Tag: Adirondack Bear Tales

Adventures with Ursus Americanus

The other afternoon I was walking to the field with Sophie when we stumbled on this little family. Sophie was quite intrigued.

‘That’s the biggest dog I have ever seen,” she exclaimed. I had to explain to her that this was a family of black bears or Ursus Americanus. Since momma was between her cubs and us, she did not seem unduly alarmed by our presence. This old momma bear has been around the neighborhood for many years and is very used to humans and their pets.

You can see her tracking collar. A neighbor who is really keen about bears told us that this old girl has been tracked traveling between Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina. That is a territory covering about 100 miles in length.

The two cubs pretty much ignored us as well, seeming content to just play in the grass at the base of this tree on Pine Croft Road. They glanced over at Sophie a time or two but seemed unconcerned.

Sophie and I stayed quiet, although Sophie’s ears were on high alert. Eventually momma bear ambled off down the road toward the creek. Her two cubs followed quickly along and did not even look back at us once.

Sophie and I continued down to the field where we had a rousing game of catch with her favorite ball. It was quite an adventure-filled day.

I hope you will take some time to check out some of my other “blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you do enjoy reading stories about bears, please consider checking out my short book of true bear encounters, Adirondack Bear Tales, on Amazon.com! It’s also getting really great reviews.

A “Beary” Nice Review!

Adirondack Bear Tales just received another 5-star review.

This review is from someone named Sarah. I have no idea who Sarah is, but this review is special to me. I have displayed the review in its entirety below. To read other reviews on Amazon, click here!

Great!!

My husband and I have our own Adirondack bear jokes and I was so very excited when I found this book! He is deployed and missing out on all the summer fun. I sent him a camping themed package and this book was the perfect addition. The short stories are charming, simple, and fun.

Sarah

Sarah, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this blog post, but thank you for the thoughtful review. It is fantastic to discover other lovers of the Adirondacks in the world, especially those who are serving their country.

I also want to thank your husband for his service and for your sacrifice. When one spouse serves, so does the other!

Another Bear Tale!

Yesterday, while mowing the lawn …

I was mowing the strip of “weeds” that is part of the property along the creek on the Pine Croft Road. I had my earbuds in and was listening to music to drown out the noise of the lawnmower.

Suddenly a plumber’s van pulled up and stopped. The drive unrolled the window and yelled at me to get my attention. He was clearly quite excited.

I killed the mower and pulled out an earbud so I could hear what he was shouting at me.

“Did you see that bear?” he asked excitedly.

“Which bear?” I inquired.

“That bear that just crossed the road. You nearly bumped into him when you backed up with the mower! He was huge.”

I just shook my head. “Nope, didn’t see him. I was watching where I was mowing.” Then I asked, “Did the bear have a collar on?”

“I think so,” the plumber replied. “It looked like he might have.”

“Oh! That old guy is around here all the time. He’s pretty old and harmless … never bothers anyone. Just passes through.”

The plumber just shook his head in disbelief and rolling up the van window, continued up the road.

Must have been this guy!

He’s a pretty easy going old guy …

A Bit More Grandfatherly Wisdom and the American Flag

Measure twice, cut once!

We’ve all heard that saying, I guess. While it is clearly a carpenter’s saying, advising that you measure the board twice before you make the cut to eliminate mistakes and waste, it can apply to many situations in our lives.

My Grandfather Klippel had his own unique spin on many of these old bits of wisdom. His version was …

“I sawed it off twice, and it’s still to short!”

Raquette Lake, NY

When you visit Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park, you drive along Route 28 and pass through Burke Town. Don’t blink, because you will miss it. It consists of Burke’s Marina, a few rental cabins, a restaurant across the road which is no longer open, and three dirt roads on your left if you are headed towards Montreal. Raquette Lake will be on your right.

If you turn up the first dirt road, you will find camps along both sides of the road. In the south, they call them cabins. In the Adirondacks, they are camps. Most of these were initially built by employees of Remington Arms as vacation homes and were quite small and rustic.

Some have been turned into homes now, and most have changed hands with the original owners dying off and families selling them off. There’s quite a waiting list to get these camps. Both of my Grandfathers were Remington Arms employees who bought lots and built camps. My parents bought a lot when I was just a year or two old. We tented on our lot for many years before starting our camp.

L to R, Grandpa Klippel, Grandpa Gilbert, Curt Gilbert (my father) pouring concrete footers for the camp piers.

Grandpa Klippel is the “grandfather” featured in the true story Adirondack Bear Tale #3: A Trip to the Dump.

Grandpa Gilbert plays a part in the tale Adirondack Bear Take #8: Campfire BBQ Chicken.

We still have our camp, and I try to get up to the Adirondacks every summer, but sometimes life does get in the way. One trip Sophie and I made a short time ago was the basis for Adirondack Bear Tale #11: Sophie and the Three Bears.

And these stories, along with other true tales, are featured in my little book, Adirondack Bear Tales, available on Amazon.com.

In fact, the picture below was taken the evening after our “bear interrupted” hike to the old ski slope!

Sophie resting after saving me from the mamma bear and her three cubs!

Back to the Grandfather thing …

All this is kind of a set up for one of my favorite memories of my Grandfather Klippel. When I was perhaps 8 or 10-years-old, I wanted to put a flagpole on our lot, so we could fly the American flag over it when we were there.

I was telling my Grandfather about this, and he figured that it should be no problem at all. He took me out, and we found a tall White Pine tree on the back of their lot. They had to be thinned out occasionally anyway, because they grew so high, and would blow over in the winter, sometimes causing a lot of damage.

My Grandfather had me cut it down, and trim off all the branches. Then he provided me with a draw knife with which to peel the bark off the trunk. If you have never seen a draw knife, I have included a picture here.

Draw Knife

Peeling that bark off was a lot of hard work, but with his encouragement, I stuck it out. Once the trunk was clean, he had me coat the butt end, which would be buried in the ground, heavily with some kind of wood preservative. Then it was off to the Raquette Lake General Supply Store for a pulley, a rope, and a dock cleat to use as a tie-down.

Boat Cleat

It was a proud day in my life when my Grandfather helped me set that flagpole. Of course, it has long since rotted away. That was many years ago. However, we flew the American flag from that flag pole for many years while camping on our lot at Raquette Lake.

Raquette Lake Supply Company – General Store

I hope you will check out some of my other posts by clicking here!

The Belgium Connection!

Adirondack Bear Tales has gone international!

Adirondack Bear Tales has gotten some great reviews from several folks I respect, including Joy Neal Kidney, the author of Leora’s Letters. However, it seems that Adirondack Bear Tales has also now gone international, getting a great review from Denzil Walton, a full-time freelance writer living in Belgium.

Discovering Belgium is Denzil’s personal blog, which focuses on exploring the many wonders of Belgium, offering suggestions for days out, hikes, cycle rides, nature reserves, castles, museums, city trips, and much more.

A few excerpts from the review …

The stories are all short, and there are only eleven, so the entire book can be read in 30 minutes or so. But they are all delightful, easy to read and captivating. Quality rather than quantity!

A 12-year girl comes face to face with a bear during a night-time bathroom break! … The hilarious account of Grandma locking Grandpa out of the car while Grandpa tussles with a bear for ownership of a bag of garbage. The stubbornness of an Uncle who refuses to let the local bear destroy the bird feeder and steal the seeds … a handful of other stories illustrating the close relationship between the people and the bears of the Adirondacks.

The book is well-written … frequently involve the author’s grandparents … ideal for grandparents to read as bedtime stories to their young grandchildren … in my case, as someone living in a country where wild bears disappeared centuries ago, as an insight into a completely different world where a black bear might appear in your garden or even your kitchen!

You can read the entire review by clicking here!

And thank you, Denzil, for the amazing review. It is much appreciated.

Click here to check out some of my book reviews. You might find a few you want to read to help pass the time during the Covid-19 stay-at-home period.

Profile of an Adirondack Woman

Sometimes when I share some of my life stories with friends and acquaintances, I get looks and comments like “No way” or “You’re full of it.” I think far too many people spend their lives in tiny bubbles and never get to experience the fantastic world that is out there.

You’ve heard the saying, “We tend to write what we know …”

One of the many things that have amazed me in my short career as an author is the number of women who have given my first book, Serpents Underfoot, great reviews. It was my first book, and because of this, I know it is a little rough around the edges; maybe a bit too much language and a bit “too much information” in the bedroom scenes. But hey, you learn!

I had imagined my audience to be veterans and action/thriller fans. So I was shocked when I began receiving great reviews from female readers. After talking to a few readers, I understood that Serpents Underfoot had several strong female characters, and they really appreciated that.

While I pretty much self-edited Serpents Underfoot, I am working with a real editor for its sequel, Montagnard.

Beth Werner, of Author Connections, has been a professional editor and marketer for over 20 years. She served as the former Director of Marketing and Sales at Kirkus and has worked with Random House, Penguin, MacMillan, Disney Hyperion, Chronicle, Scholastic, FSG, Wiley, and others. Having read Serpents Underfoot, she commented she was also struck by the strength of the female characters in the story and how much she appreciated and enjoyed that. I believe I have carried this through into the sequel, Montagnard.

So, why the strong female characters?

In my life, I have had the privilege of knowing several strong women. Both of my grandmothers were strong women. One was the daughter of a well-known Herkimer, NY lawyer, drove a roadster, wore patent leather boots, and met the world on her terms. She was part Cherokee Indian and related to Robert E. Lee. I think my mother was a lot like her.

My other grandmother was a quiet, caring, and supportive woman. When my grandfather was drafted by the Army and stationed in Japan with General MacArthur after the war, she raised her children, worked in her garden, and was a source of strength for her husband, who was thousands of miles away in a strange land.

I was privileged to date another strong woman for several years, and while things did not work out quite like I hoped they might, I have nothing but respect for her. A medical professional, this lady took on the State Government, unethical “pain pill” clinics, and other issues in a continuous effort to improve the quality of professional medical care for her patients. She is now knee-deep in this battle against the coronavirus.

But, the strongest woman I have ever known was my mother!

Let me introduce you to her …

Ardis Gilbert was born in Ilion, NY, the daughter of Erwin and Eileen Klippel. She began nursing school at the age of 16 and graduated as an RN from Albany Medical Center in 1959. After moving to North Adams, MA, with her husband, Curt, Ardis graduated Magna Cum Laude in Mathematics and Summa Cum Laude in Administration from North Adams State Community College. She went on to teach mathematics for many years.

My mother enjoyed hiking, camping, backpacking, and canoe trips with family and friends, and jokingly founded the Adirondack Women’s Club for female family and friends who met the criteria.

A few family tales …

Albany, NY Granary Fire

When my mom was still a freshmen nursing student at the Albany Medical Center, a disastrous granary fire occurred in Albany. Many were severely burned in the fire, and the medical center was overrun. During the emergency, she stayed in an elevator with a doctor and performed emergency tracheotomies on burn victims as they were being taken up to the burn center for care.

One Crazy Old Lady

Serving a tour as a nurse in a ward that housed the criminally insane, she prepared to check in on an old woman who needed her medication. Nurses were not supposed to enter this woman’s room without an orderly present. However, there were no orderlies available. So, mom looked in the room and saw that the woman was resting peacefully and seemed quite calm. Being rather fearless, she decided not to wait for an orderly. My mother leaned close to the patient, the old woman sprang on her and began strangling her. She was amazingly strong, and my mother couldn’t pry her fingers loose. Fortunately, some orderlies arrived just in time and pried the crazy old woman’s fingers from around her neck. A few more moments and I would not even be here. It was a lesson my mother took to heart.

Hand washer escapee

In the same ward, there was a young man who continually washed his hands to the point that he would scrub the skin off them. I never knew what he did, but it was like he was trying desperately to get the blood off his hands. The doctors had to keep special gloves covering his hands and sometimes had to restrain him. During one of his more lucid moments, he was calmly walking the halls when someone accidentally let the locked door to the ward stay open a few seconds. In a flash, the man was out the door and making a dash for freedom. Seeing him go, my mother took right off after him and chased him through the medical center. She was a small younger woman but tackled him around the legs in a manner that would make any football player proud. He was, at this point, in the main entrance lobby to the medical center.

My strong female characters

While not intentional, I guess the strong female characters in Serpents Underfoot are composites of the courage and strength I saw in the many strong women I have had the privilege to know during my life. And after the reaction from my readers, I felt it essential to continue that.

My mother lost a fight with cancer almost two years ago now. But she met that implacable enemy with her head held high, and she fought the good fight. She was 78 years old. I guess these characters in my books are my way of remembering and celebrating the strong women I have known, including my mother.

The world can certainly use a lot more of them.

Editing Montagnard: The Beta Version

Have you ever used beta readers for a writing project?

For my first novel, Serpents Underfoot, I did not use beta readers. I did the editing myself with a great deal of help from my mother. Neither of us was a professional editor.

Needless to say, it took several content uploads before I had eliminated all of the typos, etc. And, I have to thank several of my early readers for pointing some of them out to me. I think Serpents Underfoot is in pretty good shape now, but you never know, there might be one more typo lurking in the shadows, ready to spring out on some poor unsuspecting reader!

Even as short as Adirondack Bear Tales is (only fifty pages or so), it took two rounds to get it to what I hope is now a typo-free state!

For Montagnard (the sequel), I am doing something new

I have read and re-read the draft of Montagnard several times. I have run through Microsoft Spellcheck and Grammarly several times as well. Unfortunately, I am sure there are still a few typos, punctuation errors, homonyms and homophones, and probably even too many adverbs.

So, sending a copy out to five beta readers is a bit intimidating. While these are readers whose opinions I respect, I certainly don’t want them to think, “Egad! How’d he miss this!”

On the bright side, I am hoping that if there are any plot holes, sections of the story that are confusing, or parts that simply suck, these five individuals will let me know. And the end result will be a much better novel … and a sequel to Serpents Underfoot.

Then the final step …

I figure that once I have gone through all the observations and edits suggested by my beta readers, I will be ready to send the manuscript to my editor for its final edit. When she is through with it, it will surely be ready to publish.

And, while all this work is being done, I should have time for some pre-release marketing, etc., as well as getting started on my next book project, a story of family, love, and sacrifice during World War II.

While you are here, check out a few of my other blog posts by clicking here!

Mind Explosion

Music by Ivo Ballentine

It is amazing who you can meet sometimes. I started talking to a guy in Ingles the other day named Ivo Ballentine. During the course of our conversation, he mentioned he was a musician and had just released a CD of original compositions.

Naturally, I had to mention the fact that I was a published author with two published works, and finishing up a third. The upshot of the conversation was that we made a swap. I traded a copy of my book, Adirondack Bear Tales, for his new CD, titled Mind Explosion.

There are 10 songs on the CD. I really like several, including Cadillac, Let Me Hear Your Song, and Doesn’t She Know, but they are all pretty darn good.

Quite a strong Beatles influence

To me, there seemed to be a strong early Beatles influence, and I thought I could pick up on a touch of Johnny Cash as well. I am not sure what genre Ivo’s music would fit into; maybe something like pop-folk-rock?

A few days later, I ran into Ivo again, this time at the Starbucks in Ingles. When I mentioned the Beatles influence I had picked up on, he laughed. A local radio station had just played his CD in its entirely the previous day, saying it reminded them a lot of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

one lucky bear

Ivo also mentioned how much he enjoyed Adirondack Bear Tales. It seems he grew up in Maine, so he identified with the North Woods; he just didn’t remember hearing about so much bear activity in Maine. I think that maybe because most of the tourist activity in Maine centers around the coast and seafood!

So how do you get a copy?

Well, for now, that is a bit tricky. Ivo doesn’t have a website. He is planning to make the CD available on SoundCloud shortly.

You could also hang out at the Starbucks in the Ingles located on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville, NC. He is a frequent customer there. Look for the gentleman with the plaid Scottish-style hat. He may also be wearing an Ivo Ballentine for Mayor button because he is considering a run for Mayor of Woodfin, a friendly little community just up the street.

Early Morning Cat Fu

Our early morning constitutional …

cat fu

Sophie and I take a walk every morning to start our day. It was a beautifully crisp fall morning and we were enjoying our walk. Urgent matters behind us, we were headed back toward the hacienda, when suddenly a rather large yellow feral cat stepped out of the brush and faced us down. Both Sophie and the cat spotted each other at precisely the same time. The cat froze, it’s tail twitching in an irritated manner, but it did not move. Sophie froze as well, and so began an epic stare-down! Neither Sophie nor the cat would move. Just an occasional twitch of the cat’s tail while Sophie remained coiled like a spring … ready to leap.

It was like the story of the two old masters

I used to tell kids in my children’s karate classes a story about two old Okinawan karate masters where were manipulated into a challenge match. They met on the beach at sunrise, and faced each other as the villagers gathered to see the epic fight. Shifting into their ready stances, each fixed a powerful gaze on the other and waited.

I watched as the cat stood its ground, staring at Sophie with its own ‘powerful gaze.” Sophie stared right back, not blinking and immovable. Neither were willing to give ground or surrender to the other’s “chi.”

In the story of the two old masters, after an hour of watching the masters face each other unflinchingly, the villagers, some what disappointed, deemed the challenge match a tie … and everyone went home.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, after several minutes, I called it a tie and we all went home.

cat fu
I didn’t get a picture of the cat, so this will have to do …

Lessons learned …

Each of the old masters understood that the first one to attack, would die. That is why there is “no first strike in karate.” You cannot move without creating an opening. All the other combatant has to do is be patient and skilled enough to take advantage of that opening.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, I think the cat, obviously being the older and wiser of the two, decided it was too fine a morning for a spat, and nonchalantly sauntered back off into the underbrush.

Sophie, on the other hand, seemed very proud of herself, having just saved her master from the evil ninja cat that leapt out from the dark woods to wreak destruction and vengeance on the entire universe!

It was definitely an interesting start to a new day!

If you have time, please take a minute and check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales on Amazon.com.

CELEBRATE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

July 4th, 2019: 243 Years of American Exceptionalism

The 4th of July is just around the corner. Take a minute and think about what that means, and think about how many patriots gave their lives so that we have the opportunities we do have as Americans.

America is a land of equal opportunity. Nobody has the right to tell you how to live, what you can be, how you have to think, what you can say, or whether or not you can protect yourself or your loved ones.

In this country, you have the opportunity to be whatever you choose to be. Yes, you may fail a few times. But you get to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

That is America. And, it is an America we all need to fight to protect from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Anyway, that’s my political 2 cents for the day.

To help celebrate the 4th of July, check out my great Kindle sale!

On July 4th only …. just .99 for 1/2 day, then 1.99 the second half of the day.

If you are looking for great tales to share around the campfire, then Adirondack Bear Tales is for you. If you are looking for a patriotic action thriller that you won’t be able to put down, then Serpents Underfoot is for you! Get yours at these great holiday prices!

Sophie would certainly appreciate it. It helps keep her in kibble and biscuits!

July 4th