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The Little Train That Could; a history lesson

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By 1862, slaves freed by Union troops made their way north to Camp Defiance, a Union Stronghold established at Cairo, Illinois. This small camp became a gathering point for freed slaves, although, Illinois state law prohibited black migration into the state, Camp Defiance fell under martial law which allowed a large alliance of African Americans to seek shelter and refuge there. Every day the Illinois Central Railroad carried carloads of African-Americans north to Chicago, Rock Island, and other urban centers. Thus, a small northern railroad, hundreds of Union Soldiers, and our very first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, ensured that thousands of African American slaves would not only be saved but prosper and multiply.

In time, the Illinois Central Railroad disbanded and became ‘The City of New Orleans/Amtrak’, Camp Defiance closed down and became a park with a memorial to mark the spot, and the Cairo Bridge was built to span the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri. The state line was placed in the middle of the river so that neither state could claim ownership. So important is Cairo, Illinois and the Camp Defiance Park in American History that when the Mississippi River threatened to flood the area, the levees were blown forcing the floodwaters southward, and Memphis, Tennessee was flooded to save Cairo.

I make no inference here other than to say it was Union soldiers fighting under the American Flag, a small Union Camp flying the American Flag, and a small northern railroad line traveling under the American Flag that aided and saved so many freed slaves that an accurate count could never be obtained. How ironic it seems the descendants of those freed slaves are currently using that American Flag as a protest of perceived wrongs against their peace of mind and toppling states to commemorate a great turning point in American History. Perhaps, what is really called for is to get off your knees and run for a history book. It does make one wonder what educators are teaching students when clearly they are impervious to the selfless struggle and dedication that defines the principle ‘All Men Are Created Equal’.

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A New Look For The New Year

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To my flock of admirers:

I dug out my combat boots and thinking cap, went to work straight away, and updated my blog page. Come check me out, and let me know what you think. Happy New Year’s to all my friends and family.

My Dirty Little Secret

I tried to be a woman of the world, and did a pretty good job of it; but, the awful truth was I did not know how to put gas in my car so before I could go anywhere I had to send the husband to the gas station with MY car. And this he did.

To rectify this short coming, I stated watching YouTube videos on ‘how to pump gas’, and learned some rather interesting trivia in the process. You never have to guess which side of the car your gas tank is on because there is a little arrow in the gas gage pointing to the side of the car corresponding to the tank, you take the gas cap off with two clicks and put it back on with three clicks, and in the State of Oregon it is illegal for any private citizen to touch the gas pumps and all the stations have attendants to pump the petrol.

After two days of viewing YouTube, I hauled the husband to the car and drove him to the gas station so he could watch me pump gas to make sure I did it correctly. The next day, I repeated the same procedure with the other car. I would do it again, but I’m fresh out of vehicles and the ones we have are full to the point of overflowing. He says there will be no more gas purchases this week because gas is at an all time high due to the hurricane in Texas, but I don’t know how that caused the gas price in Illinois to spiral upwards but it did.

I am currently watching basic auto maintenance videos but I don’t like getting grease on my hands so I am uncertain if I will try to check the oil or not. I still my not be a woman of the world, but at least I can get gas in the car and travel from one gas station to the next.

Such is life on the prairie.

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Let’s All Fight With Statues!

Years ago while sitting in a café in Argentina, I watched as a group of drunken Americans staggered through the door. It was not hard to tell they were Americans; they were rude and crude and seemed to think they were deserving of special privilege that did not include courtesy to other patrons.  While I sat there watching them, this is the conversation heard from the booth behind my head:

Patron One: “Now you know what the term ‘ugly Americans Abroad’ means.”

Patron Two: “What do Americans know anyway? They live in the only country in the world to declare war against itself.”

It was a simple observation of those diners, and I had forgotten the words until recently when Americans went to war with the statues left behind from that war. The thing is I don’t care one way or another about a civil war statue because I only see them for what they are; statues that are very old and commemorate a chapter in our history that was not pretty but history rarely is. However, if you need to beat up a statue to feel self worth, then go for it. But what happens once the statues are broken and lying on the ground as so much rubbish, and the supply of statues runs out?  Who then fulfills the wrath of a mob intent on vigilante justice, and we can but hope they don’t start looting civil war gravesites in search of long dead soldiers on both sides.

The real travesty of the statue thing is, I don’t have to travel abroad these days to watch ugly Americans on display. I only have to turn the television on.

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Where Is My Wayward Cloud?

I type on a Japanese computer protected by a Russian Anti-Virus program, and use a cell phone and tablet manufactured in Korea. All three companies have their support staffs in Indian staffed by personnel that speak English that is not recognized as such. ohio-114092_960_720

Add to that mix that I live off grid, and my internet connectivity is mounted on a silo in a cow pasture. This is where my internet journey begins; on that silo with cows walking around looking at it because they know it is filled with grain. I have no idea where the cows come from, but they eventually end up at the slaughterhouse as they are beef cows. I assume they are American cows; however, they could be Russian spies for all I know. Also, due to this strange arrangement, I cannot determine exactly where my cyber cloud is, but I know its not in my house or hanging out over the silo. It’s just out there somewhere.

My cyber footprint is large, and it causes me to wonder how the cloud thing works. I have a Facebook Account, of course, a blog site, I publish digital books through Kindle which are sold through Amazon, belong to the KDP Kindle Network and several other writing sites. All of those transactions occur somewhere in an invisible cloud that apparently travels around the world.

I believe the cloud spans the world because of my blog site which includes a map that is updated daily, and illustrates what countries have visited your site on any particular day. Today when I logged in, it was not hard to tell that someone had visited my blog site from China because that country is represented in bright orange, and covers most of  Asia. Although I have included comment boxes on my pages, my visitor left no comment but looked at my pages, read my content, looked at my books, and moved on. They were just visiting.

It’s a good thing to have visitors, especially foreign visitors because you know your content is getting out there, but never forget what goes into cyberspace stays in cyberspace. More importantly, always remember people around the world can reach out and touch you anytime they want, and sometimes, their intent is not friendly.

The Tale of Two Cities (a story about human frailties):

old-age-360714__340No one saw the old man shuffle in and sit down at the end of the counter, or knew how long he had been sitting there. He ordered a cup of coffee, stirred three sugars into his cup, and sat alone, although, he was surrounded by people. He smiled at a woman leafing through magazines. She turned away. A small boy appeared beside him to look at the pies in the glass counter. His mother snatched him away, and dragged him back to a booth. No one saw the old man leave, or noticed he left two one-dollar bills beside his cup. Another man sat down, saw the bills, and pushed them across the counter to the waitress saying whoever sat there before him left them as a tip. The girl put them in her pocket replying it had been some old bum.

The old man walked on enjoying the warmth of the sun. Every now and then he would smile at someone, and each time they turned away aghast that a street bum should be smiling at them. No one noticed when the old man in the dingy clothes sat down on at the bus stop, except for the woman he sat next to who stood, and walked to the other end of the bench. He walked on, and found himself inside a drugstore, not that he needed anything in the drugstore but someone in the drugstore needed the gift he had to give.

The small boy sat in a high wheel chair, a mass of twisted limbs and jerky movements that caused his little body shudder. Today was a bad day, and the boy looked up at his mother. She smiled down at him, and turned back to the pharmacist. The old man approached the boy’s chair, and smiled at him. The boy smiled back, his small face twisting with the effort. The old man reached out and grasped his hand, and turned away. No one saw the old man leave and only knew he was gone. Gone from cold distant stares, and people who refused to acknowledge his presence, save but for one small boy confined to a wheel chair. He was going, and as he went he heard the mother’s screams as she turned back to her stricken child now standing upright before her. He could not help but linger long enough to hear the small boy assure his mother, “Do not cry, mother. It was an angel.”

The Year’s End

456px-thorma_reading_woman_1928 As others ponder resolutions as the year grows short, I tumble backward thinking about places I meant to go but didn’t, goals not met, gains that somehow came to fruition, and losses that made me a want to bang my head on the wall.

I’m still in the cornfield, and as I keep returning to the cornfield, I’m pretty sure I’m hiding out because I strayed too far from home and still haven’t found my way back.

Writing whimsical books has taken up much of my time, and the strange thing is, sometimes people actually buy them although I don’t know why.

I gained a greater understanding of human nature, and learned I exist in a ‘basket of deplorables’, but I am in good company so I don’t mind being labeled a deplorable. It’s not like the one doing the name calling possessed any great wit or charm, but was basically a poor loser and it’s great fun to watch the liberals and Millennials act crazed and demented.

It was the losses that left me walking around in a daze. I have cried for  dogs that died, crazy relatives that are beyond help, loved ones who passed on to that other place, friends I don’t know anymore but send me cards, rings that fell on the floor because my fingers shriveled up. clothes that don’t fit because I lost ten pounds. and Christmas presents I threw on the floor.

I guess I’m at that place where I’m  too young to be old but too old to be young, and I have a crazy ear thing going on that makes my ears pop and I keep falling off the bed when I bend over to tie my shoes, at least I hope its a crazy ear thing and not something else.

Actually, all is well in the cornfield, but I do believe I suffer from periodic holiday depression. Other than that and the no clothes to wear thing, it was a pleasant year, and I haven’t fallen off the bed or sofa for days.

Terrorism 101

The story, sadly, is becoming an old one, and if my words appear blunt, you must forgive me for I too have had a brush with terrorism, and I am damn tired of seeing this story as front page news.  Norman_Garstin_-_A_Woman_Reading_A_Newspaper_1891

The below except was taken from a book I wrote some years back after walking away from the Pentagon disaster. That particular incident happened on 11 September 2001 on a clear autumn morning. The terrorists did not use assault weapons but hijacked three American Airline jets, and went on a suicide mission taking down the World Trade Center in the process, tried to fly through the Pentagon, a virtual fortress, and the third was brought down by the passengers when they attacked the terrorists.

What this clearly illustrates is terrorists do not need machine guns to commit mayhem, and the argument about gun control is a moot point. It is now fifteen years later, we are still dealing with terrorism, and there is no end in sight. I don’t expect anyone to buy the book to read the excerpt, so here it is in a tidy package.

Terrorism is a nasty concept, and one hard to grasp;  there are those who hate us for what we are; the proud Americans and the infidel dogs.

Furthermore, terrorism is a killer machine that has nothing to do with climate control, global warming, greenhouse gases, the ozone layer, clean energy sources, or the possibility the icecaps may or may not be receding causing stress to the polar bears. Nor does it have anything to do with political correctness, the subliminal war on women, perceived racial imbalance, transgender restroom preference, or gay pride and same sex marriages. What it does have a great deal to do with is politicians who refuse to acknowledge the threat, and broken congressional bodies who refuse to entertain any notion that would curtail mass immigration into the free areas of the world. Although it is fact terrorists strike fear in the hearts of man by attacking the cities where there is a high concentration of bodies, collectively, the politicians  have no working plan to eradicate the offenders, but possess the audacity to tell the huddled masses waiting for the next attack to stand united,  love each other, and sing silly love songs.

NEWSFLASH: As the huddled masses are standing as sheep in a pasture milling about, there are wolves circling the fence line. Someone had better do something, and do it soon, or that pasture will be reduced to a burnt out cinder.”

If, however, you desire to read the book here it is. It will not provide the solution to this ghastly ongoing scourge, but it will drive home the point you are not alone. The solution, of course, lies in the leadership of this great Nation of ours. Fortunately, we have an Election in November just for that reason. If you believe in your heart, we are being sold a faulty bill of goods, and used as pawns in the game, the option of choice is in your hands. As we file to the polls, so goes the fate of our Nation. Let us really unite, and turn this ship around. Our very freedom depends on it, and wouldn’t you rather sing ‘We Are the Champions of the World’ rather than ‘All We Need Is Love’?

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0185HGFR6

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Please vote. Do it for your Country, and do it for yourself. WE deserve better.

The Joys of Being a B-Book Author

120px-Rippl_Young_Girl_Dressed_in_YellowWhat is a B-Book Author? If you write e-Books, you know. It one of the two million e-Book authors that are stuck in the bottom tier, with more arriving daily. Make no mistake, there are many e-Books  deserving of the bottom tier; faulty grammar and syntax, scammers, and  pamphlets that  claim to be books but are not, but what about e-Books that are well written but cannot move because they are being crushed into oblivion? It’s a real dilemma, but such is life.

Of course, I and many others  would love to be in the A-Class, but I am not and probably never will be. But here’s the thing. I am retired, have three sources of income, and I live on the prairie where there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. It’s not like I have anything more pressing to do than write B-Books, so in a sense, I guess it’s a hobby.  Here’s the other thing. In the course of creating B-Books, I learned to write, really write. I use punctuation correctly, write with clear concise wording, and keep my paragraphs tight.

I guess, it’s all about perspective, and I would rather be a B-Book Author than never have written anything in my life.  It’s sort of like leaving footprints behind, and that’s not such a bad thing.

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0185HGFR6

 

What Does Detroit Have To Do With The Prairie?

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This question was asked of me, and I actually was trying to think of an answer knowing one had nothing to do with the other, unless Detroit had been relocated to a cornfield which I figured was not the case. After some back and forth questions the person finally said, “Your blog name is prairie writer, but your books always have Detroit somewhere in them so are you a prairie writer or a Detroit writer?”

I had never thought of it in those terms, but I suppose that is how the two are related; a Detroit writer living on the prairie, although, I have been far removed from Detroit for several decades but it calls to me sometimes. They say the place where you are born does that, and I guess that must be true, more or less, because quite without knowing how Detroit always finds it way to my books.

This is one of those books. The title is misleading and sounds like anyone who ventures to Detroit ends up dead. Just not true, and it’s really about a man who travels to Detroit for nefarious reasons, a homeless man living behind a dumpster, and the woman who walks between the two. It’s also about a town rising up to take care of their own.

Maybe, I need to get myself back to Detroit for a visit so I can write about Boise, Sacramento, or Seattle.  Just saying.

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