Monthly Archives: October 2014

Happy Columbus Day!

In the spirit of Columbus and discovering new places, my family and I went to visit the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, a 108-foot tower officially lit on July 10, 1860. Rich in history, the climb to the top offered some incredible views and played a crucial role throughout several wars.

photo

During the Civil War, the inlet was used as a thorough fare for the Confederates to ship in supplies. When the North found out, they used the lighthouse to “shine the light” on the Confederates and take them out as they passed through. Didn’t take the South long to figure this one out, and they ensued with battle, reclaiming the lighthouse and their supply route.

During World War II, merchant ships carried war supplies and fuel to our troupes in Europe. They left the port of New Orleans, traveled near the Jupiter coast, where German submarines sat right outside the inlet, armed with torpedoes to sink them.

photo jupiter view

US Military used the lighthouse to create Station J—a secret operation designed to intercept U-boat radio messages and tip-off U.S. forces to attack enemy vessels. Tuning into the frequencies used by the U-boats, Station J was able to pinpoint the locations of the submarines, which would surface every night to charge their batteries and send their locations and weather reports back to Germany. As a result, the US aircraft was able to seemingly come out of nowhere and attack the subs, ending the German dominance of the Atlantic.

Speaking of discovering new things, as we climbed the narrow passageway up to the top of the lighthouse, I learned that my daughter doesn’t like high places. Her white-knuckled grip as she hugged the tower behind her gave it away. Who knew?

photo jupiter beach

I guess it’s not every day you find yourself a 108 feet in the air… While she won’t be heading back up any time soon, we had fun and the views were incredible. If you’re ever in South Florida, make a point to stop and visit Jupiter. From the blue-water beaches to the brick-red lighthouse views, it makes for a memorable trip.

 

Lessons learned from a book launch

My debut, The Last Breath, has been out in the world for almost two weeks now. Anyone who has ever written a book will tell you, it’s a long, hard road with lots of bumps and twists. (Did I mention long? Did I mention the bumps and twists?)

But then after forever and all of a sudden, that day is here, your baby has finally made it onto bookstore shelves, that moment you’ve been dreaming about and working for and planning is really happening, and it’s everything you thought it would be and at the same time, completely not.

Here’s a few lessons I learned…

1. The world doesn’t stop. The dogs still need to be walked, the kids still complain there’s nothing to eat in the house, the laundry doesn’t get up and do itself. It’s your special day, but unless you put on a princess dress and tiara, nobody’s really going to notice or care.

2. Except on social media. Your twitter feed will blow up. Your Facebook notifications will ding at you all day. Here’s where you get to pull on that princess dress and tiara, only it’s virtual.

3. Amazon rankings are updated every hour, and they exist to make you crazy. Do not obsess about them. Do not compare yourself to other authors in your genre and wonder why theirs are higher, when your book is so clearly better. Whatever you do, do not refresh that page!

4. Nine out of ten readers are awesome. They are kind and thoughtful and careful with their words. They will gush and say all the right things about the baby you spent so many months crafting. But there will also be trolls. Do not engage with them! In fact, scroll right past their mean ol’ review, because just like the Amazon rankings, they exist to make you crazy.

5. Throw a party. Invite all those friends who’ve let you rant in their ears and cry on their shoulders, and feed them snacks and wine. They will come out for you in droves, and they will buy five copies of your book and tell all their friends to do the same. The bookstore will sell out and have to order (gasp!) more. But on your special night, your friends will bring you flowers and champagne and shower you with compliments, and you will feel like a real, live princess. With a tiara!

Scene of the Day

Occasionally I’ll observe something that I consider a “Scene of the Day,” because in some way it speaks to me, or catches my attention, gives me pause.

There was the time my daughter won a stuffed animal in a claw machine, and ran after the boy who’d tried minutes before her, so she could give the coveted bear to him. And there was the time I saw a young nun, habit and all, bounding joyfully through light rain.

Maybe it was my beau across the table from me in a fantastic, aromatic coffee shop. Or a sweet smudge of chocolate in the middle of my other daughter’s forehead.

Sometimes it’s a quieter moment, very small, one I don’t share with anyone. I might see a man who—in a single second—reminds me of my dad, who is gone now. Or maybe I’ll see a baby who looks not unlike my girls used to, strapped in its infant carrier, face winched tight as it cries its need, some need, any need. In both of these instances my heart will soften and dive toward memory.

This last weekend we had a garage sale at our home, like others. Many Amish families came from the community close by, to shop the town-wide event. A youthful mom asked if her tiny boy might use my bathroom. I gave permission and, one after the other, seven Amish folks filed into my house. (I suppose where one goes, they all go.) It was a sight to behold, as well as ruminate over. (I stepped in, as well, and saw that each used the facilities.)

Last night I studied the beautiful moon outside my bedroom window, and then several minutes later from my back stoop to get a clearer, more striking look. (Side Note: Unbeknownst to me, a friend was at the same time messaging me to go take in the moon, because he knew I was frustrated about something and thought it would do me well. I love connection like that.) (Side Note 2: Have you ever noticed the still and peace that accompanies an effort to absorb nature or weather or the cosmos?)

Maybe my point is, one scene has an impact, then the next, and another. If you’re paying attention, they all add up to a significant facet of life. Don’t you agree?

Tell us about your latest Scene of the Day.

[image credit: freedigitalphotos.net]

How I Lost 10 Pounds On My Summer Vacation

I’m back and so glad to be here. It’s been an incredibly busy summer that started out with us packing and moving the in-laws from their apartment into a senior’s facility. They didn’t need to do much downsizing because the spaces were comparable in size, but their move inspired me to continue to clean out the accumulation of “stuff” that one collects over the years.

As we packed—and packed and packed—I kept thinking that I don’t want to put my boys through this. Better to get stuff sorted and recycled and discarded BEFORE it’s time to downsize.

Fragile-packing-boxThere’s also the fact that the older we get, the harder it is to make changes in our life. At 95 and 86, my in-laws were resistant to the move. They didn’t want to leave their apartment. They didn’t want to part with anything. My father-in-law kept packing and unpacking and repacking the same box, until we’d finally sneak it out of his room when his back was turned, tape it closed, and move it to the pile of boxes so he’d be done with it.

Except when we’d arrive the next day, he’d have opened all of the boxes in his search to find the one we took from him.

On the day before the actual move, I was packing up the last of the kitchen items. When I thought I was finished, I double-checked each cupboard and drawer to ensure that I hadn’t missed anything. Then I opened up the dishwasher…and it was full of dirty dishes that my mother-in-law had been storing there until the move.

My DH says that the look on my face was priceless, a mixture of stunned disbelief and barely contained annoyance. Before a few choice words could escape, I sealed my mouth shut, unloaded the dishwasher, and proceeded to wash and dry all of the dishes so I could pack them away for the movers.

The packing ordeal lasted three whole weeks. Three weeks of hot, humid weather. Three weeks of sorting and packing, unpacking and repacking. Three weeks of digging deep and discovering more patience than both my DH and I thought we ever had.

Thankfully, it’s long over now and the in-laws are still adjusting to their new place. On the day my in-laws moved, my mother went in for her knee operation, which I’ll tell you all about next time. 🙂

Bake-Love-Write-coverDuring my in-law’s move, I lost 10 pounds, a nice bonus considering I’d been trying to lose those 10 pounds for about 10 years. But now I’m sure I’ll gain those 10 pounds back this winter because of the BAKE, LOVE, WRITE Cookbook: 105 authors share their favorite recipes and advice on love and writing.

You should check it out. Maybe buy copies to give to your friends and relatives as gifts. My Banana Nut Bread is in the book along with a pile of mouth-watering recipes that will make you want to spend time in your kitchen. And then, of course, there’s the advice on love and writing that each author shared.

When was the last time you packed up and moved yourself or someone else? Did you love it as much as I did? Or are you looking forward to the next move?

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