Monday, January 31, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Feeling even more appreciative of our warm home as an frigid air mass has settled over the region dropping our temps into the single digits (or just above) and wind chills well below zero. Our coldest temps since 2005 says the weatherman.
I don't mind honestly. (And I know few feel as I do!) I'm enjoying being present in this Winter season and don't have the desire to look ahead for Spring. I'm happy where I am.
While Hubby was out with one of the nephews, I spent a cozy day at home. I looked at one thing that needed to be done & did it instead of looking at All that needs to be done and getting overwhelmed so I purged and re-organized the kitchen cabinets this morning along with texting with two of my girlfriends.
I accepted my limitations and went to rest on the couch early this afternoon. I had hoped to do a little reading (the novel is pictured above) but I didn't get very far before falling asleep for a couple of hours. That enabled me to cook us a fabulous dinner of baked sweet & spicy bbq chicken legs (veggie & side) and corn bread for dinner. (After which I was exhausted again but it was well worth it!)
I read Lynne Griffin's first novel, Life Without Summer, in 2009 (you can find my Goodreads review here) and have looked forward to more from her since. I spotted Sea Escape a novel at the library on Friday and had to take it out so my re-read of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd for our evening bookclub this coming Thursday is on hold for a few days!
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Friday, January 21, 2011
We Have A Ghost
And right now it likes to play with my slippers during the night.
There can’t be any other explanation. I don’t sleep walk and my slippers aren’t in a spot where Hubby could accidentally kick them when he gets up in the middle of the night. They’re on my side of the bed. Where only I walk. (Or so I thought).
It’s happened quite often over time but I never paid more attention to it than to “Huh!” to myself, get my slippers on and get going.
Recently I’ve become more conscious of it though because it’s becoming a nuisance. I sit in bed and leave my slippers on the floor where I can just slip right into them when I have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or “Shush!” a kitty crying at our bedroom door. Our floors are cold in the Winter thanks to the unfinished dirt basement we have below us (not a crawl space because I can stand up strait in it, Hubby though not so much but he’s 6’3”) and the bathroom tiles are just plain frigid so we both have slippers.
More and more often, at least once a night now, one of my slippers, usually the right one, will be no where near the other. It will be two feet to the right and under the bed or sitting under the window by the heat board three feet away.
Lately I’m frustrated with this game. When I can’t find a slipper, I have to fumble around for my book light and turn it on so I can search for the missing slipper before getting up and once I’m back to bed I’m so wide awake I have trouble falling asleep again.
I made sure when I came back to bed at 1:30am this morning that I left both slippers in their usual spot. Sure enough when I woke up at 4am and went to put them on, one was over by the heat board.
When I came back to bed, the idea for this piece came to me. (So that whole, ‘in the shower’ ‘in the middle of the night’ thing really does happen to writers huh?)
We’ve had other things happen over the years here.
My anniversary band disappeared from my dresser for two weeks. One Sunday a couple of years ago, I was getting ready to go out with Hubby who was killing time on the computer. I went to get my anniversary ring off the dresser but it wasn’t there. Thinking he took it to mess with me (the pc desk is right next to my dresser), I asked him where it was and he pointed to where it usually sat and said, without looking, “It’s right here.” I told him it wasn’t and he sighed (like I was an idiot) and said, “Joanne, it’s right…” and stopped when he saw it wasn’t there. “It was right here! I just look over at the tv and looked right at it!” I thought he was messing with me as he so often likes to do but finally became convinced he was telling me the truth. (If I get upset, especially as much as I was at that moment, he gives it up). We looked all over the bedroom for it (just to be on the safe side) but didn’t find it.
I was beside myself. I love that ring. He bought it for me for our one year wedding anniversary along with a matching plain wedding band. (I, um, grew out of my original one; it now fits again I might add). He told me at a traffic light to close my eyes for a few minutes, he had a surprise for me. Once parked he guided me into a building. (I knew that much because the door squeaked when he opened it). When I opened my eyes, I was standing in a jewelry store, at a counter. A salesman was standing in front of me on the other side of the counter, smiling. I laughed, feeling myself turn red and looked at hubby and he nodded towards the counter. I looked down to see a sliver diamond anniversary band and a silver wedding band sitting on a copper velvet cushion. “I wasn’t sure what size would fit and I didn’t want you to have to exchange them once they were yours.” I threw my arms around my husband and held on for dear life. I was “all choked up” as the saying goes. (And I am right now writing this! Not bad for an old, tough Marine, huh?!)
Two weeks after it disappeared, it reappeared on my dresser, in the same spot where I always left it, with both of us in the room but neither of us close enough to the dresser to play a trick on the other by slipping it there without the other seeing. It wasn’t there when I got up in the morning and Hubby had long been up and out of the bedroom. (I had yet to do the same; it was one of those lazy Sunday mornings for me). When I saw it I practically flew out of bed and put it on. I look at him and he was looking at my hand, shaking his head. I quietly thanked whomever or whatever had turned it and told it Not to take it again.
It’s happened with other things for longer periods of time. Hubby left his keys in the storage room, immediately went back down to get them and found the door locked. You need the keys to lock and unlock that door. He got his spares and searched the storage room but they weren’t in there. A few months later they turned up on a shelf in a little used spare room closet. My glasses disappeared off the coffee table. Several months later, I found them in the basement, on top of a storage box with Halloween decorations, which is in another building on the property.
My mother lives here in a town house and there are times when she goes down stairs to the den to find her latched closet doors open or the utility room light on and the door wide open.
So now it’s my slippers. Or rather, one of my slippers. 1/21/11
Prompt: "If you could bring one fictional character to life for a day, who would you choose? What would you do for the day?"As soon as I saw this topic on http://plinky.com last week, I knew my choice: Novalee Nation from the novel Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts and not just because I was re-reading it at the time.
About half way through the book, the thought came to me that if Novalee were a real person, I'd like to meet her. It was reading about her learning photography that brought this to mind. I've always liked taking pictures but now it's one of my passions. I'm learning in a digital age. Novalee was learning photography in the 1990's in Oklahoma when it was still about rolls of film, shutter speeds, light exposures, dark rooms and negatives. (Back when I was learning the same here in NJ but wasn't interested in that aspect of it yet). You didn't instantly know what your photo's looked like nor could you immediately delete the ones you didn't want. You either developed them in a dark room yourself or sent them out to be developed. Either way, it was much like Christmas morning as you look at each one for the first time.
Novalee also loves gardening and reading, two of my other passions. We're alike in other ways; stronger and more brave than we ever give ourselves credit for, have a hard time believing we're worth as much as the good folks in our lives tell us and we worry incessantly about everything and anything. (Things we (think we) can control and things we know we can't).
More than anything I'd like to sit and talk with her for the day, about our life's pains and passions, about the good men we've been Blessed with and enjoy the comfort of knowing I'm talking with someone who not only sympathizes, but empathizes as well.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Prompt (from private online writing group): Write a piece (fiction, non, poem, essay, etc) in which you use the following words: frozen, shaded, frustrated, feather, animated, distant.
(fiction) The day after a snow storm usually consists of a brilliant blue and cloudless sky, wind and bitter cold temperatures, and abundant sunshine. Today was no exception. Sophie found herself shading her eyes against the glare with her hand when she looked out on the frozen lake. It, like everything else, was blanketed with fresh snow that had stopped in the early hours before dawn. She smiled when she saw prints in the snow going across the lake from their front yard where the boat and canoe were overturned on the shore. Deer, fox and kitty prints. (There was a new stray in the area). Maybe rabbit or squirrel too but it was too hard to tell from where she stood in the living room. No bear prints though, not this morning.
Sophie finished bundling up ala Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story and stepped outside, closing the door behind her with a loud click that echoed across the lake. Animated bird chatter filled the air around her as Cardinals, Dark-Eyed Junko's, Black Capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmouses (or is Titmice the actual plural?) gathered in the bushes and trees around the yard, hiding from the gusty wind. She headed down the drive way, each footstep crunching the snow beneath her boots. Thankfully there was a general store close to the house that she could walk to if need be. There wasn't anything she or her husband Ben desperately needed from the store but Sophie desperately needed to get out of the house! Four snow storms in two weeks had her cooped up and frustrated.
She looked down and saw a turkey feather lying in the road. She picked it up and thought she heard a distant gobble, though it could have been her imagination. She smiled and felt her body begin to relax.
Prompt: From bff G's "Writing Creative Nonfiction" book: "Take 3 disparate objects at random from your purse, your backpack, your shelves. Set them in front of you and begin writing, allowing 15 minutes for each object. See if there is a common image or theme you can use to bind these together." (I attached pics to the email I sent G so she could see what I was writing about).
I’m picking items from my ‘reading/writing/knitting’ basket.
It’s one of those organizer bins I picked up from Bed Bath & Beyond a couple of years ago, made from fabric with horizontal stripes in shades of olive green, light blue, tan and red. It holds my current knitting projects (2 at this moment), planner, journal, writing notebook, books I’m currently reading or hope to get to soon and a few magazines (Artful Blogging, Country Living (US and British Editions) and Period Living, another British magazine).
I’m going to start with one of the books, a novel entitled Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts. (Hold on now, I read it way before it was an Oprah bookclub pick or a movie!)
This was the first “Southern Lit” novel I read as an “adult” (I was 20) and one of the first adult novels in general that I actually liked. (While I was in love with practically every book, short story and play I’d read in high school and college up to that point, I found my personal transition from YA books to adult books very difficult, though, oddly enough, I didn’t seem tot find the transition from teen to adult nearly as difficult!) Anyhoo, I remember the day I bought WTHI. It was a balmy late Winter day, one of the first after a long and snowy season, a brief taste of Spring. I was upset over a job I wanted not working out, so I got myself on a bus to the mall (back when I didn't loathe malls!) to do a little comfort shopping. I bought WTHI (and She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, another fantastic novel) in paperback at the Walden Books. (Remember that chain?!) I also recall buying a buttercup yellow cable knit sweater and a stuffed yellow M&M guy! (Yellow was my comfort color back then). Anyhow, I fell in love with WTHI that very afternoon when I started reading it in my old livingroom, windows open wide to the sweet smelling air and my life long love affair with the Southern Lit genre was cemented.
I lucked into a hardback copy at the thrift shop last year, one that has the same cover as my well loved, falling apart paperback from 1996. How someone could let this novel go, I haven’t the foggiest, but I’m glad I found it. I also love the movie. It’s not as good as the book and they changed things I wasn’t happy with when I first saw it, but it was still better than I expected it to be. I watched it the other night (found it while flipping channels) and before it ended, I felt the overwhelming urge to re-read it (again!) so I got out of bed, went to my “favorites” bookcase by the mantle in the livingroom and brought it back to bed with me.
I’d never read “contemporary” Southern lit before my first reading of WTHI. I’d read “classics” like Huck Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird and short stories by Eudora Welty and Flannery O’ Connor (sometimes referred to as “Southern Gothic”) and I didn’t read Gone With The Wind until the end of 2010 (which I didn’t care for). Billie Letts’ writing is simple, beautiful and transportive (for me that is). This book (WTHI) brought me home. I’m not sure if that makes any sense or not but it’s still how I feel every time I open it. Oh sure, I’m getting all teary eyed so I’ll just move on to the next item!
Next is my current issue of Artful Blogging magazine.
It’s been a guilty pleasure I’ve relished since first discovering it in the Spring of 2009. (I say “guilty pleasure” because it’s pricey, now $15.99 an issue which is up a dollar since I started reading it). Vic got me a subscription to it last Christmas and renewed it this Christmas. (And you only save 5 cents getting it via subscription (LOL!) but at least I’m guaranteed to get it every month – it was getting chancey at AC Moore and B&N). It comes out every 3 months and I read each issue a little at a time throughout, savoring & stretching it until it’s time to start the new one.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know about me: I love blogging! (Shocking news, am I right?!) I enjoy the heck out of every aspect of it from tinkering with my header, layout and background to posting. And I have bff G to thank for introducing me to it! (And goodreads). I didn’t like it at first though, nor did I like my first blog (long ago deleted). I over thought it (another piece of shocking information I’m sure) and worried too much what someone would think if they read it so I didn’t write it for Me. (Big mistake when it comes to a personal blog in my book – now a business blog however is an entirely different animal altogether and does need to cater to the reader I think). Once we moved here (December 2005) and got a new (used) computer that February (2006), I gave blogging another try and it was love at second blog! (Instead of love at first sight… Oh come on, it’s worth a smile!)
I love Artful Blogging because it’s written for blogger’s by blogger’s. Each piece features a different blogger in their own words using their images from their blog. Some write on what they think is the best way to do a blog, most write on how/why they started blogging, how it’s enhanced/changed/become a part of their lives and why they love it. (Those are the pieces I like best). It’s inspirational!
Now for my 3rd item, I had some trouble trying to pick and decided on my Winter journal. It’s my favorite of all my seasonal journals.
In 2005, to try and combat my profuse journal boredom and figure out a way to actually fill an entire volume, I started buying one journal for each of the four seasons and only writing in each for that season. (Roughly three months at a time). It’s worked out well!
This Winter journal I can’t wait to get writing in again as Fall comes to an end and hate to put it away when Spring comes. There’s just something about it. (Sorry to use a clichéd saying but it fits). I love writing it! It’s a comforting and positive place to be. I found it at Marshall’s a few years ago when I wasn’t even looking for one. (That’s how I usually find clothes too, neither of which I like to go shopping specifically for).
There’s definitely a common theme binding these things together: Reading & writing and my love for both. They are big parts of me and my life.
Pop over to New Jersey Through My Eyes for recent Wordless Wednesday and other photo posts.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Well January was off to a busy start last week with errands, doctors appointments, cooking for Hubbs' county American Legion meeting and the last of the Christmas-time gatherings with friends (one Thursday, one Saturday). Now the Christmas tree can come down!
Pinky kitty is doing great! His anemia has resolved per his blood work done Thursday and we're weaning him off the med which corrected it because prolonged use can lead to liver damage. If the next round of blood work at the end of the month shows his anemia is returning as he's on less & less of the med, he may have to be on a very low dose indefinitely but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it when we come to it.
I'm battling a nasty round of this sinus infection Hubbs and I are passing back & forth but otherwise doing as well as I can be at the moment. I could be better overall (pain and fatigue are High) but I've been worse so why complain?!
We took a 'day trip' up north to our other home so we could make sure all is well up there and neither of us wanted to leave! So Quiet. So beautiful. So peaceful. Brilliant blue sky, snow on the ground, the wind coming down from the mountain, the lake frozen solid, birds chirping, chattering and cawing. Sigh. Hopefully we'll be able to spend this coming weekend up there. (Have to see what the weather is like since Hubbs does snow removal down here). Today was our first time up there since the week before Thanksgiving. Too long. In no time being up there reminds me why we want to live, essentially, in the middle of no where.
Coming up this Thursday, (again, depending on the weather) is my in-person bookclub's first Winter short story meet-up; we're discussing "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I highly recommend it, especially if you like psychological thriller/horror tales. A pleasant surprise; I didn't know what to expect. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with The Yellow Wallpaper in the subject line and I can email the short story to you if you'd like to read it). Next Thursday, the breakfast bookclub is discussing Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris (which I haven't started yet!) and the Thursday after that the evening bookclub is discussing The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, an all time favorite novel of mine.
And of course there are the books I want to read on my own as well which aren't many but more than a few.
This Winter is going to be full of reading! Love that!
And writing too. Even better!
Hop over to New Jersey Through My Eyes for today's "Winter In The Country" photo post.
I hope where ever you are, regardless of the weather, you're safe & sound.
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Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Some years it's harder than others for me to get through this time. Focusing on something positive, like my overall intention for the coming new year, has been a great way to help me through the end of one year and the beginning of the next. I begin journaling on my "word" for the coming year around the Winter Solstice. I've moved onto a new word for 2011 ("create") from "simplicity" which I focused on in 2009 and 2010.
I will say that 2010 was Not a good year for me overall and I have not been sad in the least to say goodbye to it. I survived it, barely. (And that's literally, not figuratively!)
New Year's Day is always a better day for me than NYE. I open all of the windows to the fresh air no matter how cold, open the front door to welcome the new year in and open the back door to let the old year out. (One of those New Year's 'good luck' traditions I came upon online some years back). This year is wasn't bitter cold on New Year's so I left everything open for a while. In recent years on New Year's, we've gone for a walk in one of the many wooded parks where we live but this year there was still too much snow on the ground from the 12/26/10 blizzard for that to be possible so we had a relaxing day at home. Later in the day one of our (many!) nephews came over to warm up on his way home from the annual polar bear plunge he does with a friend not to far from our home.
Honestly, because of how 2010 went for me and how optimistic & excited I was at the beginning of last year (so many plans outlined in my journal!), I'm afraid to be the same way this January. I don't want to have another year to look back on that saddens me so because of the months & months of nothing in my journal and planner, reminding me of how derailed my life became. So this January, I return to being cautiously optimistic.
I know and appreciate my many (many) Blessings, but make no mistake, living with disease is a very hard life (and not just for me but for my loved ones as well). I'm still recovering, getting better daily, taking each day as it comes and hoping to, at the very least, stay this course.