Living in Her World

She lives in a world of princess dolls, tea sets, and toy horses, each enhanced with her imagination into a fantasy world of unending play and drama. She has deep conversations and interaction between her dolls and horses, and a tea party will include every toy she can find and her grandfather. She dances, prances, twirls, all in her tutu of the day – without an ounce of self conscious behavior.

In her world, everyone is expected to understand the rules that she sets forth and changes from moment to moment. It is her world after all. Her princesses posture, argue, share, and talk for hours, just like people in the grown up world. However, it is all driven by the imagination, intelligence, and curiosity of a four year old girl. When I over hear her say something that sound remarkably like something I have said to her, or her Mommy has said, it makes me smile. There are time she sounds amazingly mature, and other times it is clear she is fully engrossed in some magical moment of discovery.

In her world, her teddy bear, toy cat, and prized princess horse can have an intense conversation over pretend tea and cookies, while her imaginary sisters squabble in the background. I don’t know how she keeps the story lines straight. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because it is her world and subject to change without notice. And, like it or not, those of us on the peripheral are involved when we are needed to further the narrative.

Living in her world includes frequent costume changes, and requires a fashion show for each change. Sometimes it requires a new way of doing up her hair, different shoes, and a full change from the skin out. She dances her way through the day, fully aware of her beauty, and proud of her ability to be a princess one moment and a baby the next.

In her world, where she displays supreme self confidence and control, she has no fear, except a fear of the dark. She faces monsters, outrageous characters, stubborn dolls, and the occasional grumpy horse that needs a talking to. She laughs and dances through the story, the moment, the magic. And, at the end of her day, she crawls into her Papa’s lap, asking for a story to go to sleep by. Then, the next day, that story finds its way into her world, continuing on in her imagination.

Living in her world is a delight, a blessing, and an unending adventure. Her favorite living companion is her Papa, who willingly joins her world, and deeply misses her when she is away. We are old, she is young, but with her in our lives, in our hearts, we have learned to play again. Time to go see what is next, a tea party or a pretend trip to the barn. Either way, we will be in her world, and it will be an adventure worth remembering.

Dancing in the Kitchen

We were newlyweds living in a house built in the 1800’s up in the hills above Mill Valley, California. We were deeply in love, but still adjusting to each other. It was a bad day, we had argued off and on all day about silly things. He made me cry, I made him swear. It was a typical lover’s spat made worse because we were so young, both of us were still teenagers.

I went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner. As I usually did, I put on music to help me deal with the stresses of my emotions. The Everly Brothers were, and still are, one of my favorite groups. I always sing along with music I love. The song “Let It Be Me” came on the stereo. I started to sing along, when I felt my husband’s arms come around me. He turned me to face him and we started slow dancing in the kitchen. That was the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen.

We’ve been married for 46 years, over the years we have danced barefoot in kitchens all over the world. Last week we danced in our kitchen here in Mississippi to the same song. It still makes me teary eyed to feel the deep love we still have for each other. The last dance I ever have, when we are so old a decrepit that we creak, will be dancing barefoot in the kitchen. And we will be just as in love then as we were the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen back in 1972 in that old house on Rose Avenue in Mill Valley, California.



I Am A Writer?

I wrote a book. Me. I like the book I wrote, but so do other people, and that surprises me. Now I am writing another story. And that surprises me even more. It’s scary to write a book, it is even scarier to let people read it. Because I am putting myself on the line, and I don’t do rejection well. Never have, probably never will. So why bother to do this?

I am 62 years old. I have led a varied and amazing life. And like everyone, I have stories to tell. Not about me, really, but about people I’ve met, things I’ve seen, places I’ve been, and the miracles that bind people together in the most amazing ways. I want to tell those stories without being specific about those people.

So like most writers, I want to tell the stories in a way that is fiction, based on facts and experiences. It is a fine line to walk, because someone might recognize themselves, or think they do, if they know me. Or maybe not. Depends on who it is and when the story takes place. Writers tend to write what they know, and some of us, (Wow, I said US!) write what we know in very different times and places. Science Fiction stories are still based on known quantities in an imaginary place. Humans are always going to act like humans. Vampires act like humans with extra abilities and sharp teeth; monsters act like humans with terrifying abilities and attitudes. Even stories about dogs and cats have situations where humans place their human behavior on the cats and dogs. I find that interesting, with varying degrees of horrified. What I don’t usually like are writers who have a formula for their stories. They tend to all have pretty much the same storyline, the same characters, and no real surprises. Boring.

I figure I have read hundreds of thousands of books over my lifetime. I started reading when I was four years old, I taught myself. The first thing I remember reading was Jack Be Nimble. I loved nursery rhymes. I’ved read every genre at one time or another, everything from earliest written books to the most modern books. Learning along the way that I hate creepy books, and the people who write them must have some deeply disturbing issues to be able to write things like that. Mr. King, you need serious therapy. I also dislike predictability in a story, and if you are going to write historically based books, please, get the facts straight about the minutia. It drives readers nuts to know you have it all wrong when it comes to things like the use of guns, martial arts, and magic. Really, speak to a modern day witch before assuming you have it right Fantasy writers.

I admire writers who have the courage to toot their own horns, doing what it takes to get their books read, even in this age of massive self publishing. I haven’t decided if I want to publish, well I do, but I don’t know if I have the courage to publish. I am really worried I will make an ass of myself, like I often do when I get in front of a crowd. Yep, me, cowardly lion here. Unless it comes to politics, family, friends, or my country then I can be brave and speak my mind.

So, I’m a writer, sort of. The stories really write themselves. I just go along and type it up for the characters. I’m having fun, and if I get rejected, I get rejected. The stories have got to be told. I’m a writer, who would have thought that would ever happen?

Busy Me

I’ve neglected my blog page for the past week. I have a good reason. I am in the middle of writing a love story. Yep, anti-romance novels me. Crazy as it seems, this is the first time I have had a story take over and write itself. I have a theory.

I was taught how to write. Outlines, character analysis, lists, blocking out scenes… blah blah blah. I got bored with the project before I finished the first ten chapters every time. I thought I was just inept. Then I discovered something, I don’t write that way. I can’t, it is unnatural to me, because I was raised by story tellers, not novelists.

So, this story has been lying around gathering dust in my brain for years. I loathe most love stories, so yawningly boring. Same formula every time: Handsome man, beautiful girl, rich and poor, meet, fall madly in love, have a fight or issue that tears them apart, they get back together, have lots of sex and life is happy ever after. Yawn. Totally NOT what really happens in love stories. Well, maybe lots of sex, but that is about it. Most love stories are between average people, doing average things, living average lives. It is the people who make the story interesting. Each story is unique, and told from two perspectives, his and hers. All the other characters are background noise, necessary, but background noise.

Anyway, that’s my focus. I have written over 26,000 words in three days, after revision. I have no idea where this is going except I am excited to keep writing the story of my lovers. I hope it is a happy most of the time ever after ending. I am crazy about both of them. So far I can’t get them in the same room for more than ten minutes…. never mind, I will share later.

I haven’t been this happy writing since I first started writing eons ago. So, if I neglect the blog page for a bit, forgive me, those few who actually follow me. I have got to get back to it, something big is going to happen in the next chapter or two, I feel it.

You know, I think most women should write like this, from the heart, and to hell with outlines, mistakes can be fixed once the story is down. Ahhh, mental freedom.

Why Is It Number 3

Why Is It, Number Three.

Why is it when you have a time limit to be somewhere on time, it takes the server at your table forever to bring the check?

Why is it when people get on the road, and they are locals, they get into the wrong lane and hold up traffic trying to move over?

Why is it that babies like to shriek at the tops of their lungs in public places. Generally when sitting right behind you?

Why is it, on the hottest day of the year, everyone goes where you are going, and all the good parking spots are gone, resulting in having to hike from the car park to the entrance?

Why is it, that everyone insists on driving the standard route to get somewhere, fighting traffic, when learning the short cut makes life so much easier?

Why is it, that people feel they have to stand in front of the concession booth and waffle on about what to get for a movie snack. Easy people, soda, popcorn, candy. Think ahead and save time.

Why is it that said people take such great pleasure in crunching, slurping, chewing, and belching, (sometimes all at the same time) while talking through the previews at the cinema?

Why is it, that so many people want to text or chat through the movie instead of watching the show they just paid seven bucks to see?

Why is it, I ALWAYS get the Chatty Cathy Barbie doll sitting behind me who simpers her way through the plot like twists by asking her testosterone loaded date what happened and why?

Why is it, that parents of very young children under a year old bring their kids to the cinema? Used to be Drive-In movies for that sort of thing.

Why is it, that I get to listen to the guy behind us crunch his straw in the ice in his drink, every time the action gets intense?

Why is it when one walks out of the theater, the sun seems so much brighter, but the day seems a bit more mundane and gray when the movie is over?

Why is it, people park their shopping trolley right smack in the middle of an aisle, and get ticked when you politely ask them to scoot it over a bit so others can get past?

Why is it that every time I am trying to look at a particular product, someone will just walk up and stand right in front of where I am looking?

Why is the counter guys at the deli can’t seem to understand what Pastrami is, and that when I say Cajun, I mean spicy Cajun. I mean really, there is no other kind.

Why is it the produce looks delicious across the room, but finding something you want to eat is so difficult?

Why is it, no matter what, I always end up in the slow check out lane in the market?

Comforting Traditions

I have come to the undeniable conclusion that I am turning into a pack rat. (shudder) I figured that out by taking a look at the exterior of my refrigerator this morning. It had become, one bit of stuff at a time, the standard hoarding place for magnets. Under those magnets were photos, old phone numbers, ancient appointment cards from all sorts of places, bits and pieces of tools, keys, reminders, sticky notes, and plain old STUFF that should have long since gone into the rubbish bin. There were some great things on there too, like the drawings made for me by my grandchildren – two years ago, and a few of the awards Crystal got when she was doing martial arts, when we lived in Virginia – six years ago or more. But most of it was just stuff we all got too lazy to throw away.

What wasn’t on the refrigerator, was our yearly calendar – something that was a mainstay in our home for the past 41 years. Our lives went on the calendar, and when it got too busy, everyone ended up with a different color pen to write in their events, just to keep straight who I was taking to the soccer practice, and who was going to be dropped off to hang out with a friend. School assignments from the class syllabus went on there too, so I could stay on top of what next important project had to be finished first, or when a big exam was coming up. That way I could do the Mom thing, that makes our kids hate us, and nag them to get it done.

Calendars used to be important. At least they were when I was first married and then raising my boys. Now everyone has a smart phone, or PDA, or laptop, or an i Pad. Who needs something hanging on the fridge or bulletin board that has cheesy pictures or boring sayings leaching down the pages, when they can download, upload, tweet, text, FB, or set up the phone to ring an alarm to remind them of the things going on in their lives? Yet another casualty to the advent of the every changing tech world.

When I was a little girl, getting a new calendar each new year was a big deal. At first we got one from the garage where my granddad worked, but when we got old enough to know when the picture of the girls on each month were, shall we say, a bit saucy, my Grannie would get one from the grocery store for free. It was boring, and didn’t have many things worth looking at other than the food we knew we couldn’t afford.

The first time I got a calendar for Christmas, I was thrilled! I was allowed to put everyone’s birthday, important dates, and appointments in the blocks under the pretty picture. It was so exciting to be able to cross off days for big days and events. My first calendar was all about Pioneers who settled in Oklahoma and the west. Old photographs, drawings, and on the page for September, a map that I studied until the page fell out. That was when I realized the world was massive, and to find my way around I would need to understand maps. I am still a map junky. Forget Map Quest of any of the maps on line, give me a paper map with a million details and I go anywhere my dreams take me.

I’ve had calendars with cats, dogs, horses, Harley Davidson Motorcycles, cute kids, bratty kids, dolls, Scouting, guns, cartoons, castles, great writers, great artists, and much more gracing the months and edifying those who take the time to read the words on them. One of my favorites was a calendar that Riley made for me in Cub Scouts. Each month had a finger print or hand print turned into an animal on it. It was stapled at the top, and not all of the boxes were straight, but I loved that calendar and used it for the whole year.

So, this year, I bought a calendar with silly cartoon cats doing all sorts of obnoxious things. I wrote in everyone’s birthdays, added a few anniversaries, big events, and goals. Now that my refrigerator is DE-junked, I have put it on the front with huge magnets that will hold it all year. Now I feel organized and a bit more in control. Like comfort food, comfortable traditions can make our world right in the midst of change and chaos. All I have to do now, is keep everyone else from using it for the family bulletin board and a place to stick stuff they don’t want to take the time to put away.

New story idea

I haven’t been writing much here because I am taking wild leap and writing a story that *might* turn into something more. So here is the first few pages. Opinions welcome, but don’t be too mean!

Arelia watched as her Fool morphed into a frog, then a snake, and finally a small rodent before he regained his normal form of a twelve year old boy. She was so used to his sudden morphing that she didn’t bother to pause in her rant about the lack of freedom she suffered. Jason, her Fool, was her constant companion, his purpose was to keep her entertained and out of trouble. She knew she vexed him beyond self control when she complained, bitterly, about her fate. Hence, the constant and rapid changes taking place before her eyes. But it simply was not fair that her fate was set in such a way that she could not take a short cut, evade, or refuse the road set before her. Up until her naming day last week, she could dismiss the fate as something in the far distance. However, she was now 16 summers old, and her naming day was the final day of freedom.

Arelia knew she was spoiled, and as far as spoiled princesses go, she wasn’t all that bad. Although, she did have a temper, and she had a wicked way of saying things that were cutting when she was angry. The entire country knew she could easily provoke a Holy One to lose its temper with her antics. It was not, as she often pointed out to the long suffering Fool, her fault people kept annoying her with nonsense and boring court functions. After all, a princess should have some control over her own choices.

She was still fuming and stomping back and forth across the stone floor of her bower when Fool got himself back under control. The creature he morphed into often reflected his thoughts. The frog was his inner fear that he would be stuck with Arelia forever, while the snake represented his disgust with the powers that made his fate twine with hers, and the rodent was the not so subtle refection of his feelings about the entire creepiness of the fawning members of the court. Nonetheless, Fool had heard the entire diatribe because when he morphed he didn’t the lose senses of his humanity.

As he watched Arelia work herself into a fine tizzy, he pulled his smock and trews back on, and began to search for his shoes. The most embarrassing thing about uncontrolled morphing was the sudden loss of clothing. Fortunately, his small clothes seemed to morph along with his body, but standing around in his under wear whilst searching for his clothes did leave him feeling rather at a loss for decorum. Being trapped in the body of a twelve year old boy, when he was really a man long grown also rankled. No one, not one single person in the Keep paid any attention to anything he said. As long as he was doing his job of Fool, they ignored him, or, in the case of a few of the young men, shoved him aside in contempt.

Arelia wound down from her snit eventually. Thankfully, for Fool, it was in time for him to prepare for the evening. There were more visitors and suiters than normal since the princess had just passed her naming day. The suitors were more underfoot than a starving hound. Every time he turned a corner, yet another swain was leaning against the wall in feigned lethargy with mooning eyes. When they saw it was only Fool, the pose would disappear until they thought they heard the light footsteps of the newly minted woman of the Keep. It was all Fool could do not to morph at their ridiculous behavior as it irked him beyond measure.

The Lord sat at the head table with his Queen and retinue laughing with the fathers of the young Lords. Although the atmosphere was jovial, the undercurrent clearly stated the seriousness of the courting at hand. Arelia was their only daughter, and the Lord and his Lady planned to make sure they got every bit of gold that she was worth. And she was worth a great deal since she would inherit the title of Queen and all the holdings as was the custom in Balewicks. The object of discussion spent the evening trying to escape the clutches of the suitors and their unwanted attention. She eventually settled between Fool and her childhood Nurse to maintain a measure of safety. Still seething about the news that she was supposed to choose one of the pimply faced, obnoxious twits as a husband, Arelia made no attempt to pay attention to any of them. She knew her father and mother would expect an announcement by week’s end, and her fertile mind went round and round, doing its best to find a way to stop the inevitable nightmare of being married to someone she barely knew and certainly did not love. Her mother told her that love would come after the marriage, or at least mutual respect, but a future Queen had no right to expect to actually marry for love. In her heart Arelia knew her mother had to be wrong. She had to be. Before she gave into her despair or temper, she prodded Fool and told him to do something to distract her.

Fool had just downed the last of the meat on his trencher, he took a deep drink of his ale, climbed on the table. Thinking furiously, he tuned his small harp and began to sing a drinking song that soon had the people in the hall bellowing the chorus at the top of their lungs. As ladies were present, it wasn’t all that bawdy, but the men appreciated the meaning. Fool wasn’t all that great a singer, but he knew a great number of tunes and twiddles with which to entertain the folks around him. And if that failed to do the job, he could always morph and mock, or mock and morph as the case may be. All the while the music and song was going on, Fool was watching those around him with a sharp eye. He felt, in his deepest bones, that something was not quite right. Shifting from the drinking song into a ballad, he exaggerated the love song with longing sighs and batting eyelids, mocking the very thing that the song spoke of. The longer evening went on, the more dissonance Fool felt, as if there was a string out of tune just enough to irritated the ears of the player. Still, he could not lay his eyes or his fingers on the dissonance.

The more the men drank, the louder they sang. Eventually, the ladies withdrew, and the men began to sing truly bawdy songs from days of marching armies when men had only a bottle of spirits to keep him warm late at night. Fool played until his fingers hurt, and then he played even longer until the men began to fall asleep in the great hall. Wrapping themselves in their cloaks, they simply rolled up against the wall and began to snore. A few of the lucky ones found a dog or a willing maid to curl up next to them, and even fewer found a place near the great fireplace to help them stay warm.

Fool quietly jumped down from the table and headed up to his usual spot outside Arelia’s chamber door. Placing his foot on the stair, he heard a muffled squeal and a loud thump followed by more muffled speech. There was the trouble he’d been waiting for all night. Off he went at a dead run, forgetting that he was supposed to be the clumsy Fool. On the landing he heard a slam against the door to Arelia’s chamber. As his hand touched the latch, the door flew open and a young princeling flew out and dashed up against the opposite wall. Giving Fool the most peculiar look, he slowly slid down in a heap on the floor. Dreading what he would see, Fool inwardly braced himself as he turned back to the door.

Arelia stood in the doorway, hair standing on end like a mad cat, hands clinched into fists, and a rage filled countenance that would frighten the most stalwart of men. “He . . . that little . . . he tried to kiss me!” She scrubbed her hand over her mouth then spit at the limp body. “Is he dead? I hope to the Holy Ones that he is dead!” Arelia suddenly realized she was standing in the corridor in her night dress as she grabbed Fool and hissed at him to get inside before anyone else came along. “Do you not think,” he ventured carefully, “that we should make sure he is not dead?” She gave him a withering look, shoved him inside and slammed the door.