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In studying literary works, written in other languages, (and there’s no book this is more true of than the Bible) there is always the question of translation and interpretation.

I’m very conscious and careful with researching words (even simple words) to ascertain the real meaning and ‘feel’ of what is being said or conveyed by the writer. Translators and commentators choose the interpretation they personally feel is “best”.  But, translators are human – have biases – preconceived ideas – and cultural backgrounds that influence their selection.

To study honestly and faithfully requires looking at multiple commentaries and interpretations, and then, most times I go back to the original texts and work through the various possible definitions, to select the one I “feel” is best. Of course, what I “feel” is best may not work for someone else.

Words written in one language don’t always have an equivalent word in another language.  Worse – even when they do – there could be multiple words or meanings attributed to that word. The key of the translator is to select the proper meaning.

Think I’m wrong?

Or making too much of it?

Okay – let’s take a look at words – all in English alone – without any translation involved.

Ready?

Here’s just a few examples. As you read them think as if you were a translator:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Isn’t this fun?

Those are some simple examples. Think of a language that has only a few words and uses no vowels (Hebrew) to describe everything. How does the translator decide what is being said?

To give you an idea, let’s look at a language that has a lot of words (English). Surely, with so many words, it must be clear what is being said when one is used – right?  After all, it has so many words to choose from – right?

LEt’s take a look at one simple little word – oh let’s take the word “up”. This should be easy-right? After all – everyone knows what “up” means…

…or do they?

Let’s take a gander:

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call our friends UP.

We brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

Those are the general usages. At other times this little word has real special meaning..

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special..

A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but then we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

Well, to be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can have UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP – but when the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP– but when it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, because my time is UPso……..it is time to shut UP!

Now it’s UP to you what you do with this information when you read something.

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

DK LeVick

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Recently, I was asked, “Just what is a river rat, anyway?”

In the fly-leaf of ‘Journeys Across Niagara’, I describe myself as growing up on the Upper Niagara River, as a ‘river rat’—(I didn’t think anyone actually read fly-leafs anymore.)

Well, let’s go to the source for the answer—Wikipedia:

“…a large, herbivorous, semiaquatic rodent and the only member of the family Myocastoridae. Originally native to subtropical and temperate South America, it has since been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, primarily by fur ranchers. Although it is still valued for its fur in some regions, its destructive feeding and burrowing behaviors make this invasive species a pest throughout most of its range. There are two commonly used names in the English language for Myocastor coypus. The name “nutria” (or local derivatives such as “nutria- or nutra- rat”) is generally used in North America… In Italy the popular name is “nutria”, but it is also called castorino (“little beaver”), by which its fur is known.”

Quoting from Elvira Woodruff, The Christmas Doll (2000):

“To her horror, she discovered that the rope she was holding was not a rope at all, but a tail. And attached to the tail was a large river rat that scrambled frantically in midair, thrashing to get away.”

Whoa – let’s just wait a minute there fella– ‘a large rodent’?– ‘an invasive pest’? that ain’t a gonna do it.  ‘A semiaquatic rat’ called “little beaver”?   That’s not what I want on my tombstone. What do they know?  Who reads the lousy Wikipedia anyway? And,we all know how shallow internet research is, — don’t we? (see ‘Research-the Writer’s Mantra’).

Let’s check another source – one that understands real people. How about the Urban Dictionary?

 “Someone who either lives or represents El Rio, California. Usually low life wannabe gangsters who frequent Wal-Mart stores and attempt to steal sh_ _ only to be caught and think they are bad ass mofos. They start fights only to run away from it.”

Say what? I’m either a hairy wet rodent or a Wal-Mart wannabe gangsta?

Well—how much can a dictionary that calls itself ‘urban’ know anyway? Bet they never even seen a real river.

Ok – let’s go to the master book of definitions itself – Webster’s Merriam Dictionary.

Nothing. No entry – it’s not in the dictionary.

They’re kidding right? Now, I don’t even exist? Wait – here’s something in the Expanded Webster Merriam (so, I do exist – I’m just rare):

“…one who spends his leisure time on or along a river.”

Ok, that’s getting closer, but, it’s rather bland, isn’t it?

Wait a minute…what do we have here? This looks more like it:

Trademark Search > Trademark Category > Clothing Products > WHAT IS A RIVER RAT? DEFINITION OF A RIVER RAT (RI-VER RAT) N. Mammal, Unique and rare breed. Thrives best on or near water. Usually travels in groups, but may be spotted alone. Capable of consuming mass quantities of adult beverages. Peaceful by nature, respects others, loves life. Heavily concentrated in Louisiana, but can be found worldwide. WARNING: APPROACH WITH CAUTION IF PROVOKED.” Legal Source

Now we’re getting somewhere, or as Betty Bryant wrote in ‘Here Comes the Showboat!’ (1994):

“While other children were learning how to walk, I was learning how to swim, and I knew how to set a trotline, gig a frog, catch a crawfish, and strip the mud vein out of a carp by the time I was four. Dad called me a river rat.”

That a girl, Betty! Ride that boat!

Being a ‘rat’ on the Niagara River (actually it’s not a river at all, but a ‘strait’, see ‘The Niagara River – a Wonder of Creation’) I wasn’t in wonder of the mighty Niagara Falls, located downriver. I feared it greatly, viewing it as a threat—as the ultimate and final judgment for my escapades.  More than once, I found myself fighting to escape the swift current, carrying me to that huge, misty cloud ahead, as various capers went astray. Rather than captivating me, like it did the crowds of  ‘ohhing‘ and ‘ahhing‘ tourists, it scared the living daylights out of me. I’d look downriver and loath that huge cloud on the horizon, knowing that while I tinkered and toyed along the length of the river, it was always there, beckoning and calling to me with open arms to enter its eternal embrace.

Not that I ever did anything stupid, you understand. Things just seemed to happen for no reason of my own. It was the ‘river gods’. They were out to get me. It’s true. I’ll give you an example and you’ll see what I mean. How about an ordinary Bass fishing trip?

Navy Island is a small island that sits off of Grand Island, in the middle of the Niagara River, just a short distance above the brink of the mighty Niagara Falls.

The current along the island is fast, around 8 to 12 miles per hour, picking up speed as it approaches the abyss ahead. It’s also home to one of the best Smallmouth Bass drifts in the entire river (some great Musky fishing too). Get in a boat, shoot to the upper tip of the island, put the motor in neutral and drift the length of the island and you’ll tangle with some of the most beautiful three to five-pound smallies anywhere.  Great fishing – if you have a boat, but make sure your motor is running  – you wouldn’t want to stall here! The picture below shows the downriver end of Grand Island, with Navy Island off to the left and the Falls above it.)

Well, at the time of this fishing trip, I was 16 years wise and did, in fact, have a small, 12 foot aluminum Jon boat with an old, beat up 18 horse outboard on it. It was dinged up pretty bad and wasn’t much as far as boats on the Niagara go, but it worked, and to me it was the Queen Mary luxury liner. Unfortunately, at that time, it was sitting on the bottom of Lake Erie at a place called Sturgeon Point, after a Coast Guard Officer emptied a full clip of .45 hollow point bullets into it (but that’s another story).

Meanwhile, it was the peak of the Smallmouth bite and I was determined not to be left out. I managed to get possession of a 10 foot inflatable rubber raft that had a 3 ½ HP motor on it, a friend used on a small, inland lake. I tested it out – the raft didn’t leak and the motor ran good – so I was going bass fishing.

At daybreak, on the shore of Grand Island, I pumped up the raft with a foot pump, fastened the motor to the mount, loaded up all my gear, and pushed off for Navy Island. It was slow going, cutting across the swift current, to cover the  half mile to the upper tip of Navy Island, but I finally made it and was elated and feeling quite pleased with myself that I was going to get in on the fishing. I cast out a chartreuse Mister Twister, topped off with a live crawfish, and got ready for the action as I started the first drift.

It didn’t happen.

Unless I was trolling for birds, the drift was too fast for the lure to sink as it skipped across the surface. I put on a half ounce drop sinker—no go. One ounce – no good. Two ounces – still not working. The inflated raft, riding on top of the surface, having no hull friction below the waterline, skimmed across the surface – like a surfboard catching a wave at Maui. By now, I’d drifted down to the end of the island and it was time to motor back up to start another drift. Those 3 ½ horses barely moved me against the current, but after enough time to read “Crime and Punishment” a couple of times through, I arrived back at the head of the Island, ready for another drift, and – I had a plan. The slow journey back up the river had given me plenty of time to figure out a solution. I untied the anchor rope from the five-pound mushroom anchor, and strung the rope through the hole of the anchor. I then tied one end of the rope to one side of the back of the raft and the other end to the opposite side, with the anchor riding free in the middle. Ready to start the drift, I tossed the anchor overboard. It quickly sunk and I could feel it bouncing along the bottom of the river as the raft drifted.

It worked great! The dragging anchor slowed the raft down to enable the perfect drift, and if the smallies cooperated, it was going to be a great fishing day!

I had boated (rafted?) a nice three-pounder and was setting the hook on a second one, when all hell broke loose. The anchor snagged the bottom of the river and didn’t bounce – but held fast.  With the raft anchored firm on the river’s bottom while being pushed hard by the current on the river’s surface, the ten-foot raft instantly became a five-foot raft as it buckled in the middle, with the back half going completely underwater – motor and all.With half the raft underwater, and the river claiming the rest, inch by inch, everything that was in – went out – into the river and either sunk or floated, carried off by the current. Tackle box, rods, lunch – everything. When the bait box of crawfish went down, I had a fleeting thought of seeing the largest smallie in Niagara inhaling it and flipping me a “Thank you” with a smirk on its face.

But I was losing the raft fast. In a panic, I began sawing through the anchor rope with my pocket knife. When the last strand finally let go, the back of the raft popped up out of the water, like a jack-in-the-box. Whew—tragedy averted! Everything was gone, but the motor was still mounted on the back of the raft. Thank God!

Yanking on the starter cord, it didn’t start. Again – nothing; and again—and again. Nothing. Not a purr. Not a putt. Not a cough. Water ran out of the housing. Looking around, no boats were anywhere in sight. The shore of Navy Island was only about 70 feet away, but the raft was surfing by it and would soon be past the Island. Again I panicked—once past the Island, there was nothing between me and those thundering cataracts downriver. Looking ahead, I could see that ominous cloud on the horizon and I swear it was grinning.

Holding the rope in one hand, I dove into the river and began swimming for Navy Island. I knew if I didn’t reach the shore before the current carried me past the Island, I’d be fish food. I swam as hard as I could. But swim like I did, I was losing ground. The raft was flying with the current – and was taking me with it. I let go of the rope and swam like the devil for the island (believe me, the devil can swim).

Nothing in my life ever felt as good as when I felt ground under my feet as I was about to past the end of the island.

Pulling myself onto the shore, I sat there, watching the raft skimming along the surface, until I couldn’t see it any more.  After fulfilling my need to scream and kick a bunch of trees and rocks, I started waving and hollering for help. Finally, another fisherman came along (having a real boat), who gave me a ride back to Grand Island.

I never did know what happened to the raft.

So you see, it wasn’t anything on my part that caused me to fear and dislike the Falls – it was those river gods that didn’t like me and were out to get me. You can see that—right?

Later in life, I made amends with the Falls. Upon going down into the gorge below the cataracts, I was in wonder of the great canyon, the awesome rapids and the lush beauty of this glorious place that was right under my nose all these years. I was consumed by the mystery of it. I realized Niagara was actually two rivers, the “Upper” and the “Lower” Niagara, and they were as different as night is from day. One is an open faucet, emptying the ‘Great Lakes’, with a roar and thunder in a cloud of mist. The other is a living monument, craving across the earth, leaving a trail of beauty and attitude.

Much has been written about Niagara over the years, most about the mighty cataracts—little about the Niagara Gorge. This is truly amazing, when one considers the beauty, the challenge and the extensive, exciting history that engulfs the lower river  .          

Regardless of where on Niagara – Upper, Lower or the Cataracts themselves, my heart resides in the River, watching—listening to the “water”. When the time comes for me to depart this life, my ashes will finally fold into those beckoning arms of Niagara, and like the ‘Hermit of Niagara’, I’ll be ‘one with the water‘…

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

DK Levick

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As the saying goes “the devil’s in the details”.

When, writers of historical fiction, put words to paper, they bear the responsibility to transpose their readers to the time period their story relates to. This doesn’t mean telling them it’s 1776 – it means transporting them to 1776, making them feel it, live it, and be a part of it – having them jump up and march along with the fyfe and drum.

If only done on the macro level, the characters are superficial and transparent. The reader doesn’t feel authenticity and sees through the ruse. To lift the characters off the pages and bring them into the minds and hearts of the reader, the writer must work on the micro level—down in the trenches – with the details. And, here he must tread carefully, for it can easily be overdone. Too many details are overpowering and will bog a story down quicker than a hippo wallowing in molasses. Inserting a few carefully selected details, in a natural way, so as not recognizable as being inserted, will unconsciously, allow the reader to live them.  This is where the writer’s art comes in to play, weaving the facts and substance of the era into the spirit and essence of the story, putting the reader into the story’s setting as witness to the action.

For every word of detail the writer puts to paper, a hundred words were researched, reviewed and revised. Each sentence represents hours of background investigation, study and learning about the times, people, environment and cultures of the era.

If a writer’s passion is the blood flowing through his veins – then research is the muscle that forms his flesh.

During the writing of ‘Journeys across Niagara’ (formerly ‘Bridges – a Tale of Niagara’),  I traveled down many roads of research. Not so much for the main story line of Kevin and his friends living in Niagara Falls during the ‘60s, (having lived that era myself – I was my own research), but for the historical stories embedded in the novel. Encompassing four actual events, covering over 200 years of history in the Niagara Region, and crossing lines of culture, nations and habitat, each story required separate journeys of research and investigation. The stories are separated by many decades, in a rapidly developing part of the New World, undergoing major political, societal and cultural change. The world of the English drummer boy and the Iroquois brave in 1763 was a different world from the world of slavery and abolition found in Lizzie’s story of 1859. Conversely, The Hermit of Niagara lived on top of Niagara Falls in 1831, while the only instance of Niagara Falls stopping was in 1848, a mere 17 years apart, yet significant changes had occurred in the Niagara Frontier, due to the advent of the Erie Canal and the introduction of the railroads along with a spreading population, radically affecting the culture of the people. (See “Was there a Hermit of Niagara?” post on the right hand side.)

Research is the mantra of the historical fiction writer. It is hard work and takes considerable time but it’s as crucial to success as the reentry heat shields are to the space shuttle. I often wonder how earlier writers researched their subjects and eras. (hmm, could be a story there in the making.)

“To where do we go?” the writers asked. They went to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings. Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention, costly but worth the effort and cost.

Today, all that’s changed, writers have the advantage of the internet. Call up any subject or key word and information is immediately at your fingertips. Images, words, histories, background, essays and opinions—lots of opinions. This is a huge advantage for the modern writer, but I also see a snare lying in wait for us. As wide and as deep as the internet is, it only coughs up what someone has put in it. And those things are repeated – over and over. The internet fools us into thinking we can click on any subject and then, magically and instantly, we are ‘well informed’ and ‘all knowing’ about that subject. It has the potential to ‘Wikipedia’ an entire population, on a global scale, with a ‘one-click’ mentality, regarding any particular subject.

That’s one scary thought! The same, singular knowledge and information is put out and repeated to all who punch in a keyword or subject and most inquiries stop at that level. Much of this information has already been filtered and is steeped in ‘opinions’, before we ‘surf’ through it, filtering and discarding along the way. We, too easily, fail to genuinely dive into the heart of the matter, as true research demands. With enough repetitions and enough people reading the same things without rebuttal and opposing views and insights, we begin forming a global community of keyboard punchers who think along the same lines. And we then put our faith in it – “I read it on the internet, so it must be true.”   There is a great risk of an unconscious ‘dumbing down’ of the entire world concerning any given subject of history – like-minded regurgitating with like-minded. Understandings about people and events can easily become condensed down to a singular ‘common’ or ‘general’ opinion, and we all know, there is nothing ‘common’ or ‘general’ concerning people. People are unique, diverse and always at emotional states with one another, whether loving or hating one another. And history is nothing more than a reflection of those people and those emotions. And make no mistake about it, we must fully understand and know all the details of history or the past will overtake the future.

Think for a second, what power true censorship would have over this medium. The world’s understanding of history would be revised and reshaped to conform to the political or social designs of those doing the censoring. This isn’t fantasy or paranoia talk, for we know all too well that such things have happened down through history by governments, religions and organizations burning, rewriting and revising history for their own purposes and agendas. It’s not inconceivable or preposterous to think it could happen with the internet and we mustn’t be complacent– for there are governments, around the globe, imposing censorship and monitoring the internet as I write.

True research goes beyond the internet and dives into the heart, fiber and cellular DNA of the matter. We, as writers, owe it to our readers and to those who went before us, to embrace research with both arms wide open, welcoming the joy of bringing history to life.

“To where do we go?” the writers ask. We go to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings.  Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention costly but worth the effort and cost.

Gee – I guess not all that much has changed after all.

Until Next Time:

 Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

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The year was 1976, America was relishing in its Bicentennial anniversary of independence, and I found myself in a musty antique shop, browsing among the discarded treasures of generations gone by. There, in a small offshoot room, hanging on a crowded wall, suspended amongst pictures, tapestries, murals, and rick-rack, I spied an old picture. It was a Stereoview, taken around 1890 by the famous George Barker. Stereoviews were the rage around the turn of the century, consisting of two almost similar views of the same thing, mounted side-by-side, in one frame. When fitted into a special, wooden viewer and held up to your eyes, it created a single picture with a stereo effect to it. The picture on the wall was of the ice bridge of Niagara Falls.

It fascinated me, both with the idea of the mighty Falls frozen completely over and hundreds of those old-time people walking around on it, and because it brought back memories of seeing a similar ice bridge myself when I was a kid, growing up in Western New York, in the ‘60’s.

Niagara Falls! The water—the roar—the mist—the smell—the power—the mystery. Niagara is a mystic enchantment that pulls people into its swirling mists and absorbs them into its magic. Niagara is a gift to man, declaring the glory of creation and thereby the surety of a Creator. Surrounded by history and steeped in lore of fascinating legends and people, it’s not only the Falls, but the rivers—the gorge—the mighty lakes, all splendid, magnificent and oozing with life. Take a walk through the Niagara Gorge (but please, not in the winter like my ‘boys’ did) and I guarantee you’ll come out a different person than when you went in. You’ll meet God in the Gorge (See post titled:  “Come Walk with Me”  at right.)

And then—the 60’s. It’s strange for me to think of the 60’s as nostalgia, but in fact they are. The 60’s were special years, creating a decade, unique and stand alone in our history.  In 1961, the world feared atomic war and we built backyard bomb shelters and we had ‘A’ bomb drills hiding under school desks, while spewing the illusion of being at peace with ourselves and the world. We felt ‘everything had been done and invented’ and there was nothing left for us to do. Meanwhile, the decade was on the verge of being the most dynamic, world-changing decade history had ever seen. Communications, civil rights, technology, economics, drugs, assassinations, space travel, society values and wars all around the globe, exploded literally overnight, turning America, and the world, upside down. The 60’s came in with the ‘Twist’ and bobby socks and left with us with VietNam and a man on the moon, leaving us in shock and yearning for those years when we wore bomber hats, drank hot chocolate and our only wars were snowball fights.

How much more inspiration would one need? A combination of a forbidden Niagara few people know about, coupled with the decade of the best and worse times in America. The ‘picture’ itself brought all this into focus for me, and I started writing.

I wanted to write about people who felt their life was unimportant, and didn’t know where they fit in. A decade when America was at its prime and at its worse, when young people thought everything had been done and there was nothing left for them to do, yet, aside from the Revolutionary War era itself, was the most revolutionary decade in American history.

Meanwhile, it’s no different from any other time, with people having the same needs, fears, joys and sorrows across the generations. All are ‘journeys’, traveling the same road, only in different times.

That was 1976 and I wrote 12 typewritten pages, put it aside and continued my own ‘journey’.

Fast forward 32 years and now it’s September 2008. I had just endured a personal loss and as a result was forced to sort out files of old papers. Buried among bill receipts, technical reports, letters and various doodlings, I came across 12 typewritten pages. They were yellowed, stained and crinkled when I held them. As I read them, I immediately grabbed a pen and began editing them. 350 pages later,Bridges – a Tale of Niagara was conceived and a year later gave birth to Journeys Across Niagara.  I give this child to you, with my wish that you enjoy reading it as much as I have in writing it.

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

—-Dk Levick

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“Come” He Said.

With those words, Peter climbed over the side of a boat, tossing and turning in rough seas, and walked on water!

A fascinating story.  Here – let’s read it together:

 22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

   29 “Come,” he said. 

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”  

Matthew 14:22 (NIV)

It was a new beginning for Peter.

Peter was a fisherman. Uneducated, rough – living a hard life in a hard country at a hard time. His life changed and he became one of the most honored men in Christian (world?) history.  Why? Because he dared to step out of the boat – to take a step that defied logic – nature and life itself.

True – he faltered and began sinking, but with the help of his Lord – he survived. The point is – he took the step. The others didn’t – they remained inside the boat not having the strength or faith to step out. They seen Jesus and thought he was a ghost. Peter seen Jesus and said “me too!”

In today’s world of the shifting paradigm within the publishing and writing world – Indie authors are Peters.  They’re stepping out of the boat – they’re walking on water!

The publishing world is sitting in the boat saying it’s not possible – you can’t do that – you’ll sink and perish!  Then when they see it happening, they say “It’s not real! It’s a ghost – an apparition – a mirage.” And they tremble with fear.

Hello all my fellow Indie authors!  “Come on, don’t be afraid.”  Let’s step out of the boat.  “Ya wanna walk on water?”  Fun, huh?

.

Check out my latest short story on Smashwords and Amazon:

“The Man in the Painting”

What is peace? and from where does it come?

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

 

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Hello Friends…

I trust you have all been well and good.

I’ve been asked lately about an embedded story in my novel “Bridges – a Tale of Niagara”   http://www.bridgesataleofniagara.com/ which recounts a strange man called the Hermit of Niagara, whether he was a real person or if I just made him up.

Let’s talk about him a little today…

WAS THERE REALLY A ‘HERMIT OF NIAGARA’?

Oh yes! There certainly was.

He came from England – he lived on Goat Island – he was musically talented – he frolicked in the brink of Niagara Falls – he spoke to no one – and he’s buried in Niagara Falls.

“He was real enough, fellas—a certified nut case for sure, but real all the same he was. Lived on Goat Island all by himself, ya know. Didn’t talk to no one, and he sure ’nough died there, too. The Hermit of Niagara is what they called him.” Ol’ Gordy; Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

Arriving in June of 1829, Francis Abbott shunned society. The villagers had this knowledge of him: He was an English gentleman. He was educated, skilled in music and drawing. He had visited Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. He wrote in Latin but destroyed his compositions. After his death, when the towns people investigated his hut they found his dog guarding the door (which took considerable effort to remove) and his cat on the bed. There was a guitar, a violin, some flutes, and a number of music books scattered about. The pages were blank. He explored Goat Island extensively, which was a thick forest at the time and had relative solitary confinement due to the only access being a scary bridge crossing the fierce rapids.

“A narrow, rickety foot bridge crossed the treacherous rapids, dividing the mainland from the island. Few dared cross it—so violent were the rapids below, so unstable was the bridge—as it were mere yards away from the brink.” The Hermit’s Story; Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

He did, in fact, find and live in a small log cabin that had been previously erected by a pioneer family before the island was purchased by Peter and Augustus Porter. He lived in it for almost two years before being evicted by the Porters.

Did he hang on to those boards over the Falls like in the book?

According to many witness reports – he did!

The sketch below is the one that ‘Sam’ bought in the novel and was drawn by James Edward Alexander in 1831, shortly after the hermit’s death.  Look closely and you’ll see the Hermit hanging off the wooden planks located on the brink of the Falls at Terrapin Point.

“The walkway ended in a single twelve-foot beam, a mere ten inches wide, extending out like an accusing finger from the tempest. Francis walked the length of the beam for hours, as if strolling down a country road. Spectators were shocked and fearful and often broke into hysteria. He’d sit on the end of the beam, dangling his legs over the edge, and on occasion, he’d suspend himself off the beam, kicking his feet into the roaring maelstrom that spewed and tumbled down past him. Women swooned and fainted; brave men trembled, their knees buckling as they watched Francis casually pull himself back onto the beam with no more concern than if he was rising from his dinner table.” The Hermit’s Story;  Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

Did he really drown in Niagara?
Yes he did – but by the best accounts – he didn’t drown going over the Falls. I took a little literary license with that. After getting booted off the island, he resumed his hermit lifestyle at the base of the Falls. It was down there on June 10th, 1831, he was observed ‘bathing’ by a passing ferryman who saw Francis go under the water surface and not come back up. A search for Francis was conducted – without success. On June 21st, 1831, the body of Francis Abbott did surface at Fort Niagara and he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

There is a headstone but it’s been knocked over and neglected so that it is unreadable now. It read:.

“Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara Died June 10, 1831 He died in his 28th year” 

What happened? Suicide or accident? 
“What, it will be asked, could have broken up and destroyed such a mind as Francis Abbott’s? What could have driven him from the society he was so well qualified to adorn — and what transform him, noble in person and in intellect, into an isolated anchorite, shunning the association of his fellow-men? The history of his misfortunes is not known, and the cause of his unhappiness and seclusion will, undoubtedly, to us be ever a mystery.”  New York Mirror 1890

Of interest is that found on a rock on Luna Island was the following inscription:

“All is Change, Eternal Progress, No Death”

Did the hermit leave this?

Why was he here?

What was he looking for – or running away from?
To this day, no one knows.  ‘The Hermit’s Cascade’, located between Goat Island and First Sister Island, is named after Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara. If you’d like to read further about the ‘hermit’ let me suggest the following:

“Niagara – A History of the Falls” by Pierre Berton

www.niagarafrontier.com

New York Times article:  July 6, 1875   http://bit.ly/qmnKK6
The Montreal gazette   Oct. 29, 1948      http://bit.ly/mOXxUm
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What have I been doing lately?

Well, on a personal note, I’m been overwhelmed with a couple of things, not important here but they’ve taken up a great deal of my time.
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Meanwhile – I’ve published another short story on Amazon and Smashwords titled:  “The Man in the Painting”. Take a look at it and leave a review.  Use this code during the next week and get it free on smashwords:  FA24C
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Also, I’ve been writing two projects simultaneously. First, is a new novel that I’m not ready to tell you about yet. Suffice it to say it’ll be quite different from my previous work.
Second, is something quite similar to my previous work, which I’ll tell you about next time. (I know, I didn’t talk about either one. Sorry… what can I say?)

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

 


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Hello all –

I trust everyone is well and working diligently on reading good things and writing better things.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. In the midst of a lot of turmoil in my life right now, I’ve started a new project and it’s taking me and my writing into some new territory. The research on the subject has been extensive and seems to spread faster and further than a summer thunderstorm. But it’s been exciting and I like the thunder and lightning.

The project started out as a joke (you’re already in on it, you just don’t know it yet) and is growing into a novel – a big novel. I plan on releasing it in parts on a serial basis.

As a result of the research, I’ve been buying quite a pile of books and gaining an impressive library on the subject. Some are e-books and some are book-books.

You know I love my Kindle and also my Kindle for PC, but when doing research they just don’t compare to working with the real McCoy. Being able to thumb through a book from cover to cover, searching for a phrase or picture and spreading books out all over the table or floor (whatever works) and jumping back and forth from one to the other with ease brings back warm memories of years in school and at study with my love affair for real, paper, marked up, musty smelling books, for it truly is a love affair. After using e-book media for a while, you tend to forget that part of it and you lose the ‘feel‘ of the book. I don’t mean the actual feel of paper in your hands, (if you miss that then wrap paper around your Kindle) but I mean the internal ‘feel’ of holding a book.  I know – it’s all mental, but then, isn’t everything? Trust me on this, hold a favorite book in your hands and the memories start to flood back in. You never forget them. You find yourself cradling it, stroking it and holding it with affection and at times your emotions for the memories inside cause you to smile and squeeze it tight. Pick up your Kindle and it’s not there. I have to conjure up a ‘book‘ from the ‘library’ first and then what do I visualize?   (I’m afraid to squeeze my Kindle anyway – don’t know what pressing all those buttons would do and who knows what I’ll be reading in the next instant – if anything.)

(more…)

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