When you wake up happy

Looking out the sliding glass door to the back yard.

For some unknown reason, I woke up feeling very happy. It’s not unusual for me to be in a good mood, but today I feel exceptionally hopeful. I can’t stop smiling.

I’m trying to figure out what makes today different.

• I checked the temperature on my phone and it was in the low 70s. A perfect day for a walk.

• It’s bright and sunny after a few days of dark gray clouds.

• I went to sleep early and slept through the night.

• I have an entire day without a “to do list.”

• I’ve recently spent time with friends and had visits with my kids.

• I’m backing up my files on my new laptop — which by the way — doesn’t mysteriously delete my work.

• I had my home-baked banana nut bread with coffee for breakfast. Maybe it’s the sugar in the banana bread. The recipe is from my mom’s old orange Betty Crocker cookbook. It reminds me of my childhood.

• My rewrite of my manuscript is going well. I’ve decided to tell the story from the four main characters’ points of view rather than from one.

• I’m reading an enjoyable book called “The Optimist’s Daughter” by Eudora Welty.

What little things make you feel positive and encouraged for the day?

One of my favorite spots in the house. I love to sit at the table and look outside. We moved the table and chairs from Palm Springs. It was our kitchen/dining room table for 28 years and continues on in Arizona.

What I’m reading

I grew up reading Anne books. My mom gave me her worn copy of “Anne of Avonlea” when I was young. The book was a Christmas present to her in 1944 from my mom’s cousin according to the inscription inside the cover.

Soon I was buying my own Anne books by L.M. Montgomery beginning with “Anne of Green Gables” and ending with “Anne of Ingleside.” I love these books. I read them over and over. I loved the countryside of Prince Edward Island. I loved Anne’s friends when she went off to college. I enjoyed her children’s adventures after she married to Gilbert.

“Chronicles of Avonlea” and “Further Chronicles of Avonlea” were collections of short stories where Anne played a small role, but the stories focused on characters in her small town. I remember feeling like I knew these people.

I discovered the biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery through a blog post. I ordered the book and have been waiting to read it as soon as I finished my assigned book club book, which I did over the weekend.

“House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery” is a YA biography and an easy read. I’m finding it fascinating how many of the characters in her book were taken from her life. If you’re an Anne fan, you’ll definitely enjoy it.

Inside the book “Anne of Avonlea” that my mother gave me when I was young.

I’m sticking with book club for the time being. June’s book is called “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni. At first I wasn’t interested in reading it and I was annoyed it was so long. I gave it a try and it was an enjoyable book with short chapters. The story is about a boy growing up in California, going to an all boys Catholic school. He was discriminated against because he was born with red eyes (due to Ocular albinism.)

Were you an Anne of Green Gables fan? What were your favorite books to read when you were growing up? What are you reading now?

The perils of book club

We now have three quail families who visit our backyard. This is one family. I never get tired of watching them.

I ordered the June selection for book club from Amazon. I’m facing a 500-page book that I have no desire to read. Is it rude to select a book that long? As a new member of our neighborhood’s book club, I realize why I never joined one before. Mostly I was too busy to have to read a book by a certain date. Also, I enjoy reading what I want to read. I have no qualms about putting down a book I don’t like and not finishing it.

I’ve read three books so far for book club. One I despised, one I disliked and then there was Hemingway’s “Old man and the Sea” which was a joy to read.

The latest book is called “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A Novel.” Has anyone read it? Can you tell me something encouraging like you loved it?

I’m not a quitter, but I’m considering that as an option.

Or, I could be a no show for June. We are going to a wedding out of state on several of the dates being considered for the next meeting.

The last book was “Less,” a Pulitzer Prize winning book about a gay man whose love was marrying another man. Arthur Less was an author who decided to accept all sorts of engagements around the world to escape the upcoming wedding.

There were good parts to the book, but I found myself not caring about Arthur Less. He was too self-deprecating and insecure. That made the book drag for me. But there was depth and humor to the story, too.

The conversation at book club got heated between people who “didn’t want the gay agenda shoved down their throats” and those who said “I saw it as a story that the main character just happened to be gay.” It went downhill from there to race and religion — which had nothing to do with the book. I left early to go on a walk with my husband. It went on for more than an hour after I left. I was relieved to get out!

This bird was hanging outside the window while I was writing.
Of course the birds have nothing to do with today’s blog post. I thought you’d enjoy bird watching with me.

What are your thoughts about book clubs? What do you enjoy about them? What do you dislike? Can you recommend any books for book club?

Not to dwell…

The baby quail are delightful to watch. They get my mind off the unpleasant.

So. Apple contacted me at 7 a.m. yesterday. Just like they said they would. However the news was not good. At least the customer service was excellent with the tech keeping his word on when he’d call. He followed up with me several times throughout the process.

If you missed my post yesterday you can read it HERE to learn what happened.

“It looks like they have recovered all available files that could be recovered. They also stated that they will have no other ways to recover the data if it is still 
missing,” he said.

I looked through my computer to see what files they were able to recover. I noticed three and four copies of the files already there. So now I have a mess to clean up.

I felt a mourning loss for my work. I don’t look forward to my next newsletter that I have to start without the use of the two published newsletters to use as templates.

My son told me something I’ve never heard before. Ernest Hemingway lost 10 years of his work. It was all in one briefcase that he left on a train in France.

I’m not the only one to lose a manuscript. And it happened before computers and the cloud. Who knew?

“Did you know that D.H. Lawrence never edited his drafts?” My son told me. “He threw it out if he didn’t like it and started over.”

He told me to look at my NaNoWriMo missing manuscript as an opportunity, not a loss.

Thinking about that, he may be right. I get too married to my first rough draft. I make little edits here and there on later drafts, but I never get to the meat of throwing out scenes or restructuring my plot. I’ve submitted manuscripts to agents and publishers and have gotten interest. I’ve been given suggestions and have been asked for rewrites. But, after I resubmitted, I’d hear that I didn’t go far enough.

Do you find the silver lining in your mishaps? When life gives you lemons, do you make lemonade? Can you give an example?

I almost quit reading

Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding bookcover

I’ve been struggling reading the book “Delta Wedding.” I almost put it down for good. But then I decided to give it one more try the day I skipped lap swimming. I was going to start my book club assigned book “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer.

I finally got caught up into the story about plantation life in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s. I’ve never read Eudora Welty before. My son recommended the book and said it was his favorite assigned book in college.

It’s literary fiction which is code to mean there’s no plot. Or, as Wikipedia says “Literary Fiction is character-driven rather than plot-driven and examines the human condition.”

The writing is detailed and beautiful. It accurately depicts life on a plantation. I finally figured out who all the characters are which was confusing at first. There are three generations in the Fairchild family. Some of the characters in different generations have the same first names. There are eight children in the family and one of the daughters is getting married. Hence the title, “Delta Wedding.”

Here’s another bit from Wikipedia:

Delta Wedding is a 1946 Southern fiction novel by Eudora Welty. Set in 1923, the novel tells of the experiences of the Fairchild family in a domestic drama-filled week leading up to Dabney Fairchild’s wedding to the family overseer, Troy Flavin, during an otherwise unexceptional year in the Mississippi Delta.

A New York Times Review from 1946:

The interplay of family life, with a dozen different people saying and doing a dozen different things all at the same time, is wonderfully handled by Miss Welty so that no detail is lost, every detail had its place in the pattern of the whole. The transitions are so smoothly made that you seem to be all over the place at once, knowing the living members of three generations and all the skeletons and ghosts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Wedding

What books have you struggled with that you ended up loving? Why would you put a book down for good?

Motivated by bloggers

cat on SwimSwam magazines
Olive hanging out on top of magazines with my stories inside. She doesn’t want anyone to read them.

I literally dusted off two picture book manuscripts that I wrote 20 years ago — thanks to my blogging community.

I was motivated again by blogger LA for her leap entering a writing competition. In her comments section, I lamented that I had not fulfilled my dream of having a book published. Another blogger along with LA encouraged me to keep going.

Although I’ve won contests, been published by magazines, websites and newspapers — that elusive book deal hasn’t happened.

I realized that it won’t happen — because I quit submitting to agents and publishers two years ago.

When I said I dusted off two picture book manuscripts, it’s because I discovered they aren’t on my laptop, nor are they on icloud. They’re on backup devices that no longer work with my current system. It has been 20 years since they were on my computer or backed up. That’s a lifetime in nano years.

I wondered if I had thrown out all my manuscripts when we moved? If so, my work would be lost. After searching the house and garage, I found two notebooks that I used to keep copies of my manuscripts, a spread sheet of submissions and a bevy of rejection letters. It wasn’t sad to look at the rejection letters, some had personal handwritten notes and were encouraging.

Long gone are the days of the snail mail submission with an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). I won’t receive hand written notes or form letters in the mail. Everything is done online and many publishers and agents don’t send rejections. If they aren’t interested, they don’t respond. Fortunately, some do reject via email, so I’ll know from those agents and publishers if my submission got lost in the ethers — or not.

I quickly typed the two manuscripts into my laptop and I’ll be off pursing my dream once again.

What are your goals or dreams? Have you stuck with it or did it go by the wayside?

Second meeting of book club

Original cover of "The Old Man and the Sea."
The original cover of “The Old Man and the Sea.”

I joined our neighborhood book club. After my first meeting and being forced to read a book I couldn’t stand — I was assigned “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway.

I didn’t enjoy reading “The Old Man and the Sea” in high school at all. The days in the boat fighting to get the big fish dragged. I was considering dropping out of book club.

Surprisingly, decades later, I really enjoyed the book. I guess I have a better perspective with age. Maybe I identify with the old man.

I also learned a lot from the neighbor who chose the book and led the discussion. She was thoroughly prepared. She had pages of typed notes, went through Hemingway’s life and told us the book won the Pulitzer and Novel prizes, and that 5 million copies sold within 48 hours in 1951.

I asked my son’s girlfriend her interpretation of the symbolism of “The Old Man and the Sea.” She’s a Lit major and brilliant.

I’ve read about Christian allegories in the book such as two days and nights in the boat and returning home on the third day. This represents the resurrection of Christ. Other Christian metaphors were Santiago’s bloody hands to the stigmata and him carrying the mast, like Christ carried the cross. In the end, Santiago lies down and falls asleep with his arms out to and his knees off to the side.

This is what my son’s girlfriend sent me when I asked her about the metaphors:

Ernest Hemingway quote
Quote from Good Reads.

I shared the quote with the club and they had a good laugh and then went on to discuss more metaphors.

What are your thoughts on “The Old Man and the Sea?” Was is required reading in school? Did you enjoy it? Do you believe Hemingway DID use metaphors or not?