Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Website!

Please Note: Mary E. Trimble's website has moved to a new host. Please visit me at
If you've linked to my website or have bookmarks to this site, please update with my new website address:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum: Making a positive out of a tragic and violent negative

The Field of Empty Chairs, a reminder of each life lost. In the background: The Reflecting Pool with a Gate of Time to the right.  Photo by Bruce Trimble

It was a normal Wednesday morning under a clear blue Oklahoma City sky on April 19, 1995. Workers made their way to offices, dropped off children at the building’s day-care center, perhaps poured themselves a cup of coffee to get a jump-start on their day. Then, at 9:02, America’s innocence changed forever when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed, killing 168 people and injuring more than 500.

How could such a horrific thing happen on American soil? Timothy McVeigh, a former decorated United States Army soldier, claimed that the bombing was revenge for “what the U.S. government did at Waco and Ruby Ridge.” McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols, used readily available toxic industrial chemicals, ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer, and nitromethane, a highly volatile motor-racing fuel, to accomplish their despicable deed.

The attackers parked a rented Ryder truck in a loading area with a timer set to explode about 5,000 pounds of the highly combustible material. The explosion resulted in the worst terrorist attack on United States soil prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. McVeigh was executed and accomplice Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison. A third party, Michael Fortier received a 12-year prison sentence plus a $200,000 fine for failure to warn authorities about the attack.

The blast tore away more than a third of the Murrah Building, but destroyed the entire building. In addition, fourteen buildings in the vicinity had to be torn down due to extensive destruction and another 312 buildings within a sixteen-block radius were damaged.

More than 12,000 people participated in relief and rescue work, including twenty-four canine units. Prompt investigation gave vital clues to the complexity of the crime and early leads on a suspect and accomplices led to extraordinarily quick arrests. Visitors watch news clips and special bulletins televised from around the world.

From April 20 to May 4, 1995 rescue and recovery operations poured into the area. Professional rescue workers, volunteers and canine units from all over the country clawed through the rubble to help dig out survivors and recover the dead. In the children’s day-care center directly above the mobile bomb, devastation was horrific. Upper floors collapsed onto those beneath them, crushing everyone and everything below.

Although the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was born of hatred and violence, visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is an uplifting experience. Poignant sights and artifacts of the bombing are in plain view, but also evident is what this sacred ground has become: a monument of hope and faith, of remembrance of loved ones lost, of human spirits rising above this inhumane act.

Three distinct components comprise the memorial: the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, dedicated on April 19, 2000, the fifth anniversary of the attack; the Memorial Museum, dedicated one year later, April 19, 2001; the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, a concept founded by families and survivors during the writing of the Mission Statement in 1995.

Wandering the grounds where the building once stood, visitors soon see that every exhibit is a vital symbol of this experience. One of the most poignant, the Field of Empty Chairs is a reminder of each life lost. The chairs, including nineteen smaller chairs representing the children who died, placed in nine rows, represent the nine floors of the building. Made of bronze, stone and glass, the chairs are placed in the row according to what floor the person was working or visiting when killed.

For more information, visit or call 1-888-542-HOPE (4673).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review: Gold Under Ice

Carol Buchanan’s Gold Under Ice, set in the 1860's, draws the reader into the lives of Dan Stark, Martha, the woman he loves, and her children. Daniel and Martha have entered into a common-law marriage, not knowing where her missing, abusive husband is, or whether he is still alive.

Dan has come to the wilds of Montana Territory to work the gold mines in order to help his New York family, his widowed mother and his siblings, recover from a devastating and humiliating financial setback. A lawyer, he leaves his New York practice, but finds his knowledge of the law an asset in Alder Gulch, a rough, lawless town with few comforts. Life is hard, not only contending with harsh weather, but dealing with the insanity of gold fever.

Dan’s autocratic grandfather dictates Dan must return to New York with his accumulated gold and resume the family law practice. He hasn’t enough gold to both repay the bank and reinstate his New York family’s financial situation. Dan is torn between his New York family who is relying on him, and his Alder Gulch family and their safety in his absence. He promises to return to Alder Gulch, but they all know any number of things could prevent that from happening.

In order to secure his own future, he returns to New York, a trip that takes several weeks by stage coach and train, carrying the gold he has accumulated.

On the surface, the difference between Montana Territory and New York in the 1860's is stark. Dan is determined to retain custody of his gold, denying the bank control of it. Instead, he meets with an old friend who tutors him in the ways of Wall Street and gold trading. He finds life in New York as threatening as in the wilds of Montana Territory and fights for his life on many levels.

Gold Under Ice, available both in print and ebook format, is a compelling novel. Buchanan’s impeccable research not only entertains, but educates. Her characters breathe life into the story as it carries the reader along with Dan’s compelling need to make things right for both families. It kept me pressing the “page turn” on my Kindle long into the night.

Gold Under Ice is a sequel to God’s Thunderbolt:The Vigilantes of Montana, winner of Western Writers of America’s SPUR award. Each book is a satisfying read and stands alone. Recently released, The Devil in the Bottle, is the next in the series. For more information about the author, visit

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Settler's Chase

Settler’s Chase by D. H. Eraldi brings the Old West to life. Eraldi’s  rich descriptions of people, Montana’s landscape and bitter winter weather, transport the reader to this 1880's gritty time and place.

Sett Foster’s plan of setting a trap in a box canyon for wild horses  was falling nicely into place. He’d break these horses and sell them for a good price to the Army. But suddenly a strange sight comes into view. A spotted Indian pony happens along, causing a disturbance among the small wild herd. But wait, the pony is wearing a crude saddle of some sort with a blanket flopping off to the side.  As Sett watches the horses he almost has trapped run away in fright, he spots a cradle board swinging from the saddle with a tiny face peeking out of the tight laces.

In the meantime, Sett’s half Blackfeet/half white wife, Ria, is at their cabin alone, struggling with yet another miscarriage. Heartbroken, she knows she will never bear Sett’s child.

When Sett returns to their cabin with the infant, Ria is thrilled. Finally, a child! Sett knows it isn’t as easy as that. This is a white child and people will be looking for it. Stricken with more dashed hopes, Ria obeys her husband and they set out for the closest town to find the child’s family. She fiercely protects the baby and forms a strong bond; so strong, Sett dreads the time when she’ll have to relinquish the child. It’s an arduous trip with the weather turning colder and threatening snow.

Finally arriving in town, they find doing the right thing doesn’t always bring the desired results. Although they are met with kindness by some, others are suspicious and hostile toward Ria. Sett Foster’s tainted background arouses suspicion. The baby’s family has offered a reward for his safe return and there are townspeople who will stop at nothing to get that reward money.

Settler’s Chase is a fine western and a WILLA Literary Award Finalist. The author excels in portraying realistic, believable characters and bringing landscapes to life. I could feel the bitter cold during the desperate chase into the Montana wilderness.

Settler’s Chase is a sequel to Settler’s Law, another well-written and suspenseful western. Both novels, published some years apart, stand alone. For more information about the author, visit visit

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking Toward a Longer, Healthier Life

Walking is riding a wave of popularity with many health-conscious people. Its pleasures, utility, and health-giving qualities are many. And, unlike the jarring effects of long distance jogging, its risks are minimal. Walking, combined with exercises designed to increase flexibility and strength, gives your body the exercise it needs to improve and maintain good health.

Some of the facts researchers have found include:

Longer, healthier life. The Institute on Aerobics Research in Dallas show that people who walk vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes each day live significantly longer, healthier lives. When done briskly and regularly, walking lowers the resting heart rate, reduces blood pressure, boosts levels of the heart-healthy HDL cholesterol, increases the efficiency of the heart and lungs, and burns calories.

Better mental health. Exercise stimulates the short-term release of endorphins, chemicals that promote the perception of "feeling good," resulting in noticeable improvement with a sense of well being, better family relations, less loneliness, better moods, and greater self-confidence.

Increased stamina. If you don't exercise after the age of 25, your ability to do aerobic activities will drop by 10 percent every 10 years. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, your body is slowly deteriorating as it ages. But this trend can be reversed by beginning an exercise program.

Begin now to gradually and systematically regain your stamina. Experts say that it takes a month of reconditioning to make up for each year of physical inactivity. Begin by walking at a comfortable pace for 20 minutes four or five times a week. If that proves too tiring, or too easy, adjust your time accordingly.

Restored energy. When you feel tired, resting isn't always the answer to restoring energy. The body has a nearly infinite amount of energy, but you need to exercise regularly and eat properly to make that happen. There's no magic pill for it, you have to work your heart, lungs, and muscles to increase energy levels. It’s true: Energy begets energy.

Keeping off unwanted pounds. A study at Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention found that among people who had dieted, the group who went back to eating more but exercised gained back less weight than the group who ate less but didn't exercise. Exercise is crucial to a weight control program.

Brisk walking helps burn excess calories. According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, increasing walking speed does not burn significantly more calories per mile, but a more vigorous walking pace will produce more dramatic conditioning effects. Muscles in better shape burn more calories, even at rest, than muscles in poor shape. In addition, after a dynamic workout, metabolism levels remain elevated above normal which results in additional calories burned.

Disease prevention. In addition to the benefits of reducing blood pressure, attaining healthy cholesterol levels, and increasing the efficiency of heart and lungs, walking significantly shields against other diseases:

– Osteoporosis. Strength-building exercise, such as walking, is critical in maintaining or increasing calcium levels in the bones of postmenopausal women. Bone, like muscle, is living tissue. When bones are exposed to the stress of physical activity, they become stronger, just as muscles get stronger when demands are placed on them.

– Intestine and colon disorders. Evidence indicates that the intestine and colon muscles are improved and remain in better shape when other body muscles are exercised.

– Blood clots. As we age, the protective protein, TPA, which dissolves stroke and heart attack causing blood clots, drops. Regular exercise can increase TPA levels. In addition, the levels of fibrinogen, another protein that creates the clots, are reduced.

--Respiratory infections. Extra lung power, enhanced by regular exercise, keeps minor respiratory infections from turning into pneumonia.

--Diabetes. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that being overweight and obese was the single most important risk factor that predicted who would develop Type 2 diabetes. During a 16-year follow-up period, study results showed that regular exercise--at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week--and an improved diet low in fat and high in fiber significantly helped to avoid Type 2 diabetes.

--Colds and flu. A study at Loma Linda University in California reports that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes a day, five times a week, experienced half as many days with cold and flu symptoms as sedentary people in the study.

Although walking shares many benefits of other sports, it offers many advantages. Almost anyone can do it, though it is best to consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. Because walking is virtually injury-free, it has the lowest drop-out rate of any form of exercise.

You need very little equipment other than sturdy shoes. Walking is inexpensive compared to health club fees. You can set your own schedule and not depend on others' timetable. Weather is no obstacle; simply dress accordingly. Walking is not a seasonal activity. You can exercise in temperatures that might rule out other activities. You can walk almost anywhere--sidewalk, street, road, trail, park, field, or even shopping mall. If you walk in the dark, it’s a good idea to wear reflective clothing.

Join the many who are walking toward a healthier, longer, and more satisfying life. Each step you take will improve the quality of your life.

Now, where are my walking shoes?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: What Lies West

Carolina (Lina) Clark has to get out of town, and fast. Recently widowed, her husband had drunk or gambled away the meager assets in their little general store. If she leaves immediately, she can stay ahead of the creditors and salvage a few personal items. She manages to team up with two unlikely characters, strangers, who intend to travel west from Westport, Missouri. One, a young woman, Josephine, is a high-class madam. The other, a young man, Henry, dreams of joining the cavalry out West. They agree to pool their resources, join a wagon train, and team up as “family.”

The way west is rugged, full of hardships and danger. The three work together, meeting challenges with strength that surpasses their own expectations. They reach an Army post and Henry stays. When Josephine and Lina reach the diggings of the California Gold Rush, they see a future for themselves. The two woman manage to eke out a living among the rough miners and grimy surroundings.

When an opportunity to work in San Francisco is offered, the two women find themselves in comparative luxury; Josephine doing what she does best, and Lina working in a warehouse under the supervision of a cold, calculating boss, Edward Haarten. It doesn’t take long for Lina to prove herself worthy of important responsibilities. Haarten has more than a good accountant in mind and makes advances in that direction. Lina flees on a ramshackle cargo vessel that’s bound for a tiny Puget Sound settlement in Washington Territory.

Starting over yet again is harder with fewer opportunities in this small community, but Lina again finds her niche with a growing family-owned lumber company. In addition to finding a way to make a living, she also finds her heart’s dream in Robert Marr, the head of the family-owned company. Lina’s past catches up to her when Haarten’s long reach from San Francisco threatens to destroy not only her life, but that of the struggling lumber company.

What Lies West by LaDene Morton is a well-written historical novel with believable characters and realistic settings. It’s a large volume, but its 618 pages kept me captivated throughout. The novel was a well-deserved WILLA Finalist and is available as a trade paperback or ebook. To learn more about the author, visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Snow Geese Are Back!

They’re back! Thousands of them! Each winter our Northwest Washington community celebrates the arrival of snow geese. The migratory birds have flown about 3,000 miles from Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, north of Siberia.

Here on Camano Island, and across the Skagit delta, several thousand snow geese migrate annually. At least 35,000 of the waterfowl winter in Washington and in the Frazier Valley near Vancouver, B.C. before returning to Wrangel to lay their eggs.

The large birds, up to 33 inches tall, are usually grayish white with pink bills and feet, and have wingspans of four and a half feet. When traveling distances, they often fly in formation, forming huge V’s in the skies. While feeding, they’ll sometimes fly up in noisy flocks, as shown in the above picture my husband Bruce took.

Huge groups can be seen feeding in farm fields on winter wheat, cover crops, or in pastures. The birds are very vocal and often can be heard more than a mile away.

In spring, as the days grow longer, snow geese migrate back to their Arctic tundra breeding areas. Courtship and pairing take place in their second year, although breeding does not usually start until the third year. Snow geese mate for life. The females are strongly philopatric, meaning they will return to the place they hatched to breed. The birds nest in colonies. The female selects a nest site and builds a shallow depression lined with plant material. The nests may be reused from year to year.

Females incubate three to four eggs for 22 to 25 days while the male guards the nest.. The goslings, born covered with down with eyes open, can scramble out of the nest within hours of hatching and have the ability to swim and forage for food. Both parents protect the young birds from predators such as Arctic fox, snowy owls, hawks and eagles. Parents stay with their young through the first winter. Families travel together on both the southbound and northbound migrations, separating only after they return to the Arctic breeding grounds.

We enjoy watching these beautiful birds during the winter, then say farewell to them in the spring as they fly north in V formations, calling to one another. Or who knows? They may be bidding us farewell. Honk!