I was thinking just now how much I enjoy writing my middle grade novel RUN!! It wasn't too long ago I was stuck in the middle of it, why I don't know, but I now feel I'm three quarters done, which is huge for me. This is a first draft but I've done a lot of editing as I've written it, so perhaps there won't be a lot more to do, at least that's what I'm hoping.
I have a family of two girls and a boy fleeing an abusive home in 1924 and ending up in New York City. The boy, Ben, gets left behind in Penn Central and hooks up with a boy named Abel who knows everything you need to know about getting along in Penn Central. The girls, Kate and Pearl, are settled in a wonderful home with a woman named Esther but are threatened with exposure when her nephew arrives and find themselves on the run again. They settle in a old men's hotel so decrepit Pearl, the younger, nearly faints at the prospect of staying there.
At this point some nasty rats come into the picture for the girls; for Ben and Abel, the problem is fleas. The girls prove to be the means for salvation for the old men in the hotel. Ben and Abel find getting rid of the fleas is more difficult, involving ultimately a run-in with some nasty older boys and a perilous run for safety into the night minus their clothes.
What gets Kate and Pearl and Ben together once again is some mysterious gifts which arrive in Penn Station earmarked for Abel. Ben's and Abel's mysterious benefactor will bring everybody together at the end and Ben will have to make a difficult decision: whether to stay with Abel in Penn Station, or rejoin his sisters on the run.
I have talked about one of our important family members before but I thought tonight I'd start with a important family member of mine from years ago. His name was Kettle River Captain--Cappy for short. He was a member of my family when I was growing up and many stories are told about him.
Cappy was a Golden Retriever. My father brought him home as a puppy with the idea that he would use him as a hunting dog, this being the midwest. Cappy hated the water, strangely enough for a retriever, and refused to cooperate. He went into the water only once. He retrieved a stick from the middle of the Mississippi River for my brother. Cappy was really David's dog and Cappy braved Old Man River at the end of his life for him. David had three more Golden Retrievers during his life in honor of Cappy: Moose, Annie, and Cody, but dogs, like anything else of great importance, are irreplaceable. Those dogs were amazing too--each a wonderful character--all worthy of a separate post, but none, of course, like Cappy.
I have a favorite story about Cappy. Cappy had a nemesis--a cat named Buttons who lived across the street from us. Buttons knew just what to do to get Cappy's ire. Our livingroom had floor to ceiling windows. Buttons would sit just outside the window and nonchalantly peer in at Cappy. Cappy would see her and come tearing across the livingroom, forgetting totally there was glass in between him and the pesky cat. He never learned. Buttons got him every time.
My brother talked about when he was grade school Cappy would walk to school with him and when he came out to walk home again who would be there but Cappy. Cappy had his own internal clock.
It nearly killed my brother when Cappy died. I found some images of golden retrievers, having no way to find an image of Cappy to share. I found this wonderful image of a retriever on Photobucket. Much to my delight, he really looks and feels like Cappy. I am a fan of Photobucket for life.
Tonight I have been watching Blade Runner, the story set in a futuristic society in 2019. Much as I enjoy the story my memory fastens on the last moments of a Replicant. Replicants are indistinguishable from humans except they have no memories--until they are four years old. It is the job of Blade Runners to kill rogue Replicants. I love Harrison Ford in the role of the Blade Runner but it is Rutger Hauer who gets my attention in the role of the Replicant Roy Batty.
A Replicant denied feelings until the moment he dies defies understanding. This is what you see as Roy Batty dies: the birth of feelings. It is unbearably poignant.
I couldn't help but reflect on the future as I watched Blade Runner. In the film cars have taken to the skies. My husband was in Osaka, Japan some years ago and talks about freeways six stories in the air which seems to me to be very much the same thing. Would we be able to get in a car to shop if that car was going six stories in the air? Yet in San Francisco we ride trains that travel under San Francisco Bay and think nothing of it.
I am planning on a particular move in my novel RUN!! which I feel I need to think through. It involves my mother.
I have mixed feelings about my mother. I adored her for a lot of my life and then the feeling went. For no good reason. Life wasn't easy for me or my siblings but then life wasn't easy for her. She did the best she could.
Now I find myself thinking about her, wondering how life can be so unfair. She was mentally ill at a time when very few people understood it. People generally thought she was just someone with a bad temper. She could make you laugh, and that was a gift. She should have had help a lot sooner than she got it.
When she was a little girl, she wanted to be an actress. Her stories could make you laugh until your sides hurt. She would have been an amazing actress if she had had the chance.
The picture shows her with my father. I've always loved this picture as the couch seems to be literally groaning under their combined weights.
Only time will tell what happens with her in RUN!! Somehow I feel like I should be able to improve on real life somehow.
I have this feeling if I start writing I will bring out some great epic piece today. If I start writing, something will click.
Ah, Friendship. That's what I will deal out here today in an epic way, complete with pictures, although arranging pictures is new to me and the results, I'm afraid, show it.
First, I have to explain something. I had a weird childhood, in that I feel there were two parts to it, the before the age of eight part and after the age of eight part. I was a scorcher before the age of 8. I mean I just did it--whatever needed doing I did it with aplomb! I belonged to a group of young ruffians; we all got together every night and played on our street. We only came in from the street when our mothers called. I have a great memory of a seven-year-old and the games we played.
When I turned eight we moved; something settled down deep in my childish bones and I retreated, in a big way. Something in my family went haywire, school left a lot to be desired so I got suspicious, and didn't let anyone in. I've always wanted to go back to my seven-year-old self.
The problem with a dichotomy settling in like that is it hovers over you well into adulthood. I've been particularly suspicious of friendship because I had so little of it growing up. Thank God I've changed, finally. When I make friends now, I really value them.
The day before yesterday a friend took me out to lunch: her name is Barbara. We go back a long ways. For the first time I got more detail on her growing up years, although the hurts didn't come into it, as I've described mine, and there were almost certainly hurts. Just the fascinating stuff, like growing up in New York City before moving to Pennsylvania to a chicken farm, of all things. How could I have known Barb all these years and not known she lived on a chicken farm!
That weird dichotomy still hovers, you see.
Barbara, or Barb, as I call her, is among a group of friends I've had for a lot of years now. Anne, Laura, and Judy are the others in this group of friends. Anne and I are making faces at each other in the pictures, I'm the one on the right with the purple sweater. Laura and Judy look on tolerantly. We've gone through a lot of things together and I've probably been the only one who hasn't reached out as much as I would have liked. These friends are the ones who reached out when I lost my brother. We go out together to celebrate birthdays every year. May there be many more birthday celebrations!
Max goes back just as many years. In the picture you see we were in one of our wonderful adventure spots: maybe Morocco? We have shared wonderful times together. Max is always there for me. This year was one of the first years we haven't had one of our adventures, like being thrown out of Slovakia or getting lost in the Egyptian Exhibit at the Louvre. Next year, Max!
Jen is my newest friend. You see her here with her husband Soeren and my husband Jerry. Jen's is a friendship I can't even begin to describe: like sending innumerable emails, How Are You Doing? What's Up? And meaning it. And wanting to know. Like thinking through how to help with a writing problem that was causing real knock down, drag out depression and coming forth with the one thing that helped.
Jen and I met in an online writing group, soon found it not to our liking and together left to form our own. From there she signed me up (without my knowledge! Thank you, Jen!) with another writing group that was forming so now I have all these other friends whose pictures I don't have on me and available but then, friends, you know who you are: the wonderful HW, HtH, Erin, Brit, Kerri--The Four Corners Online Writing Group!
Here's to all my friends: Barb, Anne, Laura, Judy, Max, Jen, HW, HtH, Erin, Brit, Kerri. I wish we were all together. I'd lift a glass of wine in your honor!
With special thanks to Jen. May Possum Summer find a publisher and soon!
I got back from Wild Horse yesterday. I loved being there. Glenn fixed pancakes and bacon. Bliss.
I took some pictures, one of which I'm using on this post. I found it impossible to catch the feeling of being in a treehouse. I ended up not taking my camera but depending on my iPhone after all. Still, I think I got some pretty good pictures.
One of the things I noticed is how much I was sleeping. I slept into 9:30 the first morning and 10:00 the next. I never do that at home so that in itself was different. Even at that I found myself groggy and fighting going back to bed a lot of the day.
I puzzled about that and then I think I finally got it. It was the quiet. The house has no forced air furnace. They have no dishwasher. Mostly you hear the birds.
If you live in the city like I do you never are free of noise. Right now I hear the whistle of a train. The forced air furnace is going because it's cold here today. Clocks tick. We have wood floors and they creak when they're walked on. A lot of us no longer read the newspaper. We turn on the TV and get our news from that. We live in the midst of noise.
I love all that noise, really; it's what I'm used to. Some people can't stand going to a really large city like New York because of the noise. There it really goes into overtime. Still, it's nice to have the quiet once in awhile.
Today I head for Wild Horse, the idyllic place in the country that is the new home of Wendy and Glenn and Theo. It's on 23 acres, which is tremendously exciting to me--the old city girl. Well, a lot of it is hills but no matter.
It was probably built in the fifties. Jerry says it needs at least $100,000 worth of work but that it has a beautiful footprint. Floor to ceiling windows in the livingroom and diningroom bring in the outside; you feel like you're in a treehouse.
I'm not sure they have anything but dial-up at Wild Horse, so reading will be the preferred occupation. I hope to begin planning the blog for the Turnabout Shop. Other than that, I hope to continue working on RUN and reading some pages for a writing buddy.
How do you plan a blog for a thrift store? I don't plan on posting more than once a week so I need to be sure I've got it organized to take advantage of that. I laid awake some last night and found myself thinking about using labels, which I don't use at all on my personal blog but that somehow seem critical for Turnabout. The question is, what labels?
I'm going to run through a few possibilities: Antiques and Special Doodads; Jewelry; Books; Designer Clothes; Back Room Catch-All. FLASH!!! for truly special items that have just come into the shop and must be posted immediately. I will have to reinstate my camera. I discovered this morning that my iPhone was being difficult about emailing photos to my email address, so the camera has to come with me and it has to work.
One of my writing buddies, Kerri, has a puzzle every Friday on her blog. I like the idea of having a specific direction for the blog on specific days but if I'm only posting once a week? How do I deal with that? Maybe I post on successive days: the first post on Monday, second a week later on Tuesday, third a week later on Wednesday etc. That way maybe I assign a label to a specific day: Mondays I do Antiques and Doodads; Tuesdays Jewelry; Wednesdays Books; Thursdays Designer Clothes; Fridays Back Room Catch-All.
I have a problem going to Wild Horse which I'm still puzzling with. Plato is a big dog; he weighs all of 70 pounds. I am now hobbling around and cannot walk him. Sunday shouldn't be a problem as Glenn will be there but tomorrow he's going to a conference so it's up to me. Wendy is seven months pregnant; it's out of the question for her to walk him. I'm sure I'll figure it out; it's just that letting this nutty dog out on 23 acres where a mountain lion was sighted within ten feet of the house last winter... No, I don't think we can let the old Plato roam.
The Turnabout Shop is located in El Cerrito, California, at 10052 San Pablo Avenue—our telephone number is 510-525-7844. We are open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to four. The shop has a very interesting background and I plan to devote one of my upcoming blogs to that history. I was born in Minnesota in 1933, moved to Wisconsin with my family in my twenties, collected a Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood Education, left for California for a teaching job and met my husband. We have been married for 47 years and have two sons and two grandsons, age six and a half and almost three. I love thrift stores. Where else could you find a grotesque Paper Mache mask with weird decorations? Weird can be wonderful! This one nearly caused a divorce: "Either that goes or you go!" We have a dog—an Akita mix called Plato—named for the philosopher. He is a very bright dog. I still have family in Wisconsin and the memories of a wonderful brother who I'm grieving. Take some time out of your busy day and come visit me.