Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cousins, Condos, & Criminals


My husband, Hubert, and I planned a nice trip to California. Although it would be a working trip, we anticipated some fun and relaxation. It began with us spending a day with my 5th cousin whom I had never met before. We had a great day visiting with him and his wife at Burney Falls State Park - a beautiful place. We chatted for hours as though we had always known each other.


We then drove to Jamestown where I did three days of book signings. The first two were at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. That is always enjoyable as friendly families are there to ride the old steam train used in so many movies and TV shows. Since part of my novel, The Seamstress of Jamestown, involved the train first coming to Jamestown, it is a perfect place for interesting historical conversations. The workers there are full of old train lore, so I enjoyed the two day visit immensely.
  

The next day I signed books in front of the 1859 Historic National Hotel. Several chapters of my story take place there, including the true story of the origin of Flo, the ghost in residence there. I met other striving (or is that starving) authors and three town drunks, who were quite friendly and talkative. 

Then south to San Juan Capistrano to fix up our family condo. We spent a week unpacking boxes, cleaning, moving furniture, posting stuff to sell on Craig's List, hanging pictures, and reorganizing every closet. Tiring but rewarding. 

The trip home was to be uneventful and fast (for two old folks). We drove to Lodi and stayed in our favorite hotel, Motel 6. That is obviously not for the ambiance, but the price. We got in so late that we got the last room - a handicapped room. It was actually large, very clean, and quite nice. We also got the last spot in the parking lot. I made 4 trips to the car carrying in only what we needed for the night. We both brought in our overnight bags. I brought in my immersion mixer, measuring cup and spoon, ingredients for the Dr. Budwig muesli, homemade apple sauce, homemade beet juice, box of pills, my purse, plus all the meats & cheeses so they wouldn't go bad in the cooler in the car whose ice was already melted. It was about 90 degrees. Hubert wanted the car to cool down overnight so he left the windows cracked an inch. (I know, I know, you can see what's coming...)

In the morning, after we drank our beet juice, I made the muesli for Hubert. That was followed by him taking a plethora of pills with the apple sauce. I went to the car and put our green tote bag in the back set. I closed the door. Something was wrong. I stood there and stared into the car.

The cooler was missing. It was one of those that you plug into the outlet and keeps food cold while the car is running. I then looked in the front seat & noticed the contents of the glove compartment strewn on the seat. The truth was clear. I went back to the room and told Hubert we had been robbed. I then went to the office and told the nice young gentleman there. The next few hours were spent with him, a nice police officer, and the manager who came in even though she wasn't scheduled. They spent much more time with us than I could imagine is normal. They showed us the photos taken by their new cameras, and posted them on Facebook and the bulletin board at the police department. We couldn't have had more kindness and concern if we were staying at a Hilton or Marriott. In the end, we lost the cooler, my laptop, and our GPS. I am very grateful they did not see my camera on the floor in front of the passenger seat - photos are a treasure to me. I am a little insulted that they didn't have any interest in taking a box filled with my fascinating novel. 

So, we've learned a few things that most of my readers probably already knew. Don't park near the walkway that goes through to a vacant lot with bushes to hide a criminal.  Don't leave windows open in the crime-infested region of Hwy. 99 in California's central valley. Fingerprints on a dusty surface cannot be lifted. The good news about our innocence is that they didn't have to break a window to get in. The video from the parking lot camera was interesting. A young man on a bicycle scouted the entire parking lot. He left. He came back with a buddy who used a tool to break in. They grabbed the items quickly and walked through the walkway and, hidden by the bushes, were not seen again.
Wiser but poorer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Oktoberfest to Nitro

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I wrote a blog. It has been quite an adventure in 2015. In the first half of the year I was extremely busy with a little work and many volunteer and family commitments - those things that take up much of life but don't get you kudos except from those very close to you. By September my husband wasn't feeling well. We changed his diet and made a doctor appointment. We saw the primary care doctor, had fun at Oktoberfest in Mt.Angel, saw a specialist, then WHAM! We ended up in the emergency room with my husband popping nitroglycerin pills like candy on the drive there to no avail. There the real adventure began.

He ended up having an angiogram, quadruple bypass surgery, a mitrovalve repair, recovery time, skilled nursing facility, back to hospital, ablation, fluid drained from around lungs, skilled nursing facility, rehab...  I lived in the hospital with him and only came home from the nursing facility to sleep. Amazing what you can learn when you have to. I now know how to order healthy food from a hospital menu - not an easy trick. I know when the doctors do their rounds with the pharmacist and RN. I know what cholesterol, blood sugar and INR levels should be. I know how to wash, change clothes, brush teeth, and put on deodorant in a public restroom or behind a curtain in a hospital room without showing anything indecent.

Now we are going to cardiac rehab, diabetes classes, getting his INR checked weekly, checking his blood sugar multiple times a day, counting mgs. of sodium and grams of carbs, and taking meds.  This is the world many live in, but up until now, we have avoided it.

So as we age, we face new adventures, some pleasant, some less so; but they can all be learning experiences, and we can enjoy parts of even the unpleasant ones. Exercise is now necessary and actually fun. The nurses were wonderfully gentle and informative. The doctors were patient, cheerful, and encouraging. While I am grateful for the miracles wrought by the doctors and praying grandchildren, I am looking forward to more pleasant adventures in 2016.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Small Town Authors

Check out Small Town Authors http://smalltownauthors.blogspot.com/  I am the featured author for November. Thank you Audrey Austin!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pig Bottles

My hope is that those who read this blog will realize that their own life is an adventure. Making a 2 year old giggle, finding the perfect gift for a friend, or watching the sunrise can be an adventure if we have the right attitude. When I sign my book I write, "Enjoy the adventure of life." That is truly my hope - that those who read my blog or The Seamstress of Jamestown will enjoy life to the fullest, seeing everyday events as adventures. But then there are the adventures that are so exciting you wish they weren't happening! These are unpleasant at the time but make great stories years later. So I will tell about an adventure that is interesting to me because it happened 30 years ago. That is enough time lapse to see it as a great story and not present trauma.

I was spending time alone at a nice hotel on the island of Kauai. It was really more like condos - a two-story structure with little apartments. There was an office where I could ask the manager for information. But I didn't need that! I was adventurous, and enjoyed exploring.

Every day I went on a little adventure. I would drive and sightsee until I reached an interesting spot, then hike a little. One day I took an unplanned hike down into Waimea Canyon. Not having intended to take a long hike, I only had one small plastic water bottle in my backpack which was 3/4 full. It was one of those trails that has a sign-in sheet at the top, so that if you disappear they know where to search for the body. On my hike down, I saw a large plastic water bottle hanging on a tree. It was a gallon jug hanging by its handle on a dead branch of a dried up tree - the only tree in sight. There was about an inch of warm water in the bottom. I made a mental note of it thinking I might find it useful on the way back up. I was passed by a man and his son on the way down but never saw them again, nor anyone else.

By the time I reached the bottom of the canyon, I was exhausted and HOT! My head was throbbing. I splashed myself with the creek water, even dunking my head to soak my hair. It didn't last long. I was soon as dry as the red dust that covered the canyon walls. The creek water was literally swimming with bugs. My California girl brain forbid me to drink it. I figured I could always drink that water in the tree bottle. Thirty years ago we didn't know there were carcinogenic PCB's in plastic bottles baking in the hot sun.

I started back up. The first quarter mile had some trees and shade. I picked up 2 pieces of fruit from the ground and put them in my backpack. I had no idea what they were. Why were they on the ground uneaten by the father-son pair or any wild animals? Perhaps they were poisonous. After that there was nothing but red sand trail, burning sunshine, throbbing head, and sitting to rest every quarter mile. I finally broke down and ate the fruit. I survived.

It didn't take long for that fruit liquid to dehydrate, but I was optimistic remembering the tree bottle. After many rest stops, I finally spied it. I forced myself to trudge to the little tree. The bottle was empty! How rude of someone to drink MY water. Obviously, I wasn't thinking very clearly by that time. I rested again then determined to make it about another quarter mile.

On the steep descent, there was one part of the trail that had been washed out. On my energetic beginning downhill, I leapt over the two-foot chasm with bravery. On the way back up, I was barely dragging my feet with every step. When I arrived there, I paused disheartened. There was no way I could leap over anything. It was the only way. So I mustered every ounce of energy I had left, threw my backpack over first, then took a slower than running start and just barely made it. I lay on the other side with my head pounding.

I continued my slow trek and finally arrived at the top of the trail. The sun was just setting. I signed the book so whoever cared would know I had made it out. I drove a little further up the road to a small store and got water. I drove many miles back to my hotel, slowly.

The following morning, I stopped in the office just to have someone to chat with about my adventure. They informed me that that tree bottle was called a "pig bottle." It was a plastic bottle left hanging on the tree by a wild pig hunter (wild pig or wild hunter? both). The manager said a pig hunter would just as soon shoot a haole (white foreigner) as a pig! They had 100 haoles that had "disappeared" on Kauai - bodies never to be found.

My husband says I must have a band of guardian angels. I plunge into life and think later. I never do anything that seems dangerous, such as bungee jumping, but manage to get myself into these adventures. Perhaps that is why I view life as an adventure. Or perhaps it is because I view life as an adventure that I get into these fixes. In any case, it's better that being bored. May you enjoy the adventure of life!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Driven Lives

It has been quite awhile since I blogged. By the way, Sr. Rosata would never have accepted that as a verb. What are the principle parts of that verb?  Blog, blogged, have blogged - maybe? Anyway, it's not that nothing has been happening; it's that too much has been happening. If I wrote about it all, it would be another book. Basically, I have been promoting my book at community events because I am passionate about getting it into the hands of as many people as possible so they can benefit from the deep message about life embedded in the fascinating story. I have also been helping run a private high school in order to help raise up future leaders who will lead the world into goodness, truth, and beauty. Yes, really. I am intensely passionate about that.

The question arose last night at dinner with my brother. Why are we so driven? He is even far busier than I - never a break, running every organization he joins, and determined to evangelize everyone he meets (even his pastor). I concluded we come by it honestly. 

Our parents were fairly mellow. Our Dad worked for the L.A. County Marshal's office for about 30 years, retired fairly young, played golf, poker, watched TV, and lived to be 100. Our mom loved to paint, dance and play Bridge. One must go farther back in our lineage to find the culprits.

The main one was Martin Andrew O'Brennan who was born in 1812 in County Mayo, Ireland. He was well-educated, very Catholic, and proud of his Celtic heritage. He married, ran a collegiate seminary in Dublin, had 9 children, wrote extensive histories of Ireland going back to Adam & Eve, supported every Irish cause, and was jailed 3 times for seditious language in his newspapers. He claimed he was not a revolutionary. He finally escaped and came to Chicago where he traveled, teaching all over the eastern U.S. about Irish history and Catholic theology. He died in an "accident on the street" according to his obituary. My Dad said his enemies killed him. He just could never stop. He was passionate about his causes, fought for truth, and saw the world as black & white.

Enter my brother & I growing up in mellow, sunny, southern California in the 1950's. Life was happy and beautiful. Just watch Happy Days or The Wonder Years. So, without ever having met the infamous and passionate Martin O'Brennan, we grew up to be intense, passionate people fighting for our causes. My mother always said that traits skipped a generation. In this case, I think they skipped 3 generations!

Oh, so maybe you think I'm being too hard on poor ole Martin. Perhaps you are correct. Possibly part of the blame goes to his son-in-law, John J. Bodkin. John came from the same town where Martin had his newspaper and was arrested, Tuam, in County Galway. In the Chicago area, John married Martin's eldest daughter, Marian. No shrinking violet I would guess, as the wife & children of Martin are credited with running his newspaper, The Connaught Patriot, during his jail time.

John was so ardent for righteousness that he chastised a man in public notices in Tuam for lying about him. He also shot and killed a neighbor in California for running towards him and threatening him. Of course, the trial was brief and he was found "not guilty". He was a school teacher, the first editor of The Tidings in Los Angeles, wrote the History of the San Gabriel Mission, ran a Catholic bookstore in Los Angeles, and walloped his son (my grandpa) for misspelling words. A little intensity, passion, and righteousness there also, I'd say.

So, while my brother and I shall be eternally grateful for the faith passed on to us, and we shall continue all our devout activities, we are at least pondering the value of fishing or resting in a hammock.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Deep River, Ducks, and Downtown Motels

After paying for a room at the beautiful downtown Atlanta budget motel (which shall remained unnamed), using all my airline miles as well as my husband's, and packing my bags - oops! No I mean bag (singular) since they charge per bag these days - I was on my way to the International Christian Retail Show. This was an adventure as I had no idea what it was nor why I was going. Deep River Books, my publisher, invited me. My first night in the cockroach-free motel was fine.
 
Sunday I enjoyed the Mass at the Basilica within easy walking distance. The security guard out in front did cause me some concern. We definitely don't need one at my little Holy Rosary Church in the Cascade foothills. Sunday evening I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with the Deep River Books group. I then walked back to my to my cut-rate motel with some other Deep River authors, although the last one of them deserted me at the Hilton as I continued a block to my haven. It was fine until about 5:00 am when some noisy people woke me up. I assumed they were rude guests checking out early. I tried to sleep but by about 5:30 realized there was violent yelling now accompanied by stomping on the floor above me. After several phone calls to the front desk and pounding on the ceiling to try to save someone's life, I heard a different pounding and a voice, "This is the police. Open up!"  I tiptoed out my door and up the stairs just far enough to peek in the third floor hallway and see a police officer. This was only one of the disturbing events. Next time, the Hilton!

Monday morning I figured out how to take the shuttle bus to the Georgia World Congress Center. I arrived early to be there for the opening ceremonies. Apparently no one else thought that was important. I watched them set up and put tape on the carpeting to keep the crowds back from the red-ribbon to be ceremoniously cut. With no competition for a good spot, I stood with my toes on the line. About 6 other people were there. Once the prayer started the crowd swelled to about 30 people. This was amazing to me considering the opening prayer was given by Phil Robertson and a message by his son, Alan. Their TV show, Duck Dynasty, is the most-watched reality show on cable.

I checked in at the Deep River booth, and asked what I was supposed to do. They suggested I "make contacts."  My only appointment was a book signing on Tuesday for 45 minutes. That left me three full days of what? I wandered aimlessly looking at other booths with books, wall plaques, Christmas decorations, and toys. I checked back in at our booth about every half hour still befuddled as to why I was there.

I went back to my room, dropped off my warmer clothes, and returned to the Show. I checked in
at the booth again and confirmed that I was to mingle and meet people.

They informed me the goal was to  get rid of all 57 of  my books that we had brought - hopefully into the hands of bookstore owners. It finally happened. I ended up meeting many bookstore owners, book and magazine publishers, and other authors. I collected free books at author signings - even from the Robertsons and Shirley Dobson. My signing was incredibly successful - running out of books in 30 minutes.

I came home with a pile of business cards from contacts and a suitcase full of free books.  I pondered leaving some clothes there, but just sat on my one bag and bounced until I got it zipped shut. All in all, it was a very successful trip.  I made some friendships which I will treasure for years to come.

Barbara with Shirley Dobson

Monday, May 26, 2014

World Blog Tour

A very exciting adventure for me, since I entered the world of authors, is getting to know other authors. I have been amazed at how generous they are with their time and advice in helping newbie authors like myself. One such author is William Burt. We "met" through a mutual librarian friend. Although I have not met him in person yet, he has given me great encouragement. I am honored that he chose me to be part of this blog tour. I hope this tour will expose readers everywhere to authors and bloggers worthy of more attention. Hopefully, through this tour, you will also discover some great books to enjoy during the summer reading season!

The King of the TreesI would like to begin by sharing with you a little about William Burt. Having spent most of his teenage years vicariously adventuring in Middle Earth, Bill is an avid fantasy fan. His first allegorical fantasy title, The King of the Trees, came out in 1998 (WinePress).   Bowing to reader demand, he has expanded the series to include a total of seven titles to date, with more to follow. Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing books, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years' experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children. Check him out at http://www.greencloaks.com  You can scroll down to the bottom of his page and link to his blog.  There you will find the names of the authors he recommended in his World Blog Tour post. In this way you can link to many authors and books you may otherwise never find.



Unlike William Burt, I have not settled into a specific genre yet. My only published book is historical fiction. This is what I like to read, so this is what I wrote. I am not a deliberate writer. I did not plan to nor ever desire to be an author. Like so many great adventures in my life, it just seemed to happen. Definitely assuring me that The Almighty is guiding my path. My first book was just a story I made up one night to entertain myself. It grew - seeming to take on a life of its own. My publisher would love for me to write in one genre, but I write for myself, not my public. So I write what interests me at the time. I do hope to write more historical fiction soon.

When I wrote The Seamstress of Jamestown, I worked for 4 to 8 hours a day. Since I demanded that it be very historically accurate, much of that time was spent in research. I have great respect for authors of old. How did they do research without the internet? When I wrote a chapter, it only took about 3 hours. I just let the book within me flow out. The characters developed on their own. They are based upon many people I have known. Surely, a first book must be the easiest. Emma, my heroine, is a combination of my mother, my friends, and myself. My book differs from other historical fiction because it has my life in it. Surely no one else wrote about Sr. Erminold and her method of teaching piano and dance. It's the real characters that I have known that bring a fresh and unique air to The Seamstress of Jamestown. My voice is pure as I have taken no writing classes. The most common comment I receive about The Seamstress is that it is easy to read and my characters seem real.

My second book, which I am working on now, is easy. My mother wrote it. She wrote about her life several times - just a handwritten page about some incident (the neighbors house burning down or sewing methods in the large dressmaking houses of NYC). She also kept her rough drafts of letters that she wrote to relatives. Then, in her last year of life, she recorded her memories. I have simply transcribed and combined these and am putting them together with family photos. That hardly counts as writing a book, but it will surely be my favorite.

Next, will be the hardest project - the story of my grandmother's life. For this, I will have to do much research. Her life is one of those that is stranger than fiction. Much is what I uncovered with genealogy research, but much is also from the one day she poured out her heart to me and told me her life story. I promptly went to my car and wrote it down in the back of my Daytimer. There will be a true theme, not just a story. How did she and her sister live to be 102 and 91 respectively when their ancestors died much younger? From whence came their strength of character? These questions will be answered in easily flowing story form.

Please check out three of the authors I have discovered. Robert Mulkey wrote a memoir, This Is My Lemonade, which I enjoyed reading and helped me understand the intense search some people have to find home. Rose Marie Dunphy wrote Orange Peels and Cobblestones. It is not only an interesting fiction novel about a young woman who is torn from her loving family in Italy and brought to America but also an immersion course in Italian culture and food. Terry Madden has dabbled in screenplays and historical fiction, and is currently working on several science fiction and fantasy pieces, both short and novel length. When she is not writing, she teaches high school chemistry and astronomy. They will be posting for the World Blog Tour on June 2. Be sure to follow them and their recommended authors!

  Adopted by an Oregon family as an infant, Robert Mulkey was eighteen years old when he first learned the details of his birth family - including the brother he always dreamed of having. This is My Lemonade, An Adoption Story chronicles the amazing story of his thirty-four-year quest to know his birth family, learn of his roots, and find his identity, traveling first to British Columbia and eventually to the ancestral family home near Ascoli Piceno in central Italy.  It is a journey filled with transcendent moments and agonizing heartbreak, leading finally to acceptance, understanding, and the genuine love of family.
http://thisismylemonade.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/my-inner-southern-californian/

AUTHOR PHOTO  Rose Marie Dunphy lived in Italy and now resides in New York.  With a Master’s Degree from Stony Brook University, she taught Science for 10 years, co-authored That First Bite – Chance or Choice, a self-help book about eating disorders using the 12 Step Program.  Her second book, a novel, Orange Peels and Cobblestones, is based on a true event in her life.  How does a mother give away her own child? It has themes of adoption, the immigrant experience, and love and forgiveness.  Her third book is Ciottoli e Bucce D’Arancia, the Italian version of Orange Peels and Cobblestones, which the author translated herself.  In addition, Rose Marie has written numerous essays and short stories that have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday and other publications.  She is now writing a cookbook of Italian recipes and a sequel to Orange Peels and Cobblestones. Dunphy is available as a public speaker and has done Book Talk/Signings in libraries, colleges, book clubs and organizations across Long Island, Albany, NY and the Palm Beach areas of Florida.  Copies of her books can be found and purchased on Amazon, Kindle, Barnesandnobles.com and in New York City and Long Island  bookstores.  For signed copies, contact the author at orangepeelsandcobblestones@gmail.com  or visit her blog at http://rosemariedunphy.blogspot.com.  
 
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   Terry Madden is embarking on a trilogy in the magical world of speculative fiction. Her first book in that series, Three Wells of the Sea, weaves a fascinating tale of the druid Lyleth and King Nechtan connecting Celtic culture and mythology to our modern world. Her short story "Animal," about a veterinarian in the future and her fight to save the last animals on Earth, won the Writers of the Future Contest and appears in volume 30 of their anthology. Her screenplay "Passiontide" won the Hollywood Network's Screenplay Discovery Award, and she has placed in both the quarter and semi-finals of the AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. She has an abiding interest in medieval and ancient culture and mythology, especially Celtic. Somehow, that interest seems to coexist just fine with her passion for space and worlds spinning around other stars. Book one of her heroic/contemporary fantasy series is complete, and she is at work on book two of the trilogy. Check out her blog and writings at her website http://www.threewellsofthesea.com