PRAYER FOR SUMMER SOLSTICE


I greet this morning of sunshine with open eyes
I see the flowers that greet the sun
I hear the birds call to each other from tree to tree
I sense the trees greeting the sun with me
I ask that today bring gladness and gifts
This summer solstice
Warmth of sun
Clearness of air
Happiness of birds
Purity of flowers
Greeness of plants
Prisms in water
Clarity of sight
Patience of growth
Blessings of the long day
May the gifts of this day surround me and all I love
From morning’s first light
Through the shortness of night.
(Author unknown)

REMEMBERING ONE OF MANY ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY


TROY E. KEITH
TEXAS
PFC 311 INF 78 DIV
WWII
MARCH 25 1926 APRIL 12 1945

Troy Elijah Keith was killed in Voilersheim, Germany at 19 years old. He was my first cousin on my father’s side of the family. His mother died a few days after he was born. I was too young to have remembered seeing him, but I do remember being there with my family when his body was brought back from Europe after the war. His body arrived on a train and was given a military burial at Cleveland Memorial Cemetery in Cleveland, Texas, a small town north of Houston. I have not been able to find a photograph of him.

DEATH’S GARDEN REVISITED KICKSTARTER INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR LOREN RHOADS



Today I am interviewing Loren Rhoads, editor of the first Death’s Garden and author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She has put together a second edition titled Death’s Garden Revisited, a collection of new essays by over 40 authors who share their personal relationships and experiences with cemeteries. The book went live on Kickstarter March 17. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am excited to have an essay included in this book!

Welcome, Loren! For those who are not familiar with Kickstarter, please explain what it is and how it works for Death’s Garden Revisited.

Kickstarter is a website where creators, including small presses, can raise funding for a project before it’s created. In this case, Automatism Press had the money to publish Death’s Garden Revisited as an oversized paperback with black and white photographs, but I wanted to produce a full-color hardcover book. I hoped to raise enough money for that by taking preorders for the book through the Kickstarter campaign.

As it turned out, Death’s Garden Revisited sold enough copies on its first day to make the transition to full-color.

Have you ever used it before for a book or a project? And why did you choose it this time?

I’ve helped to fund a lot of projects on Kickstarter before: story anthologies, history books, comic books, new magazines (several of which I later went on to write for), even a couple of cemetery history books.

I’ve never tried to raise money for a project of my own that way before, but it turns out I know a whole lot of people who have. They gave me great advice.

I chose Kickstarter this time because I hoped to build some excitement for Death’s Garden Revisited before it comes out in October. With the help of everyone who has preordered, Automatism Press can afford to make the book I really want to make.

How long have you seen writing about cemeteries and how did you get started?

Oh, my goodness, a long time! I edited the first Death’s Garden book – Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries – in the early Nineties That book started when a friend who was dying gave me a box of photographs he’d taken in cemeteries as he traveled. Before that, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that people would want to visit cemeteries on vacation. Blair inspired me to seek out cemeteries myself, which led me to writing a monthly column for several years about traveling to visit cemeteries. I gathered those columns in my first cemetery book, Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

Death’s Garden Revisited will be my fourth cemetery book. The fifth one – Still Wish You Were Here – is going out as a bonus to people who preorder Death’s Garden Revisited.

Tell me about some of the backgrounds of some of the contributors. Do they write mainly about cemeteries or do they write in other genres?

There is such a wonderful variety of them! Carol Tyrrell, Joanne Austin, and Rachelle Meilleur all write cemetery blogs. Sharon Pajka just published a wonderful book called Women Writers Buried in Virginia. M. Parfitt worked as cemetery tour guide. Paul Stansfield is a contract archaeologist who has helped to move several cemeteries.

Other contributors are historians and travel writers. Erika Mailman has written a novel about Lizzie Borden. Anne Born has written about walking the Camino de Santiago. Trilby Plants has written thrillers and children’s books. Rain Graves taught tango in Argentina. A bunch of the contributors are horror writers.

When is the book coming out? In what form? And where will be available?

Death’s Garden Revisited will be out in October 2022. It will be available in hardcover, an 8 x 10-inch paperback and e-book. I know it will be available on Amazon, but I’m still working out the distribution everywhere else. The complication is that I’m not working with my regular printer this time, because of the color photos.

People can bypass all that by preordering their own copy on Kickstarter now. Then the book will magically appear in the mail in October!

Thank you, Loren! Here is the link – check it out. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries The campaign ends April 16.

Here is a link to Loren’s Cemetery Travels site. https://cemeterytravel.com/about/
and her author’s page.https://lorenrhoads.com/

HAPPINESS, COURAGE, STRENGTH, & A SENSE OF HUMOR


Courage, strength and a sense of humor will help get me through almost anything in my opinion. Years ago I read Lindbergh’s book of poetry and essays, Gift from the Sea, but did not know much about her beyond the kidnapping of her baby and the fame of her husband, Charles Lindbergh. A little recent research revealed she was an accomplished woman on her own and had to deal with her share of tragedy, loss and betrayal. I may have to read a biography written by Susan Hertog, Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life.

A DUSTY CLASSIC


On a recent morning walk leaving my neighborhood, I saw this dusty MGB being loaded on a car hauler in front of a house that had been recently sold. For several years I would see the older man who lived there take it out occasionally for a drive on sunny warm days like this beautiful fall day. Once as I walked by I stopped to admire his classy sports car. Alas, it was not for sale. The soft top was down and he went on his way wearing a jaunty driving cap that made him look somehow British. It was always kept in the garage and never parked in the driveway.

I stopped seeing him drive it or even his other car several years ago. Instead I would see a car belonging to a home health worker parked out front; the garage was always closed; I wondered about the MG. Time went by, the house was put on the market. I never knew if the man was moving away or had died. That morning I walked past the almost full car hauler and looked back. The MG was halfway into the street. I walked back. There was the old car, top down and covered in dust. It must have been sitting in the garage all these years. Were the new owners selling it? Did the man die and his heirs were selling it?

I interrupted the two men who were trying to load it, and asked where they were taking it.

“Indiana,” one replied.

I asked if I could take a photo. Given permission, I pulled my phone from my pocket and took a couple of photos as I tried not to get in their way. The inside was as dusty and neglected as the outside. The inspection sticker on the windshield was dated February 2011.

As I thanked the men, one asked me what kind of car it was.

“MG, an MGB. British. The company stopped making these sports cars in 1980. I would guess this one is a 1970s-something model. My husband had one in citron when we got married. It was fun to drive.”

Turning for one last look as I continued my walk, I hoped that it would find a good home and someone would restore it and take it out again on sunny, warm days with the top down.

THE OIL PATCH WARRIOR


“The Oil Patch Warrior”

While researching for a writing project involving WWII draft classification codes, I discovered this bit of obscure history.

In March of 1943 a group of men departed New York on HMS Queen Elizabeth bound for London on a secret mission to do their part for WWII. They were 42 roughnecks from Oklahoma and Texas who volunteered for a one year contract to drill oil wells in Sherwood Forest for the British government.

Oil was essential for Brittan and its Allies. Production for oil was up in the United States, but Britain was falling behind and oil tankers from the United States and other countries were often sunk or blocked by German U-boats. The British government sent a representative of the oil industry to the United States seeking drilling rigs, pipes, drill bits and other related equipment that the British badly needed to replace some of their own.

In the negotiations two American companies, Nobles Drilling Corporation, headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Fain-Porter Drilling Company, headquartered in Oklahoma City, partnered with D’Arcy Exploration Company, a British oil company. The US companies would provide the crews and drilling equipment to drill 100 wells in the heart of Britain’s only oil field deep in Sherwood Forest. The wells there were shallow, equipment was inadequate and many of the men doing the drilling were inexperienced as the war had taken many away.

The project was a secret mission with the men allowed to tell only their immediate families where they were going. London was already being bombed by the Germans and the oil field needed to continue to be kept secreted beneath the cover of the ancient forest safe from German planes. Rigs and equipment would be painted a green to blend in and camouflage them. The 42 roughnecks were housed at monastery run by monks.

By the end of the contract the 106 wells had been completed and oil production was up substantially. The men returned home in March of 1944 with the satisfaction of knowing they had made a contribution to the war efforts.

One man was left behind, Herman Douthit from Texas, a derrick hand who had died when he fell from a derrick. He was buried at the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, one of the few civilians buried there.

The sculpture in the photo above is “The Oil Patch Warrior” and stands in Ardmore, Oklahoma as a tribute to the 42 men and erected in 2001. It is a replica of the original erected in 1991 near Nottingham England as a memorial to honor the 42 roughnecks and the oil industry. American sculptor Jay O’Melia designed the original.

A book, The Secrets of Sherwood Forest: Oil Production in England During World War II, by Guy H. Woodward and Grace Steele Woodward, is an excellent history of the events.

Below is less than 2 minute video with old photos.

LGBTQIA +ARTIST EXHIBITION


Several events for PRIDE Month 2021 were scheduled in the Corpus Christi area including poetry reading and a PRIDE Pet Paw-rade where owners and their pets could show  their support and show off their PRIDE colors and accessories.  A PRIDE parade and block party will be held in October during LGBT History Month when the weather is cooler and more have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

PRIDE Corpus Christi put out a call for artists who “personally identify, or feel they have been defined by society, as a part of the LGBTQIA+ demographic.”   The  goal of the exhibit was “to celebrate the achievements of and gain recognition for LGBTQIA+ artists in the Coastal Bend.”  Artists selected had their art on display at the La Palmera Mall in Corpus Christi from June 1  to June 30 for PRIDE Month.

The free exhibit was tucked away in a small space on the upper level of the mall.  I visited the simple installation last week and was moved by the personal expression of their feelings through art.   Husband photographed several for me.  Scroll for more of art by these mostly young people who have come out personally and artistically.

KIRA GONZALEZ   ‘LOVE IS LOVE’ (2021)   ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

GUILLERMO “GUY” GALLEGOS ‘CIERVO O VENADO (2019) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

JOSHUA DUTTWIELER   ‘WE ARE ALL HOUGHTON #1 ‘   2021)  PHOTOGRAPHY

 

JOSE “JOEY’ GONZALES   ‘SELF PORTRAIT’ (2019)   OIL ON CANVAS

 

BRYSON OLIVAREZ   ‘THE PLAYFUL CARCASS’ (2021)   MIXED MEDIA

 

BRYSON OLIVAREZ  ‘PLAYING WITH COLOR’  (2020) MIXED MEDIA

 

SCOTT-ALEXANDER RIVERA  ‘THE HEART OF LOVE IS LOVE’ (2020)   ACRYLIC POUR ON STRETCHED CANVAS

 

SCOTT-ALEXANDER RIVERA  ‘PRIDE EXPLOSION’ (2020) ACRYLIC POUR ON STRETCHED CANVAS

 

SAMANTHA TREVINO  ‘LIM JAEBEOM’  (2021) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

PHOTOS BY HUSBAND.  HE IS REFLECTED IN THE SIGN THAT WAS BEHIND DOUBLE GLASS DOORS AT THE ENTRANCE.