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Showing posts from 2017

Love Wins

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A few years ago we took a winter's train ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The train delivered us to a city split at the Georgia/Tennessee state line - McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. We stepped of the train to sight see and grab some lunch. We were not prepared for what we encountered - a man standing on the street corner screaming hellfire and damnation to everyone that walked by. I was perplexed how he was so certain that everyone stepping off the train, men, women, children, and elderly were such lowlife sinner scum that we needed to repent or burn in the eternal fires of hell. As we got almost in front of him, he turned towards me and screamed at the top of his lungs, "Do you know Jesus?" I smiled and replied, "As a matter of fact, I do." It did not phase him as he continued screaming from his memorized script. My inner being wanted to grab him and scream back, "Do you realize how much damage you are doing? Do you realize you are…

Book Review: Confessions of a Funeral Director - How the Business of Death Saved My Life by Caleb Wilde

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Sixth generation funeral director Caleb Wilde engages the negative narrative that we all seem to engage when we encounter death. Nursing home and hospitals hide the dead. Families pay professionals to whisk the dead from our sight. We use trite phrases like, "time can heal", "they're in a better place", "You need to move on", "its all gonna be OK", "You will move on", and "It will get better". But Wilde suggests that these worn out platitudes do little to comfort the grieving and by trying to rush them through the grieving period, we do them a disservice.

When the funeral industry tends to quickly swoop into a families home and load up the deceased and shuttle them out of sight to a funeral home for embalming and preparations for the funeral, Wilde discovers that the family is better served by being allowed to have time with the deceased. Time to kiss them on the cheek, time to tell them they love them, time to embrace t…

The Dark Side of The Land of The Free

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In Tahlequah, Oklahoma outside of Tulsa, a few weeks after Thanksgiving I met Tony. His ancestors originally lived in the Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina area along with about 125,000 others in the early 1800s. But many of their new neighbors that had moved into the area became jealous of the land they occupied and wanted it for their own. Their neighbors managed to convince their state governments and even then President Andrew Jackson to transfer thousands of acres of their land to white cotton farmers.

In 1831, President Jackson ordered the U.S. Army to evict the Choctaw Native Americans from their land and forced them to walk - some bound in chains and shackles - to the land west of the Mississippi River during winter without food or any assistance from the U.S. Government. In 1836, the President ordered the Army to force the Creeks from their land as well. Of the 15,000 that began the walk to Oklahoma, some 3,500 died on the way. The President then set his sites on …

Thanksgiving in the South

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This year we made the 5 1/2 hour trek to the motherland where I grew up for Thanksgiving with the family, namely Mitchell County, in the Southwest corner of Georgia - a place where everything moves a bit slower and your choices for going out to eat are a bit slimmer. A place where when a car goes by, if you don't wave it raises suspicions.

My brother and his wife have a beautiful piece of land with a lake, two hogs, potbelly pigs, horses, miniature donkeys, goats, chickens and more chickens, six dogs, and I think the current count in 9 cats, a squirrel, and a rabbit. They both have a heart for animals and keep taking in the strays and giving them a loving home. It's the kind of place where you stoke a fire in the burn barrel and watch the stars come out while the frogs croak, the crickets chirp, and the fish splash in the dark.

We head down to a local restaurant of Thanksgiving dinner. When we arrive the parking lot is already packed with four wheel drive pickups and a line o…

You'd be Angry Too If Your Name Was Irma

When the weather guessers began predicting that Hurricane Irma would impact the entire state of Florida, we took note. I was most concerned for our friends and acquaintances who live in the Florida Keys. On Monday, September 4th, my manager inquired on my family's plan for Irma storm evacuation. I responded that we would make a decision on evacuation on Thursday as the spaghetti model was at the time inconclusive. In fact it looked like a plate of spaghetti from Carraba's Italian Grill had be dumped on a map of the continental United States, but someone had somehow managed to salvage the meatballs. With the weather guessers continuing to say that even if Saint Petersburg, the Sunshine City, did not take a direct hit, we could see wind gusts over 100 mph, I took them serious.

I remembered when we bought our house the house flipper had installed the bolts and wingnuts it the exterior window frames and cut plywood for each window. I also recalled that he had not labelled them oth…

Guest Post: Andi Cumbo-Floyd - The Teeter-Totter of Discipline and Grace

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The Teeter-Totter of Discipline and Grace
Dear Beautiful People, 
For the first time in several months, I achieved my goal of writing 1,000 words a day on my work-in-progress this week.  Most mornings, I didn't want to do it. I had other things to do - things that pay me money and aren't as hard - but I did it.  Each time, it took me less than 30 minutes - I draft very quickly because I've practiced for years, but my revision process is quite slow - and when I was done, I felt great because I wasn't going to be carrying the burden of disappointment and guilt I feel when I don't write. 
For me, writing is a calling, a vocation, my life's work, if you can bear that level of grandioseness and not think it some sort of April Fool's Day joke.( I assure you, I'm serious.) So when I'm not using it, I feel a bit like that servant from the parable who buries the money in the dirt.  I don't like that feeling.  Over many years of practice, after reading ma…

Book Giveaway!!!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway Awakened by Allen Madding Giveaway ends September 22, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway

Pause

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Thursday night we had a planned maintenance at work which I was asked to be apart, so the workday went from 7AM until 1:30AM. Fortunately, I got Friday comped to recoup. Do I awoke Friday with a list of things I wanted to accomplish personally. Top of the list was getting some Advance Reader Copies (ARC) of Awakened mailed out to members of the launch team. I jumped in White Lighting (my 1970 C20 pickup) and rode over to Walgreens to pickup some padded envelopes as I had a depleted inventory. Much to my chagrin when i crawled back in the truck to head home with the envelopes, the starter refused to cooperate. It wouldn't even click.



I called State Farm Roadside Assistance and found a place in the shade beside the building to wait. before they arrived, a landscaper noticed the hood up and asked me if I needed a jump. He hooked up a jump box and said it showed the battery fully charged. White Lightning refused to budge despite the jump. I thanked him for his assistance and called St…

Inferno Films Producing New Documentary Entitled Community First, A Home for the Homeless

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For those who haven't heard, one of the biggest things I am excited about in the work to end homelessness in our country is a model community - Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Community First! Village in Austin, Texas which is a complete paradigm shift. Mobile Loaves and Fishes is an organization that has been serving the homeless community in the Austin are for years with an eye to restoring dignity. The Community First! Village utilizes RVs and Tiny Homes in a 27-acre master planned development in East Austin providing affordable, permanent housing for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas.

Today, I am thrilled to announce that Award-winning director and filmmaker Layton Blaylock and the team at Inferno Films are producing a documentary entitled, Community First: A Home for the Homeless. The film follows the progress of Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Community First! Village in Austin. Production began in March 2017 and will continue through the remainder of the year. A K…

Live, Laugh, Love, Love to Laugh

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From time to time friends will comment on my ability to bring laughter to any occasion. I freely admit that I love to laugh and firmly believe if you cannot laugh, you cannot enjoy life. I cannot take credit for my sense of humor. It is directly inherited. One of the funniest men in my life growing up was my Grandpa Madding. He was always up to something and all ways had a joke to tell.
As a small kid, I loved watching HeeHaw with Grandpa. Especially when they sang "Where, Where are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone? I searched the world over and thought I found true love. You met another and PFFFTT you were gone!" My Mom hated when I sang that and threatened to whip me. Grandpa thought it was hilarious.





 Our family loved to hunt and fish. My Dad had taken me and my brother hunting with him several time. He carried his shotgun, and we tagged along with our Daisy BB guns. He had taught us gun safety and things to be aware of in the woods. So when Grandpa came …

Little Johnny and Adventures on the Flint River

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As a boy growing up in rural South Georgia, Mitchell County to be exact, I was introduced to fishing on the mighty Flint River. My Dad bought a 14 foot aluminum Jon boat and powered it with a 9 1/2 horse Johnson outboard that we called Little Johnny that he had gotten when my Granddad sold his Salt Water boat. On occasion, he would let me set at the back of the boat and pilot the boat. I remember the initial awe and fear I felt as I struggled to learn to turn the motor the opposite direction that I wanted the boat to head and becoming familiar with the less than raw power available at the twist of my wrist.



The Flint River was not a body of water to be taken lightly. I had sandbars, snags, and rocks to navigate past and spring holes that were hundreds of feet deep. It was a river to be respected and an appropriate amount of fear probably would be advised as well. Anytime Dad was piloting the boat on the Flint, I was instructed to sit to one side, so he could see the water ahead and a…

Book Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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Auggie Pullman was born with several "small anomalies". In fact his face was so disfigured from birth and numerous surgeries, his parents elected to homeschool him that is until 5th grade. Auggie is about to face his greatest fear, being the new kid at Beecher Prep. And everyone knows middle school kids are not the kindest and most considerate. Inside Auggie is just an  ordinary kid with ordinary dreams and aspirations, but he has an extraordinary face. He knows it will be a struggle to convince his classmates that he doesn't have cooties and that his disfigured face isn't contagious. But how will he do it? How can he convince his classmates that they can be brave enough to go against the popular culture of making fun of him and actually befriend him? There is only one way - to bravely show them what he is like on the inside.
Wonder is well written, has wonderfully and accurately created characters. I highly recommend it to parents and children of all ages. There ar…

Dining Reviews Are Moving

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I'm a very excited to announce a new venture with a very good friend and talented chef, Leslie Barton. We have launched a new website SlapYourGrandma.com. This website will provide restaurant and recipes so good, you'll want to, well, slap your grandma.

All dining reviews going forward will be found on this new website. I encourage you to bookmark the page and join us on this new adventure.

The Great American Scream Machine - a Lesson in Overcoming Fear

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I was probably around 10 years old when my family made its first trip to Six Flags Over Atlanta. The trip is a fond memory including bumper cars, log flume water rides, the Dahlonega Mine Train - which at that time was a wooden roller coaster that smelled of creosote and had an interactive animated "Buford the Buzzard" tossing insults at the waiting crowd in the queue line.

The event of the day the left an indelible mark in my memory from 43 years ago, was the Great American Scream Machine - a wooden roller coaster that had opened that year with a hill that was 105 feet tall and a top speed of 57 miles an hour. The restraints for the coaster consisted of a lap bar. Current day it utilizes a seat belt and a lap bar, but for the life of me I only remember the lap bar on my first ride.

As a 10 year old kid, I had seen the advertisements for the Scream Machine and had my hesitations. It was a mammoth site painted in gleaming white adorned with red, white, and blue banners.  Som…

Book Review: Real Artists Don't Starve - Jeff Goins

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I have read several of Jeff Goins' books and follow him in social media as he has been an excellent source for strategy and encouragement for writers and bloggers. When I learned he was releasing "Real Artists Don't Starve", I added it to my reading list for a future purchase once released. A couple of weeks ago, Jeff emailed me and asked if I would like a pre-release copy to read and review. Being a budget minded avid reader, I of course took him up on his generous offer. Who would not, it is a free book after all that I wanted to read anyhow.
The book is an excellent read for anyone that writes - short stories, novelist, bloggers, poets, and other artists as well. Especially those who have been keeping you art under wraps and not putting it out for the public to experience and enjoy. Jeff sets to work immediately to dispel the ancient theory that to produce good art one has to starve. Right off the bat he user Michaelangelo as a prime example. He provides research…

Cardinals and Blackberries

When I was around 4 years old, my family moved from Southern Indiana to South Georgia. My father had been working in Georgia for a few months before the move, and had been sending us reel to reel tape recorded messages describing the land down South. We left behind a neighborhood full of kids that were our friends and headed off into the unknown. My brother and I rode in the back of my Mom's Buick station wagon in the area behind the third seat on a set of large foam cushions that had been made to fit the area. This was a day before car seats and mandatory seat belts. While they drove down the interstate, we had our own private play area with huge windows that provided us ample opportunity to pump our arms at every passing semi in hopes they would sound off their air horns. 
Also left behind in the move were two sets of grandparents. Granny Jackson, my mother's mom, was not particularly keen on the idea of her only grand kids being so many miles away. She had lived hours away …

Book Review: Ten Beach Road - Wendy Wax

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Three women who are total strangers wake one morning to find their live savings have completely vanished victims of a Ponzi scheme. The three are awarded co-ownership of a seized asset - a beach house in Pass-a-Grille, Florida. OK, so she had me hook line and sinker at this point, because we live maybe 15 miles from Pass-a-Grille. When the three women descend upon the house to try and determine how they can quickly liquidate their shared asset and recover some of their lost savings, they find a house in disrepair and neglect. The three set out on a journey to live in the house while renovating it to improve the marketability and profitability.

This is a great summer read and even better if your vacationing at the beach. Wax does a masterful job of defining the characters and the interactions will keep you entertained from cover to cover. She has also done a commendable job researching construction and other details to make the story believable while entertaining.

I recommend it to an…

Book Review: All Over But the Shoutin' - Rick Bragg

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The autobiography of Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Rick Bragg who grew up in rural Alabama the son of poor parents struggling to earn a living. His mother picked cotton in the fields by hand and his father struggled with demons of war and alcoholism. Bragg tells the story of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s when children spent their time outside climbing trees, playing in creek beds, and racing old bikes down red clay dirt roads. At night they fell asleep listening to crickets while Faron Young and Little Jimmy Dickens sang on the radio. He tells the vivid details of his father's raging anger and abandonment of the family while his mother wore worn out pants and shoes, eating the leftovers after feeding all of her children dinner. The story paints a sharp contrast of his father's self focus versus his mother's dedication to her family. While it seemed that young Rick would follow in the footsteps of every other male in the area down a path of a lifelong career at the m…