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Thursday, May 20, 2010

When did I get old?

I don't remember it happening, but here I am an old man. Eight months ago, I was riding my Kawasaki Nomad motorcycle with my wife on back as a passenger and back seat driver. I think it might have been when I realized I couldn't do that safely anymore. I couldn't trust my left leg to be able to handle the combined weight of the bike, me, and my darling Judy. It was more fear of what could happen to her in case of my lack of control that made me decide to sell the bike. We both loved it. We had taken trips of 150 or more miles more than once. From about 12 miles south of Baltimore, MD where we live to Ocean City, MD is about that distance. We rode on the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, too!
I knew it had to happen some day, but why did it happen so soon? My mind still feels like it did when I was a teenager. Why doesn't my body? Why does your mind and body have to be so different? All of the knowledge and skills I have gained in my 71 years are trumped by a body that no longer works like it did in days past. I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with my writing and making wire wrapped jewelry. At least I can still do those!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don't you just love computers?

I have three computers. One is obsolete in the extreme and only gets used as a word processor for writing my books and checking my emails. One is fairly up to date and runs on Windows XP and is my wife's primary computer. The last one is a shiny new netbook that my wife won in a contest and gave to me. It is the one running on XP that has given me horrors over the past several days. My wife called me into the office and asked why she was getting a message on screen that she could not save a file to the hard disk for lack of space. I had just defragmented it the prior week, and it had a ton of empty file space on it then. When I ran defrag on it this time, it showed only one percent of the disk was available. First thing I figured was, "Uh Oh! It's got a virus." I ran McAfee and an anti-spyware program, rechecked, same result: disk full. I started deleting files, photos, and programs. Even though I had apparently freed up beaucoup disk space, I got the same warning. It appeared that as soon as I freed the space, something wrote in it.
I am not a computer novice. I have built my own PCs, and serviced them when necessary, but this had me stumped. I had to contend for two days with my wife's grumbling while she worked on the old unit. Fortunately, my stepson is a network specialist, and we asked him to try to figure it out, which he did. He had some resources to which I had no access that enabled him to do so. It is running fine now. I am using it for this entry. I guess, like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. When they are working.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Tribute to My Mother

My mother, Rena May Battee, hadn't turned 19 when I was born, and the early memories I have of her were ones of a woman who was loving and gentle, but, also, no-nonsense. In a way, she was like an older sister. She and my Dad were young enough to still do things like sledding and roller skating, amusement parks, swimming and playing miniature golf. Mom was strong, too. Not just physically, but emotionally. She didn't fall apart in a crisis. She could do a man's work, if she had to, and that happened often when Dad came home from WWII. They bought a little house in Baltimore that took lots of "fixing up," as they used to say. She had to go to work to help support our growing family. My second sister was born after we moved in there, and Dad's earnings were not enough to feed, clothe and educate in a parochial school three kids.
Above all other attributes, Mom was loving. Her children knew she cared deeply about them and knew she would fight for them, if necessary. I remember one time a grouchy neighbor started hollering at us kids for getting a ball out of her yard by climbing the fence. When she came out of the yard wielding a broom, my mother, like a mama lion, came out and went nose-to-nose with her to straighten her out. She encouraged, nursed, worked to support ,protected and suffered for us.
The greatest blessing I could wish for every child would be that they should have a mother like mine. The jails would be empty and they would all grow to be responsible, caring people.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Silver Lining

Sorry if my last post was a little depressing. I guess disappointment got the best of me. I am not usually a downbeat person. In a way, maybe it is good that things turned out as they did. There are lots of old adages that apply in a situation like this. One of my favorites is: "Every dark cloud has a silver lining." It surely applies in this case. I found, today, that a large number of legitimate publishers would relegate my book to the rejection list because it is too short. Only 52000 words. Having learned this, I am going back to the story and "fleshing it out" to make it more salable. I have eschewed inserting unnecessary verbiage, but it appears I was wrong in assuming that descriptions of decor and things of that sort are undesirable. Trudging forward and continuing to write will be more challenging and I will wax prosaic as best I may. My wife said I should put in some steamy bedroom scenes, but I want to have something that stands out without stooping to the prurient. My book is about Jewish people, and, as a non-Jew, believe they deserve to be portrayed respectfully. It's just the golden rule being applied as it should be.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Will the dream die with me?

Disillusionment has set in. What I believed was a real publisher was actually just a "come on" for one of those self publishing outfits. Whom can you trust? There are so many bogus entities floating around out there in cyberspace. It is difficult to separate the scams and the shams from the legitimate. I guess the old saw about things too good to be true is right. For now, it is back to square one. I believe in my book, "Double Trouble on Corned Beef Row," and I thought the "publisher" did, too. They played me like a Stradivarius. Now, my greatest fear is that I will die before it ever gets into print. It's a story about identical Jewish twins separated at birth and living dramatically different lives. It is the kind of story Barry Levinson would like because it involves a Baltimore landmark, Lombard Street's Corned Beef Row, a deli owner, and spies fighting over a secret weapon stolen from the Israelis. The way things look now, he will never know it exists.
At 71, diabetic, overweight, and arthritic, I am running out of time. It took me two years to finally get my book into what I believed to be really enjoyable reading. Were those years I could have put to better use? I loved/hated the process. Envisioning the story, I loved. All of the editing, and re-rewriting was a chore. Unfortunately, only the reading public will determine if it was a worthwhile endeavor. If that ever happens. Sometimes, life really sucks.