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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

My Book Obsession

In Life Essays, writing on September 28, 2010 at 5:55 am

From the minute I learned about books, I have loved to read, and to write. I still remember getting my first library card. I was 7 years old, we had moved from Los Angele to Canton, Ohio, and there was a public library on the route that I walked to my new school. My mother took me to get my own library card, and I would take home stacks of books in my Snoopy bookbag (we didn’t use backpacks back then) that was stretching at the seams. I’d read every book, and return them to the library for a new stack.

We only lived in that house for a few months, while our new home was being built. There was no library near our new home in the little Amish town outside of Canton, but the bookmobile came to our school from the Canton library every two weeks. I would borrow as many books as they would allow me to take every time they came.  I read voraciously, and the bookmobile librarians knew what I liked to read, and would put aside special books to bring for me. That is when I first learned to make friends with the librarians.

Summers were difficult because there was no book mobile, and in the early 70’s, my mother didn’t have her own car. I read every printed word I could find. Any book my parents left laying around was fair game, Carl Sandburg’s Lincoln, a few different versions of The Bible, a very old dictionary that my father had, even the phone book.

I remember the first book I ever bought with my own money. It was a large green book of Anderson’s Fairy Tales…..I read this several times. My mom admonished me for wasting my money on a book, when I could get them for free from the library. I however, was hooked. I wanted to own as many books as I could, and slowly began collecting.

Some are antiques, some are actually autographed by my favorite authors, such as Erma Bombeck, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, and romance writer’s Charlotte Maclay and Jill Marie Landis among others.

I don’t just read fiction, as I said I’ll read anything, and at one point when I was writing two food columns, one for a newspaper, and one for a magazine, I had a collection of more than 300 cookbooks.

Over the years, and after having to move heavy boxes of books, too many times to talk about, I have culled my collection. It’s always difficult to get rid of a book, but I make myself donate them to the library booksale, or offer them to friends and family that I know love to read every now and then.

When my boys were learning to read, I filled their rooms with books. They still read. My oldest loves Greek mythology, and classic horror such as Edgar Allen Poe, my middle and younger sons are into science fantasy. The youngest occasionally volunteers at our library, and recently started bringing home boxes of books from the Friends of the Library Booksale.  It really is getting out of hand, but I don’t know how to tell him he has to let go of some of the books!!

We really need to have a library in our home, but I don’t think that will happen until the last two boys move out. I dream of a room with walls of books, an old fashioned book shelf ladder, and a window seat filled with comfy cushions where I will sit and read.

I don’t have a Nook or a Kindle yet, although the possibilities there are very exciting, and I’m thinking of asking for one for Christmas this year…..however, I doubt if that will replace the feel of a book in my hand, the feel of turning the paper pages as I read each page…each chapter….and how do you get one autographed anyway???

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Procrastination/Redirecting Tomato/Tomatoe

In Life Essays, writing on September 27, 2010 at 10:12 am

It seems that a lot of writer’s have a problem with procrastination. I see questions on forums and in writing groups such as “how do you keep yourself motivated” “I think I’m the queen of procrastination what do I do?”

I personally don’t think I like the word procrastinating, I’m sure I never procrastinate when it comes to my writing, after all I love writing….I prefer to say that I’m “redirecting”…I’m not writing because I’ve redirected my attention to the housework (you know I like a clean house,and I live with 3 guys and a black dog, this isn’t procrastination it’s necessity….right?”) cooking (hey, again I have 3 guys to feed, this is a time consuming job! not just the cooking, but the shopping and clean up)… the sewing I want to do for the holidays, well, it won’t be the holidays unless I sew!!… exercise….okay, anything but the exercise, I’ll redirect my energy right back toward the writing so that I don’t have to exercise…..hmmmm, maybe that’s a plan, have my trainer call to set up an appointment more often so that I can procrastinate on my workout by HAVING TO WRITE!

I think that should solve the problem….oh, and no time for my annual mammogram, I HAVE TO WRITE….hey, this could work out well…….nope, can’t help you guys clean out the garage I HAVE TO WRITE……I may be able to redirect right back to my writing….and get out of a few things I just hate to do!!!

Sorry guys, gotta go,  I think I have to write!!

Redirecting my attention to the Torrance Farmer's Market

Notebooks, Journals & Run-On Sentences

In Life Essays, writing on September 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

So I’ve been on a quest to read writing blogs, and this morning on the Harlequin site, I really connected with Natalie Anderson’s blog on  journal issues, “It’s My Journal and I’ll Write if I want to”,  so I decided that journals would be a good subject for my blog today:

My husband says I’m responsible for the death of more trees than anyone else he knows.  Spiral notebooks are my addiction, and I’m afraid I have them for every “category” of my life; one for my current writing project, which means one for every past writing project, and one for each idea I have for future writing projects, one for personal reflection, one for cooking, one for
holiday planning.

Then of course, I tear out pages to reorganize them into binders…yes,
it’s true, and for my writing, I have to keep every draft…and all of
my notes, so there are pockets in those binders for little notes I’ve
written to myself, research that I’ve done that I don’t want misplaced,
and pages with notes that refer to other pages, and pages that I’ve
actually cut up and glued back together in a new order…….now that’s
not a big deal when you are writing a short story, or poetry or a 2000
word article, (okay, it’s pretty obsessive compulsive) but I have a 3″
deep binder for a book, with several gold 10″ X 13″ envelopes with
the remains of the first 3 or 4 drafts, notebook pages, scraps of paper, and other miscellaneous goodies that require their own file drawer…..

The really crazy thing is, for Christmas my middle son
bought me a beautiful journal with a sterling silver front cover
specially engraved for me with a matching slim sterling silver pen, and then in July for my birthday my husband bought me a beautiful
handmade leather journal with handmade paper pages…..I’m afraid to
write in either….what if I make a mistake….how could I write
something that isn’t perfect in these beautiful journals….IT’S JUST TOO MUCH PRESSURE FOR ME…..seriously, there is no pressure when you write with a  10 cent clear Bic pen, in a spiral notebook that you bought for 15 cents at a back to school sale……….

So, I hear you…journal online, write online….keep it in a laptop, neatly organized with files and categories, but all in one spot…you simply don’t understand me. There are certain things that I simply must write by hand, and somethings that I need to cross out and write over, and I like writing slanted notes in the margins, and I like to see the way my handwriting looks on different days as the ideas spill out of me, and sometimes I don’t want my the journal where I write about my real life anywhere near the pages that contain the fictional lives of my characters…because you know of course, my real life never influences my characters lives….of course…..you know that right? Okay, maybe just a little….

Did I tell you all that I am the Queen of Run-On Sentences????? (Please refer to my previous blog entry “Still the Queen”)

Getting Into Character

In Life Essays, writing on September 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

So today is an all day writing day. I’m not doing laundry…although it needs to be done, no dusting, vacuuming….okay, I made my bed, and I’ll cook dinner, but that’s where it ends. Today is for writing.  Sam Hunter, author of Pick Me Up a Blaze novel, commented on this today in a writing forum, calling it “Bracketing”, and it really made me think about how often I let the lines of my life blur….and do my character’s do that?

I don’t know how many other writer’s feel that their character’s tell their own story, I’ve seen a few comments from other writer’s, but I feel very strongly that my characters have a story to tell, and I want to let them tell it. My current character, Randi lives in Hermosa Beach, which isn’t far from me. I often see her running on the beach, or sitting in the window of the old building that she lives in on Pier Avenue……in my head of course, because she’s purely fictional, but right now….for me….she’s real. Just ask my husband how real she is, sometimes I think it may scare him!!

Anyway, I can see that Randi is also guilty of letting the lines of her life blur. The beach is right outside her window. She’s a fashion designer, and will slip out to run on the beach, or take a dip in the ocean, when she gets tired of sitting at her design table or sewing machine.

So today, I’m taking my pen and my notebook (yes I write my drafts by hand, then edit on the computer) and I’m going to the beach with RandiAt the Beach. Yes, we’ll probably power walk on the beach (this will frustrate her because she’d prefer to run, but I’m not much of a runner), we’ll just say that it stimulates our creative juices, and after enjoying our yogurts and fresh fruit while listening to the waves crash, we can both sit in the sand…her with her drawing pad, and me with my notebook, and we’ll work……….

Pigs Are Friends Not Food

In Life Essays, Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Those of you who know me, know that I spent half of my childhood growing up in the same little Amish town where my father grew up. I spent a lot of happy years running pretty free in our little neighborhood surrounded by cornfields and rolling hills. And, it was always exciting when my parents announced a trip to my Aunt Judy and Uncle Ed’s farm in Kentucky.

On the farm there were several hundred acres of trees and pastures, there were cows, chickens and pigs. We understood that the animals were there to provide food. The cows were milked, and the milk sent to a local dairy, the chickens laid eggs, and the pigs were slaughtered for meat……all but Brunhilda. Brunhilda was a special pig. She must have weighed 500 pounds (please keep in mind that I was a little girl, and she seemed huge to me, I have no idea how much she really weighed, and it would have been rude to ask her of course!)

Anyway, Brunhilda was our friend. I was seven when I met Brunhilda. We (Buddy, my little brother and I) would ride on her back around the pigpen. Brunhilda and I had more than a couple of long girl talks….well, really I talked, she snorted occasionally… she was quite a good listener. So over the years, we developed a close relationship. The first thing I’d ask when I talked to my aunt or uncle was of course…..”How is Brunhilda?” She was always fine.

When I was a teenager and my family moved back to my native Los Angeles, we stopped at the farm for a night before continuing on our trip. We got there late at night, but as always my aunt had a lovely dinner prepared for us, mashed potatoes with gravy, pork chops and applesauce, a nice hearty farm meal. I enjoyed the meal while the adults talked, and finally I asked about Brunhilda. My Uncle Ed looked solemnly at me, and nodded toward what was left of my pork chop. I was horrified. Had I really been eating my friend?

Years later as an adult, thoughts of Brunhilda led me to eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and for many years I avoided pork.

And when my youngest brother, Victor, who had been a baby when we left Ohio, joined the army, he went to boot camp in Kentucky. On one of his leaves, he went down to the farm to visit with our aunt and uncle, and Victor accused our Uncle Ed of making me a vegetarian!

“What are you talking about?”  Uncle Ed asked him, and Victor relayed the story of Brunhilda as I had told it to him.

Now my Uncle Ed is not a small man. He’s a big, manly farmer, I always thought of him as a giant….the Paul Bunyon type….(okay, I’m not denying that in this story I may be slightly prone to exaggeration, but it’s my story, so let me tell it!). Anyway, apparently when Victor told him the story, our Uncle Ed began laughing hysterically, he laughed until he cried, and he laughed until he was rolling on the floor…..(hey, that’s how I heard the story, I wasn’t there, so if that’s an exaggeration, it’s not my fault). Eventually, my big, lovable uncle was able to contain himself, and told my brother “If I told Tari that, I was just kidding….we never ate Brunhilda, she was a pet!” He thought it was hysterical that I had avoided meat for so many years because I thought we’d eaten my favorite pig.

I was relieved to find out that we hadn’t eaten Brunhilda, and a few years later when Uncle Ed was ill, I decided I wanted to send him a little gift to cheer him up. I found a t-shirt that said exactly what I wanted to say….unfortunately, it only came in pink, but somehow that seemed appropriate. The front of the shirt said:

“Pigs are friends NOT FOOD!”

I still have wonderful memories of roaming on the farm, holding the piglets, riding Brunhilda, and especially of my Aunt Judy and Uncle Ed.