The blog archives , from previous blogs, are located at the end of the row of pictures on the left. The date posted beneath each picture corresponds with a date in the archives.
July 11, 2014
The stitching on Edith Eva Eger’s life’s quilt began at birth as all of our quilts do, but in 1944, at age sixteen, when her life was interrupted by imprisonment in Auschwitz, a German concentration camp, a place of misery, death, and horror for the Jews and others deemed unworthy of dignity and life, the stitches in her life quilt became deeper, finer, and more intricate. It was on that day, loaded in a cattle car on the train bound for that place of horrors, that she took to heart her mother’s words. As they traveled toward the camp, her mother would not survive, her mother's words became her mantra. “Everything can be taken away from a human being except what we put in your heads.” Always afterwards when asked how she got through all of it, Egers simply said, ”I created my own world and never let the Nazis get into my head. If I survived that day, the next I might be free.” (more…)
May 20, 2014
I remember a story a pastor in our church told as an example of those who cannot see good in hardly anything versus those who see good in nearly everything. The story, he told, was about a King who treasured the beauty of the earth, and who wanted to know what kind of flowers grew in his kingdom. So he sent out two men to take note of every flower that grew on the land belonging to him. Eventually the men returned and reported to the king. “Here’s my list, Your majesty," one of them said, holding out a very short list indeed. "You only have a few flowers in your kingdom, but you sure have a lot of weeds." The other guy, holding a really, really long list, suddenly looked decidedly uncomfortable and acted as if he’d like to drop through the floor. Head hanging, he could barely meet the king’s eyes when the king, looking quite dejected himself, turned to him and said, “Well, and what did you find?” “Your Majesty," the man began, “I’m so sorry. They were all so pretty, I thought they were all flowers.” The totally optimistic person is hard to find. Mankind, it seems, has an almost automatically critical nature. It’s easier for us to find fault, to see many more weeds than flowers. (more…)
April 22, 2014
Today, I am beginning a series of blogs that will last several months. Each blog will be a continuation of the last, like stitching peices of cloth together to make blocks and then the blocks stitched together to make a quilt.
There is a theatre production called “The Quilters” about the lives of some women living on the great plains of the Midwest. In the opening scene, the women have gathered to work on a quilt, and the talk among them is how their quilts are like their lives. How the “pieces of their lives” are linked together to make a whole. The many pieces become blocks and the many blocks become a completed quilt.
In one scene, Sarah, one of the women says, “You can’t always change things. Sometimes you don’t have no control. You’re just given so much to work with in a life, and you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got. Your materials is passed on to you, or is all you can afford to buy. That’s just what is given to you. But the way you put them together is your business, and that determines your fate. You can put them in any order you like.” (more…)
March 17, 2014
This is an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Mass Transportation magazine. (I edited the article slightly for brevity.) This was written for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II. I can only add this succinct saying—never mind that it came from a Virginia Slims cigarette commercial. :-) "We’ve come a long way, baby.” Isn’t it funny, the ideas we so often accept as examples of sane and rational thinking? Racial equality was/ is just one example of “funny” thinking, and politics? No other words needed here for that one.
11 Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees
There’s no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient women available and how to use them to the best advantage. (more…)
January 10, 2014
In Max McCoy’s book, I, Quantrill, he writes about an affair Quantrill had with a young woman who’s skin was the color of a robin’s egg, her lips purple, her hair red. She tells him it’s a natural condition and that she is Hyacinth Fugate, from the Fugates of Troublesome Creek, who have naturally blue skin.
As you may recall, William Quantrill fancied himself a savior of the South’s way of life and during the War Between the States, raided the farms and homes and towns of northern sympathizers, murdering the men and all boys big enough to shoot a gun. A little digging and it becomes apparent that his “noble” actions for the South, are really excuses to murder and plunder. At one time, he’d entice slaves to leave their masters and while they were at it, take along Master’s horses and mules. Then he’d turn the slaves in and keep the horses and mules. Perhaps William Quantrill is best known for his raid on Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863. He and some three hundred men rode into the town that morning and in a few hours, killed approximately 150 men and a few boys, burned many homes and businesses, and stole everything not nailed down. They departed as they came, leaving behind homeless, destitute, and grieving women and children.
Interesting that his raids would carry Quantrill to meet Hyacinth whose dream was to have a pale-skinned child. I wonder if Quantrill left her one. (more…)
November 13, 2013
On Sunday, November 3, 2013, my daily paper reported this remarkable story of a pod of Orca whales accompanying a Washington State ferryboat carrying ancient artifacts belonging to the Suquamish tribe to a new museum. On this day as the ferry crossed Puget Sound, in view of downtown Seattle, a pod of about three dozen Ocra whales, aka killer whales, suddenly began swimming alongside. One observer said, “They were happily splashing around, flipping their tails in the water. We believe they were welcoming the artifacts home.”
The ancient artifacts, dug up by archeologists in the 1950s, came from the winter village of the Suquamish Chief Sealth, aka Chief Seattle. The 500 artifacts included tools, decorative items, and small pieces of bone and rock that dated back 2,000 years.
It was an exciting and emotional experience and resulted in much speculation. Some wondered aloud if the whales somehow knew… had perhaps picked up a mental energy… And some, I’m sure, wondered if their ancestors, maybe even Chief Seattle, himself, moved among them that day and might even had orchestrated the Orca escort.
An Australian shepherd mix, he had survived a miserable, brutal, abused, and frightening puppy hood and was about a year old when our daughter and her family found him at the kennels and adopted him along with a bouncy black cocker mix, naming them Spencer and Max. (more…)
October 3, 2013
This month I am featuring Carmen Peone who is the author of three young adult novels about a native American girl. Her books are: Change of Heart, Heart of Courage, and Heart of Passion They are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Visit her website at http://carmenpeone.com or Carmen Peone
Carmen has lived in Northeast Washington, on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation since 1988. She had worked with a Tribal Elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes Language and various cultural traditions. She has owned and trained her horses for thirteen years and has competed in local Extreme Challenge Competitions for three years. She lives with her husband Joe. They have four grown sons and six grandchildren. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. She came to love the people and their heritage and wanted to create a legacy for her sons. Carmen also works in the Inchelium School K-12 as a coordinator for the after school program: Rez Stop.
August 15, 2013
My husband, Ron, said he never stole watermelons, just went along with the kids who did. He stands by that assertion saying, in the face of my doubt, “I was the designated driver.”
I don’t know, but I think, the get-away driver in a stickup is as guilty as the one holding the gun. I know he’s right there afterwards, wanting his share of the loot. And I imagine Ron had just as much red juice dripping off his chin as the others.
So tell me, I said, about those irresistible watermelon patches in your day. Those places where you didn’t steal any watermelons.
So he tells me about one summer night when a bunch of them were squeezed into an old jalopy one of the kids had (seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet) and they were out riding around, no particular destination in mind, until they came to a fenced field of watermelons and someone said, “Lets go get some watermelons.”
“No sooner said than done, I expect,” I said.
He nodded. “Yeah. They all scrambled out, crawled under the fence, and scurried like rats through that field, thumping melons ‘til they got a good ripe one. Then back to the car and me, the designated driver, watermelons clutched in their arms. Two of our gang were still missing when we heard the shotgun blast and we looked at each other, big-eyed and scared. The hair on my head stood straight up.”
“Yeah, you did have hair once,” I said.
He ignored my comment and went on, “Then here came one of the missing two, running flat out. He zipped under that fence and into the car, gasping out some words it took us a moment to understand. We’d noticed right away that he wasn’t carrying a watermelon and we wondered about that. We learned later he dropped it when the shotgun went off and the other kid with him went down like… like… Well, like he’d been shot. Which was what we finally got out of him when he calmed down enough to spit it out. Well, by the time he got it out so we could understand him, here came the other kid, running just as fast and skimming under that wire fence and into the jalopy. No watermelon in his arms either. The other kid said, ‘I thought you were shot! The gun went off and you went down and, and…’ ‘I tripped, you dummy!’ the other kid said.”
Later those kids, including my future husband, found out that the man had discovered that his shotgun fired several times in the air kept his melon field pretty well clear of two-legged nighttime raiders.
Although there was one young man who lived in a town just east of here who for which two-legged did not apply. When still a young boy, he lost a leg and became quite adept at using crutches. One summer Saturday he was hanging out in town when a man approached him and said, “I know you were in my melon patch last night and don’t deny it.”
“Well, yeah, I was,” said the boy. “But how did you know?
“You left some unusual tracks. Two holes and a foot print…two holes and a footprint…”
This story so tickled the man’s son and daughters that they included it in his obituary.
If you have a watermelon story to share, I would love it if you’d leave it in the comment section. (more…)
July 25, 2013
The Summer of the Crow, my book about a thirteen-year-old boy living in the Dust Bowl days of Kansas is back in print and as an e-book. I came up with the title when a boy named Eddie, who was to become Brady’s best friend, and his pet crow, Blackie, came into the story. I was expecting neither Eddie nor the crow, but there they were, chapter six, last sentence:
He turned in time to see a white-haired boy run across the backyard. As he watched, the boy leaped up and grabbed the board fence, hoisted himself over and dropped from sight. Brady blinked his eyes in surprise, for flying just above the boy’s head was a big, black crow.
I knew nothing about pet crows and so turned to others with personal experience, like Pete Byers of Ohio, who detailed his experience/knowledge in a small booklet titled, The Lost Folk Art of Crow Taming. I found it on the internet and, if you are at all intersted, is well worth reading.
The first step to acquiring a pet crow, is to get a baby one. Not just any baby, but one from 3 to 4 weeks old. This is how Eddie got his:
“Before Pop sold his old gun for booze, my brothers and I used to take it out and shoot prairie dogs and crows.” (In those days the county paid a few cents for each prairie dog tail and/or crows’ head.)
“Did you shoot the mother bird and then realize she had a nest?” Brady asked.
“Jimmy Joe did. It was his turn to use the gun. I climbed up in the tree to get the babies. It doesn’t matter if they’re grown or not. To the county a crow head is a crow head, big or small. Besides they die anyway when we kill the mother.”
“So you kept one of the babies. How come?”
Eddie shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess for one thing he was the only one in the nest. The others had fallen out, or the mama had pushed them out after they died. Blackie just about had all his pinfeathers, but he wasn’t looking too good. I don’t know why…” Eddie shook his head. “but that little bird just seemed to be mine.”
Eddie didn’t know it then, but he soon found out that for the next few weeks, he would be a slave to the baby’s hungry mouth.
By six weeks, the baby is feathered out and now seeing you as its source of food and comfort, will stay close to you, climb up over you, and follow you on his sturdy bird-legs. When he learns to fly, he’ll take command of the area surrounding your home and with an eagle eye and a loud raucous cawing sound, defend his/your territory.
A natural mimic, he will imitate sounds; a siren, a rooster’s crow, barking dogs, a cat’s meow, and even human words. In one incident, Brady’s little sister’s dress is hung on the line when Blackie flies down from the tree in the yard and starts pulling off the pins holding the dress.
Eddie jumped up and ran toward the clothesline shouting and waving his arms. “You rascal, you!” he scolded as he jerked the clothespin out of Blackie’s beak and shoved him off the clothesline. “Aunt Tilly is going to be mad at both of us!”
Blackie flew to the top of the fence and watched as Eddie picked up the wet dress and tried to brush off the dirt. Then cocking his shiny, black head, first to one side and then to the other, he mimicked Eddie’s words. “You rascal, you!” he said, strutting the length of the fence. “You rascal, you!”
Blackie probably wanted those clothespins, besides the fun of watching the dress fall to the ground, to add to his stash, built object by object, but hidden from human view. Maybe from other crows too.
Blackie stashed his treasures in an old rain barrel and would have kept them safe if a tornado hadn’t come through and literally knocked the slats out of the barrel.
Crows love to play and will spend hours happily confined in a cage if given a nice supply of “toys.”
Blackie settled into the large cage without protest. They’d built a shelf and a roosting stand in the middle and Aunt Tilly gave him several empty spools, some small scraps of cloth and buttons from her sewing basket, a couple of spoons, two clothespin, and a tin cup. “His toys,” she said.
He especially liked the cup and could spend hours filling it with the buttons and spools and then taking them out again. He often put the cloth scrap on the shelf and would then hide the spoons underneath it. And all the while he talked his learned human words and his own crow talk.
Kansas and the world, is different place now. The Summer of 1935 when Brady lived with his grandfather and great aunt exists now only in memory and lessons learned. We know today is a better time and place for most with modern conviences and home use of electronics. Still there is a lingering nostalgia for those days when kids spent more time outdoors, climbed trees, and sometimes made pets out of baby crows. (more…)
June 20, 2013
The Next Big Thing
Today I’m hosting the Next Big Thing blog campaign. The Next Big Thing is an international campaign that began in Australia. Authors and illustrators of books for kids and young adults talk about their recently published books and/or those that are soon to be released. Each author who has been nominated turns around and nominates a couple of other authors. We all answer the same questions about our work. It’s really just a great big game of “Tag, you’re it.” Today is my turn to answer The Next Big Thing’s standard questions about…well…the next big thing for me is a story I’m working on set in the 1940s during and shortly after World War II.
Next Big Thing Questions:
What is the working title of your next book?
The working title for my book is “Wishing You Home.”
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Wishing You Home first began as a sixteen-chapter story for a program called Newspapers in Education. I love historical fiction and so am drawn to write in the genre, and thinking about what to write, time and place, WWII just popped into my head. So next I decided it would be about a boy who lives in Kansas (I'm writing for Kansas newspapers) whose father is overseas fighting in Germany. Then I did my research and then began the story, seeing where it will take me. When the story begins Tommy, Bobby’s best friend, has lost his father, killed in a battle overseas. Bobby knows his father was in the same outfit and so probably fighting in the same battle and his fear for his father’s safety increases. Bobby and his father exchange jokes through their letters. The exchange provides an avenue of communication that is based on fun, a welcome relief in the middle of anxious times. When the newspaper story ended (It first ran as a serial in 5 newspapers) the war had ended and Bobby’s dad hoped to be home in time for Christmas. I’m in the process of adding approximately ten more chapters with an illustration (by artist, Julie Peterson-Shea) heading each chapter. The rest of the story will be about Bobby and his bewilderment when the father who comes home, scarred by war, is not the same one who left.
What genre does your book fall under?
Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Maybe Matt Damon for the dad. Jill Castle for the mother. When writing the story, my grandson, 10, lives in my head as Bobby. He's such a good kid and smart as all get out. (I know all grandma's say that.) If "lightning should strike" and it becomes a movie, I'll pick out a kid then, if the producers will let me. :-)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Set during and shortly after World War II, ten-year-old Bobby worries all the time his dad is overseas fighting Hitler’s army but when the father finally does come home, emotionally shattered, Bobby’s worries continue.
Who is publishing your book?
Rowe Publishing and Design. Rowe Publishing just this month brought out a reprint of my book The Summer of the Crow, a Depression era novel set in Kansas in 1935, and in 2012 my middle grade time travel story, Echoes of Kansas Past, about twins who accidentally activate their parent’s time machine and travel back into Kansas history.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
That is a hard question. Each book is different and each takes it's own research. I also write adult fiction., which takes about a year. This one, which isn’t quite done yet, about a month or two. maybe three.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hey!! These questions are getting harder! I’ve racked my brain and find I can’t answer this one. How about you readers? Do you have a suggestion to leave in the comment section?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A father always seems to figure in some way in my stories. I lost my father when I was very young, so know the kind of longing a child has for a father and can well imagine the fear of having your father in harm’s way. Although I did not have the experience of having a father return home, mentally changed, my father was ill at home for a time before he died and I remember my fear when he (hallucinating) saw people that weren’t there, but I being only five, did not understand. So, in away, I also know a child’s bewilderment and fear when their father seems different from the one who went away.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
We hear a lot about bullying now as if it is a new thing. There have always been and probably always will be bullying in some form. In this book, a young girl from the west coast, whose mother was Japanese, comes to Kansas with her white father, who fears that otherwise she will be sent to an internment camp. America at war with the Japanese as well as Germany, she is a prime target for the school bully.
Next up on The Next Big Thing: Janet Squires is an award-winning author who writes fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults. She's a member of SCBWI and Women Writing the West. See her blog June 27 at http://www.janetsquires.com
Her next book is Monty, A True Suvivor's Story (see image top right.)
Lee Rostad, a published author of young adult and other books, is currently working on a tale about the Ringling Brothers Circus people in Montana. A good cowboy tale it is also about growth and decline of the Montana ranch. See her blog on July 4 at http://www.jacketflap.com/lee-rostad/92899 Grace Stone Coates is one of Lee's books (see image top right.) (more…)