Yard Wars – Episode 1

It has been beautiful here in St Louis and my wife is very much an outdoor person. She is currently working from home and going stir crazy. So, that means I get roped into going on walks, house hunting treks, and trips to Home Depot. On Saturday we went to buy a garden rake and came out with $400 worth of plants and planters and spreaders and hose and dirt in a bag and rocks in a bag and fertilizer and finally, a rake!

We have a little yard, merely a tarp-sized yard, really. But it has been populated by grass-like plants that are seemingly impossible to kill. We sprayed the yard with Kill-Everything juice last year and most of it just laughed us. This is back alley knife-wielding grass.

This year, my wife decided she wanted to till it up completely and start from scratch. Therefore, we rented a tiller and hired a neighbor to manhandle it. In the end,  the yard was tore up plenty, but I think the grass still won. It’s back there snickering at us now.

However, we did get a win out of it. Our master bedroom has a deck off of it that we use as a reading / sunroom area. It now has window boxes, a fern, some other flowery stem plant, and a palm, all nicely arrayed and pretty.

I am exhausted and ready to go back to work tomorrow. My wife is visibly more relaxed for having established her plant sanctuary. The yard is still laughing at me. I think a gallon of RoundUp is in its future. Yes, yes… its the evil Monsanto Monster Juice, but sometimes drastic situations demand drastic actions.

Die, Evil Grass-like weed, Die!!


Personal Space Walking.

I took my personal space for a walk today. It was a beautiful day. So, when I got home from my day job, I rescued my wife’s personal space and took it to the park. She has been working from home and was desperate for some air. Tower Grove in St Louis is a beautiful park not far from us. Not within walking distance but close enough that it is our goto for park walking.

The sunny weather had driven a lot of personal spaces out of the house, many with dogs. The park was scattered with them, but by watching you could still tell that they were keeping their distance more than usual. I tend to do that anyway. I’m am not a touchy friendly person and have a personal space that is much larger than most. There was a clear sphere of space around everyone.

It got me thinking about the ‘after’ of this crisis. Even if we are all suddenly immunized for this bug, the experience of knowing that we could get deathly ill merely by being near someone must leave an impression. Yes, this has always been true, sicknesses and plagues are nothing new. But we’ve never had that fact drilled home nearly as sharply as we now have.  Not many personal spaces will come out of this unchanged.

I can imagine a future where we no longer shake hands with any old willy-nilly stranger. We save that most professional of greetings for closer acquaintances or business contacts. Hugs and kisses will become fewer and more precious. Bars and clubs would not be nearly as crowded. Body-pressing will become frowned on. Etc…

Except I doubt any of those visions will happen. Humans are icky, ill-mannered, and hard to housetrain. However, I do feel us becoming less in-your-face than before. Being standoffish is okay. I respect your personal space and expect the same of mine. All personal spaces should expand a bit, be more free-range. Instead of man-spreading, we’re personal-spreading. This ain’t grand-dads personal space, know-what-I’m-sayin.

The future is cloudy and swarming with diseases and icky humans. We don’t know what, if anything, we will retain from this experience. But, yet, I am very sure my own personal space will remain large and hard to get into. I don’t invite people, even friends, into it very often. My spread will remain intact.

Space, people… Give Me Space!!



With St Louis on a mild lock-down and the rest of the world falling apart around me, I’ve been taking advantage of the time to work diligently on my book. However, there is only so much time I can spend focused on any one thing.

So, here’s some cat-porn to help you through your day.


This is Turkey. He’s a cat and he’s pretty good at it.



COVID-19 Attacks

I much prefer to call the virus COVID-19 than the Coronavirus and definitely better than that idiotic Chinese Virus. I think it’s because of the added distance the code implies. In my mind, there could be a Mr. Corona Virus out there bopping around and getting picked on, hating his life.

Whereas COVID-19 could easily be an evil AI out to destroy us all or an alien monster-robot or … a killer virus released to infect everyone in order to blackmail the world for all of the money. Any time now, the Evil Genius responsible will reveal himself and make his demands known while dangling the antidote just… out of reach.

But overall the name change makes it much easier to hate the thing. COVID-19 you bastard!! You will never break us COVID-19!!



Technology Crossroads

Hand editing

I am nearing the end of a rewrite and editing a particularly sticky scene. I’ve been struggling to reconcile with a previous scene and using my new laptop and my massive new monitor. However, I’ve found that the technology is getting in the way. I’m not a big fan of ebooks anyway and prefer the physical product in my hands. So, when it comes to editing I am still of the old school. I can write and do basic editing through a keyboard, but for deeper editing or reconciliation I really need a hardcopy to mark up and rifle through.

So, I currently have a print of the offending scenes on the desk in front of me and the electronic copy on the monitor.

I feel that I’m at the crossroads between technologies. Like when cars were first on the roads, but the roads weren’t up to snuff so horses were still used to get them out of the mud. Or when electronic calculators came out but the student still had to use a slide rule for trig functions.

Maybe someday I will get comfortable enough with technology to put down the pen and edit by electronic means only. But for now, I’ll stick to what works for me. And after last weekend’s laptop apocalypse, I know my pen and paper won’t die on me.

PS: I still own a slide rule!!


The Pandemic Has Arrived…

I am not all worked up about the virus at this point. I am just making other plans for my weekends because concerts are now frowned upon. So, I guess I’ll just sit in my office and work on my book in the hope that people will still be around to read it.

Which is a legitimate concern when one is dealing with a pandemic. It’s not just a normal epidemic but pan-demic. Like comparing normal thin crust pizza to a pan-pizza!! One is most assuredly better than the other.

I just imagine a herd of closeted writers curled up in their rooms safe and sound and clicking away on their plague-punk novel that will be the hit of the post-demic world. I would read that. I am not going to write it though. There are others much more prepared to jump on that wagon.



The Decay will be Documented

Sometimes I like to play photographer. I have no training and don’t have the delusion that I’m an ‘artist’. However, I do like to think that I have an eye. An eye for what I find interesting anyway. I am an engineer by profession and tend to think visually, so I will find myself seeing a picture in my head and then try to recreate it. It’s never as good as I imagined, but sometimes I do surprise myself.

One of my favorite themes in my writing and photography is Time. The passing of it, the waste of it, the grasping for it. Abandoned places are a great place to find images of this. The decay of human endeavor and possessions fascinates me because nature doesn’t care what we think is beautiful or valuable. It will chew it up and turn it into life regardless.

This image was taken in an abandoned farmhouse in Nebraska. I found it odd that the television was still in mostly one piece, possibly even sitting where it was last used how many decades ago.

If you listen closely you can hear a raccoon hissing in the background.


Coronavirus!! ARGH!!

So, we have entered the apocalypse and the stock market jumped off a cliff!

Well, shoot…

The ‘crisis’ has had little impact on our lives at this point. For the most part, we haven’t changed our daily life at all. Our social life was limited, to begin with, so there was little to change. I think I am washing my hands a bit more thoroughly than before, but not really more often. We have not ‘stocked up’ on anything. I can’t see us going through toilet paper or kleenex any faster than we usually do. And we’ve got stuff in the freezer, so that is not an issue.

Therefore, unless the world crashes and deliveries stop for months at a time, we should be fine.

I am watching the progression of the virus, though. We have a vacation to Egypt planned for December and I am concerned about our travel arrangements. I’m not really concerned about the health aspects of our travel; those are a secondary concern at this point. We are both healthy and not in a high-risk group. As long as we are conscious of our safety and use some safety measures, I think we should be fine. I’m certainly not going to worry. 

Overall, we have no plans to alter our lifestyle or travel plans to account for the virus. Things may change in the future, but at this time we are only slightly concerned.

Be safe everyone and Don’t Panic!!