Two Months Ago, Today

Two months ago, today, Dale Harris and I pulled out in to a foggy morning; we had waited as long as we could—Betty Jane was due at a book signing. Thirty miles upstream, a day away by boat, lay her berth at Four Seasons Marina where she was on view to all comers interested in the craft that plied the waters from Dallas, Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Of course there was mechanical failure along the way. Shortly after lunch and across from Villa Hills, perched on high above the Kentuckian rive gauche—the port engine coughed and sputtered; the tachometer needle waved wildly; an alarm shrilled its announcement of engine stall; the telephone rang; and the harbormaster at Four Seasons asked, “What’s your ETA?”

I took the helm and devised contingencies—We could pull in to Lundlow-Bromley on river left. We could call Andy Storch and see if he’ll come get us—. It was a tense twenty minutes before Captain returned to the bridge. I turned the key, the engine fired, and we were on our way once again without any idea of what had happened.

The “Buy our Book—We’ll Buy Your Beer” signing and launch was well-attended and effortless thanks in great part to a surprise appearance from my brother and his wife—flown in from their modest ranchette in Lampasas, Texas, pert’near in the smack dab middle of the state—and their eldest who lives in Boston. They, with Dale, spread charm and grace around the noisy Sandbar as I racked my brain to remember the name of him or her who stood before me with a smile and eager clutch around a copy of River Queens.

The following morning, Dale and I shoved off under sunny skies for Washington Marine where Betty Jane was hauled without incident. I power washed her bottom revealing nothing but clean white oakum—oakum is the cotton rope stuffed between planks and sealed over with seaming compound. The planks swell in water, pressing out the compound and leaving the compressed oakum behind. On sound hulls, oakum appears at the surface in pristine condition. Mr. Mansfield wrapped her against the cold and frost before the yard hands blocked her up for the winter.

And then there are our champions, John & Sandy Vierling, Café DeSales, Thanksgiving and Holiday Parties. Gracious hosts/hostesses open their homes to feast, foul, (and a few book sales) as six months of promotion come home to roost. Reviews stack up at Goodreads,,; book bloggers post to their websites; local, national, and international press are most generous—Movers & Makers, Cincinnati and For the Southwest by the Southwest. Linda Hill @Lindahill50Hill saved Staying in with Alexander Watson for her next to last post of 2018.

“God bless us, everyone.”

Alexander Watson, taking in new material.