In the Black and White ‘Fifties

Living in an imaginary world can be difficult. Especially when it’s a world that existed in the past. I’m listening to ‘fifties music, watching old black and white movies––and noticing their footwear, by the way. I’m pushing my memories back as far as they’ll go, and trying to remember the sights and the sounds of the era.

It was so much easier writing fantasy, because nothing in that world existed until I created it. I experimented and I had fun. I pulled out dreams and wishes and wove them into my stories. The land and the characters are loosely based on reality. 

But that could also be said of my work-in-progress; the historical. The characters are loosely based on people I’ve met. I love their language, because it brings back precious memories of some of my favorite people. The time seems enchanted, because it comes straight off a page in my childhood. A simpler time. Not so evil, and filled with violence as it is now. 

Sometimes, I have to remove my rosy glasses, and gaze past my perceptions into reality. There was violence. There was hate. There was prejudice. There was a strict moral code and an active class system.  Things never discussed in polite company. Lines you did not cross. Ugly signs on doors, limiting who entered. Trouble brewing beneath the surface.

And then there were long, lazy, summer days, homemade lemonade and ice cream. No one asked what was in the hot dogs they served at picnics. I loved my patent leather Mary Janes and my puffy crinoline skirts. I loved tire swings and playing corncob jail and kick the can. 

So I’m weaving all of these things into this story-in-progress. Pulling out all the stops and telling the story as it flows from my heart. At regular intervals, Samson lopes into the scene and provides warmth and maybe a chuckle or two. If you’re wondering who Samson is, read last week’s post. 

I’d love to hear some of your favorite memories, if you’re old enough to remember the ‘fifties. Please drop me a line. 

Thanks for reading,

Samson, the Bluetick Coonhound

If you’re on Facebook, you already know how popular pets are. I know I get a hundred cute pet pictures posted on my status every day. Knowing how important these four-legged friends are, I’ve included a pet in my present story-in-progress. There’s only one problem.

He tries to take over every scene he’s in. Samson is a Bluetick coonhound. As you can see from the photo, he has a very expressive face. Blueticks are very intelligent and energetic. And they sport a beautiful coat.

Samson spends his days chasing rabbits. His home in 1950’s West Tennessee affords plenty of opportunities to chase not only rabbits, but other wildlife as well. And lately, he’s taken to cozying up to a sweet young lady. She loves dogs, so she doesn’t mind.

Now just in case you’re attentive enough to notice that the hound in this picture is either missing something, or is not really a male dog, you’re right. I borrowed this pic from Wikipedia. It’s actually a female Bluetick coonhound named Juno. But for now, let’s just pretend this is an actual picture of my character’s dog. And he is most definitely male.

Here’s a short excerpt:

At that moment, Samson ran past Connie. He bolted into the front seat, planting himself firmly in the middle.
The dog’s big brown eyes greeted her as she settled into the seat next to him. He seemed placid enough. Smelly, but gentle. She remembered her first view of him at Thelma’s. He’d waited quietly in the truck while his master talked to Annabelle and the kidney bean barked and danced around. “Good dog,” she whispered.
He thumped his tail.
Alton climbed in and shut the door. “Hope you don’t mind dogs.”
She shook her head. 
“He’s fairly obedient.” He shifted into gear and backed the truck around.

 And he is, fairly obedient. Except when there’s a scent of rabbit in the air. I’m a big fan of dogs in general and especially hounds. So I’m looking forward to finishing this particular story, just to see what happens with Samson, the Bluetick coonhound.

For more information on Bluetick hounds you can start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetick_Coonhound

Thanks for reading!

Focus on the Positive

When you’re gazing at your reflection in the mirror, it’s not always easy to focus on the positive, especially if it’s a full-length mirror. Even some of the most beautiful people observe themselves with a critical eye. Instead of the outer beauty we see, they notice the tiny wrinkles and blemishes they possess. Once considered a natural part of life, wrinkles, lumps, and rolls are now devastating. 
Old age is a time of reflection. We look back on our lives and wonder if we’ve achieved our fullest potential. Sometimes, we’re not happy with our own assessment.
The other day, I witnessed someone’s realization that her situation is not as bad as she thought. She’d been focusing on the negative elements of her life and truly, her life is not easy. Elderly and living on a stipend, sometimes she gets discouraged. An opportunity came for her to visit a friend in similar financial circumstances. The friend’s small apartment is tastefully decorated. There are many beautiful trinkets and collections on display. Her walls are decorated with family photos, awards, events, paintings, etc.  
My friend came away with a long face. When I asked why she seemed down, her confession surprised me. Her apartment looked shabby in comparison to her friend’s. After arriving home, she looked around and realized that while her things were not as many or as elegant, they were hers. Most of the things express her personality. Many were gifts from family and friends. Souvenirs from her cross-country trips, along with several jaunts to Mexico, adorn her walls and shelves. 
Most precious to her is the colorful hand-quilted spread on her bed and the last photograph taken of her late husband. A beautiful teapot collection adorns her kitchen and a handmade plaque, a gift from a beloved sister-in-law, depicts John 3:16, For God so loved the world…
She called me a few days later and told me how she had come to realize her gifts were different from those of her friend. Her apartment is her home. She’s surrounded not by elegance, but by comfort. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and what she saw surprised her. She caught a glimpse of her twenty-year-old self and she felt happy. “I have much to be thankful for,” she told me. “I have my health, a wonderful family, and faith in God.”
I heard a new confidence in her voice I’d never detected before. I looked in my inner mirror and tried to focus on the positive elements of my life. I was almost immediately flooded with an overall feeling of contentment. I have a long way to go in some areas, but I can see that I’m on the right path.
Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Happy Spring!


Jim’s Story

This week’s post is a little bit different. Linda Hillenbrand, a very dear friend of mine,  has been nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year Campaign. She has given me permission to reprint this letter.

Linda with her husband Jim at U of L game
To My Friends and Family,

I hope you don’t mind me writing you about a cause VERY close to my heart.
My dear husband Jim has had a rare form of Leukemia for several years and has undergone maintenance treatment to keep that at bay. In early 2010, he had what an allergist, neurologist and Internist thought was simply allergies or a lazy eye. Luckily, we had a scheduled 6 month check up with his wonderful oncologist, Dr. Mike Kommor, who took one look at his eye when he walked in the room and noticed something was very wrong. After an MRI, PET scan, CT scan and a very painful surgical biopsy of the eye, he was diagnosed with a form of MALT Lymphoma of the orbital tissue.
The next two years became a battle for life with a variety of treatments, second opinions at the request of our doctor with a Neurooncologist at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center and a multitude of different treatments. Through it all, he was noted for his amazing smile. Finally in December of 2012 he was considered in a sort of remission. It is something he will always battle but the prognosis is good.
Jim was privileged to have great insurance and to respond positively to the series of chemo treatments that are only available today thanks to the research funding of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was amazing to learn that LLS is the #2 source of funding, next to the government, for blood cancer research. Many of the drugs funded by LLS are being used today as a treatment for breast, lung, and other cancers.
Because of this, I am honored to be nominated as one of 14 candidates in Louisville for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year Campaign. Our team is being called “Blood, Sweat and CHEERS” Our national campaign kicks off on March 28th (my precious Mom’s birthday) and runs through June 7th. We also honor our dear friend Meghan Steinberg who we have come to know and love during her journey, as well as Janice Goodman and Ray Pfeiffer’s wonderful grandson. All fighters and survivors!!
Now comes the question…………………how can you help?? In many ways!!! We will be hosting several events during this time, putting collection jars in local businesses, partnering with restaurants for charity nights, and collecting auction items. You can donate your time, send an email, buy tickets to the gala, send a donation, or just tell a friend that is going through cancer about the Leukemia and Lymphoma society!!

Join our team “Blood Sweat and Cheers”

Mar 29, 2013
by Linda Hillenbrand
We are excited to begin our fight for a cure with “Blood, Sweat and Cheers” 

Originally posted to MWOY.org Reprinted by permission from the author. For more information on the Man and Woman of the Year Campaign, please visit their website. If you are on facebook, you can help by liking Linda’s Facebook group, Blood, Sweat & Cheers

Here’s an excerpt from her facebook page.

A very important point…Donations are wonderful and appreciated, but I know not everyone is in a position to help or has a cause of their own. You can help just by emailing anyone you know who has had Leukemia or Lymphoma or any other cancer that has been touched by the research of LLS and giving them the link or an invite to the group. Ideas, thoughts, stories, replies are as important as well!!!