My Blog

The Mystery of the Rougarou by Michael Hoard: A Book Review

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When I was a kid I played outside most days. Home video game consoles were either not on the market, or were a new concept (did anyone else have Pong?). I remember playing hide and seek, kick the can, touch football and other games, when I wasn’t jumping my bicycle over earth ramps and riding through the woods. This was also before mountain biking became popular. Well, I recently read a great young adventure book, The Adventures of Nick and Billy: The Mystery of the Rougarou, written by another man whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, Michael Hoard. Curious to know what a Rougarou was I Googled it. It is a beastie, well known of in Louisiana folklore, with the head of a wolf and the body of a man. Being a lifelong wolf man fan, and occasionally looking like one myself, when I get a little lax on my grooming, I knew that I was going to love this book, so I bought it.

The story takes place in the Louisiana swamplands. Best friends Nick and Billy have been waiting all year to have great summer adventures at the ‘swamp camp’. On the first day they encounter one of their neighbors running scared through the swamp and talking about the Rougarou! Not wanting to see their neighbor leave his lifelong home, the boys decide to get to the bottom of this, and their adventure turns out to be more than they bargained for, taking every outdoor skill they have learned in their twelve years on earth to get through alive.

Now, I have never lived in Louisiana, however, I have spent my share of time in the woods, and have even been in a few swamps. Reading this book took me back decades to the times when I was camping, or just building forts in the woods and making up adventures with my friends. I highly recommend this book for upper elementary through middle school ages, as it has great lessons about the outdoors, friendship, neighbors, love, persistence and teamwork. I also recommend it to anyone of any age who can relate to growing up in the outdoors, however you grew up.

Right as I was finishing the book Michael Hoard was awarded 1st Place for Young Adult at the 2017 SIBA awards for The Mystery of the Rougarou. So…if you want to read an award winning adventure, buy this book! For more info you can check him out at his web site, goo.gl/r6UnFq or on Twitter at @hoard_michael.

There But For The Grace Of…God?

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At one point in my career I worked with convicted felons who were either on probation or parole. Most of them had been ordered to do some kind of substance abuse program, and it was my job to refer them to the appropriate treatment program. I’ve never been an addict, nor am I naive enough to think that a person is going to stop using drugs just because a judge or releasing body has told them they have to stop. But I wanted to do the best I could for them, so I talked with a lot of them about their addictions, so I could get some kind of understanding as to what they felt and why they did it. I talked with AA/NA facilitators and substance abuse counselors, and even have a copy of the “little blue book” somewhere in my possession.

I recently read The Third Step by author William Lobb, and it gave me a look into addiction that far surpassed anything I had ever heard from anyone I ever talked with. It was one of those books that, even though I couldn’t relate to the main character, Frankie’s, need for pills and alcohol, I could find other things to relate with. This was one of those books that I found myself losing sleep over, because the deeper Frankie went, the deeper I went, too. I just didn’t want to stop reading. In a review I posted, I said that any one of us could be Frankie. We all have our gods and our demons. Frankie’s may have just been one and the same. The ultimate internal battle between good and evil.

Frankie danced with the devil while trying to gain an understanding of who he thought God was to others and himself. Did he figure it out? I strongly suggest you read it for yourself and find out. This is a great book that will make you wonder, at times, if it is fiction or biography. William Lobb has written what he knows. I’m glad he has put that part of his life behind him, and has written this deep insight into addiction and human condition.

The Way I See It

I consider myself to be somewhat of a shade tree philosopher. I sit back, watch what is going on around me, and draw my own conclusions.

Living in the south, the big controversy lately had been over confederate monuments and statues. A lot of people want them removed, hidden, etc. And some have gone so far as to destroy, vandalize and tear some of them down. I have many thoughts on this subject, so this may be a long blog post. Just bear with me.

Prior to 1861 the United States, as it was, was involved in several wars in states and territories across the nation, usually against foreign or indian enemies. In 1861, however, our country was involved in the first major war in our history. Depending on whom you ask, there were a lot of reasons as to why the war was fought; economic reasons, territorial reasons, political reasons, etc. There are a lot of people who want to think that the sole reason for the war was so that the South could keep slavery alive. I don’t know what the reason was. I wasn’t around over 150 years ago. Those of you who were, please enlighten the rest of us, huh? Regardless of why it was fought, the fact remains that anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000+ men and women (yes, women, too) died during the war.

Most of the dead came from small towns, or places not big enough to be called a town, with small populations, mainly consisting of farmers, hunters and trappers, black- and metal smiths. There were many many small towns in a given area or circuit. When a large number of a population is wiped out in a war, the people of the area want to do something to memorialize their dead. That’s why there are so many monuments. Every town wanted to build one to remind the people of the sacrifices made by their townfolk during the war. If you think that the South is the only place with monuments and statues, commemorating their civil war dead, you’re wrong. Every state that was a member of the United States after the war has its monuments and statues. Even the northern states. I have been to many small towns, parks and battlefields and looked upon their monuments and statues, dedicated to confederate and union soldiers. Not once did I ever see the words “dedicated to those who died to keep slavery alive” or “dedicated to those who died to abolish slavery”. The monuments and statues were dedicated to ALL THOSE WHO DIED! PERIOD! So stop using these in the South to bring up a war and an issue that is over 150 years old. No one has owned slaves since Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And it has been several generations since anyone has been a slave.

The way I see it, it’s not that there are so many monuments and statues from a very negative time in our nation’s history around the country. It’s that there aren’t enough monuments and statues to commemorate the positive things that have been accomplished since then. I am a southern born and raised, middle-aged white man. I am all for civil rights. I feel that Black History Month is an affront. Something that was created to appease the civil rights leaders of that time to let them think that they had won a small victory. Why not have it all year round? I know that some places are doing this, but why isn’t everyone doing it? Why do we focus on the lives and achievements of blacks only during the month of February? Some of these achievements changed the way we – whites, as well as blacks and everyone else – live today. Every city and town has a black man or woman that they can be proud of. Where are the statues dedicated to them? There are pictures and small plaques, maybe. So why not bigger plaques and statues? Instead of tearing down and removing and defacing monuments and statues that you find offensive, why not put up your own, and be proud of what has been accomplished over the last century. In South Carolina we have a confederate monument on the state house grounds dedicated to those who died in the civil war. I would have no problem putting up one beside it, just as big, dedicated to the first black state legislator, or judge, or secretary of something (you get the idea). Let’s quit being divided over battles that were over in 1865, and come together and celebrate what we’ve done since then. As a town. As a city. As a state. And as a nation.

That’s the way I see it.

 

 

Story Teller

I warned you that I may take the words in my profile one at a time and blog on it. So, he goes one. Before you read this post, I have to tell you that it deals with eating rodent.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I like to tell stories. They may also tell you that I’m not the best story teller, or that I can sometimes get tedious in the telling. They aren’t bad stories, though. I like hearing them. Now, when I tell a story it’s always based on truth. I do like to embellish, not so that it takes away the underlying truth, or makes the story unbelievable, or makes me appear to be something I’m not. There is no formula for truth v. embellishment. It varies. The goal is to tell a good story.

One of the many books I’ve had swimming around in my head is a memoir about times spent and adventures had in the woods. This story didn’t happen while spending time outdoors, however, it’s one I like to tell. It’s a little long, and there is no embellishment to this one. It is as was. I hope you like it.

Several years ago I was working in a warehouse for a company that shall be left unknown. Partly due to liability reasons, but mainly because I just don’t like them. Anyway, we were in the break room for lunch one day, and I was regaling my coworkers with stories of places I’ve been and different foods I’ve eaten. I say regaling, they may say repulsing. Oh, well…potato – basketball. I finally got around to talking about a true southern delicacy that I have had the pleasure to dine upon many times. Yep! You guessed it! The possum! (REMEMBER TOU WERE FOREWARNED) Now, for my more squeamish readers, I won’t go into detail of the process of getting a possum from woods to plate; however, if you want to stop reading now, I will understand. For those of you who are more adventurous, or you just want a good laugh, keep reading.

So I was talking about the rodent gourmet, and a little woman who overheard my conversation asked me if I really had really eaten possum, and where I got it from. I told her that the first few times I had it it had been prepared by some friends of mine. I then told her that I had, on occasion, been fortunate enough to find some pretty fresh ones on the side of the road on my way home. I said that, if you can tell they haven’t been there long, you can clean them and freeze them right away. She was interested in this. Or horrified one. I couldn’t tell.

So, a few weeks go by and this same little woman comes up to me and says that she has something in her car for me, and asked if I could meet her after work. I asked what it was and she just said that it was a surprise. After work I went out to her car and she opened the trunk. She said that she was on her way home yesterday, and the car in front of her hit a possum. She said that she remembered what I had said about getting it before it had laid out too long, so she stopped and got it and put it in her car! She apologized that all she had to put it in was an empty dog food bag, but she put it in her freezer and brought it to me. I had absolutely no idea what to say to this, so I thanked her, gave her a big hug, and took the possum carcass home to bury in my back yard, hoping that she wouldn’t see any more get hit on her way home.

Book Adicts 

Our daughter took a trip recently, and texted me while she was at the airport, saying that she was the only person in the world who could plan for weeks which books to take, then buy another one at the airport. I texted her back, saying that she wasn’t either. She’s just like her daddy (that would be me)!

Last weekend we went to a family reunion. I took two books with me. On Saturday we drove in to the little town in which we were staying, and found a huge used bookstore. I ended up buying five more books! I may have a problem lol.

I am glad that my daughter loves to read. When she was young I encouraged reading and journaling. She took to it with a passion, and, while still in high school, worked as a writer and typesetter for our small town newspaper. She is quite the photographer, too. She took her love for writing and books, and her mother’s (that would be my trophy wife) influence as a professional educator, and got her degree in elementary education. She is now in her third year as a fifth grade English/Language Arts teacher. She is always looking for, and buying books for her classroom library, so if you are a young adult writer, please send me some of your titles, so I can buy them and donate them to her class as I can afford to.

When we are anywhere, we will always find a bookstore, antique shop, thrift store, anywhere that may have books, and will usually end up spending lots of money that we probably shouldn’t. Maybe we both have a problem. Nah…so many books, so little time!

Who Is This Guy, And Why Should I Follow His Blog?

Hi, Y’all,

I started my blog in September of 2017. A lot of stuff has happened since then, and I have added a lot of posts. I have recently purchased a domain – jimgblack.blog – through WordPress.com, who has been posting my blogs from the beginning, and so I am editing this post to bring it up to date.

So…the title, Broken Anvil…what does it mean? I hear you asking. When I was younger my daddy used to say I could tear up an anvil, if I could ever get my hands on one. It wasn’t that I was a destructive little brat (depending on whom you ask), just very inquisitive as to how things worked. So, I would tear things apart to get to the insides. I just never could put them back together – hence the reason I’m not a surgeon.

Anyway, I have often thought that Broken Anvil would be a good name for a lot of things, none of which I could ever get around to creating. So I figured, what the heck? Use it as the title for my blog. If you look at my profile, you will see that I started this venture to practice my writing and just have fun with it.

I am starting my first book, and welcome any and all help, advice, tips, tricks and criticisms I can get. I hope you will read and follow my posts, and recommend me to others. My two biggest wishes are that I will become a better writer, and that you will just enjoy what you read. I have a lot of interests, and will write on a variety of things. Some serious. Some humorous. But always from the heart and my warped perspective on things. You can also follow me on Twitter and my writing page on Facebook, which I see needs a lot of serious work, by clicking on the social media icons found on each page. I hope you like what you see. If you do, please leave a like and/or a comment. And feel free to recommend my blog to others who might enjoy it.