Tag Archive | fiction

Glory! Hallelujah! I’m glad I’m a dog!

It’s discouraging to know that when you go home with your human they’re as smart as they will ever be…….

I watched my human as he struggled with numerous government agencies and insurance companies trying to straighten out the mess hurricane Irma created for him. It’s times like these I so happy that I’m canine, not human. He is so miserable, I’m not. I got to thinking about many of the reasons I’m glad I’m not human. Here are some of the many reasons I’m happy to be a dog.

  • I don’t have to wear clothes. My coat is an all-weather garment. I don’t need a closet full of expensive stuff I only wear once in a while. Fur is always in style.
  • April 15th is just another day to me. No thoughts of suicide or robbing banks.
  • All the things I enjoy are free. No car payments … no boat payments … no credit card payments for last night’s dinner out or that new fishing pole. A stick, an old shoe and being scratched behind my ears don’t cost me anything.
  • I don’t own a phone. When I watch TV, go for ride in the boat, or eat … I’m not constantly interrupted by someone wanting money for The Society to Preserve the Rights of Left-handed Pregnant Male Zombies.
  • I don’t have to go to college to have evidence I was born with a brain.
  • Since humans have decided to take the “news” out of them, I can once again put the New York Times and other big newspapers to good uses, like emergency toilet facilities or to wrap garbage.
  • Nothing I have has to have insurance. Why pay money to a company to tell you that what you paid for isn’t covered because the damage wasn’t caused by the Tooth Fairy.
  • I can feel free to like or dislike any dog on this planet without being called a “dogist” and having old Rin Tin Tin movies burnt in the park.
  • Unlike humans I feel no need to blame my bad-breath and farts on other species I live with.
  • My canine friends consider my ability to smell birds, or bark loudest, or chase a squirrel up a tree, or pee on every dandelion in the yard more important than my AKC papers, where my mom and dad were from, and the color of my coat.
  • I never have the desire to half-straggle someone I claim to love and drag them around with a rope.

 

 

Wow! I’m glad I’m a dog! To all you humans … Try to have a nice day.

 

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“I speak to you from hallowed ground.”

 

“I am speaking to you today from hallowed ground.”

Just for the period of time it takes to read this post, I’d like you to imagine the words are being read to you by Charles Kuralt. All of you under forty are probably asking, “Who in the hell is Charles Kuralt?” Charles Kuralt was “the voice” of a CBS program that aired for years. It was titled On The Road. His distinctive voice was the signature for this show … a show that was all his.  On The Road was just that, Charlie nosed around the nooks, crannies, highways, and byways of the US. I know it may be hard for the younger folks who read this post to believe, but once upon a time their were actual journalists on national television that were true to their vocation, not their political beliefs. It was a time before we were divided into blocks for political opportunism. Kuralt found and touched the heart and the soul of his viewers. As you read my words, hear them through his voice.

The historical marker for Camp Blanding. Though it tries to tell the story it can only hint at the brave people who traveled through history here.

I’m speaking to you today from a few hundred yards off of Florida Highway 16. It’s about midway between two places you probably never heard of, the towns of Starke to the west and Green Cove Springs which lies eastward. The grass field I’m sitting in the middle of, is part of the Camp Blanding Museum. Around me are the tools of wars past. They’re reminders of what this place was, one of the important training areas for a war that would engulf the world. What remains of this site as an active military center is behind the entrance south of the museum. It’s only a token of what was once arguably the largest city in Florida. Over 300,000 men and women trained or worked here. Look around and you see what young men came to this place to learn to use. They had to do this to help win a war we could have lost and as importantly to give them their best chance of surviving it.

One of the artillery pieces on display. An artillery barrage was an infantryman’s worst nightmare.

This 1 1/2 ton truck was a World War II workhorse. Men road in it and supplies it carried kept them fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sherman. This M4A1 version was a medium tank. Shermans were the primary battle armor used by US forces in WWII. Its numbers offset the German armors superiority.

Looking inside the drivers compartments of these vehicles is a shock to some. The levers, switches, and mechanisms are crude by 2017 standards. A young man asked, “Did they really fight in these things?” An old man answered, “We sure did and we did a damned good job of it!” There was more in his voice than pride in having served and survived. In his eye and tone there was that reverence those who have experienced combat have for those they knew who did not return to stand here today.

The lawn around the museum is home to many vehicles. Half-tracks, DUKWs, ambulances, trucks, field pieces, all are pages of a book that tell us a story. Even a C-47 transport plane with D-day markings graces a concrete pad, a reminder of 508th Paratroop Regiment who trained in the sands beyond the guard gate.

Mixed in with the vehicles are monuments to the Army units that trained here and the people that were flesh and bone that gave them life. Among them was the Big Red One – the first army division. Nine infantry divisions lived here and learned about war on these grounds. There are monuments to the extra brave who began their journey into hell at this place. One honors distinguished service cross recipients and another the nations highest award, The Medal of Honor. Both have a significant number of names chiseled into stone to remind us of sacrifice and that sometimes forgotten word – honor.

Going inside the museum is like stepping through a time portal on Star Trek. We see what we were. What we did. Right and wrong.

A D-day newspaper. This sealed Hitler’s fate.

A GI dressed for battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pictures and exhibits show us what a base for a quarter of a million men looked like. Row upon row of small cabins, barracks like the one the museum is housed in, hospitals, theaters, commissary buildings, maintenance facilities, everything that a city of that size needed to exist was built in Florida’s wilderness. Work on Blanding was a seven day a week, three shift schedule in 1940-1941. Today, most of the 150,000 acres that is Camp Blanding has been reclaimed by the pine barrens and swamps from which it was hacked. Concrete foundations, weathered and hidden by nature, dot the ground and are the ghosts that haunt these woods.

Reminders of the past always bring bitter to go with sweet. Exhibits remind us of where we’ve been, some of them telling us of what we did wrong. The Army of 1940 was one that was still segregated. Separate facilities, living areas, even swimming lakes are indictments of what just one of our societies mistakes has been.

It tells us of things we did correctly. Few know that many German POWs were transported to the USA. Camp Blanding hosted around 2,000. They lived in the same type facilities as our GIs. They were given jobs and paid to do them. Contrast that to the fate of POWs in German or Russian hands. Less than 10% survived the war and literally this amounted to millions of deaths. More than 15% of Germans elected to stay in the US and become citizens and over 98% survived.

Places like this, Camp Blanding, are places that should bring us together. We can attempt to change history, there are those who do, but it really won’t change. Camp Blanding is a string tied around our finger, like ones used by our country men before computers, to remind them of something they had to do. If we forget the good and bad that history teaches, we’ll neither continue our virtues or avoid our mistakes. Humans are on a long voyage of discovery. That discovery is how imperfect we really are. We have to embrace what we have become, not languish in what we were, but learn from where we’ve been.

The Medal of Honor.

 

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Golden Buddy — Where does all your energy come from?

Me and my niece Remi. This younger generation makes me tired just watching them.

I’m recuperating. My muscles are sore, my joints are jingling, even my tail hurts. Keeping up with the relatives isn’t always a good idea, particularly if the relative is ten percent of your age. The Geezer and Mrs. G took me to visit my niece, Remi, this weekend. She lives in the Jacksonville area. She’s Golden. Yep, she’s a Golden Retriever, too. Remi is a little over one year old. I love her, but she makes Niagara Falls look inactive.

We’ve been together before and I new she was energetic, but I didn’t expect to step into a situation equivalent to a nuclear explosion. When the front  door closed behind me at her human’s house, the action began. In the twenty feet it took to get from the door to the living room, Remi had circled me four times, jumped over me three times and crawled under me once. She was as quick as the animation in one of those super-hero cartoon films. Maybe she thinks she’s The Golden Flash or something.

“Let’s play tug-o-war.” Remi bounded around and picked up a rope with handles on both ends. When I didn’t respond, she added, “Come on, live a little!” I rolled my eyes, but she didn’t receive the same message I was trying to send. “How about we do the tug thing and run and jump into the swimming pool at the same time. How’s that? Huh? Huh?”

I needed some excuse that wouldn’t admit I was at the age that a discussion about the literary classic “Lassie, Come Home,” or an in depth analysis of the pros and cons of dry foods versus canned was more to my liking than a serious romp in the park. The best I could come up with was, “My winter coat is coming in and I’m shedding very badly right now. I need to stay out of your humans pool.”

“OH! Okay! Lets play with a ball. I’ll go get one. We can play take away. I hold it my teeth and growl when I’m ready to begin. You grab it with your teeth and try to pull it away from me.”

I had to think of something. I lied —– “I have false teeth.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Lets play tag, instead of take away. I hold the ball and runaway until you catch me. Then I give you the ball and I chase you until I tag you. I’ll even give you a five second head-start.”

“Honest, Remi, I’m tired from my travel. Right now I’d have a rough time summoning up enough energy to chew my dinner.” I thought that would end the conversation.

“Poor Sandy! Those horrible false teeth. I’ll help! I’ll chew your food for you! You might lose some in the process, but it’s better than starving.”

I knew I was cooked. I said, “Let’s go play.” No other three words have caused me more misery.

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The Geezer had a successful visit to the Florida Heritage Book Festival on Saturday in St. Augustine. His publisher and a number of her authors attended to support this literary event. I’ve included a picture of his display and pictures of our visit to the Camp Blanding Museum on the way home. I’ll being speaking of both in future posts.

DL (The Geezer) in his taylor and Seale tee shirt talking to other T&S people at the Florida Heritage Book Festival

C-47 cargo plane with D-Day wing markings. Aircraft like this one were what our brave paratroops jumped out of to land in France.

Inside the Museum. A room like this was where GIs lived while they trained for combat.

 

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Butt buddies.

Me and my butt buddy, Ruger. We became mirror images … sort of.

Irma wasn’t a lot of fun for my humans, not one bit. However, it did give me an opportunity to see my cousin, Ruger. The storm chased us all from our Pine Island home all the way to Mooresville, North Carolina. That’s where the Geezer’s daughter lives. The dogs that own her, her husband and her two children are Ruger and Bandit. Both are Australian Sheperds. Bandit is my age plus a couple and Ruger is a puppy. But a fast growing one!

As you can see from above, Ruger idolizes me. What ever I do, he emulates. We became the “buttsee twins” after the Geezer noted that Ruger would consistently lie down with his rear toward me.

 He does it again! I had to ask — “Do I have bad breath?” — “No,” he answered, “I just like to be like Mike!”

It was a quick trip. Irma couldn’t make up her mind where she wanted to go, so we changed evacuation plans as frequently as a roofer changes underwear in the summer, the President changes cabinet members, or politicians change their reasons for losing elections. The Geezer kept trying to figure out where the storm’s eye was going. We were going to stay put, then we were going to the east coast, then off the island but staying local, then toward Jacksonville. It seemed like the storm was chasing us. The old boy gave up guessing and headed for the mountains … knowing if it got that far … there wouldn’t be much left.

It was a stressful week for everyone but me. The Geezer and Mrs. G were racing around storm-proofing the house, racing from location to location looking for gas, racing from point to point to avoid the storm and finally racing to NC. It was even stressful for Oreo, my feline half-brother. He and Bandit didn’t see eye to eye on some things. Bandit’s ear and paw ended up in Oreo’s mouth and Oreo’s leg resided in Bandit’s mug for a second or two. Neither hurt the other. Maybe a little pride, but nothing physical. Me … I enjoy traveling. And … I avoid altercations. I prefer taking Edwin P. Dowd’s advice on living with others. He said, life is a choice of being ever so strong or ever so nice. He chose nice as do I. (For the young and the uninitiated, the words are from the play and movie “Harvey.” Great flick, go rent it.)

Irma visited our neighborhood. The Geezer’s house was okay, but ……… the seawall wasn’t.

 

Coconuts! Coconuts! Coconuts any one! Two for a dollar. Get your green coconuts here.

As you can see Irma deposited her share of doggie dew on the Geezer. Our house came through like a champ. Not so his seawall and boat. There is much doom and gloom, but that to will pass. The Geezer is a lot like a sponge … he manages to absorb a lot.

On a more positive note —– I’ll be attending the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine this coming weekend with the Geezer and his Publisher, Taylor & Seale. It will be held on the Flagler College Campus in the Ringhaver Student Center, from 9 AM to 4 PM, Saturday, September 23rd. It’s free to the public. You can get more information on the event by calling 904-819-6339. If you’re in the area … come see the Geezer! I’ll be staying with Remi a friend in Jacksonville. Tell you about it next week.

 

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My goodness, is there really a cat-house in River City?

This is not the type “cat house” my friends were speaking about.

It has been sometime since I’ve attended a meeting of the Canine Chowder & Marching Society. I have to admit I miss the gossip, but lately it seems every get-together conflicts with my schedule.

Last meeting was held the same day Mrs. G went to the bank. Couldn’t miss that. The lady in the drive-through window is a real softy. She always gives me triple treats and if I look disappointed she doubles them up. Time before I had a case of the “Shags” … you know, a dog’s condition when his human looses the defurminator. I couldn’t stand thinking of all the comments that would be made about my coat. You know, the neighborhood dogs can be so catty! There was a reason I missed the meeting prior to the one before the last meeting I missed that wasn’t the last meeting. Or something like that. I’ve missed so many recently I can’t keep up.

My friend Lucy, the cocker spaniel, asked me to go. There was a motion to adopt a no peeing on the rose bushes rule that the lady Marching Society members backed and the male contingent opposes. You’d think the boys wouldn’t mind that little restriction on their lift and sprinkle, but no … Honestly, they are screaming like we were asking for universal castration. Male ego … Ugh! I decided to support my gender so I went.

We hadn’t gotten a place to sit when Fifi the poodle raced up to us and said breathlessly, “Did you know there’s a cat house on Pine Island?” Gossip! Wonderful, gossip!

I tried to act relatively uninterested and naive. “A cat house? I live in a cat house, or at least a house with a cat in it. What’s unusual about that?”

“Not that type cat house. The other type of cat house.” Fifi looked exasperated. Lucy looked consumed.

Lucy said, “Oh how exciting! What can you tell us about it!”

“Exciting?” I said. I ignored Fifi’s statement about another type cat. “What’s exciting about having cats in your house. I have one. Fifi you have a Siamese and Lucy your human has three. What’s the big deal?” Sometimes I get great pleasure from being obtuse. Maybe its a gal thing.

Fifi leaned close and whispered, “They’re two legged cats.”

I tried to look dumb and remain silent. Both are difficult for me.

Fifi forgot to whisper. “They’re whores!” Everybody at the meeting glanced our way. Fifi lowered her voice. “I saw four of them sitting at a table playing cards and talking about rubbers.”

“Are you sure about that?” Lucy asked.

Fifi was emphatic, “YES!”

I asked, “How do you know? Were they wearing fishnet stockings, short shorts, high heels, and driving Mercedes convertibles.”

“NO! They all were wearing tee shirts that said, I’m a proud Matlacha Hooker.

Lucy and I laughed. I said, “Fifi, you’ve had a brain fart. The Matlacha Hookers are a lady’s civic club.”

Some dogs shouldn’t be taught to read.

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My human asked me to include some of his propaganda in my post. He feeds me so I figured I’d better.

 

Welcome to the Menagerie

Hot author behind hot books in Matlacha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to have all of you that can, visit me at the Matlacha Menagerie this Saturday from 10:30 to 3:00. This unique boutique gift and book shop is located at 4604 Pine Island Road. Matlacha is a quaint village located west of Cape Coral. The 40’s buildings and Bohemian decor are reminiscent of the “old Florida Keys.” Loaded with art galleries, unique gift shops, and sea food places, Matlacha is on the way to Florida’s Mango capital, Pine Island. Come chat for a while.

 

Here I’m doing my historical presentation, “The Loyal 14th Colony, Florida in the Revolutionary War”

Excuse me, I have to brag a little. Sandman Book Co. owner Heidi told me she put a RSVP for 30 seats at this presentation and 20 were filled in the 1st hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great crowd at the Sandman Book Co. last Saturday. The attendees were enthusiastic and really into history. The type of people who attend these presentations prove my contention that READERS ARE THINKERS.

 

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July & the temperature’s sweltering. Florida’s less fun in the summer.

Florida in July & August. It’s too hot to move.

“Summertime,” the song from Gershwin’s classic, Porgy and Bess, tells us the living is easy this time of year. Well, the fish may be jumping here in Florida, but it’s because the water is so hot they are afraid they might get boiled if they stay in it too long. And the humidity … Yuk! My human just smiles when I complain. He’s lived here most of his long life and is reconciled to be miserable three months of the year. If my grumbles get loud, he laughs and says, “Sandy, just keep counting the days. You only have 75 more until October and relief.” Not funny!

I get even when he takes me for a walk. Even if he’s just left the shower, his clothes are drenched with perspiration by the time he reaches the driveway. Plus, I get a little more revenge. Early in the mornings when we go out, the clouds of sand-flies and mosquitoes are active and hungry. My Golden coat protects me. Not he … he, he, ho, ho, ha, ha.

Even the owls are staying underground!

The wildlife is smart. They stay in the shade and take it easy during the middle of the day. Those that can, conduct their “business” at night; the rest get things done mornings and evenings. Even gators and snakes look for a cool hole to hide in.

I envied Margret the Manatee … until she told me the water is 89!

Everyone in our house stays inside and slows down this time of year. Oreo, my feline brother, slows to stop. He’s shown below after he ate lunch. Oreo is always demanding, but this time of year he insists that his fish fillets be cut into very small pieces so he doesn’t have to expend energy wagging his jaws. He told me he requested his litter box be mounted on an I-Roomba and be programmed to follow him around so he didn’t have far to go … to go, but the Geezer turned him down.

Oreo prostrate from his toughest activity of the day … eating.

The Geezer may give me a hard time about complaining, but I’ve noticed he’s not scheduling any out-door book events right now. An example. This Saturday he will be doing one of his historical presentations, “The Loyal 14th Colony, Florida in the Revolutionary War.” I notice it is going to be held in the spacious, air conditioned environs of the Sandman Book Co. Sandman Book Co. is located at 16480 Burnt Store Rd., in Turtle Crossing Plaza, near Punta Gorda, Florida. He’ll be speaking from 11:00 AM until noon. If you live near by (or not) stop and see him. You’ll be cool!

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When a dog brags about something, is it called crowing or barking?

The Geezer deep in thought … or the best he’s capable of

I have to crow about this one! He’s done it again. The Geezer won another award for his writing. His short story, “There are no lights in Naples,” won the Novel Writing Festival’s contest and is their featured reading this month. If you’d like to sample his writing, visit the home page of his website (click the link … DLHavlin … on the left side of this post.) You’ll see the announcement that his short story, There are no lights in Naples, won. Click on the link (underlined and in bright yellow), it will take you to Novel Writing Festival’s home page. It’s featured at the very top … simply click on the image … Elizabeth Rose Morriss does the reading and does a great job of capturing the spirit and essence of the story.

The Geezer at the Copperfish at a previous event.

If you’d like to visit with the Geezer, he’ll be at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida today at 6:00 PM. The street address is 103 Marion Avenue. He’ll be signing his latest novel, The Bait Man. Its a suspense/mystery set in Florida that received a great review from Kirkus. I know he’s been waiting to talk to the Charlotte County folks and others close by about this book. Come see him. The Copperfish phone number is 941-205-2560 if you have questions.

 

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