Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another Snippet

I can't say exactly why I'm chuckling writing a lot of this book, but here's an example that cracks me up between my main character Christine Macabee and her sister Louise  


The scream was so loud both cats dived under the bed. From his bedroom John made it to the kitchen to see my mother holding the phone above her head and shouting into it. The call was so animated he could hear Aunt Louise on the other end.

“He’s dead!” my mother shrieked. “He died!”

“Who? Who?” Aunt Louise shouted back.

“John! He died today.”

“John? Oh my god. Oh my god.” John knew that tone. Aunt Louise is about to faint.
My mother will have none of it. “Louise, don’t toy with me. I know you’ve never liked him.”

“Never liked him? John? Christine, are you crazy?”

The light bulb goes off. There is recognition on my mother’s face.

“John DENVER, Louise.”

“John Denver? Not John?”

“Yes John, but John Denver, not our John. Do you think I’d be blubbering if it was my John? I’d be comatose.”

“Son of a holy bitch, Christine. You scared the holy hell out of me.” Then, as an afterthought, Aunt Louise added, “In this case I have no sympathy.” Then, curiosity like cream rose to the surface., “So what happened?”

I acknowledge in advance that it's possible that this may not be as funny to you as it is to me this moment. :^) but either way, it's a good ride so far :^)


Friday, April 10, 2015

Metaphorical Backpacks

Places I like
Things to do

Yup. That about does it. (okay, of course add Sex too)

If a fourth grade class can pack a metaphorical backpack with simple pleasures, surely you and I can too.


Places I like: Paris, New York City, Provincetown, Swimming pools on hot days

Things to do: Writing Books, Restaurants, Ocean walks, the Morning Paper

Books: Currently, my Own. About Family & Devotion

Songs: The Best Day of My Life, You Raise Me Up, Down at the Twist & Shout

Movies: Paddington Bear (I was with little kids but I loved it on my own)

Food: Artichokes, Mexican anything, Milk Chocolate anything, & Pizza

Family: No Price Too High for their Safety & Joy

Subjects: Relationships & Gardens

Favorites: Quiet Time & Wild Time

Sex: Wasn't That A Time

Things are hopping here. I'm back in Provincetown this time for a month, and I'm just starting to settle into a new all around rhythm. I still work, I still write, I still count money, I still love and gallivant with JB, I still relish time with Jess and Mike and the kids, I still scratch my head and I still give thanks.

It is almost Spring here. Almost.

And what's in your metaphorical backpack?


Friday, March 27, 2015

An Rambling Update on the Turtle

This is a little boy, Mr. Ryan, age 8, who put words and pictures to his life and is excited about all of it. His family, Cape Cod, sports, tacos. Travel. Video games. 

My list is half different than his. In fact, in the past few months I've become well acquainted with lists. There's been compelling reasons to be overwhelmed.


I haven't. 

Just so you have some context, my Mother's died, we had Christmas, I'm back to consulting work (happily so far), we renovated and rented our disaster of a condo in Rhode Island (another story), I finished 100 hours of professional online courses (had to), and we are beginning the beginning of readying to sell our house here in Western Massachusetts and move to Provincetown (big move). It hasn't stopped snowing. And I'm deep into writing my book (I love.)

I'd say that is a busy life. But funny thing is what's going on for me is inward and not centered on chores. I'm looking back and looking ahead, able to acknowledge how much right my parents did in raising me, and beginning to imagine how I want things to be for me ( and JB) (and Jess and the kids) in the months and years to come. 

I am nostalgic and wistful and grateful and hopeful. Most of the time I'm present and most of the time I don't stress or worry like I used to. I've discovered that my best style is truly turtle-like, not just a metaphor. I don't mean I'm slow, because I'm not. I mean that I don't do well when I have piles of things to do and I do do well when I look at that pile and just do what will work for me at the time, hoping that little by little that will be enough. And so far it's worked. I've gotten a lot done without being buried.

I actively follow the horrible events in the Mid-East and Israel and Ferguson MO and in the lives of elephants and dolphins and lab dogs and chimps. I know that Provincetown has a huge problem with affordable housing. 

And I have a garden to build. Travels to take. I have grandchildren who will go to the movies with me.  

So much is pretty close to perfection, huh? Yes. 


Life doesn't work that way. Just knowing that fact has prepared me to expect the best and the worse, depending, to be ready for either. If it's joy, may I put my hand out and grab it while it's flying by; and if it's despair may I know I have accumulated enough strength. 

That's how I seem to be living these days. Just saying…..


Friday, March 20, 2015

A snippet from the new novel….

Christine Macabee, mother of four and lover of all poems good and bad, is a bona fide John Denver. groupie.  I'll let her tell you something about that herself.
John Denver died in a holy mess of splat when the plane he was flying crashed to smithereens into Monteray Bay. He had just bought the two-seated fiberglass plane that the orignal owner built from a kit and it was his for just one day.  It was a Sunday afternoon and he wanted to take it on a test spin down the coast. I read all about it: he had practiced three touch and go landings -he’d head up, swoop down to the runway and then pull back up. I’ve never been to California but I imagine at 5:28 in the afternoon the sun must have still been a ball of yellow gold and he must have loved seeing the white glitter balls bouncing off the ocean and onto the windows of the houses that dotted the Bay. In the days that followed I read everything I could get my hands on: he was about a hundred and fifty feet from shore, and five hundred feet above the ocean--that’s not very high, five hundred feet.  Witnesses said his plane just plunged straight down into the water and broke apart on impact. He was so badly mutilated that all they could tell was that he was a male. His brain, teeth, eyes, one arm, and seventy-five percent of his head was missing, You can imagine how I reccoiled reading that--my wholesome sunshine man picked up like rubbish.
I don’t know if his wicked second wife Cansandra arranged to cremate what was left of him, but thank God a representative of Parker Funeral Home took his ashes personally to Colorado. The funeral service was held on Friday, October 17th, 1997 at the Faith Presbyterian Church in Aspen, Colorado. Over two thousand people attended and of course, I was there too, sitting in my kitchen, holding my rosary beads.  I read that John’s horse Tonto was brought the church and six airplanes flew overhead, rocking their wings in a salute. I tried to send prayers and energy to Aspen but it didn’t seem like enough: I was obliged to arrange my own tribute. So a week later, on a rainy Sunday at 5:30 pm, just before our take out pizza arrived, I replaced the red and white checkered kitchen vinyl tablecloth with my grandmother’s white linen runner, I placed two tapered white candles on each end of the dining room table and put John Denver’s eight by ten inch gold framed photo in between them, and In front of his photo, in my best cursive handwriting, I placed the  ten dollar mass card I ordered from the Sacred Heart Church. I set the table and on each dinner plate I left a typed copy of “Perhaps Love,” my favorite John Denver song. 
There would be ten of us that evening: the kids, Louise, Jimmy’s brother Milton, and Jack and Ruby Nelson, our neighbor’s to the left. 
There is not much else that equals the fun I'm having getting to know Christine Macabee...
love kj

Friday, March 13, 2015

Catch Up

I have barely come up for air in two weeks. I am necessarily obsessed with finishing a research project on Physicians that I began a year ago. It's overdue, it's a hundred plus pages long, and I'm sick of it. I will hopefully have it on its way in two days and I will be thrilled when the payment for my work arrives a week or so later. 

This has been an excuse to continue to veg inside and avoid the mountains of snow outside. I have never been so sedentary and I know that's not good. But the snow! This masterful sculpture of a photo  by Theresa Hitchcock of the Provincetown Photography Page was taken early in the winter of our collective discontent, before the snow kept coming and kept coming. But it shows the beauty of the place I love and where JB will move to, one of these months. 

And speaking of love: I now have four grandchildren, Ryan 8, Drew almost 6, Logan 3, and Reese 1. The photo below is Logan in his yard; Logan who asks so many questions and every one is purposeful. He calls me Gram and so do his brothers. Reese calls me BB, because she thinks that all three of her grandmothers are BB. Looking back, I wish I had called myself Bam instead of Gram, because JB and I could be BB and Bam. 

I am in love with these kids. They exhaust me more than I like to face but watching them be themselves is like nothing else.

We all recently saw the movie Paddington. Whether you go with children or not, it is SO worth seeing. I could go again. 

It is my hope that I will be back in Provincetown next week and I will be back to writing my charming-to-me novel. Things have been challenging and sad too this winter: I say that because I am well aware of the proclivity we humans have to cover up difficulty and present a brighter picture. There are reasons for my challenges and they are wrapped in transition. To my surprise, somewhere along the line, I seem to have finally learned how to take things as they come and keep my balance. I am not honoring my lazy body but I am at peace with my wriggly mind. 

I'm always happy when I post here because your comments are Hersey's Kisses for my grateful heart. Happy almost Spring in this part of the world. I read today it's expected that my snow won't melt until mid-April. I don't know what the crocuses will do about that.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two Parts

Part 1: Reflection

 Do you think this statement is true? I do. For various reasons I've been thinking about my life past and future. Probably because my Mother has died, probably because of the reality and likelihood that JB and I will soon move, probably because the world and politics and climate change and human affairs seem more discouraging by the day: I find myself leaning into the values I was taught in childhood. Honesty. Responsibility. Love. Compassion. Generosity. Simplicity.

My parents brought me up in this six room Cape, built by my Father and Grandfather. We lived modestly but never without food and clothes and Christmas presents. My Father was as simple as a man could be: he was a proud bricklayer, came home every night covered with dust, made jokes at the supper table, fell asleep watching television. Except for one incident when my Mother insulted his Father and he lashed out at her, I don't recall him ever worrying. Not ever. He accepted things as they were and he lived without questions. During the four months that cancer slowly killed him, even then he was at peace, trusting my Mother to decide what was best and never once questioning why or what was happening. 

My Mother died the same way. Both my parents had difficult childhoods. Neither made it past sixth grade. Both were poor. My Father's stepmother disliked him and my Mother was the youngest of sixteen. No pun intended, it seems to me that they built their lives and their family brick by brick.

They someone managed to give my brother and I grit. Confidence even. And values that even now push through.

Some who know me think I've had an easy peasy life. But really, is that true of anyone? Sooner or later we face loss, disappointment, worry, ambivalence. "But who in their right mind wouldn't want to live?" my Mother would ask off-handedly and she meant it every time. She was glad to be alive and that was plenty for her.

Why am I thinking and writing about this today? The weather's at fault. It's been an inside winter of thinking, remembering, reflecting. What now? If you're lucky or unlucky, depending, every so often life gives you a blank canvas. New decisions. New directions. But no guarantees, and that's a potential for sure problem because our minds crave guarantees and do their best to make us nervous when we don't deliver. Blank canvasses happen when people lose their jobs, lose their health, lose their bearings. And sometimes they happen just because the universe informs that it's time. For me, it's time: a new chapter's ahead. It's exciting, unknown, uncertain.  I have hopes and plans. I'm open to the unpredictable. I don't welcome change, but I know better than to resist. 

There is melancholy as I write this and I know it's obvious. All I can say is yup. That and hope too. 

How about you? What are you up to these days? How do you feel? Where are you headed? Surely I'm not alone.

Part 2: Weather Report  

 Here's a glimpse: Boston and Massachusetts in the midst of snow and more snow. Those are cars buried in those mounds. It's been kind of unbelievable. Not as horrible as the national news makes it sound, but the weather has definitely made havoc of transportation and plans and work and worries about ice dams and weak roofs and frozen pipes. 

I speak for most of the East Coast. We're done. Can't wait to see a crocus.

Meanwhile, I pick up my colors and words and begin again…..


Monday, February 16, 2015

Mish Mash Snippets

1. Here it is: my house in the ever snowing winter of all winters in Massachusetts. For three weeks we have had one storm after another. The snow is as high as it looks. In Boston there is another 18 inches or so more than this. We're all sick of it but Bostonians are a gutsy lot. I'm proud to be from here. 

2. The realtor called today with news. "A woman wants to rent your apartment. She gave me a deposit."
"What is she like?"
Hesitation: "She's from India."
"I don't think it's a problem because she says she doesn't use curry when she cooks so it won't permeate the rugs and walls."
"I don't care about that. Is she nice?"
"Yes, very."
"Did you check her employment and finances?"
"Yes, she's employed and pays her bills on time every month."
"Okay then. That's great."
"Some people don't want to rent to people from India because of the curry."
"Not a problem."
Me: Yay.

3. The hospice center called today with a message. "We want you to know we're here if you need help in grieving." I don't need help. The thought I keep having is that I was loyal and present for my Mother for all the years she needed me. So this is what the absence of regret feels like, and it is a feeling as valuable as love. 

4. This book I am writing: here is mother-of-four Christine talking about her sister Louise and their childhood. 

Anyway, when Louise returned from the convent, things got easier for me again although my freewheeling privacy came to a halt.  She kept track of my homework and curfews and had the audacity to read my diary about Anthony and my breasts.

“Absolutely NOT!” she hollered downstairs, ordering me to leave the breakfast table and appear before her in my no longer private bedroom.

“Listen to me, Pip. Not now at thirteen, not later at sixteen. Your body is a vessel of God. You have to keep it chaste until you get married.”

“What does ‘chaste’ mean, Louise?”

“It means nobody touches your privates.”

“What about kissing? Because Anthony kissed me with his tongue and I liked it. Are you sure you know about this, Louise? Anthony told me if I let him touch my boobs I will feel it down here and it will be great.” I pointed. 

“NO, NO, NO” Louise screamed. “You’ll go to hell.”

The hell part was enough for me. I admit I kissed and humped my way through my teenage years but no boy got under my clothes until my first husband Norman and he must have been no Anthony, because even when I managed to stay awake, it was all pretty iffy.

5. So what else is new? Nothing but more snow. :^)