February Book News

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Ah, winter. We love it, but right about now, most of us wouldn’t mind a bit of a thaw! At least we are blessed with many sunny days here in Northwestern Montana — and many good friends and books!

I’ll be talking about writing, publishing, and using my hometown as a setting at the Bigfork Rotary ClButter Off Dead (final)ub at noon, Wed Feb 8, at the United Methodist Church in Bigfork. And on Saturday Feb 11, at 1:00, I’ll be chatting about cozy mysteries — the lighter side — at the Mineral County Library in Superior.
The first grown-up mysteries many of us read were those of the great Agatha Christie. I’ll be talking about her continued influence on mystery writers at the opening of the Bigfork Community Players’ production of “Murder on the Nile,” based on her book, Death on the Nile, on Saturday, Feb 18, in the Bigfork Playhouse, the setting of my third Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, Butter Off Dead. Showtimes and dates on the Players’ website.

Read — it’s the best way to light a fire in your brain!

 

 

Marie F Martin enjoyed her time at Flowers by Hansen.  Here are a few photos taken by Lucinda of Crown Photograpy so you can see how nicely the authors were treated and what the public enjoyed at the First Night Event.

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Marie showing a customer her books.

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

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Betty Kuffel buying a book

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Special Olympics were there.

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Sparrows Nest was there

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Marie’s Books

 

 

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READING AND WRITING

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Summer in Montana provides little time for the popular “beach read” novels. Instead, during our action-packed summers, I find myself re-reading Night of the Grizzlies, Christine Carbo’s The Wild Inside, and various touristy hiking books. With recent cold mornings and the “termination dust” of snow on mountain tops signaling the end of summer, Montanans know the cold days of winter are ahead. Maybe a good blizzard can help us hibernate and accomplish goals with a surge of writing, and reading those novels on the “to read” list.

The annual Flathead River Writers’ Conference during the last week of September is one way to energize creative urges. Among ten speakers at the 25th Silver Anniversary conference, Lavonne Mueller, playwright and the recipient of many writing awards and grants, (including National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright and Guggenheim), will present a workshop for attendees. If you like to travel, develop your writer’s biography with her help, and apply for grants in the coming year that could take you around the world to write in exotic locations.

If you are considering a fast track to completing your next novel, or your first, consider taking the Novel Challenge course at FVCC with award winning author and MMW member, Kathy Dunnehoff. She’ll guide you through completing your first draft in one month. Her course is a take-off on Nanowrimo – the annual National Novel Writing Month each November.

writers' block .3Whatever your plans, each day provides the opportunity to begin a new book, a new chapter, a new scene in your life. People speak of “writers’ block,” being stymied and unable to proceed. This is something I’ve never experienced, but recently I found an interesting and tasty red wine you could sip while reading a book next to a roaring fire while dreaming up your next storyline.

Betty Kuffel

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YourHeartBook.com, http://tinyurl.com/Heart-Paperback

BettyKuffel.com, http://tinyurl.com/TrueCrimeChildPredators

JANUARY JOB

  HARVESTING ICE FROM WHITEFISH LAKE

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in the 1950’s, my father used to put up the ice from Whitefish Lake in January/February. The process lasted about three-four weeks, and was quite exciting to me. I would show up at the site next to the Bay Point Drive-In Grill after school every day, and get in the way while helping. I wasn’t very big, only a young girl, but I was strong and determined.

Dad’s friend Bert would run the Jeep over the thick ice, going clear out on the lake in front of our cabins at Bay Point, plowing snow until it was slick and clear. Bert would then use a big cutting saw with a gas engine that would whine through the ice and slice it almost through. The resulting floats of many cubes still barely attached at the bottom were pushed by men (and sometimes me) with ten-foot poles, standing on the precarious conveyances and propelling them to the one-cube-wide channel, where the rafts were chopped apart with a huge chunker, built like a straightened-out hoe.

The cubes were shoved one at a time up the channel, a good thing for me to do since I didn’t have to stand on the big rafts and risk a dunking while doing it. My dog Lucky, was always right there, barking and jumping around, excited to be in on the show. Dad tried to keep an eye on me but I wanted to be a part of everything going on, and must have been a trial to him. More than once, both the dog and I slipped on the ice and ended up in the channel. Dad or Bert would come by and lift us out by our coats, poor Lucky not always living up to his name. “Go home, Nancy,” they’d say, send me up to our house and bid me stay there, but usually, I’d find the driest clothes I could and come charging back, convinced they really needed my help.

My self-appointed job was to push the huge ice blocks through the narrow channel up to the ‘go-round’ chain that grabbed them and carried them up to the waiting trucks. Each truck had a muscular driver who would latch on to the sliding cubes with a big ice tong, push it over to the front of the truck, and heft it up on top of another by quickly jerking the cube and kicking it with a knee until it slid on top of the bottom cube. The toughest men could stack three, sometimes four, one on top of the other. Each cube weighed two hundred-fifty pounds or more.

When the back of their truck was full, the drivers would jump down and race off, heading for the big fruit warehouses just off Evergreen, east of the viaduct and next to the railroad tracks. There they would do the operation in reverse, with other workers in the warehouse stacking the ice many tiers high with the use of a motorized belt. The filled warehouses were covered in sawdust to keep the ice cold, waiting until the Chicago trains full of meat or fruit from the packing companies came by and took on a load to keep the food fresh to Seattle. The drivers would roar back to the lake to line up for another load, their pay relying on how many loads they could haul, and the weight of each.

At least once a winter, the Jeep or the saw or both ended up in the drink, and sometimes our big two-ton truck got a dunking. A wrecker would creep out onto the ice and snake a cable down to snag the machinery and bring it back up, dripping. The men would dry the carburetor and start the Jeep or truck back up, ready to go back to work. It was an exciting time, full of masculine happenings and with a feeling of accomplishment. I can still feel the minus twenty-degrees cold, the ice on my dripping mittens, freezing feet, my lungs burning. Good memories.

Nan McKenzie, January, 2015

March Madness

March Madness is the theme for our first-week blog this month. Such a juicy topic. How many mishaps will be confessed? Mine was a simple piece of idiocy. I stopped by the eye clinic to pick up my new glasses and wore them when I left. After pulling into traffic, I decided I should not be driving with the new glasses. Things looked a little wavy. I took them off and laid them on top of my purse and made it home just fine. When I pulled into the garage, my cocker spaniel(Katy Lou) jumped into the front seat before I could grab my glasses and one of her big paws lit right on the glasses and broke the temple from the lens. Wauk! Good grief. My brand new $465 glasses were injured. I put Katy in the house and drove back down to the clinic, and they figured they could reset the temple. Couple hours later I picked them up. Katy is very thankful that they are as good as new, and no charge. Wow, what more will this month hold?
Katy She is a picture of innocence. Marie F Martin

Cabin Fever Justice?

ImageIn Bush, Alaska, Cabin Fever, or being Shack Nasty as it’s sometimes called, can turn fatal. My husband and I lived for four years in Wales, Alaska, an Inupiaq village of 150 people strung along the Bering Strait. There, death in winter is not infrequent. Jack’s (not his real name) occurred a few years before we arrived.

Jack had raped his little cousin. After serving time in prison, he returned to the still-outraged village. Winter days and nights in the tundra are long and dark, the temperatures arctic and the wind relentless, driving blinding snow from the polar ice pack, far beyond the frozen beach. Anyone caught out in such weather depends on the village lights to orient against becoming hopelessly turned around and out on the unforgiving ice.

The village has a generator, but power outages are common during blizzards. Jack had been visiting one household and left, announcing he was going to walk a ways to visit another family.

Minutes after he set out the village plunged into darkness. After an hour, the lights came back on, but Jack had vanished. The first rumors began. Talk was that the power outage had been timed for Jack’s walk alone on the beach.

That spring, hunters found him out on the ice. Ravens had disfigured his face, and one arm raised high with, they reported, Jack’s hand pointing accusingly at the village. Was the outage caused by fierce weather, or the brooding hatred that can grow and be acted upon in the long, dark, Cabin Fevered nights of an Alaskan winter?