US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reviewer's Sites Updated

I love this design by Indians of the Northwest Coast

Well, for a blog a little over a month old, I'm quite pleased with the results.
I still have lots and lots to learn about doing this but, so far, it's fun and I think I'm doing okay.
If any of you have comments/suggestions or just plain spouting off, leave a comment!!!

Pearls are known to stabilize and balance emotions.  They are believed to help your body in using calcium better.  For Native Americans pearls are full of purity and integrity.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Like a Kid with a New Toy!

I kinda like this one as it's supposed to be a representation of the sun done by the Pima Indians of southern Arizona. Especially since one of the novels I'm waiting to hear about from several publishers is SONORA SYMPHONY, the novel about the modern-day Cherokee soldier helped by an elder of the Papago tribe - brothers/cousins of the Pima.

Well, I've figured out how to add pages to include adding links and images - all to make it easier for those of you who visit this site. So, if you're interested, check out the page about Books, Novels and Short Stories with direct links.

Now, if only I could figure out how to paste something I've created offline to this place using the HTML editor.

I've always like Turquoise. There's a store here in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace that specialized in jewelry of this stone. I always thought it was only found here in the Southwest of the United States - that is until I found a place in Austria where it's mined and sold.
It is believed that turquoise tends to bring good fortune, strength and helps overcome illness. Turquoise got its name from the Levantine traders called Turks who brought the stone to Europe from Persia via Turkey centuries ago. Native Americans have prized turquoise since the time of the Aztecs, who mined it in New Mexico. The natural variations that occur in turquoise are part of their appeal and beauty.

Until next time - Wado {Cherokee for thanks}

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting there!

Just reached the 600 page views today. Not bad for a little over a month of this thing.
One thing for those of you with blogs who follow this - if I make comments on your blog - I don't know how to see if a response was made to that comment! Any suggestions?

And, I LOVE to see your comments on my posts.

Valley of  Fire State Park

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Death on a German Road

[you all get 2 for 1 today]

It was certainly not the first time I drove the road. Friday evening and it’d been a long two weeks without being able to leave the base. Going to the movies, hanging out in the bowling lanes and the service club was okay. But, it wasn’t like getting off base and going into town.

I sat in the movie theater a couple of weeks earlier when the lights went on and the movie suddenly stopped. Everybody wondered what had happened when a lieutenant colonel came on stage and made the announcement that stunned all present.

“President Kennedy is dead. We don’t have the details yet but it appears he was assassinated while driving in a motorcade in Dallas. We will pass on the details as soon as possible.”

Nobody had thoughts about the movie and silently filed out. He had no idea if the movie continued and joined the huge crowd in the enlisted man’s club order his usual, a rum and coke.

The full story came to them in the following days and they played films of the event over the Armed Forces Network.

I didn’t ask for a pass the weekend after that as I was broke - not that unusual for a low-rate enlisted man. It was Friday the 29th of November when I received my pay and the money - or script - burned a hole in my pocket.

There is a need to explain here. The Occupation had been over for some time but American Forces still paid their personnel in MPC’s (Military Payment Certificates). We didn’t get U.S. dollars, as the authorities were afraid it would increase the Black Market going on in West Germany. I went to the American Express Office on the Kassern and converted a hundred bucks of my meager pay into West German Marks.

I’d bought a neat little Ford Taunus with my reenlistment bonus and loved driving it every chance I got. Looking back on it, that little 1961 German Ford had a whole bunch of innovative little things now taken for granted. One of them was being able to turn on, raise, and lower the headlights with a thingie on the left side of the steering wheel shaft. That was important as, driving back roads in the German countryside at night could get a bit hairy. They didn’t have lampposts or traffic signals except at very important crossroads and in the villages.

I left Coleman Barracks outside the village of Sandhofen to drive into Mannheim, the nearest city. A heavy mist had risen from the nearby Rhine but visibility was decent, especially with the extra strong fog lights on the car. The posted speed limit was 110 kmp or about 62 mph. Due to the mist, I’d slowed down to fifty-five.

The car cocooned me from the damp mist from the Rhine. The extra strong fog lamps lanced through the fog and the white painted line on the side of the road showed me the way, an occasional white reflector telling how far I’d traveled. Armed Forces Network music played Stranger on the Shore by a German group right after Soldier Boy by the Shirelles. I tapped me foot on the floorboard looking forward to the bar downtown that not only served decent mixed drinks but the restaurant next door served food much better than the mess hall. My mouth drooled from the thought of a nice Wienerschnitzel with salad and German-style potatoes. I also couldn’t wait to have companionship other than the Donut Dollies at the service club or his fellow GIs.

The thud, followed by the heavy object smashing into my windshield almost didn’t register.

“My God! I just hit something.” I slammed my foot down on the brake pedal and gripped the steering wheel with both hands as the car skewed to the left. I somehow managed to keep from going off the road into the deep drainage ditch. The car came to a stop and I  sat there shaking. “I’m still alive?”

Then . . . it struck me. What had I hit?

The windshield was a web of cracks but still intact. I slowly opened the door and stepped out. Other than the light from the one headlight still intact, there wasn’t much to see. But, after several minutes, my eyes adjusted to the dark. Pinpricks of golden light flicked through the mist to indicate a farmhouse some distance across the dark field.

I opened the Taunus’ trunk and dug around for the emergency kit. The road was deserted for the moment, but I was sure another car would come along before long. I had three flares and thought about lighting one but hesitated. The taillights would serve as a warning - if I only remembered to turn the flashers on! I went back to the front and flicked the switch, satisfied when the tail lights began blinking. I gathered my thoughts, picked up the flashlight and started walking back down the road, my legs a bit unsteady.

I didn’t have far to go. The first thing that appeared in the beam of light was a smashed, twisted bicycle wheel. My heart began to race as it dawned upon me what I’d find next.

The twisted body didn't move.

“Where’s the blood? Is he alive?“

I gingerly knelt and played the flashlight’s beam over the object. The bare head belonged to a man in his fifties. The craggy features spoke of years of hardship and toil. I had nothing but the barest of first aid training from my Boy Scout days and the army’s basic combat training. But, it wasn’t hard to tell that anything I knew wouldn’t do any good. I knelt and gingerly touched his throat, seeking a pulse . . . that wasn’t there.

It was something one sees in the movies or a scene from a television show. I couldn’t believe it was real.

Off in the distance, lights from an approaching car caught my attention. I stepped over the body and walked towards them, waving my flashlight in an attempt to catch the driver’s attention and stop him or her.

Luck was with me. The driver was a German National who worked on the Kassern and spoke very good English. He listened to the story, told me there was a call box back up the highway a kilometer and offered to go back and notify the police.

The driver turned around and drove off. I stood and stared at the dark shape on the pavement. “It looks like nothing but a pile of rags.” The twisted form didn’t look like a human being. Only when I turned to look at the bicycle did the scene become real. Bicycle equals rider. Rider equals human being. Broken bicycle equals broken human being.

The blue, flashing lights coming towards me turned out to be US Military Police from Coleman Barracks. Fortunately, the two Americans took my statement and called for an official translator before the German  Bundespolizei arrived. I sat in the American cruiser - not handcuffed, as the Germans had wanted - and endlessly told and retold my story. I watched the ambulance arrive. The attendants knelt by the lump on the ground for a surprisingly short time until they loaded it onto a gurney and into the vehicle. After taking lots of photos of the bicycle, a German cop moved it to the side of the road.

The hours passed while the men in uniforms made all sorts of measurements and photos. The tow truck arrived and backed up to his car so it could be hauled off to a German police yard where it would be held until the legal process finished.

The luminous hands on my wristwatch indicated a little before three am when the MPs finally shut the door of the cruiser and took me back to the base. I released a sigh of relief as we drove through the gates and I smiled at the sentry. That meant I wasn’t going to be spending time in a German jail. We pulled up in front of the barracks and the sergeant opened the door. He didn’t have to tell me to not go anywhere until the investigation finished. Besides, where in the hell could I go?

I knew everybody would be sound asleep in the squad room. But, I couldn’t bring myself to enter. So, I strolled, hands in pockets, around the building and climbed the steel stairs to sit on the back landing. I didn't feel the cold steel on my jeans-clad butt. A little to my right, just across the tall barbed wire and chain link fence that acted as the border of the Kassern, I saw the bright lights of the stockade - and mused about possibly going there in the not too distant future.

“I killed a man. Another human being.”

Did he have a wife? Children? What was he doing there on that dark road at night? Why hadn’t he stopped when he saw the headlights of my car?

What could he have done to avoid it? Was he driving too fast for the conditions? Wasn’t he paying attention?

Questions that would haunt me for many years. Thoughts that finally faded away . . . until now.

I was exonerated. The German had stopped off at a local Gasthaus and drank a bit too much. The investigation determined that I’d had the legal right of way and the German ignored the stop sign. The insurance company paid off the claim for what the man would’ve earned if he had live the statistically determined number of years. They didn’t even increase my premiums.

But, I never drove down that highway at night again,

I learned something - there is no cold way to look at death. Any death. Although it was an accident and not my fault, the fate of others had been affected one night on a German highway when too much alcohol, dark clothing and not paying attention had lured Fate to place her fingers into the lives of many people - mine included.

I killed a man. And learned what it means to live.

The End
Maize, one of the Three Sisters

It's amazing what great stuff is available on the various blogs I've become a follower of. A plethora of information to help one get published. As part of that, I've discovered a number of great publishers who deal in ebooks as well as POD. So, for just a bit of bragging, here's my tally as of this morning's email:

The Sailor and The Carpenter- request for the full manuscript = TWO
Sonora Symphony - request for the full manuscript = ONE
                                request for a synopsis = ONE
Two came back say they're not accepting submissions - but check back later!

Noticed some  new followers, so WELCOME!!!!! 
 Cricket = the singer is connected with springtime, fertility and water and is often one of the ways Kokopelli, the Seed Bringer is depicted

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good and Bad News

This is a symbol of a god of the California Chumash Indians

Some of you might've read my posts about Tabs versus Indents and already know what this is about.

One the good side - a publisher wants to see one of my historical novels. So, I spent a couple of hours cleaning it up and submitted it. Now just to sit on my hands and wait.

On the bad side - I have to go back through EVERYTHING I'VE WRITTEN to replace tabs with indents!

Good thing I got a lot of coffee!!!

Everybody calls these  Dream Catchers when, in reality the Souix call it a Snatcher. A fine line, I know, but it's always important to respect their lore and customs. If you find one in a store other than on a reservation, you're gonna end up with a "Made in China" as the authentic ones are made by hand.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Day Away from The Strip

I was going to try to post this for FREE on Kindle and PubIt! but they want $$$$ for everything. So, here it goes -

(Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and Bonnie Springs Ranch and Old Nevada)
By, Dale Day

When you grow tired of artificial mountains and waterfalls or replicas of the Eifel Tower, Venice and The Land of Oz with its bronze lion, take a short drive to savor the real beauties of nature.

The Riviera Hotel

It’s just a brief drive from the bright lights of The Strip and Glitter Gulch to mountains and rock formations that reveal the geological history of the Southwest.

The area between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada and south of present-day Canada was millions of years ago an inland sea. A rich abundance of marine life created deposits of their exoskeletons sometimes up to nine thousand feet thick. The water and then sand, when the water receded, compressed this matter into limestone.

It is estimated the water became shallower about 225 million years ago and streams and rivers created swamps where mud and sand turned into shale and sandstone. These deposits became exposed to the sun where they rusted, creating brilliant red colors.

The winds blew sand and piled it up more than a half-mile deep in spots. Old dunes were leveled and new ones created to leave a record of curving, angled lines in the sands. They were buried by other sediments and became the brilliant Aztec Sandstone.

Aztec Sandstone at Red Rock Canyon

It only took another 10 million years until the earth moved and the massive plates shifted, creating what is called The Keystone Thrust Fault that fashioned an awesome folding and shifting of the earth to reveal the millions of years of the area’s history. It also mixed things up a bit putting old layers atop new ones.

As you near the Red Rock area, glance to your right and you will view a spectacular upthrust revealing slanted layers of Earth’s history.

With towering manmade casinos and hotels behind, you enter Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Take a tour on the scenic drive, spend the day hiking and camping and stop at the Visitor’s Center to learn more about the area, all for a minimal fee.

Despite its barren looks, there’s plenty of life. Trees and shrubs range from Piñon Pine whose nuts provided a major food source for the Paiutes who lived in the area, to shrubs, bushes and grasses such as Curl-Leaf Mountain Mahogany, big Sagebrush and Black brush, Nevada Bluegrass and Cheat grass.

You’ll see Joshua Trees which are really members of the Yucca family. As you drive through the Southwest, you don’t have to guess your elevation as they only grow between 3,600 and 4,200 feet and receive between 8 and 10 inches of rain per year. This plant is also interesting in that Indians used the tough fibers for a variety of uses to include exceedingly durable footwear.

Black brush is plentiful as well as Creosote Bush which has a marvelous scent after brief rains. Another plant is Mormon Tea which was also known as Whorehouse Tea for its purported healing properties after cowboys had visited Bawdy Houses. One will also see Burro Brush which, for some reason, is also called Cheese Brush..

You will have to hike some distance to reach higher elevations where180 year old Ponderosa Pines live in harmony with Agave and Prickly Pear, two more plants of great value to the Paiutes. Agave leaves were woven for a variety of uses. Prickly pear fruit added sweetness to their diets and the leaves themselves were cooked and eaten with some medicinal benefits such as aiding in controlling diabetes. These are commercially available in present-day markets that specialize in Hispanic foods under the name Nopales.

There is an amazing plethora of birds and animals, although the vast majority are nocturnal to avoid the extreme day-time heat. Raptors may circle high overhead and one very unique bird is the Loggerhead Shrike which, though a predator, has weak feet and can’t hold struggling prey in its grasp. To immobilize prey, the shrike will often impale it on cactus spines where it takes its time to dine.

The most visible wildlife are the Wild Burros. They were left by the Spanish and miners. Don’t let them fool you. They will come up to you to beg for food. But, whatever you do, DON’T FEED THEM! They can get very mean and no few visitors have left with severe bites requiring immediate medical care.

Part of the Scenic Drive takes you to Willow Creek with picnic facilities.  It also provides a good starting point for a hike up one of the mountain canyons to view Riparian areas with different plants and wildlife. Icebox Canyon has a maintained trail which leads in for an 8-tenth of a mile; the end of Icebox Canyon is reached in another half-mile by "boulder hopping" in the canyon bottom.

Willow Creek Picnic Area

Wildlife ranges from Jackrabbits and Cottontails to Roadrunners and a wide variety of lizards. There are, of course, the feared rattlesnakes who’re actually very mild-mannered creature who’d rather run than have to bite you because they feel trapped. If they warn you with their rattle, freeze and they will go their own way leaving you with the view of an animal truly adapted to extreme conditions.

Coyotes can also be seen, especially in early evening when they seek out trash containers, a far easier source of food than quick Kangaroo Rats, Ground Squirrels, or Desert Gophers. I know an individual who hikes on the pristine backside of Red Rock who says he’s seen signs of but never an actual Puma. It is highly possible there’s one or two due to the Mule Deer who live there. The deer may show up on the NCA but it is an extremely rare event.

And, if one’s able to be there at night, it is highly possible to see a number of night-flying birds and, of course, Mexican Short-tailed Bats. (An aside: When it rains here in the desert, in a few days, insects emerge and millions of them are attracted to the huge laser light atop The Luxor. More than a few times, I’ve been awed to watch Nature’s Ballet as bats swarm to feast upon the flittering insects. In my opinion, it’s because of these marvelous animals of the night that we who live here in Las Vegas are not plagued by night-flying insects as those who live in other parts of the country.)

Park Visitor Center

So now, you done the tour and are about to leave the park. Where to next?

That’s easy -- Spring Mountain Ranch State Park just a short drive down the road from the NCA. Because of many springs in the Wilson Range, Paiutes lived in the area and 520 acres were developed into a combination working ranch and luxury retreat in the early 1900’s. Owners who’ve given the area a long and colorful history include, Chester Lauck of the comedy team "Lum & Abner," German actress Vera Krupp, and millionaire Howard Hughes. (Another aside: Hughes has a long history in Southern Nevada long before his famous taking over of the Desert Inn and buying binge of hotels up and down The Strip).

There is a modest entry fee that allows one to picnic, hike in the area behind the park and enjoy guided tours by The Spring Mountain Ranch Docents, a volunteer, non-profit group that also gives living history programs.

And in the Summer months is a well-accepted Super Summer Theater, a series of outdoor performances. The "Theater under the Stars" also features musicals and plays for the whole family.

But, that’s not all to your drive on Blue Diamond Road. Just a short distance from the State Park is the entrance to Bonnie Springs Ranch and Old Nevada.

It's a hangin'

There are more sumptuous and grand theme parks around the country. But, in my opinion, this is worth the stop on your tour. The parking lots are dirt and tucked in between Desert Willow, Salt Brush and Creosote Bushes. On weekends, you can ride a hokey little train to the entrance to the Old West Town.

You will enter a replica of an 1880’s mining town with boarded sidewalks that creak pleasantly under your feet, saloons, tumbleweeds, stagecoaches, and even a Boot Hill Cemetery.

There is a "posse" show where kids can help track down the 'bad guy". This little old mining town offers plenty of rousing, rough-and-tumble action; simulated gunfights in the streets, an 1830's melodrama complete with mustachioed villain in our authentically recreated Saloon (Which I thought was hilariously funny), and a public hanging, with an obliging Stuntman swaying in the wind. All shows are kids friendly and they encourage audience participation.

In addition, there's a wax museum with figures from our frontier history, They serve great homemade meals in their restaurant, have a beautiful and romantic 1800's style wedding chapel along with convention facilities and plenty of shopping for those looking for turquoise and silver and other western souvenirs.

And, when you leave Old Nevada, just a few steps away is the Petting Zoo where the kids can wander around and see animals that are native to our country.

I will never forget when my current family first came here and I took them to the above sites. The looks on their faces as the savored the magnificence of Nature and the fun of Old Nevada with its petting zoo will stay with me forever.

And I’m certain you and your kids will feel the same. So, take a day off from the lights and noise of The Strip and see something you’ll remember forever.

The End
[all pictures but the Vegas Sign where taken by yours truly]
Oops! Hastily added April 15th when somebody told me I forgot something - direction on how to get there!
There are two ways:
     - Take Charleston Blvd west from Downtown - or take the beltway around to Red Rock Casino and catch Charleston there.
     - go south on I-15 to the Silverton Casino exit - state road 160 and go west past the salt mine to see the road for Old Nevada/Red Rock Canyon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wow! Just checked my stats and am thrilled to death to find that people from a variety of countries have dropped in to view this!

Thanks! Gracias! Danke!

I always do my best to keep up with the posts of the blogs I'm following. So, if you're one of those, forgive me if I don't always get there on a frequent basis.

Friday was a sad day! For those of you who recognize my posting on various forums, my publisher, Virtual Tales, is closing shop! The only thing I can hope for is that my editor will make some kind of effort to find a home for the novel he was working on it - plus the sequel. As he's an American Indian and the main characters for both are also American Indians, perhaps he'll find something.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Seven Brothers - a Tsalagi Tale of the Pleiades

    The good thing about the fire, besides shedding its warmth, was using it to burn the non-metal and plastic things of the MRE pouches. It also provided a great setting for simply sitting side-by-side on the log and savoring the starry night.
    Pointing up to the six stars of the Pleiades, Janis softly said, “Willow Woman once told me the story of the Seven Brothers. Would you like to hear it?” She didn’t have to ask twice as Ray pulled her to sit beside him on the ground, their feet towards the fire with the log as a backrest.
    “Willow woman told me that, when the world was new, there were seven boys who spent all their time playing gatayû'stï. The game is now called Chunky and is played by rolling a stone wheel along the ground with a curved stick. Their mothers scolded them, telling there was other more important things to do than play. But it didn't do any good. One day the mothers collected some gatayû'stï stones and boiled them in the pot with the corn for dinner.”
    When the boys came home their mothers dipped out the stones and said, “Since you like the gatayû'stï better than working, take the stones and eat them for your dinner.”
    The boys became very angry, and went away, saying, “Since our mothers treat us this way, let us go where we will never trouble them any more.”
    “Poor guys,” Ray said. “Just think, they were expected to do something worthwhile in order to eat.”
    Janis hushed him and continued the story. The boys began a dance - some say it was the Feather Dance - and went round and round, praying to the spirits to help them.
    At last, their mothers were afraid something was wrong and went out to look for them. They saw the boys still dancing, and as they watched, the mothers noticed the boys' feet were off the ground. Not only that but, with every round, they rose higher and higher into the air.
    The mothers ran to get their children but it was too late. They had already risen above the trees - all but one, whose mother managed to pull him down with the gatayû'stï pole. The boy struck the ground with such force that he sank into it and the earth closed over him.
    The other six circled higher and higher until they went up to the sky, where we see them now as the Pleiades, which the Cherokee call Ani'tsutsä, The Boys.
    “The people grieved long after them,” Janis continued. But, the mother whose boy had gone into the ground came every morning and every evening to cry over the spot until the earth was damp with her tears. At last, a little green shoot sprouted up and grew day by day until it became the tall tree that we now call Noh Tsi, the pine. And, the pine is of the same nature as the stars and holds in itself the same bright light.”
    Just then, one of the logs snapped, dazzling gold-red sparks erupting into the air.

[This is an excerpt from Tsalagi Tales, the sequel to Sonora Symphony which I hope will be published sometime this year by Virtual Tales.]