Better? Better.

We’ve been checking the news ever since we learned of Sunday night’s fire in Gassville, waiting for authorities to identify the fatality at the antiques shop. Awake this morning around 4:30am, I picked up my phone and searched the Web for “Gassville fire.”

The Mountain Home newspaper confirmed what we hoped we’d never hear — it was Jerry, the store’s owner. He was 80 years old.

His daughter revealed via social media that her father had died in the fire. She and the family are devastated, as is the community.

I know, we met the guy just once, the only time we visited his shop, less than a week before his death. I’d understand perfectly if you judged that a pretty thin basis for devoting so much attention to him on this blog. I’ll do my best to explain.

First of all, Jerry made a big impression on us — his good humor, his patriotism, vigor that belied his years. And second, you need to understand that there’s just not a lot here. There really aren’t that many people. Whatever happens, whether it’s joy or tragedy, ripples. It’s felt, and deeply. Events affect folks in ways that inhabitants of larger and more superficial cultures can’t begin to comprehend.

That’s familiar to me. It’s the way it was where I grew up.

Now Deb and I have chosen to make this area our Home. We feel the ripples.

Godspeed, Jerry.

Trump announced last night that he’s running for president again. I listened to the speech off-and-on, and it wasn’t exactly a Golden Escalator Moment. It came off to me as an orchestrated formality, not nearly as enthusiastic as I might’ve expected.

It was, in a word, flat.

If he gets the GOP nod, and barring unforeseen deal-breakers, I can’t imagine not voting for him in November of 2024. But he doesn’t yet have my vote.

He’ll have to compete for that. He’ll have to earn it. And he won’t do that by acting like a world-class dick.

Over the last couple of weeks Trump has been channeling his inner child — or, to be more accurate, his inner childishness — and that gives me pause. It’s not that I expect better from a president, or a presidential candidate.

I expect better from a man.

I insist that he move the fuck on from 2020. It really struck me last night when he said (and repeated), “I’m a victim.” That alone has me looking for an alternative. I don’t vote for victims.

See, Trump could win by running on his record. He doesn’t have to engage in juvenile insults — he could take the high road (which isn’t the same as mealy-mouthed establishment-speak), but honestly, I don’t think he has the personal discipline to do it. We’ll see.

I remain unapologetically mega-MAGA. Last time I checked, however, that stands for “Make America Great Again,” not “Make Trump President Again.” If Trump wants to win me over for his 2024 run, he has a lot of work to do.

Today was, I’m glad to say, less strange and more interesting than our Tuesday. It still was more compressed, perhaps, than we’d like, but enjoyable all the same. Deb’s cousin’s daughter and her boyfriend were visiting from out of town, and we spent time with them on The Mountain before returning to the insurance agency to finish what we started yesterday.

With time to kill, we stopped to browse a small gift shop in Yellville. A food truck serving up homemade fried pies was parked outside — blackberry cream for me, cherry for Deb. After getting our insurance business handled, we met Deb’s cousin and the young(er) folks at Blacksheep BBQ.

It had been way too long since I’d enjoyed The Hawg Dawg.

Despite a chill wind, the weather was perfect. Skies were dramatic. I’ll leave you with a few images captured by Deb from the front seat of our Silverado.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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