Sometimes you need to take a walk.
I just like this picture I took of the beach at Oceanside. It has nothing to do with my post.
I just finished the Writing 101 course through WordPress, and I find myself overwhelmed. There are so many interesting blogs out there ! It was a privilege to able to read the posts of my fellow students. My only regret is that I found myself glued to my computer more hours than usual. So, now that the course is over, I am struggling to maintain the momentum. I have a book to re-write and a blog to maintain, so I will post on my blog once a week, and try to keep to my timeline for the book re-write.
During this course I also attended the annual Spring Spirit Conference held by the North/Central Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) held on May 2. As usual, it was a great conference, but of course I left with a self-generated “to do” list for writing that will probably take me six months to complete. If you write or plan to write or illustrate children’s books, you should consider joining SCBWI. It is a wonderful support for both published and “pre-published” authors and illustrators.
I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by fellow blogger HumaAq who writes a wonderful blog entitled HumaAq – the unique me! Thank you so much. I understand there are several obligations that come with the nomination. I am charged with nominating 11 other bloggers for the award. These are new bloggers who, like me, have fewer than 200 followers. My second obligation is to answer the questions posed by the person who nominated me, and the third is to notify my nominees and pose 11 questions for them to answer and post. Piece of cake, right?
I am finding as I look through all the wonderful blogs I have had a chance to read, that many of them have more than 200 followers and many have been recently nominated for the Liebster Award. I am going to fall short of the magic number of 11 nominees, but none the less, I do have some nominees in mind.
There is more information about the Liebster Award at www. wordingwell.com/the-liebster-awards.
And now to the questions posed to me.
1) Why did you start your blog?
I always liked to write, but most of my writing had been work-centered. I had an idea for a children’s book series and worked on that, but I also wanted to do some “adult” writing and a blog seemed a good way to do that.
2) Who inspires you?
Everyday people inspire me. When you realize the burden some are carrying and the grace with which they do it, it amazes me.
3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Probably still trying to finish my children’s book series and get it published!
4) What book are you reading now?
I confess to being addicted to mystery novels, both period pieces and modern. My current reading includes The Edge of Dreams (Molly Murphy Mystery by Rhys Bowen, set in New York at the turn of the century), Paw and Order: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn. Chet is a dog who narrates all the books in this series. It is set in the present day. I like philosophy and science, so I am slowly reading The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel M. Wegner, which combines both.
5) What is your all time favorite movie?
It’s a tie for me. I like LA Story which stars Steve Martin, among others, and featured the music of Enya. I also really, really like A Man and A Woman, a very romantic French move from 1968.
6) If you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live, and why.
I’ve always like to be exactly where I am at any given time.
7) Do you speak any foreign languages?
I speak some Spanish, but given I live in California, it’s hard to regard it as a foreign language.
8) Do you have any hidden talents?
If I knew them, they wouldn’t be hidden!
9) What career would you choose if you had a free choice?
At one time I wanted to be a historian – still sounds good.
10) What’s your favorite type of music?
I do like classical guitar music, but it varies.
11) What’s your favorite type of food?
A little bit of everything.
My nominees are:
These are the questions I would like my nominees to answer:
1) Why did you start your blog?
2) Who inspires you?
3) Where do you see yourself in five years?
4) What books are you reading now?
5) What are you all time favorite movies?
6) Where in the world would you choose to live?
7) Do you speak more than one language?
8) Who is your favorite author?
9)What would you do with your life if everything was open to you?
10) What is your favorite type of music.
11) What is your favorite food?
Wow. Police cars – two of ’em. Wonder what they’re doing? Hey, they’re stopping at Mrs. Pauley’s house! Two police guys and that other guy are going up to the door. Wonder who he is? Never saw him before. Now he’s knocking on the door, really loud and yelling Mrs. Pauley’s name. Those two police officers are standing right behind him. There’s Mrs. Pauley. She looks real scared. She’s crying, but the guy just looks at her and says something that makes her cry even more. Then he hands her a yellow paper. She doesn’t want to take it. She’s shaking her head back and forth.
The guy steps back and the police step up to Mrs. Pauley. She cries some more, then one of the police guys takes her arm and they walk toward the car. The police guy is talking to her, not loud, and she is listening. The police guy opens the back door of one of the care and she sits down with her legs hanging out the side. The police guy gives her some water and she shakes her head yes as he talks. He gives her some tissue and she blows her nose. Then the police guy takes out a phone and hands it to Mrs. Pauley and she makes a call.
The other guy has gone into Mrs. Pauley’s house. A few minutes later a guy in a yellow van comes. He talks to the other guy, then he gets some tools out of his van and takes the doorknob off Mrs. Pauley’s front door.
Mrs. Pauley gives the phone back to the police guy. A green car with a kind of circle sign on the door pulls up and a lady gets out. The lady walks over to Mrs. Pauley and shows her something. Mrs. Pauley nods, the she stands up and they go back to the car and drive away.
The police leave and the guy fixing the door leaves. The other guy goes into Mrs. Pauley’s house.
Nothing happens for a while, then a junky old truck drives up into Mrs. Pauley’s driveway. Two real big guys get out and go up to the house. The other guy comes out, then they all go into Mrs. Pauley’s house.
After while, the big guys come out carrying some of Mrs. Pauley’s stuff and they throw it into the junky truck and go back to the house. They’re taking her stuff!
I’m scared. I don’t know what Mrs. Pauley did. Does this mean they’ll come throw our stuff out and take us away? My mom comes out on the porch.
“Alan. Come inside.”
“Mom, what’s happening?”
Addie Peterson hadn’t been to Gram’s house since she was ten years old. She used to spend most of each summer there, while Mom worked. But, when she was ten, Mom remarried and the new family moved too far away for summer visits.
Addie sat in the beige rental car parked in front of the small gray-white clapboard house. It looks run-down, she thought. The house needed paint, and the once-lush landscape looked as if it had been cooked in the summer heat.
She was more than surprised when she received the letter from the attorney. ‘In Re: The Estate of Adelaid Goutcher. You are the sole beneficiary of Adelaid Goutcher. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.’ It wasn’t convenient. Addie lived three time-zones away from Gram and Gram’s attorney, but it was her duty.
Mom had been furious with Gram that last summer. Gram did not approve of her daughters ‘new beau’ as Gram put it. Mom and Gram didn’t know Addie had heard them arguing. They had sent her outside to the chicken coup so they could talk, but Mom’s raised voice and Gram’s murmuring reply made it clear even to ten-year old Addie, this was no usual conversation.
After that encounter, the marriage and the move, Mom told Addie she couldn’t visit Gram because the trip was too expensive. Addie didn’t believe it for a moment.
She had arranged to have a company conduct an estate sale at the house in a few days. The had already gone through and set up the rooms for the sale. “Everything must go,” Addie told them. “I want it over quickly. There’s nothing in the house I want..”
When Alice, the estate sale manager, called last week, she told Addie they had found a sealed cardboard box with a note taped to the box. It read ‘Please give this box to Addie Peterson.’
“I know you said you wanted to sell everything, but this is obviously personal and we don’t feel comfortable opening it.”
“All right. I’ll be in town by Wednesday. Put the box on the dining room table and I’ll pick it up Thursday.”
She put her head down on the steering wheel for a moment, the pickup up her purse, slung the strap over her shoulder as she existed the car, then walked briskly to the front door.
The once brightly painted red door looked dry and dusty. She put the key in the lock and entered. Almost without thought, she moved down the hall, then turned right into the dining room. There on the old oak table was a cardboard box with the printed note Alice had described. She looked at it briefly, then pulled off the tape and opened the box.
Inside was a yellowed envelope. Her name, written in Gram’s elegant handwriting, was on the outside. She carefully opened the envelope and took out the note.
I know your Mom and her new husband love you very much and will do all they can to give you a happy home. I do miss you. I wanted you to have this. When we worked on it during your summer visits, it brought me such joy. I hope the memory of those times together brings you joy as well.
Addie pulled the folded quilt from the box. It wasn’t a large quilt, doll-sized really, but each square was lovingly sewn by hand, some with the neat, even stitches of Gram and some with Addie’s ten-year old fingers.
She looked at each square, gently outlining each one with her finger. The materials had come from a box of old clothing she found in Gram’s attic. Cotton prints and solids and even a few squares of dark-green velvet. Each square was embroidered, some with a small pictures, or a date or a name.
“Thank you, Gram,” she whispered. She gently folded the quilt and placed it and Gram’s note back in the box, then picked up the box and left the house.
I am participating in an on-line writing course through WordPress. It has been challenging at times, sometimes fun, but always interesting. The course gives you a series of writing prompts, one each day for twenty days, except for weekends. When I started this post, I “password protected” the writing prompt posts. That meant that only my fellow bloggers participating in the same program, would see my posts. I have since realized that the password protection shuts out those who follow the posts, and that seems unfair. It would be very frustrating to get notice of a new post, go to that site and realize you can’t read the post, because you do not have access to the password. So, belatedly, I have tried to remedy the situation by removing the password protection from all but a few of the posts. Some of the posts are fictional, some are not. Given this stage of my life, the sad posts tend to be non-fiction. I apologize for any frustration this may have caused. Not only has this exercise helped my writing, but I have learned a little more about the mysteries of technology.
The alarm went off. Much too early for Saturday. I reached over and hit the snooze button, then I remembered the Friday night disaster. I reviewed the telephone conversation I had had with my husband that night. He assured me he wouldn’t need to use the credit cards and he would be home Sunday instead of Monday. We agreed I would call and cancel the credit cards, and I did so.
Still in bed, I yawned and stretched. I picked up the book I had been reading last night, the latest Sue Grafton novel featuring Kinsey Millhone. Too bad Kinsey isn’t real, I thought. I could use her help on my missing wallet case. Well, why not. I can still use the same techniques she uses. After all, I’ve read books A-P. I should know something about detecting by now.
I started by making a detailed list of all the places I had been in the hours before I discovered the wallet was missing. An hour later with a list of over thirty items, I moved to the second step of my plan; search for a pattern. The pattern that emerged was that in the hours before the wallet’s disappearance was discovered, it had been in my office, in a drawer, inside my purse. Great. Absolutely useless. No new information there. What would Kinsey do next?
I needed to go out to the school site, the scene of the crime, walk the area and look for additional clues. After all, every detective, including Kinsey, ultimately relied on field work, the hard “grunt” work, searching the scene for hidden clues. That’s why they used to call private investigators “gum shoes”. They get gum on their shoes from walking around detecting.
I got dressed, jumped into my car and tore off toward the school. I was in sight of the empty school parking lot when I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights of the squad car in my rear view mirror. It was Saturday and I was the only car on the road. No question who they wanted. I pulled over and rolled down the window.
“Hello officer. How can I help you?”
“You can help me by giving me your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”
“Yes, of course. Is there some problem?”
“You were speeding. Going 60 in a 45 mile zone.”
“Oh. I need to get those things out of the glove compartment.” As I reached into the glove compartment, it dawned on me there were only two of the requested items in the glove compartment. My license was still missing.
I handed the registration and proof of insurance to the officer.
“I need your driver’s license. Please remove it from your wallet.”
“About that, officer…”
I related the story of the lost wallet and my pathetic attempts to play detective. He didn’t seem particularly sympathetic to my plight.
“You can’t drive without a license. Can you call someone to come and get you and drive the car home?”
“Yes. An excellent suggestion officer. I’ll do that.”
” Yeah. Good idea.” He scowled at me. “No ticket this time. Paperwork wouldn’t be worth it to me.”
“Yes, officer. Thank you, officer.” He watched me leave the car and walk toward the school office. I unlocked the door, disabled the alarm, turned and waved to the officer and closed the office door. Crud. The neighbors I knew were out of town, my husband wouldn’t be back for a day and the rest of my family lived out-of-state. The insurance wouldn’t cover a tow because the car was not damaged. I couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for a tow because all my cash was in my wallet. My stomach growled. That’s it, I’m not going to starve as well. I’ll just have to take the back route home.
The back route wound through isolated country roads, all of them in poor repair. The recent rain would have left puddles and washed out areas, making the route even less inviting than usual. That beat starving and sleeping in the school office. Forty-five minutes later I pulled into the garage at home. My usual commute was twenty-minutes, but at least I had avoided further contact with Officer Grouch or his friends.
I bent down to pick up the purse I had placed on the floor on the passenger side. In addition to the purse, I felt a leather rectangular object. I picked it up. Yes! My wallet!. I opened it and gazed at my driver’s license. Horrible picture, but a beautiful license! I looked lovingly at my credit cards, my checks, family pictures and cash. It was all there. Somehow, it must have fallen out of my purse and gotten wedged somewhere under the seat where I couldn’t see or feel it. The bumpy back route roads must have jarred it lose.
Now, all I had to do was break the good news to my husband.
My family on both my mother’s side and my dad’s side, were farmers. I don’t mean that my parents grew up on a farm, although I have memories of my Great Grandmother on my father’s side raising chickens and growing asparagus in her semi-rural backyard. What I mean is, although they didn’t grow up on a farm, there were echoes of the mid western farmer from previous generations in their traditions and habits. This was particularly true when it came to matters of food.
Sunday dinner was a good example. On the farm, dinner was served early in the afternoon, usually no later than 3:00 p.m., more commonly at 1:00 p.m. and it was a production. After all, farmers still had many hours of work to do after dinner and they needed the energy and calories the meal provided.
On Sunday, we sat at the dinner table in our suburban house and ate chicken, ham or roast beef, mashed potatoes (not from a box), a cooked vegetable (usually carrots, peas or green beans), sliced cucumbers in vinegar, stringy, crisp celery sticks with salt, red radishes that burned your mouth, and hot rolls and butter. A feast fit for a hard-working farmer.
Since this was the official day of rest, and we had no farm chores to perform, the kids helped mom clear the dishes and clean up, then the grown-ups settled down for a rest, and the kids went out to play and burn off some energy.
Desert was always served, but usually one or even two hours after the Sunday feast. It was the deserts, and helping my mother make them, that made Sunday dinner memorable for me. Mom was a talented baker and a gentle teacher. Two of my favorite deserts were lemon meringue pie and apple crisp.
Although my style of cooking is quite different from my mother’s, I’ve always tried to bake one of the deserts she baked for holiday dinners. Several years ago, I realized I no longer had a copy of my mother’s recipe for apple crisp. I tried several substitutes, but none were as good as mom’s
Last Christmas, my sister found two copies of the apple crisp recipe written in my mother’s handwriting. I baked it for Christmas dinner when my son and daughter-in-law visited. My daughter-in-law asked for a copy of the recipe. I started to copy it when I realized that mom’s recipe was written with the presumption that the reader was an experienced baker, or at least had someone like my mom to stand-by and help. Some of the amounts of various ingredients were vague, and some of the steps I knew were left out of the written recipe.
I decided to “translate” the recipe for the novice baker. When I finished, mom’s recipe, which had been handwritten on a 3×5 card, had morphed into a two-page, typed essay. It’s moved on to another generation and it was good to have served as a bridge between generations.
Mozart, Bach, any classical or flamenco guitar, all make me smile; but there are three songs that have special meaning for me.
When we were a young married couple with a small child, Cat Stevens was popular. We bought all of his albums (actual vinyl!) and played them incessantly. I identified with one song in particular, Sitting. The lyrics were amazing: “Oh I’m on my way, I know I am, somewhere not so far from here,” “Sitting alone all by myself, everyone is here with me,” and “Life is like a maze of doors that all open from the side your on. Keep on pushing as hard as you can and you’re going to wind up on the side your on.”
At that time of my life, I suffered from an unwarranted optimism. As I looked around at my life, I just knew that things would be for good of all of us. I had little reason to support that presumption, but I was certain of its truth. Not all of the lyrics of this song were beautifully polished. At one point he wrote “or something” to finish a line. Obviously, he just ran out of words! But even that, the youthful, unfinished, unpolished words, reflected my thoughts.
The second song that is particularly meaningful to me is Blowin in the Wind. (Yes, I know, I didn’t leave out the g in blowing. It’s printed that way on the album.) It has been recorded many times, a sad anti-war song. It also reflected the times, the turmoil over the Vietnam War. We had friends with conflicting views on the war. Friends served and friends protested. The song is really calling for a thoughtful discussion on war and national policy. I found no conflict between these two songs. They were both reflective of the times. As a species, we have the remarkable ability to hold two conflicting beliefs at the same time!
The third very meaningful song for me is In My Life recorded by the Beatles. When my husband died, my sister and I put together a slide show of family pictures from my husband’s life. This was a bittersweet task, but it helped me to celebrate his life. In thinking about music to accompany the DVD, I thought about my husband’s favorite music. In My Life was one song he played frequently. so I used that one on the DVD. We showed the DVD at the memorial for my husband and I gave copies to family members.
It will be a very long time before I can listen to that song without tears.