The Writer in Black

The Writer in Black

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Rainbow Bridge

In another forum someone mentioned the loss of a beloved dog.  I've certainly lost my own over the years. (Dogs lives are too short--their only fault, really.)

And, so, to that end, there is this:

The Rainbow Bridge

inspired by a Norse legend

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.
© 1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky. All Rights Reserved.
In the same vein, there is the following:

Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.

It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at RainBow Bridge for a while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.

Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over the RainBow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below.

With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him.

"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. The way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"

As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.

From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.

The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"

"That was a rescuer," came the answer.

"That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."

"I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.

"So do the gods," was the reply.

--Author Unknown.

And, yes, these two just about always make me cry.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Treva's Children

New story up at Amazon. Treva's Children

Baroness Talisa leads the last few surviving members of her household through the mountains in the dead of winter, fleeing the changeling hordes that have destroyed the kingdom. In that world of white and gray she stumbles on an oasis of green, a garden, sacred to Treva, goddess of the wild things of the world. There, Talisa encounters the mysterious guardian of the place who possesses great and mysterious magical power and who claims Talisa's life as forfeit for trespassing in Treva's Garden.

A snippet:

The wind howled down off the mountain, blowing snow into Talisa’s eyes.  She pulled her ice-encrusted scarf higher over her face and held up a hand to block the tiny frozen daggers. On the slope below the few remaining people of her household struggled single file through the knee deep snow.

“Milady!” Embron, her huntsman, shouted over the roaring wind. “We need to find shelter and build a fire.”

“Fire will draw the Schahi,” Talisa said. “They will...”

“This storm will kill us all,” Embron said.

Talisa found herself smiling despite their plight. Embron had grown bold in the last few days. “There are many ways to die, Huntsman.  Some better than others.”

Embron shielded his eyes and stared through the snow back the way they had come, as if to conjure an image of their pursuers. “The storm will have covered our trail.  Perhaps...”

“We must be sure.”

“Let me go back and check, milady.  I will be sure.”

Talisa considered. “And if you are seen?”

Embron bowed. “Then I will lead them away.  But I will not be seen.”

Talisa smiled again. “No, I suppose you will not.  Very well.  We will take shelter in the next copse...and build a fire.  I rely upon you.”

Embron bowed again and then hastened down their back trail.  The pine boughs tied to his feet allowed him to walk over the snow.  She turned and trudged down the hill, wishing she could use Embron’s trick.  Every time she tried, she tripped over the branches and fell.

“Kailin!” she called when she neared the first of the group.


“Next stand of woods, Kailin,” Talisa extended her arm in the direction of their march. “We’ll take shelter there.  Hang on that far.”

“Yes, Milady.”

Talisa stood by and waited as each of her remaining people passed.  To each one she offered a few words of encouragement, telling them that soon they could rest.  When the last had passed, she turned and followed in their wake.


Blinking frost away from her eyelashes, Talisa dredged up the energy to break into a trot.  She caught up to Embron, her chest heaving with her labored breathing.

Embron pointed down the slope before them.  Talisa looked.  Her jaw dropped open.  She wiped her eyes and stared again.

White.  White, broken by an occasional bit of gray was the only color she had seen for days.  The greens and browns below her almost seemed to burn her eyes in their brilliance.  Trees in full leaf.  Grass, just coming into seed.  A brook that ran clear, not frozen.  A vision of spring, of summer.

“Sorcery, Milady.  It must be.”

“Sorcery,” Talisa agreed. “Or the Gods.  But to our salvation or our doom?” She looked back.  Even her eyes could now see the cluster of dots moving in the distance, the Schahi on their trail. “We have no choice.  Onward.”

Embron cast a fearful glance into the valley below.  He wiped his hand across his mouth, then looked back.  He picked up his pack and looked back again.

Talisa placed a hand on Embron’s shoulder. “If it scares you, if it scares me, how much more will it scare the Schahi?  Perhaps they won’t dare it.”

Embron just looked at her.

“No, I don’t believe it either.” Talisa shrugged. “But what choice have we?”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Feeding the Active Writer

Creamy Garlic Chicken

This is a simple little recipe that I've developed.  Easy and tasty.

6 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
optional 2 Tbsp olive oil.
2 Tbsp xanthum gum.
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup heavy cream

If desired, start by browning the chicken breasts in the olive oil.  If you do that, you may want to cut them into large chunks.

Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  As you're putting them in, dust them thoroughly with the xanthum gum.  Scatter the garlic overtop the chicken, then top with the onion.

Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the heavy cream.  The chicken will break apart from the stirring.  Depending on the effect you want, you can stir just enough to mix the cream leaving the chicken in larger chunks or stir thoroughly to make a more shredded chicken.

The only problem I find with this recipe is the tendency to eat too much at sitting because it's so good.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chains, a poem

I wrote this back in 2010, partly in response to the so-called "Affordable Care Act".

David L. Burkhead

©2010 David L. Burkhead, all rights reserved.

 Wear your chains lightly, about neck and legs and wrists.
They are not so heavy these chains, not now anyway.
But chains they remain.

Dress up your chains in fine designs and smith-wrought filigree
Paint them gold and call them gorgeous jewelry.
But chains they remain.

Exhort others to share your chains, every man and woman and child.
For how could they be chains, if shared all equally?
But chains they remain.

Raise your voice in anger, at those who deplore your chains.
Say they are not chains you’ve taken on willingly.
But chains they remain.

Take pride in your chains.  Stud them with rhinestones.  Polish them with care.
Rejoice in your chains, in raucous revelry.
But chains are not for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Feeding the Active Writer

I do a lot of different variations on meatloaf.  Previously, I did an "italian meatloaf" that was pretty good.  I've just developed a new recipe that falls under the "ridiculously easy" category.

My wife likes to have spaghetti and meat sauce from time to time.  I can't eat the spaghetti, of course, but she suggested I could have the sauce with something else.  So, reading labels in the Italian foods aisle I discovered a brand (local or national, I don't know) "Rao's" that was quite low in sugars and net carbs.

I was planning a meat loaf to portion out and take as my lunches to work the last time my wife asked me to do the spaghetti thing and I had a thought.  I bought a second jar of the spaghetti sauce to use in place of the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc., I previously used in my "Italian meatloaf."

So, Italian Meatloaf II (or, as I like to call it, "Spaghetti and Meat Loaf").


3 lb lean ground beef.
4 eggs
1 28 oz jar Rao's (or other low sugar/carb) pasta sauce
2 cups flax meal (optional, use whole flax seed for a somewhat different texture).
Optional, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and Romano cheeses.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  It really is easiest to just get in with your hands (gloves save a mess of washing up here).
Put the mixed ingredients into a 4-5 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.
If using the cheeses, spread them over the top while the meatloaf is still hot and let them melt.

Since I do this for lunches, I let it cool thoroughly before removing from the slow cooker.  It's easier to handle cool than still hot.  Divide into eight portions, place each portion in a freezer container and freeze.



Are you ready for a zombie apocalypse?  How about a zombie apocalypse in space?

If the idea intrigues you, you might like Plague Station:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Feeding the Active Writer

Some time in the past I had a recipe for Chicken Molé that I loved.  But the commercial molé sauce that it used has a lot of sugar in it.  I have done some searching and have found a recipe which I adapted to my own requirements.

4 lb chicken (boneless, skinless)
1 tbsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 cups chopped onion2 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp sugar equivalent sweetener (I use store brand Sucralose--the name brand is Splenda)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 4 oz cans diced green chilis

Place the chicken in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
Sprinkle with the xanthum gum.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour over the chicken.
Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Mix before serving.

The Chicken Molé as done above is just a bit spicy, about where I like it.  You can adjust the amounts of chili powder and cumin to suit your own preferences.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Amazing phone story

Last week I went on a trip for business (related to my 'day job").

Well, I got out of the car in "economy parking" at the airport, took my phone off the car charger, stuck it in the pocket on the computer bag (more on this later) and headed into the airport.

Get inside, check in and check one bag (small enough for a "carry on" but with toiletries and stuff that can't go through security). Open the computer bag pocket to get my phone for reading matter while waiting or the plane.  No phone.

Panicked, I went back to the car looking to see if I left it behind. Didn't find it. Person at the counter was able to have my checked bag sent back up and I checked that.. No phone. Well, I was out of time so rechecked the bag and off to the trip.

Fast forward to my return. Got my checked bag and returned to the car.  What should I find but phone, lying on the pavement in the parking lot next to my car. How did it get there, you ask? Well, remember I said I put it in a pocket on my computer bag? Behind that pocket there's a "sleeve" that goes straight through (stupid feature on that laptop bag--too lazy to sew up the bottom end and make an open-topped pocket.?) I think, instead of putting the phone in the pocket I accidentally put it in the sleeve. It slid down and hit the ground ending up underneath the car parked next to me (consistent with where I found it).

There was no visible damage to the phone--some scuffing in the corner which could have been from where it hit the pavement. It wouldn't start, of course, but that's no surprise considering it's been five days, lying on the ground in the weather. (I found out we had two significant rainstorms here while I was gone.

Went home. Put it on the charging cable, not really expecting anything but there was nothing to lose at that point, you know.

It. started. charging.

A few minutes later I turned it on and it worked fine.  I've been using it ever since.

Five days on the pavement in an airport parking lot. Rained on twice.  Had to have been run over at least once. And. it. still. works.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Their motto could be "built Samsung tough."