Finally! Spring has come to Hood River. The main indicator is my strawberry patch. There isn’t much better in life than sitting in a patch of strawberries and just popping the berries off the plant and popping them straight in the mouth, cottonwood fluff, ants and all. It’s a very different taste to those cardboard Californian and Mexican strawberries that arrive in the supermarket this time of the year. These will actually squish in your mouth and the flavor is a mixture of that acidic taste of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), sugar and whatever the ester is that gives strawberries their distinctive smell and taste. The crop this year is fabulous, a testament to the effects of global warming on the local climate of Oregon. It seems to have pulled in more Pacific moisture which makes the local weather actually cooler and wetter for spring while the South burns up. Strawberries just love that cool weather for setting a big crop of berries. Now that it has started into the warm weather I’ll take a big bowl every other day off the bushes until the heat drives them into dormancy for another year. Strawberries and cream! I think the good of the one counteracts the bad of the other! Yum, Yum.
Back from diving in Curacao – the sun seems to be finally coming out in Hood River and the garden is beginning to grow. The corn is up and the sunflowers are a foot high so with a week of really good hot temperatures we’ll be off and running for some good fall crops. It’s a great year for peas and strawberries because they love cool wet weather. I’m up to my eyebrows in great read berries. The raspberries and blueberries are set, so it’s just a few more weeks before we get those as well.
Well Saturday the 2nd of June was a day to remember in my orienteering sport. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically a cross country sport involving races of various lengths for different age groups in which you are given a map at the start of the race and sent off at about three minute intervals with nothing but your feet, brain and magnetic compass to guide you to a sequence of points at which you must either punch a hand held card or use an electronic pen-drive to log-in your ID and the time your reached the control.
Well…. the Moses Lake meet had 19 controls and was about 7km long so I set off going through the first four controls with very little problem. Then I was thirsty and took a swig from my bottle and splashed it on my map which I had not placed in the usual plastic bag — Bad Mistake! Fortunately the water hit mostly in areas that I had already run so as the ink ran I was able to still proceed and headed off for the next control. This one took me longer because I lost my concentration on direction and also had a blotched place on the map that was hard to read. Finally got there 15 minutes later and by then the map was dry and things seemed to be picking up. Next two controls easy with only a few minutes between them. Then disaster struck again. I approached a narrow (5ft) wide stream and seeing that there appeared to be good footing on each side, took a great big step across – oops! Extended foot slipped off into the middle of stream, bottom of channel was over 4 feet deep and I ended up soaked to the chest and you can guess what happened to my map. So now I am navigating with a wet rag draped over my arm with barely visible control points and fortunately a few key landmarks and the control descriptions still intact!. It looked like the next control could be reached by circling a couple lakes so I took off. Well it had rained an ton the day before and the lakes had all swelled to the point of that they filled up areas that would normally be dry. I headed into the swamp with another guy and after five minutes of wading I yelled to him that I couldn’t find a Hippo path and it reminded me of the Okavango. He cleared out and I turned around a few minutes later – map held overhead fortunately dry again and headed back. So the time to that control was on the order of 15 minutes plus. From then on, things went fairly well although I mistook a depression symbol for a knoll and was on top of a hill while others were running down the next arroyo and continuing on. Finally found it and got in to the finish with a total time of 133+ minutes. I was 18th out of a total of 25, the ones below me either misspunched or did not finish. I suppose for a 68 year old competing against all age groups – 18 – 70, I shouldn’t complain because I at least finished the full course. From now on I’ll carry my own plastic bag and stay away from the water. Live and learn.
The final stages of editing my new non-fiction Civil and Indian War book, “Rough Enough” have involved the creation of a couple of maps so that readers will have some idea of the Civil War forts and training camps in the Boston area and also will have a reference to look at when following Richard Clow’s travels on the frontier. I may also do a small map of the Union and Confeserate forts (outposts) around Petersburg so that readers are able to refresh their memories of the positioning of the Union and Confederate troops during the final month of the war. It’s a fun project, but very time consuming to get the data into a form that will be both accurate, visually pleasing and educational for the readers. Fortunately I have found a really good graphic artist who can take my ideas and bring them to full fruition. So we’ll see how they look when they are on the final pages.
The current congressional debate in congress about whether you can abort a baby for the simple reason of not wanting one of that sex should lead all of you writiers, whether in fiction or non-fiction to think about the giant issue of eugenics and its application to humanity. As we make and carry out abortions for arbitrary non-disease traits such as hair and skin color, sex, athletic prowess… aren’t we beginning to tread on a rather delicate line that seemed all to clear at the time of the Second World War when we were fighting in part Hitler’s plan to erradicate certain arbitrary traits from his section of europe? I am reminded of McMurtry’s book “Lonesome Dove” in which Jake links up with a seemingly ok group of travel companions, only to be gradually drawn deeper and deeper into the spiral of depredations that led to the eventual horror of the massacre and burning of an entire frontier family just for the “fun of it”. As he was sitting on his horse ready to be hanged, he replied to Gus’ statement of “You stepped over the line Jake” with the famous phrase in my title. Is abortion for the purpose of getting rid of an embryo that is the wrong sex aproaching a line that we have chosen to ignore? Hopefully the debate in congress will bring up some good discussion of the philosophy of why abortions are sometimes necessary and why sometimes they cannot be justified.
Today we had a great Memorial Day celebration here in Hood River. The crowd of some three hundred participants met in the Cemetary where we sang, heard several poems in memorial to the soldiers both recently and long gone. A moving hour and a half and certainly time well spent to remember the long line of men and women not only in my own family but all across the nation, who have stood up for our country in times of need. I hope you all were able to take a few minutes of time to think about ways in which you have either served, are serving or can serve your country.
The freedoms we have don’t come freely and don’t remain intact without our direct involvement. I’ve seen the direct and indirect results of oppression in so many countries while pursuing my career internationally. I hope you too will ask yourself, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, “What can I do for my country?” Keep the faith everybody!
Well, I’ve just finished a great three week vacation, first week in Texas with our good Friends Marty and Jim Graves who gave us a real Texas tour. It included a visit to the swamps with the Spanish Moss, Seeing a Civil War enactment, searching through a number of great antique shops and museums and having a great Catfish fry!. Then is was on to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles just North of the coast of Venezuela. In ten days of diving we did a total of 17 dives at Snake Bay, Marie Pon Pon, Boca Sami, Playa Kalki,The Blue Wall, The Water Factory, Poza Spania (Pozo Espania) and Laguna. The most relaxing dives were with our good friend Tina in Snake Bay and the most exciting was hunting Lion Fish with Eric and Yolanda Weiderfoort at Poza Spania (got 44) but watch out for the poison spines!!!
Collected more shells and worked on the keys for my Caribbean Sea Shell Book, and worked on the selection of cover ideas for my Civil War Book, “Rough Enough” and got them into the publisher so we can get the galley’s done. I still have to finish the map, but that should be done by end of the week even if I have to do it all myself without a graphic artist.
Tomorrow I’ll plant the corn patch and work on book all day. It’s good to be sleeping in my own bed again. Jill comes home in three weeks, she’s helping Annalee with babysitting Quinn until the end of the school year. It will be good to have her at home.
Sunny outside, stayed up late last night after going to a concert for the 100th anniversary of the Riverside Christian Church in Hood River excellent piano and organ performances. My late night was due to further reading of Laura Hillemnbrand’s book – “Unbroken”. Started in reading at 9:30 and when I looked up it was 12:30. This section is an absorbing account of Louis Zamprini’s time in the Japanese prison camps. It’s apparent that he was regarded as nothing more than an animal and a curiosity. Such a difference between cultures based on language barriers and an understanding of what it meant to become a captive during war time.
Well, here we go with the blog to get out the news on my writing and book work on Rough Enough, a Civil and Indian War nonfiction spyglass view of the life of Richard H. Clow from 1864 through 1880 as he fought in the wars, married two women, mined for gold in the Black Hills and eventually settled outside of Deadwood, Dakota Territory.
Today has been spent getting the emails of numerous book reviewers who will hopefully either write small blurbs for inclusion on the cover of the book or review my galley proofs or first printed copies for magazines or publishers such as Amazon, Civil War News and Civil War Digest so that I get full coverage with the public and library networks. It looks like i’m on a roll but it will take a few more days to get things set up before I email out the synopsis. Wish me luck (although I tend to make that myself by nose to the grindstone). Visit my Amazon site <amazon.com.author/rickmcbee> for a copy of my previous book “Kalahari”.
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