Sunday, February 20, 2011

Iron Grip

There were so many things I wanted to write about today… about the mountain and the blessing of snow and indescribable scenes of moonlight on fresh powder….

But I just have to write about the book I finished reading today.

Willma Willis Gore is a dear, dear friend who has mentored me for the past ten years. She has been writing and publishing for decades, always in her great journalistic style. (Author, speaker and writing teacher William Zinsser gives the advice, “Write tight,” a skill which Willma perfected long ago.) Willma’s most recent memoir is the story of life with her husband after he lost both hands in an explosion. The two were newlyweds at the time of the accident, and they were faced with challenges that would test the strength of even a long-held matrimonial bond. Yet somehow, they find ways to work as a team, and their young love blossoms under the penetrating rays of adversity. Her husband’s story in and of itself is inspiring. As a young soldier in 1945, he faces his changed life with amazing courage and fortitude. But what makes the memoir truly compelling is Willma’s amazing response—with grace and profound inner strength—to all that transpires, both early on and much later in the marriage.

I loved this book, and would have loved it even if the author wasn’t a beloved friend. After having been turned down by quite a few traditional publishing houses, Willma decided to go forward with a print-on-demand publishing house. Hooray for that choice. Long ago I fell out of love with these fools who are interested only in the money to be gained, not literature to be presented. The book is reasonably priced, and I’ve included a link here if you want to order it on Amazon. This memoir will speak to veterans, amputees and their families, and those of us who just love a great true story.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


In the weeks since my last post, it has been warm then freezing then warm then freezing. This morning, the wind rumbling through the tops of the tall trees lured me out to wander in the forest for just a short while; I’ve been recovering from a cold, and I don’t want to push it.

There has been much to think about in my wanderings. Last weekend I was so blue that only the music of Brendan James offered any consolation. (More on his music at a later date; I’m waiting for his recently released CD to arrive.) If you wonder what contributed to my sadness, you’re a kind person… and I should spare you all the details. But—here is one to encourage your outrage along with mine: Someone dropped off a dog in the campground last weekend. I found it scrounging through the garbage people leave behind after they’ve driven up for the day to play in the snow. I couldn’t get close to him, but it was clear from his behavior that he was a “drop.” Guess his family considered him garbage, too. Finding him set off a post traumatic stress trigger, which sent me plummeting into the vortex for awhile.

Keeping me there (in the vortex, swirling around in the darkness) is the fact that I’ve been working on the dog book, which is a good thing (the work, I mean), but it is difficult to write about the emotional trauma I endured as a teenager. Far too many memories have been surfacing, and they are like the mythological Hydra of many vicious heads; no sooner do I think I’ve slain one, another one appears. While I’m working on a writing project, the thing is a living, breathing entity in my head, taking over my thoughts and emotions. I’m not good around people when this is the case, so I tend to isolate myself. Depressive personality + isolation = further isolation + inability to see beauty in all things. This is a potent equation.

One bright spot has been reading my cousin’s son’s blog. Matt Fiocchi has taken a short-term position teaching in an extremely remote region of Alaska. His blog posts are filled with his discoveries about the culture of the indigenous folks up there, plus some cool lessons he’s learning about teaching young folks. It’s great to have yet another teacher in the family, and Matt’s warm depictions of his experiences are fascinating. Here is a link to Matt’s initial explanation of his adventure; if you like it, read the rest of the posts—especially those concerning how the kids play basketball up here:

One more irritant I’m stewing on (hmm, interesting mixed metaphor there):  I was told yesterday that the fool who owns the old hotel in Morse Mill, Missouri—the one who keeps telling people Bertha Gifford murdered people there and other falsehoods—has recently told someone that the stone placed on Bertha’s grave was purchased by HIM using funds from the creepy tours he gives of the hotel. Oh no he didn’t. Clearly this man knows not with whom he deals. I’m talking about Bertha, of course. Never underestimate the power of a pissed-off entity from the other side. Good thing I won’t be headed to Missouri for another five months; my Irish temper might just calm down by then. Sheesh.