Ghost Ranger
A long haired, rednecked Indian Cowboy


Soundly asleep in my room
Awaken by a very large boom
It was a loud clap of thunder
And then another and another

Bright white light flashes in the room
Telling me that sleep wouldn’t resume
The entire house shuddered and shook
As I stumbled to the door to take a look

Zeus continued unleashing his wrath
It appeared that he was on the warpath
The cascades of rain fell to the Earth
The water of life-giving new birth

Toxic masculinity is very much in the news right now but what is it? Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how I have changed over the years and how some things have remained the same. I don’t believe that I am alone in some of my viewpoints, nor do I believe I am alone in some of my past personal actions.
I will be the first to admit I am a flirt and I have been for a long time, but flirting, in my opinion, is not necessarily wrong or toxic. Complimenting ladies is part of my nature; I don’t do it for any reason other than to make them smile, for there is nothing more beautiful than a lady’s genuine smile. The glint in their eyes, the crinkle of their nose and sometimes a little coy laugh, warms my heart. I enjoy seeing ladies smile from six years old to their final days, ladies are special.
I honestly do not ever remember cat-calling any lady. My Southern mother raised me to respect ladies. She never had to box my ears, but that cast-iron skillet did land alongside my head on a couple of occasions. I was in a profession that meant sometimes I had to physically restrain or use force against a woman. At first, this was difficult for me, but with the help of my Mom, I managed. She told me that when a lady starts acting like a man she gives up being a lady. This statement is not as simplistic as it seems. It also outlined my responsibility as a man. I learned that there were ladies and gentlemen, and they were different than males and females.
A gentleman’s mission was to protect the weak, the women, the children, and other men. This is not to say the women were weak because in many things they are much stronger than men. Women are the glue that holds families together. Gentlemen have manners and use them. This does not mean they follow the guidelines of Emily Post, just that they treat people with respect. Gentlemen do not need to be refined and cultured; they need only to be empathetic and caring. Real men don’t just father children; they are fathers to their children. They teach them, they love them, they guide them and they support them physically, financially, psychologically and morally.
I have been cussed at for saying ma’am and for holding doors open. I have been lectured ad infinitum by females because of manners that my mother taught me. I have learned to respond that just because they don’t desire to act like a lady, I was raised properly and will act like a gentleman. I believe I have veered off-course about where I was going with this.
I was raised thinking that real men didn’t cry. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think this was ever said out loud, just something I observed. Thinking back I can remember seeing my Dad cry, but when I caught him, he quickly swallowed and wiped away his tears. I don’t think I ever saw either of my grandfathers cry, but I know that they did take solitary walks or lock themselves away at times. I did cry as a child and I was, like many of my generation, told to hush or I would be given something to cry about. As a man, I learned to hide my tears. I learned via observing life that tears were seen as a sign of weakness for a man but that it was permissible for women.
As I get older I seem to cry more, a word a phrase, a written story, a well-acted incident on a TV show or a news broadcast. It used to be only after a death or a broken heart, but now it seems I cry at the drop of a hat. Am I less masculine? Or am I more empathetic? Perhaps it is all the tears I have held back over the years are overflowing and now have to come out. I still try to hide my tears, but that is becoming harder with each passing day.
Were you aware that there are three types of tears? And no it is not happy and sad tears. There are the basal tears. These are the ones that moisten our corneas and clean off the irritants. Then there are the Reflex Tears, which are a response to sudden external stimuli. These are actually just a sudden increase in Basal Tears. Then there are Emotional Tears. These occur during what some people have called “ugly crying” and are accompanied by body spasms and interrupted breathing patterns. Emotional Tears actually have a different chemical make-up. They are higher in proteins; some researchers have said that this type of tears excretes hormones which cause us to feel calmer and less emotional afterward.
So next time you see an old man crying, don’t scoff or look down on him, know that he is finally able to release those pent up tears amassed over a lifetime of being masculine, of being strong for those he loved and loves. He can now cry openly without shame
Veteran’s Day, a US Public Holiday, but what do you know about it? It is known in Britain as Armistice Day. It is also known as Remembrance Day. They are all celebrated on 11 November but celebrated differently. In the US it is to commemorate living veterans, in other countries to remember the end of the war and to remember the fallen. I had the privilege to be in England one November when Armistice Day was celebrated. I witnessed as families visited the departed family heroes who had undergone such great hardship during the First World War. Real and paper poppies were on display everywhere. I was schooled in the proper wearing of the poppy. I heard the poem “In Flanders Field” for the first time. The following year I went to Belgium to participate in the celebration there. I was not a man who easily showed emotions, but that experience evoked something inside this warrior, a greater meaning of the word freedom, a respect for those who had fought democracy’s enemy before me. As I watched the families paying their respects in front of the white headstones, I realized that it wasn’t just respect they were making, it was teaching each generation what the cost of freedom was and is.
US Veterans can get a little bronze flat plaque placed on their grave from the VA (or a flat granite and marble marker, or an upright marble or granite). It is simple, Name, Rank, Branch, War, date of birth, date of death, and a short inscription. You need only read to read the inscriptions to see that they meant something to someone. The inscriptions in Flanders’ Field are the same, limited number of characters, limited number of lines, just a brief note about often brief lives. Take your family to the nearest Veteran’s Cemetery, or visit the graves of your veteran ancestors. Show the next generation what price we have paid for freedom.
Too many today are scared to stand up for freedom, but too many are lying in their graves for defending it. War is a bad thing but tyranny is worse. Every soldier hates war but they do it so that others may live free. Soldiers don’t go looking for war; it is thrust upon them by despots and political systems that are the antithesis of freedom. Communism, socialism, islam, globalism all want to reduce individualism to the lowest common denominator, but invariably an elitist group will take control and all under their rule will become slaves of the State.
Election Day is before Veteran’s day. I would suggest it be moved to after Remembrance Day so that the voters can be reminded just how vital their votes are and remember that their vote is either for freedom or servitude.
In Flanders Fields
BY John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Pavlov’s most famous experiment was done with dogs, food, and bells. Today we find many bells in our lives. There is the telephone, the e-mail notification, the school bell, the seat belt bell, the open door warning, the social media message bell and many others. Their purpose is to notify us but before that, it seems we had to be trained. We now appear to be spending a lot of our lives waiting on bells.

Listening for bells or alarms have become a part of our lives, but not all bells are auditory. There are a lot of visual bells; brake lights, turn signals, crossing signals, the news. We have been trained to react to bells, trained to the point where some people have been over-saturated with bells and now they ignore them. Are you inured to the warnings? Do you actually answer phone calls? Do you actually listen to the news? Do you listen?

After becoming a recluse, I thought I had refused to rejoin the realm of electronic umbilical cords. For most of my working life, I was tied to my job via walkie-talkies, pagers, mobile phones, two-way radios, and landlines. The problem is there are (or were) select people that I enjoy communicating with.  That problem is compounded when I really have a need to communicate. I have a tendency to overthink problems when communication is cut off; I tend to think the worst. When I anticipate some message or update on a situation, I tend to obsess about it.  I constantly check for messages. I start hearing that bell in my sleep.

As John Donne, said “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main…. Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Any therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” I used to think I understood this, but as I approach the end I realize that when the bell tolls for me, it is one bell that I will never hear.


Life is like a book. Page one, in the beginning… The first couple of chapters are written not from memory but from the viewpoint of others. The chapters give some backstory to explain what happens later. The following chapters describe the twists and turns that make up everyone’s life. And finally the last chapter, but it isn’t the end of the story. The story of our lives continues after our bodies have returned to dust.

The epilogue of the story is how our lives affected the lives of others. We really never die as long as we are remembered; by family, by those, we affected and hopefully by good friends.  As a writer, I hope my writings live on. I have no progeny and it pains me to think that after I depart this mortal coil my writings may also languish and become dust. I realize that to some my writings may seem banal but they are a part of me. Each one a small piece of me, words and stories from the bits and pieces that comprise my time here on Earth.  What I felt at the time I wrote them, I hoped to evoke the same feeling in others that I was feeling at that time. In each work I would place parts of me and often archaic or little-used words, not to appear erudite but to challenge the reader to expand their vocabulary and thus expand their world.

I have refrained from writing anything that would hurt good people. I have kept secret things that might embarrass acquaintances. Some are aware of the incidents and the facts that I have kept hidden. I believe everyone has some things that they would not share. I have been accused of having a self-depreciating sense of humor, but I know the truth and if other’s think it is funny, I will not dispute them. I can laugh at myself in public and in private; rue my mistakes and shortcomings.  Often my writings deal with dark subjects or heartbreak, these poems or stories were written because to me they were cathartic. They actually celebrate real life and emotions. These are the writings that were penned in blood. Some might consider them doggerel, but for me, they were the closing of a door or the burning of a bridge and necessary for my continuation of life.

To the outside or to history I would appear to be normal. Few people are aware of the extent of my knowledge or experience. I have been present at several events which made the news, but my role was covered up except maybe in some dusty files in secret archives.  Over the years I have adopted several different personae for my work that allowed me to glide through the various strata of society, but they were all a part of me. Looking back over them I have been able to see the minutia of truth behind the curtain of lies and found myself looking at myself in the mirror. Like many others, I feel that I am a good man who has done bad things for the greater good. I occasionally see people who are only alive because of my actions, but I also see people whom I know have committed heinous acts still walking free. Do my successes outweigh my losses? I don’t know.

Do I have some regrets? I must answer yes. Would I do somethings differently? Yes, I would.  The question I ask myself is if I altered the past would I be the person I am today? Could I have positively impacted as many people? Would I? These are not philosophical questions for the light of day; these are the questions that torment an aging man’s thoughts.


This has been on my mind for some time. I wonder if it is just me or do others experience this also.  Many of my ideas come to me while I am sleeping. Sometimes I actually remember my dreams, and sometimes they make no sense. Since my mind always seems to be working, I often outline articles or stories in my head when I lay down. This acts to focus my mind on one thing rather than its normal multi-tasking hodge podge.

As I get older I find it more difficult to focus on just a single thing. When trying to write, I get distracted and lost.  I have started completely deleting drafts and starting anew because I forget what my point was. Poetry used to flow; now it roils. The idea is there it is the words, the picture that has become fuzzy. In addition to my lack of focus I am finding out that I get older typing becomes more difficult, my fingers seem to have a will of their own and misspellings more frequent. This morning I arose and couldn’t even ball up my hand to make a fist. The arthritis and the swelling prevent me from doing ordinary tasks.

Aspirin and peppermint oil only help so much. I try to wear warming gloves but for some reason my typing gets even worse. I tried a dictation program but it required a set-up which took longer than my focus and I discovered that it interpreted my speech differently depending whether my teeth were in or out.
I wonder if ginkgo biloba actually works!

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A long haired, rednecked Indian Cowboy


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