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Why Bonanza Novels are Studied in College

Posted by bebowreinhard on April 16, 2015 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (2)

I haven’t been able to get my huge nonfiction book published—I write history that is human and very real, and at times the truth that’s uncovered can be uncomfortable. But we cannot learn from history without application of human attitude that created the history to begin with.

I think this is being sensed even in my fiction novels.

University of Maryland at Baltimore was the first college to make Felling of the Sons required reading. The professor told me she was a major Bonanza fan and for the reasons that I am—those very real people we never hear about in real history stories. This TV series used a lot of true history that the Cartwrights became involved in. 

She hosted me at one of their class sessions to discuss this novel, and one of the students showed skepticism with the material. “But cowboys and Indians were never friends in real life, right?”

I was very happy to set them straight on this. I spent 20 years researching and writing the war experiences of a great-uncle between 1862 and 1884, and I can tell you that there were more friendships between cowboys and cavalry and Indians than anyone has led us to believe. I told them what Henry told as his family legacy: “We didn’t try hard to catch the Indians, we could see they were good people.”

This huge Henry nonfiction would make great campus reading because I strive to tell the history that falls between two opposing sides; this is where the truth is found. But that book, for perhaps its more controversial stance of what really happened, has not yet found a publisher.

Much of what I learned with Henry came in later years and can be found more completely revealed in Mystic Fire, which has yet to be chosen as campus reading; I hope it will be, because it is perfectly designed for that kind of study, with more dedicated footnotes.

Being chosen by the University of Maryland was the biggest honor I could have imagined for a Bonanza novel, even one dedicated to truth and history as mine are. But it had begun to feel a bit like a fluke, until my publisher told me that a college in the UK had recently made a major purchase of Felling of the Sons. The location doesn’t surprise me. England, and Germany especially, boast of having a lot of Bonanza fans—they are enamored of American western history and its native Indians in particular. The cowboy culture in America (including Mexico) is quite distinct. Henry himself was a German soldier with an affinity for the Indian culture, but that doesn’t quite explain why he would have called the Indians good people. Certainly his direct experience with them could have altered that perception.  So what he said was based on what he observed.

But what is it about Felling of the Sons in particular that would have encouraged these colleges to have students read it? Is it just because of the American history that is included, with characters that they are already familiar with?

There are elements of American western history that were very well researched for this novel, including cattle driving, the Paiute culture, timbering and silver mining. Any one of these elements by itself could teach students about life in 1860 in the West. For instance, I go into some detail about the Paiute war that happened that year and the repercussions. There is also a good deal of information about the gold strike in Coloma, California on Sutter’s land, because the “villain” was someone Ben knew in his early days with Sutter.

One could also study what a real “bad guy” was like – not a stereotypical one- dimensional character, but someone who had a real life before things went wrong. It’s a study of how a man refuses to take responsibility and blames others. We all know people like that. It’s also a study of two fathers and the opposing ways they raised their sons. I call it a psychological historical novel, not a western.

I was told once by a fellow member of Western Writers of America that I should have changed the title of the book because most people won’t “get it.” But the title’s intelligence is indicative of what is found inside. All three of the sons face being “cut down” by the villain, creating an atmosphere of pain and survival that is so important in western history. Here Ben finds all three of his sons’ lives are at risk. One of the most important things about the Bonanza TV series in its time, and today, is the fact that Ben showed us how to love all our children equally. What does Ben do when his sons are all out there and he can only choose to go after one of them? That is a question for the ages. I don’t know if even the book provided that answer. Maybe you can tell me.

When I write, I take the time to craft a very dimensional book because I want people to want to read it more than once. But this is also a fiction novel that is not in the least intimidated by the subjective questioning that can happen on a college campus. I welcome its inclusion in the study of American history everywhere, and ask that Mystic Fire also be considered, as a way to look at what Lincoln was really like in 1862.




The First Night in the New Apartment

Posted by bebowreinhard on February 4, 2015 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

First day of apartment living. A very lonely feeling, made worse by feeling alone. Makes sense, right? I left so little behind in Abrams. No one from the theater group I was in for years said goodbye or we’ll miss you, nor anyone from the writing group that I formed and ran for three years, or any family or friends to see me off. Certainly no one in Abrams—the postal lady there didn’t even know who I was, then said she didn’t recognize me, and then handed me the change of address form without a word. 36 years in that town, and I left nothing but cats and a husband behind.

All the things I’ve done, or wanted to do there. If we could have run the restaurant this winter as I proposed, that would have given me reason to stay. But my husband, as usual, saw his family’s view rather than mine, and that was the last effort I had in me. All the living there, of which there’s no trace today. How does something like that happen? How could I have screwed everything up so badly? So that’s why I’m in Madison now? I’m trying to escape my past? I should know better. We cannot escape who we are.

Some probably feel I should have tried harder to find a job in Green Bay, but I screwed myself up there so badly that no one I ever worked for wants me back. And even if I had taken the Apac job at $9 an hour, I still would have had that long drive every day, or I would have had to live at my mother’s house. A lousy job with a residence where I’d get no writing done.

How can I give up my writing now? I’ve wasted so much time on it.

No, there’s no going back. Even if we think we’d do things so much differently, we’re just fooling ourselves. We are who we are.

This moving away is an adjustment, of course. I’ll get used to being lonely and maybe I’ll even start to make friends, although the people I do know here want nothing to do with me. Maybe I am meant to be alone. Maybe that’s what the universe is telling me. Screw everyone and just do your own thing. But I don’t feel I’m meant to be lonely. Sure, I’m a writer, but a sociable one. I’m still thinking of running another writing group that focuses on exercises, once a month in Green Bay—even though I can’t get anyone to want to join and it’ll probably just be me again.

It would help so much to hear from my kids, but I fear what they’re thinking about me right now, so maybe it’s better that I don’t. They have their lives and I have mine, right? How badly I miss them, but that’s my problem, too. Just thinking about the possibility that they hate me now makes me cry. I have to stop thinking about what was and try to focus on what is. Today that task is all but impossible.

I just knew I couldn’t keep living in Abrams. I couldn’t keep running a failed writing career in Abrams where I felt of absolutely no value to anyone. Even those couple of chances I had to work in a post office fell apart.

We can only try and really, that’s all I’m doing here. I see this as my last chance to be of value somewhere. I think I have something to contribute but how will I know if I don’t take a chance?

So here I am, sitting here alone watching the snow fall, wondering what happened to the fun day we had planned for today. Instead Joe and Marty, my helpful movers, had to head back early.

It was easy to move here. It is hard to be here. That’s what the universe is telling me. “Be careful what you ask for, honey, you might just hate it.”

Funny, but I think the people at work expected me to quit right away. And I came close a couple of times when it seemed I wasn’t going to find a place to live or wasn’t going to be able to move in. It wouldn’t have taken much to discourage me, but instead everything just fell into place. But no one at work offered to help, as if in fear of being intrusive. Then when they found my article in the Press Gazette about leaving there for good, they must have realized I was serious. I got a lot more positive comments from them here in Madison than from anyone in Green Bay.

But I will admit I don’t know how long I’ll last. I feel like my health is disintegrating, and so I’m making sure there are good instructions for this position at work for the next person, just in case. Stress is a killer for me, and the stress of being alone doesn’t help. I don’t know what else could happen to remove me from here, now that I’m here; the weather, I’m sure, will eventually improve and I’ll get to enjoy all the great features of city life.

If I can adjust.

Right now, my first day here—blizzard, sad, lonely, pain and heartache for all of my past that I can never get back is what surrounds me. Today the weather is me.

Addendum: Weather is still bad but mood has improved. Hardest are the mornings, when I sit at the dining table alone, unable to turn on the internet to connect with people even by wire. Loneliness. It’s what makes me reach out to others I see who are alone.


The Need to Move

Posted by bebowreinhard on December 4, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I'll be trying to explain here my need to "move" somewhere that's causing me both anguish and hope for the future.  Move is in quotes because I know I can't move anywhere I don't have a job because I can't get an apartment without a steady income.  But here I am in Madison, feeling complete and utter agony and helplessness waiting for the phone to ring from just one of the numerous places I applied for a job.  This posting will be created in free thought, no editing afterward. I  just needed someone to talk to, and this, as usual, is it.

Just got a knock on the door of this Super 8.  Guy wanted to clean. I forgot to put up the do not disturb. That shows how disturbed I am. I think he's an illegal, I could barely understand him.  Sad.  I could take a job like that.  Will I get that desperate?

I told Joe yesterday when I left that he was forcing me to do this. He is forcing me to work because for 20 years he paid no attention to the state of affairs on his golf course and now he's on unemployment in the winter - but unemployment doesn't pay him much becuase of his stock in the company.   "Let them eat dirt!"  He pays very little attention to the process of selling the place either.  Puts all his faith for an entire year in a bad realtor they put under contract.  In a buyer who obviously has no resources.  I just gave him an ad for the Chicago paper "Golf Course/restaurant, year round potential," and told him NOT to wait until spring. Will he do that?  Doubtful.

I've been waiting patiently, a long time.  How much am I epxected to take?  Drive two hours a day for a job that will never become permanent? If I could find the knife to cut the dreams from my gut so I could be happy with something like that, I'd do it.  Who's going to do the CAMD?  No one.

I never wanted to live in Abrams. I never lied about that.  I've been there now 37 years.  Enough is enough!  But i fear if Joe has his way, we will be there forever.  I know we built that house.  But we didn't build a life.  I thought we were.  If this new person HAD taken us up on our latest offer, Joe and i would have worked for him. 

I told Joe that he and me and Margaret could run the restaurant in the winter for a share of the profits. She said no, and he agreed with her.  So what's left?  What, please tell me, is left?  I can't find a job in a city while I live in Abrams, and I can't move to a city unless I have a job?  

So here I sit, hopeful that just one interview will come through so I can go and look for an apartment, have them hold it for me - hopeful yet knowing that come Monday I will have to go home with nothing.

This is the lowest I've ever felt.  And all that will be left is to use my mother's home address to apply for work in Green Bay - if there is any,  I shouldn't be looking for work at this stage of my life, and that makes it even harder to find something.  How stable does someone like me sound?  Yet I did a phenomenal job at Enstrom, and I know I could handle anything.

I just need someone to give me a chance.  And I need a husband who does something, anything, to prove he wants to sell and move, too.

Killing for Fun

Posted by bebowreinhard on October 4, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I happened to glance through the sport section of the paper the other day and saw an article about a guy going after the biggest bear known in the area. He decided he was going to pretend to leave the area to see if he could trick the monster, and sure enough the bear showed up. That’s when the article turned nasty. Of course, he shoots it, but do they have to describe the bear’s exploding ribcage and the howling cry of pain? What is it about violence that gets people off?

The next day on a trip south I saw a sign – “Love the smell of gunpowder in the morning? So do we.” It was a sign for a shooting range.

What kind of violent society are we that we have to take the 2nd Amendment with its right to bear arms as meaning protection from a tyrannical monarchy with the use of muskets to meaning we can walk around with semi-automatic pistols into school yards, airports and farmers markets? What kind of mentality creates this kind of society that advertises the love of the smell of gunpowder?

Is shooting just for fun? Or do these people really think they’re protecting themselves, and need the bear meat to supply for their families?

I can understand going out to hunt meat when you’re starving, when there are no other options for food. But how can this kind of activity be fun? Of course people who call hunting a sport also say they eat the meat they kill, but what is it about killing the animal when they're not starving that they get off on? Are they reassuring themselves that if our society ever collapses they have the skills to survive?

What I see going on, though, in today’s world, is that society will collapse because of weaponry.

I don’t think there are too many people, NRA or not, who believe that George Zimmerman didn’t enjoy killing Trayvon Martin. Of course he did. He bought a gun and he walked around looking for a reason to shoot it. He found one—he created one. Of course he enjoyed it. It’s only a matter of time before people like him have that need to kill again.

I get the need for every country to have soldiers in this current climate. I get the need for that. But I don’t think for a minute that they’re making us safer by killing people in other countries. It’s like the tribes in America’s pre-contact past. If you kill one of mine, I have to kill one of yours. This is a mentality that has been with us as human beings forever. So why do people become soldiers? Can’t we all see that not killing is better than killing? Join the Peace Corps instead.

I asked recently if humans having consciousness are really still so far from being beasts as the beasts without this knowledge of “me-ness,” and the feeling seemed pretty universal – no, we’re not. We’re still just beasts trying to protect what’s ours. Or what’s perceived as ours.

Of course there are many altruistic people in the world, too—people who wouldn’t dream of picking up a gun. Trayvon Martin might have been one of those. Those could be the people who are truly evolving away from this ‘beast’ mentality. I like to think I’m one of them. But am I? Or am I just fooling myself into believing that I’m safer without a gun? Am I just a declawed cat that’s gone crazy?

I have to admit, if there’s a societal showdown between people who want their guns and those who don’t, we without are at more risk. But I’d rather die than live in their world anyway. Because there’s no place in my world where killing live breathing life—for meat, for protection, for war—is fun.



Wanning Days of Summer

Posted by bebowreinhard on August 20, 2014 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Sweet corn is for sale at the farmer’s markets. Misty fog rises up from the lakes because the water is warmer than the morning air. Back to school sales bring hopeful shoppers to stores. And so many people wonder, because they’ve been so busy running here and there—did they enjoy summer at all? Did they get a chance to lie back in the hammock and stare at the stars as the night rolled in? Did they get a chance to lie out at the beach and read a book, or listen to music? Did they have that backyard party with friends and play a little badminton where you find out your cousin doesn’t know how to serve at all, making us all laugh by missing the birdie she holds? All those things that summer used to mean to us when we were younger and thought we had lots of time ahead.

Now as the days of August roll toward fall, we wonder where that time went. Was it even there to begin with? Or was it just our imagination?

Summer is a different time of year than fall or winter. Or maybe it’s just more of the same, because we’re too busy trying to enjoy the day that we can’t actually enjoy the day. What does it mean to enjoy the day? Instead of understanding enjoyment, we spend our minutes trying to forget all the miseries that might surround us.

Summer means a chance to shed that outerwear, roll your windows down when you drive and feel the weather, enjoy the wind, rather than try to hide from it. But we’re too busy so we continue trying to hide from ourselves. Rather than bearing our soul to the wind in the glorious warm air, we wear that outer layer of skin and attitude and busyness to protect ourselves from seeing ourselves.

Summer is a time to feel the warmth and get naked.

Did you get your chance to lie naked in the sun? Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe it’s never too late to lie on the beach with a book and watch the night stars roll in. Only death can truly rob us, and that always comes soon enough for all of us.


Pen In Cheek

Posted by bebowreinhard on June 14, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Enough already, all you writers with all your great successes. Do you ever for a moment stop to think that maybe some of us aren’t doing so well and feel even more miserable to learn that you’ve finally found that magical spot in the book world where you belong? Do you enjoy leaving the rest of us behind?

Oh, I know what you’ll say. But I’m only try to get people to buy my work. Oh really? So it isn’t enough that you’ve published, now you actually want to make money, too? Heavens. Before you know it, there’ll be no room for anyone else, and you won’t care, because you’re off there somewhere rolling in your dough.

Yes, I know how rich all you successful writers are. Why do you think I’m trying so hard to make it? I have bills, too. And they’re stacking up!

You know it doesn’t matter if I buy your book. That’s not going to get me any closer to publication. And take your advice? What good’s that gonna do me? I don’t have your flare for words. I just have these ten sentences that are basically the same but arranged differently, that’s all. Hey, haven’t you always said there’s no such thing as a bad writer, only one that doesn’t try?

Well, I try. Every day I take these ten sentences, rearrange them, re-submit and what do I get for my trouble? The publisher says, sorry we’re all filled up publishing GOOD stuff! How do you think that makes me feel?

I don’t know why I bother telling you. You’re not sympathetic. You forgot you were once where I am. You forgot that someone had to help you along the way, but now you’re just stepping on us poor unpublished … what? You’re 60? You’ve been a writer for 40 years? Oh, sure, now you’re just trying to make me quit!

Have patience? Shudder.


Of Chickens & Copper

Posted by bebowreinhard on June 7, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

DAY 1:

I have to babysit chickens. In Arizona. In June. Now I’m not a total novice to chickens. I once won a baby chick at Easter and built it a nice little nest and fed it every day and I was only nine. But in the middle of winter it froze to death. It was alone and the shed had no heat. I think we ate it, but I’m not sure.

The opposite situation will transpire in Arizona in June. I asked my sister – will I be expected to keep them cool? How do you keep a chicken cool? I’m thinking hosing them down in the middle of the day. Given them icicle water, maybe cube trays. Or my kids’ favorite in the summer, the slip ‘n slide, where they can go wooooo to their little heart’s content.

The last thing I want is to collect poached eggs.

Reality turned out differently, as reality always does. First, they haven’t laid one egg. Not yet. And these chickens don’t seem at all bothered by the June heat, unlike us humans. They ran about to their heart’s content, but fortunately, Mindy has a lot of shade trees and, like humans, they did prefer that to this constant stream of sun. I have to clean and refill their two water troughs every morning. And they like a refreshing grape treat and cold corn from the fridge once a day. That’s pretty much it. With the dried corn at night and in the morning, and the dried worm treats, they can handle themselves just fine.

But that doesn’t mean I can just run off for the day and forget about them. Oh no. I can do a morning run, and come back to see if they’re okay, and then do an afternoon run. Not quite sure yet how that’s gonna go.

Turns out getting my Arizona legs isn’t so easy to do. Got up at 4:30 yesterday to catch the flight, and got up at 4:30 again this morning. Not too happy about that. But I’ve got the car and it’s off to Prescott today. Visited the Cave Creek museum with an appointment the day of arrival because they're shut down for the summer (no copper, but lovely Hohokam artifacts), dropped off my novels at the Cave Creek library, and ate at the Cartwright Ranch supper club. No, not those Cartwrights. But I did tell the waitress that since we had an extra chair at the table to send Adam Cartwright over and she knew just who I was talking about. Gave the waitress a heads up about the novels at the library. Her favorite was Adam, too.

That night Mindy showed me how the chickens know when it's time to go to bed, and trying to force them in any earlier would not work.

Photos are of Cactus, Chickens and Cartwright Dinner.

Day 2: Yeah, I woke up at 4:30 but refused to believe I couldn't get back to sleep.  Finally crawled out about 6 a.m. when I saw this big flash of light and I knew immediately what that meant. Mindy went outside without me! She needed to show me what to do but didn’t want to wake me. I didn’t get to share in the fun of chickens flying the coop, but watched as she scrubbed down the water troughs and re-filled them with water, and then covered the corn so that the nine various bunnies in the yard would have to figure out how to uncover it. Bunnies, quails, doves, a nice assortment of wild life to watch in the p.m. when the sun is on the other side of the house. She has all f her garden and lawn on a self-timing watering system, so that’s no problem. But the chickens are fed treats during the day – dried mealworms, yum, and corn right out of the freezer (well, almost). The other job is to sweep the porch in the morning, after the poop of the day before is dried up. (I haven’t found out what to do if the poop was still wet when I sweep it.)

What’s cutest about chickens is when you go outside they come running because they think you have treats. We learned, though, that they don’t seem to like the same treat two days in a row. Hmmm. Chickens are fussy. Nope, no eggs yet. I guess they’re only about 6 mos. old.

But I did get away to research copper. Mindy suggested a trip to Prescott, which I jumped on after learning it was the original state capital. She expected me to do a lot more there than I did. I went to two museums, only paying entrance to one, because the second had nothing on display. They sent me to their archives, where I got the email of a fellow who promises to send me information on the two bells in his collection. At the Smoki Museum I found another bell and an interesting beveled point, called metal and quite possibly historic—it appears cast. But it’s of a pretty pre-contact design. I also checked out four antique stores but came up empty there.

I also found a basic character flaw in the car Mindy gave me to drive—it doesn’t like being locked. I spent ten minutes in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s trying to get the panic button turned off. A gal comes over offering to help and I yelp, “It’s not my car!” At seeing her expression, I quickly added, “It’s my sister’s, she’s letting me use it.” I’m not used to gas guzzlers like this, but I’m pretty sure my car wouldn’t like these mountains. So there’s always a trade-off.

Back in time for a late supper so my other sister and her family could join us for dinner, and when it came time to lock their cage I ran out there – and couldn’t find them! “Mindy, they’re missing!” She had to come out and show me the little cubby hole they like to crawl into for the night.

Photos are of all three chickens and at the table playing cards.


DAY 3:

After a lovely morning of work and then treated to a great lunch at a place with a name I can’t remember but is similar to our Noodles (sans wine), Mindy ran to pick up her daughter in Phoenix, leaving me alone for the first time with chickens. I still hadn’t gotten the chance to let them out of the coop – “fly the coop” I believe is the expression – but I was pretty much in charge of their food and water for the day.

Well, I got uncomfortable with the level of demands they were making for treats, so I thought I would try something. I brought out their corn feed into the shaded yard – Mindy says always feed them in the shade – and the result was tremendous. They started eating like crazy! Well, first I told them they needed to go in the pen if they wanted corn, and as long as I was in there with them, they’d eat. But if I were on the other side they thought they were going to be locked in and came running out. And leaving that feed unguarded almost meant the bunnies and birds were getting it. So I brought their corn to the place where we were giving them treats, and sure enough, they started eating it right up. I also brought out a little dish of fresh water to put next to it and they dove into that as well.

But I was told not to do that, because they didn’t want them to get used to eating there, and the corn was their morning and night food only. I just didn’t feel the solution was giving them treats all day. So tomorrow, I’ll try something else. Man, this chicken tending is hard work!

Mindy and I watched the sunset with wine in her front patio, and I got mesquite beans hanging off her tree. A lovely way to end the day.

Photos: Mesquite Beans and Mindy on the hot day hike.

 DAY 4: Chickens and Cats and Coyotes, oh my! This was to be my first day alone with the chickens, and it started well. I actually was up before they were, at 5:30 because Mindy needed to leave for the airport at 6:30. When I checked on them they only clucked at me to go away. So I had my breakfast and waited until 6, when they reluctantly got up. Got everything in order, got out of here on time, went to Burger King to wait for the Heard Museum to open. Not a lot there, but not a waste of time. Never.

Back at the “ranch” by about 1 p.m. I did all the chores – gave the chickens some food, fresh water, played with the cats, cleaned up cat puke (Chaos helped), dumped the recycling, swept the porch, chased bunnies around … I thought about sitting outside and working but figured then the chickens would just bug me for food and poop on the patio and they’re supposed to hunt and peck around the yard. But I checked on them plenty.

So when I heard the flapping against the patio door while watching Bonanza my first thought was, “oh bugging me for food, eh?” Almost thought about ignoring them but decided to put the corn in their pen, a good 45 minutes before roosting time.

When I got out there I saw feathers flying and a coyote running off! A coyote in the yard! Poor Sarah Jane, laying there, flapping, gasping. Oh no! Where are the others?! I’m screaming and crying – that alone must have scared the coyote off. Why me? Why me? My first night alone is their first coyote attack? What kind of bad luck am I??

The rest of the events blurred. I saw Sarah Jane struggling to sit up and gave her some water. She’s the boss chick and I’m sure caused the distraction so the others could get away. As I wait for her to recover or die, I ran looking for the others, found Agatha on top of one of the garden boxes but no sign of Laney. Called Joe and he said she’s probably went over the fence. I finally find her on the other side of the fence, but how to get her without leaving the other two alone? There’s a long run down one driveway and up the next, not to mention all the natural cactus fence alongside the manmade one. I manage to get Sarah Jane to stagger over to the cage but she wouldn’t go in. Agatha went in, and quickly took roost, but Sarah Jane was always the last and wouldn’t go in without Laney. So back and forth I ran, through driveways and cactus, trying to get Laney to follow me or go back over the fence. She kept hiding in the cactus. Finally she got halfway up the fence and I managed to push her the rest of the way – up and over!

Then, because it was getting so dark, and I’m hearing the coyote howl, I gotta get them in the pen. But it’s dark and they’re scared, probably night-blind, so they try to huddle against the pen instead. Oh, no, you don’t, and I just kept shoving them until they found the opening. And glad we all were that they were safely inside. You can bet I’m not letting them out again.

Man, this really IS the wild west. 


DAY 5:

A tribute to Super-Chicken Sara Jane. Even after getting thoroughly shaken up by the coyote, with internal injuries, no doubt, she still refused to think of her own well-being and refused to go into their coop for the night while Laney remained outside. She was always the last one in and she wasn’t about to give up her duty. She was the one who stood off the coyote while the other two could make their escape. And while I did not see the actual attack, I can imagine her flapping her wings at him and then running for the patio, hoping I’d come out in time to help. I didn’t.

I never met a noble chicken before. Sara Jane, I’ll never forget you. She lasted the night, but not much longer.

The other two had to stay inside the coop today, and I think they were happy at first, but got restless as the day wore on. I had to go to Chandler in the morning because I had an appointment, only to find I’d been stood up. Fortunately the conflict appointment I’d made was still willing to spend the time with me, and that was only a little ways from Chandler, so it wasn’t a total loss. I couldn’t have planned that better if I’d tried, and believe me, I didn’t. One absolutely splendid rare ritual copper knife in their collection that could break the wall open on use of certain strange artifacts.  He agreed with my assessment of celts, and with the need to display artifacts so that viewers get an idea of what that culture was like.

Otherwise, I spent the rest of the day running food and cold water out to the chickens and working on my copper database, doing chores and sending emails.


DAY 6: Oh my God, I’ve been here HOW long? Today was an unusual day. No plans at all to leave the house except to make a short grocery run and maybe even get up the courage to pitch a story idea at True West World Headquarters. Yeah, right there in Cave Creek, how cool is that? Not at all happy, though, about the fact that I woke up at 4 and couldn’t get back to sleep.

The cleaning ladies showed up at 9, as scheduled, and I had to wait around for the UPS man who was supposed to come at 10:30. I could have gone right away in the morning but opted to wait, having to both hide and stay out of the cleaning lady’s way and take care of chickens, who were still penned up and showing only a slight inclination at escape – Laney threw herself at the gate at one point, but other than that they were still pretty subdued.

I sat on the front porch in the shade and fretted over letting them out. Should I or shouldn’t I? I decided that if Mindy didn’t return my call, they were going to have to stay in. She did call and said let them out. As long as I didn’t mind sitting in the back yard from 6 to 8 p.m. when they settled. I didn’t. About noon, then, I went back and opened the cage. They didn’t come out. Interesting. So I shut the cage and went to hiding in my room as the cleaning continued.

Finally at 1 p.m. they came out, and acted briefly like lost birds, wondering what to do. I cleaned their outdoor water trough and they remembered they liked to settle in around it, so that’s what they did, and where they stayed until after the back yard was watered. Then I had to physically lead them over there to show them this part of their routine, and they quickly dug into that as well. Lanie began to emerge as leader after that.

The cleaning ladies left at 1:30 and the UPS man came right after. It was a package they had tried to deliver twice before. I grabbed my gear, said a slight prayer to the chicken gods and went to True West. I announced myself as a Wisconsin writer with an idea, and the editor let me pitch it in his office. Of course, I was my usual hyper self, as I am with strangers (fearing to bore them), but he seemed to like the idea. He gave me his card and said to send the introduction.

I couldn’t find the bouncy ball I wanted for the cats at the grocery store, so I might send one to Mindy. I have a lot of them. And it turns out chickens don’t like either sugar snap peas or frozen corn, both good to know.

No incidents the rest of the night. I watched their routine for settling in for the night and by 7:30 the cage was locked up again. Good night.

Day 7: Plane ride time. Problem is, I leave here at 11 and Mindy doesn’t get back until 8 (if she’s lucky). This means the birds again have to stay locked up, and one of my fears is that after yesterday, that’s the last thing they’d want. Sure enough, 6 a.m. and there they were, waiting for me. Oh-oh, trouble. Lanie is getting quite aggressive. I have to yell in my loudest angriest voice to get back. Brought them their corn, worms and had to clean the water out. Got that done but with some angry words passing between us and my foot coming out a few times to kick if I have to.

But when I brought the water in the gate latched behind me. Oh no! I’m trapped too! As hard as I tried I couldn’t reached the latch to lift it. What to do!? I started crying and screaming and shaking the gate and that made it pop open. Oh, thank you, Chicken Gods! And maybe that crying and screaming made them think the coyote was back. Believe me, the feeling was similar, in the brief time believing I was going to miss my plane and die here.

I had to make some decisions. The worst remaining task would be to walk big ice jugs to the back of the cage, so I decided, since I have the cage shaded from the sun, I’m not going to do that. I have two batches of food yet to give them, and the wading pond is already inside the cage, waiting for water. I will walk food out about 8 a.m. and just throw it in. And then at 10:30, I’ll walk out another batch of food. This time, I’ll first hose down the cage with water, like rain, which will make them flee into the roost. And then I can put the other batch of food inside the cage.

It should work. Should. And I should be able to find my way to the airport. All good plans. Let’s just say they worked, and the saga has come to an end.

I really need to think more clearly when I agree to do something. But then, would I have such crazy experiences?





The Resume System of Gun Owner

Posted by bebowreinhard on June 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Why shouldn’t we have to apply to own something that can potentially take an innocent life?  So what every state needs to have mandatory is a Division of Gun Ownership (DGO), like a DMV for guns.

I’m not talking about taking anyone’s guns away – unless they’re illegal. I am talking about making guns that are rapid fire illegal, and then yes, everyone who owns one would be required to turn it in for some kind of monetary “reward.”

Gun ownership needs to be taken as seriously—no, more seriously—than driving a car. That means you need to get a license to own one, as I guess people do, but also it needs to be renewed every year, like a car. That way you wouldn’t be able to just give/sell your gun to someone else, but you’d have to file the proper transfer paperwork, or you would be expected to either renew the license for someone else, or be fined for not reporting the transfer.

While we're discussion gun control, some rigid standards need to be devised that make sense. I don’t agree that people should be allowed to walk around carrying their guns out in the open.  People should not be allowed to do that for the simple reason that the criminals then know who the armed people are, who to take down first, and where to attack. If only concealed carry were allowed, then criminals might think twice, not knowing who might be carrying a gun and ready to shoot back. The only thing that makes sense is concealed carry, because the outlaws would be concealed carry. Then, too, the average citizen doesn’t have to be made nervous or frightened seeing people walk around with these big guns.

Honestly, do you know what those open carry people are doing? Do you know personally that each and every one of them carrying that big gun is a good person? Any criminal can walk around carrying the gun that way and no one would suspect anything until the moment he opens fire.  Open carry does more harm than good and needs to be stopped, everywhere.

Make the big automatic rapid-fire weapons illegal to own.  Then anyone caught walking around with one is subject to arrest with the charge of domestic terrorism—which, when you think about it, is pretty much what they’re doing, just by walking around displaying them like a metal phallus.

That doesn’t mean concealed carry is a great or perfect system. Every public building should then install metal detectors—don’t worry, they’ll get pretty cheap—and anyone who enters a building with a gun needs to show his carry license, before going about his business. It can be a kind of silent alarm that the metal detector sets off, so that if there is a shooter in the building, they won’t hear it go off and move on to another public building to shoot up.

Gun owners also need to be aware that they will very likely not ever get the drop on anyone intent on doing harm. Why? Because good guys don’t go to public places on any particular day expecting trouble. The outlaw does. The outlaw is ready to shoot. You, Mr. Joe Average Citizen with a gun, is not. So who’s going to outdraw who? You might be able to take him out after he’s killed a few, but not before.

Finally, before I get to the resume part of what I propose as new regulations, think twice about needing a gun. I never have and never will. Instead, I prefer to live my life in a way that I’m not seen as a threat to others, and I hope you do, too.

Anyway, here’s my step-by-step plan for someone who wants to get a gun.

1. They need to be employed.  There's already supposedly a background check that needs to be done on someone before they can get a gun, right?  Make sure they have and can hold a job. The people who don’t or haven’t are more likely to turn suicidal, hold a grudge or become vindictive.  If they're retired, then they should have had a good past history of employment, or they could be pretty broke, and desperate to become an outlaw.

2. They need character references. Now just to be sure we understand this, these character references will need to be contacted by the DGO, each of them, to make sure they are legitimate. They will need to testify to this person’s personal character, first on paper, and then on the phone—and if necessary, in person. The potential gun owner might be divorced, but he should be a willing partner to the divorce, and pay child support. And if there are any red flags in any of these five references, then get more references. Some of the questions these references must answer are related to the person’s mental stability, answers need to be consistent, and not sound coached.

3. I think it’s necessary that the person be over 21 (or whatever the legal draft age is), but also if the person is aging, it could be important that they not have Alzheimer’s and their eyesight isn’t going. I know that the aging population is at higher risk, but we don’t want them to be a risk to others.

4. They need a clean record. Squeaky clean. Never arrested for drunkenness, never hit a cop, they don’t speed (indicates stress), absolutely nothing in their past record. As with resumes for jobs, they have to give the past names they've used, past addresses, past jobs, social security number, driver’s license number, whatever it takes to verify a clean record. This is a must.

5. The renewing of the license, too, is not a DMV-speedy event. It’s a week-long process, where the record is obtained for the past year to make sure their record stayed clean. If they have even one accusation of George-Zimmerman-itis, if they're caught stalking anyone, the gun is taken away, forever.

6. Before they’re allowed to take the gun home, they need classes. Lots and lots of training. They need to know how to put the safety on, and where to keep the weapon so that the kids don’t get it but they can get at it in the event of burglary.  And if they do take it in public, they need to be shown how best to keep outlaws from stealing it from them.  Best is to just keep it hidden. Don't wave it around just for fun.  People need to be taught this stuff.  Use of a gun doesn't come naturally to humans, or so many people wouldn't be shooting themselves or their loved ones.

7. Finally, they need this last bit of advice. “You will likely never, ever shoot it in defense. Get used to that idea.”



Posted by bebowreinhard on May 4, 2014 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

This is just a word of warning to anyone  who thinks they want to pursue a writing career.

If you have not or do not get immediate positive feedback to your writing capabilities, don't pursue this as a career.  This is a horribly disappointing way to live, and if you don't have the talent for it, you're just going to be hurt. You're going to find yourself wasting a lot of time thinking you can improve, only to find out by the time you reach 61 that as good as you were at 18 is how good you'll be five decades later.

Don't fool yourself into thinking writing talent can be learned.  It can't.  You either have it or you don't.

I had some small success with writing in high school, but next to NO encouragement by the time I got around to trying it as a career.  You know what I found out? The world can get along without my prose.  Can, and does.  Do I have any other options now?  No.

But maybe you do. Find out what people encourage you to keep doing, and keep doing that.  It beats the heck out of wasting your life.


Posted by bebowreinhard on February 6, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I used to think there were only two kinds of publishing venues – traditional and self-published. Now I’ve learned the hard way what vanity publishing is all about, and agree that this is a third route.

It’s not a route I would recommend over self-publishing. It is possible that vanity publishers do reject some submissions. But it is not clear that they read the completed project, either. And those are two reasons that you would go with a traditional publisher—that you would share the proceeds of your hard work with anyone. They see your vision and are able to help you make it better.

My recent experience taught me the realities of vanity publishing. I don’t think XYZ (not their real name) really grasped the magnitude of the project I submitted to them. They probably observed a few pages and felt it was adequately written. They offered no comment about the value of the project. For this reason, I had always lumped them with self-publishers. If there is no rejection process in place, it’s self-publishing.

But people can get traditional and vanity publishing mixed up, and I hope to address that here.

There is a website that has warnings about publishers, but it hasn’t been updated lately. Still it’s worth checking out. I learned, after submitting a query, that they consider XYZ a vanity press, but I was hoping these things change over time.

I learned that XYZ doesn’t consider themselves a vanity press, yet they only publish through Amazon. This publisher doesn’t maintain a site where readers can order directly through them. A vanity press will get your book formatted properly for Amazon in exchange for as much as 85% of your sales, and Amazon, of course, gets a portion as well.

Yes, you the author can do the formatting and get your project up at Amazon with no upfront costs, but this is a time-consuming process, especially when you’re new at it. Vanity press publishers know this, and step in to fill the gap for you.

So XYZ turned out to be a publisher who only works with Amazon’s pricing system. For my major nonfiction, over 500 pages plus photos and maps, the contract recommended producing an ebook with a price of $5.99.

From there, the relationship went downhill.

Here are the things to watch for in a contract to discover if you’re dealing with a vanity press:

• They start with ebooks, and maybe they’ll move into print (no definite policy).

• The range of pricing is $5.99 to $9.99. If you tell them it should be priced higher, as my nonfiction should be, they’ll say that Amazon takes a bigger chunk if you go higher.

• Their percentage of your profit is too great, more than 50%.

• They note that if you don’t like their editing, they will charge for new edits.

• They don’t give you a way to get out of the contract, or say how long the contract lasts.

• They’ll say if you don’t like the book cover, you’ll have to pay to have a new one created.

• Some kind of pay for some kind of service will undoubtedly be mentioned.

I had previously lumped them in with self-publishing, for the reason that I don't believe they do any rejecting of the books, but I agree now that there might be some they won't work with.  But there are other reaons you don't want to sign with a vanity press:

• If all they do is format your book for Amazon, you’re better off doing it yourself.

• There’s no editing process to make the book better, or at least not one that you’ll likely approve of, and then the editing they will do will cost you. There’s no other reason to have that edit default cost in the contract.

• They don’t market.

• They rely only on Amazon.

• They take your money for doing something you could learn to do yourself.

• They don’t care about making your book ready to be published.

• They try to make themselves look legitimate.

• They have no concept or understanding of your project, and no real interest or caring that it succeeds or not. I asked how long the contract would last and he said at least 10 years so we can make our money back. But what money are they investing? All they invest is time. We’re talking ebooks here, not print.

If this is the route that you feel will work for you, at least understand what vanity publishing means. It means you’re too busy writing to be bothered with the submission process or the self-publishing demands, and you’re willing to pay someone else to do this work for you. But remember, too, that signing with a vanity press is akin to signing your project away.

If there is a way to make money on other people, there will be people ready to try. Don’t be a desperate writer, so anxious to be published that you’ll take any route offered. Be particular. Understand what you’re signing before you sign the contract.

Visit for ratings on a lot of publishers out there. You can even use this site to choose publishers to query. And before you query, visit their website to see if they sell their books themselves. Check out a few of their books at Amazon, too, so see the reviews and how they’re rated.

Becoming familiar with what a publisher publishes will let you know if they’re worth pursuing.  If you email me, I'll tell you the name of this one.