Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A bit of history preserved.

I collect headlines from events that newspapers deem newsworthy enough to give a lot of space to on the front page. Important events that you know instantly become a big part of history the moment they happen.

Here, in no particular chronological order, are a few pictures of various headlines I've collected over the past few decades.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Friday, September 30, 2016

It tastes a lot like chicken or it looks a lot like Texas.

Right before last year ended, it was decided that It Was Time for Landyn to get his first airplane ride.

His older brother, Dylan, had been up a number of times and now that Landyn had been six-years-old for over half a year, I was informed that he needed to get some aviation experiences under his belt.

So off we headed to the airport. Once at the hangar, I asked Landyn where he wanted to go. "Cooperstown, New York--to the Basesball Hall of Fame," he announced.

I replied that Cooperstown was a little far for this airplane to make in one day and back, plus having time to see the baseball legends and greats. I explained that his mom expected him and his brother home for supper.

"So how far have you flown your airplane in one day?" he asks.

"Well, I've made it to Ohio before," I answered. "That's where the football Hall of Fame is, you know."

"Okay," the six-year-old declared, "let's go to Ohio then."

"Well, then," I said, "to Ohio it is."

We loaded up, spun the prop and in a few moments were on our takeoff roll down the runway. My original destination had always been to take the boys to Granbury (Texas) where the world's best BBQ ribs are found along with our favorite pickles. It's usually between a thirty to forty-five minute flight depending on winds or how direct you want to fly. Since this was Landyn's first ever airplane ride, we took a scenic route.

Time while traveling is a funny thing for kids. Fifteen minutes or fifteen hours doesn't seem to matter--especially if they're in the backseat of the car or plane. In due course, I made my approach and landing to Grandbury Municipal Airport. As we were taxing up to park, Landyn asked where we were at. Without really thinking, I said, "Granbury."

"Is that in Ohio?" he wanted to know while looking out the window.

"Yep!" his brother immediately piped in, giving us both an idea at the same time--of which it only took a look between us to hatch this plan.

"Really?" a wide-eyed six-year-old said as he was unbuckling his seat belt and waiting for me to move the seat forward so he could get out. "We're really in Ohio?"

"Absolutely," I said. Dylan had run ahead into the FBO to tell the folks in there that we wanted to borrow an airport courtesy car, and while he was in there he'd told the airport men that his brother thought we were in Ohio.

When we walked in the door, all the old men came up to Landyn and greeted him with "Welcome to Grandbury, Ohio, son. Glad you could make it all the way here!" Other men came up and shook his hand and welcomed him to Ohio as I signed the sheet for the car. Finally, as we made it to the door, the airport manager asked Landyn, "So what do you think of Ohio so far?"

Landyn looked around at the countryside and then back at the man. "Looks a lot like Texas," he said. I had to bite my lip to keep from busting out laughing.

When asking the boys where they wanted to eat, Landyn wanted to know if there were Chili's restaurants in Ohio. "I reckon we can find," I assured him, looking over at his brother and winking. At the Chili's, Dylan bolted out of the car and into the restaurant to find a hostess and let her in on the ruse.

"Why, hello there!" the hostess gushed over the boys. "Welcome to Chilis in Ohio. Do you want a table or a booth?" A few moments later, our waitress comes over and welcomes us to Ohio. "So what do you think of Ohio so far?" she asks Landyn.

"I like it," he tells her. "It's just like Texas."

At the restaurant, I take a few pictures of the boys and text them to mom and dad, along with a message that we're in "Granbury, Ohio" and how much Landyn is enjoying this serious travel experience. Dad thinks it's hilarious, Mom's message is, "Just so they're back by supper time."

After Chilis, a quick trip to the famed Rib Shack and a half-dozen jars of pickles later and we're back to the airport where the FBO men shake Landyn's hand and urge him to "Come back to Ohio and see us again, son!"

For the return trip, it was Landyn's turn to ride in the front seat. Dylan had grown bored with the ruse and curled up in the backseat and promptly fell asleep right after takeoff. I let Landyn take the controls long enough for us to cross Interstate 20 going into Weatherford, then told him to look out his window and down. "See that big highway down there, the one with all the cars on it?"


"That's the state line--we're back in Texas now. You've flown us all the way back home to Texas. What do you think?"

He was quiet for a moment as the airplane hummed along and as he looked out the windows and then back at his sleeping brother, he looked over at me and announced, "It looks a lot like Ohio."

Being a grandpa. There is nothing like it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


sabbatical |səˈbatikəl|
a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year: she's away on sabbatical.
1 of or relating to a sabbatical.
2 archaic of or appropriate to the sabbath.
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: via late Latin from Greek sabbatikos ‘of the sabbath’ + -al.

Okay, not every seven years, but I am at the end of a self-imposed--and badly needed--sabbatical in which I've essentially written nothing of any substance.

I have a number of irons in the proverbial fire and trying to tend to all of them caused me more angst and stress than I cared for, so I simply began prioritizing them, making a list and knocking them out one by one. One of the major irons got knocked off the list, but there is still an even larger one still in the fire. It will be complete by the first week of August.

What little bit of writing I've been doing has been mainly relegated to Facebook. I only visit my Twitter account once every few weeks. As a marketing tool, I'm convinced it's the biggest fraud out there. I see people with over several hundred thousand tweets and when I check their profiles and find they've only been on Twitter for a few years. . . Do the math. It doesn't add up.

This past Memorial Day, I blasted NY Times bestseller Brad Thor, along with the carpetbagging Glenn Beck. I've never liked Beck, never believed him and from the outset saw him as a phony snake-oil shyster who jumped on the early cars of the so-called "conservative movement." His interview with Mr. Thor and the subsequent outcome of it disgusted me.

But in the meantime, on more pleasant and fulfilling notes. . .

The oldest acquired a Glock 43. Bear in mind that this is the woman who'd sworn eternal vigilance and loyalty to wheelguns. When she called and told me that we needed to go to the range and shoot--as in the next day--because she'd got a new gun, I was figuring she'd finally found her Rugar SP101 in a three-inch barrel. I got the barrel right, but the caliber, make and model wrong. Here she is loading and firing her new Glock 43 for the very first time ever.

Gotta love a happy dance. You also gotta love this gun. I fired it and was significantly surprised at how comfortable it was to hold, grip, aim and fire. It's light, easily concealable and has great ergonomics.

We've had some weird and dangerous weather down here this spring, ranging from hail to flooding. So far, no bad tornadoes in our immediate (Dallas/Fort Worth) area, but our neighbors to the north in Oklahoma are getting them. Here are a few pics of some of our stranger weather--

 This was the leftovers of a brief, violent hail storm we had in April. It looked like it had snowed in our yard and in the street. Had up to golf ball size hail in there.

Was lounging in the hangar puttering with the big door closed when my phone alerted me to a thunderstorm warning. Stepped out the side door and this is what I saw.

A few minutes later, some light hail and hard rain, and it was over.

Moving off to the north and east. I watched one of the most incredible electrical shows I've ever seen after the sun went down as there were more storms prowling around overhead.

What's a sabbatical if you have to shave every day. . . or even every week. This was the result of being pure lazy for thirty days. Drove my wife crazy. She doesn't like beards. At least, not on me. I figure anything that can cover up my face is an improvement. . .

A good thing about taking some time off is remember what is important in this life. And here is something at the apex--our granddaughter, Sadee. Twenty months old here and my heart melts even harder and faster every time we see her.

Not all total progress on my next novel, Oaths & Lies, has been halted. As is my habit, I am filling up legal notepads with scribblings and ideas and outlines. I'm also laying the foundation for a series that will be entitled The Pride and which will introduce a whole new set of characters, plots and scenarios.

Should be back in full swing by Labor Day. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys their summer.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sweet 16? We'll see.

2016. Will it be a "sweet 16" for us?

Let's see what 2015 did. . .

• My flying time was cut significantly. Granted, several months were spent with the main bird in the radio shop having the new Garmin 530W installed. And, I'm not much of one for flying in circles during the heat of a Texas summer simply to be airborne. Still. . . This year I plan to triple my time away from terra firma.

The new and updated Garmin 530W stack.

Lot of changes to this panel in the last five years. We'll keep this bird in the family for many years.
However, we did get the youngest g-son in the main plane for his first ever general aviation experience. He had an awesome time. He's also going to make a pretty good co-pilot, I suspect.

Landyn studying the sectional to get us back home.

Comfortable in the backseat and ready for his first ever flight.

Taking the yoke on the way back home.

Climbing through 5500' msl and putting the clouds and haze below us.

Family time was good. Watched the youngest g-son play in his first competitive, organized soccer game and the future stud scored five goals. In fall little league baseball, his first endeavor in that sport, he finished the season with an inside the park home run.

Landyn's first ever goal in his first ever soccer game. Catch the excitement!

Mom, Dad & sons. Everyone's proud.

Oldest girl (finally) got back in the photography groove. She has talent of the likes I rarely saw even during all my years in Madison Avenue working with $100K/day commercial photographers. She has no interest in that, but she does enjoy "capturing the moment" for families and couples. None better at it in all of north Texas. That's not just a proud dad talking. That's a retired senior director of a worldwide advertising agency talking.

Youngest girl changed jobs and moved vertically by a substantial measure. I am proud of her beyond description. She's a single mom to the prettiest granddaughter a man could ever be blessed with. Both mom and daughter have me wrapped around their little fingers. Granddaughter probably got it from her mom. In fact, I know she did.

Prettiest granddaughter in all of north Texas.

Granddaughter looking at me. Daughter looking at granddaughter.

A lot of the character of Brittany Cole in my first two novels is based upon
this young lady--especially the incredible love Dillon and Vicki have for her.

• Oldest daughter got her CHL. Her shooting skill continues to increase as does her confidence in handling a variety of the firearms in our safe. At our local range, she out-shoots most everyone and when the young men look in amazement at her target and her technique, I beam with pride. Youngest is working on hers this year. Another natural.

Bre getting ready to drill another target.

So stinking incredibly proud of this young woman.

I don't care who you are, THAT is some fine shooting.

Here's Bethany ready to drill her target.

Calm, confident, relaxed.

No caption needed--the smiles tell the story.

• The outline for my upcoming novel, Oaths & Lies, is complete and writing has began in earnest. Along with O&L is another project. I'm not releasing much information about it just yet. I'm shooting for a fall publication date for O&L but we'll have to wait and see. There are several factors beyond my control that will affect the final manuscript and release of this particular book. (*wink*)

• My lovely wife and I are planning a couple of extended flying trips this year. Not sure where. I've been wanting to do a fall-foliage flying tour of the northeast, so that is a strong likelihood for this year. Prior to that, we'll probably do another flying of the Texas beaches excursion, beginning with Galveston and ending with Mustang Island (Port Aransas) or South Padre.

We'll see what 2016 brings. Hopefully it will be sweet.