A reader named Theresa writes:

"Mr Lowe, I bought your books at the Woodland founders day Saturday and I’m delighted to say I was hooked on the stories from page one! Great work! Looking forward to your next book."

Theresa, and anyone else who reads this, please know that this sort of message means a whole lot to me. For an author adrift in the doldrums of a vast publishing sea, this is wind in my sails.

Thank you.

I have an old Kubota tractor and an older Rhino PTO mower for the 3-point hitch. Both have been beaten like Keith Moon's drum kit in the tree farm--bashed, broken, and every which way spindled, folded and mutilated. It is a testimony to engineering that any of it works at all.

The mower has a trailing wheel on the after end. The original wheel lost its bearing and for a long time I just ignored it, letting the damn thing flop around back there as I mowed. Over time even the forks that hold the wheel axle nearly wore out. I finally took that wheel out and made a replacement wheel out of several disks of plywood that I glued and screwed together. I bought a long 3/4" bolt to use as an axle. It worked, but plywood being what it is, the weather eventually unplied it and the hole I had drilled for the axle wore out.

I actually was surprised it lasted as long as it did. Anyway, in the past couple days I built a new one, this time out of pressure treated 2x8s I had lying around from a different project. I built a jig for the jigsaw to cut more circular disks, but that didn't work nearly as well as I hoped. Cheapskate carpentry uses inferior, repurposed junk that never, ever materializes the concept the way I imagined it. That's the frustration. The pleasure is when, after tinkering and adjusting, you install it and it works.

It feels good. And that's the problem. Because then you operate, and put off going back to the workshop to improve the jig. The discipline to go back to the drawing board, or to the workshop to refine and improve that concept-to-product connection, is where the real success lies.

Loneliness ended and life began when she reached out and brushed my cheek gently with her finger. It set my world spinning. The others left, I stayed.

I remember her touch as if it were yesterday. Years later I wrote a song called "The Sum of Love." It goes like this:

I love you, you love me

One and one equals three

I loved you yesterday, today I love you more

One and one equals four

The sum of love, it ain't no jive

One and one equals five

Looking back, I can see

The sum of love in a family tree

Looking forward, I hope to see

A lot of little fruit in the family tree

You can do the sum of love if you try

Just be fruitful and... multiply

In love, do it in love, love, love

In love, do it in love.