Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's Snowing!!! (Again!)

Yesterday friends squeezed in a fast taco salad lunch on a bitterly cold day. Afterwards I fetched bread and milk like a hundred others were doing since the forecast was another wintry mix weekend.
So the 3-5 inches falling now are not a surprise. We are warm...have food...have is patience I am short on!

My lemon tree is dying....I long to plant some hollyhocks....I have about fifteen submissions out waiting for an answer...and even the dog is ansty! I feel like a slug rolled over on itself becuase I'm not moving--except to put food on the table. Today started with cheese omlet, sourdough toast, and wonderful Irish Breakfast tea. Lunch was pork roast and fruit salad followed by sour cream/raisin pie, and butter rum tea.

Tomorrow's first of March forecast is for sleet on top of the snow in the late afternoon followed by more snow. Then Tuesday thunderstorms and 60 degrees followed by--yep, more cold! Can't complain as we still have had it better than friends in the East. I have pototoes and onions with a myriad of other vegetables to stretch today's roast into soup. Apricots are cut for oatmeal fruit cookies. I'm about to finish the John Wayne bio and four more books arrived in the mail so I am ready.

If you don't hear from me in a few more days, send help as we are food-filled like roly poly clowns and/or  frozen beyond help!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thinking About Anti-Heroes

It is 32 degrees out and raining tonight. That means another drop in temperature and the roads could become black ice which was predicted yesterday and the reason I canceled hotel reservations (and the doggie motel reservations) to a Writing Conference. I had literally endured the last sixty days or more waiting for this occasion. So the weather was not my friend for this weekend. Then when DH got up this morning with a sore throat and congestion, I just settled in for another winter weekend.
Between dog needs, hubby needs, food preparation (which was mighty sparse today!), I read around in a few books I have going at the moment. I read a few pages in a book on writing the bad guys in fiction. Jessica Page Morrell author of Bullies, Bastards & Bitches gave me a couple of quotes I thought worthy of keeping.

“When characters behave or misbehave we learn.”

“In fiction, you get a chance to explore why people act as they do and these explorations are deeply satisfying.”

This author also gave quite a list for defining an anti-hero. Some of my chosen pointers:
 *not role models but we often wish we had their pluck.
*selfish people who are sometimes good too
*unattractive in character as well as appearance
*complicated motives for their behavior
*show little remorse for bad behavior

Then this afternoon I watched Olive Kitteridge with sickly DH. I have read this book a couple of times and once with my book club. My first reading of Elizabeth Stroud’s prize-winning novel left me cold. I could not see what was so special about it. But a second reading and I fell for the protagonist (and anti-hero?)  Olive and all her imperfections. She is an unlikable character really, but she has qualities all of us might have exhibited at one time or another.

She is a demanding mother to point of driving her child away. She hammers on her husband until readers want to reach into the book and smack her. She considered having an affair with a drinking, poem reciting English teacher while ignoring her husband who was attentive, gentle, kind. But how can readers fault her for that when many women are drawn to the Bad Boys over the Good Guys! She is downright witchy in teaching math at a junior high…but hey, isn’t that the reputation of junior high teachers if they actually teach the material instead of running for Most Likeable Teacher?

I found the HBO mini-series pretty faithful to the book. Frances McDormand was perfect for playing the role of Olive. It was painful watching the character in some of her self-destructive ways, but on the other hand, she is a mirror for learning who we don’t want to be. When the character of Olive misbehaves, we learn; it is satisfying as explore what makes Olive act the way she does.
I have much to learn from Olive Kitteridge and from Elizabeth Stroud and Jessica Page Morrell. I have a hard time letting my characters do bad things. These women, both fictional and real, will help me learn how to get my own anti-heroes on a page.

Have you read or seen Olive Kitteridge?

Who is your favorite anti-hero from fiction?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Remember Post Cards?

1950's Era

So social media is fun, fast and usually friendly, but it has sure wrecked the contents of my mailbox. Occasionally I do get a few pieces of handwritten mail, but even I no longer buy many pretty hand-designed cards or personality-revealing stationary to send like I once did. When did you last get a post card in your mailbox?  Probably friends and family visiting in Paris, France or Yellowstone Park, or even floating on the raging Colorado River send you selfies instead!

Post cards have been around since about the 1870’s. The first souvenir post cards were in 1893 for remembrances of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. I first bought post cards while traveling because in the day of developing film you never knew if the pictures with a camera were good until you were home. It was a way to have a good picture of Mount Rushmore or a lighthouse for example.
Post cards also save history for us, our own and regional areas. How I love now to view picture post cards from the past that show my hometown or a local bridge as it “used to be”.  

                                                          1916 Era, Warsaw Depot

I have a small bundle of post cards I found in my grandmother’s things. They were trips they took or the Government Issue penny post cards from family members that might have lived a whole 30 miles away! I have one with a post mark from 1898 I think it is. Now they are yellowed and crumbled, but occasionally I dig them out and hold them dear wondering what stories they could tell.

I rarely get a post card these days, but a few years ago, I started my own springtime tradition. I dig through my stack of vacation post cards and sent them to friends at the end of winter. I hope it is a reminder that snow and cold will soon be gone and vacation months of sun and travel are ahead. Tomorrow is supposed to be a cold and snowy day. Maybe I should get my spring mindset on and mail some post cards!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Mesothelioma, a Killer

Blogging is a constant unspooling of ideas and thoughts leading a reader to other writers with similar thoughts or maybe totally new ideas that challenge. The day I was lead to the blog of Heather Von St. James was both uplifting and heartbreaking. Her own battle with mesothelioma slam banged me right back to fifteen years ago when my dad died of the same disease.

In the fall of 1999 my dad’s recent health problems ratcheted up with first a trip to ER with strange heart attack-like symptoms and then a series of surgeries trying to find his real problem. One doctor thought he knew what his problem could be, but he was willing to let other surgeons search out other possibilities instead of facing the ugly truth.  The result was my dad was carved up like a Christmas turkey with no improvement. I will not rewrite the story here but you can read of my dad on Deidre VanGerven’s web page if you desire:

Mesothelioma is asbestos cancer. It was fairly new fifteen years ago. We could get little info. I learned a single strand of asbestos was smaller than a human hair, and yet it could stay in the body for twenty years before blowing into high and wide cancer eating away a human’s lungs or intestines. While searching for info I ran into Deidre VanGerven, a woman who lost her husband to this disease. She talked me through the next few months on email. She lived in New Zealand and many a night I was up sobbing to her about the pain of my dad’s situation. She understood. She is still online and if interested, you can learn more about her here:

Other things I learned at the time were that asbestos manufacturers sold asbestos even after they knew the damage it did. When the lawsuits started, they just disbanded the original companies and reformed new ones. It was business as usual. Asbestos was still being sold to Third World Countries.  I had to (and still have to) deal with a lot of anger that men in suits let their greed for money kill people.

A few weeks ago, I visited Heather’s blog and found a good ending to a mesothelioma story. She was 36 and with a new baby when she learned she had mesothelioma. She had fifteen months and that was eight years ago. Her blog is informative and hopeful; it is positive and faith-affirming. You can visit here:

Please acquaint yourself with this killer. Early detection now offers more hope than it once did. 

For more info on asbestos:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Easy Street

Thanks to Linda over at Write from the Heart, here is a great writing op! 

No fee...send by email...five lines max!

It is a Great American Sentence Contest!

Read guidelines and rules here:

What fun this was to do tonight...Try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Welcome to February

“Winter has the first kiss and the last laugh.”
                        The Future of Ice, A Journey into Cold by Gretel Ehrlich

Such truth this line holds! I have some affection for winter and always look for January to be a personal hibernation time. This year death complicated my retreat month for the second year in a row. Okay, I just went with it. While others trumpeted the joys of warm, spring-like days at the end of January, I tried not to be sour about the unseasonal days. I got as much sun as possible, but I knew it was a trick and a will-be-harmful trick to my body.

January cold and snow I can do and the darkness I can deal with for a while. But by late February or March, I begin to crumble. This year will probably be worse as my whole body seems like it is developing a form of jet lag due to the odd weather patterns. It is hard to believe what S.A.D. does to people. It is called Seasonal Affect Disorder, but I think it should be labeled a Disease because the lack of good sun rays and too many truly dark days makes people sick! If you have never had this disease, you don’t know how it feels. It is not too strong a statement to say you “hurt” inside; it isn’t just feeling blue.

Today I read a line attributed to a Buddha, “Be your own lamp…”  Ah, if it were only that easy. I try hard to be my own lamp, but as I age it gets harder to do. Besides, my own lamp has little to do with the actual length and strength of the sun’s yellow rays. With S.A.D. you stockpile things in autumn for winter. I did well on that one in the fall. I managed to not fill up the whole house with food and paper goods. Of course, the house was in construction status and I had things stored already in places like under the couch, on the deck, and in the bathtub…no joke. Another thing is craving carbs. I failed on this one miserably. Of course, Christmas makes that harder, but the result is I feel like a tightly aired soccer ball free floating down a spring freshet!

Yesterday I put away the rest of the snowmen and holly branches. I knew better than to make things look like spring as it is a long way away…over 40 days. But I put an apple blossom wreath where I could see it while in the kitchen and set out a rabbit or two. I will do my best while in this winter season. But now, my wick is low and I had better go turn it up so I can be my own lamp today! A good book should help, don’t you think?

Welcome to February!