I Should Probably Just Stay Home

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A view from my desk at the beach. Not that I work, just showing you the view.

So when I head to the beach, it’s quite the ordeal. That’s probably why I need so many naps once I get there… Anyway, the point is, preparing to leave one house for another for weeks at a time is a whole thing for me. It’s worth it, but still. A whole big thing:

I have to remember to hold the mail and cancel the paper. (Yes, I have to cancel it because the AJC will hold the paper but I am still charged for the paper. Back in the day, my account was credited when the paper was held. And it just goes against everything I believe in–well, almost everything–to pay for a paper that I’m not reading. So I cancel the paper and wait until I’m home for good and then start the paper again. Yes, it’s a lot of trouble to go to for twenty-three bucks but it’s the principle, y’all.)

I have to pack up my entire summer wardrobe even though I wear the same shorts and t-shirts for most of the time. I always think I’ll have to attend a sudden formal soiree or that a rogue snowstorm will hit the coast and what if I don’t have my jeans, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts, not to mention my good black dress and my fancy high-heeled shoes? (I don’t bring my boots to the beach; that would be ridiculous.)

And don’t get me started on the food and such that I pack. Because despite the fact that there is a grocery store literally three blocks from me and a Publix (just like I have here) only a few miles down the Tybee road, I MUST BRING GROCERIES FROM HOME.

That last one I’ll admit is kinda crazy. But what is not crazy is that I hide all the Really Important Stuff in my house that I don’t bring to the beach just in case bad men (or women, let’s be fair here) break into my home and abscond with the family jewels (I feel I should mention here, just in case any of these scofflaws have read this far, that the family jewels aren’t much. We’re not even sure if they’re genuine. And when I say “they” I really mean just the one. Which is probably fake.).

Anyway, one year, I hid my Really Important Flashdrive and I still haven’t found it. So now, I had the brilliant idea to write myself notes–in code, of course–on my calendar to tell me where I’ve hidden stuff. Except this year, by the time I returned, all rested and oh-so-refreshed, I’d forgotten I’d hidden my Really Important Stuff or that I’d written helpful little notes to remind me where I’d hidden stuff. So every time I looked at my calendar and saw a particularly weird and cryptic note, I wondered what in the world it possibly meant.

And then I needed my checkbook (which is, after all, Really Important Stuff) and you can probably see where this is going. I COULD NOT FIND MY CHECKBOOK. At some point, it occurred to me that I’d hidden the checkbook but WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? If only I’d had sense enough to leave a trail of bread crumbs to my checkbook!

After tearing up the house, I finally found the checkbook. Exactly where I’d carefully hidden it. And then I happened to glance over at the calendar where the weirdly cryptic note suddenly made perfect sense.

I’m not sure where I hid my extra laptop and there are no more cryptic notes. I feel like when I go to hide the next Really Important Thing in my house, there will be the laptop, covered in dust, wondering where I’ve been. In the meantime, it’s back to writing for me and you can read the latest over at the Muffin in “What’s the Big Idea?”

(Just FYI, it has nothing to do with the particular bright idea I had to write myself coded notes; it’s a whole different idea. But it’s the same old lesson when it comes to pride.)

Spot the Difference: Summer Vs. Vacation

IMG_20190609_174418204I’m in  summer mode re: work right now. Which basically means I enjoy two siestas during the day–a short stint out on the deck or on the beach, soaking up my Vitamin D (And P.S. A quick bit of time in the sun is the best source of Vitamin D but do wear your sunscreen!) AND a late afternoon siesta where I get my reading in (And by “reading”, I mean “nap”)–instead of the one siesta I take during full work mode.

As you can imagine, one must be very organized to get anything accomplished if one’s taking two siestas a day. And I know what you’re thinking: can one really be that organized? So as proof, I offer today’s post over at The Muffin. To wit, Revision: A Whole ‘Nother Story.

You’ll note that not only have I come up with some pretty darn good writing/revision stuff but also I have shared my ultra-organized revision grid/chart wherein it’s kinda mind-boggling in its accomplishment glory.

I should probably add that other writers way more accomplished than I came up with revision grids and the same darn good writing/revision stuff ages ago BUT that doesn’t negate the fact that I worked like a fiend in the last six weeks on the latest manuscript whilst taking their advice AND two siestas.

So I think I deserve a vacation at this point. Which basically means that for the next six weeks, you can find me either on the deck, the beach, or the screened porch, with a book and/or a cool drink or Popsicle in hand. I may be reading, I may be napping, I may be thinking up the next story, but there is one thing you can be certain about: I WILL be wearing sunscreen.

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Libs will be checking email for me, but I wouldn’t count on her. Even when she’s in full work mode–and you can see that she’s revved up and at the ready here– she’s dismally lazy.

One Good Teacher

When I was a sophomore in high school–I attended St. Vincent’s Academy, an all-girl Catholic school in Savannah that’s still there today–I grew about ten inches that year.

220px-AbsalomAbsalomNot literally, but it felt that stupendous. See, I had a teacher, Sister Michael Mary, who blew open my mind with books like All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner. Absalom, Absalom! It was the tenth grade, y’all, and we were a pretty sheltered group of girls back then. Not to mention that Sister Michael Mary had to explain nearly every page to us. That entire year, we read brain-busting novel after novel, each one painstakingly explained to us by this nun who had such a passion for literature. It was so hard and frustrating and confusing and yet, it was exhilarating, too.

Years later, lots of years later, I saw Sister Michael Mary at my Tybee Island church, but we recognized each other immediately and spoke of high school days. I told her what I most remembered was Faulkner and Absalom, Absalom! and she burst into laughter. What was she thinking, she said, having us read Faulkner?! She was new to teaching, she said, and had a lot to learn about tenth grade English classes. I said how much I’d loved her class and all those novels.

What I didn’t say–and wished that I had–was that she made a difference in my life. That she broadened my mind and introduced ideas and themes that were completely new to me. That she challenged me, challenged all of us to think of a world beyond our 15-year-old boundaries. Even if she had to explain every single page to us.

Though even with all that explaining, she managed to make me, and I suspect most of us in that class, feel capable and smart and up to the challenge of grasping most of what these literary giants had written so eloquently. And when I moved on, I wasn’t the same girl. I was someone who believed she was more than she’d dreamed.

The best teachers are like that, I think. It’s not so much the facts or figures you learn–honestly, I remember very few of the details of Absalom, Absalom! –it’s learning that you can do more, think more, be more than you ever imagined. A good teacher’s influence far surpasses the walls of any classroom ….

You know what? I’m about to get myself choked up here. So I will just say that I shared another teacher’s influence over at The Muffin today in Here’s to You, Mrs. Robeson and I hope you have time to read another personal story. It’s more about teaching, not so much about writing. But it did involve a letter so I think that counts. And I hope you had or have a teacher that you can count as a blessing in your life.

Everyone needs at least one good teacher.

Earth Day (Or It’s A Jungle Around Here)

adventure-blur-close-up-346885 (1)Monday was officially Earth Day but around the Hall House, every day is Earth Day.

Not so much because I’m recycling and saving the environment and such (though I do recycle and I’m all for cleaning up our rivers and lakes and oceans and air). But what I seem to be particularly good at is protecting our wildlife (though I didn’t exactly plan to be good at keeping all kinds of critters safe).

Here’s how you, too, can become good at protecting wildlife right where you live: create a natural habitat in your backyard!

So I should probably add that I didn’t so much as create the natural habitat as let it happen. And I suspect the Homeowners Association around here might not refer to my backyard (and honestly, it’s beginning to encroach upon the front yard) as a “natural habitat.” They might, in point of fact, call my yard an “eyesore” and other unmentionable words. But they’d have to be able to see my yard in all its natural jungle beauty and I keep a fairly solid fence in front so it’s all good.

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Why, yes. Yes, it is. That’s a (baby) possum on my deck.

The wildlife have a pretty big yard, as well as the green belt forest and a river behind the yard, where they can hang out and do whatever they want. But for some inexplicable reason, they find my deck and screen porch tantalizing. And so I regularly sweep snakes off the deck,  birds out of the screened porch, and the occasional possum away from the flowerpots. The deer insist upon jumping my back fence and lounging about my yard, sometimes strolling through the front yard and down the street.

I mean, this is some pretty emboldened wildlife around here. A few weeks ago, I opened the screen door to let Libs the Tiny Terror who delights in chasing down deer, possums, raccoons, and snakes, out for her morning constitutional. But there was an owl perched on the old swing set. We both froze. I hollered what I thought might shoo an owl away  like, “Scoot, Mr. Owl! Off you go, Mrs. Owl!” because how was I to know the gender of that owl? Mr. (or Mrs.) Owl did not move. Not even an inch. Just stared us down. I’m pretty sure he (or she) was licking her lips/beak, waiting for poor little Libs.

The point is, the wildlife is not just protected around here. It rules.

Don’t tell the neighbors.

(P.S. I wrote up an Earth Day writing post over at the Muffin. It’s not about recycling, though that’s a fine thing and I hope that you recycle waste as well as  words. It’s about something totally different so off you go! And yes, I know that didn’t work on the owl. I’m hoping for better results from you.)

If It’s April,Then It Must Be the Black Snake

Here it is April already. And the snake is back.

So basically, we’re going to be talking about snakes today. And I wanted to put it right out there for you so you’d know what was coming. Furthermore, if you do not want to see a snake, you should probably click out of this post right now. Although…

The snake tied in remarkably well with my topic over at The Muffin today and I’d hate for you to miss out on some terrific writing tips just because of a snake. But yes, there’s a snake there, too. The post is called “First, You Need a BIG Black Snake (Or How to Grab the Attention of Agents, Editors, and Readers)” so you gotta have a snake. But at least you know the snake’s there. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, y’all. Although…

BIG black snakes are good to have around. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to my original point. Which is BIG black snakes and April. This is the snake that Libs alerted me to the other day:

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You’ll note that this snake is on a walkway of my deck. And though it doesn’t look like much at first, you’ll see that in point of fact, it is a BIG black snake, even if it’s all twisted up.

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(It was stretched out next to the house and I had to disengage it and so it responded by coiling into itself.) But the minute I saw this snake–I was walking on the deck/walkway and talking to Youngest Junior Hall who was telling me about the bear (Yeah, I said bear. What is the world coming to?) that had broken into the golf cart barn where’s he working now–I recognized the snake.

Oh, yes, friends. I knew this snake. In fact, I’d documented this snake right here on the blog. So I went back to find the post where I’d discussed this very same BIG black snake and there it was: “If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Time to Post.

The snake had nothing to do with that post, except–and this is really what the post, “First You Need a Big Black Snake...”  is all about: every single comment on that year-ago post was about the BIG black snake.

Anyway, as I was proving, you’ll note the date of the first appearance of the snake was April 18, 2018. So clearly, this snake has a nice, comfy home somewhere under and/or around my deck and walkway. And I’ll bet you five bucks right now that in that home, possibly next to the front door, you’ll find a calendar with April circled.