December 18, 2013

Tales From Homer, Conley Stone McAnally, the new Mark Twain

I want to share with you an excerpt from Conley Stone McAnally's new book. What a fun read!
He has that Midwest style reminiscent of Mark Twain. I think you'll enjoy it; suitable for the whole family!
“The Doodenville Men’s Club” 
An excerpt
Conley Stone McAnally
 They don’t talk about who has the best dog in town anymore.  No sir, not since last December.
It was the middle of December and cold, gosh it was cold, and snow, I mean you couldn’t see from the window of Jessie Miller’s General Store to the street side of the wooden planks that make up our sidewalks here in Doodenville.  Everybody’s always said that it was the worse snow storm ever to have hit these parts.
Even though it was plumb miserable out, we all showed up about the same time we always showed up at Jessie’s place.  We had what you might consider a men’s club.  We didn’t call it that, but every Saturday about sundown, or perhaps a little later, Steve Branson, Digger Johnson, Judge Johns and myself would get together and play checkers, tell stories, and more or less just brag to one another - which some might say was stretching the truth.
This one December evening, the bragging turned to our dogs.  No man in Doodenville went anywhere without his dog.  A man is judged somewhat on what kind of dog he has and how he treats it and it him.  Now everyone cannot see how one is treating his dog all the time nor he him so we felt like it was our duty that night to tell one another.  That is where the others always get into trouble because they exaggerate a mite and this night they exaggerated a lot.  Not me, of course.
The checkers match had gotten over and we began to sip a little of the stuff behind the counter that Jessie kept for snake bite.  Jessie was always there but he seldom joined in because he was too busy keeping track of how much we were sipping and eating from the cracker barrel.  Anyway, we were doing what we always did when Steve Branson popped up and said during a lull in the conversation, “Now we have been talking about our dogs for nigh onto three hours and Lord knows how many nights we have been doing the same.  Let’s settle who has the best dog once and for all”.
Everybody seemed to think it was a pretty good idea because each man thought he had the best dog and would win any type of such a contest.  We all thought a little and tried to come up with some sort of criteria that could determine who had the best dog.
Steven Branson suggested that we could have them run a race but that idea was scuttled because there was too much snow on the ground and too cold.  “And besides,” Digger Johnson said, “being fast don’t mean nothing anyway”.
He was right, of course.  We all knew that Crazy Jimmy Twofoot’s oldest boy, Jimmy J., was the fastest thing on two legs in three counties and the boy couldn’t find his way to the outhouse without someone helping him.  At least that is what Crazy Jimmy always said.
Then Steve came up with another idea (he was always coming up with ideas, being an engineer and all.)  He suggested that we have the dogs bark real loud and whose ever dog barked the longest and loudest would be declared the winner. (I didn’t say all his ideas were good, though.)
That idea was ignored because everyone knew that Jessie’s wife was sick with the virus and noise would wake her and cause some discomfort.  Steve must have gotten the point also because he snapped his fingers like something had just occurred to him and mumbled, “oh, yeah!” and sat back down.  It seemed as though in all the years that I had known Steve he was always snapping is finger about something.
We all sat around the stove and thought some more.  Then Judge Johns cleared his throat.  Now when a man clears his throat, those in hearing distance don’t pay much attention, but when Judge Johns cleared his throat you knew he had something important to say.  He was also real smart so naturally we all started paying close attention.
“It seems to me,” he began, “that we want to find out which one of us has the smartest dog.  The smartest dog, gents, not the fastest nor the loudest, but the smartest.  Intelligence, friends, is the true test of greatness”.  Judge Johns could always be counted on to get right to the heart of the matter.  “So it seems to me,” he continued after grasping his lapels and clearing his throat again, “that each dog ought to be judged on his reaction to a single command and whose dog reacts in the most intelligent manner will be considered the best dog in Doodenville”.
We all thought about that for a while and by and by it seemed fair enough.  But then Digger said, “You know each man here might think that his dog done the best no matter what the other three dogs did.  If that happened, we would all be in a stalemate and be right back where we were.”
That sounded kind of correct.  We knew we were all men of integrity, but we also knew each other and understood how sometimes a man’s judgment could get clouded in important matter like this one.
“Well,” Judge Johns said after he cleared his throat, “it seems to me we need an unbiased judge”.  You know, to this day, I get plumb amazed on how the Judge could always grasp things and have a solution so quickly.
The natural judge, of course, was Jessie.  I say ‘of course’ because Jessie didn’t have a dog.  At least not since last spring when Old Clem Thurman’s horses kicked Jessie’s dog Cracker in the head.
Jessie agreed to act as the judge and took charge right away.  “Since there are four of you,” while grasping his suspenders, “one of you will have to go first and one will have to go last, and two of you will have to go in the middle, one ahead of the other”.
I sat there and blinked because he had lost me at first.  I did not think that was possible because we always thought Jessie was a mite slow.  He continued: “So it seems to me we ought to go by age, starting with the youngest man.  I will give you all five minutes to decide what you want your dogs to do”.  He fixed his one good eye on the clock that hung over the Buster Brown sign that hung behind the counter.
 The contest would soon begin.
Conley is on Facebook & Twitter (Stone@639)
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Got Kindle (et al) for Christmas? Get Custer! Paperback too!

Here's a good read for readers  who need a break from Christmas. Paperback and Kindle (et al).

Custer and His Naked Ladies, an excerpt

Janelle Meraz Hooper
Newly divorced, Glory’s biological clock is pounding like a powwow drum. She heads back home to Oklahoma, where she meets Soap, a sexy Comanche lawyer who wants to do something about that powwow drum pounding in her head…

1.      Dumped 

     Glory was on her way to join her husband on a NOAA research vessel when she tried to call him to say she was running late. That was when she discovered he wasn’t on the ship; without telling her, he’d pulled out of the offshore project days before. With that failed phone call, all of her recent, uncomfortable inklings fell into place. Her marriage was over. He just hadn’t gotten around to telling her yet.

That was how she ended up at Sea-Tac Airport, halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, with her hair in braids, wearing a pink Where’s the Powwow? sweatshirt. She carried only her wallet, a camera, and a faded blue gym bag. The bag was filled with the same kinds of clothes she was wearing, a few books, and a photo of her husband. The photo—frame and all—she chucked into a trash barrel outside the airport. She would have liked to toss it out of the airplane, but she was pretty sure it would make the stewards cranky if she opened the emergency exit at 35,000 feet.   

            Her original destination, the research vessel, was scheduled to drop anchor over the undersea volcanoes off the coast of Washington State. The scientists on the ship were to study the marine life that thrived in the hot water that spewed out of the craters.

            After the research trip, she and her husband, Rick, were to take a much-needed vacation to Mexico and reconnect. They hadn’t had any identifiable problems, but her husband had been moody and refused to talk about it. Glory had hoped he would open up after a few days rest on a hot sandy beach with a Margarita in his hand. Rick hadn’t been in favor of the vacation, but Glory had insisted. Finally, he had thrown up his hands and given up.

Before the research trip, he had convinced her to put all of their things in storage because they didn’t know if they’d be back in Seattle when the project was over. There was no use, he’d said, in paying rent while they were gone.

It made sense.

Sort of.  

But why hadn’t she been suspicious when he’d insisted on putting all of his things into separate marked boxes? How dumb was she? The dirty rat! And what would she have done on the research ship without him for three weeks? Her specialty was in freshwater turtles; there would be no real work for her there. No paycheck. He was the specialist in coastal underwater volcanoes. He belonged there. She would have been nothing more than a guest with no way off the boat. Her cheeks burned at the embarrassment she felt. What was he thinking?

Her new destination was her mother’s in Oklahoma. Getting a last minute ticket was expensive, and Glory was thankful for her credit cards. No one ever went to Oklahoma unless they had to, and airline tickets to the Sooner State were never a bargain. Glory handed the woman at the check-in counter her credit card and mumbled a quote from a rich friend, “All it takes is money.” The woman briefly looked up, then, expressionless, continued adding up the full fare charges on her keyboard.

On her way to the airplane boarding area, over and over, Glory thought, this isn’t the way normal, educated people get divorced.

I’ve been dumped!

With no explanation.

No discussion.
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December 16, 2013

Wilson Bay by Conley Stone McAnally

Are you still Christmas shopping? This will help!
An excerpt from Wilson Bay, Conley Stone McAnally's new book on his experiences in Alaska. This is such a good read. I treasure books like this because they remind me of an epigram in one of my books: "Sometimes we forget that everyone else is living their moments while we're busy living ours." The world is a big place. Don't miss a bit of it!

Wilson Bay
...The meat is divided among the hunters in proportion to the help each provided during the hunt. It is cheaper than buying beef at the village store.  
The intestines will be sold to a craftsman that will produce a water proof rain coat to sell to the tourists that want to show people after they return home how ingenious Eskimos can be.  
The skin is used for ceremonial clothing and repairing of artifacts that the Eskimos keep around more to impress the tourists than anything else.  The best part of the skin, however is taken to the eldest of the Elders.  He or she makes the selection as to who will be given the task, and then the village waits.
A three foot diameter circle is made by the selected craftsman by carving, bending, heating, and pressing driftwood together.  It is held in place by a stone vice while a handle made from ivory or still more driftwood is attached by sinew.  The length of the handle depends on the size of the beater. 
 The skin, after being cured, cleaned, and scraped to a shinny surface is stretched tightly across the circular frame.  The instrument is left to dry and harden in the sun, thus further stretching the skin tighter, thereby giving it it’s haunting melodious sound.  
The eldest of the Elders directs how the product is to be decorated.  A different craftsman provides the ceremonial decorations.  The item is then presented to the eldest of the Elders for approval. 
 After an ancient blessing, that no one now alive knows how long it has been chanted, a crafted willow stick strikes the middle of the drum and it resonates though out the tundra as all previous drums on the tundra have done for ten thousand years...
Note:  Conley's first book is Tales From Homer.
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