Category Archives: aging

An ever-evolving life…

Aside from the Hollie Cook show, which still tumbles through my brain in songs that I cannot shake, I’ve been indulging in some vintage 1970s melodies, especially “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers.  Somehow that song evokes the autumn which attempts to make its point here in California.  The evenings are cooler, as are the mornings.  Darkness pervades my waking hours, sunshine casting long shadows, trees finally dropping their leaves.  The end of the World Series is nigh (Oh please let it be tonight!), Halloween is days away, November knocking on the door.  Listening to The Doobie Brothers reminds me of the past, which at this time of year is still tied to National Novel Writing Month, although I won’t be participating for the second straight year.  NaNoWriMo came into my life just as we were saying goodbye to England, but as leaving Yorkshire taught me, not everything last forever.

But the writing continues; daily I’ve been reading a couple of chapters of The Hawk, enjoying it immensely.  My husband asked if I read for pleasure, or with a critical eye.  I laughed; I always read my own stuff in a discerning manner, but the revisions aren’t heavy, mostly because these relatively early chapters have been read a number of times.  Yet even as I read, and occasionally alter, the prose, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy this story, which makes me ache to get back to the writing, even if my time is squeezed beyond belief.

Which some might say is all the reason needed to jump into the NaNo pond to pound out another 50,000 (or more) words, regardless of all that looms.  But no longer am I that sort of writer, which is a lot to admit.  But it’s not 1974 anymore, it’s (gasp) forty years later.  Jeez!!  Four decades since “Black Water” was a hit, and now I’m a fan of tropical pop.  “Milk and Honey”, by Ms. Cook, has been making me sway around the kitchen, or tapping my feet as I iron fabrics.  I’m cutting what will be my goddaughter’s Christmas present, but not in reds and greens.  Perhaps hues more for an island, in warm blues, aquas, and a tad of periwinkle.  Not colours I often use, but I sure like them, and they blend well with my latest fascination with reggae.

Life is a journey, taking us to new and exciting places, with intriguing songs and fabric shades that don’t remain static.  About the only thing right now I’d like to remain the same is the Giants’ hold on the even-numbered years’ World Series victories.  We’re one game away from continuing in that vein, which to my liking could stay as a constant, although I’m sure other baseball fans wouldn’t agree.

Not sure what Buttercup thinks; if it meant more belly rubs for her, she’d be all over San Francisco taking tonight’s game.  In Buttercup’s world, there is little room for evolution, but my realm isn’t that of a beagle/basset.  It’s words and music and cotton, baseball and family and whatever lies ahead.  Revisiting the past is unavoidable, in music and memories, hopes and dreams.  But some pieces were only for that time, those moments.  I’d *LOVE* to dwell on the 49ers’ glory years, and seeing shots of Joe Montana at AT&T Park was a pleasure.  However, it’s 2014, ages away from the 1980s, and even a good stretch from when I began writing.  Now I quilt, whoa!  And my heart is firmly stolen by a different Bay Area sports team, whether I want it to be or not.  I can’t help rooting for the Giants, what I do right here and right now.

As I age, I need to keep moving forward.  I don’t know if abundant technology assists in that endeavor, or tropical pop.  And I wonder if my long-passed away relatives felt so inclined.  Is my generation better equipped to seize the future?  I’d love to ask those grandparents, aunts and uncles, but that’s impossible.  I should have done it years ago, but years ago I didn’t consider these queries.  I was too busy being young.

I’m not so young anymore, although not as old as Ms. Buttercup, who at somewhat over seven is a tad older than me.  But again, she doesn’t care what happens, as long as there is food and water in her bowls, walks when her folks get home, and much attention paid to her exposed belly.  But then Buttercup doesn’t know the joy of tropical pop, she can’t reminisce about “Black Water”, and she certainly won’t experience the thrill of one’s team winning the World Series (Oh please let the Giants win tonight!).  She’s content to lie on her rug as people croon her name, snapping pictures of her, then scratching her belly.  No time for writing, quilting or any other such nonsense in her world, thank you very much.

And certainly not a free moment for such introspection.  But occasionally a free moment should be turned just a wee bit inward, if only to acknowledge the change, be it in the weather, the writing, the quilting fabrics.  Life never stops changing, and it’s good to grasp those alterations, especially when they are pleasant.  Sometimes they’re not so warm and fuzzy, but we can’t look from those either.  Before tonight’s baseball I need to clean (ugg), perhaps cut more aqua fabric, definitely get to the store.  No writing, maybe some sewing, then loads of hand-wringing as my beloved Giants go to bat.  I’m sure some Hollie Cook will waft from speakers, either at my PC or in the living room from the turntable.  It’s just another day, 28 October, 2014.  It’s also the only 28 October 2014 any of us will ever see.  May this day bring plenty of joy your way (unless, of course, you’re a Kansas City fan).

The Writer Within Me

This morning I read two chapters of The Hawk.  While no time looms to manage any writing, reading isn’t difficult, other than reminding me how much I’d like to be writing.  I’d *LOVE* to be furthering this novel down the path, but at the moment, I barely have enough cognitive strength to type this blog entry.  I’m tired, mentally and a little physically too.  Right now, life is somewhat on the draining side.

But the writer inside me doesn’t seem to notice my outward fatigue.  The writer crosses her arms, taps her foot, and glowers.  Well, maybe she’s not glowering, but disappointment colours her entire mood: Why aren’t you writing, you nitwit?  You’re not that tired, I mean, you’re penning this ridiculous post and…

And enough already!  I’m pooped, maybe the last few road trips have caught up with me.  Road trips, quilts, novels, although I haven’t completed a first draft in a while.  I won’t hazard a guess as to when The Hawk will be in the can, too precarious an idea.  I do feel it *will* (at some point or other) be finished.  Yes, I will state that.  One day I will write The End to The Hawk.  But please don’t ask me when that day will be.

(If you asked my inner writer, she’d definitely glower and say, “Like tomorrow, okay?”)

What the inner writer doesn’t realize, bless her, is that while perhaps she’s ageless, I am not.  Today I’m feeling every single one of my forty-eight years, perhaps a few extra having snuck in when I wasn’t looking.  In reading over a couple of chapters, I was pleased for how well the prose flowed, occasionally wondering, as I sometimes do, did I actually write all that?  But it’s still the relative beginning of the book, and I’ve read and re-read those scenes more than a few times, the revisions apparent.  Maybe that is why my inner writer is heady with authorial excitement; she wants to expand on all those polished paragraphs.

(While the writer who does the actual work hedges, fully aware of how middling to lousy the ensuing chapters are at the end…)

Still, it’s encouraging to want to write; now if only I had the time!  Visiting with Dad this past weekend, however, reminds me that sometimes time needs to be made for itself.  Which is my roundabout way of telling my inner writer to be patient, while I recover from a road trip all the while preparing for another.  I’ll be away this weekend too, which will keep me from writing, and quilting.  Usually I don’t get too far from home, and when I do, it’s more of a one-off than the norm.  But 2014 is shaping up to be a year unlike any other, which means damn the torpedoes (and my increasing age), full speed ahead!  Quilts and books be darned, as the open road calls my name, but please let me take a moment to slip into my trainers.  If I drive with Birkenstocks on, my ankles get sore.

This probably makes my inner writer wring her hands as well; “Get on with it!” I’m sure she’s screaming.  Or as Dad would say, “Git ‘er done!”  I’d love to get her done when it comes to The Hawk, but I’m too far into it to just pick it up, scribble a few words, then set it down.  I need a stretch of uninterrupted days to write, which I am not going to get anytime soon.  And I’m also far enough into this book, as well as my writing career (for what that’s worth) not to compromise the story.  Reading over the initial chapters has shown me that yes, it’s a pretty damned fine book (if I might say so myself).  No way in the world do I want to throw it to the winds just to please one whiny inner writer.

Sort of how my daughter had to corral Buttercup this past weekend; she’d had the run of the beach, but my girl got sick and tired of chasing her, so out came the lead, followed by the saddest beagle/basset eyes this side of the Mississippi.  Buttercup looks a lot like my inner writer, two spoiled gals who are used to doing as they please.  But my inner muse needs to cool her jets; I’m not the same writer I was years ago.  I’m not the same woman either, what with quilting in the mix, or my dad who isn’t the same man he used to be.  We’re all changing, and best that we accept these alterations as gracefully as possible.  Getting one’s knickers in a twist is a waste of time, energy, and well, knickers.  I’ll write more of The Hawk when I am darned good and ready to.  And in the meantime, playoff baseball awaits.  Please Giants, don’t lose your NLCS home opener….

Aches and pains and clouds

Well, I don’t have the flu, but yesterday was spent hunkered on the sofa, cold toes and achy limbs covered by a blanket.  I even napped; I detest napping, but by one thirty I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I woke at a quarter after three, my son making a pizza in the kitchen.  We have a small house, maybe fifteen feet from the couch where I stirred to where he was trying to be as quiet as possible.  But the oven door makes a horrendous shrieking squeak; not even WD-40 fixes it.

I’m still feeling niggles along my arms today, also feeling a little… down.  I’ve decided to go off the news; I just can’t hear anymore about Syria or Lance Armstrong, not even my beloved 49ers.  If San Francisco wins on Sunday, perhaps I’ll peek at a few articles, but as I went on a news sabbatical during Lent in 2012, fed up to the eyeteeth with election hoo-haa, I’m again on information overload.  Some of my stories emerge from current events, well, humph.  I’ve enough plots to last a few years.  I’d rather concentrate on other things.

Taken in the barnyard of my childhood home, looking west.

Taken in the barnyard of my childhood home, looking west.

Like clouds; as a teenager, I was nuts for clouds.  Not the rain that might fall from them, that didn’t happen often in California.  More was the whimsy and colour produced by clouds and light, by sunsets or blue skies.  This morning, I was posting a shot from last week’s low tide onto my Tumblr, noting how I have always been a little obsessed by the decorated horizon.  With this need to not know so much, I’m brought back to ancient times when cameras required film, there was no internet, I read newspapers.

Ah yes, the good old days…

My only aches back then were of so wishing to have a few extra bucks to develop a roll (or five) of film.  I wasn’t thinking much about writing; I was listening to a lot of music via cassettes and a boombox, snapping clouds while living in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by stillness.  Well, it was quiet until I cranked the music to 11.

I pass by that gate every time I drive to my parents' house, but the barn and other outbuildings have collapsed, and I don't have the heart to see if that horseshoe still secures the gate to the post.

I pass by that gate every time I drive to my parents’ house, but the barn and other outbuildings have collapsed, and I don’t have the heart to see if that horseshoe still secures the gate to the post.

It was quiet when I took these shots, standing in our barnyard or on a two-lane highway in the center of Northern California, entranced by the skies overhead.  I don’t know when I got my first Walkman, but I wasn’t using one when these photos were taken, in the mid 1980s.  Just me and a camera, some basic Kodak film, nothing special about the equipment.  My first childhood camera was an Instamatic with the ice-cube flash.  By high school I had moved up a little, but no zoom, nothing more than a small device able to capture huge skies in a single click.

Looking south, just past my house.

Looking south, just past my house.

I was probably daydreaming, thinking about one day living in a big, exciting city (be careful what you wish for).  I did long to live in Britain; that’s due to Kate Bush, who I am listening to right now.  I recall an English assignment during my senior year of high school; we had to write chapter titles for an autobiography.  Mine included something about living in London when I was thirty or thirty-one.  So, I was hoping to one day traverse the ocean, but it was an ethereal fantasy.  My life was these clouds in the quiet hush of Northern California, far from anything thrilling.

Looking toward the house, one of the grain silos on the right.

Looking toward the house, one of the grain silos on the right.

Now I look at these shots, wrapped in an aching wistfulness for that silence.  I’m sure at the time I thought it was too silent, unless the tunes were blasting.  But as I took these photographs there was no music, maybe just the hum of a passing truck, maybe clatter of siblings back at the house.  Or maybe it was only me and the clouds and a camera.

Looking westward

For a few brief moments, that was all there was.

I’m too old, it’s too hard, blah blah blah…

Nope, concurrently noveling is not for me.  I’m forty-six, in overall good health, can plow through 5K mornings with a few flicks of my wrists.  But I cannot write two books at one time.

It’s a humbling statement, and if a few of you are rolling your eyes and snickering wildly, I totally deserve it.  When I was forty-one, my first NaNo on American soil, second NaNo overall, I blew through three books in November; one in the morning, one after lunch, one at night.   Hit 50K on each, felt like a real radioactive novelist, and maybe I was.  I was also very wet behind the ears with the prose, but I was writing, and thought I could go on that way forever.

Uh, no.  You’re human honey, and you’ll never be forty-one years old again.

But I don’t mean to whine, just stating the facts; three days of 9K-plus was followed by a fourth of about 7K.  Then my brain imploded; that afternoon, after writing half a chapter for The Richard Brautigan Club, I watched football in vegetable-like state on the sofa.  Since then, I finished that half-chapter, have written plenty for Kelly Tremane, accepting concurrent noveling was theoretically a great idea.  I tried it last year, was sidetracked by my husband’s annoying goiter.  This year, it’s just old age.

Relative seniority, or just accepting that one’s early forties aren’t as taxing as those staring at fifty.  But mentally, I’m still forty-one; didn’t we just leave England, aren’t my kids still at home?  Uh, well, two are, but they’re not 15 and 17 anymore.  There’s a grand-basset in the picture and published novels and hummingbirds and…  1825 days between then and now.  Each of those days have incurred wear and tear to my collective gray matter.  Thankfully my hair is still all brown, heh heh, but wrinkles and small age spots (that my husband claims are figments of MY imagination, bless his heart) and one novel at a go proves that I’m not impervious to time’s continual march.

Aging is a funny thing; it happens so slowly that it really takes something like a brick up the head to realize it.  I really thought that without a goiter in the way, I could do this thang!  Darn the torpedoes, yada yada yada, but that was a big load of hooey.  Which is OKAY.  It really is.  I take blood pressure meds now, I can’t eat chocolate much past seven p.m. or I get twitchy at bedtime.  I can’t drink caffeinated tea past noon, or I can’t sleep.  (But maybe if I drank tea later, I could eat chocolate later, then go to bed later, hmmm…)  But I can still write; jeez, at the rate I’m heading, Kelly Tremane is going to end up like Shogun!  Which is WONDERFUL; may those words just keep tumbling from my slowly aging brain.

But just those words, for that novel.  One at a time, woman.  One at a time…