Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Dark Valley

The Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis) was recently re-released after a twenty year hiatus. The Curtis duo retired way back when, at the top of their game after winning a Rita. Since The Windflower was originally released, I've owned eight copies. Every time I loaned it out, it never returned. Finally, I refused to loan it anymore.

As I re-read The Windflower on my Kindle, I pondered the consequences of the authors' retirement. If they had continued to write, turning out another twenty books would their fans have been as excited when The Windflower was re-released? Or would we stifle a yawn and move on?

The current conventional wisdom is write, write, write. Otherwise, your readers will lose interest and move on. Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, and a host of other authors produced one or two books and yet, we haven't forgotten them. So wouldn't it make more sense to write fewer books with more impact? Instead of churning them out at an impossible pace, shouldn't we be writing something of worth and interest?

For the last year, I've written nothing of consequence. Oh, I keep my hand in by producing a blog, but my novels are moldering under the metaphorical bed, gathering dust. At first, I told myself it was because I had writer's block. Or I was dealing with too much stress due to poor health. Or... Then, this last week I finally faced the truth.

I'm not terribly interested in writing at the moment.

Will that change in the future? I have no idea. Simply put, I have nothing to say. I used to wonder how the Laura London duo could simply walk away. What about all those other wonderful stories they could write? Now, I begin to understand, maybe. There might not have been anymore stories to write.

Is 'more' really more?

Again, I don't know. But I've decided I'm not going to feel guilty anymore because I'm not writing. Until I can feel excited again about writing, I'm going to set it aside and enjoy other parts of my life. When or if I have a story that grabs my soul and clamors to be written, then I'll sit down and write. If I don't like the stories I work on, why should anyone else? In the meantime, I'm going to return to my first love--reading.

Anyone have something special to recommend?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

'59 Pontiac and the Prom

I saw a story on Facebook today about a woman who left the top down on her convertible while she went grocery shopping...and then it rained. In the weird way these things happen, the story rang a distant bell of memory for me.

Back, back, back in the past when I was teenager and graduating senior, all my classmates were yapping about the prom. The PROM!!! I wasn't because my parents didn't approve of dances, low-cut formals, or all night dates. Mostly, the whole idea of going to the prom gave me a queasy, roiling tempest in the gut.

I had no social skills. No 'girly-girly' skills. No yearning to wear revealing clothing as I was not even remotely endowed. And had not the faintest clue what to do with make-up. I weighed 97 lbs. straight out of the tub before I dried off. So I was okay with not going to the prom. Oh, yeah. We had ZERO money to invest in dress, shoes, etc., blah, blah...

I'd only been dating the hunk for a few weeks when he mentioned taking me to the prom. After some discussion, he reluctantly agreed that an evening out at a fancy restaurant instead would be okay.

The day arrived. Most of my female classmates cut their afternoon classes so they'd have time to get all gussied up for the prom. I didn't have that excuse so I went home at my normal time.

The humidity was a killer that evening. I had a very nice cool white crepe dress and white heels. A friend loaned me a gauzy purple shawl and tiny handbag so I was all set. When my 'date' arrived in his suit, I felt very grown up.

He had a 1959 Pontiac convertible--baby blue. That thing was a tank. He had a glasspack muffler so let's just say you could hear him coming and going. He had the top down when he arrived, which was just fine because I had enough hair spray on my hair to make it qualify as a football helmet. And away we went!

He chose a very nice restaurant--The Black Angus. We left the top down since it was such a warm night. Inside was cool, chilly enough I was glad I had the shawl, and really dim with little candles on the table. My experience with restaurants was very limited, but looking back, this was a pretty formal place. There were heavy white tablecloths and napkins and flowers.

It was a lovely meal. We even had dessert! And while polishing that off, we decided to go bowling. Once the check was paid, we pushed the heavy outer doors open and stared in dismay at the rain pouring down. Yep. Pouring.

The storm moved on quickly, but the damage was done. We crossed the wide boulevard and surveyed his car. After a moment, he walked around and opened the doors so the water on the floor could roll out. Then he opened the trunk, took out an old ragged towel and a blanket. After wiping the doors, dash, and steering wheel, he spread the blanket over the seats and sort of smiled. "Ready?"

Heh. It was a foretaste of the many disasters we faced together over the next forty-plus years. Disaster happens. We clean up. And we go on.

We went bowling. We stopped at an ice cream joint and had a sundae. And at eleven PM sharp (my curfew), he parked in front of our apartment. I had a great time.

I'm so glad that Facebook posting reminded me of my long-ago 'prom' night.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mom Wisdom

It's Mother's Day in the USA. This is the day the card companies, florists, candy makers, and restaurants count on to boost their income for the spring.

I'm in the minority. So far, I received a small hen 'n' chicks plant from the hunk. I'm not complaining, you understand. I believe it's more important to honor our mothers throughout the year. Call. Write. If you're close enough, go visit. Know your mom.

I can hear your snort of derision. So let's take a little test. Can you answer the five questions below?

What's your mom's favorite color?

What's her favorite leisure activity?

Does she have a favorite author--and if so, who?

Who is her best friend?

Name one important event from her childhood.

Hmmmm. Harder than you thought, isn't it? Our tendency is to sort of take her for granted because she's always been there for most of us. My mother died when I was ten...and I learned the most difficult of truths. Our parents aren't ALWAYS going to be there. My father re-married, and I received a precious gift--a second mom.

Mother's Day shouldn't be the ONLY day we appreciate moms. It should be a gentle reminder to honor them everyday. In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to bypass the opportunity to speak to our moms. But a phone call takes so little time out of our day. A letter or card takes a few moments to write and mail. Flowers sent for no reason at all are a marvelous surprise.

Lost opportunities to show our moms how much we care can never be regained. Love 'em while you can.

Monday, May 5, 2014

This and That on Monday

I haven't figured out why Monday is such a drag for me. Usually, I have no obligations or appointments because I don't schedule anything on Monday. Retirement means I don't have to deal with a job. Nothing going on.

Maybe it's the sixty-plus years of facing work and school. I just don't know.

However, sometimes we don't have control over life. Today we're up bright and early waiting for the maintenance guys to arrive. They'll be fixing our bathroom floor. The tiles are old and have started to come up. A couple broke. We're not sure exactly what they're going to do...but it will mean using our 'other' bathroom (toilet and sink crammed in a tiny closet) until they're done.

Thank goodness we have another bathroom.

Sometimes we forget to be grateful for the small stuff. My usual practice when I get up is to check the weather, the news and my e-mail. The first thing I saw this morning was a piece about folks fighting a wildfire in Oklahoma. One person has already died.

Last week a lot of folks died or were injured or lost everything they owned due to tornadoes. Others out in California lost their homes. There's nothing left...not even a bathroom.

I confess I'm cranky in the morning when I face dealing with finger pokes and belly pokes before my first cup of coffee. But I never forget to be grateful for those teeny needles and the pen technology so I don't have to deal with syringes and long needles. I'm blessed I have an insurance plan that pays for them.

Though my family is scattered all over the country, I'm blessed that we all get along and keep in touch. Not all people are so blessed. My brother, who is sixty, is going to take my mom--eighty-five--to the mother-son banquet at church this week. I'm so happy he lives close to my parents.

It's easy to be grumpy when our cozy little world is disturbed, but most of us have shelter, food, clothing and security. Most of us have reasonably good health and family or good friends around us.

Monday. A day to be grateful for all I have. Sun is shining. A hot cup of coffee. And the hunk makes a wonderful breakfast. The rest of life? Bring it on...

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Our debit card recently expired and we were issued a new one. Then, of course, we had to notify and update the various places our information is stored. Netflix, my website provider, places we regularly shop online, the online pharmacy...our banking info is in an appalling number of locations.

All my e-mail providers want my mobile phone number. I'm behind the times enough that I don't have one. Oooops. They don't know how to cope with that.

When I opened a PayPal account it was a big problem because they wanted copies of snail mail bills, etc. for identity proof. Except...our bills arrive via e-mail. Ditto the bank statements. Ditto everything.

I just wonder. What happens when everything crashes?

We had a small taste of that when our debit cards expired. Can't pay for anything. Can't get money from the ATM. In a plastic world, what happens when the plastic world shuts down?

We keep small amounts of cash on hand--enough to buy milk or bread if necessary. Certainly, we don't have enough to pay for medicine or gas or an 'emergency'.

In our 'modern' world, we rely on technology to an astonishing extent. Much of that technology leads directly back to the Internet. Our private information is shared on a daily basis--financial, medical, identity--as casually as we change clothes.

I recently finished re-reading Nora Robert's 'in Death' series. Part of the background premise for that series is the enormous amount of personal information available to the 'authorities'. Marriages, births, divorces, educational history, arrest history, finances... Back when I read the first book (when it was first published) all that was fantasy.

Think about that.

When she wrote that first book, the idea that our personal information would be so easily available was fantasy. It was off in some nebulous future.

The future is now. There is no anonymity. There is no privacy.