The Writer Who Saved Santa

The Writer Who Saved Santa

Thomas Nast’s 1880s interpretation of Santa Claus is in the public doman.

The Writer Who Saved Christmas

With apologies to Clement Clark Moore

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house,

not a keyboard was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the router with care,

in hopes that St. Nickolas soon would be there.

The folders were closed, the hard drive spun down,

while edits of grammar elves made not a sound.

Now Margy in jammies and I in my robe,

we’d just snuggled in, away from the cold.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to my desk I flew like a flash

Tore open the drawers, pen ready to dash.

When out my big window, I finally looked

I held in my hand a hardcover book.

And what to my bloodshot eyes should appear

but a shiny red sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

The man held the reigns, not lively not quick

I knew without doubt, he’d kidnapped St. Nick.

The reindeer they whinnied and pawed the new snow

You’d have to see it, to imagine the row.

More rapid than eagles, I ran to his aid

To save the ole elf, (and the cookies we made.)

I reached for their bells, the poor little beasts,

The kidnapper eyed them like fancy elk feast.

“Now Dasher, Now Dancer, Prancer and Vixen!

On Comet! On Cupid, On Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

A loop-de-loop do, away with you all!

And faster than you can imagine my dear,

The sleigh it turned over, he fell on his rear.

I grabbed the brown bag and opened the tie,

There he was! “Ho Santa Ho!” I shouted my cry.

And then in a twinkling he gave me a smile,

I’m sure you could see it for many a mile.

A hearty ho ho and he puffed on his pipe,

That tobaccy I tell you was awfully ripe!

The kidnapper sat up, all covered with snow

Santa, I tell you, just laughed ho ho ho ho.

He reached in the bag and pulled out some coal,

and tossed it to him, that naughty old soul.

Turning to me, I was awestruck I swear,

Not something that happens, no that’s pretty rare.

With a grin and a nod and voice like the wind

He patted my back. “Merry Christmas My Friend!”

And then in twinkling, he was up on the roof,

The reindeer were prancing and pawing with hoof

He jumped in the sleigh and with one final shout,

The sleigh and old Santa, eight reindeer flew out.

And there in the east, a bright star did shine,

It gladdened my heart and I knew it was time

To get back to work, to write some more words

It was surely no time, to be watching the birds.

And so to my friends, who in disbelief laugh

At the old cranky old writer who wrote this poor gaf.

To All I wish, to all this glad night,

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Good Night!

God Bless Us Everyone.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Water Dog

Water Dog

“I’ll just swim across the lake and bring this log back so you can throw it for me.” ~ Willy the Wonderful Water Dog.
Photo “Willy’s Log” by Margaret Williams © 2011 All Rights Reserved. No Republication without Consent.

There is nothing more amazing than watching a Labrador Retriever chase a dummy in the water. We used to buy the big ones because the weight let you throw it further. With a 12-inch rope hanging off the end, you can throw one the length of a football field, and even further if you have a good wind to help you. Willy was our first Lab, and now we have Velvet. Velvet is showing a lot of enthusiasm in the play fetch department, and we can’t wait to get her to a pond or lake.

We formally introduced Willy to the water when he was six or seven months old. It was still pretty cold and there was a big iceberg in the middle of the pond that day. The Story of how he talked himself into swimming was just one example of how he built a place for himself in our lives and our hearts.

Velvet has not met the water yet. Not really. On a recent road trip she managed to get her feet wet in a small stream/drainage ditch at a gas station off the highway and she appeared to like it. I didn’t know the spot and she had to be in the car crate all day, so I wasn’t letting her get wet. She wanted to go deeper though, and I wanted to let her, even though I didn’t.

Downstairs in my workshop (off limits to puppies) is Willy’s throwing dummy. It is still too big for Velvet, but I plan to get her a puppy sized one in the next week or so. We’ll be going to the cabin at the end of May and I’m thinking that will be her first real introduction to the lake and swimming.

I’m excited about it because, Labs. Love. Water. There is just no other word for it. Love. They will run into it up to their shoulders just to have a drink, to cool off after a long car ride, or just for the sheer joy of being in the water. Even though Velvet has a much different personality (she is SUCH a girl!) than Willy had, I know that water is going to be a big deal for her.

A family friend took his Lab out west on a trout fishing trip with my brother. The river was fast, there were rapids and waterfalls, and the water was high. The dog saw a branch coming down the river and went after it. Before the guy could do anything, the dog had plunged into the swift, fast current and disappeared over the rapids. They spend hours searching both sides of the river downstream for miles, but to no avail. Certain they had lost the poor pup to river, they gave up.

Imagine their surprise when it greeted them at the truck, branch still in it’s mouth.

Willy knew the names of his toys, and Velvet is learning the same, and even knows that her balls have different names. There’s bouncy ball, squeaky ball, and pinkie ball. Tell her to fetch one or the other and she goes and gets it. Like Willy, I’m sure that upon arrival at the lake, Velvet will dig her dummy out of the car and take it down to the dock where she will beg and cajole us into throwing it for her.

Of course, it won’t take much on her part to get us to do that, because one of the great joys in life is watching a water dog playing in its element, the water.

Please Note: If you put a rope on the end of a throwing dummy, don’t make a loop. The dog’s foot can become entangled in it and put them in danger in the water. Only use a straight piece of rope.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.



C-119 Fairchild “Flying Boxcar” Troop Carrier

The untold stories that fill my head should keep me busy for the next decade or so. By the time I use up what is up there now, I’ll have another batch to share. I could even stretch a few true stories into tall tales and make you guess what is true and not true.

This untold story is about the time we went to the dump to watch bears when I was about eight years old. Bears would show up at the town dump for a free meal. One time this big bruiser came waddling out of the pit with a big grocery bag hanging from his teeth. He looked like he was headed for work and brown bagging that evening.

In between bear sightings, people would get out and talk to each other, as they often do in Small Town America. I was talking to this other kid and he said he had seen a big plane. I had just watched a war movie with my dad in which the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was featured. I told the kid about it, and then the kid went over to his dad and pointed at me.

“That boy saw a flying train.”

His dad took a good look at me, and then he whispered in his son’s ear. That boy never spoke to me again.

When I got older, the other fun thing to do at the dump was shoot rats. They had rats down there as big as small dogs it seemed. We went with our .22 rifles. The guy who sat at the gate would warn us not to shoot each other or the people who came to dump garbage. I never heard of anyone getting shot, but a kid named Reggie got his skin caught in the bolt of his .22 and it took off a strip of skin about a 1/4 inch wide and two inches long.

Reggie’s mother came down to the dump after that and quizzed the gate keeper, and then all of us kids. Turns out, Reggie was trying to see how fast he could fire ten shots off and got his thumb caught. When he freed it, it stripped off the skin. For a while, we thought someone was getting arrested for shooting Reggie’s thumb, but it turned out to be his own darn fault and the only arrest that was made was his .22 winding up on the mantle for a month.

After our ammo was used up, we’d take our rats and the guy at the gate would give us a Nickle apiece for them. Eventually they stopped us from shooting rats out of concerns that they were paying underage kids to shoot rats and if someone got hurt, the county would have big trouble.

They tried trapping them after that, but it didn’t work. Poison was considered, but folk were concerned the poison would end up in a pet, or a game animal and then onto someone’s table. So the poison idea was tabled. Along came another guy who said for a 1000 dollars, he’d shoot 99 percent of the rats. He was hired without much talk and he set up a couple of shooting spots down at the dump.

There was a whole lot of shooting and the air was thick with gun smoke. When it was all over, he had himself a pile of rats.  The next weekend, there were rats all over the place, same as always. It looked like there were more than ever.

And that was how I learned a good piece of wisdom about rats and well…

“Ya put politicians in charge, they multiply like rabbits and ye can’t get rid of them no how, just like rats.”

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.



Peace is a Hope that Never Materializes, Like the Wispy Images of a Dream at Awakening ~ MJ Logan

A Dream Catcher Hangin From a Tree as the Sun Sets. Photo by Aline Berry at

Peace is a fleeting glimpse of heaven. Throughout history, mankind has dreamed of peace, but I have come to sincerely doubt that we can ever truly be at peace. Throughout my lifetime, there has never truly been peace anywhere, and I’ve lived a few years on this piece of rock we call earth. Third rock from the sun. One of eight (or nine if you’re old like me) and of all the worlds in this solar system, ours seems the least peaceful, at least from our point of view.

I was born in 1961. We were in the Vietnam war and my Uncle served there in a front line medical unit. Remember the TV series M*A*S*H and the guys up at the front, who stabilized soldiers for the trip back the MASH unit? That’s where my uncle was, except it was Vietnam. Not a good place to be, and certainly not peaceful.

Eventually, the Vietnam war ended and we admitted, grudgingly perhaps, that were defeated. Or perhaps we just gave up. Maybe we did. It all seems so confused now. I was 14 in April of 1975 when they pulled the last (not counting men missing in action) of our people out there. Operation Frequent Wind was completed on April 30th of that year when the last of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Embassy personnel left by helicopter from the embassy grounds.

It should have meant peace, but it did not. South Vietnam was over run with communists and taken over. As many as 3 Million South Vietnamese died throughout the duration of the war.

Peace was not found here in the USA either. Returning troops were welcomed by families, but war protesters and agitators denigrated them, called them baby killers and worse. My uncle recalled a woman coming into their aid station who handed him a baby and ran. The baby had a grenade in its diaper, a booby trap. Fortunately, the grenade was disarmed and the baby and men at the aid station were not hurt. And here at home, we called returning soldiers baby killers. No Peace Anywhere, it seemed.

Somewhere in the world, there is always conflict and often we the people of the USA are involved in one way or another. Where is the peace? Why is it up to us to fix the world and destroy it in the process. Because fighting for right is right, and defending the weak is right, and defending our right to live in peace, is never peaceful.

We give money and planes and arms to people who hate us, then wonder why they use them against us. When terrorists strike at the heart of our nation and people, we cry out in anger. These people hate us for our ways and our freedoms and our religious views. We can’t reason with them or bargain with them or offer them appeasement. There can be no peace without mutual respect, and they do not respect us. Yet, we are expected to respect them, to tolerate their point of view and their religion.

They have no respect for women. Yet we must tolerate that. Where is the peace in that?

Maybe it is time to say, no to peace with these people. 

Maybe if we want peace, its time to show them the price of not being peaceful.

Maybe peace is something you fight for and take with bloody hands.


Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Porcupine Quills

Porcupine Quills

Porcupine Quills in Various Lengths. Imagine them entirely transluscent without color.

Porcupine eating grassQuills. Usually I associate a quill with a porcupine. Their quills are actually hair. Long, thick, hard and sharp. Popular belief in years past was that a porcupine could flick his tail at you and fill the air with missiles that would puncture your skin and leave you hurting. The myth was untrue as porcupines cannot “throw” their quills. If they swat you or any other critter with their tail, the quills will easily puncture the skin, grab on with their barbs and indeed, a painful removal experience awaits those foolish enough to allow themselves to be swatted.

A friend once came knocking in the early morning. Actually, he didn’t knock, just came right on in. Don’t freak out, that was Small Town America in the 1970s and 80s, and even the 90s, where neighbors and friends might just walk right in, if they feel comfortable at your home.

Pileated Woodpecker Hunting Insects in a Tree/The reason for his visit was a tiny critter he held in the palm of one hand. It was white, had pink eyes, and a multitude of quills–a baby, albino porcupine just a few days old. How cute. How interesting. And… you could hold it carefully and pet it as long as you stroked in the direction of the quills. If you didn’t you got stuck. Ouch. The baby’s quills were not actually white, but translucent.

Its mother was hit by a car and the cute little porky was motherless. As a side note, for a long time I wondered how mama porcupines gave birth without getting skewered. Turns out, the quills are soft and flexible before birth and stay that way for a short while afterward. This baby’s quills were hard, so probably it was a few days old.

However, that doesn’t answer the question of how adult porcupines make baby porcupines without skewering each other. We won’t explore that topic today.

Porcupines are solitary critters. They like to bumble along, looking for tasty stuff to eat. They never hurry, just mosey along. In the summer, they eat grass and clover and other yummy green plants. In the winter, their diet changes to the soft bark of a tree up near the top. They climb very well and will nestle in for days in the top of a prime tree, eating the bark all the way around the trunk and sometimes in a swath three to six feet tall.

Unfortunately for the tree, this is usually means the top will die. It also invites the infestation of insects that like to eat trees, and thus, the remaining tree may die as well.

However, this is not necessarily bad in the grand scheme of things. The bugs that burrow into the tree are tasty treats for woodpeckers. In fact, the piliated woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker without the attitude) will bore large holes into these trees looking for insects to eat. In the process, they hollow out large portions of the trunk.

In the spring, a pileated woodpecker will make bigger holes to build their nests and raise a brood of woodpeckers that will benefit from the chewing of a porcupine. Once abandoned by the woodpeckers, the nesting holes are sometimes used in subsequent years by wood ducks. To see one flying at full speed and appear to literally crash into the tree is amazing. If you blink, you miss it  and wonder where the duck went. Then the head emerges and it looks around for a moment before hiding again.

Our friend had some coffee with us and probably one or two of Mom’s homemade rolls, and took the baby porcupine home. A farmer supplied raw whole milk for it, and the baby grew. As it grew, it did what porcupines do best, and that is chew things. They love anything that has been in contact with salt and will eat entire ax handles because of the sweaty salt in them. Baby Porky wasn’t such a baby anymore, and it wasn’t much of a pet either. In fact, our friend never intended to keep it as a pet. Once it was weaned off the milk, it had to forage for grass and clover in the yard, just alike any other porky.

One day our friend put on his heavy leather gloves and loaded Porky into a bucket (Porky was used to short trips in the bucket by then.) He put the bucket into his backpack and drove to a remote area, then hiked about three miles into the woods. The last time our friend saw Porky, he had climbed into a willow bush and was happily munching on the bark, doing what porcupines do best.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Nostalgic Memory

Nostalgic Memory


I’m one of those nostalgic people. Show me something from my past and it will trigger a flood of memories that come rushing back. It comes easy to me. The smell of wood smoke and I remember trips to the family cabin, or a campground. Sitting around the fireplace at home in the winter, cozy and warm. Maybe with mug of Tom & Jerry to sip, hot chocolate, or even just a dissolved bouillon cube in hot water.

Going down the road in the car, I see a Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a car, and remember trips to the tree farm. All six of us piled into the car along with two dogs and headed out. Snow on the ground, kid voices shouting, “Hey! Look at this one!” We’d hunt and look for the perfect tree and then take it home where the fresh scent of a double balsam would fill the air for weeks. An annual ritual that can’t be replaced with any other memory, because there are none exactly like it.

Lately I’ve been very nostalgic about growing up, with memories of Mom and the things she did for love of family and home. Things like homemade rolls and bread, Christmas Stollon and cookies. Pies, baked goods, and thick slices of slab bacon fried in a black, cast iron skillet big enough to feed a family of six. Mom died last year, October 30th. Exactly one year to the day after her brother, my uncle, died.

I think about that, and wonder at the coincidence or the non-coincidence of it. Mom’s last years were not good years, and that makes me sad. My uncles last years were spent just living. I’d been saying goodbye to both of them for a long time and that made it easier, but somehow worse. I look at pictures of her and him and feel nostalgic for a simpler time and the happy memories I have.

Long ago when I was about ten, I tried to talk her into letting me drive the car. She didn’t of course, but from the passenger seat of that big old Buick Le Sabre with the 350 engine, she let me steer, and that made me remember something else, that happened years earlier.

Uncle and family were visiting us, and he and my dad and I went for a ride. Standing on the front seat, I could look out the windshield. Uncle stood me between his legs and I tried to steer. He held onto the wheel of course and did all the steering, but I’ll never forget that. Don’t look at me horror, that was growing up in Small-Town America in the mid 1960s when many cars didn’t even have seatbelts.

Near the small town where he and my mother grew up is a park on a Wisconsin River flowage. Many family picnics were held there–Mom and Dad, Uncle and Aunt, Grandmother and Grandfather, brothers and cousins. Nostalgic memories of good times.

When you get Nostalgic, where does your memory take you?

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.