Things Lost to Time

We are not going to address the day of the week; we are just going to move forward. I am reading the book, Lost Charleston by our dear friend, J. Grahame Long. If you haven’t read any of his books, do. They are wonderful. Every single one. Grahame is the former chief curator for the Charleston Museum, and is now the Director of Museums for the Historic Charleston Foundation.

I love his book, Lost Charleston, because it shines a light on things missing, lost, or buried in Charleston, SC. Charleston has always prided herself on preserving her history, and she has done an admirable job doing so. Just walk around downtown (the peninsula) and you will see how true that is. From Charleston’s earliest days to the very recent past, history is everywhere. Ah, but. But, some has disappeared. If you go in search of the Quaker cemetery, or early graves at First (Scot’s) Presbyterian Church, or even some of the early cemeteries, you will not find them. Why? Because they have disappeared from view. Lost to the eye, but not to the knowledge of Charleston. You can find the different plats that show the city cemeteries, though they are under city buildings. You can find the marker for the Quaker cemetery on the fence side of the city parking garage on King Street. You can find the headstones in and around the sanctuary at First (Scot’s).

So many things end up lost to time. People, places, entire civilizations. They say that no one truly dies as long as there is one person to remember them, and that is true. The same with places. My mother and I are celebrating thirty years of genealogy work this May, and I can tell you that every person and place we have searched for and found lives in our memories. We have wandered as far away as Scotland to find ancestors, and were thrilled to discover their former homes, their current resting places. They are not forgotten.

I often wonder about the children who lived in days long gone. Some we have names for though they didn’t live to adulthood. I wonder even more about those who are lost to the ages because they lived only between the census years. I see some women in the census record who are marked with “mother of how many children” and “number of those children living”…and the numbers don’t match up. When I look back at the census before, none of those “missing” children are there, so I know that they were born and passed during the ten years between the census takings. My heart goes out to those children because they are truly lost.

It is important that we embrace our loved ones while we can. It is important to remember those who have gone before us. It is important to visit, to see places, to thinks of those who have gone before, to remember that life is fleeting, that places can be fleeting.

We must thank those who take time to find the people and places who have become lost. They are the heroes of this world. They search out what is no more to shine a light on it/them in the present. That is the gift they give to the world. So, thanks Grahame, for you book, Lost Charleston. The people and places in your book are no longer lost or forgotten. They live on in the memory of everyone who reads your book.

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The Future is Bright for Traveling…That’s My Story and I Am Sticking to It

Yup. It’s Wednesday…again. What can I say? I would looove to say that I was traveling so I couldn’t post. Nope. Can’t say that. Honestly, I just think there is not much grey matter left. Wait a minute, I will blame it on COVID fatigue. That will do it. That’s my excuse. What do you say? Will you give me a pass?

Well, one thing I have been doing is getting everything ready for my trip to France for the month of September. I am so excited to be spending the entire month there. My husband and I are flying over the first of the month and spending a few days in Paris before we head out to the house we have rented in the Loire Valley.

He will be leaving after a week and then my college girlfriends will arrive. After a week with them, they will be heading home while one of my dearest couple-friends will be arriving. After that final week, we three will be off to Paris to end my time in France. After not traveling for an entire year, this will be a good way to “ease” back into it.

In preparation for spending a month in France, I have dedicated some time each week to reading books and watching youtube vlogs. I have read: Hidden in Paris by Corin Gantz; Summer at the Little French Cafe by Karen Clarke; My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh; Are We French Yet? by Keith Van Sickle. I am reading The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel. The vlogs I am watching are: Diane’s “Oui in France”; Alex’s “French in Plain Sight”; and “Rural France Journals”. There are also a number of newsletters and blogs that I follow, including: David Lebovitz; “Secrets of Paris”; and “Bonjour Paris”.

Do you have any recommendations of books, vlogs, blogs, or newsletters that I should be reading/watching? I am always happy to receive recommendations.

I am also spending time every day with Duolingo. Woo-hoo, I am up to 349 days. It takes practice and time, but I am determined to not be some “ugly American”. Trust me, I have seen too many of them.

I have traveled to France for many years, beginning when I was seventeen. I have gone with groups, friends, and family. I can never think of anywhere better to visit than France. I have been on school trips, motor coach tours, river cruises, and itineraries that I have put together. I have seen just about everything in Paris and have been to most of the departments in France – the old and the new. I always joke that the only place I never get lost is in Paris. I am convinced that I must have lived there in another life…that or I started pouring over the map of Paris when I was twelve and never stopped.

It will be wonderful to travel again. To get on an airplane heading for new adventures. To see old and new sights (and sites). To just go.

How about you? Where are you off to as soon as it is safe?

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My Writing Life

Do you ever have one of those days when you wonder why you do it? Why write? It would surely be easier to just sit back and watch mind-numbing television for hours on end. Don’t some people do that? But, no. That is not who you are. What is not who I am. So, I write. I was busy writing last year and ended up being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Laughter is the Best Medicine. I was tickled pink to have my story chosen. It validated everything; all of the writing I had done to that point. Yay, I had made it…no, really. Obviously, I had. I was published.

But, the reality is, being published is such a small part of writing. For me, it’s not even the most important part of writing. I write because I must. I have so many stories crowding into the corners of my mind…and they want out. They let me know if I am ignoring them. They howl when one gets more attention than the others. I guess that is why I am working on three books right now. Two are murder mysteries that are the first two in a series, but the third is totally different. It is a creative non-fiction book.

The two cosy mysteries are easy. They are about three college girlfriends who always have each other’s back – even when dead bodies turn up. Here is the blurb for the first one. What do you think?

“There is a dead girl on the quiet, South Carolina Lowcountry island called Fripp Island. A dead girl in a bathing suit coverup and one pink flip-flop. The three women who discover her body are going to have the devil’s own time trying to find the killer while staying out of the way of the surly police detective. Although, the good-looking, helpful detective is an entirely different matter. Now, when the dead girl shows up and wants to help them find her killer, things really get out of hand. Throw in a kitten, an ouija board, an out-of-control golf cart, and a hermit, and the girls find themselves careening from one end of the island to the other, trying to outrun a desperate killer intent on keeping his secrets silent…and anyone who gets in his way.”

It’s a fun write and, hopefully, a fun read. Once I finish writing it, then I will start looking for an agent and a publisher. No one ever said writing would be easy. But, writing is what I do. It is who I am.

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What I Read…What You Read

Okay, so here it is on Wednesday when I remember that I made a commitment to write and publish each Tuesday! Honestly, there are times when I think I have lost what little mind I have…er…had.

At any rate, I have been reading a lot of books during this pandemic. I love to read mysteries (Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, Susan Boyer, etc., etc., etc.), espionage/thrillers (Brad Taylor, Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, etc., etc., etc.), biographies/autobiographies (Agatha Christie, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Elisabeth Elliot, etc., etc., etc.), and almost any genre you can think of. From fantasy to true crime.

I am currently reading three books at once – I know, it’s crazy. My husband asks me how I keep them all straight. I don’t really see the problem. Maybe it’s because I have different genres going at the same time. Right now, I am reading one espionage/thriller, one travel story, and one murder mystery.

Maybe that is why I can’t remember to write and publish my blog on Tuesdays…or maybe I really am nuts. There is always that possibility. Or, maybe, I spend so much time reading that I forget to write. Maybe.

Anyway, what do you like to read? I am interested in what your reading list looks like.

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The Travel Bug

I am not terribly bright. When I started writing this blog again, I decided to post once per week. Then, I had to decide which day to post. That seems easy enough…uh-huh, sure. I thought about Mondays, but I already spend part of Mondays reading other blogs that I have been following for years, or weeks. So, Mondays were out. Well, how about Tuesdays? That is a good day for me, not too much going on. Great, Tuesdays it is. Except. Except last week, I got this idea in my tiny, little brain that I had decided to post on Wednesdays. Duh. It is so sad to have so few brain cells to rub together. At least, I am back on Tuesdays…this week.

I don’t know about you but I have truly missed traveling. I have missed all of the places, sounds, smells, people, and new experiences that make up traveling. I love to go…anywhere. Okay, maybe not so much anywhere cold, or really buggy, or terribly dangerous, but I love to travel. Really. I do.

I think my absolute favorite place to travel to is France. At this point, I have been to most of the country. There are pockets of places I have not seen, but, for the most part, I have traveled to all of the major places and many of the minor places. I adore Paris. Remarkably, it is the only place in the world where I never get lost. I can’t explain it, especially since my dear husband says I can get lost backing out of our driveway.

I love traveling by train, car, bus, boat, or airplane. I have even traveled by ferry and by cable car (don’t ask). I started traveling when I was twelve, and I have never tired of it. I have lost track of how many states and countries I have visited. There is some little Facebook challenge where you are supposed to say how far you and your sweetie have traveled together. I liked looking at it until I realized that my husband and I have traveled a very long way together. Although, I am doubtful that I am really going to get him to Australia…that might end up being a “girls trip”.

That’s another thing. I have traveled with my parents and siblings; my husband and children; my mother and children; my mother, husband, and children; my mother; my husband; my girlfriends; friends from different organizations; school groups; and by myself. I would say that I will travel with anyone, but, in today’s world, I really would draw the line at “some people”…you know, like axe murderers.

I am so looking forward to getting back to traveling. This past year has been so difficult. Travel has really consisted of going from my house to my back garden – not terribly exciting, I know. Hopefully, in the next few months, the world will reawaken, reopen and we can get moving, traveling, seeing friends and family, seeing bright, new places. I am so ready for that. How about you?

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My Writing Day

I write every day. Every. Single. Day. Some days I only write on my Facebook page, The Fergus Files. That is a page I set up a little over three years ago after we brought our little Westie puppy home. It is all about Fergus and his life, written about him and by him…my alter ego.

Most days, however, I strive to write in one of the three novels I have going at any one time. Regardless of where, or what, I am writing, I write one thousand words. That’s right, a thousand of them. I might divide that up throughout the day, or write them all in one go. I have learned that using a number goal is important for me. Not just to have the goal of writing, but of how many words.

Making a pact with myself to write every day and to write one thousand words has changed my life…in a good way…in a constructive way. I know I need to get those words written. I know that if I procrastinate, those words will not end up on the page, so I dedicate – or force – myself to remember what my goal is. Every. Single. Day.

It is true that because I am retired I have more time, however, the fact remains that we can easily fill our days with stuff and fluff. Having the dedication to write each day, has taught me to prioritize what I fill my day with. Is that difficult? Yes, and no.

It is difficult because there is so much I would like to do. So many ways I would like to volunteer, so many people I would like to spend time with, so many projects I would like to take on. But. (This is very important.) But, I don’t. I know, it’s almost un-American to say that I stop myself from over-volunteering, over-sharing, over-filling my days with this or that. But, that is completely true. And, I am okay with that.

I love writing. I love watching that blank, white paper fill up with words. I love the written word. I love reading all those words silently and out-loud. I love reading what I have created. Is it always great or even good? Not at all. Sometimes it is complete drivel. But. I wrote. I wrote one thousand words. And the more days I write one thousand words, the better my writing becomes.

My professor once said that we are writers because we write. I found that to be very liberating because being a writer is different from having something published. If we are only writers once we have published something – as some “people” say – then that is a heavy burden. What if we spend years writing but never publish anything? By “their” definition we are not writers. How depressing.

So I write every day because I am a writer. I write one thousand words a day because I am a writer. Every. Single. Day.

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Book Review: Total Power

When describing myself, I stated that I like reading, writing, and traveling. Well, traveling is not in the cards for now, so I am reading and writing…a lot. Here is a book I picked up last week. Vince Flynn Total Power by Kyle Mills was a quick, yet intriguing, read. An espionage thriller, it posed the question of what would happen if enemies of the United States took out the power grid. The entire power grid. The entire power grid for the entire United States…and part of Canada Hmmmm, what would happen? Most of us would not make it for even so much as a week. Can you imagine: no lights, no fridge, no heat/air, no gasoline for cars (yeah, they take electricity to run the pumps).

We were talking about what we would do. Cook on the grill whatever frozen meat we have…and eat it quickly before it spoiled. Uh-huh, and then what? Eat cereal until it runs out? We have city water, so for a while at least, we would have water. It did not take us long to truly hope our government has a better handle on the safety of the power grid than it appears. However, after what we have seen in Washington for the past thirty years, that would be debatable. I loved how the protagonist, Mitch Rapp, took care of one Congressman. It seemed totally fair.

Mitch Rapp was the brainchild of the gifted author Vince Flynn. Vince (yeah, I am sure we would have been great friends, and he would have been happy for me to call him Vince), wrote thirteen Mitch Rapp books, and was working on his fourteenth when he passed away from prostate cancer at the far too young age of forty-seven. His fans from all over the world were devastated by his death, and were saddened to think that there would be no more Mitch Rapp books. Thankfully, his estate partnered with the wonderful writer, Kyle Mills, who has written in the same vein for many years.

Kyle Mills made a seamless weaving of his style and Vince Flynn’s to finish the fourteenth book in the series. Now, Total Power marks the nineteenth Mitch Rapp book; it does not disappoint. Mitch Rapp saves the world one more time. And thank goodness he does. Of course, it is not easy…it never is for Mitch Rapp. But, he muddles through the bureaucratic maze that is Washington, shoots and slices through those who would thwart the good that he does, and remind everyone that his skillset is still very much needed. Then he gets to go home to the lovely Claudia and the sweet Anna. Now, Mitch doesn’t save the world by himself. His team is the best there is, and they would follow him to the ends of the earth – and they have. They each have their own fleshed-out characters so they all become the friends you would want to have if you ever feared for your life…or your country.

It’s a great read that keeps you turning the page wondering what else could possibly happen…and then it does. When you finally close the book after the very last page, you have to just sit there weighing the moral issues, thinking about all that happened. Then you shelve it in your own library, waiting for the next book, the next installment of Mitch Rapp.

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Who Knew?

I started this blog waaaay back in 2011, never realizing that my life would change so much. Early in 2011, I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease that changed my world. I had to watch my traveling. I had to eventually retire from teaching. I take two different medicines just to be able to leave my house. And yet, I do get up every morning, I often head out into the world. I travel. I read. I write. And now, finally, I am getting back to the blog site that I wanted to start so long ago. Here’s to 2021…and blogging!

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Hello world!

I can’t wait to start blogging. Wander back over to see where I go and what I find while wandering.

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