Category Archives: book

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 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,,, 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,, and 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,, and

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

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, 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: 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., 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 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.

Sharing a story from my second book

Greetings, readers. I wrote yesterday that I will be busy. While you wait for my next new blog entry, here’s something for you to feast your eyes on. From my book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, I chose one of my favorite stories with my buddy and brother Dave Trost, Run-Away Boat. Enjoy.

Run-away boat 

        It was a hot early August day, and David and I decided to enjoy our daily afternoon boat ride. We usually took the Galileo, of which I was always the captain, but on this particular occasion we decided to take the small camp boat so that Dave could take the helm. He called his boat the Spidinkies. He got that name from a family member who used that word instead of cussing.

We made one complete lap around North Bay, which in the smaller boat took twice as long as in the Galileo. Dave asked me if I wanted to go around again. I said sure, why not? It was a beautiful day, we had plenty of gas, and nothing else was planned for that afternoon. Dave began the second lap.

Then it happened.

I do not know what possessed me to do this, but I, a crazy young teenager, dared the driver to jump out of the boat. David told me later that he yelled up to me not to dare him because he would do it, but I didn’t hear him. I yelled back again, making sure that my voice was heard over the engine, “Dave, I triple double dog dare you to jump out of this boat.” Figuring that sanity and his sense of well-being would override temptation, the thought never entered my mind that he would actually take me up on the dare.

I heard nothing in reply and for a few moments the Spidinkies turned as it should have to avoid markers and other boats.

We passed Snake Point and began running parallel to the lakefront, within sight of the cabins. There was a platform anchored about thirty yards from shore that people used for diving and lying in the sun. We were approximately eighty to one hundred yards away when I noticed three beautiful teenage girls, about fifteen or sixteen years old, sunbathing. Unless we turned quickly, the boat would hit the platform and the girls.

“Ok, Dave, nice, slow, easy turn.”

Nothing happened. Well maybe he just didn’t hear me.

“Ok, Dave, nice slow …”

Then horror hit me. Could it be that this slightly older, slightly wiser person took the dare? I realized I had to look back. To my shock I was in a run-away boat. Dave was treading water with one hand while waving to me with the other about fifty yards back. Blind panic set in. I jumped over two bench seats – carefully – to get to the engine.

I had two options. Option number one was to turn the boat to the left away from shore, which would have thrown me off balance and caused me to go into the drink as well. Option number two, and the one I chose, was to put the engine from forward into reverse without pausing in neutral. The engine whined with resistance and the propeller broke the waterline for an instant. I felt like the captain of the Titanic praying that he didn’t hit the iceberg. All three girls dove off into the water, swimming toward safety. Dave told me later that he had reduced the speed and thought I knew he was jumping out. He assumed I would have plenty of time to take control of the boat. To me, it felt like the boat was going full-speed and that it took forever for my thirteen year-old badly balanced body to avoid disaster. The boat stopped mere feet from the diving platform before slowly reversing.

After I had gotten the boat under my control, I looked back at Dave. His coy smile had long since gone from his face. I went back to him, the engine sputtering, not running smoothly at all. When I got to him, I shouted over the engine’s noise, “Do you think that was funny, mister?”

Now to this day I do not recall his reply verbatim; I think I was too angry. But suffice it to say that since he left me in the lurch, I would leave him. I drove away, leaving him to swim to shore. Granted it wasn’t that far of a swim. Little did I know that he would get the last laugh.

While all this was going on, I failed to notice that my mother was sitting on the porch and saw the whole thing. As I docked the boat, she came out to greet me. “Why did David jump out of that boat?” she said. And I, the naïve truth telling idiot that I was, offered up, “Because I dared him to.”

Mother couldn’t believe what she just heard. Oh, she was proud of her son for telling the truth, but not for being so irresponsible as to dare the driver of a moving object to jump out. Moments later David arrived on shore. He has a knack of sneaking up on me if he wants to. Oh, yes, he was going to have his revenge for being left behind. And my mother, God rest her saintly soul, never let on that he was standing directly behind me.

“But Mom,” I explained, “I didn’t think he would really do it.”

I kind of had a sense that my buddy and brother was behind me. I can just feel those kinds of things. I slowly turned my head around to see him grinning at me. I stood there, Mother to my front, David at my rear, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this predicament. The way I had it figured was that I had two people upset with me. After several minutes of explanation, squirming, and perspiring, Mother looked at David and said, “So he dared you, huh?”

He shook his head in the affirmative with a big grin on his face. Right there I knew I’d had it. Dave looked up at her and said, “Mom, can I dunk him?”

She waited for an agonizing second before saying, “Sure, why not?”

I tried to flee. I took a step and a half before I felt David’s arms around my waist. “Where do you think you’re going, Kockelmans?” he joked.

I could always tell when David was not really mad at me. Yet my leaving him in the lake did require a good dunking. And at the count of three, that was exactly what I got. Into the shallow water I went with a kersplash. Luckily, I was in my bathing suit so it didn’t matter.

“Ok,” I said, “fair is fair. Dave, remind me never to dare you to jump out of the boat again.”

“Joe, never dare me to jump out of the boat.”

“I hate it when you do that.”

The next morning, unfortunately, we had to have the engine looked at by one of the cabin boys. He popped off the top to give it a good once over. To my relief, the damage was minimal. The engine was not ruined.

That ended my daring days. Any such further dares of my friend David occurred on dry land.

Take care, hope you enjoyed the story, and until soon . . .

Tales from North Bay & Beyond published today!

Greetings, readers. Please indulge me a big self-promotion post.

Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories is available for sale at my e-store as of today. My writing assistant and I reviewed a digital proof one last time and then approved the proof. And the book was instantly available. The wonder of self-publishing  : )

For those who are interested in my first camp book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories is available in the e-store link for that title, or, or Kindle.

Until next week, have a great weekend and take care.

Here is another excerpt from my first book

Greetings, readers. As I did once before, here is a second story for you all to enjoy from my first book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories. As mentioned, Bear Spring Camps book 2 is well on the way. And since it’s going to be an easy day here at the office, I thought it might be fun to give you all another small taste of the first book. This is from a chapter I titled “A Basketful of Stories.” One of the smaller ones which wasn’t quite long enough to be its own chapter.

The above title is linked up to the book’s order page on If you are interested, I have a sale going on until the end of May. Two dollars off the $9.99 list price. Hope you all enjoy and a new blog entry will be posted Friday or Saturday. Until then, take care and happy reading.

            Falling Asleep at the Pole – Another humorous story was about the time that I very nearly lost my fishing pole due to my unplanned late morning nap. As in the previous vignette, the weather was quite warm and without a breeze, and the fish weren’t biting, setting the right conditions for me to nod off to sleep. Dave and I were sitting at the stern of the boat in our usual spots, Dave in the left hand seat and me in the right. As time went by without action, I felt myself becoming drowsy, and decided to put my pole in a side compartment next to my seat. I nodded off. I can’t say for certain rather I was completely asleep or not but I was close enough. At a certain point, I was quickly awakened by Dave’s words, which I shall always remember. “Joseph, I highly suggest you pull back on your rod, now!”

            Grabbing my pole with my right hand, still half asleep, I pulled back and by some miracle did manage to set the hook. So here I was trying to fight a fish while fending off the sandman. Dave netted the fish, as he always did. I thanked him for the assist, for had he not spoken when he did, the fish would not only have taken my bait, but my rod and reel as well. From that moment on I vowed never to fall asleep in the boat again.


We get a gold star today : )

Greetings, readers. Oh, yes, today Rebecca, my writing assistant, and I have earned our gold star. After looking at what we call our Done/Done folder, I see that I have 11 stories for my new book edited and ready to go. This puts us ahead of schedule. Whoo-hoot!

I actually had been worrying quite a bit about the sales of my first book as well as how well book 2 would sell. I’ve decided to not worry about it any longer. Worrying does not sell more books. All it does is keep me up at night and turns my hair gray.

Today we edited two pieces, a longer story which did not get finished, and a shorter one which did go into the Done/Done folder. Call it a sense of urgency to get finished, or perhaps our stars aligned, we have had an exceptional two weeks of work.

So please, everyone, keep you fingers crossed and throw good thoughts our way as we strive to maintain our pace to get this book out before the end of camp season. See you all Friday with Pop’s blog entry.