My Journey with Captains Lewis and Clark

I once took part in the Lewis and Clark expedition in the West.

The reenactment of this historical event took place in June of l984, but our portage around the Great Falls had us cross countryside that looked and felt the same wilderness as it was in June of 1805.  No people or buildings at all, just open land.

I had come to Great Falls in January to take a new position at the Red Cross chapter and was asked post haste to be a member of the planning committee

Captains Meriwether Lewis and William C. Clark, portrayed by Richard Martin and Ronald Paulick told me, “We need two women to portray members of the original party.  We think one of them should be you.”

Every week three committees met under their sergeant to make preparations, to learn from experts as much as possible about the Expedition and its members, to get a feel for countryside we would be crossing in our portage around the Great Falls with three loaded canoes build with trees from the forests nearby.

In our outfits made of two deer and one elk skin, the party members looked as if we had stepped out of history.

The  Captains wrote me a letter prior to departure.  In it they said: “As you portray Pvt. Joseph Whitehouse during these next few weeks. We hope you will pour into your role the strength of your own character in which we have the utmost confidence.  There will be many rigors ahead< and both physical and mental challenges for you.  But there will be opportunities for you to meet and exceed these challenges.  And with success you will benefit greatly in unaccountable ways.”

(More about the challenges of that journey and how the remembrance of it brings to mind the ones which might be expected on the journey I soon begin.  In the next blog, more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the lessons it taught.)

The Lifespan of My Lebensborn Novel

Lebensborn cover DRAFT 4 OCT 20 2015 (1)Lebensborn cover DRAFT 4 OCT 20 2015 (1)Cover for Lebensborn Audio Book

An author produces a book.  Many, especially book of fiction, are works that take years to write, rewrite and edit before being released.  Then, the daily marketing efforts begin.

As long as an author continues to breath marketing into the creation, the book stands a change of aging well.  But with all things, death comes.

My signature work, Lebensborn, was researched before the internet came into being.  I went to France when creating the first book.  During the writing of the second part of the book, I traveled to Germany to see and feel with my own eyes, authentic bits of the past.  Lebensborn did well for three years.  It received good press, interviews, radio interviews, a gold medal in fiction, plus a royalty grant for an audio book.

It went overseas.  To the book shelves of China and into the hands of e-book readers.

Two years ago a publisher who liked the book asked me to join his team.  “I love your book.  Wouldn’t change a word in it.  I feel it never received the exposure that it should have.”

I liked his enthusiasm and changed publishers.  This took the book out of production.  Time passed before he phoned again to ask if I had any new work.  “Of course.  In my author’s trunk, there is Snowbirds,”  A cover artist was assigned.  Snowbirds arrived and is a fun ride.

A few weeks ago, an artist sent me a cover draft for Lebensborn and said it was based upon an historic poster for the Lebensborn program.  A healthy looking blond youth in a Hitler Youth uniform is shown over a strip of photos of Lebensborn babies and young women.Lebensborn cover DRAFT 4 OCT 20

2015 (1)

When I saw the cover, my heart sank.  I wrote the story because I was fascinated by the Nazi’s state of the art publicity and their other ways of promoting their plans: the speeches, night parades, architecture, uniforms, and wanted to show HOW this played a major role in seducing an entire nation (well, that and their fear tactics).  I envision a “fairy-tale” for the next cover because so many women of high status believed it enough to produce a baby for the Fuhrer.

Lebensborn, the book, remains adrift in the sea of historical fiction.  Before looking for a new cover artist who understand my vision, I’ve asked the publisher to ask a few experts to see if the book deserves another chance.

The jury is out.

True Story of a Man Cave

BeforeDeclutter Begins (1)

This is a true account of a Man Cave.

A woman hired a man to clean up her husband’s barn.  Through the twenty years of the man cave’s existence, the building happily filled with the man’s tools and equipment.

Her only possession in the barn was an upright freezer.  Clutter piled up over the years.  The space right beside the freezer now had spider webs over the sundry pieces of glass, the empty coffee cans, the noble tree branch with a gnarled growth at one end, and many unnamed other items.

The mess beside the freezer seemed to keep growing right along with all the other objects which had a home in the barn.  Defrosting the freezer became more and more of a challenge as free space became less and less in which to put items when the freezer needed cleaning.

Meanwhile, a chicken, the only chicken remaining after a bear and the raccoons had come, was free-ranging.  When it learned it could fly, it escaped the predators and was now out of its fenced area and it particularly liked to be in the barn where it would leave samples of its visits.

One day a man appeared who needed work.  He not only worked diligently but she noted with some satisfaction that he put thought behind whatever he did.   She asked the man, “Would you be willing to sweep this barn?  I can’t move the boxes or equipment in order to sweep it any more.”

The man replied, “I will be happy to do whatever is needed.”

Her husband, however, was not happy to hear the news.  “How will I find anything?  It’s easy now.  I know where everything is.”

It took the man seven hours to clean up the barn.Decluttered

She learned one day soon after exactly how her husband had truly felt about her invasion of his man cave.  She came home from town and found that someone had decluttered HER kitchen counters.  The kitchen, well, wow!, it now appeared twice its size.  “I couldn’t have done this on my own.”

Then, she went to find the missing items.  They were in two huge boxes in a closet and had to find better places than the kitchen counter for them.  This led her to say, “I haven’t found the water pitcher yet.  He either sent it to the landfill or hid it somewhere.”

No telling what things he will be missing.  The space inside the man cave has no more spider webs and her kitchen space has improved.  Today, there is even enough space in the barn for a barn dance.

Thoughts as Thanksgiving Approaches

A time to appreciate the hours we have left.

A time to appreciate the hours we have left.

If you’re fond of eating, Thanksgiving is coming up.  It’s one of the top feasts in the U.S.  It’s the time we eat and drink to the fullest.  Not in moderation, and with as many people as possible.

Epicurus had three requirements for a happy and tranquil life.  They were: the absence of pain freedom from fear, and close friendships.

No matter what material success we have, without family and friends, life loses its flavor.

Ranking near the top of our most significant moments are births, deaths, weddings and celebrations (i.e. Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving, per Epicurus (341-270- B.C ) who lived in Greece, might tell us that this is a wonderful time that’s coming up.  You can savor the delights of life, a time to love and be loved in return.

Be it a casual gathering, an unhurried day once preparations have been accomplished, just being with family and friends, enjoying good food and drink, and telling stories about what is happening in each of our lives.

It is a time to be on our best behaviors, a time to be grateful.  It is impossible to feel miserable and be contented at the same time.

Death, it should not terrify us.  Epicurus wrote, “Since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.  The absence of life is not evil; death is no more alarming than the nothingness before birth.”

         Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate all that we have and the years we have left.

Bright or Dark Economy Ahead

I tally up investment guru comments for the future.

Looking at investment comments for the future.

For years I have read and listened to economists.  The first I remember was the man in San Miguel, MX., who told us three years ago that the U.S. wouldn’t come out of recession until 2020, to just a few days ago hearing the Donald Trump, a U.S. presidential candidate say, “The next president will inherit a nation in recession.”

Or, do I believe the man I heard speak a few days ago in Colville, WA., who told a hopeful audience, “American Funds believe the future looks bright,” and told us why.

Putting all the guru predictions together, the tally of positive is three-fourths for harder times ahead to one-fourth booming due to new innovations.

However, says Chris Cinorelli, the managing editor of Economy and Markets, “If you think the economy is okay, send them our way.”

Chris McCartney, financial adviser for American Funds, the man who spoke to investors here in Colville, said, “Our company invests in companies not the market.”

Nervous investors and underemployed college graduates watch our presidential candidates but hear little about the economy.  No one wants to admit what ails us because doom-and-gloom doesn’t get votes.

A sum up of negatives show abysmal job reports, wholesale and retail sales that are dropping while inventories are rising, exports and imports, falling.

That is the tip of what’s happening today.  Digging deeper, the picture can look bleak if you take in number of auto loans and student college debt behind in payment, job openings lost when companies announce job cuts.  There’s rampant debt around the globe, big issues that are plaguing countries which are being postponed and pushed to the side rather than being addressed.

Dangers of changing demographics is a huge issue as countries suffer from aging populations and their birth rates are dropping.  There won’t be enough workers to support us old folks.

It feels as if we’re back in the 30’s in the U.S. when few people, if any, had more than three children.

The big breath of fresh air this week will be the announcement of scientists who tell of a break through in the fight against Parkinson’s.   Other medical news is soon for other chronic diseases.  Hepatitis is among them and that news was just announced cheering the many who have been suffering from shots in their tummies, etc.

Dave Gonigan of Agora Financial tells readers, “the economic fairy tale of 2015 is falling apart.”

On the other hand, the good news from the guy from American Funds is that 65 million people in places like Russia, Brazil and Asia, are the new consumers of cell phones and air planes.  For example, Boeing sales to the Philippines and Asia are high in the next five year.  People around the world who are improving their lives need U.S. elevators, toilets, doors and windows.

“China buys 25 million vehicles a year from GM, Ford and others.

“In eight years,” according to his good news, “the pace of change will be more mind boggling than ever.  Social technologies will have advanced at record speed.  Innovations are happening every day.

We’re okay.  Countries having oil aren’t doing as good.”

Let’s watch.  Take bets.   Who will be right?

World’s Gone Crazy

I have help from an investment guru to make sense of the "top dogs."

I have help from an investment guru to make sense of the “top dogs.”

If all roads once led to Rome, the carts coming in with silks and spices of the east, the grain of Africa and Eqypt, but nothing leaving but garbage, does this mean it is the same thing that’s happening today in Washington, D.C., a place that receives tax revenues and exports wars and destructive policies?

Who’s in charge?  Who are the “top dogs” of the U.S. and the world?  Half of the residents of Syria are leaving for fear of their lives.  The world is heavily burdened by violence, senseless actions, a desperate national and world economy.  Lets take a look at the top players.

Investment guru Doug Casey says the running dogs are more than we can imagine . . . more than the political or economic leaders.   He says, “It is composed of top-echelon employees of a dozen agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, top generals, admirals, long-term congressmen and senators and directors of regulatory agencies.

“It also includes heads of major corporations, all of whom are heavily involved in selling and enabling the “runners.”  It involves the Silicon Valley, top people in the Fed and the heads of all major banks, brokers and insurers, the presidents and many professors at top universities, top media figures who epitomize the status quo, held together by power, money and propaganda.

“Altogether these number a thousand or so.  And, there are hundreds of thousands who aren’t part of the pack but who directly depend on them and have considerable clout . . . people like the1.5 million who have top-secret clearances, plus the top players in organized crime, mid-level types in the police and military and non-governmental organizations,”

I’m one of the scores and scores of millions who depend on things remaining the way they are because we are receiving benefits from those in charge, whether it be Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps or other programs, or the 23 million government employees and their families.

There is hope.  There’s always the belief that what made America strong with its incoming immigrants, it will do again as the world reshapes, resettles and comes to better morals, values and decisions by the TOP DOGS.

Passing the Buck – What Is the Meaning of These Slang Words?

Start the day with a little fun. See if you know the answers to these questions.

Start the day with a little fun. See if you know the answers to these questions?

How do familiar slang words get their start?  For a little fun, let’s see if you know the meaning of these:

Pass the Buck:  Meaning:  Giving responsibility to someone else.  In the frontier of America, poker players would pass a buckhorn handled knife from player to player to show whose turn it was to deal.

From Soup to Nuts:  Means everything.  Listing the first and last courses of a meal indicates the whole deal.  This phrase became soup to nut because many meals began with soup and ended in a dessert with nuts.

On Cloud Nine:  Means having a feeling of well being or euphoria.  Came about when the U.S. weather bureau divided cloud formations into nine categories.  Cloud Nine is higher than any other.

Murphy’s Law:  If something can go wrong, it will.  This slang expression is named for an engineer on a U.S. military project that went wrong during testing.

Come hell or high water:  Means to go forward despite the obstacles.  Came about in the U.S. when cattlemen drove their herds through high water at every river and the hell in between.

Knuckle down:  Get to work and do your best.  The term comes from the game of marbles.  The knuckle has to be on the ground exactly at the spot where your previous marble ended up.

Three Dog Night.  This is a good one!  It means a night that is very cold.  It was often said when cowboys were out on the range.  They often slept with their dogs to keep warm.  A three-dog night means a very cold night.

Buying the farm.  This means to die.  If a soldier was killed in combat in WWII, his family was given a death benefit that was enough money to pay off their mortgage of the family farm.

Everything but the kitchen sink.  Means everything imaginable.  Expression came during WWII when everything possible was need to contribute to the war effort.  The only object left out was the porcelain kitchen sink.

Add This To Your Bucket List

I enjoy the taste of lingonberries.  They are especially yummy in the perfect crepe crust.

I enjoy the taste of lingonberries. They are especially yummy in the perfect crepe crust.

Breakfast is my favorite meal. It can be served on a ship, in a campground, at a five-star restaurant in Paris or at the Old European Restaurant in Spokane, WA.

When I remember all the foreign countries in which I’ve had the good karma to have had breakfast, the good memories of travel return just thinking about the food that was served.

Breakfast in England, Russia or Turkey have their reasons to visit but food isn’t one of them.

Ah, Paris. The fragrance of sipping coffee with cream and a delicate pastry as you sit at a sidewalk café watching the dogs and their owners go by is mighty fine.

In Bergen, Norway, the multi-course breakfast on the top of a hotel that catered to Americans, ranks right up there. I started with two bowls of oatmeal, went back for a couple of the breakfast egg casseroles, added breads and pastry, and continued to plow through the many other courses.

“How can you eat like this?” Asked my mother when we were there following our experience in Russia. “I must be starving. This food is so good.”

“So many people have come and gone,” continued my mother who wasn’t at all fond of leaving because she didn’t like walking up and down all the steps in Bergen.

I wish she were still here so that I could take her to Old European Breakfast House in Spokane. She may have liked the Dutch Babies, a Benedict (a toasted muffin topped with two medium cooked eggs and hollandaise sauce), or the orange rolls, which incidentally the Davenport Hotel also does so well.

From time to time, I’ll write a review for TripAdvisor. We were just in Spokane to pick up Bud’s new historical fiction, Courage Beyond Expectation, and had time to drop in for breakfast at Old European.

When having breakfast at Old European, it felt as if we were traveling again. Once again, I was having lingonberries as I once did in Stockholm. Perhaps Bud was remembering being in Germany and having potato pancakes.

Ah, food. When it’s prepared with fresh ingredients and is of the best quality, there’s nothing like the enjoyment it offers.

Here’s to breakfast!

Everyday Magic

Ah, this is the way to simplicity's sweetness.

Ah, this is the way to simplicity’s sweetness.

“What are you going to do once you get settled in after you move here?” my neighbor, Fred, asked a man coming to our forested mountains from Florida.

“Watch the snow fall. Enjoy seeing it snow.”

“But winter can last six months here,” said Fred.

Maybe the newcomer knows something of the art and beauty of the Japanese culture. They appreciate viewing things we Westerners take for granted.

One woman in Kyoto has made a small pavilion in her garden so she has the best view of snow falling. Often she invites friends and they sit in silence, sipping a cup of the special sake brewed exclusively for snow viewing. The sake is beaten up with a raw egg to enhance the look of the land under snow.

This is the same refinement of appreciation they give to moon viewing. In one scene in the movie Shogun (James Clavill’s novel),
Blackthorne is invited to watch the moon come up. His attention will be on the moon, no conversation necessary. Everyone invited to the moon-viewing night will be fully occupied watching how the light falls over the countryside, the play of clouds, the growing light of the night-studded star sky. Japanese homes often have a moon-viewing window.

Wouldn’t you love attending an incense smelling gathering where an expert lights different pieces of wood to give you an appreciation for a new-cut piece of cedar versus one of a piece years old?

This leads me to take time out to mention that we who write must also take time to appreciate the people who read our work. They offer as unique an appreciation of art and beauty and in as creative of a way as if they were “snow” or “moon” watching when they glimpse a bit of the author’s soul beneath their words.

Once you latch onto the concept of simple simplicity, it can bring unexpected depth of daily life. The smallest detail can offer such sweet simplicity.

Perhaps I’ll have a “snow-viewing” party, serve white eggnog and white wine. A moon-viewing gathering wouldn’t work out the same if your home is set too deeply in the woods and there is no window through which to see the moon.

The Top l0 Questions I Have This Fall

It's Fall!

l) What will touring with husband’s new historical fiction, Courage Beyond Expectations, be like? What will we learn?

2) The white blossoms on the Anasizi beans, will they turn into beans?

3) What other surprises lurk when dismantling the garden?

4) Will the deep frosts of fall take place AFTER the yellow flowers of squash plants issue vegetables?

5) Will Alfie, the cat, have another encounter with a wily packrat? (A standoff took place recently in the afternoon. In the Lazy Bee barnyard, Alfie and a packrat faced each other l0 feet apart; the first to move would lose their life. Husband had time to get a gun, load it and get off the shot that killed the horrible critter. Alfie was said to have jumped up ten feet in the air.)

6) What will the next fundraiser be for Friends of Fire District #10. The recent auction at the picnic raised $700 for 20 pies. Can we take it to a higher PIE level? Or chose to put on a different fundraiser?

7) Will the normal rains of fall during the first week of September bring relief to firefighters and those of us who live in the forests of WA. State?

8) Now that the ms. of Casanova Cowboy is ready for edit, what will be the setting of my next novel?

9) Will it be one about a white-collar criminal? The love story of an older homeless couple? A mystery set in a family who rent out two rooms in their house?

l0) What will turn out to be the most fun? Surely, it won’t be the decluttering of cabinets, even if that does bring a weird kind of joy.