Thursday, October 20, 2016

Out of Power
Last night, when I got home from my writer’s meeting, everything was dark after the storm. Rain, wind, and lightning all around, some even had trees and limbs broken, but here only the electrical power was off and I came home to a dark house. I lit candles and an oil lamp. The lighting of the oil lamp reminded me of a winter storm in my youth that knocked the power out for days.
My mom and dad had an oil heater and we couldn’t heat our house, but we could allow the water from the gravity fed spring water to trickle and prevent the pipes from freezing, but not the people. SO, they packed us up and moved in with my grandmother Rebecca Miner who still had and used a coal furnace in the basement and a wood stove to cook on in the kitchen. What she didn’t have was water. It was brought up to the house with an electric pump.
My dad, my uncle Ted, and I carried water in buckets from the springhouse to drink, wash, and to flush the commode. By this time, the outhouse was used in an emergency only. We had a great time. It was the longest amount of time that I’d ever spent at my grandmother’s. Oil lamps provided the light at the dining room table to play Parcheesi, dominoes, and sometimes to just talk. The warmth of the kitchen wood stove seemed to radiate into that room, creating a cozy nest. Somehow, the food tasted better, cooked on the cast iron monster and grandma’s recipes always had a better flavor.

It was almost with a sad heart when we returned home after the power was restored. Soon after that, Dad installed a wood burning fireplace and we never were “forced” to stay at Grandma Miner’s huge farmhouse.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Rant Day
It gets to be so frustrating when Yahoo or any other company sticks pop-up ads on their sites. It interferes with reading a message, sending a message, or even getting into the e-mails. It is so very frustrating to have the constant barrage of advertisers throwing their wares into my face. I have decided to avoid any and all of the products and services these offensive and intrusive they have to offer.
The most irritating thought was one ad I saw was from Yahoo saying they would eliminate this barrage of advertisements for a fee. They not only wanted to accept money from the advertisers, but then wanted me to pay them to stop the storm of solicitations. Remarkable, now, this is what I call a greedy, capitalistic company. Thank-you Yahoo, I’m not against Capitalism, when there is something of value being produced, that actually benefits the consumer.
Let’s move on to television ads. They have become longer and more asinine. Stupidity now reigns king. There are a few that still are able to impress, but most appeal to a weak-minded first grade student. The actors that they use most times nauseate me. Choosing hare brained individuals to be their spokespersons, like the Sonic idiots in the car, the talking dog commercials, or the Farmers Insurance scenarios. Can’t they just share the quality of their products without the “entertainment?”
Another television intrusion is the repeated bombardment of the campaign ads, McGinty vs Toomey and Hillary’s constantly frustrating “improvements” on her stance for women and minorities or Trump’s plans for his vision of America. Although, I must say, Trump’s ads are fewer, while Hillary’s, because there are so many more of them, are a constant grating on the nerves.

The infomercials: how many people actually sit and watch them for the half hour advertisement of health insurance, skillets, rotisseries, exercise DVDs, vacuums, and so many others. I would have to be completely out of my mind either before or after I watched them. Arrgghhh!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Worn and Weary
When I rolled out of bed this morning, I felt my age with aching in my hands and legs. It was the result of two days standing on my feet, leaning over hot griddles, and frying sausage. I have volunteered at the Ohiopyle Fire Department, for almost forty years, working my way up from hand washing dished, through frying buckwheat and pancakes, to frying potatoes, and finally to frying sausage. The griddles are not the kind that people have at home, but rather large sheets of iron measuring thirty inches by twenty-two inches. Each griddle holds up to forty-eight sausage patties. There are two lines of griddles, six to a side. One side starts the frying process until there are spaces on the finishing griddles to accept and complete the cooking process.
Finished sausages are places in large roasters as soon as the meat patties are cooked through. There they are kept at an even temperature until they are whisked away to be served in the two serving areas. The two serving areas have people who bake the buckwheat cakes and the pancakes and the home fry potatoes for that group of diners.

The people come through in such steady streams, that those why fry the cakes can barely keep up, their eight griddles are always hot and in constant use. As soon as the cakes are fried, women plate them with the sausage and send them out by others who carry the food to the eagerly waiting customers. Syrup, applesauce, and bread and butter pickles are already on the tables. Soon, a steaming bowl of the home fries join the fare. Attentive wait persons keep plates full of cakes until the person is filled with food. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Weight of Waiting
If you can recall your anticipation as a child, waiting for Christmas morning to arrive, you can understand my title, The Weight of Waiting. Feeling the burden that you as a child carried as days seemed to drag when you could finally see what was wrapped and tucked beneath the Christmas tree. That is feeling that I am going through right now.
Over the last several days, I have read and reread the proof for my next book as I tried to eliminate any and all errors. The mistakes can be missed or misplaced punctuation, skipped words, or even improper spacing. I eliminated the ones that I found. Sometimes I change words to further clarify what I am trying to share with my readers. It isn’t an easy task to have you see what I actually see in my mind, then write it down to fully convey that vision to you. I spent most of the past two days adjusting the proof and rewriting it to get the bulk of the work done before submitting it again.
With design help for the cover, I changed the front cover presentation to have a black border and a black colored spine with white lettering. It isn’t exactly what I wanted, but neither was the cover for my last book, the Christmas series of Tommy Two Shoes Mysteries. My editor had the first two books done in subdued hues with the mismatched shoes as the identifying brand, the familiar recognizable trademark for the series. My editor decided to do the Christmas cover in bright colors. That in itself didn’t bother me, but she changed the mismatched brown shoes to a pair of brightly colored, mismatched bedroom slippers. She completely disappointed me, making the change without consulting me.
Because of that, I decided to try my hand at self publication. It means more work for me and possibly more mistakes in grammar etc. but the stories are still very entertaining and hopefully pleasurable for you to read. I’m also trying to keep costs down so my readers can afford it. That wasn’t happening with my other books. The price that I pay seemed to climb each time I ordered through her, that cut into the little profit that I made on each book.

So, this is my first attempt to publish on my own without the middle man, or should I say middle woman? I resubmitted my finished book to Create Space this morning. Now, I have to wait as they review it and let me know if it is fit for publication and when it will be ready for me to sell.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Retired and Busier Than Ever
When I looked forward to retirement, I thought that it would be a time of relaxation and for the past ten years or more I collected books that I thought I would enjoy. I would take my tile and be able to read them. It hasn’t worked out that way. With an empty house, except for the cat, I always have something that needs to be done, cooking, washing clothes, vacuuming, or dusting. Then there are the three writers groups and meetings twice a month for both. I have this blog spot and have been working on a compendium of stories for my newest book, Partners for Life. It is another in the Tommy Two Shoes Mystery series. I am working to read and make any changes in the proof, before it goes to the printers.
I am also busy writing new stories as they pop into my head. Sometimes they come in bits and sometimes in larger sections. As I see things that inspire me, I write Haiku. I am self taught and probably don’t adhere to the strictest of the Haiku rules, but I really like to share what I see in that form.
I had one person comment on a story I wrote about a gambler turned into a reluctant sleuth, that I should write travel brochures. It is because I want the persons reading my words to see what my mind’s eye sees, so I am very descriptive.
I have meals once a month with the retired nurses of Frick and the occasional luncheons with the retirees of Frick. I manage to squeeze in some volunteer work as well as doctors appointments and shopping. This weekend, I will spend some time in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania at the Sausage, Pancake, and Buckwheat Cake festival to support their volunteer fire department, October 14, 15, and 16.

I think I’ll get a job and retire from retirement.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Just One of Those Mornings
Yesterday was a very busy day and I am feeling it this morning. I was deprived of my usual nap time and was busy almost all day. When I first got awake, sometimes a struggle in itself, I perused my Facebook page to check on friends and family who have been near or in the path of Hurricane Matthew. My thoughts and prayers are still concentrated on you all. After spit-polishing my old body, I found the least wrinkled shirt hanging in my closet, then a pair of pants to match, Still looking for minimal wrinkles: breakfast, teeth brushing, shaving, and finally running a brush through my hair before heading off to church.
The Seedline Ministry families were still there with the 5,210 books of Romans and John which we’d assembled on Saturday morning. These booklets of the Gospel will probably end up in Mexico City. We were told that seven people; will on average read each and one of those seven will get saved.
After the church service, Sunday school then I hurried to get ready for the picnic at Rector for the Laurel Valley Writers Group. There was a myriad of potluck foods. Even sampling a small spoonful of each, I came away wishing that it was winter so I could find a place to hibernate. After the meal, many read excerpts from their writings or new books. It was time to drive home, dropping off a friend.
I barely had time to unload my car and store the leftovers of my turkey rice casserole and my caramel apple crumble before it was off to Sunday evening services. Finally home again, I planned on going to bed, but was lured into watching the debate. I was up until the end and the most exciting thing was when an innocent fly descended from heaven to land on Hillary’s forehead.

Today, I am sore and have had a plethora of phantom smells assaulting me. The phantom smells are the aftermath of my fall in 2015 and the two bleeds in my head. It seems as though the strong, hot plastic smell is in the lead so far.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I Want Proof
Yesterday, I received in the mail the proof book from Create Space. I am trying to self-publish my newest collection of stories that have sprung from my brain about the retired Pittsburgh police homicide detective, Tommy Two Shoes. The proof is the initial publication that a writer purchases so the he or she can review it for any mistakes in the writings like missed words, repeated words, spacing, and extra or missed punctuation. Believe me, I have just started and have found quite a few changes that need made already and have just started to check the second story. Some of the changes just clarify the sentence, some are replacement words that better tell what you are trying to say, and others are added thoughts. I am also able to see the front and back covers and will decide whether or not I want to make any changes there.

A lot of work has already gone into the books that I’ve written and by doing the self edit, I am hoping to keep the costs low for those who want to buy my books, but I can see the amount of work my former editor has done to produce a print worthy copy to publish.I definitely salute her.

I wouldn’t be as far along as I am without the help of two writing friends, Patricia Slye and Jan McLaughlin. Pat has several “life event” books sharing the wisdom that she’s earned over her lifetime of facing pain and happiness. Jan writes books of “how to” poetry, sharing the rules of creating prose, rhyme, and beauty. The rules were gathered after many hours of research. Even Jan’s cat has a book out. I wish my cat was that smart.