Friday, July 01, 2016

15 excuses

It isn't that I haven't started the new novel, Day Care. I have 2,000 words, a good idea of the characters and the story. I plot as I go, while others may have the whole thing worked out. Sometimes my endings are a surprise to me.

Right now I will sit down to write and although I know what I want to write, I think of reasons not to.

1.   Gotta check Facebook
2.   Gotta check/write emails
3.   Gotta check several newsites
4.   Good time to iron (desperate excuse)
5.   The dishwasher needs emptying
6.   The washing machine needs emptying
7.   Start lunch
8.   Run around the corner for (...)
9.   Play a computer game
10. Maybe a friend has posted a new blog
11. Get a piece of chocolate for my husband
12. Read a chapter
13. Read a New Yorker
14. Listen to a youtube
15. Research something, anything...

I am trying a new trick to do away with the excuses. I take the laptop to my bed and won't leave until I do xxx or xxxx words.

Will it work?

On verra.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Knives

Knives have been used for 2.5 million years according to Wikipedia. They are a necessity for many daily tasks.

They are so useful, it is hard to think of them as an art form, but yesterday at Bartavelle, one of our all-time favorite restaurants, not just in Argelès but in the world, we saw truly artistic knives.

They are handmade, perfectly balanced and decorated with a variety of woods.

The designer added the name of the restaurant and his own as shown in the photo.

Beauty can be found even in the most ordinary of things.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

morning bliss

I woke at five and continued reading The Women's Room, which is more a socialistic study of the 50s and 60s than a novel. Sometimes I could picture my mother's friends' faces on the characters. Uncle Harry was my Uncle Archer raging about Kikes and Koons. In some cases it is predictive of today's time especially with the numbers of people in prisons. This could have been my life, but I escaped the bad, but not the good.

Listening to two gulls having a conversation. Brexit? Frexit? Another bird had his wake up call of an ha hah ah ah ha hah. Somewhere there is a soft coo.

Loved watching Rick sleep, then stagger into the bathroom, bed hair and stagger back. He was back asleep so fast (I'm jealous of his ability to fall asleep in nano seconds) and I enjoy watching him sleep. His facial skin is so soft, his eyelashes long, and he is so substantial. After 41 years of providing my own safety, knowing he is there, gives me a back-up security but I love him for what we share and how we back each other up, his creativity, his humor, his generosity, his kindness and and and...

Eating my breakfast on the patio while Rick was still asleep and realizing every thing I was using had a memory. The glass, cup and plate were all vide grenier treasures and held the memory of Rick and I walking among the tables, holding hands, spying them and saying, "What do you think?" The tray was from Bayeux and the pleasure of Rick discovering the original tapestry. Even the melon from Chez Elizabeth with her cooing, "Reeeeeek and my belle Donna" are memory-laced.

The bougainvillea is finally blossoming and the jasmine is budding.

I am swept away in a tsunami of happiness.


Monday, June 27, 2016

New Yorker



Whenever I visited my friend CB, I used to love reading her New Yorkers in the down time when it was polite to leave my hostess alone to get on with it.

Last Christmas I asked my husband for my own subscription, the paper kind. He obliged.

Because it is delivered to Argelès-sur-mer and we spent months in Geneva, they piled up.

I tried reading them in order but now I read oldest-newest, except when I just grab at one. So much for system. In any case, at two a week I'm getting caught up.

Some go in the bathroom, which as a reading room can be christened "The New Yorker Room." We tend to leave the magazine open to which article each of us is reading. At the moment I think Rick is on Niki de Saint Phalle and I am on the Civil War in Spain in the 1930s. We will ask each other, "Did you see the article on ..."

While I tend to read cover-to-cover, he tends to pick and chose.

When we are done, they go to our friend Lydia, who says the magazines are slowing her book reading. I have the same problem, because some of the magazines are next to my bed which I will pick up in place of a book.  She then passes them on to another friend.

By fall, when we go traveling and back to Geneva, they will pile up again. I'll come back to treasure trove around Christmas.

Yes, I could read them on line, and I do use a Kindle to read books. But I want the gloss of the paper, the crinkle of turning the page, the ability to fold a page over, and look at the pile of unread material knowing there are delights to come.

Great Christmas present it was...2017 is coming, hint, hint, hint Rick.









Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ghosts


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We must have ghosts in the house, playful ones. Things are disappearing and in a two bedroom flat there is limited places where they can hide things.

Among the list of missing things are:
  • The car radio
  • My red watch
  • A computer cord
  • My magnifying mirror
There are things that go missing that make sense because we put them down in different places, but the magnifying mirror especially is only used in one place.

I am almost willing to carry Julia on my back from Geneva to Argelès as a search committee. If she can't find something it doesn't exist. And she's not afraid of ghosts,


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Paintings

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Lascaux cave painting

Humans have expressed themselves with paintings from caveman times. But what if my biography was written as a series of paintings?

Childhood would have pine trees and snow. We had 38 pines in front of our house with the side garden of roses, lilies, iris, violets and lilacs depending on the season.

Like the trees and plants I was nurtured, hugged, read to, encouraged, told I was beautiful and smart. My family played games together, ate wonderful meals prepared by my mother (gourmet) or my grandmother (old-fashioned New England cooking) and we talked around the table at each meal, often about what we would eat at the next meal as well as what we did that day.

It was New England and winters brought snow forts and tobogganing. The snow gave limitations just as my mother's over protectiveness brought limitations on what I could and couldn't do. Convinced the world was waiting to kidnap me, walking to school or even playing outside our 14 acres of yard was impossible.

The upper right hand corner of the painting would be painted black. Not a very big part but it would represent my parents unhappy marriage and perhaps a bit of black paint from that tiny corner would trickle down onto the rest of the canvas.



My marriage would be a split screen. I married a man I adored. Unfortunately he existed only in my mind.

The left hand side would be full of images of the Europe I fell in love with, of cobbled streets, markets done in Picasso type shapes. Somewhere would be a modernistic German shepherd.

German words could be painted in tiny letters and hidden in parts of the painting. 

Europe would not take up the entire left hand side. The other part would be books of many colors. I was at university, in love with learning, trying to absorb the novels, the poetry, the history, the music.

If each minute of the day was occupied with working part time, taking care of a house, trying to live up to the expectations of a conventional marriage in a conventional time when married women were not students, the classes provided the color of each day. This part of the painting would not be abstract. It was my joy, my sanity.


Kazimir Malevich's painting would be perfect for the other half of the painting showing those years. Nothing was ever right enough. Constant trying harder without giving the one thing that I needed most, my education, was exhausting at best.

But there were some good moments. One of those gray lines could be my diploma, my first professional job. And my ex and I did share somethings, albeit only on his terms. Wimpdom was my home country. Where was the person I used to be?  Where was the woman I wanted to be?



A crib would have to be in the next painting, but not a plain one, one painted like a rainbow in a room of sunrises. My daughter saw me thru my divorce and the pain of recovery. This painting should have that black square receding into the back ground.

My real life began as I built a career, friendships, experimented and failed sometimes and picked myself up and went on. I succeeded and learned. Watching my daughter grow into a wonderful woman would be shown in reds, yellows, pinks. And almost every day I was happy to be.


From 30 on my life was full of color and happiness. There might be a splotch of gray as something didn't work. Maybe a hole in the colors should be made to represent losing people I loved.

But mostly I lived the life I wanted, moved to Europe, began to write, perfected my craft, changed nationalities...some of these were firework events that merit their own canvas.

An entire art gallery could not hold all the paintings of my life from 30 on, yet there are still new artwork in pastels, crayons, oils and probably even digital creations with new experiences being added.

How do you paint an ecstatic bride in her 70s? How do you show that life gets better and better with each day? How can you paint a cancer that was in one way a gift as a reminder of how precious life was/is/will be?

My life, my paintings, my gallery...







Thursday, June 23, 2016

Names, naming

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We don't get to name much, mostly our kids, our pets.

My daughter fought me when I wanted to name our Japanese chin David. He became Amadeus, which better suited him. (My daughter on the other hand has yet to forgive me for putting a second L in Llara, although I suspect if she hated it all that much, she would have changed it with my blessing. She is lucky my ex, her father put his foot down when I wanted to name her Cloud--okay it was the sixties.)

Being a writer of 10 published novels, one due out in September and three unpublished, I get to name many, many people. 

I am starting a new novel, my first novel since my Murder in...A Third Culture Kid series.

It will involve four women between their late twenties and late thirties. Working title is Day Care

Because it is set in present time there is a need for names that work in time and place. You cannot have an eighty-year old Chinese woman named Madison without a lot of explanation.

I have begun my character cards where I jot relevant but minor details of all characters. That way someone does not shrink from being six foot two to five foot nine unless I give them a double leg amputation.

I have sources for appropriate names:
  • The most popular name lists for (year)
  • Phone books (especially if the setting is outside the US)
  • Grave yards (especially if the setting is outside the US)
  • Friends (first names only)
  • Books
My French woman is Anne-Marie.

The short list for her three friends are Melissa, Victoria, Morgan, Vanessa, Nathalie, Caitlin. I need to decide more about their characters and family background before making a final selection. 

They have daughters born in 2012. The French twins are Sophie and Lydia but I need three American names. I will resist Madison, Savannah and Brooklyn tempting though it maybe. 

Too citified.

I remember when I was doing my creative writing degree at Glamorgan University in Wales, the profs talking about exotic names in romance novels as OTT. I remember thumbing thru one to discover the hero was named Cash Boudreau. The Boudreau I liked because it was my maiden name and the setting was New Orleans, but Cash????
 

Some short lists for the kids are Harper (my love of To Kill a Mockingbird) and I can make the mother a wantabe writer, Layla, Olivia, Rebecca, Sarah. 

Once I have the main characters, I will add the auxilary characters as they appear. 

The cards are a handy system for when six weeks after the introduction of a character I have to remember some detail. I need to keep consistency.

The cards are the only handwritten part of the novel. Other techniques I've used is to highlight some detail I may want to check in yellow followed by using FIND. Still the cards are easier.