Thursday, March 6, 2014
Reading is one of the events with multiple opportunities. Depending on where we are in life, we may (or may not) enjoy a particular book--even a much anticipated book. Then later, at a different time in our life, even a few weeks or months later, the story might have great meaning or solace for us.
I think that's why I re-read books. Sometimes, that old favorite has something especially important to tell me. Sometimes, it makes all the difference in how I'm dealing with a particular issue in my life. No, I'm not talking about self-help or non-fiction books. I'm speaking about the wide world of fiction. Mystery, romance, westerns, suspense. A good story has something to say, regardless of genre.
We just aren't always ready to hear what's there. Hence, re-reading the story later.
Recently, I re-read a story I first read nearly forty years ago. At that time, I desperately needed the humor and hope the story gave to me. It made all the difference in my life. When I re-read it more recently, it was a mildly amusing book, but didn't carry the same punch it did before. And that's quite okay. That just means I'm in a much better place now than then. I still enjoyed the shenanigans of the characters, but now see them from the perspective of a different age and experience.
Quite a few years ago, a woman reviewed one of my books. She prefaced her review, almost apologetically, by explaining she was bored and not feeling well so she'd chosen to read my book as a nightcap. When she finished her scathing review, she gave it two stars. Small wonder my story didn't speak to her on any level!
I often wonder about reviewers' lives and how they're affected by their personal issues when they review a book. Of course, we all know they're supposed to be objective, but that's plainly impossible. All of us are influenced by the events surrounding us. That's pretty much why I discount the opinions of others when it comes to movies, television shows, books--even art.
Let each of us experience it on our own. And if it speaks to us, let that be enough.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
My favorite was "Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident." Now, if the accident was that bad, the medical staff isn't going to worry about whether my underwear is clean or not. After watching a lot of TV shows, I know the chances are high that someone is going to cut my underwear OFF--and in that case, it's not going to matter if they're clean, colored, lacy, or in good repair. Maybe my parents should have said, "Don't wear your best underwear in case you're in an accident." 'Cause you know...they might get cut up or bloody.
Another one I never could figure out was "Eat all the food on your plate because people are starving in China (Africa, South America, etc.)" Here's my question--how does my stuffing my face help those starving people? Wouldn't they be better off if I sent them my food? Especially if it was boiled okra or brussel sprouts or calf brains or any of those other yummy things my parents were urging us to eat?
Then there was that old chestnut, "Children should be seen, but not heard." I believe this was supposed to refer to making sure we were well behaved. However, I always wondered why we were there in the first place. It's not like we were particularly decorative or anything. I would think they would want us to go outside and play so we could make all the noise we wanted to.
And there were rules...lots of rules. Like "Don't take second helpings until everyone at the table has taken first helpings." What if someone didn't ever take a first helping? What if they didn't like whatever it was...say chocolate cake or banana pudding? Then what? Were we supposed to just wait until our mom cleaned the table and put it away? How were we supposed to get a second helping then?
Or what about the one, "Don't reach across the table." Uh-huh. You could wait forever for someone to pass the biscuits--especially because you had to observe the second rule, "Don't interrupt the adults when they're talking (and you know they never shut up)."
Girls had it particularly tough. "Always sit with your knees touching." "Never wear patten leather shoes." "Don't wear colored underwear under a white shirt or pants." Actually, only really fast girls wore colored underwear. Everyone knew the GOOD girls only wore white...and sometimes beige. And if you wore red or black underwear, you were going straight to H-E-double hockey sticks.
I wonder what my kids puzzled over when I was in mother mode. Were the things I said as confusing to them? Or is this a rite of passage all kids go through as they're growing up?
Saturday, March 1, 2014
All the other seasons are explosions of color. In the spring there are tender bits of bright green, brilliant pinks and yellows and purples with the occasional spike of blue or red. Then summer strolls in with the riot of bright vegetables and fruits with the fiery reds, glossy greens and deep, deep purples.
By the time fall arrives, we're embracing the crispy pumpkins and apple scents and homey shades of oranges and reds. Our surroundings take on a carnival atmosphere.
Then winter creeps in. And the world goes shadowy gray.
That's when I haul out my gaudiest, most colorful clothing. One of my daughters really loves grays, beiges, forest greens and rarely wears anything bright. Not me. I only own a couple things that are beige. All my other clothes, down to my underwear and socks, are bright splashes of color.
People comment about me matching my socks and shirts. Little do they know my undies match, too. And why? Because color pushes away all the gray that surrounds me. Color brings spring and summer and fall into my life when winter is outside.
Feeling blah and down? Try dressing in something bright and playful. Don't save your colors for spring. Put them on now and liven your life.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Any woman who's been there knows the drill...strip everything above the waist and put on a gown--open in the front. As I tugged the gown closed, the tech called my name so we went right in--no time to sit around and think of bad possibilities.
The area they're keeping an eye on is high up, even with my arm pit. Just imagine trying to squeeze that area in the smasher unit! It took three tries, but eventually, the tech smushed and stretched and squeezed it all in, including the bits under my arm.
Then she said, "Okay, don't get dressed yet. Wait out there until the doctor looks at the x-rays." And the waiting was...endless. At that moment, whether you're single or married, young or old, you're all alone. You have time to wonder if this is going to be the time when the news is not good? Is this the point when your life changes?
Eventually, she came out and said, "Nothing has changed. That's good! Come back to see us in six months."
And you start breathing again.
Monday, February 24, 2014
In my book, the real winners were those who came, who performed to the best of their ability, and then cheered on their fellow competitors. The losers? Those were the folks who bitched and moaned and griped about how their non-medaling performances were someone else's fault.
You know who they were. We should hand out awards to the whiners...the 'my suit slowed me down', and 'the judges cheated', and, and the 'it was only a tenth of a second'! Every Olympics is riddled with less than heroic athletes who can't face their own short-comings.
I want to give hugs to the gold medalist who waited at the finish line until the very last skier finished the race so he could offer them a hug and handshake. Or the coach who provided a ski to the competitor on another team who lost his so he could finish the race. They are the winners.
Gold medals are a fleeting moment in time. Grace and generosity whether you win or lose--those are the things that count.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Everyone is moaning about spring. Folks, it's FEBRUARY. Winter. Not time for daffodils or crocuses or any of those other harbingers of spring. Depending on where you live, they'll show up in late March or even April.
While I admit I'm not a fan of twenty-inch snowfalls, a lot of the USA is suffering from drought. And cold temps help kill off bugs and pests so it's all good. There's a reason for the seasons. Every change is beneficial for our environment.
So. Enjoy the sunny breezes of this latest interlude. Take the opportunity to shovel some of the snow to the side. Open a window to air out the house or apartment. Be thankful for your blessings. And when the snow and cold returns, remember those flakes will bring beautiful flowers when spring arrives.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The hunk and I plan to go to the grocery store in search of healthy things to eat. I believe it will be a long search ending in futility, but I'll spend some time walking around, so that's always a positive.
I have discovered no one is willing to deal in specifics regarding food plans when it comes down to it. After spending several days trolling the depths of the Internet in search of a simple "eat this much of that" plan, I've given up.
So I'm compiling my own plan. We'll see how it goes this week. The weather is also supposed to be warmer this week so I should be able to walk more without taking my life in my hands on slippery walks.
As my reward later today I'll download the new 'in Death' book by Nora Robers/J.D. Robb and savor the next installment of Roarke and Eve.
That's it for today...
Friday, February 14, 2014
The consequences of snow generally depends on where it falls and how prepared that area's authorities are to deal with it. My son lives in a rural county with one (1) snowplow to deal with miles of narrow two lanes roads. They're overwhelmed when it snows. On the other hand, someplace like Minnesota would take most snows in stride and keep on powering through.
BUT! Sometimes even the best prepared receive a tad more than they can handle. Then life gets interesting.
About twenty years ago, when we lived in the Hudson Valley in New York, we had a never-ending winter with snow, snow, snow...until the point came when we had no place to put it. It's one thing to clear your driveway by piling the snow in your yard. It's another thing entirely when that snow is piled so high you're tossing it on top of a five foot pile!
Somewhere I have a photo of the hunk standing on our front porch (about three feet above yard level) behind the snow piled in the flower bed. All you can see is his head. The snow in the yard was already at the six foot level--blocking the sight line down the street so it became dangerous to back out of the driveway.
We lived in the country. But what about urban areas? Where do they put the snow? In Newburgh, the city closest to us, the snow was a five foot wall running down the center of the main street. Eventually, they hauled it away in trucks down to the Hudson River where they dumped it.
Folks are talking a lot about the extreme cold and worrying about the extra snow storms. What is it? Climate change? A new ice age? I don't think so. While humans are clearly contributing to the changing climate, I think there's also an element of normal change. There have been extremes over the years since man has been noting down weather statistics for posterity.
Should we panic? No. But I reckon it's a wakeup call for us--a signal that we should be doing what we can to make changes that benefit the planet.
But first...we have to clean the driveway.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The big surprise came when we arrived at the bottom line. Our total combined refund was a few dollars difference from last year's refund. But we had dropped from the 15% bracket to 10%...because my royalties were so low.
Now I must consider whether writing (and royalties earned) are actually more beneficial to our financial picture or maybe I should aim for one new book a year. I suspect the tax situation is not going to improve over the next few years. Perhaps, just perhaps there's a good reason to slow down and smell the roses!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
So when my doc proposed insulin shots for my ongoing diabetes struggle--well, you may imagine how excited I was at that prospect. My current oral meds have some nasty side effects. Tired and depressed and truly feeling discouraged, I agreed to the new regimen, but my already wobbly belly was engaging in a new set of flutters at the IDEA of injecting myself. I spent a restless night worrying about this new aspect of my life.
I have a root canal scheduled today and THAT wasn't as worrisome as the NEEDLE. Oh, woe is me!
I rolled out of bed this morning--tested my blood sugar (a sparkling 243) and hauled out the papers explaining the process of insulin injection. I have the insulin pen, so it wasn't even like it was a real syringe. (How in the world do drug addicts stand to do this crap???)
I finally fumbled through the assembly process, and then with a DEEP breath, I went for it. Poked my arm. Peered down there to make sure the needle was in because I didn't feel anything. Yep, it was in. Pressed the injection button. And I did it!
I'm feeling a bit silly for wasting a night's sleep worrying about needlegate when I could have worried about the root canal instead.
The boogie man--he just isn't as bad as he used to be...
Thursday, February 6, 2014
That gift of forgetfulness makes it difficult to summon up the weather scenes when we're writing about an entirely different season than the one we're experiencing. The howl of the wind whipping around the corner of the building. The thunder of the rain pouring down on dry parched earth. The crisp, nippy lift in the rustling leaves of fall. The scent of freshly mown grass on a fading summer day.
The weather can add a dimension to our story that no other descriptor can quite match. Current events, character relationships, the outdoor surroundings all take a backseat to the heat or cold or rain our characters must contend with. Their clothing is determined by the weather. Do they need an umbrella? Or a pair of snow boots? Can they go swimming? If they have an accident could it lead to hypothermia--or heatstroke?
Throughout the year I take pictures for my story idea file so it's easier to recall what it was like. We rarely have ice storms here so I snapped several shots of the ice on the trees outside my window. I made sure I had one of the broken ice piled in the back yard, ice that crashed from the roof with a startling roar.
Then when I'm struggling in July to remember what it was like as I work on a winter story, I'll flip through those pictures to remind me. And I'll be able to add just that bit more realism to my story.