Writer’s Life

18 05, 2020

The Difficult Puzzle

By |2020-05-16T13:37:52-05:00May 18th, 2020|Writer's Life|3 Comments

I enjoy working jigsaw puzzles. And word puzzles, but jigsaw puzzles are my brain sorter for plot issues and escape from reality.

Working a puzzle, I can focus on fitting all the pieces together and when it’s finished, I have a lovely picture. Usually.

Didn’t happen this year. Not with Mary Engelbreit’s Puzzle A Girl’s Best Friend, which I love putting together for Mother’s Day every year.

All those black and white squares on the frame were my downfall. If my grandson weren’t here while his college is shut down for the pandemic, I’d never have finished.

At one point I took out the tape measure to confirm the side measured 20 inches. I decided maybe pieces had gone missing in the last move.

I took the sides apart and started again multiple times. By the fourth time, I was extremely frustrated.

Enter grandson with sharp eyes and nimble fingers. He got the frame together while I worked the middle, which with all the similar colored patterns did not prove much easier.

With Mother’s Day three days away, the middle was finished and only the floral border between the inner picture and the black and white edge remained to connect.

Grandson had a major project due, so I was on my own. A piece would fit the black and white edge but not connect to the middle pieces. Happened not once but several times.

I pulled the edge apart and reassembled. Still the floral border pieces wouldn’t connect.

Mother’s Day and the puzzle still not finished, I admitted defeat and, threatening to throw the puzzle away, went to bed. Next morning, I found this.

Grandson had flipped top and bottom edge pieces and finished.

I’m not throwing the puzzle away. But I’m not messing with edge again either.

I didn’t cheat and leave them connected when I took the puzzle apart, though I was very tempted. I coded the backs of all the edge pieces then stored them in their own little bag in the puzzle box. Next time, I’ll know which border pieces belong on which side.

Maybe I’ll work the puzzle again next year. Maybe not. Grandson won’t be here. I’d be on my own. But, at least, I won’t go blind trying to connect the pesky frame.

20 04, 2020

A Birdhouse Legacy Returns

By |2020-04-20T09:03:00-05:00April 20th, 2020|Writer's Life|2 Comments

When I remember my mother’s father, it’s always in his workshop. At the old house, it was a small dark area shared with my grandmother’s gardening paraphernalia at the back of the garage.

They built a newer house next to the old one after World War II, his shop was a casita with windows and French doors attached to the back of the garage.

He was always working out there. I’d stand in the doorway for hours watching. He’d never let me inside when the jigsaw was going.

He built stick horses with one dimensional heads. I rode those horses for many an hour practicing for barrel racing.

He made rocking horses. The kind you could sit in like a rocking chair.

And he designed a doll bed that flipped from rocking to steady. My dolls and my daughters’ dolls slept many a night in those beds.

My favorite thing he built was birdhouses with tin roofs. He created assorted sizes in different shapes and hung them along the heaves of his little casita’s porch. In the Spring, birds made nests in all the houses. We’d sit on the porch with coffee and cookies to dunk and listen to the baby birds. After Opa was gone, I received the birdhouses.

Today, they hang around my porch.

I think about Opa and what a legacy he left with his birdhouses. He didn’t have social media, no television. Just him in his workshop with his saw and the radio.

One of his birdhouses has a nest this year. I’m excited. This horrid pandemic may have forced me to stay home, but I’m kinda happy to leave the rush and noise to sit on my porch and listen for the baby birds like I did with Opa and Oma.

23 03, 2020

Coronavirus – Crisis, Chaos, and Change

By |2020-03-22T17:31:37-05:00March 23rd, 2020|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Crisis, chaos, and change are the three components of every major event.

Remember the existential edginess of 9/11? It’s returned.

During that crisis, we hunkered down at home with loved ones close, glued to our televisions, as the world around us changed. Our hearts trembled in fear that day. We survived.

Crisis, along with its bedfellows of chaos and change, happened again during the Colorado wildfires of 2013.

Maybe not everyone, but edginess and uncertainty ruled with mandatory evacuations for us. We piled two cars with our most precious belongings, two dogs, and ourselves. Our home was spared, but our world changed. We survived.

Crisis struck again in 2017 when Harvey dumped torrential waters and once again uncertainty, losses, and dramatic life-changes swirled around us.

Now a pandemic called COVID-19, coronavirus swirls worldwide crisis and chaos.

There’s nothing good about this crisis. Fears are rampant.

No one escapes the chaos of bare grocery store shelves or quarantines, voluntary and mandated. NO toilet paper, really?

As we grope our way along through the chaos, here are six suggestions (paraphrased by me) from Writer Unboxed blog contributor Sarah McCoy.

  • Buy Flowers. Splurge on a bouquet at the store or pick some wildflowers or plant some seeds.
  • Get Outdoors. Self-isolation doesn’t mean we are locked in jail. Isolate yourself with a walk in nature. Drive to a nature trail, if necessary, where there are crowds.
  • A Song. Listen or sing your own. Songs are the medicine of angels, and it will resonate in you for hours… days… however long this quarantine takes.
  • Cook. To create a nutritious, virus-free dish for yourself and your loved ones is a simple recipe for joy.
  • Write A letter. To another person or yourself in a journal. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus can only live on paper for 24 hours. Letters sent through USPS take 2-3 days. It’s safe.
  • Read. For a writer like me, that’s a given. It’s my way to escape even when there’s no chaos.

Choose one or all of Ms. McCoy’s suggestions. Doing so requires nothing and will offer great relief from “the toxic fear plaguing us as tenaciously as this microbial foe.”

Take heart in knowing we got through 9/11, wildfires, and floods and so many other crises. We can rest in the assurance this darkness will give way to the light too.

Be safe, dear ones.

2 03, 2020

Signs Spring May Be Coming After All

By |2020-03-01T10:58:56-06:00March 2nd, 2020|Writer's Life|1 Comment

For those of you still buried under snow, I know this will sound a little like whining. You’re so ready for Spring, bless your hearts.

But after a snowfall the sun usually pops out and glistens on the white. Least it did where we lived in Colorado.

Winter around here isn’t like that. Clouds block the sun and skies turn dark and dreary for days and weeks. In the Pacific NW that’s acceptable. After repeated days and days of it here, I miss the sun.

Punxsutawney Peter promised spring was coming.

Not sure I trust a ground hog way up there in Pennsylvania to accurately predict things down here in Texas.

My Japanese tulip tree believed old Petey. It’s loaded with purple blooms.

But the dreary rainy days are dragging on. I was giving up hope and calling Punxsutawney not-so-nice names.

Then this happened.

The long missing sun slipped over the trees and through the blinds to grid my worktable, which used to serve as our dining table. (The tale about why table is no longer used for dining I’ll save for another day.)

Hope fluttered to life in my heart. Spring is coming.

And, someone remind me about this when I’m complaining about the heat in July and August.

24 02, 2020

Yellow Roses for a Texas Valentine’s Day

By |2020-02-17T08:23:08-06:00February 24th, 2020|Holidays, Writer's Life|2 Comments

My sweetie surprised me with roses for Valentine’s Day. Yellow roses.

Red roses are common for the day. But yellow roses are our special roses.

After his heart attack many moons ago, I brought a yellow rose to the hospital every day. We lived in Connecticut and finding a yellow rose wasn’t easy. But, not any old red rose would work, it had to be a yellow.

I was his rosebud from Texas, and the only girl for him.

By the first anniversary of the heart attack we were back in Texas. I sent a dozen yellow roses to his office. Imagine his co-workers’ surprise when they learned the anniversary they celebrated.

My yellow roses for Valentine’s Day were a surprise. Double special with their sweet history.
If you’re not familiar with the song have a listen.

And, you can read about the historical Yellow Rose of Texas here.

6 01, 2020

New Year – Let’s Begin

By |2020-01-06T06:36:32-06:00January 6th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We’re almost one week into 2020. It’s gonna be an awesome year! New Years always excite me.

Fresh slate!

New focus!

I refuse to make New Year’s resolutions cause I tend to abandon those by the end of the first month.

I’m saying FOCUS.

My primary 2020 focus is to finish book 3 in the Fitzpatrick Family series to make up to all my faithful readers for not getting  a book out last year.

You see, 2019’s manuscript – Seeing Clearly – was a finalist in the West Houston RWA Emily Contest Romantic Suspense category. Hoping for good news in February when finalists are announced.

Click here to see all the other category finalists.

So, what’s your focus for 2020? Are you starting something new? Or finishing something from 2019?

29 11, 2019

Grateful for YOU

By |2019-11-28T10:12:10-06:00November 29th, 2019|Thanksgiving, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Whether  you’re in a part of the world that celebrates Thanksgiving  or not, we want to say how  grateful we are for you, our View from the Front Porch readers. Chicken Wrangler and I truly appreciate the time you take to leave your comments.

Thank you for hanging out with us these many years.

We’re recovering from our own overeating yesterday and have taken today off.

We’ve decided to reduce our stress this year and, in December, we will begin a countdown to the number one viewed blogs from Miller Farm Friday and the Front Porch in 2019. I think you’ll find which blog posts drew the most views interesting. We did.

Hope you see one of your favorites.

30 09, 2019

Birthday of surprises

By |2019-09-29T20:09:55-05:00September 30th, 2019|A Writer's Life, writer, Writer's Life|0 Comments

September is my birth month. This year I celebrated big time.

The festivities started early with a chocolate pinata. The chocolate ball is suspended then cracked open in true pinata style. Pineapple, strawberry, and churro pieces fall on a tray edged in whipped cream with cups of dipping sauces like caramel. Yummy confection.

Then on my actual birthday a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my youngest daughter arrived mid-afternoon. A surprise treat. And, I so love fresh flowers, especially roses.

 

Next Husband-dear surprised me when our dinner-for-two turned into dinner with our two best friends at a local Italian restaurant. Good food, good friends, and great conversation. A lovely evening.

Husband-dear collaborated with my favorite artist on another painting for my Barbara Rudolph collection, my fifth. Each has a specific significance for me. That’s Barbara’s unique gift building your interests into her paintings. Check out her gallery. She accepts commissions for specific paintings.

This delightful little chickadee painted on a vintage postcard is extra special. Our street is called Chickadee Lane and I collect vintage postcards.It was a delightful evening. But my celebration wasn’t over.

On the weekend my sister invited Husband-dear and me to dinner then surprised me by including my brother and my oldest daughter. Another lovely evening around the table with family. My sister also gave me a huge bouquet of carnations

and a picture of us…I’m not sure next year can top this year with surprises.

23 09, 2019

Footprints in the Concrete

By |2019-09-29T20:11:23-05:00September 23rd, 2019|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Over 300 hand prints, footprints, and autographs can be found in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. Celebrities have pressed their hands and feet into wet cement since the 1920s.

Not only people but ventriloquist dummies, horse prints of Trigger and Champion, and tires of “The Love Bug” have left their mark.

Leaving impressions in fresh concrete is a tradition that’s been around for ages. Something about wet cement calls for hands or feet or initials or just the date to be pressed on the surface.

I’ve left my print on patio slabs, stairs, and sidewalks over the years. So has my husband.

Back in the 80s, during our first return to Texas, we visited a home where he’d lived in 1946. The house, in Austin, was being renovated. The back sidewalk with his family’s embedded footprints was to be demolished. That made us both sad.

He located the new owners and asked permission to remove the section of sidewalk with his family footprints. The contractor used a diamond blade to cut the four-inch thick concrete and removed the section with his family’s footprints.

The slab weighed a ton. Well, maybe not a ton, but it was heavy. Three men loaded it into our station wagon and my husband brought it home.

Once in back Houston, we loaded it onto a little red wagon and wheeled it into the house. The slab fit on our raised hearth in the living room as though custom cut. It was quite the conversation piece!

Then we moved to Colorado where the slab lived on our covered front porch, protected from the ice and snow. Now it’s back in Texas again, on our front porch here, protected from the hot sun.I rubbed the footprints with stain to make their impressions more visible. The date 9-30-46 has worn a bit. It’s barely visible.

We smile when we pass by and think of those four footprints that now walk the streets of heaven.

16 09, 2019

Emotional Stages of a Writing Project

By |2019-09-16T06:38:21-05:00September 16th, 2019|Writer's Life, writing, Writing Craft|0 Comments

My blogs generally focus on my writer’s life with stories about things that strike my fancy. Today I’m sharing a fun video aimed primarily for writers.

I first saw the video many years ago on the blog of The Steve Laube Agency. Fridays on his blog are FUN day and he shared this great video by James Andrew Wilson titled The Five Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel.

If you’re not a writer, I’m hope you can relate to some of the same stages in projects you undertake. And, it’ll help you understand your writer friends better.

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