Family, Memory, Real Life

Forty-six Years Ago

Forty-six years ago tomorrow, I began a new life. It was the Viet Nam era. I was not quite eighteen. And my fiancé was in the U.S. Army. So, like many young couples of that time, we got married. Three weeks later, my brand new husband left me—under military order.

31 August, 1967

We were lucky; they sent him to Germany, not Viet Nam. And I found myself caught between two worlds. I was married, but I had no husband. I was still a teen, but I no longer fit in with my old friends. I still lived with my parents. I had no car—in fact, I’d not yet learned to drive—so I got a job caring for a neighbor’s children while she worked.

I no longer thought about going to art school. I dreamed only of moving to Germany to be with my husband. A few months later, that became reality. In a country nearly 5,000 miles from my hometown, I set up my first household—a two-room apartment on the ground floor, below our German landlord. By the time our first son was born, we’d moved to three rooms on the third floor, above our landlord.

The next year, I moved back to Indiana, just in time to see the first man walk on the moon. My husband returned a couple of months later for a brief leave before being shipped off to Texas. One year later, just after the end of our army days, our second son was born. We increased our family with two more sons in the next six years. We two had become six.

Have all these forty-six years of marriage been blissful? Of course not. We’re human. We’re opposites in many ways; clashes are inevitable. But we also complement each other. And we’re both too stubborn to give up.  We grew into adulthood together. We grew into friendship. We love each other in the true sense of the word. We have what matters most.

Happy anniversary to us!



Family, Power, Reflections, Writing

Chow Mein for Breakfast

I’m alone—in a quiet house—today, so I ate leftover chow mein for breakfast. That’s the sort of wild and crazy thing I do when left to my own devices. My youngest son, Daniel, is visiting from Nebraska and took some of the family to the Cincinnati Reds game in Oakland today. I stayed home to care for the dogs.

connect_heartNo next novel in production, yet, but I may get my brain in gear to revise a short story today. Otherwise, I’ll probably read the afternoon away. I’ve surprised myself by reading seven novels since I wrapped up An Illusion of Trust. For me, since I started writing seriously, that qualifies as binge-reading.

Maybe soon I’ll be able to shut the doors, insert the earplugs, and binge-write. I’ve been a little nervous that one of my novel ideas hasn’t taken me captive. But now I’m trying not to listen when the dark side whispers, “Does that mean none of your story ideas is worthy?” I’m trying hard not to take my Muse’s silence as a sign that I shouldn’t write at all. I’m trying to keep my distance from that perfection trap.

I wish I could remember where I saw the link to Brené Brown’s TED talk, which I’ve linked to below, but I thank, thank, thank whoever posted that so I could find it—and watch it over and over. I’m learning to have the courage to be vulnerable. I’m learning the difference between shame and guilt. I’m learning to accept my short-comings and still feel worthy. I’m doing this because I want to connect to life wholeheartedly.

More than anything, I seek connection through my writing. But as an author, just as in my real life, I allow my fears to restrain me. I write from my heart, but I don’t write wholeheartedly. I let my perfectionism steal that from me. Maybe when I learn these lessons, I’ll be free to write another novel.

Also read: Knowing that my friend, author Michelle D. Argyle, struggles with some of the same issues, I shared the link with her. Brené’s talk inspired her to blog about The Price of Perfection.

How are you living wholeheartedly?


Books, Family, Opinion, Polls, Reader, Writing

Print books are dead!

“Print books are dead, Mom,” said my son in a recent phone conversation. Lest you think this mother raised a fool, Daniel is Dr. Lewis, with a PhD in English, and teaches that at college level. He loves books. He begged me to teach him to read at the age of three.

Daniel and his wife, Sarah, in Ireland.

But he’s also a member of the first generation to be raised with video games, which led to personal computers, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, DVRs, and eReaders . He’s fully ensconced in the digital age. As my son says, “Digital is faster, easier, and cheaper.” I can’t argue with that. I have a Kindle and I read a lot of books on it.

That’s not to say I don’t still love the feel of a “real” book in my hands. And I confess that print books still seem more substantial to me. More important. As I said in a previous post, once again I’m dependent on public library borrows for most of my books, and though they have access to some eBooks through Overdrive, most of the books I’m looking for are not among them.

So print books are still very much a part of my life. But are they a part of yours? Will print books be less important to the current generation of children and mere old-fashioned curiosities to the next? What form do you favor now?

I’ve taken a poll on this topic twice before, so let’s update again. If you’re reading this through email or a blog reader and don’t see the poll, PLEASE click through to vote.


Family, Real Life, Travel

While I was away

Thank you all for visiting my blog last week while Christa was in charge. I was mostly unavailable because my mother and youngest sister were visiting from Indiana. And now I’m sick, so today I’ll just share with you some photos I took while we showed them some of the glories of living in California. Enjoy.

Our first stop was Monterrey Bay, where we watched the sea lions, gulls, and boats before we ate lunch.

Pride of Madeira at Old Fisherman's Wharf.
Pride of Madeira (echium candicans) at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.
One of the whale watching cruise boats.
One of the whale watching cruise boats.

Next we drove down to Carmel, where I plan to move just as soon as I win the lottery. 🙂 The April sun was warm, the wind chilly, but the sand was light and fine as sugar.

Carmel River State Beach
Carmel River State Beach

We ended our coastal experience at Pacific Grove. The wind was even stronger and colder here, but the view was fabulous. I really need to live by the ocean, people.

Lover's Point
Lover’s Point

Another day we went to Yosemite National Park. My mother had been there before when my father was still alive, but she only vaguely remembered that.

San Joaquin Valley
Starting the drive up. A San Joaquin Valley view, north of my town.
Three ladies about to slide into the valley at Oakhurst!
Three ladies about to slide into the valley below Oakhurst!
Yosemite Valley
The majestic Yosemite Valley

Next we viewed Bridalveil Falls. First from a distance and then up close where the wind blew the falls into their full veilness.

Bridalveil Falls from a distance.
Bridalveil Falls from a distance.
Bridalveil Falls up close.
Try keeping dry when the wind billows the “tulle” as you stand at the bottom.
South Fork Merced River
South Fork Merced River

We ended our visit to Yosemite with a picnic beside this river. It was warm and sunny and perfect. In the same week, I spent time at my two favorite places: the mountains and the ocean. I’m not a hiker, swimmer or surfer, I prefer just to sit quietly and commune with nature. There wasn’t much time to do that on these trips, but maybe someday soon. At least we had homemade chocolate chip cookies—with pecans!

A quick lunch on the way to the airport.
A quick lunch on the way to the airport.

Too soon the visit was over. My mother is 89-years-old and I doubt she’ll make another trip out here, so I’m happy we had this opportunity to take her to some beautiful places. Plus, she loved the cookies. 🙂


Family, Real Life

Hexaflexagons are better than whines

I wrote a different post for today, but it was really just a bunch of whining. Yeah. Who needs that? I’ll get back to you when I’m in a better mood. So, change of plans. Yesterday was Wednesday—in case you didn’t know. And Wednesday is an early-release day at my granddaughter Emily’s school, so I pick her up and bring her to my house.

We usually do a craft that involves her designing and me burning my fingers with hot glue. And sometimes we have a real tea party, but with doll dishes. One of these days she’ll be too old for that, so I never say no when she asks for one, which she did yesterday.

She also showed me something amazing on YouTube, as she often does, so I’m sharing it with you. Enjoy.