A time to “untangle”…

Hemingway's writing desk
Hemingway’s writing desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, we’ve been back home for a week now following a terrific summer spent at the cottage on the lake in Michigan. Like most of the weeks this summer, the one just concluded seemed to rush by hell-bent for leather! A good portion of the week was given over to getting things unpacked, hung up, put in drawers, or stored on shelves. And usually this is the part I dread. For some reason, though, this time it wasn’t so bad.

Perhaps it’s because I knew the inevitability of the situation and that I’d be faced with doing the job sooner or later, so I opted for getting things done sooner rather than later. And, amazingly, the job wasn’t all that arduous or time-consuming. It’s quite a good feeling to put that last suitcase away and to look around my writing room and realize that I have the clutter cleared away and my bookcases are filled with old friends I’m glad to see once more.

My printer is loaded with fresh paper, awaiting some writing output by me. My writing desk is cleared of extraneous papers and folders so that I have a clear place to get some serious work done. There are, of course, the familiar photos of family and a vast array of pens and pencils at my beck and call. Living for most of three summer months in rather rustic conditions, I’m still trying to adjust once more to the wonderful comforts of home.

In the next few days I intend to begin “untangling” the mess in which the book I’m working on seems to find itself. After many starts and stops this summer, I seemed to hit dead-end after dead-end. The basic premise of the story is a good one, I think, but there are a few snarls (particularly some characters and their roles) that need to be re-thought and re-written. And now that I’m back home, unpacked and re-settled, I’ll begin in earnest to give the story another go.

On another note, yet quite similar in terms of establishing routines, the treadmill in the family room downstairs sits waiting for my return! I’ve already begun to set up a schedule for walking several days each week. Without a doubt, I actually can get more accomplished in the writing department after I’ve walked my twenty or thirty minutes in the morning. Thus, I’m looking forward to beginning again.

Perhaps, as I’m walking along, sweat dripping off my furrowed brow, I’ll figure out just how to get that story “untangled” and have it resume its flow swimmingly! Can’t wait to get going…CortlandWriter

Summer into autumn
Summer into autumn (Photo credit: blmiers2)

“Up there”… At last!

Writing this morning from “up there” in Michigan on the wonderful cottage screened-in front porch overlooking a most beautiful lake! Moored calmly and serenely this morning, next to the wooden pier at the foot of our slope, is the Tahoe pontoon. Happy to say that it made it through another winter’s storage and is clean and trim and runs very well. She’s been out twice already, now that the Memorial Day revelers and “warriors” have departed, and she’s ready for another summer on the water.

Glad to report that our “move-in” went very well and the place is now in full operation. As usual, the toughest part of the ordeal was the unloading and hauling of the various items in from the truck and the car. But somehow it always gets done, and this last weekend was certainly no exception.

What now? My plans for my time up here include mornings writing here on the porch, sipping good coffee, making the short run into the little coffee shop where there’s Wi-Fi access, and pontoon “cruises” in the afternoons. Add to all that more daily exercise, cottage “housekeeping,” and catching up on reading all the books I brought along. It’s obvious that I will not be without something to be doing at all times.

Current projects? The Collected Stories project is at the top of my list for completion in the near future. I have one or two more short stories to complete. I’m hoping to have six or seven stories included in the book that I’ll have ready for publication this summer or early fall. After those are finished, I am anxious to get back into writing the sequel to Black Wolf Lodge.

I have had so many folks ask when my next book is coming out, and my standard reply is  “I’m working on it and will give it the big “push” this summer.” Well, now that I’m in summer “mode” here in Michigan once more, I suppose it’s time to get to gettin’ without further ado! The book, tentatively titled Sandbar’s Secret, once again features Rick and Karen Brenson, that charming couple who found themselves in a bizarre mystery in Black Wolf Lodge. This time, I hope to develop more of their personalities as they work through another adventure. It will be fun, once more, to be involved in the lives of Rick and Karen and the various other unique cast of characters that come and go throughout the story.

This first week back at the cottage, away from the daily routines of the rest of the year, is always special. There really are no alarm clocks, schedules, or curfews to adhere to. Only mornings of coffee on the porch, enjoying the nature that is all around, and the freedom to decide what to do—or not do. Cool, sunshine-filled mornings such as today’s are truly what flow through our thoughts in the drear of winter. It’s all good…CortlandWriter 

The Effects of Weather on My Writing “Mood”

A great day to write!

I seem to write about this topic frequently in my blogs, and I suppose it’s because I am one of those who is heavily influenced by different kinds of weather. On those winter days, when the sun wastes no time in rising brightly and staying with us the whole day, I am less motivated to sit inside at my writing desk and focus on my current writing project(s). Instead, I’ll take the gloom and drear of a cloudless, sunless day, with some kind of precipitation thrown in for good measure.

For whatever reason, I have always been more productive–in school as a kid or, later, as a classroom teacher–and now in my retirement as a writer when the weather has been quite miserable. The outside atmosphere doesn’t really cause me to write only about sad and desolate things, but I simply feel more inspired to get into the art of writing when the day is devoid of blue skies and puffy white, lazy clouds.

Now, I think I’ll enjoy the remainder of this gray, chilly day and get some writing accomplished!

Home in one piece…

As I mentioned in my last post, I was all set to have surgery to repair an incarcerated umbilical hernia Friday morning. I’m happy to report that I did, in fact, have the surgery and all went well. Now is the “trying” part of the whole thing: recuperating and dealing with the discomfort. Fortunately, it’s not too bad, but I know it’s there just the same.

I am not allowed to do much of anything–especially lifting or straining. Plus, I am not allowed to drive for a while (until I’ve had my follow-up meeting with the surgeon later this month), so I guess I’m resigned to doing little else other than reading, working at my desk, and watching TV. My usual “duties” around here have even been relegated to my wife, so I have no say in this. We are planning a trip to Florida in February, and I want to be healed and in good shape by that time, so I’ll follow the doctor’s instructions explicitly.

I will be resuming my writing project on Monday now that I have good reason to devote lots of time to it and am in the proper frame of mind once more. It’s good to be done with those “hospital thoughts.”

I close for now and head for another pain pill as down the road I go…MLA

An Old Friend…

My current writing project is a collection of short stories and memoirs–many started and put aside years ago; some currently “under construction.” One idea that continues to bounce around in my head has to do with my many years spent building and living memories at Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox! As I fired up the MacBook earlier today, I began a “research journey” of things related to the park, surrounding spots, and people and events I enjoyed in person or through radio/TV broadcasts. My earliest memory of actually visiting Comiskey Park is somewhere in the late 50s. But it was the late-60s thru the 80s that hold the most memories, for better or worse.

I often wonder whatever happened to those fellow fans I’d wind up sitting beside out there in the left-field grandstands or center field bleachers, on hot summer days, drinking Meister Brau, Falstaff, or Budweiser. We were all in our early-20s and never really knew each other by names. In fact, very seldom did I ever see any of the same people more than one time. But there was always an undefined camaraderie, a mutual desire for White Sox success, flowing out there amongst us. And the later the game became, and the more beer we consumed, the greater that camaraderie was! It was, to say the very least, wonderful being home from college in the early 70s, spending summers at Comiskey Park so often and rooting for a team that was forever short-handed, seemingly short-changed, and always short on real talent! But there was nothing better than being one of those few fans who showed up for games–usually well before the starting time so we could take in batting practice basking in the cool atmosphere of old Comiskey! 

As I write this, and I really have nary a clue as to how I got onto this less than a week before Christmas, I think about so many things that take me back to those days and nights at 35th and Shields, along the Dan Ryan. Perhaps I’m somehow hoping someone will gift me with a Wayback Machine, allowing me to once again visit my dear, old friend. 

I can dream, can’t I? Down that road I go…MLA

Clock Set on Fast Mode…

Time Flies…

Monday night already. Where is the time going?

I’m beginning to sound like so many “old” folks I knew down through the years who were always totally amazed at the passing of time, in such a fleeting fashion, and never quite feeling too comfortable with the realization that it was literally “passing them by.” On the other hand, time always seemed to drag on and on, for the most part, when I was young and sitting in school, church, or some other place I really didn’t want to be. I guess the perspective one has determines just how time passes. Of course, none of this really matters because time passes at the same rate regardless of a person’s situation or condition.

Why all this talk about the passage of time? Perhaps now that I’m retired (4 years), I really have morphed into one of those old, stodgy folks who always seemed worried about the good years slipping away. Although I’m not too concerned about any “good years” flying out my window and leaving me in the lurch, it does seem like the days move from morning to night at a much faster clip. I know that is impossible, but I ponder it all the same. And, too, I am busily at work on my next writing project, and when I’m fully going at it full steam, the hours click off in fast mode, it seems. 

As this Christmas season gets going full tilt, I find myself taking more time to reflect on Christmases past: some that were wonderful; some that were rather disappointing for one reason or another. The central thing about all of those Christmases of yesteryears is family. So many of those relatives are gone now, or we just don’t stay in touch as we did when we were young. For better or worse, those memories drive home the point that having family around for  Christmas is a wonderful thing, if only in our memories. 

And now it’s only 5:30 in the evening as I write this, and it’s as dark as Egypt outside. Wasn’t it just a sunshine-filled morning only a few minutes ago? Oh, well…I keep writing this stuff and they’ll be calling for my lap robe, slippers, Preparation H, and a big bowl of Postum!  Time, time, time…MLA

“Time is making fools of us again.”  ~J.K. Rowling