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)

Outdoor Herb to the Rescue

Comfry Herb

If anyone asks you what animal bite is the most vicious or potent, you can tell them it’s that from a domestic cat.

In this rural area, the nearest clinic for help is only open Monday thru Wednesday.   A bachelor mountain man was bitten on a Thursday.  He was petting a couple of cats cozy on his lap when his youngest male rushed to his side.  He bent down to pet it, not knowing it was being chased by his oldest Tom cat.  It sunk its teeth into his hand which immediately began to swell.

Fortunately, a herbal savvy friend came by.  The victim rushed to dig up a big Comfrey root like the leaves shown above.  She ground up the root in her little coffee grinder, made a paste of it with caster oil, wrapped a damp cloth around it and protected it all with Saran wrap.

“It wasn’t the cat’s fault,” said the sturdy outdoor man.  “I had one other terrible infection that I thought was painful.  One of my teeth got what I thought was a minor infection.  But, it lead to lock jaw.  This cat bite is worse.”

When the clinic opened Monday, they gave him the special antibiotic they have on hand just for cat bites or scratches called Amoxicillin Clavulanate.   The herbal poultice was removed for the trip to the clinic.  The swelling which had been going down, immediately started to increase again.  A test that the herb is good  for healing.

“I take it off a few times a day or I could end up with the skin of an elephant.”

He and the cat remain friends.

(Photo courtesy Photo Pin)

A Secret of RV’ing

Twin Rocks Cafe Bluff Utah

Conversations through the years with folks who are planning to purchase an recreational vehicle cheer us with their excitement as they  dream about travels on the open road.

Warning: If they choose the right style and size, they’ll be off and come back with wonderful memories.  If they don’t, and buy one that’s too big – their RV or travel trailer will sit at home never to be used.  We’ve witnessed this so many times.

The secret is to realize that they are not buying a HOUSE but one in which they CAMP out of.  Of course, if they plan to be full-timers for months or even years, then they must seek as long an RV they can pull behind their truck or Class A, one in which can they feel comfortable and safe as they drive down the road towing a car.

One journey of ours was in a 21′ vintage Class A purchased for on-site guest lodging, but we went off with it soon on a long journey from Spokane, WA., to Texas.  In Snowbirds, a memoir, I tell about that harrowing trip with fond memories.

She was traded when rain came through her fragile walls and roof;  a 27′ Winnebago Class A came into our lives, but it struck by a Canadian drunk driver on a highway going through a busy town.  The Winnebago shot down the highway along a slope and ran into a building

It was totaled.  Then, we found a 34′ South Wind diesel Class A we drove along the torturous  Apache Trail  in the Superstition Mountain area of Arizona.  We were going to Burnt Corral park from  where we would paddle up river in a two-person kayak and walk two miles into our mine site to search for lost Spanish gold.  Those adventures turned up in a book called, “Cries in the Desert.”

Finally, back to the forests and mountains of WA State, we too, no longer needed a HOUSE but a vehicle in which to camp out of and chose Sally, the 20′ Pleasure Way Van pictured above.  That trip was six-weeks in Utah viewing  Pueblo ruins..  It’s easy to clean and keep looking good because of the quality of interior and exterior materials used in construction.

It’s too bad so many potential owners don’t often choose the perfect fit.  If they do, they’ll relinquish their desire to camp or to travel the many scenic highways and byways in the U.S. and Canada.  Buying an rv can be as difficult as finding the perfect mate.

Just like we authors, who write and write, until finally we tell a better story, the purchase of an RV might take a few failures until the perfect one is found and it becomes a beloved vehicle, not one that’s left behind never to be used.



It’s S . . t

white clover manure

Do you know how a very popular word came into being used?  It’s fun to know more about this expression.  Fun brings merriment, cheer, delight, sunshine, distraction, plus a lot of other things.

I’ve just learned its background and can’t wait to tell you all that I have discovered.  Perhaps this is exactly what you say when you’ve been provoked, distressed, surprised, or challenged by someone or something.  I had a lot of fun finding its origin and I hope you do.

It’s a word even a four-year-old says and for which they may be reprimanded.  It all began in the 16th and 17th centuries when goods were carried in ships.  It was a time when sending dry manure in bundles to fertilize crops in other lands was common.

However, if these bundles got wet, fermentation would began.  It produced  methane gas below decks.  When someone came along with a lantern, the gas exploded.  After several ships went down, someone figured out why and from then on these bundles of manure were stamped:

Stow High in Transit.

But, don’t tell a four-year-old this words comes from an old custom.  What they don’t know is that only we who are adults should be allowed to say s. . . t.

We find it to be a powerful expletive!  The sound of it rings out true and clear even today for the world to see or hear.  Beware, it is a good thing to yell out what can happen if you don’t stow your manure high in transit.