figuring I might be able to get the first-to-find on one or both of the new caches ("Lake Rhodorooter" [GC8NRJF] and "The Outdoor Classroom" [GC8NRQW]), placed by friends Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom) and Punkins19 (a.k.a. Linda). Indeed, once I finally got way out yonder, I managed to make short work of both, and sign the coveted FTF slots on the logsheets. Now, needless to say, since we don't want to be leaving any microscopic nasties around, I scrubbed up both before and after handling the containers and logs, and, just for good measure, sanitized the exteriors of both containers. Those caches are now probably the cleanest things in Greensboro.

Even getting back to "Timber," it was a pretty long hike. I was kicking myself for not having processed the clues that had been evident in the puzzle solution on the online geocache page. Had the obvious smacked me in the head while I was out there on Thursday, I have no doubt I would have found the cache on my first outing. As it was, armed with the knowledge I should have acquired earlier, I made short work of this lovely little hide. The very well camouflaged container is one created by friend Robgso (a.k.a. Old Rob) and hidden by Ms. Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie). No matter, I greatly enjoyed both trips out to the woods, particularly since so much other time is now spent at home. I understand there's another handful of caches soon to be published on the Bigfoot Trail, and I'm sure looking forward to heading out there again.

I did find my first tick of the season, alas. The little bastard had just bitten me but hadn't really locked on. I hope he was the only one of his nasty little kind I might have brought home. Hateful little shits.

Y'all be safe.
This not horse area. You not horse here.
The woods were beautiful today.
Old feller successfully social distancing

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Interview at Stephen H. Provost's "The Open Book"

Author Stephen H. Provost regularly posts author interviews on his blog, "The Open Book." He had intended to interview a well-known, highly respected author of dark fiction, but his email went astray and came to me instead. So, there is now a nice interview with me talking about my Ameri-Scares novel, West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman. It was a fun one to do, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it. Check it out here.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Quarantine Spring

Today was the first day that really looked and felt like spring. It's gotta be the weirdest spring of my life, as it's the first and only spring in which I've had to live with a pandemic as a partner. So far, Ms. B. and I are doing fine, working from our respective homes (and I pray to god our jobs hold out, else life will be an unpretty thing), staying inside but for necessary errands and some serious exercise, of which geocaching has been a most welcome part. I've had to have some major work done to the old homestead in Martinsville, so I've spent quite a bit of time here these past few weeks. Right now, the season resembles spring as I remember it growing up — brilliant, comfortable, fragrant, peaceful. It's certainly different in that mingling with other human beings brings on a risk unlike any most of us have ever faced.

I was just reading a blog from some individual whose medical knowledge appears to be nominal, and whose callous attitude pisses me off, but there does seem to be some sense in the premise that, in order to ultimately overcome this particular Corona virus, a herd immunity must be established, and that can't happen while the world is in quarantine. In order for herd immunity to happen, more humans than not, especially those with stronger constitutions, essentially need to be the guinea pigs who are exposed to it, so that antibodies will develop to counter this specific threat. It sounds logical. Yet, I am far more inclined to listen to experts in the field — epidemiologists, medical personnel on the front lines, et. al. — and view the evidence, globally, as it presents itself. There's certainly no shortage of human beings being exposed to the virus. Look how well the unintended "experiment" worked in Italy, where massive numbers of people were exposed before the country undertook serious isolating measures. Herd immunity may happen in time (likely generations in the best-case scenario), but it strikes me as both foolish and callous to think it will happen naturally without casualties and economic damage far in excess of the current, recommended alternative measures of holding the beast at bay.

Anyway, I guess that's neither here nor there. I keep myself informed inasmuch as possible, but I am no expert in the field of epidemiology, and there's plenty of disagreement among experts as to the predicted trajectory of COVID-19. I'll take the wisdom imparted by those whose expertise in epidemiology comes from years of devoted study over some dilettante on the internet. I bring it up only because, on a strictly Darwinian level, the argument in question offers some validity.

Happily, the geocaching, while necessarily on the back-burner as of late, has at least offered a few nice opportunities for both rigorous exercise and serious seclusion in the woods. Our local geocache reviewers have wisely opted to not abandon publishing new caches altogether — at least as long as the activity is legally permitted. Rather, they are approving only geocaches that are demonstrably remote. No urban caches, none in areas likely to be overwhelmed by eager first-to-find hounds. I think that's a far more reasonable approach than shelving geocaching altogether. Woodland geocaching is far, far lower risk than going to the grocery store, or even taking a walk on streets where the human population is anything but sparse. Thus, I've made a handful of outings into the deep woods and am so much the better for it.
Just hanging around at the Bigfoot Trail

Yesterday, a new puzzle cache came out, over on the Bigfoot Trail, courtesy of friend Natalie, a.k.a. Ms. Fishdownthestair. Let it be known that Ms. FDTS has a mean streak, and while I managed to solve her puzzle with relative ease, the cache itself proved elusive. And when I say elusive, I mean I couldn't find the little fucker. In my zeal to get out to the woods, I did overlook certain info that surely would have helped me narrow down my search area. Alas! Anyway, while I was searching, friend Christopher (a.k.a. Ranger Fox) arrived on the scene. We conscientiously maintained far more than the required social distancing distance from each other, but after a couple of hours searching at and around the host — a massive, massive fallen tree — we ended up abandoning the hunt. At least I was able to get out there and actually hunt something, rather than spend ungodly amounts of time trying to solve a puzzle on my computer. I go caching to get away from the damned computer, and I can't say I don't resent it somewhat when the majority of caches coming out in the area are puzzles that require (sometimes extensive) computer time before you can get out on the trail to actually go geocaching. Fuck that noise, I say.

I see that friends Old Rob (a.k.a. Robgso), Tom (a.k.a. Skyhawk63), and Linda (a.k.a. Punkins19) managed to find that wretched little monster today, though not without considerable difficulty, as recorded in their online logs. I'll head back out there sometime this weekend, I reckon. Today, after work, I went after a couple of new caches at the Knight Brown Nature Preserve near Belews Lake. These weren't very difficult, though they did involve a decent hike on the winding trails through the preserve.

This evening, I enjoyed a superb burger from Third Bay restaurant, which is one of our favorite dining establishments in Martinsville. I was pleased to find they've remained open for carryout, and even more pleased that their business is absolutely booming during this period of wholesale business closures. I hope it remains so.

I do have quite a bit of writing and writing-related business to attend to, so... for now... I'm doing a bit better than hanging in there. Tomorrow's another day, but weathering this one, and the past few, hasn't strained anything. I take nothing for granted. I'm just taking what I can as I can. I'm actually less stressed out than usual over this past couple of weeks. I'm certain it's a result of not having to deal with so much human garbage on the highways on my ordinary commute to and from work. I like people a hell of a lot better when their paths don't cross mine so fucking often.

That said, I'm gonna keep on liking most of you. A whole lot. OK?
Mom's azaleas, which have grown along the front of the old homestead for almost all of my 60+ years
View from the front porch, toward the creek and the houses above on Sam Lions Trail
You find the weirdest shit growing in the woods sometimes.
Old Rodan in happy isolation at the Knight Brown Nature Preserve near Belews Lake