The lawn mowing blues

When I was a kid, our family was the last in the neighborhood to buy a power mower. In those days, people argued which was better, the rotary type which you had to push or the self-propelled reel-type which–if set wrong–dragged senior citizens through their yards like a runaway horse. We got a rotary and liked it because it chopped up the pinecones in the yard rather than getting them stuck in the blades.

When we were in high school, a friend with a yard equipment company lent us a John Deere and a trailer to haul it around. We mowed a lot of yards that summer and paid a cut of the action to the lawnmower shop’s owner. Friends who’d laughed at us during our push mower days were envious and we laughed ourselves to the bank.

On a rural road, one waves at everyone who drives by.

Now, our property is large enough for several houses and so we have several riding mowers. When they’re working at the same time, we get our grass cut often enough to keep the place from looking abandoned.

When a mower is down, we have trouble keeping up. Our property eats lawn powers. It was a farm until recently and all the cuts of ploughs and harrows, while nothing to a tractor and a bush hog, are a menace to a riding mower. Our mowers ride like bucking horses. That’s hard on them and hard on us.

The aches and pains of old age, arthritis, and otherwise, don’t like riding a bucking horse or mower. So, for several days after cutting the grass, I can hardly move. Or sleep. Or reach down to the floor to tie my shoes or pat the kitties.  Then, of course, rain comes, the grass grows, and it’s time to back the mower out of the garage and start the process all over again.

Amy Winehouse once said, “Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen.” So, I have to say that this property loves the blues when it’s time to make it look like people actually live here.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the conjure woman vs. the KKK novel “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

does anyone have Mother Nature’s cell phone number?

The trouble began when I called Mother Nature “Baby Cakes.”

Baby Cakes knows that I do my grocery shopping on Mondays to get it out of the way so I can spend the rest of the week drinking Scotch. Yet look at today’s RADAR. It looks pretty much like last Monday’s RADAR. And the Monday before that. Coincidence? I think not.

I’ve tried multiple times to arrange peace talks. Mother Nature simply laughs even though I’ve told her the Geneva Convention applies to our “situation.”

I want dry groceries and a car that doesn’t smell like wet Brussels sprouts. Last week there was so much water in the car that my veggies got saturated with the contents of a sack of Miracle-Gro and were ten times their normal size by the time I got home. Basically, I had a cord of salad materials, including carrots the size of lodgepole pines.

I live in a respectable neighborhood in which people don’t tolerate things that are weird like oversized veggies. So, Baby Cakes and I really need to hold serious peace talks. I’ve suggested the stadium at Berry College, but she wants a larger venue. Okay, well the Atlanta Braves have a farm team here in Rome, Ga, but she (you know who I mean) wants more.

My response was “To hell with that.”

Her response to my saying “To hell with that” was “When the floods come, I’ll remind people you weren’t willing to find a compromise.”

Look, I’m just too wet and too pissed off to find a compromise, plus I’m still trying to dry out the bread in the oven. So far, everything looks like toast.

I love nature. But sometimes nature gets a little full of itself.


Hey, Montana, send us some of your cooler weather but not your snow

In the morning before the heat of the day wakes up, I do out to water the small trees. This morning, I happened to notice the cows were bathing in fog. The sun was hardly awake and the day wasn’t hot yet, so I’m sure the fog was a nice respite for soon the temperature would climb to 98˚ or 99˚ and again, and again there was no rain on the horizon or the radar.

Meanwhile, Montana has colder weather than it needs for early October, so I’m proposing whoever’s in charge out there should FedEx some of that weather 1,761 miles east-southeast to Rome, Georgia. Giant boxes filled with snow will not be accepted. In return, when y’all (or you guys or whatever you say you there) are in the middle of a blizzard and need some relief, whoever’s in charge in Georgia will send out some pleasant breezes on a course heading of 313.5 degrees to help you make it through the night.

At my age, I’m not allowed (by law) to use one of our riding mowers when the temperature is 98˚. Yet. in spite of the heatwave and the drought, the grass keeps on growing. Like good corn, it’s knee-high by the 4th of July and (apparently) the 4th day of every month thereafter. So, Montana people, we need some of that cooler weather so we can cut the grass and find the house.

Thank you for your support.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of a collection of gentle ghost stories called “Widely Scattered Ghosts.” It doesn’t cost too much on Kindle, though you can also get the book in hardcover or paperback. Personally, he doesn’t advise reading the book on October 31, but it’s reasonably safe the rest of the year.

Rain, Wimbledon, and other sorrows.

When I was a kid, I hated rainy Friday nights because they usually ended up lasting throughout the weekend and then ending just in time for school Monday morning.

Sure, the yard needs to be mowed, but the rain is more than welcome. The smaller trees have had a bad summer. And, there’s something about rain that shields us from the world’s slings and arrows. That is, it’s cozy staying in the house when the rain has taken over the fields on all sides. The horse and bull across the road are seemingly oblivious to the rain and the cattle I can see out past the back yard don’t seem to notice it either.

While rain usually improves my mood, I’m still not ready to talk about the Williams/Halep Wimbledon final. Serena’s game was lackluster, especially her serve, and Halep had enough speed to return a lot of shots that many other opponents could never have gotten to. But, I’ll admit that Halep played a fine game.

Coming Soon

My publisher and I are still getting rid of the formatting errors that occurred when the PDF manuscript for Special Investigative Reporter was converted into a DOCX file. This is delaying the release date. Meanwhile, I’m happy to see that Conjure Woman’s Cat and Lena are getting a lot of positive reviews on Audible.  Oddly enough, there are more reviews of Audible than Amazon.

I do plan to return to the Florida Panhandle world of my Florida Folk Magic Series once Special Investigative Reporter is released. I needed a change of pace. And I needed something completely different.  There’s definitely more to say about North Florida and the KKK in the 1950s. My Pollyanna character has a very different approach to the Klan than the main characters in the folk magic series. So, I look forward to exploring that.

My wife is still fighting off those twenty-three bee stings that happened when she mowed through a hidden nest in high grass. The ER helped a lot. But now, there’s a lot of itching to contend with. And, it’s odd that “new stings” keep appearing on her arms and hands that didn’t initially show up.  We keep thinking that some of the bees did a half-assed job of stinging her at the time and now are just showing up.

My radiation treatment for cancer begins on August 1, just in time for my birthday. It will be a daily thing, excluding weekends. and will last about forty days. That seems really tedious and is supposed to make me tired. I’ll be glad to get all that out of the way and emerge cancer free. If all goes as planned, this will be my second time as a cancer survivor.  At my age, I guess one has to expect all kinds of problems like this.

I hope you’re having a great weekend, rain or shine.










Mother Nature Must be on Pot

Mother Nature is acting stoned. Must be too much grass or perhaps it’s weed cut with oregano.

Otherwise, what’s with Florida-style rain storms every other day? We have about three acres of grass (not pot) to cut, but Mother Nature is making that hard to keep them mowed.

Pick a day, any day. Okay, Monday, then.

  • The grass is high, but too wet to mow. I decide, after all, tomorrow’s another day.
  • That night, a monsoon parks on top of the ancient oaks in the front yard. As God is my witness, I’ll never be dry again.
  • Two days later, the grass is dry (sort of) so I mow some of it. It’s slow going because it’s higher than the house. How fickle is Mother Nature?
  • The following day it (the sky, the clouds, evil spirits) rains because we’ve seen clouds from all sides now.
  • We mow for 20 minutes before lighting hits the riding mower. We decide to go inside where the cats are hiding under the bed.  Great balls of fire. Don’t bother me anymore, Mother Nature, and don’t call me sugar.
  • A guy with a hay bailer stops at the front door to ask if we need help. I ask if he bails hay (weed, pot, fescue) into rectangular bails bound with bailing wire. He says nobody does that anymore. Here’s the thing, I say. I can’t pick those hay rolls up without a tractor. He says he’ll bring a tractor and take them away for $100 a roll. To hell with that.
  • More rain.
  • Finally, we cut some of the grass (not pot) but due to its height, we have to move the deck of the mower as high as it will go. This means that as soon as we’re done, it looks like it’s time to cut the grass again. Unfortunately, we’ve been mowing in the dark using the mower’s headlights and we really do need some sleep. Frankly, says, Mother Nature, I don’t give a damn.
  • If we could smoke this stuff, we wouldn’t care.
  • Okay, now we’re back to square one. The grass is high, but too wet to mow. I decide tomorrow is another day.


“Lena” will be released in 27 days.


This rainy Sunday morning

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”  – Bill Watterson

Generally speaking, rain is good. Unless there’s too much of it. Unless it appears on the day scheduled for a picnic, a hike, an outdoor wedding, or perhaps a war.

Jupiter Images graphic

None of those activities were penciled into this morning’s calendar, so I’m writing and reading (with coffee rather than tea) with the sound of its lullaby. Perhaps I’ll doze in my chair. That can happen. I probably won’t go outside and walk in it or ride a bike in it–aiming for the best puddles on the road–because I don’t do that any more, though I probably should.

As usual, the morning news is filled with discouraging words, mostly plots within plots, and–to roughly paraphase Victor Hugo–the deaf keeping the blind informed. The rain washes all of that away for a while. Perhaps I’m dozing in my chair now, dreaming about writing a post that mentions rain and the deaf leading the blind. If only.

If you’re inclined to love magic, you probably have noticed that rivers, oceans, and rain facilitate intuition, communication with Spirit, and writing letters or novels about magical moments. I write better on rainy days and Mondays than when the sun is out. On rainy days, one can dream without falling asleep, the perfect prescription for poets, novelists, mystics, and lovers.

The two horses at the farm across the road are munching grass up near the fence line. I’m tempted to walk over there and give each of them a wet apple and scratch their wet-horse-smelling heads. But my wife has saved the few remaining apples in the bowl for a pie and I really don’t want to have to explain where they went. Nonetheless, the horses are part of the rainy morning and it’s a comfort seeing them there, dreaming perhaps whatever horses dream in the medium of water.

John Updike wrote somewhere that “Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth.” Yes it is. When I was young, I collected rainwater for my aquariums, mother collected it for her gentle plants, years ago people saved it in cisterns as a defense against droughts. Conjure woman collect rainwater for spell work. Farmers and gardeners pray for it before everything they care about dries up. Rain is both a prayer and an answer to prayer. As some say, rain is good medicine.

When the worst flood in recent history hit northwestern Montana in June 1964, a Blackfeet elder was quoted as saying the deluge was too much good medicine. I was there and I remember that rain and thought of it as Mother Nature on drugs or, as one newspaper headlined, “Mother Nature Turns Outlaw.” Floods tend to give rain a bad name until the next drought. There’s no lullaby or kiss in a flood.

The creek below our house floods one of the two roads into town when there’s too much rain. I’m not sure what the cows think of that. I drive my old Buick through it because that’s an adult’s way of remembering what it was to be a kid on a bike in a rain storm. I’m no longer a fan of muddy trousers and shoes, so I tend to stay away from fields of standing water unless the cows get out and then when it comes down to it, getting wet no longer matters until we’re done chasing and herding all of the cattle back inside their fences. You haven’t lived a complete life until you’ve chased black cattle on a black rainy night. Cattle will make a fair mess of your yard if they get into it during a rain storm. I don’t see any magic in that.

But this morning, the cattle are inside the fence because the fence is relatively new and sturdy and follows the rise and fall of the land perfectly enough to cover over the places where cows shinnied under the barbed wire or jumped over it. So, this morning I’m content with my coffee and books without having to check outside ever once in a while to see how many of the cows are on the road stopping traffic.

It’s been a comfortable morning for lullabies and dreams and for dozing in a chair while pretending to read a book.








A Frank Conversation With Mother Nature About the Rain

Me: Baby Cakes, I want to talk about the rain. There’s been so much of it.

Mother Nature: Frank, what the hell are you saying? Malcolm is the only man on the planet allowed to call me “Baby Cakes.”

Me: My name isn’t “Frank.” I’m speaking frankly.

MN: I thought only Frank could speak frankly just as I’m the only one who can speak mother naturedly.

Me: English is a strange language.

More rain today

MN: Look, Toots–I hope it’s okay to call you “Toots” for old time’s sake–global warming is tangling up the planet’s cycles of heat and cold, rain and sun, and Coke vs. Pepsi.

Me: The rain, though, is keeping me from mowing the yard. Soon, the grass will be so high I’ll tear up the mower trying to cut it.

MN: Your writer friend Smoky wants you to get sheep to handle the grass cutting duties.

Me: Sheep, quite frankly, are just too sheepish.

MN: That sounds like something a guy named Frank would say.

Me: The thing is, sheep are more expensive than a lawn mower.

MN: That’s probably true. Nonetheless, I’m working hard to get the planet under control, and that’s not easy to do when–too put it frankly–so many people don’t mind p_ssing in their own pools and s_itting where they eat.

Me: Well said, Baby Cakes.

MN: What time do you get off work?

Me: I’m married. We can no longer meet behind the barn like we did when I was in college.

MN: Barns have changed since then, what with the hay being made a mess with pesticides and GMO tinkering. Maybe you can do something about that. Next time you update your blog, say something about the clowns who think climate change doesn’t exist, that fast food is really food, and that mayo should be slathered all over a hamburger.

Me: If I say something about climate change, will you give me a sunny afternoon and evening so I can mow the yard?

MN: Toots, I’m working on it. If only you weren’t married: we could make beautiful weather together.

Me: Aw, shucks, Baby Cakes, you’re making me cry.

MN: Me, too, and my tears are what you call rain.

Me: Oops.


Malcolm R. Campbell’s new short story is now live in Kindle, Kobo and iTunes.


So far, I haven’t gotten any rainy day Christmas Cards

Other than those photo-filled Christmas cards showing children or entire families posing with false smiles in the high grass over the septic tank, most of this year’s card show Santa, bright red cardinals in winter scenes, people hauling Christmas trees through the snow, and a variety of snowflakes and colored lights.

This red does look a little bit Christmassy.
This red does look a little bit Christmassy.

None of them have rain in them. This proves, I think, that our current north Georgia complex rain event–as the weather service is calling it–is illegal. The rain started last night and will run through Friday with a chance of flooding along creeks and rivers.

Sure, we’ve decorated the house with colorful lights, garlands and wreathes, but somehow all that isn’t as festive as it could be if we had legal solstice weather. And that bright moon we’re supposed to have for Christmas? Right, it will be covered up by clouds.

So far, CNN isn’t calling this “breaking news” like everything else they show and that’s just got to be a conspiracy. If Donald Trump were doing a rain dance, CNN would be covering it live. But, apparently he isn’t. So, nobody’s looking into our rain, Christmas-wise or conspiracy-wise.

christmasweathermapYeah, I know, the Grinch probably did it and, at the same time, appears to have given me a touch of the flu. It’s hard to feel merry when you’re swigging down TheraFlu.

But, far be it from me to rain on your Christmas and make you feel guilty for your great weather or your beautiful snow-covered yard with a redbird in the middle of if. Have a merry Christmas under star-spangled skies and a full moon. Enjoy the magic of it.

Truth be told, this still feels like a magical week to me in spite of all this water. The spirit of giving is a strong one, and I’m always inspired by memories of my younger days when I found unexpected surprises beneath the tree.

Happy Yule, Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, and Happy Solstice.


Idle thoughts about ‘Sex, Rain, and Cold Fusion’

Sex, Rain, and Cold FusionSex, Rain, and Cold Fusion by A.R. Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book fits into the “clever” and “hoot” genres and/or categories. It rocks and rolls from beginning to end with characters, events and language usage that are off-the-scale nuts.

In many ways, the plot–which is deliciously tangled–doesn’t matter because we’re all along for the ride and where we end up doesn’t matter. . .it’s one of those “the journey is more important than the destination” kind of books, er, in a wry way.

My only cautionary words are these: reading this book is rather like eating a cake that’s 99% frosting. You feel guilty but you keep doing it anyway.

View all my reviews

You can learn more about the author of this book on her website.



Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” a comedy/satire that is also flat nuts.