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Thoughts, Reflections, and Occasional Writing Stuff from Along the River.
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Along The River
by:  Ric Marion
e-mail:  ric@ricmarion.com
Life is not about the number of breaths we take, but about the number of times that it takes your breath away.
April 14, 2015

Spring has Come!

April 14, 2015 8am 38 degrees, bit of frost this morning but a glorious sunrise, a brilliant blue sky and the stars last night, standing on my front porch looking up at the spectacular show in the sky that we so often ignore. Sparkling in the rain drenched air, and Venus in the west shining her glow through the bedroom window. Love springs eternal under the evening star.

Had to remove a groundhog from the end of my driveway where he apparently got hit by a truck. Not sure whether it was Clarence or not - he wasn't wearing his nametag. Hope it wasn't as I can't imagine the pain of losing yet another pet to the vagaries of my heavily traveled road. Might be a Stephen King novel in that concept.

Much to accomplish this sunny spring day. To work!

April 12, 2015 11am 61 degrees. Clear blue Michigan skies.

My whole writing schedule thing has gone nowhere, although I will say the WIP has been percolating, coming to the surface in dreams, filling in the plot holes, so hope springs eternal.

Right now, in the warm south breeze, a rake is calling me, time to get out there in the fresh air, start cleaning up the debris of winter.

Chimed in on LitPark, Susan Henderson always has a lively discussion going on - and she is a delight, having something positive to say about everything.

These days are a whirlwind of baby showers for our friends and family's latest grandchildren, and looking forward to my youngest son's graduation from Oakland University with his Masters degree.

Life is good.

February 23, 2015 2pm 4 degrees. Bitter cold. set yet another record last night and will again today for the daily high temp. No school, my teacher friends are happy, third day in a row cancelled for dangerous wind chills. Yeah, yeah, back in the day when we had to walk five miles to school through hip deep snow, uphill both ways.....

Taking advantage of this time to redo my writing schedules. What I have been doing, which isn't much, is not working. Nothing is getting done, though I am playing an inordinate amount of Mahjong on the computer. Used to be, when this happened, I would grab my notebook and head out to the local coffee shop and get the groove back. Tried that and the restaurant has changed their coffee supplier to a deeper darker blend, which is really horrible coffee and has an adverse effect on my digestive system after the second cup. So that is out.

So, blocking out hours now, solid writing, no games, no checking the stock market, no checking facebook or twitter, just writing. Starting with a couple hours a day and see if it will build on itself. Off we go...........

February 21, 2015 3pm 22 degreees. First time over 20 degrees in days. Set a new record for -29 degrees on Monday. Coldest ever recorded in our little town. Supposed to be 35 or so and the ten day forecast has no numbers even close to that. 16 inches of snow on the ground, the deer are eating my yew bushes again like they did last year when the snow was too deep to dig for grasses.

Party todnight - one of our friends is turning 60, so food, cards, wine and fun. Tomorrow is Oscar night, Oakland University Golden Grizzlies basketball and dropping temps.

Been playing Garth Brooks songs in anticipation of the concert Friday night next. Should be great fun.

Life is good.

February 16, 2015 2pm, 8 degrees. An actual warmup as yesterday's high was 0. Woke this morning to an official temperature of -25. Don't recall ever getting that low hereabouts. Hard to do anything outside when it is so cold.

Fifty Shades of Gray took in $90 million. Yeah, the books took in nearly as much. I made it through the first book, just couldn't bring myself to pick up another. Sorta like those bestsellers that appear out of nowhere, go by word of mouth, and when you get around to reading what all the fuss is about, you go, "Huh?" The Bridges of Madison County comes to mind, Valley of the Dolls, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull.

And I am firmly not being elitist here. I just abhor poor writing.

That said. I will watch the movie when it gets to my little screen this fall. The Bridges is a great movie and Valley of the Dolls is my favorite movie of all time - I rewatch it whenever I need a jolt of guilty pleasure.

The Saturday Night Live special did a great tribute to New York - haven't been there in years, hope to go this summer.

Too cold to go outside, getting cabin fever.

February 9, 2015 Noon, 19 degrees, roughly 15 inches of snow on the ground, winter refusing to release her grip, going to be a long hard slog to spring.

Back when the kids were small, a cartoon show started on television that they wanted to watch, because all their friends were watching. The Simpsons. Their Mother and I watched it a couple times and decided it was not appropriate for young boys to be viewing. The reason? It portrayed the Father in a horrible way. He could do nothing right, he got no respect from his children and was a complete loser. The kids growled and complained, but we held firm.

It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, until all the other sitcoms quickly followed in portraying Dads in a bad light. Married with Children, Malcolm in the Middle, and nearly every other program as well. No more Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons. Fathers had gone from all knowing to know nothing. It was a hard time, as young boys quickly picked up on the idea that Dad was a loser, couldn't possibly know anything and was clearly not a role model.

(as if we didn't have enough things to worry about raising children, we now had to integrate the idea of being perceived as less than wisdom personified.)

On Super Bowl Sunday, amid the dancing sharks, horrible coaching, and hype, there appeared numerous commercials with a new kind of Dad. WTF? Well, that's a pleasant surprise. From racing car Dad, to Dad coming to the rescue Dad, it seemed the Super Bowl had suddenly become a Father's Day greeting card commercial.

I'm sure there are psychologists parsing what all these means - and if they aren't, they should be. But, as a Father, it certainly means a lot to be back on the top of the hill and not portrayed as a perennial loser.

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January 31, 2015

How to Lose Your Job as Editor

January 31, 2015 9am, 18 degrees, sunshine giving way to clouds.

Simply glance at the obit as it goes across your desk. Get skewered by news outlets worldwide.

Ouch.

January 25, 2015 Noon, 21 degrees. Cold front came through last night, freezing the drips and melting from yesterday's 38 degrees. Blue Michigan skies with fluffy white clouds rushing in the wind.

Finished The Bone Clocks this morning about 1:30, long book, great read, got a little hokey towards the end, but that didn't deter the overall message. Now, I have to find a copy of Cloud Atlas to read - I've tried watching the movie, but I can only make it ten or fifteen minutes in before I switch to Rachel Maddow or the History Channel.

Interestingly, it took me one month, exactly to get through all the books I got for Christmas. Not sure that's ever happened before.

Back to work on my WIP - influenced by David Mitchell, it will be a more literary work. Seems like the way to go, though I'm still very hesitant about going first person - much cleaner to stay third. Just not confident about my narrator having 100,000 words in him.

This will be the year of my book. It has been along time since I've been this excited about a project - getting the energy for another shot at the apple is the hard part.

Quiet day. No football. Middle son leaving for sunny Arizona to do his thing at the Super Bowl. This is his fourth year getting to be part of the craziness. I'll be interested in his take on the whole NFL mess.

Eldest son, who makes his winter money moving piles of snow around, is unhappy that we have a paucity of the white stuff this year. He is a small minority...

Life is good.

January 18, 2015 10am 35 degrees, cold front coming through today - been nice while it lasted.

Reading The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. Pretty heavy reading if you're not used to it. I am hooked, though, good stuff.

Loaned out copies of blogger friend's books to a friend. She really enjoyed Susan Henderson's Up From The Blue. Glad I could pass it on - now, eagerly awaiting the next book??? Susan?

Off to do family stuff today. Going to pass on Amanda Palmer's The Art Of Asking to my soon to graduate youngest son - I figure advanced degrees in Communication would be able to utilize her new way of looking at the world and the way we do things. It will be interesting to see if he feels the same way.

Ran into an old friend, colleague from Writer's Circle, who stopped coming because of some sort of religious revelation that he shouldn't be writing horror even though he is exceptionally gifted at it. Apparently he had a life changing accident at work which has left him unable to work, but otherwise not too physically handicapped. I told him God really wants him to write that book. We'll update the next time I run across him.

Life is Good. Sometimes, even Great.

January 11, 2015 Noon 25 degrees - warmest we have been in an entire week - nasty cold snap - one warm day, then four more cold ones coming - then an early January thaw. My propane tank is all excited and dropping levels - doubtless, a fill will be in order soon.

Amanda Palmer's The Art Of Asking - excellent book and an entirely different way of interacting with the world, very interesting and I'm sure I learned a lot of tidbits that will enhance my work life in ways I wouldn't have thought possible. Does drag a bit towards the end, but that may just be my jaded outlook on the past few years.

She hit a home run first time out of the gate. Congrats to her and her team.

Watched Philomena with Judi Dench, finally. Ver good movie though I wish they hadn't edited it so tightly, it would be interesting to see what they took out as some storylines were left a bit bereft.

My middle son, back in '90's, was into country music - specifically Kenny Chesney. I took him to his first concert at Pine Knob to see Kenny - a grand father/son bonding experience. It was a great concert barring the drunk girl who kept trying to pick me up, embarrassing my son.

The one country act that we didn't get a chance to see was Garth Brooks, as he stopped touring. So, for Christmas, my son got us tickets to the new tour in Detroit next month. Very cool. Looking forward to having another grand experience.

Seem to be having a bevy of funerals hereabouts lately. Which wouldn't bother me as much if these were old people. But they aren't. They are younger than me - not sure what that means in the grand scheme of things, but it is a bit disquieting.

And so it goes - winter grips hard, but the sun grows stronger and spring cannot be far away.

Je Sui Charlie
January 8, 2015 Sad.

January 5, 2015 4pm 8 degrees Blue Michigan Skies with puffy white clouds.

Exceptionally cold outside, though the wind has died down from earlier. Still licking our wounds as long suffering Detroit Lion fans, that was just wrong. Another little something to give the NFL a bad name and the cynical among us to believe in conspiracy theories and the power of the almighty dollar.

Christmas brought me a whole pile of books to read and enjoy. Fun stuff. Have finished Neil Gaiman's Hansel & Gretel, Gaiman's The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains - both excellent, by the way.
Also through Stephen King's Revival - a sturdy pillar in the King Canon. The ending was a bit silly, but, hey, you can't have everything and I've always been a Lovecraft fan.

Nearly through Amanda Palmer's Art of Asking. I generally don't read much non-fiction, but her backstory was enough to get me interested and, I have to say, the book is really good. She has kept me up the last two nights and I will be sad when I finish the book. I want to stay a few more days with her and the strange world she inhabits.

And that has me fired up to start writing again. Getting the process going, getting into the schedule, the habit again, so that I feel guilty if I don't write every morning, so I feel the tug of the blank white page, the thrill of seeing the characters come alive and speak on their own. I miss it and I've missed a good many days and weeks of not having that fulfilling feeling. It is time. Time to begin again.

and so it goes.

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December 12, 2014

An Oddly Mild December

December 12, 2014 11am 28 degrees, gray skies, supposed to clear up and warm up to 50 by Monday.

Trying to fend off a cold here - the wife has it, the kid has it, hard to avoid, but, so far, just a bit of sniffles which may be the humidity of the house - furnace is running full tilt, which is odd, considering it is relatively warm outside. New belt for the humidifier is due here sometime today courtesy UPS.

Clearly, something is amiss. I felt relatively certain that someone would pass my post - (below) on to Neil Gaiman and he would be kind enough to send me an email to prove to my son-in-law that we had a 'moment'. Apparently I was incorrect in my assumption. Wow! Like that has never happened before.

Managed to get myself signed up for Health Care for another year. Blue Cross cancelled my policy, so I had to switch. I don't understand any of these deductibles, co-pays, out of pocket things. The last time I actually used health insurance, I simply handed them the card and that was that. Never got a bill, never saw the cost.

Off this afternoon to spend the night at Mom's, carpet cleaners coming in the morning. No internet.

And so it goes.

December 5, 2014 2pm, 35 degrees, gray skies, no snow.

On the way to Writer's Circle last nite, a glorious full moon in the eastern sky. The seasons turn, Winter Solstice nears.

Last weekend, a massive Christmas tree, some 7 foot across at the base and touching the cathedral ceiling in the living room. A 24 foot room taken up nearly a third by this glorious spruce. Oddly, with all the decorations we have on it, it seems right, somehow.

Spending way too much time on Neil Gaiman's twitter account. There is so much there to read, to click through, to donate to, amazing he gets anything done, since I'm certainly not. Still no word from him about my little dilemma - alas, and Christmas nears.

Okay, so here is the dilemma. Last Christmas Eve, sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts, I unwrapped a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane. I casually threw into the conversation that Neil was one of my blogging buddies.
My son-in-law, Gene, looked startled and said, “You KNOW Neil Gaiman?”
“Yeah, we chat on each other’s blogs.”
“No way, do you have any idea how famous he is?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
At this point, Gene absented himself from the room and returned a few minutes later with a plastic case containing a rare Gaiman comic book. “Do you have any idea how much more this would be worth if it were signed?”
“I imagine quite a bit.” And at that point, the conversation ended.

Here we are at the end of May, and I’m trying to figure out how to: 1. Impress my son-in-law with a kick ass Christmas present; and 2. Convince the non-believing husband of my only daughter that I REALLY do know Neil Gaiman and, more importantly, Neil knows me.

Now, here is the problem. Back in the hey day of blogging, say 12 years ago or so, I was active on a lot of writer’s blogs - many of who have gone on to successfully publish at least one, sometimes more books. Susan Henderson, Patry Francis, Ellen Meister, Robin Slick, Lance Reynald, and lots more. We were a sort of community, all trying to break in. I’m still working on that, but their insights at the beginning are the foundation I keep building my work on.

Way back then, Neil was living in the woods in Wisconsin and occasionally popped up with some insight for all of us. It was quite a long time ago and records, copies, saved files of those blogs apparently disappeared, as have the computers we used, into landfills and toxic waste retrieval sites in China.

Which means, I can’t actually prove any of the above. Of course, I could simply contact Neil and ask if he remembers me. Which, if you peruse his website, is NOT going to happen. Good Lord, the man has a million and a half twitter followers. It’s not like he gave out his personal email address on a blog.

Add to this that my son-in-law, the aforementioned Gene, is a comic book collector/trader/broker. His office walls are covered with sealed plastic frames containing early Spider Man, Marvel, and other wonders each of which he can rattle off the print run, date of issue and current value.

The question is how does a not yet successful as he wants to be author impress his hot shot son-in-law that he actually blogged online with Neil Gaiman?

I suppose I should go off and start my Christmas shopping - not sure what direction that is going to take this year, really no clue. Sent my list of books on my wish list to the kids this morning. We'll see how that works out.

Season is filling up fast - Sunday before Christmas, Christmas Eve, Saturday and Sunday after, New Year's Eve. Just party on this year.

Life is good - Somedays, like today, even great.

November 14, 2014 Noon, 32 degrees, snow clouds over blue skies.

Wandered out on the front porch last night late to be greeted by amazing stars, so many, so bright, with Orion just above the pine trees in the front yard. I think the stars are somehow brighter in the cold air of winter, or it may be that with the gray skies, we see them so seldom, the magnificence that is always there is more welcome and noticeable.

Spent the majority of the week dealing with my 91 year old Mother and the semi-white trash trailer park she lives in. What a strange place. The recession has driven away most people who might start out in a trailer park, since they can purchase a house just as easily. Which leaves aging trailers, abandoned to the park management who rent them out to grifters, losers, and transitional people. Wasn't like this when my folks moved in twenty years ago. Add to that a young management team trying to squeeze a little profit for the owners by using every trick in the book to save money and you get our latest sewer blockage stretching into 6 months of stupidity. Now, hopefully, it is resolved.

Winter is not supposed to be here yet. The wind is cruel, the skies forbidding.

Off to finish my week, make some quick sales, pick up a bit of cash. Weekend will be battening down the house for the cold which arrived waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of schedule.

Perhaps open a twitter account to track Neil Gaiman - who, at last report, was in Utah - of all places.

Am going to order Amanda Palmer's new book though -suppose I should get that done today to help her make the best seller list. She has been promoting the hell out of it.

http://bit.ly/ArtofAFP

And, so it goes.

November 9, 2014 Noon, 38 degrees, gray, dreary, and chilly.

Trying to keep up with Neil Gaiman is like following a hamster on speed, he is seemingly everywhere, just following his twitter feed consumes more time than I have. He is here, he is there, he tweets, facebooks, speaks, signs books, signs more books, and travels about the world like a dervish. Almost curious as to when he stops long enough to write???

I think Clarence has gone into hibernation. Won't see him again until spring. Now, all I have are the pesky squirrels bothering my bird feeders.

My friend's writer's club was great fun. Young people eager for the chance to see their words printed in a larger setting. I helped them as much as I could, I hope. I sat in front of them and could pick out little bits of myself from 45 years ago. That was a bit disconcerting, but I made it through.

Actually got a few hundred words tacked onto my work in progress this week as well. Productivity. That's the ticket. Writer's Circle met on Thursday, none of us is crazy enough to get involved in NaNoWriMo. Though it might be interesting in simply getting us off of square one.

Yesterday, with the wife gone, I fired up the phonograph and played records from my youth. Dan Hill, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Bob Seger, and Neil Diamond. I even lit candles and sat in my big blue chair soaking in the memories. (while at the same time, watching Neil Gaiman's twitter feed - go figure)

Off to Mom's this afternoon, after the Lion's game.

Life is good.

November 1, 2014 2pm, 34 degrees, had large flakes of snow flitting around yesterday as the little ones were making their rounds. Totally unacceptable.

Still searching for Neil Gaiman - he is an amazingly busy fellow. Six weeks til Christmas, I may have to come up with something else for my non-believing son-in-law. But, hope springs eternal.

Spring, however, is not on the agenda anytime soon. Clarence, my beloved groundhog, is layering up with the last bits of fat for his hibernation. Eating lots of acorns, with an occasional green thrown in for variety.

Have been asked to speak at a high school writing group this Tuesday. How to go about getting published... Yeah, like that's a concept. I'm looking forward to entertaining a group of brilliant teenagers with my couple hundred feet of rejection slips.

Writer's Circle - our own local writing group meets on Thursday. There appears to be an opening for a local columnist at our weekly paper. Might be something I should look into. I miss writing a weekly column. It forced me to have a deadline I had to keep, as opposed to playing endless games of Mah-Jong on this stupid machine.

Not sure if it is age related, but I seem to be having trouble concentrating on things. I will remember something I need to do, but then, hours later, it still isn't done. Not sure what that's all about, but it doesn't make running a business very profitable. Leaving too much money on the table that should be going into my pocket.

Life is good.

Ric

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October 28, 2014

Autumn Arrives

October 28, 2014 11am, 60 degrees, raining

Last night, one of those special evenings we get all to seldom, hereabouts, stepped out onto the front porch at midnite, clear skies, Milky Way overhead, southwest to northeast, 70 degrees, summer's last breath, warm, inviting, glorious.

Messed around outdoors over the weekend, rearranged the shed, drained the hoses and put them away, hung the birdfeeders, and split a bunch of wood. The last item caused Clarence, the groundhog, to relocate to a different hole. We uncovered the one under the woodpile - don't think he was using that as a primary residence, just an escape route. He was back out this morning, greedily munching on acorns by my bedroom window.

Have been following Neil Gaiman over an amazing amount of platforms - he really has this social media thing well in hand. He is also - and I am grateful and jealous at the same time - involved in a great number of good and deserving charities/endeavors/educational/artsy projects. While at the same time, putting out more projects than I can count or afford.

With that, back to work.

September 24, 2014 47 degrees, crystal clear Michigan blue sky.

This whole Neil Gaiman thing has me flummoxed. He clearly has moved on from blogging and does Twitter, Tumblr, Whosay, Facebook and a few other social media gizmos that I am totally unfamiliar with. And, while I should take that as a sign that I am a Luddite and need to get my act together and get into the twentyteens, I actually am a Luddite and the learning curve appears as a unimaginable roller coaster.

That said, I am going to figure out how to do this.

For now, however, there are more pressing items on my plate this morning, which include a glorious drive about the countryside to catch the early colors, a long hot shower to release the last muscles my massage therapist touched on but did not relax, and watching Clarence, my overly obese groundhog, eating apples under the tree.

Life is good.

August 18, 2014 Noon, 69 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky.

Still no word from Neil Gaiman, if he has indeed seen these posts, he most assuredly assumes I'm just another crazy trying to get his attention. Which might be a fair assessment.

Spent the weekend doing yard work, and I may say, at this point in my life, I could easily give up riding the lawn mower for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon with no great sense of loss. That said, the lawns do look nice. Reminds me of Kathleen Whitman, my business mentor, who, when informed I was going to mow the lawns, said, "Oh, I discovered there are people that do that."

My flowers are responding to repeated waterings, I've had better, but I keep trying anyway.

Walked down to the bridge, the photo on the corner of my page is the view. This morning there are a huge number of Cedar Waxwings flying over the water from one side to the other, snatching bugs out of the air. The bugs seem to hatch on the flowing water and then release straight up. The birds grab them out of the air before they can open their wings. Quite a spectacle. And a great way to start a late summer day.

Be it ever thus.

August 10, 2014 2pm, 80 degrees, fluffy white clouds against a Michigan blue sky, wind chimes clanging in a slight breeze.

Rolling along, the passing of time is surreal, one day blending into the next, week in week, until the summer is nearly spent. Getting older, but still the little boy who would wait for the mailman on the farm, to hang packages from Sear & Roebuck on the mailbox that held my new pants and shirts for school coming soon.

Or the skinny teenager marching up and down the asphalt streets, tenor sax in hand, realizing that marching, playing, and not smashing into anything or stumbling over your own feet is a skill to be learned, and not inherent.

The young man, sending his five year old across the playgound in the back yard from our apartment in Pontiac. And the much older man, putting his last five year old on the bus and walking back to the now empty house for the first time twenty years.

The passage of time. Seems like yesterday, reading Dylan Thomas to my Father, yet this month is fifteen years since he passed.

Life is good, yes, it is.

July 10, 2014 10am 66 degrees, another beautiful summer day under clear blue skies.

Yes, I realize Neil's been busy doing his Black Mountain presentations on both sides of the Atlantic (Pacific, too, come to that). Still hoping that one of the few who frequent this blog will pass it on to him.

Life in the country is always interesting. The past few days have brought warm weather, warmer nights, and now, a nice cool down. I have been overrun by animals, large and small. I guess that is one of the benefits of not having pets of any kind. And, just as I did on the farm, the urge to name them all.

Jerrod, the chipmunk who runs through my flower bed, across the front porch and around the end of the house to the garage to find the last of the sunflower seeds spilled there. I went out for morning coffee, set the cup down by my chair and he came running through the flowers and nearly knocked himself out when he hit the cup. Very funny.

Clarence, the groundhog, has taken putting on weight for the winter to a whole new level. I almost think I could catch him since he moves so slow.

Alex & Lorraine, two full size rabbits that frolic in the back yard, pretty sure the frolicking will result in more bunnies.

The neighbor planted timothy and alfalfa in the field across the way. The deer have been coming out every night to graze. 4, 6, 8 at a time, light brown gleaming in the setting sun against an impossibly green.

And a small doe, and buck with 4 inch spikes, have taken up residence in the back yard. They are there every night at dusk, eating wild clover that somehow makes up much of the lawn. I can sit on the couch and watch them through the open window. Last night, another young buck showed up, a four point rack. They sleep under the apple tree.

I have named them Ted & Carol & Bob - still waiting for Alice to appear.

Had a Momma Raccoon with three little ones in the back yard as well. Something spooked the Momma and she took off with two little ones. a few minutes later, the last one started creating a loud plaintive cry, and Momma came back and gathered him.

One would suspect naming animals, pets, and such would make it easy to name characters. I think it does, names come quickly to me, no long suffering angst over the right moniker.

Life is good - sometimes, even great.

May 30, 2014 2pm 77 degrees, glorious blue Michigan sky.

Okay, so here is the dilemma. On Christmas Eve, sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts, I unwrapped a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane. I casually threw into the conversation that Neil was one of my blogging buddies.
My son-in-law, Gene, looked startled and said, “You KNOW Neil Gaiman?”
“Yeah, we chat on each other’s blogs.”
“No way, do you have any idea how famous he is?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
At this point, Gene absented himself from the room and returned a few minutes later with a plastic case containing a rare Gaiman comic book. “Do you have any idea how much more this would be worth if it were signed?”
“I imagine quite a bit.” And at that point, the conversation ended.

Here we are at the end of May, and I’m trying to figure out how to: 1. Impress my son-in-law with a kick ass Christmas present; and 2. Convince the non-believing husband of my only daughter that I REALLY do know Neil Gaiman and, more importantly, Neil knows me.

Now, here is the problem. Back in the hey day of blogging, say 12 years ago or so, I was active on a lot of writer’s blogs - many of who have gone on to successfully publish at least one, sometimes more books. Susan Henderson, Patry Francis, Ellen Meister, Robin Slick, Lance Reynald, and lots more. We were a sort of community, all trying to break in. I’m still working on that, but their insights at the beginning are the foundation I keep building my work on.

Way back then, Neil was living in the woods in Wisconsin and occasionally popped up with some insight for all of us. It was quite a long time ago and records, copies, saved files of those blogs apparently disappeared, as have the computers we used, into landfills and toxic waste retrieval sites in China.

Which means, I can’t actually prove any of the above. Of course, I could simply contact Neil and ask if he remembers me. Which, if you peruse his website, is NOT going to happen. Good Lord, the man has a million and a half twitter followers. It’s not like he gave out his personal email address on a blog.

Add to this that my son-in-law, the aforementioned Gene, is a comic book collector/trader/broker. His office walls are covered with sealed plastic frames containing early Spider Man, Marvel, and other wonders each of which he can rattle off the print run, date of issue and current value.

The question is how does a not yet successful as he wants to be author impress his hot shot son-in-law that he actually blogged online with Neil Gaiman?

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February 10, 2014

May, Oh May

May 13, 2014 11am 77 degrees, Clear blue Michigan skies. what a difference from the last entry. Snow is gone, green grass and thunderstorms.

Farmers hereabouts are having a slow spring. The ground is too wet to plant. It will all get done, just taking a bit longer than they are comfortable with.

My, oh My, what a beautiful day. Baltimore Orioles at the feeder, flashing their bright orange across the front yard. You can feel the last vestiges of winter easing out of the soil, the maples budding out, the willows yellow green exploding.

Interesting times here. I lost a sister-in-law last week to MRSA - nasty antibiotic resistant bug she caught in the hospital a year ago. My brother is lost - having been her primary caregiver for the past year - they celebrated 50 years of marriage last month. So the entire family from coast to coast came in for the wake. Good times among sad times. Sometimes, it is necessary to be with those you love, to show you care, to offer a hug, a smile, a promise it will get better.

A lull in my real business. Nothing really to sell, or work on. Different than always having to be out there searching for the sale that will make the house payment, buy gas for the car, feed the machine. All that is taken care of the moment. Very odd. I'll take it, not going to pass the chance to write a little, dream a lot, sit and soak up the sun's rays. Winter still a bit deep in my bones yet, as well.

Feb. 10, 2014 1pm 17 degrees, just now changing from clear blue skies to fluffy white clouds. 30 inches of snow on the ground, piles to 8 feet high.

Fifty years ago, on a cold Sunday night, in a little farmhouse on Cade Road, the world changed. This was not something happening just to the family sitting in the living room watching the 24 inch RCA Victor black and white; it happened to nearly everyone in the country at the same time. I was twelve years old, my brother, 16, and Mom and Dad on the couch watching, as we did every Sunday night, the Ed Sullivan Show. My mother, at the time, 40 years old and nine months pregnant, gasped at the screaming girls, overcome with their emotions on national tv. My Dad, who loved to observe, could be seen smiling lightly.
My brother and I got caught up in the excitement coming from the small screen. It was contagious, it was wonderful, it was so different from anything we'd ever seen before. What was this? What was this new kind of music? Why did they have long hair? Why were they wearing cool suits?
And it changed everything. Within weeks, there were kids being expelled from school for having hair too long for the dress code. Every time you turned on the radio, the Beatles were playing, every station. Excitement seemed to be hanging in the very air.
And in those weeks, life changed for me. Two days after the show, my little brother was born and I was no longer the youngest child. A month later, I became a teenager and a month after that, my oldest brother got married.
Things were changing for everyone - Civil rights, Medicare, the simmering war in Viet-Nam, the '64 elections, and, there was no going back, no more Fifties, no more Pat Boone, or Sinatra. The world had changed.
And every time you turned on the radio, you heard the Beatles. In every small town, in every city, in every farm tucked along a gravel road, the world had changed.

Some of us like to think for the better.

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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

Another Week, Another Snowstorm
originally posted: February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014 10am, 20 degrees, snow falling heavily, driveway drifted in, about two feet of snow on the ground, piles pushed back by the snowplows are 8 feet tall.

There is a lot of snow out there. Did see a pair of robins who obviously made a wrong turn somewhere, hopefully, this appearance is a good sign, an early end to this misery.

Propane - which is what I use to heat my house and my office - has doubled in price and is even hard to get - they are rationing deliveries.

We just roll with it. Nothing much else you can do.

Finished Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford. An excellent read, good stuff for a second novel. Though I don't consider myself to be mentally dense, his agent keeps referring to his work as "Literary Fiction". Still having some internal conflict as to what exactly that means. Any help, Kristin?

A little work on my own stuff today, since the snow is precluding me from doing much else.

Life is good.

January 18, 2014 3pm 18 degrees, slate gray skies, about a foot of snow on the ground.

It has been an eventful winter. Record low temperatures, woke one morning to -20 F. Last entry I noted the dead ash trees? on the Sunday before Christmas, we got a half inch of ice on everything and it brought down ash trees, and many other trees and branches as well. Opening the door that morning, sounded like we were in a war zone, loud cracks echoing through the air as each branch gave way and cracked off.
Five days without power, Christmas at home ruined for the kids, lost everything in my frig and freezers, have enormous tree damage and branches everywhere.

Just when things are starting to get back to normal, 17 inches of snow which stopped everyone their tracks. Quickly followed by the Polar Vortex dropping the temps by 40 degrees and freezing the snow solid to the roads creating fun ice skating opportunities for your vehicles.

Today is quiet. Had four inches of fresh powder yesterday, expecting another blast of Polar air this week. Bitter cold, nasty winds, snow everywhere, time to seriously think about moving south until spring.

The worst part of this, of course, is that business has ground to a halt. My other business. The one that is supposed to keep food on the table. No one can get out to buy anything, so no customers means no business, means no money to pay for advertising....

So, we curl up and read a good book. Not like the cable works. Or the television for that matter when the power is out.

Read Neil Gaiman's latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Nice job, Neil. Read it in one sitting on Christmas Day. Thanks for the book, Julie.

Finished Stephen King's latest as well. Thank you, Tania.

Rolling along towards tomorrow.

November 1, 2013 2pm, 48 degrees, a cloudy, windy day with dropping temps as a cold front crashes through, taking with it a number of ash trees that have succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer. There are so many of these trees that the local road commission is kept busy trying to keep the roads open after each wind storm.

Trying to get enough energy up to tackle NaNoWriMo - you know, whatever it will take to get me writing again with some consistency. So many things are vying for my time - finishing the attic insulation, battening down the house for the winter, right now, I'm waiting on an electrician friend to install a new cook top. And, I still have to get to the printer and pick up my weekly allotment of placemats and deliver some of those.
And, of course, Granddaughter Guinevere's First Birthday, really need to be there for that. When am I ever supposed to find the time to write 2500 words?

And not to mention all the fun stuff happening on the internet, clicking through to peruse such items as Apple's Irish headquarters which allows them to bypass a bunch of taxes, or playing endless games of Mahjong - the bane of my existence.

That said, I'm going to give it a good old college try. I'll keep you informed....

October 14, 2013 9am 44 degrees, a magnificent blue Michigan sky, nary a cloud, a stunning background to yellow leaves, bare branches and dark dark greens hanging on to the last vestiges of summer growth.

We have had a long string of these perfect days, some warm, some cooler, but dry, sky so blue you can practically taste it. The farmers are harvesting soybeans, driving on rural roads can create some interesting encounters with large farm equipment.

A local boy made good, Johnathan Rand, who authors an amazingly popular series called Michigan Thrillers for kids. Our long time county treasurer, booted out of office, hooked up with her husband, contacted Johnathan and wrote a musical based on his books. This debuted at the Pix Theatre in beautiful Downtown Lapeer over the past couple weekends to sold out crowds.

Our local bookstore, The Bookshelf, owned for years by a couple local teachers, has been sold to yet another teacher. Margie, who has been behind the counter since I can remember, decided it was time to join her teacher husband in retirement. They didn't want the store to close, continuing to refer to it as a 'viable' business, essentially sold it for the cost of the inventory - i.e. not very much. Just walk away without holding hope you were gonna get rich selling a bookstore. So, it will remain open, with new blood, and hopes it will stay our local spot for author signings and the latest books.

Off to enjoy this wonderful weather.

Oct. 8, 2013 9am 36 degrees, almost a frosty morning, my impatiens survive another week or so, spreading their lovely colors into the changing green of the surrounding trees.

Had an interesting exchange with Michael Cader about the National Book Award nominees. He stated Alice McDermott was the only previous winner nominated - although Thomas Pynchon won in 1974. The response to my query was, "Well, it's complicated since he wouldn't accept the award." Yeah, okay, but does that mean he didn't WIN it? That he wasn't chosen over the other books that year?
The anecdote, if I recall correctly, is when informed of his winning, Pynchon said, "They just want me to show up to entertain them." So, instead of going himself, he sent a stand up comedian to tell jokes to the publishing crowd. (feel free to jump in here anytime, Tom).
So, the fact that he didn't accept the award does not mean he didn't earn it, win it, get to add it to his numerous accolades. George C. Scott was forever known as an Oscar winner, even though he declined the award. And I'm sure there are other examples as well.

Enough said, Michael did make the correction.

Back in 1975, I took a class at Oakland University with Dr. Pete - sorry, the years have taken a toll on his last name which doesn't appear anywhere I can find it. The class was Major English Authors of the 20th Century and it was Pynchon. Dr. Pete had a thing about Pynchon, he was obsessed. There were only 5 of us in the class, two of whom smoked pipes and we would meet in the lounge of the English Department on the 5th floor of Matilda Wilson Hall. Pete got annoyed at me for questioning his interpretation of the writing. I was just pointing out that one could not infer the meaning based on the information we had. He finally got ticked enough he ordered me to his office where he demanded that I drop the class. When I was allowed to explain what I thought and how his jumps in logic (never a good thing when discussing Pynchon) were confusing everyone else in the class, he not only retracted his demand but insisted I stay in and contribute heavily. Now, of course, after spending a half hour trying to locate his last name, I will be obsessed with tracking the poor man down. Seems to me his last name was Macsticholli or something like that - if anyone has come across a short bearded Italian with a penchant for Pynchon, let me know.

Okay, that's it from here.

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Autumn Comes
originally posted: September 12, 2013

September 12, 2013 11am, 67 degrees.
Enjoying a respite from two 90+ degree days, today is glorious, tomorrow's high in the 50's. Sky is a magnificent blue, with fast moving puffs of white, and, unlike 12 years ago, jets and jet trails every which direction.

Stars were dazzling this morning, very early on. Had a new experience about 7am - I saw an animal running across the front year, back and forth, as if he were looking for something. Took a moment to realize it was a small black mink - have never seen one this time of year and I'm not sure what he was looking for, but when he heard traffic coming down the road, he moved to cover extremely fast.

Sitting on the front porch, when the traffic slows down enough to hear the crickets and hummingbirds, other noises filter through, acorns dropping from the huge oaks south of the house. Banner crop for the nuts this year, can't remember if that means hard winter or something else - like fat squirrels.

Off to the local library for a book on the Gnostic Bible. Like I don't have enough time to write, but I can be researching some obscure religion. Or I could be reading the latest Jamie Ford novel I picked up from my local book store last week. Songs of Willow Frost - yeah, yeah, Jamie, I'm a hundred pages in....

Life is good.

August 26, 2013 10am, 75 degrees, clouding over, rain coming hopefully, very dry here, watered the flowers yesterday, first time all summer.

Random Summer Time Notes:
We have a strident male hummingbird who has taken to guarding the feeders. First time I've heard them vocalize warnings to each other, they get quite loud arguing over the nectar.

Wandered off to Mackinaw Island for a wedding last weekend. Stepping back in time among the horses and fudge, stayed at the same hotel as the crew of Somewhere In Time, not the Grand Hotel, the other one... Great place for a wedding, out on the big lawn, with Lake Huron in the background, sunshine and love. Very cool.

It appears, in the run-up to Obamacare, that all those folks who have been trying to get me to give up my pack a day smoking habit are actually going to win. My insurance will have a 50% premium tacked on that will not be covered by subsidies, thereby pricing me out of the market still again unless I quit smoking. WTF?

Wandered downtown to my local bookseller to preorder Jamie Ford's new book. Support your brick and mortar book store.

One can tell they are getting older and out of touch when they have to google Twerk to see what all the fuss was about last night with Miley Cyrus.

Moving on towards tomorrow, Life is Good.

July 31, 2013 Cloudy, Rainy morning, 63 degrees. After a week in the 90's, we set a record low temp of 44. The roller coaster continues.

Little bits of writing appearing at odd times. Having a hard time just sitting down and making it happen. Clearly the WIP is having issues. The idea is good, the pages are excellent, but the forward motion still eludes me.

My other business is keeping me busy - keeps growing and getting by day by day is becoming much easier. Presumably this will allow me to pencil in more hours to write. That is the plan.

One would suspect having reached this point in my life, I should be content to just ignore my muse turning up at odd moments. The kids are gone, off making a life for themselves. Grandkids are growing rapidly, everything else in my life is going wonderfully. I have the time to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors... and, yet, my muse calls.

Those odd moments, sitting in my big blue chair, glass of wine, cigarette, watching the play of light on the flowers and the trees beyond, the yellows of the wheat stubble across the way, the deep orange of the day lilies, the ruby throated hummingbirds at the feeders. Instead of simply enjoying the sight, the taste, the feel, I find myself wondering if there is a story here, a tale to be told, a message to be massaged into a few thousand words.

Or late at night, after John Oliver has signed off the Daily Show, crawling into bed next to my lightly snoring wife, going over the events of the day, did I miss something? Was there a story in the young girl I saw obviously shoplifting at Rite Aid? Was that candy bar she stuffed into her pocket for her? Or maybe for a little one in the car, her sweet reminder of a boyfriend long gone, whose hunger, now that the food stamps have run out, keeps her up at night wondering how she can make it to tomorrow?

Is there a story there? And why do I not share it?

July 3, 2013 Clear Blue Michigan Sky, cool with brilliant sunshine.

Up early today, early even for me, sitting out on the front porch as the eastern sky begins turning lighter and lighter as the day approaches. A lovely crescent moon, dimming as the bats swoop overhead getting ready to call it a night. Early bird calls remind me of trips bringing Mom home from Florida, in the southern wilds outside cheap motels, grabbing the first cigarette of the day, the birds moving north with the warm temps, calling out to friends and mates.
As the sun rises, the dew sparkles on grass that needs clipping, a groundhog peers across the quiet street wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. A bunny, likely the same one that has been trying to interest the awkward teenage bunny who seems more interested in eating the clover than making more bunnies, strolls out strutting her stuff.
A young deer wanders down the driveway, unaware he is being watched from no more than thirty feet away.
The sun higher now, the orioles in their brilliant orange come swooping into the feeder for a morning nosh of grape jelly, such an incredibly beautiful bird.
Summer has arrived, time to stop and smell the roses, and they smell very sweet indeed.

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Ric Marion is a writer, far from New York, in the rural thumb of Michigan. Done about everything, welfare caseworker, shop rat, trucking supervisor, editor, columnist, small business owner.
This writer is in search of agency representation.


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