Sunday, January 22, 2017

A different eternal love

I've been offline for a week or so due to computer problems--thankfully just an AC adapter replacement for "Penelope". (Doesn't everyone name her lappy?) But the situation pushed the decision on the purchase of a back-up computer, so yesterday I welcomed "Sam" into the fold. If you've read the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, you'll understand the monikers--and the fact that royalties from same paid for both! But I digress...and here is the blog intended for last Monday!

   With all the technology in our present world, it's difficult to hark back to a time when there was none. Some if us remember, but soon, like the Dodo, we, too, will be extinct.

   Writing "vintage" to fiction dictates staying true to the era, so of course you won't find any if the characters in Ruthann's War making calls on their cell phones or checking email. It was a simpler time, those post-war days when the world let out its collective breath and slowed the frantic pace of living like there might not be a tomorrow.

   The small town of Camden, Texas,  reconstituted the Fall Fest in the city park. Rationing and a wartime dearth of luxuries had changed the face of community activities. 

   "How do you like our annual celebration?" Drew asked Ruthann.
   She didn't look at him. "It's very nice."
   "We have something in the spring, too. Everything scaled down during the war with all the shortages, but now we're coming back."

   A new restaurant on the edge of town drew crowds for dishes unavailable during the war. War-themed movies continued to be popular in reruns 

   He reached for her hand across the table. "I'm sure you've seen Casablanca, but it's back at the Ritz for another run. Would you like to go on Saturday afternoon? Or we could drive out to Sorrells' Woods, and you could watch me paint--though I think watching Humphrey Bogart might be more appealing to you."
   "Actually, I always found Paul Henreid to be more suave and romantic."
   "So an older man does appeal to you after all?"

   With gas rationing eased, Drew and Ruthann could take long drives as they became acquainted, and their courtship included picnics the lake where Drew could pursue his love of painting. 

   On the first mild Saturday in March, they took a picnic to his hidden refuge at the lake. Ruthann refrained from mentioning his difficulty navigating the path from the car. She spread the blanket and settled down to wait while he painted. After a couple of hours, he called her to join him on the shore.
   "This is for us,"he said, gesturing toward the canvas. "I'm not much of a portrait painter, but I take my cue from the impressionists. " He chuckled. "I give the impression of folks."
   She rested her chin on his shoulder and gazed at the freshly created painting of two somewhat gauzy figures in the very spot where she'd set up their picnic. "It's us, isn't it?"
   "It's our present. I wish our future were clearer."

   Just talking over coffee, uninterrupted by  checking text messages on an iPhone, led to deeper relationships.

   ...spent several hours together in the coffee shop on Sunday afternoons.
   He laid his open hand on the table and smiled when she placed hers in it. "Tell me your dreams, Ruthann."
   "I don't know if I have any."
   "What about you? What did you want when you were growing up?"
   "Well, let's see. Mainly I wanted to have enough to eat and shoes to wear in the winter. And a good coat."

And problems didn't come with instant technological solutions 

   "I don't care about your leg. I care about you."
   "Have you thought about what life would be like with an amputee? They're not going to just trim the thing--they're going to chop it off at the hip. The leg's a mess."
   "Is that what this is all about?"
   "I'll have to learn to walk again and manage without the ability to bend at the knee--unless they've improved on peg-legs since the first time I saw one. I won't be able to drive. I might not be able to..."
   She put her hand over his mouth.
   True love, however, still triumphed, surviving years of tragedy and loss...and stronger, perhaps, because of them.

"...a sweet love spending time with a friend..."

" wandering into the neighborhood Bijou Theater and watching a swift-paced movie from by-gone days..."

"...a clean, sweet, and enduring story of true love...not your typical predictable romance..."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A rush to fight and die...

Fueled by outrage and patriotism, many young men showed up at their local recruiter’s office on the day after Pearl Harbor. All males between the ages of 18 and 65 were required to register for the draft.  While 17 was the minimum age, many boys lied about their ages in order to join the service. In fact, in 1942 the General Education Development (GED) was established to help vets acquire a high school diploma since many left school before graduation.
However, if a young man wanted to apply for flight training, at least in the beginning, he had to be between the ages of 18 and 22 and have a high school diploma. Before Pearl Harbor a candidate had to have been in the top half of his class, but that requirement was dropped in November 1941 only a month before the United States entered the war.
From 1941-1945, 405,399 young men and women died, 1,076,445 were wounded, and 30,314 were listed as missing in action--a high cost. (*Other sources cite different figures)

From Ruthann’s War:

“Well, then, to make a long story short, someone I worked for encouraged me to go to college--or at least go for a teaching certificate--so I did. I liked teaching and kept going back to school during the summer terms until I’d gotten enough credentials to be an administrator. The future’s in our young peope, you now, more now than ever. We’ve lost too many of a generation during this last war, so it’s doubly important to nurture the ones we have left.” He stopped again. “I know your fiancĂ© died in the war.”
Ruthann nodded. “He flew B-17s out of England. He didn’t come back from his ninth mission.”
She watched honest sorrow fill his blue eyes. “Daylight bombing. It was the only way to get the job done, but our losses were tremendous.”
“Jack’s whole crew was lost.”
“I’m very sorry about that, Miss Cooper. After the first war, President Wilson said we’d set ourselves up for another one. I remember hearing him on the radio and hoping he was wrong, but it happened just as he said.”
Ruthann couldn’t speak past the lump in her throat, but she knew the memory of Jack didn’t put it there. Rather, something in Drew Mallory’s earnest words made her feel small and inadequate.

Additional Resources

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Two Dead Bananas and the Hope Diamond

For several days, two dying bananas have pleaded with me to put them out of their misery. However, the banana bread recipe I like best calls for four with two eggs and a moist yellow cake mix. Failing to find two more dead bananas at the grocery store on Friday, I bought a small Jiffy cake mix and decided to create a new plot twist. It worked.

When I mentioned the improvisation to a friend almost in the same breath with the usual Sunday whine, “I have to come up with a blog for tomorrow!”, she suggested spinning off the idea of story plot changes with the necessity of changing the recipe for banana bread. I demurred…she said, “You don’t like the idea.” But then, suddenly, I did!

Several years ago I wrote The Legend of Diamond Springs to submit to a call-out for a series of books based on jewels. I submitted--then withdrew--it. Long story. It has languished on my computer since then. Just before Christmas, I treated myself to a mini-writing retreat at San Francisco Bread Company and, without really knowing where the story was going, revised/rewrote the first six chapters. Now I’m ready to go with what I have--much like the two dead bananas rather than four--and bake up a new plot based on the same premise--a family legend that a blue diamond really exists somewhere.

Probably the best known blue diamond is the Hope, but there are nine others equally desirable and expensive.
·        The Heart of Eternity Diamond
·        The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
·        The Imperial Blue
·        Blue Heart
·        Blue Moon
·        Mouawad Blue
·        Zoe Diamond
·        The Idol’s Eye
·        Winston Blue

You can read about all of them here.

The Hope Diamond, probably from India, has been around since the 1600s. It belonged to the Louis kings of France (XIV and XV) in turn but was stolen in 1792 when the royal jewels were purloined in a week-long spree. Sold and resold, it eventually came into the possession of wealthy American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean from 1911 until her death in 1947. In 1958, it found a permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

At 45.52 carats and worth in the neighborhood of $250,000,000, it won’t be for sale to the highest bidder anytime soon! You can read more about it in the Smithsonian publication Hope Diamond The LegendaryHistory of a Cursed Gem (Richard Kurin, Harper Collins, 2006). The title gives you the idea that the famous diamond is shrouded in mystery, and perhaps it’s so.

Certainly Mrs. McLean suffered from multiple tragedies:  her son’s death in a car accident, her daughter’s suicide, the loss of her husband to another woman, and the death of a grandson in Viet Nam. Despite all of this, when she died at the relatively young age of 60, she did not think her tragedies were related to a cursed gem. An interesting aside is that the ex-wife of her second son married beloved actor Jimmy Stewart! And if you’re into the “cursed” thing, read about the 10 people supposedly affected by their dealings with the famous diamond.

Friday, January 6, 2017

From May to December. . .

Just released by The Wild Rose Press, Ruthann’s War features a May-December romance between the widowed school superintendent Drew Mallory and first-year teacher Ruthann Cooper. According to one article I researched, Drew’s and Ruthann’s relationship doesn’t qualify as a May-December romance because, at 47, he’s not in the “winter” of his life. But he’s old enough to be her father--only 7 years younger than her own father--and has a daughter around her own age.

Second chances always resonate with me, so Drew’s attraction to Ruthann, seeing in her his first and last chance for a close, happy marriage relationship, intrigued me He has a history, most of it rooted in tragedy and loss. She’s long-since finished grieving for her first love, a young pilot shot down over Germany during WW II, but she’s not sure she’s really ready to move on.

Both of them recognize the challenges presented by their age difference: family acceptance, having their own children, blending their family with Drew’s adult daughter, and age and illness. More mature and experienced, Drew understands the depth of the issues more clearly than Ruthann and cautions her to consider them before committing to him.

In the end, Ruthann is fighting a new war on two fronts: one against someone who doesn’t want her to marry Drew and the second, more critical, against Drew who’s had second thoughts based on what he knows she’ll face as the years pass.

My May-December sympathies emerged as a young teen after seeing the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Based on James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tales of the South Pacific, the story of middle-aged planter Emile DeBecque’s courtship of young nurse Nellie Forbush in his own personal paradise now caught in the middle of a bloody war left me hopelessly in love with him--and with love!

On a literary level Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre also awakened my May-December sympathies as haunted Edward Rochester, master of Thornfield but not of his own soul, finds joy and lightness of life in the young governess Jane Eyre.

I also think of real-life love stories like actor Tony Randall who, after a long, happy marriage, lost his wife and eventually remarried a much younger woman. In the “winter” of his life, she gave him two adored children, a joy he and his first wife had never experienced.

Then there’s the beloved Jimmy Durante (“Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”) who also had a long and happy but childless marriage. After the death of his wife, he met and finally married a younger woman. The story goes--though I can’t document it--that they applied to adopt a baby girl, but child welfare objected based on his age. Supposedly the judge said, “I’ve heard this man sing Young at Heart. Adoption granted.” The little girl became the joy of his life.  

The Showboat Reunion, another May-December romance from my pen (or computer if you prefer!) is due for release by Solstice Publishing in February. Stay tuned!

And before you go, have a listen to September Song...

 Ruthann's War is available at Amazon 
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at 50% off!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

For Sale: One Mimi. Cheap.

 I wrote this blog in 2009 when I only had the Small Person. Now there are FIVE!

In the news today, the story of a 10-year-old girl in Essex who listed her grandmother on Ebay for $3500 because she was "annoying". There were 27 bids, but regulations forbid listing human merchandise, so the lady has been withdrawn.
I wonder what I might fetch? I don't think I'm annoying, at least I try not to be. Hmmmm.

One Mimi, slightly used, still in good condition

         loves to read aloud

         believes in rocking babies

         sings oldies but goodies

      knows where the best sing-along videos on u-tube are located

 bakes cookies

        likes to remember "the olden days" when she was young
         able to teach simply embroidery that she learned from her own grandmother--on tea towels made from flour sacks
         has doll complete with wardrobe that she would love to play with again if she had a playmate

         doesn't spend time watching soap operas--would rather spend time watching little faces
       politically conservative--believes in disciplining children
                                   believes children WANT to know their limits
        has soft lap
         has big box of old costume jewelry for little girls to use playing "dress-up"
                            can give basic piano lessons
         likes to build garages from shoe boxes for little boys' cars and trucks
                                   loves Disney movies--never tires of seeing them over and over           
                     believes in fairy tales

          thinks every child should be a child, unhurried to grow up
          has set of 1939 Child Craft with stories and poems found nowhere else in the world
          is looking for set of "Dick and Jane" books for teaching reading--when those were used, kids learned to read!
          doesn't mind sticky fingers and welcomes sticky kisses
          listens well
          reminds children to say Please, Thank You, and Excuse Me
          says No and means it
          would love to be part of a child's life forever or as long as possible 

 I work cheap. Give me a hug, and I'm content.