About Those Mushrooms…..

When we have leftover steak, one of the dishes we make is steak in mushroom sauce. It so happens Publix often carries a gourmet mushroom mix with something like six or seven different types. We can use any variety in the dish of course, but I always get this one if they have it in stock. I also very carefully push the mushrooms to one side for Hubby to have and me to avoid. This, as with a number of other foods, concerns Hubby as he continues to think I might someday discover a mushroom I like. I won’t say it’s impossible since I did finally find one method of cooking Brussel sprouts and that took me by surprise. Anyway, mushrooms are another case of not minding the flavor which is why I’m fine with having them in a dish as long as I can pick them out. It’s the texture I can’t handle.

When I’m at restaurant with Hubby it’s not a bit of a problem to order a dish with them because he’s happy to have extra. If I’m with anyone else, I politely inquire before ordering the dish and mostly there will be someone at the table who will take them. That also generally initiates conversations about who doesn’t eat what and there can be some amusing stories shared. I’m not referring to allergies which are rarely amusing – rather to likes and dislikes – and then there are those people who seem able and willing to eat literally anything. One guy I worked with who quite frankly could be rather odd swore he loved tripe, sweetbreads, tongue, and so forth. It might even be true and if so, he probably didn’t have too many people trying to swipe food from his plate.

Asparagus is another example of me never having been a fan. I could manage it lightly steamed with lemon juice or other flavoring. It was not until I had it roasted and grilled that I came actually enjoy it. Preparation can make all the difference at times.

Naked Magicians and Other…..

It’s true, although Hubby and I don’t plan to attend. I admit, when I first heard this I was waiting for the proverbial punchline. However, these two Australian guys have put together an act which is apparently quite popular. Based on the description, they disrobe on stage and then cleverly manage to perform magic tricks with very obviously “nothing up their sleeves”. It’s another of those comedy-infused shows which is the opposite side of the dramatic type. It’s also very much an adult show and not intended to be otherwise. I’m not sure if the word “bawdy” is used much these days, but my impression is that’s the appropriate term. They will be at the Seminole Theatre October 14th and several friends have tickets already. (http://seminoletheatre.org) I have no problem with the show and think it’s an entertaining idea – we just aren’t much into magic and comedy.

In fact, this is the fourth season for the theatre which means the director (who is superb) has had the chance to analyze attendance and actively seeks feedback. The 2018-2019 season is bigger than ever and has quite a mix – literally something for everyone. The way performances and events work is the theatre books the Showcase Series and then other performances come in through a variety of means. Local/regional groups book, attendees can refer ideas, etc. With another nice grant last year they were finally able to have film capability, so that medium has been added. There was an element considering the original Seminole Theatre was for silent movies and when the renovation was done to transform it into a performing arts center, film capability was initially held back. That was an economic decision since the retrofit could be managed without too much difficulty.

The season opened with Lee Ann Womack and a packed house. Not only was she as good as anticipated, the opening act of Andrew Duhon (a Louisiana guy) was excellent. We picked up his latest CD and Hubby is thoroughly enjoying it.

Capturing Memoirs…..

Among the presentations I routinely offer is, “Capturing Family Memoirs”. It is often a popular topic and especially applicable to my peer group. Many of us are reaching a stage where we are concerned about losing family stories we may have grown up with that haven’t been committed to paper. As our parents, aunts, and uncles pass away, if we don’t have those stories written, they disappear. I will make the point that capturing a memory first-hand doesn’t always mean it is an accurate portrayal; merely it is the memory of the individual writing/telling about it.

There are really only three significant points about writing memoirs and everything else is linked to those. Point One is people tend to bog down by trying to go in some kind of chronological order. Content is what matters. An early memory might branch into something related that happened later.  An event of special importance was likely to have happened at an older age. Capture the memory as it becomes clear, or as clear as you (or the individual you are listening to) can. Once the content is down, it becomes a matter of sequencing as part of editing. This can be critical  for older individuals who may be providing oral history. Allow him/her to simply talk so as not to interrupt the memory process. In general, questions can be asked later. Point Two is it doesn’t matter if the memories are captured in sentences, fragments, bullet points, etc. Smoothing those is also a function of editing. Point Three is perspective. Individuals will often recall the same event in different ways or something one recalls as incredibly important may have been forgotten by someone else. In some cases, there can be objective information provided to clarify a situation/event. For example, the whole ancestry industry provides access to dates, places, and names that might have been either forgotten or errors perpetuated over time.

There are other interesting aspects I discuss during the presentation, but the essence is for all we may have in common, in other cases, we do have stories of unique things/events or obstacles/successes dealt with that later generations may want to know about. Even if the plan is not to share it with others, writing for oneself can have value.

Separate, But Equal…

No, not the famous Supreme Court case. The reference is to my two different series of scuba-themed mysteries. I may have mentioned before I hadn’t intended to do a sequel to Shades of Murder, but one thing led to another. Nor did I intend for the character of Chris Green to be anything more than a great character I created for Shades of Truth. I can’t honestly recall when I started thinking about a spin-off series with her. I suppose it was because I had crafted the persona of Detective Bev Henderson in such a way that I wanted a character who was, shall we say – a bit “looser” in her views of life in general. Bev can be a bit judgmental and she won’t be traveling away from Verde Key.

When I wrote Deadly Doubloons, I wasn’t planning to do False Front and Georgina’s Grief back-to-back. It so happens the plot lines developed in my head and were more compatible with Chris than Bev. Then I certainly didn’t intend to get involved in the Small Town quilting series or the other non-fiction projects I did which ultimately caused Bev to languish for 11 years. In fact, I was startled when I looked one day and realized how long she’d been neglected. No, I don’t exactly think of them as real people; on the other hand, there is an element of that. I’ve been getting a fair amount of feedback about the murderer I developed for Shades of Deception, and yes, she is disturbing. It was an intriguing concept and I wasn’t sure how well it would work until I really got going with the story. The sequencing of events was rather tricky since four chapters in the first part of the book might not seem to be related until the reader approached a certain point. Not that those chapters were clues, per se, but instead wove a theme that came into focus later.

Getting Caught Up…..

Ah, I thought I was managing all my to-dos for my return and realized I missed a breakfast meeting on Thursday. That’s what I get for not putting something on my calendar once I schedule it. I suppose when the function exists to sync my calendar with making an appointment I should actually try that. I know a number of people who do so and they can seem to master it. On the other hand, as I have mentioned, I use a very limited number of the functions on my smart phone.

Anyway, if I can manage to get through tomorrow, things will be a little better. We’ve been struggling for over a year now to get the whole-house standby generator project completed – a process that should have taken about 4 months. I admit having Hurricane Irma thrown in last year was not the fault of the individuals who were part of the process. The constant delays at virtually every step, however, and more irritatingly, not keeping us advised of why there were delays were the source of our frustration. Ironically, with recent improvements to the power grid and underground wiring, we might never actually need the generator. In consideration of the high cost, that would seem to be a questionable decision, but it does provide a distinct degree of peace of mind. It also means we can look for a new home for the portable generator which does take up a fair amount of space in the garage. One load of old electronics did get carted to the appropriate disposal spot so that gives another couple of feet.

I do owe a follow-up email or two from my travels and I will get those done soon, although tomorrow is especially hectic. In fact, most of what I am doing today is because I simply can’t fit it all in tomorrow, even though I’ll be up early as usual. Ah well, it’s not as if this is the first time I’ve been super busy and I suspect it won’t be the last.

Sept Trip, Day 5…..

The longest segment of driving for this trip managed to coincide with the threatened rain. Initially, it was merely annoying with the wipers on and off every little bit, although there were stretches with no precipitation. And when the intensity significantly increased, at least traffic wasn’t too bad, unlike one lengthy slowdown prior to that. In all fairness, as I hit the last hour of the drive and looked to the west at the even worse thunderheads with very visible lightning, I realized I would probably be okay if I could make the turn more south within about fifteen minutes. I was glad to see that mess in my rear view window as I drove away and finally did get sunshine after about 30 miles.

The friends I’m staying with have season tickets to our shared university and it was a home game. We’d already agreed I’d just come on to the house and my girlfriend checked in with me at half-time. I was safely ensconced at that point, glass of wine poured and full from having stopped for dinner at one of the local Mexican restaurants. It did make for a later night than usual for me, but the home team did also win which couldn’t be said for the prior week. We all caught up with the basics and we’ll be going to brunch at one of the lakeside restaurants when they return from Mass. It is overcast and possibly more rain today although the front is supposed to be clearing. The next leg of driving to see relatives on my mother’s side of the family is very short, so even if it is bothersome, it won’t take long.

Sept Trip, Day 2….

The drive from Shreveport to Kimberling City on Table Rock Lake is about seven hours. Most of it is fairly easy driving until the last 80 or so miles when the road reduces to two lanes with lots of curves as you wind up into the Ozarks on the way toward Branson. Our friends have a lovely view of the lake from both floors and if it was daylight, I would probably be posting this from the balcony. Their guest bedroom arrangement is perfect for me because it is on the lower level while their master is above. There also happens to be a wet bar with a coffee maker down here which means I can rise at my usual 5-5:30, have coffee, and work my email/do posts without risking disturbing anyone else. And speaking of connectivity, the husband half of the couple gave me a hug and handed me the info for the wireless network. It is the world we live in these days.

So, my girlfriend and I went for a late lunch to a place that was a bit of a drive, but quite scenic. Table Rock Lake is huge and there are communities and marinas dotted all over it. There are over 43,000 acres to the lake and 500 miles of shoreline when you add them all up. Anyway, the restaurant specializes in catfish and broasted chicken. The obvious solution was to eat catfish there and bring home chicken. While not the best catfish I’ve ever had, it was definitely delicious and certainly worth the drive. As it turns out, they have opened another restaurant slightly closer at a marina and park (either State or part of the NPS) and we drove in to check it out. It will be open only part of the year, but won’t close for another couple of weeks. They have a machine with fish food you can buy, so the ducks, fish and even turtles are accustomed to having food thrown to them. The ducks and fish we expected – the turtles were a surprise.

We returned to do some more catching up, then enjoyed the sunset  view from their balcony. With quite a few clouds, it wasn’t as spectacular as they often get, but still some lovely colors as the clouds were tinged with pink and gold and the colors also reflect somewhat into the lake. We’ll see what the weather does today before we make a decision as to the excursion we plan.


Sept Trip, Day 1

Okay, it’s been a long day. Traffic was terrible getting to MIA, but the Super Shuttle driver did manage to make it with enough time for me to get one coffee before boarding. Flight was pretty smooth. Second leg of trip encountered some delays, although that did give me time to have a real lunch at a Fridays. That also meant a later start out of Shreveport with the rental car though, so I didn’t make it as far as I wanted today. In fact, I’ve stopped in the town of Malvern where there are no full service restaurants. There is a pizza place very close to the motel and they did something interesting. They have a surprising array of pizzas, plus subs and salads. They do a buffet and the girl at the register kept assuring me it was a better deal than just ordering. She was correct of course, but I also didn’t need the all you can eat option. Anyway, it was one big room with maybe thirty tables and about half full. The pizzas were on the buffet line (to include dessert ones), but what the waitresses did was when a new pizza came out of the kitchen, they walked around with it, calling out the type. They served anyone who wanted a slice right off the pizza pan, then placed the leftover slices onto the buffet line. Everyone was quite friendly and I was probably the only stranger in the place based on the conversations I was hearing.

I’ve been told the weather may turn a bit tomorrow so we’ll see how the rest of the drive goes. I think about 3-4 more hours and I’ll lose the Interstate at some point.

When It Comes to Subplots…..

One of the interesting aspects of writing is working through the use and type of subplots to include in a novel. In some cases an author has already developed them as part of the main plot and it’s a matter of how much detail to include and the sequencing of them. At other times they may literally emerge as the main plot is being crafted. When writing a series, it can be a subplot is created specifically to serve as either a main plot later or more often, it’s to continue to fully develop a character/characters. The relationship between characters is probably the most common subplot because the entire range of family, friends, romance, and even enemies is available. Geography, culture, history, activities come in to play as well. My scuba-themed novels of course enable me to describe the underwater realm we love and provide either adventure for the character to pursue and/or pose a danger. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the reason I’m adamant about being technically correct when I write about something like treasure hunting is because I want readers to feel a part of whatever experience I put the characters through even though it is fiction.

Metaphorically speaking, subplots serve as curves, hills, and scenery along the trip of the story. In some cases, a subplot can appeal to a reader almost as much as the main plot. Someone ask me the other day what new book I was working on and I had to confess I’m hung up a bit with trying to create an extra subplot to weave in. It may be one of those situations where I need to simply work on the main plot and subplots I’ve already decided on and see if anything else emerges/unfolds during the process. It’s not the infamous “writer’s block” that can cause angst – it’s more like deciding to tackle another part of a puzzle until you can sort out that mass of pieces in one spot.

Tempests in Teapots…..

Notwithstanding the naive factor of the question, “Why can’t we all just get along?”, a significant portion of the past two weeks has been spent caught up in situations where that is a central question. The simplistic bottom line answer is, “because of human nature”, but the point of “civilized behavior” is in millennia past we made the decision to try and seek resolutions with “win-win” or at least consensus. For those who have not yet read, To Play On Grass Fields, credibly managing this theme is part of what took me twenty years to write what is a very different book for me that was inspired by my time in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy in the closing months of my Army Career.

Anyway, as I have mentioned, my specialties for our weekly community newspaper does not include controversy. In a rare agreement (and really more to do with timing), I was pulled into a story where a local business through no fault of their own was thrust into a swirl of controversy. It had to do with a reporter most definitely for another paper sensationalizing a sensitive topic. The reporter allegedly returned and agreed certain phrases in the article might have been inappropriate. I hope everything does calm down. http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/eedition/page-a/page_89d65bb5-9dfa-5a89-ae1e-1eb14dffb8de.html

Okay, on to something far less nationalized. Of the different non-profit boards I sit on, a long-simmering issue erupted in one of them. In trying to draw more support for “Position A” than “Position B”, a group of people supporting “A” found what they thought was a loophole to involve some of us who normally would not be involved. The end result was a great deal of intense emotion being stirred up. A significant amount of time has been expended and it looks as if perhaps a reasonable resolution is in the works. I happen to have a greater degree of background into the controversy than one of the new individuals in the organization. He asked me to explain the background. I gave him the “short version” and he said he really wanted to try and understand. As I finished the
long version”, I used the worn phrase of, “It’s complicated.” He softly said, “No it isn’t. It’s pride and miscommunication.” Indeed, and doesn’t that so often apply?