A Dog Can Literally Add Years To Your Life!

You should check out this truly delightful post by Eric over at The Petsitter Compendium

Well, let’s face it, life is just one kick in the pants after the next. I have noticed, however, that life is better with a dog (or three). Dogs are optimal companions, vigilant guardians, perpetual playmates, and even extemporaneous vacuum cleaners. Studies have demonstrated that these generators of joy actually reduce stress levels in their human companions.

The Petsitters Compendium

I hope you will check out the rest of this great post here! And if you like it, let him know!

Martial Mayhem for a Good Cause!

On Saturday, October 30th, a group of martial artists got together at the Beulah United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a day of martial arts training while raising money for Knoxville’s Children’s Hospital in honor of Charla Alley. Sadly, Charla, the wife of Sensei Jim Alley, succumbed to a terminal illness some time ago. The seminar, originally planned by Sensei Bob Noel, was canceled and rescheduled several times due to the Covid pandemic.

Several instructors from different styles volunteered their time to teach a variety of topics to a group of about 30 attendees. Nearly $1,000 was raised for charity and every participant had a great time.

Here is the lineup of instructors for last Saturday’s event.

Sensei Bob Noel
Uechi-Ryu Karate
Event Host & Organizer

Sensei Noel teaches traditional Uechi-ryu Karate at the Knoxville Uechi-ryu Karate School located at the Street Beatz Studio.

Sensei Noel led a warm-up session consisting of Uechi-ryu basic exercises and the Uechi-ryu version of Sanchin Kata.

Sensei Eddie Satterfield
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Satterfield led a great session on Qi Gong breathing as a tool for relaxing, energizing, and healing. It was a great way to get charged up for the seminar.

Sensei Danny Satterfield
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Danny Satterfield led a very informative session on the framing mechanics of Sanchin Kata. I think it was an eye-opening session for a lot of participants.

Sensei Danny Smith
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Smith led a session on a sai kata from the Tokushinryu Kobudo system. It was clear from participant’s comments, that they really enjoyed this session

Sensei Scott Britt
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Britt presented a fascinating session on the Suruchin, a traditional flexible weapon from Okinawan Kobudo. Scott has written a book on this intriguing weapon.

Sensei Darren Gilbert
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Gilbert presented a great session on using stances to break the line of attack and avoid getting hit, while still allowing you to effectively strike your opponent. This foundational skill is key to unlocking techniques in kata.

Sensei Michael Patrick
Torite Jutsu

Sensei Patrick presented a session on using pressure point techniques to control and subdue your attacker. Understanding pressure points is a big help in understanding the techniques found in kata. This is always a popular topic with participants.

Sensei Mike Allen
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Allen led a well-enjoyed session on Tegumi, which is a traditional form of Okinawan grappling. Many participants commented that this session was a lot of fun.

Sensei David Higgins
Shorin-ryu Karate

Sensei Higgins, a black belt in Shorin-ryu as well as a student of Uechi-ryu, led a session on Shuji No Kun, a Yammani Ryu bo kata. This session was particularly enjoyed by a few of our younger participants, and I enjoyed it as well.

Sensei Jim Alley
Isshin-ryu Karate

Sensei Alley ended the day with a session on techniques from Naihanchi, which with Sanchin Kata, is referred to as the mother and father of Isshin-ryu Karate. It was a great end to a great day!

Want more information on a variety of topics!

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So, you want to be a pet sitter, aye?

Yes, people do make a living at this. Or, maybe you just want to supplement your income. And if you love dogs, this may be just what you are looking for. But how do you get started? What do you need to know? Are there pitfalls you need to avoid? So, many questions, so little time!

Well, my friend, Eric, has just the information and experience you need. And, as luck would have it, he has just started a pet sitter’s blog called The Pet Sitter Compendium. I think you should check it out. And, while he is just getting started, there are two great blog posts already, and I am sure there will be more enjoyable, fact-filled posts coming in the future.

I met Eric about five years ago at the Godbold Dog Park in Cary when I moved to North Carolina. I would take Sophie, my German Shepherd, there to exercise.

By the way, this is Sophie, if you haven’t seen her before.

Eric was always there with several dogs like Remi, Rex, and a very lovable white lab I cannot remember the name of. Then there was Nitro, Eric’s dog.

Eric has been a professional pet sitter for much longer than I have known him, and I have known him for about five years now. I would highly recommend him as a person, a dog sitter, and a person from which to seek out information about becoming a dog sitter. So, please do check out his blog … or did I say that already?

What kind of guy is Eric?

By way of an answer, let me say this – this is Nitro, a genuinely great dog who sadly passed away a short time ago. As I mentioned above, Nitro was Eric’s dog, who I have some really fond memories of.

Eric also became the guardian for Rex, another great dog who first taught Sophie how to play catch. Rex’s original human, Bob, became terminally ill and asked Eric to take Rex. Eric agreed. That is just the kind of man he is. So now, Eric has Rex, and Bob is watching over Nitro in Heaven. It seems to me to be the best arrangement possible under the circumstances.

I just pass this along, so readers will know what a great person Eric is and how much he cares for dogs and animals in general. He has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the pet sitting business. So, for the last time, I hope you will check out his blog at: https://petsittercompendium.blog/.

Where’s My Beef?

I was thinking about some of the interesting times I have had, and situations I have seen occur, in East Tennessee since moving here from Massachusetts in 1979. One such early occurrence popped into my mind, and I thought … that would make an interesting blog post. So, here we go …

Welcome to East Tennessee

My parents bought a house in the Hidden Hills subdivision on Possum Hollow Rd. For some reason, the road’s name has been changed to Hidden Hollow. I was so sad to see that, and I wish they hadn’t changed it. I think Possum Hollow Rd had so much more going for it.

Behind the house, a steep ridge went up to a flat pasture that a neighbor grazed black angus cattle in. Before I left for my Army basic training, I sometime would squirrel hunt on that ridge, and somehow, I managed to keep from shooting any cows.

It was a great place to live and the first few weeks we lived in Tennessee seemed quite pleasant. There was one problem, however. The barbed-wire fence that separated the pasture from the woods along the slope of the ridge was in terrible shape. So, periodically we would come home to find one or two black black angus cows grazing in our yard. They would wander through a break in the fence, and come down the ridge to our lawn, I guess in search of greener pastures.

Either my Dad, myself, or maybe my brother would have to herd the cow (or cows) back up the ridge, through the dilapidated fence, and back into the pasture. Then we would do what we could to repair the break. We actually got pretty good at herding cattle! However, once the novelty wore off, it began to get a bit old.

One Sunday, my mother and father came home from church to find a cow munching happily away on the lawn. My dad decided he’d had enough, and called the local sheriff’s office. About twenty minutes later, a patrol car pulled up to the house and a sheriff’s deputy got out of the car. My dad explained the situation to him, while the deputy listened patiently, nodding his head and taking notes.

When my dad had finished, the deputy put his pen away. “Well, sir, I can file a report and go talk to the owner of the cattle. But I really don’t see the problem.”

“You don’t?”

“No sir. If I was you, I’d open the garage door, shoo the cow inside, close the door, and say nothing at all.”

Why would I do that?” my dad asked.

The deputy smiled. “Well sir, I reckon you’d have a pretty good supply beef to start with, and then, after the owner lost a couple more cows, he’ll most likely fix the fence.

Welcome to Tennessee

Bear Tales and Other Things!

Five Surprising Things About Author D.C. Gilbert

Thank you, Joy, for the great post about Adirondack Bear Tales and a few “interesting” facts about me. Your friendship and support means a great deal. And yes, more memoirs are coming …

Author D.C. Gilbert

Did you know Darren Gilbert played guitar in a rock band while in high school?

Here is a short excerpt from her post:

This guitar-playing, ballroom-dance-winning hitchhiker was born in Ilion, NY, but grew up in North Adams, Massachusetts, nestled in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains. An avid reader, Darren Gilbert particularly enjoys military history, epic sagas, spy novels, and historical fiction.

Joy Neal Kidney

Please click here to read the rest of Joy’s great post!

Joy Neal Kidney is a fellow blogger and author. Her two works, Leora’s Letters and Leora’s Dexter Stories are great reads for anyone interested in American history and the sacrifices earlier generations made so we could have the country most of us are so proud of today.

Please visit Joy Neal Kidney’s Amazon Author Page. And if you haven’t read Adirondack Bear Tales, check it out here!

A Bit of Joy in Troubled Times

Book Description

The undertow of the Great Depression becomes poignantly personal as we experience the travails of Leora and Clabe Wilson, a displaced Iowa farm family. Gritty determination fuels this family’s journey of loss and hope, a reflection of what many American families endured during those challenging times.

In this true story the Wilsons slowly slide into unemployment and poverty. Leora must find ways to keep her dreams alive while making a haven for her flock of seven children in one run-down house after another.

My Thoughts …

Author Joy Neal Kidney has done it again.

After enjoying her first book, Leora’s Letters, I ordered a signed copy from the author when Leora’s Dexter Stories was released. I was not disappointed.

In this amazing second book, Author Joy Neal Kidney shares the struggles, trials, and heartbreaks her family experienced during the Great Depression while living in rural small-town Iowa. Leora’s Dexter Stories is a touching and enlightening story of family, struggle, pain, perseverance, and success.

Joy is the oldest granddaughter of Leora Wilson, who in this true story, faces the daily challenges of keeping a roof over her family’s head, putting food on the table, dealing with tragic losses, and ensuring her seven children’s dreams of success remain in focus. Along with her husband, Clabe, Leora Wilson exemplify what so many American families endured during this difficult period in American history.

However, it was not all gloom and despair. There were also times of fellowship, caring friends and family; and yes, moments of joy. Family trips to the fair, children’s school sports activities and other accomplishments are recounted, as well as moments of humor and laughter (I loved Rusty the Squirrel). Leora’s Dexter Stories is a book that will touch your heart.

While not a collection of short stories, each chapter is short enough and so well crafted, the reader can easily read a them one at a time, and return later to continue with no trouble picking up where they left off. Because of vacation and a crisis at work, this is exactly how I read this book. However, at the same time, it is a book you will not want to put down.

I highly recommend this wonderful book. It is my opinion that this book should be required reading in America’s school systems. I can’t help but think that learning and remembering a bit of what the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of this current generation endured and sacrificed to provide them with the freedoms they take for granted, and a country they often misunderstand, would be a good thing.

About the Author

Joy Neal Kidney, is the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, and is the author of Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss For an Iowa Family During World War II. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa and married to a Vietnam War Air Force veteran. Joy lives in central Iowa and is a regular storyteller for “Our American Stories.”

A Cover Worthy of the Story Inside

This journey began some time ago, when a reader of Montagnard who absolutely loved the story, had one criticism to make.

If I had one criticism (and I hate to criticize) it would be the cover. And please don’t take this the wrong way but I wouldn’t buy this book at the bookstore because of the cover. Which is a shame because I would have bypassed a great read!

The reason I bought your book is because I follow your blog and I like to support bloggers.


Honestly, based on the cover I expected to tolerate the book, but… I LOVED it (I have already recommended it to two of my friends).


While I can see how there is a hint of what the book is about by the cover it just doesn’t quite convey properly. To me the cover says ‘political non-fiction’ — it doesn’t say ‘intriguing, captivating, intense action, feel good awesomeness’ which is exactly what your book is.

Beck

This reader’s comment led to a discussion with my editor and a plan to redo the covers of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard before the release of the third book, Reciprocity.

The new cover for Serpents Underfoot was completed and I was very pleased with its new cover. You can click here to view that cover on Amazon.com.

Then it became time to work on the new cover for Montagnard. My editor said the covers should identify the books as being written by me and also that they are part of a series. This is part of establishing your “brand.”

When I got the proof for the new cover of Montagnard, I was a bit nervous. It seemed like a tall order, and I had selected the images to use to create the cover. What if I had chosen bad images, or a bad color scheme? Finally, I opened the file.

All I could say was, “Wow!” I could not believe it. My cover designer, Angie, had done an absolutely brilliant job. She was waiting for my “suggested edits.” My response was … don’t change a thing!

I shared the cover proof with several readers I know, family members, friends, etc. The reaction was the same everywhere! I heard two things repeatedly.

  1. I absolutely love it!
  2. That cover is “BAD ASS!”

One reader commented, “Finally, a cover that does justice to the story inside.”

So, without further ado … here is the new cover for Montagnard!

The new cover is up for the Kindle version, and will soon be ready for the paperback and hardcover versions. Check out the kindle version here!


Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page …

Author D.C. Gilbert

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Leora’s Dexter Stories

The new release by Joy Neal Kidney.

I just got my signed copy in the mail! Joy is a great author and I count her among my author friends. I am looking forward to digging into this book. So far, I have only read the back cover, the reviews, and the Foreward by John Busbee, but I can already tell it is going to be great.

I read Joy’s earlier work, Leora’s Letters, which is an amazing tale of this same family’s patriotism, struggle, sacrifice, and pain during World War II. All five of Leora and Clabe Wilsons’s sons went off to serve in the military. They did not all come home. It was a story that broke my heart, made me smile, and stirred my pride all at the same time. If you haven’t read Leora’s Letters, you really should. It is an American story about an America we all need to be remind of these days.

In Leora’s Dexter Stories – The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, Joy Neal Kidney now shares with her readers the lives of Leora and Clabe Wilson and their displaced Iowa farm family during a time of great struggle and sacrifice. It is an American history, a history of hardworking common folk in America’s heartland during the Great Depression told through the memories and stories of Leora Wilson. And it is, by all accounts, a great collection of stories about love, survival, determination, sacrifice, and perhaps most importantly, hope.

Of course, when I finish the book, I will be posting a review here. I just could not wait that long to say something.

But, of course, you don’t have to wait for my review. Check it out. I promise it will be good.

July 4th – It’s the Least I can do …

Growing up, my family used to spend several weeks every summer at Raquette Lake in upstate New York. We started out camping at Golden Beach Campground. I was 6 months old on my first camping trip. Later we purchased a lot in Burketown, essentially a marina and restaurant on the south bay of the lake. Lots had also been purchased by both sets of grandparents and a great uncle. Many of the other lots were bought up by other employees of Remington Arms Co. of Ilion, NY. So, on our sandy dirt road, almost every knew everyone. Summers at Raquette Lake were almost always a large friend and family get together.

We would typically go to the lake in late July or early August to avoid the black flies and the worst of the mosquito season. One year, for some reason, we had gone earlier, and we’re going to be at the lake for the fireworks on the Fourth of July. I was maybe twelve years old or so. We drove down to watch the fireworks at Old Forge, NY; about twenty minutes south of Raquette Lake on Route 28.

I’m not completely sure who was there. I know myself, my brother, and my Mom and Dad were there. And my Nanny and Grandpa Klippel were certainly there, because my Grandfather is the key figure in this tale. I do remember others being there and suspect my Aunt Carol and maybe my Uncle Ken were there. Grandma and Grandpa Gilbert may have been there, as well as various other cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

We had found a spot to sit on the hill overlooking Old Forge Lake, or Fourth Lake (being the fourth lake in the Fulton Chain). It is not a particularly large lake; really more like a rather big pond. We were sitting there talking and waiting for the fireworks to begin when it began to cloud up and look like it was going to rain. I remember people trying to figure out if the fireworks would be canceled if it rained. The consensus was that it would depend on how hard it did rain, which seemed fair enough.

Once it got dark enough, the fireworks began. It was positively glorious. However, very shortly thereafter, the rain began as well. I remember being so disappointed as people began getting up to leave. My family, too, was getting ready to leave; everyone that is, except my Grandfather Klippel. He remained seated and simply took his handkerchief out and put it over his head. We had been hurrying to the car, but I had stopped and looked back. I watched as my Grandfather took the handkerchief, which by now had become soaked, and wring it out and place it back on his head. I was stunned, What was he doing? Even at that age, I knew my Grandfather was a bit of a character, but this was like nothing I had seen before. I walked back to where he was sitting.

“Grandpa, what are you doing? It’s raining.” It was actually raining quite hard by then.

“Well,” Grandpa replied, “if our ancestors could fight a war for this country and our freedom, the least I can do is sit through a little rain to thank them for doing so.”

That statement struck me, and I sat down next to my Grandfather. He asked me if I wanted the handkerchief, but I shook my head. It was too much fun watching him periodically wring it out and put it back on his head. We sat there together waiting for the rain to stop.

To be honest, I don’t remember if the rain ever did stop, or if the fireworks were canceled. I just remember sitting there in the rain, being proud as hell, and watching my grandfather once more wring the water out of his handkerchief, and place it back on his head.

Happy Fourth of July!

Celebrating A Life: Joe Palazzolo

The Cary Dog Park Gang!

I met Joe Palazzolo at the dog park in Cary, North Carolina. I would take my German Shepherd, Sophie, to the park every evening after work for exercise and had been doing this for a few months, I guess, when this guy visits for the first time with his Greyhound, Silver City Lou. We started talking and a good friendship was born.

The Character that was Joe Palazzolo

Joe’s family was from Sicily and he was proud of his Sicilian heritage. His wife was Kathy and her folks were from Sweden. Joe and I soon discovered we had a good bit in common. We were both familiar with the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys and the Adirondack Park of upstate New York State. We were both red-blooded, patriotic Americans, and we both liked to shoot. Eventually it came out that I enjoyed reading military history, and Joe told me he had a book for me to read. The book was Lucky Lady by Steve Jackson, and it is the story of a legendary World War II light cruiser, the USS Santa Fe.

During the war in the Pacific, Joe’s father served on the USS Santa Fe which earned the nickname Lucky Lady when the aircraft carrier, USS Franklin, was directly hit by two Japanese 500-pound bombs. As the Franklin listed heavily, becoming perilously close to capsizing, the light cruiser’s captain brought his ship in dangerously close, bellying up alongside the carrier’s flaming hull and keeping the ship afloat until the Franklin’s crew could be rescued. It is one of the most daring rescues in U.S. naval history.

Coincidently, Joe had a twin brother named Lou. One day during the Vietnam War, they both went down to enlist in the US Navy. Their mother put her foot down and said there was no way they were both enlisting and leaving her and their young sister to fend for themselves. Since Joe was doing a little better in school, the decision was made that Lou would enlist and Joe would stay home to look after the family.

Joe drove a bus in New York City for many years and eventually retired from his bus driver’s job. Often times he drove the early morning routes, and as you can imagine, he had some tales to regale listeners with. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall rode his bus regularly when they were in town filming episodes of The Odd Couple. Joe told me that Jack Klugman would hop on the bus and talk and joke with the other passengers. Tony Randall always tried to disguise himself and avoided talking to folks on the bus.

During his part-time limo driver gig, Joe had some adventures as well. One night, he was driving for some high school seniors on prom night. The kids left the prom and headed to Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. The limo drivers would park and wait in the alley alongside the club. One night, Rodney Dangerfield came out a back door of the club wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Spotting the limo drivers, he walked up to Joe and bummed a cigarette. He, Joe, and the other drivers had quite a conversation while Dangerfield smoked the cigarette. Then the comedian said good night, and headed back into the club. Rodney treated the drivers like anyone else. He was just one of the guys.

After his second heart attack, Joe was retired by the bus company. They told Joe they could not afford the risk of a third heart attack while he was behind the wheel of a bus. Undaunted, Joe took a job driving a hearse for a funeral company. He joked that the dead didn’t care if he had a heart attack or not. It didn’t matter to them.

Lou, Joe’s rescued Greyhound, is a great dog. Joe even had videos of races Silver City Lou had won during his career. If I remember correctly, Lou ran in fifty-five races. I believe Lou took something like twelve first places, and a bunch of seconds and thirds. By the time I met Joe, Lou had become a pretty laid-back dog who enjoyed relaxing. Occasionally he would get up and run around the dog park with the “pack.” Even at at his advanced age, he was poetry in motion when he ran. Lou and Sophie became pretty good friends and got along great the times I visited Joe and Kathy in their home.

The birth of Pallie

One day shortly after publishing my first book, I was telling to Joe about it. He said that he wasn’t much of a reader, but he’d love to read my book. So, I brought him a signed copy of Serpents Underfoot the next time we met at the park. Joe laughed because he’d already ordered a copy from Amazon. I think he gave one to his sister or something. Anyway, after Joe had read the book, he told me how much he loved the story, especially the characters. I laughed and said, that’s because you’re such a character yourself.

After some more joking around, Joe mentioned that he’d love to be a character in my next book, Montagnard, which I had just started working on. I thought, why not? So, a US Navy SEAL and good friend of my main character’s, named Pallie, was born. Joe was a perfect “model” for the part. Pallie is a tough-as-nails but fun-loving and big-hearted Sicilian-American Navy SEAL. His character is well-liked by many readers and will continue into the third book as well. Pallie, short for Palazzolo, has Joe’s personality, his sense of humor, his gruff exterior, and his kind heart. He is Joe if Joe had become a SEAL.

See you later, Joe!

Shortly after I moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I learned that Joe was sick and he was spending a good bit of time in the hospital. A few weeks ago, I went back to Cary to visit with Joe and some of our good friends. I am so glad I did. Just the other day, I learned that Joe lost his battle with cancer. I guess we all knew it was coming, but it is still hard. I will miss you, my friend. but I am happy you are no longer suffering. My prayers go out to Kathy, his wife, and his daughter, Lisa, who I met on my last trip, and the rest of Joe’s family.

If I know Joe, I am sure he is already spending time at a heavenly dog park with his previous Greyhound named Faster, and looking forward with great anticipation to Lou’s eventual arrival. And for my part, I look forward to talking to Joe again when Sophie and I get eventually there as well.