Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Here Comes 2015!





Here we are on the threshold of a new year. I am quite ready to move on, to put 2014 to rest. There was no tree here this year and I have already stored the Santas again. I did leave out some snowmen and a favorite winter tea pot. I also set out white tulips which is something my mother-in-law did for January every year. I also found a place for three peasant dolls she made years ago. She was one of three sisters, and I always wondered if she thought of them as she stitched up these dolls.






















Our house was back in order by Christmas which was a relief. There are a few things left to tend to…some things to find that were stored and seem to have vanished in a cardboard box somewhere deep in a closet! However, my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip for Christmas which changed travel plans and the day’s events. Also my mother was so sick with flu she would not have us in, but passed gifts through the door. It was also the first Christmas after my sister’s divorce and the pain was still palpable in the room despite gift wrapping and bows and good things. I now truly understand the elephant in the room concept.



But we are now ready to move on. Time to return to routines…exercise, work, cleaning, writing, eating right…the list of shoulds goes on and on. The house smells wonderful this morning as the fragrance of posole loaded with onions and green chilies floats through the rooms. It slowly replaces the aroma of Christmas cinnamon, chocolate and sugar. The windows steam as it is cold outside. I have a new book for inspiring writing that I’ve  hoarded for a special time to break open the cover. The title alone is a shocker: Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches. It is about writing the bad guys!


So here we are, ready to spring into 2015. I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Christmas Card






 

Like a banked campfire, the bright leaves of autumn gradually turn dry, drop, and crumble to ash. The skies begin to fade as well, becoming the dishwater gray in the increasingly shorter days. Ah, but night skies can be brilliant in the colder temperatures as diamond stars sparkle in the black sky. The earth prepares to go silent for restoration after the joyous Christmas celebrations and at the end of the year.

Oddly enough, I find the month filled with hope despite the increasing darkness. Oh, I don’t long for presents or parties, but instead feel optimism knowing there will be an easing away from the past year, good or bad, and am edging towards coming rebirth and new beginnings.

It is during this period that I take time to appreciate all the people in my life and to hold dear memories and thoughts of ones who are now gone. All the people in my life are like the individual and varied ornaments hung on branches of a fragrant Christmas tree. Each person lovingly comes into my life to add color and brightness, to shine like tinsel.

December can be a demanding month that races by with busyness as folks scurry around to buy, to wrap and to please. It is also a month for counting blessings…and letting Hope reignite in our hearts.
                                                                         2014
 May your holiday season be filled with all the hope and happiness possible.
   Merry Christmas and
            Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finally....An End In Sight



I think after working on the washing machine Saturday we are nearly back to order around here. Still a box or two…cabinets still draw clutter to be moved each day. I am not putting up tree or outside lights this year. Just too tired of putting and taking down! But I did put out a few seasonal things.





























The colors of walls do not show well in pictures. The half wall is very dark brown and dining walls are latte colored, not green! I was afraid so much brown would overshadow the Blue Willow, but that is not the case. Although plenty sits out, I left a few things boxed for a while…to rest the eyes from so much stuff.

Now on with December. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Day of Respite




DH never gets excited over Christmas, hates Christmas music, finds winter disgusting, and abhors shopping so it has been a surprise to me that for three years he has expressed the desire to see St. Charles, Missouri at night while decorated for Christmas. This autumn he asked to put it on the calendar this year. So I made a one day plan for meeting our Sunset Hills friends there for the day.

When this agreeable wife also agreed to the Ceiling Project from Hell and it ran six weeks long, I thought we should skip the mini-trip. But after the carpet was stretched and steam cleaned it had to dry anyway so we took out for the East. Then we learned our friends had been sick with a virus and had to pass on a cold Christmas walk.


We went anyway with a weather report of maybe hitting 50 degrees. That didn’t happen. The closer we got to the St. Louis area, the darker the skies. It never hit 40. The skies were so dark I felt like a heavy ceiling was about to fall on my head….a ceiling again! But we arrived at the Drury with no near mishaps on I-44. It had been restful driving with some music and sitting without knee deep sheetrock dust.

The next morning we had a nice Drury breakfast. Motel breakfasts are not superb but Drury does well, and frankly even tasteless gravy can please me if I don’t have to make it and I can walk away from the mess. We waited for the rush hour to be over and then eased ourselves down to The Hill, the Italian area of St. Louis. It was another dark and cold day but no wind so walking in and out of those wonderful Italian grocery stores was pleasant. The shelves are crowded with brightly colored cans of olives and tomatoes along with numerous brands of attractive bottles filled with golden olive oil. The spices are fragrant, and oh, the smell of that pungent salami! We bought frozen raviolis and bags of ice to bring it home, a load of pasta for winter. I bought a jar of garlic pepper that I hope will do two things: 1) Lure DH into eating a wee bit more pepper, and 2) ease us away from some salt.

                                                          Getting to Ragazzi's!


Then we ate a great lunch at Ragazzi’s, a place we found last summer. DH asked if I wanted to try some place new, but I wanted to go back to this place famous for their fried ravioli. We found it with ease and it is not a flamboyant place, in fact it is stuck near an old viaduct and train yard. One feels like black sedans carrying Al Capone might show up any minute. But once inside food is wonderful. Some student nurses were celebrating having finished a heavy final and many other diners were filtering in. I ordered the fried ravioli appetizer with a small salad instead of a meal. The salad was as wonderful as their ravioli and their idea of small was way larger than I could have imagined.






We returned to our room  for shifting some of our groceries, stealing a a brief rest, and then heading to St. Charles. The brick streets and decorated store fronts were beautiful and the day dark enough already the lights were glowing. St. Charles, a river front town preserves its ancient brick buildings well and at Christmas they set a scene of the 1800’s with strolling Father Christmas characters, a pioneer Santa, carolers in long skirts and top hats. The stores offer items that I don’t need or want, but it is fun to wander in and out looking for something special. I picked up some small gifts along the way, but having just weeded this house of “stuff” (and I assure you there is plenty left!) I was leery of toting home more things that were “cute” dust collectors.



We visited our favorite bookstore now under new management but looking the same as always. It was finely decorated for the season. We ate at Braden’s although neither of us were very hungry after such a spectacular lunch. The place was crowded to the hilt; we got the last tiny table for two. We had big cups of hot tea and BLT’s we barely finished. I went to the washroom and when I came back I passed a table where I matched eyes with a lady who seemed familiar. Whoops, could it be? I asked if she were Becky? Yes. Becky Povich? Yes. There sat one of the first bloggers I ever read and was followed by. We had never talked on the phone or met, but wow, did we know each other. She and her husband were having a very rare date night; we had never been to Braden’s before. What were the chances we would be six feet away from each other on a December night? What fun to meet her in the flesh and to introduce our husbands. This was a real gift for the season.

                                                               Favorite bookstore

My one disappointment was not tasting the roasted chestnuts when the English characters roasting them were late and had to build a fire yet. We were tired and cold and with a 45 minute more wait we gave up. Also the very old brick sidewalk and odd curbs were potential disasters for us in the dark night.

   

   












The next morning our friends managed to meet us for breakfast although they were  washed out.  None of us could give up the opportunity to see each other for even a brief while. We have been friends for about 45 years, meeting in an apartment complex when we were all newly married. The time was short but better than nothing. They lacked energy and we had a long road ahead to get home. More work waited!




                            Home on the Hill decorated for Christmas


Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Saga Continues




Three weeks after the initial five of waiting for ceiling men and things look barely better. Oh, there is progress and today will move us forward quite a bit barring any unforeseen hindrance. We waited five weeks for the ceiling men and they did their work in eight hours! They have the tools to work with and they are young, sturdy men who know what they are doing from repetition.



The air is still thick with dust. Our hair picks up minute particles in the air like a magnet grabbing filings. I can’t get to half my clothes. What was once a trail to the dressers is now packed with upturned chairs. Today I am giving up my book club’s Christmas luncheon for the first time in ten years. I hate to miss but I feel like a soiled napkin after a dinner party right now…and the work waits.


DH is happy so far with the results. Thank heavens. He is pleased with the first painting and how easy it goes on. Ah, if he knew the price he would be prostrate in the floor. But I am the fetcher of such items and if he doesn’t see a price, he does better! The front of house will look much the same as the shade is similar. Today the back rooms will be the challenge. We are doing some creative painting which he might not understand before it is over. He is a “paint it all the same type guy”, but I bought three shades in one color family to mix it up a bit…a departure even for me. Ah, will see how this goes as I hear the ladder moving now.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tearing It Up


 

I am thinking that pictures might say it best this morning. My life feels like these walls look: a bit of shambles. I am sorry I ever agreed to take this paper off. While the hallway came off rather easy, the kitchen was a nightmare.

I loved this paper from day one and through 33 years. I thought it was up for life. It stuck like a cockle burr on a thick sock. It had faded not one iota! Little late now to lament the loss of my friend. Change...I don't do well with it. I am like the dog who is distressed with the moving of her food bowl! Biscuit and I both thrive on routine and habit which have flown out the window this month!



Meanwhile the truck would not start, Social Security has messed me up again, my skin has been determined to be a condition that can't be cured, the prescription did not show up at the pharmacy, the dog has an itch now too, and then there is the weather!

On the other hand, I got paid for my DX station article. It was a nice tidy sum and most welcomed. I won second place and third place in the OWL contest. I got second in the Janet Dailey Inspirational Award and third in poetry. I hope some day to have again two thoughts in a row to put down on paper!

And here we go again with another day....let's see whatt comes down the Yellow Brick Road!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Marginalia


marginalia
/ˌmɑːdʒɪˈneɪlɪə/
plural noun
1.
notes in the margin of a book, manuscript, or letter  2. writing in books


I was taught early on to respect books, that they were treasures to be treated with care. I never ever tore a page or used my crayons on an inside cover. When I got to chapter books, I never folded down a page corner to mark my place. When I met DH and his family I was shocked that they not only set wet glasses on book bindings, but they also placed an open book face down risking damage to a book’s spine!

When I went to college, everyone had highlighters and made their textbooks look like rainbows. I resisted but finally found the sense in highlighting passages instead of copying them all out by hand for notes. Eventually, I got over my fear of writing in books and began to mark up pages pretty good!

While trying to read a page where someone else has written can be distracting to me, I do enjoy old books with remarks or notes by others. I like to see if I agree or disagree with a previous reader. Books borrowed from friends or family make me wonder why did they mark a word. Are they going to use it in their own writing? What fascinated them about a certain thought? Were they shocked, interested, or had they experienced the same emotion?

I used to have a great collection of book marks. I been gifted with some extraordinary ones like a turquoise studded sliver shank, an African beaded one, a piece of lace from Bruges, Belgium. But once I found the magnetic ones, I liked them best. Only problem is I forget and loan out my books with my bookmark gone traveling in it! Then there is the neat blue button mark in my Kindle that is never lost.

Recently I have accumulated a gathering of new books that sit in corners or on desk tops, but right now I have little time to read them. Sometimes I walk by, pick one up and give it a love pat, glance at pictures, or admire the cover until I’m able to sit a spell with it. I do love my books. When a package comes, DH never asks anymore WHAT is the delivery, only smiles and asks what will I be reading. A trip to a really good used book store can make me positively giddy.

Books…pages…words….divine gifts surely given for a good life.


What about you? Do you write in the margins of your books? Underline? Fold page corners?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Poetry Reading, Another World




Yesterday despite mess inside and cold outside, we stopped everything and entered a different world for a while. It was time for a PSU poetry reading and this reader was nationally known Joy Harjo. She was amazing. A Creek born in Oklahoma, Harjo’s poetry and prose carry the myths and spiritual elements of First Peoples. This means it carries memory of pain as well as bliss.

While I had never really read much Harjo, I constantly came across her name referenced in literature as a foremost American poet, specifically a Native American one. I did not know she sang, played the saxophone, and wrote music as well. At the end of her reading, she sang a last poem. Her silky yet solid voice floated through the room like soft kisses on baby cheeks.

My favorite reading of the night was “Perhaps the World Ends Here”. It is a poem that speaks of the importance of the kitchen table. “It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.”  Ironically, I had just read in the new Ted Kooser book a poem titled “At the Kitchen Table”. Both poems hit a favorite belief of mine that the habit of a family gathering at a table is precious and should not be lost. I will reread both of these poems often now.


I came home spiked with energy to write poems or at least to read more and wallow in their beauty…that is as soon as I have another chance! 







Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Murray Tree




The wind and rain have taken many leaves and some trees are looking quite bare. Others have held tight, refused to give up anything yet to winter. The nights are cold making mornings outside too chilly until the sun wipes his eyes and comes fully awake near noon.

I have spent two days and one more to go of merely boxing up tea pots and cups preparing for  coming wall and ceiling work. I have taken pictures down, folded tablecloths, but have top of kitchen cabinets left to do. Mind you, this is not furniture moving yet, only small pieces of “stuff. It is amazing what I have accumulated. I feel strange taking down my own things, wrapping in tissue, and boxing like I am ending something. I wonder if I need these beloved things at all…would life be easier with cleared table tops?

Yesterday as I ran to town for more tissue paper, I noted the change in trees but kept moving on myself thinking that is what we all do…keep going, keep changing. I was coming down the street when I saw the Murray Tree and had to pull the car over to exalt its loveliness. Every year we watch for this tree to change as it is a beauty. This year while other trees were at their peak, this one had not even begun to change! We figured it would be a year it just did not perform. The Murrays have been dead for years and the house falls into ruin while descendants refuse to settle the estate. Yet every year, this tree flames full of color, full of a last burst of life at the end of summer. So this year was to be no different, just late.

The beauty of the Murray Tree made me think of my writing. Would it be slow and late too? Would it burst forth in the middle of a winter snow storm and astound me (and editors too!) with powerhouse words I stacked together? I can only hope this is true. No lines will be written in the next few weeks of sheetrock dust and plaster! But I can hope that like the Murray Tree I will eventually show marvelous creations even if late in the season!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It Is a November Day



November is certainly here. A hard freeze moved in mums for the night on Friday, but all else froze. Leaves fell freely in the weekend winds. We wrapped up the deck for winter all but a few pieces. We sat the mums back out, crowding them around the door so I could see them constantly for whatever time they have left. The rain began in the night—the slow easy rain of late autumn.

It was a November rain we drove to Joplin in this morning. Going for an eye appointment, we never even turned on the radio. The wipers were our music, tap-tap-taping out the rhythm of a “winter coming” song. The skies were heavy and dismal, as gray as river rock. It wasn’t too hard to imagine that soon such a rain would be freezing or turning to white flakes.



The time change makes everything darker too. Poor Biscuit, she comes to me at 4:00 today and jumps into my lap. Her eyes plead. They say she does not care WHAT the clock says, her tummy says it is 5 p.m. and her dinnertime!

Inside we begin to take down pieces on walls and tables to ready for an overhaul of ceilings and walls. Gradually the inside of the house is looking less autumn comfy and more winter desolate. The bankroll is lessened too. The eye appointment went well this morning if one considers being $1000 lighter in the wallet as a good thing, but having healthy eyes is good news after problems for a while.

We stopped at Sam’s before coming home. Mercy, was that place packed! Was it that everyone could not do anything else in the rain so they went to buy food? I will say there was a certain friendliness in people as many stopped to comment on voting, my bracelets, or to ask where the dried fruit aisle was. There was a certain comradery in folks, maybe a common dread of winter perhaps?

But with cooler air and darker days, a good thing appears—soup pots! We had Panera Kale a few nights ago…then Beefy Onion with croutons on top…a spinach bean soup is in the freezer waiting…and all afternoon a chicken has cooked with celery, onions garlic, and tarragon. It will become chicken noodle for tonight.


Yes, it is really looking like November around here!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing in October



The autumn continues to be splendid. Each chore is less daunting because of the beauty that surrounds me. In the early morning or late in the afternoon when the sun hits the dazzling trees, the leaves look like they glow and shimmer.

We are preparing for a fall repair of ceilings and walls at this house. I could just cry at the thoughts of it all.  I am going to have to say goodbye to 30 year old wallpaper that still looks good enough for me. Oh, I know it is dated…but so am I, and that wallpaper has looked down on a lot of living in this house. Not only will rooms of furniture be moved, but LOADS of tea pots, tea cups, and “stuff”.

Among other things this week, DH drove a few miles to buy a load of oak and cherry for winter projects. He buys from a great Ozark lumber place that cuts, dries, and planes nice wood. Once this first project is finished, he will move to some handcrafted pieces of furniture. Already I am looking forward to winter days where maybe I can write while he builds.

I belong to a wonderful poet’s group out of Cuba, Missouri called The Bombadils. I've never met a single soul there, but they were gracious enough to include me through my participation in Missouri Poetry Society. Leader Dawn Harmon gives us a prompt every month or two and then we can post our work in group emails. Others can comment. It is like a writer’s group only online!

I have missed several of her last prompts due to time and opportunity to work on a poem. I notice that others have been quiet too so everyone has a busy life these days. This month’s prompt seemed like a good assignment to work on.

October Writing Prompt
Pick out a poem either from your own "Dead Letter" file or choose one of your favorite poet's pieces.
Read it through, line by line. 
Re write line by line telling the same story in the opposite emotion.
Re write this two more times changing the emotion each time. 

This is a good prompt because writers should be readers too. Many great writers use the work of others to put them in a writing space, a mood, a genre to write. So when DH drove away to fetch wood and I found the new Mary Oliver book Blue Horses in my mailbox, I gave myself permission to put down the dust mop and sit a spell under autumn skies for a read. It wasn’t long before one of Oliver’s poems moved me to work on a poem for the October writing prompt. While not an exact opposite…and it could use more work…it was fun to do, to play with.

Now that is what a poem, any writing, should be, fun, right?

 First stanza from Mary Oliver’s  I Don’t Want to Be Demure or Respectable.

I don’t want to be demure or respectable.
I was that way, asleep, for years.
That way you forget too many important things.
How the little stones, even if you can’t hear them are singing.
How the river can’t wait to get to the ocean and sky, it’s been there before.
What traveling is that!

My take was I did not want to be thin. (Actually I would, but chances are it won’t ever happen so accept it!)

I Don’t Want to Be Thin

I don’t want to be thin and lean anymore.
I have fought portly pudge for years,
Missed the chewy pull of taffy on my teeth,
Avoided sugar to soften the sharpness of my tea.

Is that really called eating?
What joy to indulge in sauce-drenched pasta
Followed by a decadent frothy tiramisu.
I would be a hefty bulge then but still be me,
As fascinating and sensitive and intent as now.

So instead of suffering the crunch of kale
And sipping chalky protein drinks,
I’m going to enjoy the taste of luscious food,
Savor each salient calorie.
Who I am will still be there--
Just cradled under soft mounds of tasted happiness.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Favorite Bracelet


I was about nine and my sister five the year Gran gave us bracelets for Easter. It made more sense than an Easter basket filled with candy that would be eaten by the next Sunday. The bracelets were alike except for the colors of the stone. Gran gave us our choice, and while reaching for the blue one, my sister squealed for the blue. Knowing the constant admonition to “be a big girl”, I was fully aware of what was coming and just gave in taking the orange stone I was less fond off.

While the bracelets were sterling, the stones were some form of glass. I wore mine forever, through college and into marriage. The stone became rough and pitted. One day I noticed it was cracked. However, the stone continued to hold fast though I was sick about it. I eventually put it away taking it out occasionally to ponder, to remember Gran herself.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across it again. I was amazed I could still wear it. Thankfully Gran had thought ahead and got us bigger bracelets that would grow with us, not tiny baby type pieces. I was still sad to see the broken and abused stone.

But I remembered a jeweler only a few miles away that had impressed me with his work. He repairs, builds, and designs even. He is an artist. He does not like to overcharge so is quite honest about things, refusing to do simple jobs that will take man hours to execute thus costing much. That was his response to this bracelet. Hubby asked about turquoise and there was no way he had a big enough piece. He wasn’t sure he had any stone to fit…was afraid it would be costly…agreed the sterling was worth saving so he said leave it a few days and let him think.

We left it on Wednesday morning and Friday morning he called. I could tell from his voice he was pleased with himself. He had found a piece of turquoise with pyrite in it. Pyrite is a mineral deposit of iron and sulfur giving off a metallic gleam. The charge was less than a dinner out.  I just love it, and though it took fifty years, I got my blue bracelet in the end.


Nice to have a memory back on my arm again!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Autumn Splendor





Autumn in the Ozarks can be marked by a frothy fog that lingers early morning in furrows of plowed fields, near creek beds, above valleys that rest among hills and bald knobs. The temps have been chilly, but the sun brings delightful temperatures as it rises. One starts the day with a jacket, eases into a sweatshirt, and finally peels down to shirtsleeves for bright and temperate afternoons.

These last months we have missed favorite pastimes and crowd in all we can now at the end of the year. Yesterday we arose early, packed a lunch, loaded Miss Biscuit among fishing poles and headed for Roaring River. Unfortunately, it was her first ride on Ozark curves and twists making her lose her breakfast as we coast down the big hill into the park.






The day was cloudy in the beginning but soon the fog and chill burned off. People were few and all were older, slower paced folks casting lines across the roiling stream or lingering over warm campfires. The trees were beautiful to say the least. Not the vibrant reds of some areas but muted shades of orange and yellow. 




Biscuit and I walked some. I had books and paper, as always, but found myself unable to concentrate on distant locations and varied stories when I sat in front of such calming splendor. Mother Nature had her own story to tell using color to spin magnificence. I did not want to take my eyes away for fear of missing a single minute of pulsating transformations among the trees. 




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tiny Library in a Tiny Town


My tiny hometown had a tiny public library, but it was a gigantic window to the world for me. It was built like a brown shoe box. The front door had to be pushed a bit, and in summer the wall unit air conditioner rumbled like thunder.  The librarian was a tiny white haired lady with wireframe glasses and heavy tied black Granny shoes who spoke in a tiny voice that made you speak softly like you were in a church.

I can still tell where some of the books sat. Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools was on the top row of the first set of shelves by the front door. Second row hat horse stories and nurse love stories. Then an area in the middle of the long room opened up with some magazines and a table for browsing in a chosen book. Right under the air conditioner on the east wall was a long row of the classics…Last of the Mohicans, House of Seven Gables, Around the World in Seven Days, War and Peace and others. Below them was the children’s section, a feast for me on many a summer day.

It was close to the bottom that I found the set of chapter books dealing with Native Americans. I can see the turquoise covers yet and wish I knew the publishers today so I could re-find this series of books. Each book told stories and myths of different tribes. I felt right at home with these books and became so absorbed in the tales that I read them over and over again. I did not know that my own blood ran Red so to speak. The stories were full of moral lessons, of First People’s beliefs about living responsibly, respecting the earth, honoring elders and right living in general.


My grandmother put silver and turquoise bracelets on my arm before I started school. My dad vetoed any baby ear piercings or I might have had them too is my guess. She was a quiet but proud woman. She did the responsible thing always; she respected the thoughts of others. She held her temper, spoke in soft voices, and turned the other cheek. She put more on me than just jewelry. She was a visible form of the little turquoise books I found on the tiny library’s shelves that gave me a big start in life. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Telling Our Stories





Editors are an unexplained lot these days. I think there used to be a rigid protocol to follow by both the writer and the editor. Now days many editors do not even acknowledge receiving a submission. But you can’t be sure it is rejected just because you haven’t had a response in six weeks. It can be many months and then you get maybe a question or inquiry back so when you answer you can wait another six months to hear more! Alas, I submitted Sunday and already have a rejection today so there is no rule for time.

I recently got a rejection that was most unusual. They were sorry because my poem did not fit their issue. However, they were impressed and would like to see more. The editors (more than one) rather picked apart the first stanza of said poem although they liked the rest. I have not visited the poem again yet. After all, the editors’ opinions are just that--opinions. Someone else might not agree. However, I do appreciate ANY feedback at all so I can consider it.

My opinions often differ from others. For example, the rave reviews of Gone Girl did not include one from me. I hated this book. Oh, I thought the writing was very good, kept me reading. It was fast paced…snappy and read like a Facebook post in brevity. But the ending…a surprise, but I also felt duped as a reader. Maybe I was just not a sharp reader! Now it is a movie…maybe that will be a good venue for the story, but I do not intend to watch unless it appears at the local video store for a cheap price.

We rarely go to the movies anymore, but this is birthday week so a movie with theater popcorn! was on my week’s list. Very little draws me to pay the price and inconvenience of our local theater, but I chose to see The Judge.  I am glad I had seen few reviews as they say story leans on clichés and is poorly told. Not so in my book. Here were real people, suffering human faults, portrayed by very good actors. Duvall as always shows his stuff; Downey is not a particular favorite of mine, but I was mesmerized by his work in this film. Yes, some of the points are melodramatic, but so is life with real people. I found the relationships painful to watch because I know people living them. The ending was about ten minutes too long in that it would have been more poignant had it stopped in the boat scene. Enough said until you see the movie for yourself.

Telling our stories, preferably without vampires and space ships, is what I love to do, to read, to contemplate. This month’s Country magazine carries an essay of mine, a scene from my “story”. You can read it online if you wish—or not. http://www.country-magazine.com/short-stories/nostalgia-stories/grandpas-dx-a-true-old-fashioned-gas-station/


I hope your story today is a good one.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Family Storytelling



It is looking like full-blown autumn here, inside and out. The rain set in yesterday…last night...and more is coming. This morning it was so dark I overslept for me. The deck was wet and the air rested at a damp 49 degrees. While I brewed the tea, Miss Biscuit looked at me forlornly. “Yes, I know, our tea time is not the same inside.”

This week I have baked apples, baked beans, bake a pie (that we should not have), hungered for cookies, and have recipes laid out for soup. The oven is on more now. I feel my insides pulling inwardly like overdone custard pulling away from the pan sides. I shrivel a little in this weather knowing winter will come; my body knows what is coming and preparing. No, not yet please!

It does feel like writing weather though. I have sticky notes all over my desk as scenes and conversations come to my mind. No time to write them at moment what with fighting Social Security (a story you do not want to hear!) and other things happening. However, I want to save these glimpses of story for dark winter mornings when maybe I can hammer them out on the keyboard before dog and man arise each day.

Yesterday, my cousin came through town and spent many hours with us. It has been a couple of years since I saw him last, but before that it was decades. Slightly younger than I, he shared my family on Dad’s side. For long while we only lived a block apart. Then I married and moved away while he joined the Air Force during the Vietnam years and traveled the world.

Of course, our favorite subject to hash out is our shared and often dysfunctional family. Now we are old enough to piece together the scenes and events of our childhood, seeing them from a distance of what we hope is fairness and wisdom. We are now at an age where it is comforting to know someone who knows us from our past, who can share memories. I think there are lots of seeds for story from my family!

I have been searching my family history hunting answers for what makes us who we are. Although I still hunger for answers I have not found yet, I have found good writing topics in these people I never met. That is what I like about writing fiction. I can have a seed or an experience or even just a feeling from my life, and if I don’t know all the facts, why I just make them up! Sadly I can’t share most of these particular family inspired stories with my family because while they are fiction, people will most assuredly recognize themselves…and not be happy!


So when you write about family inspired events, how honest do you tell the story? How do you deal with your family’s response to your writing? Are they happy with your tales…or do they even know?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Southwest Flavor



When I was young, I dreamed of owning a large two storied house with spacious rooms where I could show “who I was” on bookshelves and piano tops. That never happened because my home is a one level ranch style, and I don’t play the piano!


I do not change decorating styles based on the latest fads. I am eclectic…and sappy over things that represent all phases of our life, not just the latest and most popular items in decorating magazines. But when we repaired and removed wall paper in our bedroom last year, we painted the walls a shade of desert sand. A new bedspread was in shades of sand, rose, mint and blue stripes. This room makes for a place to use some Southwestern flavored mementos. 


This year we bought this numbered and matted photo because we both loved the blue door, actually window. DH just finished building a frame for it. The hollyhocks are a note card printed from an artist's own painting. I bought it a couple of years ago and framed it poorly. While building the bigger frame, DH took time to redo this sweet little picture of hollyhocks against adobe for me.




This pottery was from last year's trip as well. The artist was marketing her work at Earl's in Albuquerque.



This adobe pueblo inspired clock I bought at a garage sale down the street last spring. I paid a whopping $1 for it!



Just tiny touches here and there in this room will keep the Southwest alive for us this winter when snow flies and wind blows!