Blue Sky Rumination



Blue Sky Rumination

(Trust me, it’s blue!)

Here on the Cumberland Plateau, there were thunderstorms last night and a prolonged lightning display. My wife and I stayed calm, watched the vivid display through our large great room windows while our television provided the figure skating competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics… Our rather fearless and stoic acceptance of Mother Nature’s light fury and rain came with the acknowledgement that, at our ages, there was ‘nothing to fear but fear itself.’

At dawn came a beautiful blue sky and sunshine, and, after my customary chamomile tea and raisin bran cereal I retired upstairs to my desk and writing area. When the social networking chores were done (really, are they ever done?) I thought about the writing of my blog post for the week. Somehow my mood was bright like the day outside, but the mind was lethargic and determined to betray me of any colossal ideas… Of course, the sleeping pill I took at bedtime would no doubt account for some of the torpidity.

So, I sat and let the mind do its slow meandering…my twelfth book was awaiting my return to its saved spot on ‘Word’…the post had to be written…the beetle invasion was still with us (ladybugs) and we didn’t want to kill them…lazy memories floated across the gray matter…

Suddenly, I heard the electronic gadget beeping, announcing that someone or something passed the sensor on a tree that lines our driveway. I rose and went to the windows some few feet away in my office area which provide perfect views of the winter-barren forest of hardwood trees and our long driveway from the main road. Behold! There were three beautiful deer, one on the driveway and two foraging among the trees. One deer in the trees stared at me standing at the windows, and I smiled and inanely waved to show the doe that she was welcome – and that I prayed one of the hunters would not be chasing her down.

At the same time, our mailman drove down the driveway to deliver a package of some sort. Julie went out to greet him and teasingly chastise him for chasing our deer away. As the doe dashed into the density of forest my short commune with nature ended as quickly as it begun.

Back at my desk to that contemplative and lazy wandering of the mind I decided to describe the beginning of my day to the good folks who read my blog. For a moment I was held bound by another thought…how nature with its weather and its wildlife can dictate a message from a higher order: no matter the day, the night, the mood, our lives exist not in some meaningless spinning orb but each in its own way is like a metaphysical piece of an eternal puzzle.   

With that significant message I’m back to my writing Book 6 of ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’.

If by chance you would like to read more of my mind meanderings in book form, please visit the following sites: (my main website previewing my books + blog) (Independent Authors Network site for my books)

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A Gray Day Mood


A Gray Day Mood

The mood is sullen, like the tall leafless trees outside my window. Their bare branches reach upward toward an ugly gray sky begging for new life. The fog and the gray are like cold blankets of despair.

In many ways I’m like a tree. I sit on this cold gloomy day and muse about a youth that has faded with the gnarls of time and waste. It is true I spend too much time on a past that cannot be recalled, and such a day as this makes the process more morbidly cheerless and timorous in some vague way… Some of us are wired that way.

Yet I am not so unreasonable in thought that I forfeit the morrow that comes and will again bring blooming and gaiety to my disposition. Oh, never again will I be as jubilant as when a young man I read Locksley Hall by Aflred Lord Tennyson and that English poet’s immortal lines: “…In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…” It is quite a long poem, covering so much, and I won’t include it here. If you get a chance to read it, please do.

So, my love, the fair, always calm and constant Julie, is with me in these mindful turns and twists. She gives me the needed embrace to break the somber musings that I fear too often come to visit. My lovely lady, her genetic wiring so serene and different from my own, is the bright blossom in all my seasons.

Dreary wintry days can bring not the best of thoughts, but, as bromidic as it sounds, there is always tomorrow – or Spring, we can hope…until we run out of those!

Time is both the friend and enemy of all. George the cat strikes a lovely sleeping pose on the long sofa. Julie pecks away on her laptop in the loveseat across the room. Pausing, I stare at them, happy they are here in my life. Out the big window the skies are clearing and wondrous blue and sun brighten my mood.


Time brings change. Time brings hope. Time brings another second, minute, hour, day for me to ponder the richness and sadness of my life’s odyssey. The mirror reflects the face I’ve known for all the years, now with lines and sags, now with gray to the beard I shave. In that face I see the events that have shaped me. Some I cannot rinse away with the water splash. Some I wish to retrieve but are lost in memory’s fickle fancy.


Time brings beauty and glaring truth with its unrelenting pendulum swings. Time is everything in life.

George is now off the long sofa wishing to be fed. Julie is no longer pecking on her laptop keys. Outside, the sky is clear and the view across the canyon is breathtaking. Time will pass and I will break from writing to watch the Winter Olympics from Sochi.

All is pleasantly as Time would have it. Here am I as Time would have it – wearing my emotions on these red, white, and blue plaid sleeves.

I leave you with these bits of free verse:

Mirror Images

 I once looked at men like you,

Old men, frail and haunted…

That was when youth declared

I would live forever…

Life was moonlight promises.

So soon there was ecstasy and joy.

How hard it was to see then…

How easy it is to see now.

When did it get this late?

When did the tree sap harden?

Where is the gold I sought?

Where is the key I held?

Why is the day no longer long?

Why does morning come so late?

What is the mystery to solve?

What day the reckoning?


Portrait in Time

 Young man, do you not see me

As once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sag of cheek

Time put upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you,

With noble thoughts and dreams

A new bright morn might bring.

Time wore me down with its teasing,

Its ceaseless ubiquitous promises and

Its often delicious pleasures.

Time taunted and tempted me

With its guile and deception,

With beauty beads of love.

Time gave me its reins to  

Run wild with the wind

Sunrise through Sunset and

Deep into bacchanal nights.

Time now leaves me here

On a mountain-top, better to

Have had those moments of joy –

Sad to have you see the

broken parts of me.

Young man, can you not see me

As once I might have been?

 (Billy Ray Chitwood – 2/15/14)

Should you like to read my books you will find them on and You can preview them, with the buy sites at: (IAN – my Independent Author Network site) (short bio sketch)

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How Did You Sleep Last Night


How Did You Sleep Last Night?

There is so much in night’s sleepless musings that come to me, words and phrases that say so much about my life, the shiftless and incoherent wanderlust, the ever restless being of my nature, the endless search for a gauzy part of my worth… Why is it I’m here in this space and time? For what purpose is it that I live on when I have sailed to the joy ports and those of despair and desperation with a map of iniquitous purpose? Why is it, as an author friend once wrote that ‘it is dark to die for I still wish to be’?

Now, of course, I can and will associate all my night’s restless musings to a childhood ill spent in bitter family acrimony, constant mobility, discontent, displacement, and a world of uncertainty. But that is truth for so many of us doing these multiple rotations around the sun, so I’m far from being alone… Perhaps there’s a club somewhere on the planet that I need to join. Just one disclaimer! I’m a reasonably happy man most of the time, but I do spend a bit too much time contemplating my past. Then, which author was it who said, ‘We analyze the past to prepare the future.’ That’s a paraphrase, not a direct quote – but the author will likely never know I wrote it.

So, thoughts pile upon thoughts, and I lie there with eyes closed, a frown or smile appears for no one to see and my impulse is to rise, to capture these mind pulses which are strung together so uniquely my own.  These divergent transmissions will be lost if they are not captured on paper or a laptop screen. They are my creations and they might well be important for some foolish nomads along the way. Ah, but in the rising I might awaken my wife or the cat that seeks any excuse to anger me with his constant meowing. The wife, of course, I love! The cat, well, it is a love/hate relationship – mostly love, in fairness, I must write.

Finally a vague hint of sleepiness hits me, and I decide to put away the thoughts of literary gems and listen to the impertinent wishes of my body and temporarily forget the excuses previously set forth.

Sleep comes, with weird surreal dreams, to be followed by another day of writing – that is, when I can get to it after hours of social networking chores and maintenance. I shall try to retrieve some of the ‘gems’ from night’s sleepless hours, but, mostly, to no avail.

From all of this, what can my blog friends discover? Those of you who say loudly to yourselves, ‘Absolutely nothing,’ then shame on you! The message in this post is most clear. The message is … Well, have a cup of coffee and really think about it. Maybe the caffeine will jolt your thought processes and ‘Eureka’ will come.

I’ve had five cups of coffee and I’m still working on it!

I’m off to the treadmill…

My books require no caffeine. There’s action, crime, mystery, romance, and memoir. If you would like to read some of my full-length novels, I invite you to view the following sites: (My bio and a preview of my eleven books) (My main website, with my books, reviews, blog) (A short bio – with links) ( and (

Please comment below – after the award images. Thank you.

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Snow, Solitude, and Sadness

Here on a bluff of The Cumberland Plateau the weather can change quickly and often. For the most part, no matter the weather, it is beautiful here among the hardwood trees, a portrait outside the big great room windows of the different shades of seasons. This day, I’m watching the frenzied swirl of big snowflakes hide my view of another bluff across the canyon.

For a spell I allow my mind to wander and consider the multiple scenarios that could develop in this near white-out. So I pause from the writing of my twelfth book, save what I’ve written, and go to Microsoft Word to take the dictation of my mind at this particular moment… This short piece of fiction is my post offering for the week. Those who read it can ponder the mind that came up with this theme…

If you like the writing style here, it is my hope you will try one of my full-length novels of mystery, suspense, romance, and, a couple of memoirs – the links follow this story. Please review them.



Snow, Solitude, and Sadness

The snow came with desperate urgency as though it must bury everything in its path… It was beautiful to watch but a bit scary with thoughts of being bound by its depth and awesome whiteness. There was warmth inside my heavy flannel shirt and thick pants with the thermostat set at seventy-four and a good blaze going in the fireplace. That being the case I was still a spring and summer guy, a sun worshiper – all two hundred pounds of me – and I loved the pretty girls at the beach in their bikinis…well, maybe I loved them a tad too much.

A loud constant rapping at the front door startled me… The doorbell was either not working or the rapper had not noticed it. There came a quick concern that I was all alone in the big house. Ellen was attending a birth event of one of our kids. Another concern was that we were isolated on a wooded five acres, and I could not imagine any of our friends or neighbors being outside in this weather.

Warily I placed my laptop on the table next to my recliner and went to the door. Snow, aided by the wind, had drifted onto the porch and made the door more difficult to open. When I did manage to get the heavy door opened, I looked down into the face of a young boy who looked to be in his early teens. He was scantily dressed for this weather and he was involuntarily shaking. It was his face that got and held my attention. Amid the snowflakes and wetness, there was hard scabby blood from a gash under a swollen eye, and I could see bruising and other swollen spots. His face otherwise held a stern expression, his eyes a menacing almost stoic stare. He was a stranger to me, no one I could remember ever seeing.

“Hi, kid,” I said with some honest show of emotion and haste, “come in out of the snow and get warm. You could catch pneumonia out here…” I placed my hand softly on his shoulder to guide him in, and he flinched. “It’s okay, kid, you’re safe here. We can talk inside and no one can hurt you. I promise.” At this point the kid had not uttered a sound.

Inside the house I settled the kid on a chair in front of the fireplace, made him some hot chocolate with little white marshmallows, but he was reluctant to take the mug from my hands. I gave him a soft smile, “Hey, it won’t be as good as Ellen would make it, but it’s hot… Ellen’s my wife, away visiting one of our kids. Come on, take it, drink it, and you’ll feel better, I’m betting.”

He took the cup and wrapped both of his tiny hands around it. His expression was still harsh and indifferent, but his eyes seemed to soften slightly.

“You want to talk about this, son?” He flinched again at my word, ‘son.’ “It’s just an expression we older folks use with a person as young as you appear. Can you tell me your name?”

He brought with both hands his mug of hot chocolate to his lips, hesitated, gave me an upward glance, and sipped.

“Can you tell me who did this to you?”

Silence, but he sipped his hot chocolate.

“Can you tell me where you live? I haven’t seen you around here.”

Silence, but he continued to sip his hot chocolate. I took that as a good sign.

A thought struck me. “Are you maybe a runaway maybe, from that ‘Manor School for Boys’ over near Braxton?” It was a school for the mentally ill kids.

I hit a nerve. The kid flinched, stopped sipping, and put his mug on the hearth. His eyes got all watery, spilled over into tears, and I felt my heart beginning to break. I went to him, gently forced him into my arms and tenderly held him in an embrace, careful to avoid touching his bloody and bruised face. “Aw, kid, I’m so sorry you’re hurting, but I promise you…”

He broke from me and ran toward the front door.

“No, kid, please, stay here where it’s warm.” I rushed after him. “I’ll make it all better for you, kid, I promise. Whatever I have to do, I’ll make it better for you. Don’t leave. Don’t run away from help.” He was opening the front door. “Please, kid, give me a chance to help you! If the school is abusing you, I’ll stop them. Don’t run away! Please!”

Then he was gone, slamming the door, just missing my hand that was reaching out to him, gone into that blinding whiteness that was the snow.

I grabbed my parka, putting it on as I rushed out the door in pursuit.

I roamed the woods, the road 1/8th mile up my driveway, and never saw him in the swirling madness of snow. After two hours, I returned to the house, called 911, reported all that had happened, and told the operator about the ‘Manor School for Boys’ and what I thought might have happened. She promised she would have someone get back to me.

It took three days and more calls from me to get the news. They found the kid in a snow bank near an on-ramp to the freeway, dead from exposure.

They told me the kid was Jerry Cantor, a deaf boy from the Manor School for Boys. They told me an investigation was on-going about the school because there were other complaints about abuse.

They told me that Jerry was in the home for murdering his father and mother with a shotgun.

The world sometimes is not a fun place to be. The bright sunshine outside could not erase the sadness within my heart and soul. I cried as I remembered a little kid who never uttered a word, who sat in front of my fireplace and sipped a mug of hot chocolate, who shed some tears, who in such a short span of time stole a piece of my heart.

The End 

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