Yes, and for Christmas, too. I’m still not sure how Santa’s going to get my cabin on the lake in his bag, but I’m sure he’ll figure out something!
The other thing I’m excited about is the release of my new E-book, HOLLOW POINT, on January 6th from Champagne Book Group (http://www.champagnebooks.com/store) This contemporary story is a combination of thriller, crime, romance and a little lore with the Suquamish People of the Port Madison Indian Reservation in Kitsap County, Washington State.
I must be getting old. I spent a couple of days around my grandson, who is going to be 2 in February. I didn’t do a whole lot of chasing him like his dad did, but he and Lily the Terrorist run neck and neck in the energy department. They burn hot, fast and furious and then crash in a heap to recharge their batteries. Grampa runs slow, measured and deliberate, ending in the same result.
I’m sure there was a time I could keep up with the curtain climbers, after all, I had four of them, but that time has long since gone the way of the dodo. I realized that when Waylon saw his first buffalo sticking its tongue in the window for a slice of bread at the Game Farm. I wouldn’t trade any of it for a second. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about!
To me it’s kind of funny that there’s such a fuss about the origins of Thanksgiving. The Europeans thought one thing about it and the Indigenous folks probably thought of it differently. My guess is that there was none of the politically charged whoopla that exists today. It amounted to sharing and learning about each other’s cultures as a practical matter.
Sure, eventually greed and taboos ran some of that effort afoul, but at least they started out in awe of each other. After all, the Europeans had sailed over the great water to get here. No Native had ever done that. The Natives had tools and knowledge of the land that they could survive in for long periods of time. The Europeans didn’t know how to do that.
Was it a long-standing mutual admiration? I believe it began to fade when the Europeans learned enough from the Natives to get by and work up the courage to begin exploring farther inland on their own. They outgrew their welcome like a long-lost relative showing up and helping themselves to the resources without a second thought and wasted a lot of what they acquired.
Now there’s a lot of finger-pointing about who did what to whom first. Rather than agreeing to try for a fresh start and giving thanks for what is still here, it’s always someone else’s fault how all of this unfurled over a few hundred years. None of those people are alive now. Let’s move on to something more culturally significant — I think naming team mascots after animals denegrates the animals.
Yesterday, I noticed an unusual number of pictures on Facebook that the Cherokee Nation posted. I’m still trying to get details, but it was totally awesome. If I’m correct, it was “Roc Your Moc” Day, and many pictures of men and women showed off some pretty amazing Native footwear of all types and styles. I’m guessing it had something to do with heritage recognition, and I want to scoop up some heritage of my own. Those mocassins were works of art. I can’t begin to fathom the number of hours each of the decorated ones took to complete. Just looking at them made me want to relax next to a nice fireplace and soak in the history. Guess what I want for Christmas, Santa?
For all of those who have served in America and Canada, thank you for your sacrifices on your countrymen’s behalf. We honor you.
There’s snow and ice on the Cascade Mountain passes this morning. That’s the kinda, sorta, semi-official, tell-tale sign of Winter making it to Western Washington, even though there has been none here at sea level. We live vicariously through our mountains. Yeah, we’ve had a couple of fair-sized wind and rain storms in the last couple of weeks and most or all of the leaves that were present are now absent from the trees, but you can still mow the lawn if you have to.
I have often wondered about those early settlers who traversed the country trying to find a homestead before the seasons changed. The Indigenous folks had centuries of experience spotting out their traditional places to be at particular time of the year, i.e., where the migrating and stationary food supply could be found, and where to plant their lodgings in the winter. They knew that being too early or too late arriving was not in their best interests.
The pioneers, however, didn’t have that luxury if their wagon masters hadn’t been that way before. It was much harder to chain up the horses and oxen to get over a pesky mountain pass in deep snow. The choice was to wait out the winter in the lowlands or attempt to cross and probably become wolf or coyote chow. Eventually the settlers got smarter and made friends with some of the tribes they encountered, learning the best trails and fastest route over the top, no doubt so the tribes could get them the heck out of their hunting grounds.
Now it takes an hour or two to cross most major passes — even with snow. This is not in your father’s Connestoga! We go up there to do frivolous things like ski and snowboard for a day and then come home and walk the dog. With all that said, let it be known that the snow has fallen and Winter is formally upon us in the Pacific Northwest, my Native blood is sure of it. Has anyone else noticed a draft in here?
After finding very few creatures to track in the backyard, I finally had the opportunity to at least use my sense of hearing to find Lily the Terrorist lurking somewhere in the house. Whenever she gets quiet, that tells me she’s into something she probably shouldn’t be.
My astute hearing cability pointed me in the direction of the upstairs in my two-story house. It’s all carpeted and she was apparently unaware that I was stalking for the kill. I was halfway up the stairs on my hands and knees, keenly focussed on maintaining my silence in my pursuit. Then I was three quarters of the way up. Still no sound from my prey above me. Everything was going according to the suggestions I found in my research.
I peeked around the solid bannister, thinking I had a chance to make it all the way to her before she went bananas. Instead, a black nose prodded my nose, followed by fit of “let’s play tag with the dummy” where we intersected on the stairs.
She tore upstairs barking endlessly and making laps around the floor space there while I tore downstairs trying to keep from wetting my pants, yelling words of a highly descriptive nature.
I think I need to do some more research. The Terrorist is better at it than I am!
I had this great idea how to get my new story rolling. Much of it has to do with the skill of tracking another human. Being the smart guy that I am, I figured that the tracker could start from a point other than where the person he was tracking entered the woods and save time catching up to his trail.
WRONG! One of the first rules of tracking is to determine what the print of the other man’s footwear leaves behind before you can know if you’re following the right set of tracks. He would have to visit the last known place the man set foot to determine that. This bit of research threw the original idea over the proverbial cliff, necessitating a revision of the original story arc.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t halfway through the manuscript before I discovered that. It keeps the story believable, especially to those who know anything about tracking. A fiction novel can get by with an ocassional embellishment to fit the story, but the glaring ones need to be kept to a minimum.
Does a reader need to know all the facts about tracking? No, they should learn enough to make the pictures in their mind come up off the page and capture their imagination. Some of the basic concepts are important foundations to make that work, however.
Guess where the protagonist will be starting his search?
A few years ago I had to have a couple of coronary artery stents installed to prevent the “Big One.” My cardiologist decided to do one at a time over a month instead of both at the same time in the cath lab.
It was a simple procedure considering today’s technology and the first one slid in just fine. I was awake, but sedated. They rolled me into the recovery area and were making arrangements to send me up for my overnight stay, since I had to lay flat for twelve hours. That artery was 90% blocked before it was opened up.
A few minutes later I started to experience chest pain that gradually went up past 10 on the scale by the time they got me back into the lab. The artery was trying to reject the stent and a clot was blocking it off. When the doc cleared it, the most wonderful feeling off relief was instantaneous. No pain anymore. Then someone behind me said, “We have an arrhythmia,” and I felt my heart flutter in my chest.
Next, I walked down a long, gray outdoor walkway with a Spanish-style colonade bordering it. On my left there was one column that was a tad less gray and I saw a warm light between it and the next column of the same shade. There appeared to be non-descript people inside who looked peaceful and there was no sort of upheaval. Then I walked past the next column wanting to see more, but heard a voice. “Gary, can you hear me?” And I heard myself answer “yeah.”
I was told I was defibrillated (shocked) twice to bring me back. I presume those were the “columns” I saw. Of course, the next couple of days were spent lounging around in the hospital, but I can tell you that waiting for that next stent wasn’t high on my bucket list. It came out fine, though.
There are a huge variety of beliefs about what happens after death, if anything. I write that there is because I saw it with eye and heart personally. The stories might be fictional, but some of the experiences that build them are very real.
One last practical note on death scenes: I worked with the dead and dying fairly often in my thirty year career as a paramedic and Chief Officer. Would you believe that I never heard a last second dying request. The patient either died immediately or was unconscious and unable to communicate. They had no time. It’s not like the movies!
When I started doing my research for the Native American novels I wanted to write, that question drove me nuts. Every “expert” opinion I read said something different. There are some tribes who accept members with a small percentage of their blood. Some do it by who is covered under the various treaty definitions, which were often vague.
One fact from the old times was that if a person became a slave of a tribe through war or some other means, they were eventually adopted as a member of that tribe and no longer recognized as a member of their original tribe. Escapes didn’t happen because it would dishonor that member.
A current day example is that of our own President. He is called black. He is half white and half black. What tribe would he be from in the Native American world? That of his father? His mother?
From what I have been able to discern so far, and I am by no means any sort of authority on the matter, you are a Native American member if the tribe says you are. And, there are many tribes with many different ideas of what that entails from their history and system of beliefs.
There aren’t that many left in this country with 100% of anything in them anymore, it seems. They just try to hang onto what is left.