A Hard Day’s Write

This is the third time I have sat down to write this morning’s post. For some reason it is more difficult that usual. Words are hard. They don’t want to pour from my fingertips right now. Instead I have to siphon each and every one and my fingers on the keyboard feel large and awkward.

I am still writing. It has taken me three tries, but I am covering the glaring white page. The progress is slow but each word is another small step forward.

Sometimes writing is like that. Sometimes it flows and sometimes it only trickles. It is still important to show up at the keyboard and pound those words out, even when it is almost painful to do so. If I give up just because it is hard, then I don’t deserve the days when it comes easy.

The muse is lazy. She doesn’t always show up. Sometimes you just have to write without her.

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Happy Birthday to me

Today is my birthday. I got to eat breakfast with my sister-in-law/best friend and watch my son take his first swimming lesson. My mom bought me cupcakes and ice cream and my dad gave me flowers.

My friend Lori sent me a card and I had nearly 40 well wishers here, there, and on social media. It was a good day but the best part was the feeling of being cared for. I was happy to have my family around me and my friends thinking of me.

Earlier in the week several people asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I couldn’t come up with anything. So they gave me their time. The most precious thing they have. I am a very lucky girl. Thank you everyone!

fox cake

 

A Mountain Trip, Or How I Crashed a Funeral

We have been enjoying a couple of nice sunny days recently. Yesterday, I took advantage of that to pry the kids away from their electronics and take a trip into nature. We headed north toward the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. moutian

Cades Cove was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s but had long been roamed by Native Americans before then. Now it is a national park with a scenic drive, white tail deer, and restored rural dwellings and churches. The views are breathtaking and inspirational. Walking the trails, it is easy to see why settlers came to the area and decided to go no further.

deerMy kids complained a little about the lack of their usual entertainments, but my son soon forgot about mine craft when he handled actual quartz found in a cold mountain stream. We marveled at the height of the trees and stood just a few feet away from deer grazing in a field. Then we found a little twisting dirt road with a sign that announced a rural Baptist Church so we decided to follow it.

The road was a narrow bumpy ride through the trees and ended in a gravel parking lot with a little white wooden box of a church. My son remarked that: “It looks just like that Church in that show Nanny always watches.” (That show is The Waltons, and Nanny being what he calls my mom.) I agreed the two did look similar.

The gravel lot was crowded with cars. Other visitors were snapping pictures of the church set among the trees and some wandered the old fenced-in graveyard. I thought the graveyard would be a good way to encourage my daughter out of her no wifi/phone signal funk. (She is a teenager.) She likes slightly creepy things.

That was when I noticed several people exiting the church dressed in black. I was a little confused at first because, while it was Sunday, it was a bit late in the day for a church service. We were near to the little gate that lead to the graveyard when I heard one of the women who had come down the steps say, “I wish they would stay away at least until we close the casket…” It all suddenly clicked into place. The freshly dug grave and the huge pile of dirt next to it helped to tip me off.

There was something the little white hand-painted sign hadn’t told us. Not only was the Baptist Church still in current use but the graveyard behind it was as well. Realizing that we were trespassers at an emotional time, I quickly herded the kids back to the car. The other tourists snapping pictures; were still oblivious to the intrusion we all represented.

As we made our retreat as discreetly as possible, I heard the lady address two teenagers also dressed in black. She asked them if they were visitors to which they replied yes with wide-eyed confusion. I don’t know if they were visitors to the park, or for the deceased. I left before finding out.

We passed two more churches on our scenic drive. They didn’t appear to be in session. The parking lots held only a few cars and there were no fresh graves that I could see, but we didn’t take any chances. stream

Busy Before Sunrise

 

Good morning all and special shout out to the new friends I made this morning while the registers were down. (*Waves* Hi Samantha!)  It took me a little longer to leave the store, but it all worked out in the end. Sometimes things that should be irritations work to our benefit. It’s not always easy to see it that way but I am happy when I can.

In case you are wondering why I was out and about before the sun, I took the kids out for pancakes before the rest of the world became too crowded. I am doing much better. I’ve had a few anxiety attacks since my last post but no more panic attacks.

I have taken the precautions of avoid large crowds when I can and I’ve cut out most caffeine for now. For frequent readers of my blog, you know of my love of tea and coffee so this has been difficult. I bought decaf but I just can’t bring myself to drink it. Silly, I know.

I haven’t managed a lot of writing over the last few days. I tire a lot easier right now than I normally do. Most of my concentration has been spent on feeling better and household tasks. However, I plan on spending a lot of time catching up on writing today. I have several books that really need to be finished. I guess I better get to it.

Open book magic on black

A rather depressing state

dust-cloud-593091_1920Recently I have been learning a great deal about the American Great Depression of the 1920’s and 30’s.  My grandparents were children during this period and it echoed throughout the rest of their lives. The more I learn the more I wonder if we aren’t heading for another one.

I know, I know, the politicians tell us that the depression of the past few years is over. However, it is an election year so they will say that. It also gives them an easy platforms to preach from because so many voters need similar things right now.

I don’t usually get into political topics because I don’t have the time or patience to make sure the boiling pot doesn’t boil over. I will make some observations though, because I see parallels between what I have been learning and what is going on today. I hear and read people constantly putting down and insulting those on welfare. Many of those programs came to be during the depression era. In pictures, I see the shame on the faces of the adults warring with relief as they wait in commodities lines for food to feed their families. These were people that were proud to worked hard. But at that time it didn’t matter how much they sweated in the fields or pounded the pavement in search of work. The rewards for diligence simply were not there.

Today I think if people look close they will see that same warring shame and weary relief on many of the faces of welfare today. True you still have those that abuse the system and see it as cart to carry them, rather than the hand up to help them stand it is supposed to be. Those aren’t the people the programs were created for.

The politicians will tell you that unemployment has gone down over the past few years. They will tell you hundreds of new jobs have opened up. What they don’t tell you is that many jobs that used to exist have vanished and many of the new positions are part time. With the health care reform acts many companies have been forced to provide insurance for their full time employees. This sounds like a good thing on paper.

However, insurance companies are being forced to accept new rules too. Since no one wants a drop in profits, they raise rates and adjust things here and there to keep their margins where they want it. The companies, who may not have a problem with the idea of helping their employees with health insurance, also don’t want profits to drop so they stop hiring full time employees and find insurance companies who offer lower prices for less coverage. The letter of the law is met and the bottom line protected even as the out of pocket cost rises for the average worker.

Everyone is required to have insurance or be fined, but few can find full time positions. Those lucky few that do, find that the hours they work are just barely enough to qualify as full time. Their take home pay is gouged severely by insurance premiums, taxes, stagnate wages, and minimum hours. Many work two or three part time jobs but still only bring home hardly enough to cover the basic bills.

Some of these employees apply for welfare from the over loaded system. They are working hard but it isn’t enough to both keep the rent paid and feed hungry mouths, much like the dust bowl farmers of the 30’s.  Others tighten already tighten belts until their ribs crack. Morale drops even as stubborn determination sets in. Families suffer under stress. Many are single parent homes, where the parent has to work several jobs and the kids go unattended. The choice these people must make is, Do I want to spend time with my children? Or do I want to feed them?

All of this means that the idea of “disposable income” is a joke. Sure those with the bonuses can buy the new car, house, or bass boat. But the backbone of the working class cannot. Most of them can’t even afford new shoes for aching feet.

The retail worker, the server, the cashier, the teacher,…the list goes on, these people are struggle financially. No one looks too close however. Even those fighting don’t really want to know how close to the edge they are.

If this routine continues, like an inflatable raft with a leak, the economy will eventually sink. The middle class that is supposed to blow air into the nozzle to keep it afloat can’t breath any more. And like dustbowl farmers before the droughts, the big money makers keep trying to increase their crops even though few are buying.

Eventually it will all turn to dust.

Bovine writing advice

One of the things about being a writer, especially if you’ve been doing it for a few years, is that you are constantly thinking. Sometimes this is a good thing. It means when there is a problem you should be able to come up with a solution. Sometimes it is a bad thing, because you can also come up with a hundred ways it can all go horribly wrong.

Thinking or considering, is the second step to creating a story, a book, or even a blog post. It is the flexing of the muscle that moves the arm. Observation is the impulse that tells the arm it should move. Writing is completing the task of movement.

Last night, on my way to work, the roads were slick and glossy from rain. The moon was closed off behind a thick blanket of clouds and drops pattered down just fast enough for the windshield wipers to be both necessary and ineffective.

I was just passing the fire station that stands proudly right next door to one of those no tell motels. The kind that has half the letters missing off its sign, has a preference for cash, and rents rooms by the week or by the hour. As I was pondering this odd placement of buildings and keeping an eye on the road, when I saw movement from the median.

There was a man standing in the rain next to the gaurd rail. His feet were hidden by the thick wet grass. He was dressed in a button down shirt, tan pants, and a thin jacket. He didn’t look up. He just stood there looking at his feet.

That was over 9 hours ago. Yet, that moment is still replaying in the back of my mind. My brain keeps asking all these questions I don’t have the answers too. It wants to know why he was standing alone in the rain, in the middle of four lanes of traffic.

Writers observe. They notice things. However, just noticing isn’t enough. You also have to consider what you’ve seen.

So who did I see in the rain? A jilted lover, a guilty spouse, a fire fighter taking a walk before work, or a motel employee? It could have been anyone. Even a private investigator. (Or Jake from State Farm.)

Finally once you’ve considered long enough you have to pour forth words. You have to write. Syllables and letters are like legos used to form the image that is still floating around in your cranium. Verbs are the falling rain. Adjectives are the cold damp seeping through a white button down shirt. Words are a writer’s pallet of rainbowed hues.

Consider what you Observe before you Write.  C.O.W