Blog Archives

Dancing out of the cage

I spent this weekend relaxing, for the most part – and at one point, dancing! By myself in the living room.

Just because I could I suppose, but also because the weather is mild and there was (and still is) a mellow breeze in the air.

This is the calm before the ‘heat storm’.

Calm climate brevity.

It won’t last long.  Soon I’ll be plugging the fans back in and paying extortion type rates for electricity to run the A/C

Also now regretting ‘the bangs’.  Shortly they’ll be wet and plastered to my head.

Began reading again.

The WIFI in the laundromat has been touchy.  Today wasn’t working at all and in anticipation of this, I packed a book.

The thing is – I stopped doing things I used to love a while ago.

When was the last time I wrote in my diary?  Last time I painted?  Last time I grabbed my camera and left the house in search of something wonderful?

Sad.

My life used to revolve around my kid and now … I’m stuck with myself.

When people say (and, I must be odd enough for them to actually say this) “I wonder what it’s like in your head”.  I respond with “Well, don’t go in there unattended”.

And now here I spend all my home time doing just that.

I feel like a bird in an open cage – choosing to stay inside.

The actual bird cage in my room … Door open and cobwebs

There are amazing days.   Revelations and epiphanies.  Also darkness and fear.

It’s like a ginormous abacus is before me and I’m pushing the beads – weighing pro’s and con’s – trying to calculate my future (as if I have a say in that ultimately).

I’m no spring chicken anymore.  People I love have passed.  People I love are sick.

I have health issues myself – a few I haven’t shared with anybody and I’m afraid to know more about.  Ignorance is bliss no?

My patience wears thin at those around me with no gratitude.  No sense of urgency to enjoy their abilities or what they have.  Or, to push further to have more connection to what is really important!

My go to example is the bank.

When there’s a line and I hear someone whining about standing in it all I can think is:

There are people who would give anything to stand in this line!  Seriously.

The ill and the housebound.

Just to have the ability to stand unaided – without pain.  Even just to BE at a bank, which, clearly means you’re there for a financial transaction.

Those with nothing wouldn’t mind that particular inconvenience.

Sadly, I haven’t been living up to my potential either.  So, rather than be a hypocrite, I’m owning that and sharing it with you.

I’ve let my very humble home go – when it comes to deep cleaning.

I’ve  lost joy in things I used to love.

But this peri-Summer breeze is a gentle awakening.

I want myself back!

And I want MORE for me.

Not more ‘stuff’ – in fact, I need to purge my life of a great deal of material things.

I want … Hope.

I want to feel like I contributed at the end of a day.

I want the people I love to FEEL it without any doubt.

I want to get pulled back into books and to be a better writer.

I haven’t been proud of anything I’ve written in a very long time – and I used to be good.

Admitting that alone is huge!

And, I want to dance in my living room.

LIVE in my ‘living’ room and not just beach myself on my Chaise Lounge with a remote control in my hand.

Time to get my finger off the pause button and press play.

Advertisements

Musings from the Laundromat: The Staked Plains edition

image

I don’t know what I did to deserve an Advance Reading Copy of Stefan Kiesbye’s new book ‘The Staked Plains’, but the invitation came from the author himself and that alone made me feel incredible.

Not one to look a gift author in the mouth, and considering he is one of my favorite authors, of course I politely and calmly said yes, I would LOVE to be included.

OK, it didn’t come out like that.  It was more – ‘teenage girl spots favorite boy band and proceeds to fan girl the fuck out.’

I was introduced to Kiesbye’s work when I read ‘Your House Is on Fire, Your Children all  Gone’ in 2013.

image

I did the ‘carry the book around whilst bumping into walls’ thing with that one.   My nook went with me everywhere until the last sentence.

You know you have read a great book when you come out of that last page much like you would a matinee of a great movie.  Blinking against the light of day and disoriented.

Yesterday presented the perfect opportunity to sink into The Staked Plains and I proceeded to read the entire novella with a minimum of bathroom breaks.  No, the book did not come with me – are you kidding?  It’s my ARC copy!  I did hate to leave it on the couch though and hurried back to it.

When I reached the last few paragraphs, I greedily read them.  And then sat – stunned.

Absolutely stunned.

“He did it again.”  Was my first thought.

Not just write a damn good book, but managed to throw marbles under the feet of the reader.  I was off kilter.  Needing more!  I kept flipping to the ‘Acknowledgements’ and ‘About the Author’ pages hoping they’d magically fill with more of Kiesbye’s words.

Remember I’ve shared this before:

image

Well, in this case, the curtains aren’t always blue.  Never mind Shrek, Kiesbye is like an onion!  Layers upon layers that you KNOW are there but too absorbed to ‘get’ on a first reading.  I know for a fact that I’ll need to read this book many more times and maybe even get a degree in archeology before completely understanding.

I love that by the way.  I don’t want to be dumbed down by a book.  I want to feel almost unworthy reading it.  I want the book to challenge me as I try to figure out who the characters are and why they’re doing what they’re doing – and honestly, with this book, Kiesbye keeps throwing those marbles.

I had told Stefan in an email that I would be reviewing the book today – and jokingly said “You don’t mind if I open with the last paragraph right?”  I would never.  But – let me try to sum up The Staked Plains without giving any of the meat away.  (OK, without trying, that last sentence might be an Easter Egg for you.)

For me, on first read – it’s about humanity in a barren environment, with a heaping spoonful of the supernatural. No one is who they seem – and yet they are.  Human.  Whatever that means.  And while the characters are written honestly, I still found myself surprised by what they were capable of – and of what they weren’t.

But that IS humanity no?

We’re all layers.  Capable of such good and born with so many juxtapositions inside of us.

The book made me uncomfortable because I felt like I was looking in a mirror and seeing everything I fight not to be, everything that is complex and ugly about me that I can’t tamp down sometimes.   And, everything honest and beautiful about my self too.

image

Currently – the publication date for The Staked Plains is November 24th of this year.  THANK YOU Saddle Road Press for publishing this amazing book.   And, THANK YOU Stefan for remembering a fan who reached out two years ago with “Hurry up and write another book.”

 

Golliwogs and Christmas Eve and Nannies and such

When I think of my Nannie – I think of green houses and the smell of tomato plants and wood – heated in the English sun.  I think of checkered table cloths and mint sauce.   I think of salad cream and endless hours on her bed listening to the stories behind every piece of her jewelry in her jewelry box.

She sent this to me a couple of years ago – can you believe it’s 79 years old?  She got it on her 13th birthday … I’ll share with you the note and the necklace:

image

The reason I started thinking about my Nannie – (other than she often finds my mind) is that I was looking for soap.

I wanted to wash my hair – do old fashioned ringlets for tomorrow and put my Christmas Eve PJ’s on.

I’m running low on shampoo and conditioner – but even lower on soap. WHERE do the re-gift/half ass body wash gifts go when you need them?  I searched under my sink and gave up.  Nothing.  I must have tossed or re-gifted.

I did find ‘our’ soap.

I mispronounced it one year as ‘Mongolia’ and it’s been a running joke ever since.

This is how my Nannie smells.  Cross between Magnolias and Imperial Soap.

Anyway – she sent me a lot of it.

I was never going to use it.  I’m VERY sentimental – and smell is my biggest memory jogger.  I would sniff it from time to time – but tonight – I needed soap, so I used one.

image

I thought I’d treat myself to a little spa after my shower – I used a sample of something I definitely couldn’t afford otherwise.

My boss orders expensive grooming items from a shop she receives samples from in return for, which I’m sure, is an insane amount of money that she spends.  (To her credit, she’s rocking her 60’s and has better skin than me!)

Anyway, I dipped into this:

image

And chose this:

image

And looked like this:

image

I washed it off and removed the towel, and don’t I look 1 year younger? LOL!

image

ok, so I hadn’t even brushed my hair yet.  But I bare all for you.

When I had the face mask on at first, it was SUPER dark – which brought me back to my Nannie.  I was thinking of black face.

The last gift she sent me was this:

image

Which, I’m sure, is really going to offend some people.

Listen.

In my day (now I sound REALLY old) I had a ‘Golliwog’ and LOVED it.  It was treated no different than any of my other toys.  I treasured it.

Golliwogs appeared in my books that I poured over – so much so, that one of them – (I can’t find it! I looked – know it’s here  somewhere) had a story in it that I had etched into my skin:

image

It was about a kind fairy, with a crippled wing.  Because she was so kind to all creatures, she was given the gift of a new wing.  (The heart? My first tattoo – in the very early 90’s since I was told I was heartless – I could point to my ankle and say ‘nope!’)

I had the tattoo artist work from the original art.

Fairy Stargold I believe?

The point is – I didn’t know black from white.  I didn’t know Golliwogs were offensive.  They were black dolls to me – and adored.

Yet now I keep my black doll behind my bathroom door on top of my filing cabinet so as not to offend anyone.

Crazy.

So it’s Christmas Eve and I’m inundated with warm memories of everything that was precious and feeling wrong for holding some of them precious.

I’m not even going to google ‘Golliwog’ because it will taint the innocent memories I have.  I was a kid – and color was not a factor.

 

 

Musings from the Laundromat: Simple pleasures & silver trolleys edition

It has been a perfect morning.

I walked into the laundromat today with happy in my heart and relaxed in my step.  ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ was playing on the laundromat’s radio.  I greeted the lady who works behind the counter – noticing her bright pink top.  “Hi” I said, “I like your top!”  “Thank you” she smiled.

She walked away with a hint of a smile still on her lips as I grabbed my cash card with the yellow wrist coil.  I always pick yellow if it’s available.

I loaded five dollars onto the card and toted my laundry over to my favorite machines.

And here I sit at my favorite spot about to share my morning with you.

I’m reading an amazing book ‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls.  My friend Betty gave it to me to borrow last week.

image

I love that I have friends who enjoy a good book.  I love the fact that they think of me when they’re finished with that same book.

I woke at 7 this morning.  I slept in.  After making a pot of coffee and letting the dog outside, I crawled back into bed to read.

A little while later, after retrieving a cup of the freshly brewed coffee, feeding the dog and laying back down on my bed – Nic appeared in my room.

“Hey” I said, as I let my book holding arm flop down onto the bed.

He joined me and rested his head on my chest.  I put my free arm around him, patting his back.

We lay there, quietly, as he blinked at the wall.

“What are you thinking about?”

“The words on the painting … looks like it says Edward Woot”

I shifted my gaze to the painting as he continued,, “I think it is Woot”.

image

We both knew it wasn’t.  But we considered the painting until we were joined by the dog.

“Aw!  Now the whole family is here!”  I said.

We focused our quiet gazes on Butters.  Then back to nothing.  Just enjoying the moment.

Not a thing was lost on me.  I held carefully and quietly in my heart the following thoughts, not wanting them to disappear.

I held the gratitude that my son still looks for me in the morning.  That he likes me and wants to have a moment with me.  I held the joy that we were both looking at a painting together – one he gave me for Christmas – that we both appreciate art.  I savored the fact that I was holding a book – that I get such immense pleasure from reading.  I was grateful for my ‘boy’ in my arms and my dog at our feet.

I digested everything about that moment – while managing to stay in it.

Our silence gave way to laughter when Butters started nibbling on her leg and I announced it was obviously bath day.

By the look of the sky, I needed to take care of that quickly.  The clouds outside were grey and looked heavy with rain.  I suggested to Nic that we could just pour her shampoo over her and put her out when the rain began.

I got up instead and carried my 70 pound, hairy, leg nibbling manatee into the tub.

image

What began as a bath for Butters gave way to cleaning – I threw myself into the task, taking the large rug from the kitchen outside so I could wash the floor.  Of course, Nic took that opportunity to make himself something to eat.  His timing is impeccable.  I worked around him – so very grateful to have a kitchen to clean. And too grateful for the food and my son to be annoyed by his timing.

Satisfied with the clean dog, the clean house and my fed and occupied son I took my turn in the tub.  So grateful for the soothing stream of water on my back.

I’ll be making a small pork roast today – and enjoying my son in between his games and the book in between time with my son.

And speaking of that book – the friend that loaned it to me finished a particularly difficult book this morning (due to the content.)  She commented to me:

“By the way, I finished the horrible one I was reading this a.m.  I had to see how it ended and be done with it.  I learned a grocery cart in Great Britain is a trolley.  I was trying to find some lil gems in it to get through it :)”

I love that she said that. That’s what we do isn’t it?  Look for the gems when things are tough?  Well it’s what we should do.

I replied to her:

“There’s always a silver trolley if you look hard enough.”

Pressing myself to read … a 2013 challenge

booksquote

I’ve given myself a challenge.  You know, when I accidentally lost weight years ago, it motivated me to keep going.  I succeeded beyond my expectations. 

It occurred to me a week or so ago that since Christmas, I’d read 6 books.  Thanks to some gift cards for Barnes and Noble I filled my nook with amazing authors.

bookheart

I LOVE to read.  Ever since I was little, I immersed myself in fairy tales and incredible stories of far away lands, real and imagined. 

During the trip from France to India, reading kept me company on the coach.  When we hit a man in a small village during our travels, I kept my nose in Alice in Wonderland to keep from the chaos that was too much for a 9-year-old girl.

Books have always been my friends.  My favorite pastime. 

So! My challenge for myself – to read 50+ books by next Christmas.

I’m on my 8th book so far.

I would recommend any of these, here’s the tally/list so far:

Gillian Flynn is one of my new favorite authors.  She had me at Gone Girl and brought me to Dark Places and then Sharp Objects.  I found Jodi Picoult who spun a tale with alternating narrative called The Pact: A Love Story.

Harlan Coben reminded me that not everything is as it seems in Caught.

Cathy Glass broke my heart and reinforced my faith in humanity at the same time in Damaged

Stefan Kiesbye blew my mind with, Your House is on Fire, Your Children all Gone. (SERIOUSLY amazing book – I’ll have to read it again because there are so many layers to digest).

And now I’m out of my comfort zone with a Sci Fi book recommended by a friend.  Richard K. Morgan is expanding my mind and my vocabulary with Altered Carbon

I found it hard to get through the prologue – but I love a challenge.  By Chapter three I was hooked.  Plus, I actually had to use my nook ‘look up’ tool. I had never heard of the word ‘maelstrom’. 

Coincidentally, it also appeared in the Kiesbye novel.  Now I know the word well.

I love that about books! Coming away from one smarter – wiser – mind expanded – opinions changed.  I love growing.  I love connecting with the characters and being taken on their journey. 

If you have any page turners (Gawd! There’s nothing like a page turner!!!!) to recommend (fiction please, but I’m game for any genre in that category) please let me know!  Discovering new authors is part of the fun!

booksquote2