Random Musings….

It’s About the Back List

Recently I attended a writing presentation by Casey Bond, YA author and marketer extraordinaire. She was speaking in Huntington at the Huntington Fiction Factory portion of Arts Night Out, sponsored by our local convention and visitors bureau.

One of the things she talked about was the woefully neglected promotion of an author’s back list, those books published several years ago, but still wildly relevant and exciting if you did’t get to read them when they were first published.

So, as I’m shopping a new manuscript, here are teasers from my two older novels.

Father’s Trouble$ 

FT w sticker     “The weekend Maggie Malone stunned her parents with the announcement that she was leaving her “perfect” husband of twenty years, she learned her mother could go her one better.  She had a secret  she had been keeping for almost fifty years……

Maggie was thoroughly puzzled.  She quickly tried to imagine what her mother was talking about. What gossip? Family memories flashed by in fast forward, but no mental picture that Maggie could recall prepared her for what followed. Her mother was angrier than Maggie had seen her since she was a teenager. She wanted to ask a question, but dared not interrupt.

Sara stopped again to compose herself. “You remember what I always told you about your grandfather –– my father and how he died of a broken heart after my mother died?  Well, what you don’t know –– what I never told you is this –– Richard Lawrence Burgher died in prison.”

Published in 2003 by MidAtlantic Highlands Press. Still available at Amazon,com.

 

amo, amas, amat…an unconventional love story                   2nd Ed cover

MAY 1984   “After several more weeks of arguing over the proposed counseling session, Nick had acquiesced. It wasn’t Mary Cate’s persuasiveness that had moved him, however, it was Race’s astute observation. “You’re between the proverbial rock and hard place, my man! If you go and what’s really bothering you comes out, she’ll leave you in a New York minute. And if you don’t and the marriage breaks up, what’s to keep daddy from finding a way to fire your ass? Either way, you’re history. You’d better go and just play it cool, man,” he’d said via long distance. That had gotten Nick’s attention. Not that Mr. Randolph was the vindictive type, but you never knew. Fathers are protective. A divorce would certainly give him a new perspective on the club’s tennis pro, and it wouldn’t be a favorable one, he had reasoned. So, Nick had agreed to go – at least once – then left it up to his wife to make the appointment with the counselor.”

Published 2011 by CreateSpace. Available at Amazon.com 

 

Memoir: Non-fiction or ????

Who Says Memoir Has to be Non-fiction?

When I read this article in The Millions that was posted on Facebook, I began thinking about my recent experience in writing my husband’s memoir: We were legends in our own minds, which is still in the editing stage.

Since many of the incidents he related about the rock acts he interacted with happened decades ago, his memories of them are not perfect. Granted, he relayed many of those stories time and time again over the years; but still, the exact date, what he or the performer actually said, or each detail of the incident were fuzzy. What to do? Fictionalize it? Look for documentation to corroborate his stories? We chose the latter, but according to this article, that wouldn’t be necessary.

What’s your opinion about this much-discussed topic?

 

Fearless

FearlessBookCover_R1On May 15, 2019, Mountain State Press will launch a new anthology, edited by the incomparable Cat Pleska called Fearless:Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment. I’m delighted and honored to have an essay included. Look for it soon in bookstores everywhere. If you can’t find it there, contact Mountain State Press at https://mountainstatepress.org/shop/fearless-womens-journeys-to-self-empowerment/?fbclid=IwAR3d7bRYFSww6HLhEBPgGouyhwWCOdqyIzo-eahQEa1O0ivm5O4gRAOBTfs,  Until May 31, the price is $15. After that it jumps to $19.99. Still a bargain.

A Fabulist Tale

Bernadette’s Best Friend

As Bernadette lays her knitting on the kitchen table and stands to add coals to her fire, she’s talking to her best friend, Sadie. “What’cha think, Sadie? Sorta cold in here, ain’t it?”

Sadie, the shaggy offspring of an undiscriminating collie mother and a long-forgotten coon dog father, cocks her head, listening intently, tail wagging in assent. After watching Bernadette a minute, she returns to the nap the woman had interrupted.

“Yeah, me too. Lord, I wish you could talk back. It’s too quiet around here.” Bernadette is a recent widow who tended her husband Harold’s deafness, then blindness, and finally his lapse into utter silence during his long journey toward the grave. Now, instead of conversing with a husband who, for years, didn’t answer her, she’s taken to talking with Sadie. Of course, in private, she conversed with Sadie long before Harold’s death, sharing her frustration, sorrows, and worries. Sadie was her confidant; Bernadette knew the old dog would never tell her secrets. While Bernadette got the same responses from Sadie as she did from Harold, with Sadie it was oddly comforting. From her, the old woman didn’t expect clever repartee.

Today, the sky is clear and Bernadette is eager to get out of the house for a spell. “Sadie, after lunch we’ll take a walk but I gotta eat first. You want some sausage?” she says as Sadie positions herself nearly under Bernadette’s feet. It’s their mealtime ritual. Sadie begins jumping in an excited frenzy when she sees the can of sausages in Bernadette’s hand. “Ok, here’s one, but that’s all you get. Too many will make you fat and we don’t want that, do we?” Sadie grabs the link then ducks her head as if ashamed of the pound or two she’s gained since Harold died and Bernadette began sharing food with her instead of with her husband.

Bundled in Harold’s old canvas jacket against the still chilly spring, Bernadette snaps on Sadie’s leash, asking her, “Okay girl, which way you wanna go today?” The woman wears the nearly threadbare fleece-lined coat because it still carries the sweet scent of Harold’s pipe tobacco.

Sadie heads down the lane, turns right at the road, and they begin the trip she loves. At the first clump of clover, she stops to make her mark. She’s got favorite spots: clumps of grass, mailboxes, power poles, and trees and she returns to them time after time. Today, when they reach the fork where Bernadette usually turns left to head back toward home, Sadie, by tugging on her leash until Bernadette is afraid she’ll choke, insists on going the other way. Relenting, they venture on a path along the creek that is unfamiliar to Bernadette, but seems to unleash some hidden memory in Sadie’s brain. She stops, sniffs, pees; stops, sniffs, and pees as if she wants to be sure the way is now clearly marked. Each time she looks up at Bernadette as if to say, “I’m only doing this so you’ll remember where to come next time.”

After an hour, the old woman’s down-at-the-heels brogans begin to hurt her feet and she’s eager to return to her fireplace and her knitting. “Okay, Sadie, Momma has had enough. Let’s head for home.”

Sadie gives her a furrowed brow but follows Bernadette’s gentle pull of the leash. However, Bernadette suddenly is unsure which way home is. She stops at the end of the creek and, confused, looks around for some familiar landmark. Sadie sits attentively beside her.

“Okay, Sadie, you got us here, but how do we get home?” Bernadette says.

Sadie stands, looks up, and says, “If you’ll follow me, Momma, I’ll get us home. I didn’t mean to get you lost. But I know the way. Come on.”

Shocked, Bernadette looks down at Sadie. “Did you just answer me? You ain’t never talked before!”

“Never needed to. You always seemed so in charge. Now I am. Come on. Let’s go home.”

Amazed, Bernadette takes up the leash and follows her best friend back down the road, onto their lane, and inside the house, hoping this is the beginning of some real conversations.

Huntington Quarterly Feature Stories

For a number of years I’ve been fortunate enough to write for Jack Houvouras’ fine magazine, Huntington Quarterly. From time to time. I’ll post their links here.

Did you know we’ve got Airbnbs right here in river city? Here is a link to my latest feature article. https://huntingtonquarterly.com/2019/04/03/airbnb-huntington/

In Spring 2018 for the 100th issue of HQ, Jack and I suggested 100 things every Huntingtonian should do: https://huntingtonquarterly.com/2019/04/18/100-things-every-huntingtonian-should-do/

Sometimes I’m privileged to write about one of the area’s outstanding homes, like this one featured in the Fall 2017 issue. https://huntingtonquarterly.com/2019/04/18/architectual-challenge/

Summer 2017 HQ featured my article on one of Huntington’s premier bankers, Bob Beymer. https://huntingtonquarterly.com/2019/04/18/bob-beymer/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of my comfort zone

There’s nothing like taking an advanced fiction workshop to force you out of your comfort zone. That’s what I did this winter. Weekly assignments, which I like to think of as required prompts, had me writing magical realism, flash fiction, fables, and memory based short stories. For instance:

A Tale of Two Rabbits

Once upon a time, a family of rabbits lived in a cozy cottage in a deep thicket in Monroe County, West Virginia. C. J. Rabbit, commonly called Charlie, was a farmer. Every day he tended their garden, growing lettuce, radishes, green beans, corn, and potatoes like his father and grandfather before him. His wife, Josephine, minded their house as had her mother and grandmother before her. Several years ago, Josephine had quadruplets named Stewart, Susie, Sophie, and Sam. Stewart, the oldest wanted to be a farmer just like his father and as he grew old enough, he helped plant the crops and hoe the weeds. Susie, being the oldest girl, wanted nothing more than to become a wife and a mother when she grew up, so she stayed by her mother’s side learning how to be a housewife.

Sophie and Sam, however, had other aspirations. They had a love for adventure. As youngsters, they had explored the woods beyond their own thicket, gone to an advanced school in neighboring Greenbrier County, and even persuaded their parents to get them iPhones. Soon they learned that there was a whole big world outside of Monroe County. And they wanted to explore it.

After graduation, they both worked at the lavish resort nearby to earn enough money to travel. Sophie, in her starched white apron, worked diligently in the candy shop where she could have all the lickings from the gooey pans of chocolate used to make truffles. Sam became a blackjack dealer at the casino and was reputed to be the most amenable of all the staff. He loved wearing the striped vest and red bow-tie that made up his uniform. And he loved the exciting life he imagined those high rollers lived.

Soon the pair had enough money to fly to Europe where they’d always dreamed of living. When Sophie told her mother that she wanted to go to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, her mother gave her a stern warning; “Don’t go there. The big people eat rabbits, you know.” Sophie thought that was silly, but she assured her mother she’d be careful. Charlie didn’t wanted Sam to leave either. Stewart was a bit lazy, his father confided. “You are a much harder worker, boy, and I need you.”

But Sam insisted on leaving. “I’m not a farmer, Dad. I want to be a city rabbit. I’m sorry.”

Sam and Sophie remained undeterred. And so, they flew off to Pittsburgh, carrying only one suitcase each. As they boarded the silver jet, their parents and their siblings cried, “Come back home soon.” But Sam and Sophie made no promises. From Pittsburgh, Sam boarded a plane for Amsterdam, while Sophie hopped on the Paris flight.

Over the next two years, the two met often, traveling by train to each other’s home town. Sophie was on her way to becoming a chef but Sam had found the prostitutes and coffee shops of Amsterdam too appealing. Without a steady job, he spent most of his time there, smoking pot and visiting the girls who displayed themselves in the street-side windows. Now and again, out of necessity, he took odd jobs to which he rode his bicycle. Some days, he painted houses; some days he delivered groceries, but most of his time and all of his money was spent pleasuring himself.

Finally, Sophie grew tired of helping to support her brother, and she cut him off. Now, forced to find a real job, Sam moved to the smaller town of Kinderdijk where he learned all about windmills. Fascinated by them, he began thinking about how wind power could help reduce his home state’s dependence on coal, which he knew was polluting the earth.

Eager to share the news with Sophie, he Facetimed her. “Sophie, let’s go back home. I have a plan. I want to support using wind power in West Virginia. Come back with me. You can be a chef in Lewisburg.”

By now, Sophie had to admit she’d grown a bit tired of navigating her bike in Paris traffic, and was beginning to long for the green hills of Monroe County. She wanted to see Peter’s Mountain once again, so she agreed. They arranged to meet in Pittsburgh and fly home together without telling their parents. Charlie and Josephine were delighted to see them hopping down the lane toward their cottage. “Now you can help us on the farm,” they said.

But it was not to be. Although, like most Appalachian rabbits, they resettled in their home towns, they didn’t return to their old way of life. Living abroad had taught them to look at home differently. So, Sam set up a wind and solar energy company in White Sulphur Springs and Sophie became the head chef at Food & Friends in Lewisburg. And Charlie and Josephine were very proud of them.

Recently, I’ve been writing some short stories, but this one is really short.

The Little House

During my early teens my house was party central. Perhaps it was the draw of our swimming pool but more likely it was the little house in our backyard. I had decorated the one-room white cottage with a miniature overstuffed sofa and club chair, although I’m not sure where my mother found them. It even had curtains on the side windows. Everyone in my social group knew of its charms. During parties, budding romances blossomed within its confines; couples that were “going steady,” as it was called back then, found it a place they could neck without fear of being caught by my mother.

Although it had been a gift from our grandfather to my brother years earlier, I had convinced him to rent it to me. I think my grandfather thought it would make a good boy’s clubhouse, but my brother was not the clubhouse type. He was, however, a capitalist who maintained a neighborhood “store” each summer selling already-read comic books, Cracker Jack prizes, and Cokes our father bought wholesale from the distributor. Charging his sister rent for a building he had no interest in using appealed to him. We agreed on the grand sum of twenty-five cents a month.

Of course, over time, I forgot to pay him, spending my money on 45rpm records, lipsticks, and the other necessities of teenage girlhood. Periodically, he’d berate me for the back rent, and I’d give him some sum to shut him up, but I was always in arrears. Even he couldn’t tell me how much I owed him.

Years passed, I married, he went to college, and began his long career as an engineer with Coca Cola. The little house fell into disuse except as a storage place for pool furniture. Eventually, my parents moved to Florida and the little house disappeared from the backyard, as did the pool.

In 1990, my brother retired from Coke, and his wife held a huge retirement bash for him in Atlanta where they had lived since he graduated from Georgia Tech. Partially a roast, the party featured funny stories about my brother, a disc jockey that he’d always admired, and gift tributes. I decided to finally pay my old debt since he’d ragged me over the years for being a deadbeat renter. I had a cousin who was a real estate attorney calculate what the interest and principle on my back rent would total; he figured it would be in the thousands of dollars, although I don’t recall the exact amount. Then I had a printing company make one of those giant fake checks that you see being presented to contest winners and took it to the party. I presented it to him with a short recitation of the reason and much fanfare. He laughed good-naturedly, but I suspect his capitalist heart would have preferred one he could have cashed.

Ten years later my brother would die and in cleaning out his belongings, my sister-in-law would find the giant check and return it to me saying my brother had told her my debt had been paid in full.

Running is Life

As I watched the New York City Marathon today, November 4, I remembered my own running of this venerated race. It was over twenty years ago, and there were “only” 25,000 runners. The thrill of crossing that finish line is the same for the elite runners like Greta Weitz, Mary Decker Slaney, and Shalane Flanagan as it is for a back -of-the-pack runner like me.

A number of years ago, on the occasion of another NYC Marathon I wrote the essay below. It expresses what every long distance runner learns: the limits we can endure in life.

I have a T-shirt that says, “Running is Life. The rest is just details.”That’s not true, of course, but running a marathon is an apt metaphor for how to run your life’s race. Of course, you don’t think about that as you put one weary foot in front of the other through each grueling mile. You are just focused on finishing, or maybe –if it’s a good day –on having a “personal best”time. However, when I look back, I realize I learned more about myself after taking up the sport and preparing to run the 26.2 miles of a marathon than I had learned in the previous fifty-one years.

When I first began running thirty-some years ago, it was for sanity, the kind of sanity being alone could bring. At the time, I lived in an unraveling marriage and had four teenagers. Running took me away from the ever-present stress. It was a form of escapism, and it worked. I’d rise early to run the roads near home. At first, I ran two semi-rural blocks; then four; then a mile. Houses were just awakening. Cars were few and far between. My family thought I was nuts; but it gave me time to myself, just to think, to be in the now, not worrying about what to cook, how to pay the bills, how to deal with rebellious sons, an angry husband, my day job. Of course, I often did think about those things, but watching each footfall to be sure you don’t trip in the gravel berm, or listening to the rhythmic sound of your own breathing provides a different focus, and centers you in the act. I had no running goals, back then. I simply ran.

A few years later, divorced, and living in another city, I entered a 5K race. It was only a bit over three miles, but I had to walk much of it. I won no medal, had no personal best; but afterward, someone told me I looked like a runner. To me that was a high compliment. I demurred, said I did it for fun. That day, I vowed someday I would be a runner. I ran more, but without a plan, or a goal. Then I moved to Atlanta, home of the Peachtree Road Race and a running club of 25,000 members. If I was going to be a runner, with a capital R, this was my opportunity to get serious. But, it was August, a hot time to start a regular running regime, so I procrastinated.

The following February, my only sibling, a brother who also lived in Atlanta, moved to Tokyo, a long-term relationship ended, and my father died. Bereft, with only a few friends scattered across that massive city of two million souls, running became my salvation. I’d mapped out a three-mile route from my apartment through the neighborhoods of Dunwoody with good intentions, but had not yet run it. When my grief and loneliness threatened to overwhelm me, I would lace up my shoes and strap on my running watch, eager to escape my apartment and my situation. Crying, and often gasping for breath, I’d run. Reaching the next telephone pole or driveway was my goal. By the time I returned home, I would feel better. Each day, I made it to one more pole, one more driveway. Each day, I cried less and breathed more evenly. Each success taught me something else, however. I came to realize that, although I didn’t have a steady job, was self-employed, and had contracts promised for only the next six months, I would make it. If I could master running, and conquer depression in the process, I knew I could tackle and succeed at this new life.

A few months later, I set a new goal. I entered the July 4th10K Peachtree Road Race: tough hills, Southern heat and humidity, and all. That was twice as far as I’d run previously. A friend offered to run it with me. He was a veteran of the race, and knew its pitfalls. I trained, going farther and farther each week. I mastered important breathing techniques. I thought I was prepared. But, when race day dawned hot, and muggy, I knew it would be a tough race. In the first few miles through Buckhead, I was able to talk and run –a good sign, I’d learned. As we reached what is not-so-laughingly called “Cardiac Hill”at Piedmont Hospital, I began to falter.

“No walking,”he said. “Just take it slow and steady. You’ll make it.”

“Don’t give up,”I thought. “It’s what divides winners and losers.”

I kept on, albeit more slowly. Still, it could have been considered running. On the other side, it’s mostly downhill to Piedmont Park. I was elated as we topped the crest and I could see Midtown ahead. I hadn’t remembered the elevation around the High Museum of Art, however. As we climbed that hill, higher than the first, I was losing steam. My legs felt like lead.

“I can’t do it,”I said, chagrined.

“Sure, you can,”he shot back. It’s less than a mile. Here, I’ll give you some of my energy.”

He reached over, grabbed my hand, and squeezed, hard. As I looked up, his smile said, “You’ll make it. I know you will.”A renewed sense of strength surged through my body, and I sped up a bit. As the finish line loomed, I tried to smile for the camera, but the tears came anyway. I’d made it, with a little help from my friend. I was a Runner.

“Well, I hear you’re a runner,”said an old friend I’d become reacquainted with. “Are you going to run a marathon next?”

I exploded with laughter. “Are you kidding? That’s insane. I’d never run that far.”

That was before I joined two running clubs, made friends with several women runners my age, and witnessed marathon fever. Suddenly, everyone I knew was training for one marathon or another. Shorter races were only a preamble, a training run. By now, for most of us, the 10K Peachtree was a social event; but 15K races were still a challenge. I ran five miles each Wednesday night through the hilly neighborhoods of Marietta. Sundays were for long runs. We ran Kennesaw Mountain’s trails or the loop trail along the Chattahoochee River. I learned where to hide water, carried Powerbars for energy, and knew where to stop for potty breaks. And, I looked forward to rewarding myself with waffles afterward.

Running waslife. I read books on the subject, and ate with a purpose. After all, food was only fuel, I reasoned. Stretching became a daily ritual, like brushing my teeth or showering. I devised, and followed a strict running schedule, recording my distance, time, and remarks about the run. I organized my work schedule around running. When I traveled, running gear was packed first. Once, I ran for forty-five minutes around a motel parking lot, because the neighborhood’s heavy traffic made road running close to the property too dangerous. Okay, maybe I was obsessed, but I was getting to know a part of me that I’d never consciously acknowledged before. I knew I was pretty task oriented, but this was different. Until now, I’d let life happen. Now I set goals and learned what it took to reach them. If I entered a longer race, I trained harder. If I over-trained, I learned how to soothe the sore muscles. I found these lessons worked in real life, as well. As a free-lance event planner, I worked months in advance for each special occasion I was tasked to create. Additionally, I had to constantly market myself to new clients for the unknown months ahead. If I wanted this career to sustain me, I had to devise a plan, not unlike my running regime. For me, that meant dedication to the sport, or to the job, and a commitment to something larger than myself. For some, that sort of commitment is religion; for me, running became my religion.

Just before Peachtree, my friends began talking about running the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving morning. I had caught the fever. At fifty, I was going to run my first marathon. I filled out the registration form, and set a training regime in place. Three of us committed to training together, and the veteran among us planned the schedule. I bought a book, On Running, by fellow Atlantan, Olympian Jeff Galloway, and followed his advice on training for thirty weeks to finish a marathon. In it, he assumes you can only run two miles at the start. However, since I could already run six miles, our long runs increased from twelve to twenty miles over the course of the next six months. In his plan, you run the entire distance once before the race. Neither of my partners wanted to do this, but I felt I had to know I could do it before race day.

Two weeks before the race, on a chilly Sunday morning at 7:00, one of my partners drove me to the starting line in the suburb of Lithonia, and let me out. “I’ll meet you in Piedmont Park at noon,”she said, before she drove away. I checked my shoelaces, pulled tube-socks over my hands and arms for warmth, and punched the start button on my watch. The miles were a blur, although the markers were already painted on the streets. When things got tough, I told myself, “I can do anything for another mile, or another thirty minutes, or another hour.”Whatever it took. It was like the first run: setting a telephone pole, or driveway in my sights as the finish. I talked to myself like my friend had done during the Peachtree, entreating my body to never give up. I envisioned crossing the real finish line on Thanksgiving Day, and saw myself with the finishers’medal around my neck. As the day heated up, I shed the socks, and wished I’d hidden water along the route. As I entered Virginia Highlands, about six miles from the finish, I was becoming dehydrated, which could lead to leg cramps. I had to stop, if only to get some water. Manuel’s Tavern loomed, and I prayed they were open, even though it was Sunday. Luckily, they were preparing for lunch, and I was able to get a glass of water before lurching back to the sidewalk and the last leg of the route. I’d forgotten an important rule –plan your route and prepare for the unexpected. Of course, on race day, water stops would be in place, but not today. I struggled through Virginia Highlands, and didn’t reach the park until 12:30. There was my friend, patiently waiting.

“What took you so long?”she joked.

Yet, she never said she didn’t think I’d make it. She knew I would. And, so did I. Running is as much a mind game as it is a physical one, and I’d learned the limits to which I could push myself. I was ready. Race day, I was ready. I was back on the route I’d run before. Every hill and pothole would be familiar. If I did it once, I could do it again. The gun sounded, and we punched our watches. We ran together most of the way, talked, laughed, enjoyed the run. Around mile fifteen I saw a woman who had given up and was walking. As she trudged along, she was crying, clearly defeated by the miles. While I couldn’t know exactly what stopped her –cramps, blisters, or simply fatigue –I was grateful that although obviously a decade her senior, I could still press on. As we passed her, I remembered something I’d once told my now grown daughter who had two children of her own. Frustrated with her sudden role as a single mother, she had asked me how I managed with four, who, at one time were all under the age of six. I said, “I simply got up each day, did what I had to do, went to bed, and got up and did it all again.”One day, one block, one mile at a time.

As we passed the nineteen-mile marker, my legs began to rebel. It’s where many runners hit the proverbial “wall”when their legs refuse to go any farther. I was beginning to lag. We recited the mantra, “The last part is ONLY a 10K race,”as if that would make our legs behave differently. I told my partner to go ahead and bid her goodbye, for I was slowing her down. She waved and eventually moved out of sight.

Soon, I rounded a turn and saw an amputee on crutches, slowly making his way to the finish line, a big smile on his face. Although he might have been a half-marathoner, on-lookers bowed and removed their hats as he went by. I thought, “If he can do it, I’ve got no excuses at all.”I told myself to keep on running, and re-envisioned crossing the finish line myself. Soon my legs responded. Determination and persistence can overcome obstacles that, at first glance, look impossible.

Finally, I entered the park. Race officials make it clear that they ask volunteers to stay only five hours so they can enjoy Thanksgiving with family, and it was beyond that deadline. I worried that the clock would be down, the volunteers gone. I shouldn’t have. My son and mother had come from Florida for the holiday and to watch the race. I crossed the finish just ahead of a man whose feet were bleeding through his tennis shoes. The clock was still there. It read 5:19:06.

Later I learned that officials had started taking down the clock, but my son insisted they leave it. He told me he said, “My mother is out there and she WILL finish. Leave it up.”They did. As the medal encircled my neck I cried, again, this time from joy. I’d done it. I knew from this day there would be few obstacles I couldn’t handle. Plan your race, and race your plan.

 

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! From time to time, I’ll be posting thoughts gleaned from musing over a good cup of coffee. Stay tuned.

Two road diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost

Here’s an excerpt from Me and MaryAnn. It’s a collection of tales of two naughty little girls in the 1940s. Oh, that children could be this free again.

If you’d like a copy of the whole book, email me at carterseaton@comcast.net and I’ll sign and send you one after you pay through PayPal, or you can get it from Amazon.com. It’s only $10.00 plus shipping.

Rose Petal Showers

When MaryAnn and I were about seven or eight years old, both her back yard and mine were filled with huge rambling roses which covered our fences. Pink, red, and magenta roses bloomed in bright profusion filling the air with sweetness. One hot summer day we decided to bottle that sweet smell. After all, it seemed such a shame to let the lovely petals just fall to the ground and rot. We were sure if we ground them up we could make wonderful rose petal perfume.

We went to each yard with a bushel basket and gathered only the finest flowers — the ones that were just about to fall off the bushes — and carried them to MaryAnn’s basement. First, we sorted them by color into three batches thinking that each would produce a distinctive aroma: light pinks — a delicate scent, rich magentas — a stronger, full-bodied perfume and the blood-red tea roses — a deep rich pungent smell. Next we mashed them up and mixed them with water to make the perfume, then left them to ferment while we ate lunch. When we returned, the concoction had turned into a foul smelling mixture that smelled exactly like rotten flowers floating in water. Our experiment was a failure, but we still had a lot of petals left and couldn’t bear to just throw them away; after all, we had just rescued them from that fate.

Because I had just read Sleeping Beauty, who had flower petals tossed in her pathway as she walked down the aisle with her bridegroom prince, we decided to bestow this honor on passing cars. We went to the corner where our streets met. Mrs. Stone’s house was on a triangular lot and she did not like us using her yard as a short cut from one street to another. At the end of her lot was a ditch in which we could duck below the street level, but even the ditch had been declared off limits by Mrs. Stone. In our minds this added to the danger, so we were very careful to hide in the ditch.

We hid down in the ditch and as a car drove by on one side or the other, we threw a few petals at it, laughing at the sight of a shower of rose petals landing on the cars. No one in any of the cars we showered seemed to notice, so we got bored quickly. However, one last grand effort to make someone notice our gesture seemed important. MaryAnn and I decided if a few petals weren’t enough, maybe they would notice an entire basket of petals, all at once.

We rose up out of the ditch lugging the basket and waited until the next car approached. Here it came! We grabbed the basket by the handles and slung its contents toward the passing car. It was beautiful! Bright magenta, red and pink petals went everywhere — on the windshield, on the road and unfortunately into the car. The car windows were down. The driver slammed on his brakes and came to a screeching halt. We nearly wet our pants. He stopped the car, threw open the door and yelled at us, “What in the world are you two doing?”

MaryAnn told him how nice we thought it would be for the passersby to have rose petals showering over their cars, but he wasn’t impressed. He didn’t think it was very nice at all. No sense of romance was hidden in his heart. He told us in no uncertain terms how he felt about it and said, “if you think it is so charming, why don’t you just get in here and clean them all out.

We had to clean the car out, petal-by-petal. While we worked in the warm car, some of our enthusiasm for the grandeur and pageantry of rose-strewn paths for brides and grooms was lost along with our pride. We decided that a plain old aisle in a church would suit us better when we grew up.

 

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