Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Letter to My Dead Dog

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Dear Ghost, 

Thank you for giving us your heart and your happiness. I remember when we got you from the rescue  

in Phoenix. It was like matchmaking. We took Goblin up to make sure he'd get along as if it was a blind date. When you began to nibble at his toes we knew everything was going to be okay, especially when Goblin gave us that look which meant can we keep her? You came home with us and became part of our lives. Every day you were happy to see us. Every day you were thrilled to be a part of our lives. Even as you were dying I knew that you were happy we were there. I could see it in your eyes even as you faded away.

I am so happy you were a part of our lives.

But there are some things I am sorry for.

I'm sorry that you were set on fire when you were six months old. If I could find the man who did it, I'd let him know what it felt like. Sometimes when you slept and dreamed and were howling, I knew you were reliving that moment. I'm so sorry that ever happened to you.

I'm sorry you were born deaf because an asshole breeder was trying to breed a merle even though he or she knew there was an 80% failure rate and didn't care. Because of this you were never able to hear the love we heaped on you. You were never able to listen to your mom as she spoke the most loving words to you.

I'm sorry you were turned over to a rescue. Okay, I'm only half sorry for that. Because had you not
gone to a rescue, we never would have found you.

I'm sorry that I wasn't always patient. You were a spastic little beast. You shook your ears too loud and you never learned to lick. You'd just hover your face in front of ours knowing you should do something, but not knowing what to do. Now I wish I could hear your too-loud-ear-flaps again and that you'd do that face-hovering thing.

I'm sorry that I yelled at you in frustration. It was stupid of me. After all, who yells at a deaf dog?

I'm sorry for so many things, but most of all, I'm sorry that you are dead.

We will meet again someday. Until then, run free in the fields of heaven, chasing forever rabbits, howling at the moon, and listening to the great big universe with ears that can finally hear. And every once in a while, pause, listen, and you can hear us talking about you. You might even hear us calling you. If that should happen, come to us, and let us love you for a time before you return to the fields of forever rabbits.

I love you, Ghost.

Until we meet again.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BOOKLIST REVIEW of REIGN OF EVIL

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Reign of Evil.
Ochse, Weston (Author)
Oct 2014. 336 p. St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $26.99. (9781250056009). St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, e-book, (9781466859586).

"The latest in the SEAL Team 666 series, which craftily blends horror with elite military action, opens with an absolute shocker. A reenactment at Stonehenge turns into murder when the “fake” sacrifice becomes all too real. For one of the team, the death is personal, and he is willing to sacrifice the mission and his life for revenge. Will his loyalty keep him from going rogue? Will his colleagues be able to trust him to do the right thing? Throw in creepy beasts and King Arthur, and the end result is another winner from Ochse. The military action is first rate, and the horror is tight and scary. Readers who enjoy Brad Taylor's and Brad Thor's military thrillers, but who don’t mind stories that add to the military mix some over-the-top terror in the manner of Jonathan Maberry, will find this the perfect diversion. The ending screams for a sequel, which would be most welcome. - Jeff Ayers"

WESTON'S 2014 BOOK CONTEST

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2014 has been a big year in publishing for me with four novels being published. For the next 21 days I'm going to hold a contest. To participate in the contest you must take a picture of at least three of the books published this year in your possession. These books are Reign of Evil, Grunt Life, Ghost Heart, and Halfway House. Two of the books MUST BE Reign of Evil and Halfway House.


HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Take a picture with the appropriate books. Post the picture to Facebook and tag me. Also go to my website (www.westonochse.com) and under the contacts tab, send me an email telling me you've done this with the SUBJECT LINE as BOOK CONTEST (in case I miss the FB photo). Include your name in the email so I know to go to your page. I know some of you have these books as electronic only. I encourage you to use your phone to take pictures of the covers on your electronic medium, then feel free to photoshop them.

And No Cheating! Cheaters will be hunted down and eaten by a starving cheetah the publicly humilated using the best of what social media has to offer!

 JUDGING: There will be FIVE prizes. Points WILL be given for originality.

GRAND PRIZE: Signed original manuscript for SEAL Team 666. Yes. This is the final galley proof that I edited prior to it going to publishing. And I will kill you (see below)

FOUR OTHER PRIZES: Each of you will win a free signed book from me and I will kill you in the upcoming Solaris Book Grunt Traitor. We can discuss which book of mine you don't have and want and I can see if I have a copy to spare. Regarding your joyful murder at the hands of an alien, we can also discuss how you want to die.

DEADLINE: November 4, 2014.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Less than 24 Hours Until SEAL Team 666 Reign of Evil Goes Live

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SEAL Team 666 Reign of Evil hits the streets in two days. Ordering a copy now will help make sales go through the roof. A book is largely judged by how well it does with the first days of being for sale. So I need your help. If you're planning on buying one, want to buy another as a gift, want to buy one to give away, or just want to buy one to throw at the next guy who solicits at your door, please do it within the next 72 hours. 

I'm including a link that has a bunch of buying options. And if you have a favorite store like The Poisoned Pen Bookstore or Barnes And Noble's/Starbucks (in Fayetteville) or Barnes and Nobles (Ventura) or Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Phoenix) or Mysterious Galaxy, give them a call or go to their website and order from them. 

Also don't forget on opening day to also go down to your favorite bookstore and buy a copy from them. This is when I need you to help me so I can keep bringing you great fiction.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Soda Pop Soldier Review - Prepare to Level Up

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Nick Cole's new Soda Pop Soldier is as different from The Wasteland Saga as Skyrim is to Donkey Kong. Not that The Wasteland Saga is as emotionally bankrupt as Donkey Kong. It's not. And it's awesome. It's just so different it seems as if someone else wrote it. In a way, it was. It's clear that John Saxon wrote this book while Nick Cole wrote the other one--John Saxon being both an actor who starred in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon as well as being the nom de guerre of the main character of Soda Pop Soldier.  And Nick Cole can level up with 10,000 cool points for channeling the great unsung pop-culture icon of the 1970s.

The great great grandchild of Neuromancer (Gibson), Soda Pop Soldier shares its inventiveness, themes of moral bankruptcy and greed, and isolationism with it's siblings Reamde (Stephenson) and Ready Player One (Cline). But it achieves more. I'm not sure if John Saxon used these as stepping stones, or came up with the premise whole cloth in the vacuum of his shag-carpeted, spinning disco ball, scotch soaked mind, but whatever +5 Potion of Inventiveness he sucked down, it worked.

But that's all creation myth. 

Soda Pop Soldier has not one but two online universes John Saxon interacts with. The first is the corporate war gaming universe of a pseudo-Vietnam where megacorporation victories are rewarded with mega-advertising. The second is The Black, which is a truly vile hole in the internet where within the constructs of a game, players can do some truly terrible things that have consequences in the real world, all the while viewers pay to watch. What's most interesting is that behind all that vileness is a Tolkeinesque quest MMORPG that shines with its brilliant reincarnations of all the questings we have come to know and love as fans of high action high fantasy, roleplaying, and online gaming.

All this set on a timer that if it goes off could mean the end to our fabled hero and true author of the book, the venerable John Saxon.

On a personal note, as a fellow writer, I can tell Nick Cole is a foodie. The way he describes food in this book is nothing short of old-school Ventura-based porn. I can almost see him leering as he wrote about garlicky fries and mile-high club sandwiches. And of course there's the scotch. Never forget the scotch. Our hero drinks enough of it to fuel a pair of funny cars at San Bernardino Motor Speedway.

As an author and a soldier--fellow soldier it appears--the fighting and combat sequences rang true. Having written knock-down-dragged-out fight scenes for my SEAL Team 666 series as well as my Grunt series, I know how mentally challenging these are to get right, to keep track of all the personnel and havoc we're choreographing. 

And I loved the nod to Corporal Hicks. I wanted to scream Punch it Bishop! every time there was an Aliens reference.

So here we are.

When I read Reamde I thought that was the best thing I'd read using online gaming as a theme. 

When I read Ready Player One I thought that was the best thing I'd read using online gaming as a theme.

And they were... at the time I read them.

Now that I've read Soda Pop Soldier, I know that this is the best thing I've read using online gaming as a theme.

And it will remain so right up until the point that it isn't. When something else comes along. But that eventual usurpation will have no effect on the lasting quality and immoral goodness John Saxon nee Nick Cole created with this masterpiece the megacorporation HarperCollins calls Soda Pop Soldier.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

An Update On My Upcoming Projects.

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I could probably say that I'm Busier Than...
  •     a five dollar hooker
  •     a Jehova's Witness at doors unlimited
  •     handicapped parking at the special olympics
  •     O.J. Simpson in a white meat slaughterhouse
  •     Michael Jackson in a day care center  
Ahh. The way we do love to turn phrases.

So what's on my radar?

GRUNT TRAITOR - This is the second book in my alien invasion series following the exploits of
PTSD-suffering heroes trying to save the world.  About 100k words. Due January 1st.

SNAFU II Novella - I will return to the time of Cold War Gothic and bring back Special Unit 77 in a tale of ultimate survival against the Bohemian Grove. About 15k words. Due January 31st.

V-Wars Volume 4 - I already have my story planned out for this. It will come in at about 8000 words. It's due sometime in the spring of 2015. This will mark my third V-Wars story.

LIMBUS Novella - I've been contracted to write in the world of Limbus. Much like V-Wars, this is a book of integrated stories telling a larger tale. In this case, that there's a secret society really controlling everything. This should be a lot of fun. About 25k words. Due March 31st.

Urban Allies Collaboration - I'm working with David Wellington to create a collaborative tale staring Jack Walker from SEAL Team 666 and Laura Caxton from his eponymous series. About 7500 words. Due May 31st.

Then there's the very strong possibility of a fourth SEAL Team 666 book, when if contracted, I'll need to begin January 1st with a deadline of April 22nd. About 100k words.

Add to that two novels in progress, 4 short stories I need to complete for my next collection, and one super-secret project.

There will be some new fiction coming out as well.

The Shade of My Chinaman will appear in the upcoming anniversary edition of Carpe Noctem. See their Kickstarter here for goodies. It's a story in which the shades of murdered people suddenly appear to their murderers and will not go away. This worldwide phenomenon has virtually crippled the world and will be the downfall of an already troubled married couple.

On Tranquility Tides I Rise is a novella which will appear in the Dark Regions Press anthology Behind Enemy Lines. This is the story of a young sergeant in the Iraq War, his relationship to his dead brother, and the effect of the moon on our souls.

The Devil Until the Credits Roll will appear in the Clive Barker anthology Midian Unmade to be published by Tor. I've created a new Midian monster for this one. But just know, there are times when humans can be so much more the monster.I wrote this in Afghanistan. 

American Golem will appear in OPERATION ARCANA edited by John Joseph Adams. The story involves a familiy's desire to have revenge on the IED-maker who killed their son in Afghanistan.

The Art of Courage will appear in The Dark Phantastique anthology from Cycatrix Press. It revolves around bull fighting in Spain and the idea of Schadenfreude, and stars Ernest Hemingway. 

Reliving Through Better Chemistry will appear in the anthology Library of the Dead. It's the story of some teenagers who discover how to relive moments of someone's life by combining ADHD
medicine with the ashes of the dead. It's rollicking good fun right up until they decide to relive the life of a child abuser.

A reprint of Tarzan Doesn't Live Here Anymore will appear in SNAFU: Heroes due out the same day as Reign of Evil below.This story originally appeared in my collection Multiplex Fandango which was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in Best Collection.

Let's not forget that SEAL Team 666: Reign of Evil is due out in two weeks. In this edition, the SEALs must come to the aid of one of their own, who while mourning the loss of a loved one, becomes embroiled in the worst supernatural calamity to ever befall England.

And of course the novel Halfway House which is due out now. Featuring a L.A. gangs, a quest for an Elvis Presley Double Platinum album, Hollywood Porn Directors, a WWII curse, and a haunted house.

I think that's all that's coming. I can't be sure. I have so much shit going on. Still, these are some stories to look forward to.

Yep. I'm surely going to be busy. 

I'll be as busy as

  •    Richard Simmons on a fat farm
  •     a gopher on a golf course
  •     a bar of soap at San Quentin
  •     Ted Kennedy in an all-girls school
  •     and those poor 72 virgins.

Well, now. 

Hold the phone.

Not as busy as all that, I suppose.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Having A Grunt Life

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Grunt Life came out and immediately went into a second printing. So happy that people Grok my style of Military SF. Now, nine days into the sequel, Grunt Traitor, I'm doing things to planet earth no one should ever be allowed to. It's galactically evil, but the logical outcome if we will are ever unfortunate to be invaded and terraformed.

A new review surfaced of Grunt Life from Hugo Award-nominated Elitist Book Reviews. I'll share
the first paragraph and the last paragraph, but for the rest you need to go to the site.

First: "I’ve been on the look-out for novels similar to those of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series and Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels. I love the mix of Military Thriller with SF/Fantasy/Whatever. It didn’t have to be magic, but I needed something that was contemporary, actiony, and with speculative elements in it."

Last: "Weston Ochse is an awesome author. I put his stuff next to Correia and Maberry without hesitation. While I was curious about Ochse’s work before, now I’m excited to read it. All of it. It’s pretty easy to see that Ochse is one of the better authors for action SF out there, and GRUNT LIFE was an absolute blast to read."

Do you have your copy yet? I ask you then why not?

Friday, September 5, 2014

I'll Be Glad to Toss Your Book in the Trash

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So sayeth a brand new fan I've received. Along with all the emails I received from my website contact link today was a gem of an email about my novel Blood Ocean, which was part of the Afterblight Chronicles published by Abaddon Books (UK).

Here's the email:

"After reading your contribution to the Afterblight Chronicles, I can say that I will never read another one of your books again. I have issues with it since I started it. But being someone who doesn't give up on a series and who enjoys SciFi, I am going through them. If this is any indication of your work, well lets just say, your no where as good a (sic) your complementaries. So, unless you have a another book in the Series, I will be glad to toss this junk in the trash where it belongs." - name withheld by me

Here was my reply:

"Thank you! Can I ask what your issue was?"

I'm waiting on a response.

His response will sort of indicate what sort of person he is. You see, this is my most brutal book. I mean, hell, it's post apocalyptic. It's supposed to be brutal, right? But it also has transgender characters, cannibalism, anti-Caucasian sentiment, and I heap a ton of fictional baggage on the Japanese.

Is he Japanese?

Did he take umbrage at me making white people evil?

Is he a vegan?

Maybe he doesn't like LGBTs.

This book is still available. It was published in 2012. This is not an advertisement, but here's what the book is about if you've never heard of it.

Waterworld meets Point Break as Kavika, an under-sized boy living in the floating Sargasso City - jigsawed together with ships, submarines, barges and oil tankers off the coast of what was once known as California, must strive to overcome his lowly status and the condemnation of his peers in order to save his city from an enemy living within.

Survivors of the Cull, a Plague that wiped out people without the blood type O-neg, struggle in the floating Sargasso City jigsawed together with ships, submarines, barges and oil tankers off the coast of what was once known as California.

Separated by demarcations of turf, ethnicity and fear, it’s not so much living as existing. High above it all swing the Pali Boys: descendants of Hawaiian warriors, they desire to lift themselves and the spirits of the residents below by performing an increasingly impossible series of extreme stunts, designed to test their manhood, and demonstrate the vibrancy humanity once had.

But as a conspiracy of murder unfolds and blood attacks increase, Kavika a single under-sized Pali Boy must strive to overcome his lowly status and the condemnation of his peers in order to save them all from an enemy living within.
The book received mixed reviews when it came out. Some consider it the favorite of my 20+ published books. Others don't like it for the brutality. And some think I spent too much time in scene setting. But everyone had at least something good to say about it. 

Update: I've waited 24 hours for a reply, but didn't receive on. But I did put my detective skills to work, you know, those I got from watching television. His name is in his email, which I can see. I Facebooked his name and there is one person out there with a mutual friend of that same name. If that's the same person, then he's white, southern, and middle aged. So being Japanese is out. Maybe he's a white vegan?

So there you have it. You can't please everyone, but at least this fine upstanding gentleman gave me a laugh.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Email Exploded This Morning

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I guess Amazon is getting more aggressive. Either that or I have more fans. I have a book coming out in October. No surprise to me or to anyone following me on facebook. But now it seems that everyone who's ever bought a book from me now knows because Amazon bulk emailed them. Funny thing is, though, that some folks thought that the email was from me, went to my website, and sent me emails. Some of them are down-right hilarious.

This was in the email everyone got.
A sampling of these emails include:

  • Stop sending me spam! I don't like your books.
  • So happy to see you doing so well.
  • Loving SEAL Team 666.
  • When is the movie coming out.
  • How'd you get my email address?
  • Can you introduce me to the Rock?
  • Cousin XXX got this from Amazon, where he obviously bought your books, and forwarded it to almost everyone on his family mailing list.
  • I didn't know you wrote books.
  • Cool logo on the cover. Are you selling it?
  • How do you pronounce your name?
  • I hate your guts!!!
  • Do you know Jonathan Maberry? Can you get him to blurb a book for me too?
  • Is this self-published?
  • Where do you get your ideas?
  • Why did you name the dog after a vacuum cleaner?
  • Please unsubscribe me from this list.
 I could go on, but you get the idea.

Of course I'm probably preaching to the choir. If you're reading this and you've ever bought one of my books from Amazon then chances are you received the Amazon bulk emailer too. Know this:

  • I didn't send this email.
  • I don't know when the movie is coming out.
  • I can't introduce you to the Rock.
  • I'm not selling the logo. MGM currently has the rights to it.
  • I didn't get your email address. 
  • Yes I write books.
  • Thank you for hating my guts.
  • I get my ideas from a  woman in Iowa who sells them on eBay.
  • The dog is named after a president.
  • Jonathan Maberry is probably too busy to blurb your book.
  • My name is pronounced like Oaks.
  • The book is not self-published.
  • And thank you for loving SEAL Team 666
I hope this helps everyone.

Have a terrific day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ghost Heart Review Roundup

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Remember when you were younger and you read Something Wicked This Way Comes or The Thief of Always or The Traveling Vampire Show and you felt a certain magic in the words, a certain tug at your soul, a warm summer wind through your nostalgia? This is what Yvonne Navarro and I have tried to create. We want a story of troubled youth to be pan-generational. We want a book adults and teens can read with equal pleasure. Most of all, we wanted to write a book that could be read aloud, the reader lending substance and
gravitas to the work.

So far it looks like we've succeeded.

Here are what some are saying about Ghost Heart.

Horrornews.net - "Comparison to Something Wicked This Way Comes immediately comes to mind, as Yvonne and Weston bring in that same comforting yet engaging style of prose that his the eyes and ears like the rumbling voice of Grampa in his rocking chair on a slow twilight eve. They had me full-on from the first paragraph and I dug every second of it. It’s hard to come across people who can mimic the feel of the oral tradition, but these two do it admirably."  Read more here. 

Reading Bites - "What to say about Ghost Heart? It’s so hard to review a book that’s genuinely more of an experience than a read. It’s the story of Matt, a boy facing the break up of his parents and watching his friend’s ghostly guardian spirit fade as she grows up, as he tries desperately to stop time and make it all somehow not happen." Read more here.

Frank Errington - "Husband and wife writing team, Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro, have produced something very special with Ghost Heart.  At the center of the story is a very cool kid, a couple of ghost/imaginary friends and his German Shepherd, Kubla Khan." Read more here

Don D'Amassa - "A collaboration between two authors of whom I don't see enough. It's also a very unusual novel that is as much fantasy as horror...The story is episodic but the individual encounters are wrapped around the central plot quite nicely. For some reason this reminded me of the early Dark Tower books by Stephen King, although with a darker coloration. It's more a coming of age story with weird overtones than a suspenseful horror novel despite some quite creepy things that happen along the way." Read more here.

Also with cover art from the vastly talented Vincent Chong.

Do you have your copy? Want it in a special edition? Here's the info.

Deluxe Hardcover pricing: $80 USD 
Trade Paperback pricing: $14.95 
USD Ebook pricing: $3.99 USD - 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Burgers with Chefitude - Sonoita

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I love burgers.

Who doesn't, right?

But I also like a whole lot of other things. I've had two burgers this year. One was homemade from  
lamb...awesome. The other was at the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome and was absolutely unremarkable. So when I saw a review of a burger place in Sonoita (a place I love) by GallivantingGirl called All Hail the Perfect Burger, I was intrigued. Then when I saw that I could make the burger a bison burger, I was excited. Then when I saw that you could order a burger and not know what's going to be on it, I was pretty dead on freaking excited. I had to do it.

Then came the call from the pops. He and mom and my kid brother were going to come down and spend a few days with us. All I did was connect the dots, so yesterday, we drove to Sonoita and arrived at the ubiquitously named "The Cafe." Here's their website. Their motto is Fresh Attitude, Fresh Food, Experience Chefitude. 

About the place. They have wine. They have beer. It's in Sonoita. They have burgers and other things to eat. They have wine. Oh, I said that already. Wine prices were very affordable, especially with the local wines.

Wife's chicken curry soup and Black and Blue Burger
So what did we order? My lovely wife had the black and blue burger because of her love affair with blue cheese. Instead of fries, she substituted for the curry chicken soup. My mom had the black and blue burger as well but she caved in on the fries, although she barely touched them. I might have rescued a few from the dispenser with help from my brother, who had a green chili cheese burger.

My dad and I were the brave ones. We both ordered APE Burgers. We told them we didn't have any allergies. My dad said not too spicy. I said no peanut butter and jelly. Then the waitress left and I noticed a worried look on my dad's face.


"What is it?"
Close-up of wife's Black and Bleu Burger

Me telling them not to use PB&J made him worried that he should have said the same. "If they serve the burger with peanut butter and jelly I'm sending it back."

I smiled and said, "As you should," all the while secretly hoping they would.

Then the burgers came. All were cooked perfectly.

My father was served a Cordon Bleu Burger. Atop the half pound of 80/20 ground beef he had a piece of ham and chicken wrapped in cheese. With the addition of a garlic aoili it was magnificent.

Then I was served a PB&J Burger.  No. Just kidding. I was actually served a burger with bacon, brie and green apple atop a medium rare bison burger. With the addition of siracha mayo and ketchup, this was the best burger I can remember eating. I'm not saying it's the best burger ever, but it's on that list for sure. Somewhere definitely in the top five.

Highly recommend you all go out there. You will not be disappointed. Burgers are a little spendy, but then you're paying for truly terrific ingredients and...chefitude!



Dad's Cordon Bleu Burger

Brie, Bacon and Apple on Buffalo

Close up of -- Brie, Bacon and Apple on Buffalo
Even Closer - Lol


Layered perfectly, cooked perfectly

Close-up of curry chicken soup

My mom's burger. So good. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Letter to the Four Year Old Me

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My folks gave me this picture the other day and I can't stop thinking about it. This is me circa 1969. I was either living in Chadron, Nebraska or Gillette, Wyoming. I wasn't happy. That's clear in the picture. I was standing by the rear of my grandparents Pontiac. They were probably leaving after a visit, taking a last picture to develop so they could have a picture of their (then) only grandson. Also around this time my mom and dad were fighting. I don't really remember it-- my guess is that I blocked it out. But shortly after this we moved to Sioux Falls, my father was revealed as the monster he was, and I was living with my mother. At that point my biological father pretty much ceased to exist in my life.

Bottom line is that his kid doesn't look happy. He almost looks haunted.

I struggle to write this, but I feel as if I have something to say about this early version of me. I feel as if I need to speak to him, this poor kid.

He was unhappy. There will be more unhappiness in his life. He'll spend a great deal of his future years psychologically damaged by the existence of his biological father. He'll act out. He'll lash out. He'll have more than 50 stitches by the time he is six years old. He'll become a bully and be bullied in return. He'll discover that he needs human contact more than most people, but he'll also have his heartbroken over and over because of trust issues.

He was a good kid. He was four. He never did anything to anyone, except maybe that time where he bit the heads off of three goldfish, but then that was lashing out, wasn't it.

At that moment in time--and I can see it in his eyes--he felt lost and alone. He probably felt that this was going to be his life. He was too young to understand that he had his whole life in front of him. He was too small to know that he could eventually shape his own future.

I'd love to go back and tell him what happened. Here's what I'd tell him.

Dear Four Year Old Me,

Life sucked back then. Shit happened. But you're going to power through it.

You're going to grow up and join the army and learn about the joy of serving something greater than yourself. You're going to travel to far-flung countries like China and Australia and Romania and Thailand. You're going to learn to speak foreign languages and study to attain a Masters of Fine Arts Degree. You're going to have the joy of a son and a daughter. You're going to meet the love of your life in your mid-thirties after a couple false starts. You're going to write books and people all over the world are going to know you. You'll be respected. You'll be loved by people you don't even know. You'll be appreciated for the messages you try and convey. Bottom line is that although life sucks now, you're going to take that suckage and use it to fuel your rise through life. You will overcome adversity even as it reshapes you. You will become the sum of your experiences rather than the victim of them. And you're not going to do it alone. You're going to have an awesome mom and a new dad. You're going to have family and friends and leaders and teachers who are going to help you and inspire you all along the way.

You're going to have an awesome life, kid.

The problem is that I can't actually tell you that. Even if I had a method to time travel, perhaps a wormhole to the past, I couldn't let you know all of this. You see, I think it was the not knowing, the desperation, the driving almost biological need to overcome all the suckage that made you into me. This was something YOU did that made ME. Had you not, I could have been any thousands of versions of me. I could be childless, loveless and hopeless. I could be living alone in a house in the middle of Nebraska feeling sorry for myself. I could be in jail. I could be an almost fifty year old man with no education and no prospects working at a minimum wage job. I could be dead.

But you kept me from being that person.

Life sucked back then but you were strong.

Thank you. Thank you for letting me become me. Of all the versions I could have become this is the best one I know. And I owe it all to you. So as you stand there beside that old Pontiac in the black and white world of my youth, your face a study in misery, know that I am proud of you, and thankful, and happy.
Power through, kid.

Stay the course.

Life happens and it only gets better. I'm living proof that this is true because of you.

Love,

Me




Saturday, July 26, 2014

DRUNKEN CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

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DRUNKEN CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

It's been scientifically proven that chicken noodle soup helps fight colds. You can believe it or not and just throw pharmaceuticals down your gullet, or you can do the great tasting healthy alternative. A recent NY Times article broke it down.

The most widely cited of these studies, published in the medical journal Chest in 2000, is by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He conducted laboratory tests to determine why chicken soup might help colds, beginning with his wifes homemade recipe, handed down by her Lithuanian grandmother. Using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. (To read the whole article go here)

How can you argue with a Lithuanian grandmother, much less the NY Times? But if you're reading this, I doubt I have to sell you on the feel-good properties of chicken noodle soup. You, like me, prefer it, using it as a warm blanket for the soul.

You could get some creamy chicken ramen. God knows it's terrific, but it has enough sodium and fat to make it the food version of an anti-tank missile.  Don't forget that ramen noodles are fried before they are placed in the nice plastic package. You never knew that? Well, now you know.

You could also go the canned soup option, but again, the sodium is very high, and frankly, why?

If you make this recipe you'll have enough soup for ten people, which means you can freeze whatever you don't eat and thaw it out when needed. And let me tell you, when you make this and try this, you'll never go back to canned again.

So here goes.

For the Stock
1 (2 - 5 pound chicken)
3.5 quarts water
1 onion roughly chopped
4 bay leaves
3 chicken bouillon cubes*
1.5 tsp oregano
1.5 tsp basil
3 tsp grated lemon
3 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*I prefer to use the Better Than Bouillon Low Sodium Chicken Base. It's as rich or more in flavor and has less sodium than the cubes. But if you can't find this, then use bouillon. Just don't use store-bought stock. It defeats the purpose of making your own.

For the Soup:
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery with leafy green tops
1 bag of uncooked wide egg noodles
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves (not dried)
.666 cup brandy**
3 tsp chopped rosemary leaves (fresh if possible)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream
Crusty French or Sourdough bread, for serving
**A non-alcoholic substitute would be .5 cup simple syrup and .5 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

For the stock: This is how I do it. I add all the stock ingredients to a large soup pot. I chop up the chicken into smaller pieces. I leave the skin on to add a deep robust flavor, but when I remove the chicken later, I throw away the skin. Cook until chicken is tender which turns out to be about 65 minutes. Boil, then simmer covered. Once tender, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Remove the bay leaves and onion and toss. Once the chicken is cool enough, shred chicken using two forks. Toss bones, skin and cartilage. Don't forget to save the wishbone for later

For the soup: Bring stock back to a boil, add carrots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for 6 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook according to directions on package (about 11 minutes). I prefer No Yolk Egg Noodles which are lower in cholesterol and sodium. When the noodles are almost done, add mushrooms, parsley, and rosemary. Add the brandy, ensuring that the cook gets a quick shot so he or she can make it through the rest of the cooking. I then add the chicken back in, then the Parmesan and cream. Cook for another 2 minutes on a rolling bowl to marry all the ingredients (uncovered), then turn off. 

Leave uncovered for ten minutes.

Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding salt and pepper. This is a lower sodium meal than comes in the can or at restaurants, so be careful to only add as much sodium as you need. Too much sodium is never good.

Enjoy along with a nice hot crusty loaf of French or sourdough bread.

An alternative to the rosemary would be sage. If you're just not a fan of rosemary or just want to try something new, you could add sage instead. I'd add an additional tsp because of the difference in flavor strengths. Lucky for us we love rosemary and have it growing wild in out front yard as you can see.

Something else to be said for high desert living.


Please enjoy and let me know how it turns out. And remember, you can always enjoy a bowl of soup with one my books, either in your hands, or listening to it from Audible.com. Food for the body, mind and soul.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eye Level with a Vulture - 10.5K Montezuma Pass

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Joe's Canyon Trail
Distance: 3.1 miles (5.285 KM)*
Montezuma Pass (with thumb)
Trailhead Elevation: 5,300 feet
Top Elevation: 6,864 feet
Time to summit: 1:41
Time to base: 1:11

Total Time: 2:52.10
Total Distance: 10.57 KM

Total Calories Burned 1108

My GPS watch is set to kilometers. This is actual distance from my watch and is probably where I took a wrong turn. (Device-Suunto Ambit 2S GPS Watch)

CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE THEM

I've been street level with a thug before, but never eye level with a vulture. When I began hiking up Joe's Canyon Trail this morning, that all changed. I'm not sure if it was tracking me and hopefully waiting for me to die, or if it was tracking something else, but it spent a good deal of time with me as I ascended 1500 feet on the thin winding trail up Smuggler's Ridge to Yaqui Ridge, then to Montezuma Pass. At times it was below me, coming within a few arm's lengths. I tried to snap a photo with my cell phone, but the phone isn't a camera but rather my social media communication device. If I'd only had my wife's Nikon.  Maybe next time.

I was eager to make the hike because I had brand new Altra Superior 1.5s. I felt a little achy this morning and had already made excuses not to go. But then my desire to get out of the house and embrace nature kicked in. And did I get nature. It was beautiful. From the views of Montezuma and San Rafael Valleys to the bubbling spring fed streams, to the rocks, to the wide sweeping expanses of desert that WASN'T Afghanistan, this was just what I needed.

 I had trouble finding the lower trail head. I knew it was supposed to be at a Ranger Station, so I drove all the way up to the pass looking for it. I saw the upper trail head. I could have taken that, but with just me and only one car that meant I would have had to run down and walk up, instead of walking up and running down. So once I got back down the mountain I saw a side road to a picnic area and asked a border patrol agent who was fitted out in tactical field gear.

He knew and I was on the trail within moments after that.

The first mile is steep but on a well-maintained path with enough switchbacks to help you rise 1000 feet in that first mile. About half a mile in I heard water and soon was greeted with a microclimate of evergreens and a bubbling brook with waterfalls. How awesome!

About a mile and a half in I saw the saddle for Smuggler's Ridge covered in golden wheat against a blue sky. Extraordinary. I took a wrong turn near the top. The trail splits and it's not marked. Had I continued on what must have been the Yaqui trail for a mile, I would have been in Mexico. But I backtracked and soon found myself at Montezuma Pass.

Wow. To think that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado brought conquistadors through this very spot in 1540 looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. That's some history for you.

I spent ten minutes on the top, adjusting my shoes and getting a lot of water. I'd brought a pack with a camelbak, but I saved that for on the move drinking and drank out of the other water bottle I packed. I was wearing brand new Altra Superior 1.5s. They're fairly minimal with zero drop and made for trails so I was eager to break them in. I was going to wear ankle socks, but these shoes eat them. I've had shoes like them before and they cause the sock to come off the heel. So I did it barefoot and cleaned out some sand that had gotten into the shoes. High on the heel of my left foot I had loose skin which was preparing to become a serious blister, so I made sure to tighten both shoes. The right foot was just fine. The shoes were terrific. Lots of stability. Although minimal, the stoneguard rock protection was just awesome. 

After ten minutes, I was back on the trail, this time running when I could. Some of the path was too rocky and I just didn't want to run. But where it was a dirt path I was hauling and cut thirty minutes off the descent.

This was a great hike. 

I'm definitely going to do it again.

And as a reward I grabbed two Adobada Tacos and ate them in the park.


Water and my new kicks!

Babbling Brook

Looking back as I ascend

Babbling Brook

San Rafael Valley

San Rafael Valley

Lichen on th erocks.

The Saddle on Smuggler's Ridge - Looks so far away

Looking down

From the saddle on Smuggler's Ridge

A rare flat point

For Mom

Looking back as I climb

Spring Water Cave

Reward Tacos!