Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dec31, 2020: A Look Way Back!

We're pretty much snowed in this last day of 2020, a kind of double quarantine because we're not going anywhere anyway. We tried a neighborhood walk yesterday, the cold snow biting into our faces, reminding us of the rest of winter ahead, no escape to a warmer climate with friends this spring.

As I look around my cozy and warm office, favorite books nearby, quilting project midway with blocks partly assembled, hubby nearby, immersed in college football, I have much to be grateful for this year. We are still here. Hubby's not using a cane. Family is nearby. We are geezers, that is true, but we are happy geezers. Our true needs are simple.

Yet that sense of isolation lingers. Reminding me of my grandmother, her sweetness and her strength. For when she was young, she fell in love with a young Frenchman who was killed in the trenches of World War I. Her father, an affluent doctor in Chicago, sent her to visit cousins in the West to recover. There, she met my grandfather, a handsome cowboy, and, as they say, the rest was destiny.

My grandfather tried to enlist in the army but was rejected because his eyesight was not good enough. Instead, he became one of the first forest rangers, still a government employee. He and my grandmother lived in a remote cabin near Elk Mountain in Wyoming. I don't know how she adapted. 

He taught her to ride horses and how to shoot a gun. That came in handy the day he was out on patrol in the forest, and a bear tried to come into their little cabin. Their two little girls (one my mother) played with the teddy bear that somehow appeared on their front porch.

My grandmother cooked on a wood burning stove, endured long rides to town despite frail health, and loved her family. Later after my grandfather retired, they took to the road, hauling their RV everywhere, camping across country. Maybe that's where I got my wanderlust. One time, deep in the woods, grandad spotted a deer. He stopped their rig in the middle of the road and got his gun out. Just as he was ready to shoot, my grandmother popped up out of her side, right in front of the gun and shouted, "Don't shoot Bambi!" 

2021 doesn't promise to start easy for anyone. We still have dark days ahead, but we also have family and friends, close by or via Zoom. 

We all have family stories that remind us: We will survive this. Choose good memories, love and laughter, and cherish each day. May the coming year bring you joy, good health, and happiness. 

Here's a video of my two granddaughters, Leda and Ruth, 'sharing' their favorite home-made milkshakes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Weds Update: Inspired by the Internet

2021 is getting closer and closer. I don't have everything done that I wanted to complete this year. Is this you?

Pandemic means no going out for dinner. I know. Sometimes I get a little tired making those three meals a day (plus snack, sometimes healthy). We have a cozy little apartment, a tiny kitchen that I love because I can practically touch both sides when I cook, so I shouldn't complain, but the internet comes to the rescue! Today's rescue recipe -- Baked Salmon stuffed with spinach, garlic, and cheese. Served with a nice big side of broccoli seasoned with garlic salt and lemon juice. Easy, fast, and melt in your mouth delicious. Plus, I don't have to cook tomorrow with that traditional Christmas Eve dinner (lasagna and cheesecake) prepared by loving daughter and number one son-in-law!

Do I have a freebie book for you? Nope, but be not afraid. I met this writer online recently, and Jasper West's offering his Teacher: The Beginning FREE just this Thursday, December 24. 

The 'Look Inside' posted on Amazon has me flipping those virtual pages and wanting to find out what happens next. If you take advantage of Jasper's offer, why not leave a review? Help other readers discover this tale.

I do have a question for you. I'm trying to figure out what YOU would like to see in my blog. My 2021 commitment is to write once a week on the blog -- here and on WordPress, and to send my newsletter once a month. And to keep working on my stories.

But other than ranting away at whatever catches my interest, I'm left wondering what YOU like. Could you answer in the comments? Here are some possible topics to consider (and add your own): 

  • Another day in the writing life . . . 
  • What my poor characters go through and why . . . 
  • Reviews and highlights for freebies and other books I'm reading . . . 
  • Poetry from that writing challenge to write a poem a day in Nov & April . . . 
  • Finding out what other writers are doing . . . 
  • More about historical fiction and the writing process . . .
  • What do YOU care about?
As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope you will have a joyous and safe end-of-year holiday, even if some family just 'zooms' in for the party!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020: End of Year Musing

What a year! So many challenges for us all. Thank you, readers, for being part of my blogging community, friends virtual and real, I'm grateful for each one of you.

My gift to you: If you sign up for my newsletter by DECEMBER 21, I will send you a link for a free Kindle copy of Years of Stone!  ß Click!

Yesterday, our walk took us slogging through snow and slush up to the pond. What a delight to see that pond truly iced over once again, with several hundred Canada geese parked out in the nearby open fields, the sky clear enough for us to see Mount Spokane dusted with snow as well.

We came home from our daily walk, happy for the warmth of our little home, cozy corners for reading, writing, and sewing, and equally grateful for family nearby.

These last few months, two resources have led me to re-evaluate some marketing strategies. Nick Stephenson's Dream Team connected me with other writers and BookBrush led me to rethink and redo my book covers. Did you notice the new look of my blog??? 

THIS WEEK'S BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Emma Kathryn's The Sleeping Heart is a charming novelette about a shy young woman who strolls in a garden, at peace, until that stranger she's traded glances with over time suddenly falls and needs help. What Caireen does next will transform her life and remind us all of the beauty in a generous act of kindness.

Emma Kathryn, a writer and actress from Melbourne, Australia, writes with sensitivity and grace about the risks we take when we're drawn to someone, not knowing why or even if our caring is reciprocated. She's running a special price promotion for The Sleeping Heart through December 22. ß Click!

What else will 2021 bring? My hopes are simple -- time for writing (and connecting with that community of readers and writers), and maybe a little quilting, time for family and love, belief in a more peaceful world with healing from the pandemic and all else that makes some days dark. 

May 2021 be a very good year for you.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Normal? Not normal?

For far too many of us, 2020 will remain that year we wished were different.

Each time I think that life has somewhat returned to normal, as normal as life during a pandemic can be, something happens that shakes me. Friends sick with Covid or other serious illnesses, the situation made more difficult with restrictions on how we may visit. Political shenanigans that make it nearly impossible for friends and family to talk honestly. 

Yesterday rattled me once again. For, here in Spokane, a young man took a backpack with a suspected pipe bomb and a political manifesto to the building where my daughter works. Somehow, a courageous office worker called 911. Police barricaded the busy streets for hours. Today, calm has returned. And a young man has been charged with arson.

But, I'm left with questions. Is this our new reality? If we can't get our way via voting or the courts, if we feel no one is truly listening, then violence is ok? 

No. Violence is not a solution. Nor is bullying or making fun of other people.

I'm grateful for the quick actions of the Spokane Police Department and the equally prompt statements of support from the city and both Democrats and Republicans. Today, Rachel may be able to go back to work. Today, life may return to whatever 'normal' is during this pandemic. 

And we're back to the mantra: Stay safe, social distance, wash hands, and wear a mask. New? Sign up for that vaccine when it's available. 

Let us hope and work for a better 2021.

A view of Spokane Falls by Mark Wagner

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

IWSG: Winter Dreaming . . .

First Wednesday of the Month means time to check in with the Insecure Writers Support Group, a time to share our thoughts and support this wonderful community of writers. 

This month's question: Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Normally, I would say my writing follows a routine, no matter the season, with an occasional day off. But this year, at least since last March, has been different. Covid-19 and the resulting necessity to self-quarantine has led to lots (sorry, lots) of ups and downs. And, yes, these did affect my writing.

Now, winter comes with its cold nights and snow -- and no promise of travel to warmer places to ease the darkness. And yet, I'm writing, busy with new projects, and grateful each day for the family in our 'bubble.' I'm feeling intensely grateful for what we do have -- small moments seem more important. 

My six-year-old granddaughter sleeps under the piano so she can catch Santa Claus in the act of bringing presents, not realizing she's still 24 nights away. Sweet dreams. My other granddaughter, now eight, at that age when she realizes not everything ends happily. Yet she brings giggles from everyone when she rolls her eyes. Each moment a blessing.

A friend just launched her memoir. Plunge! She left home to travel the world at seventeen and wound up living on a sailboat, living her dreams with the man she loves. 

Tenacity took her through each tough challenge and led her to snorkel in the brilliant blue waters of the tropics, living the life she chose. Free. Independent. Loved and loving. A remarkable read by Liesbet Collaert, one of the co-hosts for this month's IWSG's post!

And yes, I fell into her story as well. When I met my husband some 40 years ago, he said, "I can't really get too serious, for I travel. Around the world." I gazed into his sparkling blue eyes and replied, "I love to travel too." 

Not everyone understands our downsized life that so far has led us to explore four continents, to take our daughter to kindergarten high in the Andes, and now to settle in eastern Washington, close to family, with dreams perhaps of one more trip. For this December 6, this coming Sunday, is my 77th birthday. We walk a little slower, and I do wonder how many more trips and how many more days of writing I do have, each day blessed, living the life I chose.  Maybe one day, like Liesbet, I'll write my memoir, another writing project!

May the rest of your winter be blessed with what you love.

The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Sylvia Ney, Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre! Visit a few folks who've poured out their heart this winter month to encourage them with a comment or two HERE. And be well.