A Long Day and a Beer (Or Two)

I’m sitting in a pizzeria located on the first floor of my office building, drinking a beer (Atom Bomb IPA or something like that), trying to unwind from a 12-hour workday. I’m exhausted not because I don’t like my job, but because I love it. It’s a blessing to be doing what you enjoy and getting paid for it.

Still, I have a hard time shutting down. I’m in this eatery with this IPA because I’m not done with work, but the shared office space I use is hosting a meeting of a political party. People mingling about my cube is not conducive to reviewing a SOC report (not that a pizzeria is much better, but at least I can order a beer here). For those uninitiated to the wonderful intricacies of information security, a Service and Organization Controls (SOC) report is a summary of an audit on controls of a business to protect information. It is also documented as an effective cure for insomnia.

About 14 pages into this 75 page SOC report (and about halfway into my IPA) I lose what final thread of interest I had in the SOC report. My report on the report to my client can wait a bit longer when I have fresher eyes and a reinvigorated spirit tomorrow. Besides, I have writing on my mind.

The manuscript for Leaving Darkness Leaving Darkness Cover Conceptis in the copy edit phase. That means that I am paying to fix errors caused by all of the times my attention wandered in seventh grade English. I’m fine with that because working with a competent editor helps to sharpen the writing skills I have and introduce others I missed along the line.

But a manuscript is a deeply personal creation, and the thought of someone else changing it in any way is unsettling as well. I have all the confidence in the word that the result will be fantastic, nearly ready for the publisher. Then I will feel relief. This project began over a year and a half ago, and I’m ready for it to be over.

I don’t mean that in a negative way, though I am a bit burned out from the process of countless revisions. Isn’t it amazing that you can read the same sentence dozens of times and miss a glaring error that you should have caught in seventh grade? Oh, yeah, those times of gazing out the window during Mrs. Klein’s English class coming back to haunt me 40 or so years later.

If you’re waiting for the point of this blog, there is none, really. I just needed to get away from the SOC report and everything else information security that I have been concentrating on for my clients over the past 12-plus hours and muster some measure of a creative outlet (whatever that means). I can’t work on Leaving Darkness while it’s in another’s hands, and I’m not going to start a new project until this one is completed. I do have an idea of the next project – the only hint I’ll give is the working title is Desert Death.

Well, my time writing this lasted long enough to necessitate ordering a second beer. Perhaps that was my true motivation after all.

Note – The cover illustration is a concept, hence the iStock watermark. We may end up using that image, or something else.

 

A Horse Night Before Christmas

frong-cover-build-2Given it’s two days before Christmas, I thought it appropriate to share this excerpt from my upcoming work From the Loft, a collection of light horse-humor themed articles I wrote in the mid-2000s (available December 30, 2016):

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With Christmas fast approaching, stockings hang from every stall in anticipation that Santa Claus will fill them with carrots and other yummy treats. I decided against putting up a small Christmas tree in the barn. If the horses did not eat the branches, the tree would surely become the next paddock toy.

Now, I can say (with some bias, of course) that the ponies have in fact been quite good this year, and deserving of a multitude of Christmas goodies. So, in keeping with the spirit of the season, and with thanks (and apologies) to Clement Clarke Moore, here is what horses may be dreaming of this night before Christmas:

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the barn,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a yawn.

The stockings were hung by the stalls with care,

In hope that St. Nicholas would soon be there.

 

The ponies were nested all snug in their shavings,

Visions of alfalfa igniting their cravings!

Leaving the barn and pushing the wheelbarrow,

I had just finished my chores ‘til daylight tomorrow.

 

When out in the paddock there arose such a clatter,

And I ran from the field to see what was the matter.

Through the gate, I made a mad dash,

Forgetting the hot tape, a spark with a flash!

 

The moon above cast a pleasant blue glow,

O’er the field I no longer had to mow.

When, what my wandering eyes would see,

Not eight reindeer, but a John Deere ATV.

 

The four-wheeler driver I knew in a lick,

Excitedly I exclaimed, “It is Saint Nick!”

He gunned the throttle and turned the key,

And the engine backfired, scaring me!

 

“Now Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Rudolph,

And all the rest are home goofing off!

Forget milk and crackers, I need fuel,

And in exchange here are gifts of yule.”

 

His offer was certainly quite generous,

If not perhaps a wee bit ridiculous!

“Sure,” I replied, not knowing why,

But just then he made that four-wheeler fly!

 

With a thud the tires landed on the roof,

All dogs responded with a stereophonic “woof.”

As I shook my head, turning around,

I knew how crazy this story would sound.

 

He wore leather from his head to his foot,

A throwback to the 60s was his enormous boot!

A round bale he had flung on his back,

And just for that feat I would give him no flack.

 

His eyes, how they twinkled, and his dimples, how merry!

Yet he had to unload his gifts in a hurry.

Slowly he steadied himself on the roof,

Then slipped and fell, landing with an ‘Oof!”

 

A riding crop he held tightly in his teeth,

“I used to ride but lately I’ve been weak.”

I offered the appy for a short trail ride.

“She’s gentle and kind and will stick by your side.”

 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I watched him try to ride by himself!

“I have to admit,” he said with some dread,

“I always use the autopilot in my sled!”

 

He spoke no more words, and cantered with a jerk,

But the horse was nice and did all the work.

Soon he dismounted and left hay and gifts,

Then gunned the ATV and drove off very swift!

 

I surveyed the barn and marveled at it all,

The overflowing stockings in front of each stall.

A sound bellowed from the ATV’s fading taillight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”