Apologies

I don’t know where the time has disappeared to, but I haven’t been on this site for several months. I hate for that to happen.

Despite not showing up here, I have been writing and photographing – lots but nothing real exciting. I’m spending a good bit of time freelancing for Furman University and I’m spending a lot of time with my mother, who is 98 years old. She is in good health but is gradually getting weaker. In fact, she’s considering moving from an independent apartment to assisted living. It’s a decision she must make, but I’ll help in any way I can.

Soon I’m planning to begin researching for a book I’d like to write on the history of the Reedy River. It’s a short river that begins at a spring in Travelers Rest, S.C., runs through downtown Greenville and ends in Lake Greenwood where it joins the Saluda River. The falls in Greenville are the impetus for the development of Greenville. They provided power for mills. The river saw a Revolutionary War battle, lots of engagements, the birth of the Upstate’s textile industry and more. It has now become the centerpiece of Greenville’s growth as a “cool” city.

My other book goal is to write a history of Brevard College, which I attended when it was a two-year school. It has now gone four years. Brevard began with the merger of Weaver College and Rutherford College, both North Carolina schools. It is sheltered in the Appalachian Mountains and has plenty of history, some of which has been almost hidden. We’ll see how that goes.

Now that I’m back, I’ll try to remain here.

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Rearranging pages is not easy

I’m working on a book – my mother’s life in poetry – on blurb, a self-publishing website. The boook will look good, I think, but it’s hard to change pages around. Also, I have to figure out exactly how the pages will fall so I can get the right stuff together. If I can’t make the changes, I’ll just do another book and change the project name so I can get the pages in the right order. I still have to find some photographs – have some but not all of them. Right now, the plan is to print 5 copies – for my family and me.

A new project – and excitement again

I just helped my mother celebrate her 97th birthday. I cooked a taco salad for her, some family and some friends. She enjoyed it along with the other two birthday lunches she had last week.

The birthday made me think once again of the years she has lived. And I decided on Christmas presents for the family. Years ago, I wrote an autobiography with stories she had told me via email. It was interesting but long.

My new project is a story of her life told in short poems and prose poems. It will cover the beginning, the middle and toward the end. She has experienced a lot in 97 years. She’s taught; she’s worked for a newspaper; she raised a family; she traveled throughout the world. She married two men and buried them both. She is a survivor. I’ve written about 30 segments so far.

Besides that, a lunch today with a friend rekindled my desire to write a book. So I’ve started some of the research already. Once I get started, then I’ll try to figure out what else needs to be done. Nan suggested I apply for a state fellowship. Maybe I will. At least I’ve downloaded the application.

What would I do without the support that comes from friends, fellow writers and my family?

New project = excitement

My mother and I returned from Florida. She enjoyed the trip despite getting sick. The most important things, I  think, were seeing Chip (my brother, who had been ill with a vein bleed but is nearly recovered) and getting out of Brevard. I took her home last weekend, and she’s had a slow week of settling into life at College Walk.

I spent my week interviewing and writing a story – a freelance assignment. It was fun and I enjoyed the conversation with the home builder. I also spend time cleaning out drawers and bags and getting more books to give away.

But I’m really excited about a new project.

At a writer’s group, I read a poem about the Florida trip. They know I like memoir so they suggested I write a memoir through poems. What I’ve decided to do is write my mother’s biography in poetry. A decade ago, I wrote her life story. It’s big and long and sprawling – too much for anyone except the most dedicated (like her children),

This time I’ll write poems about special  times in her life or pictures that we have of her. And I’ll use some of those pictures. Some poems may be from her point of view (as imagined by me) and some will be from my point of view and some will be more generic. I looked at what I have so far – with a few new ones written in the pas couple of days I have13 poems. That’s a good start although those poems need some serious editing yet.

My goal is to have the book completed before Christmas. My mother will turn 97 on Sept. 4.

Change is scary

It’s really getting close – the time I will no longr have a salary but depend on Social Security, my investments and my freelance work to support me. I’m actually feeling a little scared even though I am relatively sure no problems will crop up. My first SS check will come in this month. I’m calling Medicare to add the doctor’s portion to that. And I’ll get supplemental insurance (not too cheap, I must say).

When I talked to my financial advisor, he said I would be fine. We’re talking about how to pay off my mortgage. That’s the only big debt I have. When my car wears out – soon – I’ll takie over operation and ownership of my mother’s car. It’s too big and an automatic, but it will be free.

Nan jazzed me up yesterday when we talked about books. She thinks I need to check with the Presbyterian Press about the book of photos and excerpts from Psalms. I’m also working on revamping my family cookbook into one that would sell. And I still am interested in writing the history of the Reedy River in Greenville Count y, SC.

So my life is changing – actually more than it did last April when I took the buyout. I will have a salary check until the end of April. But I just need to look at it as an adventure into the u nknown. Great things are on the horizon. I just have to grab them.

Digging out the history

I tried something new yesterday – or at least I hadn’t done it for a while.

Cocooned in the history room of the Transylvania County Library, I spent several hours reading AAUW scrapbooks to get some information on the early history of the organization’s annual book sale. My mother was involved from the very beginning.

I found the book sale “sort of ” started in 1969 and really got underway in 1970. The AAUW members began funding local scholarships with book sale money in 1971 and then let the scholarship funds begin and began funding scholarships again in 1974. The first year, they made $150. Last year, they made a profit of about $29,000.

After the research, I came home and interviewed my mother and a couple of her friends. I then called the AAUW treasurer to get some up-to-date statistics.

I’ve begun writing an article on the history of the event, which has helped scores of female students and has spread to other educational programs that help women. Despite the fact that I’ve gone free-lance, this endeavor is a volunteer effort.

This is fun.

Business is growing

Business is picking up – and I’m still not really looking.

Somewhere along the line, I told the folks at the Chamber I would be glad to freelance for them. So I now have three stories for their 2013 annual directory – one about a winery, one about the chairman and one about economic development.

Along with what I’m doing with the Greenville Journal, I’m bringing in a little more money.

All will be well – I get my first Social Security check next month (for January – the month I turned full retirement age). I am banking those funds as long as I’m receiving buyout funds – that will be through April.

My goal for the year is to really move forward with my book on the Reedy River, which runs through Greenville County. Reedy Falls is in the middle of downtown Greenville. A Revolutionary War battle was fought along the river. It has been the source of engagements. It has run yellow, blue and red with textile dyes. It’s still polluted but much cleaner than in the past. It is now the centerpiece of a downtown park.

Everybody has a story

I’m working on a new project – teaching adults (through continuing education program) how to write their own life stories. I’m not talking about autobiographies or stories meant for commercial publishing. These are the stories they want to give their children or grandchildren.

There is a need for them. I asked my mother for such stories a decade or so ago. She didn’t give them to me at Christmas. So I decided to get the information by asking her a question – on email – every night. She answered and I wrote her life story for my family. Unfortunately, my mother had died years before I started that.

To keep it from happening, I’m going to try to teach the class – maybe six weeks – at technical college and other places that provide adult education. Here’s the start of how I plan to sell it:

Your Life Story

Everyone has a story to tell – the story of their life. Of course, it’s a story without end.  But it’s still a story your family wants to hear.

Just as you have a story, you can tell it. You don’t have to be a professional “writer.” You just need to tell your stories in your own words. Don’t worry about punctuation – that comes later. An autobiography – the story of your entire life – sounds important and difficult and long. But you don’t have to do that. You can write little stories of certain events or times in your life. You don’t have to write them in order. They can be rearranged later, but many people don’t want to tell their tale chronologically.

You can write about the big events – a marriage, a parent’s death, a child’s leaving home, your time in a war. Or you can write about the smaller events – when you and your sister used to play school, when your brother preached to the animals, when you rushed the dog off so your mother wouldn’t punish him.

Other possibilities include your reaction to local, national or world events – 9/11 and its aftermath, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the assassination of John Lennon, how you felt when your favorite cousin married.

If you want to talk about your birth, you can rely on the stories told by others – since there’s little likelihood you will remember it. If you want to include others – parents and grandparents – you have plenty of stories and you will remember much of what they have told you.

One of the easiest ways to start is to build a timeline of your life, perhaps including major national and international events.

Once you start writing, some of you may want to read your work aloud. That way you get feedback from other class members and what they say may spark your imagination. Or your story may bring up one for them. However, reading aloud is voluntary.

 

 

Busy day in the works

Today has been a productive day.

I started out with some library research on the Reedy River. That project has gotten pushed aside, but I’m back to it now.

Then I dropped off three bags of clothing and sheets/pillow cases at Goodwill. I also have a pile of books ready to take to the church to be sold in November at the Big Thursday Book Nook. Each thing I take out of the house gives me a little more room.  Coming from downtown I saw hundreds of people and flags lining Poinsett Stree4t in honor of a fallen warrior coming home.

In about 30  minutes or so, I plan to trek to Lowe’s (actually only about half a mile away) to check out  paint colors, carpet and wood flooring (maybe bamboo if it’s not too soft). So I’m slowly getting ready. But I can’t have the floors done until I take everything out of the close (or at least off the floor).

In addition, I stopped for barbecue at BlueGrass Barbecue in Greer. It was good. The only problem as far as I’m concerned was chips instead of fries. They serve no fries. The barbecue, however, is good.

Goodbye, books; hello, space

W0O-HOO! The Greenville Literacy Association just agreed to come pick up books for their book sale. I told them I had 14 boxes (milk cartons) ready. I actually have either 17 or 18 – filled up a few more. But that’s it. They’ll be out of my living room floor Thursday afternoon.

I like the idea of donating to that group. The book sale is their biggest fund-raiser and I believe it literacy (of course, I would have to since I’ve been a reporter for most of my life. That doesn’t work unless someone can read).

My next book donations will be to my church for the Book Nook at Big Thursday, a fund raiser for Greer United Ministries. I won’t donate nearly as many, but I’ll give them some choice ones.

My earliest donation of books this year was to Brevard’s AAUW, of which my mother is a member. That also is their largest fund-raiser and they use the proceeds for scholarships. I gave them about 10 boxes of books.

Sounds like I’ll have none left in my house. But, in fact, I still have more books than I have bookcases and shelves. But it’s not easy to get rid of any of them. What it probably means is that I’ll buy more.

I have started a special section for books written by my friends and people I met at book fairs. I have more than I realized of those. Maybe some day I’ll have a book to put up there, too.