Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"The Metal Cowboy"

Joe Kumaskie is The Metal Cowboy, and author of the following article:

So this happened....

Loading groceries into the van at the Eastside Fred Meyer's before I visit my ailing Mom, I notice a young man in a sports car having trouble getting it started. He's parked engine to engine and one slot over. I see jumper cables on the hood. We make eye contact and his face is part shame, part determination and part defiance. I set down a bag and mimic jumper cables and point at my car. He gets out smiling. I pop my hood.

"You hook em up, while I finish loading," I say. He's wearing a shirt that reads, McAwesome. The M is the McDonald's logo. I can see now that the car is a rehab with a Macco paint job and a baby seat in the back. His accent puts him somewhere in Northern Africa... Ethiopia maybe?

"Many thanks," He says.

"Good thing you have cables because I lent my sister mine."

He nods. "The battery, it's bad but I don't have the funds right now to replace it so I carry the cables instead."

We jump it, starts right up. Looking at his battery with the corrosion jogs my memory. I dig around in my glove box, and hand McAwesome a Les Schwab envelope.

"That's a transferable certificate for a new battery. I got it when we had another car but we only have the van now. It's good at any Les Schwab forever so..."

He keeps bowing and smiling and shaking his head. "Many blessings on you... so many many."

I wave him off. The whole thing took like two minutes and the coupon would have gotten lost, forgotten or tossed. He drives away.

I go to roll the cart back and notice a guy in the truck beside me shaking his head.

"You might have just helped a terrorist, know that?!"

I stop the cart. It's my turn to shake my head.

"I told him to fuck off back to Africa," he says.

Puzzle pieces drop into place. McAwesome had asked for help, gotten grief, explains the cables on the hood and looking at me with shame and defiance.

I had so many things I wanted to say to this guy, about the nature of fear, the world we manifest with our choices, how kindness is not weakness and why we'll never kill our way to peace. I open my door, turn back.

"I'm gonna light a candle for you, my man."

"Fuck's that mean?"

I think about the joy on my son's face the night before at the Weird Al concert, my Mom's brave smile staring down the cancer.

"What... what it means is... if you're broken down in this parking lot I'll give you a jump too."

This article came to me from a reader after I wrote about the little girl at my grandson’s school who wears a scarf to cover her hair and clothing to cover her body.

Besides this article, Kumanski wrote The Metal Cowboy, a complication of stories about his bike touring trips and the people he meets.  His only stipulation regarding my posting his article was that I link to his his website, about IRON OVERLOAD.(Iron It Out).

Never heard of it. Until now.

It is a genetic disease called hemochromatosis, where the body stores too much iron. The symptoms are often fatigue and depression. Hemochromatosis can eventually damage the liver, cause cancer, heart attacks, or Alzheimer’s. It can be deadly.

Kumanski has it.

IT IS TREATABLE! When caught early.

Joe  is paying it forward, trying to include a test for it in routine blood screening.  His site is:

The crowdfunding site/link  is

Chapter Six of One Year on The Island now on

Do you like my new cover picture, or prefer the last one?'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Jeff Goin’s told of a man with ten good friends. He loved them and would die for them, but he wanted more. He built up a following of thousands; he became a rock star, but soon found it had its downside. People wanted something from him, more that he could give. He felt trapped. So he sought out a few good friends, and found them to be his original ten.

One blogger, when asked how it felt to address thousands, said, “I only talk to my tribe.” Those were her few good friends. (For me that’s you.)

I know this writing is best called a “Life Blog,” because I talk about whatever is happening, on life, or whatever. It’s indulgent I suppose, rather than having a “How-to Blog” where I offer information. You know when you tell someone “How to,” you must declare yourself an expert on whatever subject you are addressing. But hey, I learned in college what an expert was.  “X” equals an unknown. And a “Spurt,” is a drip under pressure.  So by that definition I am an expert—a drip under pressure. (This definition must have come from a disgruntled professor.) Oh, the things we remember from our schooling days.

Right now I am enraged.

I just spoke to a friend after I used the word “Grok” meaning “To intuitively know.” This comes from Robert Heinlein’s book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and I did read it years ago, but don’t remember much except I didn’t like it, and all the religious references turned me off. When my friend gave me a synopsis, I understood why.  Appears he was terrible to women, the sex and violence was rampant, and religions were disgusting.  He had a good premise, but there was too much muck. He won a HUGO award for it. Whoopy do. Don’t care. (Probably he, too, was commenting on society.)

I did like "To Kill a Mockingbird," does that give me some credibility?

After my friend's and my discussion I was still ranting about the amount of violence that is present in our society. And think of children’s games where all characters must have a weapon.  My grandson tells me that without conflict there is no story, (he sounds like a publisher). I tell him that there are other conflicts that do not require battling person against person, like internal angst, or against some apparent insurmountable obstacle.

I have lived long enough to rant against violence’s assault to the senses. (School shootings can do that to a person.) I’m not saying that we ought to censor writing. A person has the right to write, I’m wondering why people want to feed their mind, their heart, their eyes with ugly?

If I get blind-sided by a violent occurrence in a movie, I have, on occasion, looked around to the audience and no one looks appalled, only numb.

Yes, I know there could be a long psychological expose’ here, but I won’t do it. That would require a book that I’m not writing. And if you are my “tribe,” I am probably preaching to the choir, but I’m one voice with my head stuck out the window saying, “Folks, get a grip!”

Ha, you thought I was going to say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” but maybe you are too young to remember the movie Network.

P.S. New address for my book One Year on the Island.

Chapters One through Five are posted.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Reach for the Thought That Feels Better

Well, I feel better just looking at this picture. How about you?

How many years have I been blogging? A pile. For the last week or so, though, I have been in a stall. You know one of those “What’s the use of it?” stalls. Not that I don’t appreciate all you guys who click in, I just wonder if I have anything of use to offer.

Seth Godin says this about blogging

 "No one clicked on it, no one liked it..."

These two ideas are often uttered in the same sentence, but they're actually not related.
People don't click on things because they like them, or because they resonate with them, or because they change them.
They click on things because they think it will look good to their friends if they share them.
Or they click on things because it feels safe.
Or because they're bored.
Or mystified.
Or because other people are telling them to.
Think about the things you chat about over the water cooler. It might be last night's inane TV show, or last weekend's forgettable sporting event. But the things that really matter to you, resonate with you, touch you deeply--often those things are far too precious and real to be turned into an easy share or like or click.
Yes, you can architect content and sites and commerce to get a click. But you might also choose to merely make a difference.

Most of us want to make a difference, yet I wonder, am I?

I wonder why I read blogs.

Sometimes it’s about content. I want to know how to do something, and thank heavens the internet can tell me how to work some of these high-tech devices, or the not so high tech, like how to fix the washing machine. That’s something we didn’t have years ago.

Something I read a blog because it appeals to me.

Sometimes I check out a blog because I believe it will help me, as Lisa Steele did on #Fresh Eggs Daily, when my two chickens died on the same day. She was so sympathetic. (Not my present chickens, they are doing fine.)

Sometimes we read because we’re curious as I have become interested in the life of Shreve in her blog #The Daily Coyote.

Sometimes we read for entertainment.

That makes me think of a morning three days ago when I had sushi for breakfast.

Well it was 11 am, almost lunch time and daughter wanted sushi, and sitting there I tried to think back to when American’s found that raw fish dipped in soy sauce and Wasabi horse radish tasted good. I remember the movie Lifeboat in which one of the fellows offered the Tallulah Bankhead’s character a tiny filet of fish, and disgusted, she threw it overboard. (Darn, no soy or Wasabi.)

My mind went off on a tangent, thinking about when we were kids and stood in the back of a pickup truck while it was barreling down the road at 50 miles an hour. Nope, I wouldn’t let my kids do that. But we did, and didn’t think anything about it.

And I thought about how the playground had no rubber padding, and the slide was so hot we scorched our bare legs on the way down. We drank a Coke once in a while, as a treat, not as a daily occurrence, and we didn’t have cup holders on baby seats, car seats, electric wheel barrows or lawn mowers. How did we ever stay hydrated? And what about those party lines where the phone was attached to the wall? Horrors.

I’m not saying those were the good old days, just remembering. A friend of mine who died this year said she wanted to stay around jut to see what would happen next.

So, what is going to happen next?

Who can predict? Right now I’m thinking that we can watch horror movies, (Why?) or violent ones, and listen to the naysayers, and let the media scare the pants off us. Oh dear, the election coverage is already blatant a year before the event will happen. Or, we can do as Abraham says, “Reach for the thought that feels better.”

We can notice that we breathed the night through without thinking about it. We can be grateful the engineers have given us highways in which we can travel in comfort to just about any place on the continent. (No covered wagons.)

And we have airplanes that will take us off the continent and bring us back.  We can be grateful that this thin layer of atmosphere--so thin that Mt Everest sticks up above it--sustains us. That we are lucky to live on this emerald blue and green planet that has such wonders it could or should put us into a constant state of awe.

Autumn: Outside my window, one branch on an otherwise green tree is red. And in October flowers are still blooming, and last night I heard a frog choking…

“Hack, gak, awk- the sound of a frog choking. Of course I meant to say, “croaking,” but instead said “choking.” What the heck, it’s funnier. 

ONE YEAR ON THE ISLAND, chapter One, two , three and four available on

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rubber Duckies, Dinosaurs and Moons

This Will Make You Smile, or Cry or Both

On the home front:

I picked up a little book at Goodwill the other day, a Newbery Metal winner. I should read this, I thought, find out what sort of writing wins the Newbery medal.

Well I was blown away. I read the entire book, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (Harper Collins 1994) Sunday afternoon, and I smiled and cried.

Walk Two Moons  is narrated by a thirteen-year-old-girl--suspense, sad, funny, poignant, healing, all the things that ought to be in a book.

Sal (Salamanca) is locked in a car with her Gram and Gramps for ten days while they drive from Kentucky to Lewiston, Idaho. “We’ll see the whole ding-dong country,” said Gramps. But that’s not why they are taking the trip—it’s a path to a missing mother.

I had to read the chapter “The Marriage Bed,” told by Gramps to my husband. 

Fascinating that the old folks didn’t like to use the words “Native Americans” but thought “Indian” sounded nobler, American Indian.

Injun to Indian to Native American, Grams concluded, “I wish they would make up their mind.”

I wondered if my high school sports teams, “The Dalles High Indians,” were now called The Dalles high Native Americans. We even had a bonafied Celilo Indian high school kid as a mascot. He had a charming personality, was popular, and we never felt we were exploiting him.  During many games or festivities he would dress up in native regalia and parade around the football field. We meant no disrespect. He made us proud.

About Walk Two Moons—fascinating that there tucked away in a stack of books at Goodwill Industries, I find gold. 

Goodwill Industries--is that the fate of books? 

P.S. The Second Chapter of One Year on the Island is now available

see Chapter Two on menu, or click