Anything taught by Ron Rozelle. I didn’t grow up in the Brazosport area, so I didn’t have the good luck to sit at the feet of Brazoswood High’s most excellent creative writing teacher. Fortunately, since retiring, Ron has chosen to share his writerly wisdom by teaching three day workshops for those seeking to unleash their inner Hemingway, Bradbury, or whomever. If you work, I can’t think of a better use of a vacation day or two. If you’re retired, all the better. I attended his Wordsmithing 101 class at the beginning of January and it was worth every penny of the registration fee. Great teaching well-seasoned with entertaining stories and encouragement.
If you’re in the Brazosport area or out near Brenham, I urge you to avail yourself of Ron’s expertise. You won’t be sorry.
Two upcoming events on my agenda that I’m very much looking forward to are a repeat of my Wordsmithing 101 workshop in Clute, in the Brazosport area south of Houston, in March and a memoir workshop in Brenham, Texas in June. Both communities have excellent hotels, good places to eat, and interesting things to […]
The first issue of 2018 is now available and yours truly has THREE contributions within its pages! My first story in the spring of 2016 was about the Alvin Historical Museum, and readers enjoyed it so much that I was asked to continue with a series on the museums throughout Brazoria County. A few months later I pitched the idea of a series of short articles on the historical markers throughout the county. Thus were born two regular series: Museum Go-Round and Park at the Mark.
So today has not gone quite as I’d hoped. I planned to really tackle some of the finishing paintwork (doors, trim that could use another coat), but I’ve been busy attending to other matters. Balancing checkbooks, returning phone calls, scheduling appointments, and working up a blind quote for a repeat customer.
I did a little googly detective work, too. There is a lovely home in Alvin, over one hundred years old, that I have loved since I was a little girl. Before I was old enough to do so myself, I would ask my mom to drive by so I could gaze upon the fanciest house I’d seen in my young life. Older, running errands for my mom, trips to the grocery store somehow always required sidetracking down South Beauregard Street. Even now, when I return to Alvin for whatever reason, I manage to find an excuse to drive past that elegant Victorian. Thanks to the internet (and my hardheaded persistence), I located the name of the owner and carefully penned a letter of inquiry on nice stationery, asking if I might write an article on the home and its history for Image Magazine. I enclosed my Image business card and I’m hoping my handwritten letter will open the door (literally) to a visit.
The key to a successful interview will not be asking the right questions or taking nice photos.
The key will be not passing out from unbearable excitement.
Yesterday I spent some time filling out my planner for the week. One of my goals is to be more diligent about scheduling my time. That encompasses responsibilities and fun! So when I sat down yesterday and entered appointments and to-do’s in my Agenda 52 Planner, tomorrow’s entry was especially exciting.
Years ago when I worked at the law firm, I had the pleasure of working for a legal assistant named Sallie. We were a good match and I enjoyed working for her until life took us in different directions. We lost touch for many years, and then one day I decided to see if I could reconnect with her through Facebook, and was happily successful!
Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) we are meeting for lunch and I think we both are as excited as little kids. It will be so nice to catch up with each other after such a long time. She is a wordsmith, in addition to many other things (a lawyer, a realtor, a homeless animal advocate), and I look forward to hearing all about life since we worked together back in the day.
A few years ago (longer than I care to admit), I began writing a novel. When I think about the earliest pages of that novel, I blush with embarrassment at how terrible it was. And yet I was so proud of it. At the time I thought it was really, really good. You know those novelists who think they have no need of an editor? That their work is ready for print the second they type the words? Yeah. Silly, silly novelists.
Anyway, while the initial beginning draft of my novel needed a lot of work, my characters must be pretty interesting, because I have had people who knew me back then (over six years ago) ask me about Kate and Sam. Not “Oh, how’s your novel coming?” but, “Have you written any more of Kate and Sam’s story?”
And then there’s Mr. Petrosian, the Armenian grocer that my husband adores. Somewhere along the way, he misunderstood something and thought I was going to get rid of Mr. Petrosian. Any time the subject of my novel comes up, my guy starts campaigning for Mr. Petrosian’s continued existence. I have to reassure him emphatically that Mr. Petrosian will not be going anywhere.
In October 2015, I tackled revising what I’d written, because I wanted to resolve some glaring issues with point of view before moving forward. I’d finished cleaning out my mom’s house after she died, and I needed a distraction before my sister and I began the renovation work needed to sell the house. I rented a friend’s beach house for four days and revised like crazy, wrapping up the weekend with 20,000 good words. And then I didn’t touch it again because life got in the way. I would tell myself that it took Margaret Mitchell ten years to write Gone With the Wind, so I still had a couple of years left to complete my masterpiece.
This past summer, my laptop died. Didn’t just crash. Completely died. I had them remove the hard drive because it was fine, and there was hope that I could have the data moved to my new computer. I got busy, we went on vacation, then there was Hurricane Harvey and the summer flooding.
I can’t find the hard drive.
I have no idea what happened to it. I thought for sure I would find it in the middle of our room shuffle/painting project. I don’t have a clue where it is.
I jus spent about ninety minutes seeing if I could find the 20,000 good words off the external hard drive I used as a backup.
A few odds and ends, but nothing of substance.
I have a binder full of marked up chapters from when I participated in the critique group. Unfortunately, the marked up chapters are the crap that I revised that four day weekend in October.
I was able to find a few of the revised segments I copied and pasted in a chat window to share with my friend. I located a snippet in an email.
I guess all there is to do is to try, try again. Kate, Sam, and Mr. Petrosian are still there, still wanting their story told. Who am I to tell them “no”?
I had some flash drives lying in a dish and thought “I just wonder….”
AND THE MISSING 26,066 WORDS WERE FOUND. And the angels sang…
I’m in the middle of a re-boot of sorts. Moving stuff around in my office, hoping to make things a little more user friendly. One of the things I’ve done is move my computer to a standing desk. I find that when I’m working on the computer, I sit way too long without getting up and moving around. My hope is that I’ll move back and forth between the computer and my desk — doing some work standing and other work sitting, and reduce the amount of sedentary time each day.
It’s a quirky setup, but so far it seems to be working. I’m moving around more and I’m becoming a little more conscientious of my posture. Which is terrible. But won’t be for long. The other bonus is I now have a five foot table that is for the most part clear. The goal is to keep it that way. If I have business to take care of, I have room to spread out my papers and prepare quotes. Then the papers get filed and the table is clear if I want to work on a photo project (organizing, scanning, scrapbooking). But I have to put things away when I’m finished for the day. The trick will be disciplining myself to do that. I’m not always good at putting things away. But I’m working on it.
he was in a funk because his wife ran out on him: A (STATE OF) DEPRESSION, a bad mood, a low, the dumps, the doldrums, a blue funk.
I really do strive for honesty here. If I ever write fiction, you’ll know it. There’s no fiction to the fact that I’ve really been struggling with the doldrums lately, a real blue funk if you will. The reasons for this low can be counted on several fingers:
I miss my mom. I miss her and I regret a lot of things about the last few years she was here. I regret not being as patient as I should have been. I regret wasting time thinking more of myself than her. I regret getting angry when she would offer advice without my asking. I catch myself doing the same thing with my daughter, and I see the same frustration on her face that I felt when I was in her shoes. The fact is, we moms are at loose ends when our kids grow up. It’s difficult to shut off the “mom switch” when our kids grow up, and it’s hard to accept that we aren’t needed as much as we were when they were younger.
I miss the younger me. I miss the legal secretary that juggled the work and phone calls of three sharp lawyers and a very sharp legal assistant, prepared PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) filing packets, managed to squeeze in lunch, and still made all the deadlines on her docket calendar. I struggle to get the laundry done, the pantry stocked, dinner cooked, and my small business running. I struggle to find time for the things that don’t seem important, but are important to ME. Things like organizing my family photos (both mine and those from my mom). Things like spending more time writing, both for the magazine and the novel I started a ridiculous number of years ago. This funk, though. It just sucks the energy out of me and it’s hard to work on those things when so many things are screaming for my attention. (See Reason #1 above — I never understood why my mom struggled with getting things done. Now I do.)
I struggle with worrying about the future. I am not a numbers person by any stretch of the imagination, but in more recent years my mind plays a little math “game” that I really don’t want to play. When I hear of someone passing away (dying, if we’re blunt), I immediately calculate how much older they were than I am now. Someone’s Aunt Mabel passed away at 74? She was only 21 years older than me. That’s not that many years, especially when I think of how quickly the last 21 years have flown by. Do I have 21 years left? Is that enough time to do what I want/need to do? I am a Christian and I have put my faith in Jesus. I know others who say the same and say they can’t wait to go on to be with the Lord. I get it. I really do. But I still struggle with wanting to see my daughter marry and have children, with wanting to go on many more road trips with my husband. And then guilt sets in because it sounds as though I am putting my family here ahead of the Lord. Is it any wonder that I’m struggling with a funk, the doldrums, a depression?
A couple of weeks ago I got off to a roaring start, blogging almost every day for a week. And then we lost our golden retriever. And then I had a lot going on and then the funk I’d been running from caught up with me and I’ve had a hard time thinking of something interesting or entertaining to write. I knew if I didn’t write something, the days were going to stretch into weeks and then this blog would be neglected for months again.
I am working on getting ahead of the funk. Of choosing joy. Because the Lord’s joy is my strength. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and keep putting my trust in Him.
I was very proud of myself when I managed to post three days in a row. Then I got a little distracted by other responsibilities and missed a day. So here we are — I don’t have a whole lot to say, but in the interest of building better, stronger habits, I am determined to just keep trying.
Ran a few errands today and came home to continue working on my decluttering project. I am feeling very happy about progress so far. Of the eight items I posted on VarageSale, I’ve sold six. Six items that no longer take up room in my house or require any attention from me. Hooray!
I may have mentioned it earlier, but if not — I also have an Etsy store specifically geared toward things that are vintage, collectible, probably worth a little more than what I can get for them on a virtual garage sale site. You can check out my listings here: MoMo’s Attic Treasures I’ll be listing mid-century china, vintage cookbooks, collectibles and the like. It is a bit time consuming, since I have to take photos, upload them, describe the items, etc. But I think I may enjoy it as I become more proficient at the process.
Some of the “goodies” that I hope will find new homes:
I am challenging myself to write interesting descriptions of each item listed. Little stories, if you will. For example, that chartreuse creamer has a tiny chip in the glaze on the handle. So I came up with a story to explain how the chip got there:
After a delightful afternoon playing bridge, Barbara offered to stay and help Lottie clean up. She carefully took the coffee service tray adorned with brightly colored Fiestaware to the kitchen.
Setting the tray on the counter, she asked “Wasn’t Midge’s dress adorable?” She turned to face Lottie, and accidentally brushed the little chartreuse creamer across the counter, slightly chipping the ring handle.
“Oh, Lottie! I’m so sorry!” Barbara just felt sick, but her friend smiled comfortingly.
“No harm done, dear. No harm done.”
This vintage creamer dates back to the mid-fifties and while in very good condition, does have a small chip on the handle, showing it was in service and not just for display. Priced accordingly.
While I’m no J. Peterman, I’d say it’s moderately entertaining, and not even half bad.
The list of hats I wear is pretty lengthy and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never had one fall off my head. Right now, in addition to running the blind business and working on stories for the magazine, I’m trying to continue making progress in several areas — organizing my work and personal space, getting our ducks in a row for home projects that we will finally be able to do when our mortgage is paid off this spring. Making sure my guy and our girl aren’t ignored, neglected, or forgotten in the hurry scurry of all the rest of it. Working on keeping my priorities in the correct order. One thing I am striving to become more diligent at is looking at my calendar and making lists. The other is to remember to have fun and not make this journey all about checkmarks (unless they are the fun kind one marks off bucket lists).
I’d love to hear if any of you have tips on how you keep putting one foot in front of the other!
In my purging/organizing frenzy, I’ve run across a disc that holds most (if not all) of my blog posts from Xanga, when it was still a thing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to import them here, so I’m going to go through and copy/paste entries that might entertain you. This one is especially poignant for reasons that don’t need to be explained — a simple reminder to keep praying for all those in the Caribbean, that they will recover and come back stronger than ever.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
The green-eyed monster has me by the tail . . .
This is where my sister-in-law is right now. And where I am not. While the average Jill might be a little green with envy, a tiny bit jealous . . . I am CONSUMED.
This is St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and St. Croix is where I spent 15 of the most glorious months of my life when I was a teenager. In fact, this picture that I copied for your viewing pleasure happens to be of Cane Bay, where I made my certification dive when I was 15. Yours truly swam out to sea and dove a deliciously scary 80 feet down the Cane Bay Wall (which continues to drop a toe-curling 3,200 feet before hitting bottom — think phosphorous glowing fishies a’ la “Finding Nemo”). I saw the most amazing creatures, collected the most beautiful shells, made the most wonderful memories.
While it has been 24 years since we returned to Texas, I am positive this is the condominium we lived in the first three months we were there. The name has changed — it was called “The Barrier Reef” when we lived there, but the view is the same, the design of the condo is the same, I’m certain this is it. In another photo on the website, I identified the condominiums next door as Mill Harbor, hence my confidence. I learned to snorkel off this beach before advancing to my scuba adventures. The reef we explored was full of sea life and named “The Barrier Reef” because it resembled (on a much smaller scale) the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.I remember wandering through the 300+ year old streets of Christiansted and shopping in store fronts that were built by Danish settlers in the 1600’s. My best friend, Cindy, and I would roam the shops and then grab a sandwich at Reed’s Deli followed by a trip to Steele’s Smokes and Sweets. Did you know that the aroma of flavored tobacco mingling with the sweet scent of chocolate is intoxicating? We bypassed the smokes (although the antique lady’s pipe with a pink coral bowl and long ebony stem made smoking a pipe seem almost elegant), indulging in the chocolates that were to die for.
I don’t know why, but many of my memories are tied to scent:
Each morning, our school bus drove past the Cruzan Rum distillery. Even now, at the age of 40, when I smell rum, I think of Good Hope School and the school bus . . . weird, I know.
It was an awesome school — a private school built on beachfront land donated by Laurance Rockefeller. We had a rotating schedule, which was geared toward making sure that we were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at least one day a week for each subject. (So, if you had Math, English, and Science on Monday, you’d have English, Science, and Math on Tuesday, and Science, Math, and English on Wednesday, etc., etc., etc.) I had one open period in my schedule and I often spent it in the art classroom pretending to be talented or sitting on a rock down on the beach until my next class started.
I met probably the most intelligent and interesting educator of my life while a student there. Richard Collings was my European history prof and even now, I occasionally correspond with him. An amazing man, he was born in England and travelled all over Europe and other parts of the world. He was able to teach history with so much more depth and make it so much more interesting because he’d actually been all the places he was telling us about. While he managed to keep us on track lesson plan-wise, he still allowed us time to discuss issues that were important, confusing, or interesting to us. One topic that came up repeatedly was the hostage crisis in ’79 – ’80, when Americans were held prisoner for months on end in Iran. We were 9th graders, and for the first time in our lives, we realized that sometimes things happen that our parents might not be able to protect us from, or even themselves.
In my mind’s eye, it seems almost like yesterday when we left. Three days after my sixteenth birthday, we boarded a plane and came back to Texas. It was really difficult for me, because I’d made some very close friends in the brief time I lived there. I wrote some heart-wrenching poetry (thank you, teenage angst) and slowly but surely readjusted to life in the “real” world.
Someday, I hope to return. I’d like to take my husband with me and share “my” island with him. If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might take my daughter, too . . . but it would be an awesome “just the two of us” trip. Jami might have to stay with her MoMo.
A lot has changed since I wrote this — our girl is grown and finishing college. My mom passed away two years ago. As much as my mom was a homebody, I think she enjoyed our adventure as much or more than we did. She settled in to life on the island really well, learning to drive on the left side of the road quickly and was not hesitant to get out there and explore, even while my dad was at work — taking care of us, running errands, participating in the HOVIC women’s service league. She bought cookbooks to learn how to fix the crazy things Dad brought home from his snorkeling and diving adventures — I can still see her standing over the stove, frying conch fritters and letting my sister and I make “creatures of the deep” with the leftover batter. Sometimes I think she adapted to life there better than any of us. I know if she were here now, she would be praying for the islanders, too.
I have borrowed photos from a variety of sources discovered through Google Search for the purposes of this blog post. As best I can tell, they are not copyrighted.
Lagnaippe: 1. Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas. A small gift with purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus. 2. a gratuity or tip. 3. an unexpected or indirect benefit.