Monday, April 29, 2013

From White Sand to White Snow

April is almost over and with May comes summer!  It can't come too soon, even though I live in an area that never really sees winter.  In the winter months, if I want to see snow, I only have to "Lift my eyes unto the hills" and see white along the ridges.  And believe me, that is as close as I want to get to snow.  In this area around San Diego, people go crazy when snow falls in the mountain regions.  They bring snow back by the truck load so they can dump it in their backyard and play in it.  One day I even saw a truck bed full of snow with a surf board sitting on top.  Not having a shovel, they scooped the snow up with a surf board.  That's Southern California for you!  Even as a kid in Vermont, I hated to go outside and play in the snow.  I haven't changed.

Fred and I may be heading back to snow country.  Our house is on the market and our plans are to move to North Carolina.  They don't get as much snow as New England, but we will get a bit now and then.  We are both retired so looking for a job is a non-issue.  I can write there as well as here.  And speaking of writing, I told you all that I published Mishaps and Miracles, from the Cranky Seniors Series, on Kindle, and last week I received my first royalty check from Amazon (maker of Kindle)!  The check covered January and February and was for a whopping sum of $11.82, not enough to get rich on, but enough to tell me that people are actually downloading my story and paying for it!  I couldn't be happier!

In about a week, I'll be downloading the second story in the Cranky Seniors Series--Waterbeds and Wedding Vows: Two Cranky Seniors Get Married.  Here's a short exceprt:

Fred’s boss gave us a trip to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico for a wedding gift, telling us we could stay at his condo near the beach. We took advantage of his lovely offer six months after the wedding.  On Christmas Day we flew down to Cabo and spent a beautiful week. It was certainly a white Christmas--white sand everywhere reaching out to touch the white foam of the sea!  We had breakfast and dinner at a restaurant on the beach with table and chairs outside, our bare feet buried in the sand. A very tacky multi-colored foil Christmas tree was nearby, reminding us that it was, indeed, Christmas. And here we were with warm air, blue sky, white sand, and gentle breezes. What a life.

At one point during the week, I went parasailing and Fred enjoyed time on jet skis. Then he said, “Let’s go scuba diving!  You’ll love it. I‘ve done it before and it‘s so much fun. You get to see things under water you can‘t see from land.”

     I tentatively agreed, even though I don’t like to get my hair wet. Or my face. Or go under water. I’ll go as high in the air as you want, but I’m not fond of going under water. I’ll sky dive, just not scuba dive. Turns out, we needed a doctor’s okay in order to go scuba diving. They called a local doctor and while waiting for his return call, they gave us a quick rundown of the dos and don’ts of scuba diving. Forget learning how to use the air tank and practicing rolling over the side of the boat into the water, I couldn’t even get the rubber jacket on. No matter how I tugged and wrestled with it, that tiny thing was not going on me in any way that could be zipped up.

I turned to Fred and asked, “What have I ever done to you that you should want to put a heavy tank on my back and throw me overboard?”

He ignored my sarcasm and said, “You’ll love it once you get down under the water.”

I said, “No, I won’t.”

As it was, the doctor called back and reviewed both of our medical histories and declared us both unfit to go scuba diving. YES!  God and the doctor were on my side!

Quote of the Day:  Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage, he rarely, or never, takes any such care.  Charles Darwin.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Feel Good Book: An Amish Holiday

After the horrendous events of this past week, I plan to lighten the mood a bit and talk about a book and an author that I have fallen in love with.  The book is An Amish Holiday and contains two stories within its pages.  The first is, An Amish Christmas and the second is  A Plain & Fancy Christmas.

The author is Cynthia Keller.  I know nothing about her except what the last page of the book says: She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. It must be the Connecticut tie that makes me love her writing.  :-)

I have to assume that at some point Ms. Keller lived among the Amish because she seems to know their ways far more than would you or I.  I like to read a book where I learn something and I have certainly learned a lot from this book.  I was in Amish country once, and saw the horse-drawn wagons stop at a grocery store then move on down the street.  I have to admit I gawked at them.

An Amish Christmas is about a dysfunctional family in North Carolina--mother, father, daughter and two sons--who, through a twist of fate, end up living with an Amish family in Pennsylvania.  We watch them as they learn to slow down, extricate themselves from cell phones, iPods, television, schedules, all the things they once thought were important, and begin to live in harmony with each other and their surroundings.  Here’s an excerpt:

Meg shivered in the cold morning air as she dressed.  Tucking in her shirt, she felt something in one of her pants pockets.  She reached in to discover the refrigerator magnet she had taken from the house as she walked out the door in Charlotte.
    Esse Quam videri.  To be, rather than to seem.
    She stared at it.  The motto had been her inspiration for so long, as she tried to feel the way she thought she should be, rather than just to seem to feel it.  Now she saw it in a completely different way.  These people, Catherine and David and even their young children, had shown her what it meant to be rather than to seem.  They didn’t talk about what they did, how they felt about it, or what it meant.  They knew how to just be.  They knew what they valued: religion, community, work.  They followed those values, and as a result they were completely genuine in everything they did.  

The second story, A Plain & Fancy Christmas, tells of two babies accidentally switched at birth, one to Amish parents and one to New York City parents.  The girls, both named Rachel, grow up feeling out of place; the one brought up in the city longs for a quieter, more peaceful life and the girl brought up in the Amish community wishes she had more excitement in her life.  The girls eventually meet and, well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Quote of the day: The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller