Let’s Hear it for SWANK!


A story of India comparable to Gone With the Wind tells the tale in Far Pavilions of the Maharajah of Karedkote who is sending his two half-sisters, young and beautiful, in the company of a British Guide across India to be wed to another Maharajah.

The size of the moving camp is so huge it’s hard to get your arms around it.  There are the four state elephants for the wedding procession, a battery of artillery and two regiments of his soldiers, together with 25 elephants, 500 camels, uncountable numbers of horses, and at least six thousand plus camp followers.

“Bit of swank,” says the District Officer, “a chance for the young brother Maharajah to show off.”

This dashing smartness in appearance is slang by the British for “swagger” or “style.”

Not to worry, in today’s world, we’ve got SWANK!  Even allowing for the hundreds of millions who still live in poverty, disease and want, this generation of humans has access to more calories, watts, square feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, bushels per acre, miles per gallon, food, air miles and dollars than ever before.

We have more Velcro, vaccines, vitamins, shoes, movie stars, singers, TV dramas, bean slicers, partners, tennis rackets or golf clubs, drones or anything else you can imagine needing.  Not to mention the Internet, books and e-books, Smart phones, cars, software and hardware.

There are those who will disagree with this.  And, so, to be fair, we’ll report back additional research in the next blog.

We Want What Others Have

We are curious.  We want to see what someone else is wearing, viewing, or to hear what they are considering.

That’s why we love a parade.

It all started back in the middle ages.  A wealthy gent designed a new cape and gown and wanted to show them off.  So he decided to walk through the village in his new finery and wave at the villagers. 

Another man, not to be outdone, decided to do the same.  It wasn’t long before others were bold enough to take a risk and jump right in.

Labor Day will be the first time I’ve sat on top of a convertible in a parade.  The view should be awesome as we drive up Northport’s Main street doing the wave to those who are either sitting on the motorcycle or in their car on upon chairs along the street.

From the first guy showing off to tomorrow when the signage on the convertible doors will tell of my vintage/junk sale Saturday, Sept. 13, under roof, parades are advertising and a darn good use for a vintage convertible.














View from a Hospital Waiting Room

medium_4929685747A writer observes, a witness to ordinary events.  These views of a hospital waiting room came this week from the Surgery Center at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, WA.

l) The best of a person surfaces.

2) Tattered copies of Good Housekeeping and Golf Magazine aren’t being read.  No one seems to be reading.  One person is knitting away with bright orange yarn.  The eyes are not on you but they are on alert, watching while waiting.

3) “I can’t read,” says Linda, who has been waiting for twenty-six years every year for results of her son’s heart surgery.  “I pace.”

4) “Look for the large picture of Jesus at the end of the corridor.  Then, you’ll know you’ve found the Skybridge waiting rooms,” said nurse Jennifer.

5) The complex here is huge.  It’s a true fact.  A given.  If you look even the slightest bit lost, the first passerby will stop to give directions.

6) Expect dedicated staff.  Amber told Bud as she was attempting to remove his wedding ring over his swollen finger, “I don’t want to hurt you.” 

7) “Don’t worry,” said nurse Jennifer, “We won’t have to cut it off.  Oh, we have the tools but we have our ways.”  Until finally, she said, “Amber is the Grand Marshall.  Knew she could do it.” 

8) Patience is their strong point.  The ring finally comes off with the help of a Windex-like and a jell product.

9) A waiting room can be different than you think.  Bill, who is a volunteer, along with his wife who is volunteering at the neo-natal unit, was with me at one of the huge windows.  We were looking outside in my attempt to locate the outdoor lot in which Bud had parked.  A man came to us.  “I know every inch of this place.  I’ll be glad to show her.”  Not only did he direct me to the car, but to the Madison Inn across the complex, carried two heavy food cases to my room, and left with a smile.

10) You, too, must either wash your hands, or use a sani-station.  High alert here to prevent germs.

11) Travel light.  Bud brought a big book.  Thought he could do some reading before surgery. That, added to a heavy purse and my book, made the tote bag heavier with each step outside the waiting room.  In a large complex, there can be a lot of walking.

12) Communication is top-notch via instruction sheets and brochures.  Especially helpful for those waiting for news of loved ones is the large wall screen which lists current location: procedure, recovery, phase 2, etc. of patients, and well as time they began that phase.

13) Dr. Steve Murray, also a philosopher, told Bud before surgery, “We can appear to move slow.”  

14) A waiting room has a quiet atmosphere.  Everyone waits for a physician or pa to come with news.  In Bud’s case, “It went well.”  Four percent would hear a different report.






Gentle Thoughts to Help Your Day Go More Smoothly

Don’t complain that you have too much on your plate, too little time, or are never caught up.

Your day can go effortlessly with much accomplished if you stay calm, relaxed and focused.

The secret to finding this wondrous flow to get much done with little effort is to give up trying to control the way things are going. As a wise person said, “We’re not in control anyway. It’s acting as if we ARE that exhausts us.”

Instead, acknowledge that the world is swiftly changing around you.

Here are a few things which can steady your ship and bring you joy:

l) Enter your day regally, like a prince or princess, not rushing. Get up a little earlier. Take a walk, read something inspirational, pray, write in your journal.

2) The most important thing in life is to DECIDE what is the most important

3) Instead of looking for the worst in a person, change your thinking to what are their best qualities and the joy in a relationship magically returns.

4) We can’t change many of the things that are happening but we CAN change our minds about them.

Lao Tzu said, “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

Plans Now for the Few Lookout Towers That Remain


A few years ago there were hundreds of lookout towers throughout the vast primitive and wilderness areas of the Colville Forest in Eastern Washington State. Now there are just a few. Drones and aircraft do the job once done by a person who looked and reported fires happening below in the beautiful mountains.

The Forest Service is considering upgrading the sturdiest (like this one pictured above on Crowel Ridge on Salmo Mountain, above Sullivan Lake). “We’ll put in a picnic table which can’t be moved but that will be about it. But it will cost over twenty thousand to make it habitable.”

So why we wondered, would anyone chose this as a camp site?

“You’re closer to the moon and the stars. When night comes, it does it quickly. One minute it’s light, then there is complete darkness,” explained Ranger Nan Berger.

Miles up the mountain enroute to this tower, we passed unbelievable and amazingly beautiful campsites rangers call “dispersed.” They are sites which are sprinkled along Sullivan Creek, each one as individual as the camper who chooses it, all free, elegantly arranged within the forest adjacent to the cold, turbulent water flowing over a rocky streambed. No registration required either, but if you want to swim in Sullivan Lake, a small day fee is required.

There are birds here called “dippers,” little black guys who got their name because they jump up and down, fly and dive and swim underwater.

This is Grizzly Bear and Caribou country so food is “on lockdown” and either placed ten feet up or in your vehicle.

Best times, always to find a creek spot, are the weekends following the big holiday campouts: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day. Otherwise there is East and West and numerous other smaller Sullivan Lake campgrounds with small fees, not at all like Disney in Orlando asks for a simple tent site: sixty dollars, and they’re always full!

If you like summer adventures, you might be interested in Passport in Time, a government volunteer program for those who want to help rebuild structures in the forests across the country.

People become so fond of wilderness camping (places where no feet have trod) that they seek these marvelous places across the country. Sorry, only a few wilderness areas are in the East.

It’s still time to find huckleberries. Perhaps, another joy of summer will be Roman Nose Mountain in Idaho out of Sandpoint where they’re just beginning to ripen. Get your bucket and come along.

What in the World?

medium_390479987It’s summer,  Zucchini time.  A neighbor planted seeds in a manure pile and the result was astounding.

So much zucchini grew that she said, “I picked a wheelbarrow filled with tug-boat sizes.  I’m going to go up to the Canadian border a short way away and put one by every mailbox.” 

Every year our organic farmer, BZ, gives the Lazy Bee several plants.  This year there are five so large that I’ll need two wheelbarrows and even more creative ideas about what to do with all of it.

There are recipes in my three little cookbooks for zucchini from hamburger casserole to cookies, breads, crisps or chocolate cake.  The best way to use it is as an hor d’hoeurve

Yummy Hors Oeuvre
Zucchini sliced in thin pieces
Sweet Onion in little chunks
Salt and a seasoning like Montreal
Butter or Coconut Oil

In a large frying pan, in butter or coconut oil, cook until it reaches a glassy state in a few minutes. Serve in small dishes and watch the smiles.

A Fleeting Presence

Fresh scent of country air has a peculiar quality, an almost indefinable quality..

Summer breezes stir pine needles, caress sheets hanging on a clothes line, and bless the day with tenderness.  April rains and winter snows likewise have their unique vapors.

Few take notice of air or its qualities.  Natures finest scents unfortunately can’t be bottled, only noticed. 

Different places on the planet seem to be more magical in the allure of air than others.   They offer air with a magnificent, fleeting presence.  Stepping of a plane in Stockholm, Sweden, the pureness of the air stunned with magical presence.  The force of this simple please continues to be as memorable as if it were emblazoned on a postcard.

Air does not like contamination from traffic, pollution, having too many people in small places, or an attempt has been made to alter it’s delicateness, such as when a used car dealer sprays a scent in a car.  Air shows it does not like these things and proves it by stinking.

Now is the time to be aware of the sweetness of summer air.




Reviewing a Few Summer Reads

Woman Reading

The boys in the boat will row their way into your heart.  This book is a colossal hit.  It took place in the l930’s at the time of the Great Depression, the terrible droughts in the U.S., and the Olympics in l936 in Germany.  The reader follows the University of Washington boys as they compete for a seat in a boat.  Author Daniel Brown has gone to so much research and interview lengths that the story feels as if it is happening as you read along.  The image of Joe, one of the tough kids paying their way through college, is unforgettable as you jackhammer along with him as he hangs from rocks in the Grand Coulee making the dam and working at this unbelievable task eight hours a day paying him 75 cents an hour, or you go with him to row for the gold on the grounds of the Olympics which Hitler had built BY HAND, with no mechanical equipment.

I read Luminaries, a novel set in l866 in New Zealand, because it was on a list of the top historical fiction.  When I picked up this book by Eleanor Catton, the librarian said, “I wish you better luck with this than I had (the books weighs at least ten pounds) and I thought she meant the heft of the thing.

I craved to learn about the success and the hardships of the miners.  What I found instead was a detective story about a dozen people who are connected in some way with the mining industry, including a sea captain.  It were as if I were reading a Sherlock Holmes novel when he gathers all the major parties together to unweave and tie up the threads.  In this case, a few deaths and a box of women’s fashions that travels back and forth across the ocean.  The book is a good example of a writer telling instead of showing a story.

Death Comes to the Archbishop, also on the top historical fiction list, was a grand read about the remote territory that Catholic priests cover when Arizona and New Mexico are annexed to the U.S.  They travel phenomenal ways across uncharted land.  The Archbishop is a lovable man who makes good decisions appropriate to the raw life of the time.  He overlooks priests who have families but they support the church and the people with passion.  A fun adventure for a hot summer day.

A WWII story, Miracle at St. Anna, by James McBride, which also became a movie, tells the story of four black soldiers.  They are in Italy and adrift from the main force because one of them has saved a little boy who doesn’t speak.  They find themselves in an Italian village where they learn about the Black Butterfly, a partisan leader, whose men have killed two SS men.  In retaliation, over 300 villagers have been rounded up and killed.

The shameful way Blacks were treated both in the service and at home is shown with compassion.  Lots of thrills and tension as the story builds.

The author, however, leaves out the fact that Blacks and Japanese soldiers are the troops  left behind to keep the Germans from leaving the mountains and going back to fight in Germany.  White troops have been shipped to England to prepare for the coming invasion in France.

I’m currently in the middle of The Seventh Gate, a story about a teenager in WWII in Berlin.  After that will be the Far Pavilions (another huge novel with small type) and the Egyptian, a book that was on the bestseller list for over forty years.


No – Do Not Tell

 Your dream should be secret.

Your dream should be secret.

On this summer afternoon, I think about my dream. It is so fragile that the telling of it risks its life. Telling someone about your dream is like blowing up a balloon and not tying the end. The very breath that speaks of the heart’s true desire can evaporate the creative energy that hides behind the dream’s force.

A dream is a seed in the soul, the very heart of you. I want to protect mine and nourish it by doing some activity every day which will take me closer to its reality.

Whatever your dream, it is yours and yours alone. Unless you love someone so much and have so much trust in them, perhaps you could tell them. If they do truly appreciate your dream and see you so full of hope then they may be able to witness your highest self.

The moment of telling someone your dream has magical possibilities, yet, is so delicate. You never really know another person until you know their secret dream.

It is then that you feel their power, strength, convictions and you know that they are REAL. They will feel happiness and so will you for you have met soul to sour. The great breath of life has been fanned. Alas, if a dream is exposed to the wrong person who belittles it, it will fade, the color lessening, the shape and size fogging over like a cloud forming when hot air meets a cold front.

The blessed moment is experiencing a dream come true. Pursuit of the dream is nothing in comparison to holding a dream in the palm of your hand, of knowing it is finally yours. A miracle.

If dreaming a dream is walking hand in hand with God, then fulfilling a dream is a glimpse of paradise.

(These words are excerpts from my new non-fiction, Snow Birds, releasing in October.)