These Things Are Fun

Snowbird DRAFT1a+l cover JULY 14 2014.indd

  • A smooth flowing pen or a dark pencil.
  • Starting the day walking, gardening or journaling.
  • Figuring out what to do if a character has a crisis.
  • Someone tells me they have read one of my books.
  • Blogging about people or events.
  • Enjoying a dinner party we’re hosting that lets me be a guest, too.
  • Planting wildflowers and imagining them in bouquets.
  • Trying a new recipe that turns out better than expected.
  • Conquering a problem.  The little van pictured on the cover of Snowbirds provided many, but the joys experienced were rewarding.
  • Realizing the U.S. is a great place to live.
  • Finding St. Andrews Anglican Church in Trail, B.C., a place of tranquility, happy people and beautiful music.

Who’s Stealing Walnuts


And almonds.  And pistachio.  That’s why nuts are so expensive these days.  They are being stolen and driven off to who knows where, thereby making food and beverage the most stolen cargo over what once had been electronics.

Here’s what’s happening.  Truck drivers from transport companies roll up to nut producers especially in California with what looks like official paperwork that allows them to drive away with millions of dollars worth of nuts that never arrive.

Later when their license plate numbers and driver’s licenses are checked, it comes back for different models of a truck and a license number belonging to some innocent victim.

All the signs say police are cooks who appear to understand the trucking industry, how to seal identities and go-around computer security.  Said one officer, “If you steal thousands of pounds of nuts, you’re not going to sell it at a farmer’s market.”

Nut thief is a statewide problem and more than 10 million in cargo has disappeared in just four years.  Federal organized crime investigators have created regional task forces.  California is the world’s largest producer of almonds and the second largest of walnuts and pistachios.  In Tulane County, the sheriff has put six detectives on the nut force.

The people in the transporting industry responsible for verifying the transactions are those who make the contracts between producers and trucking companies.  In one theft, they discovered that someone using a public library computer in the Los Angeles area was accessing a company’s records.  They then bid on shipping contracts.  One nut producer asked a driver for his thumb print which showed later that he actually was a parolee who had been detained in a L.A. jail.  If caught, a driver is usually given little jail time.

However, some drivers are not even aware they are taking part in a crime.  Gullible drivers can deliver the loads to criminals.  The shipping facilities can be located in out-of-sight warehouse areas with usually no security or cameras.

Someone right now may be writing a novel about a driver caught up in the nut racket who becomes angry enough to help authorities capture these people who are making nuts so expensive.

The big questions: who ends up with all these nuts– and how do they find their way to market?

(Thanks Photo Pin for the walnut photo)





Waiting to Be Read


One of the most popular meetings of a local group is the night members share information and their passion for three books they’ve read during the year.

It’s an exciting time.  The air is charged with all the great reading ahead.  The following are a few titles that were suggested and one which I can’t wait to read.

When spring comes, I’ll be motoring to Yellowstone Park.  Here’s a book meant for me: The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of American’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams in 2016.  Maybe you, too.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats: a novel by Jan-Philipp Sendker published in 2012.  The brief synopsis: When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be–until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago to a Burmese woman they have never heard of.  Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived.  There she uncovers a tale of unbelievable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

The Columbia River is just a few miles down the road so I’ll be eager to hear more about our “Great River of the West” in the book by Blaine Harden, A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia in 2012.  Although it provides cheap electricity, the author says it is also a narrative of exploitation of Native Americans (who today are watching and taking petitions to court), of endangered salmon, of nuclear waste, and of a river – once wild – tamed to puddled remains. The author’s home town is Moses Lake in Washington State, once a dry land but could not have existed without gargantuan irrigation schemes.  His father, a Depression migrant trained as a welder, helped build dams -including Grand Coulee – and later worked at the Hanford plutonium plant.

As he traveled the thousand miles of the river by barge, car, and sometimes on foot, his own past seemed both foreign and familiar.  He met rugged individualist, fervent environmentalists, and Native Americans reduced to consuming canned salmon.  He also encountered a newly ascendant political force whose more subtle agenda was to preserve and conserve for its own pleasure and recreation.

Of course, included on the list was the book I told about in this blog: Into Africa: the Epic Adventure of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard in 2004.  It is a hair-raising non-fiction that reads like a novel.

(thanks PhotoPin for the walnuts)


Winter Gardening

Acting as if it is the first crocus to sprout, a Vermont Bean Seed Catalog snuck in before Christmas, a perfect way to search for a gift for the Lazy Bee garden, one which has never produced a bean bush with any promise. This catalog, however, seemed to have the remedy, Nature’s Aid Rhizabia Inaculant, for all […]


Vegetable seeds were ordered New Years Day from Pinetree, a company specializing in organic seeds.  An inaculant, too, perfect for all types of beans and peas to help the Green Magic and Bountiful Bush beans grow.  The product will put billions of live active thizobia bacteria into the soil so seeds grow sturdier plants with better quality.

Of course,, other garden companies are sending their catalogs, one a day it seems: Farmers – Jung – Burpee – Dutch Farms – R.H. Shumway – Select Seeds.

The colorful seed pictures and descriptions in these catalogs reach out to readers – see me – read me – relish me – try me – buy me.

The Lacy Bee garden is smaller this planting season because the lower portion is planted with wild flowers.  American Meadows is sending small packets of organic wildflowers and herb seeds selected for the Pacific Northwest and native plants. This year wildflowers will be added to sand, about one cup per 1/4 pound of seeds, sowed by hand, cardboard placed over the seeds and stepped upon for compaction.

Vegetables planted are just the ones we’ll eat: broccoli, carrot, kale, lettuce, beans – bush or runner, eggplant, tomato, zucchini, potato.  A few herbs continue on, year to year such as oregano.  No horseradish, although there is a plant resembling it that comes up every year.  Cilantro, an annual herb, will be attempted again this year.  The seeds first planted in soil in an egg carton near a fire burning in the living room about six weeks before the last expected frost in mid-May.

For the vegetables, I’ll make a combination of one/third sugar, Epsom salts and bone meal to  mix in the dirt.  It’s cheap and easy.  Plants seem to like the combination.

Now it is time to put to one side the seed catalogs and to sketch the locations for the seeds.  This is a task more challenging than the placement of accessories and furniture; maybe because seeds seem to have lives of their own and desire to be planted in a soil warm enough to suit and a gardener willing to be there by their side, step by step, to get rid of weeds and to protect, as some of the gardeners do with shields over their tender bodies when the sun is too hot.

It takes premium effort to be an effective gardener.  I am a WISHFUL gardener.  The first time I planted wildflowers, I wished them to grow after I followed the procedure offered by U-Tube gardeners.  They did come, perky and gave delight through the first summer.  Last  season there were only a few flowers, just weeds.  One can only hope.  No problem with zucchinis.   They’re like poor relations, they’ll thrive no matter where or however they’re planted.  (Okay, I have a zucchini secret: organic farmer BZ Isreal every year brings five or six plants so I don’t plant them from scratch.)

Winter gardening not only brings snow, as shown above at the Lazy Bee, it offers the beauty of pictures in seed catalogs.


Illegal Immigrants

Revolving Door Slogan

As many as 400 regions, townships, countries and cities in every region of the U.S., including the majority of cities, have taken unlawful steps to offer illegals some form of sanctuary; help them obstruct federal immigration law and policy; and to even use tax dollars to encourage and offer legal aid to illegal immigrants.

This is a huge issue and one everyone should discussing now at all levels and all walks of life.

The facts about illegals and the efforts to aid and shield them from the law are not in dispute any more than are the consequences.  In the U.S., however, there is disagreement between those who believe there should be borders and border controls, and those who believe there should be no borders and no controls.

According to Judicial Watch, a non-profit non-partisan foundation, the practice of flaunting the law and worse that the government, politicians and officials who support such activity is deeply corrosive to America because it undermines the rule of equality under the law and the foundation of our system.

It encourages foreigners to ignore our laws and statues that define us as a nation; and these illegals usurp the legitimate way of applying for permission to enter our nation legally.

Worst of all, it rewards criminality.  Thus, encouraging the legal, the moral and judicial breakdown of the rule of law in the U.S.  At various times, 250,000 illegals were serving murder sentences nationwide.  In Los Angles, for example, 95% of the outstanding warrants for homicide are for illegal aliens.

This is going to be a growing issue in the U.S.  Reports are that in the near future the U.S. is going to require workers.  They won’t be available to fill the need, especially in the medical and housekeeping areas, due to the huge demographic surplus of our growing senior population.

A few people have realized this dilemma and are predicting that the federal government will be pressured by businesses to help recruit and qualify these necessary employees.  Around the world other nations are anticipated to be dealing with the same problem of lack of workers for which the U.S. will be competing.

We must lead the world, first to grasp all facets of the situation, and then do what’s legally right for all concerned.  Illegals now, citizens tomorrow.  However, another problem is that culturally Mexicans first loyalty has always been to Mexico.

(Thanks to Photopin for the above photo)


Lebensborn Child Helped in New Jersey by Veterans

Hitler & children
Hitler and his Lebensborn children – kidnapped or born in a Lebensborn Home before and during WWII.

The Lexora Leader, a New Jersey newspaper, recently reported the story of a man born in l938 or l939 in Poland who was stolen and sent to a Lebensborn Center to be Germanized, one of the 100,000 such children who were then given to German parents to raise.

Stanislaw (Stan) Rowski, 79, who recently was living a homeless-style life camping in the New Jersey woods or in and out of motels, was given the German name, Fritz Radke, and placed with an Austrian family.  He never knew his birth parents.

In l945, when the Allies were trying to relocate refugees at camps in Italy and Spain, at l8 years he was old enough to immigrate to the U.S.  He was drafted and served in the U.S. air force for l6 years in the Philippines and Thailand.  In the Philippines he met and married a Fillipino and had two children.  “She wasn’t interested in coming to the U.S.,” he says and they separated.

A Center City veterans center a few months ago reached out to help him.  They found him to be highly independent so it took them a year or more to get him to tell them his name and to show us his military I.D.

His health failing, he finally agreed to let the VMC veterans assist him move into permanent house and to locate his adult children living in California.  He says that they didn’t know he was living in the woods or that he was even alive.  He now visits the military base where he grocery shops and goes to the library.  The Lexora Newpaper article reports him as saying, “I’ve had a fascinating life, but too much change.”

According to the national American Red Cross, no chapter had ever been asked to help such a Lebensborn child locate their parents.  However, at my first Lebensborn Secrets book presentation, a man in his late sixties stood up.  “I was born in a Lebensborn Home and I have been trying without success to find my birth parents.”  Fortunately, today records of all the war victim tracing services have a combined computer base and may have been able to assist him.  The International Tracing Service, a German-based organization, for example, continues the work and issues a yearly publication about their efforts.

There in Bad Arleson, Germany,  at the Tracing Center, you can see such records as Schlinder’s List.  From time to time, I will be contacted, too.  A woman photographer in Australian asked me about seeking such children in her area.  I wonder to this day if the man who asked for my source information, finally was able to learn about his parents.

As an author, I may never know.  But, I was glad I could pass along what information I did have about the war victim agencies.   Since WWII, the stories of Lebensborn children which today are surfacing are ones who have had conflicted lives with little support or education.  Thankfully, Stan now has a family and friends and life worth living.

(Picture credit: Photopin)




Do Not Read This Week

Person Sweating

Why not?  A pit of emptiness appears in my stomach at the thought I might not have a book in my hand.  Does this mean that I am an addict?  A reading addict?

No, according to Julia Cameron, an author who teaches creativity workshops, this is just for one week and can be a way to jump start creativity.  She also recommends writing “Morning Pages,” every day without fail.  This is a process of writing by long hand and putting down anything I want or feeling and never showing it to anyone, even myself.

Yes, in the past, I have found journal writing an empowering way to tap into the higher power that connects us with the creative energies of the universe.

After many years recommending her book–The Artist’s Way, a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,”–I purchased the manual to unblock my next step.  Passion for a project is helpful.  Mine felt weak.  Until I read one of her “Rules for the Road,”  worth the purchase of the book, which said in week two – Recovering a Sense of Identity:

Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.

Now in week four, she says, “Do not listen to other people’s written works.”  What she means, and I can affirm this, was:  Listen to yourself this week.  So, I asked on the page, What should I consider doing next now that I have completed another novel?

Often you won’t like the answer.  There may be many reasons why is might not be practical or a thousand other things to stop your forward movement.

Last night, out of the blue, two answers came.  Both had promise.  I grew very excited.  I couldn’t wait to get started.

Today, I don’t like either one.   Perhaps those ideas will float around as I’m taking apart the Shark vacuum.  While I am cleaning all its parts, they’ll surface like birds with wings of hope.

I won’t be reading, not even the ones on a box of cereal.

(Picture: Photopin)