Meet the Neighbors

Yesterday I finally got out to look again beyond the lanai at all the flora. I needed the soothing vibrant colors and the sun after a slight accident when my slipper caught on the venetian blind and I lost my balance. Landed on my well-cushioned butt. It still hurts! My neck too. So as an exercise in appreciating what I have, I took my photo stroll. The banana tree above is in the side yard. It’s a lush yard full of palms and flowers and lest you feel my life is paradise, I ran into some trouble when minutes later I ventured out on my first solo trip to the local grocery store just down the road. All would have been fine if I had not turned the wrong way leaving the store. I figured out what I had done when I passed the paint store we’d shopped at. I knew it was the other way. So I pulled onto a side street; I knew my house was in there somewhere. I clicked on my phone map. In that nano second, I hit a mailbox which went flying everywhere.

Put the car into reverse to fess up and as I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a very large man in his driveway with his hands on his hips and a disgruntled look on his face. I carefully drove in and he turned out to be very nice, as was his wife. But they called the police, who did not issue me a ticket, for which I am eternally grateful. The homeowners, meanwhile, had stored my frozen food in their freezer and my perishables in their fridge. (They had an extra one in the garage.) While the report was being written up they had me come in and sit down and gave me water. Very kind. Al (on phone) talked to the mailbox owner who said this was the third time his mailbox had been hit so he had specifically used concrete to anchor it. It would be expensive to replace. Al is repulsed by the word “expensive.”

But the important thing was no one was hurt. “It was just a mailbox” the owner said when I kept apologizing. He said he was just happy I was okay and that I didn’t try to speed away! He was wondering if he’d have to chase me down. The reason they called the police was because I had a Michigan license plate, a Michigan car registration, and a St Pete address on my driver’s license. Nothing saying I lived where I said I did. So it seemed a bit suspicious. I believe I said I’d drive him to my house and show him the deed, but he declined.

Back home, Al was pissed. Of course he was. I’d just been in an accident in the bedroom a few days ago and when I confessed I’d taken my eyes off the road in front of me for one second, he was steaming. Unlike the hot tub he was supposed to be warming up for me! “So this is my punishment?” I asked. Listen, it’s been stressful. We moved twice this year on our own. Now with his stitches (never mind, he’s fine, and he would kill me twice if I told a story about him. Yes, he reads this blog now! Sometimes.) So anyway, he could not carry in the heavy groceries as he usually does. With my butt, my neck had also been whacked. Or my head. This is accident one in the bedroom, not accident two in the car. After I accused him of torture, he turned on the hot tub and we went in.

All my pain and trouble instantly dissolved. My butt didn’t hurt anymore, nor did my neck. I was buoyant! The bubbles were soothing. Al came in and we enjoyed an interlude of peace. Later, I grabbed the bar to get out and it was wet and my grip was weak, so I slipped right under the water, head and all. I never learned to breathe underwater but I’m okay. It’s a spa, not the ocean. 

Survival Medicine

Photo by Luci on

We finally moved on Christmas Eve, pulling into our new abode about dusk. It is beautiful and spacious and has lots of window sliders to the gardens. Inside there are many boxes but very little furniture. We do have a bed, television, and two chairs. I have my desk too, in fact I have everything for my office, but we are using my office for our little living space while Al paints the actual living room. He’s almost done. I’m not sure if I’ll get my office back today, but I am setting it up in the almost empty box room (someday to be our dining room). We’ve been so busy unloading boxes. I finally got my scented drawer liners for my dresser from Amazon and unpacked my suitcase on NYE. We have his and her closets, so cute!

Once I get myself together with this HEIC jpeg conflict I will be happy to splash photos because I exaggerated before. We have bookshelves too and I’ve got one filled in my office. It looks so good in a little alcove with a print of Frida in an antique frame above it. That was the photo I wanted to post. Just got frustrated trying to convert. Why can I post on Instagram and not Word Press? Anyway…yesterday (and the day before that) we were furniture shopping. We found a great sofa and chair for the living room and it’s coming next week! Well those pieces are, plus a ottoman and rug. The wood stuff, coffee table and end table, won’t be delivered until May. That’s the world these days. We looked at 500 sofas and this was the first one available. And, good luck, it’s my favorite! Very traditional Florida.

There are so many garden patches and palm trees here it’s hard to keep up. I don’t even have a pair of gardening gloves. But we’re managing to water everything. Including the weeds, which look just like Michigan weeds. We had this idea that we’d be in the hot tub drinking wine an hour or so after we moved in. Hahaha. We still have not OPENED the hot tub. But we’re getting there. Floors steamed and walls painted. Desk and chair ready to go. I wrote a scene a few weeks ago when I grabbed a spare couple of hours. I’ve been thinking of the next part of the sequence and oh I’m not sure if it’s the next book or if it’s going to work now…I need to write it to find out.

The holidays usually mess with my writing anyway but this one, well, it’s a whole other bag of toys. But we’re happy and settling in. We woke up Christmas morning, the first morning in our new house, and I thanked Al for my lovely Christmas present. He also insisted on gifting me with The Lyrics by Sir Paul and it’s wonderful reading in my favorite chair, which is the only chair we brought from Michigan. I have always wanted a ranch home and at age 66 I finally got one! It’s the nicest house I’ve ever owned. Maybe it’s the palm trees and the flowers in January or the Spanish Moss waving in the breeze. Maybe it’s because this was home to my ancestors. Now it’s my home, too.

Hope everyone had a good holiday. Back to work! For me that’s writing and I love it too much to think of it as work. More like survival medicine.

Until Next Year

We finally got the deed to our new house!! Al is driving home from Michigan with our treasures (books, tools, and a few family keepsakes). I’m still in St Pete where I’ll see him Tuesday night…if I’m not asleep. And I hope we move Wednesday or maybe Christmas Eve. That is calling it close. I want to be in by Christmas. I’ve been packing a few favorite things from here (books, cookware, my favorite dishes.) I’ll pack the Christmas tree last. I do not want to take it down!

Usually about this time of year I tend to take a holiday break from blogging, but this is the best reason I’ve ever had to say “see you next year” — even better than finishing a book. Moving literally so close to Christmas is joyous but also heavy work. Mostly I worry about my husband traveling alone. That’s a quirk of mine. Worrying when we’re apart. But we’re a good team, even if we have to split up for some of the work. I know he’ll be home, and we’ll be in the best home we’ve ever owned, for Christmas. We’ll celebrate, and probably do some unpacking too, together. I hope all of you have a fabulous holiday season and, stars willing, are able to share it with those you love. xo

All I Want For Christmas

We were supposed to move today but it got pushed back due to a few very disappointing tangles and so I’m staying here in St. Pete awhile. I’m reading historical Christmas novels so I don’t have to think about how things got so messed up and postponed. Finally this morning I sort of snapped out of my funk and decided to work on the murder scene in Jane2. I had this murder scene planned out; it took some time to get the details right but when I finally did I thought I was a genius. Until I had a better idea. Which is what I worked on this morning, so now I’m in a great mood. Writing a good scene will do that for you.

Here’s the thing with patience: I have little to none. But I’m learning. Al is the most patient husband in the world. I do see how much calmer he is because he can handle setbacks. It has been a bit stressful, though, even for him. But we’re fine and expect to be all moved in by Christmas. Cohabitating in a tiny condo with boxes all over in not fun (I don’t do well with chaos either) but happily I kept my living room and sunroom just as they are: the Christmas tree is lit, and the season is upon us despite my recent depressed mood.

Al keeps asking me what I want for Christmas! I sang him the Mariah Carey song (because it’s true) but it didn’t come out quite the way she sings it. So Alexa played Mariah’s version for him on iTunes and that was better. Also I think it’s great we’re moving in so close to Christmas. That’s a lovely gift. The best ever. No snow down here to contend with, except the flakes in my snow globe.

Since the current work in progress takes place in December, it will be another Christmas book. I’m finally in the mood to take Jane into Christmas with me. Write what you love to read, that’s the key to enjoying your work. The photo above is from a few books back. My first Christmas novel. It was so fun to write. I forgot to promote it until it was too late. I’ll have lots more time for all that promotion stuff in my new office. Right now I’m too busy thinking about my real life, well and the novel. And how calm our lives will finally be when this move is complete.

Thanksgiving with the Beatles

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Thanksgiving weekend is over! I got my Christmas shopping done and shipped, including boxes for packing, decorated a little bit…put up the tree with my angel on top, set up my little Victorian Christmas ladies, swapped out my Desert Rose dishes for the Spode Christmas Tree set, went to dinner with my mom and dad and took a jaunt to the casino before mom returns to Michigan. Al watched football and helped the crew decorate the outside of Building 9 here at Long Bayou.

We also subscribed to Disney+ and watched all eight hours of “Get Back”– the Beatles doc out now. What I found most interesting about this lovely bit of nostalgia was watching their creative process. Paul was for sure the leader, even though he said John was. Paul seemed more into it than John, who was so in love he mostly cuddled with Yoko and cut up with fake voices and accents. Paul and John did seem to get along really well, though. When they hit a groove with their guitars, they were so in sync.

The lyrics part was less polished than the music, which was improved when Billy Preston came on to play keyboards in episode 2. Billy’s work and his upbeat attitude, his obvious thrill at being a part of the Beatles, all made the documentary, not to mention the eventual album, so much better. Before Billy, it seemed clear the Beatles were running out of juice. They knew it, too, and Billy was the only person ever credited on a Lennon/McCartney record. Ever. He filled more than the musical holes. George’s eyes gave him away; he felt left out of the Lennon/McCartney collaboration. But he was the one who first mentioned getting Billy Preston in to do keyboards. Twice. Everyone ignored him. He briefly quit the band.

Then Billy dropped by the studio just to say hi and John said “We’ve been talking about how we need a piano man, if you’ve got the time…” and Billy, who was as upbeat as George was down, smiled wider than usual and said “Hell yes.” I’m paraphrasing from the body language. Billy and then George coming back after a week made things better.

The original idea, conceived by Paul, was to write an album (14 songs) in a month, hold a concert, write a book, and make a movie of the entire thing. They started rehearsing in a television studio but migrated to Apple records basement where a rough recording studio was set up. The way their creativity worked together was everyone wrote on their own, brought in their ideas, played and sang (there were more lalala bits or nonsense words than actual lyrics) and everyone kind of kicked in with their parts. Ringo did his drums just naturally coming in when needed with the right sound. Well, Paul corrected him at times. Paul corrected everyone. Paul was bringing in most of the material they worked on.

George had a new song every day and he’d say “I’ve got one” and play it and everyone would listen politely and then move on. The eventual album was called “Let It Be” — their last original album — making their output an even dozen LPs. “Something” (George’s lovely song) was on that album. At one point near the end of the eight hours, and as it turned out the end of the Beatles, George talks to John about how he might just go off after the record is done and make his own album. I recognized several of the tunes George auditioned for his bandmates later appeared on his first solo album (a double album) “All Things Must Pass.” He chose the right path and I wonder if Paul and John ever thought about how much more George could have contributed to the Beatles.

Ringo, like George, always had a token song, too, but he didn’t seem bothered. Ringo was fine being the drummer. He relished that role. He did it well. Oh and John called Billy Preston “the fifth Beatle” while nobody seemed to remember bringing in Billy had been George’s idea in the first place. George brought it up twice in the documentary. Of course I only saw a cut of many more hours of film, so that’s the story presented. A few word scribbles here and there, but I just assumed they each did their lyric polishing on their own.

It may seem as if I am championing George here, and in a strict sense, that’s true. He got shafted by Paul and John. But his life outside the band didn’t make me like him any better. He was the only Beatle who screwed another Beatles’ wife. George’s wife, Olivia, seems to have accepted that “George loved women” but John said “It’s like incest!” Patti, George’s first wife, never had a chance, what with all the Krishna’s living in the house and finding her husband in bed with Maureen, Ringo’s wife. In Patti’s book, she talks about George and Maureen running through the house naked. Running and laughing right past her. No wonder she left him for Eric Clapton! George’s take on it all was “free love.” I always thought that hippie idea was a convenient way for men to get laid in the 60s and 70s.

So Paul near the end is frustrated as his master multi-media idea slowly falls apart. They couldn’t even find a venue to do a final concert. Then two of the engineers came up with the idea of the roof of Abbey Road studios. John liked the idea. So did Ringo. George hated it. Paul seemed wistful as his original vision had altered beyond recognition. But as we all know, they did it and it was fab. They probably didn’t write the album in a month as planned, but they had six or so songs finished and six more ideas. They must have finished up in the studio after the one off concert on the roof. The police have a cameo in that part of the documentary.

All of which served to remind me why I’m a novelist and why I write alone.