Beautiful Nebraska, Again

I didn’t sing today. Bruce was sleeping beside me in the car as I drove over the border into Nebraska and since we were up all but two hours of the night driving I didn’t have the heart or the guts to break into my raucous rendition of “Beautiful Nebraska!” But I thought it! 🙂 If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out one of my first blogs, titled “Beautiful Nebraska.”

We’re headed to the reunion and we are getting close. Right now we are in a Starbucks in Lincoln while Bruce is remaining available online for his student’s questions while they take their final. So far no questions. 🙂 He’s not sure if it’s a matter of no questions or technological difficulties. 

The drive through Nebraska looks like it will be beautiful. Everything is very green here and there was even flooding close to the Iowa border. The water came right up to the road on both sides.

Well, even with the mocha frappuccino on board my brain is too fuzzy to be creative. Hang in there, you’ll hear from me again soon. 🙂

Missing Grandma

Today I miss my Grandma. It’s not surprising really. We (the Jones clan) are preparing for the semi-annual reunion in Broken Bow and it’s natural that we would realize the loss since Grandma went to heaven last fall and this will be the first reunion without her. Oh, there will be plenty of evidence of her life. Over 100 living breathing evidences, actually. But it just won’t be the same. Other years, Grandma and I would have started talking months ago about the reunion. She really lived those last few years on the anticipation of the next family event, the next birth of a great-grandchild. I’ve missed that. I’ve thought several times about those calls, wishing I could hear her say, “the reunion will be here again before we know it.”

The reunion officially starts at noon on a Saturday, however, for most of us the start was dropping by to see Grandma – and Grandpa when he was alive- when you got to town. First, it was at their house where you would find them hanging out on the porch, receiving their family. The yard would be full of people of all sizes. After Grandma went to the nursing home, the first stop would be her room. Sometimes it got so full we had to take turns. That’s how it started.

The reunion officially ends after dinner Sunday but a lot of people stay until Monday. The real end is when you say goodby to Grandma. Many times there was another “traffic jam” as people stopped by to say goodby Sunday night and Monday morning.

So when does it start and end this year? I don’t know. Maybe we need to have a new tradition. I guess we will adjust and go on, that’s what life is, one change after another. This is one change though that I’m not really enjoying. 

Maybe it’s a little glimpse of what it will be like when we get to heaven. We’ll want to see all of the “family” but the first stop. . . that will be when we see Jesus. And the best part. . .there won’t be a visit at the end where we have to say good-by. And God will never say, like Grandma used to, “it’s good to see them come, and it’s good to see them go.”

Why the Windmill?

I don’t think I’ve ever explained the windmill at the top of the blog. Well, here goes. That picture is from Nebraska. It was taken south of Broken Bow, NE four years ago when my husband, sister, and I drove from Denver to Nebraska for the reunion. On our way back to Denver we stopped to get some pictures and this was one of them.

I chose the picture for this blog because it fits the name of the blog. The Double Cousins Mysteries right now is only one Mystery and it takes place outside of Broken Bow, NE. If you follow this blog, you know that Nebraska is the place I consider home. I spent eighteen years of my life as a resident of Nebraska and it has been the Jones family home my entire life. I love Nebraska! In fact, if forced to pick a sports team, I will say that I like the Cornhuskers (rah! – half-hearted cheer happening here). That’s saying something for a non-sports fan. 🙂

Soon we will meet again in Broken Bow for another reunion and maybe I’ll get some more pictures. I’m hoping to get some good pictures of the younger generation of cousins. Maybe some to use as an idea for another book cover. I’m also planning to spend some car time revising the present WIP (Work In Progress). That would be the second in the series.

Please start praying for wisdom as to where to send this manuscript, and that it will be received with enthusiasm at the right place. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share a bit of your day. And don’t forget to appreciate your own home, whether it’s close by you, or far away!

Happy Couple

I received this link on facebook and felt it was a classic. These people are certainly living life to the fullest. I love seeing couples that have been married most of their lives. It reminds me of my grandparents. I hope when Bruce and I have been married sixty years we’ll still be as active. 🙂 Figure the math and you’ll realize we’ll be in heaven, most likely.

Enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/video/video.php?v=1184460703200

New Opportunity

I’ve become a columnist! The past few Mondays I have had a column published in the Newberry Observer. My topic is Southern Culture from an outsiders point of view. I am having a blast writing these columns. I had wondered for several years about the idea of a column but I was “afraid.” I was afraid that I wouldn’t do well. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to the discipline of coming up with an idea each week. I was afraid I would fail.

Now I’m not ready to say it’s a huge success, but so far the comments I’ve received have been positive. I have ideas popping into my head on a regular enough basis to keep several weeks ahead, and the column kind of seems to write itself each week.

Who knew?

I’m beginning to realize that my pattern, or M.O. seems to be to get started, then it will happen. That’s what I did with my book, after all. Many people told me I should write for magazines or papers first to get my name out there, then try to publish a book. I didn’t want to do that. I understood the wisdom of their idea. It made sense to me. I knew they were probably right. I even tried to get into the idea and get started but I couldn’t.

All I could think about was that book.

So, I wrote the book. Then I tried to market the book. Then I decided it WOULD be done before Grandma went to heaven if I had anything to do with it so I self-published. And now, guess what? Before, I felt like an imposter, a writer wanna-be. Now I feel like a writer. I think like a writer. I even want to write articles and stories for magazines and papers.

My point is that sometimes the conventional wisdom doesn’t work for us. Sometimes we need to trust our heart. Or rather, trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I’m not saying don’t listen to the wise ones. Just remember that everyone has a different set of skills, a different personality, and what works for one person may not work for someone else.

So, stay tuned for the next new thing in Miriam’s life. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure!

Unexpected Blessings

My weekend didn’t go as planned. I planned to STAY HOME. We have had so much coming and going the past few weeks we were ready to just chill out and stay home. We surely had plenty to do here. I wanted to get some of my book editing done and make sure I got my three blogs in for last week. But sometimes, something happens and it just all changes.

Friday we received a call notifying us that very dear friends were going to be in Hendersonville for a few nights. We had offered them a place to stay before and we have been trying to get together for months so there was no doubt that we would go. It was just how to best make it work. So needless to say, the things we had planned to do this weekend didn’t get done. Some cleaning at the house in NC did get done and we had an absolutely marvelous, refreshing, encouraging time with Rev and Mellony. God is good.

I guess it reminds me that we need to remain open to God’s rescheduling of our time. I know that I have issues with this. I’m not the most adjustable when it comes to changes in my plans and it seems that God may be working on me about this. In fact, as I type this I am realizing that there have been several events in the past couple of weeks that God has rearranged, righted, and rearranged again. Oh my. But the best part is that if we leave our final schedule to Him, it won’t be wrong. Maybe this is God’s lesson for the week for Miriam.

So, I’m sorry for the missed blog but thankful for the awesome opportunity to have breakfast on my porch in NC with three of my favorite people. Now, to work on my schedule for the coming week… at least the tentative schedule. 🙂

Self-Imposed Deadline

I need to get cracking! I’ve given myself a deadline for finishing the revisions and getting the manuscript out to publishers. I had hoped to have it done by the end of June, but after the conference in May I realized that there were several areas I needed to review. I’ve been working on them and I now believe that the end of August is a realistic goal.

Now that we are back to a little more normal routine I need to get back to my 24 hour writing workweek. So, I guess you know what I’ll be doing in the next couple of days.

The revisions I am working on right now involve going through each scene and evaluating for several things. The first one is the Point Of View. You are only allowed one point of view character per scene. This is tough for me. I tend to “head-jump” and this is a problem. So, I’ve been going through each scene and identifying the POV character and then I just make sure I don’t have any thoughts pop into the scene from someone else’s head.

The second area I am looking at in each scene is the description. The more senses you involve in description the more interesting the writing is. I’ve heard it said that you should use all five senses to describe things in each scene. I’ve also heard that you need at least three. I think five is a pretty hard one to accomplish. I like to eat but getting taste in every scene seems a little contrived. So, my goal is to get at least three in each scene.

There are a couple of other things I am looking at for each scene but those are the main ones. Once I am done evaluating the scenes I need to evaluate each character and determine if there are any further clues to their personalities that need to be plugged in. Have I fully developed each of their individual story goals? Do they grow in some way throughout the book?

Whew! That’s a lot to do. I guess I should get off of here and get started. Pray for me, I really want this to be the best book possible and I want it done on time for my self-imposed deadline.

The Beauty in Routine

I’m ready for a normal week, whatever that is for us. With Bruce teaching in Sumter this summer and gone three days a week, and me working two nights a week in Lexington and going to Sumter to sleep one day in between it’s been busy enough. That’s our “normal” for this summer. But then we added in a week at the house in NC to redo the flooring while Bruce was off for the Fourth and that’s where it got crazy. I came back down to work Wednesday and Thursday nights and then returned to NC where we finally finished the floor Saturday night. Then it was hurry up and get things back together so we could come home to SC and get ready for a new week.

Whew! I really think having more than one home is overrated. I enjoy the vacation home aspect of the house in NC immensely and I LOVE that we are helping save the place Bruce grew up. I would never want to sell that house but it’s a lot of work. 🙂 Good hard work.

So, here we are, another new week and this one should be more “normal.” It’s no wonder we all feel rushed and pressured these days. I know my grandparents worked hard. Physically they worked much harder than we do. However, their schedule was very much set and their routine unchanging due to the seasons of ranch life. They didn’t take vacations. They didn’t have two places to take care of. One was enough. I can’t help but think that this hard work/stable lifestyle was better for them.

I am enjoying a bit of routine I’ve developed. Monday mornings I like to sit on my swing in my front yard and write. Working two nights a week prevents this from happening every morning, but it seems I can pretty consistently do this on Monday mornings. So, I think I’ve started my week off on a good foot. Next I get to go sleep all afternoon. No. . . don’t give me a hard time, I have to since I work tonight.

I’m glad that God doesn’t change. That is one part of the routine that is continuous. God is always there, always loving me, and He will never fail. Have a great week. If it’s a humdrum routine week ponder a bit on the beauty of the routine!

Almost Feel Like I Can Hear Angels Singing!

There’s nothing like the feeling of a project accomplished. We finished laying the tiles at the house in NC. Well, except for a few little spots in the hall around doors. We’ll have to do that when we aren’t too tired to think. I don’t really think we would feel quite the same sense of satisfaction if we had hired it done. I’ll include a picture here for you. I’ll try to get back to my regular blog schedule next week. 🙂

When I look at the new floor, I almost feel like I can hear the angels singing. It is so beautiful!

Good Clean Dirt

My Grandpa Jones used to say there was no shame in getting dirty as long as you got that way doing an honest day of hard work. He called it good, clean dirt. Yesterday Grandpa would have been proud! I was a filthy, dirty, sweaty mess after twelve hours of fighting with linoleum that had been put down forty years ago, more or less.

We decided it was time. The linoleum had long passed the “lifetime warranty” the salesman had touted and we hoped (my husband) and dreamed (me) that it would come up easily. No such luck. This morning we will be back at it with the manual scraper and the electrical mechanical power tile remover which if not very carefully managed will take up the plywood underlayment we don’t want to remove.

But the reward will be when the new linoleum tile we bought goes down and our little house in North Carolina takes on a proud new look. I can’t wait. I keep telling myself, “right feelings follow right actions” and I’m afraid the sore muscles are going to need more of that kind of talk today. Is it wrong to pray that linoleum will let loose of the plywood???

Too sore to type more! I’ll be back here Friday. 🙂 Have a great week.