Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It's been a crazy roller coaster of a year.  Lots of ups (London trip!) and downs (my mother's health) and overall stress (global weather upheavals, terrorism & the US Presidential elections, to name a few).

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for this year to end, so we can get a reboot & start over in 2017.

Wishing you a holiday filled with love, peace, joy and wonder.  Hoping for a new year of excitement, adventure, contentment and dreams fulfilled.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Perspective

I remember at high school graduation, my long-distance boyfriend had driven down for the event, and we had a relationship-ending disagreement.  I remember standing on the front porch in the dark, crying my eyes out.  And Daddy held onto me and said "you try too hard."

I think Daddy was right.

All my life, in just about everything I've done, I try too hard.
I care too much.
I want too much.
I love too much.


I'm spending some serious time with my mother now, aiding her rehabilitation from that devastating injury, and she is angry with me.  She fights against me.  Because I make her do what the therapists want her to do.   The walker that she despises is now a permanent part of her life.  It is problematic because her home is not ADA compliant - the doors are too narrow.  Ditto the closets, the pantry, and the bathrooms.

As long as I'm here with her, she is fairly safe.  But when my time here is done (3 more weeks), we are going to have to look long and hard at a permanent solution for her.  She is too independent for a nursing home, but I'm not sure how we could pay for an assisted living facility.

There are many questions I cannot answer at this time.  I can only focus on the jobs I'm doing:  HR job accommodation that allows me to work remotely, half days, until Dec 9, and the more important job of taking care of her.

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Edited for updates

She  took another fall, one that will change her living circumstances permanently.  My sisters and I are playing round-robin staying with her at the hospital, and frantically trying to figure out where she will go from there.  The options are slim, and grim.

She sews in her sleep....  matching the edges of sheet and blanket with eyes closed, tilting her head, saying quite clearly to "turn on that light".... and moving the invisible needle deftly along the seam line.

I've been feeling horribly guilty that I was not able to do anything about this accident; I was with her, yet she stubbornly refused to ask for help.  That choice is on her, but dealing with the consequences is on us.

The writing is on hold while I juggle my job and my responsibilities.  There are no holiday preparations, no feasting, no gift-buying.  There is only this.
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I dreamed of flying last night - soaring effortlessly through the night sky, with my mother beside me, wings outstretched and bliss on her face.  She will be free soon, and her spirit will fly home.

Stretch your wings, Mama.  Catch the wind & soar!  Fly....



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Obsessing on a Tangent

My interests have suddenly taken a hairpin turn.  I was reading a friend's manuscript recently, and the plot involves a mid-winter cross-country trip avoiding cities and hotels.  The character was listing all the things they would need (tents, sleeping bags, camouflage parkas, food, etc) and suddenly I found myself on the internet, researching survival methods and disaster preparedness.  The term covers everything from natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes) to civil unrest/war (no government) and EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attacks that bring down the power grid across the country.

It seems that a lot of people really believe The End is Nigh.

There are preparedness groups on Facebook for every area of the US and probably every country (I haven't checked).

Some people (Preppers) have stockpiled enough food /water/supplies for 3-6 months.  I find this a little extreme.

However, I do live in a tornado-prone area (north central Texas), so I have 2 Go-bags.  One in the apartment, and one in the car (just in case.)

 My go bags include a change of clothing, meds for a week, a complete first aid kit, 2 bottles of water and a few granola-type bars, a collapsible umbrella & poncho, and copies of all of my important paperwork (ID, Insurance cards, etc), a weather radio and flashlight (torch), face/dust masks, and a couple of candles & box of matches.  I need to add a biking helmet in case of falling debris, and a few flares for roadside emergencies.

Many would call that a VERY stripped down version of a prep-bag, and I would agree.  However, I'm not prepping for civil war or the Zombie Apocalypse.

What about you?


Monday, September 26, 2016

Migration routes

Visit me at  JRLynnWrites.blogspot.com.for posts about writing, editing, publishing, etc.

This blog will remain for more general writings, travel, events, crafts, family, frugality, aging, etc.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Writing a novel is hard!

Who knew that writing a novel was this much work?

Who knew that all the scenarios & vignettes and fan-fiction bits & character studies I've written would still leave me short of actual skills needed to pull all the threads of detail together.  I've spun the thread.  I have no idea how to weave it into a pattern  (with either loom, or hook, or long thin needles). 

I know that there are events that mark the story:  
  • Death/murder
  • A wedding
  • Autopsy report / initial findings
  • A funeral
  • A major/final confrontation

And there are initial confrontations and decisions to dig for information - to go where only police are supposed to go - and in the background there is a reason, a cold case that needs to be resolved and is the foundation that the current murder sits on....

It's too much, isn't it?

I spent a few hours yesterday making notes on post it's and putting them randomly on my story board.  And then rearranging them.  And then deciding to layer them....  frankly it's a bit like laying out a patchwork quilt before you start sewing.

I know how I want it to end - and it's a bit complicated but you know you have to tie off those threads with good knots or the whole thing will unravel.  Two more people will die, and another will be injured.  Two people will resolve their issues and find their deep affection again (without legal ties).  Justice will be served for Clive after 70 years of waiting.  And for Mildred, who held the painful secrets from the past.  An innocent will die protecting a new friend, and the evil-doer will perish at long last.  He will, however, not find remorse for what he did/caused.  He will just find an end.

Secrets will be revealed, justice will be served, love will come full circle.
The truth will out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude

I'm working really hard right now to let go of fear. There's so much in the world to be afraid of now, and to be angry about.  Terrorists and politicians feed and prey on our fears constantly in their efforts to manipulate us, to control our emotions and decision making processes.

And then, out of the blue, God/dess drops a big one on you and the yammerings of the politicos fall to the background while you deal with a Life Event.

My elderly mother fell and injured herself severely, followed by: emergency transport to the nearest Level 1 trauma center, then emergency surgery, then days of recovery in hospital, then transport to a skilled nursing facility for long-term rehab.

My mind has been numbed by the overwhelming fear.  And through it all, there have been nuggets of shining silver:
  • She fell in the house, with the brand-new air conditioner, so the +100F heat was not a factor
  • The people who found her were the community First Responders - trained to deal with any emergency
  • The hospital has the highest rating for any Level 1 trauma center in the State
  • The orthopedic surgeon on call that day is one of the best orthopedic trauma surgeons in the country
  • The hospital gave her (and us) the most exemplary care I've ever experienced
  • The job I find so tedious has allowed me to:  1. pay for the new A/C unit.  2. take time off to care for her.  3. Help pay for her portion of the bills.

I'm trying to stay focused on those positive things, and not dwell on the possible negative future.

My eyes are here, on the present.
My heart is letting go of the fear, focusing on the positive, and most of all, being grateful for all that did and did not happen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Random musings on writing

I'm writing again, and studying.  (Pardon my grammar/punctuation - this is just musings/train of thought)
Story/Book Title:   The Truth Will Out, a Geneva Maxwell Mystery

The story is going along great - I've finally found the right tone, the right pacing, the right voice for it.  The protagonist - 86yr old Geneva Maxwell, former WWII / Cold War spy - is so clear in my head.  But there's a very strong secondary character whose head I just cannot get into.  Perhaps that's his character - he is a chameleon, hiding in plain sight, and you (I) don't get to be in his head.  He's a consummately professional spy, so maybe that's part of his persona.

I don't normally plot out my stories - I'm more of a "pants-er" - I write by the seat of my pants.  But I picked up a book called PLOT - and I'm working my way through it, realizing all the places / things I need to know before I can really write out the story.  So... I'm plotting.  Not in a detailed way, but I'm laying out all the big things, what needs to happen for the resolution I see.  Letting the characters guide me on what will/won't happen.  There's an interview that Geneva needs to have with someone who will give her key information... I'm not sure quite how to make that happen - or trigger that action.  But I feel certain that if I just let the character guide me, she will end up where I need her to be.  She will receive the information that will unlock the secret, and will lead her to the real killer... 

I'm also working on character arc: how the character grows from the beginning of the story to the end.  How that growth affects the action s/he takes, and what s/he has to do/overcome to manifest the outcome.  For instance, GM has to overcome her innate distrust and fear of everyone associated with her former life in order to accept Hugo back into her life, and in doing so, reveal who she is/was to the (very small) town.  And she has to learn to trust that they will not reveal who/where she is.

I find I'm loving the process of writing mystery.  I gave up on writing romance many years ago, when I discovered that I can't write a "happily ever after".  Life is more gray / ambiguous / tumultuous / twisted -  and nothing ever turns out all rainbows & daffodils... unless the pot of gold landed on someone's head in the garden. 


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Half-year of spending - not what I intended

My anxiety level is up lately.  It's been a year of spending - a half-year of spending, I guess, since we're only in July.  Some of it was planned - the trip to UK, for instance - but some not so much.  This worries me, since I had planned for other uses of the income that will now have to wait.

I've had more trips to the Dr. this spring than anticipated.  First it was allergies & asthma.  Now I've wrecked my ankle; seriously sprained a couple of times, and now it looks like there's a stress fracture in a couple of bones.  I will probably be wearing a walking cast/boot for the next 9 weeks - right through the heat of summer.  Ugh.

Then there's the pile of (very expensive) shoes I bought for the trip, hoping to minimize the pain/discomfort of the wrecked ankle.  Money spent that could have been (should have been) spent elsewhere.  I should have gone to the orthopedist  before the trip, instead of 2 months after.  I might have avoided much of this pain/discomfort and expense.  (head bonking here)

My car gave out.  This was not completely surprising, since Echo was 17 years old & had 269,000 miles on her.  She was burning oil like crazy, there was something wrong with the front end and also with the axles (tie rods) in the rear.  I was really hoping to keep her going until the end of the year, but of course she had other things in mind.  So, quite suddenly, she had to be replaced.  I now have a 2007 Honda Civic (Vicky) with 68,000 miles.  She's a beautiful little car, and a bit of an upgrade for me.  I'm hoping that she'll be with me for another 10 years.

And suddenly everything around me is reminding me that retirement is looming.  It's still 5-7yrs out, but I'm trying to prep for it, for the real changes it will bring.  And continuing to spend at what feels like an breakneck speed, when I feel that that income/cash really needs to be In. The. Bank. (or 401(k)/IRA).

I'm trying to remind myself to just B R E A T H E.  But *today* that's easier said than done.




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thoughts on Adventure - Installment 7



Day 8 (Tues)
Lacock village, Bath - Aquae Sulis-Minerva, STONEHENGE

I reinjured my ankle again - probably just from all the walking.  So... not auspicious beginnings.  It was overcast & drizzly throughout the morning as I piled into a bus with 58 others & headed west out of London & into the *stunningly beautiful* English countryside.  Rolling green meadows bordered by low stone fences & hedges, absolutely everything is green/blooming.  

Lacock is an English Heritage village of less than 1000 - all the jobs are related to the heritage site (like Colonial Williamsburg probably).  We were there for 30 minutes.  I didn't walk through because of the ankle.  Got some soup instead & was the last back on the bus.  (Of course)

Bath - or Aquae Sulis-Minerva as the Romans called it - was amazing.  The site was worshiped by the Celts etc. long before the Romans horned in on the action at the natural mineral hot springs (only one in England).  Celtic goddess of healing Sulis was the original star of the show, the Romans added in their goddess of wisdom/healing Minerva & built a massive spa around the formerly open-air spring... and the rest is history.  I found it really interesting, and the architecture of the city is just beautiful.  I wouldn't mind staying a day or two there just to explore.


 
Bath Abbey
Bath - gallery above the pool


Bath - park by the river
 Then the (decent) meal at the Stonehenge Inn (a selection of roasted meats, veg & apple-rhubarb crumble for pudding/dessert) that we had to eat a lot quicker than my stomach likes... and we were off again to...


STONEHENGE
Things to know:  1.  It's a world heritage site.  2.  You are not allowed to touch the stones, pick the grass or flowers, pickup dirt or rocks or pebbles...  and there are security personnel around to make sure you stick to the rules.   That said... it was AMAZING!!!
The stone circle is somewhat smaller than you might think, but the stones tower over you & are massive.  There are ravens guarding the site, squawking and sometimes diving at people... as if to ward them off.  
The air reeks of sheep dung (yep, hundreds of them grazing nearby).
There are +200 burial mounds/barrows in the immediate area.

Cursus Barrows in the distance
There is a pervasive feeling of something ancient, something powerful, something... present and aware...  and beyond comprehension.  Magic?  Otherworldly?  You decide.
I was stunned - overwhelmed - & grateful that I was able to fulfill this dream.  
Tears may have been involved.


The Circle








Standing with the Standing Stones










Thoughts on Adventure - Installment 6



Day 7 (Monday)
Uxbridge - Battle of Britain Bunker
Took the subway/train to Uxbridge - 40 min. ride.  I could get used to this!  Had my map w/ the walking trail/path shown.  Then I got off the train & this little town has more twisty roads/lanes than last year's Christmas lights.  I couldn't get oriented & couldn't find the buses...  so took a taxi & was so glad I did.  I would never have made it there if I hadn't.

Sixty very steep steps underground, this is the site from which the Battle of Britain was coordinated.  With Churchill sometimes in the phone room above, the women RAF would move pieces around on the map table below, showing the exact location of the air squadrons.  The wall behind the table showed all air squadrons available, and their current status.  State of the art in its day, primitive to us now; this simple technology/system defeated an enemy that was thought initially to be far superior.

Seeing the places, actually being there where the action took place, has made a huge difference for me.  I may have known what happened, but this experience has really deepened my understanding of events.

No 11 Group "Battle of Britain" bunker


Entrance - Flag, monument & Spitfire










Spitfire
 
Hurricane




Map table
Phone bank