Reflections of 2013

My good friend Kelly, over at Byzantium's Shores, has a tradition of answering an end-of-year questionnaire every New Year's Eve. I always post my Best Of/Worst Of, but it just doesn't seem to be pertinent this year. I hope Kelly won't mind my pinching his questionnaire from him, then paring it down to just those questions that apply to life as I now live it, and editing some of those...


Made it Through Another, Barely

With each year I feel more relief when Christmas is over. Now, don't go calling me Scrooge, or Grinch. I really love Christmas, but every year it gets harder to keep up with it...


Did Beethoven Do the Dishes?

Here's how my mind works... I want to spend today writing, right? I'm sitting here in my bed, enjoying my morning coffee and harping at Nigel to quit whining (he's having one of those days—already), and I think, "Wow, I'm feeling the urge to write!" Then it all starts to pile up...


2014 - The Short List

All in all, 2013 was a pretty good year at Bookends Cottage. I've certainly survived worse, most notably 2004 and 2010. I never want to experience years like those again! The best years were 2000 and 2012, but 2013 is not far behind. So what's in store for 2014...


Feckin' Resolutions

I know it's a bit early to start blogging about New Year's resolutions, but this came to me uninvited. You know how epiphanies are...


Warm and Cozy

Icy Solstice
What better way to welcome winter today than with an ice storm and snow? Warm and snug indoors, I've set to my holiday baking while the rest of he family shop, relax with Windham Hill seasonal music, and play with the dog...


Through Other Eyes

Digital take on Escher. 
These days I'm seeing life around me through different sets of eyes. Through different dimensions, if you will. Perhaps it's due to the inevitable dimming of my physical eyesight due to aging and illnessas one sense decreases others increaseI don't know, but some new possibilities are opening up. New ways of seeing, perceiving, imagining...


The Wolf is Chasing the Sheep

"Wolf! Wolf!"
I'm boycotting the Weather Channel. I've had enough of their tabloid-like, fear mongering headlines and alerts. Enough of their shouting, flailing "meteorologists", enough of their all-caps headlines and bylines. If it isn't a supposed snowpocalypse, it's something that has nothing at all to do with the weather. Take today's little collection, for instance...


Wearing Bibs Like a Boss

Rocking the bibs
No one ever did (and no one ever will) rock a pair of denim bibs the way George Harrison did. Beatle fan that I was, I'd never even paid him much notice until he struck out on his Dark Horse Tour wearing these much-embellished overalls. I liked them so much, in fact, I went out and got a pair for myself and dutifully embroidered a red OM on the front pocket...


Until That Time Comes

Was it really like this back then?
Let me get this right out in the open. I strongly dislike shopping. What's more, I especially dislike Christmas shopping. Especially strongly dislike. But there is that one day every December when I enjoy it. It has to be accompanied by some strong incentive, however...


I Don't Need a Cell Phone

Vintage style
I've had a cell phone off-and-on, since, well, since my first one back in 1997 or '98. I didn't use it all that much then, either. Sometimes I go days without even remembering to turn my phone on. Almost all of my communication is done through either email or Facebook, so my phone gets used only when I'm out, which is seldom, anyway. I'm kind of a homebody these days...


Unofficially Winter

Big Red returns
We've spent the entire weekend in the most beautiful snow. I haven't even minded the cold, really, except when I went out last evening to get a bottle of sauvinon blanc and the ingredients for a cheese fondue. But the cottage stays warm and we have enough tea and hot chocolate to last the entire season...


Maybe I Will Be the Next Grandma Moses

Bookends Cottage by SK Waller
Not hardly, but I have to say I'm chuffed with my first stab at watercolors. The piece took me about three hours; I found the sketching part a breeze, and even the painting wasn't too difficult once I got over my anal-retention about detail and non-impressionistic accuracy. It was mixing the colors that took some work. Some little bits came out muddier than I would like... and those trees... and that crooked door... and, well, I have a lot to learn, but I think it's a fair first try...


The Audacious Autodidact

Springer Spaniel by Ron Krajewski
I took a little longer break from blogging than I intended, but I should caution you to get used to that between now and the new year. We're all busier at this time so I know you understand. Meanwhile, I'm trying my hand at something new. It has been a few years since I autodidcted myself (yes, I just invented that word). I think the last thing was CSS markup in 2006, so I'm way overdue. This is what I've headed into. Watercolors...


The Warmth From Within

The warmth from within
In these days of limited energy and reduced physical agility, I hardly decorate the exterior of the house anymore. Whether it's a spooky front porch tableau for Halloween, or a mass of lights and holiday yard art for Christmas, I just can't do it. It's regrettable too, because this cottage could really pull that sort of thing off well...


In Three

On this, the day before Thanksgiving, I'd like to create a list of the top three things for which I'm thankful. Things in my life seem to run in threes, after all, and I have a lot to do today and can't spend all morning writing a long entry. I don't know if I'll be posting anything tomorrow so this may have to suffice...


Pulling Me Home

Last week in a Ladybits blog entry, Mrs. Anke posted a photo of Caro Spinette and some of her hand painted porcelain creations. I went slightly bonkers over this teapot and said as much in a comment.

The next thing I knew—and I mean that literally—she wrote to me privately, asking for my mailing address so that she could send it to me! Try as I might to make her give up her address so that I could send her something in return, I failed utterly.

The generosity of both Bettina and her husband Christopher (the now-famous Mr. Anke, who keeps a number of blogs and sites and who is an inspired photographer) humbles and amazes me. It was only last year that he sent me my beloved "I ♥ Royal TW" tee shirt, which I supposedly won in a contest. Ahem...


Stop the Train, I Want to Get Back On

"The bad new is time flies. The good
news is you're the pilot." 
Is it just me, or are the days actually going by faster?

Deni once told me that our perception of time is directly related to our heart rate, that as we age and our hearts slow down, time seems to go by faster than it did when we were young. I guess I need to research this a little. Whatever it is, I never seem to have enough time to do everything I used to get done in a day. I get up early enough—8:30 or so—and I'm up until around 2am. That's enough time. So why does it seem like half-a-day to me? Maybe I'm just moving slower these days.
Quote by Michael Altshule


Packed In Like a Sausage

You did it too. Admit it.
I was one of those girls all the other girls hated. Throughout high school I never weighed more than 95 pounds. The day I came home from the hospital after having my first baby at age 18, I weighed 100, then, after the birth of my second baby at 23, I came home weighing 103. And that's where I stayed until I was about 38 years of age and had to have The Operation...


Life's Trials Are Only Temporal, Grasshopper

"If you cannot be a poet, be the poem."
Thanks to my son Micah, I've gotten hooked on the old Kung Fu telly series. When it first aired I was a widowed, 21 year-old single mom who worked a factory job. I enjoyed the lessons the show espoused and the tranquility it lent my hectic week, and since I wasn't being asked out on dates, well, I spent an hour every Friday night with Kwai Chang Caine...


Grey Area

Wind chime
It's a gray day here at Bookends Cottage. As you know, I love this kind of weather and can enjoy it for days on end.

This picture is of a wind chime that was made by a friend of Lynette's. Made from a candy dish and a collection of spoons and knives, it makes a lovely sound when there's a gentle wind blowing. It hangs from the eave over our kitchen door. Today, I like the silver-gray of it against the autumnal backdrop.


I Feel Much Better Since I Gave Up Hope

I feel a trite segue from the topic of Thanksgiving to this blog entry's subject coming on. Wait. Here it comes. Ah. There it is. I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to do that, it's just that I've been thinking too much...


Where Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean

Over the past week I've acquired a sudden interest in the English Civil War, most notably as it applied to Charles I, the only English king to be executed for treason. I won't go into the politics of that, but let me just say that I think he got the dodgy end of the deal...


A Fresh Outlook

Now that I've made the decision to make Beyond The Bridge a series rather than a trilogy, I feel a huge burden has been lifted. You'd think I'd feel more pressured to write more books on my chosen subject, but I don't because now I'm not obliged to push myself through Book Three just for the sake of doing so...


The Door

It doesn't matter what I do, what I think, what I feel, how much I try, how much I believe, how much I want. It doesn't matter whether I meditate, whether I visualize, whether I claim. It doesn't matter if I sprinkle fairy dust on myself and jump from the window, or if I follow the rules and take a more sensible approach...


A Rare Offering

One of the best things about Autumn is soup. Every year I have several people strongly suggest I should put together a cookbook of my best recipes. The problem is, I don't write recipes...


An Author's Prerogative

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a writer is to never paint myself into a corner, or at least try not to. The best laid plans, as the saying goes, often go awry or lose their immediacy the deeper embroiled we get. Then, our beloved project becomes a chore. We become blocked. We languish in frustration. Well, I languish, anyway. Maybe you don’t...

The Falling Season

Our property has no fewer than nine old trees on it. Of these, four are of the oak and sycamore variety so every autumn our yard gets swamped with falling leaves. This morning they're falling like a steady snow, and when the breeze kicks up it looks more like an orange and yellow blizzard...


Your Good Angel will be with You on that Shore

Many of you many remember that I used to post entries of far away and isolated places I'd like to visit one day. Those posts are still here, labeled under Travel, if you'd like to see them, although it has been a long time since I posted a new one.

Last night while engaged in my favorite pastime of blog-hopping, I came across a blog called Life on a Small Island. Wow! Did I ever hit the jackpot where my fascination with isolated lifestyles is concerned...


Turning Point

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In fact, I have absolutely no unhappy childhood memories connected with it, and I've been able to carry that on through my adult life...


Just a Few Close Friends

Last night, after the cake was eaten, after the coffee and wine were gone, and after everyone had either gone home or gone to bed, Micah and I sat in the dark living room and watched my Concert For George DVD...


I Should Have Known

I should have known. On that summer day back in 1990, I should have known. On that summer day back in 1990 when he came to me asking to be shown some guitar chords, I should have known. On that summer day back in 1990 when he came to me asking to be shown some guitar chords on my Yamaha 6-string, I should have known. I should have known...


Folk Like the Blues

On nights like this one, after a stressful day, I like to light the candles, pour a cup of Earl Grey, and turn on my Mellow Music Pandora station. It comes to me through an app on the telly, which is connected to some awesome speakers, so the songs sound just as good as they did through my component stereo system back in the 1970s and '80s.

In the days before the internet, cell phones, iPods, and video games (except for my sons' Atari system which I never really played) my friends and I got together to make music. We'd gather in someone's living room, bringing jugs of wine, bags of chips, and our guitars, and we'd settle in for a long night of music, chat, a little political discourse, and a lot of warmth...


The Anemic Need Not Apply

There was an aspiring young writer named Frances Turnbull, who attended Radcliffe. In 1938, during her sophomore year, she wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald, a family friend, and sent him a copy of her latest manuscript. The celebrated author replied with this starkly honest letter, which I found satisfying.

As you know by now, I have no use for books that are written according to a marketable formula, and containing no heart. Somewhere, sometime, a writer has to leave drops of blood on his or her pages...


A Worthy First Event

Yesterday, the Stillwater Public Library held its first annual authors fair and I was there. Actually, both Lynette and I were there with our books. It was a pretty successful event, as first annual events go...


Apology and a Link

I know I owe you a long, newsy post, but this weekend's deadline is creeping up on me, and too quickly. Forgive me.

Meantime, here's a brilliantly concise and insightful blog entry by Eric Idle, who has lived in the States for over two decades. It went viral yesterday when none other than Stephen Fry tweeted it.

I'll be back as soon as I've put this thing to bed!


Their Rules: Flipping Pages

I guess what I really mean when I say, “Never Listen to Them” is don’t spend your precious writing time adhering to someone else’s rules—follow your own good sense instead. You’ve read a lot of books in your time (of course you have) and you work hard at your writing (of course you do). Do you really need to put somebody else’s wheels on your bike? Trust yourself. Give yourself some credit. Read your work aloud and judge for yourself. If, like me, you’ve spent any real time on the web tracking down blog articles about how to be a good writer, you’ve come up against the rule that I’m addressing...

An Angel Comes Home

Last Tuesday I was wakened at 7:30 in the morning (7:30!) by Nettl, who knows never to wake me for any reason  (especially on my birthday) when I plan on sleeping late because I've been up all night. Usually, these all-nighters are spent in writing, but this time I'd stayed up farting around online and watching old TNG episodes on Netflix. Man, life gets heart-stoppingly exciting after 60...


Time for Change

Lately, I'm constantly reminded of how much easier life is when I just exercise the little bit of effort it takes to get out of its way. That's not easy for me. Since I was a wee toddler I had to learn that life isn't Disneyland. Not all of the attractions have safety belts and very few of those that do have been tested. But that's what life is about, basically. No one ever said it would be the Dumbo ride all the time...


The Virtual Life of a Real Writer

Since my laptop's breakdown and unhappy demise, I've had time to think about things that concern blogging and being on the internet in general. The old Dell warhorse I'm using is slow. It can't handle more than two tabs open at the same time and certain graphics and flash apps frustrate any real time I try to spend online. A new laptop is on its way and should arrive in the next day or two. Let us be exceedingly glad and give thanks...


The Windows Seventh Seal

I was just finishing a week of 12-hour work days, giving one of my clients a brand new website. It has been a long, involved, and complex project that has been in the works for two years. A period of stops and starts, interest and non-interest. All I had left to do last Monday night was create two small graphics, upload all of the files to the domain, and email him with the happy news that the site was at last finished...


Lasting Change

There have only been a few times in my life when I knew that some change I'd made was a true and lasting one. One was when I decided to go back to school at the age of 35 to earn a degree in music. The giveaway is when I hear myself thinking, "I'm dead bored with myself. I need a serious change."...


Scary Monsters that Come Out at Night

Just a reminder: I’m not one of those author bloggers who will share only pretty, comfortable stories with you. At the very outset of creating this blog, I promised not to blow sunshine up your kilt and share with you only the good and edifying things that go into being a modern Indy author. My purpose is not to make myself look well put together like some beacon for you to follow in your own journey as a writer, it is to help you feel less alone as you find your way through the same labyrinth that I’m lost in. Sharing breadcrumbs, if you will...


The Best Laid Plans

In just an hour or so Lynette, Lauren, and Heather will be leaving to drive to Memphis together. Lauren has been spending the summer here and is now moving on to New York City, where she will attend NYU as a grad student. The girls' dad lives in Memphis, so he will be taking her on to New York. The other two will return on Sunday evening...


Happy 70th Birthday Mick Jagger

1 Son of a gymnastics teacher and a hairdresser.
2 Began singing in his church's choir when he was a child.
3 Was a Business Economics major.
4 First ambitions were to be either a journalist or a politician.
5 Said in 1972, "I'll never tour when I'm 50"....

And before anyone says that neither Mick nor anyone else should be performing rock & roll at this age, I'm bending over. Please kindly kiss my ass.

Happy Birthday, Mick!


Not a Drop of Royal Blood in Sight

With all the focus on a certain royal baby this week, I’d like to brings things back to a reasonable level of sanity. This royal obsession strikes me as especially obscene. Wait. Maybe I should first write a disclaimer...

Life is Good - Time to Breathe

We really are having a lovely summer this year. About once every 10 days or so a small but sufficient rain and thunder storm rolls through, cooling things off and keeping everything green. In the 13 years that I've lived here, I've never seen a summer like this one...


I Wouldn't Change a Thing: Notes for My Memoirs

I never write only one book at a time. While I'm assiduously working on my main project, I'm also taking notes for the next, even if they seem to be unrelated. In my present case that's not actually the situation. While researching and writing about rock & roll in the 1960s and '70s for Beyond The Bridge, it has been easy for me to find things I'd like to use in A Polite Little Madness, my upcoming memoir.

Recently, I've been reading two books as I write: Ready, Steady, Go!: The Swinging Sixties and the Invention of Cool by Shawn Levy and Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull, both of which lend a great deal to my understanding of my own evolution as a musician...


Ringo Starr - Keepin' the Back Beat Strong

It seems impossible that Ringo Starr should be celebrating his 73rd birthday today, but that has less to do with age than it has to do with how much time has passed since we first encountered him in February of 1964 when the Beatles were set loose on the American public via the Ed Sullivan Show...


There's More to Gaining Trust than There Are Bricks in the Berlin Wall

This morning, as I read Eric Idle’s latest blog entry, I realized that I began feeling very relaxed. It wasn’t the topic that allowed me to kick back mentally and take my time, it was that I trusted him. He began with a tale that was related to his adventures while trying to get to the Berlin Wall, not the trip itself, but I didn’t care. I instinctively knew he would bring me back around to it. And at the end he left a little cliffhanger. Not to worry, he’ll tell that tale one day when he feels like it...