Sunday, January 22, 2012


Last night, X-Chromo came into my office and asked, "What's this?"

She handed me my great-grandmother's autograph book.

The earliest entry I can find is April  5, 1891. That's 102 years and 5 days before X was born.

Edward Sargent of Candor, New York wrote:
May you be happy
Each day of your life
Get a good husband
And make a good wife.
Lena Mae Ross married Charles DeWitt Compton in 1895. My parents have a cranberry glass and cut-crystal creamer from that wedding in their china cabinet.

I have a quilt Lena made. When I was a child, it was the "sick blanket": we were only allowed to use it when we were sick. It's in poor shape now. Pretty battered. I think my mom used to wash it in the wringer washer.

Lena died young. She left 3 children, the oldest of whom was my grandfather. My grandmother once told me
she promised Lena she would take care of my grandfather. She ended up marrying him.

When Grandma moved -- I think when she moved in with my aunt after she was too old to live alone -- Grandma gave me Lena's autograph book, because she knew I liked things like that.

Since November, TV Stevie has been learning about his father's family in an exploration of joy and discovering his heritage. I forgot that my children also share my heritage.

Lena's autograph book is a tangible part of that. I'm so glad I have it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I go through stages of noticing people's hands. I don't know why. Maybe it's the writer in me absorbing details to use in a book.

My hands now look like my grandmothers, with aged skin, kind of "wattly".

I once read a book -- possibly The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath -- in which the protagonist claimed her hands, when she wore white gloves (a public "must" in early-to-mid 20th century), felt like Minnie Mouse hands: too big for her body. I've never felt that way about my hands, but I've encountered a couple of women who should.

That wasn't a slam at those women. The shape and size of our hands is not something over which we have control.  I think it interesting that both of these women are slender and fine-boned, but have these enormous hands at the ends of their dainty wrists. They are both number crunchers, too, which makes me wonder if mathiness is linked to big hands. Another Molly Compton Herwood Crackpot Theory.

I know another woman who is not slender or fine-boned, yet she has some of the most delicate hands I've ever seen. Each time I notice her hands, it strikes me anew that those hands don't fit her body or her personality.

I usually don't notice men's hands, but there is one man of my acquaintance whose hands completely gross me out. He's a nice man. A lot of women I know think he's attractive. Yet every time I notice his hands, I shudder. They are plump and hairy. And I'm assigning them to an antagonist in my current WIP. Because I'm a writer and I can.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Synchrony, Purple Style

Every year, a group of my writing friends, commonly known as The Purples, get together around the end of December or early January for a goals session. We review the year past and plan for the year to come.

No, this is not yet another blog about writers and the goals they should be setting. There are plenty of those out there. And most of them are very good. The blogosphere does not need me adding my take on writing goals.

This blog is about synchrony. Simultaneous occurrence. This year, our goal setting session was rife with synchrony.

There's the to-be-expected (from a group of middle-aged women): lose weight. And of course, the writing goals. Those seem to migrate year-to-year on everyone's list.

This year, several of us focused on two things. We didn't discuss this in advance, so it was very weird when it came up during the session.

1) Our parents. Trying to stay connected to the people who raised us. I'm probably the worst of the bunch. My parents are both living and local . . . and I never call them. I see them on holiday's and such, but I never call them. My husband called his mother weekly until she passed away. I expect my children to call me weekly from college. And yet, I never call my mom or dad. So one of my goals this year is to call my folks once a week.

2) Stop confusing obligations with goals. One friend wrote: "clear distinction between goals and duties," and that's a biggie.  I'm guilty of the same thing. When I initially started setting my goals for 2012, I wrote, "treasurer of my local RWA chapter". Well, that's not a goal. It's what I am, and I have duties corresponding to being such. Y-Chromo graduates from college this year, but that's not a goal. So why was it on my goal list? It was something that I know is scheduled.

Our lists also seem to grow shorter each year, as we realize that by attempting too much, we set ourselves up for failure. Or maybe we're just becoming more focused on what is really important to us.