December 31, 2011

Happy New Year. The Good Life Hard to See...

One winter several years ago, my husband and I traveled to Florida to visit my sister in a community built on a golf course.
Thought you might want to check out my essay that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch today, New Year's Eve. A fun way to end the year with my essay in print. It's a very revised version of our move to and from sunny Florida.
Enjoy! And have a Happy New Year.

December 27, 2011

How to be an American Housewife...

Just finished reading Margaret Dilloway's How to Be an American Housewife. Wow. What a read. Couldn't put it down. About a Japanese bride and her military husband. Shoko tries hard, harder than anyone I ever knew, to be the perfect wife and mother in her new country. More often than not she believes she has failed. You'll learn through her trials and tribulations that this is not so. She succeeds very well as a woman who loves her husband and children more than life itself. Even when her spirit is tested as she faces death.

Great characters and beautiful writing, the first novel by Margaret Dilloway.

I'm not giving away any more of the story.

It touched my heart and soul and these characters are still ambling around in my mind several days after I put the book down.

Here's to a new year of great books, great writing, and most of all good health to us all.

Blessings, Barb

December 18, 2011

Holidays Filled with Hope...

I started to write about my regrets of the past two months. How I haven't been well and I haven't written, not much anyway and how blah blah blah - my life isn't going as I want it to. Bah humbug to that sort of post.

However I realized I needed to write about the hope that has filled my heart in the last few days. As I worked yesterday on "the" story, I felt motivation pour through my veins and I realized that spending time regretting something is spending valuable time I could have used anticipating what my characters would be doing next. Or anticipating the next story that's mulling around in my brain. OR actually working at the computer turning my dreams into reality!

I have a number of ideas with help from writing buddy Sherry Hartzler on epubbing some of our work. She's already doing a bang up job of promoting her books Three Moons Over Sedona and Island Passage over at Amazon, ebooks for Kindle. You might want to check them out. Very inexpensive and great reads. They're both available in paperbacks as well, if you prefer the old fashioned way of reading as I do.

I don't have a Kindle and am content to still hold a book in my hand but maybe someday my thoughts on that will change.

Right now my holidays are filled with hope. Hope for the well being and health of my family, hope for the future of our country - I know that's far fetched but still....I'm hopeful we'll get back on track. And hope I'll be able to get my three unfinished novel written to THE END.

Maintaining hope is often something we have to work at.  I easily get bogged down in the silt of life and have to pick myself  up and dust myself off and get back on the track of life. It's an ongoing process. We just have to hang in! Hope you are hangin'.

Hope your holidays are filled with hope and joy and goodwill toward man. After all. It's all we can do. HOPE.

God bless you and yours this hope filled holiday season.

December 5, 2011

Looking For the Good Life...

Once upon a time we had a home in a subdivision outside Columbus. We lived there for fifteen years. My husband had been transferred back to Ohio from Michigan.  In that lovely home we had family dinners and saw two of our three daughters graduate from high school. Our oldest was already living on her own.

Our beloved Pug, Sammy, came there to live when he was only six weeks old and so little he couldn’t master the jump up onto the back patio which was only a few inches off the ground. From Sammy we learned all about real love.

 From that house, our youngest daughter graduated college a few years after her father retired there.  In that house we met old friends and new. Found a church home. Established roots in the community.

From there, we married off all three daughters and began to welcome grandbabies.

Our middle daughter sadly got divorced and moved back in (sadly) with two babies. Whew. What a change in our lives! Then, she remarried and moved out again.

That house saw numerous sleep overs, pizza parties, birthday bashes, anniversary dinners, Bible study groups and graduation parties on the lawn.

We learned how to make the best peach jam in the world from the peach tree that hung heavy with fruit in the back yard every summer.

Each Easter while we were there we witnessed the ornamental pear trees lining our street offer up the most beautiful white blossoms. The crab apple in the back yard grew from a sprig to a beautiful pink blossomed tree that was the talk of the neighborhood. The splendor of  our purple clematis overlapping the top of the white trellis on the front porch drew people in from the street to measure it’s height. It provided ample shade for our porch bench where we’d sit on hot summer days discussing exactly why that clematis grew so well. My husband swore it was because he cut it to the ground each fall.

 My husband took up woodworking and turned out some beautiful pieces. He took up antiquing and filled our house and those of our daughters with some wonderful old pieces.

Then, he became bored. Go figure!

I was working on a novel at the time and taking this new found freedom in stride.

That winter we took a trip to Fl to visit my sister who lived in a retirement community built on a golf course with an enormous community center at it's core. Activities abounded. From the couch potato to the highest achiever there were things for everyone to do. Painting, writing, gardening, woodworking, swimming, golf and more.

We fell in love with that fantasy life. Notice I said fantasy.

We came home with numerous possibilities of life in the sun floating in our heads. We came reluctantly, as there was a severe ice storm predicted for Ohio. Of course it hit with all the vengeance of our usual ice storms in the midwest while we were still in the car.

 It took only a few weeks of ice and slush for my husband to proclaim, "I want the good life. I want it now. I want to move."
 We'd go slow we decided. Take our time making important decisions. Do nothing without thinking it through.

We called a local realtor and within a day we had a for sale sign in the yard. She said it would take months to sell the house and we’d have plenty of time to think about what we were doing.

The very first person to walk through the house bought it and wanted us out in thirty days. Well! That was a surprise.

We dashed to Florida thinking we had to to buy a house right away. And we did. It had a golf course only steps away. Not that we golfed. The yard was enclosed with swaying palms and red flowering hibiscus. My husband thought he’d died and gone to heaven. We bought a golf cart and rode through the new neighborhood congratulating ourselves on our new fabulous "upcoming"  life.

Back in Ohio, we had only days to get out of the house. We threw away. Gave away. Sold. We paid people to haul away. Soon we had the accumulations of 35 years down to a manageable lot that could be hauled in a 50 ft. rental Penske truck. Our son-in-law drove our stash to the Gulf Coast and we drove the car.

The house we'd left had been meticulously kept over the years, with all large items recently replaced or updated. The house we bought was only five years old and hadn't been kept up. Understatement. It was right down needy. Advice: NEVER purchase a home in a hurry.

While my husband hired workers and replaced floors, stripped wallpaper, painted, put in new bathrooms and rebuilt our dream home piece by piece, I had a lot of free time to think -  about our children, grandchildren, old friends, and church family who were 900 miles and two driving days away. It didn't console me to know the airport was nearby and a plane could get me to Ohio in a few short hours.

Though I've done my share of traveling by air, I'm beginning to adopt the attitude of my stepfather who used to say if God had meant us to fly he would have given us wings.  He managed well in this life and his feet never left the ground. Therefore, I now save all my air travel for emergencies.

As the weeks passed idly by, each time I went to visit our dream house I was met by my smiling sweaty husband and a bunch of construction type men bearing jackhammers and whistling as they sweated over the new stone patio or hoisted a ladder to blow insulation into the attic. Or install a new water softener or to caulk the new shower floor. By then it was June and HOT as Hades.

I knew I'd be riding in a box soon and using up my air time quickly if I didn't  call a halt to the good life. I begged to go home. Forget the new furniture ordered. Forget the china and family mementos stored in boxes in the garage of the new house. I wanted to go for a little break, I said, a reprieve. A rest. A trip to see my children and grandbabies. Perhaps a quick trip to our old doctor for some feel good meds. I was going to have to be drugged if I was going to enjoy this new good life.

However after being home for a visit and seeing the children and grandchildren and being able to breath again without anxiety attacks, I decided I couldn't live in the dream house, in the dream world I  had created in my head.

The good life just wasn't for me. I wanted to be back in drought ridden dreary Ohio. Where often ice storms in the winter keep us housebound. Where tornadoes sometimes touch down too close for comfort - where on any given day I can see any one of my children and grandchildren or all of them ---if I want to throw caution to the wind and drive like  - well - you get the picture.

So after a month of resting in  Ohio we went back south. We packed the few things we'd unpacked in Florida, rented a truck, called our son in law, a different one this time, and he flew down and drove the truck home.

By then the house in Florida was finished and truly a dream home. Nine months later we sold it to a couple from Indiana who were in search of the good life in the sun. (At a great financial loss to us, I must add.) Truly, I hope they found what they were looking for. As for me, I'm content being in another house on a little piece of land back in Ohio.

All this was several years ago but I often think back on the experience and realize I gained more than I lost. We live near one daughter, another lives not too far away and while the youngest is eight hrs away by car, I can still get to her in a day when I am longing to see her and her family.

Sometimes without even looking for it, the good life finds us.

Blessings to you and  hoping you've found  your "good life."