A Charlie Brown Tree in a New Home

It was 1968. I was thirteen, and the only kid at home with my parents by this time–since my two siblings were out of the house, being six and seven years older than me. My parents and I were like the Three Musketeers: everywhere they went, I went–whether I wanted to or not. But my parents were pretty nice, and fairly “cool for their age” (forty-something) — and they actually enjoyed my company. Or so I like to think (smile). And I mostly enjoyed theirs, when I wasn’t being a silly, self-centered young teen.

Leadville-Steve-Sunday

Leadville, CO.

Arriving in Leadville, Colorado,  for my dad’s new position at Climax Molybdenum Mine, my parents chose for the first time to build a house from scratch–in a new subdivision on the outskirts of town. The very modest house on Lodestone Drive seemed like a mansion at the time. Maybe 1000 square feet in size, with an unfinished basement until Dad made an office/bedroom down there. Oh yes…and his Worm Farm took over part of it later on.

HighSchoolFirstDay

Me in front of the Lodestone Drive, cedar-sided cottage amidst Mom’s flowers. First day of HS, I think.

 

But we were all excited: a brand new house! We were living in these pre-War two-story apartments that weren’t all that great. But that was it at the time for temp housing, in Leadville. Since we’d  just moved from a very nice house in Connecticut, we weren’t thrilled but made the best of it; noisy two/three-story apartment housing, strange neighbors, no yard.

The house was almost done–probably finishing up inside–but Christmas was coming. I’d just found a German Shepherd-mix puppy loitering near the apartments; he was maybe four or five months old. I begged my parents to keep him, but they firmly said NO–but being dog-lovers, agreed to letting him stay “a couple of days to find his owners.”

As we say now: SWEET.  I loved every dog I met, so I was happy. Plus, I missed my own dog, Schaefer–a scruffy black terrier-mix that liked to ‘grin’ when he was happy, named after an Eastern brand of beer. We’d had to foster him out to friends on the Western Slope until the house was done.

Schaefer and Me

Me with Schaefer, in Connecticut.

It was Christmas Break with little to do in those apartments but play with weird kids in the parking lot. The snow had been insane; so deep that ten to twelve-foot drifts banked to the building. Some adults–and kids–entertained themselves by jumping from the ROOF into the drifts.

Leadville guy on roof snow

Like this, but higher up and crazier if that’s possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember how the building was three stories high? Yeah…my mom wouldn’t let me do it. New to the mountains, we hadn’t yet gone “tubing” or learned to ski. Hey, my folks didn’t even hike. 

My dad, being a do-it-yourself kind of guy, said we were going to cut our own tree for Christmas. We’d drive to the mountains and find one, and he’d chop it with his trusty miniature hatchet. He made it sound fun!

Leadville tree kids in snow

Fun like this, yes!

My mom looked at him, pursed her lips, and said nothing. We had never done this before, and it sounded like a Grand Adventure to me, so I was all-in. We loaded into the Ford Falcon, puppy included, and off we went in search of the Perfect Tree.

This was the mountains, right? The snow was so high that kids jumped from the apartment building roof into it! The mountains were covered with pine trees…how hard could this be? Dad drove and drove on snowy roads, up and up…somewhere. It was likely up Tennessee Pass.

There weren’t many places to pull off, but he found a spot and we bundled up and set out, following Dad. I think Mom came along–at least for awhile. We huffed and puffed up the hillside, looking for a tree (I didn’t know at the time about National Forest regulations, but my parents weren’t law-breakers so…)

The snow was DEEP. We nearly lost the pup a few times–though he was gangly-legged and pouncing around, enjoying himself. Leadville pup in snowAfter looking at a few prospective trees but none that were “just right,” the cold set in.

Stumping through the hills got harder. I complained, probably, and Mom returned to the car to warm up taking the pup with her. Did I mention how smart my mom was?  Finally, Dad realized I was pretty frozen–and so was he. We were like…”Okay, this tree is IT. Not looking any more!” Chop, chop. Done and done, drug that tree back to the car. Dad tied it on top–or it might have fit in the trunk, actually. Off we went back ‘home.’

 

Within hours, the puppy’s owners called and picked him up. I was sad…I wanted to keep him so badly. And then–the house was finished and we could move in…’if we wanted to?’ the contractor said. He knew it was over Christmas…but did we want to?

Well…heck YEAH. We were out of that apartment fast, and into the new house. Christmas at our new home!

Dad brought in the tree, which had been soaking in a bucket of water in the garage as per usual. Mom had been busy setting the house in order, I guess, and by evening was ready to decorate the tree. Not all the decorations had been found, but we didn’t care. Christmas felt like Christmas with a TREE. So the tree had to come in!

Dad set it up in a stand.  We stood back and studied it. “Hmmm,” Dad said. “Um,” I said.

Mom started laughing. “That is a Charlie Brown tree if ever I saw one!”

We had just watched the classic cartoon on the TV. After Dad got over being offended, he finally agreed. Only about five feet high–in the stand maybe six feet–it lacked, shall we say, a FEW branches?  And it was a LITTLE crooked.  Yet we decorated it with what we had, and it was true: even the funniest, saddest little pine tree can be beautiful when decorated. Especially when you view it with Love in the True Spirit of Christmas. 

I wish I could find the picture—I think there is one, somewhere–of that Christmas and our “Charlie Brown tree.” Instead, here’s a pic of that beloved one from that beloved Christmas special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It will have to do, for now.  The message stands.

 

thefineartdiner Charlie Brown Xmas TreeLeadville blog nativity scene wiki

 

 

For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Teacher, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to His rule and His peace, upon the throne of David and over his nation. He will build it to last and keep it strong with what is right and fair and good from that time and forever. The work of the Lord of All will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 

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Discovering Weirdos Like Me. And you.

I sat down to ‘blog’ and discovered, not too surprisingly of late, that I thought I had nothing much to say in writing. I think a lot; I write very little.

Yep, still blocked. But I have yet to say “uncle” and just surrender, either. So, if nothing fictional is coming out of my constipated imagination, I can at least tell stories–true ones.

Here are two.

1. Karma-at-the-Gym

At the gym last month, working out – I’m using an Ab machine, when I spy the lady catty-corner from me, gesticulating, motioning me to come over to her thigh machine, which is in the “up” position (the weights are lifted off the plate; held up by her toned & skinny legs). I slither out of the ab-roller-thingy and go over there as fast as my cellulitic older legs can manage. Is she stuck? Is she having problems?

“What is it?” I ask.

“There. See it?” She practically whispers, pointing to the weights.

mothcalmdown_edited-1 I look. I see nothing much, then…”Oh. Yeah, it’s a moth—“ I begin. A little, brown moth sitting between the weights.

“Can you get it out of there? I can’t reach.” She sounds a bit breathless. “If I lower the weights, well…I’ll crush it.”

Fortunately, I am not afraid of moths like the skittish people who run screaming and gyrating away from these velvety, gentle, non-stinging flying insects. “No problem.” I try to capture it in my hand but it flinches and flutters away, to the shadows beneath her seat; out of sight. But safe, sorta.

She shrugs. “It’s just…I don’t like to…you know?”

I nod. “Yeah, I know. I don’t kill them, either. Heck, I don’t even kill most spiders.” And I’m not even Buddhist or Hindu, nor do I buy into reincarnation. For a split sec, I wonder if she does.

She half-smiles and continues her work out. I go back to mine, feeling ridiculously connected to the lady. Someone weird like me! Nice to know.

I happen to believe that little creatures who are not harming you or threatening you, even those with many legs or wings or skittery-freaky habits, should have their chance to

He MIGHT eat you. Or just possess your SOUL.

He MIGHT eat you. Or just possess your SOUL.

live and prosper.

Moths make caterpillars, which are very beneficial, mostly, when they’re not eating sweaters, nice plants, or wool rugs. Spiders eat lots of Bad Bugs, BUT I do make exceptions to Black Widows in or on my home, and Brown Recluse (sorry, very-poisonous creatures). Wolf spiders are especially spooky, because they jump at you. Teeny freaky spooks. Eek!!! Run away. Run far away!

Magnified a million times, hopefully. Little freak.

Magnified a million times, hopefully. Little freak.

Nonetheless, I do not kill them (remember? running away) And I hear that cardio is good for the heart, so…

2. When She, Isn’t.

blonde

Tricky, but nice. Very nice.

A few years ago, I met and hung-out during a writers conference with a lovely, vivacious and fascinating lady. We clicked instantly while standing in the first evening dinner line. We talked of dancing, writing, homemaking, clothes, the World, city vs suburban living, our families. She oozed nice-ness and gentility (and wore a rocking LBD with very high heels). We exchanged business cards and stories, and our hopes for our writing careers, encouraging one another. I could barely get near her for a chat for the rest of conference, so popular was she.

You could say she made an impression. She ended up on television with her own show. In fact, she’s been in the news lately, quite a bit. The woman I met and liked was actually, at birth anyway, a GUYShe “came out” as transgender awhile ago, unbeknownst to moi until very recently.

scratchheadMy reaction was something like this:  “Whoa.  Um. Wait….WHOA. Uh…what?!?

As transgender issues become the new burning issue in our society – at least among a very small minority of us—I have to admit that meeting this person has challenged me. Made me think about what I really, truly believe.

Do I believe that each person was crafted, created and especially made by a Creator? Why yes, I do. It makes sense: logically, biologically, and spiritually. Faith can make sense–even be logical. [Shocked? Well…perhaps you are a bit biased and uninformed about Christians. Thinkaboutit.]

“God created them male and female…” is how it is–usually. (yes, there are hermaphrodites; they have a clear biological reason to be confused, right?) Yet, some people struggle with just what and who they are, regardless of what is clearly engineered between their legs in the gender-specific region. It is confusion. Hey, I’m confused too–just about other things.

Does it change the person I met into a monster? There was no monster in sight that weekend. Just a genuine and genuinely nice person. Yeah, she did omit the transgender part of her story; possibly out of a desire not to offend me, since I shared that I write from a “Christian world-view” = red flag to her? (likely!) We had a few brief hours together at a conference, so it was as genuine as it could be in that situation. If she had told me, would I have backed off? Maybe “taken aback” is a better term, and yes, I would’ve been; my experience with such things, with a flesh-and-blood person in front of me, is limited. And yet, I’d like to think that, after my stammering and surprise, that we could’ve still been friendly–and it was, and is, an opportunity to GROW.

I empathize with those confused about their gender, their roles. I will not judge them—that is the Creator’s job. Do I understand transgenderism? Nope! But I will love, not like, accept or not accept a person based on who they ARE – not what gender. Or what gender they identify with.

And there, I will leave it.

Gosh, I’m done at less than a thousand words today. Shocking, huh?

Vintage-Typewriter-Silhouette-Image-GraphicsFairy

 

 

Supernatural (true) Tales

antique art board boutique

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, do that. Can’t you read the signs?

(lyrics from Signs, by Five Man Electric Band, 1971)

Ever had something happen to you that…

  • Wasn’t or isn’t easily explained by science/nature/logic, though you have sought an answer?
  • Was a thought that is clearly NOT yours intrude your brain, and not go away?
  • Wasn’t “normal” as in, seemed to be outside of the five senses?

–> (By the way, I’m not talking schizophrenic-mental illness here, or a chemically-induced trip, or another kind of hallucination. I’m not even talking imagination–and that, from a person with a very active one. My parents raised me to think, actually.)

You haven’t? (not ever??) Well…I have. More than once, to all of these.  For the sake of clarity, I’m going to call these “Supernatural Experiences.” And I thought I’d share one in this post.

Experience #1: Invisible Hands

datsun

We felt so sporty in our Datsun.

This has actually happened twice to me, in younger adulthood. The first time, I was driving a familiar route from one town in Western Colorado to another–specifically, from Fruita to Grand Junction on the old, two-lane Hwy 50. In those days, I tended to speed ‘a bit’. It was a beautiful summer evening and near dusk. What distracted me for second or two, I don’t remember–probably the radio, either singing to it or tuning it.

gjct sunset

Grand Valley at sunset. (courtesy of visitgrandjunction.com)

Suddenly, my car hit a bad bump and swerved. It careened from one side of the road to the other as I tried to gain control, taking my foot off the gas and brake pedal–just as my dad had taught me. On one, bad swerve onto the soft shoulder of the road, the car tilted as if it would roll. The feeling of ‘I’m going to die!’ was terrifyingly real, but being a Christian, the only thing that came out of my mouth was “Jesus, help!” (this was decades before the song, btw)

I felt the wheel rotate in my hands very firmly, as if someone else had taken it. 

My car corrected itself in seconds, and that was it–I was again in control and the “outside force” I’d felt was gone. But my racing heart and shortness of breath had me pull off the road a few minutes later, to calm down. I also told God a heartfelt THANK YOU.

Jump ahead to the icy, cold winter of 1980. Married and heading to my first teaching job in Iowa, I drove our car–the same Datsun coupe–while my husband followed in a rental truck with our humble belongings. We had stopped to pour cups of hot tea from our thermos, somewhere in the barren landscape of pencil-straight highway through Nebraska, and headed out again.

close up of drink served on white surface

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everything was fine, until my cup slipped while trying to set it down–and the lid came loose. Hot tea sloshed out, just missing my legs. But some splashed on my hands, and the steering wheel ended up slippery as I fought with the whole, dumb situation. In morbid-fascination, I saw and felt this:  Car going off road. Hand burned, jeans wet. Tossed cup onto floor. Car still going off the road. No shoulder, no place to stop. Trying to wipe hands dry.

I had let go of the steering wheel (come on…no judgments unless you’ve had this kind of misfortune)

And without me touching it…the wheel slowly turned to the left, then centered. 

The car came back to the road. By this time, I had my hands on the wheel again. Still a little damp, but able to drive, I kept driving. My husband flashed his headlights at me, a signal that meant ‘pull over asap.’ So I did. The first thing my husband did was jump out and run up to the car.

“You were going off the road! What happened?” he said. I told him. But it wasn’t me that brought the car back into control; I had still been dealing with hot liquid, almost-burned hands and body, wet mess in car. 

“But the car just came back onto the road,” he said. “So you were…?” 

“I didn’t do that,” I said. “It wasn’t me ‘cos I couldn’t even hold onto the wheel.” 

“Well, thank the Lord! That’s cool!” he said. 

Now. You can say all you want about my (a) clumsiness while driving or (b) not being such a great driver (which was partly true in my early years).

BUT. WHO or WHAT brought my vehicle back onto the road to calmly cruise along, both times?

You can say it was a chance…but two times. In almost exactly the same way?

What of the natural or scientific explanation? I looked up ‘can a car correct itself’ when writing this, and found: “Cars designed for driving on the right side of the road are manufactured to pull slightly to the right. This is to prevent the car from drifting into oncoming traffic if the driver falls asleep at the wheel. …”

Both times, my car pulled to the LEFT from the RIGHT shoulder of the road. So what of the imagination explanation–that I imagined a “force” that “steered” the car? How to explain the pressure I felt on my hands and the wheel the first time–and how to explain away what I saw with my eyes, the second time?

WHO did that for awkward, inexperienced me? What do you think? Whether you believe in angels, or the hand of God, or something else…God_Is_Our_Refuge_460_460_80

I’ll share another story next time.

In Comments, please share your own Supernatural true story. Or share why you don’t think a supernatural explanation is possible. I’d love to read either one. 

G’night!  

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Old Poetry, Old Stories

I write poetry. Do you?all-bad-poetry-springs-from-genuine-feeling-quote-1

It’s never won a contest or a spot in a schmancy literary journal. I’ve never studied the “forms” of poetry (Take that, iambic pentameter! A pox upon thee! Poo upon haiku!) and frankly, though I’ve tried to read about them—YAWN.

Excuse me. That’s what happens.

So I free-form it. Sometimes, rhyming may occur. I have shared some poetry that, given the source (me) is okay. Meaning it won’t send you screaming from the room (maybe) such as “Holy Place,” this one in another post.

And then there is The Other Stuff, like this piece of VENTING, I mean POETIC EXPRESSION that I dug out of my files tonight. It’s from 2009–a year a vast change n’ challenges for us. And it’s pretty scary, but that’s what occurs when I either  1. Journal or 2. Write poetry or 3. Overshare on social media (ahem. but perhaps I am the only one)

Things can go downhill fast. Not only for me, but for anyone reading it…                                                                                        

What is the answer
to the life I don’t have?
What is the reason for
the life I don’t live?
What is the curse
that lays heavy on me?
What is the answer
for the life I don’t see?
Who can I serve now
instead of myself?
Who even cares that
I wish I were dead?
….Where is the body
that once ran and thrived?
 ……and etc.

Oh, dear. You see what I mean?It is WHAT?

I tend to get morbid if I’m too introspective…do you? NO? You may be more normal than me (but I doubt it).

Now what the purpose of this post? Oh YES…sorry. “Old Stories,” as the blog title doth say. Which old story? It’s one of the same fictional masterpieces I’ve been working on for the past, um, few years. Time is not one of my strengths–but let’s tackle the subject.

My daughter, the youngest one,  was visiting in July. When I mentioned that I am actually editing *this* ms, she said: “Is this the book you’ve been working on for the past, like, ten years? With the bows and arrow and stuff?” — >(Bows and arrows and stuff?? Really??)

(Me) “It’s related to that story but not the ‘same one,’ no. Plus, I’ve not worked on just THAT story for the past ten years…” 

Ahhhh. Wasn’t she here–meaning living at home still–until 2011? Did she notice anything at all? And since then? Oh wait…what am I thinking?! Ah, the tunnel vision of the young!

To say it’s taken “a decade for this one book” is not really FAIR or ACCURATE. Life isn’t all tidy like that, is it? Life isn’t one-dimensional (is that a term?) 'Nana!'It’s a good thing said daughter has given us three of our four adorable little bananas, I mean grandchildren, is all I can say. ———————–>

Several things are true about this old story -the one I’m finallyatlast editing – and life around it:

  • I did get the idea for it back in the early 2000’s.
  • I did write a 100K terrible first novel based on that, which I later realized was Book Two of a trilogy. Not knowing what Book One was, I shelved first novel.
  • I got other book ideas, and wrote partial-to-nearly-complete manuscripts for two–a Romantic Suspense and a Historical Romance. During this time I wrote for non-profits, did some freelancing, and volunteered a lot for writing organizations.
  • Oh yes…I also had four teens in the house (from ’94 to 2011–dear God, that’s 15 yrs of adolescent parenting)
  • Until 2006, I had to stay employed at least part-time in ‘jobs outside the home.’
  • I dealt with spouse’s military deployments from Iraq (2003) to Canada (2006-7) and Kuwait (2009) and with consequences of said-injuries to said-spouse.
  • After the Iraq deployment, I lost my health to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Epstein-Barr/MCE and Fibromyalgia, to name the major ones.
  • My Writing Self shut-down for two years-plus, so I took up photography and opened an online ‘shop’. 
  • Cue the other health problems I’ve developed (spinal degeneration, sleep apnea…) which have increased fatigue and pain and junk, and decreased my ability to sit-write-think-edit.
  • And there were the arrivals of those beloved mini-bananas…

In spite of all of this, I’ve finished the “first draft” of the manuscript. I am editing Chapter Two, but it seems to be TAKING FREAKING FOREVER.Manuscript pile

But I had to share with you: I’m doing it. I just might take forever (meaning the last thing I accomplish before I die! okay drama) but hey–this old girl is still working on the old story.

Are you? Keep going. Vent with some bad poetry, if it helps you. Or make cookies!

But keep going.

Blessings,

Bree

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Gramma Goes Vegan.

And Grampa joined her…sort of. 

The first six months of 2018 have been SO very interesting, and SO full of changes–as you might guess from the title of this blog post. The story may be a bit long to read, but trust me–especially if you are in your senior years–try to hang in ’til the end.

Trust me, er, Gramma. 

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I could eat her up. My little pineapple!

But, being a writer and thus, a lover of language, the alliteration of this post’s title is too cool to change.  Besides, it’s fun to refer to onesself in the Third Person.

*note that there will be random POV switching during this post, just…because*

So YES,  Gramma did go VEGAN. As of February 7, 2018. Not politically (but I’m getting closer to it, admittedly…I am the Rare Green Christian) In his usual selfless manner, Grampa joined me in it so I wouldn’t have to deal with two styles of eating in this house. He is not only maddening, he’s maddeningly-supportive and saintly. Saint Bill!

But why did we do this?? At ages 63 and 69, good question. For me, here are a few of them:

#1: Weak immune system. From Dec 27 to January 28th 2018, I was freaking sick. First, a lousy head cold. Then on its heels, came Influenza, as in Type-A. It hit me quite hard.  Just as that subsided, a rip-roaring chest cold. Thank heaven we’d discovered DoTerra oils Breathe–before this. What amazing natural relief!

#2:Other aspects of my health were getting worse and new, serious ones appearing:

  • My chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and a degenerating spine had/have worsened to the point where I could/can no longer sit at my desk, or stand, or even walk my poor dog for longer than 15-30 minutes. Like clockwork, my legs go numb–and lately, they get weak unless I sit down and rest them. This. Is. Ridiculous.
  • I’m carrying about 60 lbs of extra weight that I cannot seem to shed.
  • In the past year-plus, I’ve had 2 bad falls forward where I cannot catch myself. Once, tripping over a barrier in a parking lot. Second, over my dog (at least it was inside) Now I’ve got two bad shoulders and a more-deviated-deviated septum, and a much worse knee. Have a nice trip? Not really!
  • My eyesight had gotten so bad that I stopped taking photos to sell, because I couldn’t focus the camera. I considered closing my Etsy shop altogether. (p.s. it’s still OPEN)
  • I was diagnosed with central & obstructive sleep apea in 2017 and have learned to use a CPAP machine nearly every night. I’d rather not have to sleep attached to a machine every night to keep me breathing.
  • My brain hasn’t been working for quite some time; not well enough to edit a manuscript, or write a blog post, etc. No concentration. No motivation. Depression and scattered thoughts. Feeling very overwhelmed. Cue a new antidepressant!
  • But the worst of all was this…my annual exam and blood testing gave me lousy news: I had become PRE-DIABETIC.
    doglettuce

    You gotta be kidding.

    What?!?! There is no diabetes in my family. NONE. Everyone dies, and I mean everyone on both sides of my family, from some type of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Blocked arteries run rampant. Faulty valves all over the place. My dad died of a sudden heart attack at age 47; so did his dad, albeit he waited until age 64. My grandmother and aunts/uncles on both sides, of congestive heart failure in their 70’s/80’s. My mom died on the table during open heart surgery in her 70’s.

#3 Grampa has his own health issues. Higher cholesterol from genetic factors. Some arthritis. Neurological issues, partly from injuries sustained in military service. Tiring easily (in-between his hyperactive modes). And his glucose could be better, too.

But…VEGAN? We had been eating grass-fed meat, organic produce, organic butter, unsweetened Greek yogurt, baking my own goods with spelt flour, using stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. For YEARS. I was not exercising much (the growing chronic pain) but I mean sweet Jeeezus…

I was TRYING. WE had been trying. Not hard enough—or more correctly, not in the right direction.

After that phone call heralding prediabetes, I spent a few days of angry sulking, coloring in my mandala coloring book, thinking and praying about what the heck to do next. mandalamandalamandalamandala

I thought of the various diets and WOE (ways of eating) that I’d tried since weight began creeping onto me after my fourth pregnancy/entrance in perimenopause. Nutrisystem. Atkins. 40/30/30. Low Carb…High Protein…Low Fat…in the midst of this I became ill from Epstein-Barr virus (2004) and then the chronic pain got me labeled with Fibromyalgia (2006). Then I tried Medifast in desperation to look presentable for an overseas trip, and lost 20# in a month! But when I began eating food again (ahem) it came back. I was a Pesca-Ovo-Vegetarian for a year and a half (around 2006-2008) and I gained TEN MORE POUNDS. Three years ago, I used myfitnesspal.com to log all my eating, and reduced calories to 1200/day. I was in a women’s weights class also, and lost 30 lbs–and felt much better. Then the class was cancelled, I never found a replacement, I fell and injured myself, the weight came back…

Can you say “vicious cycle?”

With all of this thinking with the blood sugar results, I felt pretty angry, frustrated, lost–and even more desperate.

I looked to the example of my best friend, Sue, who had stayed with us recently. She’s two years younger than me, but is decades healthier. Slim, energetic, on NO meds (I take four and they’re urging me to take more). She’s able to work up-the-wazoo for all hours, cheerful, caring, never sees a doctor, not addicted to foods…

Oh, and there is the way she cured thyroid tumors by eating the way she does. That was 15 years ago, and she’s been smart enough to keep eating a basically VEGAN diet. (I knew we were given each other for BF’s for some reason. God knew I needed her!)

But VEGAN. The WOE I dreaded most. Why won’t you do what I suggest? I felt God whisper in my heart. Look at the example before you! 

It’s too hard, I whined. I don’t wanna. 

Then stay sick, God said. 

Well UGH. On Feb 7th 2018, I got up and said, like Frodo offering to take the Ring: “This is it. Today I begin, though I’m not sure of the way.” No meat. No dairy. No refined foods. I. simply STARTED.

Meanwhile, I researched like crazy. Hunted recipes. Gorged on information.

FrodoTheSmile03

BF Sue had learned and benefited hugely from The Hallelujah Diet so I sent for their materials. We tried some of their recipes, some good; some awful. Some of their “ideas” we found really, really strange. Not eating breakfast…of any kind? EVER? Soaking nuts and seeds. Eating mostly-raw foods, no oils or fats. No eggs. No fish. No meat.

I also read The Blue Zones.Wonderful book! Wonderful info based on scientific research and interaction with real people. What do the longest-lived people on the planet eat? In pockets around the globe, the diets of these folks varies hugely; but overall, they focus on starchy whole foods like sweet potatoes, potatoes, a wide variety of veggies, fruit, and whole or nearly-whole grains. A little fat, eggs sometimes, a little healthy oil. Tiny portions of meat for seasoning but not as a main dish. In some areas they eat cheeses, too.

But Gramma and Grampa needed to figure out where WE fit into all of this. In OUR climate and culture and lifestyle. I asked my BF how and what she ate daily (hello vegan!) I read and read until my eyes fuzzed over. Grampa and I cleaned out the cupboards and fridge–and went shopping with a new kind of list. Grampa made it about a week, then seemed to flag. And Grampa, believe me, LOVES his veggies–he was the salad fan of the house, not Gramma! He didn’t complain, but Gramma could tell…he was acting tired and grumpy and unsatisfied with all of the salads, baked taters, fruits.

HealthySnacks-300x199
And oh so much more. 
Hello Fish, are you a sentient being?

 One day, she said “To heck with this–want a scrambled egg?” And they had some (this is sounding like a children’s book). And, back to First Person–we also, later, added fish in again–the occasional grilled or baked kind of salmon,tilapia, tuna, cod. But no other meat (for GRAMMA, that is; Grampa caved early)

We were finding balance. We’re still learning, and maybe fish will go one day, too.

Gramma mainly wanted & needed to eliminate the foods linked to CVD, to obesity, to any form of diabetes. And finally, she found groups on Facebook that helped–a lot. Forks Over Knives–watched the film (Netflix) But…why NO oil? (even allowed on the super-strict HD) Why NO eggs? Why NO salt? (she and Grampa already used sea salt in very small amounts).

There was another FB group: Whole-Foods-Plant-Based Eating. Lots of tolerance and understanding for a wider range of eating-styles. Lots of advice, info, recipes. Pretty good. Another group is “Vegan, Vegetarian and Plant-Based Eating.” Ah ha…!

PLANT-BASED EATING. That’s what they were doing!

Okay, so nobody even knows what it is when you say it is the Way You Eat. People have heard of Vegans–but this Plant-Based things? Not a clue. But that’s okay. Who am I to judge? Still learning here. Still learning!

HealthySnacks-300x199

So that is how Gramma is eating–and mostly, so is Grampa. He still has issues with the totally-no-meat thing and likes some milk in his coffee…but he’s trying. He really is.

Eat to Live. Eat the Rainbow. Obey God, and be well.

It’s a journey, and we’re on it–together.

saladguy

 

 

Revise. Edit. Repeat?

Intro-Confession: I’ve never edited a whole ms before. Not that’s mine, anyway. I’ve been a beta-reader for others, but my own? SHEESH. Thar could be a snake in ma boot, and I might miss it. Ouch.

That isn’t a funky sock.
spaghetti-mess wellmind.com source

Backstory: The “first completed draft” (a term I use loosely since I do edit/rewrite as I go) —all 128K messy, astonishing words of it— was done a day before our local and large writers conference. For once, I hit a writing goal! (applause please) However, I canceled a pitch appt because, dang it, the draft was just that: a DRAFT, aka not revised, not edited. —> THIS————>

Percolation: So, then came the Sitting of the Manuscript, aka percolating, to rest my gray matter from it and “do other writing.” (meaning, I worked on my business/photography, and resurrected sewing skills for baby gifts) Then a long vacay in the merry month of May

Feet beach
Ah, vacation!

took me away from work, and coming back…found my printed ms scattered all over the carpet by my desk: my lonely dog had lain on the ms box and made an incredible mess.

Dog guilty
Looking guilty as can be.

I shuddered and studiously avoided looking under the table for, oh, about two more months.

Pressurized & Stirred Gently: My spouse gently asked when I was going to…you know, uh, the book? My friends asked. Heck, my massage therapist even asked (she wants to read it). Growing disgusted, deeply, with myself, I began to Clean the Office So I Could Edit the Book. And I cleaned all around those pages. Finally, I grabbed an empty green plastic bin, a new and pretty one I’d emptied of…something…in my cleanliness, and plunked on the floor to tackle the mess.

Wow. That was relatively easy and oddly satisfying! Enter hanging folders and organization—by chapter, mostly. Faint stirrings of pre-editing/revising excitement ensued. And yet, the Green Box has gone untouched for a couple of weeks. Or so.

Sneaking Suspicion: An unsettled, uneasy feeling in my gut. Furtive glances at the Green Box under the table, which is labeled on top with a full sheet “Current Ms” – just in case I forget what’s in there.  Things have gone from procrastination to full-blown avoidance, pretty sure. But I’ve got good reasons for, um, not doing what I’m supposed to do.

Sample of Excuses: (a) I’ve not been feeling great (that chronic pain/fatigue increasing) and (b) not sleeping well while adjusting to Little Beastie the Cpap mask. (c) We’ve had a string of company, including my BFF who is an avid reader and has assigned herself to be my personal cheering section of one.

“Where is your book?” she asked, following me into the less-messy Bear Pit that is my office.

“Here,” I said proudly, pulling the Green Box from beneath the table. “All ready to edit! I’m going to do a read-through and make some notes first, er, soon.” Then I distracted her by showing her “character art” and “research.”

“Well, when you’ve edited it, I still want to read it,” she said, standing up to exit the pit. “When you get it done.” She is a persistent creature, darn her. Pressure on.

fear

Revelation! Furtive glances at Box again. Unsettled feeling in my gut. What if…er…hmm. Could I be afraid to edit my book? Okay…yeah, the truth hurts. But afraid. why???

Perhaps, as a former therapist suggested (maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the therapist part): “Could you be afraid of success?” Well, HECK no. I would LOVE to experience real success, for a change. Sounds like fun, actually!

“Why” is for truly important questions. Like why some scientists say we came from single-celled slime-balls in a primordial soup. Like why hand-dryers in public restrooms are jet-powered and motion-activated, yet getting the toilet paper to roll-down from the container nearly takes an act of God and the patience of Himself, as well.

why1 no_edited-1

Forget the WHY and move on to the HOW. 

Actually, I have no idea HOW this editing process will go for me, given I am a Revising/Editing Virgin. I’ve printed out a few sources as guidelines. Another very good friend of mine, an Indie-published author of several novels, insists that I will “find out what process works for me and what doesn’t,” by just DOING it. And that “everyone’s is different; there is no formula for revising and editing one’s book.”

So that should be a good thing since my brain eschews formulas like my dog spits out lettuce. Pa-tooie.

One Last Step: Tonight I was supposed to start the ms read-through, and make notes. But…the table right next to my desk that makes that “L” work space I like, was still stacked with papers—the bane of my life!!– until a few minutes ago (okay, like an hour ago). Is that procrastination again and wh–Again with the whys. Screw ’em.

Shame, disgust, insecurity—gave way to action. I swept the pile to another surface (sigh) but the table is now CLEAR to launch…or is ready to set if we keep with the food-ish metaphors. The next course of action was, of course, to blog about this…of COURSE. Because sharing. Next, I’ll begin. I’d planned to stay up all night! I’ll…yawn. YAWN. Boy, is it late even for me.

But, hey—I am ready now. Fear swept aside, mostly. So for now…

Let her sleep tealmtn butterfly swirls cones gray
Of words.

Scene on a Screen and Splitting Phrases

20160316_165752I found this draft I’d written over six months ago–SIX–and realized hey. I never published this post. So here it is, in all its late glory (inside the brackets) **Warning–fiction excerpt included!**

[…”I wrote 1883 words last night on my WIP. NEW WORDS. Never before scene, I mean, SEEN on a SCREEN. From my brain to the page. Totally out of context, but I also worked on a short story the other night, too. It’s not finished yet, but hey…that’s right: this writer is writing again. Crazy, huh?

Even crazier, I’ll introduce the partial scene and include an excerpt. This is a rare thing for me and from me.

2TybeeOcean LtontheWater aquatint_edited-1Background: the POV character and his friend, both once crew on a space vessel, are stranded on a primitive planet in a very primitive culture–a little like Dances with Wolves meets Star Trek New Gen or, um, one of those. The tribe that has taken them in is moving camp and comes to a very wide, deep river. The two men are from a watery planet, and they’ve not seen much of it since coming to this much drier one, months ago. When they see it, one of them gets a bit excited. [Note: the characters’ names are initialized only. I am funny that way.]

*Excerpt from Chapter “Big Small Water”

Water. So much of it. A smile split my face and I laughed. “So we see. Will we go down there—“

“Eyaaaah, big water!” R  belted out the cry and took off sprinting, as best he could, down the rocky hill and over its tuffets of grass. The best I could hope for was that he wouldn’t kill himself.

T__ stared at this spectacle, then turned to me. “What is wrong with him? He has never seen a river?”

“It’s been awhile,” I answered. We set off in R’s wake; those walking or riding did as well, while the carts took a gentler, winding route across the hillside to make the banks of the (river).

T’s steward brought up her horse, and with a nod of dismissal at me, the princess mounted and rode off after R and the rest. I tried to find R’s tracks and the route he’d taken…finding garments along the way. His brown and gold tunic draped recklessly over a boulder. One shoe…a dozen steps further, the other one.

Uh-oh. A Tav hearth-worker held out a braided belt that until moments ago, had been around my friend’s narrow waist. I tucked it under an arm with the other things. 

I knew how he chose to swim when he could. Pausing to give my aching ankle a break, I scratched my sweaty neck and considered how R’s public nudity would affect our harmony with the Tribe. It certainly wouldn’t shock them; they had little modesty themselves. He wasn’t ugly, just scarred and different from the other men we’d met here—we both were. They made us aware of that fairly often. But other than the healers in the healing tents, no one else had seen us entirely unclothed.

But the heat of this place bothered R to the point of torment. 

When I finally arrived at the river, a crowd of women, slaves, and children had gathered at one spot on the bank. Much pointing and exclaiming was going on. Some of it I understood and much I didn’t, but it wasn’t hard to guess.*

Enter clumsy “split phrasing.” In cut-pasting this scene in my blog, I found a few places to correct and tighten, again (sigh. it seemed so ‘done’) I have this annoying tendency to put things in the wrong sequence in a sentence and to split phrases that shouldn’t be split. Example: “Much pointing and exclaiming, some of it I understood and much I didn’t, was going on.” Can you say Awkward? I sure can. So I changed it to read, for better flow, to read,  “Much pointing and exclaiming was going on, some of it I understood and much I didn’t.” 

Ah, the mess of a first draft. I wish I could say I’m a pro at writing them but…wait a minute. I kind of AM a pro at it, as there are a number of Partial First Drafts Plus Random Rewrites stacked in my study, twelve years into this writing phase of my life. Or should that be “Twelve years into this writing phase of my life, there are a number of…” (But who’s splitting hairs?)

It’s the FINISHING and POLISHING to get a FINAL PRODUCT that I’m still working towards. In fits and starts.  Life as a nonlinear (and possibly a slightly lazy) person and writer can be tough. If you are a nice, organized, orderly ESTJ personality, then completely ignore what I just said (that means you, Sue H) In the editing process, this scene might be cut. But I doubt it.

Why? Because it meets criteria, that’s why. What criteria?

  1. Does it advance the plot?  (yes)
  2. Does it expand what we know of important character(s)? (yes – to this point, it’s not shown that water is so important to the men to this degree, nor R’s reaction to it)
  3. Does it contain GMC (goal, motivation, confict)? (yes, in more than is shown here)

The running man “R” does make it to the river, where he not only swims but does something even more astonishing–at least, in the eyes of the tribal people. And that princess who took off on her horse after him? She is pissed off, among other things.skinny-dipping

It’s complicated, but should be a good read. For now, I have a webinar to attend–on writing….”    *****

Update (ie, today)

The webinar was a waste of time. I haven’t written much NEW for a couple of months now. I had set goals to finish the first draft of this book before our trip to France, but realized that waddn’t goin’ to happen. Then some incredibly stagnating and bogging-down stresscloggedbrainplungerfunny happened, all summer long, one after another. You ever have one of those seasons? I did. I am still in it.

So writing has not been flowing, and I’ve dunked my strange self into my photography and some reading instead. But you know what? Just reading the above post tickled my interest to return to the unfinished story above. Reading & writing are funny that way.

Now to get everyone to leave me the HECK alone so I can work on it. Fixing meals? Forget that. Going out socially? Nah. Having friends over to sit around the firepit, drink wine and talk? That would mean we’d have to actually clean our house.

It’s a beautiful summer afternoon…I’m watching it from my window.

And wondering if I can finish the draft of that latest scene...where they tried to escape but ended up in a cage?  Split phrasing aside–they’d better figure it out and split outta there.

My characters will thank me for it.

wagonprison

 

 

 

 

A Matter of Honor: My Gypsy Ways Part 1

GypsyGirl

Once a wild dreamer gypsy-soul

heartartsA few days ago, I ran away from home. 

Okay…it was only for four days, three nights.

Still. Just me. Alone. Traveling solo for the first time in decades–and without plans, without reservations: just winging it.

You see, a family member who lives with us has a cluster of mental illnesses and bad behaviors, and quite frankly—it was making ME an unstable, unhappy person in dealing with it/him. It has been eroding my marriage, my productivity, my emotional health and that of my husband’s. My physical health is precarious at best, without added stress.

With constant stress, it’s a disaster. All over.

There are usually two normal, chemical-physiologic reactions to extreme stress: Fight or Fight. Also know as: “The fight-or-flight response (also called the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response in post-traumatic stress disorder, hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.” (thank you, wikipedia)  Also known as “If I can’t fight this thing, I will DIE. So I’d better the hell RUN!” caveman_op_640x398

It’s a primitive thing, this reaction. We are now supposedly modern, educated. We can, in theory, “avoid” or “shut down” this thingy and tell ourselves we are NOT going to DIE.

People with  decent and good health need time to recover from this constant onslaught of stress. For folks like me, whose health is compromised (a very long, annoying story of ‘I thought I’d be so much better by now, but I’m not’)…well. If the stress is constant, you never have enough time to recover, since it takes so much longer to rebound from pretty much anything, anyway.

So your energy-cup gets emptier…and emptier.cup draining

 

I couldn’t get my balance. Sorry, psychologists (including the one I’d been seeing for months, who sort of DUMPED me a few days before this).

My cup ran over. Went dry. With day after day of the overload, I couldn’t recover. Depleted, I ran. Yes…what to do…heart racing, seeking refuge…Flight!

Thinking it would become a Wild Gypsy Adventure, I hurriedly packed my bag, my camera, my laptop, a few clothes, and got outta there; meaning my comfy, air-conditioned home. Intending to not only ‘gypsy,’ I thought it would free me for hours of writing, photography, thinking, praying–and peace. I was looking for an epiphany, even to chasing one, as a family member said to explain why he and his daughter were going to walk “The Way,” the Santiago de Compestela trail from France to Spain.

Maybe my epiphany had a more desperate–or just an immediate–element to it, but do know the inner struggles of that relative walking The Way? No, not any more than he has of mine. So, I had in mind to go back to Taos, NM. A trip there seven years ago, with a good friend who was mired in grief from the death of a child, had been a mixed bag; enjoyable but hard. Yet it was a new and invigorating experience.

And just outside of the touristy-artsy stuff IN Taos, there is Taos Pueblo, a World UNESCO site. Over a thousand years old, it is an understated kind of amazing. The first time, we wandered around and soaked in the atmosphere. My friend is very spiritual, more so than I. Everywhere, she saw signs of her departed son. I didn’t expect her strong reactions to Taos, the Pueblo, or its people.

But they were so kind to her. Gentle, soft-spoken when you enter their shop or approach the table where they sell goods—baskets woven from the red willows that grow, lush, along their sacred stream (thus the name they give themselves, the Red Willow People). When my friend tried to speak of her adopted, Native American son, she broke down weeping. The Pueblo women offered her hugs. Gave her gifts of pottery, of food, of jewelry. One even told her to go wash her face in their sacred stream to help with her healing—and trust me, it is forbidden for non-tribal people to even touch the waters of the stream. So it was very, very special.

stream

An unnamed sacred stream. Aaaah.

 

At Taos, my photographer-self emerged. I’ve sold a number of the pics I took there. It was a point-and-shoot camera, and I was thrilled & pleased that anyone would even buy a picture I took, at the time (I still am. Always.)  I opened in one online shop, then closed it when I found Etsy. Sold a few off-line also. A friend bought my “Three Crosses of Taos.” Others bought “Remembrance,” a shot I took of the mud wall along the cemetery that showed a large wooden cross and traditional homes with aqua blue doors in the background, against a violet sky and the mountains in the distance. Another popular one was of the old church ruins in black and white. I called it “Bent’s End,” but on this year’s Gypsy Tour, I learned that is wrong (the governor was killed in front of his house, in town).

When I returned, I had a much better camera: Little Red, my Nikon D3300. I still shoot with the lens she came with (and am having serious covetous of getting that ‘bigger’ lens now, sigh) Slung over my shoulder, I proclaimed Little Red to the booth when I paid to enter the Pueblo. They no longer charge for cameras (it used to be $6) – but the night before, I discovered they have Rules & Permissions for Taking Photos at Taos Pueblo.

I read them…yoops. As a noob, I either didn’t pay attention or didn’t think they’d ever apply to ME. And they charge a fee, depending on how you want to use/sell photos. Since I didn’t have time to ask for permission from the tribe in this trip, I intended to take just a few shots, you know—for my blog.LittleRedCamera

Then I realized: I didn’t trust myself. When I take photos of PLACES it is to SELL them. I took the tour, this time, and learned vastly more. Our guide, a young college student named Hawk, did his job well. A musician, he is studying management so he can handle his career as an artist, and support other artists (of course, this spoke deeply to me) Both Pueblo and Apache, he is understandably proud of his heritage, his blood.

Speaking of…there have been bloody uprisings orchestrated by the Red Willow People and other pueblo/southwestern tribes against their oppressors—the Whites. But since the slaughters of the 1800’s, they learned other tactics. They learned to stand fast, and to persevere in what they wanted.

Taos-Pueblo-Mountain_edited-1They wanted their lands back—100K acres of mountain land, which on the map is simply labeled ‘Pueblo Mountain.’ It is sacred, like the stream. It is integral to the practice of their Nature Religion. It took them over 60 years, but the elders persisted—and they got it back.

All of their sacred land in the mountains.

I am incredibly impressed with that. Not through violence (though it was a part of the earlier history) but through asking and pressuring and petitioning the government—over and over and over. Until they got back what was theirs. Surprisingly, it was President Nixon who returned it to them (he wasn’t a total scoundrel–see?)

Mainly, they persisted.  This is the key to so many things, it seems. I think I am finally starting to get it…sort of.

When you don’t understand but are trying…stand.

When you’re discouraged and have done all you know how to do…stand.

When you’re overwhelmed and you cannot stand…sometimes you just have to flee. To rest. To recuperate. To freaking protect your soul. 

Then come back, and stand again. Some day, things will change–either the Thing or You.

So there I was, revisiting Taos Pueblo—I thought it was to retake some photos with my better camera. But the feeling that I’d wronged these people was strong…selling those photos without permission…I couldn’t shake it. What could I do to make restitution, at this point?

I took Hawk aside and thanked him first for our tour, and for how kind his people were to my friend in her deep grief. Then I made a confession about my photos, and asked him how to make amends. He went blank, but was polite. He had no idea, really.

I had to figure it out myself. I bought some of their goods—this time, to give away. (except for the Fry Bread. Couldn’t get anyone to share a piece with me, the germaphobes, so I had to eat it)

Also, I didn’t take one photograph. Not even one.

Wouldn’t you like to see those earlier pics of Taos Pueblo from my first visit–the ones I sold? Yeah, I’d like to share them with you, too. But I can’t-not anymore. They are in my little secret file. I don’t have the heart to delete them, but neither can I market them.

It’s a matter of honor, you see.

I’m going to stand on that, for now. And what else did my gypsy adventure show me?

Until next time…

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (2009) Strong Gaussian Blur applied.

 

 

W-w-walking in Paris

Have I had NOTHING to SAY since APRIL?? Maybe…no, anyone who knows me knows I hardly ever have nothing to say. I was busy quenching my burning fernweh the rest of April, until we left in May. So April was a prep month for shopping, to be stylishly clothed and reasonably equipped, for my first overseas destination ever~

France. Paris. Normandy. Aaaaah.

 

Paris StSulpice (18)

Grrrrowl, at the Luxembourg fountain at St-Sulpice.

6Paris Eiffel first view(21)3Paris Arch & Champs Archbw (26)

My first view of…wow. A tower. An arch. Huh!

9 days in that beautiful, puzzling, amazing city; 3 days in Normandy at D-Day sites. Paris was…hard to describe (no wonder most visitors just show pics).  It was great, and hard, and stressful, and fascinating. My physical limitations were a major challenge, more than I thought they’d be. I was SO sorry I had not worked out harder, gotten my stamina up more! (as if.)

Trying to navigate Paris’ twisted, narrow streets; the colored spaghetti-maps for bus, Metro, train with their teeny lettering. Google maps maybe? Umm…..

“How do we get to…(fill in blank of famous landmark)…?” 

“Easy, Madame…” said our concierge at the hotel– “only 5-10 minutes to bus! Only 10-15 minutes to Metro! From there, you take 58 bus to 10 Metro, then walk a short…” After “walk” all I heard, after Day Two, was ‘blah-blaaah-blah.’ You will see why in a moment.

First day there (Day Two technically), we wanted to get our Paris Museum Passes at the CityVision office north of the Seine at (x) address. Emmanuel, the concierge, told us how to get there but it was a different address. “Take this bus to that bus, then a short walk of 10-15 minutes…”

[I had yet to learn what ‘a short walk’ means to a Parisian.]

“Buuut…it says so-and-so on line,” I protested. He smiled indulgently (a slightly all-knowing Parisian look that I learned to know) and repeated HIS directions. But I knew better! The God-Ordained Address on the website with our tickets was RIGHT. So we went MY way.

Oh, foolish wanderer. Except, the vouchers exited my purse at some point while walking, walking. Except, I had no idea how far we’d need to walk–blocks. Long blocks. And LOST is not a strong enough word for how lost we became, and how FREAKING FAR WE WALKED down the Rue du Rivoli. *shudder* To find the office I “knew was right” was… closed. A sign directed us to, yes, the one Emmanuel had given. *INSERT HUGE FREAKING SIGH HERE* Which we could not, after more WALKING (now a much-hated word), find to save our lives.

deadwomanwalk

Me. Dead woman walking.

We were saved by an elderly lady who used to teach English, who basically told us to obey her, get on the bus with her, and get off when she told us to. And thank God for her…she was totally right. I’d missed the office while taking pics of golden Jean d’Arc earlier, before all the wa

I can’t even type the word. But here’s that pic of ol’ Jean. You may know her as Joan. Not even a good picture to make all that LOST worthwhile!Paris Rue du Rivoli (15)

So, okay, the w-walking. First of all, within two days I discovered: Parisians do NOT walk. None but the very elderly and even then… No. They “stride purposefully” to their destinations, so of course it takes them only 5-10 minutes to get ‘there.’ (choose your ‘there’ -pretty much anywhere) Only tourists walk, stroll, amble, peruse. And if you deal with chronic pain, it’s more like 20 minutes pour moi, monsieur. Minimum. 

There is an exception for the strolling-thing for Parisians. Lovers may stroll. Lovers stop on the sidewalks, in the museums, at lines at take-away counters, at cafes, at bus stops–and entwine themselves and make-out. Yeah, I used that old hippie term of the 70’s. It’s very descriptive of what Parisian couples do. (and boy, do they smoke a lot too. shocking)

Lovers lip-lock whenever they want to. I got a little jealous, since my spouse and I are past that phase (and speaking of him: the walking was nothing to him. nothing! but as always he didn’t hold it over me, bless his soul) HOWEVER, I ain’t dead yet, so I noticed those lovers. And the dark, Gallic men…ooohhh la-la-laaaa. So Paris is still the City of Light & Love. I wish I had pictures of the lovers, but it seemed a wee bit intrusive at the time (now, not so much).

Lancelot and Guinevere

Oh Beloved, take me.
Liberate my soul.
Fill me with your love and
release me from the two worlds.
If I set my heart on anything but you
let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,
take away what I want.
Take away what I do.
Take away what I need.
Take away everything
that takes me from you.  ~ by Rumi

That poem was “just because” – just because it’s so pretty, so romantic and soulful, and I thought we needed some Love just now. I know I do.

Anyway, what did I take away from Paris? Time will tell if it was anything profound. So far: Wistful, bittersweet Joy. Humility of my, how-you-say, lack of exposure to…all of this continent, this Europe–this slice of it called France? The small, very small slices I was blessed to experience. Somehow, it filled me yet left me wanting much more.  Collage 2 Paris fb

 

cottage

Can I stay here forever? Hmm.

 

Within, oh, a week or two, I found myself wondering…and astonished, really. Kind of like forgetting the suffering of labor while birthing a baby. Afterwards, all you remember is that it was painful, but what you really LIVE is the joy of having your child.

Pain mostly forgotten…new plans simmering in my brain. Fly to the coast and spend a night or two. Then fly over that ocean to…next year? The year after that?

Be quiet, fernweh–you spoiled brat, you.  

And thank you, app-gods, for Citymapper.com 

londonirelanddevonenglandwales

 

Eiffel Well Always Have Paris blue sky smszjpg

And we will. Eiffel at Dusk© Aerie Images

 

 

 

How much do you love me?

On the wall by my desk is a quote from Michael Hyatt:

“People lose their way because they lose their why. One of the most important aspects of achieving the goals you set is to get deeply connected with your motivations for each one.”

 I really like this quote. (emphasis mine, and no, I didn’t link to Mr. Hyatt’s website or whatever because I’m writing this in a hurry today. please forgive me this once.)

So, I’ve had many good and valid reasons for not writing lately. A stressful, three-week long visit from an exhausted, stressed-out daughter with her two darling little (and I mean little, as in 6 months old and two yrs old) grandsons in tow–PLUS her two dogs, one who is a sneak-biter and the other who loves to attack OUR dog. Aaaaaah.

How I love them all! Except her dogs. Not the dogs, and I am a dog-lover.

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My Callie: Barker, not biter.

How my beloved visiting family, and another one who still lives with us in addition to all of that, do exhaust me and destroy my home, my peace, my creative drive along with it! Like a hole in a spaceship’s hull, my drive was sucked–whooosh!!–right out of me. Aaaaaah with an extra AAAAH. 

Oooh, the hole in the spaceship reminds me of my book…

With it, my exercise “schedule” (a loosey-goosey term anyway) was gone. The healthy, normal way we eat, my husband and I, went down the drain. In came Chipotle burritos, other fast food on the run, and eating out waaaay too much. Feeding little people is incredibly challenging and time-consuming, especially a toddler who seems to exist on cups of milk, and air alone. And keeping them “happy”as in “not breaking my eardrums with their screams.”

With that little additional stress, my physical pain level has skyrocketed, even with drinking the illustrious Limu Original (mentally insert trademark here ‘cos I’ve forgotten the darn keyboard shortcut for it) and staying active (meaning “endlessly exhausted chasing toddler and baby and trying to please adult children”).

And yet, I can sit in my chair or bed for an hour or so and play games on my tablet. And I can sit for an hour or so at my desk and read, google stuff, or post on facebook or email. And sometimes work on photos (I’m really behind on those also however). Hey, I’ve even written a few blog posts.

I believe all of this is called “procrastination.” Ya think? 

When I made a vow to write, and to finish this damn manuscript into something that could be called A NOVEL, I set goals of an approximate word count to tick-off every Monday. I’m so far behind on my word-count now, I don’t know what to do to catch up…and maybe move my finish-goal to July instead of June. Except for this overseas vacation we’re taking soon…to France. That kinda interferes with the goals, too. (no, not going to lug a laptop and try to write while there either. gawd no)

Aaaaaah. What is wrong with me?!

So last night, a question nagged at me: How much do I love this book I’m writing? THIS particular book?? I’ve been working on one form or another of it for almost TEN YEARS – with long/short breaks abounding at various times (including a two-year break from writing).

It seems a profound question. The ms (book) whispers to me (yes, books can whisper. just ask the two main POV characters of this current story who insist on speaking in 1PPresent when I’ve never written in that tense, ever…ugh)

How much do you love this story? Are you so tired of the process that the love is gone? 

Very good question. I am tired of it. I liked the initial concept, which started with what is now called Book 2 of the Trilogy. It took me about 120k words to figure that one out (duh. at least I did figure it though) At the end of that vast wc, I said “Oh! Now I know where they came from!”cropped-star-eyes-copy.jpg

Great. About time. But it’s looking like my mind/heart/soul want to finish Book 1 mainly so I can re-write the story in Book 2. And Book 3 has another great love story and plot line too…Tan and Kallista

Oooh I’m getting The Feels here. Just a little, but it’s something! 

And thus, Book 1 has to be told! It is like an entire Backstory Novel…but without those awful flashbacks. It is NOT a flashback story. (you can thank me for that later)

And you know what? One of the things I hate–so common in movies/storytelling now–is to tell the story via a flashback. Oh gawd, I hate it more as the years progress! It is, in my humble opinion, just lazy storytelling.

The opening scene…clearly something catastrophic and amazing has occurred…a man lays dying and gazes at the sky…or a woman sits at a desk writing or staring into space and we hear the thoughts… Once upon a time, I was a queen…or a man with a family…or whatever: you fill in the blanks.

JonSnow msfinished regret

What if this episode would have opened with THIS? And then the flashback…oh gawd no.

OH wait…the flashback will do that for you. UGH. Which is what I’m trying to do with this damn Trilogy. Wait. No, it isn’t. It is NOT A FLASHBACK. A flashback is a scene or two or three…or the whole stupid movie/book.

 

Anyway. Do I still LOVE this first book, which tells of where the V’s came from? 

Not as much as I did. Life is just, plain, stupidly wearing me down. The pain, the struggle, the demons on some days…are making writing SO hard. (wah. inserts thumb.)

Maybe Paris will help? I sure as heck hope so. I pray that the ferweh I’ve been feeling will be cured, at least for a bit of time, by experiencing France for ten days.

Meantime, this is short because I want to spend time with my WIP/ms/book and see IF I can fall in love with it again. Can I? Because, dammit, I don’t want to finish it after all these years and have it be stale. Flat. Overedited. Worst of all: lifeless. Pointless!! Yuck!!

Mr. Hyatt is right about goals, and it applies to lovers, too. You gotta spend time together to stay in love. Get deeply connected. Know that you do, and still can, enjoy your lover and remember just why it is you love them, what you love about them.

My lover is calling me still…and I am going. Because I think that I still love this book–enough to finish it. 

Now go and work on yours. I mean it…GO.  ( If you want to procrastinate just a little bit, check out my pinterest board for this, particular book. Maybe inspiration will hit you, too)

 

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A great image. (I can’t credit it but to say I found it on this website. please don’t sue me)

 

 

 

BlondeGuyGlasses

Cue the nerdy-hot scientist.

 

 

 

 

Don’t eat that. Instead, write.

I tend to eat my stress, do you? Some smoke. Some drink or gnaw fingernails like I do (now I wear fake nails to control it) Some game. Some exercise obsessively, which is hard for me to imagine. I mean, who wants to do that??

Anyway.

overeating

But upon occasion, once upon a midnight dreary of long writing stints. Or two…

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What I like to think I eat most of the time… (image healthysnackblog.com)

Others, like my dear husband, just don’t stress out much–or show it. And he doesn’t even internalize it, as in with ulcers and stuff…he is just a

dog hilarious

Another Chill Guy.

Chill Guy. Clearly not an ENFP personality type. More like an ESFJ or an ISFP, I dunno. Being an ENFP gives me a short attention span, what? A fairy…a dog sleeping…

Wish I could become like that Chill Type, but I’m can’t. I also once was slender; now not so much (and no, you don’t get a pic of the “current” me)

VeiledGirl me cropped

Weren’t we all like Twiggy in the 70’s? Proof that I was.

Writing and the sedentary life that accompanies it, along with a chronic pain & fatigue condition, do not help me achieve my necessary weight goals. BUT I must overcome!

Neither does a loooong visit from stress-inducing family members, God love ’em (and so do I, it’s just a long story

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What’s a word-count, grandma? Me not care.

you do not want to read). But I must overcome!

Blogging is once again my warm-up-to-fiction today. I joined Jerry Jenkins’ Guild a couple of months ago and set goals for the first time in my writing life! And I am as of yesterday almost 6K behind the word-count goal I set. Possibly more…but who’s counting? AAAAAAAAH.

It’s bugging me. So while Papa (aka Chill Guy)  does Grandparent Duty, I’d better keep hitting these keys and GET ER DONE.

What keeps you from your writing goals? We cannot, I repeat cannot, let this stuff hinder us from finishing the manuscript. Because we all know that the book that’s never finished is never published–and never read. Righty? Right!

JonSnow msfinished regret

And we really, really don’t want this haunting us in the form of REGRET on our DEATHBEDS. Right?! Right!

Oh, crap. So I’d better make this short, huh? 

I found some gems courtesy of the magnificent & successful Neil Gaiman when I was warming up to my warm up.

So I will leave on the note of a wiser writer than I: 

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.” ~ Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book 

“…when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. (underlines added by me)

“Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works. It’s that easy.”http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/02/neil-gaimans-8-rules-for-writing/

SO I grabbed a quick (healthy) sandwich and sparkling water, and NOT the other stuff.

And baby, I gotta go get my 1000–or three–in now.

1000 words eddiem

Shut up and write.

Get off of here and do yours, too.