Lent

Some Days You Tour the Darwin Martin House and Some Days You Spend Hours Dealing with Customer Service

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is from earlier this month. If I’d taken one today, it would be white from the wind whipping the snow around. Hello and welcome to the recounting of my strange day. I’ll intersperse photos from the Botanical Garden to break it up. It started last night when the cable box went wonky. I was working toward one solution via the Spectrum prompts, but hung up when I remembered Husband was recording a show. I called back after the show and talked to a human. It was close to eleven p.m. but the human said he’d have a guy out here between 9 and 10 this morning. I said, “But there’s a snowstorm predicted.” Human said, “He’ll be there.”

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I scurried to pick up and move books then went to bed. I woke to find Husband wasn’t going to work. I bent the earpiece on my glasses only to have the frame break, so that was nice. And then the cable guy ended up in a ditch. Great. Sure, I’d love to get up early again tomorrow.

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After seeing the nonsense hoops for help with an online operator, I called to retrieve my password from Tracfone. My, did I ever have fun with a gentleman who did not understand I wanted the password for my Tracfone account, not my email account. He had a script, and lord forbid he venture away from it.

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The upshot was that when I searched AGAIN for the Tracfone password, I found my Brother International password. Big deal, right? Well, Office Max quit carrying the printer I have and its accessories. I’d been on the Brother site and the drum kit I needed for my printer would not come up as an option, but when I entered my account info, it was there, so I ordered one and now it’s on its way. I’m happy since I did not want to replace that printer; it’s been a good little workhorse for me.

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There was another call from Spectrum. A different tech was in the area. Would I mind if he came by in 20 minutes? Of course not! He came, he found the problem and now I can watch the On Demand channels, too. I’m thrilled I needn’t wake up early again tomorrow.

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The day was winding down; I was a bit antsy, but fine. Husband went out to retrieve the mail and now I have a check – yes, a check, not a bill – for nearly $20.00 from the hospital. I have no clue why and when I called to find out, no one answered the phone in the billing department.

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(And as I was writing this on Thursday night while watching Rachel Maddow  – who is freaking me out about the virus and the nation – a text from the groomer’s came through. She had a family emergency and closed down, but has returned. I honestly thought she ghosted me for some reason.) I’m telling you it’s been one fun day around here…and I am happy for this fun. My problems are the best! I love them!

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She is NOT a problem; she is a delight. This is Niece from Boston who stopped by during her spring break. We kidnapped her, took her to the Botanical Gardens, the Basilica, and then to Steelbound Brewery. She spent the night then drove home in the morning.

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Earlier this month, Husband and I took a tour of the Darwin Martin House. I don’t have any pictures from that excursion – they don’t allow cameras in there unless you take a different, expensive tour. Afterwards, we went to Big Ditch Brewing for lunch. Buffalo culture involves beer, apparently. I’m glad I got to go then. Lent has begun.

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And so has the stress. I’ve sent out queries for my new novel.

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Luckily, I have books to review that will keep my mind off that part of the process. I’ve not had the urge to write a flash yet, but Monday, Gina will be back in town and we’re set to meet Mary in Lockport.

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I hope your days are not as strange as mine, that your Valentine’s Day was sweet and you’ll be back next month when I hope to have good news – either about an agent or an acceptance. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

 

Bits of Spring with a Cartoon Sheepdog Impression at the End

There’s a meme floating around that gives a rundown on “spring” and how it takes several stabs before it actually arrives. Creekside, we’re at the spring where the snowdrops appear.

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They are a welcome sign. I’ve also spotted tulips and hyacinths emerging.

Later today I’ll be transplanting the roma and cherry tomato seedlings to pots so yes, for me, spring is here, and so far it’s fabulous. Happy birthday to XO Man because it’s his birthday. Mine is coming up soon and I’ve already gotten a gift, Mr. Fishy fish!

Isn’t he adorable? Mary Akers made him and I’m using him as a tea bag holder. She gave him to me (Gina got one, too) yesterday at SPoT Coffee on Transit. There, I started a new story. On the way home, Ben’s check engine light came on – right in front of Goodyear. They plugged in the scanner and it was an oxygen sensor so I drove to the Hamburg Library. I returned “The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez. Great book, but a bit harsh toward memoirists of trauma, I thought. I picked up the books that I had requested: Coetzee’s, “Disgrace,” Brautigan’s “The Abortion,” and Saroyan’s “Boys and Girls Together.” I’ve been waiting on “The Abortion” for months and the copy I received also has “Revenge of the Lawn” and “So the Wind Won’t Blow It all Away” in it. After I read the others, I might take up the extras. “Disgrace” was referenced in the Nunez book. I read “Boys and Girls Together” yesterday. It has been touted by Jim Miner in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for a long time. Now I need to find out what why. I’m on the fence about finishing Cathleen Schine’s “They May Not Mean To, But They Do.” She had the biggest blurb for the Nunez book, and I adored “The Love Letter” but I’m on page 83 of this novel and can’t figure out why agents and editors thought it was important to publish. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I finish it. Maybe it’s not coming to me at the right time…

On the 17th, Husband was being loud with the kitchen renovation which pushed me to get dressed and drive to Rust Belt Books. I wish I had left sooner so I would have had more time to browse, it’s an enchanting space. There, I saw Kim Chinquee read from her latest, “Wetsuit” and Joey Nicoletti read from “Thundersnow.” Afterwards, some of us went to the Gypsy Parlor for dinner and drinks. (Tonic for me – it is Lent after all.)

I met Nina Fosati at the Comfort Zone on Wednesday the 20th.   We had a lovely meal then drove to Kleinhans Music Hall to see Min Jin Lee.

She was funny and bright and the question and answer question section with Barbara Cole was a delight.

The story I’ve been writing for the SMOLDR contest is finished. I cannot thank Nina Fosati enough for her help. Her insight and sharp eye were paramount in getting the piece as good as it is. I also want to thank Mary Akers for spotting the tense shift in the third section, James Wood for his “action verbs,” everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group who has listened, commented, and suggested tweaks, and Gina Detwiler who read the final version yesterday and said it was, “So Good,” funny, sweet and clever. Let’s hope the judges think so, too – knock on wood.

So those are the highlights from the past two weeks. I’m off to do Pilates, transplant seeds and write. If the weather holds, I’ll probably take the dog out again for an extended walk. Notice his resemblance to the sheepdog from the Road Runner cartoon.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

Let There be Lent and Melting Snow

Even though I’m not Catholic, every year I give up alcohol for Lent. So, yeah. I’ve been completely sober for a week. This time, the thought of being done with drinking forever is stronger than it was last year, and stronger than the year before that. I mean, I’m not getting much out of it, am I? Plus, when I stop drinking, it’s so much easier to lose weight…and not engage in pointless Facebook and Twitter “debates.”

Tuesday held a pleasant surprise – and gave me an excuse not to watch The Bachelor. At the SGI Board of Education meeting, they voted to return the polling place to the Library/Media Center starting this May. Apparently, the points I made in my speech last month were well taken. It’s kind of nice to have made a difference for voters and according to Kimberly Moritz, future users of P-TECH. The handicap accessibility that was originally drawn up for that building is being reworked.

Wednesday was another writing session at Spot Coffee in Orchard Park – this time with Mary Akers! She was gracious enough to read the short story I mentioned in my last post. Oi, I’ve been polishing that thing! So many and such huge thank yous to Nina Fosati for her editorial assistance and keen insight into the genre. Mary noted a switch in tense that I corrected but said that otherwise it was good. I’m closer to sending it off. The rules for the contest have been slightly changed. Should I be lucky enough to make it to the top three entries, I’ll be begging for votes, as the winner will be determined “American Idol” style.

This morning the temperature was decent and I went out to hunt for signs of spring. No robins were spotted and no bulbs have emerged so far, but the sweet gum is forming buds.

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The windows are cracked open and fresh air is drifting in…it’s delighting me to step away from the computer and do something else, like take the dog to explore the melting snow and ice.

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Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

The Day After the Day of Love

I’m disgusted. I could write about guns. Or mental health care. Or schools. I have written my misogynist representative. I’ve attended forums, school board meetings, bitched on Twitter. I hope this school shooting is the last one. There is no animal you can hunt with an AK47 and if you want to whine about how you think I want to take away your rights, save it. If you don’t believe children should be safe in schools, you don’t deserve to hold anything in your hands to protect you from the truth. As Kathy Fish so eloquently wrote in Jellyfish Review, it’s gotten to the point where children can be classified as targets. That’s wrong; end of discussion. We need sensible gun restrictions and the laws we already have enforced.

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In other news, Husband brought home a lovely bouquet on the 13th so I’d have an extra day to enjoy these beautiful blooms. (Translation: He was in Hamburg that day to run an unrelated errand and also wanted to avoid the last minute rush of other husbands on Valentine’s Day at the Hess Brothers Florist shop.)

I found out I was on the long list for the London Independent Story Prize and couldn’t say anything for a day. On the 8th, I went to JD’s Brew Pub to hear J.T. and the Law play, and to keep my mind off possibly losing. They have gotten better and it was great to hear J.T.’s brother sing a song called “Galileo” and Anna sang Maddie Larkin’s songs beautifully.

Last week’s meeting of the Hamburg Writers’ Group consisted of me, Patrick, and Michael. The conversation about craft and submitting was both interesting and inspiring. I read the piece that was long listed and Michael said he thought I’d win. I still had doubts. On Saturday, I went to the library for my shift. It was hard to concentrate on reading submissions because I kept refreshing the LISP page to find out who won. With Lent coming up, I wanted to go out to have a glass of wine with a meal before I couldn’t. Husband let me use his phone to check. Just as we were finishing our meal at Julie’s, the winners were announced. As anyone who was in the restaurant that afternoon can tell you, I won.

 

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So, today is the last day to submit to the American Short(er) Fiction contest and I’m preparing my entries. I’ve sent out some queries to agents and next week, I send pages to my darling, awesome novel critique group after the incredible Nina Fosati has gone over the book again. In this revision, she’s highlighted the parts she particularly likes. I’m now in love with the color turquoise and I’m seeing a lot of it, which I really need because “new book” is pure dreck at the moment.

Writing…not for the thin skinned or the impatient.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read. As always, these are merely my creekside reflections so I expect your experiences to vary.

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Lent is over, flowers are in bloom, and I’m writing again.

The problem with “not writing” is that when I do, I end up writing deeper than I intend. The blog post I started for today has – somehow – turned into a craft essay. If I remember, I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime: Congratulations Nina Fosati for your story in Breath & Shadow! Gina Detwiler , congratulations on finishing Antillia! You both ROCK! Thank you for inspiring me!

It’s warming up outside and lovely things are in bloom.

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The one raised bed has been plowed up. (Thank you, Husband!) If it’d stop raining, I can get the peas planted. Otherwise, I’m hoping to visit garden places soon and choose tomato and pepper plants. This is the first year I haven’t grown any from seed which I don’t feel bad about since there are first times for everything. I will plant squash, sunflowers, and other things by seed in May. So there you go, those are my garden plans of the year.

I’m eager to get the “cabana” back up and the swing inside. Writing out there last year was so fruitful; I can’t wait to recreate that magic. This Lent, I learned a few different things about myself and my writing. Allowing myself to not write was healthy in some respects, but now I feel “backed-up.” Like not drinking a whole beer the first time I have a drink after abstaining, I’ve grabbed a set of 5 words from Hot Pants (Thank you Kim Chinquee!) and tried my hand at 300 word flash this past week. It’s going well, though yesterday I ended up with a 981 story that needs to be expanding. Ah, the twists, turns, and so-called thrills of being a writer.

I hope you’re well. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

 

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences shall vary. )

The Post Valentine’s Day Post

Greetings! I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day – and if not – realize it’s one day a year and it’s over now. On my Facebook Timeline, a “memory” from 3 years ago popped up. It was when Husband crafted a rose for me. I shared it and he ended up with mad props from a bunch of people. Does that count as my Valentine’s Day gift to him?

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I chose a white rose with gentle red markings on the tips while we were at Wegman’s. I was/am happy with that. On Sunday – the day – Husband bought me a miniature rose bush. He is such a sweetheart.

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Next week I start a Flash Fiction workshop with Kathy Fish. I am so excited! I’ve admired her work for a long time. I can’t find my copy of Wild Life, but will be hunting it down to reread before class. Yes, I am that suck up.

The class is coming at a great time; I haven’t been producing much. I’m not blocked. It feels more like taking a breather. I’ve had several ‘insights’ into the book that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month – generally arriving seven minutes after I curl into bed for the night. I’ve dutifully jotted them down knowing the rewrite will be happening soon enough. I don’t know when, but it’s part of my process and I’ve learned to trust it.

Speaking of trust…I feel sorry for anyone who ends up with Leslie Gibbins as a lawyer. She is why I’m late posting today. Things that should have been taken care of in 2007 remain incomplete. Now, with a real lawyer, we’re figuring this out and correcting her ineptitude. Seriously, there is a couple in town that I do not like and I wouldn’t even want them to choose her as a legal representative. The worst part being that we didn’t choose her; someone else did. I know, maybe Leslie’s fun to drink with, but it’s Lent and I gave that up. Maybe she’s improved with age – I don’t know, but today, I am upset (but not surprised) by her failure to do something simple. Not that she cares, but it’s costing us hundreds of dollars. If it weren’t a pointless and costly endeavor to try to sue a lawyer, we’d be tempted. This, of course, is just my opinion, from my dealings with her…a reflection if you like. Creekside and all that…

Cheers! Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary (I should hope so!)

One Trip Leads to Another

This week I feel as though things are returning to what passes for normal. Our regular postal carrier is back, I volunteered at the library on Saturday, a few rejections have rolled in, I read the NY Times on Sunday, etc. but now it’s time to make a list and pack a few bags.

Soon after I arrived in Boston, my brother-in-law suffered a heart attack. It was scary and surreal. I thought my niece and I would be changing plans and leaving for Pennsylvania, but we didn’t. The blockage was removed. A stent was put in. He made it to a medical facility in time…

Rachael drove home this past weekend. Husband and I are going this weekend. We’re going to visit and make sure he’s ok.

I talked to him last week. He called his heart attack a “wake-up call.” I wonder how far he’ll take it. He’s quitting smoking (again) and choosing better foods. I think it’s a great start, but he confessed he had a beer already. I thought it was a bit too soon.

Currently, I’m on the “preachy” side of sobriety where I am well aware of what drinking does–and doesn’t do–for me. I stop drinking every year for Lent. Somehow, it is easy. Then I restart. Searching in old notebooks for notes on Ellie’s Elephants, I came across a thought last year that maybe last year would be the year I just stop drinking for good. I’ve had the same thought this year, too, but I sense the reason I do restart is that it makes life easier.

This realization is a complaint of sorts, but I don’t think I’ve made it before. Being away from home during Lent let me see things in a different way. Yes, Husband is not a neat person. I don’t think it would kill him to help a little more. Nothing drastic–just not rip open the shower curtain so the hooks come off the rod OR hooking them back on when he’s done. Little tiny things. I know I ask him to do these things and occasionally he’ll remember to, then he forgets. I think I go back to drinking so these things bother me but I can block them out, get up the next day, notice more minor irritations, block them out or sleep them off and begin again.

Sad, isn’t it?

Right now, I think it is sad, but, will I turn that realization into a “wake-up call” for my life? I don’t know…

What I do know is that I’ve gotten a milder wake-up call–a nudge really–from a few places about my own poetry. I received a few higher tiers and a personal rejection in the past two weeks. A writer friend wrote “…however, you are a poet; prolific it seems to me, but you don’t let the poet come out very much in your workaday writing…” I had decided to be mad at him for that, but a story I read for r.kv.r.y had me look at something in a way I hadn’t considered before, so maybe being a “poet” is what I’m trying to recover from, or block out or choose not to deal with because poets rarely get respect, let alone paid, and then a poetry submission to r.kv.r.y. from someone I briefly met in Boston came in and showed me beauty and passion with a few words so perhaps–this is just my sobriety speaking–perhaps being a poet wouldn’t be the most tragic thing in the world ever to happen to me if I decided to pursue it. Maybe.

* These are just my creekside reflections. Your epiphanies may vary.