Fiction Writing

Days 1&2 Colorado

We only have a short time here in Colorado. My entire family lives out here and so it gives us the perfect excuse to pack up and head west. We’ve spent much of the last two days just catching up and planning this weekend. But we’ve also strolled through town to soak up the scenery. 

It’s beautiful here, open space and mountains so high and majestic they give a sense of strength and permanence. There’s a slower pace to the day here. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems people here actually make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy their time. 

Many of the people take off early on Friday so they can make the most of their weekend. Traffic starts around 3. But you know what? Compared to traffic in New York, the traffic here is like a sneeze. A slight aside and then back to normal. I could get used to this. 

Wherever you look is a breathtaking view. My parents’ house is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Late in the afternoon, a pair of horses and a pair of cows come down from one of the mountains and graze practically in my parents’ backyard. In the wee hours of the morning, elk and deer stroll the gardens. Yes, they damage plants and leave… unwanted ‘gifts’ in unexpected places, but they’re magnificent animals and I’d rather that type of visitor than a raccoon taking over my attic crawl space. :-/

Before I leave here I WILL get a photo of some of these animals. I MUST. If I don’t see them before I leave, I will… just have to come back again. 🙂

Meanwhile, here is the everyday view my parents have from their lovely new home out here in the west – 

And, I have to say, the view from my own little abode in NY is quite different – neighbor’s laundry on the line, phone and electrical wires, etc. – there is nothing quite so unique as what we saw when we left our hotel…

Hello from Colorado!

We took a flight out of NYC yesterday evening around 8 – arriving at the airport by 5. With three different sitters caring for the kitties, we decided to pop out here to visit my family.

We were supposed to land last night at 10 but arrived at 11. Not too bad except we didn’t get to the hotel until after midnight Colorado time and so didn’t sleep until 1 – which was actually 3:00am New York time. 

We’re a little bleary-eyed this morning – ya think? -but with enough coffee and sunshine, we’ll be just fine. 

I’m not sure what sights we’ll be seeing but, as I’m sure you know, I will be posting photos. So stick around and I’ll share this short but sweet adventure with y’all. 🙂

Piano in the Park

I find traveling through the boroughs en route to Manhattan to be a test of endurance. 

There’s always traffic, obviously since we’re a big city, so I avoid weekday travel into the city as much as possible. However, when that weekday is a holiday, well, then it’s a wonderful time to be there. For me, one of the little perks of being in the city, is discovering yards and gardens even smaller than my own. Much smaller…

Urban Garden

Some of the other perks are the general sights and sounds.

 

The chatter, the horns, the emergency sirens. It’s all part of the landscape. As are towering skyscrapers – skyscrappers so high they dwarf the trees.

Despite all this wonder and majesty, I normally find the city overwhelming. But yesterday, Labor Day, was quiet in comparison to the regular everyday hustle. And so, we enjoyed a blissful lunch in Bryant Park while the magnificent Frank Owen entertained us with his imcomparable piano playing.

  

Piano in the Park, as it is called, features top New York Pianists playing music from Scott Joplin (my absolute favorite), Eubie Blake, the Gershwins and more. 
Every weekday from noon until 1:45, anyone can sit under the umbrellas or trees and soak up the toe-tapping music and city atmosphere. That is precisely what we did yesterday and loved every minute of it.
  

Of course… this IS New York, and a tiny scuffle or run-in with the law is neither unexpected nor disruptive.

You see, despite the police presence, which grew slighty and steadily until this gentleman vacated the premises as requested, the show indeed went on.

In fact, it went on so wonderfully that during Frank’s phenomenal piano playing, a hand-written note was passed among the audience. The note stated that yesterday was Frank’s birthday and so, when he stood to thank us all for coming, we should all stand and sing, Happy Birthday. Say what you want about New Yorkers, but we are a pretty cool bunch, each of us poker-faced after reading the note and nonchalantly strolling to the next person with it in hand. And every one of us standing at the end and joining in to wish this accomplished musician a wonderfully happy birthday.

He said we made his day. I must correct him. He made ours. 

(Please excuse the camera shake – I took this video with a tiny digital camera)

Back to “no-school”

I have to say it, while I disliked school as a kid, I did love the unique scent the end of summer brought. I called it the ‘smell of school’ and I liked it. It meant a change was coming and change excited me… to a certain degree.

Now that the air has that ‘smell of school’ again, I’m happy the change we’ll be experiencing will be unique. Yes, we’ll be starting ‘school’ but as homeschoolers, ours is more like ‘no-school’. We can pack the books and pencils, hop on our bikes and sit under a tree in the park to study. We can head to a museum to study art, science or natural history. We can sleep late, stop when we’re tired, then pick up again later on. The beauty of homeschooling – for us, as I know it’s not for everyone – is that children are constantly learning. Feeding their inquisitive minds is fun – and can certainly be a challenge. One thing that I love the most is that I learn as Daughter learns. I’m either reminded of things I’ve forgotten or I’m awakened to something new. What a thrill to learn together and to share the excitement of new concepts or understandings.

I’m very fortunate to be able to homeschool my daughter. It’s not just a wonderful experience for her, but a wonderful one for all of us as a family. There are some days when I think I’ve accomplished very little in my life, and I feel terribly low. Like right now with my writing, which has been on the back burner all summer. But then I realize how much we actually do – together – and know when Daughter grows up, she’ll take wonderful memories and moments along with her. Memories and moments I helped create for her not just as her mom but as her teacher and fellow student. She’ll be a life-learner, interested in why and how things are going on around her, not just that they are. The thought makes me smile as I plan another outing for tomorrow. Music and culture are the themes of the day.

Labor day morning at Bryant Park, NYC where pianist, Frank Owens, will be sharing the phenomenal music of Scott Joplin, the Gershwin’s, Eubie Blake and more while we sit under the trees and listen. And then Labor Day afternoon at the Botanical Gardens where we’ll learn about the culture of the Lanape Indians – a Native Nation vital to our area’s history.  

I look at possible events and can’t help circle them thinking, “Wow! This should be exciting!” And after all, isn’t that what childhood – indeed life – should be about?

“Good Morning Muffins”

The morning air suddenly has that nip in it again, as it does every year around this time. It’s the nippy hint of the new school year, the wonderfully fragrant NY apple picking season and preparation for pumpkin pies, trick or treating and holiday shopping, decorating and baking.

It’s when this happens, when the season begins to change from summer to fall, that I start making a different type of breakfast treat – hearty morning muffins. This recipe comes from Land-O-Lakes’ Treasury of Country Heritage Meals and Menus, and I love it. This is the first time I’ve made it with my muffin top pan .

I have to say, it’s WELL worth the price of the pans. The flavors of these muffins are condensed, it makes the outside crisp and the inside just soft enough to make you hum with the taste and texture sensation.

Enjoy!

Good Morning Muffins

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup butter softened

1 (8-ounce) carton dairy sour cream (instead of sour cream, I use a favorite fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt and add all the fruit, too)

2 eggs

1 cup (2 medium) shredded carrots

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In large mixing bowl combine sugar and butter. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed – 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream (or yogurt) and eggs. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. By hand, stir in carrots, coconut and raisins.

In medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to sour cream/yogurt mixture, stir until just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes (15 – 20 minutes if using muffin top pan) or until lightly browned.

Hillary

When she took the stage and started to speak, I was thrown into raging turmoil. I wanted to see this woman as president. I ‘hear’ what she says when she speaks. I see the difficulty she has balancing being the strong, intelligent, independent woman she is with the softer feminine side she’s chided for and accused of putting on for effect. I saw the person who had the gumption to go up there against the big boys and speak her mind… and hold her own in the process. I saw the person I wanted as President of the United States of America.

And so the turmoil twisted and churned.

How do you turn away from someone you admire and back someone you really know nothing about? I listened to every word, saw the emotion on Bill Clinton’s face and felt it on my own. I saw the wide-eyed audience, in rapt attention, hanging on every, singe word.

She told us why we’re in this. She reminded us of what’s at stake. She touched our hearts when she spoke of individuals with serious concerns that she’d met throughout her campaign. And then she asked us the most poignant question she could have possibly asked. A question I don’t think resounded as well with men as woman. A question that worked on me precisely as she hoped – KNEW – it would.

She asked, “Were you in this for me? Or were you in this for them?”

Well, we know “them” is us, don’t we? Yes, by ‘them’ she referred to the people she’d mentioned – the mother of two with cancer and no health care who greeted Hillary on the campaign trail with a bald head and “Hillary’ written across it. The solider who wanted her to care for his buddies in Iraq then care for him. And the boy whose mother worked for minimum wage and had her hours reduced. They are us. And it is us – the average everyday person – she fights for.

I know the GOP would have enjoyed having her as the Democratic nominee. Just think of all the misogynist ads and comments they could have made. Just think of all the Clinton weaknesses they could have exploited. But she was prepared for that – she’s a fighter for herself in the same way I see her a fighter for the people.

And so my dilemma. How do you turn away from the person you admire and vote for the one who squashed the dream? You do so by acknowledging what Hillary said last night:

“I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family and fighting for women’s rights here at home and around the world, to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise of a country that really fulfills the hopes of our people.”

How do you give it all up? When one of your allies falls aside, what should you do? Join forces with the enemy? Or pick up the flag and march forward on the same path? I think the choice is clear. It was Hillary for me. And I see her as part of the next administration – regardless that it won’t be as Commander in Chief. I see her as Secretary of State. A powerful position when worked properly – when worked in a way we haven’t seen in years. But whether she’s part of the next administration, the fact remains – she’s thrown her support behind another and if we support her and really heard what she had to say, then we, too, will take her words with us to the polls.

“No way… no how… no McCain.”

I’m Debora Dale, and I approve this message.

Hunt and Peck

Well… I’m not exactly “hunting” as I’ve been typing since Mrs. Peters’ class in 7th grade. However, I am “pecking”.

I spent the weekend working on my deck. Yes, hubby powerwashed it all by his lonesome, but it still needed to be water-proofed and stained. We made it a family affair… and I have the sore and tingly wrists to prove it.

Actually, it’s one wrist – the right. Considering I’m a lefty, a weak right wrist shouldn’t matter. Ha! It’s amazing how much more I use my right hand than my left – mainly for anything that needs strength. While the left is more for control. And so, I used the right to lift and push furniture off the deck, to stir the stain and to stain the flower beds and edging with a brush. The repetitive motion and the strain did me in. My wrist is now wrapped in an Ace bandage and I’m babying it as much as I can – which makes typing take forever. Not that it matters because it’ll still ‘talk’ here. 🙂

The deck came out beautifully, in my opinion. The color is so rich – not weathered like it had been for so long. Too long. I’m so happy with it.

 

Oh! And check out what I found on the seat of a folding chair outside Daughter’s window…

Nope. Not cat-prints. Try… RACCOON PRINTS!!

After putting the deck back in order yesterday, Daughter and I went to the shelter. So from there, I must announce… KITTENS!

They’re precious, of course, but we still have to find homes for them. While there last night, I took some pictures of our newest additions – and some of the older kittens too.

 

As one of our volunteers said to me the other day, “We have to find homes for them soon because, like it or not, kittens do have a shelf life.” And it’s so true. People want the tiny ones because they look so cute and cuddly. What they don’t realize is that, once you get to know them, the older cats are just as cute and even more in need of cuddling.

That’s the ticket!

                   Senator Joe Biden

Barack Obama and Joe Biden – the next President and Vice President of the USA? I can see how this would be a very strong ticket. Obama would never shake the label of ‘inexperienced’ and so a super pro like Biden with all his experience in foreign affairs is a great balance. Although, naturally, the spin machine will paint this black by saying it proves Obama’s weakness and lack of confidence in this area.

I suppose Obama could have chosen Hillary – as many speculated he might while others prayed on bended knee he wouldn’t. But his message is ‘change’ and change cannot occur if more of the same is added to the mix. Biden’s record is long. He knows the game, but unlike most politicians, he doesn’t play it. As often.

Biden is an in-your-face kind of guy who will say it like he sees it regardless whether you want to hear it.

Obama wanted someone who wasn’t a yes-person? Well, he’s got it in this man. The two, I’m sure, will have many challenging and interesting conversations on policy. Biden is headstrong and not ashamed of it. Obama might be the same way but gives the impression of being open-minded.

I don’t know what the future holds but with the pairing of these two senators, I feel less troubled about the state of the world.  

And for you, Ma’am?

I don’t recall the first time I was addressed as “ma’am”. I do recall the shock and horror, however. I also recall tipping the rearview mirror a few minutes after that callous assault and having a closer look – hoping to see something easily corrected in my ma’am-magnet appearance. Unsure what prompted the name-calling, I returned home and checked my most recent Mary Kay brochure for a de-ma’aming lotion. To my horror, I realized they did not offer one.

Why is that, I wonder?

I understand the word ma’am is intended as a sign of respect. I appreciate the fact that respectful terms readily slip from the lips of younger people when addressing… elders… but when did I – ME – become an ‘elder’?

It happened again last night. We drove upstate to the Hudson River Valley. LOVE it there. If ever you are in New York, yes, see the city, but do not forget to pre-plan a Hudson River Valley tour.

The weather was perfect – just cool enough to relish a long deep breath, yet warm enough to make you smile, close your eyes and lift your face to the sky. Gorgeous. We visited sites from the 16, 17 and 1800’s and marveled at how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. We – I – felt proud to be alive now, in this day, despite the crap going on in the world.

High from the freedom and fun of the day, we ended our lovely trip by going out to dinner in the area. We dined al fresco – on a charming patio, down a few steps from the restaurant’s main building. I couldn’t help but admire all of the very young servers in that restaurant who had to run up and down those steps repeatedly. I admired their lean bodies, high energy and perky… smiles. They were so sweet and so friendly that in response, I felt young. I felt happy. I felt free and good.

After our heavenly meal, I considered dessert but was unsure what to order. I waited while Hubby and Daughter made their choices heard and quietly decided on something rich and creamy for myself. The very thought of it had me sitting taller in my seat, eager to state my preference.

And then our server turned to me and said, “And for you, ma’am?”

I blinked. Deflated. Resisted the urge to glance behind me at the other woman, the woman I wished this server had been addressing. I smiled, sat back in my seat and said, “Just coffee for me please.” Note, I left out the word, ‘decaf’.

The coffee was just right, like most everything else we’d experienced that day. Of course, a rich slice of cheesecake would have made it better. Alas… I had ma’am on the mind.

I have to be honest here… I really don’t care how its use is intended, but someone, somewhere has to teach our young people that “ma’am” is a four-letter word.

End of season sales

It feels like I was just writing about the beginning of summer and here it is already – the end. Though, it’s not really. Stores are just getting a jump start on back-to-school shopping, Halloween shopping and other not-here-yet events.

Ah, yes, I know, school is indeed about to start on the east coast and has already started in other parts of the country. But does that mean summer is over? Does that mean you can no longer buy summer-related items?

Yup.

Unless you’re lucky… like I was. 🙂

Just the other day, Hubby decided it was well-past time to clean our 18-year-old wood deck which has only been cleaned once in all those years. He rented a power-washer and got right to it.

I’m very proud of him. It wasn’t hard work, per se, but messy, loud and, well, face it, a time sucker. However, he did it and the difference in the wood is amazing.

Now all we have to do is waterproof and stain it. They say it’s easy… I’ll have to let you know.

One thing is for sure, though. Our kitties will supervise our efforts just as they – all four of them – supervised from our bedroom window as Hubby cleaned the deck.

The day after he power washed the deck, we had the storm of storms. It scared the cats right under the bed… all but one who must have thought it was too crowded under the bed and decided to hide under the bedspread instead…

Yup, that lump is a scared little kitty. 🙂

Anyway… lightening, house-rattling thunder and raindrops like bullets, pounded away at our precious just-washed and lovely deck. It rained so hard, the water pooled on top and hubby’s first thought was maybe he did something wrong while washing it because we’ve never had water pool on the deck.

Thankfully, it drained and surface dried the next day. We need several dry-out days before we can waterproof it.

Meanwhile, we donated our old (15-year-old) yard furniture and decided to buy new. It’s the end of the season, after all, so prices should be low, yes? Well… yes. However, options were low as well. Who knew the best time to shop for end of season items was about a quarter of the way INTO the season??? Sheesh.

Well… we piled into the car determined to find SOMETHING since everything we liked and could afford online was out of stock and all the stores we called said they no longer had yard furniture on their showroom floors. We needed deck waterproofer, yes? So we headed to Home Depot. There are about four of them within the same distance of us but only one had any yard furniture available in their clearance room. We went there.

Well take those bloomers off the line and call this a sunny day! We found just what we needed! An urban-sized set in an easy-to-maintain material. The price wasn’t just ‘right’ it was perfect! Each chair $33.00. Each cushion – $7. And the table??? Ready?? Try $32.50. Now THAT’s what I call a bargain.

And on top of it all, we now have a beautiful urban retreat we can enjoy without guilt.

Ah…. the lazy days of summer. We are indeed about to enjoy them right here at home.

Welcome
fireplace
What others are saying...
Work in Progress

For Hire

Complete Revision

9 of 18 Chapters (50%) complete

Work in Progress

Bend at Mirror Pond

Plotting Phase

0 of 20 Chapters (0%) complete

Member RWA

LIRW Chapter #160


Transparent   lighthouseAn1