Sunday, November 27, 2011

Merry Christmas Wordle

It’s the time of year for the glow of ruddy faces
Mitten and snowmen and angels in wintry places
Steaming hot cocoa with floating mini marshmallows
Glitter and glamour of fine fancy mellow fellows

‘Tis the season of peace and joy, and loving nuclear families
To give and receive, stuffed stockings and shimmering trees
Cornucopia of foodstuff piled high on lace covered tables
So it says in the glossy book of the world’s favorite fables

Shudders and shivers in the blast of Frosty’s frigid breath
In parks, alleys, and doorways lies a hypothermic death
Or negative bank accounts spinning the subliminal tale
In a mad rush of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale

The rustle of the smug in their devilish sunshine dance
Wrapped in ermine and fur, the appointed fulcrum of chance
Regaling the gullible with continuous retelling of the story
Ring the bells, the angels sing, and nothing is untidy

From the Sunday Wordle:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

50,000 words in 30 days. WOW! that sounds like a lot, and it is. It averages 1666 words daily which doesn't sound so bad. The best thing about it is the accountability. I've told everyone and my one friend cracks her Facebook whip at me daily. Since I'm high in the mountains, there aren't a lot of "write-ins" close so I've signed up for the NaNo:NC:Elsewhere Facebook group and the NaNo:North Georgia Facebook group - more accountability. Those groups have been terrific support as well. I've learned about the History of Trains in Appalachia and the Circus in America website. Wonderful research help for my work. I've helped others and enjoyed writerly talk. It's been a while and thoroughly enjoyable. 

Since, I'm feeling so good about this, I decided to share another chapter. I look forward to comments. 

The food was delicious and much different. Slabs of bacon instead of heavy German sausages, and lightly scrambled eggs instead of greasy fried, and no potatoes. Anna had sliced tomatoes and cheese alongside the warm Brotchen. She poured everyone tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice before she sat to fill her plate brimming. William had put Robert in Dottie’s old wooden highchair, the one he’d painted a ring of posies around the back, and filled the tray with a little of everything from the table. Robert was overjoyed moving the food around, piling it up, and licking his fingers. His face was smeared with orange marmalade where he’d eaten the middle from the slice of bread. The air was light and talk was easy with spatterings of laughter. Only Dottie was tense and solemnly quiet. When Anna began clearing the table, Dottie rose and stepped to Granny’s wheelchair.
“Come on Granny. I’ll take you to your room. We have a lot to talk about.”
She saw the quick glance Anna gave William and the short nod he gave Granny. Yes, they had plenty to talk about.
“I’ll be down in a bit to start dinner,” Dottie threw over her shoulder as you wheeled Granny through the door.
“No need,” Anna said, “I have it all under control.”
“I bet she does,” Dottie said to Granny.
Granny’s room was spotless and smelled of rosewater. Burgundy mums stood briskly in a window vase. Granny only wanted to wash her face and hands. All the heavy cleaning had been done by Anna. Dottie got her situated in the armchair by the window and she plopped crosslegged on the bed, ready for the explanation of what she seen in the kitchen.
            Yes, Anna had moved into her old bedroom, Granny told her, and made it quite her own. She’d taken down the eyelet curtains and replaced them with cream chintz that matched the rose coverlet on the bed. She had silver and ivory inlaid brushes, mirrors and combs that had belonged to Dottie’s mother laid out neatly on the bare dresser top. She didn’t like doilies, Granny said. She was trying to get Bill to let her re-do the kitchen, but that was taking some time. Even though her things were in Dottie’s room, most of Anna’s time was spent in Bill’s room once Granny went to bed. Granny could hear them whispering. She was sure that a marriage was in the planning. At least Granny thought it should. Anna was a good woman and she made Bill happy. That’s what Granny told Dottie. It didn’t make Dottie feel any better that he could be cantankerous for years with her and then be the perfect beau to a woman he hardly knew.  Granny said she should be happy for him. Dottie clucked.
            They talked for hours about the changes, her long strolls with Anna, about Boyd and Hawaii, about Robert and his antics, about Mary and Jim. Dottie went to fetch two lemonades and wondered where Anna and her father had gone—the house was dark and silent. Granny dozed off with her head sinking into the silk pillow Anna had made for her. Dottie lie on her back staring at the ceiling thinking of how time just kept going no matter what happened. She too, slipped off to sleep. They were both awakend by a soft tap on the doorjamb.
            “Sorry to disturb you,” said Anna, “but you should both come downstairs now.”
She sniffed and dabbed her eyes with one of Williams hankies before she turned to go.
            “Is there something wrong, Anna,” asked Dottie.
            “I think your father wants to tell you.”
And she was gone. Dottie heard her bare feet—another William Stroebe rule broken—padding down the carpeting stairs. Dottie carried Granny down to the wheelchair and pushed her toward the kitchen where Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade was on the radio. Dottie would’ve sworn that her father would be listening to a football game.
            “Isn’t there a football game on Father?”
            “Please sit down my dear. We were listening to the Giants and Dodgers game, but there was a news broadcast cut in, so we switched over to NBC to see if they had anything. Nothing yet, so maybe they were mistaken.”
            “Mistaken about what Bill? Asked Granny. “More war news?”
            “Unfortunately, Louise. Not good news either. It just might be time for us to get in the mix over there.”
            “Father, “exclaimed Dottie, “what are you talking about.”
            From the NBC newsroom in New York. President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air. I’ll repeat that. President Roosevelt says that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air. This bulletin has came to you from the NBC newsroom in New York.
            “That’s the second announcement,” said Bill.
Anna cried openly now into the back of Williams’ head. He patted her hands on his shoulders.
            “William, can there be a mistake?” asked Granny as she turned to take Dottie’s hands in her tiny, frail ones.
            “Dottie, dear?”
            “If they’ve made two announcements on two different stations, I’d say it’s unlikely there’s a mistake. Dorothy Emma? Are you okay?”
            Dottie stared at the radio. Things were sure different around here. The radio was on top of the refrigerator when it used to be on the windowsill. She looked at the empty windowsill. Sammy Kaye was singing again on the radio on top of the refrigerator. Her face was wet but she didn’t know why because Sammy Kaye was singing and she’d always liked Sammy Kaye. She looked at her hands that had begun to tremble and wondered why she couldn’t stop them. She looked at Granny, then she looked at Anna and noticed their faces were wet as well. It wasn’t until she looked into her father’s eyes that she understood, screamed and fainted. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNo Chapter

This was posted back in 2010. As I continue with the novel, I'm re-posting as a reminder. 


Crimson Red. That was the name of the hot new lipstick and Dot loved how it looked. It emphasized her emerald eyes causing them to sparkle and glow. Night cat eyes, she’d been told. She blotted the lips on tissue paper just like Redbook had said, and patted the rouge as well. Her jet black hair was curled in the stylish Victory Roll. She smoothed the skirt on the belted cotton sun dress and twirled around so the fullness ballooned out, showing her silk covered legs. A last glance in back to check the seams and a pinch on the cheeks to enhance the rouge and she felt like any of those models in Vogue. It all was a wise purchase with her weeks tips from the diner.

“What are you doing in there Dottie? Don’t think you’re going out again. Your grandma needs tending to.”

Her father’s rough voice set her teeth on edge. He could yell all he wanted while he was playing with his train city in the basement but he never did the tending. He came home black from the coal of steam engines and expected his bath waiting and his dinner after. Then he’d disappear for the rest of the night playing with more trains. Ever since her mother had died, Dottie became the woman of the house without any of the womanly pleasures.

“Granny’s done and in bed, father. Yes, I am going out again. I’ve worked all week too you know.”

She knew when she said it there was going to be a fight. William Stroebe didn’t take kindly to being talked back to by anyone in his house. Her only recourse was to get Granny involved. She slipped into Granny’s bedroom with the purple iris wallpaper-covered walls and soft candle glow. Her half frame was tucked into the white eyelet bedspread that she’d made for her dowry when she was a teenager in Germany. Dottie loved the softness of the bedspread, the tenderness of Granny’s voice and the exciting stories she told about escaping Germany for the gold paved streets of America. Granny knew adventure and she knew desire. She also knew heartache from the death of a husband and a daughter, and the pain of losing both legs to gangrene. Her body was crippled but her heard and mind weren’t and she was Dottie’s champion. Her splotched translucent hand patted Dottie’s when she sat on the side of her bed.

“Don’t you worry honey, he just wants you to be safe. He doesn’t understand a girl needs to dance, to sing and laugh. He’s forgotten.”

“Now Louise Klaussen, don’t you stand between me and that girl. She can’t be running around all hours of the night. She’s just eighteen. She’s down at the hall with all those soldiers and that will only be trouble. Dottie, go wash that stuff off your face and take off those trashy clothes. You’re not going down there.”

“Bill,” whispered Louise, “she needs it. Try to remember what it was like to laugh. Remember when you and Christine used to go to the same kind of halls and dance all night? Dottie’s not an old woman. She’s got energy to burn and a love to find.”

“Don’t talk all that stuff to me Louise. Christine and me were married when we danced all night. No one is going to want to marry Dottie if she’s out all night dancing and God knows what else.”

Here it was. Dot had heard it over and over. Her father had made her go to church every Sunday since her mother passed and she’d heard it there as well. The sin of women and men. The sin of the flesh. The fallen woman and how she brings shame to herself and the family and ruins life for everyone. There was never anything said about trust. Never anything said about love unless it was the love of God. God’s love was doing nothing for her but she hadn’t done anything about it. She was what her father called a “good girl,” but there was no telling him that, so she remained silent and let her Granny tell him the way it was.

“You shouldn’t talk about your daughter like that Bill. Christine would be ashamed of you. Dottie knows right from wrong but keeping her locked up is only going to make her rush into things and that’s when the wrong happens. She’s got me all washed up, dressed and settled in bed for the night, so you just let her go have some fun now and quit your complaining. Go on now, go back to your trains and let me get some sleep.”

Granny nestled deeper into the eyelet bedspread. Dottie knew she wasn’t going to sleep. She’d be up for hours reading Emily Dickinson or Jane Austin or some other woman writer of love and angst. Sometimes, Granny was still awake when Dottie came in and they’d eat cold leftover potato pancakes with applesauce while Dottie told her all about the soldiers and the new dances, like the jitterbug. Then Granny would have Dottie show her the dance moves. Dottie would whistle and hum the current hits like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and she’d swing herself around the room in the candle smoke. Granny knew Dot needed a mother and she tried the best she could without legs.

Her father grumbled something about a time and left the room. They listened to his hard steps thumping down the basement stairs then they both giggled and hugged each other like teenage girls.

“I love you Granny.”

“I love you too little girl. Now go have fun and don’t make me a liar.”

She smiled and picked up her book off the nightstand. “The Pride and the Prejudice.” Dottie was right but she didn’t say anything. She jumped and skipped out of the bedroom, out of that house and down the marigold lined walk that shimmered in the porch light, and danced right out the white wooden gate, leaving it standing open in her excitement.

Mary was waiting for her on the corner under the streetlamp. Mary was a long legged, stocky girl with bouncing blonde curls. They went to high school together, the same church and they worked together at the same diner—breakfast and lunch shift. Mary’s father, Hans, worked at the train yards with Dottie’s father and she went through the same trouble at home. Mary’s mother had died last year in childbirth and she took car of the newborn and running the house just like Dottie, but she didn’t have a grandma with no legs to take care of. She didn’t have a grandma to stick up for her either. Mary put her makeup on at the dance hall because if she didn’t it would be all smeared from the tears of fighting with her father.

“I almost didn’t make it this time. I had to run out of the house. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I go home. I might not have a home,” Mary said when she hugged Dottie hello.

“Don’t be silly. They can’t do without us. Who would cook and clean and wash their clothes for them? Come on, let’s forget about them and go dancing.”

That was the night Dottie met Second Lieutenant Boyd Crane, a fighter pilot in the US Air Force. What a dream!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I've signed up for my first ever National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in one month. I'd already been working on this novel for a year now, most written in Scrivener trial program for Windows. I'd not opened it for quite some time due to my change of life move from Chicago to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. When I opened it yesterday, November 1st, the start of NaNoWriMo, all of the 19th century writing was gone. Thankfully, I'd compiled all into a word doc, so I didn't really lose it, just had to find and reconstruct. That was how the first day went when I should've been writing 1666 words. 

Today was MY first day and I completed 2357, but the day isn't over. I have 975 words to make the complete 3332 for two days. That is how my evening will be spent, I'm sure. 

A friend reminded me about my blog & asked if I would update it with the novel info. I must say I'm a bit nervous on that when it's straight writing with no editing or research, so we'll see. But, for those of you who either don't remember or flat don't know, I'm posting the synopsis. I had posted a chapter excerpt last year, and I'll repost that tomorrow. Then, if I do post the progress, at least you'll have an idea of what it's talking about. 

And as always, I am open to constructive feedback. 

Peace out. 

"In Search of Mama" is the story of Dottie Stroebe, a 1st generation German-American girl, with an illegitimate son, who falls in love with a carny man. Clayton is a one-legged Indian half-breed, fifteen years Dottie's senior. They marry, have another child and travel the circus circuit another four years before settling into a non-descript, life in Chicago. When Dottie passes in 2010, a strange elderly southern gentlewoman with the same last maiden name appears at the funeral, gives Dottie's daughter, Marie, a letter that is an invitation to visit her in NC, and saying she's known Marie's mother since she was little. Fifty-years old, with nothing holding her anywhere, Marie packs up and leaves Chicago shortly after. She finds Louise in a tidy log-cabin behind a dilapidated plantation. Even though Louise has extended the invitation, she is not happy to see Marie. As Marie tries to learn what role this mysterious woman played in the life of her mother, a family story unfolds that carries us from 19th century Appalachia to the plains of Oklahoma in the year it became territory, to 20th century railroad yards of Pennsylvania to Chicago from the 1940s to current. It tells of passion, racism and family secrets hushed through generations.