Renewal – #writephoto

Jane remembers the night they got to that island. They were just looking for a place to stay and they happened upon the bridge where signs told them of vacancies. They crossed the bridge, not really knowing where they were. Not really knowing they were going out into the Gulf of Mexico.

It was winter and even in the southern part of America, dark came early. Even so, someone was in the office of the first place they came to. After they secured a reservation, they went to their spot and crashed. Never really thinking about where they were. They had driven a long way. They knew it was warm and they could smell salt water. Sleep came instantly.

It had been a hard year for them before that winter. They were young. They didn’t know that the things that had happened, decisions they had made, would come back to haunt them many years later. They had the freedom of youth without the wisdom of age. Like most young people of ther generation, they worked hard and played just as hard. Too hard. It was the 1970s and their kind of fun seemed innocent then. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t. That the transgressions of youth would color their whole lives. They didn’t know that too much fun then would make the responsibilities of age hard and getting old so much more unbearable.

When Jane’s eyes came open, just a crack, the next morning, she looked around and saw the entire place enveloped in a warm glow. Bare tree branches were on one side of the place with palm trees towering over the other side. They had been lost the night before. She couldn’t imagine where they were.

Jane got up and dressed and walked out on the porch and down the road. The sky astonished her, layered in gold clouds. She had never seen anything like it. As she walked and nodded to the locals, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders, a sense of renewal wash over her. A decision she had been trying to make became clear to her as the tropical birds swooped in front of her. When she came to a general store, she found out the name of the island although in her mind, she’d already dubbed it her magical island. She’d been struggling with that decision for weeks.

After that winter, Jane knew they would spend many winters on that magical island. Looking back, she knows they will go back someday. It might be they should do it soon. Could it renew her once again?

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#JusJoJan – Jan 3 – My Blog

“My blog” is our #JusJoJan prompt for today and that makes me smile. Why? I never dreamed I’d be a blogger! I started this blog in April of 2016. I can’t believe it’s been that long ago. When I started it, all I knew is that I wanted a place to write. A safe place to write on a daily basis. I fully intended to write in the same vein in which I’d always written. Non-fiction. Most likely in my field of business and finance. I hadn’t written much for awhile and I was going to polish up my skills to start selling my articles again. I did, indeed, do that for awhile. A short while.

There were things that I didn’t know. I didn’t know I’d find a community of writers here on WordPress. I didn’t know I’d read other people’s really awesome blogs. I didn’t know I’d become interested in participating in writing challenges. Most of all, I didn’t knnow I’d become interested in writing fiction. Fiction? Me? I had just spent thirty years doing academic writing. Terse and restrictive academic writing. Non-fiction – big time. Writing by formula to some extent. How do you jump from academic writing to fiction? It turns out it was not easy.

I had started writing, and getting published, as a child and then as a teenager. Then life and the 30 years of academic writing happened. My initial efforts at writing fiction here on my blog were terrible. Just awful. I started reading everything I could find about writing fiction. I started reading some of these awesome blogs. I gradually started getting more comfortable. I’m still not totally comfortable with fiction, but I’m better. I can knock out a non-fiction article very quickly. Fiction is a different deal. It takes awhile, lots of effort, and letting myself feel. Something I’m not very good at doing. Fiction involves creativity which I had not tapped into in a long time.

So, there you have my journey here with my blog. I’m not finished yet. I still have fiction skills to build. I’m even moving into different genres that I’m finding I enjoy. Magical realism anyone?

#JusJoJan – Jan2 – Prompt: One Liner Wednesday

”Talk to the ones who can hear you.”

Have you ever talked to someone and, suddenly, you realized that person wasn’t really hearing you? At the very least, they didn’t understand what you were saying and were just being polite? If you’re going to talk, talk to people who hear you. Really hear you. Your words are wasted otherwise.

We all have different kinds of friends and family. Some are more casual. Some are closer. The only ones that can really be closer are those who can hear you. Hear the meaning and feeling behind your words. Otherwise, it’s a superficial relationship.

I’ll tell you what I usually do. I usually let the ones who can’t hear me talk to me. If they ever stopped to think about it, they would realize they know almost nothing about me. Nothing of any importance anyway.

If you try to talk to the ones who can’t hear you, you’ll just be frustrated and you’ll grow to resent them. It’s not their fault nor is it yours.

Happy New Year – #JusJoJan Jan1 – Looking Back at 2018

Welcome to the 2019 version of my blog! A new year! I”m starting this year with a challenge I particularly like. Linda’s #JusJoJan Challenge. You’ll see a post here, based on her prompts, every day of January. It will be fun. Today is just a brief rundown of 2018. In some ways, it’s a year I”d rather forget. More about that in a minute. In one very important way, it’s a year I’ll always remember. I want to share this with you.

When I was growing up, I really only knew one side of my family. I knew them and will love them always. I never had the opportunity to know the other side of my family, mostly, I think, because they were far-flung geographically from me. My dad didn’t talk very much about his family. He died young and I didn’t have the chance to ask. As I got older, I had to do some research in order to try to find my family. In 2018, I worked on my genealogy using Ancestry. About that time, coincidentally, one of my first cousins who I had really never known had been looking for me too. He found me on Facebook and we connected. It has been such a great pleasure getting to know him! Gradually, I’ve connected with most of my first cousins and then, through Ancestry, some of my second and third cousins. How fun it has been to get to know this big family I never knew I had!

Besides that, which has been the highlight of my year, it’s been a tough year and I’m glad to see 2018 end. I have some health-related challenges that are serious and just cropped up this year. Getting old is not for sissies! Because of that, I haven’t made as much writing progress as I’ve wanted to make. I have a novella and a novel in the works and only now am I starting to feel like working on them again. I am even feeling like taking a job again and may be working freelance for awhile.

At my age, you start to lose people in your life and I’ve also had deaths among my close circle of friends. It’s seemed as if there has been one funeral after another. On the upside of that, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with forever friends.

I’m ready for 2019 and am hoping that it will be a better year! Here’s hoping all of you have a wonderful year as well.

Clouds – #writephoto

She doesn’t walk much anymore, but today, her dog needed to walk so off they went. He’s excited to be out and she hopes the walk will be good for her too. It’s hard for her to get outside her own head, but she looks around at the scenery and notices the beautiful, but darkening clouds ahead of her. She doesn’t think they look threatening, so she and her dog walk on. She tries to be in the moment mentally and he helps with that, smelling every smell along the way. It helps her to focus. As always, she’s thinking about many things while trying just to think about him and his joyous communion with nature.

The clouds are so beautiful that they cause an old song to pop into her head. She smiles as she remember Joni Mitchell’s original recording of “Both Sides Now.” The ultimate “cloud” song as far as she is concerned. She remembers lying in her parent’s backyard in the grass, looking up at the clouds as a teenager. She remembers the line “ice cream castles in the air.” As a young girl, she looked at the cloud formations and dreamed of such innocent and foolish things..

She and her dog stopped to rest. She gave him a drink out of his water bottle and he laid down to rest for a few minutes, looking around, drinking in the scenery. She watched the clouds as they moved overhead. As an older teenager, reaching adulthood, she still watched the clouds in the backyard, but the images became different. She remembers the words to the song. One stanza described her feelings at that time in her life, when she met a boy she thought she would marry.

“Moons and Junes and ferries wheels 
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real 
I’ve looked at love that way”

She had fallen in love and she thought he was in love. Something terrible happened. He was not the boy, she had found out very painfully, that she would marry. She reached down and touched her dog’s head. He was her touchstone now if her thoughts drifted to a bad place.

They got up and walked on. The dog was anxious to see what was over the next rise on their walk.

2018 had turned into a year of reflection for her. She hated that and thought it was brought on by her health issues which seem to have blown up this past year. She had spent the year frightened and it had made her look back at her life. She liked to look forward, but she was facing serious life-threatening issues. Looking forward had become difficult.

She had looked at the relationships in her life. Not just romantic relationships, but all of them. Family, friends. She saw the folly in so many of them. She and her husband seemed to finally be at peace. She had amazing friends. Something wonderful had happened with her family. She had found family members she hardly knew existed and some she had not known existed and she was getting to know them. That had made her year. There were other family relationships that were gone. Gone forever. That had hurt her terribly.

Love. Romance. Did it even exist or like in the song, was it just another illusion? She had come to the conclusion that love was very rare, that it seldom existed if at all. As for the rest of her life, however long that was, she found the song to be very relevant:

“But now it’s just another show 
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know 
Don’t give yourself away 

I’ve looked at love from both sides now 
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all…”

They walked on home, leaving the cloud formations behind, to do whatever they had to do.

The Growling

It was a beautiful day on the beach by the village. The children could run out the door of their homes and reach the sand and sea in moments. Tourists who rented homes here and there could be spotted lazing in the warm sun. The setting was an idyllic as one can imagine. 

The small boy and his dog walked along the streets of the village that day. He was doing errands for his mother. The dog, normally so well-behaved, kept running circles around him with a low growl in his throat. The boy couldn’t imagine what was wrong. 

It seemed that the growl from the dog got louder. The boy felt the earth shaking. He’d felt this before. He knew it was an earthquake. The shake was a big one, but the damage to the village didn’t look severe. The growling didn’t stop. 

Someone shouted that there was a tsunami warning. The boy climbed up onto the roof of a shed and hoisted his dog up with him. They were hit by a wall of water. When it subsided, they were mostly alone, saved by the growling. Only a few others remained.

Thanks to Susan at Sunday Photo Fiction and to Anurag Bakhshi for the photo prompt.

By The Sea

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When he happened upon the village, he had been traveling for a long time. Wandering from place to place. He stopped in the small restaurant for some dinner and that’s when he saw it. There was a sign advertising a position for a lighthouse keeper. His breath caught in his throat. He had worked as a lighthouse keeper many times in his life. Those were the only times he had been a good person. When he had a connection to the sea.

He called the number on the sign. There was a small room he could live in at the bottom of the lighthouse. It had been standing empty for a while now. Workmen came to set its light. He moved in the few things that he had.

That night, he went about the business of calibrating the light. An image came into the path of the light and he realized it was a large ship sailing too close to the coast. When the light began to work, he watched as the ship steered away from the coastline.

He sighed with relief. This Christmas he had done a good deed. Unlike so many Christmas’s in the past.

 

*Thanks to Susan Spaulding and #SundayPhotoFiction

 

 

Hidden – #writephoto

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I wish I could have spent the last ten days hidden among the wild things along the bank of the stream behind my home. Having been confronted by a terrible tragedy that can happen to any of us as we make our way out in the world, it’s made me wish for the greenery of summer to hide me away and the babble of the brook to keep my ears from hearing.

A severely impaired child and a grown-up young man lost their mother ten days ago. A man lost his wife and almost lost his own life. That little girl almost lost her father as well. A family lost a daughter and a sister. The world lost a beautiful woman. A community lost a friend and a participant. My street lost a neighbor and I lost one of my next-door neighbors.

We lost her to a traffic accident. A severe one and something that could happen to any of us. It was violent and her death was instant. In the blink of an eye, so many lives were affected and her life was snuffed out forever. We don’t realize how our lives affect so many others.

It’s made me do some real thinking about the fragility of life and how we take our lives for granted. We waste time, days, even hours and minutes, that we shouldn’t waste. My neighbor walked out her door never dreaming she would never be back. I’m sure much was left undone. Things she wished she’d said and done. She didn’t know time was coming to an end for her. Most of us don’t. Many of us procrastinate doing the important things. Telling people we love them. Making arrangements for people we care for. Spending more time with our friends and family.

There are things in life which you wish you could unsee and unhear. I wish I could unhear the news about my neighbor. I wish I could unsee the look in her husband’s eyes when I saw him today. Still in shock but with pain deep inside. So many people’s lives will never be the same.

As for me, these are the first words I’ve written since I heard the news. My fingers and my mind have been frozen. I think of the poem called “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry and wish I could be at that babbling brook behind my house and that I could unhear the terrible news about my neighbor.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— “The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry

Mashed Potato Surprise

The family sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. She had cooked quite a dinner and he had helped. Everyone was at the table and they were both carrying the dishes of food to the table when she heard a crash. She turned around and he had dropped a large bowl of mashed potatoes on the floor, splattering them everywhere. They were everyone’s favorite dish.

He smiled, walked to the table, and pointed his finger. A lightning bolt appeared and at the end, a large bowl of mashed potatoes.

She said, “Hmm, so why have I bothered cooking all these years?”

 

Thanks to Charli at the Carrot Ranch

 

 

#weekendcoffeeshare – 11/3/2018

Good morning, everyone! Thank you for joining me for our #weekendcoffeeshare this week! It’s cold outside today. I hope you can make your way through all the fallen leaves on the ground. You can see a picture of our fall color above. Those trees are in my backyard! We measure leaves in the fall here by the foot! Please come in and fix yourself the hot beverage of your choice. I have several kinds of coffee and tea, so pick your pleasure!

I haven’t had a #weekendcoffeeshare for a couple of weeks and I apologize. It’s been a very busy time at my house. I try to find four or five hours to write every day, which is sometimes difficult, and then the rest of the day is taken up by a million little (and sometimes big) things. The most important thing is always my writing, but sometimes, the most pressing thing is Tucker, my eight month old Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Oh, Tucker! That boy not only requires, but demands a great deal of time. He looks like a grown dog, but he’s still a baby with a puppy brain. When I look at how big he is and how much he looks like an adult male, it’s hard to remember. Tucker is now 35 pounds which is very close to the size he should be at maturity. Cardigans don’t mature until they are two or even three years old so I shudder to think of his size at maturity! 🙂 He’s very sweet, but he requires a lot of training. You can see a picture of Tucker, my yard long dog, above!

Now, down to business! I am still working on characterizations and settings for my novella that may actually become a novel. I have no way to know at this point. Novellas are usually around 40,000 words. Above about 60,000 words and you are approaching the word count of a novel. Since the public’s attention span seems to be getting shorter all the time, the word count of novels is getting lower. So I don’t know what I’ll have when I’m finished!

One interesting setting I’m developing is New York City, circa 1943. I need to develop two settings, one in Brooklyn where I’ve never been and one in the middle of Manhattan, where I have been but obviously not in 1943! Manhattan is surely proving to be the easier of the two. I’m having to do a deep dive into research to find much about Brooklyn in the middle of World War II. This is a novella (novel?) full of different settings so I’ll gradually mention a lot of them! Both my protagonist and antagonist are traveling around a lot.

Traveling is another issue I’m having to deal with. Travel in 1943 and today are completely different. My antagonist has travel provided. My protagonist does not. I’ll talk more about this next week.

Feel free to stay and finish your beverage. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll hope to see you next week!

 

Thanks to eclecticali