A few weeks ago I had a terrifying experience. I was driving to a critique partner’s house. Rush hour was over, but there was still significant traffic. I was in the single lane for a right hand turn, and when the green arrow came up, I made my right turn.
All of a sudden, there was a car on my left with an irate driver. He was beeping, flipping me the bird, and yelling at me. I have no idea where he came from. There was one lane for a right turn. I was in it, making my turn on the green arrow. All legal. He shot past, and went to the right of, still beeping, yelling, making obscene gestures. I gestured to ask him if he wanted to get in front of me. He thought I was offering to fight him. “Come on!” he yelled. “I’ll take you on!” Then he reached over to his passenger seat, and I was terrified he was reaching for a gun. Instead he picked up a piece of…something and threw it at my car. It hit my car. He opened his car door, but then the light turned green and off we went.
This happened for several blocks. Finally, he vanished. Then I noticed a sheriff’s cruiser in the left lane, which may explain the disappearance.
While it was going on, I was trying to think of places I could go that would be “safe” should he decide to follow me. I knew people at several businesses. I did not want to lead this crazy young man to my friend’s house.
I later learned there is a sheriff substation just off the road I was on, but I didn’t know it at the time.
My guess is that the young man was on drugs.
I have been obsessed with sky nearly all my life. I blame my dad. When I was very young, he woke me up in the middle of the night, carried me outside and pointed to a light in the sky and told me it was Sputnik, a satellite. When I didn’t understand that, he explained it was like a big basketball in the sky.
Whenever a jet contrail appeared in the sky over the house, he would point it out to me and my sibs. It was years before I realized the contrails were a miracle to him, because they didn’t exist in his childhood. My own children looked at me oddly and said, “so what?” whenever I point out contrails to them.
Then there was a solar eclipse for which he made a “viewer” out of a cardboard box one wore over one’s head. There was a pin hole in the back that let in the light from the sun. One watched the eclipse projected on the front of the inside. He let all of the neighborhood kids take turns wearing the box so they could “see” the eclipse.
I once bought a child’s book on the constellations, allegedly for my children. I still use it for me.
One Labor Day weekend, there was a gorgeous full moon. I took my son’s toy telescope outside for a better look. A few hours later, a derecho blew through town, becoming one of those weather events that are legends in your area. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with lightning strobing like a rock concert of my youth. Foolishly, I went out on my upstairs back porch to watch, not realizing it was a derecho and what that meant. People died that night.
Then the Internet came along, and I found a site that would tell me which star I was seeing every morning before my family and life descended on me. I used my link to that site for years.These days, I can’t even remember the name.
Now I have an app on my phone: Sky View Lite. It’s an amazing app. The first time I used it on a writing retreat, while we were sitting around a fire pit, my fellow authors were blown away by the way we could “see” the constellations and stars, even through the cloud cover. Several of them downloaded it then and there.
My obsession with the sky continues.
Another of my teenage idols passed away recently. Peter Tork of the Monkees. I vacillated between Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork being my favorite. Some of my earliest forays into writing fiction included Monkees stories, which would now be called fanfic. Mrs. Sherman, my sixth grade teacher, caught me passing stories to my friends. She called me up to her desk. I just knew: So. Much. Trouble.
Instead, she complimented me on my writing, but asked me to not share the stories during class.
Here’s a song from the Monkees’ third album, Headquarters. Vocals are by Davy Jones, who passed away several years ago, on the first verse; Peter sings the second verse.
You can also hear Peter at the end of the chorus, sounding lonely, singing , the title of the song: “Only Shades of Gray.” The lyrics are just as relevant today as they were when the song was released.
A friend of mine owns an 1809 former stage coach inn in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.
Her dream has always been to create a warm, welcoming place where her author friends could retreat and write. She has succeeded.
For several years, personal situations kept me from attending, but about two years ago, my circumstances changed,and I became a Thistle Dew regular. I always stay in the same room. I usually write in the dining room, although sometimes I move around to keep myself fresh.
The thing is, I can write here. I am so much more productive than when I am home. At home, my husband wants to spend time with me. The house needs me to spend time with it.
A few weeks ago, when I was desperately trying to finish a book due a month later, I planned an entire weekend at home, writing. HAHAHAHAHA. The following weekend, I went to Thistle Dew, which is about 90 minutes from home, and I wrote over 10,000 words Friday afternoon/night, all day Saturday/Sunday morning.
Two weeks later, I finished the book at Thistle Dew .
Thistle Dew isn’t all work. There is plenty of eating (always) and laughter. I love getting to know people from my local RWA chapter with whom I might not interact at our monthly meetings. We forge new friendships and learn other writers’ strength and generosity. In warmer weather (i.e. no snow), we spend evenings around the fire pit outside and watch the sky while creating fond memories. And then there was the one night three of us encountered a ghost. Nothing bad. Nothing scary. Nothing threatening. But yeah. A woo-woo filled night. (A building constructed in 1809 is bound to house leftover energy.)
I am so lucky my friend had this dream and was able to make it come true.