Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's Taking Back Halloween?

On walks after dark, I don't venture too much into the park. It is safe, but I'm cautious so I hug the streets near houses. One evening, I encountered an inflatable decoration of a black stagecoach, carrying a pumpkin with a Grinch-like face. The Grinch who stole Halloween, got me to remembering.
Saturday evening gobbling the pliable caramel pop corn Katie made brought a memory of homemade pop corn balls we got as treats for Halloween. In our plastic masks and paper thin cloth coverings as skeletons, princesses, or Batman, many homemade treats were offered: apples, plain or candied, cookies, and the big pop corn balls. Huge candy bars also made the mix, no small penny candy, unless it was a man size handful.
Knocking on the door, we were expected to come into the homes to be guessed about our identities. One couple, Grace and Sam Clarke, down Main Street, decorated their home and wore white sheets as ghosts talking to each other to question who we were. Maybe scary music in the background. The whole trick or treat in those days was a neighborhood event.
In first grade, my sister, Gerri Lee, must have been home from college because we went all over the town, even up over the viaduct to my teacher's home. Gerri Lee had graduated with her son. Mrs. Nottingham used that clue of who escorted me to acknowledge me. I was thrilled. I believe that was the year I ate too much candy causing me to be very sick.
Years later, another home health nurse and I cared for Mrs. Nottingham. She knew what year she taught us and who was in our class. She was such a caring teacher.
In sixth grade, I felt I was too old for trick or treat. I passed out the candy to now kids from all over, no more a neighborhood happening. My parents living on Main Street attracted up to 300 kids and teenagers, that didn't even bother with costumes, at which my mom made known her displeasure . They just grinned sheepishly.
My mom rescued me that night from being a treat giver, encouraging me to don a mask and go to the neighbors. I gleefully did that, feeling giddy as I embraced the last of childhood.
I have always loved seeing the children in their costumes. Some are very creative.
For awhile, there was the Tylenol scare and always the threat of razors in apples or candy bars. Halloween was being kidnapped.
And then, the glorification of death for this fun day, made me dread October. Fake blood, bodies hanging from trees, and truly gory images ruined an otherwise beautiful season. Why all the details? Nice spider webs, bats and black cats with cute little ghosts was enough for me.
The death decorating doesn't seem to be as overwhelming as that time around the 1990's, I've observed. As an adult having Christian beliefs, Halloween has been a mixed bag for me. Have I walked the fence with my children? Children love to dress up, play make believe, and especially love candy. I chose to dress them as Bible characters to counteract all the evil. I do dislike the greed also associated with this day. One year the youth group did a reverse Trick or Treat, handing out candy in costume. But I could never, ever not hand out treats to the children. Jesus welcomed the children. He didn't have a turned off porch light. As I give them the Milky Ways, I pray they will know the Maker of the milky way.
Money at times has limited my extravagant treat giving. One year I made treat bags with an article about Halloween and following Jesus. I believe we have to take back this day. And as always, to God be the glory. He made all days and to each one, we are to rejoice in it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I want to get two more posts in before November 1. I hope Katie has installed all I need to write the novel on steroids. I was lettering away on my jet flight last evening in my lime green notebook about the trip. I practiced on word pad just to get better acquainted with my keyboard on the first plane out of Ontario, California to Houston. Practice keyboarding and storytelling.
Today was jet lag and just a bit of missing wonderful sunshine and family. Transitions. Mostly the sunshine because I came home to my husband and other daughter, my dog and cats, all glad to see me. 12 hours traveling created tension in my body. I recovered.
After a very late breakfast at the Diner in W. Middlesex, driving around the town and cleaning my parents' grave, the sun filtered through light clouds. I wanted to walk my dog. Forty degrees and no wind, made me think a sweater and lighter jacket would suffice and mostly they did. Just wish I had dug out a hat.
The park felt empty on the later Sunday afternoon. The trees, mostly bare, let more of the weak sunlight to the ground. We met a black dog with a knitted striped sweater jacket. A country dog new to the park showing off the new jacket from the neighbor, drool mixing with my dog's drool, happy to be in the park again. This dog, smaller than Harrison, let me pet her soft, shiny coat.
We glanced at Camo running circles with her long retractable leash. Her mistress calmly walked along behind her. Camo has lots of energy. No matter the weather, she is taken out every day.
Mostly though, the park is empty. With the nip in the air, Harrison, moves quickly, too. The leaves of red, pale yellow and brown piled under our feet. The huge red tree of two weeks ago is empty of all its leaves now. The air sounds quieter. The far off noises are faint.
I think and think about this month of novel writing ahead of me. Will I be able to blog? So much happened even this past week. I shared my lap top with my daughter and I loved being with my niece and her family. I could have made the time, sneaking off to the camper to write, but chose to be with the kids who will change by the time I see them again. I love those little people. Grace, long body and blonde hair, coming into her own person at six. Owen, a sweetheart, that can be very stubborn. Not a mean bone in his body, but he is still learning about getting his own way. He walks around with his hands on his hips and I think of my dad, my brother, my dad's brother and a distant cousin. How do these Lewis men share that trait? Owen is three, never met any of those men, yet there is that blood connection.
I think of the USC campus and the whirring of the students, on feet, on bikes, on skateboards. The blue skies that seem to never end. The smells of garlic food from the food courts, the rubber from the hundreds of bikes parked all over the campus. The newness of the buildings, yet the New England feel- also at UCLA. The old trees, the crooked sycamores, the straight pines, a hint of yellow in some of the leaves.
The ride to Big Bear, climbing thousands of feet through curves and hair pin turns. The vegatation adapting to each new foot of altitude. My ears popping and the sinuses pushing against my skull. When we arrive at the cabin, my legs ache to stretch. My ears hear the haunting sounds of wolves in the distance. I have never heard that before.
The night sky in the desert, even with the stadium lights, are vast. I am limited in my praise of the Lord. He stretched out His hands and made it all and named each star, calls them by name. My brother-in-law wished he had my belief.
So I hope as I write for NaNoWriMo in November, I can still write for you. New challenges. If you pray, pray that I can meet this goal of 1667 words a day. No editing, just writing. I love revision, so to just write will be different. Revision will come in December.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perfectly Blue Sky

Under strong light, we stared at the laptop, figuring out tuition for various colleges, routes and times to visit. I placed the facts on the table, careful to not to dash hopes, but these are things we had to consider. The house, quiet after the rambunctious children have relunctantly fallen asleep, breathed apprehension. Halloweeners are on the loose, destroying a neighbor's pumpkin the night before.
With my statement of facts, I wonder will my daughter miss home? She is fitting in with her cousins, really adoring the young ones and they her. She seemed fine about living so far from home, until I mentioned the favorite cat, then gloom fleeted over her face.
I laid in bed, praying and praying for wisdom. The next morning, my head feels the strain of wanting my daugter's dreams fulfilled and how I can do that. With God nothing is impossible, I so want to trust, yet, this is modern America. I pray more.
After my shower and her phone calls, the schedule is opening up. There is no marine layer here on the coast, the sun is shining, my head feels sane. I used this chance to again remind her, prayer works. Why is trusting in practice hard?
And the pumpkins and decorations are still intact this morning under the perfectly blue sky.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christianese, Here?

Christian writers and most all of overly enthused Christians have been warned to watch our "Christianese" in talking to non-Christians. I've noticed that a radio station to which I occasionally listen has more of those religious, biblical phases.
I picked up listening to the Summit out of Akron,OH a few months ago after glancing a bumper sticker promising the "sound of New Orleans" on 90.7. It is easier at times to change radio stations while I'm driving around than fishing for CD's in the wallet. Plus I thought a new sound, with Mary Ellen so interested in the Disney movie, Princess and the Frog, of New Orleans would prove a change.
I'm not sure what radio station was advertised, maybe the car was a transplant because the format is a progressive rock station, a public radio station with no annoying commericials. I enjoy some of the songs, the ones that do not honor God, I quickly shut off.
I have noticed that there are many references to religious themes. Maybe not theologically correct, but Christianese is on these songs. "Roll Your Stone Away,"by Mumford and Sons, another group called Noah and the Whale, totally wrong person, but grabs your attention, now I hear heart of gold, and heavy load. What got me to thinking about this was, "cross to bear." I thought,"Wow, I'm hearing a lot of rededemption ideas, maybe more than even a Christian radio station."
Listening to this could make a person angry. I find myself instead praying for the "mixed up"Biblically challenged, instead enjoying the simplistic, clean format and a few memories, clever phrasing,and admiring the creativity.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Did You Hear?

Turning into Linden Pointe, cars every where, police flashing red, white and blue lights to direct the deluge of traffic. Rolling up the hill to find parking, not sure how to get to the dedication center. Various men and women in business suits, business casual, mostly a sea of gray and black with splashes of color hurrying to an area just past a building. Due to the clouding sky, with a past downpour that may show up again, we jump onto the shiny trolley with gleaming oak seats. The driver insisted we join, waving us in. I think the ride proved longer than the walk, but it was smooth, not sweat producing.
The trolley, quiet, takes us around the pristine building to the path to the wedding size white tent. Briskly up the clean cement way, observing all the dignitaries, lawyers and candidates for public office, shaking hands, placing emery boards into those hands. Voices mingle into a low buzz.
A table with name tags printed for the e-Center ceremony sits at the back. Place those name tags on our lapels, turn around to a sea of white folding chairs and several TV cameras. A woman is holding back, scouting out how to stay out of the range of the cameras.
We find seats, not worrying about camera coverage, and wait, covertly seeing who is in the tent. Many stand at the back, still conversing. A white haired man soon is at the podium instructing us to move in more, "Come up to the front." That is where the action is.
Yvonne English, with a black suit and polished hair, the executive director, welcomes us, again encouraging people to move in. She promises more time to mingle. Her voice is pitched with excitement. She has worked hard to see this day happen.
As I listen to the keynote speaker, Dr. Craig Columbus, I plan on going back to college for business. Tomorrow motivates a community. Energy sparkles with his words. New businesses motivate old businesses. I think how generations spur each other to greatness.
Gary Gula, city of Hermitage Assistant Manager, with his closing remarks creates hope for the future of our region. He looked back to the glory days, some of us remember, when this area produced for the world and excellently, the best in the world. Failure may have happened, but we're still here and with the impetus of new business, the region has the ingredients to excel again.
We move to the new building for Networking Social. Freshness, classiness, a blue fireplace, comfortable blue chairs, a sterling entrance greet us. Spirited conversations abound. Cameras with reporters spread throughout the hallways. Print reporters carrying notebooks stand back and observe. Crackling, combustible atmosphere holds promise.
Even the name of the street foretells what will come of this technology incubator- Innovation Way.
In the past, this area also held the future- as Chadderton's Airport. The flat area off RT. 18 intrigued me in our hilly region. The searchlights roaming the night sky in an arch thrilled me to watch. Imaging flying in one of those small airplanes. That showed prosperity.
Now this land with new buildings housing doctors, colleges and innovation with an eye to health and the environment again shines brightly from the Shenango Valley to the future.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On My New Lap Top

This morning I was thinking of the flashing cursor. We have a lot of flashing in our lives- the alarm, warning lights, someone tapping their fingers while they wait for a decision. But life doesn't stop while the flashing goes on, does it? Wouldn't that be interesting, if we could just wait to jump into life at times?
Just like this writing. That cursor can just flash, flash, while I think, make that decision, go to the bathroom, especially now I have my own lap top. We can't always wait though to live.
And how about that backspace? I don't like what I wrote, I can backspace before I save or publish. I really wish I could have a backspace for my mouth. Even with backspace, I write hurtful words or thoughts, make grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Our backspace is only as efficient as our inner editor. At least we have a chance with backspace, huh?
Well, I am excited to have my new lap top. I walked in confidently to Best Buy to finally ascertain my next step in my writing journey. Now, I'm quiet in the corner of Panera across from the store to try out the keyboard and wireless. The ambiance of writing in the coffee house surrounds me and I like it!
Continue to pray for the Amish cult in southeast Ohio. I was told today that a journalist from New York interviewed the wife of a man whose beard was forceably cut. Then he ventured to the area where the spin off group is in a compound. He shared when he returned to talk to the wife, in all his travels, he had never encountered such an overbearing atmosphere of evil. My Amish friend comented on that with, "Well, if they worship the devil." Many of her friends and relatives are affected by this. Her husband is first cousin of the leader of this cult. It is a cult, like David Koresh in Waco or Jim Jones with his Kool-aid, with all the negativity of cults. Pray that the children get out, as all kinds of abuse is goig on.
As I stood on the farm enjoying the new pups, watching the newlyweds getting out of an old truck from their visit to calling hours, wondering where the chickens are for the future butchering, such peace on the surface. Yet, a man hung himself, his daughter was one of the servers at the wedding a few months ago, a daughter suffers from depression and the situation is better but still there with the rogue Amish cutting beards and women's hair, breaking into homes. Still chickens have to be butchered, eggs retrieved, momma dogs get some meat on their bones, meds given for the invalid in the home. Definitely, no flashing cursor in the country where it is a little slower, but not really.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Post or Not To Post

The flashing cursor. I'm not sure what to write about. Behind in charting for work, hard to get motivated. I get my lap top tomorrow after the Geek Squad loads it up for me!
I'm getting excited for NaNoWriMo as I mentioned before. I find myself driving by Christina's house on St Rt OH 193. I think for the month of November I will write about her, the second in my storiesGables and Gingerbread, "Country" This will be a month with 1667 words a day. No time to edit. I think a bit like blogging, but not published immediately.
More imminent on my horizon is my trip to California with my youngest daughter to tour colleges, visit my sister, niece and her rambunctious children. I wonder at how fast it has come. When reservations were made I believe back in July, I could hardly imagine the dates. Now I'm on the door step, planning gifts, buying gifts,hair cuts, last minute items I need, soon laundry, packing,with a busy week in the evenings.
I've decided sleep in the evening will be my priority. Sorry, this is not my best posting. I just hadn't written for a while and feel the need to be "out there." I must admit I can't wait for the lap top. Now I'm trying to do this while Ratatoulle extra features and music wraps around my head. So I may remove this tomorrow. If you read this and then it is gone, I deem this not worthy in light of the day. Good night.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Count Your Blessings

This has truly been a week to count my blessings. I always strive to an attitude of gratitude. I often read Philippians through the whole month of November for Thanksgiving. A short book, only 4 chapters, I could read it all every day. This portion of scripture encourages thankfulness.
In August and September this year, I had really bad headaches. Not sure if it was sinuses, allergies, hormones or all three. And being the good nurse, I waited it out, never going to the doctor. I must admit with pain, being thankful or even positive proves to be a battle. I just did the bare necessities, but then finally had to buckle down and get some cleaning done, near the end of September. The weather changed, soon the headaches decreased and I hardly have them at all now. I also stepped up my voicing appreciation to God.
Being a blogger, I wondered about feed back at times, too. I'd tell myself to ignore response (or lack of it) and just write. It's what I love to do, so do it. Writer, to thine own self be true.
I got tired of driving so much and other hassles with my job. Then, I would think, I love my patients. I am so thankful for the varied people I meet. Gratitude for my years experience lifted me. When they ask me to pray for them attests my Christian life shows.
Last week, I heard different messages on how Jesus loves me. I still struggle with the "He died for my sins while I was a sinner, but since I devoted my life to Him, how can He forgive those sins?" lies. I know my Bible teaches Jesus sacrificed for all sins, the sin of the world. It is finished. He loves me. I can't do this Christian walk on my own strength, no one can, that is why He sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And He places people, incidents, reading in my life to talk to me. I mentioned Catherine Marshall's A Closer Walk, before. From her words, I think we both suffered from the performance lie. "Must be a good girl, good Christian woman." And we fail. I fail, a lot more than I want. Ask my daughters, they live with me.
This week blessings have overflowed. I happened to meet up with Bill and Myltreda Truby at my credit union. They had read some of my blog and were pleased with it. I mentioned Myltreda in my June 6, 2011 posting.
I beat myself up because Mary Ellen and I need haircuts before our trip this month. I put off calling anyone, because our hair stylist is laid up after major surgery. I left one message with a friend's niece and she didn't call back. Oh, I needed to make an appointment somewhere, but I just didn't do it. Then the young lady called me. We will bless her her first day at a new shop.
Today, Katie and I attended a writer's workshop. That in itself is a blessing. But at the very end, I won the door prize, a plastic basket filled with writing supplies with a hand held notebook the green of the VW I drive for work. Three other ladies are writing about their generations, too. Now, God put us together.
This post is my 150th! I do want to celebrate. We need to mark milestones. I am grateful, counting the blessings of my life, a God who loves me, protects me(a near accident this week) and if I die, I get to go to Heaven- win-win, as far I see it, a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food on the table(mine or a restaurant's), transportation and just so much more. Thank you to my readers, whether you are silent or comment. I love you and I love writing. I count my blessings in good times and bad. But I am grateful, I'm in a good time.

Life in Disney at My House

At the library's book sale the other day, Katie brought home some children's books, with one being Carl Goes to Daycare, by Alexandra Day. Carl intrigued me even before I had children when he was in I believe Good Housekeeping magazine. Good dog Carl, a rotwieller (spell check and the dictionary isn't helping me with this spelling!) in mostly an almost Victorian style illustrated book, does every thing for a toddler, Madeleine. I love the series.(I goggled it and it is Rottweiller. Spell check still wants me to write rototiller!)
When my youngest daughter was born, I believe these books influenced how I thought of my Siamese cat, Princess. She scolded me and followed me until I took care of whatever made Mary Ellen cry. I could picture a series of books with Nanny Princess and chubby baby adventures. First the introduction, then they go to the beach or camping in the mountains like Parker Dam or Raystown Lake in the middle of Pennsylvania,then helping the older girl, a precocious blond, get ready for first grade and the events of the day without Katie.
Is it any wonder then that my girls have made stories and voices for our present animals? Steven, our Siamese now, is a Ninja, who was in 'Nam, trained Chuck Norris or the other way around, sometimes suffering from PTSD. He speaks in a Zen voice, all knowing and condescending. No intimidation of Harrison.
Harrison is my mixed beagle. His mom is the squatty, bug eyed beagle, that he really doesn't remember and we don't know who Daddy is, so he suffers from that insecurity. His voice is a combination of Napoleon Dynamite and Doug from Up. He deems Steven his equal, but Clarence, he bullies.
Clarence, the world's biggest kitten, is a taupe striped cat that I acquired from a home on Mosquito Lake. He was the next to last to go of his 10 litter mates, which may explain his more animal affinity. He doesn't really connect with the humans, except when it is cold and he'll lay beside you, never on your lap, or when food is involved. He and Harrison have that in common. Noise, smell or even intention of eating will bring these two to our sides. He still has a high pitched voice like Steven's, but innocent. He never realizes he does wrong. "I don't know how that vase made it to the ground with such a tinkling sound. I love to watch things fall."
If I scold Clarence, he half lids his eyes as if to shield himself from unpleasantness. Another annoying habit he has is falling down right in front of where you intend to walk, jumps up and runs ahead of you, starting all over again.
The back stories are from Mary Ellen's imagination and Katie voiced them. We all have embellished on these characters. I have gotten so used to it, that I talk to the animals expecting the voices. No, don't call mental health. Tell me you don't do this in some way. And I know Walt Disney and many others have made money, lots of it, voicing animal characters.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Church Garage Sale

The Ladies Aid Society and I think also the Mizpah  class held an annual garage sale with homemade vegetable soup served in the Fellowship Hall with the larger kitchen in the fall. Later the mission committee added apple dumplings. A browser spent time in the basement under the sanctuary where tables of clothes and other used goods were placed. This area was built into the hill, so the west side had floor to ceiling windows letting in natural light. It was still kind of a rough area being it was just built in 1969. All the improvements hadn't been started yet.
This sunny fall day when I was in sixth grade, I rustled through the children's clothes for my "Diane" doll. One year, before I was born, my sisters got Madame Alexander dolls, probably their last dolls. Diane doll, the taller of the two, with dark blond hair and black eyes, belonged to Diane. "Gerri Lee" doll, smaller with reddish hair and green eyes, both seemed to look like their owners. I guess, like most youngest children, I inherited them until my nieces came along. I suppose that is why I was only looking for Diane clothes.
What does an eleven year old want for her toddler size doll in 1972? I pawed over jeans, tennis shoes and a sweat shirt. A big difference from the frilly dresses Diane doll wore most of her life.
Thoughts of dressing my doll, changing her style, occupied my mind, when elderly Mrs. Elliot sauntered up beside me and pointed out the little girdles, "Look at these. 'bout time you get some of these."  All 80 pounds and five foot two inches glared at this intrusive woman. Yet, I smiled and inched away with my doll clothes to buy. Mom wore a girdle, I hoped to never have to wear one! I barely wanted to wear a bra, but the necessity of that had come too early.
My brain, emotions and habits did not meet my body's growth. Though, that fall, I was less than a year away from my first adult kiss.  Life changes that year would take me from a little girl looking for doll clothes to learning about sex, hiding wearing make up at school only- advantage of being a walker, smoking my first cigarette. That fall day as I disdained growing up, these events were eons away. I couldn't wait for some of that wonderful beef vegetable soup, homemade bread  and pie, as I scurried up the stairs to the Fellowship Hall.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Freer in Fiction?

The theme continues but not about generations or curses, but race. I observe attributes about race, yet to describe them without fiction, may appear I'm prejudiced. And in the culture I grew in, I feel I have to fight that, sounding prejudiced.
 Maybe each generation gets better, I pray. My grandfather had many hateful views and ideas against cultures and races different than his. My parents were loving to all, but their talk flavored by their times, often sounded ignorant. That is all I can say. It was an innocence that can't be afforded today. I felt a pride that my daughter didn't know a slang word about a certain race, that I had censored those words around her.
 Last night I rejoiced in the Cana's Corner Coffehouse as a woman evangelist sang so gloriously to the Lord. I entered worship as even in a Pentecostal church, I seldom do. Dare I say it? We are too conservative.
I thought of race. I thought of the homes I visited in Farrell and Youngstown and Warren. I thought of a dear saint in Park Vista when I first started with Senior Independence 10 years ago. She passed in the fall, I believe right after Labor Day. I entered her empty room, asked the staff where she was and they told me she died over the weekend. I loved that woman. Hugging her warm soft brown arms, white women don't have those kind of arms, I felt such comfort in them. I admired her knowledge of the Bible. I know she helped the nurse before me on her spiritual journey.
I knew these expositions could fly in fiction, but could the real me write about it? Would I appear mocking? Would my heart be revealed or would readers think I'm just some lily whitey writing derogatory prose?
I censor myself so as to not offend. But I think fiction is freer. A writer can hide behind the character. In my first story I dealt with the race issue from my grandparents era, a white upper middle class family as immigrants moved into town. Maybe I can do more with Martha, the woman. I know this isn't fair to talk about a story you haven't read. But even in that story, I censored myself.
Any thoughts? Is fiction a freer medium?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is Anybody Out There?

Let's see, was yesterday's post confusing for anyone? Sometimes I have these ideas floating around in my brain and I see them clearly, but wonder do I convey my message? I'm edging toward fiction in my writing, not sure how that will relay in this blog. I want to tell stories  that encourage and bring us closer to Jesus.
I think with some topics, fiction brings the idea home more personally. Maybe that was what I was trying to say yesterday. A story envelopes you, brings you into a situation, if the writer gets the reader to participate. The book you can't put down, even with hunger pangs screaming from your stomach. You know, stirring the pot with one hand and the book in the other. Also the story should make you think as well as feel. An important subject preying on your mind for days, even in your sleep, dreaming about it.
I am craving more feedback from my readers. I see the stats and wonder who across the world is reading me and do they like it? What are their lives and struggles? I see Russia, France, UK, Latvia, Singapore on my audience page, yet they are silent. Are they real? Is it made up? How do I know?
The under reporting of the Amish story about the cult down near Stubbenville, OH makes me wonder, should I have been a reporter? I know there is a story there, because I talked to the leader's family yesterday. I want to investigate. I know there is a reason I didn't pursue journalism when I was young. I wanted to be married and raise a family. My mother encouraged nursing because it was "a nice part time job." And it was that. I loved being per diem.
Last night, I again expressed gratitude for my job in the people I meet. I wouldn't necessarily be welcomed into as many varied homes as I have been. And all the stories I've heard and will use in fiction. When I first started home health,  many people were from an earlier time than now, born in early 1900's. I feel I have touched a hundred years of history easily.
I'll get back to telling stories of junior high soon. I guess I'm asking, like John Adams in 1776, "Is anyone out there?"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Generation Parables

I have ideas but I don't want to present them as fact or even opinion because I'm not trained in some areas. I think fiction tells the ideas, while not being text book. Jesus used parables or stories. He is the greatest storyteller of all- to hearken back to my storyteller series. And His is the greatest story ever told, as all stories are based in some way on the grand scheme of our history, which I also wrote about before, in Sweet Gabrielle.
Misfortunes, illnesses and diseases seem to be passed down from generation to generation, as much as hair color and habits. My great Grandpa Seth Thompson referred to his melancholy in  poems he cut out or clips from the paper. Grandma Evans, his daughter, also did the same thing. Seems this branch of the family suffered more from depression than my dad's side.  I can remember even my dad admitting he was depressed about circumstances in his life at times, still he got up every day and drank his 23 cups of coffee every morning.
I read today of a young man in Austintown, who finally has a home, is a junior in high school and when he graduates will be twenty. Most of his life, he lived in a car, a tent and moved around continuously with his mother and stepfather. Now a couple that has know him a long time, offered him a permanent place for him. He is not using his disadvantages to give up.
Depression crosses all cultures it seems. We think if our life were simpler we wouldn't get depressed, yet just today, a call for prayer came to me for a young Amish woman who had a breakdown. She just couldn't cope, her house overran her with clutter. She couldn't care for her children. Her mother explained, "Life is getting too hustle and bustle."  The church she belongs to is going to help her now with cleaning and painting the house, so it will be bright when she comes home from her Amish rest home. She is receiving help geared to her culture.
As a nurse, I know depression is an illness. Probably the one with the most hush/ hush stigma, which it shouldn't have. That impression is improving, but still I think some who have never experienced more than life's pitfalls short term, judge those with depression as not strong. "Just get over it."  Treatment is needed, just like any illness, colds to cancer. You'd never tell someone with kidney disease to "Just get over it."
This is where story comes in. If a writer can get the reader to participate in the subject's illness, a better understanding could occur.  No judgment, just knowledge. And  a fascinating fiction with a little supernatural about curses and blessings on the land or family would add a different dimension.  Exploring without actually saying that is the cause.
This thought process did start with listening to Steven King's speech at George Mason's Fall for the Book video. He ventured answering the question, "Why do I write the things I do? Like something from my childhood made me this way." He felt maybe because his mother always told him to think of the worst thing that could happen and then you'll be pleased when that doesn't happen. A New England thought. Which got me to thinking because my husband also expresses that philosophy, his ancestors came from MA, many years ago. Some of mine moved from the south, Maryland and then Washington County in southeastern PA. Yet, they all seem to go back to Scotland, Ireland and Germany. How do the family ideas stay true to roots, yet influenced by outside families? They are always blending.
I also wondered about statistics based on the weather. Do we really have a greater incidence of depression here with lake effect weather, darker winters, cold temperatures? What about people in the Southwest and CA or FL? And what effect does faith and weather combined have?
I think I felt better in New England because the sun came up earlier. The early sunlight is the best they say- sorry, not morning people. But oh, how I dreaded November, when the sun set at 430PM or earlier on the occasional gloomy days.
If I were rich, I'd move to the Southern Hemisphere during the Northern Hemisphere's winter and vice versa.
I think all these ideas can be explored  in a story without a consensus. I don't want to write a thesis, just peeking into possibilities, writing a moving story that engages thought. Ah, ideas for NaNoWriMo!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Another Quiet Story of Triumph

Sarah Turner Music
Sarah Turner CD

Yes, I'm stealing again. Quiet is from Joe Zentis, who writes Lives of Quiet Inspiration for the Sharon Herald and has published of book of these local stories of people who have overcome obstacles.
I love meeting people, but I love more getting to know them. This man lives in middle class neighborhood, classically dressed and talks of his son owning a steel mill company, near where I live. He worked there after retiring. At first glance, peace, comfort and privilege rule in his home. I find he nursed his wife from C.O.P.D. until she died four years ago with largeness of  loss in his voice. He possesses  pride of his two children and the grandchildren, successful in  their lives, one has recorded a CD already at 19.
A few days later we talk some more. I discover more. His father drank and ran around. Probably one of those men with another family or two somewhere.  The man was beaten as child and witnessed a lot of violence. When he was four, he and his mother had to move South for safety and security, leaving the other children in the North. Even at such a young age, he felt uprooted.
He made a vow as a young man that when he married, he would not be that kind of husband or father. He and his wife kept a quiet home, with regular meals, praying and going to church, getting their two children through college. He didn't succumb to the injustice of his life. He determined to make life better for his children.
How often we think that back in the last century the times were easier, people were better and abuse didn't happen. But as always, I think we have those rose colored glasses that color our perception. My mom felt the belt, a teacher ripped the shirt of my uncle trying to discipline him in school, her mother left the family in 1936.
My friend Ginny's father and aunt were abandoned by their father when just very small children. Their stories could overwhelm us, death a constant companion, mothers and fathers dying young, infant siblings buried in far away cemeteries. Hunger a companion to many.
The ones I know overcame these obstacles.  Sometimes demons followed them, but they fought them. Others gave in to the demons, I'm sure, just like today. Paul in the New Testament states we are overcomers, more than conquerors in Jesus. Let us be inspired, first by Jesus and then by the triumph of the human spirit that comes from above.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Quote From a Newsletter

The newsletter is RZIM, the author, John Njoroge. He serves on the church staff in Kenya and travels through Africa. He wrote about his trip to Rwanda:
"Various thoughts keep throbbing in my mind: Well, you've gone to several places in the world proclaiming the power of the gospel. Where is that power in  the predicament of the people of Rwanda? Where was it in 1994 when an estimated eight hundred thousand to one million people were brutally massacred in less than one hundred days? My solemn instincts compel me to join hands with the people of Rwanda and redirect those questions to God.
But it is in times like this that God's answer silences the deepest, most probing of questions, for His answer to our pain is the Cross. Christ is the ultimate wounded healer. So, no, I did not come here to bring answers, I came to point to Him, I come falteringly and imperfectly but with full assurance of His abiding presence and shining glory, even in the midst of a palpable darkness. You see, a gospel that will not preach in a place like Rwanda is not the gospel of Christ."
To me this says it all about addressing the question of pain and suffering. We can't answer those questions, but by pointing to God. Christ said, "If I be lifted up, all men will come to Me." We lift Jesus up. We are His hands and feet in this world. Jesus died for all, the nations need to know.
So, in your hardest place, if your gospel does not heal, it is not the gospel of Christ. For all those tear drops, for all those pains, for all those hurts, Jesus hung on the Cross and claimed victory with His resurrection. It is universal, yet very personal. He did it for you. Point to Jesus and let Him do it all.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day Off

I know I need to write, I need to post. It seems like forever since Fri.  And now I just hit my funny bone in my knee- much worse than the elbow- the pain that goes to your center, creating nausea. Wow!
Harrison looks at me, pushes my elbow, "The sun is shining.  What are you doing at the computer, again?" I just let him out. I want to write before Katie comes home from her classes. Sleepiness covered me right before she left. She knew, too, writing was in the forecast. I thought I do it before the sun came back after an eternity of hiding behind those rain clouds. Welcome to western Pennsylvania.
This is not so much writer's block as life block. Some kind of sinus irritation giving me horrific headaches. I worked the weekend, meaning long distances between patients. No per diem could help and so I had the whole territory for the two days. 148 miles on Saturday and 110 on Sunday, but I only had 5 visits on Sunday. Add the dreariness and sudden severe darkness that follows fall's arrival. The best part of my job is the wonderful people I meet and the stories I love to hear and tell. The nagging at the back of my mind as I jot down sometimes up to thirty medicines that have to be entered into the computer, I have so much work yet to do. Coming  home does not mean my job is done, as I struggle to keep my eyes open on the long drives. Thank You, Jesus for protecting me.
I would sit at the computer when I was alone and the head pounded. This is what I want to do. This is what I love. Why won't my body cooperate? How much is the headache from stress? Or as I asked myself a week ago, Is the headache from depression or depression from the headache?  Waking without a headache this morning, I know the answer for me. The depression is from the headache.
So how do I work through this? I walk when I can. I try to sleep enough. I can't move out of this climate, yet. My prospects for a new location are in a way, even worse. The Poconos have fog until noon some days. It would be lighter in the morning, due to being farther East in the time zone. I can't quit my job, yet, and what other job has the flexibility and only work every seventh weekend, for nurse?
I feel sometimes I'm plugging away at the writing. Soon, I will get a lap top that I hope will free up more computer time. Sharing the one with a family of computer lovers, has limited me somewhat. Oh, they are understanding and get off when I ask, but I, too, am weak, getting sucked into The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, as well as other short videos.  So much for getting rid of cable...
My goals for November is to do National Novel Writing Month, so I'm not sure how much blogging will get done that month. The urge to write pure fiction arises. I have several novels that I had been plotting. Working full time and life make it difficult to do all the kinds of writing I want. Mostly, not having a lap top with which to hide away and write.
I find myself thinking in hyperbole lately.  My comments about driving a thousand miles. Thinking just now that I feel refreshed after my million hour nap. Hardly, only an hour and a half, on the couch. Deep dreams about being in a dormitory, getting ready to teach some middle schoolers. I wish dreams stayed with me more and I could really understand some of them. A book I'm reading of Catherine Marshall's diary snippets, Closer Walk, she mentions her dreams a lot and what they mean. This book is very helpful to me, as most of her writings are. Can you believe though, I never read her most famous book, Christy? Julie, I identified with because the heroine, a senior in high school, writes, wants to make a choice between two suitors. I felt somewhat like that my senior year. Julie is set in the Great Depression, in Johnstown, where a dam breaks. She wrote in her journal how that novel almost didn't come to fruition.  I wondered at missing so many books that are never written, too. Catherine also wrote about her husband, Peter Marshall, a great Scotsman Presbyterian preacher in the 30's and 40's, chaplain in the US senate. The book always sat on our book shelve growing up,  A Man Called Peter, but I didn't read it until after I bought the movie on sale and loved it. Catherine's second husband edited Guideposts. She often had articles in there.
Well, this is a day off to regroup. I still have medicines to enter and yesterday's admission's care plan to finish. Then tomorrow I start all over again, with new admissions, visits and driving.