Perhaps the best part of February in Nebraska is that January is over. That may be speaking too soon, because it is still awfully cold here this morning. But, seen another way, it brings us one day closer to springtime. The next few days are supposed to be warm: 50 degrees (that’s warm by Nebraska standards). So perhaps things are beginning to look up.
It is certainly not like we are the only ones afflicted by the cold and snow. Our daughter Karen is a manager at an MGM hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts. That part of the country was submerged in snow (two feet in Boston) and high winds. Many roads in the region were treacherous or blocked. She stayed at the hotel so she could handle power outages, broken water pipes, inconveniences to guests, etc., that might occur. Fortunately, none of those things happened and Springfield was not buried to the extent that many other nearby areas were. Likewise, our friends and family in the Dallas, Texas, vicinity avoided the power outages and disastrous road conditions that troubled thousands of people in that region. So, we have been fortunate, everyone stayed warm and safe and well. We are grateful for the not-so-small mercies.
There is a little writing news to report – nothing major by any means. I was asked to submit a few candidates to a couple of poetry anthologies that will be published later this year. I sent in a bit of whimsy called “Stony the Rock” to one of the companies. A few years ago, just to lighten things up, I included a version in a website monthly update. I have not previously tried to market it elsewhere. So – we’ll see what happens. It may be too tongue in cheek to appeal to publishers of a staid book of poetry. Another poetry journal invited previously published works. I submitted “The Day After Tuesday.” That’s the poem about 9/11 that some of you may remember. It’s been printed elsewhere over the years in two or three books and magazines. The content seemed suited to the stuff the magazine usually publishes. Lastly, there was a solicitation from the Chicken Soup Company. They are gearing up for another holiday season release, so the turnaround time on a go/no go decision regarding the piece I sent in will be a long time coming.
I am still working on some fiction pieces, including one of book length – something I have not previously attempted. We’re waiting to hear on a military history book. I will probably need to send query letters to a second round of potential publishers. The market doesn’t seem very active in that genre at the moment. And, as I mentioned last month, I probably need to go back and fiddle some more with a fiction story called “Doomsday 3.0.” Some queries are still circulating, but I think the time is probably approaching to revise it and try a second set of companies.
The other day I found an unusual and very interesting book titled Atlas to Dark Destinations. I passed it on to my daughter Laura – she’s the one who visits Chernobyl and Holocaust sites (she teaches a Holocaust-related course) and similar stuff. Really a neat book. The “dark destinations” are scenes associated with natural or manmade calamities – so it includes conflicts, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. The book contains more than 350 sites around the world on every continent except Antarctica. It was interesting to compare notes with Laura to scope out those that she, or we, have been to. There were several actually. One of my favorites was the Underground War Rooms in London – which Churchill used in World War II. It’s as if the players walked out of the room on the day the war ended and left the place essentially intact. I think the movie “Dunkirk” had some scenes shot inside it. It still has the shielded “phone booth” which Churchill used throughout the war to speak with Roosevelt.
My first overseas tour in the Air Force – please don’t ask when that was – was at a base at the edge of the Sahara in Morocco. While I was there, three of four of us caught a flight to Gibraltar and spent one day on “the Rock.” Actually, we spent some of the day inside it touring one of the dark locations mentioned in the book. There is a tunnel complex inside the rock that was used as a military headquarters. Eisenhower used it for a time as the invasion of North Africa was being prepared. According to most sources, he disliked the place and couldn’t wait to find other accommodations. I can see why. While the shelter was great, the place was cold, dark, gloomy, and damp. Ike left as soon as he could and, after the landings on the North African coast, wound up in Algiers.
I also liked especially the D-Day beaches on the coast of Normandy. Truly, I think, members of the Greatest Generation landed there. Bless them all. Arlington Cemetery is also recorded as a dark site, as is the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb, and so many others. Don’t get me started. It was a fascinating book.
In addition to teaching about the Holocaust, Laura is a Cold War historian. So she also enjoyed things like the Titan Missile Museum, our visits to Berlin Wall sites, the Stasi (East German secret police) headquarters, as well as Chernobyl and Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, and others. All are duly noted in the book, along with photos, facts, figures, and concise descriptions.
Interesting that in the last few days, Chernobyl has been in the news for a different reason than the one we normally associate with it: the Ukrainians have deployed troops around it – it is on a direct line from the Russian border to Kiev* in event Vladimir chooses to invade. *(When did the news bureaus start spelling it ‘Kyiv’? I mean you no sooner spend four decades learning how to spell something and then all of sudden they change it.)
That is probably all we need to hear about in terms of radiated sites and potential invasions. It’s past time to close with that increasingly less admired feature: TRULY AWFUL PUNS.
My neighbor is obese but identifies as thin.
He is trans-slender.
A huge stack of toilet paper fell on a customer at the supermarket.
He’s okay, though; just soft tissue damage.
My dad used to put me in tires and roll me downhill.
Those were Goodyears …
I know, awful as usual.