What is a Friend?

If you are lucky, your friends come in a variety of shapes, sizes and temperaments. If a person is truly your friend, he or she is honest with you, but never abrasive. To my way of thinking a true friend keeps in touch when they know you are feeling tearful or unsteady. But what makes a friend someone you call or contact when you are at your lowest?

I’ve lost several people who were really important to me during the past couple of months. And because the people I thought I was closest to were suffering their own losses I did not feel free to reach out to them. And one of my friends who suffered a tragic loss during this time hasn’t returned my calls. I have called her to share my concern for her loss, but always get her answering machine. Prior to this I thought we were close friends. I have reached out to her by email, and she has sent short responses to that, but in the last three months I have not actually seen or spoken with her. My emails have been that I was thinking about her, not questions about her loss. I wonder when it is best to quit contacting someone who has suffered a loss and wait for them to get in touch. I am wondering if some people disassociate with their closest friends after suffering a loss because they feel they have to talk about that loss and they don’t want to.

I have other good friends that I have been able to share with. It is not that I am feeling all alone at this time. It is just a time of searching for the real meaning of friendship, and realizing how fragile a friendship can be.

Three Word Wednesday:  abrasive; tearful; unsteady

Get Out of the Way

Recently I discovered that writing a novel is like raising my children.  There came a point in time when I had to allow my children enough independence to be the people they were meant to be.  My novel is at that point.  Despite all of the planning and outlining I have done; despite all of the characters I have carefully developed; and despite the beautiful complex settings I have imagined, my novel has decided to take its own course.

No matter how hard I try not to hover like an anxious parent with a scrawny child, I find that I am still devoted to my original plan.  I try not to fight my muse.  But when I want my character to walk up the hill and he is determined to walk down it instead, I still fight at first.  But little by little I am learning to give in.  Page by page I am learning to let go.

I know that letting go is essential.  I know that when the first draft is completed I will have to start the rewriting process.  I know that there will be sections that I consider beautiful prose that will end up in the scrap pile.  I know that when the characters get done telling me who they are and what they are going to do, that there will be earlier sections that no longer fit.  It isn’t always easy.  But just like raising children, one must eventually let go.

So for now, I am trying to “get out of the way” and let my novel be the story it was meant to be.

 

Written for J.T. Weaver’s The 270  and Thom’s Three Word Wednesday.

J. T., I think I achieved the goal, exactly 270 words in the body of the post.

The three words this week are:  anxious devoted and scrawny.

 

 

The Mackinaw

I remember the first day I met him, only because it was my first day in the office and I didn’t know what was expected of me.  The day I met him however, is very different from the day I noticed him. The day I noticed him came later.  He had just come from Hurricane Ridge where he had been preparing the slopes for the weekend skiers.  He wore a red plaid mackinaw wool coat and his prematurely silver hair was still damp from the mountain’s exposure.

He stood at the reception desk just outside my office so it was easy for me to scrutinize him without his knowledge.   He wiped the moisture from his glasses before the receptionist sent him in. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to work up on the mountain all alone isolated from everyone else.

I grew up in a warmer climate and I never learned to ski.  Knowing that he often spent hours up there grooming slopes and maintaining equipment made him seem a bit mysterious to me.  I could tell that he loved the job, even if he never admitted it.  He was so faithful to it.  It wasn’t unusual for him to slip into the office late in the afternoon,  to pick up payroll or payroll reports, just before we locked the door.  I’d quickly instruct him about deadlines for mailing whatever report was due and he would be on his way–at least in the beginning.

I’m not sure when I realized there was something important happening between us.  I should have been aware sooner than I was.  He’s a very observant sort of guy.  One day he came in to the office and I had my hands wrapped around my coffee cup to keep them warm.  That year at Christmas he gave me gloves.  I’m guess I am a little dense, because it wasn’t until many years later that I realized that was really a very personal gift.   Even the first bottle of perfume didn’t send up my sensors.

Had I noticed him?  You bet I had, but he was nice to everyone.   I figured I was just another bookkeeper to him.  And there’s a bit of an age difference so I didn’t expect him to pay any attention to me.

Then one day he took me out to lunch.  Of course he was wearing that red plaid coat.  I, in my isolated little world, thought of it as a business lunch.  And it wasn’t until several lunches later that I realized –oh, this is more than just a business lunch.

I hadn’t planned to ever marry again.  And for a long time, although I was attracted to him, I saw him more as an escort than anything else.  My job included membership in a number of professional organizations.  That meant there were often social functions to attend.  Social functions can feel pretty awkward if you always have to go alone.  At those times he traded the red wool coat for a sports jacket and he became a great escort.  Not only is he interesting and charming, but in the early days, nearly everyone in town either knew him from his work on the ski lifts or from his construction business. He often knew more of the people at the event than I did.   He is such a social person that I never had to wonder if he was having a good time.  He could and still can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere.

I can’t pinpoint when I realized I wanted more than an escort.  But I have to admit there is nothing like new love.  I will always cherish those early days.  Days when he would show up at the office at noon or at closing time with a couple of sandwiches from a deli or fast food restaurant and we would drive out to Ediz Hook and watch the waves bounce off of the rocks or watch the sea gulls fight for crumbs.  During the colder months he always wore that red plaid coat as we walked along the beach and talked.

There was a time when, in the mornings before work, we would meet for coffee at Birney’s.  In the winter it always made me smile when he came in wearing his red plaid coat.  We’d hold hands across the table while we read the newspaper and the time to go to work always came too soon.

For years winter months brought out that red plaid coat.  Our lives together have grown, but when he retired it was as if that coat retired too.  It seldom comes off the hanger now.  Every time I clean out the coat closet, I think, it takes up a lot of room, but it makes me smile.  And I can’t imagine not seeing it there when I open that closet door.

Three word Wednesday:  Faithful, isolate, scrutinize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Storage Tip for Christmas Lights & Garland

I was hoping for an outrageously gorgeous New Year’s Day.  That didn’t happen.  Instead of getting all jittery about it, I decided to put away my Christmas Decorations.   I have a tip for you when you store your tree lights, strings of beads and garland.  Wrap these decorations around your empty Christmas wrapping paper rolls.  I use a piece of painters tape at each end.  This not only keeps them under control while they are stored, it recycles the cardboard rolls.

Words for Three Word Wednesday:   Gorgeous, adjective: Beautiful; very attractive; very pleasant.Jittery, adjective: Nervous or unable to relax.Outrageous, adjective: shockingly bad or excessive; wildly exaggerated or improbable; very bold, unusual, and startling.

Threewordwednesday.com

Things I’ve Discovered

Three words for three word Wednesday:  Amplify. Criticize. Moan

I haven’t deserted you my friends.  I’ve had a problem with my arm that has limited some of my activities; writing was one of them.  I chose to use my writing energy to work on my novel.  I don’t plan to amplify my story of woe, or moan about the injustice of it all.  And I hope you won’t criticize me for my choice.  Now, my discoveries–

I have learned some interesting things these past three months.  One of them I found most interesting.  There seems to be a belief that a story with a woman protagonist is a story of interest only to women.

My novel has a female protagonist.  She is a forensic accountant.  In other words she investigates events such as embezzlement.  The accused is male.  I have been told that this will attract only female readers.  Personally I have more faith in men than that.  I believe that if it is well written, a story of ethical choices shrouded in a bit of mystery, will entertain men as well as women.

The second thing I have discovered is that women, of a certain age at least, are less likely to share their passions. They will tell you about their children’s and grandchildren’s lives, but not what their personal dreams are.  Why is that?

I have also discovered that if you share your passion with some of these women, they will find some way to scorn your dream as unattainable.  In the past I have let these things stifle my progress.  But for today I vow to ignore all of the naysayers and all of the critics.  Instead I plan to enjoy the writing process wherever it takes me.

A Good Weather Day…

One thing in life that you can usually rely on to surprise you, sometimes even shock you, is the weather.

Last year (2012) summer in the Pacific Northwest was gray and dreary, but our autumn weather was lovely.  I remember it well.  In October I was walking several times a week on the Discovery Trail.   I didn’t need an umbrella and I seldom wore a jacket.  In the middle of October the vine maples were still as colorful as a child’s coloring book.  Large leaves were just beginning to descend from branch to ground.  I photographed wild flowers and roses still in bloom.  By the end of October the mushrooms were just starting to appear in patches at the edge of Bagley Creek.  And occasionally a morning fog chilled the air.

In contrast, this year the summer was lovely.   I try to capture the memory of those days to help sustain me now that I know that summer is gone.  For some unknown reason summer left us in a hurry, hasty to shine its warmth on some other patch of the world.  In the Pacific Northwest this year our autumn weather has been dreadful.  Well maybe dreadful is a bit strong, but there have certainly been a lot of very wet days since the first day of fall.  Several mornings I have awaken to the rhythmic drumming of the rain on our skylight, not a simple pitter-patter but a turbulent composition that said wake up and check the drains and close the windows.  The leaves have been blasted to the ground and the rain and winds have already swept them aside.

It should come as no surprise therefore, that I expected Sunday, October 6, 2013, to be more of the same.  But it was as if the weather had decided to surprise us all.  A wet and threatening fog greeted us in the morning, but as the day progressed the sun cleared the fog away.  Although it wasn’t a warm day it was a comfortable day.  The temperatures have dropped and our mornings are cooler now; but on Sunday Avon got to celebrate his 90th birthday with good friends, family and lots of sunshine.

Written for Soup Night and Three Word Wednesday.

The three words from Thom were:  hasty; sustain and dreadful.

Thom posts three word challenges every Wednesday.  Check out Thom’s site and see what others are writing:   http://www.threewordwednesday.com/

 

Today’s daybook–

FAILURE

He wore his failure

 like a badge

It darkened

His demeanor

It was his liability

And made him

Even meaner

Written for Three Word Wednesday:  Badge; darken, liability

CHILDREN

I gave birth to a child

While I was a child

Three years later

To another

It didn’t matter that

I was a child

I was still their Mother