Category Archives: book

A little taste of Four’s a Crowd

Greetings, readers. For today’s blog entry, I decided to give my regular readers, and the folks who read me when I link the blog entry to the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page, a one chapter taste of the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren Taylor did a remarkable job on this novel, adapting it from my play Kimberly. We collaborated on this work, touching base on his progress and plot points as he wrote it. I think you will be pleased by this sample of the first chapter. There is a small chance that it is not quite the final version that was published, but if it isn’t, it is extremely close to the final. If you would like to read the entire book, it is available for sale at Amazon.com for $14.99, a decent price for a 300 page novel. We do not yet have it as an ebook, so for now it is in print form only. It is also available locally at Webster’s Bookstore Café in downtown State College, PA.

 

Four’s a Crowd

CHAPTER ONE

            “Well, that was a waste of my time,” Alice thought to herself as she got dressed.

After going through the embarrassment of disrobing and donning the paper-thin gown that allowed nothing in the way of modesty, she waited for a solid twenty minutes for the doctor to grace her with his presence.  And when Doctor Keeting finally did breeze in, he spent a total of fifteen minutes with her, if even that.  He did a rudimentary physical examination, asked her a few asinine questions, and was gone again before she could say, “uncaring, incompetent moron.”

She never would have agreed to come here in the first place if it hadn’t been for the fire.  It wasn’t a big fire, but it was her fault.  She’d simply gotten distracted and left a pan of bacon unattended on top of the stove when she went to answer the phone.  It had been Mrs. Donohue, from next door, calling with wonderful news regarding the total profits from last week’s church pie sale.

If it hadn’t been for Henry, and his quick thinking with the flour jar, the whole place might have gone up.

Taking one last look in the mirror to see that her blouse was straight, she pulled her jacket on and buttoned it up, making sure the collar lay properly.  Next, she produced a small comb from out of her bag and smoothed over any visible imperfections in her steel-grey curls.  Satisfied with the results of her efforts, she shouldered her purse, opened the door, and stepped into the chilly hallway.

The stench of industrial strength carpet shampoo and antibacterial cleansers made her want to sneeze and the clamor of voices and ringing telephones, emanating from the nurse’s station, assaulted her ears.  A toddler being pulled down the hall by one tiny hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs, only added to the din.

Turning to the right, she walked to the first junction, took a left, walked to the next, and paused.  Suddenly, all the hallways and doors looked the same, becoming a never-ending labyrinth of hideous grey carpeting, taupe walls, and severe fluorescent lighting.  The posted signs, meant to act as a guide, only succeeded in confusing her further.  To her horror, it was then that she realized, she had no idea where she was.

“Mrs. Detmore?” a soft, feminine voice asked from behind her.  Alice turned toward it.

A petite red-head, an obvious bottle-job to Alice’s experienced eye, smiled at her with way too many teeth.  The bright pink scrubs the girl wore, adorned with dancing teddy bears, offended Alice’s every sense of good taste.

The girl’s mouth moved but her words were lost in the ambient noise that filled the hallway.

“Excuse me?” Alice replied indignantly.

“I asked if you were alright,” the girl said.  “You look a little lost.”

“One is never lost if one maintains her sense of self,” Alice pronounced with false confidence.  She turned back around and took several steps, not wanting to make her fear and confusion readily apparent.

“Mrs. Detmore?” the nurse said.

“Yes?  What is it, child?” Alice asked, her back still to the girl.

“Your husband is in waiting room three and…”

“I know where he is.  I don’t need some little miss know-it-all to tell me where I left my own husband.”

The young woman closed the distance between them and put a gentle hand on Alice’s shoulder, “But Mrs. Detmore,” she said with soft patience, “waiting room three is back this way.”

*          *          *

With her escort leading the way, Alice found her husband of almost fifty years asleep in one of the poorly padded wooden chairs.  His legs were stretched out in front of him with his feet crossed at the ankles and his nose was buried in the lapels of his heavy brown jacket.  His chest rose and fell with each deep breath and a low, growly snore rumbled through his hairy nostrils.  A copy of last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue lay open, face-down, on his considerable belly.

The girl bid her a good day and departed.  Alice just shook her head and rolled her eyes in exasperation before she approached the sleeping man and loudly cleared her throat.

He snorted, blinked awake, and looked up at her with a sleepy smile.

“Good old Henry Detmore, always on point,” Alice grumbled.  “I’m ready to go.”

“I was just resting my eyes,” Henry proclaimed.

“And dreaming of swimsuit models I see.”

Henry sat the rest of the way up.  The magazine took a dive for the floor, but he caught it and tossed it onto the jumbled pile of other periodicals; the newest of which was an issue of Time from May of that year.

“No, I was reading an article in there about Ben Roethlisburger’s car collection,” Henry retorted but Alice had already turned away and made for the elevators.  She was practically half-way there by the time he was on his feet and out the door.  Leaning heavily on his cane, he picked up the pace and caught up to her.  Ignoring the mild case of pins and needles in his left foot, he took her by the arm.

“You move pretty fast for an old gal,” he said, nestling against her.  “What say I buy you breakfast?  But only if you’re willing to fool around on the first date.”

“Who are you calling old?” Alice asked.  “And don’t be vulgar, Henry.”  She frowned at her watch.  “It’s half past ten.  Breakfast is over.”

“Lunch then,” Henry countered and pushed the button for the elevator.

“It’s too early for…look, can we just go home?” Alice barked, her blue eyes flashing angrily.

“Sure thing, babe,” Henry admonished, looking a little down-trodden.

The elevator arrived, the doors opened, they stepped in, and Alice pushed the button for the ground floor.

*          *          *

On an oddly warm Friday in mid-September, Alice and Henry Detmore pulled out of the labyrinthine parking structure that serviced St. Claire Memorial Hospital, a large medical facility that served the residents of Mount Lebanon, a medium-sized suburb about thirty minutes south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Detmore’s home town.

They turned off Bower Hill Road and onto Route 19, heading south.  Henry, growing weary of the mind-numbing silence, reached over, and clicked on the car radio.  He ran through the pre-sets until he came across W.Z.O.O. and the morning sports talk show; The Morning Zoo with Hal and Al.  The two throaty hosts, Hal Nelson and Al Kelly, were ranting about the up and coming Sunday afternoon match-up between the Steelers and the Bengals.  This decision earned him a look of disapproval from his wife, so he turned it back off.  Alice simply turned back toward the window and they continued the trip in silence.

About ten minutes of angry quiet later, Shari’s Dairy, a small ice cream stand, came into view as they topped a small hill.  A red, white, and blue OPEN flag rippled in the warmish autumn breeze.

Henry’s face lit up.

“Hey!  Shari’s is still open.  She usually closes after Labor Day.  It’s been forever since we’ve been in there.”  He snickered and smiled to himself.  “You remember the time we accidentally left Lyle there?  We were so busy arguing, that we got about halfway home before we realized that he wasn’t in the car.”

Alice didn’t respond.

“And when we finally made it back, we found him where we’d left him, sitting at our usual table just as calm as could be.  We expected to find a hysterical, crying child, but he was so engrossed in his electronic football gadget, he never even realized we were gone.  You want to stop for a cone?” Henry asked, letting up on the gas in anticipation of pulling into the small, gravel parking lot.  “They might still have your favorite; butter crunch.  I think I’ll get black raspberry.”  Secretly, Henry wasn’t in that much of a mood for ice cream.  He would just be glad to see his wife smile again and ice cream always used to cheer her up.  He activated the turn signal.

“No,” Alice finally said.  “We really don’t have time to stop for memories.  There’s just too much to do.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Henry agreed, and his heart sank.  “We still have a lot of packing to get done before the movers get here.”  He disengaged the turn signal, put his foot back on the gas, and they hummed past the small ice cream parlor, headed for home.  He looked over at his wife, who had gone back to staring quietly out the window.

Maybe it was the fire.  Maybe it was something the doctor had told her.  She would talk about that in her own good time.  Maybe it was the move.  And maybe it was the realization of everything that awaited them over the next few days and weeks.  Either way, something had caused her to go quiet in a way he’d never seen before.  And he couldn’t say that he blamed her one bit.  Neither one of them responded well to change and neither one of them was looking forward to leaving the home they had both grown to know and love.

*     *     *

At about half past eleven Henry turned the Buick into the narrow gravel driveway and pulled in under the car port; nothing more than a simple tin roof nailed onto a wooden frame, just something to keep the worst of the rain and snow at bay.   A large, dark stain and deep tire grooves in the gravel marked the place where they’d parked many vehicles, in the same spot, over many years.

He put the car in park and shut it off.

We’re home, Mother,” he said.  When she didn’t respond to being called mother, something he hadn’t done in the years since their son, Lyle, still lived at home, he reached over and touched his wife’s arm.

She jumped a little, as if being jolted out of sleep.

“What?” she asked grumpily

“We’re home,” Henry repeated.  “You know, that place where we keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.”

“I can see that,” she huffed.  Collecting her purse from its place on the floor between her feet, she opened the car door and started to get out before she realized that she was still belted in.  With a grunt of frustration, she hit the release button for the seatbelt, and climbed out, slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle it in its frame.  Henry couldn’t hear what she was saying.  He could only see her lips move as she muttered to herself and walked around the front of the car, digging into her purse for the house key.

Henry didn’t get out right away.  After his wife disappeared inside, he sat for a moment, staring up at the 19th Century Colonial that he, Alice, and Lyle had called home for the better part of four decades.  The two coats of sunlight yellow paint he’d paid Greg Farmer a small fortune to put on the old place, not one year ago, were already beginning to show signs of sun-fade and cracking along the foundation and around the windows.  And that really toasted Henry’s ass.  People say it over and over because it’s an undeniable truth, “You just can’t find good help these days,” and, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

And before his health had begun to fail him, he had lived by that very policy.  He had done the painting and all the other maintenance himself.  Sure, most of the time, he would get Lyle to assist on things like cutting and maintaining a yard that spanned almost an entire acre around all sides of the house.  And maybe he would even hire one of the neighbor-kids to pitch in on the bigger jobs; like painting the house or changing out the storm windows in preparation for another hard Pennsylvania winter.  But, for the most part, he had done it all himself.  And, like any other man, he took a lot of pride in that fact.

However, as he got on into his later years, and Lyle grew into his late teens, he found that his legs would no longer take him up a steep ladder or that he couldn’t chop fire wood without becoming winded.  More and more Lyle had to take over.

After Lyle graduated high school and went off to college at The University of Pittsburgh, he took to hiring local kids to do things like raking the leaves.  Eventually, even that pool of employees dried up as some of those kids followed his son’s path and went off in search of higher education.

Like Lyle, they left Mount Lebanon for the excitement of dorm life; parties, girls, booze, and all the other things that the college experience had to offer.  Others joined the military and went off to serve their country.  And others simply threw caution to the wind, packed up, hit the road, and lit out for parts unknown.  A few made some very bad decisions and went nowhere.  Like little Eddie Gilbert, who ended up in Pittsburgh’s Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

With no cheaper labor to bring in, Henry was forced to hire professionals and contractors to do the difficult work.  People like Greg Farmer who possessed the unreasonable expectation that, just because they owned a business and a truck with their name decaled on the door, they had the God-given right to charge the moon and stars to perform simple tasks; such as putting a coat of paint on a house, changing out storm windows, or drying out a flooded basement.

Again, this brought him back to the paint job on the house.  The five-hundred dollars he’d given Mr. Farmer should have bought him a much longer lasting result.  A good quality outdoor paint should not fade or crack in the span of ten months.

Then again, ultimately, it didn’t matter anymore.  Because, as of a week ago, the place had gone on the market.  A reflective aluminum sign from Franklin Reality Inc. stood planted in the grass on the edge of the front lawn with a FOR SALE plate hanging from the bottom.  He and Alice finally had to face a hard truth and admit to themselves that they were no longer able to take care of the house or the property.  It was just too much work.  And too much worry.

Especially after the fire.  While it had only charred part of the wall behind the stove, melted two of the control knobs, and ruined the curtains above the sink, the damage had not been that extensive.  The insurance had paid for all repairs, a replacement stove, and new curtains, but the one thing insurance could not bring back was their piece of mind.  Alice would never admit it, but Henry knew that the fire had put the fear of God into her.  For at least two weeks afterwards, she didn’t want to go into the kitchen to make so much as toast.  What other mistakes was she going to make?  Maybe next time no one would be there and something worse would happen.

Finally, despite all her initial objections, the call to Dr. Keating’s office was made and an appointment was set up.

Their realtor, Janet Franklin, called the day after the papers were signed and the house was posted on the company’s website thing.  She informed him that she already had not one, but three, potential buyers on the hook.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that he and Alice were going to have to take a bit of a beating on the price to facilitate a quick sale.  Also, the kitchen fire would have to be disclosed even though it had caused no structural damage.  She’d list it as a fixer-upper with a ton of potential and a starting price of eighty-thousand.  After some debate, he and Alice decided to vacate the property and leave the sale and other final doings in Mrs. Franklin’s capable hands.

Regardless, he sure was going to miss the old place.

*          *          *

No sooner had Alice stepped back into the house, surrounded by their lives packed into dozens of cardboard boxes, six suitcases, and four trunks, when she decided that now was not the time to dawdle.  After a brief restroom stop and a glass of water to wash down her medication, she set to work in the small parlor where dozens of small, ceramic figurines stood, row upon row, within the confines of a locked, glass and wood curio cabinet.

She had been very clear about the fact that she was to be the only one to take them down, wrap them, or box them up.  No one else, including her husband, was to touch them.  She unlocked the cabinet, gathered her supplies, and set to work, taking them out one by one, brushing each with a yellow feather duster, rolling it into a layer of plastic bubble-wrap, and placing it, ever so carefully, into its own compartment within the moving box; a box that would come with her in the car and would not be loaded into the moving truck or the tow trailer.

Each figurine contained its own memories:

The grinning clown, holding a colorful swarm of balloons in one white-gloved fist, purchased on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, where she and Henry had taken their honeymoon.

The whistling boy with a fishing rod on one shoulder and a bundle of school books over the other, a 25th birthday present from Henry’s mother, Grace.

The slobbering, diaper-clad baby, holding a rattle and grinning a one-toothed grin, a gift from The Connors to commemorate Lyle’s birth.

The winged angel with a golden halo, a house-warming present from her Cousin Martha to celebrate the acquisition of this very house.

As she dusted the angel, wrapped it, and placed it in the box with the others, she found herself struggling to hold back tears.  The thought of leaving this place and leaving everything and everyone she knew behind suddenly became too much.  She looked around to make sure Henry wasn’t lurking anywhere about and then she let the tears come, allowing herself to weep for a good minute before she drew out a clean, white handkerchief and expertly removed her tears without so much as smearing her make-up. No sooner had she started back on task, when she heard the front door open and close.  Followed by Henry’s familiar footsteps on the hard-wood floor.

“Alice?” he called, his voice echoing eerily through the mostly empty house.

“In here, Henry,” she called back.

*     *     *

The next day, Saturday, Teddy Sheldon and his Merry Movers pulled into the Detmore’s driveway at 8 A.M. on the dot.  One solid business policy that Teddy stood by was, “If we’re late, we’ll move you for free.”  And Teddy made sure his Merry Movers were never, ever late.

Henry and Alice were already up, packed, and ready well before the truck ever pulled in.  As a matter of fact, neither one had slept much at all that night as the laundry list of things that needed done, and details that needed to be remembered, seemed to grow longer and more daunting with each passing hour.

The throaty whisper of the box truck’s diesel engine and the steady pulse of the backup alarm cut through the chilly, early morning, autumn air.  Henry watched from inside as the large vehicle drifted to a stop with a hiss of air brakes, not ten feet from the bottom of the porch steps.  The cab doors swung open and six burly men bubbled out, their breath forming clouds of white mist in the air around their heads.

Teddy Sheldon, at an impressive six feet, four inches, climbed down from behind the steering wheel and came to the front door with a clipboard in his hand.  Henry opened the door just as he was reaching for the doorbell.

“Hey, Ted,” Henry greeted.  “Come on in.”

“Morning, Henry,” The big man replied.  Wiping his boots on the doormat, he stepped in, and Henry offered his right hand.  Ted removed one work glove and accepted it, shaking with a firm grip.  “Are you and Mrs. Detmore all set?”

“You bet,” Henry said, closing the door.  Ted flipped the clipboard around and handed it to Henry.  It held several sheets of paper with the Merry Movers’ letterhead printed at the top.  Each sheet contained a numbered list of Henry and Alice’s belongings,

“This is an invoice of everything we’re packing into the truck and bringing with us,” Teddy said, running one wide, calloused finger down the edge of the first page.  “If you could look it over, make sure everything’s on there, and sign at the bottom of the last page, I’ll put the guys to work.”

Henry quickly skimmed each page.

“I saw a tow trailer parked out front,” Ted added.  “You need help loading anything into that?”

“If you could,” Henry replied.  “We have four trunks and some luggage.  Alice travels like the Queen of Sheba.”

“I heard you there,” Teddy agreed, and the two men shared a laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Alice asked briskly from the top of the stairs.  She was dressed in her gray pantsuit, cut so that it hugged her figure quite nicely and the blouse buttoned all the way to the collar.  A stylish lavender hat, pinned in place no doubt, sat askew atop her head.

“Nothing, dear,” Henry replied sheepishly.

“Mrs. Detmore,” Teddy greeted with a slight nod.

“Mr. Sheldon, see that nothing gets a scratch.  There’s still a curio cabinet that needs prepared for the move in the small parlor.” Alice ordered.

Satisfied with what he read, Henry took the attached pen, noted the items to be loaded onto the tow trailer, and signed the bottom of the last page with a flourish.

“Not a scratch.  Yes, ma’am.  I guarantee it.  We’ll crate and wrap the curio before it goes on the truck.” Teddy assured before he reclaimed the clipboard, signed his own name under the customer’s, tore off the pink copy and handed it to Henry.  Then, stepping back outside, Ted signaled his guys with a piercing whistle.  And the men of the Merry Movers went to work like a well-oiled machine, making the trunks and luggage a priority.

No sooner had Henry backed the Buick onto the trailer hitch, then the men had the items in and set to go.  They even double-checked the trailer’s connection to make sure it was secure. By the time the box containing Alice’s ceramic figurines was secured onto the Buick’s back seat under her specific supervision and she was in the car with her seatbelt fastened, Henry was already behind the wheel with the engine warmed up, the heater on full, the interior nice and toasty, and the windows clear of autumn frost.

Ted knocked gently on the driver’s side window and Henry hit the button to lower it.

“Okay, Henry,” the man said, leaning down to the open window.  “Just to confirm, we are taking these items to 2141 Revere Lane in Danbury, Connecticut.”

“Right,” Henry agreed.  “The best way to get there is to take…”

“I already have it programmed into the GPS.  We’ll find you easily enough.”

“GPS,” Alice scoffed quietly from the passenger seat.

“Alright,” Henry said.  “We’ll see you this afternoon then.”

“Count on it,” Teddy replied confidently.

Henry closed the window and took one last, long look at the old homestead.  He looked over at Alice, who was busy pretending to adjust the knot on her scarf.  He reached over and touched her shoulder.

Let’s go, Henry,” She growled without looking at him.  “Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Henry drove to the end of the driveway, pulled out into the street, and pointed the car toward Connecticut.

end of chapter one

 

Well, there it is. We all hope you enjoy it thoroughly and it entices you to want to read more.

I bid everyone a wonderful weekend, prayers to all who need it, and happy reading.

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CreateSpace.com is going bye-bye

Greetings, readers. Rebecca and I were met with an interesting problem this morning when we saw that Amazon, the parent company of CreateSpace, is basically taking them over. All my books will be transferred over to Kindle Direct Publishing at some point, or I could move them over myself. This news threw us for a loop, for we really didn’t know what was going to happen. To our relief, we found out that the transfer could be done quickly and painlessly, and KDP will still publish the printed versions.

Amazon and Kindle also gives you an opportunity to advertise your books somewhere on Amazon itself. I shouted, “Yes,” gleefully. My glee was short-lived. Rebecca tried to find the price of said service, but to no avail. It was extremely difficult to find, making me think they want beaucoup bucks, which I just don’t have at the moment. Yes, it’s true, you need to spend money to make money, but funds are tight right now.

Luckily, the remainder of my business cards say Amazon on them, so I can still pass them out and use them. Thank God for small favors. Could we have done more to promote our books? Probably so, but I still have nightmares about our first and only book signing at the local Webster’s Bookstore and Café. We started with a good crowd, but by the time we were done, all the students who were studying for their tests had been driven away by our stories. By the end the only people who were left were the people who we had invited. Not good.

Enough belly aching. Finally, some cooler weather is coming tomorrow night. With my air conditioner on the fritz, you can imagine just how much I am looking forward to cooler temperatures. For those of you who know me well, no, I am not looking forward to winter, but day-time highs in the 60s F and lows in the 40s are just fine for me right now. It is supposed to be in the mid-50s and partly sunny for the Nittany Lions homecoming game against Michigan State this Saturday. I’ve been invited by my friend Nicci to go see the homecoming parade Friday evening with Traci. I hope it won’t be too cool.

We will keep you up to date, dear readers, about the progress on getting all books to Amazon/Kindle. For those of you who have Kindles, I am sure you will enjoy the reads. We will keep you abreast.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and as always, happy reading.

We’ve got some local help for book promotion

Greetings, readers. A major step forward was taken yesterday in the attempt to get Four’s a Crowd selling like hotcakes. I talked to my friend from the building, Joel Solkoff, who is also a blogger here on WordPress, and he has agreed to help us out by promoting it on his blog and website. Joel gets tons more hits per day than I do. I have a very good feeling about this work relationship.

Speaking of Four’s a Crowd, the two copies I ordered for local sales to people in this building should be arriving any day. Both sales will be priced for friends and family. Darren and I will each receive $5 from each sale. Also, the money from the one Amazon.com sale last month arrived in my bank account the other day. Each of us are now $2.25 richer … I’m not joking. When I say that Amazon sales won’t pay the rent, you can see what I mean. With Joel’s help, however, this is likely to change in the near future.

We had to let kitty cat Josie out of her time-out cage so she could use the litter box. Now she is exploring and saying hi to Rebecca. She can stay out as long as she doesn’t get near the computer. That is a no-no. I hear her, as we are typing, using her cat box. Rebecca’s assumption was indeed correct.

On a side note, I was very happy that a heavy rain came through last night with a lot of lightning with a little thunder. Even though I sat in the dark with lights and modem off, the hard rain and heavy wind broke the humidity this morning. I actually needed my hoodie for my walk to Panera. It was quite refreshing.

At the restaurant, I saw my friend Ron, who had been visiting home in Vermont, and is now back. Apparently, to stay. He had previously visited Massachusetts, but that visit was cut short. When I asked him how long he was staying here this time, he used the word indefinitely. I am very happy to see him. We always swap tales and jokes. He is a very kind fellow.

Okay, there is today’s blog. I’m taking tomorrow off for personal reasons, but I am going to dictate a blog entry for Rebecca to edit and post. A: Because I need practice doing that and B: Because the more I use my voice recognition program the better it gets.

So until soonest, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.

Brand new business cards were just ordered and other topics

Greetings, readers. I’m very happy to announce that for a really reasonable price I have designed and ordered brand new business cards exclusively for the novel Four’s a Crowd. I think they look really sharp and will be here by the 24th. I will be able to do some scouting around to see who wants one. We have the pertinent information on the front and a little blurb about the book on the back. I think it is just enough to get people interested. The book is for sale right now at Amazon.com for $14.99.

This is one of my first attempts to try to stir the pot for this new book. I’m sure I’ll come up with other ideas as well. Darren is doing his part in spreading the word as he can when he and Rebecca are shopping or doing other errands. My motto is, every person you tell, could tell another person and the ball could get rolling that way. It is said that word of mouth is the best way to advertise.

There is a book fair at our local arts festival this weekend. Depending on hot it is outside, I might get to the book fair. I’m not one to stand out in the heat too long. I do plan on offering the library a copy or two for their collection. I forget whether they have a local author’s section, but if so that is where it would go. I cannot say enough about this book and how pleased I am on how it turned out. Darren’s work enhanced my story and made the novel complete, while retaining the true essence of my play, Kimberly.

On to something different, I found out yesterday, after the blog entry was posted, that the TV show LA to Vegas has been cancelled. Boo-hoo. Granted it was not the best show in the world, but if you wanted 22 minutes of a good laugh, it did nicely. I guess I’m going to have to find another show to watch, for I don’t think that On Demand keeps cancelled shows on for very long.

Speaking of TV shows, I’ve also been watching Gotham and the reincarnation of the The X-Files. Until the end of September, all seasons are On Demand. I used to watch The X-Files re-runs years ago and was really into it, and then as usual other shows came along. I ended my viewing evening with a couple of episodes of 9-1-1. I found out something extremely interesting during one of the episodes. A dumb-butt guy pilot dude thought it would be romantic to propose to his girl-friend by faking an on-plane emergency while having her read the handbook. Half-way through she got to the proposal part and went into what looked like a heart attack. When they got on the ground and paramedics arrived, it just so happened that said character was taking a medication that I am on, that causes heart palpitations, which I had. How cool is that? I am going to re-watch that episode, write down the name of that drug, and if I am still on it, get off it if at all possible.

Okay, there is my all over the place blog entry today. I enjoy writing these multi-topic blog entries now and then. I’m still trying to come up with a good idea for a top ten list, which I promise will be before I go to camp. Until next Wednesday, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Sharing another story from my second book with you

Greetings, readers. I am sharing a story, “Going Down the Runway,” from my second camp book, published in 2012 from CreateSpace.com. I have written three books that I published using CreateSpace, a publish-on-demand site which I have had good experiences using. I am proud of all of them and the hard work I put into them. All three books are available through CreateSpace, or through Amazon. The first two, about Bear Spring Camps, are also available on Kindle (I haven’t put the third one on that platform yet.) In case you are interested in looking them up, here is the information to find them. You can find most of same information on the Books for Sale page.

My first book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, is available on my e-store, https://www.createspace.com/3625476, Amazon.com, and Amazon Kindle. I have shared two stories from this book in the blog before, about a tribute to my mother the year she passed away, and about when I fell asleep fishing.

My second book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, is the one I am sharing a story from today. It is available on my e-store, https://www.createspace.com/3674407, and Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle. I shared one story from this book already, about a run-away boat.

My third book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, has entries from my first year of doing this blog. It is available on my e-store, https://www.createspace.com/3678800, and Amazon.com.

Without further ado, here is the story. I certainly hope you enjoy it.

Going Down the Runway – The worst mishap the Galileo ever
endured was due to lack of planning. It was a hot breezy afternoon.
David, Pop, and I decided to cool ourselves down with a long boat
ride. Mom decided to stay behind on the porch with a cool drink. We
were going to go to the other side of Great Pond where any breeze
might be stronger. It was an area that none of us went to very often.
After we got back, I wished that I had, the night before, asked Mr.
Mosher for a lake map that I could study before we left. But I didn’t.

The ride started out in North Bay as usual. We then started
making our way through Chutes Channel to the other side. We were
enjoying our ride with the Galileo’s throttle open to full. She was
getting a good workout. On this rare occasion, I was not at the helm.
Dave had taken a turn driving and then Pop took his turn; a rarity for
Dad. I should have been paying attention to his driving so that I
could assist him as needed, but I didn’t think of it.

It was during Pop’s turn at the wheel when the minor tragedy
occurred. We were on our way back to North Bay (where we knew
what the markers meant) but we were unsure of the markers on the
other side. He had to navigate the Galileo in an area where rocks
were abundant. On one side was a row of green markers and on the
other side, approximately ten yards away on the left, was a row of
red markers. Pop must have thought that in between the rows of
markers was the danger zone. As it turns out, it was the safe passage.
Just like landing an aircraft, we should have aimed right down the
middle of the runway. Pop veered to the right toward the rocks.

By this point in the ride, I was sitting in the front passenger area
half asleep. I got a rude awakening. As the propeller smacked
against a boulder just underneath the water surface, the Galileo came
out of the water for a fraction of a second. Pop immediately brought
the boat to a halt. As he lifted the engine up with the automatic
lifting device, he asked, “Davey, do you see any damage?”

Dave, though not really wanting to be the bearer of bad news,
replied, “Um, yes, sir, there is.”

I quickly walked back to where the engine was. Luckily the boat
itself was undamaged. To this day, I don’t know how the propeller
was the only thing that hit the rock, but it happened. With the
propeller in the mangled shape it was in, we weren’t getting out of
that spot on our own. I reached into the glove box, got the air horn, and blew it to call for help. After several minutes, someone came to
our aid and carefully got us out of the rocky situation we were in.

Once back in deep water, the ride home was slow but
uneventful. The propeller was just useable enough for us to drive our
boat back to our dock at the slowest possible speed, although the
engine put out a rough quiver. I kept thinking to myself, now how
am I going to explain this to Mother? Pop assured me that he would
take full responsibility. I felt guilty, yet relieved.

That evening, Mother went up to supper early to place a call to
the marina right before it closed. A mechanic was up the next
morning to not only install the new propeller but to inspect the
engine for any other damage. To my relief, when the new propeller
was put on, everything else checked out ok. Mom told all of us that
she would greatly appreciate it if we would stay on our side of the
lake.

The next morning, Uncle Cy, David, and I planned and partook
of a fishing trip. The engine started up as usual and ran smoothly. I
purposely opened her up to full throttle to check for any vibration.
Thankfully, it was as though the entire incident never happened.

A month or so later, when the marina bill was sent to our home
in Pennsylvania, Mom showed me how much the new propeller cost.
I felt like crawling under the rock that we had hit.

My Fascination with Airplanes, a story by me

Greetings, readers. We got the blog post done so fast today, that Rebecca and I still have time in the work day, so I am sharing one of my personal stories with you, from a project that has, for now, stalled. I have some little pieces that may or may not be published in a book someday, and Rebecca thought it would be nice to share them with you. So, here you go.

My Fascination with Airplanes

            From the age of seven, I have been fascinated with aircraft of all types. I have lived in central Pennsylvania all my life and our airport was considerably smaller than it is today. In the pre-9/11 era, people could stand closer to the airfield. As a kid, I could literally stand by the fence and watch planes take off; you can’t do that anymore. Today, they have security walls and guards keeping you far from any real view. When our airport was smaller, single engine propeller planes were the status quo. Today you can hear small jets overhead. Jets are my passion.

My father, a philosophy professor, would sometimes teach overseas. Once in a great while the family would get to travel with him. My first experience on a jet was on a Boeing 747. As memory serves, it was approximately a seven hour flight. Being pampered by stewards and stewardesses, as they were called back then, was a real treat for me. However, my biggest thrill was take-off. As the jumbo jet rumbled down the runway, engines whining with power, the giant bird became airborne. I saw the earth fall away and the plane seemed to smooth out.

Within thirty minutes of the flight we were at or near cruising altitude. The now all-too-familiar “dings” of the smoking/no smoking signs were switched off, and we could truly get comfortable. In the 1970s, jumbo jets were equipped with one, perhaps two, movie screens. Nowadays, there are smaller screens every few rows. Another pre-9/11 luxury of aircraft was something called real silverware, instead of the now used spork. Meals were more elaborate and tastier. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m still looking for the moron who served us spaghetti and meat sauce at 25,000 feet. I got a little sick.

Flying from New York to Frankfort was an overnight flight, so still being a young boy, I was easily able to sleep. When I awoke, we were approximately an hour away from our destination. I remember my disappointment when my parents told me that we were going home on a ship and not a plane.

Today, I get my thrills of flying through something called the flight simulator. It is a wonderful computer program. I can program the computer to begin at any one of 24,000 airports and “fly” to virtually anywhere in the world.

The Changing of the Guard, a story by me

Greetings, readers. I want to share a story from my third Bear Spring Camps book with you. I am now on the fence about writing BSC 3 this year after all. I will let you know when I am writing it again in earnest. For now, I want to share one of my favorite stories that I wrote for the book so far.

Until tomorrow, take care and happy reading. I hope you like this story.

The Changing of the Guard

            This camp season, 2013, was a particularly satisfying one for me. When I was a young boy visiting Bear Spring Camps, I had my Uncle Cy Greco to love and care for me, to take me fishing, to tell me stories, and to teach me about life. Now that he is gone, I cherish those memories, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him at least once.

            For the last few years, I have sat at Dave Trost’s table with his family, of which I am honored to be a part. His grand nieces and nephews have become a huge of part of my life as well as his. We take them fishing and on boat rides, but it’s times when the sweet little girls, Ava, Kennedy, and Emma ask Uncle Joey for story time, where the experience comes full circle. Now I am the uncle figure, set to enrich their lives.

            This particular year contained two very fulfilling story hours. The first took place at Ava and Kennedy’s cabin where their parents were outside having a bonfire. I volunteered to entertain the young ones and shared my stories and experiences from Bear Spring Camps. The five children there were Paul and Luke Gonzales, and Ava, Kennedy, and Emma Harvey. The children also enjoyed hearing about how their Uncle Dave and Uncle Joey met and became friends as young kids. I told them their Uncle Dave was our paperboy, and a few years older than me. I was being picked on by a couple of neighborhood kids and Dave took exception to this. After chasing the kids away, we quickly, over the next few days and weeks, became great friends. Dave would save the last paper to be delivered for Mom and Dad’s house so that he would be done with his route for the day, and be ready to toss that ball around, or listen to a record.

The other story they really liked was when Dave and I as teenagers were at camp and he thought he heard something outside the cabin. He went to investigate in his bare feet. I heard him trip over something, and moments later saw him stumbling back towards the camp. As it turns out, he had broken his big toe on a large stump. Mom was down in Waterville visiting Jiggs Mosher and was not there to witness David’s injury. He had told me that he didn’t want Mom to find out. I reluctantly went along with this and promised to keep my mouth shut. We both came to the conclusion that he should try to wash the dirt out of it, and all the kids got a chuckle when I explained David’s reaction when the water hit his toe. It hurt so bad that he pounded his fist against the shower stall. It sounded like rumbling thunder. The next morning, with Mom being unaware that anything had gone wrong, Dave tried to put his foot in his shoe. He let out a yelp or made face or something, which I tried to imitate for the children. They were not laughing at Uncle Dave being injured; they just liked the silly face I made. Mom figured that all wasn’t right and demanded an explanation. I went ahead and told my mom what had happened the night before. Mom wondered why we were trying to keep the injury from her; I’m not quite certain but I think that Dave was a little embarrassed that he had gone outside in the pitch dark without shoes. It was either that or he perhaps thought that she would take him to the emergency room and who wants to spend the day away from camp at the ER? He convinced her that he was ok and just wouldn’t wear a shoe, which made walking bearable.

            As I sat there in that cabin with children all around me, not only did I feel like an uncle, but I got the sense that if this is what parenting is, I love it. To be able to tell children stories, to entertain them, and make them smile, is truly a wonderful thing.

            I promised to tell them more stories the next night at the bonfire, but it rained. I didn’t want to break my promise, so a few nights later I held a story evening in my cabin. With cousins Paul and Luke Gonzales having already gone home, it was just Ava, Kennedy, and Emma who were brought to my cabin for more stories. The girls were given a soda and had a chance to choose where they would sit. Even though it wasn’t a terribly cold night outside, I turned on the camp’s propane heater so that we would have a flickering flame, to make-believe that it was our own campfire. Over that priceless hour, the girls wanted to hear the tale of how Uncle Dave fished for his old shoes, that he had discarded in the lake years earlier, and they wanted to hear another adventure from when we were both children. I, of course, gladly complied.

            Somehow I get the feeling that I will never be a parent. So helping to raise David’s nieces and nephews, and now the grand nieces and nephews, is my chance. With the love and affection Uncle Cy showed me over the years and the compassion I learned from my own parents, I am ready to be a parent or uncle figure to these wonderful children. It has come full circle. I am now what Uncle Cy was to me. The guard has now been changed.

New book is officially for sale!

Greetings, readers. My third book, published through CreateSpace.com, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger is for sale. We worked very hard on this book and it was a pleasure for Rebecca and I to go through and find the best entries from my first year. While the creation process was different for this book than my previous two, in that we were simply compiling and then editing pieces I wrote over the course of a year for the blog. I did write new material for a select number of articles to add information needed for a new reader to understand the context or to update.

Both Rebecca and I are proud of this new book. It’s 146 pages filled with fun and interesting blog posts from late December 2011 to December 2012. Also, as a side note, this is my first book with pictures in it. One from my book signing and three of how I decorated my place for Christmas time. It will take about a week for the book to be on the Amazon site, so for now it is only available in my eStore. The url is: https://www.createspace.com/3678800 and the price is $8.99 plus shipping.

After we ordered the first proof, we noticed some problems with about seven of the entries. The print looked very faded, as if CreateSpace had toner issues when they printed it. We emailed their customer service department, and they sent a free copy of the proof. We saw that the second copy had the same problems as the first, so the problem was on our end. We arranged for CreateSpace to call us, and they gave us some suggestions, but they didn’t really solve the problem. I was facing a deadline to get books before my trip to Maine, so I approved the proof and put the book on sale last Friday, but at a lower price until we could solve the problem. Then yesterday, Rebecca changed from where she cut and pasted the entries in question, and it seemed to solve the problem. I resubmitted the interior file to CreateSpace, they approved it today, and we looked at the (free) digital proof together. We noticed that it solved the problem for some of the entries, but not for all. Three or four entries still appear fainter on the page than all the others. That is better than last week, so I approved the proof again, and the book is for sale, still at the lower price.

As I wrote in earlier posts, the blog entry that gets the most views is Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, from March 23, 2012. As of today, the total number of views for it is 291. Absolutely, that entry is in the book.

Until next time, have a great day, take care and happy reading.

New book proof # 1 news

Greetings, readers. Let us tell you about Greetings, Readers. As many of my regular readers know, the new book about the first year of my blogging experience is due to come out quite soon. CreateSpace.com, where I get my books published, requires one proof, either physical or digital. Today in the mail, almost on cue while Rebecca and I were discussing it, come physical proof #1. Well…

Rebecca and I found a few mistakes with it, mostly spacing issues and oddly enough toning difficulties of which I have alerted CreateSpace. While I expected to order at least one extra proof before clicking the “ok for sale” tab, the low toner issue was a concern to me. I’m hoping that they give me a satisfactory answer to this question. Something that CreateSpace wanted me to look at were my four photographs – the first of my three books that has pictures in it – because of low resolution or pixel problems would make them grainy. While not as sharp as a bell, they are satisfactory to both of us. When the book is ready for purchase, we shall let you know. I just wanted you all to have a quick update.

Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger is thicker than my other two books at 149 pages. It is so thick in fact, that we were actually able to get the title on the spine this time. Keekee has the cover photo and is the same shot that you see above this blog at this time.

With my annual Maine retreat coming up here in half a month, Rebecca again will be handling the new blog entries from approximately August 1st through the 12th. That’s all my big news. Very exciting day here.

I will have a new entry for you here on Friday, more than likely a top ten list. So until then, enjoy the weather if you aren’t being rained on, take care and happy reading.

Book cover selected

Greetings, readers. I am very pleased to announce that, thanks to Rebecca’s great idea, the photograph which shall be submitted to CreateSpace.com for my upcoming book will be that of my kitty cat Keekee. We found a perfect photograph and it fulfilled all of the necessary qualifications, such as dots per square inch. That, and it looks great. We put the same picture on the header of my blog. The cover color scheme will be black lettering on white background, which is just fine because that is Keekee’s coloring. That is my tidbit for the day.

Until Wednesday Thursday, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.