Inspiration From a Life Well Lived

Elaine Morgan, dead at age 92.

Elaine Morgan, dead at age 92.

Recently, an internet pal’s grandmother passed away – a woman I had never met nor heard of. In reading her obituary, I discovered that she had been an extraordinary individual, and learning about her life filled me with optimism.

Our world is full of wonderful people, some famous, some well-known, and most invisible except to those whose lives they directly enrich and improve. I won’t ever know about most of them, but they are out there, and it bolsters me to know that.

Tapping My Inner Hermit

The view from my cave.

The current internal view from my cave.

I have always liked being alone, and I am good at it. The one aspect of being a parent that was tough on me was all those years with so little alone time. These last few weeks, recuperating from surgery, with nowhere to go and nothing required of me except laying around, I have had more alone time than I have had in decades. I went through a bad patch at the start of the second week – OMG this is interminable –  but then I settled in. I’m reading a lot, writing a lot, and just — hanging out: petting the cats, patting the dog, pondering the hummingbirds in the garden, walking at sunrise and sunset. Now it’s jarring when the phone rings or a text arrives or a friend visits, as I spiral ever deeper into solitude.

Somehow I’ve managed to avoid most of my usual worrying and planning, which has allowed me to feel downright peaceful. I probably have to credit post-op lassitude for much of this accomplishment (and initially, heavy meds), although I have occasionally practiced some of the techniques I’ve recently learned at Al-Anon.

Having no required thoughts or agenda has been fertile as well as productive for my new novel. The ideas are flowing from all directions, at all times. I’d forgotten what that was like!

All in all, my post-op phase has been the ultimate in staycations. Tune in next week, when I phase back into work, set the alarm clock, and resume driving, to see how long the peace lasts.

Image courtesy of …

Unforgettable Lines

In yesterday’s post, I noted that I can never remember a joke’s punch line. That got me thinking about  lines that perpetually run through my head. Here are just a few. How many of these do you recognize? (answers on page 2.)

  1. I didn’t get the money, and I didn’t get the woman.
  2. I’m a stranger here myself.
  3. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.
  4. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
  5. Is there anything you have forgotten to tell me?
  6. To be lonely is a habit, like smoking or taking drugs.
  7. You can lead a horse to water but only very rarely can you drown him and get away with it.

DIY Writing Career

The latest Weekly Photo Challenge focuses on nostalgia and these photos conjure nostalgia in so many ways!

Fake fur chair by a Los Angeles designer named Harry. Back in those days, I worked in Hollywood and supported only me, so I had money for such things.

My writing room. Tile floor by me. Fake fur chair by Los Angeles designer Harry Segil. Back in those days, I worked in Hollywood and supported only me, so I had money for snazzy chairs.

In these photos is a tile floor I laid myself. Laying the floor took a long time, but not nearly so long as coming up with a design I liked. When I did the floor, I listened over and over to two record albums by my favorite band  the Replacements: Tim, which had just come out, and Let It Be.  There is still a bit of grout on the LP labels.

This was the room where I did my writing, and I wanted it to be special. I furnished it during the first of the mid-century revivals. I loved writing in that room. It was here that I wrote my psychological thriller about split brain research*,  ?Was It A Rat I Saw?, under contract to Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. BDD gave me an advance to write ?Rat?, so for a year, my only job was writing. Bliss!

I published ?Rat? then I stopped writing novels for a long time, until I resumed with Scar Jewelry, my novel about family and music, which I wrote on weekend mornings in between everything else. I had forgotten how great it is to have writing as my only work, until the last couple weeks:  I am laid up convalescing after hip replacement surgery and am getting a ton of writing done. More bliss! In fact, I expect to complete a first draft of my new fantasy detective novel, Frames, before I have to return to the d-a-y  j-o-b.

I am writing Frames on my iPad, as I recently posted. I wrote ?Rat? on a technology of equal or surpassing greatness, the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter. Kids, you had to be there to appreciate it.

More of my tile floor, and the world's greatest writing machine: the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter.

More of my tile floor, and the world’s greatest writing machine: the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter.

P.S. Contrary to what this image shows, the desk did stand plumb with the floor. I “digitized” these old prints by photographing them with my phone and that introduced the skew.

*P.P.S. Another post-op project has been to convert ?Was It A Rat I Saw? to an e-book. That new edition should be available in 4-6 weeks.

P.P.P.S. Harry still makes amazing furniture, worth an oogle regardless of your price range.

Self Reflection

(Today’s  Daily Prompt says: finish this sentence…)

When I look in the mirror I

  • am reminded of hopes and fears
  • see my mother, my sister, my son and feel awe at those family ties
  • suffer flashbacks to other eras and haircuts
  • struggle to take in my full reflection rather than its parts
  • feel familiar yet surprised
  • think I need to smile more
  • wonder what others see.

 

My Writing Companion

With much enthusiasm – and no shame – I contribute to the Weekly Photo Challenge using my worst photos ever. This week’s topic is companions, and despite the lack of viable photos I have to do a shout-out to my beloved writing companion, my iPad. I recently wrote my novel Scar Jewelry on my iPad, and now am close to finishing a first draft of my fantasy detective novel Frames.

With my iPad I write on my patio on a balmy sunny night. With my iPad I carry my words and ideas around just about all the time, keeping them in the glove compartment in case I get a spare moment to write. And with my iPad I can slip over to play a few games and think things through subconsciously when my writing gets stuck.

Below are my writing apps in action. I wasn’t sure that screen shots should count as photos so I snapped these photos with my phone. Hence the unforgettable quality.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using presentation slides instead of notecards.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using Keynote’s presentation slides instead of notecards.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mindmap software Poppplet.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mind-map app Poppplet.

The writing itself I do with Pages.

The writing itself I do with Pages.

Four-Legged Friends and Associates

This week’s photo challenge topic is companions and for me that means the four-legs in our household.  I’ve already posted a bizilion applicable photos (tags dogs or cats).  Okay, at least half a bizillion. So now, make it a bizillion plus six.

A decade ago, Bop and Luna were kittens and my son (now 6'2) was shorter than his twin sister (now 5'10").

A decade ago, Bop and Luna were kittens and my son (now 6’2) was shorter than his twin sister (now 5’10”).

Bop grew up to disdain other four-legs, with one exception. She enjoyed our rabbit Cookie, a bold and aggressive rescue bunny. Bop loved to hang out in Cookie's cage. An extreme sport. Cookie would have killed anybody (not an exaggeration) she caught in her cage.

Bop grew up to disdain other animals, with one exception. She enjoyed our rabbit Cookie, a bold and aggressive rescue bunny. Bop loved to hang out in Cookie’s cage. An extreme sport: Cookie would have killed anybody (not an exaggeration) she caught in her cage.

Cookie liked living with cats. She learned all sorts of tricks that rabbits should never do, such as climbing fences. When we first got her she was indoors in a cage but soon had the run of the backyard. She chased the cats whenever she could. She chased the neighbors out of their backyard. Fortunately they found this charming. For all of that she was very affectionate.

Cookie liked living with cats. She learned all sorts of tricks that rabbits should never do, such as climbing fences. When we first got her she was indoors in a cage but soon had the run of the backyard. She chased the cats whenever she could. She chased the neighbors out of their backyard. (Fortunately they found this charming). For all of that she was very affectionate.

As a kitten, Luna appointed our two older cats as his parents. For the rest of her life, Boink (right) groomed and cuddled with Luna.

As a kitten, Luna (left) appointed our two older cats as his parents. For the rest of her life, Boink (right) groomed and cuddled with Luna daily.

Red, a gentle giant of a tomcat, became Luna's dad. They spent endless hours playfighting and exploring together.

Red, a gentle giant of a tomcat, became Luna’s dad. They spent endless hours playfighting and exploring together.

When Cookie the rabbit succumbed to lung cancer, we lost a special individual and my key excuse against getting a dog. Enter Shadow, who lets the kids mess with her.

When Cookie the rabbit succumbed to lung cancer, we lost a special individual and my key excuse against getting a dog. Enter Shadow, who lets the kids mess with her.

(Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge.)