Friday, November 21, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
It almost compensated for a bad day. I somehow bruised the side of my foot--noticed last night that it was sore and it was worse this morning. Put on my good, sturdy walking shoes, and it's better tonight. The computer ate two of the images for the chili book--I cannot find them anywhere and will have to go back through that voluminous file to reconstruct the acquisitions process. And neither Jacob nor I were happy with each other, though tonight he went off with Phil Green for hamburgers at Tommy's while I was at the reception--and came back quite pleased with his evening. He adores Phil and his seeing-eye dog Santiago.
The things that went wrong today will work themselves out, and I know that. So I'll concentrate on the pleasant evening. Tomorrow I get a haircut first thing in the morning and that always makes for a bright day.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Before retiring I commuted an hour and twenty minutes to New York City by train. To fill the time I read a newspaper in the morning and books on the ride home.
One day I read a horrendous news story about a father whose child was born with a brain impairment, and he refused to take him home from the hospital. The nurses were outraged, and their disgust was quoted in the story. Nothing was mentioned about the mother. That’s when my imagination took over and I asked myself, “What happened to the child? Where was the mother?”
With mysteries being my favorite genre, I took those thoughts and began making notes. The notes turned into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. Thus my first novel, The Nurse Wore Black, was born.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
A worry: the brewing trouble in Ferguson MO. Whichever way the grand jury decides there will still be trouble, I fear. I read a Facebook posting recently about how tired Americans are of giving tax breaks to corporations that pay no tax and make huge profits, of paying corrupt politicians, of the general breakdown in our political system, of racism, of the gap between the wealthy and the poor. It ended with the ominous message: a storm is coming. I'm afraid Ferguson, especially an acquittal, might be the spark that ignites that storm (okay, mixed metaphor). But I remember too well how riots spread across the country after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It could happen again, but I pray not. There's no ignoring that there is simmering tension in this country.
A puzzle: for some time it's been assumed that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. Once again, I rely on Facebook--it's a great monitor of public sentiment--and I feel instead of gaining support, she's losing traction. More than one person has touted Elizabeth Warren as a presidential candidate. From my point of view, she'd be great but I'm not sure she has the following--yet. There's been talk of an Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders ticket, which sounds idealistically wonderful to me. But I'm not sure they stand a chance. I dismissed a mention of a Clinton/Warren ticket--this country just isn't ready for two women.
With all these issues--the climate, race riots, jockeying for political position--I think it's one of those times we have to trust in whatever God we believe in. I can't believe rational thinking will win out.
Monday, November 17, 2014
She's been all the places tourists should go, though I can't name them--Christian can, because he's been there. But obviously she's having a grand time.
Not sure where she got the rose, but this was taken her first day there.
Meanwhile, back home, Jacob continually asks what time it is in Italy, and today when talk turned to Europe, he asked if his mom was going to Europe. We explained that she was already there, because Italy is in Europe. Great discussion followed--is Scotland in Europe? I say no, it's part of the UK; Christian says that's still Europe. Anyone?
This afternoon Jacob and I were preoccupied with geography closer to home. Can you name the state that borders Washington and Oregon on the east? How many states share a border with Mexico? What's the two-letter abbreviation or Alaska? Jacob suggested AA, but I told him that wouldn't work. We sped through spelling, math, reading, and social sciences because he and his dad have a project to work on tonight at home.
Had a pleasant catch-up dinner with a good friend I hadn't seen in a while. We ate at the Grill, where I'll eat again tomorrow night. I've got to stop eating loaded baked potatoes! So good, so not good for you.
I have done something bad to my left hip--I suspect it's the result of a fall in the driveway last Thursday, but my hip suddenly grabs me from time to time and my legs feel like leaden weights. I talked to my favorite doctor, my brother, and we agreed it's muscular and should get better in a day or two. He laughs because his wife and I both consider ourselves good diagnosticians. But I've lost my oomph for all the things I should do tonight, from wrapping to decorating. Going to stay at my desk and go to bed early.
Tomorrow is another day, and it will be better. Maybe even warmer.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
One morning last week I wrapped a lot of presents, and Friday night I baked a Bundt cake to freeze. Saturday I went to the grocery, came home and made two pans of Toll House bars--it wore me out. The batter is stiff and hard to work with and though I softened the butter, blending four sticks of butter into three cups of sugar (brown and white) with a hand mixer is a challenge at best--I had dough bits all over the kitchen. I told Jordan next time she orders those she'll have to do the mixing. After I got them made and baked--with one pan not done in the middle, no matter that I left it almost twice as long and the edges were getting crisp--I was exhausted.
I spent the rest of yesterday being lazy. Cool, grey day, comfortably warm house, good book to read--Maya Corrigan's By Cook or By Crook, which I thoroughly enjoyed--and a long nap. It ended up a self-indulgent day and did wonders for my soul.
But of course I woke at four in the morning with thoughts of all I had to do. So today I almost finished decorating the house, separated out things that didn't need to be done by Dec. 6 (principally gifts wrapped) and made cookie dough, though I just didn't have the oomph to roll out the cookies--the dough is in the fridge for tomorrow. I realized I needed to pay attention to the writing end of my life. So I sorted through chili pictures and worked on the neighborhood newsletter. Once again ready for a nap, though Sophie decided to bark frantically at the rats in the attic during my nap--not restful.
Jordan is in Italy on a business trip (poor girl) so Christian and Jacob came for supper. I made hamburger Stroganoff, which wasn't as good as it sounded, and a good salad plus broccoli for Jacob because he loves it and won't eat salad. Christian worked on the greens and lights for over the door, and we sat and visited by the fire. Pleasant evening.
I've about given up on the novel I'm working on until I get this Christmas thing--and all those fat geese--in hand. But tonight I will go back and correct one scene. Where was my brain when I had a man, two days post-op from being shot in the belly, demand chicken fried steak? Rethink that one!
Have a good week everyone.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
I am hearing impaired, and I get lots of jokes and teasing. "You got your ears in?" "Can you hear me?" Some people speak so clearly and distinctly on the phone, they're a joy to talk to; others talk too rapidly or softly, and I find myself asking them to slow down, speak up, always apologizing that I'm "a tad hard of hearing." Tad hardly describes it. Music in church never sounds the same--my friend who cannot see also wears hearing aids, though he doesn't seem to have as much trouble as I do, but he agrees music never again will sound the same. If I'm in a room with ten friends all talking at once or in a noisy restaurant, forget it! I may get snatches of the conversation but not enough to tune in. Sometimes, people make an effort to speak clearly and distinctly...and I still don't get it. Part of hearing loss is a sort of loss of comprehension (I've read this so it's not just my senile brain)--you hear the words but they don't make sense. And then when they do suddenly make sense, you're embarrassed. I have come up with some really odd interpretations--like the other daughter said she wanted something, and I said, "You want caviar?"
Don't get me wrong. I'd a lot rather lose my hearing than my sight, and I admire my friend up one side and down the other for the way he lives his life--traveling, partying, enjoying himself. Until a couple of years ago, he worked; he still reads and works on the computer, though I not sure with what kind of enhancements.
But sometimes I wish loss of hearing wasn't treated as the joke of old age. It's a real problem for me, folks. No, I don't think it changes my life much--but it embarrasses and frustrates me.
Okay, whine over. As you were.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I've been working hard--devoting some time to Christmas since my family will be here Dec. 6 for Alter Alternative Christmas. But I'm also writing a thousand words a day, and proud of that accomplishment. Plus I'm trying to promote my new books.
To that end I'm offering two coffee cups to people who tell me the first complete sentence on p. 62 of The Perfect Coed. Winners will be chosen at random by a blind drawing by my grandson. Please include your email and snail mail address when you email me at email@example.com to enter. This offer will be repeated on Facebook and Twitter. Entries close November 24.
Now I have to go bake a Bundt cake to freeze and then write my thousand words. No wonder I'm tired at night.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Well, you know what, folks? It isn't true anymore. There are too many in our society who cannot do that because they're veterans with PTSD, or they're mentally incompetent, or they're drug addicts (don't condemn until you've walked a mile in their moccasins). As a result, America has a tremendous problem with the homeless population. And we're not dealing with it well.
I'm appalled at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where a 90+ year-old man was arrested for feeding the homeless. Some suggested if he hadn't done it in a park, it would have been all right, but from reports I've read, place wasn't the issue. It is against the law in Fort Lauderdale to feed the homeless.
Now I know this is a nation of diversity but many of our politicians spout a line of Christian values--okay, folks, what's one big thing Jesus was known for? Fishes and loaves. And what does the statue say at Ellis Island--"Bring me your hungry, your tired, your poor."
In a small town in California, Weatherford, it's now against the law for the homeless to camp anywhere, even on private property with permission. And they've locked all the public restrooms. I don't care what religion you are, compassion is compassion--and that isn't it.
Our homeless need our help, not laws to ostracize them. What would these local governments do? Have us create one huge colony, perhaps in the still-vast plains of the West or Midwest and herd all the homeless there to die of starvation and thirst?
That is not what America is about, not the values our country was founded on. The homeless need our help, whether it be care facilities, mental health treatment, whatever. Many groups, foundations, etc. do serve that population--Presbyterian Night Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Union Gospel Mission, Catholic Charities and many others--and that's just in my home town. But all these agencies can't begin to meet the overwhelming need.
I have a friend who has worked with the homeless and gotten to know some of them. She sees them as individuals with hopes and fears and dreams, not as part of a forgotten population. America, while arguing about the Keystone pipe line and tax breaks for the rich, needs to come to real grips with the problems of poverty and homelessness in our very own America. Do I know the answer? Of course not. But wiser heads than mine can figure it out. What I know is something needs to be done about it, and not yesterday.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
And 1993 is the setting of my Sandy Fairfax, Teen Idol cozy series. But why 1993? Why not present day?
Sandy starred in a TV series, “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” that ran from 1975 to 1979. He was nineteen years old when the series premiered and twenty-three when it ended (his character continued on in a cartoon series that ran from 1979 to 1980). His career tanked at that point.
In my series, Sandy is older and making a comeback. Teen idols from the 1960s/70s followed a predictable life path: huge success in early twenties, about ten fallow years and then an upswing in their thirties when nostalgia kicked in for the adults and younger generations discovered them.
Placing the books in 2014 would make Sandy fifty-nine years old. At fifty-nine Sandy would be too old to restart an entertainment career; in his thirties he would still be “cute” enough. At age fifty-nine he would have moved on to another profession.
I needed a character young enough to do physical stunts and be in good physical health. Many seniors are still spry at age fifty-nine but not as much as they were in younger years.
Sandy has children and I want to keep them young. I want him to fight with his ex and for Sandy to still be an influence on his kids. If Sandy were fifty-nine, his older child would be thirty-three!
So I made Sandy thirty-eight years old, a good age for a midlife crises, which placed him in 1993.
This year works for me for other reasons. Technology was not so overwhelming as today. I didn’t want characters with cell phones glued to their ears or their eyes staring at a tablet all day. My amateur sleuth finds out things through legwork and interviews, not by looking up info on the Internet. Frankly, I don’t understand much of modern technology—I barely figured out Facebook and emails—so with 1993 I can write about things I understand.
The 1970s was a good decade for teen idols. Every idol starred on a TV show as promotion; MTV music videos didn’t exist. Only three networks existed; the broadcast world was not as fragmented as today’s 200-plus channels. Radio stations were likewise limited in format, so Sandy’s music hit a bigger audience. Even people who didn’t watch his show knew who he was.
Teen idol music of that day was more naïve and wholesome. Idols didn’t twerk onstage or wear revealing outfits. Their stage shows were simple and focused on the performer, a stark contrast to modern pyrotechnic, heavily engineered music spectaculars.
Of course teen idols were often naughty boys offstage, but their handlers kept their escapades out of the news. If Sandy had thrown eggs at a neighbor’s house, his manager would have kept it hushed up (not that Sandy would do such a thing. He drank, but he was never vicious).
Writing about 1993 has some challenges. I have to rely on my memory and the Internet to get things right. I’m constantly researching to see if certain products had been invented and how Los Angeles, Sandy’s home, looked at that time. But overall it’s a fun time for me to write about and hopefully, for the readers to read about.
Caribbean cruises were as popular in 1993 as they are now. Sandy and his sister, who is blind, perform a series of concerts aboard the SS Zodiac bound for Nassau. But when a dead body turns up in Sandy’s backstage dressing room, it’s full steam ahead for the amateur sleuth as he meets a colorful cast of suspects, tries to avoid an old flame, and attempts to seduce his lovely choreographer. But will Sandy to live long enough to unmask the killer at the ship’s Halloween costume gala?