Contemplating New Writing Goals

The original focus of this blog was the writing of my first novel. My goal was to help keep me focused on the end goal of getting my story written and into the world. It was to be historical fiction and my protagonist was a Black woman in the south who was married to a White man shortly after the end of the Civil War. I was finishing up the first draft just about the time all hell broke loose in the world. COVID scared us all into the safety of our homes and the death of George Floyd proved that, as a society, we still have work to do.

As a woman, certainly I’ve dealt with discrimination before, but watching the protests across the country, listening to author presentations of their writings, and reading the local newspapers, I learned about systemic racism and it was eye opening ~ to the point where I began to feel like I had no business trying to tell the story I wanted to tell. I did more research and the more information I gathered, the more convinced I was that I couldn’t tell this story and do it justice. At least not in the way I originally intended.

I likely shared this in an early post on this blog, but as a refresher, a genealogy loving friend of mine in South Carolina discovered a grave in a local cemetery belonging to my protagonist. Margaret was buried with her children, but there was no husband. This piqued my friend’s curiosity so he went searching for the missing man. Imagine our surprise to find out he was buried in another cemetery with no headstone marking his location. Margaret’s final resting place was within the grounds of a local historically Black church’s cemetery. Upon further investigation, my friend discovered that her husband was buried elsewhere because he was White. The lack of headstone may well have been punishment. Or for his own protection from others who disagreed with his life choices. Or perhaps the headstone was simply destroyed over the years by weather (or by vandals). It could be any of the above.

Margaret’s first child was born in 1874. Just a few short years after the end of the Civil War. I was overcome with curiosity about what her life must have been like. Surely, she was a badass, marrying a White man while most of the South was working overtime to come up with new “rules” to keep the races apart. I respected her strength as well as the obvious depth of her love for this man. Why else would you put yourself in such a position? Surely she knew what to expect and yet, she went ahead with it anyway. They went on to have 4-5 kids, so she was in it for the long haul.

If all of that wasn’t challenging enough, Margaret’s husband then died, leaving her a widow while the children were still quite young. Now she must navigate this life by herself.

After 2020 exploded on us, I realized there was really no way I would ever feel comfortable telling this amazing woman’s story. I was ignorant to the world Black families inhabited. I never worried my brother would go out to see a friend and never return. I never thought about being pulled over for reasons other than my very real distracted driving. I had no idea. And the more I learned what I didn’t know, the less confident I felt about writing a fictional account of Margaret’s life. The last thing I wanted to do was mess something up because I didn’t realize it was out there. I didn’t want to disrespect her or her descendants with a misguided attempt to honor her.

So, all of that is just to say that I’m scrapping the idea of a fictional imagination of Margaret’s life. Instead, I’m going to focus on the actual facts as we’ve been able to document them and my reflections of her life. That feels more authentic to me and something she and I can both be proud of. I’m thinking, perhaps, it could be something for women’s history month…maybe something for Juneteenth. I’ll need to write it first and see where it takes me, but I’m feeling a whole lot better about it already.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe I’ve been away from my blog for this long. My last post was back in 2020! It’s sometimes unbelievable how quickly time passes.

A lot has happened.

We adopted two kittens and had to put one of the older cats down (cancer in his spine). If you’re keeping track, that puts us back at five. One of the new adoptees had a terrible case of ringworm and we spent the better part of four months hauling him back and forth to the vet for lime dips, giving him baths at home (because of the smell of the dips) and living with him sequestered away from the others so no one else got sick. We were successful (though my husband and I both caught it) but it was tough going for a while.

During all of that, I had knee surgery to help ease the pain I’d been having. I’m too young for knee replacement, as it turns out, but not too young for cataracts (naturally), and I had to have cataract surgery on both eyes. Did I mention the root canal? I mean, you turn 50 and literally, all hell breaks loose.

My husband and I made the difficult decision to move back to Wisconsin from our beloved South Carolina. Our mothers were both older and I really began to feel like I needed to be closer. I worried about my mom and that opened the door to other feelings, like how much I missed my friends and the rest of my family. My husband’s mom has since passed away, which was heartbreaking.

By the fall of 2021, we were busy preparing the house for sale and on December 3, we packed up two ridiculously large moving trucks and with the help of my brother and my best friend, we hit the road with the very upset five cats. They were especially angry when it got cold (right about Indiana). Except for the oldest of the bunch, these are all “southern” cats that we adopted in South Carolina. They have never known cold and snow like they were about to bear witness to.

How are they adjusting? Let’s just say, they have all become lap cats. We should have moved them back years ago. HAHA.

I was able to turn my job from in-person in the office, into working remote in the frozen tundra. Most of the time it’s great, but we live about 30 minutes north of Milwaukee where the majority of our neighbors are of the four-legged bovine variety. The problem is that my internet connection goes out if the wind blows too hard. Which, after living in the land of hurricanes for the past decade, the wind blowing “hard” in the Midwest just feels silly (no disrespect to tornados).

I discovered something new that I loved though, out here in farm country. There’s a goat farm not far from our house. Who knew I loved baby goats?? Not me…not until I started seeing the babies hopping around their enclosure. They are near enough to the roadway that I gawk at them each and every time I drive by. As it turns out, there is nothing on the planet cuter than a baby goat. Take a goat yoga class and tell me otherwise. Go ahead…I dare you. You won’t be able to deny it. They are seriously adorable. They make me smile every day.

A brown and white baby goat surrounded by green grass.

It took us the better part of 2022 to get settled and back to the business of living our lives. Moving is such a huge transition and neither of us are getting any younger. My husband’s job search was impeded a little by our location. I mentioned we were out in the boonies, right? There’s nothing quite like living in the city to have your pick of jobs, but we didn’t want to live in the city anymore. We wanted quiet. Well, we found quiet, but it has required a few sacrifices. (Squirrely internet, anyone?)

But we are all settled in and getting back involved in activities with friends and family that we were enjoying before we moved away. It’s strange how the last 10 years almost feel like they never happened. They have turned into vacation memories now. Or a beautiful dream. It’s very surreal and more than a little sad.

But never say never. We may well find our way back to South Carolina once we retire and our work here (as they say) is done.

In the meantime, it’s time for me to get back to all of the things that bring me joy. Of course, the aforementioned family and friends, but also my writing, genealogy, reading and scrapbooking. I’ve rejoined genealogy and writing groups. We have three family weddings this year (the first of which is this Saturday). I would likely have missed two of the three, if we were still in the south ~ it’s NOT cheap to fly back and forth, let me tell you. I’m grateful to be able to be a part of it all. My brother has had a scary surgery and my mom has had two different procedures done…Surely I would have been flying up for at least one of her surgeries but now I don’t have to. At only a one hour drive (instead of a 16 hour drive) I can be to her house whenever she needs me and the reality of this has removed a fair amount of the stress I was under when I was 1,000 miles away.

Do I miss the palm trees and sunshine? Absolutely. It’s in the 30s here right now and we have a winter storm coming overnight tonight. But it’s not like I’ve never dealt with winter before. I was raised here. I’ll adjust.

Though my plans to become a snow bird are slowly beginning to take some shape…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Black Lives Matter

I’ve been mostly staying out of the conversation about everything going on in our country following the murder of George Floyd.  As a writer, I’ve been watching and soaking everything in, trying to collect myself and cut through all the social media noise. I didn’t want to speak out of turn.

I’ve watched many in the white community talk about what the black community needs and I often wonder how many of them have actually talked to their black neighbor or co-worker ~ or if they are just white people who think that, again (or still?), they know best. I don’t mean to criticize…I absolutely encourage people to get involved in whatever way they feel comfortable. Black out your profile on Facebook, join a protest, do what you can, but be careful to not put your words in anyone else’s mouth. Instead, let’s spend some time listening and really hearing each other.

I’ve also watched hate build.  As you all know, situations like this mean you often learn things about people you are close to that may surprise you. I’ve been caught off guard by many things I’ve seen on social media lately, but when some of the noise is coming from people you know and love, it can leave a whole other level of hurt and confusion in its wake.

Maybe it’s a lack of self-esteem, but for a long time, I’ve operated under the mindset that “no one will care what I have to say”. Not just about the current state of racial injustice, but about many things in our world today. I have feelings of inadequacy…I’m just a no-name person who couldn’t possibly have anything helpful to say about race, politics, or whatever else is going on in our country at any given time. I don’t necessarily feel like there is anything I can add to the conversation that is going to make a difference. I’m a woman, placing me into another group of Americans who have been discriminated against over the centuries, but I’m a white woman, so there’s still a voice in my head asking me what the hell I think I know about truly experiencing inequality.

I’m going to tell you right now, that I don’t have the answer and I won’t pretend to. I wish I could just snap my fingers and fix our world, but I know it’s not that easy. What I am going to share, is my personal experience. I suspect it might be similar to many people’s experiences and, truthfully, the conversations need to start somewhere. So, here goes…

I’m 51 years old. If you’re doing the math, you’ll know I grew up in the 70s & 80s. Cell phones had just been invented in the early 70s, but there were no smart phones that took photos and video and certainly none of us kids had one. Heck, very few parents had them. The internet didn’t come along until the early 80s and it was certainly nowhere near the information highway it is today. There was no social media ~ a kid could go out and do something stupid and it wouldn’t live on in infamy for the rest of your natural life. The bullies at school had to tease you face to face.

You get the idea.

I grew up in a very white suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I remember having a couple of Hispanic friends in school, but I didn’t meet anyone from any other racial groups until I was well into my 20s. I grew up in a bubble and generally knew little about what went on outside of my little world ~ a world where we were taught to “never talk about politics or religion in polite company.” Which, as I look back now, the unspoken addition to that statement could have been race and civil rights. Really, it included any topic that was likely to elicit strong opinions.

And maybe that’s the problem…how can we have conversations about sensitive issues when we were never taught how to do that? We’ve all watched our country’s political parties’ constant fighting and bickering, unable to find a way to communicate and meet in the middle on literally anything. Maybe it’s because we were never exposed to anyone else’s viewpoints because…you know… “don’t talk about politics”.  Wouldn’t it have been easier to explore other people’s viewpoints when they belonged to your close friends and family? If we had a disagreement with a friend, wouldn’t we try to understand where they were coming from and find a way to understand and compromise? I know this is a VERY over-simplistic idea, but maybe it’s part of the reason our country is struggling so much right now. Some of us don’t know how to accept anyone else’s opinion if it doesn’t match our own.

Anyway…to say I was ignorant of the world at large would have been an understatement. My view of the world, which I think is fairly common when you are young (at least back then), was innocently centered around myself. So many big things happened in Milwaukee during my youth…Jeffrey Dahmer comes immediately to mind. But the “big city” was so far away that it could have been in another country. Certainly I knew of Dahmer, but it wasn’t until I read a book about him decades later that I really stepped into the larger circle of what was going on in the city at that time. It was eye opening because I had no idea.

As I met and made friends with black men and women, I learned more about what life was like for them in Milwaukee. Even though I was learning, I still didn’t really “get it” until I moved away.

My husband and I were eager to escape the long, cold, Wisconsin winters. We landed in Charleston, South Carolina. I had been told by a friend who traveled frequently that Milwaukee was one of the most segregated cities in the country. I was dumbfounded at the time. It might have been God’s doing that found me relocating to, arguably, the very epicenter of the slave trade and racial oppression. Perhaps He thought an education might be in order.

And boy, have I learned some things. Although certainly, there is much more to learn.

Even before the murder of the nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, I became a student of Southern history. As a writer, I’m a huge reader, and I’ve been devouring books about Charleston’s history in an effort to learn about the unimaginable. The whole of this beautiful city was built on the backs of slave labor. The wealth of the city realized at the cost of thousands of deaths of the Africans they held in bondage. Often, as I read or visit historical sites around the city, I’m horrified by what happened here. And then, something like the tragedy at Mother Emanuel happens, and I am amazed to see how my adopted community came together, black and white, to speak out against the hatred that brought murder to the church that night in June. Tears came to my eyes as I listened to the families of the victims offer forgiveness. I don’t know if I would have been able to do the same in their position.

I walk through my neighborhood, and I see that Milwaukee’s segregated way of life is not the way all communities live. I don’t know about all neighborhoods in the South of course, but, the community I live in is home to all racial groups and it does my heart good. Certainly there’s hope for Milwaukee, Atlanta, Los Angeles and all the other cities in our country that are hurting. Surely, if Charleston can find peace and love, these other cities can too.

And then the video of George Floyd appeared on social media. Listening to him beg for his life is one of the most heart breaking things many of us have ever heard (certainly for this naive little Midwestern girl). Even Charleston lost a little of their collective composure (understandably so) the week after George’s murder. It’s quite clear to me (and anyone else paying attention) that there is still much work to be done.

Over all the years and everything I’ve learned, I wasn’t prepared for how this would make me feel. I saw a post on Facebook that I’ve been told was released by the Minneapolis Police Department whose officers were involved in George’s death (I have not fact checked the origin of the post, so this may not be true). The post apparently listed all of George’s run-in’s with the law. Almost like they were trying to justify what happened. No matter what he may or may not have done, he did not deserve to die. I was sick to my stomach. Since then, I’ve seen worse being posted and it so horrified me that I refuse to share it here and I’ve stepped away from social media for a while.

I’ve had wonderful black men and women in my life over the years and met many more. It tears me apart every time something like this happens and I imagine any of them having to live their lives with the very real fear that they or someone they love will be mistreated or killed. In fact, one of my friends in Milwaukee had that very thing happen, losing a family member to a police issued firearm.

I support the police. I support good police. I know there are many more good officers out there than bad ones. I’m grateful for their dedication to our communities, as they put their lives on the line to protect us each and every day. Sadly, however, the bad apples have made the largest impact lately and are getting the most air time. And just like that, all the slates of all the officers across the country who are doing great things in their communities are wiped clean.  Suddenly, all of the positive work officers have been doing goes up in smoke and they must begin again to rebuild trust.  Certainly, there is work to be done to prevent the bad officers from hitting the streets, but we need to also acknowledge and encourage all the officers out there doing right by the communities they serve. It doesn’t have to be an either or choice. You can support good police and also support racial equality. There has to be a way forward ~ together.

I’ve been encouraged by reports of community leaders who are beginning to have these conversations. Hopefully, George Floyd’s death won’t have been in vain and we can take real steps to prevent another family from having to bury a loved one under similar circumstances. People are angry right now. I get that. But I’ve got to believe we can come together peacefully and make change happen.

One nation, under God. Loving our neighbors as ourselves.

And listening.







Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thoughts on Coronavirus

I guess I spoke too soon when I suggested that perhaps I was back in the writing saddle. Coronavirus hadn’t quite gotten to South Carolina at that point. I think we maybe had a couple of cases then and it seemed like a far away threat.

It didn’t take long before I was unable to watch the news and I spent considerably less time on social media because the amount of Coronavirus coverage was getting to be more than I could stand. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they could all have decided what the actual truths were, but there has been so much conflicting information that it’s been frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes, downright unbelievable.

By the end of March, I was working from home and my husband was using up all of his vacation time so we could keep paying the mortgage after his employer decided maybe they should close up for a little while. (Gosh, you think??)

Because of my media boycott, I didn’t watch the numbers of cases continue to rise. I didn’t listen to our governor’s press conferences and I couldn’t stand the thought of watching the President’s daily updates that, oftentimes, had not a lick of new information,  leading to nothing more than a rehash of the information from the day before.

Because I continued working and was not spending my days sitting around looking for other projects to keep me busy, sheltering-in-place has done little to provide time for my writing.

It did, however, give me the time to gain about 10 pounds. Being too close to the kitchen every day can do that to you.


And with the extra pounds, my knee has gotten a little more painful. This becomes a vicious cycle because the more my knee hurts, the less active I become.  The less active I am, the stiffer the knee becomes (and the tighter my jeans become).  And on and on…

The bits of information I do get about the virus have shifted my thoughts to the realization that maybe it’s time to take better care of myself. I feel like I need some time to just focus on my health and well-being. That’s not to say that I won’t write sometimes, but for now, it needs to take a back seat.

When I focus on too many things at once, I tend to focus on myself last. If I don’t keep myself healthy, none of the rest of it matters.

I’m once again doing some at-home physical therapy to strengthen my knees, I’m making an effort to make better food choices, trying to get into a little weight training, and exploring the idea of meditation. In trying to move more, I’m seeking out walking trails that will make exercise more fun and I’m looking into other options, such as yoga.

For me to make this work, I needed a goal and a date to shoot for. Depending on what’s going on in the world in the next few months, I’m planning to head to Wisconsin to visit with family and friends in August. With a time frame in mind, I can work backwards and determine a realistic progress goal.

Wish me luck!




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Break caused by Change of Life? This is for the Ladies…

Well, Nanowrimo wasn’t the jump start I had hoped it would be. It’s a challenge to have something all consuming like that right as the holiday season kicks into high gear.

But more than that, I’ve been feeling…unmotivated.  At times, it felt like I was going through some kind of mid-life crisis.  None of the things that used to bring me joy…writing, scrapbooking, genealogy…I wasn’t interested in any of it.  And to lose interest in writing…after I’ve spend the better part of my adult life chasing bylines…well, it made me question everything.  Was my adult life, up to this point, a lie? And if it was, what the hell was I going to do with the second half of my life? And dammit, I wasted (arguably) some of the best years of my life on writing when I should have been doing something else?

It took some time for me to be able to think rationally about my lack of interest in things I used to love to do.  I thought about other parts of my life that weren’t as I felt they should be and I had a break through.  Could it be menopause? Sleep problems? Check. Mood changes? Check. Weight Gain? Check.

NOTE: This is about to turn into all-about-your-lady-parts, so any men reading may want to stop here.  If you read on, you do so at your own peril.  

I didn’t really have any definitive way of knowing where I was in the Change of Life process. I’d had an Endometrial Ablation procedure about 9 years ago, so I’ve been blessed with no periods for quite a while. It’s been a beautiful thing, but now, the most obvious marker of your trip into menopause was already gone. I’m not having hot flashes and I didn’t think seriously about any of the other symptoms. I’d been told by another doctors a couple of years ago that I was “too young” to be in menopause (I’m 50 now), so I let it go.  But the last six months or so, I’ve just been feeling so not myself that I knew I needed to figure out what was going on.

My OBGYN, though a wonderful physician, is younger than me. Considerably so, if I was to guess. I was skeptical about taking advice about menopause from someone who was so obviously nowhere near that part of her life yet. I wanted to talk to someone who really knew this stage of life because she was either in it herself as well, and/or had studied it extensively. And for sure, no male doctor. I mean…just NO.

I’d read a book a couple of years ago (which prompted my original question about menopause) that said there is a national directory of physicians who specialized in menopause. Find yourself a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP). Do it as soon as you begin missing periods or experiencing any of the other symptoms. A simple blood test will tell the doctor whether or not your body is still making any measurable amounts of Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone.

As you can probably guess, I was making next to nothing of any of them. Yep, knee deep in menopause and struggling day in and day out to keep it together and not eat my way through the candy aisle at the grocery store, or lose my shit on the Interstate and run someone off the road for not using a turn signal. My husband never knew which wife was coming home from work in the evening…the one he married or the one with horns coming out of her forehead who showed up seemingly overnight and most certainly uninvited.

My NCMP told me that menopause can get underway anytime after age 35 and last for as long as 10 years. Each woman is different, of course, but pay attention to your body. You notice when your husband or kids aren’t feeling well.  You instinctively know when your friends and coworkers are feeling under the weather. But oftentimes, we are not as able to see these same things in ourselves. We are trained to tough it out and keep going because our family needs us, we just can’t take time off work, or any number of other excuses. But let me tell you, if you aren’t feeling yourself, everything suffers.

I stopped writing ~ actually, all creative projects and interests have stopped.

My brain feels foggy, I can’t focus and I forget stupid things.

My husband needs only to look at me funny and I go ape shit.

I have no interest in most of the things that I used to enjoy doing.

My weight has spiraled and I struggle to control my diet.

I wake up easily 4-5 times a night, leaving me more tired in the morning than I was when I went to bed the night before. This creates a massive need for sugar/carbs to get myself through the day. I couldn’t break the cycle to save my soul.

I can pick a fight with anyone about any topic and I have zero tolerance for anything.

Basically, the only symptom I’m not having is hot flashes. At least not in the way I had always expected them to be based on the horror stories of other women.

I’ve started bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I’m only a week in, but my mood has already improved. And look at that…I’m writing a blog post.  🙂  Most women begin to feel better after two weeks of hormone replacement, so we’ll see how I feel in another week.

I was concerned at first, but my doctor explained that bio-identical hormones are safer than our parents synthetic hormones were. Studies have shown no marked increase in breast cancer risks for women taking bio-identical hormones (as compared to women who are not taking hormones at all). And in fact, they can help protect against heart disease and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s when you start taking them early.  My doctor said these benefits are more likely when women begin the bio-identical hormone replacement at a younger age, as opposed to beginning them at 60 or older.

Of course, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know if there is more than one type of bio-identical hormone or if they all share the same risks and benefits, so definitely talk with an NCMP in your area.

I’ve got a long way to go to get back to where I want to be, but I now feel like I have someone in my corner. I didn’t expect the hormones to magically fix everything, but to give me a helping hand regaining control.

Don’t suffer in silence, ladies. You don’t have to.  If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets through menopause in a couple of years, well, that’s great. But if you end up being one of the women who gets to enjoy this ride for a decade…I can tell you, I was NOT willing to feel this way that long.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Nanowrimo to the Rescue

So, I did decide to join Nanowrimo to try and get a draft of Faith in Salem written.  50,000 words in 30 days, means about 1600 words a day.  In three days, I’ve got 4923 words written. It’s requiring me to do a little research as I go…I know little about crystals, the Salem Witch Trials, or witchcraft ~ all things that Faith will be experimenting with.  I expect I will be making a lot of things up as I go along.  lol

But at this stage of the game, isn’t the point to get words on paper?  I can go back and edit later. But I can’t edit if the words aren’t there.

If you join Nanowrimo yourself, find me there:  jgwriter69


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Writing Faith in Salem

I’ve started writing Faith’s story. It’s been a little while away from my writing.  This time, instead of taking my writing with me to my work event, I left it at home. I wasn’t quite ready to commit to the story.  It was still percolating around in my head until earlier last week when the perfect beginning occurred to me.  So, I’ve finally begun.

This story is going to be my visit to the Salem Witch Trails, but it is set in modern day Salem. There will be a paranormal element and Faith will be visited by one or more of the women accused. Faith is going to get sucked into the magic of…well…magic. At least for a while.

That’s about the only statement I can make about it at this early date…I’ve only written 419 words so far. I’m going to just write and let the characters take me where they may.  I have a little idea about Faith’s background, but for details of her current life I’m going to give her more permission to tell me who she is, not that I’m telling her.

This may actually be the perfect time to begin this project, since it’s almost NANOWRIMO time of year. The month of November is right around the corner and I could use the inspiration to focus on my writing and try to knock out a very rough draft of this story. Y’all should join me!

Status of Mamie

I’m still shopping around my first book to agents. I am giving myself through the end of the year and if I don’t find one, then I’ll move on to finding a publisher myself. I’ve considered self-publishing, but I would truly prefer to put the book into the hands of professionals, for this first go around. Just as a confidence builder, if nothing else. I’ve joined the local writer’s association to surround myself with other writers and hopefully find a way through a publisher’s door.  It’s not easy, that’s for sure!

Dad’s Journey

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I’m tabling this right now. I’ve got the layout of the story completed…basically an outline that includes large portions of text. But there are so many other details that need to be added that I believe I will need to revisit this at a later date. There will be much research required for this…and more information about Dad’s time there.

So, if you’re keeping track, that makes three large projects going on at the same time.

To say nothing of the genealogy….

That all should keep me out of trouble for a while!


Filed under Uncategorized

Hurricane Dorian Stops In

Just as many of you, my husband and I were glued to our TV, watching Hurricane Dorian march across the Atlantic and stall out over the Bahamas. It has been heartbreaking to see the destruction ~ and also scary as hell, because we knew where Dorian was headed after his extended stay in the islands.


Radar of Dorian’s track as it passed by our shore. Too close for comfort, as it ramped up to a Cat 3. But a blessing, as it pulled water way from the shore.

Charleston was spared this time from the full effect of a powerful hurricane making landfall. Fortunately, for a city that sometimes experiences flooding during high tide, the tides and the strengthening of the storm as it reached our coast protected us from more devastating damage than lost power and fallen trees. The flooding could easily have been worse. Damage to homes could have been worse.

I haven’t heard of anyone in this area having lost their lives to Dorian, which is also a blessing.

It’s difficult to focus on anything but the storm for the week or so before it comes wandering into town. You know it’s coming, in some fashion for at least 7-10 days. Probably you’ve had some kind of expected landfall information further out than that, but most of us who live along the coast don’t tend to worry too much about it until we are somewhere in the 5-7 day range. If I remember correctly, Dorian was originally supposed to plow straight across Florida into the Gulf. Then he was going to make landfall along the Florida coast, head north to Orlando, and then we were expecting only rain by the time it got to us.

Of course, this information changes so often that early on, you roll your eyes and just get on with your life. Why waste your time worrying about a storm that may or may not even head this way?

But in the days leading up to Dorian’s actual arrival, I started getting worried.  Not outwardly worried ~ I wasn’t buying up every loaf of bread in the grocery store, but worried in a more subconscious way.

  • I slept even worse than normal.
  • I had migraine headaches.
  • I couldn’t focus on anything ~ so, no writing was done.

This is my fourth storm and, while I am far more relaxed than I was for the first one, I still maintain a healthy respect for their power. I’m reminded of that power every time I see a photo of the Bahamas, or Puerto Rico, or the Florida Panhandle.

And those images sit in the back of your brain as you wait day after day for the storm to continue its tour of the east coast.

It’s difficult to explain the feeling to someone who has never sat in wait for one of these beasts. You go on with your life all of these days, knowing it’s coming. You go to work, you go to the post office, the bank, you grab lunch at the local burger joint…all of these things are happening as if disaster isn’t potentially on it’s way to your town. It’s a little surreal.

5 guys

Dinner at Five Guys on Tuesday evening, before Dorian rolled in.

The best way I can explain it is this:

Imagine you live in a bad part of town. You go about your life, constantly looking over your shoulder because you never know when something bad is going to happen. The gang member might be right around the next corner, or maybe the drug deal might be happening in the parking lot of the shopping center and you certainly don’t want to have a run in with either. You go through your days on high alert, waiting for the inevitable. It’s like they are taunting you…enjoying your fear, they drag it out as long as they can. Maybe you’ll see a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye, or you’ll read about something that happened just down the street from your house. You know it’s getting closer, but there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it.

By the time the storm arrives, it’s almost like finally ~ let’s get on with it so we can get to the other side of it.

We lost power only a couple of hours into the 24 hours or so that Dorian was making his way past our coast. That’s the first time we’ve lost power during a storm. We remained without power for about 40 hours total. As inconvenient as it is, we all knew we dodged a bullet and I think most of the community shared a collective sigh of relief because we all knew how much worse it could have been.

Dorian went through Wednesday overnight to Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday were for getting caught back up at work, cleaning up the debris in our yard, and putting all the hurricane supplies back in the box so they were ready for next time. Hopefully, there won’t be a next time (this season at least).

With a deep, cleansing breath ~ and a shower, because, you know, yard clean up in the south ~ I’m able to refocus on my writing. I’ve only done large edits…moving chunks of text from one place to another, but it’s something. I’m grateful to have been able to do that much.

I’m grateful to be able to sit in my air conditioned house, with the sun shining bright in my windows, where my story remained safely on a flash drive, waiting for my return.

I’m grateful to have picked up branches and not have to pull a tree out of a second floor bedroom.

I’m grateful to have propped up a portion of our fence that the wind took down, and not have had the roof torn off the house.

I’ll take these smaller inconveniences any day.

And I’ll be grateful.


Photo by Carl Attard from Pexels


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Plans Derailed

Well, as any of you who have been with me for a while can expect, my plan was derailed.  I mean, after all, it’s right in the title of this blog that things are going to interfere with my plans on a fairly regular basis. haha.

If you recall, I was going to take large chunks of time on the weekends and dedicate them to one project or another so I could really invest some productive time and effort to make measurable progress.

I didn’t even make it one week.

My husband works 4th shift in a manufacturing plant. Fourth shift is a weekend only shift, so he works 12 hours Saturday and 12 hours Sunday. Because the plant is open 24/7, they need machines and equipment running 24/7. The 4th shift alternates with 1st, 2nd and 3rd…so when 1st shift works their weekend, he works 3rd shift and so on.

The next weekend after my big announcement that I was going to invest all of this time into my projects, hubby happened to be on first shift.  I was looking at 12 hours days of being completely on my own. He works 10-10…leaving our house at 9am and not getting back until 10:30pm.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this:  I love my husband. I do.

I completely enjoy those weekends when he’s off at work all day. When he’s working third shift, I have to be quiet in the house so he can sleep during the day. I have to watch what I make for lunch so the smell doesn’t wake him up (fish, spinach and mushrooms are no-no’s). I feel the need to run outside and kick our neighbors in the shins when they get their lawn mowers out. Generally, I spend more time worrying about helping him get the sleep he needs than I spend doing anything else those weekends. This is, actually, the best time to just leave the house and go shopping, but that’s a whole other story.  haha.

On his first shift weekends, all bets are off.  You’ll find shrimp and salmon cooking on the stove. I’ve got the radio turned up so I can sing along as I fold laundry. I turn off the air conditioning and open windows to let in the smell of all that freshly cut grass.

So, it was a first shift weekend and I was doing everything else but writing.  My back and knees were protesting loudly about the amount of housework they were forced to participate in. I cleaned out closets, my office and the laundry room. I organized and purged. By the time I was done, there was no way I was sitting at the computer. I was flat out on my super comfy sofa.  🙂

The weekend after that, I was preparing for one of everyone’s favorite exams – the colonoscopy. I turned 50 in April and my doctor just couldn’t wait to hook me up with another old person exam. The doctor’s office had, ten years ago, gleefully sent me up for my first mammogram. That’s been an annual joy ever since. Happy birthday, Julie! For your birthday this year, we’re giving you a referral to Charleston GI. Best birthday gift ever. 

Last weekend, I needed a break. I didn’t do one damn thing but read my book (I still have 200 pages left of the old confederate widow book) and watch TV. That’s not completely true…I also did a book review.  But you know what? It felt great! Every once in a while, I think everyone needs to just have a weekend to lay low and waste away the hours. It felt so indulgent…almost naughty. In today’s world, we are truly not conditioned to relax, but to just keep moving, moving, moving!

So after my mini sabbatical, this weekend rolls around and I feel recharged. It’s another first shift weekend for hubby, but I was focused and ready to go. I’ve been working on my story about my dad all morning and made some great progress.  To the point where I felt I needed to stop, print it out, and do a first bit of editing.  I’ve been busy with stream of consciousness writing…just getting as many of the easy parts coming from my head and my life experiences down on paper. I know there is repetition that needs to be cleaned up. I also need to find the breaks between each experience where I plan to cover dad’s military service and what was going on in Vietnam while he was there.   It feels like a good place to stop for today so I can let the writing breathe a little before I get my red pen out and begin slicing and dicing.

That does not, however, mean I’m headed to my sofa (although it looks so very inviting). I’m spending the rest of the afternoon working on my family tree. I’ve got some tintype photos I want to try and get restored…I have Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers I’m searching for details on their war service, and I have to begin collecting birth certificates that will enable me to keep going backwards in time with confidence that I haven’t accidentally taken a fork in the road.

I’m blogging about that journey as well ~ check it out at:


Word count: 11,639

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A New Plan Takes Shape

I’ve been forced to make a new plan.  I was trying to do a different project each night of the week.  One night was for my crafts…one for writing…one for genealogy…you get the idea. But by the time I got home from work, made dinner and cleaned up afterwards, I didn’t have all that much time left.  And a lot of nights, I just didn’t have it in me to do anything but relax on the previously mentioned sofa.

Well, this weekend, I thought I would try something different.  I decided I was going to dedicate a block of time…4 hours…to working on writing projects, whatever they might be. So, I wrote an entry into my Story of My Life book. I did a little research and wrote a bit more for my dad’s story, I wrote a synopsis of my novel for my latest submission, and I’m writing this blog post.

I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

On top of all of that, I started reading another book review book, and read a few pages of the book I’m reading because I want to: Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. I’m about halfway through it right now and it’s been a little challenging to get into, but it’s been a great story. If you ever wondered what the world was like through the experiences of a regular person during the Civil War and beyond, you’ll feel like you are actually there, living it along side the characters. There is a little bit of flashing back and forth from the old folks home where the widow is living out her final days back to the days of her youth. The transitions are sometimes jarring…I don’t expect them and sometimes don’t realize we’ve time traveled right away. But otherwise, I’m enjoying it.

I would keep going, but I’m exhausted.  I didn’t take one of my weekend naps today (I absolutely love a good nap) so I didn’t get a chance to recharge. Now it’s almost 10pm, so I may as well just go to bed and begin again tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to an equally productive day tomorrow. I wish productive days for all of YOU as well!


Word Count 6,500

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized