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Notes from the Pond

You Can’t Take The Hills Out Of The Girl

The life of an author can be lonely and frustrating but occasionally something comes along to add a little excitement to the day. Today is that day.

This summer my nephew, Kenny Harrah, sent me an email about a Writer Residency program for the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, WV. He said Fayetteville was a cool and happening place to be and thought I might be interested. He said he sent it on a lark and on that same lark I decided to enter the competition.

Today I got word I am a finalist and they are coming to Columbus to interview me this weekend. It will be an opportunity to be a voice for the people and the state. The New River Gorge is known not only for its majestic mountains and white-water rafting but also for the area’s artists and craftsmen. If fortunate enough to be selected as the winner, I look forward to returning to my native state and spending an extended amount of time among the mountains. I also relish the opportunity to be with fellow artists and to promote their work. But, more than that, I look forward to being with the good people of West Virginia.

You might say West Virginians never knew a stranger. They are open, warm, and welcoming and will do anything for you. The famous movie star, Will Ferrell, experienced some of the state’s hospitality this summer when his rented car broke down. He was pulled to the side of the road when two men stopped to help. One had a brother who owned a tow truck and while Ferrell’s car was towed to the shop and being repaired they took him to lunch where he had a friend bologna sandwich. Ferrell said this would never have happened in LA.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. First it shows the genuine helpfulness of the people and, secondly, where else would you be treated to a fried bologna sandwich? I think that should be the official sandwich of the state. My father used to eat them all the time. Ferrell said the people had no idea who he was, they were just out to help a stranger.

I want to thank several people who enabled me to get to this point and first is my publisher Rick Lakin of iCrew Publishing. It is hard to believe I have known Rick for five years and during that time he has been my web designer, agent, publisher, and friend. Without his belief in me, and occasional prodding, none of this would be possible. Ironically, Rick and I took a trip this summer through this very area retracing the steps of his great grandfather during the Civil War. Letters to Sallie: the Civil War Letters of A.C. McClure, is my next book and if I am named the Writer in Residence it will enable me to delve into more research on the book. Rick and my neighbor Martha Smith both wrote letters of recommendation for me so I also want to thank Martha for her encouragements. It feels a little like home with two West Virginians next door to each other in the big city of Columbus, Ohio. We also have our friendly rivalries on football Saturdays in the fall.

I also need to thank my family, friends, neighbors and all those who have followed my blog and bought my book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering event.

So, to all those reading this, please send positive vibes my way. I would love the opportunity for a new adventure. I am now at a place in my life where I have no responsibilities—no husband, no kids, no pets—and would like to make up for lost time where life got in the way. It would be “Almost Heaven” to return to my native state and work among those beautiful West Virginia hills.

As they say—you can take the girl out of the hills but you can’t take the hills out of the girl.

 

What is better than free?

Product Details

To quote the famous Yogi Berra, “It was déjà vu all over again.”

Soon after publication of my first book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering event, I was forced to take my own advice. It is the story of my journey from discovery to recovery after the death of seven family members within a two-year period, including my father and husband, and how I found a new life. I was excited over seeing my book published but never thought I would have to take my own advice so soon.

Just six weeks after publication my mother died suddenly and the following year my second husband died. I was once again suffering the physical, mental, and emotional pains of grieving a loved one.  I turned to my book for comfort.

Fortunately, this time the grieving process was not as devastating because I was armed with knowledge of what to expect and how to cope. Knowledge I had gained from research which led to my book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast. My world was turned upside down when I lost the two men who were the center of my universe, both to cancer just six months apart. I was overwhelmed with grief and didn’t know where to turn for help so I did what my background as an English teacher and journalist had trained me to do—I turned to books for answers.

Fast forward 20 plus years and when I lost my mother and husband I knew what to expect. I knew that when I couldn’t concentrate, or I sighed for no reason, or I couldn’t remember what I was doing, I knew it was part of the grieving process and to just relax for a moment and I could carry on. I reread my book and took my own advice. This new journey is documented in the updated version of Peach Cobbler for Breakfast 2017.

The book is completely revised with fresh editing, new pictures, and a new ending. I am very proud of this new version and feel it is a good summary of what grief is, the different kinds of grief, and how to cope. My life hasn’t been easy and, in truth, almost everything I have done has been difficult; but I have pushed myself and refused to give up, no matter the challenge. My hope is that my story, with its ups and downs, can be a light for those finding their way in their own dark tunnel.

Many ask why the title, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast, and my answer is:

it was a moment of epiphany when I realized I was master of my own world and I could have anything I wanted out of life, even if it was peach cobbler for breakfast that morning long ago, and that has made all the difference.

To celebrate this new release my publisher, iCrew Publishing, is graciously offering the e-book for FREE Tuesday, September 18, through Friday, September 22 at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=Peach+Cobbler+for+Breakfast.

Be sure to order the 2017 version. You can also order the book version from this site but only the e-book is free. For those who don’t have a Kindle, it can be downloaded to your computer or phone.

 

 

 

The Free Press Versus Fake News: Should We Be Worried?

Several times over the past year I have posted something on Facebook and someone replied, “Fake news.” We are hearing this term more and more every day and this seems to be Trump’s favorite phrase.

Although the term may be new, the intent behind it isn’t. There has been an on-going effort by the Communist party to undermine our society by creating doubts, distrust in authority, and chaos to make it easier for them to then take control. It was all spelled out in a file titled Communist Rules for Revolution published in 1919 and obtained by our armed forces in Dusseldorf, Germany. Here are the instructions issued to those who would bring about revolution:

  1. Corrupt the young, get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex. Make them superficial, destroy their ruggedness.
  2. Get control of all means of publicity and thereby:
  3. Get people’s minds off their government by focusing attention on athletics, sexy books and plays, and other trivialitie

    s.

  4. Divide the people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
  5. Destroy the people’s faith in their natural leaders by holding the latter up to contempt, ridicule and obloguy (strong public criticism or verbal abuse).
  6. Always preach true democracy but seize power as fast and ruthlessly as possible.
  7. By encouraging government extravagance, destroy its credit, produce fear of inflation with rising prices and general discontent.
  8. Foment unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil disorders, and foster a lenient and soft attitude on the part of government toward such disorders.
  9. By spacious argument cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues: honesty, sobriety, faith in the pledged word, ruggedness.
  10. Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext with the view of confiscation of them and leaving the population helpless.

Although this was published nearly a hundred years ago, it is very current today. Each point has been endlessly discussed in social circles and on cable news. We see examples of these points happening everyday but the one I’m most concerned about is item #2—get control of all means of publicity. Coming from a journalistic background I know words are important. What we say and how we say it can influence people’s minds and opinions. To quote an old saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

It has now been revealed that during the election cycle people were making up fantastic stories and publishing them on the web. I will call these people word factories because that is what they were. They were mindlessly putting together a string of words and making up ridiculous stories to bash a particular candidate or party. What this has done is create a great mistrust in all media. We don’t know what is the truth and what came from the word factories—or—fake news. Therefore, since we can’t trust the media we don’t know if what was reported about a political figure is true or not.

Or, at least, that is the plan from various nefarious groups. How can we combat this trend and defeat the perpetrators? By educating ourselves.

Don’t believe the lies being spread that reporters and news organizations are evil, nasty, bad guys. Being a reporter is a difficult job. Reporters do what their name implies, they report the news, they don’t manufacture it. Reputable reporters and news organizations dig, and dig, and dig to find the facts. Many times, public figures don’t want the facts, or whole truth, out for one reason or another. After the reporter writes the news story it goes to an editor who double and sometimes triple checks the facts. This is why government and public officials are wary of reporters. They know they can’t hide the truth from them. This is why reporters aren’t the most popular people in the room.

So how do we, the consumer, know if our news source is reliable or not? First check the source or news organization reporting it. If it comes from Joe Blow News then disregard immediately. If it comes from a known source such as Reuters, AP (Associated Press), a network news station or cable station such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. then it is fairly safe; but, beware that there might be a left or right slant to the presentation.

The current president and attorney general are even threatening to begin jailing reporters and loosening the libel laws. This is a very dangerous move. The initiative comes about because reporters are doing stories on information the administration does not want out and the reporters won’t reveal their sources.

Reporters never reveal their sources. Reporters give their word to protect their sources and many have gone to prison rather than renege on that promise. If they are hit with a libel suit the defense for libel is truth. If it can be proven in court that the information revealed in the reporter’s story is true that is all the defense needed.

The press is the watch dog over our three branches of government, that is why it is called The Fourth Estate. To protect this unofficial fourth leg of the foundation of our society, our founding fathers established the first amendment to the Constitution under the Bill of Rights—Freedom of the Press.

Now that there are attacks to this freedom we must be vigilante and educated and support the work the responsible news services are giving us. Let us respect, honor, and thank these hard-working people rather than ridicule them. What the public doesn’t see is that members of the press know their responsibilities. Along with freedom of the press comes responsibilities and reliability. Good reporters know this and constantly strive to report the news fairly and accurately.

If you think these discussions are new, this blog post is based on a newspaper clipping dated May 1, 1970. It begins:

                If you think most of the problems that beset the world and our nation today just happened that way; if you think it is a natural trend born of the modern age; if you think that it will suddenly all dissolve when we, the people, get tired of being bothered, then read an excerpt from a file on Communist Rules for Revolution….these were the instructions issued to those who were to bring about world revolution.

Yes, this was 47 years ago; before cell phones, computers, HDTV, fitbits, iPads, etc. The modern age of 47 years ago was just as worried about world affairs as we are today. The Communist Rules for Revolution was written in 1919 as instructions for those who were to bring about world revolution. The newspaper article ends with words that are just as relevant today as they were in 1970:

                Just fifty-one years later those who were given the plan of attack can check full 100 per cent success in their efforts. We are sure there is now another such set of instructions, going on from where these left off. This time past history presents full reason to be concerned, if not completely frightened. Your enemies are patient but thorough. Your greatest enemy, however is your disregard of the danger signs.

Here is a list of generally accepted top reliable news sources. The Associated Press is viewed as the most trustworthy:

BBC

C-SPAN

New York Times

NPR

Reuters

Snopes

The Associated Press

The Economist

Wall Street Journal

 

If you didn’t find your favorite news source there, here is another compiled by compiled by Business Insider in 2014 from the most trusted to the least:

 

THE ECONOMIST

BBC

NPR

PBS

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

ABC NEWS

CBS NEWS

NBC NEWS

CNN

USA TODAY

GOOGLE NEWS

THE BLAZE

THE NEW YORK TIMES

THE WASHINGTON POST

MSNBC

THE GUARDIAN

BLOOMBERG

THE NEW YORKER

POLITICO

YAHOO NEWS

FOX NEWS

MOTHER JONES

SLATE

BREITBART

THE HUFFINGTON POST

THE COLBERT REPORT

THINK PROGRESS

THE DAILY SHOW

DRUDGE REPORT

DAILY KOS

THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW

AL JAZEERA AMERICA

THE ED SCHULTS SHOW

THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW

BUZZFEED

 

 

Statue vandalized at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in west Columbus

The monument vandals struck close to home over night stealing the head of a Confederate soldier that has stood guard over his buried brethren for approximately 150 years. This occurred at the former Camp Chase location in the capital city of Ohio which was a Union post and prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers and southern sympathizers.

You can read more about Camp Chase in my upcoming book Letters to Sallie, the Civil War Letters of AC McClure. My opinions of this kind of destruction is found in the blog post below, Symbols Mean Everything.

 

 

By NBC4 StaffPublished: August 22, 2017, 9:30 am  Updated: August 22, 2017, 11:12 am

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Police are investigating after a Confederate statue in Camp Chase cemetery in west Columbus was vandalized.

According to the Columbus Division of Police, someone vandalized the statue Camp Chase cemetery in the 2900 block of Sullivant Avenue.

This photo shows the vandalized statue’s original location at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

A photo of the vandalized statue shows the soldier missing his head after being toppled from the top of a monument.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, Camp Chase shifted from a training camp for Union Army recruits to a prisoner-of-war camp early in the civil war.

Prior to the establishment of the cemetery at Camp Chase, the Confederate dead were interred in the city cemetery of Columbus. Their remains were re-interred in the prison cemetery after its opening. In addition, the remains of 31 Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, were removed to Camp Chase Cemetery shortly after the cessation of the Civil War.

Officially, there is an estimate of 2,168 remains in 2,122 gravesites in Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. However, this does not match the inscription on the Boulder monument.

There are two monuments in Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. The first depicts a bronze figure of a Confederate Civil War soldier standing atop a granite arch, his rifle held vertically in front of him, with both hands resting on the top of the barrel.

Symbols Mean Everything

 

 

When we salute the American flag, either with a military salute or by placing our hands over our hearts, we aren’t paying honor and respect to a piece of red, white and blue cloth but rather for what that cloth stands for. Churches, synagogues and mosques contain various religious symbols and rituals and when we pray to those symbols or participate in the rituals we are honoring what these stand for—not the actual act or physical object.

 

In light of recent racial tensions, common objects we have had for over a century have taken on new meanings. My generation has known the Confederate flag as a relic from the Civil War and something that represents the South, and nothing more. During my college days, while on a trip to the South with a group from church, someone bought the Confederate battle flag and we posed below it. It was not an act of defiance on our part but merely a souvenir of our trip. Today that flag has become a symbol for the alt-right racist hate groups.

 

The same is true of the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee whose proposed removal sparked the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. Because of the volatile race relations, Confederate monuments across the country have become lightning rods for mass gatherings and hot tempers. Thus, a movement is beginning to remove all such monuments.

 

It’s unfortunate these symbols are taking on new meanings and being defiled in the process. These are a part of our history and as the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Politics aside, I ask, “Is this what we want?”  To preserve our history why not move these monuments and other war memorials to a war memorial park where veterans from all wars will be remembered.

 

We need to remember how bloody the Civil War was. When the war began most thought it would last only three or four months but, instead, it dragged into four very long and miserable years. People on both sides suffered unimageable losses including limbs, family members, and their homes and fortunes. It was a war of brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, father against son. Again, I ask, “Is this what we want?”

 

It is unfortunate that Gen. Lee’s statue became the focal point of the weekend riots. The irony of using Lee’s statue as the gathering point is that as soon as the papers were signed at Appomattox between Lee and Gen. Grant, signaling the close of the war, Lee was the first to call for a peaceful transition. When Gen. Lee’s men wanted to fight on, he urged them to go home.

 

By definition, all those who fought for the Confederacy were traitors. The Confederate states seceded from the United States and formed their own nation with their own governing laws. At the close of the war many wanted Gen. Lee, his officers, and all officials of the Confederacy tried and hanged as traitors but Gen. Grant interceded and stopped the movement. In turn, Gen. Lee encouraged his officers and men to return to their homes, become responsible citizens and to submit to authority.

 

In a letter to Capt. Josiah Tatnall of the Confederate States Navy Lee said:

 

…I believe it to be the duty of every one to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony….

 

Perhaps the best advice of all from Lee is found in a letter to Gov. Letcher of Virginia :

 

…The duty of its citizens, then, appears to me too plain to admit of doubt. All should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of the war and to restore the blessing of peace. They should remain, if possible, in the country; promote harmony and good feeling, qualify themselves to vote and elect to the State and general legislatures wise and patriotic men, who will devote their abilities to the interests of the country and the healing of all dissensions….

 

Lee knew firsthand the horrors of war. The cries of agony, the smells of gunpowder and burnt flesh, the sights of blown off limbs and lost body parts were all too fresh in his mind and he wanted to avoid any more suffering. Let us take a cue from Gen. Lee and work for peace.

 

I understand how in today’s world some see slavery, bonds and chains when they view these Confederate statues but rather than using these as an excuse for violence let us use them as visual cues to remember how horrible war is and how our country suffered during this time. No one went unaffected during the Civil War and the same will be true today if we allow events to deteriorate to the boiling point.

 

To paraphrase some of Lee’s words—all should unite in honest efforts to live together in peace and promote harmony and good feelings, become active in state and federal governments and do what we can to be good, patriotic citizens devoting our abilities to the good of our country.

 

Love overcomes hate every time.

 

 

 

 

Sheila Dobbie is the author of Peach Cobbler for Breakfast: Surviving a Life-Altering Event.  She is currently writing Letters to Sallie:  The Civil War Letters of A. C. McClure.  A native of West Virginia, Sheila is a graduate of Marshall University in her hometown.  She enjoys driving the West Virginia hills to Hawk’s Nest.