Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nature - Up Close and Personal

Since moving to North Carolina we've learned that the weathermen here have a lot more work to do than the ones in San Diego.  About all a San Diego weather reporter has to say is, “Overcast in the morning, high in the mid seventies by afternoon.”  Day after day after boring day.  

Here, outside Raleigh, every day is different and the weathermen are kept on their toes. And surprisingly, they pretty much nail it every time.  If they say it’s going to start snowing at noon, by gum you’d better be prepared for snow at noon.  (We found that out the hard way.) 

Last Saturday night, we got an up close and personal look at the job the weathermen do in this area.  Fred and I were playing Yahtzee at the dining room table when my cell phone went off like a siren, warming us of a tornado alert.  Almost instantly, my daughter texted me that a tornado just went by their house in Lillington and was headed our way.  We turned on the TV and sat mesmerized by the accurate, street by street description of where the tornado was, every step of the way.  When it  got to the intersection of I-40 and I-42, we knew it was six miles away.  Then it got to I-42 and Benson Road - four miles away.  Then it was at Benson and 1010-a mile away.  By now, we were in our “safe place” as we’d been told to do which, for us, was our bathroom.  We kept the door open so we could look down the hall at the TV.  Pretty soon we heard that the tornado was a few streets over and on its way north to Raleigh so we went back to the dining room.  I must confess it was scary but exciting at the same time.  My first tornado alert!  The tornado did touch down at one place in Garner but not much, if any, damage was done.  We’re very thankful that we and my daughter and her family came through unscathed.  I have to say that the weathermen really work for their pay here.  

This Saturday Fred and I got up close and personal with four does that walked into our front yard then wandered around to our backyard and stayed around for an hour or so.  We threw bread out to them and they happily ate it.  We were able to sit in our rocking chairs on the back porch and watch them and take pictures of them.  They seemed to be in no hurry to leave; certainly we were in no hurry to see them leave.  After a while a fifth one joined them; none of them seemed particularly threatened by us.

Living in North Carolina keeps life interesting.  Now that the good weather is back, we’re loving it here.

Quote of the Day:  In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.  Aristotle

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good News/Bad News Moments

I have good news and bad news today. The good news is that the temp has been in the seventies most of the week and we could finally go outside without a coat. The bad news is that this morning it was in the low thirties and only plans on getting about ten degrees warmer today. Back to a coat again.

More good news/bad news for you. The bad news is that Port Yonder Press rejected my novel, Willard Manor. I send my heartfelt thanks to all of you who kept your fingers crossed for me. You can uncross them now. The good news is that today I self-published my book on CreateSpace.

I’ve spent the last week experimenting with various cover designs and running them by my “test panel” for their input. What you see here is the final version. Shortly, you will be able to go on and see and order the book. It will also be available on Kindle in short order.

Willard Manor is historical fiction in that it covers generations of the Willard family as they interact through the years with the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, the Great Depression, Prohibition, World War II, Woodstock, and more. The house also undergoes changes over time with indoor plumbing, electricity, an automobile, a telephone, a television set, and much more.
Here is an excerpt from around 1910.
A knock on the door interrupted Ruth’s chore of folding clothes. She opened the door and saw a man in a work uniform standing there, a tool belt around his waist and boxes in his hands. “Ma’am, a Mr. Wilburn asked me to stop by and install a telephone at this location.”

“A telephone? For us?”

“Yes’m. He’s paid for it, wanted to surprise you, so if you could just show me what wall you want it on, I’ll come on in and install it."

Ruth called to Esther. “Mother, come quickly! Henry’s gone and ordered us a telephone!”

“Well, if that don’t beat all.”

Together the two women walked around the downstairs grinning and looking for the perfect spot.

“If it were up to me,” said the installer, “I’d put the phone on the kitchen or living room wall; someplace where you can get to it conveniently.”

“How about here?” asked Ruth, “In the foyer against the living room wall.”

“That’ll be fine. I just need to run some wires and get everything hooked up. Then I’ll show you how to use it.”

Ruth and Esther brought two kitchen chairs into the foyer. They sat and watched intently as the installer mounted the oak box with its black crank and mouth piece. Now and then Ruth took Esther’s hand and squeezed it out of pure delight and amazement. Then the installer called the operator and asked that the new phone number be called to make sure the phone worked. The ringing phone startled Ruth and Esther so much they jumped right off their chairs.

The installer said, “Now this here’s a party line, and that means not every ring is yours. When you hear two long rings and one short ring, then you can answer it. Any other combination of rings means it’s for someone else. Okay?”

“Okay,” said the women.

Quote of the Day:  Times do change and move continually. Edmund Spenser

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Snow, Snow Go Away--And Don't Bother to Come Back Another Day

Willard Manor is in the hands of a publisher. Now, if you could all cross your fingers and keep them crossed for the next month or two, I’d appreciate it. I found a publisher that accepts manuscripts only once a year--during the month of February. It’s a small press run by one woman. I sent her a query letter with the first three chapters of my novel and, lo and behold, she asked me to send her the entire manuscript to look at. You can bet I got my baby in the mail to her lickety split.  Now it’s time to wait. And wait. I’ll let you know when I hear back from her, whatever the result may be. Could be yea, could be nay.

Breaking news— we just had two Tuesdays in a row without snow! I was beginning to dread Tuesdays because it snowed every Tuesday for the last few weeks. It snowed a little on Tuesday, February 11 and the next day, Wednesday while we were at the doctor’s office (diagnosis: bronchitis), it snowed heavily and by the time we left the office, six inches of snow covered the ground, the truck, and the walkway and it was still snowing. We weren’t dressed for snow and had to gingerly make our way to the truck through snow that came up over our shoes. That was the easy part.

To get my prescription, Fred had to drive through a carpet of white where there was no definition as to what was road and what wasn’t. Snow plows? This area doesn’t know what a snow plow is. We got the prescription and drove home, going no faster than fifteen miles an hour. It took us thirty minutes to travel six miles. Not being able to tell where the road was, Fred just drove right down the middle hoping he wasn’t driving on someone’s lawn. We got home safe and sound, thank heavens. We were snowed in for three days; school was closed for four days. It’s a wonder the kids remember what school is because it’s been closed so much due to snow--the snow that this area never gets, according to the locals.

Now there is no sign of snow anywhere, the robins are back running around the lawn, and my bronchitis is over with. I’m ready for spring! How about you?

Today's Quote:  Hope springs eternal in the human breast.  Alexander Pope

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Topsy Turvey World

‘Tis a topsy-turvy world I’m living in now. I look out my window and see robins searching the grass for food. It’s February, folks. 

 For forty-three years I lived in New England where things were predictable. We could count on snow in the winter, and plenty of it. We knew spring was coming by the crocuses peeking up through the snow in March or April. The first sighting of a robin was a big thrill because winter was finally over. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the yard hoping to see the first robin and give a big sigh of relief.

Thirty years ago I moved to San Diego, to get warm and stay warm, and discovered that robins were pretty much nonexistent in the arid desert conditions of southern California. Now we’re in North Carolina and I’ve learned where robins go when they fly out of New England. I am so not used to seeing robins in February. But I love the little critters for the hope of spring and warmth that they bring.

We moved to North Carolina to get closer to family, yet still be below the snow line. My question is: Who the heck moved the line? Monday, January 27, was a balmy sixty-five degrees here in Garner. The next day, the temperature dropped and that night we got close to six inches of snow! Wednesday morning we awoke to a world draped in white. Fred opened the front door and the door made half a snow angel on the white porch. He called to me, “Come see this.” I said, “No thanks, I’ve seen snow before.”

The city came to a standstill; schools were closed for four days. We were snowbound for the rest of the week. By day two, Fred swept the snow off the truck and attempted to drive the short distance to the mailbox where the mail had been sitting for two days. His truck slipped and slid on the road so he pulled back into the driveway, abandoning his quest to get the mail.

By Friday we were able to get out of the house, take a drive, albeit carefully, get the mail, and buy a push broom to clean off the front and back porches. However, by now the snow was frozen and we soon learned that sweeping didn’t work. Saturday the roads were much better, the weather had been above freezing for a while to allow for some thawing, so we scoured thrift shops for a snow shovel. We didn't want to pay a lot for a shovel we hoped to never use again. We found one for $5, came home, and Fred shoveled the walk in front of the steps. You might expect that he was out there in coat, boots, and gloves shoveling snow. But you’d be wrong. Being the native Californian that he is, he was outside shoveling snow in a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. He wouldn’t admit to being cold if his life depended on it.

Saturday night the rain poured down and by Sunday morning there was no sign we’d ever had snow. Everyone we meet tells us this is a most unusual winter in that it never gets this cold, or gets this much rain, and barely ever snows, certainly not this much. Either they’re all lying to make us feel better, or we picked one heck of a year to leave California.

By being snowed in, I did get to work on my novel, Willard Manor. I’ll be querying a publisher this week assuming some unforeseen calamity doesn’t happen (that has “never happened before”) and we lose power.

Today’s Quote: And now there came both mist and snow, and it grew wondrous cold. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Friday, January 17, 2014

From Books to Bullet Holes

It’s a glorious world!  I've started a read and critique group here in Garner, NC called the Indian Creek Writers’ Guild.  We have two writers plus myself to start with and I expect it will grow as more people realize they have something to say and want to share that something with others. 

I’m back in the writing community and all’s right with the world again. Yaay!

While we’re on the topic of writing, there are a lot of fine historical novels on the shelves that take us to places and times that are unfamiliar to us.  The stories bring these times to life for us.  

I want to tell you of a real life historical event that is still with us here in Garner.  I found a church, the New Bethel Baptist Church, that reminds me a lot of the church I left in California--small to average congregation, varied ages and ethnicities, music with drums, piano, and guitars, and friendly people. However, New Bethel Baptist has one thing my former church does not have--a bullet hole from the Civil War!  

Here’s a quick history of the church.  Built between 1805 and 1811, the one-room church was called Wake Bethel.  In April 1858, the church opted to build a new church and call it New Bethel Baptist Church.  It was still a one-room building.

Then, on April 11 or 12, 1864, General Sherman’s troops marched through and shot up the town including firing several shots at the church.  One very noticeable bullet hole was found just under one of the front windows.  

The church was rebuilt in 1930.  The board with the bullet hole was preserved and used as part of the casing on one of the inside doors.  As I sit in a pew, I can see the bullet hole, a very vivid reminder of the Civil War, a war which is no longer just words in a history book.  

There are signs indicating battlefields from the war scattered around this area that we hope to visit come warm weather.  

Here’s to a living history!

Quote of the Day:  The subject of history is the life of peoples and of humanity.  Tolstoy, War and Peace.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ready - Set - Go!

I wish a very Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  May 2014 be a year of accomplishments that bring you joy and satisfaction.

Did you make any resolutions for the new year that you've already slipped up on?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  What I’m trying very hard to do is eat up all the goodies left over from Christmas so I can be done with them and get back to sensible eating.  Don’t ask me to throw them out, I already threw out a tray of bar cookies made with nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc.  So good, but so waist-full.  

We had a great Christmas with family this year, the first time in a long time that we've been able to be with family for the holidays.  I highly recommend it. We moved east to be closer to family and that move certainly paid off this year.  

Now that Christmas is put away, company is gone, goodies are almost gone, the water in the bird bath is frozen, it’s time to get down to whatever it is you most like to do.  For me, it’s writing.  I vow here and now that before the year is over, I will finish my novel, Willard Manor.  I expect you, my faithful friends, family, and readers, to hold me to my promise.  

What that means is I can’t spend half a day on emails and the other half a day playing Solitaire or Mahjong.  I’ll have to actually type, think, and type some more.  I thought I had the book done last year, but people told me what I already knew--that it didn't “work.”  So a major rewrite is in order.  It won’t be difficult, I just need to actually sit down and Get Started.  

What is it you want or need to do that requires the hardest step of all--getting started?

Quote of the Day:  He who has begun has half done. Horace, Epistles.    

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Magic

By now you are probably in the midst of shopping, baking, decorating, addressing cards, and everything else it takes to bring joy to yourself and others at this time of year.  For us, we have the tree up, that's a start.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, for many reasons.

First, I love the lights and decorations that bring a home or street alive with their twinkling bulbs that break through the darkness.  In January the world goes back to being bare, but for this one month, lights turn our world into a starry wonderland.

Second, I love the music.  For over seventy years I've heard and sung the familiar Christmas Carols so now they are as much a part of me as my heart beat.  My favorite for years has been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day with its stanza: 
               Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
               'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
               The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
               With peace on earth, good will to men.'

Third,  I love the smells of Christmas.  From the fir trees, to the gingerbread men, to eggnog, to the scent of bread dough rising.  These smells all bring back the cozy comfort of home.

Finally, I love the smiles and cheerful greetings of everyone I meet in December.  For in the smiles and cheerfulness one gets a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, that little babe born in Bethlehem did indeed bring peace on earth goodwill toward men.  For one month a year anyway.

In the spirit of Christmas, I wrote the following:

Christmas Magic
                Linda Loegel

The two-year-old toddles across the room
And claps his chubby hands in delight
At the wondrous sight of a Christmas tree
Draped with a hundred twinkling lights

The old man in his nineties
His heart bursting with joy 
Closes his eyes and mouths the words
To the carols sung by neighborhood boys

While she arranges the nativity scene
The new mother cradles her son
Feeling a special bond with Mary, now
Kneeling beside her precious one.

The ten-year-old rolls out the dough
Flour and cinnamon all over her face 
She adds sprinkles, candy, and icing
And laughs at the cookies she’s made

The woman’s pen  poises over the cards 
Addressed to her dearest friends 
Each person’s name brings a smile to her face
And a remembrance of a special time and place

At this time of year we celebrate 
The gift of sounds, and smells, and sights 
That brings the magic of Christmas
To all, and to all, a “Good Night.”

Merry Christmas to all of you, my friends and family.

Today's Quote:  I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  Charles Dickens--A Christmas Carol.