Legacy Blog #22: Fun with Burnt Cheese

My Beloved Daughter,

This week, I’m going to stay out of chronology.  I’m going to discuss cooking.

Yep.

I’ve never been much of a cook.  Just ask Vickie.  Or your Uncle Bobby.  Or your mother.  Or your Aunt Karen.  Or your Uncle Joel.  Well . . . just about every person I’ve been around would say that my timer sounds suspiciously like a smoke detector.

Vickie, your Aunt Karen, your Uncle Bobby, and your mother are the best cooks that I know (who are still alive).  Obviously, Vickie is the most important to me on this list.  I absolutely love her enchiladas, something that I know you like, as well.  She regularly experiments and comes up with some of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever had.  About the only thing she has issues with is baking.  As she says, “If it has sugar in it and it goes in the oven, I’ll burn it.”  To this end, I’ve started learning how to bake.  You’ve tried some of my (admittedly boxed) cakes.  You’ve also tried my homemade peanut butter cookies.

I also like to work with cheese.  You’ve tried the grilled cheese sandwiches that I make using shredded cheese.  What I’m going to talk about is going to stem from the little crispy pieces of cheese that have fallen out of the bread and onto the pan.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2012.  I cheat on my diet . . . all the time.  On the other hand, Vickie was diagnosed with it in May of 2016, while she was in the hospital after having the stroke.  That was in May.  By September, she had been hospitalized with a diabetic seizure.  Her blood sugar was over 600 and her A1C was near eleven.  To put it in perspective, I’ve regularly hovered around a 150 in blood sugar and 7 to 8 in A1C.  Normal is around 100 (I think) in blood sugar and below 6 in A1C.

So it’s much more serious for Vickie.  Our doctor actually told her that he wants her off of ALL carbohydrates that are “white or brown”.  Basically candy, bread, crackers, potatoes.  Pretty much all she can eat are fruit (in moderation), meat, cheese, some nuts, and vegetables.  This makes her diet rather boring.  And I want to try to keep to the diet with her, as I don’t ever want to get to the point where I have one of those seizures or, Heaven forbid, a stroke.

I came up with this recipe by accident.  Your mother doesn’t like Cheez-its crackers.  Vickie does.  I don’t know if your grandparents do, but you might pass this to them, if they do.

As I mentioned earlier, I love to eat the cheese that falls out of the sandwiches and crisps up while I’m grilling the sandwich.  A couple of weeks ago, Vickie had baked a frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu.  The cheese ended up leaking completely out of it and crisped up in the oven.  The taste of that cheese was better than the chicken.  So I did a little research.  I learned that Cheddar crisps up pretty good when baked.  American is pretty good, too.

I preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  I line a baking sheet with parchment paper, dumping small piles of shredded cheddar onto it, leaving space between them to let them spread.  After baking for thirteen minutes, you have a really tasty chip.  We dip them in salsa.

I also cut slices of American cheese into quarters.  Placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, I also bake them at 375, but pull them out after roughly ten minutes (it may take a little longer but be careful, because American cheese burns easily).  Make sure you let both kinds of cheese cool sufficiently so that it’s not gooey anymore.  They both get crispy (the cheddar more so than the American).  The American cheese tastes exactly like Cheez-its.  And they only have 2 grams of carbs per serving.

It’s actually kind of fun to experiment to see what we can find that can replace high-carb foods without losing the flavor.

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Guest Post: The Redsaw Origin and How I Write Supervillains by A.P. Fuchs

A.P. Fuchs is the King of Indies.  He’s been doing this for most of his adult life.  A while back, I asked him to write an article about creating super villains . . . particularly Redsaw, the foil to his super hero, Axiom-man.  So here we go:

redsawcrop

Disclaimer: The following article is meant for those who have read some or all of The Axiom-man Saga. If you have not read the series, please stop now and consider checking out the series first (http://bit.ly/1oy9MJU) as this article contains spoilers, namely Redsaw’s secret identity, which is part of the mystery of the first book.

 

Like Axiom-man, Redsaw has something of a muddled past. I’m talking about his real life origin, not his story one. However, Redsaw didn’t really come together until writing Axiom-man. Until that point, he was more an idea that never materialized in the mental fantasy I had going which eventually birthed The Axiom-man Saga we know today. All I knew about my overall fantasy was there were two cosmic beings at war. One that represented Good (known as the messenger in the saga), and one that represented Evil (known as the master). How these cosmic beings work is they each have champions on multiple planets throughout the universe, one guy stepping forward for them and duking it out on these planets while these two cosmic beings fight it out elsewhere. Usually, the messenger only puts his man in place once the master strikes an unsuspecting world. On Earth, the messenger’s champion is Axiom-man so, you guessed it, the master’s main man is Redsaw. What’s interesting to note is Axiom-man was put in place shortly before Redsaw’s arrival, a pre-emptive move on the messenger’s part and for reasons revealed in the series.

 

Redsaw is the main supervillain of The Axiom-man Saga.

 

That should bring you enough up to speed on who’s who in my superhero universe.

 

When it came to creating Redsaw, other than knowing he had to be the bad guy, he needed to be more than just the bad guy. The first thing I decided was it was imperative he was more powerful than Axiom-man, first and foremost in his superpowers—which are similar but stronger—and secondly as his human alter ago.

 

In costume, Redsaw can fly twice as fast, is twice as strong, and the energy beams he shoots from his hands do twice the damage.

 

Out of costume, Oscar Owen is rich, well-known, and utterly confident, whereas Gabriel Garrison (Axiom-man) struggles with money, is a nobody, and has self-esteem issues.

 

But that’s just the superficial stuff.

 

Even the name “Redsaw” is superficial in that I needed a cool name for a villain and “red” typically represents evil and “saw” was named after a sawblade, a dangerous weapon if used to kill somebody. The jagged lines on Redsaw’s red and black costume represent his own jaggedness and danger—again, the sawblade thing.

 

Going deeper, however, I didn’t want a bad guy who was the bad guy simply because he was the bad guy. In other words, I didn’t want a bad guy being bad for bad’s sake. There needed to be a reason, and the best reason for any villain in literature or film is the one that says they’re the bad guy because they don’t have any other choice. They have a strong motive that turned them down a dark path. A classic example is Darth Vader. He joined the dark side to save Padme. The dark side consumed him and we all know the rest of the story.

 

Oscar Owen was chosen by the master because Oscar drove himself hard to rise from poverty and become a somebody and tried to be a good guy with his powerful position. Once joined with the black cloud that gave him his superpowers, even then, he strove to be a hero like Axiom-man. He just didn’t know joining with the black cloud came at a cost and the black cloud transformed him into someone he wasn’t: the reluctant villain. The villain you and I can relate to. The one that, if you or I were put in their shoes, would do what they do no matter how dark or despicable because, from their point-of-view, they’re doing the right thing even if the cause is evil.

 

That’s the kind of main villain I was after for Axiom-man: someone like him. Someone who strove to do what they perceived was the right thing. Unfortunately, for Redsaw, his “right thing” is the wrong thing, but thankfully we have Axiom-man there to stop him.

 

Regarding other supervillains I’ve created—Char, Bleaken, Battle Bruiser, and Lady Fire—they all have something in common and it all goes back to what I did with Redsaw: they’re more powerful than the hero. It might be their powers, it might be their intellect, but either way, my villains always have a leg up on Axiom-man so they’re a challenge to fight. It’s the only way to create true conflict in the novels otherwise, if they were weaker, Axiom-man would stomp them into the ground every time and the story would be over in a few pages. Sure, it’s fun to have a few purely-human bad guys for Axiom-man to quickly dispose of, but when it comes to his superpowered rogues gallery, I needed my bad guys to be stronger than the hero and make him really dig deep whether physically or mentally to put the villains away for good. And even then . . . they might not always stay put, but for what I mean by that, you’ll have to check out the books and see for yourself.

 

A supervillain—breaking down the word—sure, the “villain” part is easy. It’s the “super” part that’s hard because that goes beyond their powers. They need to be above average in who they are as a person. They need to be motivated by something beyond what gets us normal people through our day. They need to be motivated by something “super.” It could be a tragedy, a misguidance, even a dark heart birthed out of something beyond their control in years past. There’s no such thing as a person who’s born bad. We all make choices. Some yield Good. Others yield Evil. Others take us down roads filled with both. Throw superpowers into the mix and you have the potential to create a superpowered problem that only a superhero can fight.

 

As for Redsaw, well, like Axiom-man, he’s on a journey, too. One that can only lead to one place. As for where or what that is, you’ll just have to read and find out.

 

About the Author: An independent writer and cartoonist, A.P. Fuchs has been part of the underground publishing scene for thirteen years. He is the author of more than forty books, loads of comics, short stories and poetry, and has a weekly newsletter called The Canister X Transmission, in which he currently discusses writing and publishing, gives away flash fiction, and speaks whatever’s on his mind that week. He’s the author of The Axiom-man Saga, and so far eight books of the fifty-book series have been released. In 2016, he celebrated Axiom-man’s tenth anniversary and re-released the first novel as a special edition with bonus material. Sign up for his newsletter at www.tinyletter.com/apfuchs and get a free thriller e-novelette out of the deal, and be sure to visit him on-line at his main hub at www.canisterx.com

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Legacy Blog #21: New Year’s Superstitions

My Beloved Daughter,

As I write this, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to believe that another year is pretty much over.  2016 was a trip, to be sure.  We lost many famous people.  But we dodged a major bullet by electing Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton.  Trump’s not perfect, by any means.  But anything is better than what we’ve had over the past eight years.  Many people believe that Obama was simply an imbecile who didn’t have the common sense to be the leader of the Free World.  I, on the other hand, have a different point of view.  I think he went into this with the intention of destroying democracy.  That’s why he stabbed our only ally in the Middle East—and the only democracy there—in the back recently.

But I digress.

Needless to say, 2017 is coming.  It makes me miss your Grandma Pat all the more.  You see, she had some pretty weird superstitions about New Years.

First of all, we weren’t allowed to do laundry on New Year’s Day.  The belief that, if you did laundry on New Year’s Day, a family member would die.  When someone would die, I could remember racking my brain to remember if we did laundry on New Year’s’ that year.  Even last year, when your Grandma Pat died, I remember wondering about it.  Logically, there’s no truth to it.  Only God controls life and death.

Second, we had to eat black-eyed peas and hog jowl.  The latter part sounds grosser than it is.  It’s just really ham.  I actually kind of liked this superstition.  I still love beans and ham.

Third, we were taught that, whatever you do on New Year’s Day was something that you would do frequently throughout the year.  So we always tried to do something fun on that day.

I don’t believe any of these things, to be true.  But they always remind me of your Grandma.  It’s funny how even the silliest little things seem so special now.

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Legacy Blog #20: Politics

My Beloved Daughter,

Ronald Reagan ran for his second term as president in 1984.  This Republican was an incredibly popular president . . . to everyone but our family.  His opponent was Walter Mondale, a former Democratic Vice President (under Jimmy Carter, who Reagan had thoroughly spanked in the 1980 election).  This election has a special place in my heart as the point when I first became interested in politics.  I was nine.

I remember asking your Grandma Pat what the difference was between a Democrat and a Republican.  Your sweet, naïve grandmother explained it thusly:  “A Democrat takes from the rich and gives to the poor.  A Republican takes from the poor and gives to the rich.”  I could almost picture Mondale in the green hat with the feather, swinging in with his bow and emptying the coffers of the Sheriff, who looked a great deal like Reagan.  If this was really how things were, how could any good person be a Republican?

I resolved to do more than understand things in this way.  I resolved to become the best darned Democrat that I could be.  I soon learned that Democrats were primarily liberal, so I studied that viewpoint.  By the time I was in Junior High, I had adopted a worldview that, frankly, scared your grandparents—despite the fact that I was just becoming what your grandmother professed to being.  I thought that guns were evil.  I thought that the Government‘s responsibility was to rule us.  I thought that a man should be able to be in love with another man and a woman with a woman.  I thought that an unborn child was not a human.  I thought Jesus didn’t belong in school.

An aside about that last line.  I remember, in high school, the day of “See You at the Poles.”  A day when people would gather around U.S. flags and prayed for our country.  In my pre-Redeemed mind, I was offended to see my classmates flaunting their religion so thoroughly at our school when they did this in the front yard of the high school.

Back to telling this story in chronological order.  My freshman year of high school, I had the honor of taking a public speaking class with the ever humorous Tim Hager.  Mr. Hager was a young teacher at the time—in his mid-twenties.  He was easy-going, joking . . . and conservative.

The two of us enjoyed a four-year political debate during my high school career.  I remember laughing at him in glee when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.  He took it in stride, but I now feel extremely bad about acting that way.

Mr. Hager was an intelligent man.  He knew what he was doing.  He knew that a person who examines the facts will feel more confident in his position.  So he gave me a few assignments:

My freshman year, he assigned me a speech in which I was required to explain why Dan Quayle (George H.W. Bush’s Vice President) should be our next President.  I came to realize that he was much more intelligent than we liberals had ever given him credit for.

In a debate class (Junior year), I was assigned a gun control debate in which I was against it.  I came to realize that making guns legally harder to get would only hurt people who actually obeyed the law.  Criminals are criminals because they break the law.

In the same class, I was given a debate in which I was supposed to show that stronger sentences for repeat criminals were good.  I showed how the early release of a hundred criminals in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois resulted in a tidal wave of violent, preventable crimes.

So, by the time I graduated from high school, my views were starting to change.  But I still considered myself a Democrat.  In 1992, when I was twenty-one years of age, I voted for Bill Clinton in his second term.  He won.

Also that year, I began going to the Assembly of God church in Ellsinore, MO, where I became a Christian.  The biggest thing that happened to me regarding my political views was that the minister who led me to Christ, Phil Tanner, challenged the congregation to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day.

I took to this last request with gusto.  It took me well over a year, with me usually reading more than the requested number of chapters each day.  I read the entire book of Romans in one day.

But, as we’ve always learned, God’s Word does not return void.  By the time I had finished, Scripture had changed me.  I had already started to become a secular conservative.  But I was now a religious conservative, as well.  You see, God decides what constitutes romantic love.  So two men and two women should not be able to flaunt their passions in the face of God’s design.  And God knew each of us in our mother’s womb, so abortion is nothing short of infanticide.

Over the years, I’ve also come to realize that the government should not control the citizenry.  We, as adults, are supposed to do everything that we can to support ourselves because citizens who depend on the government for support are easier to control.

When your mother was pregnant with you, she couldn’t travel.  So I had to go to my Ten-year class reunion alone.  Tim Hager was there.  I proudly told him that he was right and I had been wrong.

He told me that he would have waited a lifetime to hear those words from me.

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Legacy Blog #19: Addiction

My Beloved Daughter,

When you think of addiction, you usually think of drugs.  Marijuana, heroin, meth, and cocaine.  Your Uncle Kenny has had his battles with some of these.  He is walking proof that marijuana is a “gateway drug.”  He couldn’t build the same buzz after a while with it, so he graduated to more powerful stuff—a graduation that eventually led to the car accident that pretty much ruined his life . . . a story that I’ll go into in a later entry.

Alcoholism had its place in our family, too.  Your Great Grandpa Winfred was an alcoholic who finally beat the addiction when he was in his sixties.  Several uncles fought that particular monkey off of their backs.  Even your Grandpa Chuck, after his separation from his first wife, spent a great deal of time intoxicated.  To his credit, he stopped before it became a problem and I can probably count the number of beers that he drank in my lifetime on one hand.  In fact, I probably drank more alcohol in my short party phase that he did in his whole life.  The “party phase” will also be the topic of another, later post.

No, this post is about the strongest addiction that I grew up with.

When I was twelve, my parents finally added Cinemax to our cable line-up.  Back then, you only got one channel of it . . . and it cost as much for that one channel as the rest of the cable set up combined.  Our choices were somewhat limited.  The four premium channels that our cable company offered were HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Disney.  Yes, Disney used to be a premium channel and, had your grandparents chosen it, my life would have turned out much different.

But they felt that cartoons came on enough through normal television to keep me occupied.  HBO had too much sports programming for Grandpa Chuck’s taste and Showtime was relatively new at that time.  So Cinemax, it was.  I have to admit that I did enjoy the unedited horror movies on it.

On one occasion, Grandpa Chuck was on the boat and Grandma Pat turned in early while I stayed up to finish watching a now forgotten horror movie.  After that movie went off, another movie came on that helped me to understand why, in later years, the channel would gain the nickname, “Skinemax.”  I still remember the name of the movie, Young Lady Chatterley 2.  I had never seen moving, naked women before.  I was engrossed . . . so engrossed, in fact, that I didn’t notice your Grandma Pat sneaking up the hallway.

Yes, she caught me.  And I was informed that I was going to be in trouble when your Grandpa Chuck got home from the boat.

I remember waiting nervously the whole ride back from picking him up in Memphis, hoping beyond hope that your grandma would forget having caught me watching that movie.  When we got home, she looked at the T.V. in the living room and it reminded her.  My heart fell into my stomach when she said, “Guess what I caught your son watching?”

To her surprise—and my own—dad didn’t get angry.  He laughed.  He almost seemed relieved.  You see, I had started into puberty and, in his pre-Elect mind, this was a way for me to learn the birds and bees without having to talk to me about it.  He told my very shocked mother that he had no problem with me watching them.

I did have a couple of rules given to me.  I was only allowed to watch the soft-core stuff that was on late night cable or at the grocery store’s rental shelf (the latter of which was marked with “Mature Content”).  The store grew to know that my dad allowed me to rent the movies and I never had a problem with them.

From my mother, I was given the rule that I couldn’t hide that I was watching one of them.  To her credit, I think Grandma Pat hoped that I would be too embarrassed to watch a porn flick if my parents knew what I was doing.

Uh, no . . . that didn’t bother me at all.

So my teenage years were filled with me going to school, playing video games and D&D, and watching soft-core porn.  By the time I was twenty, we were back in Van Buren (another later blog post) and had a C-Band satellite dish.  And Grandpa Chuck got the Playboy Channel.  At this point in time, while the dishes themselves were more affordable, the boxes that played them on your television were really expensive.  The result was that, whatever was played on the box in the living room was also played on my television in my bedroom.  Sundays and Tuesdays, Playboy television would show porn flicks.  Granted, they still weren’t the really hardcore stuff but they were simply edited versions of those movies.  I grew to know some of those actresses by name and I had my favorites that I would watch for.

Don’t think harshly of your Grandpa.  He was a good man who came to a saving knowledge of Christ late in life.  In his later years, he expressed regret in many of his decisions . . . particularly letting me watch porn.  I don’t doubt that I will hug him in Heaven one day.

The most poignant issue with porn came after your mother and I separated.  I was incredibly lonely and found myself perusing the internet for free porn.  By this time, I had made online friends with some former porn actresses who had left the industry when they were saved by Jesus.  One, in particular, I found myself viewing on one of those videos, filmed before she had become a Christian.  The shock of seeing her was like God yelling at me, “THAT’S YOUR SISTER!!!”  I immediately turned off the video and sent her an apologetic message.  Then I blew the dust off of a manuscript that I had been working on when your mother and I were still together.  I diligently worked on it until it was finished and that manuscript became LILY’S REDEMPTION.

Over the years, those movies damaged me just as seriously as any drug or beer.  I grew to see sex as something totally different than what God intended.  As I write this entry, you are the exact age that I was when I watched that first viewing of Young Lady Chatterley 2.  I can only hope that you don’t find yourself every watching one of those movies.  You are a lady and deserve a man who will treat you as a lady, rather than a sex toy.  That is my prayer for you, that you will learn from the pains of my adolescence and grow to be more than I could have ever dreamed of being.

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Legacy Blog #18: Uncle Jeffrey

My Beloved Daughter,

One usually thinks of an uncle as an adult who is in a position of respect over the niece or nephew.

Yeah, that’s not how it happened with me.

You see, your Uncle Kenny married his first wife, Debbie, when I was around six.  They had their first daughter when I was ten.  Of the three of them on my side of the family, I only remember Sarah’s actual date of birth, October 6, 19885.  I was so excited to be an uncle, I bragged about her to everyone who would listen.  And, when she was a baby, we got along great.

Then she started walking.

I’d be hanging out in my bedroom with my friends and she’d come in and bug us.  I’d be watching T.V. with your Grandpa Chuck and she’d walk up to the television and turn down the volume or shut it off.  If Grandpa Chuck picked her up and moved her away from the television, she’d prove that she was your Uncle Kenny’s daughter by using, at the ripe old age of two, a bad word for a female dog.

Then your Uncle Greg had a daughter.  Jaimilee wasn’t raised around me, so I didn’t really get to know her until I was a senior in High School.  Prior to that, she was the adorable, freckle-faced, strawberry blonde who saw me infrequently and didn’t really know me that well.  My earliest memory of her was when your Grandpa Chuck and I visited your Uncle Greg and his now ex-wife in Springfield.  I was a freshman in high school and I could already tell that Jaimilee was going to be super smart.  She caught everything that everybody said.  I remember her doing something that got her dad angry and he said, “I’m gonna whip your !

She frowned and begged, “Please don’t whoop my .”

Kody was the third to be born.  He was Sarah’s little brother and “Kenny Jr.” in every way.  Sarah said the “B” word as a child and Jaimilee fearfully repeated the word that her dad had just used but Kody practically came out of the womb sounding like the proverbial truck driver.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his first word were a swear word.  He was also a slugger.  He’d trade punches with his big sister and, eventually, other kids at school.

Over the years, as they grew, their personalities also grew.  Sarah and Kody, since my parents watched them while your Uncle Kenny and his ex went out to party every weekend, were really more like little siblings to me.  I got so frustrated with them and was so happy when I finally had a bedroom with a door and a lock.  Jaimie was more like my little buddy.  I even babysat her when she was little.  On Saturday mornings, I’d go to her parents’ house and watch the mid-90s Spider-man cartoon.  She listened and rarely argued with me.  She liked school and liked to study.  Sarah and Kody showed their love to me by tormenting me.  I didn’t see it that way at the time, but I look back on that fondly now.

Sarah and Jaimie grew into beautiful young ladies.  Jaimie graduated from high school, married C.A. Counts and settled in as a pretty awesome housewife/photographer.  When Kody and his girlfriend had their daughter, Hannah, Jaimie fell in love with her and would spoil her every time she was around her.  Due to troubles with the law, Kody and his girlfriend couldn’t take care of Hannah.  Your Grandma Pat and Uncle Greg took turns raising her.  Finally, Jaimie and C.A. adopted her and have given her a loving home and have raised quite the Southern Belle.

Your oldest of two male cousins, Kody, has done the best that he could do.  He’s had his issues but he’s doing what he can do to get back on his feet, as of now.  Hannah’s biological mother died too young.  I’m not really sure how that affected Kody.

The sad ending truly comes from your oldest cousin.  Over her short life, Sarah grew up quickly.  She dropped out of high school, got into drugs and started smoking.  She moved to Florida as a teenager, living with her boyfriend and some other roommates.  Before she was nineteen-years-old, she awoke next to that boyfriend to find that he had died in his sleep . . . an allergic reaction to a medicine that was supposed to help him overcome a heroin addiction.

She met another boy, Cody Blackburn.  The most respectful boy that I ever saw her date, he adored her and did anything your Grandma Pat asked of him.  Sarah, quite honestly, treated him like dirt, from what I remember.  But their love sired a child.

A few months into the pregnancy, Cody left Missouri to work with his father in Utah.  He would send her money but she really did miss him.  Finally, she decided to go out to live with him in Salt Lake City.  So she bought a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines from St. Louis.

I remember that day well.  You and I got up super early and drove from Springfield to Poplar Bluff, where we picked her up.  It was so different to see her pudgy belly with the baby in it, as Sarah was NEVER overweight.  She drove my car to the airport in St. Louis, you and me enjoying her company and me realizing just how much she’d grown since those days when she would intrude into my D&D games and interrupt our television time.

You and I each hugged her when we dropped her off at the airport, then headed back to Springfield.  She called me to let me know that the plane had made it to Salt Lake City.

Cadrian, your second-cousin, was born in November of 2008 (I think).  For a month, Sarah was the best mother that she could be.  Cody said that she adored their baby.  The day after your GG died, (December 3, 2008), Sarah called me, overwhelmed by the fact that she wouldn’t be able to go to her funeral, as she (like ALL children) adored your GG.

A week to the day after GG died, Cody Blackburn came home from work for lunch to find Sarah unresponsive.  She had rolled over on the baby, but he pushed her off and saved Cadrian.  Sarah had died within minutes of his arrival home.  A week of autopsies went by, with no real explanation for your twenty-three-year-old cousin’s death.  Cody’s father told me, over the phone, that he figured that she had died of a drug overdose.  Thankfully, the autopsy redeemed her.  The only drugs in her system were prescription drugs in the proper dosages.  We never truly figured out what happened.

Cody married a girl and moved with Cadrian to Tennessee, where he and his wife got all of their kids taken from them due to drugs.  They were given to the girl’s family, even though Cadrian had family in Missouri.  As of this writing, I’ve never met my eldest niece’s daughter.  That family did allow your Uncle Kenny and Grandma Pat to meet Cadrian, something of which I am happy.  Your Grandma Pat wanted me to take some time to drive her back to Tennessee again but she passed away before I could.  Cadrian is eight-years-old now and doesn’t know her family.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have hugged a little more tightly that day at Lambert Airport.  I truly miss Sarah.  I miss arguing with her and I miss telling her about Jesus.  She and I were baptized on the same day in the same creek in Ellsinore, MO.  Brother Tanner, the pastor who preached Grandma Pat’s funeral, baptized us.  I pray that it truly was an outward depiction of an inner faith within her.  I hope, when I finally leave this world, to hug her again.

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Legacy Blog #17: Other Fandoms

My Beloved Daughter,

Transformers and Spiderman weren’t the only fandoms in which I got involved in Campbell.  To a lesser extent, I got involved in a few others.  While Transformers were my absolute favorite contemporary toy, I also enjoyed G.I. Joe, He-Man, and Thundercats.

The first G.I. Joe figures that I got were Lifeline and Serpentor, during the third year of the 3.23 inch figure releases.  As time went on, I also got Snake-Eyes (my favorite), Quick Kick, Cross Country (who came with the vehicle known as the H.A.V.O.C.), Jinx, and two versions of Sgt. Slaughter, one of which came with a vehicle (the name of which eludes me) and one of which was a mail order special.  Although I never got as many of them as I had of the Transformers, I’d say they came in a fairly distant second.  I know that I loved playing with the figures while hanging out with other friends who had them.  And, as they said in every episode of the series, “Knowing is half the battle.”

He-Man was originally my cousin, Leon’s, favorite toy.  When I started collecting them, I went for toys that he didn’t have.  Instead of getting the original He-Man, at first, I got “Battle Armor” He-Man, “Thunder-Punch” He-Man (with a backpack that had caps in it that would pop when you made him punch something), and “Flying Fists” He-Man.  I concentrated on getting the second villain team and got all five of the original Horde figures.  I even got the Horde Slime Pit and the Fright Zone.  If I still had them, in good shape, they’d be worth a pretty penny.

The Thundercats were a series that you might recognize.  They had a rebirth not too long ago on Cartoon Network.  But that cartoon changed the whole story.  In the original, the Thundercats’ home world was destroyed and several of them escaped to Earth of the far future, followed by their enemies, the Mutants.  Something happened to the child prince’s stasis pod and he aged during the trip to adulthood.  The prince, Lion-O, had the sword of Omen, which would allow him to see other places (“Sight Beyond Sight).  I owned Lion-O, Panthro (who had an awesome pair of nunchaku), and Cheetara.  I never got Tigra and lost interest before the second wave of toys came out.

I picked up a few toys from other collections, like the Silverhawks and the original series of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  But none of them, or the above, ever came close to matching the sheer number of Transformers that I had.

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