Thursday, October 29, 2009

Somewhere Out There Nanowrimo Calls

In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tis the time of year once again for Nanowrimo. What could this be? Some weird holiday? A wrestling match.

Wrestling match indeed. A match of mind over matter. A commitment to the writing you often say you want to accomplish. That book you are going to write - some day.

Nanowrimo is the yearly Write a 50,000-Word Novel in a Month project. Sort of like driving cross country without stopping to pee. Excellent way to begin a new novel or further one you've already begun. Or use it to write that non-fiction book proposal floating in your head. Modify as needed.

Anyone out there care to join me?

If this is your first time at this venture, I suggest a little reading material. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. From her book you can learn about the "shitty first draft" and not get stuck on revisions while you're pounding out your story. Your book will need tremendous work when you're done because it will be complete shit. And that's okay. Maniac writing sometimes get us where we need to go, just like timed writings do on a much smaller scale.

I also recommend practicing with Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie teaches us to park our butts and write, write, write. Go find a coffee house with a table in a dark corner. Write with your back to the crowd.

In my unfinished novel, my character has been stuck in the middle of a prairie in South Dakota since last Nanowrimo. I think she has suffered enough. So have I with the guilt of stranding her. Lily, come November 1, you shall be set free. (Or at least hitch a ride on an Airstream that will take you in even thicker.)

Please check out the website Nanowrimo Often local groups will gather in cities throughout the US to write/discuss progress together. Great opportunity.

A note of encouragement - some days it flows and some days it plugs up, a lot. But there are always plungers to clear the muck.

Take a step. And another. Don't be scared. Good luck.

P.S. Really good things happening over at my friend's site No One's the Bitch.
Something to do with Dr. Phil ...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday - My Trees Have Their Say

Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.
Jules Renard

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dancing in the Night

renewal |riˈn(y)oōəl| noun
the action of extending the period of validity of a license, subscription, or contract : the contracts came up for renewal | a renewal of his passport. • an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption • the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

One evening when I was a little girl, like four, I became angry with my family. They were tickling and teasing me and I hated it. Cried. Packed my little pink suitcase and ran away from home.

I rang the doorbell at the neighbor's and the mom came to the door. I told her I was running away and asked if I could stay at her house. I remember her standing there, probably holding back a laugh, and saying that it wasn't a good night for her. She had company. That maybe if I came back the next day, there would be a place for me then.

That rejection only offered one other door to approach, one other home where I would have chosen to reside. Certainly not to the Greenlee house as they had a bunch of boys, and I couldn't cross the street by myself. I walked back past my own house to the Dunfee's on the other side. I knocked and knocked at their back door. No one answered. No one wanted me. I had to go home.

I don't recall what happened after that nor anyone teasing me for having run away. I imagine my humiliation of having to come home offered them an opportunity to let me return in peace. Or so I hope. But with my running away at that age, I set a course for myself. One I've come to depend upon.

Yesterday, I ran away from home. All the years of occasional upset with my husband, or needing to breathe while caught in the mire of raising three kids, or just life itself, an escape plan became necessary. Often a walk around the block sufficed, or a trip to the library, alone. Maybe a visit to the greenhouse to finger the delicacy of a new plant.

Often times I escaped to the safety of my women friends, to the comfort of their kitchens or conversations, sharing our woes or asking unanswerable questions about why life makes us have certain feelings at uncertain times.

I did that Thursday afternoon. After a sluggish swim at the YMCA, I gave up on attaining my normal mile and quit at 3/4 mile. While making phone calls to several friends to meet at the bar in 45 minutes, I knew that wasn't what I should be doing. That I had projects going at home that required my attention. But I simply did not want to do them. So I ran away to the bar to join four friends who all in a small window of notice, showed up for the companionship also.

I am most grateful for those women, but there is something in me when I get in these moods that also requires solitude.

Yesterday afternoon I ran away to my cabin at the lake -- a much appreciated haven for this soul of mine. A settling place for my wits, a privacy I seem to require every now and then. Should I have been at home to cover what was needed there in terms of motherhood and wifedom? Absolutely. But I wasn't.

Last night, I sat in my blue chair, cranked my Ipod as high as I wanted. I stared out the window at the lake, a few lights across lighting the water's edge. With a glass of wine, I sang out loud to my heart's content. Brown Sugar, The Freaker's Ball, Songbird, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Brand New Day, Field of Opportunity, Shining Star, Green River, Hernando's Hideaway, The Trouble with Love is, Revolution, Amie, The House is Rockin', Give up the Funk, I Wish, Highway to Hell, Voodoo Cadilac, Twist and Shout, Freeway of Love .... and on and on. Name that tune. I sang it last night.

I finished the evening seated in my chair with eyes closed. In my mind's eye, I wore the white satin ballerina outfit I wore when I was 12, complete with the flowing net of a long tutu , the music of Frederic Chopin's Les Syphides filling the cabin. This ballet has no plot - only the mystical movement of white clad dancers floating in the moonlight, just like me. Sleep arrived.

Never would I do that with others in the house. But, now I'm sung out, danced out. Need to pack my stuff and head home as soon as I finish this rambling post. We will gather as a family (less the Arizona boy) tonight to celebrate my oldest son's birthday. I will attend, truly happy to be with all of them. For the time I've spent alone has proffered the privacy I required. I've become accustomed to gathering it as quickly as I can.

This morning I made a new list in my journal of things I need to do, goals I need to set -- become more organized, better read and more rested. I have a plan. That's what running away does for me. I am thankful not only for those friends and the cabin which offers the solace, but for the night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Eagle's Wings

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Imagine a gathering

...digging post holes in rock
in 105 degree heat.

Middle brother taking a breather
while oldest brother arrives with BBQ.
A dad gassed and seeking shade.
Weekend #2 mixing in 11 bags of cement.

Weekend #3 and #4 building benches
and an altar

while corralling more workers,

to create a visionand complete
an Eagle Scout journey.

Congratulations Ian. Most proud.

Friday, October 16, 2009

There is a Season - for Perspective

Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Today is a different day at my house. I awake and there is no need to open the blinds in my bedroom so my neighbor will know I am home. She no longer lives there.

Neighbors arrive in varying forms - those you wouldn’t know if you ran into them in the grocery store. Those to whom you send a friendly wave as you drive by. Those you share a greeting or story with now and then.

Then those for whom you know the intimate details; the stories of their life as well as their worries and triumphs.

Mrs. R was the latter. From the time we moved in twelve years ago, she has been a surrogate grandmother for our family, her husband also fulfilling the role of grandfather until he passed away a few years ago. My boys knew their house as a safe place, where help and love was always available. Helped to fill the void of their grandparents who lived far away.

The boys mowed their lawn and performed small chores. Mrs. R remembered their birthdays, celebrated their graduations, gave them hugs when they went off to school. Or hugged me when they went off to school. As I told each of my boys that Mrs. R was moving, they all responded with such surprise. I understood. A certain shelter no longer available.

Her moving only came about the past couple of weeks, although we knew the possiblity hung for the past year or so. Age has caught up with Mrs. R and at 83 has decided the house is too much. Granted, it is, but I still regret having to see the change – both in her and the moving. Now an apartment will provide her home, surrounded by a hundred more kindred in age only. Someone will cook all her meals. She will have someone available 24/7 to call for help. Bridge, bingo, field trips to keep her busy. Perhaps a welcome change from the never ending call of keeping a house and the loneliness living alone can bring.

Inevitable change -- an apt definition of life.

Makes me cognizant the life decisions our 17-year-old has before him are not so dire. That the extreme pressure to make choices about his future are not those that will cement him forever. His changes are only few of many to come in his lifetime. We are mistaken to approach his decisions as pertinent for all his future. Nothing stays the same. Even at 83, he will face decisions about the future. Decisions he will make whether he wants to or not. We are only ever settled, just for now.

Yesterday, Mrs. R and I hugged as the moving van left and her visiting daughters waited to take her away. She said how hard it was, that she had been so happy here. The last place she was with her husband. Good neighbors, good memories.

I wished her well on her new adventure.

"Adventure? Is that what we can call it?" she said.

I don't know how else to look at it, without losing it. Change. Never easy. Always present.

My seventeen-year-old stood in the doorway to the living room last night.

“Is Mrs. R gone now?”

I nodded.

“I saw the moving van before I left for school this morning,” he said, in a soft voice.

I smiled at him. I understood.

I hope you slept well in your new home last night, Mrs. R. I shall miss you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pot Luck

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.
John Leonard

Wishing a Happy 50th birthday to my long-time friend, Savannah, the Oil Baron. Here we are last Saturday night in Dallas. Vanna and I met playing softball in Denver back in 1981. She pitched and caught. I played short stop. We were both in the oil biz, young, and I was much skinnier.

Happy Birthday Vanna!

Last week, ds, who produces the beautiful blog third-storey window, passed me the award/meme for Honest Scrap. I thank her. Please check out her blog as I label it one of my great finds. Part of the crowd reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier right now.

The award has requirements:

1. “The Honest Scrap” award must be shared.
2. The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves that no one else knows.
3. The recipient has to pass along the award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

As appreciative am I of receiving awards, I'm not the best at fulfilling the pass on part. And I hate to follow directions, but will attempt it here on a shorter scale. I'm such an open book, I seriously doubt there are ten true things about me that no one knows.

1. I can waste time better than anyone.
2. I sometimes turn on Fox News just to see if they are thinking.
3. My favorite TV shows are Deadliest Catch and Lost.
4. I can float on my back and meditate, and almost fall asleep.
5. I've been in 49 states. (Washington remains.)
6. I love the morning, but I think that is when I get my best sleep.
7. So far this week I've swum, swam, swimmed 3 miles. (Ruined it all drinking margaritas last night.)
8. I just joined NetFlex and am watching the last two seasons of Six Feet Under. For some reason, funeral homes don't seem so scary anymore.
9. I have a terrible habit of not beginning a book I really want to read as I want to savor each word. Waiting for my hammock, which has eluded me of late.
10. I fart a lot if I eat bread.

There - took way too much to get all that out.

Honest Scrap now awarded to:

128 Sticks of Butter - because she has lost 11 pounds and I haven't
Catbird Scout - who has bravely given up her job to pursue her writing
Ladybird World Mother - who makes me laugh
WZ Snyder, #167 Dad - for always fun posts and providing a different perspective

And an invitation from a couple of friends:

You are cordially invited to attend an "open house" beginning Wednesday, October 14, in honor of the newly renovated Rose &Thorn Journal:

Drop by, sign up for the newsletter, check out the new digs (and blog!), follow us on Twitter and Facebook, leave us your comments/thoughts, and wish us well!

Rose &Thorn is a quarterly literary journal featuring the voices of emerging and established authors, poets and artists.

Now...go enjoy the open bar and appetizer spread!

Angie Ledbetter & Kathryn Magendie
Rose & Thorn Journal

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For Janine, and Many More

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.

Frederick Buechner

Today I send special thoughts out to a lovely woman. Janine at Sniffles and Smiles is in need of thoughts and prayers today as she faces surgery, one of many.

When Janine first visited my blog, I was enamoured by her positive and friendly manner. Her writing is most impressive and I await her Saturday posts with gratitude.

Years ago, when I first began the practice of serious writing, I participated in many online classes in personal essay, short story, etc. Intrigued me to discover the intimacy developed between writers through our sharing and trust. Never occurred to me that the only thing missing was actually having met them in person. Seemed like they lived next door.

Once at a writing conference, I began a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. She said something that struck me as familiar. I glanced at her name tag to discover she was indeed familiar. That I knew many of her secret thoughts and desires, much about her family and dreams. That we had crossed paths in several places in the neighborhood of our real world never knowing we had knowledge of such private details about one another.

So goes the world of blogging. We share ourselves in a manner that opens our minds to new thoughts, ideas, and opinions while handing out parts of ourselves. We learn the heart of some that perhaps the people who live in our own homes don't know. I'm grateful for that venue.

Today, I consider Janine and other blogging friends in need of care, along with many others in my visual "family" that I offer my deliberate attention.

P.S. Please visit Teacher's Pet for a note from Janine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Putting on the Game Face

No other man-made device since the shields and lances of the ancient knights fulfills a man's ego like an automobile.
Sir William Rootes

My husband is buying a new car today. Not really a "new" car. A 2006 model with 35,000 miles, but new to us. He's driven to Houston to pick it up and will arrive home, elated. Proud of his research and purchase. Thrilled, yet perhaps a little hopeful that one of his sons will be around to share his joy, rather than me.

Not because I didn't want him to get it (his car was ten years old and had 172,000 miles on it), but because cars just don't do much for me. As long as they start, have super cold air conditioning to accommodate hot flashes, and a radio, I'm happy.

Last week, when Bob emailed me the scoop on the car, I wasn't the most enthusiastic. "Do you really like that color of blue?" I wrote back. And then, "How you going to pay for it?"

Reality. Always a killjoy.

Back to cars. Combine my dad, three brothers, three sons, and a husband, I can't tell you how many hours I've spent driving through car lots in my life. (No wonder I learned to read and ride.) Despite that indoctrination, the men in my family don't understand my conceptual disregard for the meaning of a car.

I have to be honest. I don't think I'd understand even if I had a penis. Perhaps that's why my husband eyes my car with disdain and mutters, "Don't ever wash your car. You wouldn't want it to look good."

It's silver. Hides the dirt. Hauls all my crap. Besides, if I was going to clean something, I'd clean my house.

But, being the good wife that I am, in two hours time I'll put on a good face. I'll act excited for him when he drives into the garage. I'll walk around it and ooh and aha and gush. "Oh, so nice, Bob."

Wish me luck. I'm such a crappy liar.

My Dream Car

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lulled by the Rain

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
Langston Hughes

Rain has returned to Central Texas. After months of drought and knowing a lit match tossed carelessly to the ground might cause the entire region to succumb to flames, the haunting ruse of a landscape lost has expired.

Even though the flow of the hose or use of the sprinkler once a week kept my plants clinging to life, nothing compares to the fall of a few day's rain to bring them back to life.

Everywhere the flowers bloom. Lantana, Mexican heather, plumbago, zinnias, and more. My warm weather plants are putting out that last effort before winter's rise. Adds such beauty into the world compared to the dried up death of our rainless, hot summer.

As many of you enjoy the colors of fall, we wait. The green of summer reactivated before the bulk of our deciduous trees change in December. I don't mind the wait. My tomatoes, planted a couple of weeks ago, gained great height in the rainy, cooler weather. Tomorrow I hope for a blossom.

And a better post.

Even the cat had nothing to offer today. No lizards. No roll in the dust. Nothing.

My poor impatiens finally get to bloom and not just survive.
Mushrooms growing on one of my trees.
Go buy some pansies, Julie. Leave me alone.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Note to Self

Dear Julie,

When writing a quick post, seek better examples. For instance, your kitchen table. As a long time advocate of nightly family dinners, your kitchen table contents have easily been shuffled to the side desk*** to accomodate many a family meal. Therefore, it does get washed daily.

***Don't show desk.

Let your friends know that it is always safe to use your bathrooms and eat in your kitchen. That your husband is a master at cleaning a kitchen. That with so many boys in the house, you have learned to check the toilets for errant sprays on a daily basis. Hand towel changed frequently. The dust may be a little thick in your living room, but the health inspector will gladly eat at your table or poop in your bathroom.

Mention that clean sheets are provided for all night visitors, unless you're a teenage boy sleeping in a bed where a middle-aged woman has spent one night.

Consider that even though he hasn't said anything, your husband might worry that everyone now thinks he has to live in a pig sty. Hmmm. Figure out if that really bothers you.

Gather the names of all those offering to organize your bookshelves and set the date. Don't show them the other six book shelves in the house until they arrive.

Probably 5000 more notes to improve self, but all for today.


P.S. HelenaHalme of the United Kingdom has awarded me one of the most beautiful awards - One Lovely Blog. Helena, I thank you. Please visit her site. As she says, she "writes about Finland, Sweden, fathers, daughters, spies, love, betrayal, trust, loneliness." Great stories and essays.

Helena, I thank you.


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