Family, Life, Novel, Real Life, Travel, Writing

An unwelcome delay in the plan

The holidays are over, once again my home contains the usual two human and one feline occupants, and this was supposed to be my first day back to serious work on my next novel. However, there’s a glitch. I’ve pinched the sciatic nerve in my back again, and the pain and discomfort makes it hard to think or to sit for long.

I have a few things in the works for January, but nothing today, so I’ll give you a glimpse of a day trip we took a few days after Christmas. Three adults and three kiddos piled into a van and headed for the coast. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny, warm day with little wind, but, as usual, the water was frigid at the William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach near San Simeon, California.

The water temperature didn’t keep the little ones from playing in the surf, though, and they had an equally good time digging holes in the sand—or making a sand angel. We had to drag their teeth-chattering little bodies to the picnic table with a promise to let them return to the water after they ate and warmed up a bit.

After lunch, we walked on the pier, and I watched the waves. And, of course, I thought about Jalal, Meredith, and Renee in The Brevity of Roses, which only increased my desire to get back to writing. As soon as my back pain eases up, I’ll be back to work.

It made me sad to leave the beach before sunset, but, on the way home, we caught a gorgeous view of the valley looking out toward Morro Bay just as the sun kissed the horizon. It’s a blessing to have these lovely scenes etched in my memory to escape to whenever I want.

(Click photos to view larger.)

Family, Fiction, Imagination, Memory, Musings, Real Life, Tuesday Topic, Writing

Do you believe in make believe?

The Christmas Eve I was five, I woke my little sister, took her by the hand, and made her sit at the top of the stairs to watch our parents take our Christmas gifts out of the closet below the staircase. My objective? To prove to her that Santa wasn’t real. Why I don’t know. I don’t think I was a particularly mean sister. I can’t even remember how I knew Santa was make believe.

My  parents didn’t discover us peeking, and my sister didn’t rat me out, so I went along with the Santa story for years after that night. Why? Because I believe in make believe.

Science can’t explain everything. Religion tries. Children simply believe. As we get older, we lose some of that capacity for hope against all odds, the certainty that, if we wish hard enough, it will be so. Star light, star bright …

I reserve room in my imagination for the magic of fairies, and elves, and unicorns, of ghosts, and Nessie, and Bigfoot. As a fiction writer, I think that’s only fair. When I offer you my writing, I ask you to enter a world of imaginary people, in imaginary places, doing imaginary things. I ask you to believe in my make believe.

And I’ll do my best to write it well, so no big sister will whisper in your ear and destroy the illusion.


Endnote: If you read this post and took any comment as a slight to your religious beliefs, please know that I had no such intent.

Family, Real Life

Every year it’s … tradition!

It’s less than three weeks until Christmas. I’m sure you already knew that, but it’s just hit me. The only decorating I’ve done, so far, is here on this blog. I’m not doing much shopping this year, but I’ve put a few little things in my online cart. I’m clearly lagging behind.

I don’t even have a good excuse. It’s not like I’m writing up a storm. (I wish.) One of our sons is a member of the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, and tonight we attend their annual holiday concert, so maybe that will get me in the mood. Even if it doesn’t, I have no more time to waste.

At least I don’t have to plan any menus. We’ll be going to a son’s house for Christmas day, and our Christmas Eve dinner is always the same. We have a Syrian feast. My husband will make the kibbee (triple-ground round steak with cracked wheat and onions) to prepare three ways—my favorite is nayee (raw).

Probably a granddaughter or two will come over to help roll the grape leaves, but it will be up to me alone to see if this year I can successfully make the vegetarian version.

My husband and I make the hummus together. I’ll cook the lubee (grean beans) and pilaf, and make tabouleh, and khyar bi laban (cucumber yogurt salad). Maybe I’ll get ambitious and make fatayer sabanigh (spinach pies). For our oldest son who fondly remembers his Aunt Ronni’s American addition of creamed corn, we’ll have a little of that. Of course, we’ll also have pita, yogurt, olives, braided cheese, raw veggies, baklava and cookies.

And wine, of course! As you can see, the women start on that in the kitchen and we laugh a lot.

This year, all of our sons and grandchildren will be here. At some point, our second son will measure all the grandchildren against the inside of the closet door. Gifts will be given out, starting in an orderly fashion and ending in joyful chaos. And this year, hopefully, we’ll remember to take a family group photo before anyone leaves.

Your turn: What holiday traditions do you observe in your family?

Family, Real Life, Travel, Writing

Utah bound, road trip!

Today, my husband and I leave for Utah. The photo above shows our destination. One of our sons, his wife, and two children live outside Salt Lake City, and they can’t travel home for Christmas, so we’re going to visit them. We’ll drive for thirteen hours, over a day and a half. My biggest regret with car travel is that I can’t read to pass the time. I get motion sickness if I try to read more than a few words. Such a waste of time.

I usually take notes of things I see or songs I hear, and the thoughts they inspire. In the past, those notes have sometimes been indecipherable because I couldn’t look at the paper as I wrote, but this time I’ve decided to type them directly into my laptop. I type by touch, and though I can only glance at the screen for seconds at a time, I’ll have better luck deciphering my typos than my blind-handwriting.

I’ll also write some blog posts along the way, so you’re not getting a break. Sorry. Right now, blog posts are about the only thing I’m writing, so I have to keep that up. A couple of days after as we return home, our son who lives in Nebraska will arrive for Christmas. I don’t anticipate getting back to the business of writing fiction until January, and by then, I’ll have a long to-do list compiled.

In any case, know that I will be reading any comments you leave on my blog, and I’ll be reading your blogs, but commenting on my end will be slower than usual while I’m away from home. Of course, you know me, I’ll probably be checking for an available internet connection a thousand times a day. If nothing else, I’ll respond via iPhone. Don’t expect verbosity.

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Musings

Forty-eleven things …

It’s a week until Christmas and I have, as my father used to say, “forty-eleven” things to do. I hope to get caught up on all your blog posts I’ve let accumulate in my reader, but I won’t have time to write any new posts of my own until after Christmas. If you’re bored, look in my archives to see if you missed something good, and don’t forget to read the comments because those are often more entertaining than the post.

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To all the beautiful people who come here, no matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year,  I wish you a wonderful week of visits with those you love, lots of goodies to eat, and a cozy spot where you can read, reflect, or just rest.