A Pleasant Surprise…..

I have posted on more than one occasion about the frustration of no commercial breakthrough despite having now published 15 novels, 3 non-fiction, and co-authored 4 non-fiction books. Fortunately, the satisfaction in creating those books and the enjoyment of the small, yet loyal fan base I have is greater than the frustration. I received a pleasant surprise a few days ago when Hubby came in from work and said a young lady he’d been guiding asked if he was the one who wrote books or if it was his wife. She then asked if I would select one of my books for her to buy and sign it. Since I’m hoping she becomes one of those loyal fans, I started her with Shades of Truth. I wrote a note explaining I chose that as it is the original scuba-themed mystery series and I later spun  the character of Chris Green to create that series. To add to my surprise, one of the individuals who works at the dive shop was in on part of the conversation and told Hubby to tell me his mother was asking when the next book would come out. At some point she started reading me and buys all my books on Kindle. These are those “high moments” and are familiar to any creative person.

It would be wonderful if we did live in a world where people could afford to buy as many books, pieces of art, as much music as they wanted or attend as many performances in whatever form as they wished. Better yet, if there were enough philanthropists or government resources to fund even more free performances, book, music, and art distribution. It doesn’t work that way of course and thus a great many people who would like to spend their lives in a creative way must instead have it more as a “hobby” or choose to have a lower standard of living while pursuing whichever Muse drives them. It is an old story that really hasn’t changed ever since humans took that first step to express themselves in some form of art.

Creative Spirit on Display……

Big day Saturday! This is a follow-up to the previous posting as it is a bit more about the Homestead Center for the Arts Art and Artisan Show we’re having. For anyone who has been in South Florida in July, you’ll understand why we’re holding the show inside with air conditioning. Even though it is a large facility, that still means space is more limited than if we have it at one of the outdoor venues. We have thirty four vendors lined up, plus one civic group and our two tables for HCA. Because we have a lot of artists in HCA, they and our woodturners basically had first priority for space. Then it was other HCA members involved in either a craft or in a couple of cases, a specific group we thought would appeal to the market we are going after. One of our members has a small publishing company and a bookstore up in Miami and that relates to the Lamplighters Writers group that has recently been re-energized. Then in opening up to non-HCA members, we were looking for a nice mix of options for our “unique shopping experience”.

We have done a couple of planned campaigns on social media and encouraged everyone we know to use their social media accounts and email lists. We are popping up all over Facebook and apparently have been on Instagram several times and we did do an old fashioned print ad in the local paper. How many attendees we’ll actually get is of course the big unknown at the moment. We are about as well organized as can be and set-up tomorrow afternoon for the tables and chairs should help make check-in of the vendors Saturday morning go more smoothly. We are all keeping our fingers crossed as summer thunderstorms are common. The good thing is even if it does rain, it usually passes fairly quickly and everyone around here is accustomed to the pattern. With the show from 12:00-5:00, there should be ample opportunity to work around rain if it does happen.

Days Zipping Past….

Things have been extra hectic as sometimes happens with multiple commitments. It’s also part of why I wasn’t able to get out to dive in June and not sure how the rest of July will go either. It’s not uncommon for me to miss both months because during peak dive season the boats are often full on the few days I’m available.

Anyway, one of the things I was busy with was preparing for, then holding a presentation for high school students in the College and Career Prep Program of the Homestead Mexican-American Council (MAC). https://www.mexamcouncil.org

It’s a great program that runs all year with extra sessions in the summer. This year they have 20 students in the classes and 20 students in a variety of companies/organizations as interns. The title of the presentation was, “The Writing Journey: Rarely a Straight Path”. This is version three as I tailor this to the audience I am talking to. It was a combination of my own extended and circuitous path to writing and some of creative process with crafting a novel and a “cozy series” in particular. All the students were polite and several were actually interested.

Another big chunk of the week has been juggling multiple tasks involved with our upcoming Art and Artisan Show. This is the event we were supposed to have last year. If we are successful, our intent is this will be a premiere event annually in April or March. (There is one other annual event we have to work around so we don’t schedule them both too closely together). We held a small version in 2019 as a part of our Homestead Center for the Arts Showcase and that’s what led us to try for something “bigger and better”. With only a couple of exceptions all the vendors are artists or artisans with hand-crafted items. We have a nice variety with jewelry, a couple of our woodturners, a lady who does hand painted mail boxes, soaps and lotions, and more.

This is no “flea market”; it’s a boutique shopping experience that we think will resonate with the community.

The Whole Time Travel Thing…..

Like many children, I think “A Wrinkle in Time” was the first science fiction book I read. I suppose it’s as much fantasy though and I did not read her other books. I’ve mentioned that in my prolific reading, I went through phases; most of my science fiction later with the standards of Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and so forth.

Time travel is such a popular notion and perhaps it’s rooted in the longing to either find out the truth of what happened in the past or wondering if there is a way to get the ultimate “do-over” and correct a mistake. That of course immediately brings to mind the danger of “correcting or preventing a wrong” without realizing the interference will have ultimately far worse consequences. There were a few episodes involving time travel in the original Star Trek series, none more poignant than when Captain Kirk has to accept the death of an innocent woman in order to bring the world back into proper alignment.

Then there are humorous treatments like in the movie Back to the Future where the character of Marty McFly must avoid romantic intentions of the high school student who will actually become his mother. What brought all this to mind was watching another episode of Northern Exposure as the character Shelley worried about the birth of their child; something they never expected to happen because she’s married to the much older Holling. In realizing she’s encountering her future daughter at different ages, she dashes in to see Chris, who assures her he too believes in stepping through the space-time continuum; not that he has done so, yet in the existence of it. In response to her question of why someone would chose to appear at a specific time, he explains if he had the ability, he would go back to an earlier generation of his family to let them know that while things looked bleak during the Great Depression, they would make it through.

In the quirky way of the show, what the final encounter between Shelley and her now almost adult daughter reveals is Shelly won’t make it to the hospital, but instead give birth above the bar where they live making the event a part of the community. And as they rest with the infant after, she knows the future is bright.

Working On The Holidays…..

Hubby got called in to work today even though he was supposed to be off. On the other hand, he frequently teaches or guides on the holidays as those are popular times to go diving. We’re only having the one guest over this evening, so I adjusted the time back by an hour and I’ll have to do most of the prep work for dinner. I’m working some too, as the newspaper publishing deadline is the same whether this is a holiday weekend or not.

There have of course always been jobs that are 365/24/7; police, fire, hospitals, parts of the military. Even units are that not in a constant “alert” mode are required to have what are called “duty officers and NCOs”; a pair that is “on duty” nights, weekends, and holidays. Airports and other transportation areas often fall into the same category as do most hotels. Anyway, there was a time when stores and restaurants weren’t generally open all night or on the holidays. That’s changed significantly with a profusion of convenience stores, fast food and diner-type places open 24-hours and all the special holiday sales can mean people on duty, too. For some, the overtime pay makes it worthwhile and in some cases, work is their life so it doesn’t matter. For others, it’s a tiresome aspect and they try to muster enough energy and good feeling to get though the shift. If I do have to dash into a store for some forgotten item or am out to eat, I make it a point to thank them for being open. It’s a small thing that may not matter or perhaps it does.

If there is a level of stress, say being in a restaurant that is short-staffed, I try to not add to the stress by complaining; you can’t always get enough people who are willing to work. So here’s a salute to everyone who doesn’t particularly want to spend a holiday working, yet who takes it in stride and does whatever the job is while others are celebrating.

Of The Seven Deadly Sins….

Musing ahead alert. A recent situation set me to pondering about the insidious nature of greed and if jealousy was not in fact an element of greed. Before I proceed with that thought, Christianity lists the sins as “pride, covetousness (also known as avarice or greed), lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth”, with some verbal tweaking over the centuries. Keeping in mind the “sins” are related to the Ten Commandments, although not a one-for-one.

So, if you take, “Thou shalt not covet”,  as the sin of “envy”, think about what causes one to envy. Someone wants something someone else has. Isn’t that, in a way, “greed”? While the concept of greed brings to mind money, it can certainly be any material item, but also a desire for that position at work, that prestige, that marriage/relationship, those looks; pick from multiple categories. Granted, if someone is impoverished and simply envies someone who isn’t, then it may not be considered greed. On the other hand, many people who are not impoverished may well want more – more of many things which does reflect a level of greed even though it is easily defined as envy. Carrying that further, greed can then lead to terrible and ugly behaviors/actions. I’ll set aside the truly horrible of wars waged and “turf battles” for the sake of this post. How about “office politics” that causes strife among co-workers? Or cutting down other individuals in a social setting? On a larger scale, businesses that raise prices for that extra profit when they think they have a “captured market”? In trying not to stray into politics, one of the hallmarks of capitalism is to open the way for that individual who can figure out how to “break the hold on a market” and offer a better deal. As we see though, greed can strike again and efforts can come together to “squeeze out the competition”. In a lot of cases though, the new can hang on and maybe not replace the “top dog”, yet maintain a solid footing.



The Dilemma of Doing The Right Thing…..

Sort of musing here. In continuing with watching old episodes of the TV series, “Northern Exposure”, yesterday’s main plot depicted in two different scenarios was about doing the right thing. In one case it was acknowledging being bested in what would have been a lucrative business deal and the other was temptation to cheat on income tax. There were of course the usual rationalizations about why it wasn’t really cheating even though the “savvy” businessman was certain he had included a provision in the deal that would benefit him in the future at the expense of the other individual. After all, that was just smart business. The fact the other individual slipped in a different provision far more in his favor was – well, that was “unfair”. On the tax side, hey, the government gets plenty of our money and it was a small amount in question they would never know about. In both situations, the right choice was ultimately made at a financial cost to the individuals, plus a severe blow to the pride of the wealthier businessman.

The expression exists that, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking”, and sounds good in principle. Let’s take traffic violations as a simple example though. An individual is behind someone driving 5 miles per hour under the posted speed limit and no way to pass. The slow driver is in fact obeying the law. And yet, the odds are the individual behind will be irritated going into anger depending on how long the situation lasts. Well, “everyone” knows the posted limit isn’t really the limit. And yes, drivers stopped are often let off with a warning depending on the circumstances and the officer involved. In many cases, unless it’s something like a school zone and it is less than 5 miles an hour over, a stop won’t even occur. One logical reason is speedometers can vary, and in reality, if there is no sign of other careless driving, an officer does “look the other way”. On the other hand, that doesn’t always work out and once the ticket is issued and the fine (often hefty)  paid, there is usually great indignation on the part of the ticketed driver.

Dueling Perspectives….

I posted previously about the movie, “Ford Vs Ferrari”, and how enjoyable it was. I actually have four favorites scenes; all of which emphasize the juxtaposition of independent sports car builder Carroll Shelby and the corporate aspect of collaborating with Ford. In the movie, Lee Iacocca, who is responsible for Ford bringing the Mustang to the American people, is prominently featured in several places. The feud that grew up between Ford and Ferrari lasted longer than indicated in the movie, but Hollywood versions often compress timelines for the sake of “flow”.

So, skipping forward. I have also explained how I have insomnia and many mornings as I can’t get back to sleep, I fix a cup of chamomile tea and read non-fiction (book or magazine) as I drink my tea. I took out “Iacocca: An Autobiography” written by him and William Novak. It was published in 1984 which is of course after he was at Chrysler. (This is one of the books Hubby had when we merged households.) I started the chapter about the Mustang a couple of nights ago and was genuinely surprised. There was a great deal about how the car was developed, questions surrounding the decisions, and the wild success for several years. There was not, however, any mention of the drawn-out acrimony with Ferrari or of the momentous Le Mans races. A complete slice of American automobile history he was very much a part of, was completely excluded. Now, I am only part way through the book and perhaps he comes around to it later. Or, perhaps in view of him ultimately being fired from the top ranks of Ford, he chose not to include this highlight of Henry Ford II. Perhaps for some odd reason, he didn’t view this with the same reverence as many automobile enthusiasts.  Maybe there is an autobiography of Carroll Shelby I can read one of these days and see what he has to say.

New Experience…..

Okay, when I offered to take friend up for a medical appointment/procedure, I forgot there would be a major bureaucratic angle. Well, not forget as much as not think of. So, first sunny Florida is not so much today; although it may be clearing as I write this. At least I didn’t have to drive during rush hour and we’ll see what happens on the return. We get in and get parked and now we discover the restriction on no family or friends with the patient is still very much in place. Oh, and the usual nice waiting areas are no longer available. I did bring the notebook computer anticipating a long wait. What I did not expect was the wait would be outside where chairs – not what one would call comfortable – and a couple of tables are. No access to the cafeteria, but there are small bottles of water in a chiller. No outlet and I’m not sure how long the charge on the computer will last. I should be able to make it at least through this post. I did also charge up my little recharger for the phone in case I need to resort to that. Since the table I’m sitting at is wet and I don’t have many tissues in my bag, I could only wipe off a portion and can’t get my mouse out. This little notebook is a bit tricky with using the cursor. I’ll have to be careful not to inadvertently delete items as I type. Anyway, it’s working for now and that’s what matters. I found it interesting that even though we had our masks on, they handed us new ones. I suppose that does make sense from their perspective. After all, they don’t know where ours have been, how often they are washed, etc.

The next issue will be when I am supposed to go join my friend as she has never been to this place before and the other times I have been were in other parts of the very large building. At this point I am outside on the ground floor and she is upstairs somewhere on the second floor. Added to that, she may have more than one procedure and I don’t know if that will be in the same area. As I said in the title; a new experience. Close out; the rain held off for a while, we did reconnect and there will be a follow-up appointment at a later date.

On the other hand, despite rain all the way back. there was a late lunch – well, more like a Happy Hour that included wine.

Am Amusing Memory…..

A comment from a friend triggered another memory from many, many years ago. I’ve explained how I was what I call “an inadvertent pioneer” during my Army career and that I was part of the Army Ordnance Corps by basically an odd set of circumstances. In case you didn’t read that post, that was the maintenance side of the Ordnance Corps. My initial official category was as a “Tank, Ground Mobility Material Management Officer”. Anyway, after leaving Fort McCellan, AL where they put us through what was essentially a Basic Course, I went to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD for two separate courses. The Ordnance Officers Basic Course was where all of us were together. That was three months; then those who were in Ammunition, Missile Maintenance, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal went off to other locations for the second part of training. That meant I was at Aberdeen for six months. The staff (called a cadre) obviously got to know us well in that amount of time.

Our post office boxes were in the same building as the company headquarters and so the cadre (who were all Captains and Majors) often crossed paths with us between training sessions. One of my girlfriends and I were standing outside the building talking on a day with quite a few clouds and it was just starting to sprinkle. We were almost through with our conversation and one of the cadre hurried past to get into the building. We saluted smartly and he turned as he was under the overhang and said in tone between amusement and exasperation, “You two do realize don’t you, they say second lieutenants don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”

There really wasn’t much we could say in response, so merely saluted again and didn’t get too wet as we finished talking.