Thursday, March 2, 2023


Stories March 2023


First the contrast: Some people are color blind, no amount of explaining will ever get them to see red.

Still others are garbage blind and likewise no amount of explaining will ever get them to see trash.

The ecologically blind are a hopeless lot that are entirely incapable of living in harmony with nature. These are the PPP or ecology enemies that pave it, pollute it and poison it.

As George Bernard Shaw so aptly put it; “An art gallery is a dull place for a blind man.”

Being ecology friendly is not for everybody, but for those who embrace this kind of unpolluted untainted world the reward is incalculable.


Our requirements for an ecological house and its location.

We needed a home in a semi arid tropical location with fresh natural air flow because of my wife Jane’s asthma.

The year round climate had to be salubrious with no extremes.

We wanted a quiet nature friendly environment.

Privacy in a sanctuary setting.

Location, close to shopping, abundant restaurants and on quiet bicycle friendly streets.

International airport in town.

Excellent public transport by bus and taxi.

World class medical facilities; Mérida is renowned as a prime leader.

Bicycle friendly: Yucatán is a bicycle touring paradise we have not fully explored even after 34 years.

Almost all neighborhoods still have owner operated grocery stores.

Our ecological concept house didn’t just fall out of the sky.

We thought long and hard about our dream home because we had certain requirements that were absolute imperatives. Number one being my wife Jane has asthma, and we were not going to live someplace where she would be required to take medications just to survive. Jane’s doctors in Florida had told us that she could live there, she just wouldn’t live long.

In our many years of travel we fortunately discovered Yucatán with its tropical semi-arid climate and set about locating a north-south facing lot to take full advantage of the prevailing sea breezes. We would want high land that didn’t flood in a heavy rain, away from busy thoroughfares but close enough so we would have good public transport. After four years of poking around and investigating nearly two hundred places we finally found our “special spot” that suited all our requirements.

When our search ended our work began and after two months of hard effort the first person finally came by that told us they thought the place might have possibilities.

Hardly anybody could envision the dream that Jane and I shared.

The property we ultimately purchased resembled a garbage dump in the desert, but we both immediately recognized its hidden potentials.

Two years after we had begun our ecological home project that would use thermo-siphon air exchange without fans or motors to heat in winter, cool in summer, and maintain humidity at low levels, we achieved our goal.

Finally when Jane and I finished we were told how very lucky we were to have such a lovely home and jungle garden. The harder we worked the luckier we were.

The garden was another case;

We started with a desolate rock strewn terrain devoid of foliage. Using no chemicals we began by composted everything in sight included shredded paper and even sawdust from a local furniture factory, in order to build all organic top soil. This process took us fifteen years before our jungle garden ultimately became self perpetuating.

Now thirty three years later in 2023, having started from seed, we have a real canopy tropical jungle filled with towering fruit trees that also provide heavenly cooling shade.

Our secluded jungle garden provides many of our produce requirements including fruits, spices, herbs, medicinal plants, hot chili peppers. Everything here is biodegradable. Our gray water is recycled to the garden.

We are synchronized and coexist with nature creating a positive impact upon the planet...and it just feels good.

Amazingly this has all been achieved using absolutely no chemical insecticides or poisons in our thirty three years here.

We live peacefully, in parallel with nature.

Tropical birds and butterflies abound freely in our private jungle sanctuary wide-open and unrestricted to the sky.

Our screened in spacious covered patios command stunning views of our garden.

This ecological home and jungle garden is in three parts enclosed behind a tall privacy wall inconspicuously tucked away. Each separate dwelling is equipped with bathrooms and their own separate kitchens.

We fill our indoor Jacuzzi in summer. In less than two hours it naturally cools the water. Cooler outside air is taken in through a low window then sucked up and out a roof top chimney that naturally draws up and out. Just like cooling hot soup by blowing on it.

It is amazingly fresh. The discharged water goes to the garden. The naturally cooled Jacuzzi water is a great place to linger in the warmer times of the year while we even drink our coffee and listen to audio books or music. Even when the outdoor temperature exceeds 40 degrees centigrade or 100 degrees F. we have a simple efficient and very economical way to stay perfectly cool and comfortable.

We have city water piped in and bottled drinking water delivered weekly. 

However, we have a solar hot water heater system, which I designed and built from locally obtainable materials that use no electric, gas, pumps or valves for the few cool months of winter.

When I pull the large ball valve to the rooftop water tank it cascades down like Niagara Falls and fills the Jacuzzi in just two minutes.

We clean and then fill the Jacuzzi with fresh water every day recycling the old water to our jungle garden.

Our sanctuary is equipped with places to hang twenty-five hammocks. Even on our rooftop patio covered with flowering vines we can accommodate hammocks in the shade and fanned by nature’s salubrious sea breezes.

Though we have no motorized vehicles we have off-street covered parking that can accommodate vehicles with plenty of space for bicycles.

Outwardly our ecology concept house is relatively unassuming. It is an original design and not copied in any way.

Viewed from the street side our super solar dehydrator, the domed ventilating chimneys and vaulted roof capitalize on heat differentials and have little meaning to those unaware of the functionality of our environmentally friendly home.

Here is a link to a narrated YouTube tour explaining the functioning of our ecologically friendly home. Watching time 2 minutes.  Video home tour.

Link to the story of our home with captioned photos where you can venture inside. Photo tour.

Another link: This one is to a YouTube video Jane made of a collage of the seasonal flowers of our garden. Flowers video.

One more YouTube: Street musician at the municipal market food court. Street music video.

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Monday, February 13, 2023

The Ends of Power: An explosive insider's account of Watergate by H. R. Haldeman-Book Review

Book Review - Five Stars

The Ends of Power: An explosive insider's account of Watergate by H. R. Haldeman

Nixon, a complicated man who somehow rode into power from California to a two-term vice president under Eisenhower. His radical ultra right wing beliefs fit perfectly with Eisenhower, Earl Butts and Josef McCarthy. His stubborn one minded persistence finally pushed aside LBJ to gain a two-term presidency. 

You must read this book for the rest of this intriguing story.


It was a chilling thought. If Charles Colson was involved, he could very well have been on one of his projects for the President of the United States.

Colson had signed up an ex-C.I.A. agent named Howard Hunt to work for him and thereafter became very secretive about his exploits in the name of Nixon. Years later I heard of such wild schemes as the proposed fire bombing of a politically liberal foundation (Brookings) in order to retrieve a document Nixon wanted; feeding LSD to an anti-Nixon commentator (Jack Anderson) before he went on television; and breaking into the offices of a newspaperman (Hank Greenspun) who was supposed to have documents from Howard Hughes that revealed certain secrets about Nixon.

I believed Nixon could accomplish almost anything. In fact, this was Nixon’s year. In the past six months he had not only begun the disarmament talks with the Soviet Union, he had dramatically reopened relations with China and — finally — he was about to end the crippling, suicidal Vietnam War. On June 17, 1972, Richard Nixon was at the peak of his powers, a certain winner in the November election. Nothing could hurt him now.\Anticommunism was in my blood. And Nixon, at the time, was one of the most aggressive anti-Communists in the land.

What attracted me to Nixon? As I’ve said I wasn’t a rabid conservative. (And, of course, neither was Nixon, as the real conservatives discovered when Nixon became President and introduced economic proposals that made them shudder, and a reopening of relations with China that inspired absolute fury.)

Nixon rarely spared the rod or the knife in his speeches and, to put it mildly, he wasn’t averse to using all possible means to try to defeat his opponents.

If I took no action, I would pay for it. The President never let up. He’d be on the intercom buzzing me ten minutes after such an order. ‘What have you done about Sidey?’ I’d say, ‘I’m working on it,’ and delay and delay until Nixon would one day comment, with a sort of half-smile on his face, ‘I guess you never took action on that, did you?’ ‘No.’ ‘Well, I guess it was the best thing.’’Americans seemed to react more violently to the belief that their President had lied to them than that he had actually participated in a cover-up. Both he and I thought at the time that he was telling the truth. We were wrong.

Americans seemed to react more violently to the belief that their President had lied to them than that he had actually participated in a cover-up. Both he and I thought at the time that he was telling the truth. We were wrong.

Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America, September 3, 1929–September 3, 1939 by Allen, Frederick Lewis-Book Review


Book Review - Five Stars

Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America, September 3, 1929–September 3, 1939 by Allen, Frederick Lewis

From Roaring 20s, prohibition, speakeasies, lawlessness and out of control runaway stock market speculation that nose dived creating a worldwide depression known as the “Hoover days” to WWII when FDR became a four-term President, this amazing book takes you on that wild roller coaster ride.

Excerpts: Perhaps the onrushing agricultural industrialism would prove as short-lived as the earlier epidemic of tractor farming which had promised so much for the Great Plains during the nineteen-twenties—would lead once more to depletion of the soil and thus to its own undoing as well as the land’s.

Industrial uses for farm products; du Pont, for example, was using farm products in the making of cellophane, Duco, motion-picture film, rayon, pyralin, plastecele, fabrikoid, sponges, window shades, hair ornaments, handbags, alcohols, and a lot of other things which one would hardly associate with the old-fashioned farm.

For a generation or more the conservationists had been warning the country that it was squandering its heritage of land and forests and fields and minerals and animal life: that in effect it was living riotously on its capital of national resources. But to most citizens the subject had seemed dull, academic.

Now, in the Dust Bowl, the Lord had “taken a hand” in instruction. And hardly had the black blizzards blown themselves out when—as if distrustful whether the country properly realized that droughts and floods were not incompatible phenomena, but were associated results of human misuse of the land—the Lord drove the lesson home. The rivers went on a rampage.

Despite all the miseries of the Depression and the recurrent fears of new economic decline and of war, the bulk of the American people had not yet quite lost their basic asset of hopefulness. It was still their instinct to transform a suburban swamp into a city of magic and call it “The World of Tomorrow.” In that world of tomorrow the show which they liked best of all and stood in hour-long queues to enjoy was the General Motors Futurama, a picture of the possible delights of 1960. They still liked to build the biggest dam in all creation and toy with the idea of the happy farmsteads it would water, the enormous engines it would drive, the new and better business it would stimulate. They still liked to stand with elbows on the fence at the edge of the farm and say, “Sooner or later I aim to buy those forty acres over there and go into this thing on a bigger scale.” They still scrimped to give their sons and daughters “a better education than we ever had,” feeling obscurely that a better education would be valued in the years to come. A nation tried in a long ordeal had not yet lost heart.

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Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff-Book Review

Book Review - Five Stars

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

I had read this book years ago. Recently while looking through my extensive library and book notes searching for my next read I came across this memorable old favorite and decided I would love to reread it...and I did. Five-stars!


“It is necessary to cross high mountain ranges on practically every flight made on the island. Thick jungle growth goes right up to the tops of the peaks and entire squadrons could completely disappear under this foliage. No matter how thorough the search is, the possibility of locating the plane is rather remote. We have had numerous other instances of like nature and no word has come concerning those crews or airplanes. The weather and terrain account for more [downed] airplanes than combat flying.” More than six hundred American planes had crashed on the island since the start of the war, some in combat but many from rough weather, mechanical failures, pilot error, uncharted mountains hiding in clouds, or some combination. Hundreds more planes from Japan, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the Netherlands had crashed on New Guinea, as well. Some were located after they went down, but many were concealed by the emerald green rain forests. By 1945, New Guinea was home to more missing airplanes than any country on earth.

JUNE 1945 wound down, so did the war. After the bloodiest battle of the Pacific, the Allies took Okinawa. Its capture on June 21—after the deaths of twelve thousand Americans and more than one hundred thousand Japanese—provided a staging area for an air and land attack on the main islands of Japan. That is, unless Emperor Hirohito could be persuaded to surrender. Secretly, America’s leaders thought a new weapon, a bomb of unimaginable power, might accomplish that goal without sending troops to Tokyo. The bomb would be tested within weeks; if it worked, President Truman would decide whether to use it. Already, though, much of the world seemed eager to look beyond war.

Envoys from forty-four countries landed in San Francisco to sign a charter creating the United Nations.

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin - Book Review

Book Review - Five Stars 

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin

A truly delightful book to read that took me through a life begun in the war ravaged years of World War II. Jacques Pepin had the good fortune to have two wonderful loving parents that instilled in him the priceless values of thrift, culinary expertise, and wine management. These basic values laid the bedrock for Jacques lifetime giving him the very best fundamentals for his goals of perfection in everything he did.

He is not a wine snob or a food snob.

A joy to read, I loved it!


Tilting the bottle so that the wine ran down the inclined neck in a gentle flow. “You must never let the wine fall on itself in the bottle and create foam. That will disturb the clarity.” After we filled them, we stopped the bottles with corks that had soaked in an almost boiling mixture of water and wine for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then we waxed the bottles. Papa showed us how to dip about an inch and a half of the tip of each corked bottle into the melted wax; red wax for red wine, yellow or green for white. With a swift movement of his wrist, he created perfectly formed caps on the top of the bottles. When it came time to uncork his wines, Papa held the bottle flat, parallel to the floor, with the waxed tip above a saucer. Using the rounded side of a teaspoon, he tapped gently as he rotated the bottle, until the wax cap crumbled and fell into the saucer. He then opened the wine with his corkscrew, smelled it in the bottle, and poured it gently into glasses. The corks were precious and never discarded. Instead of being sealed into standard bottles, the wines were put in pint-size pots, slender green bottles with thick glass bottoms that are particular to the Lyon area. Roland and I placed the pots in metal baskets and topped them with the corks. When we had finished drawing the daily quota—about ten baskets—we sulfurized the barrel so the wine wouldn’t spoil. Igniting the end of a little greenish yellow stick of sulfur attached to a piece of metal wire, we lowered the stick into the bunghole and sealed the hole. The fire “ate” the oxygen left above the wine, and after the fire died, the wine was perfectly preserved until the next day, when the barrel was opened again.

The French say, “L’éxactitude est la politesse des rois” (Punctuality is the good manners of kings).

I am mad about charcuterie. Pig’s feet, headcheese, blood sausage, and andouillettes (chitterling sausages) are among my favorites. I have eaten termites and worms with the Bushmen of East Africa and rotten fish with the fishermen of West Africa. I have consumed eggs fertilized with chick embryos in Vietnam and China, as well as rattlesnake and “gator” meat in Florida. I am not a skittish eater. While I do enjoy the esoteric, refined food of the great restaurants, I eat that food only occasionally. My everyday tastes tend to a fare of roast chicken, braised pork, sautéed whiting, and tomato salad. I love chocolate desserts and custards and remember with great fondness the large, bluish, juicy cherries of my aunt’s garden and the extraordinary deep-orange apricots from the Rhone Valley, still warm from the summer sun and sticky with natural sugar and ripeness. I like copious glasses of wine with my food, and I do not like to eat alone. I need family and friends to enjoy the dishes and the pleasure of dining.

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Canoeing the Brule River in Winter - Stories February 2023


This is a 2023 reprint of Canoeing the Brule in Winter that contains numerous updates plus some facts that richly enhance this curious adventure story.

First, the geographical location: Lake Superior is 604 feet above sea level nearly centered in North America. It is largest of the five fresh water Great Lakes with a depth of more than 1300 feet. Its depth reaches to 700 feet below sea level.

It is truly a significant body of water and noticeably affects the surrounding weather.

I still remember the weatherman commenting at the end of his weather forecasts “cooler near the lake.”

Near Lake Superior it was so much cooler that we jokingly said “We hope that summer would come on Sunday.”

The following 2013 story by John M. Grimsrud has been updated to reflect the latest subject matter.

“A boat trip down the Brule is an experience never to be forgotten. One may start at Stone’s Landing, first going upstream a short distance to see the Blue Spring, then down through Rainbow Bend, Cedar Island, Wild Cat Rapids, Ashland Lake, Winneboujou, Bayfield Bridge, Club House Falls and dozens of other scenic spots. One gets a thrill out of shooting the rapids and dreams of the sturdy voyagers who traveled this route back in the seventeenth century.”

Leigh P Jerrard, The Brule River of Wisconsin, 1956.

The Brule River is an extraordinarily pristine spring-fed river in northwestern Wisconsin. It empties into Lake Superior.

The Brule River has been used as a transportation link dating back into antiquity. First by the ancient mound builders, and then by countless indigenous tribes that followed.

The first verifiable commercial use of the Brule River: Amazingly the Indigenous left a distinct confirmable trail from the rich copper deposits of Upper Michigan, then up the Brule River that connects Lake Superior via a portage at the continental divide to Upper Lake St. Croix, the St. Croix River that then flows southward to the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. There they found an eager buyer for the copper. The Chontal Maya of Mexico had built an extensive trading network selling sea salt from Yucatan across the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and from South America to North America.

These Chontal Maya, descendants of the Olmec who had numerous discoveries that included Indian corn and the ingenious processing procedure known as nixtamalization that made corn digestible for humans, chocolate, potatoes, squash, and beans along with a multitude of drugs in use to this day.

That distinctive copper from Upper Michigan has been identified in museums of ancient artifacts.

Now to present times and the Brule River:

Daniel Greysolon Du Lhut was the first white man to ascend the Brule and leave a record of his passage. He was soon followed by others: fur traders, missionaries in quest for Indian souls, pioneers, sportsmen, immigrants and adventurers.

Until the lumbermen came, beginning in the 1850s, to clear cut the virgin pine forests not leaving a tree for a bird to sit in, the land, forests, rivers and ecology remained pristine. Beaver and buffalo were happy, healthy and abundant.

One thing that helped save the Brule was the fact the Brule River valley was deemed to difficult to log. Luckily a man named Pierce bought it, built a fish hatchery, small lumber mill and lodge, leaving the rest in wilderness. When he passed on, the Ordway family continued the ecological conservation to this day forestalling the destruction of this unique ecosystem.

President FDR with his Civilian conservation Corp (CCC) put in stacked stone wing dams to maintain sufficient water depth for canoeing the Brule even in drought years. The area water table had declined as northern Wisconsin was denuded of its virgin pine forests.

I have canoed on the Brule every month of the year except December.

Years ago before the sound of screaming snowmobiles and roaring chain saws slaughtered the silent winter sanctity, I found one of the most enchantingly beautiful things to do was to slip a canoe off the untouched snow covered river bank into the pure unspoiled water of the Brule at a place called Stone’s Bridge Landing.

The river is fed by icy cold spring waters originating up in high sand country. These continually flowing springs are what make it possible to canoe in northern Wisconsin in the winter. It is part of the southern continental divide of Lake Superior, and it is the only open river water in the area in the winter season.

One clear bright sunny March day back in the mid 1950’s when the noontime temperature inched into the thirties and springtime felt tangible, an adventure was launched.

My five young and somewhat reckless companions on the escapade were Don Frye, his two cousins Bud and Jerry Bunt, Dave Smith, and Dave Olson.

On that day that felt like spring, we slipped three canoes into the icy river waters at Stone’s Bridge Landing for the 23 mile down river trip to the town of Brule. It was sunny and bright in this land of sky blue waters, and the sun felt like a long lost friend that had come back to visit after a brutal northern Wisconsin winter.

In the shade along the banks the drooping cedar trees that stand tall and sprawling next to the sparkling clear river waters cast their shadows down on places where the water runs slow. There a sheet of ice speckled with sparkling snowflakes could still be found.

We departed silently into a quiet world and glided along this enchanted waterway.

As we effortlessly drifted downstream, the thin ice crackled as it fractured and broke from the wake of the canoes. The winter silence was so enchantingly striking it made us all want to whisper.

In this polar deep-freeze, even with the friendly sun beating down upon us, we noticed our canoe paddles thickening with each stroke. They caked with layered ice similar to a candle being dipped in wax.

The first sixteen miles of river is relatively calm with easy going waters.

Lofty balsams, stately cedars, and towering pines blanketed in deep drifted snow where whitetail deer alerted by our presence stood statue still made this wilderness magical.

The river pace picks up with a few rapids that shoot through rocky twisting narrows in the last seven miles of the sixteen mile long upper portion of the river between Stone’s Bridge Landing and the Winneboujou Bridge at Highway B. This part takes about five leisurely hours to traverse.

In the last seven miles between the Winneboujou Bridge and the town of Brule at Highway 2, the pace picks up perceptibly. Navigation of the rapids requires undivided attention and decisive split-second canoe handling abilities. This portion of the river can easily be made in less than an hour due to the spirited speed of the current as it tumbles through a rock strewn twisted corridor picking up momentum on its way down to Lake Superior.

At this time of year in these northern latitudes the sun is on the horizon and headed down about four-thirty in the afternoon.

It was late in the day, and we were racing to the end of our trip. I was in the lead canoe with Dave Olson when we entered a particularly treacherous stretch of river, the Long Nebagamon Rapids.

These rapids cascade continuously for almost a mile and at one point in the torrents the river makes an abrupt ninety-degree turn to the left with a straight up and down wall on both sides. The canoe must be turned well in advance of the corner or a disastrous collision with the wall will be inevitable.

This time the situation was made even more treacherous by the fact that over the course of the winter the river had frozen. Then next the water level dropped and left a shelf of ice protruding out from the wall a foot and a half above the water level. A canoe could easily slip under.

The first two canoes just made it. In the last canoe Don Frye and Bud Bunt rounded the corner. Bud, seated in the bow, reached out to fend off a collision with the ice shelf, but the powerful force of the water carried them under, and they capsized.

There was no escape from this raging cauldron of icy river water in those churning rapids until a half-mile downstream. At the bottom of these rapids, a calm-water pond converged with Nebagamon Creek.

As soon as Don and Bud could escape the river, they did. Scurrying up and over the huge snow drifted bank they began their life or death run through the twilight woods…if they stopped or had attempted the other river bank they surely would have frozen to death.

While they frantically ran with all the youthful strength that they could muster through the snow-covered heavily wooded forest, their clothing was rapidly freezing stiffer and stiffer with every labored step they took. Freezing to death was almost certain under these circumstances.

Their time was not meant to come this day. Amazingly, the path they ran led them to a small cabin with lights in the windows. They were mercifully taken in to thaw and given warm dry clothing by strangers…two young girls that were home alone.

Carl Pearson and his family lived in the cabin. When Carl returned home, he found all six of us huddled by the fire and pondering what to do next. With Carl’s help we rounded up our cars and canoes.

Little did I know at that time, but one of those merciful girls turned out to be a cousin to the woman that I married some years later.

My wife Jane’s uncle, Carl Pearson, was at the time the caretaker for Swiftwater Farm, Elizabeth Congdon’s place on the Brule River. Carl Pearson was a guide on the Brule River. He knew the river well. He marveled that we had all survived our folly.

 Swiftwater Farm on the famous Brule River in September 2008, the place where the winter canoe adventure ended.

John La Rock and Carl Pearson, c. 1950s. John La Rock (1897-1960) was a Metis Brule River fishing guide. He guided President Calvin Coolidge when President Coolidge summered at Cedar Island Lodge on the Brule River in 1928. John La Rock was the son-in-law of Antoine Dennis (1852-1945), another well-know Metis river fishing guide.

John La Rock and President Calvin Coolidge on the Brule River, 1928. Wisconsin Historical Society photo.

 My wife Jane is pictured in 2008 with part of the famous somewhat reckless canoe team years later at the Sundown Restaurant in Maple, Wisconsin. Crew members and lifelong friends; John (Bing) Grimsrud, Dave Smith, and Dave Olson.  

 My wife Jane Pearson Grimsrud, is a published author with three Brule area books to her credit. Her family roots are tied to the Brule River dating to her pioneering grandparents who relied on the river’s water when they first settled near the Brule in Cloverland, Wisconsin.

The Brule River has been a large part of Jane’s life from childhood.

The following books are available in paperback and digital editions worldwide: Lookingfor a New Frontier, the Story of the Edwin Pearson Family, 2010, and Brule River Forest and Lake Superior: Cloverland Anecdotes, 2013.

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Monday, January 9, 2023

Letters From Berlin: A Story of War, Survival, and the Redeeming Power of Love and Friendship by Kerstin Lieff

Book Review - Five Stars

Letters From Berlin: A Story of War, Survival, and the Redeeming Power of Love and Friendship by Kerstin Lieff

Humankind in general can be sold anything, even a war, and the bewildered German populaces were no exception. The world war that the Nazis Thousand Year Reich axis powered governments spread world wide only lasted twelve years. The day of reckoning had arrived. This is a true story of the reality of war impacting so many unsuspecting victims. When will humanity ever learn the brutal consequences that are sold to them by forceful psychopathic leaders?


I was beginning to figure some things out: Hitler was not our ally, and the war was no longer making sense. We had invaded Poland, and no one seemed to know why. No one was ecstatic the way they were when we “liberated” Czechoslovakia and the Rhineland. Things were beginning to feel wrong and frightening, and all I could think and wonder was, Won’t this war be over soon? And my close friends felt the same way. We began to listen to the BBC, but this was not an easy thing. It was illegal, and we knew that. It had been outlawed at the start of the war to listen to any foreign station; to do so and get caught could land you in a prison, a work camp, or worse yet—dead.

They broadcast in German, but it was the British news, and it didn’t sound anything like what we were hearing on our German propaganda stations.

The American soldier is of course a much more humane person than the Russian. Of the two evils, this would be the better one.

To tell the truth, the Nazis left us in such a disgrace. They always spoke so grandiosely of their new weapons and our eventual history-making turnaround. From the very beginning, we always said, if one has the audacity to start a war, one must know when the moment has come that one must give up and have the courage to surrender, and to know when one has been defeated.

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Saturday, January 7, 2023

Get Your Gun, John! Stories 2023 January

New 2023 Monthly Series: Stories 2023

Get Your Gun, John!

Shorty screamed!

Shorty and Ben were living in a cottage at Papy’s Landing. My wife Jane and I were on our sailboat Dursmirg anchored at the south end of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, a hundred yards away.

In the 1970s Daufuskie Island was part of the past with more ox carts than automobiles. Of the 85 inhabitants, eleven were white. Electric had arrived and they awaited phones. A best selling book, The Water is Wide about Daufuskie using factitious names was published; it cast negativity, bringing national attention. Do-gooders and activists picked up on the publicity. The big obstacle was access with no bridges or ferry service. For those persistent enough to arrive from Savannah, Georgia, fifteen miles away, the Island had no facilities or accommodations. You better bring your own gasoline.

The third time Shorty screamed at the top of her lungs, “get your gun, John,” I could detect a panicky urgency in her voice.

I had no idea what Shorty could have confronted to provoke such a passionate scream. I grabbed my shot gun, Jane got me some shells, and I made a hasty trip to shore in our dinghy.

When I approached their little cabin at Papy’s Landing, Shorty was pointing to the little screened porch and exclaiming that a huge snake had just crawled underneath.

I ducked down with my gun loaded to confront a rattlesnake about three feet long coiled and more or less standing its ground. A stick would have dispatched the critter but Shorty was excited and insisted that I blow that serpent out of existence. I did as she wished. A blast at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun converted the snake to bloody mush.

It took time to calm Shorty, and then I wondered how she could possibly live on an island that was literally slithering with snakes.

The week before Jane had helped Shorty’s sister in-law, Billie Burn, clean a 6 foot 4 inch rattlesnake that Billie had killed with a stick while she was making her rounds driving the school bus. I was very impressed with Billie’s guts to pursue a snake that size with only a stick and actually run it down in the woods and dispatch it. When I arrived at the Burn home, I was amazed that this snake coiled into a bushel basket filled it to overflowing. That trophy was skinned, fastened to a board and prominently displayed in her home. That wasn’t the largest snakeskin hanging on the wall.

Another Daufuskie snake story: One day Jane and I were rowing near Bloody Point on the southeast end of Daufuskie Island when we encountered a relatively large rattlesnake. This one was in the salty seawater and swimming. It took a notion to board our little dinghy and I have never seen Jane row as fast as she did that particular day. I had heard stories of shrimp boats getting rattlesnakes in their nets offshore but this was the first and only time I had ever seen one in the briny sea waters. We were definitely believers now!

I liked what one of the colorful old Daufuskie locals, Hinson White, used to say about snakes on the island. In a broken Gullah accent, he said, “John, when you go a walking in the woods, you are forever tripping over sticks until you spot a big snake. Then you can’t find a stick to save your life.”

Copyright © 2011 John. M. Grimsrud

All rights reserved.

John is the author of the Sailing the Sea Islands: Travels of Dursmirg, and Yucatán’s Magic series.

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Link to Doings of Dudley Doolittle Index 2022

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

2022 Summary of our Year: Jane and John Grimsrud


2022 Summary of our Year: Jane and John Grimsrud

In 2022 Jane and I were fully vaccinated. We used face masks, not chin warmers, and avoided indoor restaurants, buses, and crowded group gatherings.

By May the virus had diminished, and we took a luxury first class bus to Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean Sea coast to visit our daughter Grisel, and to see her new home, and meet her husband Juan.

We had an outstandingly good time. Briny breezes made the temperatures salubrious. For one week we didn't use the air conditioner or even turn on a fan.

Returning to Mérida we went on a first class direct, not luxury. Six passengers on the bus were maskless: We both got sick.

Regarding the virus: As spring approached, deaths in the US diminished to 1,000 per day and then down to nearly 400 per day as the weather warmed.

With the very best lawyers and lobbyists that money could buy the airline industry got face mask and vaccination mandates removed. This is exactly what the tobacco industry had done for forty years.

It was obvious to me that an out of control health conundrum would soon be ready to explode.

Deniers of face mask, vaccination, and social distancing have successfully drawn out this pandemic that generated numerous new variants.

As fall turned to winter the day of reckoning has arrived.

Now a very contagious super variant with no vaccine available is with us.

Our home town of Mérida now has nearly two million people and far too much traffic.

On brighter side, near our ecological jungle garden home and sanctuary, we have found some great restaurants. We also know lots of places not to eat.

We have a world class sea food market near our home that is as good as we have ever found anywhere. We are happy.

Your old adventuresome friends,

John and Jane Grimsrud

Remember travel while you can

Photo May 2022: Bing, Grisel, Juan, and Jane

Dead in the Water by Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel - Book Review

Five Stars

Dead in the Water: A True Story of Hijacking, Murder, and a Global Maritime Conspiracy by Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel

This book is an eye opening look into high crime of all types carried out with unconscionable impunity by criminals who will never get enough. This true and frightening story is now an ongoing mega business. The book is worthy of more than five stars.


More than 11,000 oil tankers ply the sea-lanes, ranging from modest barges to so-called VLCCs, or very large crude carriers, as long as the Chrysler Building is tall. The tankers share the ocean with another 5,300 container ships, the greatest of which are even larger than the biggest tankers, with capacity for tens of thousands of standardized steel boxes. The large-scale adoption of the shipping container in the 1960s revolutionized the industry, drastically reducing the time and money required to move products across vast distances. Along with larger tankers, such ships catalyzed explosive growth: in 2019, the total volume of goods loaded onto ships worldwide, oil included, exceeded 11 billion metric tons, more than four times the figure in 1970.

Lawbreakers tended to share one overriding desire: to get their funds into safe, legitimate assets, preferably in Western countries with strong protections for private property.

The existence of a “scum market,” a community of experienced fraudsters who, for the right price, could cause a shipwreck or manufacture a fictitious insurance claim. Allegedly, the players in the scum market had underworld contacts powerful enough to have judges killed.

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