BEHIND THE BAR – #New release by P.C. Zick

Burtis Harmon Camburn 1904-1981

Burtis Harmon Camburn
1904-1981

One hundred and eleven years ago today, my father was born in a small town in Michigan. He passed away in 1981, but I still think of him often and feel his guiding hand in all I do. Today I pay tribute to him by releasing my eighth novel. Thank you, Burtis Harmon Camburn for your wisdom, love, and support. You’re never forgotten.

I’m thrilled to announce the release of Behind the Bar, Book Two in the Behind the Love Trilogy. Behind the Bar picks up right where Behind the Altar ended–at the wedding of Dean and Leah. This time it’s Susie and Reggie who must struggle to find out if their love can endure through a separation and rivals trying to drive them further apart. Reggie’s gambling and Susie’s struggle with her past push them further apart. Join the crew at the Victory Tavern, including Sally Jean, Charlie, and of course, the cheerleaders and best friends of Reggie and Susie–Dean and Leah.

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#Smithsonian Institute Costume Collection – Made in China?

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Profusion of Peonies

I received a beautiful gift from my cousin in the mail Saturday from the Smithsonian Institute’s Costume Collection. The silk scarf was created by women’s designers from the Twentieth Century. The card accompanying the scarf states “Income from our sales supports the chartered educational purposes and activities of the Smithsonian Institution.”

I have always been a supporter of the Smithsonian, which was created the U.S. Congress. So imagine my surprise when I read the tag attached to the scarf.IMG_0441 How could this happen? I cut the tag off immediately because it so embarrassed me. I’m not against China, but come on! The Smithsonian is created, mandated, and overseen by our Congress. It seems the least that could be done would be to find a U.S. business to make these works of art.

From the Smithsonian Online Store – Here’s the description of my lovely scarf:

This gorgeous Profusion of Peonies Scarf is lushly printed with peonies, gardenias and glorious garden flowers. Pastel stripes border the ends. 100% silk. Imported.  58″l. x 14″w.

Museum Provenance

Adaptation of a floral scarf in our National Museum of American History’s costume collections.

I’ve searched the site and no where does it say these products are made in China. I know my cousin didn’t realize it. I’m not sure what to make of it except to say that I plan on sending this post to David Muir at ABC Nightly News to see if perhaps his series on Made in America might investigate. I plan to write a letter to the Smithsonian Institute asking for an explanation.

The Smithsonian Institution was created by Congress in 1846 as "an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."

The Smithsonian Institution was created by Congress in 1846 as “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

If our own Congress-created institutions can’t use U.S. manufacturers, how can we hope to lessen our dependence on foreign powers while strengthening our own economy?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Am I making too much of one little scarf and label?

#Climate Change – Not Allowed in Florida

The Everglades

During my tenure as a writer/editor/public relations director at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the agency took very seriously the threat of climate change to a state surrounded on three sides by water and subject to violent storm surges, eroding beaches, and disappearing habitat. The endangerment of 575 species of wildlife and 700 species of fish, both fresh- and saltwater, worried wildlife managers.

I took pride in the agency’s climate change initiatives and served as editor to the publication, Florida’s Wildlife: On the front line of climate change in 2009. IMG_0088The head of the climate change committee asked me personally to write a column on wildlife and climate change, which I did for two years. The Wildlife Forecast was published in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines around the state. Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reprinted the column on occasion.

Then in late 2010, I received word that my column was on hold until after the first Tuesday in November. That last column never made it into print.

What happened? Gov. Rick Scott happened. With his election in November 2010, state employees ran scared. The word went out that agencies, such as the FWC and Florida’s DEP, needed to tread carefully. Their budgets were on the line, and suddenly, despite scientific data and scientists’ assertions on the reality of climate change, the concept became verboten.

I left Florida soon after to move to Pennsylvania. Many of my colleagues, including any involved with climate change initiatives, moved onto the federal government. Many told me I’d certainly chosen my departure from the agency at an opportune time.

It’s interesting how things spiral together at one moment. I woke up this past Saturday morning with a thought running through my head: Publish The Wildlife Forecast columns in a book. I pulled them out and put them together and remembered how the column ended. I’d forgotten. Then two days later, an article came across my Facebook news feed from the Miami Herald. The headline screamed:

In Florida, officials ban term ‘climate change’

(Click on headline for link to the full article.)

Here’s an excerpt:

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting. “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

We journalists were advised a decade ago by news organizations to stop using the term “global warming” because it placed blame for climate changes on mankind’s actions. It was suggested we used the term “climate change” instead in all of our articles. I agreed because climate change is more accurate. The predictions are for wild and intense changes in all things dealing with climate. More frequent and intense storms, unpredictable weather catastrophes, and extreme variations in temperatures. Scientists point to Florida as one of the most vulnerable places in the world because of its shape and location. That’s too big of a concern to simply ignore.

DSC00863However, even more concerning is the culture of a state government, in this case run by businessman Rick Scott, to forbid the use of any words by employees. I can tell you as I prepared to leave my job with the FWC, employees were running scared of losing jobs because of their beliefs. Is this ever a good thing?

The FWC’s website still offers the publication Florida’s Wildlife: On the front line of climate change in PDF form (Click here), which is good. They still have a special initiative for climate change, although it’s not listed in the main menu. Maybe things aren’t as dire as the article points out. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that open dialogue still exists in my beloved Florida, no matter what our beliefs.

???????????????????????????????I also believe the Easter bunny will deliver me a basket of goodies in early April along with a front yard filled with daffodils and tulips.

 

Minty’s Kiss Lives On

 

Minty's Kiss draft 1_edited-1I hope to start writing a romantic Christmas novella this month. This story, Minty’s Kiss, will be released in a box set with other authors, and all the stories will feature pets–nice, sweet Christmas stories starring a lovable pet.

Only one pet came to mind when I signed up to participate in this box set. Minty. Sweet, eccentric Minty, named by my daughter Anna when Minty chose us as his people.

Our Florida house had a raised floor beneath our bedroom. One Sunday afternoon, we heard a sound that resembled a creaking door. It continued throughout the day and night, yet when we looked under the floor, we couldn’t see anything.

The next day, we took a flashlight and shined it under the house since the squeaking continued sporadically. Eyes glowed back at us, but we couldn’t see what it was attached to. We began leaving bits of food under the floor. Cheese disappeared first. Then we began laying the food closer and closer to the edge of the house. Eventually, we saw a ball of gray fur surrounding those greenish eyes. The shy, scared ball of fur squeaked and hesitantly came closer and closer to us until five-year-old Anna had him eating out of her hands.

“I want to call him Minty,” she declared after she was able to pick him up. He shook with fear at first and didn’t like being up in the air. He liked to sit in laps, but balked and scratched when we stood.

We lived on a dirt dead-end road. We believe Minty, and maybe other kitties, was dropped out of a car—hence, his fear of heights—and left to survive, or not, on his own. That little guy, probably not more than five weeks old, walked a quarter of a mile from the road to our home where we welcomed him and sheltered him from the bad things in the world.

Minty never recovered a proper meow. For eighteen years, he squeaked to announce his presence or to demand something from us. However, that cat could purr so loud we could hear him throughout the house. He refused to use a litter box, but he never left deposits in the house. He slept inside during inclement weather, but mostly he roamed the perimeter of the property and had spots to sleep, thanks to several outbuildings on our twenty acres.

Minty body“Love like Minty” is the title of a painting by Anna, created not long after we put Minty to rest eighteen years after he joined our family. The painting hangs in my living room, reminding me every day that to love like Minty is a very noble standard to follow. We buried him in a spot overlooking the front door of the house where he guards over where my ex-husband still lives, and Anna still considers home.

There are so many Minty stories, but one thing remained constant through his eighteen years. He loved us fiercely, and he always knew when one of us needed comforting. He paid back our kindness a million times over the years. When Anna stayed home from school with the flu or a cold, he’d climb into bed with her and stay until she felt better. When any of us were sad, Minty instinctively knew and kept close by in case we needed him. His kisses consisted of a very scratchy tongue swipe across the cheek. Just once, but enough to let us know he cared.Minty eyes

He fought all the wildlife that came near our house and had plenty of battle scars to prove it. Once he came home in the morning with a gaping wound on his neck requiring stitches to heal. We believe a bob cat may have done the damage. I bet whatever it was, it ended up in worse shape.

MintyIt will be an honor and a delight to share Minty in my novella. He will always remain as an inspiration for how to love unconditionally.