Sunday Snippet, Short Poem, Pumpkin by Bill Chance

“I will defend pumpkin until the day I die. It’s delicious. It’s healthy. I don’t understand the backlash. How did pumpkin become this embarrassing thing to love but bacon is still the cool flavor to add to everything? I don’t have anything against bacon; just don’t come after pumpkin like it’s a crime to love an American staple.”

― Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody

Pumpkin Pie Soda, From RocketFizz, Deep Ellum, Texas


(short poem fragment)


I saw a car
an old car
paint faded, worn to
a flat pumpkin seed color
written in the windows
with white shoe polish
a tattered frazzled worn woman sat
in the front seat
broken down
on the freeway
at seven in the morning

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Little by little the night turns around
Counting the leaves which tremble at dawn
Lotus’s lean on each other in yearning
Over the hills a swallow is resting
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

—-Pink Floyd, Set the Controls For the Heart Of the Sun

Woodall Rogers Expressway, Dallas, Texas

I am not a car person. To me a car is a metal box – you get in it at some location, listen to the radio for awhile, and then get out at another location. That is pretty amazing, I’ll admit, but anything else isn’t a big deal for me. I don’t really care for going fast, or looking good, or even excessive comfort (although here in Texas functional air conditioning is a life necessity, not comfort). Reliability and good gas mileage are the most important aspects of an auto.

Because I’m not a car person I’ve never been a fan of the television show Top Gear. Though (the original version at least) has some cool ideas and a very talented and entertaining cast, I was never really into it. A friend of mine was extolling the virtues of the show and I said, “I know it looks cool, but I’ve never been able to get into it.” He said, “Oh, that’s because you are not a car person.”

So that’s that.

However, I was surfing around the ‘net, wasting some of the tiny bit of precious time I have left, and I stumbled across a YouTube video of a Top Gear review of a Ferrari Enzo owned by Nick Mason, the drummer of Pink Floyd… and it is genius on a number of levels (the obscene beauty of the car itself, the enthusiasm, the plugging of Mason’s book, the way Mason leaves the set [watch ’till the end]), so I thought I’d share it with you.

Nick Mason’s Ferrari Enzo

The only sad thing is the article that lead me to watch a Youtube video on the Ferrari Enzo (remember, I’m not a car person). If you feel that you are having too much fun, are having too good of a day, need something to bring your life down a notch:

Read This Article

It’s awful, even if you are not a car person.

What I learned this week, January 21, 2022

Cedars Open Studios 1805 Clarence Street Dallas, Texas

Please Stop Using These Phrases in Meetings

Some New Year’s resolutions are more attainable than others. Even at a time when so much is beyond our control, we remain in control of our own speech patterns. And so, as leaders and employees continue to rethink what the modern workplace should look like, including how we gather, perhaps it’s an opportune moment to banish certain phrases from the “meeting-speak” lexicon. To learn what refrains others would be happy to never hear again in a meeting, the author did a bit of crowdsourcing. She presents some of the responses that resonated the most.

In goes the cheese, Unfortunately I bought the wrong kind of Mexican cheese and it didn’t melt. No problem, I pulled out some shredded mozzarella and it was all good.

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution

Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color

Flora Street, Dallas, Texas

How to Overcome a Stubborn Regret

Regret can increase stress and negatively affect your physical health.

More than 1 million fewer students are in college. Here’s how that impacts the economy

More than 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began. According to new data released Thursday, U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall.

Hope is not optimism

Even when you know that prospects are grim, hope can help. It’s not just a feeling, but a way to step into the future

Dallas, Texas

Why some tiny frogs have tarantulas as bodyguards

Plus other fun facts from The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week.

Weighted blankets: how do they work and can they help with anxiety?

RIP Meat Loaf

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Houses that Flip by Lenore Weiss

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”

― Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

The Headlines Screamed, Baithouse Disappears

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, March 27, 1999

Stuff around the house

No reading, no writing, no working out.

Finished the storm door. Worked on the computer. I’ve been spending hours a day for what seems like weeks working on computers – my laptop – my desktop – my PC at work – other peoples machines- if I have to watch Windows reboot one more time I’ll go nuts. I’ve been slaving away upgrading the home desktop it so it will play Lee’s games. The kids have broken a cabinet door in the kitchen, from hanging on it, swinging back and forth. I removed it and glued it up, holding it together with pipe clamps while the glue dried.

Most of the day, however, is spent up on the roof. The sewer line between the washer and the rest of the house is plugged up again. There must be something nasty down there that keeps holding up bits of washed out laundry, fabric fibers, and stopping the flow. When that happens our washer won’t drain and soapy water gushers out the vent pipe.

I am fixated now, tilting at windmills, I’ll get that mother out. We have hired plumbers before but obviously they have not cleaned everything out.

On the roof with a sewer snake I bought, pushing it down the vent pipe. I’ll twist it and pull it out, the sharp spiral head full of old lint, sewage, black water, and bits of some sort of metal strips. That’s what’s causing the holdup. Those filthy pieces of oxidized iron have been down there probably since the house was built. I have no idea how much of it there is, how long it will take be to get it all out, even if I can get it all out.

It’s hard, nasty work. Cold mist falls, I pull 30 feet of heavy steel spring in and out, perched on the steep roof, my hands bleeding from tiny cuts, my clothes filthy with the sewage that comes out with the pipe auger.

Candy is pissed because I’m not in a very good mood.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Houses that Flip by Lenore Weiss

From Portland Review

Content Writing by Lenore Weiss

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, ‘Snow’ by Jason Jackson

“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Lee and his snowmen, February 29, 2000

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Tuesday, February 29, 2000

Tiny Snowmen

We had a bit of an ice storm a couple weeks ago. Although pitiful by northern standards, Lee, having lived in global-warming ravaged north-Texas all his life, was very proud of his two tiny snowmen. We keep small carrots in the house for salads and to feed the crickets that we feed to the toad – also good for snow-noses. No lumps of coal for eyes.

Even though he semi-hid them around the side of the house, the big kids found them that night and kicked them down.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Snow’ by Jason Jackson

From TSS Publishing

Jason Jackson Twitter

The Snow Loves the Trees

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass

It was a long drive from Lawrence back to Dallas and we had to leave at six in the morning to insure we made it home in time to watch the Cowboys get beat. It was very cold with most of Saturday’s snow still frozen on the ground.

There was a thick… it couldn’t have been fog because it was too cold – some sort of pea-soup frozen haze… smothering everything. Over an hour later the sun rose unseen over the vast flint-hill plains. The haze slowly lightened into a gray blanket.

We stopped to switch drivers at one of the Kansas Turnpike rest areas, the ones with the oddly shaped water towers.

Belle Plaine Service Area, Kansas Turnpike

And I took this photo of one of the few trees within a hundred miles… blurred and obscured by the fog.

Tree in the frozen fog, Kansas Turnpike

Sunday Snippet, Cedar Breaks by Bill Chance

“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Clarence Street Art Collective, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Cedar Breaks

(Unfinished Sketch)

R had been hiding out at Fred and Ethyl’s house, in their basement. Fred and Ethyl weren’t their real names, of course, it wasn’t safe to know anybody’s real name – and they had this old-fashioned sense of humor. R felt safe in the basement but Fred and Ethyl said they had seen this non-descript car, so non-descript that it had to be ordinary on purpose, driving slowly around the neighborhood. Fred and Ethyl were worried and they kicked him out – left him in the woods.

The woods were mostly Cedar, Fred called it a Cedar Brake. There were a whole series of them along the lake, with thicker woods full of bigger trees and heavy brush, in between. R spent a lot of time looking at the Cedar trees nothing better to do. They were dark and twisted their trunks looking like misshapen limbs – bodies curled together. There was fresh new wood growing from roots up to the dark green fuzzy needles and a lot of old dead stuff mixed and twisted in.

R wasn’t much of an outdoorsman and it was getting hard on him, living in the breaks. He had plenty of food so far. On the way out from the basement they had stopped at this warehouse store and Ethyl went in and bought cases of canned food – chili, beans, some kind of ham. R knew he’d get sick of eating this stuff fast, especially eating it all cold, but what’s to do?

Fred had given R and old sleeping bag and a big sheet of plastic, in case it rains, but it hadn’t yet. The package said something about a painter’s drop cloth. He didn’t relish the thought of huddling under the sheet in a storm.

R had found a flat spot along the top of a little ridge above the lake. The trees here were thicker than down in the Cedar Breaks, and that’s where he set up with his sleeping bag, piece of plastic, and the suitcase he had brought. R tried to keep up appearances as much as he could, washing his socks and underwear out every morning down at the lake. His suitcase held his extra suit – wool, Italian, very expensive. Each day here, though, he wore some tan trousers and a dress shirt. He had two extra shirts but he cold tell they were going to get terribly worn pretty soon. He wished he had some more appropriate clothes – more suitable for living in the breaks. His suitcase also contained four fat green cylinders of money, big bills, wrapped in a rubber band. He had given two others (the smaller of the ones he carried) to Fred and Ethyl saying, “Here, take all I’ve got on me,” while keeping the rest hidden away tucked up inside the suitcase.

There used to be some sort of park along the lake. It must have been a big deal years ago – there were a handful of old run-down cabins lining a stretch of leaf-covered asphalt. R thought about breaking into one and sleeping there, but he was worried that he’d be found out – the first place to look – and the one cabin that he had stuck his head into through a torn screen had such an awful smell of old death he couldn’t bear to pry open the door. There were still people on the other side of the lake; he could hear the chugging diesel motors at night as they pulled giant camping trailers in and out. When the light was right he could spot old retired folks sitting in colorful folding chairs along the water. By their posture he guessed they had poles and lines in the water. R wondered if they ever caught anything.

It hadn’t taken very many days for R to fall into a rough uncomfortable routine. Without anyone to talk to, the days were already starting to smear. It was late afternoon and R was sitting at an old picnic table in a large Cedar Brake above the old cabins. There was only one seat board left – the other side was bare rusty pipe with flecks of corroded bolts that used to hold the wood. The top was missing the middle board too – but it was the least rotted of all the picnic tables left.

R bent over to flick a spot of dried mud off his leather loafer when the bullet whizzed by. It passed so close to the back of his neck he thought he could feel the heat radiating off the slug as it flew by passing through the back part of his shirt collar but missing his flesh altogether. Then there was the echoing report of the shot and the smack-crack as the bullet careened through some cedar limbs.

R threw himself to the ground and was up in a flash dashing through the thick maze of cedars as fast as he could. Another shot threw chunks of wood through the air. R caught a sudden smell of fresh shattered cedar; it brought back an involuntary memory of hiding in his uncles’ suit closet as a kid, smelling the fresh cedar and old wool.

R had seen his share of gunfire but it wasn’t anything like this. He was used to handguns in crowded city streets – the survivor was always the first to shoot, the whole thing over in seconds, the most ruthless and quick would be the one that survived. Everything was so close. R was always the first to fire.

This was different. R was being hunted with a high-powered rifle and as he ran he’d glace back with every twist and turn. He could see nothing. His mind raced with thoughts of camouflage and ex-military snipers, trained and paid – specialists in this kind of work.

What I learned this week, January 14, 2022

My android tablet and portable keyboard, I stopped my bike ride on the Bridge Park over the Trinity River to get some writing done.

Learning, Practice, and Repetition: Why the Act of Writing Is Work

Jessie Greengrass on the Intersection of Muse and Routine

Lucadores, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Why Your Goals Will Fail, and What You Can Do About It

If you’re like most people, you have a New Year’s resolution in place and you may have even stuck to it so far this year.  Good for you!  Realistically though, you’re going to fail. How long have you said you really should get in shape, or lamented the need for  more quality time with family and friends?  The fact is, despite the most earnest commitment, resolutions just don’t work.

Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Listen to Your Own Advice

Guilt, fear, and low self-esteem can stop you from living by your own wisdom. Here’s how to overcome them.

Dallas, Texas

The Secret Society of Lightning Strike Survivors

After the sudden and intense drama of getting hit, they suffered from devastating symptoms that wouldn’t go away. It seemed like no one could help—until they found each other.

Depressing article by Joel Kotkin, “Welcome to the end of democracy”

Once the Storm is Over

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Margaret McDermott Bridge (cycle/pedestrian portion), Dallas, Texas