Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gram


I am missing my Grandma today.

It’s been a handful of years since she’s been gone. I feel lucky to have had so many years with her. But still I miss her.

I remember when I was the same age my son is now, about 8, Gram and I used to walk the ditchbanks in Sand Hollow, Idaho – a very rural farming community – and pick wild asparagus and other delicacies for our supper, and to make juice with. Sometimes we’d walk out, and sometimes we’d ride horses.

That time was always a quiet time. My Gram never talked much. She never once, in all my years, raised her voice, and I never saw her get mad. Oh sure; I saw her take a shotgun and chase my dad off her property once, and I heard that she nearly broke my Grandfather’s skull open with a cast iron frying pan the one time he figured it was okay to slap her. But never – never ever ever – did she raise her voice.

Instead my Gram would watch. Watch and listen. If I asked a question, she’d answer.

Sometimes, on a rare day, she’d tell me a story. Or she'd sing and play the piano, or the guitar.

Right after my horse and I had a terrible accident – we’d been running, and a car scared her and she’d slipped and fallen, and we’d both been hurt – I was too afraid to ride again. I was maybe 9. After about a week of not riding, Gram took me out and saddled my horse – Misti – and told me to get on.

I admit it; I whined.

I remember so clearly the way her mouth hardened - just a subtle loss of softness. She shook her head twice, or maybe three times. “If you don’t get on now, Lauri,” she told me, “You never will.”

I got back on.

Gram did so many wonderful things for me throughout my life. When I was a baby, she handmade me an activity book (which I still have). As I grew, as I made mistakes, she stood strong for me, by me, and behind me. 

My Gram was the matriarch of our family for the four decades I knew her. She was the strongest woman I have ever known. Always kind. Always, always good. Always unfailing in her love, and unflinching from her duties.

She worked as one of the Rosie the Riveters during World War II. She learned to weld and worked in a factory for several years while the menfolk were gone fighting Nazis across the ocean. Once they came home, she refused to stop working, and she refused to take being slapped.

My Gram loved me very much. I could always tell. That smile that rose when she’d catch sight of me.

She loved me and she inspired me.

And now that she is gone, I miss her. So very much.

Why is the pain so sharp today? Maybe because this morning I caught the smell of asparagus on the wind.




Bernita June Jinks

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Whole World Moves Outside


Someone – someone who had just lost a loved one – asked me the other day, “How do you get through each day? How do you live with the fact that someone you love is gone?”**


That question started a thought, and the thought is this: grief is a luxury.

We – we western civ folks – have such luxurious lives. Most of us live without hunger, and even the poorest of us live without fear (of death, of war, of loss).

Most of the planet, however, does not share in our luxury. Too many children grow up hungry and afraid. Too many people all over the world watch loved ones die – siblings, parents, friends.

And even in our own country, we have a full set of our own horrors that we turn a practiced eye from: the brutal slaughter of unwanted pets.

Despite our luxurious lives, we western folks live lives in which we commonly feel so depressed that we take medication. Why is that?

I think I have at least part of the answer.

It’s what we believe in.

Let me explain. Someone – somewhere – be it advertisers, or romantic literarists, or zealous philosphers, or ardent religious peeps, or all of them – taught us – and we believed them – that we are – each one of us is – entitled to be “happy.”

What is “happy”? Well, ask aforesaid spewers of the idea. While advertisers want you to believe you need products to be happy (cars, houses, to not smell human, to be thin, etc., ad infinitum), a romantic might argue that you need love (or family or meaning in life). A religious authority will tell you that you need to live a certain life and have a certain relationship with your deity or you'll be miserable at every moment. Philosophers will never stop arguing about what it all means, much less what you need to have it.

The common denominator here is YOU. You you you you you you. And you know what? All the years you waste searching for the way to sate your own longings will bear no fruit – or at least no lasting fruit. You will never find happiness.

Do you know why?

It doesn’t exist. It’s an idea – a nothing that you make real by believing in it.

Worse, it’s a way to waste an entire life as a narcissist.

It’s a mechanism by which you as an active mover of the world are paralyzed – made impotent – neutralized.

This search for happiness means you don’t give a shit about anything else besides yourself. You never lift your eyes from the lines that squeeze you in.

A whole world moves outside, though. A world where suffering is real. A world where you might be able to make a difference – if you’d just stop staring in the mirror.






** For clarification, I want to append a bit of mixed opine and fact to this post: First: grieving is fine, and normal, and even expected when we lose loved ones. It isn't something to be ashamed of. I grieve all the time - for those I have lost - and I have lost much, and many, at great cost - and for the anguish others I do not know feel now and will feel - including all of the aforementioned non-western folks and all the animals all over the world that humans torture and kill. That - grief - isn't what I am complaining about. It's when we let grief paralyze us that it becomes a problem.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #17


Welcome to this week’s Six Sentence Sunday post! (Visit the other wonderful writers here.) I continue to post from Blowing Embers, my second novel in The Embers Series, a paranormal romance/epic fantasy, released July 1st – and a FINALIST in the Reader’s Favorite awards (and I am SO excited! Woo hoo!).

Today’s snip follows close to where we left off last time: 


His face was inscrutable, but he appeared to consider her words. “I believe,” he finally answered, “that you will make your choice no matter my, or anyone’s, thoughts.”
It was hard not to sound tired. “Laszlo, I really do want to know what you think about this.”
The fire sizzled as it chewed the final log in two. Without answering, Laszlo left the couch and tossed one, then another chunk of spruce into the open maw, then squatted in front of the hearth and settled them into place with his hands.


Friday, August 5, 2011

SFFS #6


Welcome back to the Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Visit the other talented authors here.

Last week I posted six sentences from my newly released novel, Blowing Embers, an epic fantasy/ paranormal romance, and a finalist in the Reader’s Choice awards (woo hoo!).

Once again, these sentences follow the prior six:


Still grinning, he offered a hand up, and as he dressed she brushed snow and mud off her backside. As her posterior could attest, even in late spring here in the alternate Alaska she’d been swept to late last year – cycle – the mornings bled cold. And the fog clung like a frightened child to the granite tips of the mountains most every day – turn – until late afternoon. Breakup would come soon, she hoped, this month – moon – like it did in the Alaska she’d come from, thawing the rivers and ponds, tempting flowers out of moons of hiding, and forcing the green back into the birches. Just as back home, the sun stayed longer each turn, and soon it would shine for all her waking marks plus many more. And she yearned for its warmth. 



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blowing Embers is a finalist in the Reader's Favorite Awards!

This last Monday I got the most astounding news. 


Out of up to 80 entrants in my category of the Reader's Favorite awards - "fiction - fantasy" - five books were chosen. Blowing Embers, my second novel, the one just released July 1, made it. It's one of the five finalists.


I am thrilled. Humbled. Excited. 


But even if it doesn't win a gold, silver, or bronze, that I made it this far with my second book is something I am incredibly proud of. 


I poured my heart and soul into BE in a way I didn't yet know how to do in FE, and my writing skill has certainly improved since FE


Winners will be announced September 1. Whew. Hope I can wait that long. ;-p