Bestselling author to visit Hood River

Susan Chernak McElroy will be speaking and signing copies of her books at Waucoma Bookstore in downtown Hood River on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.

McElroy, a national bestselling author, is touring to promote her new book, Heart in the Wild: A Journey of Self-Discovery with Animals of the Wilderness (Ballantine Books Hardcover; July 1, 2002; $24.95).

The work is a testament to the ability of wild animals to help people reconnect with the earth and its rhythms.

In Animals as Teachers, McElroy shared how her beloved animal companions guided and sustained her through her battle with advanced cancer.

The Seattle Times called the book “Stirring, emotional, and important ... For anyone who’s ever owned a pet, this kaleidoscope of emotions will elicit tears, laughter, and some very special memories.”

Twelve years later, when a fire ravaged McElroy’s mountain home, her experience with wild animals provided the guidance to help her heal and grow.

In Heart in the Wild, McElroy uses the metaphor of fire and other wild forces to craft a story of her personal quest to recover from the flames that destroyed her home. She explores wild animals’ roles as ambassadors to a wisdom older than humans’.

Especially significant is the six-pointed bull elk, which teaches her about stamina and endurance during the loss of her home and her divorce. Through physical and visionary interactions with the elk and other wild animals, McElroy embarks on a spiritual journey that leads her to a personal transition and a genuine sense of belonging in the world.

“I have always let my life lead me to my book work,” said McElroy. “Coincidentally, the day I sat down to begin writing ‘Heart in the Wild,’ my house burned down.

“Just two hours after finishing the introduction, I returned home from tea with a friend to find my home in flames. By the time I sat down to begin writing again a full year later, my life had given me a year’s worth of amazing stories of my own about transformation and regeneration.”

McElroy has also written Animals as Guides for the Soul, and her award-winning writing appears in numerous anthologies including Chicken Soup for Soul Survivors, the bestseller Intimate Nature: The Bond between Women and Animals, Kinship with the Animals, and Wounded Healers.

She has written for national magazines and is currently working on a series of children’s stories.

McElroy lectures extensively on the healing bond between humans and animals.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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