Mind Barf From The Ranch Pen

No More Mind Barf

While some people in this age of ebooks are churning out three or more books per year, Danni McGriffith Super-slow-author is not. I always think, “I should crank out more books like those prolific people do!”. Then I look at the scientific formula below (that I made up just now and metaphorically taped to my forehead) to remind myself why that ain’t a good idea.

3-4 books/year by Danni McGriffith=Mind Vomit

Or,

3-4 books/year by Danni McGriffith=Danni’s personal journal

Below I’ve included a fill-in-the-blank sample entry from my personal journal to prove my point.

Oct __

Woke up from a nightmare where I killed ___wearing only my___. Feeling mentally unhinged and prickly toward___. My___hurts. I also have a strange pain in my___. Clear skies, high south wind, 99*.

Obviously, I should confine the mind barf to the journal and the blog and write my way through my books at a snail’s pace. Which is what I am doing on the third book in my Love Is Not Enough series.

One of the main characters in this book is Annie DeRossi Campbell, an emotionally frozen young Navajo woman who is reluctantly coming unfrozen. Almost everything about her goes on beneath the surface. She’s an exhausting personality for the other characters to deal with and she’s an exhausting personality to write. However, I want her to be okay, so I’ll keep trying with her. You can read more about Annie’s origins here.

While we’re on the book topic, people have asked whether there will be a follow-up to my novel geared toward the younger set, Agnes Campbell’s Hat. I plan to write one, but have not started it yet. If only there were more hours in the day, or more and younger brain cells sparking around in the old cranium!

Finally, the first book in the Love Is Not Enough series, The Cedar Tree, was free for a few days this week. It made number two on the Amazon top 100 free books in the Western and Frontier slot and top ten in Family Sagas, so thank you very much to anyone who downloaded a copy. I really appreciate it. Remember, too, anyone with an Amazon Prime membership or Kindle Unlimited can borrow my books for free on their Kindle and if you have paid for a download, you can share it with a friend or family member on their Kindle for free, as well.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading. God Bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley doing The Stand.

[youtube.com/watch?v=V8C2xnZUXAk]

This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse the blog, I just love his music. If you do, too, you can download it on iTunes.

 

Methinks He Doth Grin Too Much

face-grin

The title of this post, Methinks He Doth Grin Too Much, is a Ranch Pen hijacking of Mr. Shakespeare’s line in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

Anytime an author wants to feel as though he or she has been stabbed in the eye with a sharp pencil, they head over to Amazon to read the one star reviews of their books. My book The Cedar Tree has racked up three so far with one of the reviews complaining (among other things) that the main character, Gil Howard, grins too much. Which reminds me…I haven’t written a post about any of my characters for a while and Gil will do as well as anyone.

Gil is probably my favorite character. Ladies seem to like him and–surprisingly enough–so do guys. Over the years, he morphed into a composite of many of the men in my life: unapologetically male, strong, confident and competent in his field of expertise…and sadly deficient in the romance department. He is goofy and a kidder who would almost rather take a beating than get mushy, but he has an unexpected streak of tenderness and ends up with a heart for God even though he doesn’t always do the right thing. And he is an optimist who laughs and grins a lot.

Gil has been with me a long time, longer even than my kids. He started out as a dashing fellow named Rory. Here is an excerpt from a previous post, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams:

 I was a teen-ager when I first ventured into novel writing. My first attempt was set in the 1800’s and featured a protagonist named Rory. I forget his last name. He rode a big horse–black, I believe. His love interest was Kate and his story was full of stuff like this:
   Rory raced his freshly shod, big, black, shiny, deep chested Quarter Horse horse with four white socks and a blaze face up to the burning wooden cabin and slid to a sliding stop. He jumped off the saddle and ran quickly up to the door burning hotly, vowing to stake the devil who had done this to Kate onto an anthill of ants.
“Help, Rory, you big, strong, very good looking man, you,” Kate cried feebly from inside the burning inferno somewhere.
Oh, goodness! She was fading fast!
“Kate, darlin’!” he cried out desperately. “Hold fast to our dreams, for if you die, they’re pretty much all out the window! Darlin’! Oh, and by the way, throw the kids out to me if they’re still with us…”

 

Eventually, Rory ended up in the garbage and I didn’t do much writing for a few years. He wouldn’t stay dead, however, and finally resurrected from the ashes of his trash can as a new and better character. Rory’s dumb love interest, Kate, eventually turned into Gil’s love interest, Katie Campbell, of The Cedar Tree.

Once in a while someone will ask what is my favorite part of writing Gil. The answer is his and Katie’s snippy exchanges, hands down. This is one of my favorites from The Cedar Tree:

   Gil eyed Lance as he crossed to the door and left. The guy was hopeless. Katie was way too much firepower for him…like a .458 magnum elephant rifle against a BB gun. She’d eat him alive and he’d just stand there and let her.
   He headed down the hall. “You need a ride in the mornin’?” he asked through her closed bedroom door.
   “No,” she snapped sarcastically. “I can walk. It’s only twelve miles.”
   “Okay. Have it your way.”
   “Okay. Have fun bottle feeding all those bummers.”
   “I could feed ’em. Any moron can feed bum lambs.”
   “Perfect.”
   “While I’m feedin’ bummers, you can build the hay barn.”
   “I would, but I didn’t take building lessons from Dr. Seuss.”
   “Hey,” he said, stung. “That salvaged lumber might not look so hot, but it’s a good barn.”
   “It’s magnificent.”
   “Okay,” he said irritably, “you get on the end of a hammer tomorrow and see how it goes…”

 

(Eerily similar to some of the snippy exchanges at the Ranch Pen.)

 

Some writers sketch their characters to keep them straight in their mind’s eye, and many years ago I sketched up ol’ Rory to look like Tom Selleck. (Not old Grampa Tom Selleck like he is now, but like he was in his Magnum PI days in the last century.

Tom Selleck Magnum PI
Gil got a sketch a long time ago, too. I don’t claim to be any good at sketching, but here’s Gil as I imagined him–grinning.Gil
If any of y’all imagine him differently, whip out a sketch and send it to me at dannimcgriffith@gmail.com. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good. He might look like this:Gilwithwhiskers
Or, even like this…it’s all good:
Gilcartoon

Well, that’s all for today, but to everybody who has told me how much they like Gil, thank you very much. I like him and his stupid grin (as his love interest, Katie, calls it,) too.

Until next time, thanks for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy David Wesley’s new one, 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).

[youtube.com/watch?v=tWUbgeD6pMI]

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love his music

My Mother-In-Law Has Bigger Guns Than You

PRINT---LOVELL---TARGET-PRACTICE

via americanwildwest.com

The painting above by Tom Lovell, “Target Practice”, is one of my favorites of all time and a large reproduction hangs in my house.

Gramps and I are pro-gun (although not pro-murder) and own a number of guns, but those aren’t the kinds of guns of which I’m speaking in this continuation of the saga of how my novel The Cedar Tree came into being.

An excerpt from a post last winter, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams Part 4:

At the end of my writing dreams series, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams Part lll, young Danni had unwittingly embarked on a more than twenty-year novel writing journey. Gramps–still not widely known as Gramps–kept traveling around the western United States natural gas fields working for wages with his sweet pipelining skills. Danni just worked, and the sons finally outgrew their potty chairs and started using the yard for their bathroom most of the time while the animals on the Colorado rancho soon outnumbered humans by at least thirty-to-one.

Picking up from there, my homeschooled sons beefed up their academics with classes like Life Lessons From the Livestock Auction With Mom and Her SisterChasing and Penning Wild Cattle 101, and Learning to Ride Rough Stock for Fun and (no) Profit.

But, it was night when I really came alive, morphing into a mad typist who sat at the Smith Corona, hammering away on my novel about a Colorado ranching family. My protagonist, Gil, was a reckless cowboy, but his love interest was Kate, a tiresome young woman who wouldn’t die. Ever.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, most first novels are autobiographical in nature, and mine was no exception. How do I know?

Because Kate–and finally Katie in her final form–had big arms.

via wikigallery.org
The Milkmaid by Adolphe Charles Marais via wikigallery.org

She’d grown up milking cows by hand. And, hey, surprise…I did, too!

In my novel, Kate was older than the milkmaid above and she set her bucket underneath the cow’s udder. She’d hunker down with her cheek against the cow’s flank and get after it. Thick streams of milk rang against the metal bucket, raising a head of snowy foam. Unfortunately, the muscles of her forearms and biceps became larger and more unattractive with every squeeze-pull of the cow’s rubbery…er…handles.

Kate had something to say about her arms in every revision of my story for over twenty-years. The fact that–even though she was slightly built–she had to split the inside seams of her blouses to get her arms stuffed in them peeved her greatly. What fictional young woman would want bigger guns than all the other girls and a lot of the guys, too?

(Old people, guns is slang for biceps. I wouldn’t know except one of my favorite people in the world once said something along this line to her brother: “You’re pathetic. My mother-in-law has bigger guns than you do.”)

from Napoleon Dynamite

Kate feared she had guns like Starla’s. (above right) 

I used years of time–and bottles of white-out–while I wrote at my typewriter, trying to disguise long-ago Kate so nobody would see her as my alter-ego. As a result she came across as a boring nitwit, obsessed with her arms. Trying to distance myself from her, I told my story like a news account rather than crawling inside the characters skins and writing from their viewpoints.

Kate embarrassed me every time she tried to come out of her shell, but I had a much easier time writing Gil’s character. I could write about him for days. Still, he had to fall in love with Kate or my romantic story line just fell to pieces.

As I wrestled with that knotty problem, I went about so absent-mindedly I actually endangered the wild animal population, thus:

Our rancho was an hour away from the church we attended. One night after a Wednesday night prayer meeting, I piloted our old station wagon toward home like a rocket sled on rails with my boys buckled tightly into their seats. While I drove, I gnawed on my problematic story line. A mother raccoon unwisely led her little family in front of my speeding wheels. Son #1 yelled out a warning from the passenger seat, waking me from my fictive dream, but…too late.

My goodness, what a mess.

I fought Kate throughout the passage of time until many years later when a writer–who is also my freelance editor and gracious writing mentor, Terri Valentine–taught me how to stop writing like I was in the shower with my clothes on. One of the most helpful things she ever said to me came after I explained to her I didn’t like Kate–or Katie, as she was called by then.

“But, I love Katie,” she said, and then she gave me reasons why.

Her words stunned me. Someone actually loved Katie?

After that, I tried to stop fighting her and write about her like I loved her, too.  My twenty-year novel attempt finally came together.

The take-away from this odd tale? Aspiring novelists, try to find something to love about your characters, especially that first autobiographical one. (Even if she has large appendages and other shortcomings.) You might save years of your life…and young raccoon families.

For anyone interested, both The Cedar Tree and Agnes Campbell’s Hat are free downloads today on Amazon.com, or just click on the book cover images in the sidebar.

Thank you so much for reading. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy another David Wesley performance of How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.

[youtube.com/watch?v=DOXnzYPMhWY]

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like him.

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Still Writing From The Sticks

The Cedar Tree

Today, I’m just posting an excerpt in the continuing series of posts about how my novel, The Cedar Tree, sprang forth over a span of many years. If anyone has tried to download the ebook version without success, I apologize and hope that Amazon has it fixed by now.

And now the excerpt from Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams Part 3:

(At the end of the previous post in my Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams series, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams Part ll, we left young Danni traveling all over the country with Gramps (not known as Gramps then), her three little kids, and a big stack of books. She was just living real life and gathering giant piles of experience while make-believe characters had begun to grow in her brains again.)

talosian[1]

(above) An almost exact replica of young Danni except she had some hair and different eye color

Our little McGriffith clan lived like nomads for about seven years, occasionally touching down at our small mountain rancho in Colorado. Once, when we landed at the rancho for a while, Son #1 took a turn around the outside of the house, carefully examining the bottom of it. Then he looked at me and asked, “Where are the wheels on this house?”

My first novel as a teenager–a wild romance featuring the dashing protagonist, Rory, and his dumb love interest, Kate–had ended up in the trashcan years before. Sometime during the time when our little clan was traveling around, however, I began to write again in journal format.

At first, embarrassed by the sheer romantic passion of my novel attempt, I kept the journal entries to the point :

Illinois, Sun. May 26–Sat June 1, 1985… $7.82  eats, 16.68  shoes, 18.50  gas, 8.00  diapers…

Gradually, the journal entries picked up somewhat:

North Carolina Coast, January 19, 1987 …We walked on the beach, found some seashells, took pictures, watched the gulls. Last night, we went and ate seafood. Son #2 puked on the floor and spilled his tea. Son #3 pooped his pants. Other than that it went off pretty smooth…

If you’ve ever hauled three little boys and their stuff from pillar to post across the United States, you know how wearying that is. Eventually, I began to stay at the rancho more while Gramps kept traveling.

The journal entries settled into a matter-of-fact rhythm:

3-2-88 Sister and I took #1 and #2 skiing yesterday. #1 skied into a tree, knocked himself out. Ended up with a big knot on his head and a skinned face. Other than that we had a real nice time…

A lot of my entries ended with–other than that we had a real nice time…

Gramps kept traveling around, working and raking in big piles of cash with which I began to stock the rancho. Cattle, horses, chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, emus, and even a lama–Laban the lama–joined the sons, all clamoring for food.

Smith Corona Portable Typewriter

My first typewriter was a model just like the one above. (I know. A dinosaur. Computers were rare to nonexistent in homes. Mine particularly.)

With our rancho an hour from town, my social interactions were limited to church attendance. The conversations at home mostly consisted of me yelling over the racket of hungry animals and this tiresome repeat with my sons: You gotta go potty? You sure? You better not potty your pants…

I hadn’t used the ol’ Smith Corona since Rory and Kate’s disastrous love affair, but who could blame me for dragging out the old beast, blowing off the dust, rolling up my sleeves, and making up conversations with myself? (And, as you can see from the other photo above, I needed to get those characters out of my brains so I could wear a normal sized hat.)

Anyway, I began a completely new novel set in the modern-day ranching country of western Colorado. (Well, 1985 Colorado, if you’re my age or older and consider that modern.) Rory had died in a trashcan fire, so I invented a new protagonist, Gil. I have no idea why I named him that. His love interest was…you’ll never guess…

Kate.

She just wouldn’t die. Or maybe she was the other Kate’s great-great grandaughter. Anyway, in the dark of night when the animals had bedded down and my boys were sleeping and wetting in their beds, I began tapping away on the old Smith Corona. I had no writing skills, no outlining skills, and no knowledge of story structure.

I also had no idea the story would turn into a family saga I’d intermittently fiddle with for over TWENTY YEARS…

Thank you so much for reading. And thanks to all of you for your kind words, emails, and reviews. I really appreciate all of you.

God bless all y’all and enjoy David Wesley doing a beautiful job on In Christ Alone.

[youtube.com/watch?v=oab9giH2cG0]

*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like him.

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A Near Heart Attack And Gross Out Spasm At The Ranch Pen

674px-Whistlers_Mother_high_res

image via wikimedia commons

Whistler’s Mother?

The second installment of how I got started writing The Cedar Tree over twenty years ago is in this post, but first, the good stuff. You are perhaps looking at the old painting above by James McNeill Whistler–entitled Whistler’s Mother–and thinking: Eh? What has that got to do with anything?

The answer is, I was practicing on my shepherd’s whistle intended for our young border collie’s future training after lunch today. That reminded Gramps of Whistler’s Mother somehow. That, in turn reminded me that Gramps had once pointed out Whistler’s mother was probably seven-feet-tall when she stood up.

IMG_4378

But Speaking of Old Ladies

A few days ago, I was very nearly the old lady who swallowed a spider like in the poem my grandkids love:

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed that fly,
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wiggled, and jiggled, and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly –
Perhaps she’ll die…

I may have come close to dying of a heart attack and a gross-out spasm, but am almost perfectly fine, now. Searching for the meaning of life in that close call, all I could come up with was maybe I should call the bug guy to come spray for spiders. (I also had the very brief thought it meant I should clean house, but that couldn’t be right.)

Hey. Maybe Those Whistles Keep Spiders Away

Well, anyway. Blowing a shepherd’s whistle is a lot harder than it looks. I blew on mine for about an hour before I could make it sound like a dying spider cat. While a clip of me blowing my whistle and Nellie sitting outside the door pawing at her ears would be very amusing, I’ve included this real dog guy doing a shepherd’s whistle demo, instead.

[youtube.com/watch?v=3-fxje2cDh4]

But Without Further Ado

So now that y’all know how to blow a shepherd’s whistle, what a farm/ranch couple talk about after dinner, and the dangers of farm/ranch life for the middle-aged–who dare not drink anything ever again without glasses on–we’ll continue from where last week’s post left off with an excerpt from a post last winter entitled Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams Part 2.

The Cedar Tree

We ended Part l with the unfortunate demise of my first characters, Rory and Kate. They ended up in the trash can of my writing dreams because I married Gramps when I was sixteen and barely out of diapers. (He wasn’t called Gramps then or I might not’ve had sense enough to marry him. Sixteen-year-old girls can be so shallow.)

At any rate, he was (and still is) my dashing soul mate and we happily dove off the cliff of love into the rapids of experience.

A year later, we two added a little child to make three and most of the writing I did went like this:

Dear Grandma, Thank you for the baby stroller and the twenty dollars…
Dear Electric and Gas Company, We will have the money by the end of the week, please don’t shut us off…
The rest of my writing was in the form of lesson assignments while I finished highschool in my own special ed classes. Sort of like Abe Lincoln. Without the beard. Or the super intelligence.
At eighteen, I looked forward to the birth of baby #2 and also received my diploma in the mail–probably while I was feeding my yearling son pureed carrots. He was a difficult child and I expect if I hunted up my diploma, orange blow-by would speckle the semi-expensive paper.

A couple years after that, I wrote my name on a line with Gramps’ and we bought our first little mountain rancho, ten acres and a house from which sheep had been evicted. Son #3 promptly made his appearance. A few months later, I rocked my twenty-first birthday with my three little kids–aged three and under–aided by koolaid and party hats.

All that while, I did almost no writing, but Gramps and I lived a real life while we traveled around and he made money to pay for our rancho. And while I tried to keep my babies and toddlers from self-destruction, I read.

I inhaled books like air, reading most genres except horror–although the book Treblinka about the Nazi death camp certainly qualifies–and cereal boxes. I read my Bible whenever I got a quiet minute. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot while rocking a baby in Colorado. Ernest Hemingway’s  For whom the Bell Tolls while rocking a baby in North Carolina. I even slogged through Tolstoy’s War and Peace a few hours at a time from a curb beside a playground in Illinois.

And, unbeknownst even to myself, my next characters had begun to stir in the womb of my brains…

As always, thanks so much for reading, and please take this short quiz. (Old homeschool teachers grade on a curve, so you’ll likely pass. )

  1. How tall do you think Whistler’s Mother is, judging by the length of her thigh bones?
  2. Do you think–judging from Whistler’s Mother’s expression–she has swallowed a fly?
  3. Judging from Whistler’s Mother’s expression, do you think Whistler’s Mother wishes:
  • A. Whistler would just hurry up so she can get back to practicing her shepherd’s whistle commands?
  • B. Whistler would at least bring her a cup of coffee without a spider in it if he’s going to take all day with his painting?
  • Or, C. Whistler would change his original title from Arrangement in Gray and Black No.1 to something a little more flattering to her–Definitely Not Whistler’s Mother?

Until the next installment of As The Cedar Tree Burns Turns, God bless all y’all and enjoy this old clip of The Cathedrals doin’ Echoes From the Burning Bush just because I love The Cathedrals singing almost anything.

[youtube.com/watch?v=0gmI1F_RgGw]
*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ‘em.

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It Took How Long To Pull That Out Of Your Brain?

The Cedar Tree

Below is an excerpt from Part 1 of the Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams series posted last winter which talks about how I first got started writing on The Cedar Tree, the last of many titles the manuscript wore over twenty+ years’ time.

I was a teen-ager when I first ventured into novel writing. My first attempt was set in the 1800’s and featured a protagonist named Rory. I forget his last name. He rode a big horse–black, I believe. His love interest was Kate.
Once, I showed the first chapters of this masterpiece to my grandma, a voracious reader. She got a funny look on her face. I interpreted it as: You’re my granddaughter and I love you, but this is drivel and I don’t know quite how to tell you that.
“Well…” was what Grandma said. “Just keep working on it.”
I did for a while longer and I think it went something like this:
Rory raced his freshly shod, big, black, shiny, deep chested Quarter Horse horse with four white socks and a blaze face up to the burning wooden cabin and slid to a sliding stop. He jumped off the saddle and ran quickly up to the door burning hotly, vowing to stake the devil who had done this to Kate onto an anthill of ants.
“Help, Rory, you big, strong, very good looking man, you,” Kate cried feebly from inside the burning inferno somewhere.
Oh, goodness! She was fading fast!
“Kate, darlin’!” he cried out desperately. “Hold fast to our dreams, for if you die, they’re pretty much all out the window! Darlin’! Oh, and by the way, throw the kids out to me if they’re still with us…”
I wasn’t much of a plotter and I don’t think he said that about the dreams, but y’all get the idea.
Anyway, I always sketch my characters, but at that time I probably sketched as badly as I wrote. My sketch of Kate–and I confess this to my everlasting shame–I made behind a locked door and while looking into the bathroom mirror. She looked pretty good except for I could never get that one eye to look quite right.
I imagined my sketch of Rory looked like Tom Selleck. (Not old Grampa Tom Selleck like he is now, but like he was in his Magnum PI days in the last century.)
Tom Selleck Magnum PI
Possibly, he more closely resembled Barney Fife.
Barney Fife
But the point is, I can’t check up on Rory, now, because at some point, in a fit of self-disgust, I threw him, and his story, and my dream into the trash. And I wish I hadn’t now, because that story would be like a blogging gold mine. We could have laughed hysterically for many posts…

Over the next post or two, I’ll try to continue the continuing saga of how The Cedar Tree wormed its way out of my brains and into a book cover. As the Starburst commercial in the original post illustrates, I completely understand if that bores you to death.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy Dailey and Vincent doin’ another of my favorites, By The Mark.

[youtube.com/watch?v=Dw-uklIlQE0]
*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ‘em.

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Improper Display At The Ranch Pen

talosian[1]

image via the internet somewhere

Danni getting ready to talk about her books.

Okay, so I don’t know if it’s legal for me to use this image all the time. My knowledge of internet law is pretty weak and I almost expect to be arrested at any moment for it.

But that reminds me of another brush with the law I had one time, so before we start talking about the books, we’ll talk about that.

*A disclaimer: Danni is relatively harmless unless you’re a raccoon. In that case you’d better say your prayers.

We have charming rural weekly newspapers in our area. Desperate for “news” of any kind, they print every name which comes up before the judge for criminal activity–most of which, sadly enough, is drug related–but for light relief, we have the speeding tickets, the fines, the driving without insurance or a seat belt, the occasional poaching, or shooting from the roadway.

The Highway Patrol, or HIPO, sometimes attaches offensive labels–or entertaining, depending on the viewpoint–to the offense when they write the ticket. A farm woman I know once found herself in an embarrassing brush with an boorish doughnut eating clod officer,  similar to my skirmish with the law. This farm lady is super nice and a fine human being who also happens to drive huge tractors and semi trucks with ease, could beat Gramps up, and is what is known as a Plus Sized Woman. Once, her trucking violation appeared in the local newspapers–listed by an insensitive doughnut eating HIPO–as “over weight”. Can you believe that? SO rude. 

So, we press onward to Danni’s brush with the law. One summer day,  with the lawn needing mowed and Gramps having drained every gas can on the place again, Danni loaded her gas can into the back of this good little farm truck  (below) which is used to beat around the country to save fuel and haul small loads such as the little plastic Christmas tree peeping up in the back. (Very cute tree. One of Gramps’ friends wanted it. I don’t know what that says about Gramps’ friends. Or Gramps. He kept forgetting to take it to his friend though, so we just hauled it around all summer until all the color bleached out and it no longer resembled a Christmas tree.)

IMG_2371

Danni had seriously meant to put on the new license plate and stuff the current insurance paper in the glovebox, but she kept forgetting. Gramps is apparently not the only one with memory trouble. Anyway, she heads for the farmers’ co-op pumps in town with her gas can. She approaches the hamlet, momentarily forgetting where she is going, and instead of hooking through the back way, she rolls up to the stop sign at the highway.

And across the intersection directly opposite sits a trolling HIPO.

She has to keep revving the motor to prevent it dying at the stop, but she slides down on the seat, trying to escape notice. However, the HIPO has fixed her with an icy stare. Resigned to her fate, she revs the motor and zips toward the co-op pumps a short distance away, pretty sure the turn signal on that side doesn’t work–to add icing to her cooked goose. The HIPO is able to view her battered little transport in all its glory as it roars past at full throttle.

Sure enough, the HIPO pulls up behind her at the pumps. She decides not to get out since it’s quite an ordeal to open the door on that side. Besides, she is probably having visions of her lifeless body stretched on the gravel, shot plumb full of holes.

The officer seems unnecessarily grim as he approaches her window. He may have his hand on his gun holster, it’s hard to say. And seriously? (See picture of Danni above).

HIPO: Do you know why I pulled you over, ma’am?

Danni: Um… 

Her super-sized brain is whirling like a whirligig. Could he have perceived her little truck’s throttle problem as the revved engine challenge of a coy teenage  girl at a Saturday night stoplight? Or was it no turn signals? No tail lights? No brake lights? No seat belt? Broken headlights? The side of the truck caved in by a wild steer? The possibilities seem endless.

HIPO: Your tag’s expired.

Danni: I know. I’m sorry. It’s laying on the shelf at the house.

HIPO: (narrows his eyes. he is not cute like tv cops) Mmhm. Can I see your insurance verification?

Danni: (squirming) Um…

HIPO: You don’t have insurance, do you?

Danni: Yes, I do. It’s with the license plate.

HIPO: No, you don’t have any. You wait here.

Danni: (he really doesn’t look cute at all. quite the opposite.)

The HIPO returns in a few minutes after checking with whomever they check with, but he doesn’t even apologize to Danni for finding out she wasn’t lying. He just tears off a warning from his pad and hands it to her with instructions to put on her new plate and carry the insurance card from now on, or else.

Then he leaves and she looks at the warning–Improper Display. Seriously? What if he had written a ticket instead of a mere warning and that had hit the newspapers?

“Danni McGriffith, ultra-conservative Christian wife, mom, grandma, writer lady, Christmas tree lover, etc, up on improper display charges. Arresting officer goes blind…”

Well, anyway. Thank you, Ossifer Officer, for not writing me a ticket. I would’ve NEVER, EVER lived that down. (And neither would’ve you.)

Okay, now for the books. For Friday’s post, I’ll try to talk about how my book about a dashing cowboy and his dumb love interest Kate turned into a book called The Cedar Tree, over twenty years in the making. Also, my two books, The Cedar Tree and Agnes Campbell’s Hat–historical fiction for the younger set–are scheduled for free download on Amazon today and Wednesday. If you don’t have a Kindle to read the books, Kindle apps are available for any smartphone and also for your computers and tablets.

I appreciate your kind remarks, comments, and reviews on the books more than I can ever say, and until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy one of my favorites, The Peasall Sisters doing Where No One Stands Alone.


*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ‘em.

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