I have a corner office. Not by design, but by ultimate choice. This house was completely designed by Kelly, the love of my life, and wife, of over 35 years. All I wanted was a porch that I could walk all the way around the house on, which was great when I was rehabbing this new knee.
She drew up the plans, but my original office proved too small for a collector and
gatherer of my ilk, so I got to move into the spare bedroom. That was a corner room. Window to the south and a couple of large windows to the beautiful east where I get to watch almost every sunrise. The featured photo is my morning view. It is my place. It is where I would plant my flag and stake my claim if that needed to be done.
I am sitting in that beautiful office now. Hardwood hickory floor, ancient
oak icebox that weighs as much as a piano but works great for storage. Several guitars hanging on the wall or in their respective stands. Cedar desk to match the wood like most of this house. A leather office chair fights for space with my guitar stool. The leather recliner supports my bulk as I hammer away at this worn-out Mac. I am in my spot.
But my metaphorical flag needs to be planted if you are going on this journey with me. So, here is where it is planted. I am a Christian. Beyond that, I am a Christian that believes in what the Bible has to say. That is rarer among Christians than one might think nowadays, with so many years of public schools teaching stuff like the theory of evolution and other items that contradict the Bible.
For me, it is easy to see Creation and the Hand of our Creator after being
shown where to look. I would strongly encourage you to study this with a critical and scientific mind. The arguments against evolution are more compelling and numerous than those for it, but it does take some effort from the student to get past secular teaching. More on this later, if you so desire.
I am also a philomath. You can say it with a hard ‘I’ or a soft ‘I’. Either way is correct. A philomath is someone that loves to learn. Historically, my interests have mainly been: Rodeo, farriery, Creation, tattooing, Spanish, aviation, guitar, and lately the craft of story. These are the things I spent time researching, thinking about, and trying to gain some proficiency in.
If you love to learn things as well, I recommend starting with the anatomy and vocabulary of the subject. Learn the parts and pieces of equipment used. For example, prop, stabilator, nose wheel, aileron, flaps, pitot tube, DG, etc. for an airplane. This is a huge list and can get even longer with more advanced aircraft. Sound hole, high e string, low e string, tuners, nut, bridge, pickguard, cutaway, saddle, etc. for a guitar.
If you’re learning a language, well, vocabulary is king. You will need to understand several things about the language you want to learn. Symbols and sounds if you are learning a language with a different alphabet. (No, I have not attempted that yet. Maybe Hebrew someday???) Learn pronunciation, then the most common words. That leads to common phrases, sentence structure, and verb conjugation.
But there is no perfect plan for learning anything, and we all learn just a little differently. One big thing to keep in mind though, everything you learn about your desired topic is one more thing you know. Even if it is out of order. So what. Just keep learning everything you can about those things that interest you.
Farriery took up where rodeo left off when I was eighteen and going to college just so I could rodeo. College didn’t demand too much time, so my farrier business blossomed, and I graduated college with several degrees that didn’t mean much in comparison to my shoeing skills. If you are a youngster, you don’t have to go to college. In fact, you might end up better off in the long run without college. (Unless your mom and dad told you otherwise, of course.)
Those shoeing skills and my excitement for the trade have allowed me to travel the world and own a farrier school that has touched and changed the lives of thousands of horses and people. It has been the most rewarding career I can imagine, and I am grateful to have lived it. The damage to my physical form has been worth every bit of it, even though my body is now cashing the checks I wrote in my youth.
Side note: There are a lot of old men who lived a careful life with a soft office job, yet still have suffered the ravages of time. We all must, if we don’t die young, so do what you want or must, knowing that the physical damage will come if you ride this rock around the sun long enough.
I have always had an artistic bent, and that led to tattooing. That was one of the most fun hobbies anyone could ever have, and could easily have turned into another career if Kelly had been more a part of it. When my eyesight, which was at a level of amazing in my youth, started to go, a lot of the fun of tattooing went with it. I got to the point that I was going to have to devote a lot of time and effort to get to the level of greatness that I wanted to be at, or stop. Since other things
were calling me, I decided to hang up my machines.
Doing clinics in Latin America led me to want to speak Spanish. I studied with friends, took an online course from Mango Languages, and read a Spanish-English parallel Bible. That took about a year, but I got to where I could do clinics in Spanish and get along well. I still can’t follow a female news anchor on a Spanish channel, but I don’t watch the news anyway.
I had always admired someone that could play the guitar. I took three of four lessons when I was about thirty but didn’t end up devoting the time needed. I did end up with a guitar though and decided to learn through the internet about four or five years ago. That has proven to be one of the best ways to unwind at the end of the day, and I have truly enjoyed playing with the church or with family and friends. It was hard, but not undoable.
My engineer-minded, overachiever son took a couple of hours of flight training and decided to buy a plane. “You might as well learn with me Dad since we got a plane,” Cody said once he got the plane to Lamar. So, my next adventure began. I’m over 600 hours into it and love to fly every chance I get. Learning about flying, taking exams, and challenging my brain has proven to be a fantastic way to spend my time. There are very few things that compare to taking off with the sunrise and controlling a plane as it moves across the sky. Highly recommend it, ten out of
This leads me to where I sit now, tapping on these keys that are so worn out that the popular letters are unidentifiable. Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have a testimony, also called a ‘God Thing’, that is all about writing and a busted truck. (I’ll share it later.) But, writing really helped make Heartland Horseshoeing School what it has become. My first real book, Gregory’s Textbook of Farriery, continues to sell well and help people become better at this trade. Even though it is a textbook, I wrote it with my students in mind and tried to make the difficult easy and the language fun. So far, so good.
My next book was a memoir and a tribute to some of the greats in our industry that poured into my young farrier career. For the Want of a Nail, The Shoe Was Lost, has also done well. It was a book that was busting out of me, so it had to become a reality. The second memoir, For the Want of a Shoe, The Horse Was Lost, came out the following year in 2023, and it tells the funny stories of growing up on a mountain ranch and then attending one of the hardest schools around, New Mexico Military Institute.
Even though those memoirs were demanding life, I truly wanted to write a novel. It was an amazing experience and took about a month to write. I started with a basic idea of my characters and where they were going, and then they went nuts on me when I started to give them life. Every morning I would sit down, and the plot would go down some previously before unknown path. I had a basic outline and idea when I started, and the story turned out nothing like what I thought it was going to be. It was amazing, fun, and even a little scary. I did not want it to end.
The month flew by and I had about 85,000 words down on paper. I shared it with some family and friends, and they all came back with glowing reviews. The more I learn about novel writing, the more I have come to understand that loved ones are bound to do that. They are loved ones after all. I have kept learning about the craft. Reading books, joining author groups, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos on the subject, and pretty much anything else I can do to
gain some knowledge about writing novels. This has led to my getting to interview a famous author named James Thayer for my podcast. I'll add the link when that goes live.
So now, Splitting Tongues, Book 1 of my Beyond Babylon series is on the journey that I hope will take it to a book. I had a beta reader that I have never met read it. Her name was Rebecca, and she was incredibly helpful in almost every aspect of the story. Now the book is going to a professional editor, I’ll do the rewrite, and then a copyeditor. It sits at just under 92k words, and I’m excited to see where it ends up. Don’t worry. You’ll be the first to know.
Thank you for joining this journey with me. The beginning of my first memoir will be included in the next email. Until then, be blessed, be strong, and be willing.