Happy Thanksgiving! My Top Ten List Thursday, Nov 27 2008 

Auntie M is waiting to put the cornbread in the oven, and decided to sit down to list Top Ten list of things to be thankful for this year:

1. My family, always number 1:  The best husband ever, the nicest children, the greatest grands.  My delight and my treasure.

2. My writing group: Screw Iowa beats the band.  These four women keep my writing, keep me advancing, keep me feeling I can call myself a writer.

3. My home: The Briary is a sweet retreat for us after losing our NY home in a fire.  Phoenix from the ashes time.  Lovely view right on the river.

4. My friends: Who keep me sane at times of chaos, the touchpoint in an everchanging world.

5. My dogs: Those creatures of unswervering love, always ready to please, always ready to be loved and to love you in return.  Doggie breath rules~

6. Nature: that surrounds us every day.  The deer, beer, foxes, multitudes of birds, the tiny chipmunks and grey squirrels, (pox to red ants and spiders, sorry).  The woods, filled with pine cones and leafy oaks; the river filled with fish and on occasion porpoises.  Moonlight that dances off the river and stars that seem to go on forever.  Fresh air and sunshine.

7. My writing: my solace, my treat, my accomplishment.  Days of research and nights of plotting.  Making up tragedy and comedy and taking a turn at making things turn out just the way I want them to.

8. My books: the material things I adore, the greatest hobby to travel to far places and inhabit other worlds; the paper, the scent of ink, the firmness in my hands.  The great writers to look forward to; the great worlds they create and I get to inhabit for a time.

9. My country: a nation where we can have vast differences but smooth transitions, where literally anyone can imagine growing up to be President, where despite its harshness at times, it is still the embodiment of a melting pot.

10. My health: my bionic knees and crumbling back and rolls of girth , laughter, that still houses my forgetful mind and conscience and my heart.

What’s on your list of things to be thankful for????

Tag, You’re IT! Wednesday, Nov 26 2008 

GREEN GIRL tagged me with a one word assault on my brain.  Here goes:

Where is your cell phone? car
Where is your significant other? library
Your hair color? reddyblonde
Your mother? neurotic
Your father? dead
Your favorite thing? sex
Your dream last night? Bellerose
Your dream/goal? published
The room you’re in? library

Your hobby? reading
Your fear? wheelchair
Where do you want to be in 6 years? England
Where were you last night? home
What you’re not? skinny
One of your wish-list items? books

Where you grew up? Floral Park
Last thing you did? cook
What are you wearing? sweats
Your TV? off
Your pet? muppet-like
Your computer?SOS

Your mood? Tired
Missing someone? Mel
Your car? dusty
Something you’re not wearing? underwear
Favorite store? Blackwell’s
Your summer? mosquito-y
Love someone? Infinitely
Your favorite color? Blue
When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday
Last time you cried?
Hospital

Now I’m tagging Nina Romano and Hen, if you’re out there reading!

Yowser! Wednesday, Nov 26 2008 

Tonight Auntie M and Paramedic Son are watching the finals of Dancing with the Stars.  Yes, I know it’s a silly reality show, not worth the time I spend on it, filled with so-so celebs, but i enjoy ballroom dancing, an when it’s done right, it rocks.  So I watch it here and there, and we’re down to two.  One is a good dancer, the other a good entertainer; one is a model/host and mother of four; the other is a burly football player.  I like that the football player, Warren Sapp, has made it to the finals, because I’ve enjoyed watching this large man get jiggy with it.  He’s become light on his feet, has loosened his hips, and isn’t afraid of new things.  I like the woman because despite an admitted poor memory(and iwth four kids home, one 8 mos, I totally understand), she’s attractive, she did the dances the way she should be done, and she brought a big smile to it with long legs, and a sexy elegance.

Wait no longer: it’s Brooke Burke and her dancer partner whatever his name is Blondie!

OK, really bad post, but I’m super tired.  It’s been like having a new born baby this last week.

NEED SLEEP!

When Will There Be Good News? Friday, Nov 21 2008 

Kate Atkinson is an author whose books I admire, especially her series featuring (the reluctant) former PI Jackson Brodie, who finds himself embroiled in rescuing people, whether he want to or not.

Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year award for Behind the Scenes at the Museum, her first novel.  Case Histories and One Good Turn are the first two featuring Brodie, an enigmatic man whose private life is as messy as the cases he gets involved in.

I thought I knew the depth of this author until reading When Will There Be Good News? Here is a writer at the height of her powers, her characters so real they jump off the page, her plot as twisted as a squiggly tree branch.  The resolution of the threads she presents are ultimately satisfying, and yet filled with surprise.

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Don’t miss this book from a fantastic writer.  Have I steered you wrong yet?

On another note, Paramedic son is home from the hospital and staying with us so his wife can go back to work.  He filled with gas, gets to have his mum give him an injection in the belly twice a day, and is soldiering on.  We’re thrilled to have him here and thank you all for your good wishes and positive light.

Positive Energy Monday, Nov 17 2008 

Bloggers unite:

Auntie M is hoping for each of you to send some positive energy tonight and tomorrow to Paramedic son.

He’s a VERY good medic

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He’s a volunteer fireman

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Yep, that’s him, sunglasses in the back row, with some of his EMT-Firemen team.  Their unit is over a hundred years old in the town of Belhaven, NC.

He’s kind to old people, wonderful with children, ruthless with drug addicts.  He’s sensitive and usually cheerful (being a Gemini, he’s mostly very, very good but on occasion can be horrid).  He’s a married guy but he’s still my baby.

Said son is having surgery tomorrow.  He stopped smoking three years ago and we are very happy and proud of him on so many levels.  Now this surgery will get him into shape, and as much as we support him and know things will be just fine, Mum still worries. . .so please, send your good thoughts, prayers, blessings or plain positive energy winging it’s way to him.  He deserves it.

And thank you~

Writing and Books and Plays (and NO math!) Saturday, Nov 15 2008 

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Auntie M has long hated math in any form.  Not because I failed at it, although I did come close with trigonometry) but because it frustrates me in its solidness.  I like fluidity better, words that flow and caress, ideas that are acted out in front of me, books that take me on travels and adventures.

That’s why I enjoyed this trip to NY so much on so many levels.

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In this view, the Chrysler Building, that famous example of Art Deco architecture, is on the left near the MetLife Building; the Empire State Bldg (and site of two of my favorite movies, “Love Affair” and “Sleepless in Seattle”) on the right.  There’s something about the cosmopolitan excitement of the city that never fails to energize me.

This trip held several surprises, too.  Three of us from Screw Iowa were going up to meet with The Agent Who Knows All about the status of the book proposal he’d sent out for the book all five of us wrote as a collaboration on our writing workshop method.  Lauren was practically sitting shiva on the Jersey turnpike, convinced we were turned down by all four.  Nina was saying novena’s in the back seat.  Lo and behold, the news was that ALL FOUR publishers want to read our full manuscript!  Great news for any writer to hear.  We’re fixing a few typo’s, pinching and tweaking, and it will be on its way shortly.  Godspeed and then some.

We followed that with our Screw Iowa presentation at The Writers Room, a mecca for writers who need quiet space to work away from their often small and/or noisy homes.  After our hour talk and question period, the group stayed, heavily into a publishing discussion. . .and stayed. . .and stayed–and hour and 45 minutes after our time ran out.  Another great experience, although dinner was awfully late that evening.

Speaking of dinner, I don’t know how people survive with Big Apple prices all the time.  At 9PM at night we still had to wait 15 minutes for a table at a restaurant.  Little signs of a recession up there.  But I digress.

That same weekend our Nina found out her second book of poetry will be published in 2010 by Kitsune Press.  Called “Coffeehouse Meditations,” half of the poems were written at and are observations from Starbucks!  We finally peeled her off the ceiling with delight to see an Off-Broadway play on its closing night, “Blue By Morning” which we adored.

We also saw “The 39 Steps” and it lived up to its promise.  How can you miss when satirizing the famous Hitchcock spy movie, with 148 parts played by two men?  The staging was a choreography of sorts, with an actor going out one door dressed as a detective and coming right back in the next as a woman.  Both of these men mastered a different accent, stance, facial expression, etc. for each character.  It was truly amazing.  Funny and masterful, with references to Hitch’s other movies and many laughs.  There is something about live theatre that surpasses performing in any other modality, the sweat flying off the actors in the hot lights, the pulse of the laughter of the audience, the music, the lights, the heart of it all.

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This is the cast I saw, with Sam Robards playing the harassed gentleman who gets caught up in a spy caper.  The two men on the right exchange the various parts; note the garters and socks on the man in the middle that stay put during any and all of his varied roles.

It was a great few days away, although Radar, Murray, and of course, Doc, were all mighty happy to see me.

There’s something great about going away and having new experiences, but it’s always good to be home again.

A Hallowe’en PS Sunday, Nov 2 2008 

Auntie M and Doc don’t get trick-or-treaters.  Living at the end of a dusty dirt lane a mile off the state road does not inspire youngsters to trek here, so we haven’t had to buy candy since we’ve moved in.  Since our grands live in Minnesota, we see their costumes via snaps, until last year when we were actually there on the 31st, and made the rounds with them. (Suitably attired, I might add, in a green wig and pointy black hat for moi while Doc sported a scary monster mask.)  It was great fun.

So, the 31sts sort of comes and goes here, although we do have our pumpkin display outside, white one included, and on our table, the centerpiece includes oranges studded with cloves for a nice fall scent, in a basket with sunflowers, indian corn and cotton bolls from the local fields.  We celebrate the season anyway.

My friend Laura from LI and I send each other a “Boo” every year.  I have a large one done in orange glitter and a smaller one painted on a  wooden pumpkin.  This year’s was a cylinder of wheat, wrapped in twine, with a ceramic BOO hanging from it.  Doc has a white ghost that sings and moves around on the floor that amuses the dogs, as it waves it arms and sings “I want candy, lots of candy.”  See how we get our kicks?

I’ve enjoyed the various posts I’ve read of your costumes and  traditions.  Auntie M will be away all next week, back on Nov 11th.  She’s heading to the Big Apple with two of her Screw Iowa writing buddies to do a presentation on their book, meet with The Agent Who Knows All, have far too many meetings, and see some shows and some friends.  The laptop is not coming, as we are booked for the time I’ll be away and it wouldn’t get turned on, so I will miss your posts and catch up when I return.

In the meantime, I leave you with these lyrics from Cinderella, written by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston (what an imagination!):

Salagadoola

Menchikaboola

BIBBIDI-BOBBIDI-BOO!

Now you know how to spell your favorite incantation.  And you though I was just another pretty face. . .

Miss Orban Sunday, Nov 2 2008 

Now, who is Miss Orban, you ask?  She was Auntie M’s piano teacher, from second through seventh grade, on and off.  And she deserves a blog named after her since she persevered with this recalcitrant student through all of those years.

Miss Orban was a typical spinster of the 50’s.  She had spider plants in the porch where her victim (I thought) waited my turn at the upright in her living room, listening as she patiently guided the student before me  stumbling through the latest etude/sontatina/march.  She always wore a pressed dress, with a linen hankie stuffed up one sleeve which she used to clean her glasses.  Her hair was permed in a crest of tight curls which never wavered.  Her house smelled old, like I thought she was, although now at my own lofty age, I realize she was probably about the lofty age I am now. Humph.

She also had small dark eyes which peered at me from behind her glasses.  And an uncanny ability to know whether I had really practiced my scales that week, or the piece I was learning.  I chafed at her choice of pieces.  Mozart, Chopin, Bach and Beethovan.  More dead people I’d never heard of, like Scarlatti, Pachelbel and Vivaldi.  Each year at Christmas she gave me a small white bust of some composer.

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Once I had the temerity to ask her if I could learn a modern song, something snazzy, something I might actually know from the radio.  “One day,” was her answer.  I never asked again.

After the lesson at the piano, I had to do the tough stuff: work through a paper lesson on music theory at the card table she kept set up during lessons at the foot of her stairs.  I spent more time staring at the stained glass window that was on her landing than focusing on her lessons, but I had to finish it to get out of there.

Years pass, I play a Christmas carol here, “Fur Elise” there for Doc, finally stop playing all together.  When our house burned down, I lost my composer heads (yes, I’d dragged them with me through a marriage and six other moves until we married.)

And then Doc got me this keyboard recently, and I’ve been practicing again.  And you know what?  I remember those lessons in theory and know what the timing, signs and signature mean.  I have a few ‘recognizable’ songs I’m learning, but they tend to be show tunes.  And the majority of what I’m playing?

Bach, Mozart, Beethovan and Chopin.  I’m re-learning those very sonata’s and sonatina’s I loathed in my youth.  They sound familiar to me now, classical, enduring.  I’m happy when they sound like they should.  I’m thrilled I know how to read music.  I’m enjoying  playing for myself, and when I do, both dogs lie down and listen.  Either it hurts their ears or puts them to sleep, but they are quiet and leave me alone.  I’m practicing one of Doc’s favorite songs to surprise him with on Thanksgiving–can’t tell you what yet in case he peeks at this–but it’s from a Broadway show.  I’m fiddling with buttons that make my Bach sound like a harpsichord and my Pachelbel sound like a string ensemble.  I love it.  I love that I can do it.

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Paramedic son is having some surgery in a few weeks and will recup for a few days at our house postop so his wife can keep working.  He plays guitar, very well, but learned by ear and can’t read music.  He wants me to teach him to read music and to play my keyboard whilst he’s here.  I’ve ordered him a beginner’s book, the same one Miss Orban used to teach me, still in print.  I’ve also found a beginner’s version of “House of the Rising Sun,” which he’ll learn AFTER he learns an easy version of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” as I realize it’s perfect for finger warmup and learning.

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Thank you Miss Orban.  I only wish I’d known to thank you sooner.

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

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JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Saving the planet one day at a time.