Friday, September 24, 2021

Step Up to Dutch Masters and Smile, Brother, Smile

When I was a young’un, my dad smoked cigarettes for a time, but never once do I remember him smoking a cigar. Regardless, Dutch Masters cigar boxes were apparently the preferred household storage container. The one in the photo above is one of the few surviving examples. Circa 1974, it served as the bank vault for Japanese Giants, the daikaiju-themed fanzine of my creation (notice the “Mag Money” label scrawled at the top of the front panel). Later, as you may note from the sticker on the lid, my brother appropriated the box for his own use, probably nefarious (thankfully, after I had cleaned out the vault). Once I re-appropriated it, the box became a repository for letters from other daikaiju film fans, as well as selected love notes I wrote to prospective girlfriends (which were promptly returned either unanswered or with accompanying notes of refusal, in varying degrees of politeness). It is these latter items, which I have saved as souvenirs, that currently occupy the box.

Anyway, this particular musing stems from the somewhat belated revelation that, for all the cigar boxes in the house, my dad didn’t smoke cigars. Or did he? I know a number of his friends did, though it seems unlikely he would have acquired their empties for whatever reason. Now, Dad did have a massive postage stamp collection, and he even ran his own philatelic business through the 1970s into the 1980s. At one time, I recall there being dozens of cigar boxes full of stamps of every nationality and denomination stacked in every available household space. Perhaps it was a stamp collecting thing. Cigar boxes for stamps. Maybe there was a corresponding market for empty cigar boxes back when. Hell if I know, but if I’m going to lose sleep, which seems to be an inevitability these days, it’s a far better to lose it dwelling on this shit than, for example, the anti-vax idiocy I encountered earlier today, which nearly sent me over the edge.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this little jewel.

Sunday, September 19, 2021


In the couple of weeks since Ms. and I returned from Michigan, the world seems to be getting heavier and spinning faster — at least for the short term. Several writing and publishing projects, which I’ll mention only in passing, have presented themselves to me, and while they’re too good to pass up, they also require a significant amount of work on my part; time for such niceties has not been in plentiful supply, nor do I see a wealth of it in the near future. Still, I’m hard into one of the projects and am cobbling together the details for the others. I also have an Ameri-Scares novel — Georgia: The Haunting of Tate’s Mill — to get back to... eventually. On top of all that, Ms. B. and I are both selling properties, which have required significant time and attention. My mom’s estate business, by rights, should be winding down about now, but complications involving bureaucratic bullshit are preventing this happening. At least I did manage to close the door on one detail that’s been waiting in the wings since the beginning of the estate mess (at least, I think — and hope — that door is closed). While working at Brugger’s a couple of weeks back, I managed to wrench or otherwise traumatize my neck and/or spine, which I can only hope proves to be nothing serious. There’s a little improvement there, but not as much as it seems there should be by now.

A lovely cache guardian at "Chapel Hill
History Lesson"
I have, at least, managed to fit in some geocaching, a handful of nice outings with Brugger, and a couple of relaxing gatherings with friends. Last weekend, the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars — Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob), and this old dude — hit Cary for a lovely day of hiking and caching, culminating in a beastly good bison feast at Ted’s Montana Grill in Durham. Yesterday, Ms. B. and I rode over to Chapel Hill, aiming to do a little shopping, wining, and caching. We managed to do all three, though — thanks to the football game that locked up every bit of parking in town — we couldn’t manage everything we had hoped. Still, we procured an excellent lunch at The Spotted Dog in Carrboro, which has long been one of our favorite dining destinations. Today, the usual suspects, plus Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) made a short but happy day of caching at the Rich Fork Nature Preserve in High Point, which included first-to-find honors on a new cache, which required some effort, in that the published coordinates were a couple of hundred feet off.

Brugger and I have already worked in a few fright films to kick off the Halloween season, which we’re starting marginally early, since much of the month of October will be devoted to other necessary activities. So far, we’ve put on Indigenous (a so-so shocker from 2014), The Thing (2011), John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Night (Curse) of the Demon, Casting the Runes (an entertaining BBC production from 1979), The Ninth Gate, Black Mountain Side, and probably another flick or two I’m not remembering off the top of my head. Fun stuff, naturally. We have a few other must-watch movies on the docket.

And just as an aside here, if you haven’t gotten yourself vaccinated against COVID-19, for the love of Yog, do it. If you don’t plan to, unless you’ve got some kind of mitigating condition or circumstances, you and your ilk are causing more havoc for our healthcare system than is sustainable, and I personally know quite a few healthcare professionals that have absolutely had it with you. I am not a healthcare professional, but I can tell you, I’ve had it with you too.

And that, as they say, is that.
A dapper Ms. B. on the Bolin Creek Trail in Chapel Hill
The old homestead at the Rich Fork Nature Preserve in High Point
Natalie and Old Rob look on as Scott tries to stop the brain from leaking out. Not sure it worked, Scott.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Whinin' and Cachin' in Midland

It was the first plane ride for Ms. B. and me since before the pandemic began. We were a couple of early birds on Thursday, September 2 — our flight took off at 5:10 a.m., so we were up and at it by 3:30 a.m. Fortunately, from start to finish, everyone around us was masked up, as required, and of course, Ms. B. and I had our COVID-19 shots a few months back (as did her parents). We headed from Greensboro to Flint via Charlotte, on full flights, both of which were on time, smooth, and trouble-free.

We arrived in Midland, MI, early in the afternoon, had some lunch, drank coffee, and spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging with the parents. Rather than go out geocaching, I stayed in and worked hard to complete a short story for an upcoming anthology. Mission accomplished! I feel like the story did everything it set out to do, and I hope the editor will feel the same. Of course, I will post any news on that front whenever there is any news on that front to post. Despite having gotten up well before the ass-crack of dawn, we both stayed up to the wee hours watching cooking shows on the Food Network, which has become long-standing tradition whenever we're in Midland.

Friday turned out to be quite a productive day, geocaching-wise. I got up early and, as has been my custom on the past several visits here, set out on the bicycle for big ol' caching run. I found a fair bunch, couldn't find a couple of others, and put in seven or eight miles of pedaling.
Do you see the cache? It's right there, in the picture....

Drank coffee.

After lunch, the lot of us hit the road, headed for Clare, about 30 miles from Midland, so that Ms. B. and her folks could explore an antique shop or two. Naturally, while they did this, I wandered off to hunt caches. I discovered Clare's very large, very old graveyard, which was quite lovely — one of those graveyards so picturesque they surely take some of the sting out of being buried. We had intended to stop at the famous Cops 'n' Doughnuts doughnut shop, but it — like most of the rest of the little town — was overrun with specimens of the human species, a huge number of which were stopping through on their journeys north to the annual Labor Day walk across the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. So we opted to forgo doughnuts (though I did get to snag a cache there). Once our business was concluded in Clare, we moved a few miles back eastward to Sanford, a tiny little town that damn near came to an end a year or so ago. An incredible amount of rainfall swelled the Titabawasee River to unprecedented proportions, which resulted in the destruction of two dams and massive flooding in and around Sanford. When we visited here last September, we went to Sanford to view the damage (see "Midland with a Twist," September 18, 2020). Since then, most of the town has been as restored as restored can be, but the river and Sanford Lake are just plain gone, with only marsh and destroyed property remaining in their places. The folks found a decent antique mall north of town, while I again set out on an enjoyable cache run.

After a nice dinner with the folks, Ms. B. and I made the pilgrimage to Whine!, which is pretty much our regular Midland wine bar — though, rather than wine, I decided to give their gin martini a try. I found it pleasing. And, as per usual, upon our return we sat up late with the folks watching cooking shows. I always wonder why I feel so hungry when I'm here.
A view of the old cemetery in Clare
Alleyway art behind Cops 'n' Doughnuts in Clare
Another lengthy bike ride was on Saturday's morning menu, which netted only a small number of caches but quite a few miles of pedaling. Ms. B. and I had a craving for burgers, so we decided to try a particular establishment of some renown in the downtown district. It turned out to be closed due to liquor violations (serving the intoxicated, according to their sign). We decided to try another one nearby, and that one was closing the kitchen at 1:00 p.m. for the Labor Day weekend (we arrived at 1:01 p.m.). Sigh. So, onward, and we finally ended up at Big E's Sports Grill, which reputedly offers some of Midland's best burgers. Now, the Screamin' Demon burger probably wasn't the "best" of Midland's burger offerings, but it was decent, and I quite liked the fries. I also discovered a locally brewed Hefeweizen that was nothing to sneeze at.

Big-ass weeping willow, little Ms. B.

Drank coffee.

For dinner, Kimberly and I constructed shrimp tacos, which everyone enjoyed. And then it was a quiet, homebody-type evening in front of the TV.

Another relatively early-morning bike ride got Sunday started for the old geocacher. This one turned out to be another long ride with few cache finds, but I did get to spend some quality time on the hunt. One — at a picnic shelter at Optimist Park — was rated high on the difficulty scale, and I never did find the damned thing after almost an hour of searching. I'm sure that little fucker is there; it's just a really tough hide. I got in a bit of trail riding at nearby Stratford Woods Park, and at least there, I did find the cache. Drank coffee.

After this, Ms. B. and I headed downtown, where we completed an Adventure Lab cache that led us to several noteworthy locations along Main Street. That was fun, and I also picked up an additional cache along the way. During the afternoon, she and her folks went out to hunt more antiques, while I stayed home to rest and recuperate after all the rigorous pedaling. And I got a bunch of this blog written.

Drank more coffee.

Come dinnertime, we decided to hit a couple of different downtown destinations to split up the courses. We began at CafĂ© Zinc — out on the lovely terrace — with a dirty gin martini for the old dude (which would have been exemplary but for the non-regulation martini glass, which sits poorly with certain of us drink snobs), a not-at-all-oaky Chardonnay for the lady (feh), and a shrimp cocktail to share (bravissimo). We followed this by trucking ourselves a couple of doors down to Gratzi, which we had visited once before, a couple of years back. On that experience, the food left more than a little to be desired, though the drinks were perfection and the service exemplary. This time, I ordered the veal Bolognese, and Kimberly went with meatballs with marinara sauce. Hers was delicious, mine was good, though not exceptional. As before, the service couldn't have been better and the atmosphere there is top-notch. For these, we'll give the place a solid thumbs-up.
View of the hidden trail that leads toward Stratford Woods Park
Heading for the cache in Stratford Woods
Ms. B. in front of "Santa's House" in downtown Midland
And MondayLabor Day — began in customary fashion: one of Fern's fabulous breakfasts (this morning, pancakes and bacon), loads of coffee, and then out on the bicycle for the last long geocaching ride of this Midland trip. I again got in seven or eight miles and snagged another eight caches, mostly none too challenging. I gave the picnic shelter at Optimist Park another intensive search, and still didn't find that confounded cache. Since it was taking so much time and effort, I finally broke down and requested some intel from a previous finder, who led me to believe that the cache is, in fact, missing. I won't know for sure this trip, but maybe I'll get another shot at it on a future visit.

And that was our long Labor Day weekend Midland trip. Mostly relaxing, with fun caching, bike riding, dining, drinking, and wonderful family time. Drank coffee. The weather was absolutely perfect this time around; I sort of suspect that, on our next trip, it may be cold. Damned cold. Michigan cold.

Till then.
Big bug or little cache?

Friday, August 27, 2021

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Yes, that tunnel you see right there. That was the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars' primary target on last Sunday's geocaching outing because, yes, there is a geocache in there. The team had a pretty full complement — Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie), NCBiscuit (a.k.a. Linda, but just for this one cache), Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob), and this old dude. As far as tunnels go, it wasn't a particularly lengthy one, but it did present a physical challenge or two to conquer before one could access the cache. And there was, quite literally, a light at the end. Scott turned out to be our wade-the-waist-deep-pool-and-scale-the-ladder-to-grab-the-cache man, and he did admirably — until he dropped the cache in the above referenced pool, which required him to come back down, retrieve the cache, and climb back up. I'm sure it was all as much fun for him as it looked, and we each earned a smiley in the deal.
Diefenbaker signing the logsheet, moments
before he dropped it into the water below

After we emerged from the not-so-daunting darkness, Ms. NCBiscuit left us for different pastures, and the rest of us meandered Chapel Hill way, where we grabbed a quite a few more caches, most of them of high quality. A fine day of it overall, akin to the days of old, when the full gang could spend the better portion of the day hunting all varieties of caches, fit in all kinds of decent exercise, and lay waste to a passel of decent vittles. This time around, we found a fine feast at Casa Maria Latino Restaurant on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. We've been there numerous times, and it's always quite good, though for whatever reason, they weren't serving alcohol — a bummer because some of us had been craving margaritas. Don't know whether they lost their ABC license or what, but I hope it's not a permanent situation. More often than not around here, a restaurant loses is liquor license, and the next thing you know, the restaurant has ceased to exist.

On last Friday, after an early workday, I met friend Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom) over in Pilot Mountain to hunt a newish Adventure Lab. It was enjoyable enough, and we completed it readily. I snagged a few additional hides afterward on my way to the old homestead in Martinsville. I hadn't been into Pilot Mountain in ages, and I did discover that, like Eden, NC, they also have their very own Bigfoot. It's a very flat Bigfoot — a piece of sheet metal on the side of a building in the middle of town — but I always do get a kick out of seeing him around as much as I do. To think so many people live their lifetimes never seeing Bigfoot and consequently not believing in him. Well, I've seen, and I believe.
Mount Pilot's very own Bigfoot

Apart from the geocaching, I've done precious little these past couple of weeks other than work like the dickens on a story for a new anthology. Due to so much happening on the homefront, I had missed the official deadline, but I still had a small window to get the story in. I trust it will please the editor. I found it, in the end, a most gratifying tale to write.

And I'll be back hard at the writing in the coming days, for I need to get back on the Georgia book for the Ameri-Scares series. I had started into it a while back but had to put it aside for a time while the wedding, the home renovation, estate business, and the regular day job ate up every hour of every day. I like to keep busy, but I really hope things don't build up to that beyond-intense pace for a long, long time... if ever.

Today, of all things, I did something I've not done in over a decade: I went out and played golf. Friend Terry invited me to go along, and I decided to do it. Years and years ago, I was quite the avid golfer, but these past few decades, it really hasn't been in my repertoire. Today, I scored about as well as one might expect after ten-plus years away from it. But I managed to nail a few beautiful shots, and I really did have a great time. I don't know that I'm going to become a habitual offender again on the golf course, but then... stranger things have happened.

And that's all for now, so sayonara and peace.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Fright Train Is in the House

I received my contributor copy (trade paperback) of Fright Train yesterday, and damn, what a gorgeous book! This one features my new short story, “Country of the Snake.”

The Switch House Gang consists of editors Charles Rutledge, Scott Goudsward, John McIlveen, and Tony Tremblay. Haverhill House is the publisher.

“Out in the darkness a mournful whistle howls, the ground shakes, and steam hisses as the Fright Train pulls into the station. From the Victorian Age to contemporary times, fear rides the rails in these tails set on and around trains of all kinds. Climb aboard and let 13 of today’s best and two classic horror writers take you on night journeys to destinations unknown.”

Fright Train features stories by: Amanda DeWees, Christopher Golden, Scott T. Goudsward, Bracken MacLeod, Elizabeth Massie, James A. Moore, Lee Murray, Errick NunnallyCharles R. Rutledge, Stephen Mark RaineyJeff Strand, Tony Tremblay, Mercedes M. Yardley, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; cover art by Makio Murakami

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Alas, Poor Yorick!

I spent last night at the old homeplace in Martinsville, working like the devil on a new short story that is past its deadline. I made good progress. But as I had managed to fit in very little strenuous exercise last week, the craving to hike after a geocache had settled heavily upon me. The complication here is that, over the past thirteen years, I have found almost every cache for fifty to a hundred miles in every direction. Still, I thought maybe I could figure out some place to go this morning not too far from Martinsville.

Well, I checked the map and saw a few in the Rocky Mount area, about thirty miles north of Martinsville, one of them in Waid Park, where I have hiked and cached several times in the past. This one, called “Alas, Poor Yorick,” has been live for a few months, resides a good ways out in the woods, and no rain was predicted for the morning. Temperatures are in the high 90s this weekend, but, regardless, I set my sights on Yorick for a relatively early solo outing. I figured while I was out there, I could make a little side trip to visit the Ferrum College campus, my old alma mater.

When I left Martinsville, the thermometer read 83℉, and the humidity hadn’t yet reach its oppressive heights. I ended up taking a back road I don’t believe I have ever traveled before, which turned out pretty cool. I always enjoy exploring unfamiliar backroads. Anyway, when I reached the park, the temperature had hit 90℉, and the air was just turning to soup. I set out on the trail, which, since it was mostly shady, proved not too uncomfortable. But the hike was lovely—not too long, not too short, and in places a bit rugged. I found the cache readily, and this made for a most gratifying morning, I can tell you.

Sure enough, afterward, I drove over to Ferrum, about five miles west of the park on Hwy 40. I cruised around a few of my old haunts, which I enjoy doing every now and again. I must say, the campus is considerably more attractive and well-maintained than it was then—not that it was ever not picturesque. I did happen by the site of my first alcohol-related disaster, which is the reason I don’t drink white wine (see “Why I Don’t Drink White Wine”). Actually, I do drink white wine on rare occasion, but it’s not my favorite. Oftentimes, far from it.

Anyhoo, I got in a lot of writing, got in a bit of caching, and there must yet be more writing. So much time, so little to do....

Wait, reverse that.

Now, who do you suppose that is watching me from over yonder?
Why, it's Yorick! As Yorick is not looking so well, I figured I'd help keep him from spreading
so much death around.
A view of the Pigg River from the trail. I spent a lot of time at the Pigg River in my Ferrum Days,
mostly engaged in unfamily-friendly activities, about which I shall say no more.
Old fellow on the trail. Almost as old as Yorick.
Ah, memories. It was on that very landing, on a frigid cold night in 1977, that I lost the contents of my almost
virgin stomach after chugging massive quantities of white wine. I blew the first salvo on Dr. Ward's dining table,
which would have resided somewhere behind that door there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

A portion of the new look at Casa de Rodan
The house is still a mess, to be sure, but it is slowly and surely coming together. Brugger has moved most of her stuff in, we've junked more stuff than either of us realized we possessed, and life in general is topsy-turvier than it has ever been. Today, I had to serve on a jury — the first time ever, though I've been called numerous times over a lot of years. It was tedious and exhausting, but we acquitted the dude, and it felt like justice was done. Writing deadlines loom, as do estate accounting deadlines, the day job keeps me hopping, the weekends are busy, and I have no idea whether I'm coming or going. It's all for a good end, to be sure. The light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter slowly.
Kitchen backsplash being installed. Almost done.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Attack of the KC88

Old fart in a jon boat. Photo by Linda Enders Roberts
Earlier in the week, the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars had plotted a geocaching outing for today — a challenging tunnel cache in the Raleigh-Durham area. For various reasons, that plan fell through. However, fortuitously, friend NCBiscuit (a.k.a. Linda) gave a shout and asked if any of us would care to go join a little group going kayaking after a bunch of new caches on Lake Holt, over near Butner. Friend Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott) and I, being the only two available from our initial gangsome, decided a day on the water might be just the ticket. So, off we went.

Partway there, I received a message from Linda that kayaks at Lake Holt had gone scarce, and I might better call to see if I could reserve one. As it turned out, all the kayaks were accounted for. My only option was a motorized jon boat, so I decided to go for it.

When we arrived at the lake, both Scott and I were quite surprised by the magnitude of the caching group that had gathered — a total of twenty folks, I believe it was. Mostly, it was friends and familiar faces. I made a handful of new caching acquaintances, which is always fun.

Someone suggested the team name KC88 — for Kayak Crew, August 8 — and it stuck. The jon boat, with its little trawling motor, could barely keep up with the fastest kayakers, but while our numbers spread far and wide over the lake, no one got left behind.

Well, not entirely, anyway.

By the time we had conquered 16 or so of the caches, the jon boat's battery decided it had had quite enough of this functioning business. Little by little, it began to wind down, until...finally...I was moving so slowly that kayakers were circling me at high speed, trying to whip up a current sufficient to keep me going.

Somehow, the boat made it all the way to the end, for a total of 21 caches — ten of which the team claimed first-to-find honors, since the cache listings had been published only yesterday. Fortunately for us, no one had yet gone after those on the west side of the lake.

Anyway, Scott and I finally hit the road for the return trip to the Triad — hot, exhausted, and a little sunburnt. Maybe the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars’ next outing, though, will be that challenging cache in the cool darkness of the underground. That's a whole different kind of cool.
Heading out on Lake Holt
Friend Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom) claims his 17,000th geocache find on the lake.
I wonder whether friend Tom goes geocaching a lot.
Friend Colleen84 (a.k.a. Colleen) whizzes past poor schmucks in jon boats
Friends CJZimmie (a.k.a. Cheryl) and Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott) about to get lost
in the tall grass surrounding one of the lake’s islands
About half of Team KC88

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Ameri-Scares New Hampshire: Ghosts From the Skies!


From Crossroad Press — my latest entry in Elizabeth Massie’s Ameri-Scares series for young readers: New Hampshire: Ghosts from the Skies!

Late one night, a brilliant, blood-colored light wakes thirteen-year-old Heath Sutton from a comfortable sleep. Outside his window, he sees a huge, brightly lit object hovering over the nearby woods. The saucer-shaped craft lowers something into the trees and then, in an instant, vanishes without a trace. To his shock, Heath realizes that he has seen a UFO — an actual flying saucer!

The next day, Heath and his friend Patrick venture into the woods, hoping to discover whether the UFO left behind any evidence of its existence. What they find is a shining metal rod jutting from a tree stump, as if it has somehow grown there. Suddenly, the rod emits an unearthly musical sound, which causes the boys to feel dizzy and disoriented. In terror, they rush out of the woods. Heath recovers quickly, but Patrick seems different — more like a cold, menacing stranger than Heath's best friend.

Now fearful, Heath visits his grandfather, who claims to have once seen a flying saucer himself — a saucer that carried his younger brother away into the skies. As his grandfather relates his disturbing story, Heath believes he sees a shadowy figure lurking outside his grandfather's house. And when he returns home, he receives the greatest shock of all: something weird — something not human — is waiting for him inside!

Order New Hampshire: Ghosts from the Skies from here.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Lake Mike Hike

It has been too long since the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars all got together for a geocaching outing. Today, at last, the usual suspects — Ms. Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie), Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob) and I — headed over Mebane way to Lake Michael, where a couple of relatively new caches awaited our attention. The temperature wasn't as awful as it often is this time of year, though we still had plenty of heat and humidity to go around. We found our two target caches, failed to find a lonely puzzle cache (the last find was in 2014, so it's probably missing), successfully completed a very nice multi-cache at a very old graveyard, happened upon what might have been some kind of Lovecraftian monstrosity lurking along the trail, and knocked out a newish hide in Burlington on the way home. For lunch, we opted for our customary Mexican fare, this time at La Fiesta in Mebane. Pretty danged good, it was.

Seemed like old times, it did. Next week, we're hoping to target a fairly new tunnel cache in Hillsborough. Been a long while for one of those, as well.

A few shots of today's sights follow.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Summer Hours

The camera lens rarely conveys the scale of the interesting things that often appear in the sky. The other day, on the way home from Ms. B.'s house, this lone, very tall cloud came drifting into view. You'd never know it from the pic, but it appeared massive, its vertical contours distinctive against the horizontal bands of clouds behind it. It struck both Ms. B. and I as worthy of a photo, at least.

If last week was a heavy-moving fest, this week was attempting to put things to right inside Casa de Rodan (oh yeah, it's still gonna be Casa de Rodan even if Brugger and her attendant felines are now permanent residents). If anything, it seems as though the more we work and organize, the more the house succumbs to disorder. I know this is kind of the way of things, but two full households merging into one poses unique challenges — as opposed to young newlyweds building things up for the first time, or divorcees arranging new domiciles in place of the old. I'm sure things will eventually come together, but right now, the only word to describe home is Chaos, with a capital C.

Now that the one-year anniversary of Mum's passing has past, I am having to begin the accounting phase of the estate, which poses unique challenges for a soul whose experience with accounting has never been harmonious.

A nice upside is that the office has reverted to Summer Hours, meaning that on Fridays, we only have to work half days, without making up any time. Love that!

And at Pleasant Hill in Martinsville — it's tree-clobberin' time. One of the old cedar trees that had been next to the back stairway since I was a kid had begun leaning damn near to the point of collapse, so I had to have it taken down. Hated that, since it offered so much nice shade, but if it had fallen, the damage might have been severe. Kinda sad, though.

Anyhoo, till next time around.... toodles.

All that remains of once-towering cedar

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Merged, Wiped, and Weary

With the majority of the renovations at Casa de Rodan more or less completed, Ms. B. and I officially merged households this weekend. For days, we have been hauling her belongings over with a truck borrowed from our friends Terry & Beth, steadily filling the house damn near to its bursting point. Yesterday was the toughest day, with multiple trips to pack up and bring over her heaviest items of furniture. At the end of it all, the four of us rewarded ourselves with wine and yummies from Yummy Hibachi delivered by Doordash.

I had gone up to Martinsville on Friday to store a bunch of stuff for which there is no space here and to consult with a tree specialist about a big-ass tree that is perilously close to falling on Pleasant Hill. That done, I had a mostly mellow evening. Before I retired for the night, the late-rising full moon treated me to something of a spectacle. I don't believe I've ever seen a moon so big, bright, and vivid, surrounded by clouds that glowed red, pink, and purple. I took a good many photos from the front yard, but as is generally the case, my phone camera was up to capturing only the vaguest suggestion of the brilliant display.

Today, I took a brief respite from the rigors and went geocaching in Apex with friend Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob). We got in about three miles of hiking and snagged ten or so caches. It got pretty hot out on the trail, but it wasn't as bad as the past few days — nor as bad as the coming week's heat wave promises to be. Anyhoo, tomorrow, it's back to work as usual and the long process of unpacking, consolidating, and discarding. And dealing with accounting for Mom's estate.

I is tired. Here's a few shots from Apex Lake.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Martinsville Oktoberfest, October 2, 2021

I have reserved a space at the Martinsville Oktoberfest, coming up on October 2. I'll be bringing plenty of copies of my Ameri-Scares novels (West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman, Michigan: The Dragon of Lake Superior, and Ohio: Fear the Grassman!), my novelization of  The Smith Brothers’ movie Young Blood (which was filmed in Martinsville), some of my Dark Shadows audio dramas, as well as The Monarchs, Blue Devil Island, Other Gods, and more.

I figured I’d put together an author banner to slap on the booth canopy, so I came up with the design you see above. I’ve requested a booth adjacent to authors Stephen H. Provost & Samaire Wynne, which I hope will actually happen.

If you’re anywhere in the southwestern Virginia area, I hope you’ll come check out the Oktoberfest — it’s always great fun — and stop by to support your local authors. We’d love to see you.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Overnight Takes a Long, Long Time

With the major house renovation slowly wrapping up, I’m starting to unpack all the shit that’s been stowed in boxes for several weeks. I figured I’d take this opportunity to put my own books, as well as anthologies that include my work, together on the shelves in my office; something I’ve never really done before. There’s another couple dozen more books to dig up, and the hundred or so magazines featuring my short fiction will have to find a different home. Looking at this, I am forced to admit that, after 30-some years, my plan to become a rich and famous author overnight was a failure.

The plaques and critter are awards from the Deathrealm days. Those are happy things.