Tag: creative writing

Adirondack Bear Tale #8: Campfire BBQ Chicken

Grandma Gilbert’s Campfire BBQ Chicken

Campfire BBQ ChickenIt was a nice cool Adirondack evening.  Therefore, Grandma Gilbert decided to make campfire BBQ chicken using the outside fireplace behind the camp. This way they could be outside to enjoy the cool evening air. There would also be less mess to clean up in the kitchen after dinner.

Grandpa started a wood fire in the cinder block fireplace and kept feeding it seasoned beech wood. Soon, there was a nice bed of red-hot coals. Grandma set the old cast iron skillet containing a little oil, some seasonings, and the chicken down on the steel grate Grandpa had set across the cinder blocks of the fireplace. In just a few minutes, the chicken was sizzling merrily away. It soon began to smell really good. While Grandma watched the chicken, Grandpa went into the camp to prepare the rest of dinner.

In the woods behind the camp,  a passing black bear lifted his nose into the air. His keen sense of smell had discovered the tantalizing aroma of cooking chicken, BBQ sauce, and wood smoke. As a result of his discovery, the bear changed his direction of travel, and started to follow the wonderful smell that drifted along on the evening breeze. Consequently, he soon found himself coming out of the woods … right behind Grandma Gilbert, who was busily tending to the chicken.

Grandpa Gilbert stepped out of the camp to check on how Grandma was doing with the chicken. He had been in the kitchen preparing corn-on-the-cob and a tossed salad to compliment the BBQ chicken.

“How’s the chicken coming, Marjorie?” he asked.

“Just fine Henry,” Grandma answered.

As Grandpa turned to go back into the camp, he noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to see what it was, he saw the bear coming out of the woods and making its way toward the fireplace and Grandma.

“Marjorie!” he called. “There is a black bear coming up behind you, Come in the camp. Hurry!”

Grandma turned and saw the bear, and quickly made her way toward the porch. Then she stopped, and looked back.

“Come on, Marjorie. What are you doing?” Grandpa called. Grandma was headed back toward the fireplace and the chicken. “Never mind the chicken. Get in the camp!”

“Not without my chicken,” she replied. Still wearing the oven mitt on her hand, she ran back to the fireplace, arriving just seconds before the bear. Grabbing the skillet by the handle, she let out a with a loud, “Shoo!”  Then turning quickly, Grandma made a bee-line for the porch. In a second, she was up on the porch and in the camp. Grandpa promptly shut the door.

As a result, the BBQ chicken was safe. The bear, however, was a bit miffed and sniffed around on the porch for several minutes. Finally, the bear figured out that the great smelling campfire BBQ chicken was now beyond his reach. The bear reluctantly made his way back into the woods, continuing his search for his supper.

The campfire BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and tossed salad made a wonderful dinner.  In addition, the rest of the family got to enjoy hearing the tale of how Grandma rescued the chicken from the hungry black bear many times over the years.

Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on Amazon.com.

Adirondack Bear Tale #7: The Demise of Old Three-toes!

The Demise of Old Three-toes.

Old three-toes was a very grouch bear.Three-toes was a grouchy, old bear. He was also big for a black bear. Folks around Burketown who occasionally spotted him estimated he might weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. This is fairly large for an Adirondack black bear. You knew when old three-toes was poking around from his distinctive tracks. His left fore-paw was missing the two outer toes, leading of course, to his nickname. Nobody really knew how he’d lost those two front toes. Speculation was abundant. Maybe he’d lost them in a fight with another bear, or perhaps a near miss with some kind of bear trap. Whatever the cause, it almost certainly contributed to his sour disposition.

A couple of camps down Burketown Road from my grandparent’s camp and in the direction of Burke’s Marina, lived a friend of the family. A local contractor and handyman, he’d built the camp belonging to my other grandparents on the lot next to ours near the end of the road. For the sake of this story, I will call him Mike.

As of late, old three-toes had become the frequent topic of discussion up and down the road.  Folks spotted him on the prowl regularly and he’d been getting in to some real mischief, causing damage to camps, screen windows, front porches, etc. So far nothing serious had occurred, but many felt it was simply a matter of time.

On this particular morning, Mike got up early to go fishing. And, living alone, began cooking himself breakfast. He’d opened the front door to his camp to allow the cool, crisp morning air to pass through the screen door. Unfortunately, this also allowed the smell of cooking bacon to waft its way out through the screen door, and be carried along on the same morning breeze. The tantalizing smell of cooking bacon proved to be irresistible to old three-toes who happened to be passing by. The bear turned, and followed the enticing aroma right up to Mike’s camp screen door.

Three-toes decided that the screen door was not going to keep him from getting to that delicious smelling bacon!  Mike heard the crashing sound of three-toes clawing right through the screen door. He turned in time to see the big bear coming down the short hallway to his kitchen area. Mike quickly retreated from the kitchen area and in the opposite direction. He made his way to his den where he kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on his rifle rack.

Mike grabbed the 12-gauge and headed back to the kitchen  where three-toes was making quite a mess of things. He yelled at the bear first, hoping to scare it off. He did not really want to shoot the bear. Unfortunately, three-toes was having none of it. This was now his bacon and, as far as that went, it was also now his kitchen. Mike simply had no choice. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired.

While many in the Burketown area were saddened by the death of three-toes, a lot of people slept a bit more soundly at night. It is an unfortunate thing when black bears lose their fear of people. It never turns out well for the bear.

I hope this story touched you, and reminds you why it is so important to not feed the bears. While black bears can indeed be cute, they are still wild animals.

And, please take the time to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot.

 

Martial Maxims: Never Quit, Never Surrender!

You will not succeed if you quit!

Even a peaceful warrior will never will quit.“Fall down seven times, stand up eight,” is an ancient Japanese proverb that relates to our attitude towards failure. Master Tatutso Shimabuku, the founder of the Isshin-ryu Karate system, was fond of saying this to his U.S. Marine Corps students. It means to not to let ourselves be beaten by failure. But to see failure as just another chance to stand up and try again. It expresses the idea of sticking to a task with tenacity until it is completed. You do not always have to win, but you must never quit.

This tenacity is a quality found in many of our military members, both men, and women. It is a quality that JD Cordell, the main character in my novel, Serpents Underfoot, shares with both his father, Curtis and his mother, Mai. Several who have reviewed the book say that one of the things they really like is that many of the characters, both good and evil, stand on their own two feet as individuals. They meet life on their terms. Sometimes I feel like our society today has lost that sense of individual strength and personal responsibility. These days, it seems like it takes a village to cross the street!  But, I digress. Let me get back on track! This post is about never quitting and never surrendering. It is about seeing your endeavor through to the end. Perhaps it is a bit extreme, but I used to ask my karate students this question about the Samurai Code.

If you approached every task in your life as if your life depended on it, how often would you fail?

The answer I most often got was, “Not too often!”

So, whether you want to be a successful blogger, mechanic, author, chemical engineer, teacher, welder, artist, or hamburger flipper, if you pursued that goal as if your very life depended on it, and … if you fell down seven times, but got back to your feet eight … what would be your chances of success?

Adirondack Bear Tale #6: Aunt Betty Swats a Bear

Toasting Marshmallows at Uncle Wagner’s Camp!

Aunt Betty swats a black bearOur camp sat near the end of Burketown Road near the Miller’s old camp and Jack Camp’s old place. Jack Camp, a permanent resident, was the local coroner and constable, and kept an eye on things for those of us who owned summer camps in the area.

Across the road was a camp that  belonged to my Great Uncle Wagner and Aunt Betty. Uncle Wagner was my Grandfather Klippel’s older brother. My Nanny and Grandpa had a camp back down the road, closer to Burke’s Marina. Uncle Wagner’s camp has changed ownership since those days.

This particular evening there were several younger family members sitting around the stone-encircled campfire in front of Uncle Wagner’s camp. There was myself, my younger brother, three cousins who were all boys, and two other cousins who were both girls. We probably ranged in ages from 8 to 15. And, we were having a grand time toasting marshmallows on sticks we had cut earlier from a nearby Beech tree.

It was funny how some of us liked to see the marshmallows blaze, preferring them charred on the outside and melted on the inside. I preferred mine golden brown on the outside and warm in the middle. Therefore, I would concentrate a bit harder than some on the task at hand, selecting just the right nest of red hot coals, and turning the marshmallow constantly to get a nice even golden-brown color. I guess that is why I was the last one to notice that a black bear had come out of the woods, no doubt attracted by the enticing smell of burning marshmallows. I guess Aunt Betty must have heard the ruckus as we all started yelling and scattered to give the bear plenty of room.

Aunt Betty to the Rescue!

Aunt Betty was a short, stocky woman and not afraid of much that I can remember. Uncle Wagner, Aunt Betty, Grandpa and Nanny Klippel were sitting at the kitchen table in the camp playing Rummy 500. This was a favorite Adirondack evening pastime in our families. In addition, we also regularly enjoyed playing Pitch, Cribbage, and Pinochle. Family card games were a regular event. Our parents were across the road in our camp spending a quiet evening reading. I guess they probably needed a break from my brother and me. We could sometimes be a handful!

Aunt Betty exploded through the screen door of their camp armed with a straw broom. The black bear being young, maybe a little older than a yearling, did not know what he had unwittingly stumbled into. He just wanted marshmallows, but what he found was more like a stirred-up hornet’s nest. Wielded by Aunt Betty, the sweeping end of that broom attacked that poor bear from all angles at once and Betty let loose with a barrage of “Shoos, Scrams, and Git’s.” The bear quickly decided the marshmallows were definitely not worth the trouble, and took off just as fast as he could back into the woods letting loose with bawling sounds that were a cross between a bellow and a whine.

All Well that Ends Well!

All us kids were safe and sound. But, that incident ended any marshmallow toasting for the night as we were herded into their camp. Our parents, alarmed at the sudden change in the sounds coming from across the road, had appeared just as the bawling bear disappeared into the dark woods and quickly escorted us back across the road. We were soon settled in for the night up in the loft. I don’t think that bear ventured into our region of the Adirondack Park ever again.

 

 

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #5: Black Bears and Birds

Uncle Ken, Black Bears, and Birds!

birdsWhat do black bears and birds have in common, you might ask?  Well, let me tell you. Besides the fact that they both love birdseed, they had my uncle in common.

Klippels tend to be stubborn. My grandfather was stubborn, my mother was stubborn, her sister was stubborn, and my uncle, Kenneth Klippel, was stubborn. Now, that’s a lot of stubbornness! Mostly, it was stubborn in a good way … the kind of stubbornness that allows one to stick to their guns and get things done.

Uncle Ken also enjoyed watching birds. Upon his retirement, he moved from Binghamton, NY to Raquette Lake where he settled into the camp he and my grandfather had built many years earlier. One of the first things he did was set up a bird feeder in the front yard. Nothing fancy. Just one of those shepherd’s hook-type metal supports with a bird feeder hanging from it. That is when the problems began!

The first clue that this would become problematic was when he awoke early one morning to some strange noises on his screened-in front porch. Upon investigation, he discovered a young black bear had broken into his screen-in porch and was busily munching away on the large bag of wild bird seed Uncle Ken had stored there. Luckily, he was able to shoo the bear away. Subsequently, he began storing the bird seed in the old outhouse that had long been converted into a tool shed. Things seemed quiet after that and the problem seemed to be taken care of. At least, until the next spring!

The Battle of the Bird Feeder

One evening, Uncle Ken returned from a fishing excursion into the north part of Raquette Lake. He and a few friends had left early in the morning to go fishing for Lake Trout.  When they returned, and he pulled in to park at his camp, he noticed the bird-feeder support was pushed over, the bird feeder was pretty badly smashed up, and the bird seed was, of course, gone. Nonplussed, he simply went into Old Forge and got a better support and a new bird feeder. The next day, the new birder feeder was in place, and his happy little feathered-friends were back. This however, was not the end of the story. Not by a long shot! The battle of the bird feeder quickly escalated and was waged over a period of several years.

Several times the bird feeder was raided by a black bear and the bird seed eaten. Each time the bird feeder had to be replaced and the mounting system became more substantial each time.

The Battle continues …

birdsI still remember the year he’d tried to use a 4×4 post. Uncle Ken had dug a hole, set the 4×4 in it, and poured concrete around it for a strong base. I was staying at our camp for a week that summer and got to observer the construction project first hand. This time he’d seen the bear, and it was a big one. He was headed out for the day when he discover the bear in his front yard. The bear simply snapped the 4×4 over and began busily munching down on the bird seed that had once been in the now mangled bird feeder.

Uncle Ken, angry now, went in to get his shotgun. The bear was gone when he returned. I guess the bear had decided that he’d over-stayed his welcome. Uncle Ken later told me that he really wasn’t going to shoot the bear, he just wanted to scare it off. Later that afternoon, he headed back to Old Forge for more concrete and a steel pole. “Something like a basketball goal post,” as he put it. When I headed back to Tennessee, he was out there re-digging the hole for the new “steel-pole” bird feeder base he was putting in.

The battle is finally won … the birds lose!

The next year I returned, only to notice that there was no bird feeder in place. Intrigued, I continued up to our camp, unloaded my gear, and then walked down the road to Uncle Ken’s camp to get, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story!”  Uncle Ken was sitting on his screened-in porch when I walked up. I asked about the “goal-post” bird feeder. Uncle Ken just shook his head. He’d come home after a trip to Warrensburg to visit with a lady he’d become friendly with, only to find the metal post pushed over, the bird feeder demolished, and of course, the bird seed gone.

“The bear just pushed the damn thing over, pulling the concrete base right out of the ground,” he explained.

“At least, the bear had to work for it,” I observed, trying hard not to grin. I did know how stubborn he was and how much he hated losing, especially to a bear. “Are you going to try again?” I asked.

Uncle Ken again shook his head. “Nope!  If I do keep this going, eventually I will end up having to shoot that damn bear … and I don’t want to do that. Might upset the neighbors!”  I nodded, understanding that under his gruff exterior, he really had a big heart and he really didn’t want to shoot that bear. Uncle Ken went on, ” I guess the only real losers here are the birds … but they’ll be alright.”

 

If you enjoyed this story, check our the other Adirondack Bear Tale posts on my blog, or my military action/adventure novel, Serpents Underfoot, available at Amazon.com!

Goodreads Reviews: Do They Matter? Of Course They Do!

Goodreads Reviews Do Matter!

goodreads reviewsDid you know that you Goodreads reviews appear on much more than just Goodreads? Goodreads also exports reviews to Google Books, Powells.com, USAToday.com, as well as others. While book reviews on any site help, Goodreads reviews seem to go a bit above and beyond others!

It is for that reason that I appreciate so many folks taking the time to review Serpents Underfoot on Goodreads! So, thank you, Jeffery Gordon Pearce, for your 5 STAR review. And, thank you, John Karlson, for your 4 STAR review.

Chasing reviews is a waste of valuable time that could be better spent otherwise promoting your work. However, there is no doubt that good reviews will help spark reader and buyer interest in your work. So, by all means, keep tabs on those reviews. Just, don’t let chasing those reviews become your primary goal. After all, you should have writing projects to work on as well!

Special Offer

If you order a personalized copy of Serpents Underfoot before August 31 and use the promo code, SEAL, on checkout, you will get 20% off the cost of the book and free shipping! Why the heck are you waiting?  Just saying!

Use Reviews To Improve Writing Skills

Mixed Reviews on Goodreads?

Do you use reviews to improve your writing? I have an account on goodreads.com, but to be honest, until recently I have not spent a great deal of time on this website. Then, I few days ago, I dropped in on my account to see what was happening only to discover that I had a few more great reviews for my novel, Serpents Underfoot.  These reviews are by Goodreads members who have actually read my book and who I do not know! It is one thing when a friend or family member reads your book and tells you how great it is. But, when a stranger enjoys your book and says so … how fun is that!

Therefore, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Garrett Lee and Kevin Keegan for your FIVE STAR reviews and A Standley for your FOUR STAR review. It means a lot to a writer to get some response to his work, good or bad.

Use reviews to improve your writing skills!

Good reviews are motivational and we all love to get them. However, bad reviews, if honest and to the point, can be very instructional. I am sure there are readers out there who will simply not like my work. Such is life. But constructive criticism can go along way toward improving your writing skills. So, instead of getting angry or upset over bad reviews, view them as tools to improve your writing skills. Take the comments and look to see if the review you are upset about is indeed on to something.

You can always just ignore the occasional cranky reviewer with nothing real to add to the conversation.

tenth 5-star review use reviews