I have nothing to say

Yes, I can hear the clowns in the back row whispering, “Yay, the old duffer’s finally going to shut up.”

Not happening.

Yet, there are days when a writer is stuck in pure nothingness, a place where–counterintuitively–there is room for everything. And that’s the problem. Like many, I’m overwhelmed by the scope of everthing. Everything has simply become too large and that tends to make us feel too small. One can hide from the size of everything and how small s/he feels by talking constantly or running off at the thunbs, i.e., texting.

I’d rather just be quiet and think of nothing. When I clear my mind and think of nothing, I begin to relax, to go with the flow (as we used to say), and soon I am coping with everything without the angst and the smallness that usually go with it (everything). I’m amazed at how few people have discovered silence, or how wonderful it feels when you feel no need to fill that silence with talking.

And, as we see, the old song is right, that people are talking without speaking and hearing without listening, so I have come to believe that silence is safer and more sane and a more effective method of coping with everything on our figuratively plates than talking/texting ourselves into oblivion (real or imagined).

There are days, and this is one of them, where I think those who follow this blog will be better off keeping quiet rather than contemplating anything I could possibly say there.

As an older generation read in Desiderata, “GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Malcolm

Glacier Park Hiking -be aware of the dangers before you start

The news that solo hiker Jennifer Coleman was found dead near Glacier Park’s Logan Pass after being reported missing two days earlier comes as a shock and reminds all of us who love the park’s pristine beauty that in spite of visitor overcrowding, the beautiful mountainn world is a a dangerous place.

Wikipedia photo

I made it a policy to never climb alone in the park and, other than two-to-three mile strolls around Many Glacier Hotel, never to hike alone. Too much can go wrong, from illness, to falls, to bears and mountain lions. Even a sprained ankle can put a person down on a seldom-travelled trail with no way to get help where there’s no cellphone service.

Coleman’s death is under investigation. Even the precise location hasn’t been released, though there’s speculation she was hiking along the Highline Trail or the Dragon’s Tail. The highline is filled with hikers, yet if one fell when nobody else was nearby, they might land in an out-of-view spot. The Dragon’s Tail has fewer visitors and this makes hiking alone there more dangerous.

As for Coleman, all we know is that she was near Logan Pass and was apparently hiking or climbing alone. The peace of the mountains and the lure of wondrous views is addictive and hard to resist. So, I cannot fault her solo hiking. I might have done it even though I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains and would probably assume I was imune to the potential dangers.

Matches, maps, bear spray, water, food, and a hiking partner are always the safer way to proceed. We know this, but we don’t always do this.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell has written fiction and nonfiction about Glacier National Park. including the novel “Mountain Song.”

Search for Missing Visitor Near Logan Pass Underway UPDATE

NPS Glacier News Release

WEST GLACIER, Mont. [September 3, 2021] – Search efforts are underway in Glacier National Park for Jennifer Lee Coleman, a 34-year-old Virginia resident.

Coleman was supposed to check out of the West Glacier KOA on Tuesday, August 31 and was believed to be hiking around Logan Pass on August 30th or 31st. An extended team of ground searchers will continue searching today in cooperation with Flathead County Search and Rescue, Two Bear Air Rescue, Flathead County Sherriff’s Department, and the Flathead National Forest.

Coleman is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and approximately 128 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. She is possibly wearing a tank top, spandex pants, sunglasses, brown slip-on two toned boots, a turquoise and pink flower scarf, and a dark colored day pack.

Coleman’s last known itinerary is believed to be hiking solo on Monday, August 30 possibly to the Dragon’s Tail or Highline Trail. Her vehicle has been located at Logan Pass.

Anyone that may have information or was in the area and saw an individual that fits the description is encouraged to contact the park tip line at 406-888-7077.

The following information comes from the AWARE Foundation:

Body of missing woman found in Glacier National Park

Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 05, 2021
and last updated 9:27 PM, Sep 05, 2021

GREAT FALLS — The body of Jennifer Coleman, who was reported missing on Wednesday, September 1, was found in Glacier National Park on Sunday.

Park officials said in a news release that Coleman’s body was found in a steep and rocky area near the Continental Divide. Coleman’s family has been notified.

The cause of her death is being investigated.

Being on location vs. reading about the location

Christine Carbo has written a dandy four-book series of suspense novels set in Glacier National Park. Had their location been a city, they might have been called “police procedurals.” Her books focus on the work of Park Rangers, with help from personnel from local sheriffs’ offices in solving crimes within the park. I have just now finished book two, Mortal Fall after enjoying The Wild Inside.

Carbo lives in Whitefish, adjacent to the park, and her proximity to the location of her stories shows what a good writer can do when they can be on location to check specific areas and talk to rangers and others who work there. If you love Glacier and suspense novels, you will love the accuracy of these novels.

Most of you know what I worked two years in the park in the 1960s and have been back a handful of times on vacation. My love of the park drew me to set several novels set there. Two of those are fantasies, taking place in a look-alike universe accessible via the park. The other two were set back in time and stayed away from specifics that would be difficult for a Georgia writer to know about or uncover through research. So, okay, I’m not only impressed with Carbo’s work but a little jealous that she lives where I planned to live, something that didn’t pan out mostly due to the lack of large computer companies in the area in need of technical writers.

Being on location, either because you live there or because you can afford summer-long visits is night and day different from using books, Wikipedia, Google Maps, and Google Earth from the far sie of the country. In my mind, writing what you know partially depends on what you know about the places where you set your stories.

I’ve been impressed with the work of authors like Hilary Mantel (in Wolf Hall) for the accuracy of their location work about the way things were in the 1500s. Such work shows what one can do if they have the talent as well as the resources that allow them to be there.

Some experts say that the adage “write what you know” is false advice. Well, sure, if you don’t know the subject and place before you get an idea for a story, you can learn it and (possibly) come to know it by the time you start putting words on the page. Needless to say, I take exception to the notion that the old adage is false advice. Even if you’re world building a place and culture for a sci-fi novel or fantasy, you will have come to know it if your resulting novel ends up selling well and being critically acclaimed.

If I hadn’t come to love Glacier, I probably would have set all of my novels–like those in the four-book Florida Folk Magic Series–where I grew up, or possibly down the road from here I live now. But my muse insisted on the Glacier books even though I said, “But dammit, Siobhan, I live in Rome, Georgia rather than Whitefish, Montana.”

“Wing it,” she replied.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Glacier Park Novel

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

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Amazon Author’s Page

I’d A Rather Not See Ida

“Ida’s catastrophic crawl inland has left at least four people dead and millions of people without power for what the Louisiana governor said Tuesday could be more than a month.” – Weather Channel

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I’m used to stories like this focusing near where I live. At 18 miles inland, we saw a lot of damage, though nothing to compare with what Katrina and Ida brought New Orleans and neighboring cities. I must confess, as a kid, I found storms exciting; as a lot of neighbors said, “Sure, they were exciting when they got everyone worried and charged up and then veered off and hit somebody else.”

Perhaps I’ve matured, for that old childish excitement about stormy weather has disappeared. Maybe part of becoming an adult is seeing the death, destruction, disruption, and expense for what it is. As Afganistan comes to a horrible conclusion, I think a lot of people see wars the way children see storms: exciting and glorious and made for heroes and heroic acts. What a shame, for unlike Katrina and Ida, we have more control over such storms as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile in northwest Georgia, we’re getting more rain than we need with a potential for flash floods. I hestitate to mention it because a soaking rain is a tempest in a teacup compared with the weather on the Gulf coast.

I feel sad for the people who couldn’t get out of the way or the “brave” and foolish people who chose to ride it out while having a hurricane party. If they live long enough, maybe some of those people will grow up.

Malcolm

 

 

Must have been a Southern thang

After finishing a morning of church, after clearing the dinner table and washing all the dishes, my two brothers and I saw Sunday afternoons as free time. Our parents saw it differently. Sunday afternoons, they said, was when people went calling. None of them were invited. They just showed up. This meant all the toys and games had to be hidden away in closets and drawers because whover dropped by was like a bootcamp drill instructor who would inspect the house–or so we were told.

So, we sat around in the freshly vacuumed living room waiting for the doorbell to ring. We read approved books that would look good if they were suddenly set down on the coffee table when guests arrived. No comic books. No dime novels. Nothing that had been banned in Boston.

Free Family Basic Cliparts, Download Free Family Basic Cliparts png images,  Free ClipArts on Clipart LibraryDing. “Oh Christ. it’s the Bakers and they brought their daughter Chrissy with them.” Every time the Bakers came over, Chrissy’s attitude was, “I don’t want to be here.” “The feeling was mutual,” I wanted to say, in fact did say it by pretending she wasn’t in the room.

Mr. Baker (George) asked me the same question every time he brought his rich Episcopalian family into our humble Presbyterian home while his wife Prissy made eye contact with any dust bunny she located.

“How’s school, Malcolm?”

What I said: “Fine.”

What he said: “Good, good, Chrissy’s going to be the valedictorian, lead cheerleader, the May queen, the student council vice president, and the apple of every teacher’s eye.”

What I I wanted to say when Mr. Baker asked about school: “Well, George, I don’t know because I got expelled several weeks ago after getting all the cheerleaders pregnant.” Then he would shout, “Hey, half pint, you didn’t miss your last period did you?”

I smiled just imagining the scene playing out that way. My smile faded when I contemplated a shotgun wedding and subsequently joining the Episcopal Church. Yet, it might have been worth it had it caused all the right people to shun us on Sunday afternoons so we could get on with our lives instead of sitting around pretending we were reading Faulkner and Shakespeare.

I never got lucky, either with Chrissy or stopping people from calling and ruining what could have been a wondrous Sunday afternoon of cowboys and and Indians or Monopoly. I hear that the good Lord rested on Sunday, but we were never allowed that option. The Bakers might ring the doorbell at any moment afterwhich we would lose an hour of our lives while they discussed ships and sealing wax with our parents. Or, if the Rays came over, it was cabbages and kings

Years later I read in the newspaper that Chrissy went to prison for proteting the Vietnam War in an unsavory fashion. The Bakers, bless their hearts, never mentioned it.

Malcolm

Sunday: this and that

  • I’m highly attuned to prospective signs and omens–or, supidly superstitious. So, I think it’s a bad sign that Ida ploughed into Louisiana on the anniversary of Katrina. Ida’s going to cause a mess; that’s from the Weather Channel. Somebody saw Jim Cantore. That can’t be good. We may get some rain from the storm here in North Georgia on Tuesday.
  • I was happy to see in the news that that multiple countries have reached an agreement with the Taliban to continue flying people out of Kabul past the original August 31 deadline. I hope the agreement is kept in spite of the attacks by ISIS-K. I’m amazed at the news that a plane full of refugees leaves the airport roughly every 45 minutes
  • Sad to see that Ed Asner died. He was my favorite character on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The series had a great ensemble cast and some very good writers.
  • It’s not even 4 p.m. and I’m already drinking a glass of cheap wine. Our dying kitty, Marlo, is still fighting her cancer. The sedatives (for Marlo) are helping but not as much as we hoped. Best we can tell, is that she’s 18 years old as is our calico, Katy. My wife and I could use some sedatives: hence, the wine. Pets play a very large role in their families’ lives, it’s hard to have it suddenly end.
  • COVID has found numerous ways to mess up publishing. Ingram has announced that there will be delays and shortages in the fourth quarter. We rely on them for our hardcover copies. Also, places that normally would have reviewed Fate’s Arrows by now, still haven’t done it. So, naturally, sales are down; many writers have seen this during the pandemic.
  • Today’s quotation: “A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.” Fred Allen (1894-1956) We’ve been watching some of the “What’s My Line” episodes on YouTube. Allen was a frequent member of the panel, so, we’ve gotten used to his humor.
  • NPR Poll: We Asked, You Answered: Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade “The question at the heart of science fiction and fantasy is “what if?” What if gods were real, but you could kill them? What if humans finally made it out among the stars — only to discover we’re the shabby newcomers in a grand galactic alliance? What if an asteroid destroyed the East Coast in 1952 and jump-started the space race years early?”

I hope all of you are having a great weekend and that those of you in Louisiana are staying safe.

Malcolm

Names from Afghanistan

Wikipedia

According to ABC News, “Thirteen American troops were among the nearly 200 people killed in an attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Thursday.”

Here are their names:

Navy Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Laredo, Texas
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss 23, of Knoxville, Tennessee
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Missouri,
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, was from Sacramento, California
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

If you know them, remember them. They are no different from the rest of us: they had parents, siblings, best friends, hopes, dreams, and goals.

–Malcolm

If you have pets, you know this day will come

There is no way to prepare for “this day,” the day that arrives after weeks of declining health, when other than love there”s nothing you can do except keep your pet comforable until the end.

Marlo liked sleeping in a pile of shoes.

We’ve been down this road before with four earlier cats, Needles, BK, OK, and Duncan. Now Marlo is ill and fading fast. Along with Katy and Duncan, she came into our lives (was adopted from a vet) in 2002. She’s had incurable cancer for the last six months or so and goes hour to hour now on what can be described, I guess, as home hospice care.

We still call Marlo and Katy “the kitties.” They know us well, which means they know what they can get away with and that we still care for them when they get away with it. This is the third house they’ve lived in with us. They know where all the hidey holes are–and so do we. They hate moving and then dislike getting uused to new places. But then within weeks, it’s as though they’ve always lived wherever we’re living at the moment.

I always dread the sadness and helplessness of “this day.” I know I will never be the same again. And yet, it’s worth all the companionship and love that precedes it. The kitties seem more accepting of it than we are. Right now, Marlo is asleep behind the wastebacket here in my office. We have water here for her and she drinks a lot of it. She hasn’t eaten for a few days: not interested in that.

We will miss her.

Malcolm 

As a cat person, I’ve had plenty of help writing the series of novels that began with “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

Who gave my e-mail address to the Neptune Society?

Okay, people, I know that the Neptune Society is a reputable organization founded in 1973 to take the fear out of cremation. But seriously, if and when I need their help, I’ll call them. I didn’t really need to find a link to a free creamation planning guide in my inbasket. (I think the guide was free, not the cremation.)

Cremation Preplanning Guide - Neptune SocietySure, it’s like writing a will. Smart people take care of it when they’re twenty years old so that if they kick the bucket, everything’s taken care of. Look how happy the people in this graphic are. But seriously, I’m not ready to be that happy, so I’m considering e-mails about this guide to be SPAM. Quality SPAM, perhaps, but TMI for now.

I’ve graciously added a link to this graphic to that if you want to “Create Peace of Mind by Planning your Cremation in Advance,” you can take the necessary steps before it’s too late.

In general, I consider cremation a good idea, but think it works best for people who have died (aka “passed”). I don’t believe assisted cremation is legal in most states except, perhaps, despair and maybe Florida.

When I find out who sent my name to the Neptune Society, I’m going to send his or her name to the funeral home in their town so they can have peace of mind and maybe even 50% off on a mahogany casket with WiFi and a bell you can ring if they’re buried before they’re ready.

Those of us who remember seeing “Diamonds are Forever” (1971) still have nightmares from the scene in which James Bond is stuffed in a casketed headed for the cremation facilities. So, getting an e-mail for this planning guide creates unusual and unwanted PTSD episodes along with dreams about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (That’s not a rock group.)

Sure, I know the good die young. That’s why I’ve done my best not to be good.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satircal novel “Special Investigative Reporter.”