Antoinette Needs You

2017 cover lebensborn secrets
Antoinette, the courageous girl pictured above, has secrets. But so does the person telling her WWII story.

According to statistics of the American Library Association, the multitude of fiction available to readers and listeners via every sort of media is so vast today that novels have a life-span of six months.

Antoinette’s story, Lebensborn, was first released in 2010 with this title.   It whisked around the world with a publisher and sold in the U.S. and in countries such a China, India and Australia.  It garnered many reviews, one person in fact calling it the best novel of the year.

It won a gold medal for fiction.  Then, a fellow author said he was beginning a publishing company.  “I’ve always loved your story,” he said.  “I wouldn’t change a word of it.  If you come with me, I believe I can give it the recognition it deserves.”

Due to the time it was taking for him to market his own fiction, he was slow to get in gear and requested to publish a different book in my author’s trunk.  So out came Snowbirds, a little memoir of adventures in a recreational vehicle.

Antoinette’s take could only be found then in audio form and in used book stores.  One friend reported that she saw it listed at for $349.  Why?  Apparently, at that time it was considered “a classic.”

Authors today can choose an editor, a cover artist and an independent publishing company and be on their way with a good-looking product.  Gloria de lost Santos, recently deceased, a Hollywood artist, produced her new cover.  Russ Davis at Gray Dog Press designed the interior and produced the book using a soft-paper material.

The book is now available on Amazon, ACX audio and in local stores.  In order to stay alive though, Antoinette needs folks who will give others their thoughts about her life by sending a review to Amazon, Goodreads, a book blogger, friends.

Antoinette needs friends.   Can you help?








Honoring My French Legion Soldier Dad’s Service

world war one scene

My cousin Steve Packey displays a photo of his Grandfather Joseph in his law firm in Sacramento.  It is Steve’s noble way to remember a family member who served his country during war.

Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army in Chicago when the U.S. entered  WWI.  He was sent to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri where it was discovered he was fifteen years old and thought too young to serve.  Officials sent him home.

From there, he marched himself up to Canada and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.  The photo in Steve’s office shows him standing beside a car in Paris that he drove for an officer.  Soon he was fighting in the trenches.  The hand-sized Soldier’s Book he carried contained pages of military objectives in French and English. That little part of WWI history can be seen in an Iowa museum in McGregor, Iowa, if it’s still there.

Like most veterans who fought, Dad would not share the terrorizing experiences of trench fighting.  However, I was fascinated with the beautiful medal he was given following his battle wounds.  It was inlaid with ivory and green stones and I wore it often to high school on a chain..  Until the chain fell off.  I continue to regret that loss.  The few remaining objects I  have of his are a rosary and one of his fishing lures.

Joseph does leave a legacy of patriotism and courage.  I also believe he passed along a sense of adventure.  I discovered this during a Mom’s Day call from son John when I asked, “What kind of mother was I?”  And, he answered with not a second’s hesitation, “Adventurous.

This may be one of the reasons I wrote Lebensborn Secrets.  The adventures continue in Rusty Springs and Casanova Cowboy.  Perhaps even, Snowbirds.

(Again, thanks to PhotoPin for use of the above scene.)

Fun Signage

1700 signage

I enjoy a clever sign.  In Spokane, this business sign brought a chuckle: I took my wife to Japan for our 25th.  On our 50th, I go get her.

A few seem to be placed by a Zen poet.

While wandering around the main Brown Building supply building, I came across a treasure trove of tin signage from the l940’s or 50’s.  It’s an usual place to find boxes upon boxes of signs, many featuring Marilyn Monroe.

A few signs left with me.  A tin sign is an assessor, not really needed, but, if the words and message behind the sign are genuinely funny, then, why not put them on a wall inside the house or barn?

Here’s my favorite:







I might place this one in the bathroom:



and Loose Women   (New Orleans Police Dept.)

Commenting about the signage above: What in the world is a ‘Tinker?’

What would a first-class B&B host post?  Turn off cell phones?  No phone calls accepted after l0 p.m.?  Eat everything on your breakfast plate?  Or, this note:  We can’t cater to all food cravings.  But, cookies are available unless someone gets to them before you do.

Conquering a Challenge

When coming face to face with a tough project, do you follow through to the finish despite the fierce obstacles?  The frustrations have been so fierce that you’ve yelled, “I can’t do this!”

But, notice.  If you followed through and didn’t give up, success was just on the other side , a hair’s breath away.  You faced the tipping point.

I witnessed an example of this principle when watching a mountain man battle nature.  The event was removal of the stump of a cedar tree over 120 years old, it’s root ball over eight ton, one of the largest in volume in his memory.

After the man dug around the stump with a back hoe, he jumped in the hole he’d made and stood beside it.  The stump reached over his head several feet.  He climbed out.  Went to his bull dozer.

Other stumps behaved better and went along with his plan to drag them to a pit.   This stump tested his tipping point.  He chained it up to his bull dozer.  The stump refused to move.  In fact, it was tough enough to lift his bull dozer off the ground.

Now came the tipping point.  He yelled, “It won’t move!”  He clambered down, brought over the back hoe and began hacking away at the stump.  Dirt rained down between the roots.  He tried pulling with the dozer again.  The battle went on . . . and on.  More than two hours.

He didn’t give up.  He finally calmed down, went back to the task with a calmer attitude.  Now he was victorious.  The huge stump was not destined to live in the same place it was planted.  He carried it off in his back hoe.  Smiling.




What To Do When Power Grid Goes Down

Hand held radios

What will you do when the power grid goes down?  If the Internet and phones stop working, how will you touch base with others?

This will happen says Michael Blackman, safety director for Stevens County emergency systems in Washington State.  At a recent public meeting, we learned of a system of volunteers who are preparing in case there is a natural or man-made disaster, a time when all emergency systems will be overloaded and not able to respond.

“If you have a plan, you will get your facts straight and not say or do the wrong thing,” he explained to an audience of around fifty persons, half who were ham-radio operators.

He explained how we talk to each other: face to face, hand signals, on the phone, with written messages via snail or e-mail, or on two way radios.  “Of course, there are smoke signals but what do you do on windy days or if there are too many mountains or hills in the way.

“Not only do you need a Plan A but you should have a Plan B in place in case an unexpected glitch shows up in Plan A.”

A band of volunteers, experienced or just learning, are preparing to be available in time of natural or man-made disasters to monitor on  unlicensed Channel 3 at the top of every hour requests for information or help.  They be on hand to help us stay connected by calling others for help, sharing information before during and after a crisis and be part of the post-crisis recovery.

The network is AmRRon and it’s for folks who have Family Friendly Radios (walkie-talkies, the kind you buy at Radio Shack or Wal-Mart), Murs, or the CB in your vehicle.

Up here by the Canadian Border, Fire Chief Mark Smith and his crew of volunteer firemen and women will be waiting in three fire trucks at key locations in Fire District Ten to pass along, with their fire truck radios, emergency requests and to share vital information.

You may not want to think about keeping a bug-out bag in your vehicle, handy in case roads are blocked, and you have to walk, but, you might consider getting a walkie-talkie.  Remembering you can dial in Channel 3, to reach an AmRRon volunteer at the top of the hour.

Blackman calls having a disaster plan for yourself and family, “Free insurance.”  I’ve located an old set of walkie-talkies.  Now, I must take time to learn how to use it.

(Thanks PhotoPin for another great photo)

Romantic Interlude

woman thinking

We want romance in our lives.  Classy J. Peterman’s story-told descriptions of hard to find garments gives us this in his lithe 5 X 7 ” catalogs.

Take a peek at this copy for a blouse: “This old thing.  It possesses effortless “just threw it on” look, like it’s some old cotton this or that.

“Closer inspection reveals delicate silk chiffon sequin-front blouse.  Sheer sleeves.  The astute ones notice the scalloped hem.”

Or this: “There was a palpable calm that I almost didn’t trust.  A subtle waft of sage.  Whoever ran this place made Zen the priority.

“There was also really good stuff.  Porcelain signs from the l930’s.  a Mohican chief’s blanket.  an excellent mid-century Grundig console radio.

“Then, there she was.  gliding.  Soft and wise.  She hadn’t said a word and I felt like I could tell her anything.  That was her energy.

“I jokingly ask where the yoga studio is.

“In the back through the bank vault,” she says without looking up.  Perhaps silk reminds you somewhere you might have been a prima ballerina, or a trapeze artist, or parachuted out of a plane.

“Some fabrics work their way into your uttermost feelings and desires.

“and, when you combine that within aesthetic of mid-century design, every step is a dance.  Every moment a blur of color for a silk-art skirt.”

I savor words no matter where I find them.  No matter that they are written in a sales catalog when it becomes a journey of adventure.  As a kid, I loved the thrill of Jack Armstrong told on the radio, or written on a cereal box.  Oh my, it was also a place to see where to send away for a silver ring.  Actually I do have an I love a Mystery secret decoder ring in my jewelry box.

For those who want these word adventures and to see unique, one of a kind woman and men’s garments, you can call customer service at J. Peterman’s: 888-647-2555 where you’ll read “Tuesday, the summer heat in Sevelle is the hottest . .  . ”

(Again, thanks to PhotoPin for an enchanting photo)



The Man from Atlanta


When I was doing the research necessary for my WWII fiction, I followed many threads of history.  The most amazing was how a man from an Atlanta advertising agency went to Germany in l929 to fight an up-hill battle to change their beer-drinking desires to Coke.

At that time, Ray Rivington, an ad man, 6′ 6″, went to Essen, Germany, in the industrial region to set up shop.  He found a worker and together they filled the first bottles and peddled them to laborers.  In his Southern accent, he’d shout, “Drinken Coc-Cola, kostlich und erfrescht.”

He made up pamphlets, “Was ist Coca-Cola?” and gave them out at sporting events, put these out on tables at restaurants.   As fast as restaurant owners tossed them out, he had his men replace them.

Soon more and more retailers carried the product but stashed it under cases of beer.  With Ray’s hard work, and his vigorous targeting of industrial workers with the slogan to “Mach doch mal Pause” (come on take a break) apparently derived from its U.S. slogan “the Pause that Refreshes,” German sales rose from zero to 111,000 cases in four years.

During WWII, Coca-Cola never mentioned it’s U.S. roots and successfully established itself as a German brand in the mind of the drinking public.  When German prisoners of war debarked in new Jersey in early 1945, they saw a Coca-Cola sign.  When they were asked why they were so excited, they exclaimed,  “You got Coca-Cola here, too?”

Although Coke was an outright collaboration with the Nazis, so was Standard Oil who sold AV fuel to the German war effort, or other American companies who worked with the German company, F.G. Farber chemical.

Coke’s commercial success was tied to a public image created thru mass market ads  It convinced Americans after Dec. l941, both on the war and home fronts that drinking coke was somehow synonymous with fighting against the enemies of democracy.

And, those were the days before the Internet and Facebook.  It might have proved easier in 1929 for the giant from Atlanta to introduce Coca Cola.

(Photo courtesy of PhotoPin)