Is It Just Me?

Maybe I’m just a poseur thinking I know what good writing is. I have a master’s degree, so I have to be able to express myself in writing, but there’s nothing to prove that what I write is readable. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most master’s theses are tedious outside narrow audiences. I did take a couple of creative writing classes in college, but I don’t remember anything other than it was fun. During my current incarnation as a writer I’ve spent a few years on Scribophile where I’m required to critique the writing of others. Writing and reading critiques of others’ work and mine has been perhaps the most valuable education I’ve had on how to write. Hitching myself to ProWritingAid and Fictionary has allowed me to step it up a notch. Something must be working. Thirty editors of magazines and anthologies can’t all be wrong.

But then I pick up a book. I started reading a detective story today. Within the first two pages I’d encountered three lines with words dropped. Okay, that’s just poor editing, not the author’s fault. But during that same time I found three words used wrong. Not just throw away words, but words that were critical to the sentence. Definitely the author’s fault. And it seems every noun has an adjective, frequently repetitive. Adverbs run amok. And there is a whole lot of what I’d consider just poor writing. And misogynistic. The author is a woman, so it’s even worse. The publication date was 2013 so maybe our understanding of misogyny has grown.

So I thought, maybe this is a person who was just starting out. I know my writing has grown over the past five years. But I looked her up online and she has over twenty books, stretching back to the 2000s. She has a following.

The book has a promising premise: a detective who can tell what a person is feeling if she touches them. Pretty handy skill for a detective. I like a little supernatural in my stories. I’ve given it time to grab me since I like the setup, but five (short) chapters in, nothing has happened. Well, her house burned down, but that doesn’t seem to have bothered her. She’s mostly obsessing about whether to have sex with her best friend’s father. Eww. The affect, dialog, actions of the characters don’t really make a lot of sense. People say things that people don’t ever say out loud.

In recent memory I’ve only ditched two books that I considered unreadable. One was about Mary Magdalene, a historical character who intrigues me. But the prose was so purple I felt the need to wash if off my hands every few paragraphs. I finally had to put it down. Another was so poorly edited with misspellings, wrong words, and erratic punctuation that trying to make heads or tails of what was going on was a chore. I read for pleasure, not for work. There have been occasionally other stinkers which I’ve stuck with until the end. I’m afraid this book won’t be one of them. I’ll give it a few more chapters, but she needs to up her game and tone down the misogyny pretty quickly. And I’m not naming her. I don’t want to get sued. Or threatened by fans of bad writing.



As a beginning author (Amazon says I am, so I must be) I wonder if what I’m writing is really any good. I wrote for a year or so before I began submitting to magazines and such. Every now and then I’d get an acceptance, which triggered a little happy dance and a Sally Fields “You really like me” moment. But mostly rejections. The rejections are always nicely worded, saying something along the lines of “not for us, but we’re sure it’ll find a home somewhere.” But I was left wondering WHY is it not for you? What did I do wrong? Very rarely, the submission site would offer feedback for a price. Maybe I should be willing to pay $35 to find out why they don’t like my work, but I’m cheap.

I came upon the idea of writing groups. Checking around the internet I found several options. The first one I tried out was called Scribophile. It was free to join (always a plus) and easy to navigate (an even bigger plus). You had to critique other people’s stories to earn points. The overarching rule was to be nice and critique constructively. Then you could use the points to post your story for critiquing. I didn’t know much about critiquing; I mean that was why I was there, to be critiqued. But I read what other people were saying and figured it out. I know my way around the English language pretty well and after a while I got the hang of it. I even earned bonus points for being a good critter (a critter is one who critiques) and even picked up some followers. I met some nice people and we conversed outside the site, helping each other. It was a good experience and I’m convinced my writing improved.

I tried a couple of other critiquing sites just to see what was out there. I went to Critique Circle and one other place which will not be named – ever again. The CC was much like Scribophile, except the interface was a bit clunkier. I didn’t use it often.

The Other Place, though, wow. I posted a story and within a couple of days got a critique. It was a page long screed about what an awful writer I was. Not only did he hate the story, but he looked me up on Google and found other writing and dissed that, too. I looked at the rules of the site, and there was a brief mention to be polite. This guy was having none of it. So I read his tirade all the way to the end. That’s when I found out what was going on. I was an awful writer, but for a certain amount of money, I could take his course and he would teach me to write. I have to say that was probably the worst advertisement in the history of mankind. I wanted to report him to the master of the website, but couldn’t find a way. Apparently it was a free for all. So I deleted the story from their site and left.

And the awful story he panned? Little Green Men came out Friday as a stand-alone booklet. So not everyone thinks it’s trash. It can be purchased on Amazon. And to the asshole who panned it – well I don’t think WordPress supports the type of language I want to use.


When I first got up the nerve to send my scribblings out into the world, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I did a little internet research to find a seemingly suitable place to peddle my work, but it was an unknown world to me. That was April 2019.

Since then I’ve submitted literally hundreds of times to a host of magazines, websites, anthologies, any place that puts out a call for submissions. I’d be lost without my spreadsheet of when what submitted where to whom.

One of the nice surprises was the friendly rejection letters. I don’t know if it’s always been that way, or the ease of email took the edge off their nerves, but it’s a nice touch. It’s obviously a canned reply, but shows that it takes no extra work to be nice to people when saying no. That’s a good thing considering the number of rejections that have crowded my inbox.

I follow a few blogs by successful writers, always interested in pointers and found there’s apparently a hierarchy of rejections. The vast majority of mine have been along the order of thanks for submitting, we enjoyed the story, not right for us, please remember us and send more. That kind of response, especially the last two words is supposedly the first level lower than acceptance. It means they think you have potential. According to the authors I’ve followed, that kind of rejection is the gold standard for acknowledgment that you have something going on.

A few of my lesser stories garnered rejections of basically thanks for your interest. No invitation to try again. I guess this is the second tier of rejections. I imagine there are even lower levels. I wonder how bad you have to be to get a restraining order filed against you? Not that it’s ever happened to me. Well, not exactly. I have been banned from one site. I had sent a fairly grim story with sexual violence and neglected to attach a trigger warning. Apparently I offended the sensibilities of someone on their staff. I figure if you put out a call for stories, you have to expect a few graphic episodes. But now I attach trigger warnings to nearly all my stories, even ones going to horror sites. I checked with some editors I liked, worried that being banned might hurt me in a wider arena, but they said not to worry, nobody paid attention to the yahoos at that particular site.

Sometimes, even though the rejections are canned, an editor attaches a personal note. These are always special. One said that she adored the story, but I should consider expanding it into a longer work. A note on a rejection of my Little Green Men story said an entire magazine issue should be devoted to that work, but his wasn’t the magazine to do it. I got a nice note on a rejection that came in today. I had submitted The Stick Men to a horror anthology. It’s adapted from a story my mom told be from her childhood. After the standard rejection verbiage the editor added that the story was rejected because they ran out of room. He asked that I please resubmit it for their next anthology. Hey, that’s almost an acceptance. I’ll take it as one, anyway. So assuming it’s still available, I’ll send it along to them when the window opens for their next anthology, sometime the middle of this year. It’s nice to have a foot in the door, so to speak.

Another Anthology Acceptance

I hope everyone got a chance to check out my fractured fairy tale Inna Gadda da Vida when it went live September 27 on Café Lit. If not, you can still catch it at It’s the second story down today, but will get further from the top daily. And I know, it’s been published elsewhere so you’ve already seen it. But I like to check out when I have a piece published in new venues to see what kind of graphics they add. Sadly, Café Lit didn’t use any graphics. Still, it’s nice to see my byline.

My newest acceptance comes from Thema Literary Society in Louisiana. They are putting together a little book called Crumpled Yellow Paper. All the stories involve something about a yellow piece of paper. I sent them a story entitled “Yellow Piece of Paper” of course. They liked it so it will appear in the anthology in June 2023. It involves a guy finding a cell phone on a nature trail and mayhem ensues. I had a lot of fun writing that one. It’s the 30th story I’ve had picked up. Weirdly, when skiing this past spring I saw something lying in the snow. It looked like a piece of trash so I stopped to get it out of the way. Turned out it was someone’s cell. I had just written Yellow Piece of Paper so after a moment of panic laced déja vu, I skied down to the base and gave it to one of the lifties. I wanted no part of it. Read the story and you’ll know why.

Writing Update

I thought I’d say a few words about what’s going on with my writing. I’ve only written a few pieces recently, mostly focusing on editing older stories. And marketing what I have available.

I had sent Welcome to Hell to an editor I have a friendly relationship with but never heard back from him. Then as I recently was scanning his online magazine for something else, I came upon the story. I guess the acceptance email got sent to my spam folder. It appeared in The Chamber on February 18. It appeared back in October on Tall Tale TV and was supposed to be on What the Writers Wrote back in June 2021, but that site went belly up. I’ve previously linked the Tall Tale TV site and at the risk of being redundant, here’s where you can find it on The Chamber.

I got word from Dragon Gems that their anthology including my story Little Green Men will be out sometime next year. That will be my fifth anthology inclusion. Although it’s kinda my sixth. I mean I had signed a contract for a story to be in the anthology Sounds of a Quiet House, but the project fizzled out.

The Protest Diaries was released in August with my story The Intervention included. You’ll have to buy the book to see the story, but it’s a good one. And the profits go to the ACLU, a definite good cause.

Inna Gadda da Vida, my fractured fairy tale from Genesis, where “In the beginning…” becomes “Once upon a time…” was picked up this week by Café Lit. It will be on their site as the daily story on September 27, 2022. This is its third appearance making it my most successful story. It’s also one of my favorites.

And a mystery was solved this week. Some weeks ago I posted Sing a Song of Amazon, wondering where a $10 Amazon credit came from. This week I got a notice from them of another $10 credit, but this one came with an explanation. It is from my story on Vella, Somewhere in Iowa. It’s an 8-part series that grew out of my short story The Cornfield. It’s earned me twenty bucks so far. Find it here. B093D8YP4C

Check out my author page on Amazon. It has all four books my stories are featured in and links to all my posts.

A final note, Dancing With The Stars started up this week. Unfortunately, I will not be able to post my impressions of the goings on this season. I refuse to purchase Disney+ just to see one program. I think it is the death knell for the show, for I believe few people are such rabid fans that they’ll follow it behind a paywall. Sorry.

Decorating Hell

I have an orange sofa. Or it may be a couch. Or a settee or davenport. I guess they are all different, but I don’t know what it is. It has three cushions for sitting, and three cushions to lean back against. For the sake of argument, I’ll call it a sofa. And mine is orange.

It hasn’t always been orange. It was a light green canvas in a previous life. About fifteen years ago we reupholstered in in a faux-suede, light brown cloth. The color was called cinnamon. And it was apt. The sofa was the same color as the ground cinnamon in the jar in my kitchen.

A month or so ago my wife decided it was time to reupholster the sofa again. I guess it’s one of those biological clock things that women have, like when it’s time to strip the kitchen floor or repaint the cabinets. An internal bell goes off, and we have to act on it.

Decorating issues are fraught with problems for me. Mostly, I don’t really care how the house is decorated, as long as it isn’t bizarre. I mean, I do want to live in attractive surroundings but rarely have a deep-seated need to have a particular color or style. My wife usually picks, and I have veto power. However, on this one, I was pressed to participate. If I don’t care about the recovering of the sofa, then I don’t care about our relationship. That’s kind of a big jump for me to grasp. So apparently, I had to care about the sofa.

I considered it and came up with what is probably the most common suggestion of men backed into a decorating corner. I said let’s cover it in the same cloth – cinnamon fake suede. Surprisingly, this went over well, and the deal was made. Our sofa was taken away. A few weeks later they brought it back. It was orange. Sometime in the past fifteen years the color cinnamon apparently morphed from light brown to orange. Who knew? Color me surprised.

We put the sofa back in the den and even I could tell it clashed with the walls and curtains. Yellow walls in no way enhance an orange sofa. So the wife repainted the den. Once again, I was pressed into a decision on color, and again, I convinced her to pick and I rubber stamped it. We went with Churchill White, which isn’t white and I don’t know how Churchill got involved. It kind of looks like white that got left out in the weather for a few years.

Next my wife decided that we needed new curtains to go with the orange sofa. For the next two weekends I participated in what I called the Bataan death march. We spent the better part of two weekends going to fabric store after fabric store looking at samples of cloth. As a guy who doesn’t like shopping in any form, I was brain dead a couple hours after we started. But I gave a considered response to every piece of cloth my wife picked up. I had a few non-negotiables – no paisley, no flame tip and no cabbage roses like the print dresses my widest aunt used to wear to church.

Not happy with our excursions, my wife next decided to bring in an interior decorator to help. Excellent, I thought. Let her make the decisions. She and my wife picked out curtain fabric that was floral, but mostly non-offensive. But she decided the wall color was wrong. So my wife, the family painter, repainted the living room a beige-blue-gray color. I guess it has some imaginative name, but I think “cloudy day”.

The decorator also recommended changing the floor covering. We had basic beige carpet, twenty years old, but in excellent condition. I think the color was called wheat. We decided to go with an area rug over the carpet. She found a large rug, some 10×12 feet with patterns and colors I could live with. Not wanting to put the rug down over a dirty carpet, we called in the professional cleaners and had the carpet shampooed.

I wasn’t home the day the new rug was delivered, but we had moved the furniture out of the den so the guys could lay it out. The story I got from my wife was that the delivery guy dropped it on the porch and asked her to sign for it. She told him we had paid extra to have them lay out the carpet because it was too heavy for us to lift (we both have back issues). He wouldn’t move it, saying he didn’t care what the agreement was. So she refused to sign for it. The delivery guy refused to remove the rug and left it on our porch. My wife called the company and told them to come get the rug and return our money. They dragged their feet, so she called back after a few days and said they could collect their rug in two days or she was giving it to Good Will. They came and got the rug and refunded most of the money. They wanted to retain some of it for some nonsense about restocking fee. My wife complained to Visa, and suddenly the company made a full refund.

After the rug fiasco, my wife told me that getting a new carpet would be no more expensive than the cost of the rug. I had about had it with decorating at this point and told her to get whatever she wanted. She still brought in carpet samples for me to approve. In the end I watched them tear out our good condition, newly cleaned beige carpet and put in new beige carpet. I find the color indistinguishable from the old carpet color. They are both the color of oatmeal. She says I’m colorblind if I can’t see the difference. Colorblindness doesn’t work that way, but that’s not an argument I need to have.

So I have a new beige carpet, cloudy day walls, and mostly non-offensive curtains. And an orange sofa.

The Intervention

Last year I had a story accepted by The Protest Diaries, an anthology about protests, naturally. It was supposed to go out by the end of the year. Back in March, I think it was, I got word from them that they had made some changes. They had too many stories and were going to ax about eight, and others would need revision. Ever the pessimist, I assumed my story was on the chopping block. Last week I got notice that my story had survived but they wanted significant revisions. They kindly outlined the changes they wanted. I agreed that most of the changes strengthened the story and was glad to accommodate them. Now I’m waiting to see if the changes are acceptable. The letter implied that if I made the changes they wanted then it was a done deal. We’ll see. Until then, well, writing is a waiting game.

As a preview, my story is “The Intervention”. A high schooler remembers his father’s funeral from when he was eight years old. His father had died fighting in Afghanistan and his funeral was picketed by evangelicals similar to what we’ve seen from the Westboro Baptist Church. If you’re unfamiliar with them, check out their website Yeah, they’re that kind of Christian.

Anyway, he learns that the same protesters are coming to picket the funeral of a police officer who was gay and a good friend. How he handles this situation is the balance of the story.

The editor said he liked my take on the issue and definitely wanted the story for the anthology. It just needed tightening up. Sometimes I just run on and on. Anyone who has read my writing knows that about me. I’ll post here when I know more. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for a publication date for Worlds Within and my story “Changing of the Guard”, the sequel to “La Duchessa”.

Sing a Song of Amazon

I was checking my bank account the other day and noticed I had a deposit of $10 from Amazon. First, how does Amazon know which bank I use? I pay for all my Amazon purchases with a credit card. Second, of course they know. Amazon knows everything.

But why? Why did Amazon give me ten bucks? The deposit had a series of numbers and EDI PYMNTS written beside it. I quickly deduced that PYMNTS meant payments. I’m smart like that. So I googled Amazon EDI payments. Seems EDI payments are transfers of small amounts of money when a seller makes money on Amazon. Ok. So why did they think I made money on Amazon? I have a Vella site, but anytime I go there I have to wipe off the dust and cobwebs and the crickets are so loud I can hardly hear myself think. So no. No money there.

The EDI site had two handy little links for Amazon sellers and non-sellers. I clicked on the Amazon sellers link and it immediately told me I was NOT an Amazon seller. Maybe not, but they didn’t need to be so abrupt about it. Kinda hurt my feelings. So I clicked on the other link. And it was in German. A page full of German, and nothing that looked like a translate button.

So back to square one. I figured I would contact Amazon directly. Contacting Amazon is fraught with problems – mostly revolving around language. I usually opt for the “Chat”. I have found that it is frequently easier to tease out the meaning of pidgin English when written than when spoken. And no offense intended to the employees who I imagine have much better English skills than I have Hindi or Burmese skills, but face it, sometimes it seems like an impenetrable shield.

So I clicked on Chat. In a few moments Saba comes on. I do like that they seem to use their real names, rather than trying to make me think I’m conversing with ‘Bob’ or ‘Mack’. A Google search informed me that Saba is a typical Kuwaiti girl’s name, so I guess I was working with a Kuwaiti lady. She opened with asking how I was. I made nice and told her I was fine and hoped she was, also. She responded she was pleased I was well and hoped for my good health every day of the year. A bit over the top, but I’ll take good wishes as I can get them.

I explained that I had received the deposit and just wondered what it was for. She said she would check and get back to me. After a quite long wait she can back on and wanted to know if I had “any other accounts”. UK? As in United Kingdom? I told her no, I only had the one account with Amazon.US. She thanked me and went away. A while later she asked if she could have my four-digit number. This was a poser. Did she mean the number I use to get money from the ATM, the number I use to turn off my house alarm, the last four of my social security number, the last four digits of my phone number, or the number I have to use to let the cable company know that the freaking cable is on the fritz again? A likely answer seemed to be my credit card number, but why did she need to ask me? See number two above. Amazon probably knows more about me than I know myself. They know my dad’s middle name, my mom’s maiden name, my first car, favorite pet, and that I like Christmas. Why get so cagey all of a sudden? I decided this had nothing to do with my credit card, so I offered her the number attached to the deposit. She thanked me and went away.

She came back a while later and thanked me for my patience. As a sign of their appreciation, they were going to give me another $10. I know Amazon is the most profitable company in the world, but you don’t usually get there by just throwing money around. But if this is the new company policy, maybe they should throw some at their employees. I thanked her for the money and then asked about the original $10. This is when it got weirder.

She said she had “just discovered this”, discovered what I don’t know, and that the $10 credit I was getting was taken off the price of an MP3 player I bought about four months ago. I had purchased a cheapo MP3 player from a Chinese company for about $39. It was a piece of crap that didn’t work as advertised; it barely worked at all. I had contacted the company for a replacement. They said they would only send me a replacement if I would first post a good rating of them on the Amazon site. WTF? No. I told them I would give them “a rating” after they made good on my purchase. No deal. I had to write the good review, or they wouldn’t participate. I stood by my principles and chalked it up to experience. I purchased an MP3 player on Ebay, instead (anyone need a marginal Chinese MP3 player cheap?). I never contacted Amazon about my problems with the Chinese company and I paid for the device when I purchased it. So why was Amazon bringing up something I bought long ago? I asked Saba. She seemed hurt and wondered why I wasn’t appreciative of their “gesture of goodwill”. I assured her that I was appreciative (she used ‘appreciative’ a lot). In the next word salad I got from her it appeared that they would refund the entire price of the MP3 player. I say it ‘appeared’ because, you know, word salad. She didn’t just mangle the English language; she left it broken and bloody on the floor.

After another abortive attempt to get information from Saba I decided it was time to go. I exchanged way too many parting pleasantries and made my escape.

So at the end of the day I have $10 in the bank, either a ten dollar or thirty-nine dollar credit with Amazon and still no idea what started the whole deal. Maybe I’ll try again with another chat person. They may have a better grasp of English. Or I may get even more credits. I’d like to get Amazon Prime for free. Maybe they can arrange that.

Confessions of a Horror Writer

I have a story coming out in a horror anthology in March. Five of the other stories I’ve had published would also be considered horror. If you look on my Amazon author’s page, two of the three books there are horror anthologies. It might look like I’ve found my niche.

I’m not a fan of horror. There, I said it. I don’t read horror books or stories and only watch classic horror movies. I hate blood and guts. Then why do my stories seem to find their way into the horror realm? Your guess is as good as mine. I just write what bubbles up from my subconscious.

Let me clarify my definition of horror. Horror in written form is much harder than on the screen. Film can use music and sudden camera switches or something jumping into sight to startle the viewer. Hard to do on the written page. But I see written horror (or good film horror) as creeping dread, the need to look over your shoulder, check the locks, and turn on more lights. That is rare in the little horror I have read.

I read a Lovecraft anthology once. His style was not what I was used to, but I eventually got with it. Only two of the stories did I find actually disturbing in the ways I mentioned above. I guess I’m just not a Cthulu fan.

I read The Shining because I liked the movie. Let me be clear about this. There are two movies I will never see again. The Shining and Alien. Those two scared the bejesus out of me. Not because of blood and guts or weird camera work. They are just plain scary. In a good way. The Alien sequels missed the mark. So I wanted to read The Shining. It was summer and I was alone one night (not a good way to read horror). I had to go pee. I was just at the part in the book about the dead woman in the bathtub. As I stood at the commode, a gentle breeze may have wafted through the open window. All I know for sure is that in the mirror beside the commode I saw the bathtub curtain move. I was out of the bathroom and under the covers in a flash, my heart beating like a drum. That’s what good horror does.

I’ve read a couple of Stephen King anthologies. I enjoy his stories, but most of them I don’t classify as horror because they don’t elicit that response in me. I think Salem’s Lot is the only one that came close. As for his novels, IT did scare me. Again it brought the elements to the page that evoked the fear response I mentioned above.

I grew up watching late night “horror” movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and such. None of them were particularly frightening, even when I was nine years old. I loved the camp of all the Draculas, from the color drenched Hammer films to the granddaddy of them all, 1931 Dracula. Frankenstein was okay, but I kept seeing plot holes. I tried reading the original but couldn’t get through it. It was so different from the movies and didn’t sustain my interest. I never got into the wolfman movies because I got tired of Lon Chaney Jr. emoting over his misbegotten fate to be cursed. And they all ended the same – a good man turned into a monster and then killed. Kind of a downer.

The monster movies like Godzilla and the rest of the Japanese crew really shouldn’t even be considered horror. Just call these disaster movies. Or science fiction. I mean how horrifying are two miniature Japanese ladies riding on the back of a giant moth?

All that said, do I consider my horror stories as true horror? Maybe. Some of these can be found here.

La Duchessa is my vampire entry. I try to give the old duchessa an air of subtle menace. And the old photographs indicate that something may be amiss. It’s available now on Amazon for only $2.99.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep would probably better classify as a thriller, although with all the cut off heads I guess it also falls in the horror camp. 

Welcome to Hell is more fun than horrifying.

The Haint is an old-fashioned ghost story my grandfather used to tell. It’s quaint and not particularly scary.

Little Green Men is madness in outer space. They say in space no one can hear you scream, but you also need to remember that help is half a billion miles away.

I’ve got some others that have not been published yet. There’s The Stick Men, a slightly scary story that my mom told me about her childhood nightmares. Manitou, based on the Norse eddas, is my homage to Lovecraft.

But one of my favorite stories, Johnny’s Got a Gun, comes out next month in Screaming in the Night anthology. It’s a good old style ghost story – kids at night getting into mischief and all hell breaking loose. Is it horrifying? Probably not. Is it spooky? I hope so. Since the anthology is for sale on Amazon, I won’t be publishing the story on my blog until some much later date. You should probably get the book. I’ve read a story by one of the other authors included and she gets my thumbs up for a spooky story. Creeping dread just the way I like it.

Idle Thoughts from Vacation

There should be a special circle in Hell for people who bring infants on cross country flights.

I was people watching on my recent ski vacation, seeing what people were wearing, and being the curmudgeon that I am, judging them for it. I noticed someone wearing a ski outfit in arctic camouflage. Why? Having two shoulder injuries from being tackled on the slopes, I value being seen as opposed to wearing camouflage. The only situation that seems sensible would be if there were an active shooter at the resort (or if they were the active shooter). On the other hand, if they became disoriented and passed out on a trail, the rescuers might miss them. Camouflage is a bad idea.

I noticed that mask mandate signs were posted all over the ski area. Of course, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them. A big sign proclaimed you had to wear a mask to ride the gondola. Looking around each time I noticed my wife and I were the only ones in line who wore masks. We always asked at the front to ride a gondola with other masked patrons, so we always got a private gondola. Our vaccination status was checked to enter all the base lodges and restaurants, but the mask requirements were mostly ignored there also. I’d say about 80-90% of the people were not masked and no one seemed to call them on it. One liftie muttered that he’d been told not to enforce the mask mandate. I guess the signs were just to cover their asses.

Now that I’m getting older, I find that my medical vocabulary is increasing dramatically. How is it I lived my entire life without knowing the meaning of stenosis? Or hemilapidectomy? Or T1 neoplasm? I’m learning so much.

Speaking of age reminds me of a lunch I had with a friend just before the pandemic struck. I told him all about my rotator cuff surgery and he filled me in on his hip replacement. I countered with my wife’s struggles with arthritis. After a moment he said, “What did we use to talk about before we got old?”