Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Draft of the Opening of Excessive Force

     Standing waist deep, Ted braced against the insistent flow and followed the fly as it drifted with the current.  Watching for the swirl of water that accompanied a trout rising from the river bed.  The air moved with the river, from the west.  The smell of rain was in the air. 

     Fly fishing was a form of meditation for Ted.  He found serenity in its conflicts.  Constant pressure from the force of the water against his body and a lure that floated without resistance on the current.  The reflection of light off the surface and the dark recesses where his adversary lay in wait. He loved the poetry of motion in casting the line.  The raising of the arm, drawing the line up and off the surface, pulling it back over his shoulder, taking in line with his other hand and the moment in time when the line lingered in the air, behind him, then throwing it forward, closing with the opposite hand, whipping the line ahead and watching it roll out across the water.  The voices that echoed in his mind were quieted here.  He could think, feel and reflect.
     Ted kept a wary eye to the west, watching the weather.  Dark billowing clouds at the head of the valley promised rain and the distant rumble underscored the threat of lightening.  Ted made his way to shore and collected Boo who had waited patiently for his return.  Boo was a 14 year old Black Mouth Cur that was Ted’s constant companion. Boo would sit on the shore and watch every cast Ted made.  The river snaked through the countryside nestling up to and running along side Main Street, marking the southern boundary of town, the river soon turn away and ambled down the valley.  Ted and Boo made their way down Main Street along the river’s edge.  People had walked here for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Main Street was first paved in the early 1900’s. Before it was a street, wagons made ruts in the ground.  The wagons had followed a trace on the land evidencing the passing of travelers on foot. 

      Barely four blocks long and anchored in the center by The Alameda Theater, Main street was a place where a stroll after church was a welcome opportunity to visit with neighbors and friends.  The Alameda was a grand structure opened in the 1930’s built in the art deco style.  The ornate facade included a blade sign reaching upward sixty feet with the theater’s name spelled out in capital letters stacked one upon the other.  It was not a theater, it was a palace to house the nobility of the silver screen and to celebrate the imagining of the impossible.  The Theater was the central landmark of the town.

     Ted’s father and his father before him had walked this street. He passed the building that once held the Five and Dime store, where his grandmother meet his grandfather.  Further down was the old bank building where his mother had been a teller.  She met his father there.  Ted had courted his wife and taken her to the Alameda Theater.  His kids grew up going to the same theater and shopping in all the stores that lined the street.  His roots were deep in this town.  It was a part of him.  There was no place that he would rather live.

     Main street was buttressed by a lattice work of residential streets lined by the elms and oaks planted a hundred and fifty years ago when the town was founded.  The trees had a majestic presence with their branches spreading out and crossing the divide to form a canopy of foliage over the carriage paths that were now paved roads.  Houses with picket fences framed the streets and were loving decorated with ornamental plants and flowers.

     Ted made his way back to his car with Boo leading the way carrying her leash in her mouth as they walked.  People stopped and said hello to Boo. 

“Hello Sheriff.”  A shop owner said as he reached to greet Boo.
“Catch any?” the shop owner asked.
“Not enough for dinner, let’em all go”  Ted replied as he continued his walk home.

Ted’s cell phone rang and the caller ID said it was from the office. 
“Sheriff, this is dispatch, we got a request for a welfare check at the Nielsen place.  Terry’s mother hasn’t been able to reach her is several days and is concerned.”  The dispatcher said.  Can you stop by on your way home?  Everyone else is tied up.”
“Will do, just headed that way now.”

Monday, October 21, 2019

Bung Wrench, Never Heard of Such a Thing

I go to the flea market every weekend and look for interesting stuff.  On Saturday I came across a tool that I had never seen before.  Naturally I bought it.  My first impression was that it was some sort of implement tool.  Back in the day when a farmer bought a piece of equipment they often came with tools designed for the item.  I quickly moved off that idea because of the shape.  It looked like a giant jack.  For those of you who were born after the internet, there was a game played with small metal pieces and a ball.  You threw the ball into the air and picked up a many Jacks as you could before the ball came down and you caught it.  

An item shaped like a jack would not travel well with whatever implement it would have come with.  So not an implement.  I describe the item as well as I could and found similar items on the wed.  This is where I discovered it was a bung wrench for removing the small plugs in the tops of barrels.  Now I know.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Fixing The Old Bus or What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong

I am the owner of a 1960 GMC PD1404.   Its an old Greyhound bus that has been converted to a motor home.  I am trying to get it to move after having sat for fifteen months.  The last time I moved it, I burned up the clutch.  I was in a campground that flooded and while trying to escape the rising water, I got stuck in the mud.  Totally fried the clutch.  I knew that I would have to repair the clutch before I went anywhere.  It took a a lot of work but, I was able to pull the transmission and take the clutch, pressure plate and flywheel and have them fixed.

After I reinstalled the clutch, the bus would not start.  I pulled the starter and had it gone through and now that's good as new.  Still won't start.  Checked the batteries, recharged them and they read the appropriate voltage at the starter.  Still won't start.

I am a little at a loss as to what to do next.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Old Bus Needs a Clutch and Learning Something New

          Last year I was in a campground that was next to a river.  Great place to live except when the river floods.  I had to move the bus to avoid rising water and I could not get it to go.  I came to understand that the brake pads had sort of rusted to the brake drums.  Eventually I got it moving, but not before smoking the clutch.  To complicate the matter, when I moved to higher ground in the campground, it became struck in uncompacted soil.  The next day, I again tried to move the bus and it would no go.    I had to call for a rig to pull me out of the muck.  Again, I smoked the clutch.  Its hard to tell from the photo, but the wheel are buried and the bus is on it belly
          I decided that I had enough of flood dodging and decided to move to another campground.  I was able to move the bus and discovered that the clutch slipped as I was driving it.  I had ruined the clutch.  I got it parked in its new home and knew that I needed to fix the clutch.  I have replaced clutches in cars on several occasions and had an idea of what I was getting myself into, I thought.  Nope.  That transmissions weights more than my truck.

          I have removed the transmission and had the clutch rebuilt.  I had the flywheel and pressure plates flattened.  I have not put it back together because I am in need of six bolts.  The fasteners for the flywheel to the crankshaft.  Originally I was going to reuse the bolts that came off.  After thinking about it a little, I decided to get new ones.  Here's the rub.  I thought that I could just go out and get grade eight bolts and I would be all set.  The truth is that the bolts as specially design for this kind of application and if I didn't use them, I was flirting with disaster.

The bolts are called Place Bolts.  They are designed to hold in high vibration environments.  I understand that they both stretch and have a special head that makes them suitable for this task.    The problem is that no one local has them.  I sent away and they should arrive next week.  And hopefully, I can get the bus back together.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Playing Poker at Harrah's Cherokee Casino, Royal Flush

The holy grail of poker playing is the Royal Flush.  A Royal is dealt on average one is ever six hundred fifty thousand hands. (650,000).  The World Series of Poker's circuit event is under way in Cherokee.  I was playing cash and ran out a Royal Flush in hearts.  I even got paid.  I was dealt the Ace and Jack of Hearts.  The King and Ten came on the flop.  The Queen landed on the River.  Sorry for the picture quality.

Monday, April 29, 2019

I Have A Writing Problem

I have had a writing problem all of my life.  When I was a teenager I was into poetry, exercising my angst in line after line, with what I though was powerful, deep emotionally charged prose.  Reading them these many years later, I don't see the depth and power.  I believe that there in nothing better for clarifying your thinking than put your thoughts down on paper.  After having to write for work for more that thirty years I decided that I was going to take a stab at writing a novel.

 My first effort that I published was Constant Vigilance.  I had spent years listening to conspiracy theories and wondered what was true and what was spin.  I came to believe that I was seldom told the true facts.  I would examine the story the best I could and come up with my own conclusions.  I took my years of interest in truth and created Constant Vigilance.  The basic premise of the book is found in the title.  We must always watch out, question, challenge authority, and come to our own conclusions.

After Constant Vigilance I published The Mountains of Yellowstone.  A favorite phrase of mine for many years was "I am blessed with self awareness, but cursed with an inability to do anything with the information."  The Mountains of Yellowstone is set in the National Park and follows a couple of souls that are on parallel journeys.  They work in the Park for the summer and explore the region.  Along the way they question their life decisions and chart a new path in search of happiness and fulfillment.

I am currently working on a new novel.  The working title is Excessive Force.  The story is in a small southern town with the County Sheriff and his wife as the main characters.  The Sheriff sees himself as a guardian of his community and runs his Department with that philosophy.  He wants to maintain the character of his community and its way of life.  Others, with less scruples, want to profit from the qualities of the country side and develop the area for vacation homes and tourist.  The proponents for change through dishonest means, unseat the Sheriff and replace him with their man.  The new Sheriff takes the warrior approach to policing and a young man is shot and killed by a Deputy.  The community is jolted by this event that sharpens the divide between quality of life and monetary gain.
I have fifty thousand words at this time.  I estimate that another thirty thousand are need to complete the story.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Wintering In Western North Carolina.

I decided to spend another winter in Western North Carolina.  It really doesn't get too cold here and I like the mountains.  The other day I went over to the Smoky Mountain National Park.  On the way I ran into a herd of Elk.  There were at least eighty or ninety spread around a meadow on the side of the road.  I tried to tell them that just down the road they could find all the grass they wanted rolled up, ready to eat.  They wouldn't listen.  The road along side the meadow was packed with cars, all stopped trying to get a picture of the animals as they ate.  This reminded me of my summer workamping in Yellowstone National Park.  There were a lot of what I called Bear Jams.  Traffic came to a stand still anytime there was an animal on the side of the road.  I even wrote a book about Yellowstone.  Its a story about two people who go to Yellowstone to Workamp, meet and explore the park together.  Its on Amazon.