Writer’s Workshop: Silly Me…

Image by P Tate from Pixabay

I managed to break my right arm twice before I turned 10, and I was to blame both times.

We lived in Indianapolis in the late ’50’s, so I would have been around 3 at the time. Half of our basement was finished: It had some tall cabinets (about 8 feet) at one end, with a shorter (about 6 feet) cabinet in the middle, and the floor was finished in hexagonal tile. I used to climb up on the shorter cabinet and from there up to the top of one of the taller ones and stay up there for a while before climbing back down.

Now, before you ask: I don’t remember exactly how I was able to do this. When you’re 3 years old, you do a lot of things and can’t explain how (and more importantly, why) you did them. Anyway…

One day I was in the basement with one of the kids in the neighborhood, and we were climbing the cabinets. I got to the top first, and when he tried to get up on the cabinet himself, he knocked me off. (I’m sure it was an accident, though there’s an apocryphal story that I stood up there and declared "I’M SUPERMAN!" and my friend wanted to see if I could fly.) Anyway, I fell 8 feet, landed on my right arm and broke it. I spent a couple of months in a cast.

The second time, I was in first grade. Jim, Kip, and I were horsing around shortly before bed, which involved running around the apartment. We were told on several occasions not to run around the apartment, and of course we ignored it, because we were kids and thus very stupid. On one of the trips, I slipped on a throw rug and went down on my arm. Hard.

My parents were, of course, very angry with me, not only because I had disobeyed them and maimed myself in the process, but because they had better things to do than sit at the Emergency Room at St. Francis Hospital on a Tuesday night, which, as everybody knows, was when The Red Skelton Show was on TV.

I loike to think that was the reason my parents never had any more kids…

Writer’s Workshop: Dream and King

When Mary and I first moved to Georgia, the area in which we lived was still pretty "country": most of the roads around us were two lanes and a significant amount of land in this area was dedicated to raising horses. There was an animal hospital near us that was dedicated to taking care of creatures great and small called the Horse & Hound Hopital, where they took care of dogs and cats as well as horses and other large animals. They had an enclosure on the property that you could see into from the road.

Not long after we moved here, we were driving past, and Mary starts shouting "John! There’s a Brahma bull at the Horse & Hound Hospital!" And she was right, there was the bull, hump and all. As we started passing it on a regular basis, we noticed that there was a horse that pretty much always with the bull in the enclosure. We talked to some of our neighbors, and learned that the bull’s name was King (after Martin Luther King, who lived in Atlanta), and the horse’s name was Dream (after Martin Luther King’s famous "I have a dream" speech).

Dream and King were practically inseparable, so much so that, when King accidentally gored Dream with one of his horns, he stood outside the room where the vet was taking care of Dream, clearly upset that he had hurt his buddy. It actually made national news (I had it posted to Facebook, but I ccan’t find it, nor can I find it using DuckDuckGo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it).

The Horse & Hound Hospital shut down around 10-15 years ago, and the land was sold to a developer who used it to build senior housing. I have no idea what happened to Dream and King; given the amount of time that’s passed since the hospital closed and the average life expectancy of a horse and a Brahma bull, I would guess that they’re now grazing in that great enclosure in the sky.

(The pictures above are stock images, since I couldn’t find an actual picture of them.)

Writer’s Workshop: What’s On The Menu?

Notice: No turkey! Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

Mary and I have become decidedly less traditional on major holidays. It’s just the two of us, so we don’t so much plan as throw the thing together. We almost never have the approved meal for any of the major holidays, which means no turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas and no ham for Easter. The tradition on Easter used to be leg o’ lamb, but I don’t know that anyone eats lamb anymore.

Last year we actually went semi-traditional on Thanksgiving and had a turkey breast, which is just enough for the two of us and provides sufficient leftovers for turkey tetrazzini and maybe a couple of sandwiches. Mary makes the turkey breast in the Crock Pot and puts a stick of butter in the cavity before cooking it. The result is a moist and flavorful turkey breast, something you don’t get from roasting in the oven, which we have with some sides we buy in plastic trays, such as mashed potatoes and mac & cheese (which here in the South is considered a vegetable).

Slight diversion: The now-retired meteorologist for WSB radio (AM 750, FM 95.5) in Atlanta posted a funny cartoon the other day…

As for this year’s Thanksgiving, we haven’t decided what we’re going to have. In fact, it hasn’t come up yet. I vote for ribs, myself.

Writer’s Workshop: Adventures in Fiction Writing

My favorite prompt is here, to write a story in x lines; this time, x = 10. It starts below this line…

On and off over the last ten years, I’ve used a program called Scrivener, which is pretty much a whole writing environment for those of us who write.

I haven’t used it in a while, but I’ve kept it up to date and have been using it for the book of family stories I’ve been working on (the one Mary wanted me to write and is wondering if I’m ever going to finish).

Yesterday, I found a bunch of projects that I had worked on, and I realized that, while I don’t consider myself a fiction writer, I did a lot of it at one time, created a lot of characters that I still love, and wrote stuff that I actually like to read, and I’m wondering if maybe it’s something I should pursue further.

One of the characters is Blake Stephenson, who lost his single mother at fourteen and is living with another family while trying hard to maintain his own identity and find out more about his family, hard to do when your mother grew up in an Amish community.

His foster family includes a girl his age (they were born in the same hospital an hour apart) to whom he’s attracted, a younger sister that’s as laconic as he is, a foster mom who wants him to act like a normal kid in the worst way, a foster dad who just wants him to cut the lawn and help with the outdoor work, and an ill-tempered white Persian cat named Snowball.

The other character is Mary Cecelia O’Brian and her family, including her father, who was a bartender and restaurateur in a small city in Indiana before moving to New Mexico when he semi-retired, her ex-husband (who is actually someone else’s character, so I speak of him only in the abstract), who was a mage from another dimension, her three kids (Patsy, Sean, and Jeanette), two of whom are endowed with magical powers and the third is not, although she’s very intelligent, and a biracial girl named Abby who had been homeless until Mary Cecelia and her ex took her in.

Mary Cecelia’s kids (the ones with magical powers) managed to send her 50 years into the past, where she worked as a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin while trying to get back to her own time; when it happened, she occupied the body of a young woman named Holly Dover, and the two of them became fast friends.

This all sounds silly when I sit and write it down, which is why I gave up writing fiction in the first place, but in reading the stories, new ideas came to mind; guess you’ll just have to read the book if it ever comes out…

Maybe I should just finish the memoir first and decide where to go after that.

But, it’s kinda fun to think about, isn’t it?

Writers Workshop: Procrastination

Normally, I try to get my Writers Workshop entry written so that it can be posted to the blog at around 3 AM Eastern on Thursday. Of course, you know what happens: something invariably comes up and that doesn’t get done. Right now, it’s 11 PM as I finally sit down to write this…

Mary had to get up early the last couple of mornings, meaning I had to set the alarm so that she could start my leg pump and still have time to shower, dress, and make sure I have everything I need before she leaves. I had to be ready by 7 on Wednesday and 8:45 this morning. So, naturally, I didn’t get to sleep until almost 4 AM Wednesday and 3 AM this morning.

Have you noticed that, when you’re running on little sleep, the words just don’t seem to come to you, and you find yourself doing everything besides writing? I had a fine time today, watching YouTube videos, listening to my current favorite radio station, The Breeze from Australia (it’s generally the same broadcast all over the country, with local commercials and news between the music), and hoping that maybe I could drop off to sleep during the afternoon, which of course I couldn’t (though I did manage to get a nap in during Jeopardy!). But, no writing.

So, the prompt was "share something you keep putting off." There’s mine. Maybe as I feel up to it I’ll do one or two other prompts. Or maybe not…