Ralph's Dream (Paperback)
Ralph's grandfather and father emigrated to the United States from Mexico long before he was born. From childhood, the big dreams Ralph had have all failed, thwarted by ridicule, unrealistic aims and parental domination. For a fresh start, he moves from the Midwest to Seattle, joins a plumber's union and marries Ruby, a lady he meets on a blind date. In what he believes is a final effort to achieve something good for mankind, he buys 22 acres on Bainbridge Island to create's a refuge for native plants and wildlife. Every Saturday, he ferries over from Seattle to work on this secret project, leaving behind his wife, who has a closer relationship with her parents than with him. Beside Ralph there are four other storytellers whose views propel the story: Agnes, an island old timer, who lives with her husband in a cottage next to Ralph's property, watches and reports on all she sees through her kitchen window; J. Lewis McArthur, owner of the mansion across the street, whose love for golf, guns, his hot tub and Scotch enable him to endure Heather, his Bible-thumping wife, and Jeff, their rebellious teenage son; Arnold Swenson, the duty-bound yet freedom-loving code-enforcement officer for the City of Bainbridge Island, who sees code infractions everywhere but sometimes wishes he didn't; and Ruby, Ralph's wife, who doesn't know why her husband disappears every Saturday and feels her marriage disintegrating. In Ralphs's Dream, a fictional story with fictional characters but a real setting, most folks adapt to a time of big change, while others turn their backs on it and some fight against it. A few don't know what to do. Through all of the turmoil, Ralph struggles to hold onto his dream. Each storyteller has a chapter in the six sections of the book-I. Changing Times, II. Investigations, III. Confrontations, IV Understandings, V. Recriminations, and VI. Changing Lives. Problems escalate after Ralph bashes Jeff on the head with a thermos for littering his forest with beer cans and calling him "a weirdo." In retaliation, J. Lewis chases Ralph through the forest yelling and firing his rifle. Police pursue. The media swoops in. A helicopter hovers. Both men are caught and arrested. Heather is humiliated by her husband's antics and heavy drinking. When Jeff realizes his father has found out about his partying in the woods, he runs away. In a drunken stupor, J. Lewis nearly shoots himself. As he attempts to stay sober, he learns that Jeff has died of a heroin overdose in an alley in Seattle. Heather has a nervous breakdown. Arnold Swenson and his wife try to help. Meanwhile, Ruby discovers Ralph's dream and makes a fateful decision regarding her love for him and the necessity of breaking off detrimental ties with her parents. George and Agnes give up rural life, concluding that in their old age it would be better to live within walking distance of stores and the Senior Center. Ralph's donates his property to the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, and he and Ruby buy George and Agnes's cottage next to it. At the end of the book, Ruby watches through the window as Agnes did in the beginning. .
About the Author
Since 1981 Barbara Winther and her husband, Grant, have lived on Bainbridge Island, thirty-five minutes by ferry from Seattle. An avid world traveler, Barbara has written numerous plays based on folklore from a multitude of cultures, her award-winning books illuminate traditions, and her hour long musicals for children teach the value of working together. Also she has written articles on travel, history and art. In 2002 Barbara was elected to the Society of Woman Geographers.