Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WEP: Deja Boo

Thought for the day: I shipped my characters to Alaska, but on second thought, maybe I should've sent them to Mali-boo...

Since this is my buddy/kid sister Renee's last month to be on the WEP team, and she said she'd really like it if I participated... how could I not?

So here it is... just for her. And the rest of you, too. I hope you like it.

To access the stories written by the other participants, please go

                                                   DEJA BOO

John sat rigidly erect in his recliner, deeply engrossed in Yolanda Renee’s latest murder-and-mayhem mystery. Nowadays, getting lost in her books provided just about the only spark in his otherwise meaningless existence.


He dropped the book and gasped. Drowning in his own saliva wasn’t exactly the heroic demise he’d imagined for himself, but apparently, his dear wife thought otherwise. After his coughing spell ended, he regarded her through watery eyes. “I wish you wouldn’t do that, Gladys.”

The sound of her laughter echoed in the room. “I’m sorry, dear, but how can I possibly stop when you continue to make it so amusing for me?”

She perched on the arm of his recliner. “Don’t you miss me?” 

A smile toyed with the corners of his mouth. “How can I miss you if you never go away?”

“That’s a terrible thing to say! Haven’t I always been a good wife to you?”

He nodded. “The best.”

She left her perch to peer at their faded wedding picture on the mantelpiece. “We were so young,” she said with a sigh. Then she spun to face him, her alabaster skin nearly translucent in the lamp’s soft glow. “You haven’t taken me anywhere in ages!”

John closed the book and set it on the table beside him. “Gladys, sweetheart, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re dead. Remember?”

“Of course, I remember, you silly man, but just because I stopped breathing doesn’t mean I stopped thinking, and what I think is you need to take me on a trip.” She smiled. “It isn’t too late to take that Alaskan cruise we were always talking about.”

John wiped his hand over his face and shook his head. “Yes, Gladys, it is too late. You’re dead. D-E-A-D dead. Why aren’t you making mischief in Paradise?” He frowned. “That’s where you’re supposed to be, right? Not that… other place…”

“Oh, hush!” Gladys said. “Must you always belabor the point? So what if I’m D-E-A-D dead? I’m here now, aren’t I? So why not a cruise? You promised!”

“A cruise.” He shook his head again.

Gladys grinned. “And guess what, Mr. Tightwad? Good news! You only have to buy one ticket now.”

Against his better judgment, John made the arrangements. First class all the way, too. Maybe it wasn’t too late to keep at least one promise to her. On the other hand, maybe he was stark raving mad, and he was destined to be tormented by her imaginary visits until the day he died. Either way, he had to try.

He kept expecting Gladys to pop in at any minute to say how excited she was about the trip, so he spent the next week on full alert...  but she never showed. This cruise was supposed to be for her. So where was she?

When he boarded the ship, he scanned the crowd before rushing to his stateroom, but she was nowhere to be found. He stared despondently at the roiling gray water as the ship eased out to sea. What was the point? Where was she?

His stateroom might as well have been an outhouse for as little as he appreciated it. He forced himself to nibble some of the perfectly-prepared food, but without Gladys beside him, the chef might as well have served him a pile of sawdust.

The truth of it was, he wasn’t enjoying this cruise at all. It was meaningless without Gladys. Everything was meaningless without her. What he wouldn’t give to have her with him, making him laugh with her silly jokes and pranks, smiling at him, loving him. But now it looked like he wasn’t even going to have the freaky pleasure of sharing the trip with her ghost.

The last night of the cruise, John sat on the deck gulping bourbon. It was time to accept it: the party was over. Gladys was gone, and she was never coming back. It was just his guilty conscience over all his broken promises that made him imagine her visits. Nothing but wishful thinking, and he was a damned fool to ever think otherwise.

He snorted. Why would anyone leave Paradise to spend even a minute with the likes of him? He was a lousy husband, and she deserved better.

“Oh, you weren’t so bad.”

John’s eyes filled with tears at the sight of her standing on the railing in front of him. She smiled and executed a graceful pirouette.

 “I miss you so much,” he said. “God help me, I thought we’d have more time.”

“I know you did.” She hopped down and sat in the lounge chair beside him. “And now we do, sweetie. We have an eternity.”

She stretched her hand toward him, and he reached out to grab it. He touched nothing but moist salty air, but an intense coldness like he’d never felt before spread from his fingertips, up his arm, and through his entire body.


John opened his eyes slowly. Where was he? It was hot. Hot as…

“Hi, sweetie,” Gladys said. “Welcome to the afterlife.”

Panic spread through him as he gaped at the abyss and  tall flames behind her. No, no, no, this couldn’t be. If the road to hell was paved with good intentions, he belonged here, but surely… not Gladys! She was an angel. An angel with a wicked sense of humor, but an angel, nonetheless.

Gladys giggled, and the flames disappeared. “Just kidding,” she said. “Now, let's go see Australia.”


                           Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

[All images in this post are courtesy of the fine photographers at Unsplash.]

Friday, October 12, 2018

Ya Winn Some, Ya Lose Some

Thought for the day:  A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history... with the possible exception of handguns and tequila. [Mitch Radcliffe]

Like J.H. Goldfuss said, There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer.

Right. Actually, I can't blame my computer. Or my camera. It's (gulp) ME. (Ohhhh, the shame of it all...)

See, I had easy peasy plans for today's post. Last weekend, we went someplace really cool, and I took a bunch of pictures. So far, so good, right? Just post the pictures, add a comment here and there, and BANG! Done!

Except... I, um... lost the pictures. (And shhhh! This isn't the first time I've done it.) Talk about an oopsie moment! Somewhere between trying to transfer them from my camera to my computer, they got... lost. And natch, they automatically deleted from my camera, too. I found a folder where they should be, but I can't open it. Found two pictures, but the rest? Who knows where they are? So much for all of those cool pictures. (sigh)

So I found a handful of pics on Wikipedia and on our county's Historical Society webpage. They'll have to do.

[Gwinnett Historical Society]

We spent a sunny Saturday morning at a fun fair at the Elishu Winn House. The house was built in 1812, and served many government functions in the early days of our county. The barn's third floor served as a courthouse, and our county's first elections were held in the parlor. The county's first jail... which was actually a small barn... was also located here... and the first executions by hanging were carried out here, as well. This picture is the before picture... what the house looked like prior to restoration.


THIS is what the house looks like now. Touring the house was like taking a step back into history. The furniture! The quilts! The toys!

(ahem) Guess you'll have to take my word for it.

A one-room schoolhouse.

The jail.

The privy. Nope, I didn't go inside.

A couple re-enactors. Really nice guys.

One of the guns in action. The pics I took showed both guys shooting at the same time, and lots of smoke. (sigh) You'll have to take my word for it.

Well, dang. Now I can't find the two pics that I'd located before. (I'm beginning to suspect I'm too stupid to own a computer...) They were shots of the blacksmith at work. In addition to two fellas doing that hot work, there were other demonstrators, as well, showing things like weaving, quilting, and lace-making. Lots of interesting stuff to see. Lots of booths set up under white tents. Vendors selling food, artwork, crafts, etc. It was a fun outing, and I'm totally bummed I lost all those pictures. After spending waaaay too long trying to find them, I then spent waaaaay too long trying to find a funny essay about a grandfather grumbling about technology. No luck there, either.

But I did find this, a poem that I bet will resonate with a bunch of you. Unfortunately, I don't know who wrote it. I didn't, but I sure do relate to a lot of it...
A little house with three bedrooms,
One bathroom and one car on the street
A mower that you had to push
To make the grass look neat.
In the kitchen on the wall
We only had one phone,
And no need for recording things,
Someone was always home.
We only had a living room
Where we would congregate,
Unless it was at mealtime
In the kitchen where we ate..
We had no need for family rooms
Or extra rooms to dine.
When meeting as a family
Those two rooms would work out fine.
We only had one TV set
And channels maybe two,
But always there was one of them
With something worth the view
For snacks we had potato chips
That tasted like a chip.
And if you wanted flavor
There was Lipton's onion dip.
Store-bought snacks were rare because
My mother liked to cook
And nothing can compare to snacks
In Betty Crocker's book
Weekends were for family trips
Or staying home to play
We all did things together -
Even go to church to pray.
When we did our weekend trips
Depending on the weather,
No one stayed at home because
We liked to be together
Sometimes we would separate
To do things on our own,
But we knew where the others were
Without our own cell phone
Then there were the movies
With your favorite movie star,
And nothing can compare
To watching movies in your car
Then there were the picnics
at the peak of summer season,
Pack a lunch and find some trees
And never need a reason.
Get a baseball game together
With all the friends you know,
Have real action playing ball -
And no game video.
Remember when the doctor
Used to be the family friend,
And didn't need insurance
Or a lawyer to defend
The way that he took care of you
Or what he had to do,
Because he took an oath and strived
To do the best for you
Remember going to the store
And shopping casually,
And when you went to pay for it
You used your own money?
Nothing that you had to swipe
Or punch in some amount,
And remember when the cashier person
Had to really count?
The milkman used to go
From door to door,
And it was just a few cents more
Than going to the store.
There was a time when mailed letters
Came right to your door,
Without a lot of junk mail ads
Sent out by every store .
The mailman knew each house by name
And knew where it was sent;
There were not loads of mail addressed
To "present occupant"
There was a time when just one glance
Was all that it would take,
And you would know the kind of car,
The model and the make
They didn't look like turtles
Trying to squeeze out every mile;
They were streamlined, white walls, fins
And really had some style
One time the music that you played
Whenever you would jive,
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record
Called a forty-five
The record player had a post
To keep them all in line
And then the records would drop down
And play one at a time.
Oh sure, we had our problems then,
Just like we do today
And always we were striving,
Trying for a better way.
Oh, the simple life we lived
Still seems like so much fun,
How can you explain a game,
Just kick the can and run?
And why would boys put baseball cards
Between bicycle spokes
And for a nickel, red machines
Had little bottled Cokes?
This life seemed so much easier
Slower in some ways
I love the new technology
But I sure do miss those days.
So time moves on and so do we
And nothing stays the same,
But I sure love to reminisce
And walk down memory lane.
With all today's technology
We grant that it's a plus!
But it's fun to look way back and say,

Some of us, anyway. Can you relate to any of the stuff in the poem? Did you ever fetch bottles of milk from your front porch in the early morning, and find the cold weather had popped the top off above a big pile of yukky cream? (NOT a pleasant memory...) Have YOU ever managed to lose photos when you were trying to move them from your camera to your computer? Please tell me I'm not the only one.  (I sure never had this kinda trouble with my trusty ol' Brownie or Instamatic...)

                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Writer's Convoluted Path

Thought for the day:  You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer. [Margaret Atwood]

If by nerve, Ms. Atwood means an undercurrent of masochistic tendencies, then I'd have to agree. Oops! Did I grumble-write that out loud? (ahem) Just kidding.

Hi-ya. As you can probably discern by that telltale badge, it's once again time for our monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group postings. This, the first Wednesday of the month, gives writers all over the world the opportunity to celebrate, complain, and commiserate about the joyful and not-so-joyful aspects of writing. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

[source: morguefile]
Okay, so maybe it's a slight exaggeration to suggest that writers have a masochistic bent, but I suspect very few writing careers resemble an idyllic ride in a snazzy red convertible through a picturesque countryside on a straightaway road devoid of traffic and stop signs. Just picture it: our imaginary sun-drenched writer, whistling a happy tune while zipping full speed ahead toward fame and fortune.

Yeah... no. That's not likely to happen, and for most writers, a tank might be more practical than a convertible, because a lot of stuff will be thrown at 'em as they struggle to reach the Promised Land of being... of feeling like... a Real Writer, and who wants to be stuck in a vehicle with the stench of rotten tomatoes and a bunch of icky gunk in their hair? Rejections, bad reviews, lack of sales, blah, blah, blah. Self-doubts can grow and spread like a cancer, making it difficult to see the road ahead clearly. (And the icky gunk dripping into their eyes doesn't help much, either...)

Nah. I don't think it's like a ride in either a convertible or a tank; it's more like a roller coaster. Sure, there are downs, and they can be pretty scary, but there are high points, too. Kinda like this:

Without meaning to, Charles Dickens described the writing life well: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. 

And Ernest Hemingway said There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it with charges. 

[It's rather comforting to know a master like Hemingway said writing isn't always a Sunday ride in a convertible, isn't it?]

No doubt, writers experience lots of ups and downs, but if you think about it, maybe that's a good thing. Consider an EKG: if there aren't any ups and downs, you're d-e-a-d, people, so maybe... just maybe... all of those ups and downs we experience are a natural part of living. Know what that means? During those desperate down times... those days when there are no sales at all and the words refuse to come... we must remember that there WILL be better days ahead. More ups to come. And ya know what? Those ups more than make up for the downs, even if we sometimes forget.

[source: clipart]

Now then, how about a quick peek at this month's question:

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Hmmm, good questions. First one: My very smart daughter tells me I'm an empath. I don't know if that's true or not, but I am very much affected by world events and the people around me. Negative emotions brought on by world events can make it very difficult for me to write or be creative in any way. Forcing myself to write during those times can result in some verrrrrrry dark writing, as those who read the early draft of my latest book could tell you. When my more positive nature takes the helm, the words flow much more freely, and there tends to be more humor in them.

As for the second question, a resounding yes. Recording my private thoughts during a sometimes difficult childhood helped me survive with a modicum of sanity... and I still have some of it left.

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.