A Genuine Ozarks Story, Which Is No Doubt True

from Steve Wiegenstein, a Genuine Ozarks story that sounds like a Genuine Texas story.


In his 1867 book Beyond the Mississippi, Albert D. Richardson writes about traveling the Ozarks in the late 1850s. He writes that in Springfield:

I was told of eight North Carolinians bound for Arkansas, who stopped for a few hours on the public square, and were asked innumerable questions.

One communicative fellow replied that they were going to found a town; the pursuit of each person was already marked out, and there were no drones among them.

What was this man to do?

He was to open a store.

And that?

Start a blacksmith’s shop.

And the other, standing behind him?

Engage in sheep raising.

So they were nearly all classified, when a decrepid, white-haired octogenarian, venerable enough for old Time himself, was observed sitting in one of the wagons.

‘Why, who is that?’ asked the eager questioner.

‘That’s my grandfather.’

‘What is he going to do? He can’t be…

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Eye of Tot and Toe of Tad…

Two witches stand over a boiling cauldron, one stirring, the other sampling the brew from a spoon.

And the stirrer says to the sipper, “I only use local children.”

If Shakespeare had been a locavore, he might have written this. Or not.


Eye of tot, and toe of tad,

Lambkin’s hair, and lip of lad,

Nipper’s nose, and small fry’s ear,

Moppet’s tooth, and rug rat’s tear,

But for charms of most unrest,–

Teenyboppers serve up best.



Thanks to author  Kaye George, for posting on Facebook the cartoon that inspired the flight of fancy resulting in my (questionable) homage to William Shakespeare and Macbeth. The cartoon is on her FB page.

Jeff Stahler is the cartoonist. To see more of his work, click on his name.

One Trailer. No Horses. No Cows.



I’m happy happy happy when a reader buys a copy of Murder on Wheels, Austin Mystery Writers’ anthology of crime fiction.


ebook or paperback
ebook or paperback

I share the following link because V P Chandler, an AMW member, created a Murder on Wheels book trailer, and she did a beautiful job. I’d like it to have a wider audience.


Please check out the trailer. I hope you’re as impressed as I am.

AND I hope that, after watching the trailer, you’ll rummage around a bit on V P’s website. Treasure is hidden there.

Bastrop’s Historic Chickens: Are They REALLY Feral?

This post was written in 2015. Since then, alas, things have changed, chicken-wise. The Internet is replete with stories of the struggles faced by Bastrop’s chickens and their champions. At some point, I might get around to summarizing the situation on this blog, but not today. — KW, June 2020


Bastrop, Texas protects its chickens. Homeless chickens–and, I presume, chickens who have a place to hang their hats–are allowed to cross Farm Street with impunity, and to loiter in yards there.

In February 2015, the Bastrop City Council proclaimed Farm Street a Historic Chicken Sanctuary.

“a cock and a hen roosting together” by Andrei Niemimäki licensed under CC BY-SA-2.0

The proclamation covers only a limited area, however. Outside the protected space, chickens depend on the kindness of strangers.

One citizen, and perhaps more, disapprove of the proclamation and think the Council’s action should be reconsidered.

The resulting controversy has put Bastrop chickens on the national map.

The Wall Street Journal calls them “feral chickens,” but that’s such a negative term, and not accurate. All chickens are feral. They’re either inside the fence or out.

Feral hogs are feral. Chickens are just chickens.

In 2009, after a citizen filed a complaint against a chicken, a group of residents addressed the City Council about protecting chickens that congregate in streets and yards. Their request initiated the movement to protect the chickens.

But some residents still aren’t happy about the roving fowl. One says it’s a health issue because they leave waste on people’s property. The mayor said they leave poo on the sidewalks. He might have actually said poop, but I think it was poo.

On the other hand, some say the poo helps their yards and gardens.

When I was a small child, my parents raised chickens, so I know what’s possible/probable, and I don’t doubt either of the claims.

Other complainants–or maybe the same ones concerned about the poo–complain that roosters crow all night and wake their children.

With all those streetlights shining in their faces, it’s no wonder they crow all night. They can’t get a lick of sleep themselves.

I say nocturnal roosters need bedrooms. The city should build them some nice little houses–one for each rooster; don’t put them all in together–and shoo them inside every evening. Provide adequate ventilation, but don’t let in any light. Properly constructed rooster houses lower the chance of nocturnal crowing. Don’t forget to let them out in the morning.

Residents outside the protected area would have to build their own houses, but that’s a small price to keep children sleeping. As my mother used to say, “Never wake a sleeping baby.” By baby, she meant anyone under the age of, say, six. Or ten.

I should mention that shooing roosters, especially those categorized as feral, requires several shooers, heavy gloves, and possibly a net. No matter the temptation, rooster-catchers, even those outside the Sanctuary, must be careful not to harm the roosters. Harm a rooster and it will harm you back. Big time.

I’ll also mention that children who wander into a rooster’s territory could be at risk. Geese will snap and bite, toothlessly, but roosters spur, and the result is not pretty.

[Correction: Geese have teeth, and so do ducks, and they use them for biting. For more information, see Kaye George’s comment, below. Kaye has scars from an encounter with a duck.]

By the way, if “all night” means 5:00 a.m., get over it. That’s daytime. Roosters can’t be held responsible for following the dictates of their circadian rhythms.

Disclaimer: In the interest of fairness, I must say that all roosters are not created equal. For example, my fourth-grade friend, Sarita Morgan, had a citified pet rooster living peaceably in the back yard. He was huge. One day when I was visiting, she let the rooster hop onto her forearm and carried it into the living room to introduce him to her mother’s bridge ladies, of whom my mother was one. Mrs. Morgan said, in a voice filled with emotion, “Sarita, get that rooster out of here before he spurs somebody.” My mother thought the episode cute. That’s because Sarita did it. If I’d brought a monster bird to bridge club, it wouldn’t have gone over nearly so well.

Sarita and I took the rooster back outside. He behaved like a gentleman throughout and would probably have liked to stay and kibbitz a while. He’d never seen women playing bridge.

But that was a Del Rio rooster. One Bastrop rooster, Mr. McGillicuddy, who lived outside the Sanctuary, proved such a problem that neighbors formed a posse. They threw a net over Mr. McGillicuddy, drove him out to a rural area, and let him go.

Relocation seems a little extreme. I hope Mr. McGillicuddy wandered into the yard of a chickenphile who appreciates his eccentricities.

People on Farm Street, most of them anyway, like the chickens and defend their right to live there and do what they want. They say chickens are a historic part of the town, which, let’s face it, was rural until the recent mass migration to Texas from Everywhere Else.

One Bastropite said, “I don’t know anyone who lives here that considers them a problem. When I heard about the historical status and protection, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s great.'”

Another said, “The chickens roost right here in this tree next to my house. I welcome them.”

Chickens roosting in trees add ambiance.

City Council member Kay McAnally, who has “coordinated the efforts with residents to protect the chickens,” said, “Our tradition of wild chickens on Farm Street is a quaint and charming facet of Bastrop culture and part of what makes Bastrop the unique community it is.”

So there you have it. As a pseudo-journalist, I shouldn’t take sides. But I’ve woven so much opinion into this article that It’s not news–it’s op-ed.

So it’s okay for me to say I’m for the chickens.

They’re not all destructive. It’s true they can wreak havoc on a lawn, but my parents allowed my pet chicken the run of the back yard, and the grass remained lush and green.

My pet’s name was Dickie. My mother liked her more than I did, really. They visited through the screen door every morning while Mother worked in the kitchen, and when Dickie left poo on the porch, which was all the time, Mother just hosed it off.

Dickie gained a measure of notoriety in the neighborhood when she tried to hatch a cardboard box of charcoal briquettes she found on a table in the garage. When she refused to stop setting, Mother bought a half-dozen chicks from the hatchery in Luling, but, when she took them to Dickie’s makeshift nest, the hen squawked and flapped and said she wasn’t going to settle for a bunch of store-bought chicks. It was the briquettes or nothing.

That’s how we ended up with six baby chicks living in the kitchen closet beside the water heater. My father finally threw out the briquettes so Dickie wouldn’t set herself to death.

Just one of the little domestic dramas punctuating the timeline of my life.

But back to the Bastrop chickens. The national media may forget about them, but the story of the city’s Historic Chicken Sanctuary isn’t over till it’s over.

The City Council has agreed to put up Slow Chicken Crossing banners on one section of Farm Street. Chickens aren’t always slow in body, but when making decisions they tend to vacillate.

In April the mayor asked the Council Member/Chicken Coordinator to handle discussions between complainant and chicken supporters.

I think involving the Chicken Coordinator is wise. On the other hand, some people might think the mayor is being chicken.


In writing this story, I relied heavily on the interview with Bastrop’s mayor I heard on NPR this morning, and I used an article about the chickens carried by the online Statesman to check facts and add detail not aired in the radio interview. Any errors are either mine, NPR’s, or The Bastrop Advertiser’s. Anything that looks like plagiarism isn’t, and if it’s pointed out, I’ll change it. I’m sensitive about plagiarism.

I made up Slow Chicken Crossing myself. I don’t know what the real banners will say.


The articles listed below are suggested by an online app (extension? I don’t know about those things). It’s supposed to read what I write and bring up related material. Today’s results surprise me, because there’s nothing about chickens. There’s something about the Pope, about Volkswagen, about Scott Walker, and about the Apple Car.

There’s also something headed “Donald Trump: Enough With Nice!'” Now I’m wondering how Donald Trump and nice made it into the same sentence. It looks like he said nice, and that prospect makes me wonder who in his milieu is allegedly being nice. Donald himself is behaving like a boy bimbo. That’s not nice.

(I don’t know what the boy bimbo referenced. They times, they keep a-changin’. — June 2020)




Ella Minnow Pea Redux or, My keys won’ work

Computer keyboard, view from down
Computer keyboard, view from down (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By Orange.man (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Computer problems. They happen. They happened to me last week. Bad ones, very bad.

I acted with my usual grace under pressure, but I don’t want to talk about them.

I will, however, repost a story I first shared in 2010, about the first time my keyboard malfunctioned. I was preparing a post when it went wonky, proving a major inconvenience more to my readers than to me, because I put it online anyway.

To assist today’s readers, I’ll start with an introduction:

While I was writing, laptop keys stopped working–one at a time, in no particular order. No matter how hard or in which direction I tapped, they didn’t depress, and nothing appeared on the screen. After muttering for a few minutes, I decided to keep a-goin’. The next I called technical service, was told I could replace the keyboard myself, visited to Radio Shack for tools, used them and nearly stripped a screw, called tech service,received a visit from a tech, got a quick fix and an offer to do whatever else the laptop needed while he was there. He installed several Gbs of memory I hadn’t known what to do with.

An easily replaceable keyboard isn’t usually much to worry about, but in my keyboard’s case, there were extenuating circumstances, and I didn’t look forward to anyone poking around underneath. The tech might think what was under there caused the malfunction. He might give me a look of reproof, even a mild reprimand.

William Davis & Bookworm
William Davis & Bookworm

I would have to stand there and take it, blushing all the while. Love of truth would prevent me from saying my husband did it.

To learn why I’d have blushed, you’ll have to read to the end.

Here’s a bit of help: A single e might mean tech. But it might not. An a might mean a or something else.

More help: It wasn’t cat hair.


Wa do you do wen your keyboard malfunions?

Wen my spae bar sopped working, I aed online wi Dell e suppor.  e e old me I would reeie a new keyboard in e mail. I was supposed o insall i.

“Me?” I said. “Insall a keyboard?”

e e said i would be a snap. If I needed elp, e would walk me roug i.

I go e keyboard and looked up e insruions, wi said I ad o unsrew e bak. I jus knew I would be eleroued.

Bu I boug a se of srewdriers a RadioSak and flipped e lapop oer, remoed e baery, and aaked e srews.

e srews wouldn’ budge. I exanged a srewdrier for anoer srewdrier. I used all six. None of em worked.

I wen online again o a wi Dell. e e lisened, en old me o ry again.

I oug abou e definiion aribued o Einsein: Insaniy is doing e same ing oer and oer and expeing a differen resul.

“I wouldn’ urn,” I old e e.

He said e would send a e ou o e ouse o insall e keyboard for me. (I’m no dummy. Wen I boug e lapop, I boug a e o go wi i.)

Anyway, e nex day a e ame. He go ou is se of 3500 srewdriers, remoed e srews, ook off e old keyboard, and insalled e new one. He said I didn’ ave e rig size srewdrier. en e asked wa else I needed.

“I know you don’ ae an order for is, bu ould you wa me insall is exra memory a Dell e said I’m ompenen o insall myself?” He said e’d o i for me. I oug a was ery swee.

Anyway, i’s appened again, exep is ime i’s more an e spaebar. I’s e , , , and  keys.

I’e used anned air. So far all i’s done is make ings worse. Wen I began, only e  key was ou.

How an I wrie wiou a keyboard?

So tomorrow I’ll chat with my Dell tech and–

Well, mercy me. I took a half-hour break and now all the keys are working again. I wonder what that was all about.

Nevertheless, I shall report the anomaly. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t want this to happen a third time when I’m preparing a manuscript for submission. If the keyboard should be replaced, I want it replaced now.

But still–I’m torn. If I do need a new keyboard, I want a tech to make a house call. I don’t have the proper screwdriver, I don’t know the size screwdriver to buy, and I don’t want to tamper with something that is still under warranty.

On the other hand, I have to consider the worst-case scenario: He takes out his screwdriver, loosens the screws, turns the laptop over, removes the keyboard, and sees lurking there beneath the metal and plastic plate the reason for my current technical distress: rumbs.

e same, e earae, e disgrae a being found guily of su a soleism. e prospe is oo illing o spell ou.

Bu for the sake of ar, I sall submi myself o e proud man’s onumely. omorrow I sall a wi Dell.

Eccentric Director’s Films Like a “Living Comic Strip”

Fantastic Fest: Epilogue

David is taking this in stride, but I am simply agog.

As a result of his participation in Fantastic Fest, David has been profiled the September 30th iDigital Times.

fantastic fest day 2 007

According to writer Andrew Whalen, “perhaps the strangest shorts in this very strange collection [Shorts With Legs] were those of David Davis.”

The article includes two of the shorts–“Alike and Different” and “Reverse Effects”–as well as a link to his Vimeo page.

Warning: The links to Vimeo in the article worked the first time I tried them

but failed a few minutes later. So I’ve added a direct link here.

Rummage around on his Vimeo page and see “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was screened in 2012 at Cosmic-Con and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, and at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont. Ernest the Cat makes an unscripted but serendipitous appearance.

Note: It’s best to use one of the links to access David’s films on Vimeo. I looked for them by googling his name and found several David Davis pages there–and some of the films surprised me. Nothing terrible (I guess; I didn’t exactly watch any of them), but I want to make clear that those surprise collections are not part of the genuine David Davis’ repertoire. The eccentric David Davis.

Another note: David’s short films are short–only two or three minutes. Don’t blink.