New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, September 24, 2016

about a book

Serendipity is one of my favorite words. This week, I had someone ask me a question, which led to my looking for the copyright date on an old book on my shelves-- and for the first time reading the dedication in the front.

This book, Janice Meredith, a Story of the Revolution by Paul Leicester Ford, was published in 1899. Its binding is sadly deteriorating with age. I've had it since I was a girl where I twice wrote, in a childish hand, my address (box and route number) and phone number (four digits). As a collector of old books, I have more than a few, but this one has been kept in a special spot as one not only of its age but also mine. 

Styles of writing have long changed, but what the writer beautifully wrote in the beginning as a dedication, seemed just as apropos for writers today. 


"To George W. Vanderbilt

"Into the warp and woof of every book an author weaves much that even the subtlest readers cannot suspect, far less discern. To them it is but a cross and pile of threads interlaced to form a pattern which may please or displease their taste. But to the writer every filament has its own association:  How each bit of silk or wool, flax or tow, was laboriously gathered or was blown to him; when each was spun by the wheel of his fancy into yarns; the colour and tint his imagination gave to each skein; and where each was finally woven into the fabric by the shuttle of his pen. No thread ever quite detaches itself from its growth and spinning, dyeing and weaving, and each draws him back to hours and places seemingly unrelated to his work.

"And so as I have read the proofs of this book I have found more than once that the pages have faded out of sight and in their stead I have seen Mount Pisgah and the French Broad River, or the ramp and terrace of Biltmore House, just as I saw them when writing the words which served to recall them to me. With the visions, too, has come a recurrence to our long talks, our work among the books, our games of chess, our cups of tea, our walks, our rides, and our drives. It is therefore a pleasure to me that the book so naturally gravitates to you, and that I may make it a remembrance of those past weeks of companionship, and an earnest of the present affection of PAUL LEICESTER FORD."

For those interested in more about these two men: George W. Vanderbilt and Paul Leicester Ford. (At 37, author Ford was murdered by his brother and for those interested in the feel of that period, do a Google search for a pdf scan of a newspaper article regarding the murder, told in a way we don't see today). The stories of these two men, one an author, one an encourager of authors, were from a very different time-- much like this book. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

patterns

  September 16th, harvest moon from Oregon Coast Range
This month I've had several nights where I woke at 2am and instead of falling back to sleep right away, would lay there thinking. One night it was about patterns and how they impact our lives. When a life pattern is undesirable, we call it a rut. When we like it, it's a routine. Patterns are how we develop skills by repeating what we've learned and adding to it as we grow in abilities. Wanting to break a habit requires breaking a pattern. When it's an addiction, it's tough but only a minor challenge when it's something less-- like say making the bed every day instead of leaving it for the night. 

One way patterns interested me was in books-- as both a reader and an author. When I choose a book to read, buying one by an author I already know is encouraged (or discouraged) when I know the basic patterns I can expect to find in their books. There will be certain elements, types of characters, challenges and action, which I can expect.  Of course, if I've read an author enough times to know their pattern doesn't deviate much, I likely will quit reading them because I know how it's going to go. Only a few authors have I liked so much that I've wanted every book they ever wrote. It's not easy to provide the pattern I'll enjoy while still keeping the book interesting.

September 16, Harvest Moon after clouds passed on by
As a writer, even choosing names for heroes and heroines can end up with them too much like earlier books or even secondary characters. I tend to like certain sounds. The letters that make those sounds tend to appear again and again as names. I have to fight against that as it gets confusing for the reader.

I also like certain types of heroines and heroes for their character traits. That's good in that a reader can know what to expect, as I said above, but bad in that I can feel I am following an old pattern that needs to get rejuvenated. There are authors who have written many more books than me as in hundreds and yet manage to stay fresh. It's got to be a gift as I feel myself having to fight for new ideas after writing only 26. One way to do that is to change genres where new elements come into play as challenges for the characters and the writer ;).

As part of breaking patterns, I've changed the way my blog roll looks. For one thing, I moved it up to the top of the page. For another, I removed the images because so many of the blogs were putting up images that were read as huge. I tried adding the option of snippets instead and found I like it better as a way to see what the bloggers are up to. I also decided to add some new blogs from full-time RVers.

When our kids were small, we had a 15' vacation trailer with no inside bathroom, but we used a porta-potty in what was also a clothes closet. When the kids were small, we had a rope barrier to prevent them from falling out of an upper bunk-- while Ranch Boss had a big knife always ready to cut it if needed to make a fast exit. That trailer took us camping around Oregon as well as Arizona. At that time I read a magazine called Trailer Life which had a section on full-timers, who were mostly older. 



Today we had realized, when we traveled with our travel trailer (which we are thinking of upgrading to a fifth wheel trailer) that there were a fair number of people living relatively full time in RV parks. Young couples, singles, as well as older folk are doing this. The appeal is downsizing as well as the freedom to move around the country. 

So I've added, for now, four blogs by those living in their rigs. I plan to keep the list a little more flexible as I see something new that seems upbeat. I don't read blogs everyday, know a lot don't, but it's nice to have it there.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

deeper meanings

If you are not a writer, what I am about to discuss may be of little interest to you. Either way, this article is important for the time in which we are living-- at least in my opinion. 


Romances are one part of literature that is not well respected, especially by intellectual elites. But all writing can have deeper meaning-- or not. Some don't want that when they read for pleasure. They are looking for escape, and the last thing they want is a message.

Can a romance writer be an intellectual? I would guess some don't think so although they might make an exception for Jane Austen?

I could believe our culture has gone a little too far toward escapism based on the entertainment that serves to fill many people's days. 

Personally, I like to write with a message behind my stories but always hope it doesn't end up preaching instead of being subtle. There is a balance-- and I'm always looking for it :).

image from Stencil and relates to the book I am currently writing as well as a recent dream that gave me one of its scenes. How does that happen where the story is set in Arizona? A conference at the coast... :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

making choices-- or not

In considering lifestyles, I've been looking at how other people find a lifestyle that works for them. Some are forced into lifestyles they'd never choose.


I've thought living on a river would be interesting in that Tom Sawyer sort of way or even more in a sweet looking houseboat like in Sleepless in Seattle. Many people choose to downsize, live with less, have a smaller house, live without all the luxuries they could afford. However, what the article above is about  is making that choice out of need-- of being between a rock and a hard place.  

Payne Hollow by Harlan Hubbard tells a story of a husband and wife who chose to build their home and live on a river and the fringe of society. The book is one of the keepers on my shelf of many many such stories of those who opted to live a 'different' life than most. 


An interesting side note is, while the book was published in 1974, I bought my copy in September 1976 (based on what I wrote inside the cover). This was a time I was looking for life changes and in 1977, we'd get one with buying this farm. It has also led to a simpler lifestyle. Not that living with livestock is easier, it does suck up $$$s and does not pay a minimum wage-- at least not for the rancher who does most of the work.

When simpler lifestyles are chosen, even if they are lives of poverty, it's very different than what we are seeing too often today with one city after another having housing that is so expensive that people with even middle incomes can no longer afford to live where they work-- or even afford a home at all.


As a culture, we are in a time of have and have-nots, sometimes clashing; sometimes just trying to avoid each other by either not being seen or having gated communities that supposedly will keep them safe. Rich celebrities come out to talk about this, offer benefits and then go back into their own safe zones flying around on private jets. Emotions dictate so much while action is what is needed-- except what action actually changes things in a positive way?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

cats

A few photos, as things develop between the new and old cats-- two tribes making our home less than relaxing as they try to sort out their positions. Three black cats and an orange one. 


 Raven and Blackie Sept. 9, 2016
I have lived with cats my entire life, from as far back as I can remember anyway. Mostly it's gone smoothly with the cats that don't like each other just avoiding the other with a few fanning the air with paws and hissing. What happened this summer is different with four cats.

Their history here is pretty simple. Blackie, about ten years old, has been with us about ten years but guessing his age, as he came as a stray. Raven we got from a cat rescue program in Salem from an ad we saw on Craig's List when I was looking for a cat to replace the one we had just lost. She's currently three years old. She and Blackie play together and love each other. From the time she arrived, they've gotten along great.


 wildlife cam-- winter 2016

For some years, we saw an orange cat around the farm. We didn't name him, regarding him as feral. Early this summer, we began to see he was looking less fit and worried that if we didn't adopt him, he wouldn't live through another winter. So we got him to come to us, had him neutered, tested, vaccinated, and called him Tigger as he responded to that name.He does not have total access to the house-- although he'd like it as when he's in, he has to be watched to avoid spraying or being drawn into a fight with the others.

While working it out with Tigger, we were aware another feral cat was around, black with a white chest and much younger with her ear notched indicating she had been spayed. It took a trap to get her to come into the house, but finding she used the dirt box, we took her into the veterinarian also for shots (she acted quite wild in the office-- not easy to control and growling all the way). Our grandson suggested we call her Babe and so far the name has stuck.

So here we are, after two months, trying to get these four cats to get along without fights. After a few cat attacks (Raven does not like Babe), we bought feel good diffusers, which are supposed to help with the civilizing process and get them to relax. We also are trying cat tranquilizers as they are in an attack and run situation with the two females (shouldn't the females get along better than this but they are both the hardest to handle). Raven has turned into a bully-- a side of her personality we'd never seen. She more or less gets along with Tigger but Babe is an interloper, who she drives to hide in the bedroom. Currently, Babe sleeps with us but during the day has to avoid the living room area. Raven had decided she didn't want to sleep with us before Babe arrived but Blackie generally does. Babe likes to cuddle with him, but he's less impressed.

The following photos are from our wildlife cam. Babe had been getting out of the supposedly cat fenced yard, and the cam was set up to let us see how-- although so far she's proven smarter or quicker than the cam can catch. Because we saw part of one escape, we know she gets to the roof of the greenhouse, then to the house roof, down the other side to the roof over the kitchen entry and firewood and then down. How she gets to the roof has been the mystery.

In the following cam photos of the black cats the final act was not captured-- it happened too fast with Ranch Boss yelling and bringing the water bottle into the fray. 

Raven was again the instigator, with Babe running from possible annihilation or whatever she fears Raven would do if she caught her. She hasn't caught her; so that's undecided on our human level if not on the cats'.

First photo is Babe relaxing in the sun... next one, Raven is approaching and then Blackie joins in but for uncertain reasons. He tends to try to break up trouble. The bad part is so does Tigger, which then leads to the two males hissing and swatting at each other.







 Tigger was not involved in that interaction and would like to be a house cat, but he has one habit that still must be resolved-- spraying to mark his territory. That is not okay. Telling a cat what to do has its frustrations. I won't say they don't know what we are saying. I will say, they don't care.

Friday, September 09, 2016

blog list

A question: When I came to the blog this morning, I scrolled down to my list of blogs I read when I have time. Some were missing from their usual spot; so I kept scrolling. There they were at the very bottom, but with no time set for when they last posted. Anybody else have this happen here or on their own blog? 

Update: When I went down the list to the bottom, it showed one of them was supposedly on a syndicated column, which looked totally different. When I did a search to find it, it still showed up as being as it always had been only blogger said no feed to be updated. The others looked as they always had but minus their dates for when they last posted. Very peculiar.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

to journal or not to journal

Our deepest secrets must be found within ourselves. 
Our darkest secrets are the ones we don't want to see; 
they are, however where we find that which makes us truly who we were born to be.
By not fearing the dark, we can travel where we need to go--
fearing it keeps us bound where we are.

From 2003 at Catalina State Park

For years I kept a journal but then lost interest in doing it. The last handwritten journal was begun in November 2003. The last entry was November 2013, the day we had my beloved cat, Pepper, euthanized as she was suffering from a fatal illness and going downhill so fast. Her death at 4 1/2 years old caught me off-guard. She should have lived so much longer. I'd have paid anything to keep her with me, but all I had for an option was extending her dying with more misery. There is always one pet who touches you in ways you likely will never find with another.  She was that one for me-- my little buddy.

I stopped the journal because it seemed the times I most wanted to write in it were negative. I wrote when I felt depressed and down. Rereading the entries made it sound like that was all I ever felt. They were like what I am sharing below from something I'd written on my computer. I had been thinking that I'd be more faithful in writing if I was typing it. In the end, it had the same drawback as the written one.

I might someday keep a journal again but not for now. I still have these dark times. They just aren't all I have. If I ever kept a journal again, I'd try harder to find time to write the good and the bad. I suspect there are those who only write the positives as though to reinforce them. That's not really more accurate to who we are than all the dark times. Life should be and generally is a balance of both.


March 24, 2003
I am working on improving myself, building a new life, but I’m confused, unsure what I want, what I can have in the things I want.  I am back in Oregon. Now is time to start focusing on a future life for me.I woke up Saturday morning and felt so depressed and unhappy. 
Then I remembered something I had read about depression and how therapy helps with it. It said you reprogram how you think about what has happened. My thought when I woke was how unhappy I was.  I revised that to-- How happy I was. How I was starting on a path of healing, begun what I had to do to find a new life. 
March 25, Tuesday morning
We walked up the hill this morning which was nice, a mist and temperatures not too cold.  I never really want to walk and have to make myself do it. I am thinking a lot about what I want to be now, the kind of woman I see myself being through my 60s which begins in a few months.  I cared more about looking good in my 50s, maybe I won’t so much in my 60s. This is the time to do art, to keep my body physically fit, for being an interesting, involved person. I see women who are like I would like to be. Means growing my hair out longer, maybe more skin work. I have to decide on the HRT also; so my plan for now is lose weight, grow out my hair, get books out, find a home.
March 28, Friday morning
Still upset about everything. I am trying to think positive but I feel snowballed by things. I began looking at publishing houses and that was depressing. I think I am letting things get to me but don’t know to change that. I guess I need to take things one step at a time. I just don’t have good answers for anything in my life at the moment and it’s depressing.