Monthly Archives: March 2017

Bellingwood Vignette, Book 17, #3

It doesn’t matter how annoyed TB gets with Earl lying on him – Earl never gives up. It occurs to me that’s what true love is all about. Never giving up.

These short vignettes focus on characters other than Polly. While I write them during the same time I’m writing a book, they won’t spoil any of the story and rarely will they give you any hints as to what is happening.

Vignettes are published in the newsletters which arrive on the 25th of every month, but sometimes the characters insist that I tell a quick story about them.

Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime will be published on March 25th. It’s almost here!

Don’t forget, you’re invited to the Wine & Trivia event on Friday, March 17th from 6-11 pm (CDT). Prizes galore and just plain fun as I ask and you answer crazy trivia questions about Bellingwood.

Let’s Go Out

“Mom?” Sylvie heard the back door crash open and her oldest son’s yell. She wasn’t going to move.

“Mom!” he yelled again. “Mom. Where are you?”

Sylvie walked into the doorway between the living room and kitchen and planted her hands firmly on her hips. “What?” she snapped.

“Can I go with Mel to Ames? She wants to go to a movie.”

“For that you needed to yell? You couldn’t come find me?”

He dropped his backpack on the kitchen table. “Sorry. I didn’t know where you were.”

“The house isn’t that big. Good heavens, what is it with you two boys. It’s like your legs quit working.”

“Can I go?”

She nodded. “Who else is going?”

He glanced sideways. “Just us.”

Sylvie raised her eyebrows. “Just you two? Really?”

“No big deal.”

“Have you finished your work for Eliseo?” She looked at the clock on the stove. “You’re home early.”

“It’s Friday night. We’ll do the rest of it tomorrow. He said I could go. So can I? I have to text Mel to tell her whether or not it’s okay to pick me up.”

“Sure. Have fun. What time will you be home?”

“I don’t know. Maybe ten thirty? Eleven? Is that okay?”

“If you’re going to be home after ten thirty, I want you to call me. Don’t text me. Call me.”

He nodded furiously while entering the text to Mel. “She’s going to be here in twenty minutes. I need to take a shower. Thanks.” Jason grabbed his backpack and dashed past her to head upstairs.

Sylvie gave herself a quiet smile. Both boys were going to be busy tonight. She took her phone out and quickly sent a text. “You let Jason off early so he could go out with Mel. Andrew’s at Polly’s house. What should we do tonight?”

“Dinner?” Eliseo texted back. “A movie? Horseback riding?”

That made her laugh. For as much as her son and her boyfriend loved horses, she hadn’t ridden those Percherons yet and was in no hurry to start. Boyfriend. It still sounded weird. She was much too old to have a boyfriend.

“Horseback riding sounds fun,” she sent.

“Really?”

“No, you nut. Not really. But maybe someday I’ll let you get me up on one of those horses.”

“How about I take you out to dinner. What time is Jason leaving?”

“Mel will be here in twenty minutes. Then I’m free.”

“I need to run home and take a shower and change clothes. But I’m leaving now.”

“Perfect. See you then.”

Sylvie smiled. That would give her enough time to wash the filth of the day off and find something nice to wear, too. She went upstairs and stopped for a minute outside Jason’s bedroom door. He was actually singing to himself as he got ready. She liked Mel, even though Jason insisted they were just friends. They were pretty good friends if spending an evening with her caused him to sing. One of these evenings when she had time with him, she was going to have to press for more information. He wouldn’t be happy about telling her what was going on in his personal life, but he’d do it anyway. At least after she pushed and embarrassed him. She knew better than anyone that her sons wanted desperately to tell her their stories, but sometimes didn’t know how to start. Jason especially was trying so hard to be independent.

She tapped at his door. “Jason?”

“Just a second, Mom.”

“It’s okay. I just wanted to tell you to have a good time tonight. I’m going to take a shower and get ready myself, so I won’t be downstairs when you leave.”

His door flew open. “Cool. Thanks.”

It nearly killed Sylvie to see him growing up like this. She wasn’t ready for it. His mop of thick dark hair had been out of control for as long as she could remember. When he was just a little boy, she loved stroking his head and feeling that thick hair run through her fingers. He stood in front of her with no shirt on and water from the shower dripping from that head of hair. He’d gotten so strong since he started working with Eliseo. His shoulders and upper arms rippled with muscles and his hands were strong and powerful. Those same hands that had once been so tiny when she reached to hold them as they crossed the street.

“Mom?”

Sylvie nodded. “Have fun tonight.” She bolted for her bedroom, shut the door and leaned on it as tears threatened. She couldn’t do this every time something new and wonderful happened for him. She knew he had to grow up and away from her, but no matter how true that was, she wasn’t ready. Andrew was going into high school next year. She wasn’t ready for that, either.

She went into her bathroom, stripped down and turned on the shower. Sylvie didn’t know what to think about the next few years. Jason was taking his ACTs this spring and in another year or so, he’d head off to college. Maybe. Eliseo had talked to her about Jason working at the stables full-time once he and Mark Ogden had them in place. As long as Jason was happy, she didn’t care too much what he did. College hadn’t been that important to Sylvie. She’d gone to nursing school until Jason was born and then her life grew so out of control, she’d never considered a degree. Going to culinary school as an adult had worked out beautifully. She’d found something that she was passionate about and could be successful. If Jason wanted more education when he got older, he could certainly do that.

Checking the water temperature, Sylvie climbed into the shower and let it wash away the day. Her mornings started early and some days she felt as if she didn’t stop moving until she dropped into bed, usually by eight or nine o’clock. With Rachel taking over more and more of Sycamore House’s catering, the pressure on Sylvie was beginning to ease. They needed to hire one more full-time person over there to help Rachel. That way, Sylvie would only have to help with the largest events. Since she’d hired Marta at the bakery, much of the pressure had been taken off there, too. The woman was a treasure. Eager to learn and willing to work hard, Marta made the running the bakery much more fun.

They’d had several new contracts come in and Sylvie was considering another part time employee. But that was the problem with a growing business. It was hard to balance that moment when you desperately needed another employee against the fact that you could barely afford them. They weren’t there yet.

“I’m leaving, Mom,” Jason yelled into her bedroom. “See ya later.”

Sylvie realized she’d spent too much time musing and rinsed the rest of the shampoo out of her hair. She needed to hurry. She did a quick towel-dry of her hair and walked over to stare at the clothes in her closet. It was too cold to wear a skirt and besides, Eliseo rarely took her anywhere that nice pants wouldn’t be appropriate. She took down a pair of blue woolen slacks and a loose powder blue sweater. Her mother’s pearls would be pretty with that. She put the pants on, zipped them up and went back into the bathroom to finish drying her hair. Not too much makeup. She’d never been one of those women who couldn’t leave the house without her face on. Her mother had been.

Eliseo didn’t help. He complimented her whether she was wearing makeup or not. When she’d asked him one evening after spending extra time in front of the mirror, he told her that she was always beautiful. Sylvie went back to what she was comfortable with.

Padme pushed Sylvie’s bedroom door open and jumped up on the bed, landing on the sweater.

“Get off, you mutt,” Sylvie said, pushing the dog back. “I never had hairy clothes until I met you and now every time I look down, I’m brushing bits of you off me all the time.” She shook out the sweater and pulled it over her head. “What are you doing up here anyway? Lonely?”

A yip and once around Sylvie’s bed didn’t give her much of an answer.

Sylvie picked up her phone to make sure that Eliseo hadn’t sent her a text that he was here. No, but there was a text that had come in from Jason.

“Took Padme out before I left. Thanks for everything. I hope you and Eliseo have a nice evening.”

She was so lucky. Her boys were turning into nice, responsible young men. Sylvie bent over and picked up her black flats and headed downstairs. Just as she hit the living room, she saw headlights as Eliseo turned into her driveway. She slipped her feet into her shoes, picked her coat up from the chair where she’d dropped it and headed for the back door.

He stood there with his arm upraised to knock when she waved at him through the window. Eliseo came in, his eyes twinkling. “You look beautiful, Sylvie Donovan.”

She looked him up and down. He was dressed in a black western style shirt and new blue jeans. “You look pretty nice yourself, sir. Where are we going?”

Eliseo walked across the kitchen floor, wrapped one arm around her and pulled her close, then tipped her back and kissed her lips. When he broke the kiss, she sighed.

“I missed you today,” he said.

“I guess so. I missed you too.”

He helped her put her coat on and walked to the back door with her. “Do you want to stay in town or go for a drive?”

“I don’t really care. A drive would be wonderful, though.”

At her back door, he stopped once more and kissed her. “It’s good to see you.”

Confusion … And a Tangent

Pretty boy is napping. I’m sure he’s simply preparing for another night of chasing the kittens around the house while I write.

I was working and writing away last night, as I am wont to do, when I looked at the time. What in the world? It was 4:15. How had that happened?

Oh yeah. It hadn’t. Well, not really. My computer jumped ahead when I wasn’t paying attention.

For the rest of the day, every time I looked at a clock, momentary confusion grabbed hold of my mind and relaxed when I reminded it that I was actually in control and aware of the time change. It will take nearly a week for me to stop translating what time my body thinks it is to what time it actually is.

Now … this isn’t the point of the post, though it’s what sent my mind off and wandering. Oddly enough, my thoughts wandered over into the ugly yellowish-brown land of complainers.

There have been a great many posts complaining about the continuation of Daylight Savings Time. Complaints, fury, annoyance, on and on. Because posts on FB and Twitter about this are so danged effective (cough, cough, ahem).

This is one of my pet peeves that I do my best to avoid, though admittedly sometimes I fail. I can not bear complaints about things that we can’t change or won’t work to change. It’s a negative and useless method of communication.

Leaders of any organization will tell you that listening to complaints is one of their biggest time-sucks. Not only does it waste incredible amounts of time, but they have to overcome the drain – the strain of that negative conversation in order to move on and do something good. It’s huge and destructive to the health of organizations and people do not understand that.

I remember speaking to a pastor friend about some things that were driving me nuts – things that needed to be changed so the church could grow, get healthy, become more connected to the community. The one thing I promised was that I would never complain about something I wasn’t willing to dig in and help fix. Unless I had a healthy response to my own concerns, they were nothing more than whiny complaints. We’d already heard too much whining and complaining from people on the outside of the issues, who only showed up at moments of crisis, but never participated in anything else. Not something I want to emulate.

Caveat: speaking with customer service about a problem, contacting your congressperson with what you believe, actively participating in movements for change (or against change as the case may be for you) … those are not examples of unproductive complaining.

Back to Daylight Savings Times. Would I prefer that we just live in the time frame we are given? Yeah. Probably. Am I willing to start a movement? Not so much. So … while I might whine about the confusion that my poor addled brain has to suffer through twice a year, complaining about how that elusive *someone* should change this is a ridiculous waste of words, effort and time. As it is for nearly anything we choose to complain about, by the way.

My words (numerous as they may be) are more important to me than to be used in a negative manner. I want the words you read from me to lift you up … to lift me up.

And I want to read words from you that …
– fill my heart with joy
– challenge me to be better
– tell me who you are
– tell me your dreams
– ask about my dreams
– share your life
– explore struggles we overcome
– bring light to the world
– make us laugh
– make us cry
– lift our spirits
– bring goodness to the world
– set the bar higher
– restore faith in humanity’s goodness

The next time we’re ready to complain about something in a public forum … what if we were to step back and ask how effective our communication will be. I’m guessing we could come up with something much better to say.

…and that’s my rant for the month.

The Sound of Silence

Silence.

Wow. No fans blowing, the furnace isn’t running, cats are sleeping, no vehicles moving outside. Pure silence. Well … the clicking of my fingers across the keyboard, but otherwise …

When my life was filled with meetings and customers, busyness and activity, I didn’t think I would ever hear the sound of silence again. (Are you humming the tune?) Now I wonder how I ever lived without it. Silence restores me.

Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. There is nothing more fun for me that watching a movie or binge-ing on a television series, but when I turn it all off, my blood pressure responds. My shoulders fall, my body relaxes, my mind re-boots.

Silence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity and I will continue to notice and appreciate it for the gift that it is.

~~~

It’s hard to believe that in just a little more than two weeks, Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime will be in your hands. Sometimes my life is so surreal. I work, work, work, work and then it happens. Another book is published.

Weird.

Even though Book 18’s first chapter hasn’t been written, notes and ideas are filling up pages in my notebook. The story is becoming clearer and pretty soon, the only thing left to do will be to get the words out of my mind. That’s the fun part.

If you don’t know the drill by now, I publish every quarter. March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25. I can’t write any faster than that … so sorry! LOL. I appreciate your encouragement (that’s what we’ll call it, right?), though.

And for those of you who are new to this, I do not do pre-orders. Amazon’s rules around that make it impossible for me to run such a tight publishing schedule. You won’t find the book on Amazon until it is published.

~~~

For the last couple of weeks, Book 17 has been in the hands of my editors, leaving my brain extra time to process and come up with new ideas and new thoughts. It’s been awesome. But it’s also been overwhelming.

Once I land on a great idea, it isn’t enough to put it on a list and forget about it. I dig right in and find ways to make it real.

My brother (he’s also an author – you should check out his books) and I have been talking about so many different things lately. He’s just freakin’ useless. His standard comment to me is “Go! Do it.”

How can you not love that tummy? My Earl is so adorable.

Then when I get all uppity about there being too much on my plate, he reminds me to take it one step at a time. Smart-Alec. Sigh.

This week, I’ve been breaking things down. Instead of leaping into the deep end, I’m going to start at the four-foot level. Deep enough to satisfy my creativity, but not so much that I’m drowning. (I’m short, six feet of water might kill me.)

You see, I’m highly organized and manage my time really well. I build procrastination into my schedule so that when I can take no more, there is still time to breathe.

What overwhelms me is when my creativity explodes. I discover so many more things that I want to accomplish. Things that would never have occurred to me last year. But even in the midst of that insane pace, I find myself energized and excited. There is nothing better than knowing you can do what you dream about doing.

An evangelist that I knew and loved used to describe imagination as a ‘nation of images.’ The first time I heard him use that phrase, my mind leaped at it. That’s exactly how I feel when this frenzy of creativity, anticipation and expectation take over. There are millions of possibilities and they are all available for the taking.

I used to lament the fact that I wasn’t one of those people who chose one field of study, one talent, one ability, one thing to focus on so as to become an expert. That was never my personality. I wondered if I would ever discover a way to make use of the fact that I was quite good at a lot of things, but not an expert at anything.

My perspective has changed. The fact that I am not an expert at one single thing means that there are no limits to what I can do and explore. This doesn’t mean that I won’t always focus on getting better at the things that mean the most to me, but rather than feel as if I’m not something, now I understand that what I am is absolutely perfect for me.

Ahhh … enough babbling. It’s silent in here again and I think I’ll bask in that for a time.