Thursday, September 28, 2023

Back From the Dead, Sort Of...

Wow, according to the date of my last post it has been over seven years since last I graced this blog with my dulcimer words. Quite a lot has occurred in that time, and I'm skeptical if anyone even still reads blogs, including me. I can't remember the last time I sat down and read an actual blog post. 

Which is a shame. I fear I've missed a lot of good writing.

But times change, people change, reading habits change — or die altogether — and life moves on.

Sometimes, however, you want a little tickle of the past. Or you want to re-connect with old readers (however many there may still be) and let them know where they can find you these days.

Which is why I'm here. 

If I'm honest, I'm not sure how often — if at all — I'll post here (maybe every now and then if I want to feel nostalgic and write something I know no one will see...) but just in case there were a few diehard holdouts who still have the old mallard on their blog roll, I did want to let you know that I have started writing for pleasure (and possibly future very small profit) over at

I also have an Instagram account at dispatchesfromnowhere that I've had for a while now, and there's some pretty decent stuff on there, if I may brag a little. But I've been missing longer-form writing and so I am slowly trying to transition all my writing to Substack, which is better suited to that sort of wordsmithing.

My account/newsletter is free, so if you'd care to sign up I'd love to have you. Eventually, as I get back into the rhythm of writing for my own dime I may try out the subscription model, but for now I'm simply using it as a platform for my words, much like the steadfast old Mallard of Discontent did so well for so many years.

And if I'm writing to an empty audience and all I hear is the sound of my own voice echoing back to me, well, that's OK, too. 

I always did love lonely places...

Monday, May 16, 2016


Yes, it really has been three months since last I blogged. I have, however, been working (sporadically, and with much gnashing of teeth and muttering of obscenities) on figuring out how I want to continue with the blog, if at all.

The good news, for the three or four who still occasionally check in here, is that I'm not killing the blog. The bad news is, I am moving it to Wordpress, possibly changing the name, and tweaking it a bit, into more of an author website/blog, although in the beginning (at least until I figure out how to navigate and use Wordpress) it'll probably still look pretty much like your standard blog rather than an actual website.

Why am I doing it? Well, for one I thought the blog was - if I'm honest - looking a bit stale and dated. In addition, the Blogger template, while stable and easy to use, has very little flexibility to change or modify the look or function of the blog. It's very limiting. Three, since writing and editing are how I sporadically pay the bills, I wanted a blog that would also serve as a decent-looking author website, or at least have the flexibility to incorporate those elements as I grow more comfortable with Wordpress.

I'll admit, it's somewhat bittersweet thing for me, as I've met many interesting people thanks to this obscure little blog, and a few that have turned into good friends. But after seven years and 515-odd posts, I just thought it was time to try something a little different, on the surface if not in essence.     

My plan once I get the site up and running is to slowly start transferring some selected old content from here over to Wordpress. Once that's finished, I'll probably do one last blog post here to redirect users to the new site, and then leave it as a static site.

I'm not quite ready for that, yet, but I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Blog Changes...

 I feel a bit like one of those interplanetary probes that, after having long since been given up for lost, sends out a short blip to let mission control know I'm still kicking...
I wouldn't blame anyone if they assumed the blog was dead and gone, but I promise it's not.
It has, however, been a strange, busy, and topsy-turvy year for me, and I just haven't had the time, or - if I'm honest - the inclination to keep the blog up like I used to. Combine that with the fact that I've been messing around with all that other stuff (See above. Facebook, etc.) and the blog has, sadly, been left to suffer alone and forlorn (some of you have been keeping up with me on FB, and for that I thank you).
However, I'm currently in the process of transitioning back into full-time freelancing (yep, I've been a corporate drone for the past year) and so the blog will be getting some much-needed attention, maybe even a mild redesign both in terms of looks and purpose.
Stay may be a bit uneven for a while as I get back into the swing of it and figure out just how and what, exactly, I want the blog to be (or even where I want it to be, in terms of platform/hosting) but we'll see where it goes. I can, however, tell you this much: even in its current sorry state, this blog is infinitely more enjoyable to me than trying to figure out how the hell Twitter or Instagram can help my career...  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Guilty Admission...

 I haven't updated the blog in the past month or so, not because I've been busy with life, or working on some forthcoming opus, or even because I've been too lazy to write anything. Nope, I haven't been updating the blog because, well, I've been messing around with Facebook. Yep, Facebook. Social media for old folks, my kid calls it. It's fairly embarrassing to admit, considering that I've long disdained the social media world, but several months ago, on a whim, I decided that I would deliberately start posting on Facebook, to see how I felt about the medium, to see how self-expression on Facebook compares to the relatively lonely process of self-expressing on a blog. Would I like it? Would I hate it? Would it give me an impetus to explore other forms of social media as writing platforms, or would I run screaming back to the relative peace and quiet of my own little world here?

I approached it as an experiment, sort of a baby step evolution (for me, anyway) into the world of social media, which, for better or worse, is what so many writers seem to be embracing these days.
So I held my nose, swallowed my pride, and started posting, and even sending friend requests to other people (something I'd never, ever done since my wife first convinced me to get a FB account years ago). 

The result? A resounding "meh"...

It's OK, I guess. It's a useful news feed, and a good way to meet fellow writers and other interesting, like-minded folk, and I've read some good posts and had some good and stimulating conversations. I see its worth to a writer, to be visible on Facebook and other social media, but it's certainly not going to replace the solitary joy of sitting down and writing something strictly for yourself, with no expectations of likes or shares or comments. And that's what I've found posting on FB; that I tend to write things not so much for myself, but for attention, with an eye toward others' reaction and comment, rather than writing something simply because I want to. It is, I must admit, something of an exercise in narcissism and self-absorption, thinly disguised as witty self-expression.  

So will I stick with it? Eh, probably. It's still kind of fun, even with the knowledge that it is - at its core - mostly superficial, all flailing arms and indignant shouting (Look at me, damn it! See how smart and funny I am!), and I may even start exploring some of that mysterious "other" (Twitter, maybe?) but I also won't be shutting down the blog any time soon. I like the way the crickets chirp in the quiet, and the way you can hear the echoes of your own words. Facebook's not a place for that.

And if you happen to be on Facebook, feel free to friend me. Why not? I don't actually know three-quarters of the people I'm friends with, anyway, so what the hell? Just send a message letting me know you're from the blog, so I don't mistake you for one of those random scam-vibe friend requests I seem to get a lot of. Who knew there were so many beautiful, sexy, scantily-clad young women interested in becoming my friend?    

Friday, September 4, 2015

Breaking the Silence

No, not the silence on this blog, but a different kind of silence. The silence you hear as you're sitting alone in the middle of the prairie on an early fall afternoon, measuring your insignificance against the passage of time and the whisper of the grass around you. That silence you don't want to break because it's telling you something. You're not sure what, you can't exactly put your finger on it, but whatever it is, it's important, fundamental, crucial. So you go on listening, even as a few dove start to fly overhead. That's what you're out here for, after all, but here you sit with a forgotten shotgun in your hand, lost in a language you can't speak but vaguely understand, and what it's saying is beautiful and ancient and right. So you let the dove land unscathed at the water's edge. You watch, you listen, and you find something of yourself in the silence.

The day before, you hunted this same windmill with your son (which, incidentally, is when this photo was taken). You didn't shoot near a limit then, and you're probably not going to shoot a limit now (especially if you keep contemplating your naval) so why, you ask yourself, end this beautiful silence and the story it's etching within you, so soon, and for so little in return? There's plenty of time before sunset.

A few more dove come in, scratch around the croton and ragweed, then pigeon-toe down to the water's edge, where they join a lone spotted sandpiper tail-bobbing its way around the cracked mud. You sit there for longer than you should, listening to the grass, to your thoughts, to the distant shots of other, more pragmatic and eager hunters.
It's a helluva thing, hunting the mid-life crisis, especially since you were once such an enthusiastic and dedicated killer. Some try to keep that passion going by pursuing bigger, fiercer, more exotic things by which to take the measure of themselves, but you're happy with the wind and the silence, and accepting of your slowly waning need to kill toward some arbitrary goal.

But you also love to eat dove, and the silence (as well as the shots of other hunters) is now telling you that you'd better get your ass to shooting some birds if you want something for the grill. So you pick up the shotgun and break the silence. You always break the silence, eventually. You must, because it's what you are. You may no longer kill toward arbitrary goals, but a good meal is a pretty damn clearly defined one.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Hibernation

                                          Brown Trout, Rocky Mountain National Park

I've been on a bit of a summer hiatus the past two months, waiting out the heat that descends on the southern plains this time of year, the kind of heat that kills the desire to do anything outside and makes me think of permanent relocation to a place of cool waters and gorgeous fish. I haven't even been on the computer much, besides the normal work-related stuff. Haven't written anything, haven't read or commented on any of my regular blogs, haven't, in fact, done much of anything productive. Late-summer triple-digit temps just completely shut down my want-to gene. Want to write? Nope. Want to fish? Nope. Want to run the dogs? Nope. Want to cut firewood, mow the yard, work in the garden? Nope, nope, and nope. I loathe being indoors, but late summer in Oklahoma gives me the unwanted opportunity to feel like a fat, air-conditioned sausage.

But August is slowly creaking past the tipping point, and fall is coming. I can feel it, even in the heat. Can't get here soon enough. I'm ready for birds and ducks and dogs and shotguns. I'm ready for dead leaves rustling in the moonlight. I'm ready for that primeval stirring of restlessness and contemplation. I'm ready to once again stay up late in October reading Bradbury and sipping Scotch while the cold wind blows against the window. I'm ready for the twilight whispering and dark magic of old and forgotten gods who still have a faint,vestigial tug welling up from the lost DNA of deep past. Autumn is an ancient tide that carries us back to a place and time and memory we long ago abandoned. August is the beach on which we sit while waiting for it to carry us out to sea once again.

So here I sit, waiting, twiddling my thumbs, getting a sunburn and bitching about the heat. Hurry up, damn it.     

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Time Travel Tuesday

               Rockin' the short shorts and mullet, and almost certainly delinquent, somewhere in 1986

Because Throwback Thursday is just too routine...

An excerpt from a tongue-in-cheek, semi-autobiographical project I sometimes work on when the fancy strikes me. A little first-person memoir, a little travelogue, a little non-fiction socio-cultural observational reportage about a piscatorial subject near to my heart. Who knows, maybe someday I'll hammer it into a book proposal.

On the morning of April 21, 1986, a phone call was placed to the junior high school attendance office in Cretinous*, Oklahoma, a sleepy, forgettable little hamlet in which junked cars slowly rusting on cinder blocks were a much-admired measure of wealth; the kind of place where drinking beer from your front porch sofa while picking ticks off the dog and commenting on the olfactory and aural qualities of each others farts was the preferred means of entertainment on those evenings when professional wrestling wasn’t on the television.

But in addition to doing its part to produce America’s future Honey Boo Boo demographic, Cretinous, Oklahoma was also surrounded by innumerable ponds and small lakes teeming with a gluttonous, ill-tempered brute of a fish that, much like the anglers who pursued it, would eat absolutely anything it could fit into its maw. Said fish was the reason for the phone call to Cretinous Junior High that long-ago morning.

“Yes, hello, this is Chad Love’s father. I was just calling to let you know that Chad won’t be in school today. We’re attending his aunt’s funeral. Poor woman, she died in a tragic sheep-dipping accident. Chad’s quite distraught over it, she was his favorite aunt.”

A pause. Something being said on the other end of the line. “No, no, his grandmother was last week, God rest her soul, she never should have been allowed on the tractor. This week is his aunt. Yes, it has been a rough couple of weeks for all of us.  Yes, yes, thank you for the kind words, and Chad should be back to school tomorrow. Goodbye.”

My "father", who was two years my senior, and who had a preternaturally deep voice for a seventeen-year-old, hung up, turned to me and said, “OK, they bought it. Grab the rods and let’s get the hell outta here.”

Thus was the American educational system denied yet another day – in a long, long list of days - in the life of a lost and obsessed soul. I didn’t know it at the time, but that same basic pattern of subterfuge and avoidance of responsibility would be repeated endlessly throughout an adolescence and young adulthood spent almost entirely in the pursuit of scrounging gas money for whatever smoking wreck one of us happened to be driving at the time. We needed just enough to get us to the nearest body of water, and possibly back.

And while my lack of ambition, foresight, or concern for my future would, later in life, doom me to an existence of poverty and unrealized potential, I, of course, had no way of knowing that at the time, because I was young, stupid, and having too much fun. There were certainly worse ways to grow up.

*not its real name, but probably should be...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Yearly Rejection, 2015 Edition

                                                 I am not here. Nor will I be this fall...

Thank you for applying for the Controlled Hunts. Unfortunately, you have not been selected for a permit this year. If you feel you have reached this message in error, please return to the 'Search Page' and reenter your information.

NOTE: Information used on the 'Search Page' must match the data on the Controlled Hunts Application.

See you next year!

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation 

Well, shit. No Wichita Mountains wapiti for me this year. I was really hoping for some cheap elk meat. Or even expensive elk meat. Any elk meat, really. If I were a twit, I guess this is where I'd tack on some appropriate hashtag, like #oneunluckysumbitch, or maybe  #screwthisimmovingtomontana.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


I'm not much into Facebook/Instagram/Twitter memes, but I kinda liked this one. Happy 4th of July, fellow 'Mericans...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Carptastic Glass

Still digging the Cabela's CGR, and still digging glass in general, perhaps because the first fly rod I ever picked up and caught (totally accidentally) a fish on, was the very glass-like original Fenwick HMG graphite six-weight that is still my all-time favorite rod.

I know it's crass, poser flyfishing hipsterism to proclaim love for both fiberglass and carp in the same paragraph, but besides the obvious fact that I'm a large, fleshy, unrepentant Oklahoma Bubba (which automatically disqualifies me from hipster flyfishing membership, anyway) I'm also just about the most bumbling, clueless, incompetent, untrendy, uncool wannabe fly angler you'll ever meet (I don't own a single piece of Simms gear or Howler Brothers clothing, seriously).

Oh, I try. I really do. I read the Drake, but I don't understand half the shit those bearded hippie weirdos are talking about, not really. And whenever I find myself in trendy, photogenic mountain towns on summer vacation, I seek out fly shops in which to skulk (I prefer the term "hang out"), hoping to pick up on the mannerisms, the patois, and the style of the modish, surfer-like flyfishing bros who all look just like the lead singer of some hairy indie folk group. I try to watch a few of the approximately 1.5 million earnest, slo-mo-infused flyfishing lifestyle films on Vimeo, but frankly, many of them bore the shit out of me because they're so derivative. And because I'm jealous.

So I'm really not trying to be "that way." Nope, I do have good, honest redneck excuses for both the glass and the carp love. I like the glass not because I'm trying to be pretentious, but because  I - a totally self-"taught" flycaster - suck so badly at casting that the forgiving nature of the glass tends to mask my casting atrocities. And it's cheap. At least the CGR is. I got mine for about $75 on sale. The 7/8 weight CGR  is on sale right now for $65, and I'm having a really hard time not buying one.

As for the carp, I live on the southern plains. I don't fish for carp because it's fashionable to fish for carp. I fish for carp because they're just about the only damn fish available to me, especially on our local rivers and ponds in the dead of summer. And because carp are awesome, of course. I'd still fish for them even if I didn't have to. Carp are, to me, a lot like Sriracha sauce: Yes, they both may be insufferably trendy, but just because they're trendy doesn't mean they're not still great. 

* All pejorative references to the Drake are purely tongue-in-cheek. It's a pretty cool rag, and one of the few mags to which I still subscribe, even though I'm way too damn old to get much of it.