Battery is mounted non the stem.
The HF radio is in the pouch hanging from the handlebar.
The ham stick is behind the seat by the flag.
I’ve been an amateur radio operator for a few years. My goal, back in 1989 when I first earned my license was to put a side-band station on the air that generated a kilowatt carrier. During those subsequent year I’ve tried many of the available digital modes. But none of them, with exception of Packet, caught my interest like that of the old tried and tested Morse code. Eventually, I abandoned my quest for the 1,000 Watt station and went the other way – low power, or QRP.
For a few years I concentrated on mobile radio, not with a car, but with a bicycle, and then a tricycle. I’m not a pioneer of this area, by any stretch. And I probably haven’t done as well as many others have. But I’ve had fun. A lot of fun.
One afternoon while pedaling around some Texas back roads with my five-Watt rig (about the same power required to light a Christmas tree lamp), I checked in with the Maritime Net. The net control was somewhere in Wisconsin, as I recall. I received a fair signal report – a home-run considering the power I was using.
I was preparing to sign when a Musher, a lady who drives sled dogs, broke in from North Dakota, stating she’d like to talk with a person on a bike.
That was my greatest distance with 5 Watts from the eat of a bicycle and a store-bought ham stick antenna.
I’ve wanted to write about first chapters for a while, primarily because they’re so important. After all, they’re the gateway to Chapter 2 and getting a reader to Chapter 2 is a fantastic idea.
I did some research and almost instantly the rule-resistant rebel in me kicked in. She’s the writer who scowls at formulas, who insists that form has to fit the story, not the other way around. She’s the reader who doesn’t want to read the same story over and over with different titles.
Well, I suppressed the first-born smarty-pants part of my personality and learned a few things.
First, I learned that there are actually a number of perfectly legitimate types of first chapters. Writer’s Digest has a great article by Jeff Gerke that describes 4 approaches with examples (summarized here):
- The Prolog – A prolog is an episode that pertains to your…
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Spring is making every effort to stay and I’m glad to see it. With it come the brave, wild flowers. And I enjoy the color they provide before the county comes around with their mowers.
It was April when my wife had just returned home from a month-long-stay in the hospital. I always remained within earshot. And while doing so I spotted a dragon fly perched on a limb about shirt-pocket level. His large eyes are what caught my attention. After I’d studied him for a short time he took flight, circled me and then returned to his post. That’s when it occurred to me that he was not out for some fresh air. He was on guard duty. Somewhere in that thicket something involving his species was occurring and his job was to keep predators at bay. He was a brave little creature. I could have crushed him.
A couple of decades ago I was at home writing while Barb was working. She was a nurse. A new hatch of crows were in the timber behind where we lived and they sounded like a herd of tree frogs as they found their crow voices. Then everything went silent. I paused to listen and when they didn’t resume their “chatter” I slipped outside to see what had happened.
The timber came out to a point near an old pond and as I scanned the area for anything unusual I noticed a lone crow, an aged crow, perhaps the alpha crow, perched on a limb facing the road. Slowly, I changed locations in order to see what he was watching. There, on the power line sat a hawk. It was a stand off.
Minutes passed. Perhaps two or maybe three. Then as the hawk emitted a high-pitched screech he vaulted from his perch and headed north.
The crow maintained his station for a longer period, Then he flew off the limb, made a one-eighty and headed back into the forest.
An instant later the youngsters resumed their practice at becoming crows.
Hilary, when she was still First Lady, stated that it takes a village to raise a child.
Perhaps it takes a village to raise a crow as well.
In the summer of 1957, while stationed at Biloxi, Mississippi four of us often went to town together. One of us was a tall black man from Houston. He redefined the word black. On Saturday, after inspection, we all headed for town. A city bus came through the base. At the gate black people had to move go the four rear seats. He didn’t like doing that, so we all got off there.
The guy from Houston always wore yellow shorts, yellow shirt, yellow cap, yellow knee-high stockings, and black shoes.
His personality was just as colorful as his outfit. And we liked him.
Arrangements were made that Mr. Banner, Sally’s attorney, would arrive the following morning to draw up the papers and oversee an inventory. Zeke was admiring the Texas morning when an old Dodge pickup turned off the highway.
“I think you might have a visitor, Sally.”
She joined Zeke while drying her hands on her apron.
“That’s Mr. Banner.”
“I expecting him to arrive in a big Lincoln.”
“Dan asked him about that old pickup when we first started this business,” Sally explained. “He said he was finished impressing people.”
After rolling to a stop, he climbed out and fetched his cane and then headed inside.
“Morning Sally,” he drawled, reaching out to shake. “You must be Zeke,” he said grabbing Zeke’s hand. “I have two young men coming. I’m expecting them any moment,” he added, directing his statement to Sally.
“That must be them now,” she exclaimed, her eyes focused on a red convertible turning off the highway.
Mr. Banner sat up shop on the yellow Formica table, then issued preprinted forms along with detailed verbal instructions. And then everything was set into motion. By noon the inventory was finished and an asking price was established. Mr. Banner had already touched bases with the prospective buyer.
“These buyers wouldn’t share their plans with me. But I did some snooping and learned they use helicopters rather than fixed-wing aircraft. I suspect they won’t offer a fair price for these airplanes, so with your permission I have a second listing that excludes the planes and spare parts, just in case.
“What will I do with the Stearman?”
“That‘s a bargaining tool, my dear,” he said, smiling. “I’ll be in touch,” he added and then headed back to town.
Zeke continued on his inspection. Replacing a worn control cable took more time than he had figured. The shadows were lengthening by the time he was finished. Since it was late, she was preparing supper for him before heading back to the motel. He was closing the hangar doors when he noticed a bank of clouds moving in from the west. They were round and puffy. Orange lightning was playing through them, first lighting one, then another, in no special order. They reminded Zeke of gigantic Christmas balls.
“I don’t like the looks of that storm,” he told Sally when she came to fetch him for supper.
“I don’t either.”
He followed her to the yellow Formica table. After serving up two plates she turned on a white Arvin AM radio, a classic 5-tube superhetrodyne receiver that reached back into the years of Zeke‘s youth. After the filaments had warmed a local station issued a tornado watch advisory extending until 2 AM.
“What do you generally do when this sort of thing comes up? Do you have a shelter you go to?” he asked.
“No, I don’t have a shelter. I just stay here and stick it out. So far they’ve all missed me. I always keep a spare water jug, a propane camp stove, and a lantern in case the power goes out.”
“Dan wouldn’t want you being alone. I’ll stay here with you.”
She didn’t object. Instead, she fetched a fold-up cot from a storage closet and set it out for Zeke. And then they waited. In an hour the wall-to-wall static rendered the AM radio useless, so they turned it off and resumed waiting.
Eventually, the wind freshened and horizontal rain drops the size of quarters pelted the metal hanger like machine gun fire. Thunder made the Texas prairie sound like a giant bowling alley, rattling Sally’s dishes and cupboard doors.
In the midst of it they thought they heard the storm warning system sounding six miles away. Then lightning became continuous. Wind rattled the doors while testing every rivet and bolt holding the hangar together.
The severity of the storm lasted only twenty minutes or so before tapering off. Within the hour it was over, the only remainder being the sound of the storm growling its way in a northeasterly direction.
When he awoke the following morning he shoved a hangar door open and watched dawn usher in a new day.
Sally took Zeke up on his offer for breakfast at the all-night café. As she got out from behind the wheel and started toward the entryway he noticed she had changed more attractive clothing. As he followed her to a booth he caught a whiff of her perfume. After they were seated he realized she had added a touch of eyeliner pale lipstick. A vast change from how he’d found her the day before. Again, however, he reminded himself he’d swung by to give her a hand, not stand around ogling.
“So what’s the plan?” she asked after the waitress had brought menus and coffee.
“We need to jump on that other inspection. If we don’t find any major problems we can knock it out before evening.”
“I thought about your suggestion of selling out.”
“It’s worth exploring,“ she said.
“Do you have any possible interest?” he asked.
“Maybe. I’d forgotten about a visitor a couple of months back. A corporation that sent an attorney by. I wasn’t much interested in talking to him, so we never got around to offers or much of anything, for that matter. I dug through my desk last night and found his card. I thought I might call and see if there’s still any interest. What do you think?”
The waitress brought their breakfasts and warmed their coffee. Zeke waited until she headed back for the kitchen before he responded. “It doesn’t cost anything to see if there’s any interest.”
“What should I say?”
“Just ask if his client is still interested. Do you have an attorney?”
“Yes. He’s represented me a few times when farmers claimed the wind had carried my chemicals onto their property.”
“Then he understands the crop-dusting business?” Zeke asked.
“To some extent. At least from the legal aspect.“
“Would he represent you reach an agreement with this corporation?”
“I think so …I‘m sure he would.”
They both finished their meals in silence and enjoyed two more coffee refills before heading back to the hangar.
Zeke set in on the second aircraft inspection while Sally spent some time exploring the possibility of selling the business.
They were having lunch when the corporation attorney arrived. Sally started to leave her meal, but Zeke suggested she should let him wait. “Don’t appear as eager as you feel.”
“Is there a place we can talk privately?“ the attorney asked.
“It’s okay to say what you need to say right here. I won’t be committing to anything today. I have an attorney who will be handling the details. I was just making certain your client is still interested,“ she said.
“Well, the corporation is interested. Of course, we need to establish what’s for sale – land, aircraft, vehicles, and equipment, or only a portion.” he replied.
“My attorney will be contacting you,” Sally said.
“There’s been some rumors of foreclosure. Allowing that to happen would only complicate matters. That’s why I’m here today.”
“I’m sure the rumors are running, but there is still time. My attorney will contact you as soon as we are prepared to negotiate.”
The corporate attorney was slow to leave, but he finally handed her a second card and then headed back to town.
“Zeke, my attorney will be here this afternoon to start an inventory. Can you handle the entire inspection by yourself?”
“I’m on it.”
As Sally dropped him off at the motel she mentioned an all-night café nearby if he was so inclined. His plan was to go directly to bed, but after a shower and changing into the only extra clothes he’d brought in his AWOL bag he stepped out the door of his room to take stock of the area. As she’d stated, a 24 hour café was only a block away and promptly set off in that direction.
With the dinner hour past he was the only customer and waitress bearing his menu appeared exhausted.
“Rough crowd tonight?” he asked, gazing at the offering she‘d handed him.
“It usually is,” she replied, struggling to present a smile.
He, too, was exhausted after the late night plane ride to Dallas and then the westbound Greyhound at 0300 hours. So he let the conversation go and ordered a hamburger, fries, and coffee. Upon returning to his room and fell asleep.
Old habits are difficult to break. He was up at the first glint of dawn. After dressing, he set out for the café again. Pleased to find a booth at an east window, he ordered coffee and waited for the Texas sun to make it’s astounding appearance. He hadn’t been there long before a tall, young fellow wearing cowboy boots and a Stetson pushed through the door and chose a stool at the counter.
“So how’s trucking driving school going?” the redhead sat a steaming cup coffee in front of him.
“So so. They haven’t been able to teach me anything I didn’t already know. This whole CDL business is a crock,” he said. She walked away, but he kept on talking, pointing out weaknesses he’d noticed in his driving instructor. She made no comment – didn’t even look up – just kept on with her busy work, filling salt and pepper shakers and napkin dispensers.
An older man, perhaps in his forties, entered, nodded as he passed Zeke and then occupied the booth next to Zeke‘s. He was dressed in gray slacks with an extremely sharp crease, shirt and tie and a zip up sports jacket. He ordered coffee and a glazed donut.
He was about to take a bite of his donut when another man dressed in a similar fashion pushed through the door “Good morning, Steve. Where are you off to today?”
“That’s a good place to be from.”
“True enough, but I won’t be there long.”
“How long will it take, do you think?” Steve’s friend asked.
“Oh,” he said, pushing up his sleeve and glancing at his watch. “Maybe noon. Depends on the traffic. You know how that goes.”
“Noon!” shouted the cowboy truck driver. “Hell, it’s fifteen hundred miles to Los Angeles.”
“You’re right. What was I thinking,” said Steve, dropping a five-dollar bill and sliding out of the booth.
“Did you know that fellow is flying a Lear jet to Los Angeles?” the waitress asked the truck driver.
“No! I bet he thinks I’m an idiot.”
“That wouldn’t surprise me,” the waitress replied, heaving a visible sigh.
Steve’s friend smiled at me.
The truck driver paid for coffee and left without a another word.
Zeke was about to go into his room when Sally rolled to a stop. “Have you had breakfast?” she shouted through the open pickup window.
“Good morning, Sally. No I haven’t. I was waiting. Let’s drive up to the café and I buy breakfast while we plan today’s work schedule,” he suggested.
Nearly a month has passed since I found that young pup hiding beneath a training room at the firehouse. I brought her home, knowing we could not provide a permanent place for her. Ours was a stopgap measure to prevent her from losing her life out on the US highway.
We contacted the local veterinary hospital, but they couldn’t help. Neither could the animal shelter because they are fighting Parvo – a serious dog disease – and unable to take anymore homeless animals.
This morning we came to grips with our dire situation. About 9 o’clock we took her to Walmart where I taped a sign on the windshield that read: PATCHES NEEDS A HOME.
Usually, the Walmart parking lot is filled to capacity on any given Friday morning. But not this morning. We parked close to the food entrance and waited. A half-hour passed before that magic moment arrived. A young couple needed a young dog to help his widower father through his long, lonesome days.
We,will miss Patches, but we are comforted knowing she is serving a greater need than ours.