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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



John Silveira’s Novels

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 by John | Comments Off

If you came to this page looking for John Silveira’s novels, please use the links, below, for the Kindle and print versions at Amazon.com.

If you prefer to purchase the print version(s) by check:

To order one book, be sure to indicate which book you want.
Cost: $19.90 ($14.95 + $4.95 S&H)

Get free shipping on the second book if you order both.
Cost: $34.85 ($14.95 + $14.95 + $4.95 S&H)

Please make the check payable to John Silveira and mail to:

John Silveira
PO Box 1646
Gold Beach, OR 97444

Danielle Kidnapped: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Ice Age

Click Here for the Kindle version. $8.95

Click Here for the Print version. $14.95

Also, check out the Danielle: Kidnapped Facebook page.

  Danielle Kidnapped by John Silveira
 
The Devil You Know

Click Here for the Kindle version. $8.95

Click Here for the Print version. $14.95

  The Devil You Know by John Silveira

Mike And Jayne Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial

Friday, November 7th, 2014 by Richard | Comments Off

Crazy Horse —The Last Great Warrior of the Plains

This photo was taken from the recently constructed viewing deck near the Monument. Mike lined this shot to show the contrast between a completed model and the Memorial’s work in progress.

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I met Mike and Jayne nearly 54 years ago while playing a game called  “curb ball” with a few friends. It’s a simple game that only requires a sidewalk curb or concrete step, and a few friends to play. It became popular in many cities around the country after World War II. We liked playing games like this because the only equipment needed was a tennis ball, or a pink rubber ball that we called a “pinkie”. This day, however, tragedy struck. I was the designated batter. As I threw the ball against the curb, it struck the very edge and collapsed. Unfortunately, it was the only ball we had. We thought that the game was over until Mike and Jayne, who had been watching us play offered us a solution to the problem. Mike announced that he had two brand new “pinkies” at home. If we let him be the next batter, he would run home and get one. We all agreed, so Mike ran home and brought back a brand new ball, and the game continued. We have been friends ever since.

The background in this photo was shot, by me, in 1960. It is the the parking court where we played many ball games like “curb ball”. The characters in the foreground were frequent players in all of our games. The foregound  photo was taken at our Franklin Field Project reunion in August, 2013.  Jayne was behind the camera.

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Over the years, Mike and Jayne have not lost their willingness to share with friends. Last year they vacationed in New Mexico. They returned with some great photographs of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, and gave me permission to publish them in my February post of this year. This year they went to the Great Plains to see and experience the majesty of the Crazy Horse Memorial being carved into a 600-foot-high mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When completed, it will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long. These dimensions will make it the largest sculpture in the world. Crazy Horse’s head will be larger than all of the heads of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore.

The Black Hills are a small mountain range rising from the Great Plains in South Dakota and extending into Wyoming. These hills were so named because of their dark appearance when viewed from a distance because of their dense tree cover. The Lakota made the Black Hills their home after forcing the Cheyenne to relocate to the west in 1776.

Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux Native American Chief who waged a desperate battle against the removal of his people from the Black Hills to U.S. government reservations. He was born to parents of two tribes of the Lakota division of Sioux. His father was an Oglala and his mother was a Miniconjou. His birth came at a time when the Lakota people were at the height of their power. They controlled a vast swath of land from the Missouri River in the east to the Big Horn River in the west. Their contact with white settlers was minimal until the 1850s when white settlers began moving west in search of gold and a new life on the frontier. As the number of new settlers increased, they introduced diseases that began to take a serious toll on native American populations. By 1854, tensions between native Americans and the settlers boiled over with an incident known as the Grattan Massacre. In August of 1854, a group of soldiers led by Lieutenant John Grattan entered the Sioux camp of Chief Conquering Bear to arrest a man for killing a settler’s cow that wandered into the area. The Chief refused to turn the man over to the soldiers, and violence erupted. During the confrontation one of the soldiers shot and killed the Chief. The camp’s warriors fought back and killed Grattan and his 30 soldiers. This is widely believed to be the conflict that set off the first great war between the Lakota and the United States. As conflicts escalated between the United States and the Lakota, Crazy Horse was at the center of many key  battles. Because of his exceptional fighting ability Crazy Horse was named Ogale Tanka (war leader) by his tribe in 1865. He  had a seemingly mystical ability to avoid injury or death on the battlefield. It is believed that he was only wounded twice; both wounds were inflicted by members of his tribe. Crazy Horse had one motive for  fighting in most of his battles. He was determined retake the Lakota life he had known as a child, when his people had full run of the Great Plains.

The last stand and death of Crazy Horse

During the Civil War (1861-1865), the military avoided battle with the Lakota. In 1866, however, hostilities began again. In December of that year Crazy Horse led an attack on a Captain William Fetterman and a brigade of 80 soldiers, outside of Fort Laramie on the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming, just south of the Montana border. Fetterman and his entire brigade were killed. This was a huge embarrassment for the U.S military.

On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led 1,200 Oglala and Cheyenne warriors against General George Crook and his brigade as they were on their way to confront Chief Sitting Bull at his encampment on the Little Bighorn River. The attack foiled Crook’s planned attack, preventing him from linking up with General Custer and his 7th Cavalry on Big Horn River. On June 24, 1876, Custer attacked Sitting Bull’s camp. This attack ended in disaster for the 7th Cavalry. The detachment was cut to pieces and killed to the last man. After the defeat on the Big Horn River, the Army pursued a scorched-earth policy against the Lakota. Sitting Bull led his followers to Canada to escape this wrath. Crazy Horse refused and vowed to continue fighting. During the winter of 1877, hunger and cold forced many of Crazy Horse’s warriors to abandon him. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led his people into Fort Robinson to surrender. On the morning of September 5th, 1877, Crazy Horse was bayoneted in the back by a guard while being formally arrested at Fort Robinson, and died later that night.

Looking into the future of the Memorial

The painting below shows how this remarkable carving will look in the future when all of Korczak’s major goals are completed. A poem written by the sculptor will be carved behind the horse and rider in letters three feet tall.

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The Creator/Sculptor

Korczak Ziolkowski, a Polish/American sculptor, was the designer of The Crazy Horse Memorial. He was born in Boston in 1908 to Polish parents. He was educated at Rindge Technical (now called Rindge Latin) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating he became apprentice to a Boston ship maker, and began carving wood at age 20. He later moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, to begin a career as a professional artist. He was one of the sculptors who helped in the carving of Mount Rushmore. His reputation as a sculptor, and his familiarity with South Dakota’s Black Hills prompted several Lakota chiefs to approach him about constructing a monument honoring Native Americans. Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota Nation wrote him a letter saying, “My fellow chiefs would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too. In 1947, Ziolkowski moved to the Black Hills to begin planning the sculpture. The first blast was made on June 3, 1948, and the Memorial was dedicated to the Native American people. He continued his work until his death in 1982. After his death, his wife Ruth took over the project as director until her death on May 14 of this year. Their children are continuing the carving of the monument or are active in the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. The U.S. government has offered the foundation 10 million dollars to help with the construction, but it has been turned down. The foundation charges admission to visitors to raise development funds.

Planned dimensions of the Crazy Horse Memorial

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 Mount Rushmore — only 8 miles away

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If you are interested in this subject go to www.biography.com and type Crazy Horse into the search bar. There you will find biographies of many of the historical figures discussed here.

Connecticut Wine Festival Joins The Durham Fair

Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Richard | Comments Off

The Durham Fair was first held on the last weekend of September in 1916, and has been held on this same weekend for the past 95 years. Over the years the fair has only been cancelled twice and delayed once. During the World War II years of 1942, 1943 and 1944, limited resources forced cancellation. A hurricane passed through the area in 1938 forcing the second cancellation, and Hurricane Gloria in 1985 prevented the fair from opening on its first day (Friday). However, the dedicated efforts of hundreds of volunteers made it possible for the fair to open on schedule for the weekend. Unlike many other large agricultural fairs that have replaced volunteers with paid staff and management, the Durham Fair remains 100 percent volunteer run. I believe it one of only two agricultural fairs in the country to maintain this tradition. This  fair also takes pride in distributing all profits to provide academic scholarships and a variety of support services to the  town of Durham

Fair activities include livestock exhibits, pulling contests, agricultural exhibits, and craft events. The draft horse and tractor pulls are my favorites. This year, the weather was gorgeous during the three-day event, and an estimated 200,000 people were expected to attend. If someone told me that half of those folks were there on Sunday with me and my wife Tricia, I would have no trouble believing it.

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Here is the main stage tent, which this year featured popular entertainers like Tower of Power, a group with more than 20 successful albums to their credit. Other entertainers included: Montgomery Gentry, featuring Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery, who together have celebrated multiple awards for their music, and Jo Dee Messina, a talented, award winning country western singer. Past entertainers on the main stage have included Justin Moore, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, the Guess Who and KC and the Sunshine Band.

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A view of the fair from the top of the Town Green not far from The Wine Festival Tent.

This is a reincarnation of food sold by an old Boston fast food chain that thrived in the ’50s and ’60s. During our high school years, Dave Duffy and I commuted to school on public transportation. The final leg of that journey was on an elevated train that ran from Forest Hill Station, where Dave jumped on. The next stop was Green Street, then it rolled into Egleston Station where I got on. Two stops later we arrived at Kneeland Street Station where Dave and I got off and walked from there to Cathedral High School. Keep in mind that this commute was taking place at around 7 in the morning. At the bottom of the stairs leading from the station was a fast food shop called Joe and Nemo’s. And they sold? You guessed it!  Steamed burgers and hot dogs, already on the bun with only mustard for a garnish. If you ever talk to Dave, please don’t tell him that you heard this from me. We didn’t make a regular habit of it, but there were days when a steamed cheeseburger or hot dog tasted pretty good at 7 in the morning. Joe and Nemo’s was a Boston original, with at least 40 stores in various neighborhoods around Boston and Cambridge. Judging from the line at the counter, steamed burgers and dogs are still popular — at least in Connecticut. I was tempted to order one, but 6 dollars was out of my price range. At Joe and Nemo’s they cost us less than a dollar each. Of course, that was back in 1960.

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A blast from the past

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The Connecticut Wine Festival returned to the Durham Fair for a second year to showcase Connecticut wines. The popularity of this event is a reflection of the growing enthusiasm in this country for local wines. This is especially true here in Connecticut where local wines continue to win fans and impress connoisseurs from around the world.

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Entrance to the Wine Festival tent. That is Tricia in background entering the tent. Her enthusiasm for this event was  obvious here. Like many of the woman that I met at the festival, she has an educated palette for certain wines and is eager to share her knowledge with others.

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The Wine Institute of New England was conducting a free wine appreciation seminar, covering wine tasting techniques, varietal information and debunking common wine myths.

 

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I was very impressed with the wine knowledge and sophisticated taste preferences of young women that I met while at the festival.

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Michael Blunt (in the middle) starring as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This performance, accompanied by a full symphony orchestra and young choral group, was a true testament to how much determination and effort my youngest has devoted to developing a career in a very demanding profession. The attending audience loved the performance, and demonstrated it with a standing ovation at its conclusion.

Vineyards in my backyard

Friday, September 5th, 2014 by Richard | Comments Off

Before setting sail for the new world, English Pilgrims carefully calculated what items would fit into their trunks. Necessities such as: a Bible, a good knife, some warm winter clothing and a bottle or two of wine, usually a French Bordeaux, were included. Some kind of alcohol was considered a necessity because water had a bad reputation in seventeenth century Europe, where much of the water was polluted. The colonists believed that the same situation existed in the the new world. So, before setting sail they stocked their ships with as much alcohol, of various kinds, as possible. It was not unusual for a Pilgrim ship, setting sail for America, to be stocked with three times as much beer as water, along with several thousand gallons of wine, and whatever hard liquor the passengers packed in their trunks.

When these thirsty pioneers reached the Connecticut shores, they were surprised to find that the water was drinkable, and that wild grapes, red and white, thrived throughout their new home territory. As settlements in this state grew, wine made from these wild grapes became a staple beverage. It was presented hot and mulled to preachers during long sermons, given to children as medicine, and often served to funeral home visitors during wakes. This sweet homemade brew sustained many families during the long winter nights.

As the 17th century advanced, the popularity of wine was challenged by a variety of other beverages. Shiploads of rum from the West Indies, along with a variety of wines from France appeared. As apple orchards were flourishing, families began drinking hard apple cider with every meal. Despite all of this competition, enough people were still growing grapes in large enough quantities to keep the grape culture alive in the state, and new vineyards continued to spring up all over Connecticut. However, the Temperance Movement was slowly gaining influence. Laws were being passed that threatened to kill the retail wine sales that wineries depended on for survival. In 1922, the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed. These two laws made the production, sale, and distribution of most alcoholic beverages, including wine, illegal in this country. Wine vineyards in Connecticut went into a steep decline and started to vanish from the landscape. Even after the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed in 1933, local laws in Connecticut made commercial wine making impossible. Finally, in 1978, Governor Ella T. Grasso signed the Farm Wine Act into law, which allowed the production and sale of wine to be legal in this state. By 1979, several vineyards were distilling and selling wine to the public. Today, there are about 33 farm wineries in this state. They all produce a variety of distinctive quality wines that have captured the interest of wine lovers here. It is difficult to drive for 45 minutes in any direction in this state without driving by a thriving vineyard. It would not be a stretch to say everyone living in Connecticut has a vineyard in their backyard.

Last month, my wife Tricia and I spent a weekend in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, where farm wineries have been thriving for many years. I returned to Connecticut with a renewed interest in local wines, especially those produced by the 33 farm vineyards here in Connecticut. My first choice for a visit to a local vineyard was by chance. I was hiking along the Talcott Mountain Ridge, searching the skies for bald eagles riding the thermals rising up from the valley floor. When I got to the Heublein Tower to the west, I stopped to rest. While panning the valley floor to the east with my binoculars, I caught sight of a large red barn with two fields of grape vines in front of it. I hurried back to my car and headed in that direction. My first visit to a Connecticut farm vineyard had begun.

2014-08-10 001 001 copy_edited-1My starting point — The Heublein Tower

2014-09-04 001 001In the shadow of Talcott Mountain — Rosedale Vineyards

 

2014-08-10 001 003 copyThe main entrance to the vineyard

Rosedale Farm and Vineyards is my first stop on the Connecticut Wine Trail. It has been a successful farm since 1920, offering Farmington Valley residents a wide variety of high-quality fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Inspired by a talented and innovative local winemaker with over 20 years of wine making experience, the owners established a four-acre vineyard, accompanied by a wine bar offering free tastings. Their first vintage was available in 2005. Since then their wines have captured medals in several prestigious wine competitions. Their red wines are very popular throughout the valley, so for my first purchase from a Connecticut winery I chose Lou’s Red. This is a medium body red table wine which is juice from Merlot and Marechal Foch grapes. I gave this bottle to my son Michael to taste. He was impressed with how smooth and easy to drink it was. That is a special compliment, especially from a man who favors more robust wines like Zinfandel.


Lou’s Red

 

2014-08-10 001 001The wines in this small section of their wine rack were featured the day I visited.

 

 2014-08-10 001 005 copyThe outside wine tasting area

2014-08-11 002 002 copyThe visitors sampling wine here were also treated to a majestic view of the vineyard and its fruit-heavy vines.

 

2014-08-10 001 008 copy_edited-1This sign invites visitors to a short and very pleasant hike from farm store to one of my favorite places — the Farmington River

 

2014-08-11 002 003 copy_edited-1After crossing the bridge indicated on the trail map, I was rewarded with a scenic view of cornfields and Talcott Mountain. If you look to the right side of the mountain, you will see Heublein Tower.

 

2014-08-11 002 007 copyThis is the prize for taking this pleasant and short walk on a warm summer afternoon.

Jerram Winery

A few days after visiting Rosedale, I headed north to visit a small vineyard in New Hartford. The winery was founded in 1998 and is owned and operated by Jim Jerram, a man with extensive experience in the food and beverage industry. The winery sits close the vineyards and gardens with patios and decks for guests to relax and enjoy a glass of wine on a warm sunny afternoon.

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2014-08-25 006 001_edited-1I purchased a light and fruity wine made with Chardonnay grapes. My wife and I enjoyed it with glazed salmon, cooked on the grill that night. The match was perfect, even though it was by chance.

2014-08-11 003 003 copyThe vineyards are alongside the tasting room where guests are invited to sample featured wines.

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2014-08-17 001 004 copy_edited-1Jim Jerram serving guests and sharing his knowledge of wine and wine culture with his guests

 

2014-08-17 001 008The atmosphere is warm, friendly, and relaxed at this winery. In the photo above my wife is having a conversation with a couple that live in the valley a few miles from us.

McLaughlin Vineyards features an afternoon of Shakespeare

McLaughlin Vineyards is a family owned and operated vineyard located on a 160-acre farm in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The farm shares land with the Upper Paugussett State Forest where bald eagles can be sighted on a cold winter day. This was one of the first farms to establish a winery after the state made it legal to make wine commercially. This vineyard produces over 2,500 cases of grapes from about 15 acres of vines. My visit was prompted by more than an opportunity to tour the winery and vineyards. My son Michael is a member of a professional theater group that tours New England performing the works of Shakespeare. On this day, the group was presenting the tragedy King Lear at the vineyard. Michael portrays the rich and clueless son of Gloucester, one of the kingdom’s most powerful men. Edgar survives being convicted of plotting to kill his father by disguising himself as Tom O’Bedlam, a crazy man who wanders around begging for food. Near the end of the play, Edgar is crowned King.

2014-08-25 004 001This light and fruity Chardonnay was a featured wine on the day of my visit.

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Mc FieldsThe vines in this photo are part of an experiment to produce organic grapes.

 

2014-08-23 001 013 copyAn attentive audience enjoying the King Lear production

 

2014-08-23 001 003Edgar as Poor Tom caring for his blind father

 

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The 2nd Annual Connecticut Wine Festival will be celebrated at the Durham State Fair later this month. In attendance will be seven of the state’s established wineries. We will also be there to record and share the excitement with you.

 

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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