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!



Night of January 16th

Recently I attended a local theatrical production of Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th.  The performers did a great job of presenting a very young Rand’s emerging philosophy on individualism versus collectivism.  It’s done as a courtroom drama with the murder victim’s secretary/mistress on trial for his murder.    The jury, chosen from the audience, must decide if she threw him from the penthouse apartment to his death or if he committed suicide and she was merely struggling with him to prevent him from jumping. 

                Through courtroom testimony, we must make a decision as to what type of man Bjorn Faulkner was, since it becomes apparent that He is the one on trial.  Was he a man who was ready to change his ways and strive to help make the world a better place for mankind or, a man who set his own rules and was willing to live or die by them. The witnesses called to the stand bring their own biases. The question as to how he died becomes irrelevant; more important is the way he chose to live. Rand’s play forces the jury to decide between conformity and individualism based on their own philosophical leanings. 

                Ayn Rand was only twenty-eight in 1933 when she penned her play and had a long road ahead of her before she honed completely her philosophy of Individualism.  Probably she is most well known for her huge novel, Atlas Shrugged, but a tiny parable of hers written years earlier, Anthem, gets her point across even more clearly.   The society in her story encourages collectivism.  One must think only of what is good for the general public.  Individual thoughts or actions are banned.  Having pride in your accomplishments is a sin.  The word “I” is unspeakable and if uttered is cause for death.

                If we were to live in such a collective society, another word that must be banned is “choice.”  What is best for you may not be best for the masses, therefore limiting your access to achieve that choice is the correct thing to do.  If you wish information on a particular subject that the higher authority does not approve of, the information becomes lost or illegal to acquire.  Soon, this information becomes less real and more of a distant memory.  A typical modern term for this is “dumbing down.”        

    We can see this is today’s society where certain books, regardless of literary value, are banned from classrooms and libraries because they might be offensive to certain people.  Rather than making it known that a book or some other type of media could be offensive to those people, the easier course of action is to make it unavailable to everyone.  It would not take long for the masses living in such a culture to eventually think as one and act as one.  If an individual with an open mind entered the mix chaos would surely follow.

                We all have and will continue to be influenced by others. It’s just human nature.  Listen. Digest. Process.  Live your life free to decide your own path.  Remember what your mother asked you when you were a child?  If Billy jumps off a cliff are you going to jump too?  Think about it.

                Just read a pretty interesting book by NBC Chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel talking about his twenty plus years living in the Middle East and reporting on the people and politics of the region.   Not a casual observer, Engel spent time getting to know the history behind the different factions, learned the language and spent time with the local inhabitants, living in places like Egypt, Israel, and Iraq.  He was quick to travel wherever the action was taking place, at times at great risk of his life. It’s a fast-paced account of what went bad and why in a greatly complicated region.  Check out And Then All Hell Broke Loose.





I can’t remember playing with any special toys.  First of all, we didn’t have a lot of money so I knew better than asking for stuff my parents couldn’t afford, which was most things.  I didn’t care about dolls except for this one I got for Christmas one year that you fed water to from its own little bottle and then squeezed its stomach and the water squirted out of a hole in the doll’s behind.  It became my own special squirt gun. I know now that I was way too annoying, running around the house, filling the doll up with water and then having it pee on everything.  Parents do occasionally make mistakes with toy selections. 

I did like paint by number sets and would occasionally stoop to begging.  I was with my mother and my sister at a Woolworths and my mother was going to let me pick out a paint by number set.  She had this religious picture in mind and I had my heart set on a picture of Superman.  Unfortunately, Superman cost more than Jesus and I was told it was Jesus or a German shepherd.  I didn’t want the dog and I didn’t want Jesus.  I wanted Superman! I stood there holding Superman in my arms and started to wail.  Embarrassed, my sister paid the extra fifty or sixty cents and the four of us left the building. Up. Up and away!

Since there was a limit on the number of these sets available, I eventually gave in and painted the German shepherd and went on to the Last Supper.  Mom decided that I should give the completed Last Supper to our minister.  Even a little kid like me suspected that he had a closet full of the same picture, but he took it from me with a straight face and my mom was happy.  The German shepherd and a Cocker Spaniel hung on the wall in the dining room, next to two pictures portraying kimono-clad ladies on scenic bridges, horses, pink flamingos, parrots, sailing ships, a lighthouse, a Poodle on black velvet, etc.

Another young passion of mine was putting together plastic models.  I started assembling old-timey cars and planes, never really interested in those of the present which by now would be in that old-timey bracket.  The original Aurora plastic models of Frankenstein and his horror buddies adorned my dresser top and a large dinosaur skeleton which I later gave to my nephew.  That was a total mistake as he stepped on it and broke it beyond repair.  Bet you thought I had forgotten that, George!  I worked my way up to large models of sailing ships with intricate rigging and cannons.  Putting it mildly, our home always smelled of paint thinner and glue.

I was still into model making when Jerry and I became friends in high school and one time I bought him a simple car with just a few pieces to put together and paint.  A few days later, he brought it over to show me.  Most of the body was covered in fingerprints embedded in dried, excess glue and one of the axels had been replaced with a toothpick.  The car was painted all over in one color and he had drawn two heads on the windshield, smiling.  He told me that glue and paint were too dangerous and he would rather stick to scotch tape.  I agreed. 

When buying gifts, remember to stay within the skill-level of the recipient.