MJ’s Musings: Being an Author

I’ve always known I wanted to be an author.

In first grade, the class wrote a poem “together”. Except I was too excited to let any one else in the class participate. It was a little ditty a about a clown who came to down and turned the frowns upside down.

In third grade, poor Mrs. Birmingham tried to teach us pronouns and punctuation. I clearly remember thinking, I need to know this because I’m a writer.

Every year in early June, I would set up an “office” somewhere in my parents house, preparing for my summer of novel writing. Once year, my dad procured an old Remington cast iron office typewriter (manual), with a broken return bar. The typewriter was always in my makeshift office.

In high school, I always carried a notebook for jotting down my angsty teenage poems. I also kept a journal because journals are how biographies of famous people are researched.

When I moved into my own apartment, I borrowed my mom’s typewriter so I could “practice typing,” but I was really writing horrible poems and maudlin stories.

I always kept a notebook on me. I was always working on something. Once, while sitting in a hospital emergency waiting room for word on my badly injured grandmother, I pulled out a yellow pad and went to work. My uncle, who was with me, asked, “What are you doing?” “Working on my novel,” I replied. He said, “Oh. Are you still doing that?”

I’m a writer. An author. Yeah. I’m still doing that.


MJ’s Musings: SEP-What I Did For Love

One of my top three favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novels is WHAT I DID FOR LOVE. Many people refer to this book as her “Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Anniston” book, and there are many strong reasons why people consider it to be so. That’s not why I love this book so much. I barely know who the aforementioned celebrities are.

The story about how the protagonist finds true love–and grows up in the process–is captivating. The hero, a bad boy through and through, has unsuspected depths and maybe isn’t as bad as we think.

But I love this book for it’s textures. The setting. The heroine’s wardrobe. The food. The characters, from the assistants to the treacherous ex and his new woman have a multitude of facets, both rough and smooth. I love details, and SEP creates a wonderfully specific world populated with  fully-developed personalities.

There was one “ick” scene involving a lingerie shop that I could have done without, but even the secondary romances in this book are riveting.

I cannot recommend the story enough.


MJ’s Musings: How Does My Garden Grow?

Yes, it is still February in upstate New York. Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Neither of those means I can’t start thinking about my 2019 garden.

Last year was the first year I had what I really wanted.  It has taken several years to reclaim my back yard from the above-ground swimming pool that was here when we purchased the house.  The pool was a great thing to have when the children were  younger. But eventually it turned into a time & money suck. I’d much rather have a yard.

In 2018, I decided to go with coleus for color. My husband is allergic to bee stings, so color without flowers is a concern. So in May, I purchased many plants, along with a sweet potato vine and Persian shield. The man who has been helping me reclaim the space planted my coleus along with chives, lemon balm, oregano, two kinds of parsley, spearmint, and peppermint.

For some reason, he planted the coleus in front of the herbs. In May it wasn’t a problem.

Even in June, I could manage.

July started to be challenging.

By August, the herbs were essentially unavailable, but the coleus was gorgeous.

So I clearly need to rethink 2019. I have a corner, down by the garage, that is deep and difficult to access. I think I will fill that with coleus.

And where the coleus grew with the herbs requires more herbs. Perennials such as thyme, rosemary, sage.  Maybe I should put in basil, too. My basil is usually in a container. I find I don’t use it as much as I used to. What I’d love to grow is cilantro, but I’ve never had success.

We do have cherry and grape tomatoes for my husband. I think green onions and spinach would be nice additions to plot of land.

MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo: Nerd Girl-DOUBLE TROUBLE

The purpose of Book Bingo is to force us out of our reading comfort zone. I might have read DOUBLE TROUBLE whether or not it fit into once of this year’s categories because I do like the author, Claire Cross (who also writes as Claire Delacroix). Many years ago, Claire turned me on to a research book that has become an invaluable tool, so I have a soft spot for her. But I digress.

What makes DOUBLE TROUBLE a nerd girl book? The heroine writes computer code for a living. She uses shady deep net contacts when she needs information. She’s no Lisbeth Salander, but she’s still a  computer geek living illegally in a converted factory loft.

I found two “ick” factors going into the book, but Cross made the fact that the hero happens to be the heroine’s brother-in-law work for this reader.  The second “ick” is the heroine’s sister happens to be an identical twin, so one wonders what’s going on in the hero’s head. Cross made that work, too.

Good secondary characters, too. I recommend this book.


MJ’s Musings: Rituals from My Childhood

My mom had Saturday night rituals for us that I haven’t thought about in years. I have no idea why I stopped doing these things. Maybe modern materials don’t require as much care as things did back in day. Maybe we took better care of our belongings because we had to make them last.

We polished, then buffed our shoes every Saturday night. There were three or four colors of shoe polish and/or paste on the upper shelf in the bathroom. My dad had a large shoe brush. According to Amazon, shoe brushes are still a thing.

The other thing we did every Saturday without fail was wash our combs and hairbrushes. I can still smell the Prell shampoo we used. My mom had a dedicated fingernail brush we used to get between the teeth on our combs.  I sometimes used a toothpick.

Yes, I still clean the hair from my brush, but my comb isn’t dirty. Is my scalp cleaner than it was when I was child because I wash my hair more often? 

Do you have childhood rituals you abandoned?