Monday, September 24, 2012

Finding My Muse


1)    Because my muse has a wicked sense of humor and visits me at odd times and in inconvenient places, I have learned to record inspirations/ideas immediately before I forget them or they dissolve into nothing.
I carry small notebooks, own a digital recorder, and have been known to text messages home. I will scribble on anything – old napkins I find in my glove compartment or old receipts. I even pop out of bed in the middle of the night to jot things on sticky pads.
2)   Calendars are great places to find topics. I use important dates, seasons, and upcoming holidays to plan blog posts. I can also go back into my work calendar to refresh my memory about meetings, conferences, or books I have read that might be worth sharing with others.  
3)   I will sit with a good cup of coffee, pen and paper ready, and read the newspaper searching for topics, interesting characters, or modern trends.  News channels and other newsfeeds are just as good.  
4)   I love to read the TV and movie guides for titles and descriptions.  Not only are they great for a laugh, but they make great writing prompts.  
5)   I try to use my time driving around the city studying other drivers, billboards, road signs, and the flora and fauna. I am always alert looking for anything that might activate my muse.   
6)   I love to study people and have been known to follow strangers around Target just because of the way they are dressed, something they said, or because they look just like that new character I have been having trouble fleshing out in my latest work in progress.  I call it character study, but HoneyBunch says it’s called stalking and it’s illegal in Texas.
7)   I am addicted to crossword puzzles and have learned a lot of useful (and useless) information and vocabulary. Some of it works its way into my writing. (I wonder if Neve Campbell knows she is more well known in the crossword-puzzle world than she is in Hollywood?)
8)   I read an immense amount both for recreation and to keep up with the craft of writing, and I make it a practice to use some of the wordsmithery and punctuation prowess in my own writing.
9)   I listen to music, not only when I am working on mood and need help creating tone, but also to elicit a memory or a feeling.   
10)  And last but not least, I love to journal and have done so for the majority of my life.  Besides all the emotional baloney I dump in there (and hope to burn before I die and my kids read it), it sometimes helps me come up with some pretty good topics. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Farewell to Summer



My favorite season has always been summer.  If you have been to my part of the world (south Texas), you would understand why. No matter how much everyone romanticizes all the other seasons, for me the only one worth mentioning is summer.
In the fall, everything turns gray and brown and stays that way for nearly eight months, none of those beautiful russets and crimsons one sees in other parts of the United States. 
Winters are more of the same except our Winter Wonderland is not snowdrifts and crystalline icicles.  It is bitter cold weather and clay mud. 
Unlike all the gobbledygook put out by Disney or the Lifetime Channel, we spend the majority of our spring waiting for the first Bluebonnet to bloom, and that usually doesn’t happen until sometime in May.
Summer is the only time we get to enjoy a storybook season.  We finally get to play with the other colors in the Crayola box.  For a brief period in time, our trees leaf, our flowers burst, our fruits and vegetables flourish.  
Soon though, long before summer ends on our calendars, everything has been harvested and all that remains are sad stalks and bare fields. The last of the greenery is hanging on for dear life, dying for a drink of water and a respite from the heat.
And it is time again to say farewell to summer - back again to another eight months of gray and brown nothing.  


Monday, September 10, 2012

September 11th – In Retrospect


Even after thirty years in a dysfunctional relationship, I missed being married.

I was sad, lonely, and lost.

My kids were all grown and gone, and even the family dog had died.

I was in the middle of teaching a poetry lesson to a group of high school juniors when the teacher next door came running into my classroom, yelling for me to turn on my TV.  A plane had just crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City.

Our country was being attacked by terrorists.

For the rest of the school day the whole school, the whole nation, watched as all hell broke loose on our safe, complacent world.  It was Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Purgatory all rolled into one.

I don’t remember getting home, but I do remember assuring my three kids (all in their early twenties back then) that if worse came to worst, we would all gather at my house, we would all live under one roof, and we would all look out for and protect each other.

I remember checking on the two useless “rifles” we kept in the back closet and registering the kind of ammo I needed to go out and buy.

I called my estranged husband (our divorce would not become final for another three months) and asked him to come home and help me comfort and protect our kids, but he told me I was more than capable of taking care of them and myself.  He was where he needed to be.

If it’s true that we acquire wisdom with age, I learned that day that when the moment of greatest need presents itself in your life, you will learn the true heft of your character and of those around you.  You will clearly see what is important and what isn’t, who you love and to what extent you will go to protect them, and how determined and unselfish you truly are. 

On September 11th, I sing the praises of the heroes who died that day.  They showed us how heroes live and how heroes die.   

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grandpa HoneyBunch


When my kids were little we would make a big deal of Grandparents’ Day.  We planned our weekend visiting and delivering tokens of our love and appreciation to the grandparents - small plants or flowers for the grandmoms and great-grandmothers, cards and a candy bar for the grandfathers. 

Only one on that list is still with us.  

I became a grandma in 2001; HB acquired the prestigious title of grandpa when he married me in 2006.  Since then we have “titled” him seven more times.

He is tickled pink (but mostly blue since seven of the eight are boys) and takes the title of Grandpa HoneyBunch seriously.

He’s built furniture, toys, and playscapes.  He’s repaired hundreds of store-bought items not meant for the rambunctiousness of healthy and curious hands. He’s hiked, fished, and roller skated.  He has cheered at t-ball, baseball, and soccer games.  He’s dried tears, fixed boo boo’s, and given advice. 

Nothing makes me smile more than to watch him go about his chores shadowed by a little man, listen to him hold a serious conversation with a preschooler, or have him drop whatever he is doing because one of the grandkids needs him.

They think he is “cool,” but then he saves baby birds, eight-foot long snake skins, or the snake itself to show them “just in case they drop by.” All I have going in my favor is an educational DVD or book, a home cooked meal, or ice cream.  

He downplays his grandfatherhoodness, saying he is just their step-grandpa, but I assure him his unselfish love, his limitless sacrifice, and his fatherly example have earned him the use of the full-fledged title. Happy Grandparents’ Day, HoneyBunch.

 
Grandparents’ Day is always the first Sunday after Labor Day, so this year we celebrate it on September 9th, 2012.