Testing Out Options

I’m going to use this post for practice. I’ve chosen the “kitchen sink” icon to get more options, but am disappointed to find no way to change font type or size. Let’s see if I can random a picture…nope don’t think I did it. Hmmm…draft? Yes. Public? Yes, but I’m adding “Stick this post to the front page”.

I’ll be back for a second round soon. The only question still unanswered is how to make my wordpress blog available to those who don’t want to join the site but do want to see my announcements regarding story/magazine articles/book publishings. One central blog that all can read will save me much needed time, so I’d like to find a place that can serve that function.

For now, I’ll close and publish.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Long Time Gone

Oh, I do apologize for my long absence! My followers at my old writing site have left numerous notes (there, not here) asking for a new entry. I’m not sure I care to jump back in over there (for a variety of reasons), but my intention of transferring to wordpress has certainly gone the wayside.

I was sidetracked because I was writing web content pages. It’s interesting work, sometimes fun, sometimes challenging, sometimes tedious, but the money I am making gets squirreled away back into savings, my first steps to rebuilding as the Great Repression nears its end.

I finished my second book, but because I am not an editor, there is a bump in my road. The first six chapters are slamming, each page screams to be turned to the next. But the next four chapters go downhill. There’s just not enough excitement, and yet that part is so necessary to the end, which is also interesting and satisfying and open-ended. Somehow I need to meld parts one & two together, but I don’t know how.

I leave you with an old poem (apologies if I’ve posted before):

I see the great regatta, regal and beautiful as it splashes through the waves.

Sail on, oh you in your twenties. You are in your best years and do not know it. Don’t waste it mired in depression. You owe it to the rest not to waste these years while your sails are trimmed and your lines are smooth.

See the proud centurion as she sits upon the water!

And you, so newly crafted, smooth and barnacle-free, it is for you that the others sail on. It is to you that are debt is greatest. We have smoothed the seas as much as possible, but always remember that you ride upon an ocean of tears of both joy and sorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 24 Comments

The March of Time

A boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Image via Wikipedia

If I could save time in a bottle, I’d still lose track of it! My endeavors are honest ones. I took up the hobby of canning of garden vegetables and when a fantastic deal of almost free (one dollar for 25 pounds of tomatoes) tomatoes (you pick ‘em) came my way, I went for as many as I could process and can. It was/is an incredible amount of work, but I’ve enjoyed it. I’m also enjoying the fact that I’m almost done canning for a while!

May has been the month for visitors, spring breakers and, for the final two weeks, one of my oldest and dearest friends stayed with us while she downsized her mother’s home so that mom could move on to an Assisted Living Facilty (ALF).

It is a hard thing, this aging parent visit. Having just walked the journey with my own mother, I’ve tried to give her perspective, all the while knowing that each situation is slightly different, so I frequently reminded myself to be sparing with advice (and probably wasn’t). My main goal was to make our home and her room a soft place to fall after a long day of emotional decisions. She appreciated it.

May has also been the month when my youngest returned home, accepting a job as a high school youth pastor. All three boys seem to be on track with good, steady jobs.

I continue with writing text for web pages for others. I know more about the roofing business than I ever wanted to know! I’ve hit a bit of a wall on the last chapters of my book, but think I now know the way to present the final polish of the apple. Now to find the time…

I marked the one year anniversary of my mother’s death at Corkscrew Swamp (see picture above), where she volunteered as a guide for years, by spreading the rest of her ashes there. The day was picture perfect: low humidity, cool breeze, and the sky was hung with banks of puffy clouds that danced across a pale blue sky. Since it is spring, our dry season, the swamp was almost dry, but we did find two very small mud holes, both claimed by alligators.

The place itself is quite beautiful. The walk is easy, since you follow a boardwalk. Animals do come up on it, as evidenced by the scat left here and there, but since the swamp was dry and it was midday, we saw no wildlife other than birds, gators, and insects.

Ah, yes! The insects. The next time I go, it will be with a can of insect repellant! The woods are lovely, but they are dark and deep and I had miles (two, actually) to go through clouds of hungry mosquitoes and deer flies, plus a few territorial bees. It was worth the itch, though, as we stood deep in the lush, green jungle whose corners disappeared into black peat and giant ferns. The place was primeval and old growth and the way Florida looked in the 1600s. Well, except for the boardwalk. I imagined the first Native American Indians picking their way across the muck. I imagined Ponce de Leon and his foot soldiers crashing through.

The light, filtering through the leaves, shifted with the passing clouds, changing the greens from dull olives to light and bright shades of lime on the fern fronds. The rap of a woodpecker’s beak resonated in the almost silence…not quite echo, but a hollow sound from miles away.

The other birds chattered and called out warnings about our presence from time to time, but when they quieted, all I could hear was the wind, sighing through the treetop canopy far above our heads. It was wonderfully dark and moist, earthen tunnels of jungle underbrush broken by dry, bright beams of sunlight dancing across a small sea of ferns that give way to vast expanses of sawgrass, bent over in the sun. I imagine that the place is a steam bath in summer but it was quite comfortable during our walk and I enjoyed every moment of it.

There were moments of tears and of letting go, but her ashes now rest in the Florida ground she so loved. They ride the currents, from swamp to river to sea and swirl in the air that rises up like dancing dervishes. Her life is at peace now. She moves on and so do I, as May turns into June.

Posted in Florida, Publishing, Web Page Writing, Writing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Work in Progress

A mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), taken in U...

Image via Wikipedia

We enjoy the last vestiges of springtime in Florida. Mornings are still soft and cool, but summer’s humidity is a footstep away, so I try to enjoy these moments when the sun is not so fierce.

At night cicadas fill the air with drum-like humming and morning brings the sad, haunting song of the mourning dove in coos of three. Its mate answers back in kind, its call filters through the rustling of the palm fronds… “Ladies in grass skirts”, my mother would say about the palms. I never asked if that was a saying she made up or if it was something she read.

Scolding blue jays argue amongst themselves while out front, two mockingbirds fight it out over a female, chasing each other across a baby blue sky. They dive and curve around unseen air currents with graceful arcs that quickly slices the air with razor sharp turns as they change direction and aggression. The two are evenly matched and neither gives in. The chase lasts for hours, with only short breaks to tree sit and woo the lone female who seems uninterested in either one. The phone rings and I do not see the resolution. When I look up again, they are gone.

I continue with web page writing and enjoy the work. I have a new assignment and this time, it comes with instructions on how to upload it to a website that my boss will use for creating the page. My guidance? Just go in, poke around, and learn it. Ah, the optimism of youth! I come from a generation that learns the old fashioned way: by repetition. I am a rote learner. Step me through it a few times and I’m good. I can teach myself to write a sonnet. I can teach myself how to can. But navigate a program? I’ll try, but not this weekend. This is Mother’s Day weekend.

I’m also working on my newest work: a fiction based on facts. Because of Spring Break visitors and harvesting the vegetable garden (meaning many hours spent canning) and several other things, wordpress blogging has been put on the back burner, as have my good intentions over learning how to navigate this site. Unfortunately, the hours required for blogging and learning wordpress on top of everything else just aren’t there, so I beg your patience. At least until I get 300 pounds of tomatoes canned.

My short story, Tin Can Tourists, adds a new twist to early Florida tourists, many of whom camped in their cars or tents, cooking their meals in cans held over the car’s engine.  These makeshift meals soon became picnic events, and the article offers up a closer look at one such gathering, as well as a detailed description of my aunt’s 1938 “housecar”.

DeSoto County Historical Society

P.O. 1824

Arcadia, FL 34265

http://www.historicdesoto.org/

Ask for “Recollections II” (NOT the first book). I’m page 28-30.

$8 for the book (It’s a non-profit, so I get no pay, but it’s a credential)

Posted in Florida, Publishing, Web Page Writing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

What’s New, What’s Old

I had the best of intentions, truly I did, but a wild mix of webpage and blog ghostwriting (8 pages! 5 more ordered!) along with the usual Spring Break visitors that come and go, seasoned with a family mini-crisis (in resolution now) and the usual chores, business, and meals put blogging on the back burner. Writing, however, zooms along. I am closing in on the final chapters, then I must glean my grandmother’s letters to be sure I missed none of the vernacular of the day.

Other plans for May: touch base with the contact names given me, along with a name to drop in introductions.

There are some new readers here. Some from my journaling site, others from facebook, some who employ me to one degree or another. Some leave notes, others do not. This, I think, is one of the key differences between an online journal and blogging: the latter doesn’t leave much room for social networking. I may be wrong, since I’m brand new to the blogging world.

I hope to rectify that somewhat by creating a (small) mass e-mailing list (don’t worry…I use BCC so the only address you’ll see is mine). I’m not sure when that will start, though, so for new arrivals, here is the info on the story that reached publication:

https://keeperofthemonkeyhouse.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/publishing-annoucement/
Tin Can Tourists

That entry contains the information of where the book is sold (my story is one of many), price, and ordering details. I seem to have picked up some videos on my blog entries. I’m not sure how that happens because I’ve not had time to learn this site. I didn’t post the videos nor have I watched but one, which seems to be a ten minute advertisement for a cruise.

I promised to post some of my writing samples and thought you might enjoy the following:

Pines of Sarasota Guest Article

(Published Sarasota Herald Tribune, May 7, 2008)

Sarasota has many wonderful gems in its crown, from the arts to the natural wonders found all around us, but we also have a jewel no other city has: The Pines of Sarasota. No, it’s not exactly a tourist spot, but it is a treasure nonetheless. For those who do not know, I offer a very brief history: A home for the elderly since 1948, the Pines has reached out to those in poor health and limited incomes. First funded by the Kiwanis Club, it has always been a non-profit organization, and is a vital safety net that today provides for 300 residents of Sarasota County.

Many people do not realize how easily the elderly slip through the cracks. They are a generation of stoics, having endured the War years, so oftentimes, they don’t tell us, their Baby Boomer children, of their struggles, preferring to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, just as they’ve always done. It’s a great philosophy, but it has one flaw: their income doesn’t keep pace with expenses and they’ve tightened their belt to the last notch and many times, beyond. Some find refuge at the Pines of Sarasota.

The population at Pines is much like that of Sarasota’s; racial, age, and gender are closely mirrored. Most were born before or during the Depression, but there are younger residents, as well. Some residents were always low income, others lost everything due to the rising cost of living, and health issues have eaten away at the lifelong savings of others. All of the residents need assistance in more than one facet of their lives. Until now, the Pines has provided that help, regardless of ability to pay what the charges really would be in a “for-profit” entity.

The recent legislative cuts, approximately fifty thousand dollars for each month budget cut steps are initiated, means that Pines will have to make adjustments just to survive. Every Medicare dollar the state takes away also cuts additional matching dollars from our federal government. The double blow will be felt throughout the Pines community.

Pines of Sarasota is a well-run program that not only targets the needs of the elderly, it leads the way by providing ever more Alzheimer’s beds at the very time many “for-profit” nursing homes are cutting theirs. The Pines actively advocates for Alzheimer’s research, hosting lectures and workshops that address the advances made in the field. The Alzheimer’s Support Group meets upstairs in the conference room every third Tuesday at 6:30 PM of every month. This group is open to the public and “at-home” caregivers are welcome to join. You’ll find plenty of understanding and maybe even a few solutions in a friendly but not overbearing atmosphere.

Pines is certified as an “Eden Alternative Community”, providing a low cost day care facility for the children of staff (as well as the surrounding community) and an intergenerational connection for the residents. This program keeps employee turnover percentages below the national average.

Pines of Sarasota has proven itself, since 1948, to be a good steward in the care of the elderly in Sarasota County. The budget cuts are simply too deep for a program that already strains to keep up. We Sarasotans should help polish up our gemstone by supporting the capital campaign to replace aging buildings.

How can you help? Visit their website: www.Pinesofsarasota.org, consider taking a volunteer position and make a small donation. Pines of Sarasota needs financial help right in the middle of the worst recession on record. I’m aware that I’m asking you, the reader, to help at the worst possible time, but I ask you to remember that old saying: “A little from a lot makes a huge difference”. That’s why I’m asking the 300,000+ Sarasota County residents to dig into their pockets and send a few dollars to: Pines of Sarasota, 1501 N. Orange Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236. Donations are tax deductible and will be well used. It’s a good place. It deserves to be supported by the community because it serves the community well. I hope we will all join together to help keep this gem in sparkling condition.

The End

I offer, for your reading entertainment, a link to the blog of one of my favorite scribes, a writing mentor (who needs to list his published work on his blog), sounding board, cruel editor and grand punster:

http://englishmaven.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/english-is-not-lunatic/  Short Timer

I’ve learned a lot from him. If you want to be a better writer, read his blog. You’ll thank me. He better, too.

Posted in Florida, Publishing, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Publishing Annoucement

Learning to navigate wordpress is a bit challenging for those of us who are, er, technologically challenged, but I’m learning. My hope is that wordpress will be the central information spot for those interested in my writing. Today, I will be attempting to share some information on the publishing of one of my short stories and my on-going attempts to get my book, a murder mystery set in a Florida swamp, published.

Finding an agent is a slow process, but in the meantime, I have had some success on a smaller scale. My latest news is the above mentioned short story, Tin Can Tourists, which adds a new twist to early Florida tourists, many of whom camped in their cars or tents, cooking their meals in cans held over the car’s engine.  These makeshift meals soon became picnic events, and the article offers up a closer look at one such gathering, as well as a detailed description of my aunt’s 1938 “housecar”.

DeSoto County Historical Society

P.O. 1824

Arcadia, FL 34265

http://www.historicdesoto.org/

Ask for “Recollections II” (NOT the first book). I’m page 28-30.

$8 for the book (It’s a non-profit, so I get no pay, but it’s a credential)

I cannot live on credentials alone, however, so I also write copy for an SEO company. It’s challenging work in that I write about different aspects/services of various businesses. With permission from the company I work for, this is one example of what I am doing (I wrote most of the text for this website):

http://www.allgeorgiatowing.com/

Each company has a different format and formula but I won’t be sharing what I know of them, since I consider that information confidential and exclusive to the company. Rest assured, it is not terribly complicated, but it is very important to deliver the work exactly as requested: Don’t offer web page writing when a blog page was ordered. Each serves a different purpose.

As promised with every blog, a short story:

The guys are working on an upper floor of a building that fronts the waterfront and come home with funny stories of the fishermen who gather there each day, but today’s was the biggest fish story of all:

The dolphin were chasing bait fish through the bay, swimming after the smaller fish, changing direction the instant they did, and leaping in graceful arches through the air in an effort to close the gap.

Dotting the bay are houseboats and live-aboard yachts, an interesting mix of the very wealthy and the working poor, sometimes alcoholic independent usually hippie who lives cheaply in a leaky tub that barely floats.

The yachts come and go. The houseboats stay. The boys refer to one of the old salts as the “Rich Bum” because unlike the other owners of broken down barges, this one owns a fancy dinghy. He uses it to row to the pier’s bar at 8 am each morning.

As the men watched from above, one of the dolphin leaped high in the air, still chasing the bait fish, and landed, with a loud smack, into the Rich Bum’s dinghy. A yuppie on a yacht (Hey! That could be a drink!) saw what happened and hollered at Rich Bum, who finally understood what the man was trying to tell him and jumped into his dinghy and tried to roll/pull/push the fish out.

Dolphin are very large and while not particularly slippery, they’re smooth and bulky and hey, when you got a dolphin in your boat, you know you have a challenge on your hands. Apparently, it’s even harder at 8 am, after downing a few beers. Yuppie on a Yacht watched for the longest time and then finally rowed over in his matching rowboat to see what he could do. Whatta guy, huh?

The fish, of course, didn’t budge (think dead deer weight and you pretty much have it in a nutshell), so Rich Bum had to sink his dinghy. The dolphin swam off without a backward glance, seemingly unaware of the precarious position it had just escaped.

I guess the moral of the story is that the fish and the wealthy don’t give a boatload of water about the Rich Bum’s assets.

The End

I look forward to writing future posts and introducing readers to each other by linking websites (if I ever learn the art of linking). When I do, please take the time to check them out. For different reasons, I find their voices an interesting addition to the world, and I hope you will, too.

As always, thanks for reading. Please feel free to invite all your friends to subscribe to my blog. A strong readership impresses potential agents!

Posted in Florida, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Jars of Glass

The golden hues of afternoon warm the walls of my home, a place of messy piles: the fossils are there, the cigar box purses here, the shells are in glass jars that sit on the windowsill, making it quite inconvenient for opening and closing windows, but I like light through glass jars.

The shells in the jar were found on the beach, beauties that winked at me as I walked by, begging to be picked up and brought home. How could I refuse? They are sorted; all the Scotch Bonnets in one jar, drills in another, followed by jars of snail shells or scallop shells so pretty in their pinks and purples. One jar holds only shark’s teeth, black and shiny, save one or two grays. The black teeth are the oldest, fossilized; the gray teeth aren’t found as often. The most rare of the finds is white, youngest of all.

Another jar holds beach glass, bits of the brokenness of mankind; edges smooth and rounded, the surface is cloudy, all caused by years of being battered by the waves. This is glass I’ve found on the beach, but not here on Florida’s beautiful Gulf coast. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen beach glass down here.

I’d like to think that we here in the south are less prone to littering, but there is usually at least one small debris pile left on an early morning beach walk to tell me otherwise. More often than not, it is two abandoned chaise lounges, with four or five empties, beach glass of the future, perhaps, always of the same brand lying in the sand, the stubs of cigarette butts sticking out from the soft, white sugar sand. Sometimes there will be one or two sleeping bodies, but usually, by daybreak, the chairs are empty.

The beach glass that sits on my windowsill was found long ago, when I was a girl and yes, I’ve kept it all these years because I come from a family of savers. In fact, we pass it on, generation to generation, which is why the boys will inherit Wedgewood one day, whether they like it or not. They don’t, but they will keep it and pass it to their children, because it has worth.

Beach glass, of course, has no value, so it will be tossed upon my demise. Funny, isn’t it? Because when I hold the jar up to the light and see the blues and the greens and the whites and the browns, I see myself as a young girl at ocean’s edge, hair falling out of my pigtails, climbing over the rocks and boulders on the shore of Wingaersheek Beach searching for broken bits of glass.

Reaching down into the tide pool, turning over a small rock, sending an even smaller crab scurrying for better cover, I would find my treasure, glistening in the sun, disappearing with each wave that rolled in. I’d wait, timing the wave, as the sun burned against my back, and, just as the chosen wave passed, I’d plunge my hand in the water, quickly, surely, no second guesses, and hit my target dead on. My fingers curled over my find as I turned my head and waited for the next wave to pass, hoping I would hold my breath at just the right moment. I did, of course, because I understood the rhythm, but I never trusted that I’d known since before I was.

When the wave passed over my head, and because my eyes are not sensitive to salt water, I knew when it was gone and would let go of my breath, holding my find high in the air with a triumphant shout, especially if I’d found the coveted purple glass, rarest find of all!

No one paid attention to the child in the distance, climbing the rocks (where was her mother?), her shouts lost to the wind. The purple gem was tucked deep in my pocket as I eagerly searched for shiny glints of color, but seldom did I find more of the purple shades. I did not complain, knowing tomorrow’s tides would wipe the slate clean, rounding rocks just a tiny bit more and depositing new treasure and, after all, summer days are endless, are they not?

As my pockets grew heavy with the day’s finds, I stayed aware of my surroundings, perched amongst the boulders. I knew the waters and the timing of the tide as it rolled in and, when it surrounded the small island of rocks, dry at low tide, almost submerged at high tide, it was time for me to go. To wait longer was to chance having to swim in, in waters over my head, and although I am a strong swimmer, I was small and the current could sweep me into the Annisquam, where the big boats went.

Rather than chance such a fate, I would take my leave and wade in ankle deep water; as the ripples in the sand, carved sharp by waves, pressed against the soles of my feet. It was not a long walk, a few hundred feet, and soon I was on the dry sand, one of the few white sand beaches in New England, heading for my room in the cottage by the sea, where I would add the glass to the jar that sat on my bedroom windowsill.

All night the light from the Annisquam lighthouse flashed in my bedroom window; “one if by land, two if by sea” is a part of my soul; and in the morning, the jar sparkled with the rising sun, the message clear:

Beaten and battered, easily broken and worthless, to be sure, but presented under the right conditions, washed clean and held in clarity, the Light shines through as everything under the Son sparkles under the sun.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2nd Corinthians 4:7

XXXXX

As evident, I’ve decided to post writing samples first, with commentary on writing progress (or lack thereof) second.

There isn’t much to report. I’ve dusted off A Scent of Oleander and am actively querying again, a subject for a future post. SEO writing continues to trickle in. I’m now doing ghostwriting of sorts. It’s an interesting process!

It is full season here in Florida and while we are fully employed, there has been a definite drop-off in the number of estimates we have out at an given time. I suspect we are in for a long, hot summer. Still, it is good to be here, now, climbing my back out of recession.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments