For some time we have remembered the old days when we had a Volkswagen camper bus and used it to travel widely, stopping to sleep whenever we felt the need.
But what we needed now was something compatible with our pickup truck. After some research, we discovered the Wildernest campers, built and sold between 1987 and 1996(?). Low-production items, they are almost collector's items today and finding one that is in decent condition and in the eastern United States almost impossible. After several months of searching, we located on in eastern Massachusetts. The price and condition sounded reasonable and it was a model that would fit our truck's bed.
It poured rain, but the tent worked. We love the roominess and ease of setup. Gets hot inside without the sides open. It leaks around the bed seat in front. Bed is a bit narrow for two, but adequate. We plan to get a lot of use out of it.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Several years ago I received a review copy of a YA novel set on the Navajo Indian Reservation (Now just Navajo Nation, I understand). The lead character was a teenage Navajo girl learning to weave. The author claimed to be knowledgeable of Navajo culture and weavings, but the cultural details were dubious and the weaving details totally absurd. I wrote and told the editor that. She checked with the author and dismissed my charges. The book got published to luke-warm reviews and disappeared. But in the mean time, I said, "I can write something more accurate than this guy." So I wrote a little short story set in Ganado, Arizona, where I lived for two years. You can now download that story for free via Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/135327
Formatting is flexible, so take your pick, and if you like it, check out some of my other work. Thanks.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Virtual girl Lanie Whitehead, e.k. “Beetle,” is back—restarted and now living in University Salvage’s store. She still is programmed to take care of her creator, Jeff, and his girlfriend, Annie. Only everyone is saying they’re dead, killed twelve years ago in a fix of jealousy by a former boyfriend. So what is she to do? Lanie gets Shadow, her "sister" and look-alike, going again, moves in with a family and soon has many new human friends searching for answers. Problem is: the university’s president is determined to keep the truth buried. But Lanie can’t live with any lie—not if it means giving up her whole reason for existence. She still needs Jeff and Annie, and she won’t stop searching for answers until everyone knows what really happened.
Romantic, virtual-person mystery that draws the threads from the first Beetle story back together.
So first check out Beetle: The Autobiography of a Virtual Girl, then read the sequel: Beetle II: Restoration and Retribution. Both are part of the "Adventures of the Whitehead Virtual Sisters."
Both are available as Kindle ebooks via Amazon.
And remember: you DO NOT need a Kindle to read a Kindle ebook. The software to download and read a Kindle ebook is free and downloadable to any Mac, ipad, iphone or PC computer. Check these two stories out and let me know what you think. They're cheap and they're fun.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A "Marker Tree" is one left behind after cutting to mark the corner of a property. The family farm has several of these but none stands out more than the marker oak that indicates where the mill property and the farm property turn a corner at the top of the hill about the farm. In 1996 I wrote an essay about that oak which was later published in Phase magazine.
I am providing it in full below to give you some understanding of what this tree has meant to our family and the farm over the years.
Scott and Rayne Loder by the base of the marker oak in 2009
The Marker Oak [copyright, Michael Wescott Loder 1996]
by M. W. Loder
“Are we going by the Big Tree?” My younger sister or I would ask.
Yes, we would still have time to walk that far. There was always time to stop in those childhood days. Patty and I would run out ahead of our parents and older brother, racing each other through the open woods and up the path toward the one really big tree in the entire forest. Who would win the race? It varied, but “deadheat” was the usual winner I remember.
The Big Tree was special. In those days, a half a century ago, it loomed forty or more feet above all the other trees in our thirty acres of woods. Riding in our car on Route 222, I could easily pick it out against the skyline over a mile away. “There’s the tree,” I would point out, and the rest would look and agree. Yes, that was the Big Tree.
It marked a corner of our property. To the east was ours, to the west and south the land belonged to the neighboring farmer. Two hundred twenty years earlier all of this land had belonged to Peter Klein and his wife, good Pennsylvania Germans who owned the grist mill in the valley and 400 acres of land—most of it granted by the Pennsylvania legislature in gratitute to Peter for his participation on the winning side in the American Revolution. How did Peter’s wife get on the deed? I don’t know, but her name is there along with her “mark”—for she could not write her own name even if her husband could.
Except the Big Tree did not really mark the corner. Huh? Well, my father ran a transit on the line and discovered that the actual property corner was ten feet farther east—on a stump. In 1905 the then-owners logged these woods and took the true “marker oak.” Did they do that by mistake, or was the Big Tree already so much more impressive than any others that they decided to leave it and take the tree on the corner?
Today, it no longer stands out. A hundred years of regeneration have allowed new trees to reach greater heights than the Big Tree. If I search for it from within the forest, I seldom can pick it out until I am within a hundred feet—a case of not being able to see the tree for the forest. Yet … yet when I stand next to it, “awe” is still the first word that comes to mind. How can someone not see this ancient giant?
It is a black oak, Quercus velutina. It looms seventy feet above the ground, its girth so great that two adults can hug it and yet their hands will not meet. “50 inch diameter,” the state forester tells me as he runs his tape around it. He does some quick calculations and nods. “Probably three hundred years old.” We walk farther out into the adjacent cornfield in order to take all of it in. “It’s fully mature: branches are dying back. It probably won’t get any taller.”
“Bigger around though?”
“Yeah, it will do that.”
“How much longer will it live?” I ask.
“Ach, probably only another fifty years.”
“Fifty years? It’s gonna’ outlive me.”
He laughs. “You think so?”
“I know so,” I answer.
Three hundred years old? What did this world look like then? Had any white man yet set foot on this hill and looked out across the Great Valley? Pennsylvania was so new a colony that the first settlers were still breaking ground in what is now downtown Philadelphia. I scan the centuries, trying to comprehend the times of this tree. I have lived fifty-six years, traveled a third of the way around the world, lived in dozens of homes, and yet I cannot measure the experience of a tree like this—a living thing that stays alive by enduring, by outlasting. A limb breaks—it grows over the wound. A drought comes—it sheds leaves and waits. A hurricane blasts its branches—it bends and lets the little stuff break away. Moths eat its leaves—it grows new, more-toxic ones. Like love, it endures all things. Endurance, and a little luck, are what make its life. Time, in the end, means nothing.
-end of essay-
The hurricane that came through here in July brought all this to an end. The largest trunk broke and fell, taking another big branch with it. Only the minor branch of the trunk remains. Water now enters the trunk freely. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the tree will go. We will have to bring in the saws soon to save the fallen wood for heating and to clear the field.
Some days it is just nice to fly the Loder flag. It follows the medieval pattern of color over metal (black over yellow [gold]) and displays only the crest in the center instead of a full coat-of-arms. In this case, it is the white dragon of the Lowthers and Loders. But this flag has two sides. The other side is blue over yellow with a stag's head caboosed with a silver arrow running through it following the colors and crest of the Wakehurst Loders.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Our solar cooker finally arrived on Monday and today we got a chance to try it out. Pork roast, moist and cooked to perfection, and an apple cake, high and moist. The home-grown potatoes and Zinchini helped add a "local" touch. Sure beats using fossil fuels to bake something.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
When we built the shed behind our house last summer, it solved a lot of problems of storage and gave me a shop for projects. But the lawn mower and the wheelbarrow were still in the rain, getting garden tools meant one walk after another, back-and-forth, and clutter was taking over. So, another shed came into being. This one is right outside our garden. It is a tiny 4 X 8 feet, with just enough room for everything we need for grounds projects. It took less than a week to build, and I did all the work myself except for finishing the roof . That I left to our capable carpenter/painter, Danny Knarr—who knows more about getting roofs just right than I will ever know.