May 28, 2010

The passing of Charlotte

How could I write anything today without telling you that my sweet niece Charlotte passed away this morning, during the quiet hours before dawn. She leaves behind two adult sons, their wives, and four young grand children.

She endured a pancreas transplant and bowel removal two years ago at Univ. of Minneapolis. I stayed with her there for two weeks and some days it was touch and go.

She never fully recovered and never again ate a meal she could enjoy.

Approximately six weeks ago, she had a transplant of stomach, bowel, and all the digestive system at Georgetown, Univ. One of 12 such transplants in the world. I've decided it's better not to be among those numbers.

While it's the end of her pain and suffering it's the beginning for our family and her husband, John. She was such a dynamic and beautiful person both inside and out. A raven haired beauty with blue eyes that snapped with emotions, whether she was happy or sad. She never lost her West Virginia accent or her goodness while living around the world.

Now, she'll come home to her final resting place in the mountains of West Virginia where she'll be among family and friends.

Today, this Memorial Day as we pay respects to those who are no longer with us, let us remember to love the ones who stand beside us. It's the best we can do each day of our lives.


May 26, 2010


It’s too bad you don’t feel good when you have the flu. Taking pills and
drinking juice doesn’t take up a whole lot of time. Then you have all this time while you’re feeling rotten to lay on the couch and stare up at cobwebs and dust you’re too sick to do anything about. The sun shinning through the window doesn’t help. Every flaw in the room is magnified. You finally have to put on sunglasses because of the floating dust. Its very presence makes you sicker.
When you don’t feel good the people around you change. They become impatient, short-tempered, and busy. Too busy to find the remote. Too busy to pour juice. Too busy to put on some soft music.
Forget asking them to shop for more Kleenex. They balk at wetting a washcloth for your feverish brow. They don’t have time to fill the vaporizer. Or make a piece of dry toast. Or darken the room because too much light hurts your eyes.
If you felt good you could enjoy the pot of chicken soup with the homemade noodles and the loaf of warm yeast bread that a thoughtful neighbor brought over. The rest of the family is kind enough to swoon and make smacking noises as they finish the last bite.
If you felt good your attention span might be long enough for something other than Phinneas and Ferb.
The way it is now the couch is full of lumps, the blanket doesn’t cover your toes, your elbows are raw from trying to get comfortable, your washcloth is dried out, your nose is stuffy, your eyes are watering, your head hurts, your ears feel like they’re stuffed with cotton and you’re achy all over.
What’s wrong with wanting to feel good when you have the flu.
If you felt good you might not mind the disinfectant that’s being sprayed in the air over your head.
As it turns out, only the dog is loyal. For 24 hours he sits patiently at your feet waiting for you to recover. But the question is - will he too leave when he gets the last dog biscuit on the table by the orange juice?

PS I'm recovering from vertigo.

May 21, 2010

No time to stare...

I've been in a reflective mood this morning. Wondering what all the busyness is about.
I run in circles every day, like an ant pushing a crumb toward a hole, only to turn around and do the whole thing over again. Gone are the days when we used to while away a Sunday afternoon on the farm porch swing and let the Sunday afternoon move slowly over us, as we counted cars on the country road, or watched the leaves move lazily on the trees. The horses and cows would graze in the field and we'd just stare at nothing in particular and enjoy everything in general.
This verse says what I'm feeling.
Before the busyness of summer sets in - let's find some time to just stand (I prefer sitting) and stare. Blessings and enjoy! Barb

Time to Reflect

What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
Where squirrels hide their
nuts in grass;

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies
at night;
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance;
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if,
full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

By William Henry Davies

May 17, 2010

Priming the Pump...

Why is it that when I’m away from writing for more than a day or two, I forget everything I’ve learned about the craft and about myself and the process of writing?

The last few days I’ve been "working" on my story. Or I've been trying to. I’d promised myself not to edit, therefore, I was not allowing myself to read over what I’d written previously on this new W I P. But, by not allowing myself access to any part of the story, I could not make the words come. Not words that made any sense to my story, anyway.

I’d made the rule that I couldn't read anything I'd already written because I'd want to edit and make it better. SO, I had to write something brand new. But I'd started the story days, no, weeks ago.

I was trying to make myself jump off the writing cliff without the safety net of the words I’d already penned, the foundation of my story. Without those sentences I had nothing to grip onto. I was holding onto nothing, giving it nothing, and I was getting nothing.

I completely forgot I had to prime the pump.

I remember once going out to the old well in the yard of the old home place where my husband grew up.

I’d pump and pump trying to get water, but nothing came out. Then my mother in law came with a quart of water and poured it into the pump and before long, as I pumped, the water gushed forth - magic, to my city eyes.

Today, I primed the pump with the words from the beginning of my story, and before long my pen couldn't keep up with the words pouring forth, almost more than I could catch with my fingers.

So, don't forget to prime the pump, the word pump. And remember we can't get anything out if we don't put something in. Just a word or two. That's all that's necessary. To remind us of who we are and where we're going.

Bon Voyage!

May 14, 2010

Gathering words - Gathering sea shells

Gathering words together to form a story is much like going to the sea shore to gather shells.

The first day out, we gather all our arms can carry, and hold them close lest one slips away.

We aren't at all choosy in the beginning. WE pick up the ragged, the worn, the unfamiliar, the ugly, the beautiful, even the shards. Who knows what can be made of each piece.

A few days or weeks into our journey, we become more selective. Do we really need all that we've gathered, those words, those shells. Maybe? We don't truly know yet what our use is going to be for our stash. We decide to hang onto everything. Wise choice!

I'm in that place right now in my work in progress. Gathering everything to me, afraid to let anything go. Pulling everything out that I can from the inside, the outside, the subconscious, the conscious, the unconscious.

Until I've gathered all I can from the secret places where words come from, and only then, will I allow myself to start sifting through what I have. Weighing, judging, valuing, editing. My treasure trove of words.

There's nothing to match the feeling of creativity as it moves beneath our skin, beneath our fingers, into our souls.

My wish is that you too will take time to gather some words into a story. Or gather some shells for a lamp. Or simply to mark your path along the beach.


Writing without expectations...

Today, I will go to my desk without guidelines, or a to do list, or goals or any expectations other than giving myself wholly and unconditionally to my story. There will be nothing between myself and my laptop- just an open mind.

Today, I'll write the way I was meant to write. Creatively. Without boundaries. Or lines keeping me in or out.

Today, I'll leave my perfectionism behind. We succeed not because of perfectionism but in spite of it.

Today I believe totally in myself.

I believe in my work.

And I believe in you.

So let's get started.

Today will be the first day of our lives. Let's get started. At least, for today.


May 9, 2010

Mother's Day brings family, fun, food, books

I love when a holiday brings all the family together with good food, fun, and presents that revolve around writing and reading.

Jill gave me The Maeve Binchy Writer's Club book, which is full of Maeve's wit and wisdom, combined with writing advice from her as well as other writers. They even left some white space for notes by the reader. Then, included at the back of the book are columns written by Maeve for the Irish Times. Plus seven new short stories by her. Jill also included the latest cd by one of my favorite singers, Rod Stewart. Love the cd and can't wait to read the book. It will be a reward for getting lots of writing finished on my WIP. Thanks Jill.

Yesterday was ladies day out with a movie and mall shopping. We saw Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. A total hoot. Laughed til I cried. A must see if you like comedy! Thanks Lisa and Susan. Also received bath and body lotion & a beautiful angel for my collection.

In the mall at Waldens Books I found a two for one sale so came home with two novels, women's fiction. I'm not allowing myself to start those as I'm still reading the series COUNTRY DOCTOR by Patrick Taylor. On the last one now. Thanks, Barb.

Today Lisa and Susan took us to brunch at The Ridge Inn in Laurelville Inn with grandchildren Steve, Samantha, and Jillian and exchange student, Katrin, from Germany. R and I came home and had apple dumplings with ice cream. Yum...

This week I'm finally kicking off my new "no editing til I'm finished with my current WIP" policy, I'm not allowing myself to read any fiction. It's a distraction. I might use it as a reward for so many pages written. We'll see.

Other than that not much going on at my house. The poison ivy is almost cleared up thanks to good drugs.

Tomorrow is my monthly writers meeting at Great Expectations Cafe and Book Shop. We're having Diana Hannon Forrester in to sign her new mystery release, GLORY.

May the sun ever be in your face and the wind at your back, or whatever that old saying is.
May you be richly blessed today and always.

May 6, 2010

Flying by the seat of my pants...

I'm never setting a writing goal again. Tomorrow is Friday and as of yet I haven't written one word this week. THIS was going to be the week I put on those orange heels and covered new ground with my WIP. I was going to write and not edit.

Monday and Tuesday got away from me completely. (Husband is better, to all who asked, thank you). Then, I woke up mid week with a few red spots on both arms. Mosquito bites? Spider bites? I wondered. Then they started to spread. I had Poison Ivy - which I'm highly allergic to.

Made a trip into town to see the dr. Cortisone shot and an RX for strong cortisone tabs, and a $90 bill later. I'm counting on some relief and soon. It's welty, red, swollen, weeping. The blisters, not me, though I could weep easily enough. When the famed itching started I thought I was going to scratch my own eyes out. To anyone who has not had it. You do not want it. I promise. It's awful.
I've dealt with one crisis after another this week.

Tomorrow, barring anymore unpleasant events, I will write. But I'm not making any promises. Not setting any goals. I'll fly by the seat of my pants.

Are the odds ever stacked against you when you plan to write?

Is it just me? Am I jinxed? Have a black cloud over my head like Charlie Brown?

Whatever, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow has to be better.


May 4, 2010

Wearin' of the orange postponed but not cancelled

I got up on Monday determined to wear my orange shoes and write my heart out. And then my eyes took in the basket where I keep the monthly bills and realized woe is me it was May 3 and time to write checks, etc. So, I put on my bill paying cap and sat down to pay bills which required a morning of calling, first, to clear up a bill that had been paid and put on the wrong account and another, my wireless which is my most valued possession. Though Verizon has already taken the money out of my account, somehow they can't "find" it. So the bank has faxed paperwork three times to amend the problem. Alas, they still hadn't "found" the money yesterday. That attributed to the beating of my head on the office wall for a full five minutes before I could control myself. Ok we're well into the afternoon by now. I got all the bills paid, problems ironed out, check book brought up to date, and it was dinner time. It came out of a can and the freezer.

BUT I had Tuesday coming at me fast. A fresh day in which to put on my orange shoes and write. About 9 pm Monday night my husband started having phantom pain in his stump. His left leg is amputated and while not often it still causes horrendous pain. That went on all night, he slept little and I slept some. The meds we had in the house couldn't control or stop the pain. A quick call this morning to the dr. got him a stronger rx. I'm the driver so I had to drive 80 miles round trip to pick up the prescription. Pharmacies do not take such rxs over the phone. On the way home I managed to eat a caramel and pull out a crown. That brought on an upset stomach which required a short nap. Now it's dinner time again. Who's for scrambled eggs and toast?

The medicine is helping tremendously. I've already blocked out Wednesday for writing. I have to write at least eight hours to make up for the lost time on Monday and Tuesday. Was it really lost time? Maybe yes, maybe no. I learned a few things. Don't beat your head on the wall because it hurts you and not the other guy. Don't eat a hard caramel when you have a mouth full of crowns. And if your husband always has your back you should always have his.

So I haven't canceled wearing my orange shoes and writing. I've just postponed it.