Category Archives: My Novel- Anne

Super Bowl Sunday in Arizona!!

Steve at NFL Experience

Steve at NFL Experience

Yes, it’s finally here–Super Bowl Sunday! And all the hype you are seeing on TV (as well as the football game itself) is taking place right in the area of Arizona where we are spending the winter.

Steve, Joy, Paul, and the three kids have all gone to the NFL Experience in downtown Phoenix. It’s after eleven a.m. Arizona time–one p.m. Eastern time–and I’m still in my PJ’s. Life is good.

Paul tried for weeks to get tickets to the game but wasn’t able to. Turns out it’s a good thing as many people have flown here from Seattle and Boston only to find out that their tickets don’t really exist. Complex process of how the brokers sold tickets they didn’t possess–sort of like how short sales on the stock market happen is how I understand it. And the unfortunate thing is the weather has not even made up for their misfortune. We’ve had rain and cool temps–I don’t recall ever wearing my raincoat here in Chandler. Until this week, that is.

Once they return later this afternoon we’ll have our own Super Bowl party: shrimp cocktail, bean dip, dates stuffed with garlic cloves then wrapped in bacon and broiled (thank you, sister Andrea, for the recipe!), pigs in a blanket (just for you, son-in-law Chris!) and fresh-squeezed lemonade for the kids, Lemon Drops for the adults. I’ve set my picks for the NFL Challenge–of course I’m rooting for the New England Patriots!

On the recommendation of my niece, Debra, I read “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. Good book as it kept me up until 1 a.m. the first night I started reading it! It wasn’t the first novel that I’ve read about the orphan trains but part of this book took place in a fictional town on Mount Desert Island in Maine, which made it especially meaningful as it’s an area I love. (And I grew up in Bangor, which was also referenced in the novel.)

On my Kindle I always read right to the Copyright page and in this case I am especially glad that I did. I discovered that Kline has written another novel, “The Way Life Should Be,” that takes place in this same fictional town. I am anxious to read it to find out how she connects the two novels as my three “almost” novels also take place in the same fictional town and I’m trying to figure out how to make that work.

The sun is finally shining, the fog has lifted, and blue sky is peaking through the clouds. The real Arizona is starting to reappear. It is expected to be in the low 80’s and 100% sunshine starting the end of next week and lasting for the entire time our best friends, Gary and Maggie, are here from cold and snowy NH. Glad we could pull that one off!!

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A novel in 30 days!

Today is the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I just completed my first 1,667 of 50,000 words! I did not even know until yesterday what I was going to write about and that only developed by picking Steve’s brain on one of our gas-wasting late afternoon rides. I am cheating because I am using a character out of my very first novel, “Anne,” and naturally that means I’m using the same setting. It picks up where “Anne” left off with a different protagonist. And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I do have a title: “It Takes A Village Store.” (I hope Hillary likes it.) It was Steve’s idea to base it on the village store. I believe in giving credit where credit is due…..

This past Monday I started a four-week memoir writing class in Lebanon offered by the Women’s Resource Center at DHMC. It’s tricky juggling three writing projects (NaNoWriMo, memoir writing, and my writing group) but I can only produce with deadlines and commitments so this is a good thing! And I gain one whole hour tonight because we set the clocks back–and I’m using it to write this long overdue blog post.

I started a project late this summer of having my picture taken at every one of the 235 historic markers in New Hampshire, with the goal to do additional research about each and every one of them then post the information on my blog. Seemed like a good idea at the time. So far I’ve visited 13 and most of

Alderbrook Historic Marker

Alderbrook Historic Marker

those we hit in one day on a trip down to the Lake Sunapee region. Even with directions off the State of NH web site, we had a difficult time locating a number of them, somehow driving by them a few times before seeing them right in front of our eyes. I’m proud to say we got through the day with nary an argument (easy to say weeks after our adventure!). Doubt if we’ll get through the remaining 222 before we leave for Arizona but it’s nice to have goals, isn’t it? Alderbrook is the first one I took a photo of–I was alone on my way back from a DAR meeting in Whitefield. Interestingly, neither Hanover nor Lebanon have any historic markers….

This afternoon we saw “The Judge” at the Nugget Theater in Hanover. Steve and I both enjoyed it, which doesn’t always happen when there are tears involved. If you haven’t seen it, do, despite the 2 1/2 stars it received!

Almost Home

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

In case you were wondering, we did make it to Virginia the day before Easter. It was a long trip but we enjoyed several of our stops, especially the Petrified Forest in Arizona, Nashville and Asheville. On Judy’s recommendation, we visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. So glad we did–it’s a massive resort with beautiful indoor gardens and waterfalls.

Jesse secured us the family discount at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. A one hundred year old magnificent hotel with manned elevators–two of which are in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for being inside the chimney of the massive fireplaces. And we rode in them!

The absolute highlight of the trip was a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. (Unfortunately, we toured it with what felt like thousands of other people–it was the Friday of Easter weekend.) Downton Abbey in the US for sure. The PBS series helped me relate to what life at the Biltmore would have been like (and vice versa). As we wandered the property, I kept thinking how much I would have enjoyed being a guest there. I hope to get to another estate–Mount Vernon–before we leave Virginia.

I am still recuperating from my long weekend at Malice Domestic in Bethesda. It was great to reconnect with Eleanor, Heidi, and Linda after almost five months away from my writing group. My niece, Casey, and her boyfriend, Andrew, joined us for lunch on Sunday. As they live in DC, I did get some inspiration to resurrect my NaNoWriMo novel, “Alex.” The good news/bad news is that I am now thinking about linking my other two novels, “Anne” and “Claire.” And making “Anne” into a murder mystery. Somehow. That’s what happens when you spend three days with mystery writers, the majority of whom have written series. I’m making notes and attempting to process this concept but will rely on my writing group to help me decide if this is even worth putting any effort into.

Waiting to hear what my last mitotane level was. It’s been over two weeks since I had the labs done. This is what happens when you’re away from your regular doctor and medical facility. Must say the medical part has been what has caused me the most stress this winter.

Steve is anxious to get back to NH. I’m not. He wants to golf more than anything–but he claims he wants to do things like use his pressure washer (that he got for Father’s Day last year!). I am happy to  be responsible for just a wee bit of living space. Right now it’s a bedroom and bathroom. I don’t have to worry that the floors need to be vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied though I do try to do my share of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Babysitting is not a chore! But I am anxious to get back to my NH family (Elise and Sheffield!!) and friends. Maybe buying the fifth-wheel was the thing to do…..

Thank goodness for NaNoWriMo

My "almost" done quilt

My “almost” done quilt

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—when I am committed to writing the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Starting November 1, less than a week from today!! I did it once, in 2011, and that was while I was working full-time.

Shouldn’t be so hard to write about 1,667 words a day now that I’m retired, right? Unfortunately, I’ve turned into one of those retired people who can’t imagine how I even managed to fit work into my busy schedule….lunch with the ladies from my writing group….Pilates once a week and yoga sometimes…..submissions for my writing group…..noontime walks with Judy….How did I do all those things and work?

Let’s see—I do more laundry than I used to….I vacuumed the other day….I take more naps….and, um, has much of anything else changed?

I am writing this blog—that’s new, something I committed to after my surgery. I took a quilting class at Seams Sew Easy Fabric Shoppe and am sort of close to having a finished product. (Thank you, Chrissy Steeves, for your patience!! I’m not done yet…) I spend more time at DHMC at doctors’ appointments and I go with my mother and Steve to their appointments. And I’ve made more of an effort to do things for friends who could use some help. (Mainly I make batches of turkey chili.)

I try really hard to write more. I was working on my umpteenth revision of “Anne,” after vowing to complete that version before the start of NaNoWriMo. Well, that never happened. Not even close. But I worked at it, every day, which was good preparation for NaNoWriMo. Then our wonderful vacation to Arizona disrupted the flow. Totally worth it, however.

The big change is in my attitude, in my approach to the daily tedium of life. I’m less hyper, more relaxed, as others have felt free to point out. Yet sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t be the opposite. With my adrenal cancer diagnosis and the remote chance that I won’t live to be 90 years old, shouldn’t I be more amped, more energized, more productive? Shouldn’t I try to cram as much living into every day, every hour, every second? Nah, I think I’ll just take it as it comes, do what I feel like when I feel like it.

Thank goodness for NaNoWriMo.

I’m a winner!!

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2011

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2011

It’s a great day to be alive even if it feels like summer is over and fall is on the horizon. Frost warnings tonight!

I spent the morning yesterday at the Cider House Café at Windy Ridge Orchard with three women from my writing group. I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning—except if the one member who is “not a morning person” had been there.

As I had already eaten a bagel, the scrumptious apple cinnamon pancakes and bacon counted as my lunch, along with a Cortland apple from the peck I purchased in the gift shop. A lifetime ago I worked with the husband of the woman running the register—actually I started the novel (“Anne”) I am still struggling with when we began working together in 1986. He died of cancer five years ago.

She said she is finally coming to grips with his death. I can see that when Steve looks at me. I know he is thinking, how am I going to live without you? I am fortunate, I am only Stage 2 (of an ultra-rare cancer, unfortunately). It doesn’t mean I can’t become Stage 4 overnight. Or that I remain NED (no evidence of disease) forever.

I didn’t know in October that I would have surgery for ACC in November. I was living for tomorrow. It’s a wakeup call to find out that tomorrow may not come. Now I try to live my life as though today, this very moment of today, is all that I can count on.

But the reality is that most people don’t live their lives that way. They live as though death only happens to other people.

The ability of the women in my writing group to motivate, energize, inspire, me is priceless. They make me want to sit in my seat and write until I can’t write any more. To hone my skills until I can’t write any better.

We decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event this November, where you write a 50,000 word book in 30 days. I participated a few years ago, something I admit I am proud of. We’re going to meet in a neutral place—meaning no distractions—to write together in November. It’s a lot of work to write, and a lot more to do NaNoWriMo, but together I have no doubt that we will be successful.

Paddle harder

No wind and we had the pond to ourselves. Serenity....only spoiled by the dead loon and its lonely mate.

No wind and we had the pond to ourselves. Serenity….only spoiled by the dead loon and its lonely mate.

Last week we had a gorgeous evening, especially by late summer standards. The air was still and warm. Blue sky. No humidity. (Why can’t we have this weather year round? Then we wouldn’t need to winter in Arizona I suppose. And some pathetic souls actually like it cold….)

Perfect for kayaking on Long Pond. As soon as Steve walked through the door from work, I was ready for him to load the kayaks while I filled the cooler.

Saw some ducks and what we believe was an immature bald eagle (we determined after we looked it up in the bird book when we returned home). In the middle of the pond we watched a lone loon dive and surface, careful to keep his distance from us. The week before we had seen his (or her) partner floating dead trapped in the tall grass along the edge. This week it was gone. We missed their haunting soulful cry.

No moose. It’s always the moose we hope to encounter and rarely do. And no sign of the heron we usually see. Could it possibly have migrated south already?

As we neared the launch on our return, I didn’t want the glorious evening to end. I just stopped paddling, drifted, prolonging my enjoyment. I could have stayed there until the sun set.

You can’t do that with life. Even if you don’t want it to end, it will. Paddle or drift, your life will end. It doesn’t take a genius to know that. When you have an illness as I do, you know it–you just don’t want to accept it.

As for my book—that I do want to end. I need to paddle harder. And faster. Give it my all. But it’s so hard. Like kayaking on Long Pond when there’s a head wind off Mount Moosilauke.

Blue sky and sunshine–the pressure

Started out thinking we would go to Bar Harbor for the weekend then realized, after finding very few rooms available unless we’re willing to shell out $800 for two nights, that this would be a good time to take the Martha’s Vineyard/Nantucket trip we’ve been pondering. We love Martha’s Vineyard and have taken several day trips there—and when I say day trips, I mean home to Martha’s Vineyard and back in one day. One long day…It’s so much harder for me to do that now.

Last Saturday we did Ogunquit/Rye and I was confined to the couch for a few days after that so we decided our next trip will include an overnight or two at a motel. Now we’ve decided that we’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard enough (that could never be true for me but for this excursion we’ll go with that). Nantucket would be awesome (as day trippers) since we’ve never been there and it is on my bucket list. The internet is great—I can book the ferry reservations within minutes but the room?? Too many choices on the Cape…and yet so few that are available for one night. And then I need to factor in the potential traffic nightmare. Maybe we’ll just stay home and chill….

Those two moles I had scraped from my back? Luckily they were just atypical and only one needs further “surgery.” The appointment with the surgeon did get cancelled…..so now I get to wait until the end of November for the removal of the mole. Must be a history of melanoma doesn’t create a sense of urgency. One more thing to be thankful for, I suppose. I just realized it is scheduled for one year and one day after my adrenal cancer surgery—at least Thanksgiving is the following week this year. And Steve, you are on notice that we are hosting it. Just in case next year we can’t….

Major accomplishment—it’s now two weeks in a row that I have submitted two chapters of Anne to my writing group. In order to do that, I feel as though I have spent every free minute at my laptop. Of course I haven’t. I did manage to squeeze in that trip to Maine and two days on the couch not feeling well—and two days on the couch not feeling not well! I’m aiming for another submission this coming week—at this rate I’ll have the second draft completed in 2013. That shouldn’t even be seen as an accomplishment considering I am “retired.” But what happens to my book when Steve retires and we head to Arizona—and I’m no longer (temporarily) an active participant in my writing group?? We really need to get Facetime or Skype working.

Just let the cat out and realized the sky is blue and the sun is shining. What shall I do?? Probably getting dressed would be a good start. The pressure….

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