A Motley Crew – Disdain for the Ravages of Time

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In 20 days, the gang known as The Eastside Kids will be gathering in our hometown of Detroit, MI.  Pictured above are a few of them.  These are the guys I grew up with.  We shared the joys of sports, the pains of school, the search for meaning in life and just plain having a good time in an era filled with civil unrest and an unpopular war.  That we survived those things and our own brand of foolishness is a miracle and yet, we did survive.  This year, in addition to eating some great food and drinking some good beer, we are planning to visit the batting cages, do some bowling, shoot some hoops, play a little pool and wager a bit in our annual poker game.  As is expected, I will chronicle the reunion with as much honesty as I can muster, though some fabrication may be necessary in order to preserve our dignity.  So, dear reader, keep us in mind as we once again show complete disdain for the ravages of time.  :-)

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excerpt from chap 5 – Clash of Empires

Liam awoke to the sound of thunder and Liza preparing porridge for their breakfast.  That he had been asleep surprised him as he had not slept for almost three days, the sight of Orenda tied to that tree haunted his dreams still as did the sound of her screams as she cried out to him.  Daniel and Henry were already awake and making ready to begin today’s trek to Donehogawa’s camp on Mahoning Creek.  Teeyeehogrow and Pierre had risen before dawn and went back tracking to see if anyone was in pursuit.  They had gone about two miles and were standing on the top of a hill looking down at a troop of French about a mile distant preparing to break camp.  ‘Best to warn the others and hasten our pace,’ said Pierre.  Teeyeehogrow nodded in agreement and replied, ‘We don’t know for sure they are after us though I suspect they are and there’s little chance they won’t find our tracks.’  They returned to where they had tethered their mounts and had to soothe the trembling horses as a blast of thunder and flash of lightning pierced the early morning quiet.  Another sudden clap of thunder brought with it a pelting rain that soaked them to the bones as they made their way back to camp.  ‘The beckoning call of the rising sun,’ spoke Pierre, ‘the breath of promise on the early morning breeze.  Dawn is God’s blessing to man and beast, though it seems to be an off day for the almighty.  I suppose even God enjoys a bit of variety.’  Teeyeehogrow slapped Pierre on the back and chuckled, ‘more likely he’s just pissed about something.’  ‘My friend, you are quite probably truer to the mark,’ replied Pierre.

With the news that they were probably being tracked by the French, Liam and Daniel decided they would take a position a few miles behind the others as they rode, keeping a watchful eye on their pursuers.  By mid-morning the storm had fled eastward and now the sun was beginning the drying out process as steam rose from the horse’s flanks and the ground was enveloped in a swirling mist.  Birdsong now replaced the staccato rhythm of the rain.    This was the third day after leaving Fort Necessity and they were pretty sure they could reach the Mohawk camp on Mahoning Creek by nightfall if they pushed their mounts a little harder.  As they crested a hill they found themselves looking down at the creek but could not see the Mohawk camp and were not sure which direction they should take once they crossed the Mahoning.  The sound of hoof beats from behind had them reaching for their weapons but as Daniel came into view they relaxed and dismounted.  He came to a halt, the suddenness of his stopping sending up a spray of dirt and leaves.  ‘We’ve got trouble,’ he started, ‘the French have split their pursuit and now half of them are heading down to the creek to keep us from crossing while the rest drive us into it.  Liam and I will hold them back for as long as we can but you need to make haste across the water.’  Teeyeehogrow motioned with his hand to point out the fact that there was already a group of French getting into position for the ambush at the water’s edge.

Lieutenant LeFurge positioned the six men with him behind a scattering of boulders and fallen trees.  ‘We have them now,’ he murmured to himself as he slid his saber in and out of its scabbard, willing himself to not be nervous about his first real taste of battle and there was no way he was going to obey his orders to the letter.  ‘No one fires until I give the command,’ he ordered, ‘shoot to kill but spare the woman, she’ll make a fine gift to our Shawnee friends.’

Wahta and Deganawidah were returning to the Mohawk encampment from a hunting trip and from the trees noticed the French across the creek setting up for what appeared to be an ambush.  They set down the deer they were carrying and crept to the creek bank to see if they could be of help to whoever the French were after.  The sounds of gunfire from the hill in the distance drew their attention but they still could not make out who it was.

‘We can’t take on both groups, there are too many,’ said Daniel, ‘Pierre, go get Liam.  We’ll meet the group behind us from here.  We’ll have the advantage of being uphill with enough cover to protect us.  Liza, I know you’re a good shot but for now I need you to reload our muskets.  We have two extras so we should be able to keep up a continuous fire and no doubt Liam will be using his bow as well as his musket.’

Liam and Pierre rode back to the others and took up positions behind the trees just as the first of the French came riding up the slope.  They dismounted quickly as Liam let fly and struck one the horses with an arrow in the shoulder causing it to rear and throw its rider.  Daniel and the others then opened up with musket fire taking down two in the first volley.  The remaining three returned fire but Liam and the rest were too well sheltered for any clean hits and when they reloaded and stood to fire again they were met with another volley wounding two more of the French troops.  Setting his musket down and holding his palms outward, the lone remaining Frenchman helped his wounded comrades onto their horses and took off back the way they came.  ‘Looks as though we won’t have to worry about that group,’ said Daniel, ‘How do we deal with those in the rocks below?’  It was then that Wahta recognized Liam and shouted while he drew back his bow and released an arrow, striking one of the surprised French in the back, the force of the arrow causing him to stumble and fall into the creek, ‘Snake slayer my brother, let us meet our foes together.’  At the sound of his voice and seeing one of his troopers floating away, LeFurge turned to see two Mohawk braves shooting from across the creek.  He barely had time to duck as an arrow whizzed by his ear.  Taking advantage of the changing situation, Liam, Daniel, Henry, Liza and Teeyeehogrow charged down the hill, muskets at the ready and firing into the rocks.  There wasn’t much chance of hitting anyone from the back of a charging horse but it kept the French pinned down as they took fire from front and rear.  Thirty yards from the French Liam and the others veered off to the right and plunged into the creek while Wahta and Deganawidah kept up their fire killing one more of the French and wounding LeFurge.  Once his friends were safely across, Wahta stopped shooting and headed up to meet them in the trees.

With a smile almost as broad as his shoulders Wahta embraced Liam, ‘It does my heart good to see you again brother.’  ‘Not as much as I am to see you.  We were in some trouble and the outcome would have most likely been different without your timely involvement.  How far is it to Donehogawa’s camp?  I fear our horses are sorely tired as are we.’  ‘We will be there before the sun sets and then we will feast on venison and talk late into the night,’ replied Wahta.

Lieutenant LeFurge, his right thigh bandaged and in some pain seethed at the thought that in his first engagement he was so thoroughly routed and wounded on top of it.  All that and he didn’t even fire his musket once, so complete was the surprise attack from across the creek.  His already smoldering hatred for the English was now raging into an inferno of revenge especially at the expense of these uncultured backwoodsmen and that bastard Colonel Washington for allowing them to leave the fort.

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Clash of Empires excerpt Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The Raid

Abigail accepted a sip of cool water from the now noticeably pregnant Orenda as she rested from the last contraction.  Liza wiped the sweat from her mother’s forehead saying, ‘One more push and I think we’ll have that new baby.’  Abigail smiled at her daughter, ‘I hope so.  I am running out of energy.  Maybe 42 years is too old to have a child.  It was certainly easier when you were born.  Oh dear Lord, it is time.’  Orenda went to the foot of the bed and after a few seconds said, ‘I can see the baby’s head.  One big push Abigail and we’ll have a new life to celebrate.’  With all of her remaining strength Abigail pushed and Orenda soon had a squalling newborn in her hands.   ‘It’s a girl, mama!’ cried Liza as she placed the little one in her mother’s arms.  Abigail took one look at that tiny face and said, ‘It is only by God’s grace that she arrived safely.  Tell your father that his new daughter, Grace is waiting to meet him.’

Thomas lifted the child, tears in his eyes, ‘I am not a godly man but at times like these I can be.  Grace is a most wondrous gift and I thank God for her safe arrival and for the health of my beloved wife.’  He kissed the child on the forehead and handed her back to Abigail.  ‘Now it is time for a little celebration I think.  Liam, Daniel, get those ale casks out.  I feel a mighty thirst coming on.’  So the trading post took on a party atmosphere with plenty of singing, laughter and dancing.  The traders who happened to be there joined in the festivities, two of them producing fiddles, and with Phil Burke playing a banjo, Irish jigs and reels soon filled the night air.

From the top of the hill overlooking the post and in the cover of the woods, two Shawnee braves looked down on the proceedings below.  ‘It is time to teach these English a lesson,’ said Huritt, ‘Our French brothers would be very happy for this place to be destroyed.  Let’s attack tonight.  The English are in no position to defend.’  Chogan smiled at his friend, ‘That is what I would like to do but look again Huritt.  The white man called Snake Slayer is alert.  His bow is ever at his side and the other Mohawks with him are also watching.  No, we cannot attack tonight.  We have more warriors coming to join us in two days that is when we will attack and destroy this place.’  Chogan then turned and with Huritt jogged off back into the woods and to their camp three miles away.

Two days later with hangovers now forgotten, Liam, Joseph and Henry left the post to go hunting while Trent, Donehogawa, Dadgayadoh, Deganawidah and Wahta left on a separate mission.  They had heard from a trader who arrived that morning of a party of Shawnees heading south out of Fort Duquesne and were anxious to get more firsthand information.  Pierre and Liza were heading across the river by canoe to a meadow that teemed with plants Pierre used for their healing properties.  In the back of the main building in the room Thomas and Abigail lived Orenda was rocking Grace to sleep and feeling the movement of the child within her while Abigail took a deserved nap.  Thomas was in the front talking to Rob Carter and Rafe Stump Nose Emerson, two traders about the load of furs they brought in yesterday.  Those furs were stored under the canvas canopy of one of the freight wagons and were now being examined by Phil Burke, who could not believe the quality, knowing that he had come to the right place at the right time.

Chogan, certain that he knew where everyone was turned to the seven warriors with him and said, ‘Remember, I want the white woman and her child alive.  Kill the rest,’ he then added with a hint of disgust, ‘but leave the Mohawk woman to me.’  Silently the two Huron and 6 Shawnee jogged down the hill the rising sun behind them making them almost invisible as well.  The two Huron, Pajackok and Taregan headed to the southern end of the encampment in order to keep watch on Pierre across the river.  Keme, Kesegowiase and Nixamich raced to the front door of the main building while Chogan, Huritt and Etchemin veered off to the side door.  Unnoticed and forgotten, Phil glanced out of the wagon and saw the raiding party going into the building.  Climbing over the pile of furs he exited the rear of the wagon and ran to his tent to get his musket.

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Hoovers 2015 Myrtle Beach

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This is a rambling account of our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I have entitled each section with a song title or a line from a song.

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’[2].  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard. J

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[3]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work as there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives, that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

 

 

Won’t Get Fooled Again[4]

In an effort to add a little excitement and the chance to win a sleeve of golf balls, Jimmy Two Birds instituted a Par 3 contest.  You win a sleeve if you get a par on a Par 3.  The rest of us protested that no one would win on account of our self-acknowledged ineptitude but Jimmy Two Birds persisted and thus those are the rules.  Today’s round was the first one played in about 4 months for Joey, Bob and Rick and the first one played in about 4 days for Jimmy Two Birds.  Jimmy Two Birds won a sleeve of balls today, the Fat Bastard.

The teams having been chosen in a random fashion, for today’s golf match are Jimmy/Rick vs Bob/Joey.  A pairing that elicited an immediate, ‘We’re gonna kick their ass!’ comment from Rick who then went out and shot a front nine 57 thus winning a sleeve of Ram balls for his excellence in futility.  As to the arse kicking, Bob/Joey put up a valiant yet vain effort losing 9-7, although Joey did distinguish himself by taking individual honors for the day harking back to the year Joey won our most prestigious award, The Harry A.  A feat so astounding that even to this day no one believes it actually happened.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant[5]

Some of our more memorable moments take place at the various eateries we frequent while in Myrtle.  Last night at the Texas Roadhouse, for example, we simply reinforced the notion that we are losing our mental edge.  The tallying up of the bill proved to be an exercise of mathematical futility.  Determining that $35 was needed from 4 people because 130/4=35.  No one questioned that figure and we ended up $10 over what we needed.  With no immediate solution as to why the discrepancy, Joey, out of kindness, handed the extra $10 to Ocho.  The problem gnawed at Ocho on the drive back to the condo so he whipped out the calculator on his smart phone and lo and behold, 130/4=32.50.  Mystery solved and a time to celebrate so Ocho used the $10 and bought beer.

I’m Just a Substitute for Another Guy[6]

As has been the case the past few years Ocho’s financial woes have relegated him to the position of a stand by substitute golfer; not unlike some alternate on the PGA Tour waiting on somebody to drop out of a tournament.  I have to be ready at a moment’s notice in case one of the aging Hoovers can’t shake out the kinks from the prior day no matter how long they hog the limited hot water in the condo.

There are, I think, two prevailing theories as to why my fellow Hoovers insist that I come to Myrtle despite my monetary limitations.  Theory #1 is that they cannot do without my pleasant demeanor and witty repartee.  Theory #2 is they only care about not having to drag their clubs through airports and pay a small fortune to have them flown here.  Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is true.  J

Day number three and the call for a relief golfer has been made and Ocho is making his way in from the bullpen.  Now mind you the last two days were bathed in glorious sunshine and near 80 degrees.  Today is cloudy and only reaching the high 50’s.  Jimmy Two Birds is a no go for today’s round, the Fat Bastard.

Two days in a row for the relief golfer as JTB is once again hors de combat with a balky knee.  I feel bad every time I lace up my golf shoes at the expense of one of my fellow Hoovers, but only for a moment.  J

Day number five and for the first time ever in the annals of Hoover history a Hoover pulled himself out of a round halfway through.  JTB called ‘no mas’ after nine holes for the simple reason he was having no fun and was in danger of throwing his clubs into a gator infested pond.  Fortunately the relief golfer was at the course and took over for the distraught and frustrated Jimmy.  Unfortunately the relief golfer had to use Jimmy’s clubs and they weren’t any kinder to him than they were for Jimmy and almost ended up in the gator infested pond anyway.

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper[7]

For some reason, probably the onset of our advancing years and the aches, pains and medications needed, we had a jocular discussion on death and how we wanted our remains taken care of.  Jimmy mentioned having his ashes scattered over many of his favorite golf courses in Myrtle Beach but all I could imagine was a Big Lebowski type mishap.  A sudden gust of wind and Jimmy is scattered all over those officiating the event.  I came up with a couple possibilities for my epitaph … ‘All things considered, I’d rather be putting for birdie’… or (and this is a reference to my hard of hearing condition), ‘You can say anything you want about me, I won’t hear you anyway.’

Boring Stories of Glory Days[8]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

That brings me to the group that sustains me in the ‘back nine’ of my life, The Hoovers.  For those who are not familiar with the history of the name we chose a brief digression.  It was somewhere on a golf course on Cape Cod.  We had just hit four of the more miserable tee shots in the history of golf.  As we watched the fourth one sail off to a place a golf ball ought not to visit, Jimmy Two Birds uttered these words, ‘We’re like a bunch of Hoover vacuum cleaners, and we can’t suck enough.’  Thus the name of the group was born along with our motto.  Since then we have traversed many fine fairways and even more not so fine areas of golf courses scattered throughout this great country of ours.  The main point of our exercise in futility is not so much trying to improve as that ship has sailed but to have more fun than should be allowed.  I would really like at some point to mike all of us for a round as there would be some great material to cobble together in a story.   So here’s to my buddies The Hoovers:  Joe Martin, Jimmy Two Birds Ouellette, Bob Svirsky, Loring Mackey and Rick Lobsitz.  May your balls be many and your strokes be few.  J

 

Every Day is a Winding Road[9]

Every nook and cranny of Gray Wolf is stuffed with the flotsam, jetsam and the necessary golf accoutrements needing to be returned to the normal habitat of our four intrepid Hoovers who must now sadly depart for the frozen wasteland of New England.   Rick and Bob are flying home from Charleston, SC while Joey opted to only fly to Myrtle and drive back with me.  Jimmy, of course, is driving back to Punta Gorda, FL where it is not a frozen wasteland, the fat bastard.  Included in the flotsam is Joey’s rather large suitcase that was not part of what Ocho brought down to SC.  Some creative packing was involved to accommodate it so as to leave room for Joey too.  It would have been a shame to have to strap Joey to the roof for the 1050 mile trek home.

On the road at 5:00 a.m. feeling the usual pangs of remorse that the week is already over, that the daily joy of camaraderie is once again relegated to memory and in my case to the written word.  However, those thoughts need to be suppressed in order to survive the long, long way home.  So with a stoical mindset Gray Wolf springs to life and we head home.  Nineteen hours later Joey is safely ensconced in his own bed and 15 minutes later Gray Wolf is safely at rest in his own driveway.  The trip home is mostly without incident.  The only traffic encountered came, naturally, when we got on the Mass Pike; a kind of welcome home committee.  Until next year, same time, same place.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Paul Simon I Am a Rock

[3] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[4] Pete Townsend ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

[5] Billy Joel ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’

[6] Pete Townsend ‘Substitute’

[7] Donald(Buck Dharma)Roeser –Blue Oyster Cult ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’

[8] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

[9] Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’

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Myrtle Beach 2015 – an excerpt

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’.  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard.

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[2]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work and there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

Boring Stories of Glory Days[3]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[3] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

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excerpt from Chap 1- 2nd draft – Clash of Empires

CHAPTER 1

A Journey Contemplated

1749 – Autumn

Thomas Mallory stopped chopping and took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow.  ‘Saints preserve us,’ he sighed, ‘it will take more wood than this to see us through the winter.’  He gazed about and took in the sights of the small lease held farm he worked with his family.  His wife Abigail was baking bread in the outdoor oven. His eldest son Daniel was over in the field harvesting the last of the squash and pumpkin. His only daughter Elizabeth was spreading feed for the ducks and chickens.  Liam, the youngest son was nowhere to be seen as he was out hunting.  ‘Aye and what about the spring?  What will they think about my plans for the spring?’

Thomas never did much like farming.  The plot of land that he leased from a wealthy member of the Philadelphia merchant aristocracy was barely sufficient to feed his family and make a profit.  For fifteen years he toiled, saving up every last farthing so that at last they could move West and begin a new life.  He had met William Trent, an adventurous woodsman and one time officer in the Virginia militia a few years back when he stopped by the farm looking for a place to bed down for a few nights.  He regaled them with his stories of the frontier, about his trip down The Ohio and the opportunities waiting for men with vision and courage.  ‘This is only the beginning’, said William, ‘but I plan on opening a trading post along the Allegheny River.  If I’m any judge of events then it won’t be long before the frontier will be teeming with them that’s looking to make their fortune.  Hunters and trappers at first and then with settlers.  Once things have settled there it will be back to The Ohio to start another trading post.’

The seed of adventure and profit was duly planted in Thomas so when William asked him to be his partner in a recent letter he quietly accepted to himself.  The time to tell the family would come soon enough.  All he needed to do now was to convince his wife Abigail that the move would be more than worth the risks involved as the area in question was in dispute between the British, the French and the various tribes of Indians, some of which sided with the British and some with the French.

The thought came to Liam as he followed the movement of the deer that he was never so at peace as when he was in the woods.  For as long as he could remember he made the most of every opportunity to be outside, marveling at nature and studying it.  Indeed he had come to know the area around his home very well and was now hidden on a small mound that was overgrown with brush.  He knew from experience that the deer used the trail below the mound to travel to a small creek for water.  He also knew that he would be too far away for an effective shot with his favorite weapon, the bow, so he had brought his musket along.  The deer was now broadside to Liam, the hindquarters obscured by tree branches but the front shoulder was in the open.  Liam fired, the shot hit and knocked the deer down but it was soon back on its feet, staggering away.  Liam resisted the notion of rising up and following the deer right away.  He knew that that would only cause the deer to panic even more causing it to run meaning it would be farther away once it finally succumbed to the wound and Liam was sure the shot was fatal.  ‘That got at least one lung, maybe both,’ he said to himself as he rose up just enough to keep an eye on the deer.  The wounded deer was still standing and walking but it was quickly losing blood and becoming weaker.  Liam, satisfied that it would not be going too much farther sat back down to wait for a few more minutes giving him time to think and daydream.   As was usually the case his thoughts were of Indians and how they used and nature to survive.  He was most in awe of the Indians and their way of life though he had encountered them only fleetingly. The farm he grew up on along the Schuylkill River west of Philadelphia didn’t have many Indians in the area. The last of them, the Delaware tribes, had been pushed farther west by the encroaching white settlers.  What truth he did learn he gleaned from a former Black Robe, a priest who had lived with his Order in the village of Teatontaloga near the white settlement of Albany.   Pierre Baptiste was now the village apothecary having learned from the Mohawk about the various herbs and plants that could be used for assorted ailments.  He was also an amateur naturalist and agreed with Liam to teach him about the Mohawk including their language in exchange for Liam gathering up and bringing him herbs and any other interesting plants and critters he could find.  He peered over the brush in time to see the deer collapse to the forest floor.  He slowly got up and stretched his cramped legs.  When he reached the where the deer had fallen he noticed the pink froth that had been seeping out of the deer’s mouth and nose.  ‘Yep, got the lungs,’ he said to himself.  Liam then got down to the business of field dressing the deer, removing the unwanted innards, placing the heart, liver and kidneys in a pouch.  He used a long strip of rawhide to wind around the torso, keeping it closed as he hoisted the carcass up onto his shoulders using the legs as handles and began the short but laborious trek back home.

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First draft – complete Clash of Empires

Approximately a year and a half later at 18:00 EST on March 3, 2015 I wrote the final words of the first draft of Clash of Empires.  My editorial staff(well some friends and other fellow travelers) are hard at work giving it the once over.  As they report in I am editing the draft accordingly….or not, depending on how strongly I feel about the change they are suggesting.  I’ve never been one who likes to change things once he has written it down…a foible I may have to rein in a little bit but….the way I look at it is that if one of my editors says I should change something and another editor says they like that part then I will most likely leave that part alone…  :-)..

This is all new to me…this process of editing and so forth.  Next I will have the 2nd draft copy edited and then the real fun begins….getting it out so the unwashed masses can enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Oh and I will also begin book 2 of the series…have already jotted down some notes and ideas…heck I already have thoughts on book 3.  Book 2 will encompass the Revolutionary War period…book 3 will be the war of 1812 and years preceding the Civil War.  Book 4 will be the Civil War years, followed by the western expansion years in book 5.  Ambitious, yes, but what the heck, I wanna retire in style.  :-)

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