Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Canoeing Fisheating Creek For Beauty And Peace

The morning we headed for Fisheating Creek in Palmdale, Florida, we were well aware of the impending blizzard heading for the Northeast. We also knew the forecast area for our canoe trip called for morning showers and then high winds as a cold front was rapidly approaching. Well, adventurers we are, so nothing was gonna stop us. Usually, this attitude gets us into big trouble, but this time, no! The rains came through around breakfast time and got heavier as we drove from Clewiston to Palmdale, but then, as we approached the campground, the magical sunshine appeared. It was bright and beautiful, most conducive for this photographer and the breeze only served to make gorgeous flowing patterns in the red and orange,tannin tinted sand under the shallow waters. They say that a tribe called the Belle Glade Indians lived here 3000 years ago. There are mounds here still and pottery shards occasionally rise in erosions around the cypress trees. We are Bette, Alex and Brian, contemporary travelers in these fisheating waters, whose name is a translation of something ancient, tribal and much harder to pronounce. Peace, beauty, contemplation are just some of the words to describe this gorgeous wilderness.No need for descriptions of these photos. Our faces tell the story.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Canoeing the Loxahatchee and Remembering

Somewhere around 1990 when we was just kids, my cohort Brian decided that it would be fun for me to join him on a canoe trip on the Loxahatchee River, part of which is an ancient cypress wilderness. It sounded adventurous and I readily agreed. So, very early one morning we set out for Hobe Sound and Jonathan Dickinson State Park to experience the mysteries of the river. That day, the river was low and almost immediately we came to a dam that seemed impassable. The canoe had been filled with an ice chest and garbage bags chock full of oranges and bananas and candy bars and I was sure we'd have to portage or the canoe would capsize. Fortunately, Brian the great navigator, figured it all out. He had me hold my oar steady and somehow shot us clean over and the danger passed. Unfortunately, that prowess was shot to hell as we were navigating the cypress woods. There were little cypress knobs jutting up from river bottom and Brian seemed to be blind to them. I called out as we approached a thick one and then yelled but, then a second later, there we were in the mucky water, the canoe and all its contents scattered about. A lot more went on that day but not to get bogged down in detail, let's say that much of it went forgotten over time and so many other canoe trips in other waters. A definite amnesia set in about the Loxahatchee, so much so that when Alex came in from NY and wanted to go canoeing, I actually suggested this river! It was a lovely early February morning but we ourselves were not in the best shape. Brian had the flu, Dana had a bad cough and I had the cough and weakness from more than 6 months of a serious illness. Only Alex claimed to be in good shape, offering that he never gets sick! Now add to this a current that is running 4 miles an hour which means it's going to try to lead your canoe every which way, especially in the estuaries. As our canoe smacked into Alex and Dana's canoe and nearly smashed my hand, we got the idea. Alex and Dana had several tangles with the bushes as the current did it's thing. Brian and I were stuck in the sand and I had to help pole our way out. The highlight for me was snaking underneath a major branch that blocked the way-only backwards. I felt like I cracked my skull, there was bleeding, and I did something I rarely do, I yelled! Brian wound up with an injury from portaging the canoe which, just as 25 years ago, was heavily laden with ice chest and garbage bags. He carried this weighted down canoe over a heavy log that blocked our way. Let's say that by this time, my amnesia faded. I started to remember and remember well! We continued on, having a picnic lunch at the famed Trapper Nelson's land. Many stories abound about this odd recluse who built log dwellings there and left in the 1960s. I don't find stories of hobos particularly fascinating, but many people do. Once our resting was over, the open water and familiar trappings were a blessing to me at this point, even though the guys would have preferred some more scenery and danger! I tried to capture more vivid and interesting photos but just about every time I picked up the camera, Brian would shout "I'm gonna need you. We're going into a tree! Enjoy! The photos kind of speak for the wild beauty of the trip. You'll recognize Trapper Nelson's shack. The photo of Brian and Alex with mud spots is also self explanatory!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding Blizzard Rocks At Crystal Mountain

Rockhounding always takes on new excitement when you are introduced to a mineral site that you never knew existed. Sometimes you come upon a discovery of your own as we did the green obsidian and the Wyoming citrine a few years back. At other times, you get really lucky when your good friend George Putnam brings you to his claim and treats you to the time of your life! Crystal Mountain, not its real name, is a Wyoming treasure, that sits close by the Teton and Wind River Mountains, and from atop you get a view of the Wyoming ranges in all their wonder. Perhaps, otherwordliness is a better way to describe the scene. You also look down and see quartz and calcite sparkling all over, which is particularly blinding down the steep ledges that are definitely worth navigating. George calls these treasures "blizzard" rocks. Brian and I were like kids in a toy store and George enjoyed an excitement he is well familiar with. He's had a rock and fossil shop in Kemmerer, Wyoming and has taken so many groups to dig for the fossil fish that has made that area of Wyoming so famous and popular. I call George the rockhound "extra extraordinaire." Well, I'm not going to give details on how to get there, but I will tell you that a 4-wheeler is needed to get up the steep road cut that takes you to the top. And, I'm posting photos!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Dodging the Tornadoes

It's a long, long road trip from Miami to the Black Rock Desert, The Blue Forest of Wyoming, the Pecos diamond fields of Roswell, New Mexico, and on and on and on. With a lengthy trip, there is a certain amount of stress, and at this time of year much of it comes in the forms of beep, beep, beeps on the Weather channel, warning you of tornadoes that are forming in and around your area. Hairy, when you are about to sit down to dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Hot Springs, Arkansas and the waitress comes over to tell you that two tornadoes have touched down right near you and you may want to leave to take care of things. Scary, when all night long hailstones are hitting your motel roof and the forecasters are still warning of dangerous weather. Then, the next day, you go to your favorite restaurant, Furr's Buffet, in Moore, Oklahoma, only to be greeted by signs on the interstate warning of tornadoes after 4 pm. You get out of the restaurant and realize it is almost twenty minutes to four. The side roads and I-35 are jammed and you pass all the horrendous damage of a wrecked hospital, mangled vehicles and downed homes from the last tornado here last week. You drive fast and then about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City, you see a spout in front of you and a massive dark cloud forming to the right of you. You drive right into a massive hailstorm and pull off the road temporarily to hear the stones that look like golf balls pound your windshield, Finally you are in Texas, with a car covered in debris, but you made it! You are very well aware that others were not so lucky.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beauty Way and My World Cat Addiction

Every Sunday I check it, that wonderful World Catalog of books, to see if any libraries have acquired "Beauty Way: A Novel." Yes, that is the proper name for "Beauty Way" so I've learned! It distinguishes it from other books of similar name that talk about the Dineh Nizhoni Way, which takes in so much spiritual history of this beautiful tribe. A return to Nizhoni Way is the way to live one's life in balance, the way it was lived before, following the old ways, the true ways of tradition. A library acceptance, for me, is a literary acceptance by scholars. It is a road to longevity for a book, the same way my magazine articles that appear in an author's bibliography or in a reference section in a library or on fiche, give it lasting life. How wonderful to think that a fiction story receives acceptance in a university library, for its portrayal of characters that tell the story of a time of change, of upheaval for the Navajo. How fulfilling that the experience of rockhounding also gets a platform, and that the story is deemed accurate by the librarians in charge, by tribal members who have permitted me to write this with kind nodding acceptance and by those who have purchased the books and offered such wonderful feedback. So, with great joy, I report that "Beauty Way: A Novel" has been acquired thus far by the following libraries: The University of New Mexico's Zimmerman Library at the main campus in Albuquerque. The New Mexico State University Library at Las Cruces. The Central Library of Zurich, the main library of both the city of Zurich and the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Since the new listings appear to be posted on Sundays, it becomes my newest addiction, and I check the listings even before doing the Sunday Times crossword!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fans of "Beauty Way"

The best of friends read "Beauty Way" and some like Australian motion artist, Kelvin Robertson, read it three times! Some, like Bobbi Ossip or Charlie Bates, read the book and then purchase more of the same for friends and relatives. In the case of Charlie, he purchased a total of four, which was all Sunstone Press had on hand when he visited the publishing house in early July. I took this trip to the west to rockhound, of course, but then also to do some readings, to meet my publisher Jim Clois Smith, Jr. in Santa Fe, and to sign the many copies of Beauty Way for the beautiful people who requested it. There is no sweeter feeling than signing a book for friends you love, who have truly enjoyed "Beauty Way" and who know the time and effort put in. There were years of struggling with words to get it just right and those fears and doubts of how this book would be accepted by tribal friends and tribal people in general who have have often looked upon white writers who write about their lives with disdain. To write a book such as this takes some courage, maybe some audacity, but in my case, it was a desire to tell a story of some ordinary individuals, both tribal and non-tribal, who come together in a rather extraordinary way that touches each of them and creates a new understanding of what being human is about. After all, the word "Dineh" means "the people" and we are indeed all related. From the reviews and the comments on various blogs, it seems that so far I have succeeded. "Beauty Way" is growing in popularity and has made it to near best seller status in Australia and the Far East. The photos below of my dear friends tell some of the story and the photo of this author and publisher Jim under the Sunstone "Beauty Way" logo tells another, of two people who had confidence in the success of this novel. I thank you, Jim Clois Smith, Jr. for believing in me, Alex Cigale for moving it to publication, my beautiful friends who encouraged me and gave my book ample publicity on their websites and on Facebook, namely Calvin Tatsey, owner of the Red Nation Society and Sassafras, dear friends Alex Cigale, author Rob Grant, Kelvin Robertson, Mark LaughingBear, Richard Addison(Blue Star) and Barbara Mills, and to Barnes @ Noble for being the first in Miami to purchase "Beauty Way" for its Aventura Store. Friends touting your book and purchasing it for their shops and for their friends and relatives make for the greatest vote of confidence an author can have. The photos tell some of the story. Fortunately, there is so much more to tell.
Photos from top to bottom: My publisher, Jim Clois Smith, Jr., taken outside Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, under Sunstone's "beauty way" logo. My inspiration for writing this novel, author of best-selling short stories, novels and poetry, Sherman Alexie. Guardian angel, well-recognized poet, translator, teacher, editor, Alex Cigale and I on the day the manuscript was completed. Best friend,editor and publicist, Fifi Castany, and I on Lincoln Road celebrating the signed contract with Sunstone Press, Santa Fe. The first signed book went to my wonderful kids Gerri and Mitch. Signing the first of Charlie Bates' four copies at La Fonda at the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM. Signing my brother Blue Star's copy at his home at Boulder Flats, Wind River Reservation, WY. A desert signing at the Blue Forest for George Putnam, who purchased copies for his Creative Creations rock,fossil shop and library in Kemmerer, WY. Appropriately, signing Elizabeth Jackson's copy, in Gerlach, Nevada, right outside the Black Rock Desert, where it all started with two arrowheads, so long ago.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Beauty Way" on The Bookstore Shelf

Fascinating! As they say, location, location, location! It is everything. So, it is that at Barnes and Noble in Aventura, I am naturally and strategically placed right next to Salman Rushdie and just below Philip Roth in the literary section! I thought about that yesterday and was very thankful that my last name does not start with something obscure like "Y" or "Z." I'm just posting a few photos here because I am so very happy to see "Beauty Way" published by Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, on the shelf and at the very places I like to hang out. This Friday, the book arrives at Books & Books in Miami Beach, so all my beach friends will be able to have a look, while having lunch in the shop's outdoor cafe right on Lincoln Road. It is also now on the shelf at the gorgeous and well-stocked History Miami, downtown at Government Center. As they say, we're on our way!
Top photo: "Beauty Way" shelved alphabetically under "Rush" in literature section of Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Aventura, Florida Bottom photo:"Beauty Way" at History Miami's bookstore. Standing is Susan Garcia, manager