Archive for September, 2020


Charles the Buck

[Previous post about the deer here.]

As I said earlier, when Cyndy and I left our friend, Sally’s, home in Colorado to return home the last few times, a deer – a buck as it were – was laying in Sally’s front yard watching us pack and leave. We’d like to think he was saying good-bye in some way, but who the hell knows?

Turns out he’s been hanging out in the yard more lately. Sally said he’d been there most of the day today. We figured if he was going to hang out at her house, we might as well name him. We have a friend named Charles Buck. And the deer is a buck. Hence, Charles the Buck.

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark 

 

 

 

[Read part one.]

Immediately upon spotting the gun, Antonio felt the man’s left arm come around and clamp his chest under his chin, reclaiming his vise grip on Antonio’s right shoulder. Although he  had an urge to turn his head to see where the pistol was pointed, the preacher decided instantaneously that it would not be the wisest choice he could make. His heart was beating so fast that it seemed determined to fly out of his chest. At the same time his brain struggled between telling his eyes to close tightly to feel the barrel of the gun should it be pointed at his head, and telling them to remain open to eliminate the element of surprise.

Francis dropped the coffee pot, which shattered, sending hot coffee and shards of glass onto her shoes and legs. Her fear of the man holding Antonio and the gun offset the pain in her legs. That, and she was praying harder than she ever remembered praying. She wondered if it would matter to the gunman if he knew Antonio was a preacher.

The instant the coffee pot shattered, Fred Martinez, the owner of the truck stop who was still at the cash register, stepped on the floor alarm under the register that signaled the police. He always had unruly customers, but he had the alarm installed when a late night birthday party got  out of control. With the use of credit and debit cards, the truck stop never had enough cash that he thought someone would rob the place at gunpoint. Especially with all the glass and traffic.

“Pull down the shades, and turn the sign around!” the gunman demanded, pointing the gun at Francis – who fought hard against the fainting spell, which along with her fear, was turning her legs to jello.

Francis was not sure how her legs kept moving, but she moved toward the windows as quickly as she dared. As she reached up for the shade on the last window by the door, she spotted Steve Striden at the pump putting gas in his blue Ford F150. He looked around toward the restaurant. Francis tried to catch Steve’s eye as she pulled down the shade. She turned the open sign around in the window, glancing again toward the pump.

“Lock the door,” said the gunman, who had backed up against the wall dividing the restaurant from the store. “Now this one,” he said after she locked the front door, nodding to the door to his right.

The gunman still held Antonio in front of him. Antonio had said so many prayers they had turned into one long prayer. When the gunman had relocated – pulling Antonio with him – the preacher nearly lost his balance. He was sweating buckets and knew the gunman was, too.

Antonio was struggling to keep his bladder in check against the fear and coffee. But that did not keep him from noticing that the man with the gun and arm around his chest was getting nervous. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Which was when someone dropped something in the kitchen, Antonio felt the gunman twitch as he pointed the gun toward the kitchen, the gun fired, and Antonio’s ears rang.

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

[Read part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven]

My immediate concern following the robbery was to get another guitar – the sooner, the better. Fortunately, my parents’ homeowners insurance covered the loss, but not did not pay enough to replace my Martin.

I flew back to Dallas. The next day I was in McCord Music in Valley View Mall. They had sound-proof rooms in the back. I picked out about six guitars. Four were within the range of the insurance check, and two were in the “if I like one of these, maybe I can talk Dad into it” category.

I was apprehensive because I wanted a guitar then, but I wanted to get the right guitar. I don’t remember what kind the other guitars were. I picked up the first two, played them a bit, and put them back. Then I picked up the handmade bicentennial edition Alvarez. I loved the color because it matched my red hair. It had a clear pick guard which I loved. Then I began to play it. It sounded so sweet and when I sang it complimented my voice. It still does – and it really sounds good now with John Pearse strings. The only other set of strings the Alvarez has had on was whatever was on it when I bought it.

Obviously, I’ve never regretted my decision – or losing my Martin really.  I have three Alvarez guitars now. They’re all three great sounding guitars, although I still call that first Alvarez the “good” guitar. It’s the one I’ve got in the picture above. As you can hear when you listen to River That Flows that is out now from Southern Plains Revisited and other songs to come from that album, the Alvarez became an integral part of the Southern Plains sound.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.(

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

V-Picks

It’s been a while since I’ve written about V-Picks. I’ve been using them for a good number of years. As I told Vinni – owner of V-Picks – a few years back:

“Since I can’t buy any more guitars and stay happily married, I began to collect capos, ending up with a collection of nice capos. I’ve been saving picks for years, but the material they were made of didn’t vary too much – mostly promotional picks. I had always used John Pearse picks which had the point offset so it fit my style perfectly. But it was still the old plastic medium pick, like the Fender tortoise shell pick everyone else used for years.

I began to see picks of different materials. Which was convenient so when I went to guitar and music trade shows, I could pick up different picks and Cyndy wouldn’t mind. But none of them produced a different tone on my guitar that was worth switching for fulltime. Some of the pick materials were not comfortable enough when playing. It was just an interesting collection.”

Then I tried V-Picks. Vinni Smith had a booth at a guitar show. I haven’t played anything else since. I never knew how much picks can change the tone of my guitars. I use different picks for certain songs. The Nashville pick on the bottom right is like a regular medium to heavy pick. V-Picks are acrylic picks. The heat from your hand sticks them to your fingers, making them easier to hold onto and almost impossible to drop.

V-Slide by V-Picks

Vinni, his wife, Nancy, and crew also make acrylic slides, among other things. Check out their products at V-Picks.com. Try their picks – you won’t be disappointed.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

Taken Labor Day evening.

Okay, so snow is not necessarily a mountain thing, although it is prevalent for six months out of the year. But the temperature dropping from 90 to 30 degrees in a few hours with snow beginning to fall, on Labor Day, as it did last week, is most certainly a mountain thing.

As is the deer wandering around town as if they own the place, because, well, they were there first. So when they graze in the front yard or wander through the yard next door to reach the cul de sac as they have for years, you just watch. It’s a cool thing to watch anyway.

Bears have been wandering through for a couple of months now. They only tolerate the humans because they’re nice enough – and stupid enough in some cases – to provide their trash. As well as forgetting to close the garage door with a full refrigerator and freezer inside. Making a note of the bonus location, the bear hit that particular house three times. Apparently, he really enjoyed the freezer full of shrimp he got the first time.  

It’s a morning routine for Sally, Cyndy, and I in Colorado. Drinking our coftfee and watching the street, front and side yards for grazing or passing deer. We’re beginning to recognize some of them. It’s also fun to be driving around town and see deer in a yard, a roadside grassy area, or any grassy or shady area really.

The previous trip to Sally’s.

There is a particular deer that we know well. Each time Cyndy and I leave to head back home – like we did last Saturday – he’s laying in Sally’s front yard telling us good-bye. 

The same deer last Saturday.

 

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

Brother Antonio opened the chapel – a 52-foot semitrailer in the parking lot of the Traveler’s Treasure Truck Stop – at 6 a.m., as he did on most mornings. He liked to have himself and the chapel available for the truckers who were getting an early start and wanted to pray before heading out. As he walked up the stairs and unlocked the door in the wooden wall that replaced the metal doors of the trailer, Antonio recalled the pain of opening the original doors which would swing around and bang against the side of the trailer, knocking a few pictures off of the wall.

Leaving the door open, he flipped on the two window air conditioning units installed on the left wall. The units were a welcome benefit of the redesigned entrance. Taylor Perkins, a long hauler for a lumber company, donated a batch of leftover lumber to the chapel that the company did not want to pay him to haul back. Fred Mullins, the truck stop owner, paid his handyman, Jeff Purvis, to build the steps, the rear wall with the door, and add supports under the trailer.

Purvis, a deacon at the Community Christian Church, painted “The Church of the Necessarily Significant” on both sides of the trailer as a favor to Brother Antonio. He also was a handyman for the Restful Traveler Hotel across the road from the truck stop. The hotel had upgraded from window unit air conditioners in the past year and the owners were happy to donate two of the units to the chapel. Jeff Purvis attended Brother Antonio’s Thursday night Bible study.

The Mothers of Miracles group at the Community Christian Church sewed blue tarps together to cover the underside of the trailer. The women added crosses alternating with the words Jesus, Forgiveness, Redemption, Faith, and Love. Mavis Monahan, secretary of the group, was the evening shift manager/waitress at the diner in the truck stop.  The Mothers of Miracles met at the chapel on Tuesday evenings to crochet prayer shawls for the sick, the infirm, and babies when they were baptised.

Antonio walked out and closed the door behind him. He straightened the sign hung on a nail in the center of the top of the door. “I’m in the restaurant, 406-224-5893 (ask for Brother Antonio) or stop in.” When he was in the restaurant the waitresses would call him to the phone. It gave the drivers who wanted privacy the chance to pray alone in the chapel. We walked across the parking lot and  entered the truck stop through the main entrance – saying “hello” to Fred at the cash register – and turned left toward the restaurant.

“Good morning, Antonio.” Francis smiled brightly as she served his coffee – one sugar, one cream – while he settled into his usual corner booth.

“Good morning, Francis.”

“Do you want the usual on this beautiful morning?” She went ahead and wrote special on her order pad anyway. He had only been in town for four months, but the order had not changed.

“Yes, thank you. It is a good day that the Lord has made, isn’t it?”

“Better than yesterday.”

“Nature has a mind of her own, so to speak.”

Francis smiled, topped off Antonio’s coffee, and headed to the kitchen to turn in his order, stopping along the way to refill the coffee cups of other patrons. Antonio glanced around the restaurant, smiling at everyone who caught his eye, and nodding to the regulars. He pulled out his phone and checked the Church of the Necessarily Significant’s Facebook page. It was not a church, per se, although that was Antonio’s goal. The church had begun…

“Here you are, Antonio. Two eggs over easy, bacon, toast, and grits.” Francis slid the plate in front of him as he raised his hands to give her room. She filled his coffee, smiled, and walked to another customer.

Antonio bowed his head and said a quiet prayer. He added butter, salt, and pepper to the grits, stirred them, and tasted a spoonful. Then he cut a piece of an egg, broke off a piece of bacon, and put them on the corner of a piece of toast and took a bite. As he was preparing his second bite, Antonio felt the rush of air as the door to the restaurant opened behind him. He was chewing the second bite when he was suddenly jerked out of the booth and to his feet by a vise grip on his shoulder. The piece of toast went flying. Then he saw the gun.

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

[Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six]

The rent on our upstairs apartment was $35 a month. I guess, with the house being in the neighborhood it was in, the owner just appreciated people who paid rent on time, took care of the place, and didn’t attract a lot of attention. That would change a bit, but that’s another story.

When any one of the four of us got paid, we would go to Spats in the West End for happy hour. Then we would pick up food and beer and head home. Joel and I – and anyone who happened by to jam – would play late into the night. When it neared three a.m. we’d head back to the store for more beer. Then the next time someone got paid, we’d do it again. But, with the exception of Spats, that was the routine on really any given evening. We worked at Deli Junction during the day.

One day we were running errands or somesuch. Joel was driving and I was drinking coffee in a styrofoam cup. We hit a bump and I held my cup up and didn’t spill a drop.

“I’m pretty good at that,” I boasted proudly.

Before too long, Joel stomped on the brakes. Of course I spilled coffee on my last clean shirt. And those were laundromat days. I was really pissed and couldn’t understand why he would do that just to be a smart ass. It didn’t take long for us to get past it, but I’ll never forget it. (I’m still pissed.)

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Paypal.me/danroark

916 Acklen Ave., in Nashville

[Read Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five]

Joel and I worked at a sandwich shop in Nashville called Deli Junction. We worked days so we could play or practice at night. One afternoon while we were working, Joel got a phone call. The look on his face told me something was seriously wrong. We couldn’t both leave. He said someone had broken into the apartment. He said he would let me know what had happened.

What had happened was that someone had broken in and stolen every music and sound device in the apartment. My Martin D35 guitar, cassette recorder, stereo, tv, radio, and so forth. Joel’s room was a small room to the left of the kitchen. His Martin D35 was still there in its case.

As we sat there in the den in silence that night, we figured it must have been somebody who knew Joel, so he didn’t take his guitar. As we talked, I thought about the tv against the wall under a blanket or rug – I don’t remember which.

“They probably just figured it didn’t work, so they left it,” I said. “Let’s try it to see if it works.”

We uncovered it, turned it on, and sure as shit it worked. We laughed and everyone looked at me.

“I didn’t watch Perry Mason for nothing!”

It took a while, but we replaced the stereo, the cassette recorder and so on.

Stay tuned for what I did about my guitar being stolen.

_________________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

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