Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon


I’m Back

Word of the day ~ Undertake. A  pick from Roget’s International Thesaurus. Ran my finger down a randomly selected page with my eyes closed and landed on undertake. Would normally think caskets, mortuaries, funeral planning. But the word I landed on is a verb and a subsection of address oneself to. I do love a good romp through a thesaurus. Undertake, such a humble word has too many synonyms to mention and has inspired its own stable of cliches:

Knuckle down ~~ Put one’s shoulder to the wheel ~~ Take the bull by the horns

I’ve done all three the last few weeks, editing my manuscript, my excuse for being away from my blogging.

And why the association with grave diggers?

Word Origin and History for undertaker
c.1400, “a contractor or projector of any sort,” agent noun from undertake (v.). The specialized sense (1690s) emerged from funeral-undertaker. = {http://www.dictionary.com/browse/undertaker}

Back to Thoughts While Walking the Dog.

Happy Spring!

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I’ve just finished reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it along with the majority of the other, over 23,000, reviewers who also wrote lovely descriptions of the story on Amazon and Goodreads. Many more reviewers raved about the book than those who criticized it.

I found much beauty and suspense in the novel along with the horror of WWII and the Nazi regime. I  felt immersed in the lives of the characters and once I got into the story had no problem following the back and forth in time.

Of course the book got me thinking about war and good vs. evil. One NY Times reviewer criticized Doerr for including von Rumpel as a not fully developed character along with Frederick, Werner’s friend in the Nazi Youth School. I guess both fall into the category of minor characters, not much backstory to flesh out either of them or make us care too much about them. But for me the two of them are metaphors for the theme of good and evil inherent in most stories about Nazi Germany.

Frederick represents the delicate nature  of good in the face of evil. When he defies authority, he is  severely punished. Werner knows in his heart the right thing to do, but does not have the courage to act. There are many, many riveting scenes, but that one stays with me. I keep asking myself – What would I do in a similar situation? Would I have the guts to  defend a friend or loved one in a situation where we would both more than likely lose our lives if I speak up?

Sgt. Maj. von Rumpel is evil to the core, toeing the party line and being eaten up inside by his cancer. Isn’t that the very essence of evil to destroy itself in the end. Doerr spared us a narrative about evil by showing it to us in the character of von Rumpel.

Did you read the book? Do you have a scene that stays with you? I’ll be away from my computer for the rest of the week on family business, but look forward to any comments you have.

Thanks for stopping by.




This post is inspired by a PBS program honoring the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) ~  We Served Too: The Story of the WASP.

A trailer is available http://www.wstthemovie.com


In 1939, the day after German tanks rolled into Warsaw, Poland, a woman pilot named Jacqueline Cochran wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt to suggest the use of experienced women pilots in the Armed Forces. Almost a year later, another pilot, Nancy Harkness Love, made the same suggestion to the Ferrying Division of the Armed Forces.

It wasn’t until September 1942 that the Air Transport Command (ATC) realized the reality of a lack of experienced pilots to ferry newly produced warplanes to air bases across the country. The demand for male combat pilots overseas left the ATC with a dilemma until someone remembered and considered Nancy Love’s letter of 1940.

Love was hired to recruit 25 of the most qualified women pilots in the country to ferry military aircraft. The value of the women pilots got the attention of General Henry Arnold of the Army Air Force. He approved a program to train a large group of women as ferry pilots. Cochran and Love recruited the pilots and engineered the program that became Women Air Force Services (WASP).

~Most of the recruited women had 1,000 hours of flying time prior to entering the training.

~They trained for a few weeks before being assigned a post.

~1,074 eventually women graduated from the program.


~The WASP flew every type of plane in the Army’s arsenal.


~They served as flight instructors, tow-target pilots for gunnery training—yes with real ammunition, engineering flight test pilots, and flew radio controlled planes.

~The WASP were hired under Civil Service. They paid for their own uniforms, lodging and personal travel to and from home.

~WASPs were deactivated in December 1944 without military benefits and without recognition. The surviving women were moved to seek recognition in the mid-1970s when the Navy announced that for the FIRST time in history women would be permitted to fly military planes.

~In 1977 the WASP gained their belated military benefits and recognition.

~In 2010 the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor by Congress.

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Highland Veterans Memorial Park, Wisconsin

Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives in service to their country.

P.S. I just learned that William M. Miller, a former Southern Oregon Historical society Historian and history columnist for the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper has written a book To Live and Die a WASP that is a tribute to the 38 WASP  who did not survive. The book is available on Amazon.





The Threat of War


The threat of war wasn’t much on the minds of America during the early 1930s. Dealing with the economic and social issues of the Great Depression occupied most people’s time.

After World War I, during the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S., weary of war, moved toward isolationism, described as the avoidance of political and military commitments to our alliances with foreign powers, particularly those of Europe.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Isolationism.aspx as

A powerful force in isolationism was the peace movement that attracted women who had won the right to vote in 1920.

The destructive forces of WWI and the hardships of women’s lives during wartime further strengthened women against the U.S. getting involved in overseas conflict. However, toward the end of the 1930s, even though unemployment was still high, the social reforms of FDR’s New Deal raised the hope of many men and women that the crisis had passed.

People in America began to take notice of the rise in fascism overseas, Hitler’s takeover of Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. In addition, the aggressiveness of Japan got the attention of the U.S. population. All of this, plus learning that Hitler’s intent was to conquer the world scared people into moving away from isolation. Debates raged around the country until on a peaceful Sunday morning at 7:55 Honolulu time, December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. On December 8, President Roosevelt went before Congress to declare war against Japan and enter World War II.

Suddenly, the women who for the last decade had worked for 50% less than a man at menial jobs became the workforce as the men went off to war.

Women found out how strong they could be.


How important they could be.


How they could do the same jobs as a man.

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My mother working in Chrysler Corporation factory during War years