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sennebec
15 April 2014 @ 12:08 pm
Winter is something each person handles in different ways. When you have one like the bruiser we just survived, coping becomes even more challenging. As a one person library staff, I get to hear first hand, how people coped with this one. Plenty of them found it more than challenging, having to make daily choices between luxuries like heating oil VS medicine or gas to get to work VS buying something to have for supper. All in all, most everyone survived, although I heard plenty of stories about lingering illness and borderline moments of uber-cabin fever.
I'm not a fan of winter. I used to hunt in November and ice fish through the end of March, but physical issues and loss of friends took their toll on those, so I had to come up with other ways to stay sane while snow covers the countryside. Fortunately, I'm a reading addict, I've read 84 books thus far in 2014 and have a TBR stack that's going to keep me going until at least August.
All that reading has helped in another way. Since I review almost every book I write on the CMLD Librarian's Blog at http://cmldbookreviews.com/ I've learned to read and assess simultaneously. Doing that has enabled me to look at my own writing in a much more professional way. I've now written seven books and am eyeball deep in number eight. This one was completely unexpected. It started with my musing about why someone would want to get a tongue stud. I won't go into detail about where that took me, because that's good for another complete post somewhere else. From there, I started thinking about how many themes have been repeated multiple times in YA fiction in the last couple years. For example, I've read at least five books recently where one of the main characters has leukemia. When I was a medical librarian and one of the professional staff had me do a search that came up empty, my standard reply was, "You just found an opportunity to get published."
That started me thinking about what aspects of illness haven't been covered in YA fiction. Since my background includes 27 years in mental health, I started thinking about what aspect of teen mental illness hadn't been done yet. Ten minutes later, I was going 100 MPH creating a new book idea. I couldn't stop. My next project was going to be a juvenile mystery called Shear Pin Summer. In fact, I've been fleshing out the characters, the setting and some of the hooks since the idea came to me at the New England Crime Bake last November. Well, Finding Ginger, the working title for my latest effort, kicked poor Shear Pin to the curb. I got the idea three weeks ago and as of last night, I was approaching the 40,000 word point. I've added a synopsis below. In addition, I'm ready to send off my two short story entries to both the Al Blanchard and Level Best mystery contests. I'm submitting a story called ATV about a mildly retarded kid from Palmyra who outwits an unusual kidnapper and Posh Digs, a story set on Mt. Desert Island that has a double twist at the end. I'm pretty happy with both of them.
[Synopsis] Twyla was fourteen when she had her first psychotic break. The plunge into a near-lethal depression scared and scarred her terribly. After her fourth hospitalization, one that followed two extremely traumatic events, she realized that her parents were never going to understand what prescribed medications did to her soul. She used her mother's bank card to withdraw $600 and vanished, making sure she covered her tracks well. After a stay in Boston crashed and burned, she ended up in Bangor, Maine. She's getting by on money she finds in the mall parking lot along with what money she gets from the returnables she digs out of trash cans and snowbanks. She's living in the Goodwill donation box at the edge of the mall parking lot and when there's no money, she dumpster dives behind the food court at the mall.
Abel grew up in Greenbush, a small town north of Bangor. His parents barely got by and had no health insurance, so when he was born with a deformed eye, he never received proper treatment. His eye got so bad it had to be removed when he was five. He started kindergarten while waiting for an artificial eye and the class bully overpowered him on the first day, taking his patch so everyone could see the empty socket behind it. When he got a donated eye several months later, it wasn't the same shade of green, causing him to become even more self-conscious. He's now nineteen and has never had a girlfriend or much of a social life. Despite his history, Abel is smart and compassionate. He's an avid reader and has had some short stories published. He works the late shift at the KFC in the mall food court and recently realized that someone is going through the trash at night, looking for something to eat. He's started making sure he leaves something safe and nutritious at the top of the last bag he deposits every night.
He goes out to leave an extra bag of trash one cold March night and finds Twyla crouched beside the dumpster, eating the chicken breast he'd left earlier. When she pulls out the switchblade she keeps handy to defend herself, things could go either way, but each of them sees something in the other's expression that starts them down a most unusual road.
I know how the story ends, but I'm having a terrific time getting them there.
 
 
 
sennebec
My sister Kate Flora is doing a blog post at Maine Crime Writers later this week called Why Maine, on why those of us who post there live in/love Maine. I just sent her my response (check the MCW blog later this week to read it) and that got the reflective juices flowing. It's a warm, hazy Sunday in Hartland. After a monster Skittles OD last night (who in their right mind consumes a 12 OZ bag in one sitting?), I knew there would be consequences this morning. Who knew they would include a hyperactive part-Siamese cat with a dig-my-claws-in-your-butt fetish? Anyway, the excess sugar has moved past the we're gonna go all WWF on your body and mind, settling into a pretty nice post-debauch energy buzz.
Why discuss cucumbers? Today, they're a symbol for something larger and more important about living in Maine. Call it the garden crapshoot if you will. Like most Maine gardeners, I'm doing it because I want to, not because I need to. However, it's really important and interesting to remember that for the first six or so generations who lived here, a good garden often meant the difference between greeting spring with family members to bury and celebrating surviving another winter successfully. They couldn't hop in the car and drive to Paris Farmer's Union/Agway/Aubuchon/Walmart to grab seeds. Instead they had to decide how much of the crop NOT to harvest and let go to seed so they would have something to plant the following year. Early frost, too much rain, animal damage? These weren't annoyances, they were real life threats and once again, meant the difference between holding that new baby and burying her sister come spring. (If you want to read an excellent book about how life was here in Maine back then, get hold of a copy of Come Spring by Ben Ames Williams. My mother, A. Carman Clark, wrote the introduction to the reprint edition).
Unlike parts of the country with pretty even weather, we never know what to expect from our garden. One year, we might get three ears of corn from two rows of stunted stalks. The next, we might have beautiful pepper plants that refuse to blossom. No two years are quite the same. While 2013 hasn't given us a particularly good summer for tourists or outdoor activities, it has been an awesome year for our garden if you discount the early monsoon that required replanting beans, and the four (now deceased) woodchucks that pretty much destroyed the 2nd bean planting. Last year, it took three plantings to get two scrawny cuke plants that yielded a handful of stunted cucumbers. This year, I planted a packet of seeds bought from Johnny's (a local seed company) and every one came up. We have a crazy-quilt of dark green vines that is currently producing ten pounds of cukes a week. Library patrons and pretty much everyone on lower Pleasant St. are enjoying free cukes. Just behind them, carrots in two small raised begs are getting close to harvest size. In fact, I picked a couple last night that were 3" long and sweet as all get out. Scallions from seed and two kinds of basil flourish behind them. I planted 18 tomato plants (much too close, I now realize) and they are just beginning to go into overdrive. They are hiding red cabbage, pepper plants with abundant fruit and the broccoli I figured was toast after the first batch of woodchucks dined on it. Surprise! it came back from the dead and we dined on big green broccoli heads last night. Three rows of corn which are almost taller than I am, get ever closer to ripeness. My next battle will be with the multiple murders of crows that infest our back yard and can smell a ripe ear of corn from miles away.
Behind the row of post-harvest rhubarb, is a split row, half golden beets (the greens were excellent when we cooked them after a row thinning) and more corn. Two kale plants, also survivors of the second woodchuck attack, are vibrant and will soon be part of two awesome dishes. One is baked kale in vinegar with melted blue cheese on it. The other, courtesy of my sister Kate, is called power soup and is a hamburger/kale soup with vinegar and beef bouillon. The last third of the garden is the most important one every year; Our squash plantation. There are over 100 plants twisting past each other this year. They have already spread onto the lawn and I can see several pumpkins, close to 20 butternut and several green hubbard squash already fruited. We'll let them go until the first hard frost, then store them in our cellar. When cold rainy days hit in October, I'll take a break from writing and cook up batches to put in our freezer. Some, like the cukes, will be shared with family and neighbors.
We also have fruit, but that's usually a bit more dependable than the garden. Last year was an exception as the early heat wave in March fooled the apple blossoms and a later frost pretty much did them in. This year you can hear a nonstop series of thuds as ripe apples fall and I'm excited about finally having a chance to use my cider press, a gift from my wife and daughters two years ago. We're not going to see much from the grape vines, alas, and all the plums fell off before getting anywhere close to ripening. However, we gorged on red ever-bearing raspberries that are now taking a breather before producing a 2nd crop and the gold raspberries will start uber-producing next week. They're bigger, sweeter and have fewer seeds. While we're waiting for them, the wild blackberries are thick as heck, giving up close to two quarts every few days. The crown on this year's fruit crop are the five peaches that will be ready to pick by next week. I wasn't sure either tree would make it through a Hartland winter, but both are flourishing and I can't wait to have a year when they both go crazy. Who knows, maybe I can wean myself off Skittles then.
 
 
 
sennebec
12 August 2013 @ 10:45 am
Last Christmas, my daughter Lisa and I made an agreement to see if we could read 100 books in 2013. I've always been an avid reader, but never kept track of how many I read, so it seemed like an interesting and worthwhile challenge. Like most such things (remember NANOWRIMO last year?) I take on as a challenge, this became almost obsessive (saying it like that's a good thing this time). As of last night, I had read 93 books and have a TBR pile that's got at least 100 in it. One interesting thing has already come from this process. I'd been posting reviews of most books on Goodreads and Amazon with occasional ones being posted on Melibs and as part of my regular slot on the Maine Crime Writer's blog. A new teen book website http://www.teenliteraturenetwork.org/ contacted me because they liked my style. The upshot is that most of my reviews are getting posted on their site. Even better is that one I posted was read by a friend of the author who liked it so much she asked them if I might like to read and review her book. I agreed and it was a dandy. The review of that went up this week.
This new review venue completes the cycle (and big gap) created when Tami Brady closed her TCM-CA review site where I reviewed regularly for years and it feels so right. It fills in a gap and soothes the disquiet that rises on days when I realize how long it's been since I did any creative writing on my own. We just returned from a weekend at my sister's cottage in Harpswell where I sat with ocean breezes buffeting me ever so softly as I went back and worked on Dubstep and Wheelie, the short story that, like Statue of Limitations last year, refuses to remain a short story and is morphing into a teen novella. I re-read it from the beginning to do a second edit (and get back in the storyline). I was really happy at how little I needed to prune. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of something, I worry about losing sight of where things are going and why. This time, I had no such disquiet when I reached the point where I needed to start again.
Quick summary of the story: Cece, starting her senior year at Sawtelle (Maine) High, is in the darkest of moods. Shortly after summer began, she had a riding accident when her horse was spooked by a partridge. Now paralyzed from the waist down, her dreams of theater and improv dancing are receding on the horizon. When she retreats to the school library and types in the first word that comes to mind (magic), an awesome looking guy appears and begins talking to her. Dios is an under god, one of a couple hundred recruited by Greek gods when the population grew to a point where ministering to them began cramping their partying lifestyle. In his travels, working on assignments related to his specialty (Not revealing that here), he discovers Cece, her beyond-sad mood and falls in love with her. He can heal her, but at what cost? Part love story, part fantasy, part spiritual coming of age, it's turning out to be great fun to write.

Below is something that wrote itself while I was looking for sea glass and thinking about people I've known over the years. Not sure it is connected to any one person, it's more a synthesis of sadness and missed opportunities I think.

It's Complicated

I lean against the rail, looking down
through fog as thick and gray as my dread
She looks up.
Not meeting my eyes.
“It's complicated,” she says softly.
“Like teaching a giraffe to play tennis?”
Her sad eyes flare.
“Funny stopped working a long time ago, know why?.”
I cringe, not wanting to hear myself speak the truth.
“It's com..”
“No!” her scream feels like a dirty razor splitting my soul in half.
“It's what could have been if you stopped hiding behind words.”
I wait for her to add the part we've both been dancing around for weeks.
Her eyes meet mine.
The effect hurts more than anything else has ever done.
I bend, reaching desperately.
The knife cuts through the rope in a heartbeat
and
she's gone.
 
 
 
sennebec
27 May 2013 @ 10:11 am
Memorial Day, 2013: Cold, very windy and there's a hangover from 5 days of steady rain (which we needed, but maybe not in such a condensed time frame). Our 13 apple trees were in full bloom during the downpour, but even before the rain came, I studied the air around several trees and saw almost no pollinators. I asked one of my book club members who lives in St. Albans and is an avid gardener, but she was seeing the same paucity of bees around her trees. Today's paper has a big front page article about the hive collapse problem. 34% of domestic hives died last winter. Sad, that. Scary, that. Are we headed for a slow self-inflicted demise of our own doing? Was T.S. Eliot right in his poem the Hollow men? Are we going out, not with a bang, but with a whimper?
Despite the cold and wind we did have a Memorial Day parade this morning. Three veterans, a chaplain, the Nokomis Marching Band, four fire trucks , an ATV and at the end a bearded dude from the Exiles MC. Not sure if he was in the parade, or stuck behind it, but however he got there it was an interesting touch. Too chilly to traumatize set plants, too damp still to mow, but later I'll till the garden and attempt to mow. Book #52 for the year When You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick is competing and losing to my slightly overlong last story for my YA anthology I call Dubstep and Wheelie: A love story as the destination of choice for the rest of this morning. The story has turned out to have much longer legs than I expected, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Next, I'll have to decide is all the stories fit, how much buffing they need and where to shop the book. I'm beginning to believe there's enough material floating about for a second anthology come fall.
 
 
 
sennebec
I'm working through a couple dilemmas in my head. First off, I'm realizing that while I've spent a lot of time worrying about the financial aspect of retirement, I better process the psychological end as well before pulling the plug. I've been remembering something an old friend and co-worker at AMHI once said while we were duck hunting up in the County. He looked at me and said, "there are times when I'm not working, that I don't know who I am." Ceasing to be the Hartland librarian is a mind shift I need to be at peace with before I leave the position. I've caught myself being irritable on the job recently and suspect that's part of the processing. Waking up every morning with no set agenda is a double-edged sword, appealing at first thought, terrifying at other times. Given the amount of things I do that aren't necessarily work-related, I should not lack for things to keep me busy, but I need to get my entire mind to that point if I want to be comfortable.
I'm starting to work through the mental preparations already. I looked at the TBR pile behind the door and realized it was growing at an alarming rate. In fact, it's taller than the bureau beside it and the overflow lies by my side of the bed. I decided it would kill two birds, so to speak if I made a conscious decision to sit and read for 3-4 hours several times a week. That was fueled by my need to finish reading the 5 YA Edgar nominees so I could make my prediction on the Maine Crime Writer's Blog. I did that yesterday and have read two more books since, finishing one yesterday morning, another today. Daughter Lisa and I have both committed to trying to read 100 books in 2013. I started slowly, but the pace is picking up. I'm listing what I've read so far below in case anyone is curious.
Dilemma #2 is deciding exactly what sort of writer I am. Every time I consider how much energy it takes to market a book, I freeze. Part of that dilemma is personality driven. I'm much happier working anonymously, behind the scenes, so to speak, when it comes to getting things done and marketing is the antithesis of that. Do I give my five unpublished books a serious polish, publish them as ebooks, sell a very few of each and die happy? That dilemma tends to freeze my brain, sending me back to being more of a blogger/columnist/short story writer, than full book author. For the moment, that dilemma remains unresolved.

Of course the flip side of both of these dilemmas is that I'm extremely fortunate to have them. I see a lot of people every day who are in such tight financial straits that retirement isn't even on their horizon, or if it is, it's a pretty bleak one. The same goes for the writing bedevilment. I talk to people several times every week who would love to be able to write anything and see it in print, let alone bemoan the unpublished state of 5 books.
As to the retirement time management issue, today is a perfect example of why I shouldn't be worries. I got up at 7:15, finished a book, started this blog, read an email newsletter that reminded me today was the last day to enter the Red Team/Blue Team YA Scavenger Hunt (completed both, then ordered 6 books soon to be published by some of the bloggers), chatted at length with Beth's uncle and still have the lawn to rake which was #1 on my list of things needing attention today. Guess I need not worry so much, eh? Now the book list.
1-The Wrath of Angels / John Connolly
2-If I Lie / Corrine Jackson
3-Cursed / Jennifer Armentrout
4-Hurt / Travis Thrasher
5-Perception-Kim Harrington
6-Clarity-Kim Harrington
7-The Dead and Buried-Kim Harrington
8-Opal-Jennifer Armintrout
9-Waiting-Carol Lynch Williams
10-Dear Cassie Lisa Burstein
11-The waiting Sky /Lara Zielin
12-Bad Hair Day-Carrie Harris
13-Home Run-Travis Thrasher
14-The Edge of Nowhere-Elizabeth George
15-The Whistling Season-Ivan Doig
16-If You Find Me-Emily Murdoch
17-Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things-Kate Burak
18-Amelia Anne is dead and gone / Kat Rosenfield
19-My Life from Air-Bras to Zits-Barbara Haworth-Attard
20-Count Me In-Sara Leach
21-This is What Happy Looks Like-Jennifer Smith
22-Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein
23-Stung-Bethany Wiggins
 
 
 
sennebec
20 March 2013 @ 08:22 am
Beth doesn't have very good luck when she goes to Washington. She's had to go twice in her role as director of the undergraduate nursing program at Husson. The first trip occurred just as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the eastern seaboard and had her stranded an extra couple days. When she went this time, what happened? We got 18" of snow, closing Bangor International Airport and stranding her in DC for another 2 days. This time, however, she decided to go enjoy the Smithsonian as well as explore Georgetown.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Bernie, Gertie and I are doing fine, if fine is defined by waking up at 6 am with the cat sniffing one ear while the dog licks the other. This, however, is progress as the two have been fighting like..., well cats and dogs ever since we acquired Gertie 2 months ago. It's nice to have a cat again, even one as nuts as this critter. She gives nice kitty kisses and after she winds down in the evening, she lies on my feet to keep them warm.

What, you wonder took him so long to blog again? I have no good excuse. I'm still writing. In fact, I tackled NANOWRINO in November and was able to crank out 56,000 words in 30 days. That has since grown to about 105,000 and is very close to being a finished first draft of a thriller called Afternoon Break which germinated in my head for 7 years. In hindsight, letting it cook that long made writing so much so fast fairly easy. I'm now a regular member of the lineup over at Maine Crime Writers as well, posting 2-3 times per month. In addition, I contribute to the online newsletter of the Maine Library association as well as a blog that used to be the Sebasticook Valley Weekly newspaper. Other additions to the literary side of life include reviewing audio books and DVDs for School Library Journal, so writing continues to be a big part of what fuels my spirit.
Would that the body be as cooperative as the mind. I seem to have gotten a free lifetime membership in the chronic ailment of the year club. Last year it was gout. This year it's hypothyroidism. However, I'm pretty happy the latter was diagnosed as the difference, now that I'm on a small dose of synthetic thyroid every morning, is amazing. I was dragging my butt half of each day, feeling mentally like I was wading through jello. Now, I'm still prone to occasional space shot moments, but the productivity and mental alertness are a lot better, particularly in the afternoon. Having turned 65 this month, I'm getting used to the reality of shifting from my old health care to Medicare. I was sweating what medications were going to cost, but discovered my Maine State Retirement slides me into a covered Part D plan at no monthly cost to me...Huge sigh of relief at that. Now I have to see what out of pocket expenses look like for the next year and then I can decide on a retirement date. More when the urge hits.
 
 
 
sennebec
21 July 2012 @ 08:34 am
So much for posting regularly. It's the old 'if you want to hear God laughing, tell him your plans for the future' bit. After putting a lot of time and effort into working on the current book and reaching a point where the line between word salad and a decent story became blurred, I gave myself permission to back away for a bit and read...a lot. We spent the week of July 4th in Lubec and I read 13 books-all YA fiction. It was fun, slightly decadent and helpful in a couple ways that I hadn't expected. First off, since several were .pdf copies from a new website that encourages reviews in return for digital ARCs, I discovered I do like reading from an electronic device, albeit a bulky 17.3" laptop (in bed even). I was also able to write up reviews immediately following reading each one so the reviews were extremely fresh. Second, I sharpened my sense of what's good writing VS what's less-than-good writing. That came in very handy this week when I picked up my first freelance editing job on a YA manuscript. No sooner was that job completed than I had another one drop into my lap completely be accident after a casual conversation with a Maine author.
I guess it's time to chill out over not writing obsessively and write when the spirit moves me like right now. 'Nuff said.
 
 
 
sennebec
14 June 2012 @ 09:43 pm
Posting parts of a book works. (maybe not for me as a writer.) A couple weeks back, I got an e-newsletter featuring a blurb about Jennifer Armentrout's Covenant series. I read the blurb, went to Amazon, read a bit more and ordered the first two in the series, Half-Blood and Pure. I was halfway through another YA book when they arrived and was going to wait until I was finished with the current book before starting Half-Blood which is the first one in the series. Well, out of curiosity, I picked it up at 11:30 pm. Next thing I knew, it was almost 2 am and I had all I could do to put it down. I ripped through the rest over the next two evenings, grabbed Pure immediately upon finishing book one, and finished that one about 40 minutes ago. Each one is an amazing read. The characters are addictive, the sexual tension (even there's no physical sex which makes it even more amazing)is done as well as in anything I've yet read, the action and the plotting right through to the end of the second book are stellar. If I could crank up my time machine, I'd fast forward to November so I could jump right into the third book.
 
 
 
sennebec
I've been allowing obsessions to block my usual slide into sleep...Rude juvenile patrons, rude adults who can't be bothered to return overdue items (that latter one was reinforced in spades yesterday when I encountered at least 10 disconnected phone numbers while trying to contact people about overdues), etc. This has been ameliorated by the exquisite pleasure of a string of terrific YA books to read. I'll be blogging about a number of them on June 15th at http://mainecrimewriters.com/ where I'm the guest librarian each month. I don't think I've encountered such a nice run of reads in ages. Anyhow, I allowed myself to lie in bed for half an hour this morning enjoying the lack of deadlines and some pleasurable thoughts. I'll be completely honest here. I'm getting close to the point where I'll welcome the freedom of not having to go to work and deal with stress and the 'too damn much to do and way too little time to do it' syndrome. I believe it's called retirement and is ever more visible on the horizon.
Anyhoo, I took some stuff out to the compost bin while Beth was cooking me French toast and pondered my day. The lawn will be mowed this afternoon, but one look at the tip of my sneakers put things in perspective. They were wet, meaning the sun must work for a couple more hours to dry the grass before it makes sense to mow. Wet grass slows progress for both bull elephants and lawn mowers. There ain't no way around that reality. As I walked back, I watched the uneven march of my outgoing footprints to the compost bin and started thinking about how we think about ourselves.
Not so many years ago, I would have awoken on a sunny June Sunday thinking like a logger or a fisherman. In those days, we lived in Chelsea and Mom still lived on Sennebec Hill Farm. Both places were heated with wood as one of the two sources (the other being oil). I'd have to cut, split and haul 10 cords every year to cover our combined needs. A cutting Sunday would begin with breakfast, a thermos of coffee, my chainsaw, tools, hard hat and ear protectors, gas and a gallon of bar oil. Off I'd head for the farm where I'd either drive through the orchard or the blueberry field, depending on where I was cutting that year. The next 4-5 hours would be spent dropping ash, maple, beech and birch in a selective cut that left the best and straightest trees for other uses. Each dropped tree would be limbed and then cut into 16-18" pieces. These were left to woods-dry for a month or so before getting hauled to whichever farm would burn them where I'd use the portable splitter I inherited from my father-in-law. The resulting firewood got piled for use come November. I did that for more than 25 years until Mom was no longer able to use her airtight stove and we moved to Hartland where the house wasn't set up to be heated that way. I don't miss the backaches or the splinters, but I do miss the sun dappling through new leaves on the trees and the wind sighing through the trees as it came off Sennebec Pond.
Other Sundays, I'd be up even earlier, grab my fly rod, my fishing vest, some Ben's 100, my net and maybe my DeLorme Maine Atlas before packing a couple cold sodas, some fruit and a sandwich in a cooler before heading to one of several favorite fishing spots. I inherited the love of fishing from my father and my great uncle Leland Look. When I was a kid, my father and I would take the first week after school got out and go up to my grandmother's house in New Portland. Over the next several days, we'd fish the Carabasset River, the Dead River and several small streams which fed them. We'd catch brook trout and an occasional salmon, eating them every night for supper, cooked in bacon fat on Gram's wood cook stove after they had been rolled in corn meal. After I graduated from college, I'd drive to New Vineyard and get Leland. We'd usually fish the west branch of the Carabasset, known locally as Salem Stream. There were several spots we favored, particularly a long stretch of deep slow water that was almost impossible to fish because of the thick stands of alders on both sides. Those fishing trips were as much about companionship as they were catching fish because Leland and Aunt Ruby were the most loving and welcoming relatives one could want. When Leland died in 1986, a little part of me went with him.
When we moved to Chelsea, I adopted Sam Morrison, the man across the street, as a surrogate dad. Sam seldom said more than ten words a day, but he didn't need to say much. We had the perfect relationship; I talked, Sam listened. We shared a love of gardening and fishing. Sam had retired a year before we moved in and according to his wife Edna, was bored silly. Once we started comparing gardens and I asked if he wanted to go fishing, boredom fled his life. Sam and I hit pretty much every brook in Kennebec and Knox County as time went on and I introduced him to ice fishing. There was a span of several years where we went pretty much every Monday during the winter and I'll never forget the look on Sam's face the day he caught a 9 pound togue out at Sheepscot Lake. When he died of cancer, my interest in fishing pretty much went with him. One of the best pieces I ever wrote was called "Sam's Ghost" and appeared in the now defunct Wolf Moon Journal.
Nowadays, I think differently. I think like a writer, I think like a gardener and I'm thinking more like a photographer. Unlike the days when I thought like a logger or a fisherman, I don't spend a whole day engaged in one activity. Today is an example. I'm spending the morning writing, then I'll mow the lawn (and play with the next couple events to happen in The Catnip Pentagram as I do so) and if I see something I think will make a great photo, I'll break from mowing and get my camera. I suspect the mosaic way of thinking is more attuned with my way of looking at life and my energy levels at 64 and I'm just fine with that.
 
 
 
sennebec
03 June 2012 @ 09:58 am
Two years ago, while listening to one of the channels I set up on Pandora.com, I heard a song by Dar Williams (http://www.darwilliams.com/) and was instantly hooked. Since then, I have bought most of her CDs and donated them to the library. When I heard she was coming to One Longfellow Square in Portland (OLS), I ordered tickets. The show was last night and she was worth fighting driving rain and wet clothing for. We sat in the upper level on padded stools against the back wall. If you've never been to OLS, it's right off the square on Congress Street and certainly qualifies as an intimate venue. The main area seats about 200, with another 30 or so in the upper level. While acoustics in the upper area aren't perfect, the connection to performers is. Dar was accompanied by guitarist John Kaler who is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and quite an accomplished musician in his own right. Their synergy was a delight. The 1 1/2 hour show was a joy to attend. Two things stood out for me; First was Dar's easy intimacy with her audience, sharing how her own life and family (particularly the influence of her parents reading mythology and showing her the constellations in the night sky) helped create different songs. She gave an extensive and very personal introduction to more than half her songs. The other thing that really stood out and I'm not certain whether it was the performer, the venue or both, was that for several of the songs, once she started singing, the theater and the rest of the audience kind of faded away and it was as though there was only the singer and me. That's a very rare treat at a concert these days and made the wild storm we had to brave a very minor inconvenience.
If you want to see what Dar sounds like, check out one of the CDs we have at the library. If you like it, I have even better news for you. Dar is scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 16th in Dover-Foxcroft at the Center Theater for Performing Arts.