A Six Blog Trip

Last Thursday Morning, at 7 AM Central United States time, hereafter referred to as Elvis Time, I left Huntsville, Alabama. My Destination was Batesville, Mississippi, approximately 220 miles southwest of my starting point. Thirty-six hours later, just before 7 PM Elvis Time, I left Batesville, Mississippi, heading home. I arrived in Huntsville four and one half hours later, forty-one hours after I left. During those hours I drove 450 miles, talked to approximately a hundred people, spent almost nine hours working with my good friend, Ms. Lillie Hoskins, was introduced to the work of a bestselling author who I’d failed to find in the twenty-six years since he published his first best seller, read half of Russell Blake’s new book, Silver Justice, ran four miles on the track around the South Panola Tiger’s football field, began learning to write with my left hand (more about that in the days ahead), and wrote a chapter on my current writing project, Southern Investigation-Tucson (more about that and Scrievener in the days ahead), and formulated six blog posts that came to me on the trip.

Like all bloggers, I have a notebook chock full of blog ideas. Some of those ideas I have been hiding in that notebook for months, so long that the original inspiration has worn away, and I don’t remember what prompted the note. Friday night, a few miles west of Huntsville, Alabama, I determined that I would write all six of the posts I just alluded to and then it came to me that I should take a minute and introduce them. That’s what this post is: an introduction to the posts that came to my mind on the six blog trip.

First, an explanation. My wife, Christina, and our partner, Adrienne Wall, operate a small company called United Portrait Studios. We photograph children in day care centers and sell the portraits to parents and grandparents. Adrienne takes the pictures, Christina handles the administration and phone and mail orders, and I take care of sales at the centers where the photos were taken. Generally speaking, we operate within a one hundred mile radius of Huntsville. However, among our one hundred and ninety clients, a few are further away. The furthest is Hoskin’s Learning Center, in Batesville, Mississippi, my destination Thursday morning, when I left our home/office in Huntsville.

From Huntsville, I drove west for ninety miles, toward Memphis, until I reached the Natchez Trace, there I turned south. Prior to leaving the house, I downloaded Silver Justice onto my old Kindle and selected the text to speech feature. In less than twenty miles I was hooked. My review of Russell Blake’s new book is the first blog to come from the six blog trip – Silver Justice a Review.

I checked into the Comfort Inn, my usual place to stay in Batesville, and discovered that the motel and its sister motel, The Day’s Inn of Batesville, had new ownership and a new manager, Simo Sayagh. Simo is a native Moroccan, who recently moved to Batesville from Tampa, Florida. We had two long conversations about his experience and perspective of Batesville. Those conversations are the basis of the second blog post. I call it, Arrival.

At some point in our first conversation, Simo asked what brought me to Batesville. I told him about United Portrait Studios and added that Adrienne, my partner, had been a guest at the motel a week earlier. He thought about that for a moment, searched his memory, found what he was looking for, looked at me, and said, “Oh yes. I remember. Short blonde hair, well spoken,…” and he paused, searched his mind again, this time for a word, found it, looked at me and exclaimed, “Gentle, a very gentle person, your partner.” Just like that, I had my third blog of the trip. I call it Gentle On My Mind.

I ate lunch, changed clothes and headed for Hoskin’s Learning Center. When I stopped in front of Ms. Hoskin’s kingdom, I realized that I had to write a blog about Miss Lillie. I had told myself I would do that when I included her in a post called Black Women… Unconditional Love that I posted August 15, 2011. Well, now I’ve done it. I call it 37 Years 700 Children. It is the fourth blog of the trip.

Initially, the idea for the fifth blog came late Thursday night, as I ran laps on the South Panola High School track. The school’s football team, the South Panola Tigers, is always nationally ranked, once going 107 games without a defeat. After I ran, I propped myself against the north goalpost hoping to establish enough stability, in the darkness of the field, to photograph the scoreboard. It’s the illustration in the fifth blog. Originally, the post was going to be about the football team. That idea shifted Friday, when I went to Western Sizzlin, a home cooking, buffet restaurant, in Batesville. I picked a seat in the back corner, fired up my Kindle, and began eating and reading. A minute or two later, I looked up and noted the woman at the table in front of mine. At least I noted the back of her T-shirt which was an advertisement for something. I never figured out what. Under the line, “I survived the SATP” were three words – “Outwit – Outplay – Outlast,” which pounded in my head until I felt them twist what I thought I was going to write about–an amazing high school football team–into something quite different, something that is going to free up a lot of personal time for me, beginning today. I call the fifth blog, Competition No More Forever. I believe Chief Joseph wouldn’t be upset with my plagiarism of his words.

Friday, before going back to Hoskin’s Learning Center, I had an hour to practice writing with my left hand, so I went to the Batesville Public Library. It was my intention to go straight to a table, ignoring all the books on display, and begin my practice. However, a cover caught my eye, and I picked it up for a closer look. The picture on the cover was a silhouette of a World War II flying boat, specifically a Catalina PBY. The book was The Sea Witch by Stephen Coonts, a novella and two short stories. I started reading the Novella, Sea Witch, and I was lost in the story in seconds. A few minutes later, I forced myself to put it back on the shelf and get to my practice. Later that afternoon I downloaded the sample from Amazon. Fifteen minutes after that, I bought the book. Be advised, if you follow my link to Amazon.com, The Sea Witch, as of 7/22/12 has 30 reviews, with an average rating of two stars. Specifically the break down is 2–five star reviews, 1–four star review, 1–three star review, 7–two star reviews, and 17–one star reviews. Now that you have that information, let me give you a heads up – The Sea Witch will have one more review as soon as I finish the two short stories that follow the title novella, and it will be a five star review because there is nothing higher. Like Stephen Coonts, I’m a Vietnam Vet and I write. I knew good writing way before I wrote my first word or went to Vietnam, and I love it. Occasionally I get to experience great writing. The Sea Witch is great writing, and that’s blog number six, The Sea Witch-A Book Review.

Feel free to comment on this introduction to the six blogs and any or all of the individual blogs.

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