Don't Let Words Become Obsolete

I don’t know, maybe it’s an age issue.  Maybe people aren’t talking to me because they think I’ve gone deaf.  Maybe they think I don’t understand the real world today. Maybe they feel the need to stick to only the basic means of communication because of some cognitive deficiency I’ve developed.  Maybe they are only attempting to amuse me.  Maybe…

                Communication skills have taken on a whole different meaning lately.  Complete sentences are becoming obsolete.  Words are being replaced by pictures.  Complete thoughts are watered down into one-syllable utterances.  Don’t get me wrong, if I’m not paying attention and my next few steps could take me plunging down the side of a cliff, an authoritative STOP will work just fine.  By the same token, turning a love sonnet into a one-liner just doesn’t do the trick.

                Jerry was a man of many words and lots of emotions.  He could turn a simple statement into an epistle.  A greeting card was simply a pretty picture with some nice words and plenty of blank space left over for his feelings.  When we were teenagers he was out of town for two weeks and every day I received multi-page letters written on both sides with his terrible handwriting filling me in on the day’s happenings and letting me know how much he missed me.  I didn’t need the reassurance, we were always meant to be, but the pictures he painted with his words made separation more bearable for two young lovers.

                In today’s world of cell phones and internet connections, our communications would have been in an entirely different ballgame.  Would I have gotten messages with hearts and little round faces showing different expressions?  How about hashtags and abbreviated words?  Never abbreviated words!!!  I’m sure I would have gotten emojis and hearts and whatever else looked appropriate but a picture of a heart and the words I Love You are not the same.  I’m sorry for your loss, I’m happy for you or I’m angry, are words that should come from our hearts, not generated by some computer program.

                Just maybe, if we could go back to saying what we mean or writing down our true emotions, we might be taken more seriously.  Maybe if we took the time and energy to actually talk about how we feel or listen to someone else’s concerns, there would be less anger or frustration and more understanding.  Just saying.  Don’t know if it would do any good in this world of pent up rage and secrets that we don’t know how to share but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.  Maybe… 


God wove a web of loveliness,

Of clouds and stars and birds,

But made not anything at all

So beautiful as words.

Anna Hempstead Branch



This may be a work of fiction but it was penned by a person who believed in this country and the basic integrity of its citizens. He also believed that we have certain rights granted to us under law and an obligation to protect and preserve our Constitutional Republic.  To some of you this may sound corny and that’s ok – you have a right to your opinion.  To some others…well.  Enjoy your Independence Day!


                …”I have to,” he said to them.  “I have to do this – show the KGB why they lost, why they’d lose again or anyone else would lose if it happened all over again.”…

                …Rourke bent down, flicking on the flashlight, shining it up inside.  Rungs were anchored to the living granite, three feet apart, the tunnel inside angling steeply upward.

                He turned back to the shelves.  From a box he took an American flag.  He returned to the escape tunnel….

                …Rourke crouched beside the opening at the top of the mountain, electricity arcing through the scrub brush.  In the distance, he could see one of the Soviet helicopters crashing down, struck by the lightening, burning.  Only one remained.  Rourke stated to his feet, running, crouched, toward the center of the mountaintop.  His radio aerial, camouflaged in a bracken of scrub pine.

                Small patches of cloth were visible protruding partially from the inside of his shirt – red and white – as he touched at the flag.

                Rourke reached for the antenna mast, electricity sparking from it.  Rourke drawing back his hand.

                Below him, far beneath the mountain, massive ball lightning rolled across the ground, the ground itself burning, the remaining Russian soldiers running, clothes burning, electricity arcing from their bodies, their heads, bodies exploding with it.

                Rourke reached for the mast again, the leather magazine pouch protecting his hand.  He started to tug at the cloth, pulling it from inside his shirt.  Red. White. Red and white stripes.  A blue field with white stars.  A strong wind whipped across the mountaintop as Rourke secured the grommets on the flag to the antenna mast, the flag catching in the stiff wind, unfurling, blowing across the top of the mountain.

                Rourke stepped back, staring out across the valley.  The thunder seemed to be in waves, lightning bolts ripping the sky around him.

                Out of the black sky, the last Soviet helicopter came.  Rourke started toward the escape tunnel entrance.  The helicopter was firing its machineguns, the rocks around Rourke’s feet chipping up, seeming to explode. 

                A missile launched from the gunship, a smoking trail.  It exploded less than a dozen yards from the blowing flag.  Rourke fell to the ground, the concussion stunning him.  He started to push up to his feet.  The flag was ripped, tattered – but still there.  The Soviet helicopter was making a run, coming low, its coaxially mounted machineguns blazing, slugs impacting around the flag.

                “No-o-o!” Rourke screamed the word, his hands flashing up to the twin stainless Detonics .45s, ripping them from the leather.  On the horizon, the sky was burning, like a wave, the fire licking across the air, toward him, engulfing the ground.

                Rourke could see inside the cockpit of the helicopter now, past the open cockpit door.  “Rozhdestvenskiy,” Rourke snarled.  The rock beneath Rourke chewed up under the impact of the machinegun slugs, a small wound opening on Rourke’s left forearm as a rock chip impacted against it.  Rourke stood unflinching, the pistols in his hands as the helicopter closed.

                Rozhdestvenskiy was leaning out the cockpit door, a submachinegun in his hands, firing.

                Rourke shoved both gleaming Detonics .45s ahead of him at arm’s length, then started to fire, first the right pistol, then the left, then the right, then the left.

                The helicopter was still coming.  The slide locked back on the pistol in Rourke’s right hand – empty.

                Rourke, his lips drawn back over his teeth, shouted, “God Bless America!”  The pistol in his left hand discharged, Rozhdestvenskiy’s body lurching, twisting, the submachinegun in the KGB colonel’s hands firing still, but into the helicopter.

                The fire in the sky was rumbling toward Rourke as he started running toward the open hatch of the escape tunnel.  He dove for the tunnel; the fire welled up and consumed the mountain, as it had the sky and the earth below….

SURVIVALIST #9    Earth Fire  1984



Life and Dandelions Go On

                Recently, a visitor commented on the height of my lawn.  “Isn’t it about time to get it mowed,” she said.  “What are you waiting for?  We cut our grass once a week so it looks nice.”

                “What’s the hurry?” I argue back, but I know the choir isn’t backing me up on this one so I just smile and we drift off onto another subject that we can more or less agree on.

                The winter was long, even for down here in the South, and the early spring, wet and turbulent. For many of us, gardens have been delayed until the earth has had time to dry and the danger of flooding subsides.  Bursts of pink and yellow and white blossoms have emerged from their winter’s nap proclaiming loudly that Persephone has returned from the underworld to join her mother and the time has come for us to dig and plant and hopefully, eventually harvest.

                Maybe I feel that I get an early peek at what spring will be like.  When the sun is just coming up, I can look out the window and see dots of white clover covering the ground.  Soon, after the sun has had a chance to spread across the yard, the dandelions’ petals open and stretch out.  A well-manicured lawn cannot compare to the sea of yellow and white flora waving in the breeze.  The landscape is ever-changing; a different view can be had by just a slight turn of the head.  At nightfall, when the sun has journeyed over the yard and begins to set, the dandelion petals will fold and wait for the darkness to pass, and then get ready for the next show.

                Another positive argument in favor of my degree of lawn care is that the clover brings neighbors over to enjoy the fresh bounty. One of the cows from the pasture next to me has found a way past the fence and gate and crosses over the dirt road to feast on the gourmet salad bar my property provides.  She is a frequent enough visitor that Shelby doesn’t bark at her but merely sits on the deck, watching. 

                Last evening the cow we named Clover was escorted onto a cattle trailer along with a dozen or so of her bovine friends and traveled down the dirt road to her next adventure.  Today the young man, who cuts my lawn, rode across that same dirt road and transformed my yard into a more “respectable” lawn where only the green grass is visible. 

                I know not to worry.  The cycle of life is spinning as always, renewing each and every living thing.  It won’t take long before the clover springs back and the yellow dandelions spread across the landscape.  It may not be acceptable in today’s norm, but it sure is pretty.  What a dull world it would be if everything was neat and perfect and the dots of white and dashes of yellow disappeared forever.

                 I do hope that when the new herd of cattle has settled in the pasture at least one of them learns Clover’s secret escape route.




Some Good Reads

I just finished reading “Big Chicken” by Maryn McKenna which I would consider required reading for everyone regardless of whether or not you enjoy eating the flesh of said creature.  This well-researched book outlines the progression of the scrawny bird, from the back yard egg layer -- who made it to the table only after its productive days were over -- to the mammoth industry of today.  The book takes you back to the beginnings of “the big chicken” and shows you how good intentions and some clever thinkers world-wide turned this fowl into a one size fits all commodity, carrying illness to the unsuspecting consumer and to those working within the industry

McKenna outlines how the chicken industry skyrocketed due to the life-saving discovery of penicillin in the 1940s and the early research being done regarding antibiotics.  In the last seventy years, through the use of antibiotics, a chicken’s weight has doubled and has achieved that weight in half the time. Sounds like a good thing, right?  Well, sorta.  Doctor Frankenstein considered himself to be a humanitarian, initially – until his experiment got away from him. 

Interwoven within the historical background are interviews with commercial farmers, chefs, and activists who are today, working hard to make things right.  This is an international story and many countries faced with disease issues took steps early on to make chicken and all meat products safer.  Other countries saw the problem but the industry was tied too tightly to politics and money.  “Big Chicken” is straightforward in explaining how political inaction and greed helped to make us sick.

Before you push that chicken nugget off your plate I want to assure you that things are getting better for the chickens and those of us who eat them.  Many restaurants, including fast food eateries, insist on obtaining chickens that have not been raised on antibiotics, which in turn, trickles down to the growers and down to the hatcheries and then down to the breeders.  Some of these folks went willingly, some not.  I found my copy of “Big Chicken” at my local library; you might want to check out a copy at yours.


While on the subject of chickens, we are close to closing out “Survive Live Well and Wisely” number 5 and one of the articles regards the validity of raising your own chickens. Some of the other topics we cover include land navigation, self-defense techniques, and a look at some of the pros and cons of marijuana use.  If you’ve missed the first four books, you can find them on Kindle for only $2.95 each.  I’ll let you know when number 5 is available.

Survivalist 36 – “Operation Phoenix” will be available July 2.  A lot of despair, deception, and death.  A whole lot of down and dirty mayhem!  When the Rourkes get angry you had better watch out!   Here’s a look at the first draft of the cover.


Camp Zero #2 – “Icefall” is in the works and looks to be a pretty chilling adventure.  Look for the return of the Starlings and their new agent who seeks revenge for his former kidnapping caper gone bad.  This time his desire is to capture the Rourke kids and do evil things to them.  Did I tell you about the mutant walrus creatures and the Aryan Grail???



What Would John Rourke Do?

The final draft for the next book in the Survivalist series, “Operation Phoenix” is almost completed and, as usual, the Rourke gang has a lot of things that need to be taken care of.  Bad aliens, Illuminati, Neo-Nazis, crazy people, and scheming low down rotten politicians all have their fingers in the pot to bring the world and its inhabitants to its knees.  Could it be that John Rourke has finally met his match?

                Personally, John Rourke has suffered the loss of a son he never had the opportunity to hold in his arms, to smell his sweet baby smell, or to gaze into his eyes and begin to plan for his future.  His younger children have been sent far away for their own safety; who knows when and if they will be reunited.  Rourke’s wife, Emma, has become a distant stranger.  Sarah no longer needs him.  He has been thrust into new surroundings where his son, Michael, and his best friend, Paul, have proven themselves capable of running all operations without his participation. 

                The major governments of the world have no real leadership except the dictates of the New World Order.  The military no longer exists to protect the people and the populace, for the most part, carries on unaware or unconcerned of the radical changes occurring around the planet.  The President of the United States has canceled the Bill of Rights and tightened his grip on the news media.  The President as well as puppet leaders elsewhere are taking orders from ones much higher up in the chain of command; those higher up will soon control the world.

                John Rourke has survived and won many battles by his perseverance and sheer willpower.  By now he must feel like he is lacking in both.  We all get tired.  We all get discouraged.  We all want to pull that blanket up over our heads and let the storms pass us by.  There is nothing wrong with being discouraged by life’s happenings; there is a lot of bad stuff going on out there.  But we have to consider the consequences of doing nothing, of saying nothing. 

                We hope John Thomas Rourke will never give up; that he will continue to fight the good fight until the last breath leaves his body.  John Thomas Rourke is a fictional character who relies on the keystrokes of authors who plot his every action, his every emotion.  We, on the other hand, must travel the path that our hearts and minds lead us.  May we always try to follow the right path.  What kind of a world do we want for our children and our children’s children?

                What would John Rourke do?  Will John Rourke give up the fight?  Never!