Whitewater Rafting: An Unforgettable Adventure!

                                                                                                                                               

It had seemed like a good idea: Whitewater rafting in Virginia in October. On the last weekend that guides offered a ride down the James River, my husband, Rick, and I drove over to Richmond with a group of eight. None of us had been rafting before, but that was okay, since we knew we would have experienced guides. We followed directions to the headquarters, but instead of reaching a flowing body of water, we discovered an old shack next to a highway. Our first question when we arrived was, “Where is the river?”                                                                       

Hopping out of our van and heading inside, we found the building filled with people, paddles, and all kinds of paraphernalia. Our names were checked off a reservation list, and we received assistance in picking out our gear, including life jackets and helmets. Next, a fit-looking guide gave us a safety talk on how to survive the day. Wait a minute. Survive?  We were just there for a fun run down the river. We soon learned that whitewater rafting can be dangerous—especially if there are rocks, which there definitely were in the shallow James River. We were taught everything from how to sit in the raft, to getting into the “swimmer’s position” if thrown overboard. We also learned to hold onto the handle of our paddles at all times. (That way, when the water tossed us about, we wouldn’t whack anyone.)                                                                       

We learned that the roughest rapids would be level four, and the only other adult  in our group gave my husband and me a sideways glance, conveying the message, What have we gotten into?

Rick and I tried to assure her everything would be all right, but we weren’t that sure about it ourselves. We boarded an old school bus with other rafters, enduring a bumpy ride through the woods to the James River. Our group was divided, with our teens in one orange raft, while the rest of our gang was placed in another with a scout leader and two boys. Bruce, our guide, pushed us into the water effortlessly, and we gently flowed along as birds in the trees sang.                                                                  

It wasn’t long, however, before the birdsong disappeared and we paddled down a roaring river topped with, you guessed it—white water.  I felt some apprehension as we approached our first set of rapids, but I slid my feet under the plastic tubing in front of me, holding onto my paddle as if my life depended on it—and maybe it did. We had been instructed to keep paddling while going through rough water, and our raft bumped and dipped, but it wasn’t bad. Actually, it was kind of fun.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the boys said with enthusiasm, “Let’s do it again!”                                 

Our guide chuckled. “Don’t worry. We’ll do it again.”                                             

It wasn’t long before another patch of angry water loomed before us, tougher than the first. It lifted us up and set us down, turning us to the side before we reached a calm stretch. After several more whitewater runs, just as I felt more confident concerning my navigating skills, we came upon something I’d never even imagined. We were about to zip through two large boulders toward water that looked like a whirlpool in the ocean.                    

I couldn’t believe we were headed right for it. We’re never going to make it, flashed through my mind, but a second later, I could only think about paddling and staying inside the raft at the same time. We were tossed about mercilessly, then pushed to the right with such force, I was thrown to the opposite side of the craft. The boy scout leader asked if I was okay, so I guess it must have looked pretty dramatic. I didn’t think it was possible for our journey to become even more difficult, but soon Bruce told us we were approaching a broken dam. I wanted to scream, What?!                                           

Perhaps sensing our anxiety, Bruce said, “Don’t worry. It’s a small dam.”

Small or not, the water rushing between two brick walls and into another churning mass sent a surge of fear and doubt through me. We bounced through, however, but not until a wave of icy cold water came in on my side of the raft, threatening to submerge it while shooting up the arm of my waterproof jacket. I didn’t see any more treacherous sections ahead, and I’d started breathing more easily right before a shout caused me to look behind us. The raft holding our teens was stuck on a large stone!                                                                                                                                                 

They struggled until finally get their wayward craft back into the current, then all of the rafts were strung together for a leisurely ride  to a dock. (In a way, it was the most fun part of the day.)                                                        

We later learned from the others that one of our teens took a dip in the river, but their guide reached in and pulled her out in a flash. I’m glad he was there for her, and that there were no other problems during our outing. All in all, I had a great time. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself rafting again in the near future. Just not in October.

Air
Rafting 3
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Can Cats Talk?

Many people think cats just say, “meow” or “mew,” but the more time I’ve spent with them, the more I realize how much they understand, and that they some- times use actual words. Beginning with Annabelle, a black part-Persian my family had for about fifteen years, I began to notice just how good communication can be between cats and people.

Annabelle in Batesburg 001

She came to live with my husband, Rick, and me when she was about nine, and already quite experienced. When we wanted her to go outside, we’d simply say, “Out,” and she got the message. One day, when she was relaxing on the floor, I gave her the command when we needed for her to go out, expecting her to immediately obey, and she responded with, “No.” (It wasn’t a clear word, but I knew what she meant.)

Slightly taken aback by her lack of respect, I said, “Annabelle, out.”

She turned her head toward me and blatantly repeated, “No.”

Hardly believing her impertinence, I again said, “Annabelle, out!”

This time she said, “No” so emphatically, she moved her head to make sure I understood, then she nonchalantly licked her paw as if the matter were settled. I finally got my way,   but not without a stream of mumbled words as she trudged toward the door. She liked going outside sometimes, including when Rick and I went for a walk. Sometimes one of us would say mention going for one, then Annabelle would be at the door, waiting.  She could keep up with us all the way    to the end of the street and back.  We couldn’t figure out how she knew we were about to leave, but she probably thought, You said you were going for a walk, didn’t you? 

Years later, after we’d acquired a Siamese, I knew Coco was intelligent, but he sometimes amazed me. When he’d gotten a little older, he would sometimes say, “I want” when he desired to go outside or when he needed food. One day I called him when he was outside,  and was just about to close the door when he showed up several yards from the house.   He said with clarity, “Rail?” (D’s seem to be difficult for cats to pronounce.)

Coco or Mocha 001

Another time, he sniffed a spot on the floor, and I wondered if a ladybug had come inside, since we’d been having trouble with them. I asked, “What is it, Coco?  A ladybug?”

Not only did he understand, but he casually turned away from the spot and said, “Water,” almost as well as a person would have.

The other cat we had at the time, Velvet, liked to sit next to me outside. I would look down at her and say, “Velvet,” then she’d stare up and say something back without fail. We did this regularly, and I finally understood that she was saying, “Dale” in her own way. She got what I was doing.

Velvet in New Ellenton 001

Velvet was on a diet and couldn’t have dry food for a while, so we kept it in a cabinet most of the time. One day Coco let me know he wanted something, and I thought he wanted out, but that wasn’t it. I kept saying, “What do you want, Coco?”

Finally, with great effort, he formed his mouth into an O and squeezed out, “Food.”

Although the “F” wasn’t distinct, I knew what he was saying. He wanted some dry food.      I got  it for him, and he was satisfied. I guess he’d heard me say it so many times when        I fed him, he knew what it was.

Years later, when we had two Siamese cats, they would sometimes go into the hall and talk to each other in a secret language I like to call “Catonese.”  The exchange didn’t sound that friendly, but they seemed to understand each other, although I never figured out what it was all about. The larger Siamese also said, “I want,” just like Coco. A lot. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for him to say it several times in one day. He usually wanted food, but occasionally he desired attention or a door opened so he could look outside.

Choco on couch 001

I try to use the same words over and over when addressing the cats, so they can capture their meaning. When I occasionally speak a little French to them, they look at me like, “What on Earth are you saying?”  They can definitely tell the difference. I’m glad I finally realize just how much they understand. It makes me appreciate them even more.

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There’s a Bear–Over There!

I grew up in the northwest corner of South Carolina, and my family frequently visited the nearby Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. When I was small, probably about five, we traveled to Cherokee, which is surrounded by mountains and lots of wildlife. During our journey, we decided to pull over to the side of the road for lunch. There was a picnic area   at the top of a steep incline, and we spotted a small black bear rummaging through a trash can.

I thought that was pretty scary, and I didn’t know there’s usually a larger bear around when a cub is present. Everyone stayed at the car except the oldest person in our party– my step-grandfather, and the youngest–my little brother. I was criticized for screaming, but what can you expect from a five-year-old girl?  I think I was  upset partly because     two of our group were risking everything to get a closer look at the creature.

They climbed the hill together, Mr. Tom with his cane, and Johnny with his little boy legs, while the bear continued to hunt for something to eat.  The whole scene terrified me. I later reasoned that Johnny wasn’t old enough to be aware of the danger, and Mr. Tom was experienced enough to not be afraid. It took them awhile to climb up the slope while we all watched in anticipation, and when they were almost to the crest, the bear forgot all about the trash can and turned toward the two visitors. As he started toward them, Johnny and Mr. Tom decided he wasn’t that interesting after all. They did an about-face and hurried down the hill and back to the car.

My mother laughed for years about how she’d never seen Mr. Tom move so fast, and that Johnny was pretty quick too. And they all love to mention how I  screamed, especially my brothers, but at least I was smart enough to know a dangerous situation when faced with one.

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BLURRED LINES

Blurred Lines

A Broadway actress, Jasmine abandons her career and moves to her hometown of Edgefield to forget memories of her stalker, who’s supposed to be in jail. She’s content at her community theater until strange events occur, putting her in danger. Who is harassing her? Has Dexter escaped from prison? Find out in my long short story, “Blurred Lines,” now on Amazon.

https://t.co/VbGrO91ECS?amp=1

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Lighthouse on Tortola

Review

In Lighthouse on Tortola, Andra–pronounced Ahndra–arrives in Tortola for an assignment, but immediately succumbs to the slow rhythm of the Islands, and the release of stress that she’s been needing. She makes friends with the hotel staff and a man who obviously isn’t a native, but why he’s there is shrouded in mystery. Romance blossoms as they tour the area by way of a jeep and his boat. Little does Andra know, but there is local treachery afoot, and her new boyfriend is somehow tied up in it. When he reveals his secrets to Andra she has the choice to turn and run home to safety, or risk her own life to help clear his. This novel is a perfect beach read–and it’s hard to put down. Lively adventure abounds; lose yourself in Tortola!” -Jennifer Haskinjenniferhaskin.com

Need a vacation, but can’t get away? Maybe a bit of mystery, suspense and romance are what you’re craving?
Look no further. This novel has it all!
This enticing, exotic and engaging read is the absolute perfect escape.
The first thing I noticed was how skillfully Ms. Rogers described the island setting. From the opening pages I was transported to the luscious palm trees and tranquility of Tortola. Using her words to paint a pristine portrait…
“Islands in the distance twinkled with the white lights of cottages, some reflecting on the smooth ocean surface, while a conglomeration of stars glowed a variety of colors, completely unhindered.”
Ms. Rogers knows how to ground her passages with enough detail to take her readers on a delightful visual journey.
As for the main characters, Andra and Michael, I was immediately drawn into their burgeoning relationship. I enjoyed that the author allowed the couple to evolve individually, and juxtaposed the story from their differing viewpoints.
I was careful not to be lulled into too much of an idyllic state, since I knew there would soon be danger and intrigue on the horizon. While other writers delve heavy-handedly into drama, Rogers presents the darker scenes with a thoughtful approach.
Though elements of corruption, kidnapping and crime are woven throughout this tale, I was impressed with the cadence of how these depictions were tempered with lighter segments that kept the read evenly enjoyable.
Also noted was the inclusion of a faith-based narrative that felt authentically placed, rather than awkwardly added. Such as at times when either of the protagonists were in trouble and deeply worried for their safety. Ms. Rogers handles these occasions with natural finesse.
I was also appreciative of the book’s length and pace, making it one that can easily be read in just a couple of sittings.
I highly recommend this lively and lovely novel and look forward to Ms. Rogers’ next release!

Tea Time

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WHAT WATERFALL?

CAMP LAKE 001

When I was a teen, I met two brothers who, although their facial features were similar, were different in almost every other way.  The older (let’s call him Tim to protect his privacy) was athletic, tall, and strong.  He played football for our High School State Championship Team, and enjoyed sports in general.  His younger brother, Rob, on           the other hand, stayed inside much of the time, playing the piano and doing other         non-physical activities.  (He was a fabulous pianist, playing at churches and even large conventions.)  I wasn’t aware of many of their activities together, but I did hear one      story I deemed worthy of sharing.

At a lake one day, Tim and Rob decided to go canoeing. I imagine things went as they usually do as they paddled around, until they came upon a waterfall or dam. Unfamiliar with the area, they didn’t realize they were being pulled toward the drop-off until it was too late.

I’m sure Tim thought he could jump out of the canoe or right it somehow, but Rob is a little faint of heart.  As they reached the point of no return he declared, “Oh, I give up!” He promptly lay back in the boat. Little did he know that, by lying down, he caused the canoe to remain level as it plummeted the short distance to the water below, and they didn’t have any problems!

So, even though Tim was the athletic one, he had to give his brother credit for getting them out of that jam.

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Ski Trip or Comedy of Errors?

Ski Trip or Comedy of Errors?

I’d wanted to go skiing ever since I saw “I Love Lucy” set at a ski resort, and I finally had my chance after Rick and I had been married several years. It was a five-hour drive from our home in South Carolina to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, and we could tell we were in unfamiliar territory as the terrain became hilly and patches of snow covered cow pastures.

When we finally reached our destination, car sick and exhausted, we discovered that our hotel was set in a curve of the main road running up the mountain, which meant traffic passed the lodge on both sides, practically encompassing it. We tried not to focus on this as we settled into our room, which included a sitting area and a kitchenette. With a treated log in the fireplace and heat strips running around the entire suite to make it extra warm, another perk of the establishment was free hot chocolate.

Needless to say, our first evening was cozy, sitting before the fire and tasting the best hot chocolate of our lives.  The electric heat was tremendous. I’m cold natured, but even I thought it was a little overwhelming, so we turned it down. The buildings in the area were well-heated in general, which surprised me. I guess everyone wants to warm up after a long day on the slopes.

The next day, we started preparations for our first ski adventure, not knowing it would take hours.  Snow fell at an alarming rate, and we heard that chains were required for anyone driving up Beech Mountain. We stopped at a ski shop to buy some, and they offered to put them on our tires. Thinking we could get our ski gear while we waited, we agreed, not realizing how long it would take, or that the woman at the shop couldn’t help us with our skis and other paraphernalia. By the time we purchased goggles and rented skis and all the clothing deemed necessary for our lesson, we’d spent a small fortune.    (We had coupons we could have used at a nicer shop farther up the mountain, but we needed chains to get there.)

Armed with everything a skier could possibly need, we started up Beech Mountain. The road hadn’t been cleared, so we slipped and slid, hoping we wouldn’t plunge to the bottom as we rounded unprotected curves.  When we finally made it to the ski area, trudging through the snow to sign up for a lesson, I was amazed at how comfortable I felt, despite the twelve degree reading on a thermometer.  (Those ski clothes really work!)

The snow still fell incessantly as we joined our instructors and other would-be skiers, so I wore goggles as I listened attentively to advice concerning turning around, slowing down, and stopping. The goggles seemed to throw off my balance as I struggled to maneuver brand new, slippery skis, and I suddenly slid to the ground without warning. At least it was a comfortable fall, since there was about  a foot of snow on the ground.

Next, we were told to follow our leaders down, then up a small incline to mechanical arms flying by, conveyor-belt style, waiting for each of us to grab one and be pulled up the hill. I was doing okay, but the young lady in front of me was barely moving. I didn’t want to seem rude by passing her, so I was forced to slow down, which made it difficult for me to get up the hill. By the time I reached the arms, I felt rushed, so I grabbed one before I was ready. (I should have paid attention to my instincts.) The monster flung me part of the way down the hill, wrenching my knee in the process. I didn’t want to go through that again, so one of the instructors, let’s call him Mike, walked with me to the top, and I prepared for the descent.

When my turn arrived, I took off, zooming down the hill like a pro. Maybe I should’ve been in a race, because I found it impossible to slow down as I approached an orange barrier. Plowing didn’t help. Nothing helped. Delving into the far reaches of my mind, I remembered the way Olympic skiers stop, so I tried their method, turning my skis to the side, hoping for an easy, complete stop. It worked, and Mike called out, “Good!”

I felt pleased with myself until I fell directly into a snowy drift. I tried to release my skis, but sprained my left thumb instead. Mike came to my rescue, but he had trouble with the lever too. He commented on how slick my skis were. These revelations made me feel better about having so many problems, but it’s frustrating that I didn’t have the equipment I needed in order to ski properly. I informed Mike that I’d had enough. With two injuries and a stinging sensation starting in my thumbs because of the frigid air, I just wanted to get warm and dry. I received my wish after Rick took his plunge down the hill, stopping the same way I did.

Arctic air continued to move into the area, and by the time we went to bed that night, the wind chill was well below zero.  The log we burned the night before hadn’t been replaced, and our free hot chocolate seemed lower in the cups the longer we stayed at the resort. We made the mistake of not turning the heat back up, and it really made a difference. About midnight, with windows to the parking lot just above my head, I was freezing in bed. I heard cars pulling in, then the screams of young girls  as they hurried to the building with sub-zero wind whipping around them.

All in all, it was an interesting trip to what seemed like another planet at times, or at least the top of the world. We had grown so accustomed to the snow, it seemed odd when we drove toward home and it disappeared. We hope to try another resort someday and use those goggles we bought.

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Grove Park Inn: A Great Place, Summer or Winter

Grove Park Inn

My husband and I discovered Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina many years ago.  Built entirely of stone, it was once a playground for presidents and celebrities. (Their portraits are displayed in the hotel’s hallways.)

Although we first visited the famed inn when a relative recommended it for their after Christmas buffet, we discovered there was so much more. From the lobby with its polished stone floors and enormous, six-foot high fireplaces, to endless hallways and hidden  sitting areas, we were blown away. It’s easy to get lost, even on the first floor, but it’s a great place in which to disappear. It’s also a good way to find gems such as a small waterfall isolated in a quiet spot.

christmas-grove-park-inn-001.jpg

After our initial trip there, we returned several times. One year we opted for an historic room. Instead of using the regular elevators, we were sent to a small one set into the stone wall and guarded by a steward. The old-timey compartment took us to the top floor, under the eaves. The whole room seemed to be carved from oak, and the thick furniture made me think a giant once lived there. We didn’t have the amount of space we were used to, but we did have a magnificent view of the mountains and part of Asheville through our tiny window. And, although it was interesting, we thought we’d rather stay   in one of their modern rooms during subsequent trips, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and all    of the updated amenities.

Something unique about Grove Park Inn is the Gingerbread Contest. It wasn’t well-known as the time, but a few years later I spied it on television, and it had become a really important national competition. Perhaps that’s one reason so many people started showing up during the Christmas holidays–and now it’s the place to be.

Grove Park Fireplace 001
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Orange Snow!

Watching big orange leaves fall from the trees in her schoolyard, Lucy begins wondering what it would be like if snow were orange. Her mother thinks it’s an unusual idea, but it’s not long before Lucy convinces her to play along, letting their imaginations take over as they discuss the pros and cons of orange snow. And when they arrive at home, they turn an ordinary day into something special!

Orange Snow

By Dale S. Rogers

Illustrated by Valentina Esposito

Children’s Picture Book

Hardcover, 32 Pages

October 1, 2020 by Summers Island Press

http://www.SummersIslandPress.com

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lucy likes to imagine things.

That’s what she was doing, one windy autumn day, waiting for Mom to pick her up from school. She was thinking how wonderful it would be if snow was… orange! And how fun it would be to play in. Just for pretend.

But do you ever wish pretend could be real?

Reviews

Perhaps inspired by the catchy tune, “The Best Things in Life are Free,” Southern writer Dale Rogers has demonstrated that finding joy in what may, at first appear to be the most mundane gifts of nature–often taken for granted, have the power to make us realize and truly treasure their priceless impact on our well being.

Dottie Ashley, former play critic and freelance writer

It’s a charming story involving one girl’s active imagination. What if snow was orange like the fall leaves? The illustrations are just gorgeous, plus there are activities in the back so you can create your own orange snow.                                     
L. Diane Wolfe, author & professional speaker

About the Author

A South Carolina native, Dale currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and three cats. With several family members involved in writing, Dale soon found herself drifting in that direction, eventually joining her high school newspaper staff. Continuing her interest in writing after graduating from Anderson College and the University of South Carolina, she penned articles and stories, as well as poetry, eventually starting a novel. Since then, she has written several novels, both for teens and adults. She also loves music and dance, and has participated in several musicals and even one movie.

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Home of “mysteriously different books for children,” ages five through seventeen.
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Using Addition or Subtraction for Correct Grammar

Grammar Problem?  Fix it With Addition and Subtraction

Grammar is complex, and it takes years to learn it correctly. But what if someone has to make a split-second decision and there’s no time to pull out grammar  books for an in-depth study of the English language?  I know we’re talking about grammar, but the answer is addition and subtraction.

My mother taught English for years, and she expected her children to use proper grammar. We learned little tricks that make it simple to add pronouns to sentences. There’s no need to complicate or overcompensate. Simply think about how the sentence would be without the new pronoun. Just because one is added, that doesn’t mean the first one changes. Below are examples of the most common mistakes.

“Henry and I.”  “Henry and me.”  Which is it?  It depends on the sentence.

Some people think it’s always better to say “I” rather than “me,” when there are two pronouns in a sentence, but that’s not the case.  I’ve even heard people on television being admonished for saying, “Henry and me,” when it’s correct. The person is overcompensating while trying to avoid the slip-up, “That’s for me and Henry.”  No one says, “That’s for I,” so why would anyone say, “That’s for Henry and I?”  Without getting into subjects and direct objects, let’s simplify the process. Subtract “Henry” for a moment, and you have your answer: “me.”  “That’s for Henry and me.”

“Henry and I want to go.”  “Henry and me want to go.”

It’s pretty obvious that “I” is proper this time. You would say, “I want to go,” rather than, “Me want to go.”  In your mind, add what is understood.  “want to go.”  Who wants to go?  “Henry and I.”

“Him and I.”  “Him and me.”  “He and I.”

You wouldn’t say, “Him is going,” or “Me is going.”  It’s “He is going,” and “I am going.”  Who is going?  “He is.”  “I am.”  By adding the portion of the sentence that’s understood, you have your answer.  “He and I are going.”  “He and I.”

It’s unusual, but I actually heard someone say, “Henry and I’s tickets.”  It’s also not, “Mine and Henry’s tickets.”  You wouldn’t say, “Mine tickets.” It’s simply, “Henry’s and my tickets.”  Subtract Henry or the personal pronoun, and you have your answer.

So the next time you’re in doubt, add it in or leave it out.

Dale Rogers

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