What To Do?

GJ Color

This BLOG has been going through the doldrums, and is slowly evolving into a huge pile of excrement. Grumpa Joe has let his personal life affect his attitude towards most of the enjoyable things in life. When he first initiated Grumpa Joe’s Place his goal was to spread positive thinking, and the merits of personal development. Not long after he opened the doors wonder boy Barack Hussein Obama arrived on the scene by declaring a run for the presidency. Grump Joe saw through him instantly, and spent the next eight years trying to educate the public about the man’s socialist (communist) background. Then, life stepped in, and rolled the dice causing Grumpa Joe to point his priorities into another direction.

Currently, Grumpa is trying to resurrect his motivation toward blogging. He is seriously thinking that Grumpa Joe’s Place is dead. He struggles to point himself into a new direction while also maintaining focus on taking care of his wife. He still has a few faithful followers from whom he would like an opinion. What direction should he take?

  1. Quit, and shut the blog down
  2. Shift the focus to educating the world to the evils of Islam
  3. Focus on writing fake news articles of obvious absurdity
  4. Publish a series of love letters to former girlfriends
  5. Re-publish other people’s work on current affairs
  6. Republish memes by others that satirize politics
  7. Original political cartoons
  8. Original fictional short stories
  9. Travel log of places I have visited
  10. Recipes of favorite foods
  11. A log of personal thoughts about anything or everything
  12. Serialize my book Jun-e-or

Writing Is Hard Work for An Amateur

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My blog posts have been few lately because of a project I began a few months ago. Last July I saw a documentary movie called America, Imagine the World Without Her? Written and directed by Dinesh D’Souza the movie is a very good chronicle of how Obama is changing America. I walked away from the film thinking D’Souza failed to answer the title question for me. I came home and wrote a movie review. I poled my readers and asked if they would like to hear my version of what the world would be like if America (USA) never existed. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of hearing my answer.

I began write a short story of what I thought might have happened if the Revolution of 1776 had failed. The intent was to make it a simple blog post. This story is not simple, there is too much history to consider. Instead of writing a bunch of boring historical facts and theorizing what would be different had they not happened is mind-boggling. My story has evolved into a novel and is absorbing me completely. I am not a novel writer, in fact, I have trouble writing short essays for this blog, but I will answer the question. The working title for my work is British American Colonies. At this point I am about forty percent complete and dreaming up plots and sub plots, with lots of characters. I have so many twists in the story, that I had to draw maps, keep character logs, and a chapter summary log to keep myself focused. I don’t know if any other writers do that kind of stuff, but I do. When you begin without an outline or any type of organized approach the story evolves as the words flow.

My goal is to complete the book by mid-year for publishing. The least I will do is self-publish on Kindle. One way or another this story is going to the public, that is, if I live long enough to make it happen. At my age anything can happen in a single heart beat.

Wish me luck.

Too Many Questions, Not As Many Answers

There are some days, like today, that writing does not come easily. No single subject strikes a nerve. Yet, I feel the need to write. I did spend a couple of hours writing today, but not for Grumpa Joe’s Place. I’m still trying to answer a question I posited a few weeks back, i.e. what would the world be like if there was no America? My mind has gone wild with that question. So many new questions arise. What would have become of the thirteen colonies had the Revolution failed? Where would the boundaries lie? Who would have taken the territory known as the Louisiana Purchase? Will Florida still belong to Spain? Would Mexico still claim all the land stretching from the Continental divide to the Pacific up to the Oregon border? Would The Republic of Texas survive as its own country? Would the slaves be free? Will Hitler conquer Europe? Did the Japanese take over the Pacific and conquer China? Is South America a Christian Theocracy? What system of government prevails world-wide? Did Stalin win over the world to his brand of socialism? Do the thirteen colonies finally break away from England? Would buffalo still roam the open plains by the millions? Has a cure for cancer been found?

Obviously, I have some ideas for what the answers are because that is the crux of the story I am writing. The story is also the reason I have not been writing as much original stuff for Grumpa Joe’s Place.

When I get stuck on a particular piece of the story, I just let it rest and eventually, the sub-conscious mind will steer me out of the corner into the right direction. On days like today, writing is work more than a joy. I like it better when it is a joy and my fingers fly across the keyboard without stopping.

To complicate matters, I bought a program called Grammarian. Since I am still learning the stuff I should have learned in grammar school, when I didn’t pay much attention to anything, this program should help me. There are a couple of problems with it that I must mention. First, and most important the font used in the program is so tiny it makes reading beyond difficult. I’ve spent too many minutes trying to unlock the secret of enlarging the print to a readable level. Cataracts do not make reading easy, nor does age. The second problem is the degree of difficulty understanding the detailed instructions for installing and using the stupid thing. After messing with Windows for twenty years, installing a program should be a piece of cake, but Grammarian takes the challenge to the next level of absurd.

tvmagnifier31

A 1950’s TV with a Screen Magnifier. Yes folks, that is the kind of TV I grew up with.

I have considered getting a giant magnifying glass to install on the face of my PC screen. Yes, just like the ones we saw when we were kids. Every tavern in town had one on their small screen TV to make the picture larger. The magnifier idea is so old-tech even I rejected it immediately. Instead, I will search the I-net for clues about where to find the magic button that enlarges the font with a single tap of the finger.

While searching for the image above, I learned that a bunch of new-tech screen magnifiers are for sale from many sources. A magnifier might be an answer after all

Positive Spin and Atta Boys

iphobe

This afternoon, I saw a young man living two blocks from me who is Muslim. I know him from a previous experience in a writer’s group at the Frankfort library. His name is Farouk, he was  twenty-two year old college student when I knew him; today he is thirty.  The writer’s group organized in 2004 and lasted about two years before it dissolved. I specifically remember Farouk because of the genre of writing he chose. He was into macabre murder. Every short story he had us critique involved a college kid who killed for fun. Amazingly, no one in the group ever said a single critical word about his stories. There was a lot of positive spin and atta boys thrown at him, yet, we all feared for our lives.

Today, Farouk wears a black straight billed baseball cap and drives a BMW. He lives with his parents in a large two-story house with great landscaping. When I spotted him he sported a heavy black beard. I couldn’t help but profile him as a jihadist. He looks like one, loves murder, and is muslim. What else could I think? In my mind, I imagined that if anyone from Frankfort joins ISIS it would be him.

It is a sorry state of affairs when an American born citizen imagines his neighbor is a  terrorist. This tells me the terrorists are succeeding. Why else would I be looking at this guy with such a critical eye?

What I fear more than anything is that this guy actually does become a terrorist. Do I speak up and say, “I knew him and yes, he impressed me as jihadist material?” Or do I take pre-emptive action to avoid it from happening? If so, what action do I take? I think I’ll leave the neighborhood by another street to avoid going by this guys house, and forget I ever saw him before.

Flavia, Feely, and Daffy?

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The system I use to select reading material at the library has steered me into murder mysteries. For the second time in a row, I selected a book based upon its cover art, and both times the stories were mysteries.

I don’t really like murder stories, but I read this one because it was good. The premise is a little far-fetched, but entertaining. The book I selected this week is “Speaking From Among the Bones” by Alan Bradley. What I found a little suspect is the character who solves the mystery. In this story, Flavia de Luce is a precocious girl of eleven years who is the detective who out shines the local constabulary to solve the crime. I found the read somewhat Harry Potter like in that the central character is dauntless.

The story takes place in a small town in England during the nineteen fifties. The characters surrounding Flavia like her sisters with names like Feely, a nickname for Ophelia, and Daffy, a nickname for Daphne all have unique English names, and add to the entertainment of the story.

The story centers around the discovery of a dead body during the exhumation of a local Saint Tancred who is buried under the church named after him. What ever, the stretch of the imagination is Saint Tancred being uncovered on the five hundred anniversary of his death. The reason, to collect relics and to determine the condition of the body. Rumor has it that true Saints do not decompose and emit a heavenly scent when exhumed. The surprise comes when the committee exhuming Saint Tancred discovers the recently disappeared church organist in the chamber immediately above that of Saint Tancred.

The story becomes more involved when Flavia uncovers that an ancient monk left notes in his diary describing a huge diamond known as the Heart of Lucifer set into the Shepard Crook that lay with him.

As I said above the idea that an eleven year old is so astute to solve this crime is somewhat unbelievable, I have a ten-year old grand-daughter who is smart as a whip but cannot compare to Flavia de Luce.

One of the factors which drew me to this book is the bicycle on the cover art. I am a bicyclist and must admit that cycling reigns supreme above my old car fetish. In the story, Flavia rides a bike she named Gladys. Gladys is a character, but thankfully not a principal.

Author Alan Bradley did an outstanding job of creating the character of Flavia and I never imagined her as anything except a brilliant (genius) girl. The setting for the story is perfect for the year and the characters involved. Bradley’s descriptive writing made me see the story in my mind as it unfolded. Flavia and Harry Potter are similar, although Flavia is not a witch or a sorcerer.

My assessment of this book, is that I spent my time wisely, and it left me wanting more.

 

The Return of Aga Bam-bi

The garden looked better this day than it had in a long time. A cover of dark grey clouds hovered over the 2013 Monet Vision, and a light mist of rain fell giving the new plants the drink they longed for. Grumpa Joe admired his work from the dry warm comfort of the sun-room. Coffee cup in hand he walked to the kitchen to survey the area between the pond and the border garden. A flurry of sparrows and finches fought for space on Grandma Peggy’s bird feeder. She had filled it in the morning and by now it was nearly empty. He looked down to assess the amount of feed falling to the ground under the feeder. There was a large round spot of bright yellow-tan seed directly under the feeder bowl. “I wonder if Peggy is spilling feed on the ground for the critters?”  Then he spotted the furry body of Aga Bam-bi. “He blends so well with the ground, I can’t believe I nearly missed him.”

Aga Bam-bi hunched on the ground at the edge of the seed circle. His nose twitching as he chewed the seed. His ears continuously turning and twisting in all directions listening for danger. Grumpa Joe lightly tapped the window with a fingernail. Aga Bam-bi froze.

He is bigger and fatter than Grumpa Joe remembered him from a year ago. He wondered where Aga Bam-bi was for the last twelve months. “He hasn’t found the petunias yet, that is good, but I’m sure he will,” muttered Grumpa under his breath.

Deep inside the briar patch within the wetland Ali Bug-Bunee sat in conference with his cell. A full year had passed since the cell expelled Aga Bam-bi. The cell had remained in sleeper status during that time.  The cell had been busy multiplying, and Ali faced a small crowd of cell members. Many of the newest members were still shedding their baby fur.

Ali began, “The Nature Spy Alliance(NSA) has informed me that Aga Bam-Bi found his way back to the garden. It is time to use Bam-Bi as a distraction while we execute our plan to devastate the petunias under the cover of darkness. Grumpa Joe does not know we are waiting to attack him. He will think it is Aga who is destroying his Vision. Put your ears at attention and repeat after me, “I solemnly swear to be active only in the darkness under the threat of being fed to the hawks.” They all fluffed their tails and wagged their ears in unison at the completion of the oath.

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétun...

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétunias. Русский: Петунии (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grumpa Joe finished planting the last six petunia plants near the window where he spotted Aga two days ago. “I’m taking my chances with this critter, but he has stayed away from the feeder for a while, and I feel confident that he won’t eat them.” As Grumpa Joe patted the final plant into place, he spotted Aga in the far corner of the garden eating clover flowers.

Grumpa Joe slept in on Saturday and shuffled to the kitchen for his coffee. He raised the shade on the window and looked out at his fresh planting. “What the he. . .? Peg, come here. Look what that damn rabbit has done to the petunias I planted yesterday. He has eaten them to the ground.”

“Now, now dear, he is only a poor little creature who lives a very hard life in nature,” said Peggy.

“That’s it, I’m taking some serious action today.”

“What ‘ll you do?

“I’m building an IED.”

“You aren’t going to blow the poor thing up are you?”

“No, no, I meant an Improvised Entrapment Device(IED). I’ll catch him and take him for a ride.”

The striped squirrels working for the NSA were listening to Grumpa Joe from under the stoop. Chip made a mad dash across the patio and through the Cranesbill into the wetland to report to Ali.

“Excellent work Chip, you have done well. Grumpa Joe doesn’t suspect a thing. Aga will get the blame and we will fill our bellies with petunia flowers until they are all gone. If we are lucky, Joe will trap Aga with his IED and we will be rid of him too.”

to be continued. . .

Working In The Garden

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I have used other people’s work on this blog. My time in the garden takes its toll on me and the result is a lack of energy left to write. My Lions Club work suffers also. Here it is the third day of summer, and I am still planting annuals in the 2013 Monet Vision. Hopefully, the plants will have enough daylight to survive and thrive before the first killing frost.

Spring came late for me because I spent most of it in Arizona. When I finally did arrive home, the temperatures in Illinois were much the same as what I had in February. The temperature reached 100 on the day we left. After spending three months in tee shirts and shorts, I suddenly found myself looking for warmth. Another delay occurred because my sister-in-law suffered a stroke shortly after we returned. We spent a good bit of time visiting with her and were at her bedside when she passed. Before I knew it, June had arrived and established itself before I pulled a single weed, bought flowers and even considered getting into the garden.

All of that stuff is over now, and I attack the Monet Vision daily with vigor, which runs out in a few short hours. So when I read a news articles like a Zombie, and it appeals to me, I re-blog or link with a minimum of personal expression. Hopefully, I select topics that appeal to my followers.

Being in the garden gives me time to think and to set goals. My list suddenly becomes almost impossibly long, but I will  take the goals baby step, by baby step and get the important things done. The Monet Vision is at the top of the list, next is blogging, third is work on my novel, and forth is the workshop. Oh, I completely forgot, Peggy fits in there too, and I also have to squeeze in a few moments for physical fitness like walking and bike riding. No, wait, I need to find time to spend with family and friends too. I can’t neglect personal relationships for mundane things like the workshop, blogging, and physical fitness. After all, imbibing Winking Owl with my old fart buddies takes precedence over everything else including Peggy(please don’t rat on me by telling Peggy I said that), and the Monet Vision.

Yesterday, it rained and I watched a Wabbit under the eaves eating bird seed dropped from the feeder. He looked familiar to me, but larger than the last time I saw him. Yes, it is the same Wabbit, it is Aga Bambi, last seen eating Petunias from the 2012 Monet Vision. Not a problem anymore, I’ll call the IRS and ask them to send a FBI drone over to keep the garden under surveillance. If the drones spot any signs of terrorist activity, they can tell me to take positive action.

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