Jimmie A. Kepler here, greetings from the blast furnace called north Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The temperature reached 109 degrees on my front porch today. That’s hot!
This morning I went to Starbucks for my morning writing. I love the early morning right before the sun comes up. There is a peacefulness found there not found elsewhere. Starbucks is where I do about third of my writing. I do over half of my writing at home. I thought today I would show you my modest home office. It is a combination bedroom/office. It is the bedroom where I sleep each night.
I’ve created a three-minute and fifty-one second video tour of my home office. I hope you have as much fun seeing the video as I had making it.
Old men sitting in shopping malls
watch people, especially the ladies.
They look at the women walk by.
Their heart rates rise with the hemline,
and they use their trifocal and bifocals,
to examine low-cut necklines.
The younger women in their provocative dress
seldom realize that men their father’s
and grandfathers’ age are enjoying the demonstration,
while the men only wish the ladies would walk slow.
The older women parade by without alarm,
hoping they are still capable of turning heads.
Each steals a glance from time to time
watching the never-ending waves of people
on the approaching side of the corridor
focusing of the beauty of the face and bosom
while on the departing side
fannies covered in jeans or tight skirts are admired
and old men sitting in shopping malls long
for eye contact and a smile
as the ladies acknowledge their appreciation.
I live in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area of north Texas. The area includes 12 counties, over 9,000 square miles (larger than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined), with just fewer than 7,000,000 million people, it is the fourth largest metro area in the USA. Only the New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago metro areas are larger. It’s big!
The blast furnace has returned to north Texas. After a week of overnight lows in the lower 60s I awoke to 77 degrees at 5 AM. Ugh, that is hot. Heat is on the schedule the rest if the month. It is August, so we should have highs around 100 and low temperatures around 80.
The last week has been exciting and sad. Let us look at the sad first. Another of my high school classmates passed away. Her name was Deborah. She went in for routine surgery on August 13. There were complications. She died on August 15. She was a sweetie. She loved her children and grandchildren. Her funeral was Monday August 19.
On Sunday evening I found out my friend Christy (Judy) had passed away from pneumonia. I had only known her eight years. I met her through Yahoo 360 and then became friends through Multiply. She was only a couple of years older than me. When I worked in Los Angeles last summer she was a great help. She told me which places to see, visit (like the bookstores), and I even made my way out to Simi Valley.
The exciting is I had a short story come out this week in Bewildering Stories. While it has been over thirty years since I had my first writing sale, I still get excited seeing my by-line and reading my articles and stories. You can check it out by clicking HERE.
Sometimes a man just has to do speak to himself, to run things through his mind, to think things out. He might reflect about things like should I consider changing jobs, ask her out (if he’s single and she’s single), consider starting an exercise program or investing in continuing education. It helps if you have a friend or spouse that will let you talk it out, but if not, I guess this is about the next best thing.
The last few days I’ve been thinking about my passion of writing. I have been writing since I was in high school when Lyndon Baines Johnson was president of the United States. I had my first professional writing sale in 1981. I’ve been writing a long time. Even though I’ve never published a book I have published a short story, poetry, and dozens of non-fiction articles. I have dozens of paid writing credits. I am a writer. I even have a short story that will be in next Tuesday’s issue of Bewildering Stories.
I remind myself of the these credits where I don’t let an agent, editor, publisher, writing group or friend get me down. I am not the reason they are having a bad day, don’t need what I wrote, or don’t like what I am writing. They are not the reason my writing sucks, story isn’t interesting or good enough. Sometimes I need to man up, work harder, and not be so tough on myself. Only my mother will say she likes everything I write and she has to because she’s my mother.I have to remind myself that sometimes the timing is off, sometimes the market isn’t right, sometimes ….
I need to do what I always do when rejected … cry, scream, think how dumb they are … take a deep breath and get back to reality. Continue writing and continue submitting … just maybe the next one will need what I’m writing, won’t have a client they represent who has written something similar and just maybe my writing will continue getting better.
I write because I am a writer. Writing is what we do.
This is about as close as an L’Amour fan will come to an autobiography. This is not a western novel, though it gives great insight into how he wrote and researched his books. The book starts with a reference to his high school class graduating while he was on a steamer in Indonesia.
L’Amour gives the reader a lengthy discussion of becoming self-educated through books, travel, and experience. I enjoyed the lengthy lists of books L’Amour read during his wandering years in the 30s.
I have logged what I read since reading the book in November 1990. It is a worthy discipline. I also started writing a short, generally no more than on page review of what I read after reading this book. It was the beginning of my writing a review or summary of each book I read.
L’Amour gives a breathtaking discussion of walking out of the Mojave Desert. It reminded me of my time at Fort Irwin, California (about 50 miles north of Barstow in the middle of similar land). L’Amour was a great researcher, and wrote from both personal experience and knowledge.
Disorganized, rambling, and repetitious, it is still an enjoyable book. Louis L’Amour emphasizes the value of education through experience and self-guided reading. He never degrades formal education. Required reading for any aspiring writer must include this book. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler.
Great big crocodile tears were streaming down my face. They wouldn’t stop flowing. My sobbing was so loud my sons, Kristopher and Jason, wondered if I would be all right. My wife Miss Benita’s comforting arms had never seen me this way before. She assumed one or both of my parents were dead from the magnitude of my grief. I was glad my daughter Sara was spending the night at her best friend Amelia’s house.
What had brought about this emotional upheaval in me? What would have me grieving with more intensity than when my grandparents or wife’s brother died?
A car squashed my cat Hallie. Specifically, it crushed her skull. Sadly, my two sons had witnessed the tragedy. They ran crying to get me to make it all better. I couldn’t make it better. While her little body was still warm, my kitty was dead.
Hallie was a beautiful, small Calico Cat. She had been born on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th. She died less than six months later on my wife’s birthday, September 14th.
Why make all the fuss about a cat? I loved my kitty. She loved me. It was a love that demanded nothing from me. A love that would rub up against my pants leg even after I accidentally stepped on her tail. A love that would sit nervously in my lap as we rode to the vet’s to get shots, “get fixed”, and the very day she died, to get stitches out from the above mentioned surgery.
She had a love for me that would wait for me to finish mowing the yard to get petted or have her tummy scratched. Hallie was one of the few that demanded nothing from me. She gave me her love and affection in return for hearing her name, a bowl of dry cat food, or an occasional saucer of milk. If you have ever had a kitty or dog die, you understand.
We can learn from a cat. We too, should love with no strings attached.
NOTE: At the time my kitty was run over I served as Associate Pastor and Day School Headmaster at First Baptist Church, Jasper, Texas. My sons were 13 years old, 10 years old and my daughter was two months shy of her sixth birthday. Hallie died on September 14, 1990. It was a Friday. I wrote the article on Monday, September 17, 1990. This piece was originally published in The Announcer of First Baptist Church, Jasper, Texas and the Jasper News-Boy in September 1990.
Tonight I watched a new installment of PBS’ My Music series. Founding Supremes singer Mary Wilson served as the host of the program showcasing many classic female singers and girl groups of the 1960s. It showcased seventeen of the singers/groups. Watching it reminded me of the book “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller that I read a couple of years ago. Here is a review of the book I wrote in August 2011.
The contents of “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller will be very recognizable to us who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. Sheila Weller tells us that King, Simon, and Mitchell pushes back the barriers for women specifically, “one song at a time.”
The enigmatic one remains Carole King, whom Weller just can’t shed light on in any significant way. King’s life was amazing then it stopped being of any interest at all. We learn and hear again and again how she wrote all those Brill Building masterpieces before she was 21. We learn how she broke down under the strain of a troubled marriage to a husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin whom she at married when she was 17 and pregnant by him. We see how she comes through the divorce with an LP, Tapestry, that everyone loved and bought. After that her life is bad men in abundance. They were attracted to her wealth. King once estimated that every time she divorced a man, it cost her a million dollars. Weller gives us all the facts. One still has to wonder why King did this to herself.
Carly Simon, on the other hand seems nearly normal as normal can be for someone of the upper, upper middle class. Though perceptibly spoiled and protected by wealth, Simon doesn’t seem spoiled. Her reactions are always understandable and sympathetic. This includes her meeting and marrying the drug-zombie James Taylor.
Joni Mitchell isn’t sympathetic. She has the integrated persona of the genius totally in love with herself and obsessed with her own reflection, so she’s great in a special way. The author makes fun of Mitchell’s vanity and enormous self-esteem. Weller still lets us know that, in her estimation at any rate, Mitchell actually is amazing.
Weller is interested in the ways women deal with each other. It’s nearly a biography of five people, not just three, as there is so much about James Taylor you will never need to read another word about him if you have this book on your shelf. There is also plenty of material about Judy Collins. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation is a book that convinces us forcefully in its larger arguments and dazzles with its wide-ranging portraits of artistic life in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Waves of heat radiated from the concrete as I leave the cocoon of my day job. Temperatures skyrocket twenty-five to thirty degrees. The hot wind slapping my face reminds me of a blast furnace. Even my eyes burn from its unwanted embrace.
As I enter the parking garage the heat and humidity mix makes me move with a purpose to my Ford Taurus. As soon as the engine starts I turn on the air-conditioner and adjust the fan to a near flash-freeze setting. My body demands immediate relief from the triple-digit inferno.
As I settle into the driver’s seat and my body cooperates by not going into a heat stroke state though I fear heat exhaustion was mere seconds away, I unscrew the cap on my bottle of water. Condensation covered it immediately with sweat when I exited the day job’s building. It’s cool, clear contents help me return to normalcy. The combination of water with the refrigerated air make sure I can survive the hour drive home.
During the trip I notice several drivers sipping from their water bottles. Observation finds no one driving with their windows rolled down. The time and temperature signs signal the dangerous warning as I see triple digit numbers flashing. Some are as high as 111. I am grateful for my air-conditioning. I am blessed as I sip on the cool, clear, chilled water.
As I slow my car to a stop in front of my home, put the transmission in parking gear, turn off the air-conditioning and exit back into the blast furnace I again feel hot wind slapping my face and my eyes burn from its unwanted embrace.
The temperature feels even hotter as I walk to the door that leads into my home. I cool air greets me as I open the door and walk into the entry hall. I closed the door behind me glad I have a barrier between the heat and the cool. And I reflect with amazement remembering my parents, grandparents, and even myself living in the heat without Mr. Willis Haviland Carrier’s wonderful invention.
While we dream of the good old days, it is wise to remember they really weren’t that good. We had no air-conditioned cars, workplaces, schools, businesses, or homes. Heck, we didn’t even have bottled water.
The words of the Apostle Paul from the Bible come to mind. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11. I was happy without air-conditioning as a child. I am happy with it as an adult. The key isn’t having or not having it, but to be satisfied. Of course, on a hot day, it is easier to be happy when cool.
I have completed a Christian historical fiction novel, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas.” I support my writing and reading habit by working a day job. I work as a solutions support analyst for a Fortune 500 privately held company. I belong to the Wholehearted Writing group in Dallas.
Reading, poetry and writing are my passions. I grew up in a career United States Air Force family. In my youth, I worked in a grocery store, warehouse, folk-rock band as a rhythm guitar player, a vendor at a major league baseball stadium, and for a milk distributor. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with minors in English and military science.
I served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army on active duty for three years and then five years in the United States Army Reserves. I graduated from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne School. I am honorably discharged as a Captain, United States Army Reserves.
Coming off active duty I went to graduate school full-time completing Master of Religious Education/Master of Arts degree. During graduate school, I worked as a custodian, day laborer, painter, preschool teacher, and as a route auditor for a soft drink distributor. For 16 years, I worked as a director of education and private school principal. I earned a doctor of education degree in educational administration.
I have been freelance writing over 30 years selling his first article in 1981. I have sold nonfiction magazine and trade journal articles including getting three cover articles. I also have short stories and poems published. I wrote a weekly column for over sixteen years as well over 150 books reviews in the military history genre for several publishers. I have written a historical fiction novel, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas” and am an active member of Wholehearted Writing in Dallas.
In the late 1990s, I went back to college studying computer science completing the core curriculum for the associate of applied sciences in computer systems. I earned CompTIA A+, i-Net+ and Network+ computer certifications as well as induction in for Phi Theta Kappa for academic excellence. While born in Texas, I have lived in Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, New Hampshire, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Texas. I am married, have three grown children and one grandchild.