A snippet to entertain you

Here’s a piece of “Wolves in the Storm” to keep you happy while I finish it up. Please share it with your friends. Maybe they’ll be hungry enough to try “A Taste for Something New” while they wait.

The hum of the rotors lulled Kurt into a short nap, but the sound of the gunner running a belt of ammunition into place woke him up. He looked around the cabin and saw his team all focused on the young soldier priming the automatic weapon.

It was a cue for them to start final checks themselves. Magazines slammed into place. Knives were loosened in their sheaths. Ulric’s men were the best Great Britain had to offer, but he still watched them for proper weapons safety. A negligent discharge inside the helo could doom them all.

Kurt shuffled over to the door, looking over the gunner to watch the coastline slide by beneath them, so close he thought he might touch the waves as they crashed ashore. The pilots were going low and fast. The clear skies over the water were replaced by clouds and the night grew even darker around them.

Sand. Nothing but sand. No lights, no buildings. Then a dip and there was the camp.


The Importance of Jargon

Jargon has its place in the English language. It allows people in various fields to conduct conversations about matters that impact outsiders without necessarily letting them in on what is going on. You see this with doctors, police, computer techs, and even in search and rescue.

Now, my instructors in the lofty towers of the Defense Information School will tell you jargon has no place in your work, but they are stodgy journalism professors (who, incidentally train the best journalists in America) with their own set of jargon (Says one to another, “You should see my pica pole.”)

Peace River Search and Rescue has a code system for informing each other about the status of searches.  These codes are arranged to help the team communicate delicate information while keeping it confidential from any listening ears that do not yet need to know the information being broadcast. This system, especially the codes for living or dead persons, is designed to be very user friendly, even in the event of an “oh shit” moment.

Recently I was part of a search and was shocked to come around a bend, in the dark, and see our missing man. I was working with another handler and she confirmed he was our missing person and ran to meet him. As the flanker (assistant), it was up to me to call in our find. My gears were spinning and getting no traction due to the overflow of adrenaline – I found a missing person! I say this to excuse the inexcusable.

I called in our find – and used the wrong code words. I accidentally told all listening he was dead.

I’m told there was a considerable intake of breath by all listening.

Our quick-thinking leader decided to confirm what I had said.

“So, you’re talking to him now?”



I’m told there was a considerable amount of relaxation at this point.

Jargon, it has its place. If you’re going to use it, use it correctly. I’ve worked in several jargon-intensive fields and I get quite a laugh from those who try to look knowledgeable by using jargon how they think they should. Don’t be that person.

Wolves in the Storm – A Sneak Peek

She brushed her dripping white locks away from her face as she slid through the door and bolted it behind her, hands trembling the whole time.

“Ah, we’ve found him, we have,” she whispered. “At long last we’ll have our revenge.” A smile that didn’t reach her eyes rearranged the geography of her face, adding depth to her abundant wrinkles.

Her hands still shook as she removed her rain jacket and tried, twice, to hang it on the coat rack. There was no light, so she was the only one who knew, but the awareness of her fear only served to fuel the anger within her.

She strode down the hall to the kitchen and pulled a lighter from a drawer, lighting candles on the counter before turning to the stove.

Her hands were steadier as she lifted the teapot and brought it to the sink to fill it. She used a dish towel to dry herself some more and then sat at the counter and began to write on a notepad. Her eyes flicked up often, looking for a hint of steam rising from the teapot.

The lady rose and moved to the stove when she judged the time was right, lifting the pot from the heat in time to keep it from whistling and waking anyone else in the house. She prepared her tea and returned to the counter, making more notes.

A scratch came from the back door.

“Ah, kitty, they left you outside while I was gone, did they?” She stepped across the kitchen and dropped the chain, then unbolted the deadlock and the latch.

The door exploded inward, and a howl echoed through the room and the empty yard behind.

We’ve been found; it’s too late,” she thought, her eyes locked on the glowing orbs of her towering attacker. She never saw the claws that ripped out her throat.

What’s up down on Fraggle Rock?

Sorry for the absence … again.

Things got crazy around here. Our fourth high school graduate was taking up our time when she wasn’t working. Her sister was dating and getting engaged. The last kid in the batch was presenting his own challenges.

And then a young lady called and told us, “I can’t take care of my kid right now. I need your help.” That was six months ago and the young man in question has become an even bigger part of our family than he already was. We had been there for his birth. Our house was his first home after the hospital. He’s been on vacation with us. He goes to church with us. He evaded Hurricane Irma when the rest of the family skeedaddled to North Carolina in September.

Things have settled back down, now, and we are used to the idea that our oldest daughter will soon move out and get married. Our oldest son, in the Navy, continues to excel as a sailor and is coming to visit soon with his wife. The second oldest, is doing well in Nashville, but looking for something more. Of the two youngest, one prepares for nursing school and the other is preparing to graduate high school with his associates degree. Next step? USF Bulls and a commission in the United States Marine Corps.

And where does that leave the adults of this little tribe? The missus has found herself in a challenging position that she enjoys. As for me, I’m finally able to get some writing done on a regular basis and making headway on the follow-up to “A Taste for Something New.” It is tentatively titled “Wolves in the Storm.” I hope to have the first draft completed soon and in the hands of an editor by November, with an eventual publish date in mid-February. I plan to share a sneak peak of this new work by the end of the week.

Hope is out of her cone. Small dogs may still bark, but the moment her head turns to glare, they run away. The squirrel in the back? He runs past and doesn’t stop to chatter at her anymore. Brandi relies on Hope as her muscle and Cowgirl is back to being Hope’s punching bag. Koda/Dakota and Hope are sorta friends for real now. Midnight, my future son-in-law’s cat, is not as accepted. We still volunteer with Peace River Search and Rescue and love it.

One final note — Savage 4×4, Inc., in Fort Myers chose my Jeep and I for their 2017 Heroes Build. If you visit their website and social media platforms you can learn more about this project and ways you can support it. I was nominated because of my status as a veteran and for the work I have been doing with PRSAR. Around Nov. 1, Savage will get my Jeep and I won’t see it again until Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. They did this last year for a truly deserving guy and it was incredible. I’m truly blessed to be a recipient of this honor and the work and so forth that goes into it.

And that, dear readers, is a snapshot of life down on Fraggle Rock.

Sorry for the absence, here’s a guest blogger — my dog

I’ve been quite busy between family stuff and writing my second book, so my blog has, unfortunately, languished in a corner, nearly forgotten. That changed, recently, though.

My dog, Hope, a Belgian Malinois who is my certified partner in tracking with the North American Police Working Dog Association, developed hot spots. Part of the treatment involved shaving the fur around her spots. Not surprisingly Hope did not care for this. As she tried to get away from the clippers she stumbled into a box in a corner and knocked a copy of my blog out onto the floor.

At this point she became preoccupied with the blog and I was able, with the help of my vet tech daughter-in-law, to work on her medical care. When we were done, Hope let us know that she could pick this up where I left off. She offered to write once a week about life from a dog’s perspective. I think she was influenced by “A Dog’s Purpose,” which I recently read  (and saw in the theater – the movie is good, but the book is better) with her.

Please join me in welcoming my new guest blogger, Hope.


Hello humans. And cats. I’ve seen lots of cats sitting on computers, so I guess you’re reading this, too. You should, cats. It will help you.

I had wanted to address human preoccupation with social media in my first post, but I found myself in an unusual situation. I’m in a cone.

My human talks about things like “liberty” and “justice” a lot. I’ve heard the concept “cruel and unusual punishment” mentioned multiple times.

Let me tell you about cruel and unusual punishment. I don’t know what I did to deserve this thing. I mean, first, they shaved me and then they put stuff on me, then … a cone. I haven’t had this indignity since I was very young. I don’t know what I did wrong then and I don’t know what I did wrong now.  I can’t eat well (props to my human, he feeds me by hand while I undergo this imprisonment) and I can’t use the same water bowl as the other members of my pack, because the cone gets in the way.

My self-esteem has taken a serious blow. Dakota, my cat friend (OK, he’s a cat and we live in the same house; maybe I’m using the term loosely), does not have the proper respect for me now. The squirrel that runs back and forth on the wire above the backyard? He laughs at me. Cowgirl, the puppy, has tried to get me to play with her a few times, but now she thinks I’m just useless.

The worst part? Two little Bichon bitches were out for a walk while I was, too. They mocked me. I had been walking fast, already, wanting to get around the block and back home as quickly as possible. At this point, I poured it on – full speed ahead! I was humiliated. I, the great Maligator and scourge of the neighborhood, being laughed at by dogs I could have had for lunch, with room left over for dessert.

I struggle to eat and drink, my self-esteem has taken a pasting, and I can’t lick or nibble anything on my body. Heck, I even had trouble sleeping with this thing on, at first.

I’m sure a lot of you think a big, ferocious dog like me needs to be kept in a cone for some strange reason. I’m not writing for you. I’m writing to the reader who sees this for what it is – tyranny run amok. Free Hope now! And send me treats.


Hope stands by her work and won’t hear any statements about the cone being for her own good, to help her heal better. She’s getting tons of attention and treats and she’s using the old water dish so her cone doesn’t bop into the container on the new one. I have to drag her into the yard to go to the bathroom, though. That squirrel is a real jerk and gets a kick out of it when Hope nails the cone on the patio furniture.

She’s making it out alive

My wife and I have five kids between us. By Friday we’ll have three high school graduates, and two left to go.

It seems like it should be an exciting time, and it is. And stressful. It’s been a couple of years, so I guess we forgot about all the end-of-year hoopla and events, the weird schedules seniors have at the end of the school year, and just how much stuff we need to get for the graduation party.

There were two Friday night events that required me to pick our daughter up from the school at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. She had fun and even got to sleep all day when she got home. Not me.

There are different schedules for seniors at the end of the year, at least in this school district. They take finals the week before graduation. There’s a lot of pressure to essentially finish the school year two weeks faster than everyone else, who take their finals next week. Underclassmen will be schlepping away at American Government finals while their older friends are on vacation or experiencing full-time work without the promise of school in the fall to break the drudgery.

We’ve thrown a few parties these past few years, typically at one of the local parks. You’d think we’d have everything we could possibly need by now. Nope. I use a propane grill at home, yet I’ve somehow lost the can of lighter fluid I need for the grills at the parks. We need a new set of aluminum pans for the burgers and dogs. A new set of blue and gold everything to celebrate the end of an era — Heather, a Fighting Tarpon, is now Heather, an adult.

It’s the week of last hurrahs. I went fishing this morning while Heather had graduation practice. She asked for a friend to spend the night. I said yes right away, but the friend’s parents said no. It broke my heart. Thursday night her friend goes to spend time with a biological parent who does not live nearby. From there, she leaves for the military. Thank God for social media, else I don’t know when they’ll see each other again. Heather has had a vision teacher for the past several years, who stuck with her through all that life threw at her. Joan is no longer the teacher, but the friend, the big sister. I really hope graduation isn’t the last we see of her.

Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a lot of people from high school. It’s also brought a lot of questions. There are folks I grew up with who don’t have Facebook accounts. Have they passed? Or just don’t do social media? This class, 2016, will hopefully not have to wonder about things like that. Social media will let them keep up with one another. That’s probably difficult with some schools. My daughter is graduating with something like 500 other kids. I graduated number 33 of 155. And you can see how well we kept up with each other. Granted, that was 26 years ago.

I hope this week, and the past few, have created indelible memories for my daughter. To be honest, I remember coming out to the field were Avon Grove High School held their graduation ceremonies. I remember being on the stage, briefly. What I remember most about high school graduations, though, is from my brother’s graduation party, a mere hour after he crossed the stage, and watching one of his friends run off the road in front of my grandmother’s house. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t run off the road there. I was classy, and did so by the DuPont Estate in Delaware, on a wet and dreary October afternoon.

I digress.

I hope my wife and I have relearned the lessons of how to handle senior year. We need to get it right. We’ve got a senior coming each of the next two years. I hope Heather is gracious about anything we get wrong and she’s already shown to be grateful for all we get right.

It’s a bittersweet time of year. I’m so happy for my daughter. She made it out alive. I’m not kidding; with her health issues that was a serious concern. She’s proven stronger than the things that have tried to keep her down. These past few weeks sickness look poised to win, and keep her from graduating, but we were able to overcome that obstacle and she finished the year in style, really impressing her teachers with her final accomplishments. We don’t know, yet, what’s next for her. I imagine I’ll be trying to hide from her when school starts next year, slipping into my (soon to be) office to get writing done without interruption. Or maybe she’ll travel. Or go to work. Or head back to school and work on a degree at the local community college. I don’t know. I’m not sure that I care, either, so long as she’s happy with the direction she chooses.

I have Hope

It’s probably come up from time to time that I have issues with depression and bi-polar disorders. It pretty much sucks.

Despite being a guy who prefers peace and quiet, I am pretty involved in stuff around my community. One of those organizations is Peace River Search and Rescue. I’m the Jeep team. My Jeep is useful for getting to places with more speed than a horse and more maneuverability than larger vehicles, such as an ambulance. It provides a platform for removing team members from the field or getting personnel someplace in a hurry. Finally, it’s a way to bring a victim to their loved ones quickly.

PRSAR hooked me with the Jeep, but they really reeled in the family when they convinced my daughter to begin training her dog, Cowgirl, to be a search and rescue dog. Rebekah, Cowgirl, and I have been learning the basics of SAR the past several months, including a lot of dog training. We’ve met some really neat people and amazing dogs.

One day two of those neat people were discussing a dog they weren’t bringing to training. She had been a police dog, working for a sheriffs office her in Florida when her handler committed suicide while they were in the patrol vehicle. The dog was presented to the widow who struggled to provide the care the dog required. Eventually she passed the dog on to the neat people I know, but they couldn’t figure out what to do with her. Well, they talked to me, and then talked to me some more. What she needed was someone who would be around A LOT to give her love and affection and break the trauma of her past and teach her a new way forward.

Jesus has been breaking me free from the trauma of my past and teaching me a new way forward for a while now. Part of that way forward, I’m pretty sure, involves dogs. I love dogs. We have two here. Well, had. Now it’s three.

Sometimes I ask God to give me hope. He answered. Hope is the latest furry addition to our family. I don’t know if she can help me write more or better. I don’t know if she’ll ever perform for the community as a service dog of some sort ever again. I don’t know if she’ll put up with the puppy’s crap from one minute to the next. But I do know I love her. Every time I look at her I’m reminded how tough things have been for her and how she needs to be handled appropriately. Eventually that understanding leads me to remember that lots of people have had stuff happen to them and they need to be treated decently, too. Finally, I remember that just because I’ve had it rough doesn’t mean it will stay that way. I mean, just look at Hope. Things are looking up for her.


Some thoughts on rights

I hear a lot of talk about rights these days, but I have the idea that many of those doing the talking have no idea what rights are. Rights are not a gift from government. They are a gift from God; they are inherent in our humanity. We have the right to speak as we choose, the right to gather with whom we wish, to share our thoughts and ideas without pressure from outside forces. We have the right to be secure in our persons and property. We have the right to govern ourselves without tyrants micromanaging our daily affairs. That, my friends, sums up the Bill of Rights.

They aren’t a gift from government, but rights restrain government and keep them out of our business. We are free to make choices, but never forget there is no freedom from the consequence of your choices. When you start calling health care or education a right, you are looking to some agency to provide this “right” to you. It’s not a right when you depend on someone else to provide it. They’re nice things, commodities, but you don’t have the right to them. The idea that it is your right to have these things is entitlement. It’s what happens when every kid gets a trophy.

When you get the idea that the things you should be free to do are given to you by government, you start getting the idea that government should give you everything you think you deserve. Maybe our education system needs to rethink how it teaches rights. Scratch that. It should rethink it. Too many young adults in America think the government is the source of all things. Part of that is an unchecked government at work in the education system. Part of it is lazy parenting.

Some of you may be thinking I’m talking about Gen X, and some of you may be thinking I’m talking about Baby Boomers. You’re both right. Both generations, in America (at least), have failed at upholding liberty and teaching its principles to the next generation. We’ve raised a generation of people who think the world is fair and everyone should have what the other person has. That’s not the case. It’s never been the case, and never should be. People cannot and should not ever be cookie cutters.

We are shackled by ourselves, the consequences of our actions.  Don’t let support of a government who wants to take your choices away be one of those actions. God didn’t design government to be the source of support in your life, let alone the source of your freedom.