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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Life Changes Keep On Happening

My life took another sharp turn this weekend. My big brother has moved here from Kentucky and will be temporarily living in the vacant RV camper. The same one that was home to my son for three years until he bought and moved a house onto our piney woods property. This place is beginning to look like a family enclave.

My younger brother took advantage of the opportunity and volunteered to move Joe down here. It's been a number of years since I've seen either of them, so there's a lot of talking and catching up going on while we unload the trailer and find a place to store everything.

They pulled up around one this afternoon, a big white box mounted on a trailer contained all my brother's earthly belongings. Sadly, Joe wasn't able to bring his dog with him but they found a welcoming new home for him before they left. By evening, the RV had been moved and leveled. All my brother's tools stored in the long-unused duck house built for me years ago by my fathe  when I played at being a country girl.

Tomorrow comes the moving of household goods and personal stuff into the camper, something that will keep my brother occupied for some time.

So now comes the adjustment to sharing my life with someone again after being alone for the past eight months. Time to once again put into practice the give-and-take of compromise.

It's a win-win situation. As his Alzheimer's progresses, I'll be able to fill in the missing blanks. He's going to be a real help bringing all this neglected property back to life and restoring garden beds that haven't had attention for a few years.

Friday, December 1, 2017

How Many Is Too Many?

Scrolling Facebook posts today, I came upon an exchange where an author asks, "How many errors are too many?" The author was concerned over his publisher's cavalier attitude about allowing a manuscript to be published with errors. My immediate reaction was to advise him to take his manuscript and run. 

We Indie book producers have been fighting an uphill battle to be acknowledged by the public and book publishing industry as producing bona fida 'real books.' Those writers I'm acquainted with strive to make their manuscripts as error free as humanly possible. We go to great lengths, sometimes sending the finished work to two and three editors in our attempt to produce the best work we possibly can.

I just finished reading "The Devil Wears Pravda", a best-seller a few years back which eventually became a popular movie. No, this is not a book review. It was produced by Doubleday, a division of Random House, one of the major American publishing houses. Granted what I was reading is what's known as an Advance Reading Copy, but really?

I lost count of how many times miss-spelled words, missing words, miss-used words and even absent complete phrases jolted me out of the story. My understanding of the publishing process--and experience--is that all editing and proof-reading happens BEFORE a single word is printed on the paper. 

The ease of digital printing has opened the door for anyone to produce a book; there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Quantity does not always mean quality. And quality is what keeps readers waiting in anticipation of your next book.

Anyone agree with me? I'd love your reaction to errors in a book you've read.

Friday, November 24, 2017

It's All Over But The Leftovers

Thanksgiving is our most family-oriented holiday. It's the one day a year set aside for families to get together and just be family. For most people, that means a crowd around a loaded table, cousins getting reacquainted, menfolks gathered around the television set.

For as many years as I can remember, ever since our two sons married, had families of their own, and started new traditions, my husband and I made the two-hour trip to Dallas to share this day with his extended family who all lived in that area. Because of my husband's declining health, last year was the first we've missed. And with his death earlier this year, I found it difficult to generate any kind of would be just another day for me.

My granddaughter had different expectations. It was Wednesday, the day before Turkey Day. We were in Longview having lunch at China King when she dropped the bombshell. Despite the fact they are still unpacking boxes in their new house they moved into two weeks ago, she wanted a thanksgiving dinner -- turkey and dressing served and eaten in their new home.

My brain went into a whirl. It'd been years since I cooked a turkey, never mind all that went with this traditional meal. What to do? What to do? I mentally scanned those restaurants I thought might possible have turkey and dressing on their menus. Luby's was close by...I bet they would be offering it.

With four turkey and dressing LouAnn meals bought and paid for, our next stop was WalMart for the necessary pumpkin pie. I out-voted her Cool Whip and picked up a container of heavy cream, deciding I'd have time to whip up the real thing.

When I arrived, carrying my bowl of whipped cream, the pie was almost baked and they had unpacked the china plates Carlie had inherited from her other grandmother. Even her busy mother dropped in long enough to share the meal. So, possibly, a new tradition was begun.

There was even enough turkey & dressing to take home for a sandwich later.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Picking Up The Pen

Could it be a sign that my life is beginning to resemble some order and consistency? Our writers group scheduled a NaNo write-in for its regular meeting this month. November, for you non-writers' information, is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in one month. Actually its grown to include writers internationally who challenge and encourage one another during the ordeal through the website and locally.

One of those ways is to gather together just to write. I didn't find myself in a position to accept the challenge and sign in but did want to participate in the local write-in. So, I dug and pulled out a work-in-progress covered in dust. My first glance at the scratchpad of notes told me this story began  life in October of 2016. Wow! That meant I'd not done any of what I call 'real writing' in over a year.

It took me a couple hours to gather notes and locate long-forgotten websites I'd used in my researching. Since I needed to familiarize myself with the story-to-be, I decided my time at the write-in would be spend reading through what I'd already written and the assortment of research notes I'd gathered already. I would make notes to move the story forward.

That evening, after a short business meeting, the group broke for snacks before the writing began. I drew my yellow pad close, picked up my pen, and began to write.


I filled an entire sheet before coming to a stop. To add cream to my coffee, my waking minutes the next day were filled with 'what ifs' and 'I needs' connected with the story -- a good sign that my writing cells have reawakened. With only about 3,000 words written into the story, I have a lot of research and writing to do. But, its such a good feeling to know my writing self has been restored and is alive and well once again.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Background 'noise' or not

I've been giving some thought to a body's need for silence. What kicked it off was my granddaughter's comment as she moved her bedroom furniture from my place to her new house. "You need music playing in the house, Grandma."

Then, this morning I get a text from son commenting on the quiet of his new house. Meanwhile, I'd spent my 'Morning Pages' time writing with the window beside me open to catch outdoor sounds. There's always a steady stream of traffic noise coming from a close-by highway mixed in with the chatter of wildlife. Occasionally, I'd catch the sound of wind gusting through the treetops.

Some people keeps the television on throughout the day but I'd have a problem with the 'talking heads. I'am partial to music playing while a project keeps me occupied...usually classical streaming on my computer because my radios won't pull in the distant signal. Other times, I like to listen to a christian station except sometimes the newer songs come across too heavily imbued with a rock beat. That's when the instrumentation overpowers the vocal and you have no idea what message is being sung.

My background noise is usually the tinkling of wind chimes. I have a musical set on both my front porch and back deck. Depending on which is in motion, the steady chime tells me which way the wind is blowing. Sometimes, though, my choice is silence. I find it necessary so I can listen and sort out the multitude of thoughts that flash through my mind. That's when I head for my grove of planted pines and walk the rows, up and down, back and forth, with only the whisper of my footsteps on the bed of fallen needles. The trees absorb all traveling sounds and create a deep silence I find very comforting.

Just goes to show how individually we've been created.Whatever background noise...or no background noise you prefer, doesn't really matter. What matters is that you make the most of these limited days we are given here on this earth.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nothing Lasts Forever

I've been working on Christmas gifts - making some pieced quilts for loved ones. This morning, my 'old faithful' sewing machine decided to jam and nothing I did could set it free. You have to understand, this has been a dependable workhorse for many, many years. I inherited it from a sister who's life was cut short with a brain tumor. I have no idea how long she used it but it has been serving me faithfully for almost twenty years.

This was not one of those 'do-everything' modern machines to begin with. It came enclosed in a desk-like piece of furniture which pleased me greatly. Over the years I've owned and used it, this machine has helped produce multiple baby quilts, thrown-together-quickly blankets for people left homeless because of disasters, and a whole slew of other sewing projects.

The machine has made its share of visits to the repair shop over the years and the last time I took it in, the technician couldn't guarantee how long "the fix would hold" and that replacement parts were getting difficult to find. That was a few years ago and it hummed along for me until today.

Guess I'm being forced to invest in a new machine but I'm really not interested in those mind-boggling machines that do everything while you watch it in action.

Got me to thinking about how nothing man-made keeps running forever. Living out here in the country, seems like there's always something breaking down and needing fixing. And not just machinery, sometimes even this human substance I inhabit fails me. Guess my parts are also beginning to wear out after seventy-plus years.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Why a cypress and a fig tree?

I look out my back window and spot the rusty fall foliage of our cypress tree. In line behind it, is a bare-branched fig tree. Earlier this spring, the fig was loaded with forming fruit. But a dry summer and birds stole my delicious harvest this year.

As I take in the sight, my curiosity is challenged. Although he never considered himself a gardener, both of these trees were planted, grown, and tended by my husband. Nothing else growing on our property ever got his attention.

Just for fun, I googled both the cypress and the fig, seeking their symbolism.

The cypress was associated with death and the underworld because it failed to regenerate
when cut back too severely. It is considered a symbol of mourning and in the modern era it remains the principal cemetery tree in both the Muslim world and Europe.

Among the oldest types of tree in the world, cypress trees date back over 150 million years. An interesting correlation, in many countries including China and Japan, cypress is one of the woods commonly used in coffin construction. Its wood is known to be water-resistant, strong and durable and is commonly used in boat-making even today, God commanded Noah, "So make yourself an ark of cypress wood” in Genesis 6:14.

The Biblical connection for the fig tree is even stronger. Adam and Eve used the leaves of the fig tree to sew garments for themselves when they realized that they were naked. Remember when Jesus cursed a fig tree in the New Testament? The fruit of
the fig-tree normally appears before the leaves. If the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had fruit. Was that the reason Jesus cursed it...because of no fruit?

I find it interesting that one tree figured in the beginning of life and the other connected with the end. I don't know what attracted my husband's interest to these two particular trees. Something I must remember to ask of him when we are re-united. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the pleasing sight and...maybe next year...some fruit.