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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Independents' Day

I was thrilled to get a great review for The Wolf's Sun from a historical novel reviewer, Siobian Minish of The Owl Bookmark Blog  Four and one-half owls out of five.  She also requested an Interview, the result of which is also on her blog. 

We indie authors are no different from small press authors - we must do our own publicity and market our books ourselves. The only difference is that we don't worry about our books going out of print or sharing our income with an agent and publisher. We share with only Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and that's fair).

The Kindle (electronic) and Create Space (for paperbacks) phenomenon is what indie authors have been waiting for longer than we realized. It's as nice as being able to download movies directly to one's television.  Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman, among so many authors who self-published, would be so envious.  Some authors, such as the Pinkerton detective Charles Siringo, went broke trying to get out their stories. Not anymore.
    Oh, yes, The Wolf's Sun will soon be out in paperback, available from Amazon.com.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh, Them Eggs...


...they remind me of a chicken and I'd rather have a chicken than eggs. (Martin Mull)

Our neighbors have both, and when they went off for the weekend, they asked us to make sure the door to the chickens' temporary home was partially opened in the morning and closed at night - and, we got to keep any eggs the hens laid overnight. Easy to do.


While their roosting box is being finished, the chickens are living in a large shed, with a 2" x 4" roost, some hay bales on which to lay, and a concrete floor where a couple of eggs (and a lot of chicken droppings) ended up. But there on the hay, on the second night of our chicken sitting, were three eggs: one large and light blue; one small and light brown; one larger and a darker brown, with speckles.

When the neighbor lady came by to thank us (with a yummy loaf of bread and a delicious salami), we asked which hens produced which eggs. The blue egg was the product of an Ancona hen; the light-brown egg was laid by a New Hampshire Red; and the larger brown, speckled, egg is from a Black Sex Link hen (no, we'd never heard of them either). The Guinea hens came up empty.

The New Hampshire egg had a double yoke, but the three weren't enough for an omelet. So, I added a couple of grocery store chicken eggs to the mix. But, before I did, I had a chance to examine the different colors of the egg yolks. The New Hampshire double yolk was a dark yellow; the Black Sex was a bit lighter; the Ancona was even lighter; but the store-bought eggs were starkly brighter yellow, with a thinner consistency, and their shells were markedly thinner than the neighbors' eggs.

Too late, I realized I should not have scrambled them for an omelet (with cheddar, home-grown tomatoes, and home-picked morels). I should have fried them individually for a taste-off. But, I've been assured there are more local eggs in our future. A man can learn from his mistakes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Old Friends and New


There's a common belief - I'm not ready to call it common wisdom - that men don't make friends after the age of 30. I met Steve when I was 36, interviewing for a job with the Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Naval Academy. He was the public affairs officer, a lieutenant commander and graduate of the academy; I was a bearded refugee from the Department of Health and Human Services, with 10 years experience working for the Army. It was an interesting interview, including a Myers Briggs Test (not allowed under federal human resources rules) and a lot of time with the office secretary, who apparently liked me.

I only worked with Steve for a year; the Navy promoted him to captain and rotated him early to the 7th Fleet. During the intervening years, through his reassignments and my job changes, Karen and I remained friends with Steve and his wife. They stayed at our house on the way to Pearl Harbor, and on the way back. They'd visit us in Laramie, Wyoming, whenever they visited Steve's brother in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Steve came by himself after he and his wife divorced, and with his brother and their sons on their way to Jackson Hole.

A few years ago, Steve met Karen and me in Portland for a wine-tasting tour of Oregon's Willamette Valley. We learned a lot about wine from him, but it was more of a good way for us to spend a few days together.

Steve was one of the first friends to contact me when I went through cancer surgery. And he called on his way to Indiana to bury his mother. We talked through his troubles with his then girlfriend and celebrated by phone his thriving new business and catamaran. Eventually, we became aware of his new girlfriend, Luz Marina, whose name translates as Light of the Sea, a fitting companion for a mariner. We knew she was Colombian, but not much beyond that. Then, in the spring, Steve said they wanted to come visit us in Idaho. We enthusiastically welcomed them, though with some trepidation. Would we like her? Would she like us?

The pending visit gave us the impetus to do some work on the old house Karen's father had built in the early-mid 1950s - painting the house and garage; hanging a new light in the living room. We also laid in a modest supply of local wines and worked on interesting menus.

Karen and I loitered in the arrivals area of Spokane Airport, waiting for the plane to debark. The arrivals board showed the plane had arrived on time. A Chinese family reunited; a foreign exchange student smiled at a couple holding his name on a placard. Then, there they were. Steve had aged, as had we, bearing the signs of too much work and a broken neck suffered the year before; Luzma was tall and slim, with long dark hair and eyes so dark they seemed to be all pupil. Hugs all around and back to our house, catching up with Steve, learning about Luzma.

What a wonderful visit. We had breakfasts in and lunches out. I cooked standard American fare for dinner; Luzma made a delicious dish from Spain. We drank good beer (Red Hook ESB) and better wine Steve bought on a visit to Arbor Crest Winery. We took long walks on our land and had long talks by the creek. We visited Coeur d'Alene; I took Steve for a ride to the top of our property on my ATV; we picked blueberries at our neighbor's patch; Steve and Luzma taught us a card game, which we enjoyed with a neighboring couple.

Our friendship with Steve didn't miss a beat; and we felt we'd known Luzma for years rather than days. Old friends and new - three of us now in our 60s, one in her 50s. Soon, perhaps, a visit to Steve and Luzma in Virginia, or a week in Vancouver, or even a trip to Spain (at least one of us can speak Spanish - and it's not me).