March 9/19

We never had lighted screens to watch all day, never in human history. It’s astonishing and dubious and pleasing. Firelight was the closest thing.





Lighted screens and firelight are hypnotic, they lower your judgement potential by 30% (I just made that up). Go now and buy my books. Go now. Buy two copies of all of them. Give them to your friends. This is an approved thing to do, it will enhance your social prestige. Go now. Obey. That is all.


February 27/19


Read the same book on Kindle and as a physical in-your-hand book.

There is a different feeling about them. Move from a lighted screen onto a paper page and there’s a kind of let-down. The paper page is duller, less significant, less exciting. We are tuned to light. The lighted screen gives importance to things above and beyond their intrinsic merit. Lighted screens make you suspend judgement. It all started with fire. Staring into a fire. About a million years ago.





As most writers and editors know, you will miss typos and inconsistencies in your text if you try to edit on the computer screen, because you’ve suspended judgement. The light makes you less attentive, you coast. The great two-edged sword.



February 16/19 Movies

Just discovered a film that bombed but it looks very good. They said you could only get it on Amazon — $2.99

The Death of Stalin; A Comedy of Terrors.

The trailer and clips are intriguing and the fact that somebody has been able to at least attempt a comedy of dark humor about Russians under the evil Stalin. Amazing. I don’t think you would get belly laughs but Oh God laughs.


My oriole is back on his/her flyway north and so are the robins.

The Big D February 9/19








I have been trying to play this low D whistle for three years and finally managed ‘The Water Is Wide’. It seems the size of a drainpipe. Too much of a stretch for my short fingers. If there is any air leakage at all, if all the holes are not completely covered then you get skraaawk skreeeek. Finally realized it was the ring fingers on both hands that weren’t completely covering the holes and so worked at that. Also I run out of air. It takes a lot of breath to move a large column of air down the bore. But, at any rate, the sound is wonderful. It sounds like an oboe.

Have been working on ‘Margaret’s Waltz’ on the G, which is also a large whistle but not as big as the low D. I finally found somebody on YouTube who played Margaret’s Waltz  in G, his name is Lester, and Lester plays it nice and slow on the melodeon, which I listened to repeatedly and picked it out on my little three-octave keyboard along with him, from thence to the G whistle. Lester had about twenty hits on his YouTube video until I came along and upped his numbers enormously.

So Lester and I have been merrily tootling and squeezing away. Tom our fiddler and Diane and Chuck play it in G, so the G whistle it is. I don’t know why they decided on G but I am a latecomer to this piece and will do it in any key they choose.

Myself and June and Sherry and Evelyn and Nancy (all horse people) watched The Rider which CD was sent to me by the producer on this upcoming film of News of the World.


Feb 4/19

Am really enjoying The Sheltering Desert. Observations on animal/insect life in the Namibian desert are riveting. Hermann and Henno survived two and a half years in a scorching environment, lived through it, escaping both the British authorities who wanted to intern them as German nationals and also the Nazi regime who would have conscripted them into the Wermacht.

While waiting for game Henno would observe and record the activities of ants or preying mantises, record their tiny wars and struggles to live, Descriptions of rain clouds that finally brought moisture are splendid.  This is a wonderful document.

Jan 26/19 I discover a wonderful semi-unknown book








Just started it. Two German scientists in Namibia during WW2 — they decide to stay out of the war and out of the world by taking off into the Namibian desert. By all accounts a great story. They hid out for 2 1/2 years. Henno Martin wrote this after the war. A movie was made of it in 1991, never heard of the movie either.

Jan 19/2019








San Antonio n the 1870’s. Just finished a final draft of the novel about Simon the Fiddler and sent it off to agent and editor. Am looking for a title. This is a view from the west side of Military Plaza with the Horde Hotel and the Military Plaza saloon just to the left of it.  San Antonio became a transportation center and a truly wild place in the years after the Civil War with freight trains (wagons) coming in from the coast, and the coast (Galveston, Copano, Indianola) was where all the shipments came to by steamship or wind-driven ships. Transportation military, and entertainment for all these people.

It was crowded and lively and the old Spanish air of the town was quickly being overwhelmed. I have had a interesting time researching the older fiddle tunes, and find that the names of the old tunes often have nothing to do with what it sounds like. Most people who know country music know “Black Mountain Rag” (in which Doc Watson played 77 notes in 11 seconds one time, on film) and it seems it came from an older tune named “The Lost Child”, and it was just as wild and fast under the latter name as the former. “A Man Of Constant Sorrow” was earlier known as “Down In The Tennessee Valley” and “Red River Valley” came from a melody known as “In The Bright Mohawk Valley”, from Manitoba. Tunes wander and take on other names and other variations, musicians take them and vary them, their variations become popular in the world of musicians — folk musicians — all these changes as untraceable as the water in an aquifer.








Doc Watson, blind from age one, born in the hills of North Carolina in 1923, his playing was faultless, magical.

Happy New Year






To all and a restful night tonight. The storms are arriving here. Much work to do getting the horse and donkey up in the corral where there is shelter. Has a marvelous and totally quiet New Year’s Eve and day. Here’s a great photo from the new calendar I got from Jeff and Caroline who are the lighthouse keepers in British Columbia, off the coast of Vancouver Island — old friends.


Merry Christmas! 2018





Finally all the singing and playing is over! Last night Christmas Eve service was fairly chaotic with everybody showing up at five and all the different people/groups trying to rehearse at once, sound system a wreck, but the service Lessons and Carols happened and cantata is over and the group I play pennywhistle with on vacation until probably February. It was all fairly arduous. Got my Christmas spiced nuts mailed off to agent and editor Jen Brehl and Gordon Lish, packages to sister, cousin and the lighthouse people — great new calendar from Jeff of the Lighthouse, he becomes a better photographer every year. I haven’t even opened all my Christmas presents yet. Young cat DT trying to eat the battery lights on tree. Just came back from big Christmas dinner with the Kays down the road. Lots of laughing this year.

Printed out Simon the Fiddler yesterday and I can hardly bear to be away from the manuscript. working with a red pen now on paper. This is what I like best. When that is done I will enter the corrections and then its off to Jen and Liz. No word on when they will start in production on the movie for News of the World but then I would be the last to hear.