Monthly Archives: September 2011

Unpacking

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This weekend, I unpacked a few boxes. No, I didn’t move. I’ve lived in my house for almost sixteen years. And yes, one of those boxes had been sitting in my parlor since we moved. The other was a box of things I took from my husband’s grandmother’s things after she passed away–almost ten years ago.

I know you must be thinking it’s terrible that I let those boxes sit so long. Truth be told, in the past, I haven’t used my parlor much. However, I recently put a small daybed in this room for overnight guests who have trouble with the stairs or who like to be on the same floor as the bathroom! So, I’ve been cleaning out the room, which involves unpacking.

Old Handkerchiefs

A friend of mine wrote a lovely paragraph this week about grief that was published on a website. She talked about finding her grandmother’s old handkerchief and wondering about what events she had mourned while crying into that handkerchief. I wonder that as well as whose little noses were wiped with that hanky–maybe my husband’s or my son’s. Was she holding one of these when she buried her husband only two months after I married their grandson? They’re beautiful and colorful. Some looked well-used, while others were clearly for special occasions. Lots of rich colors–purples, reds, blues and oranges. That was Mamaw. She was colorful. She loved being the center of attention and always brimmed with energy and smiles. My sister-in-law suggested I put them in a shadow box. I’m working on that. I had one that I’d been saving for just the right project. I also have some costume jewelry that belonged to Mamaw. So, I thought I’d put those in the box as well. One small box contained a broken strand of pearls and another that resembled Mardi Gras beads. Nothing exceptional about these necklaces, but when I opened that small box, I was struck by the scent. That small box that held those faux pearls held the rich, strong scent of her perfume. How could it be that after ten years, the scent could be so strong, and still so memorable. What unexpected treasures and memories that box held!

Another box I unpacked held treasures from my youth. Trophies from when I played softball in middle school, danced with the Golden Girls in high school, a talent competition in middle school where I danced and pantomimed the Good Ship Lollipop dressed like Shirley Temple! That box also contained candles I’d collected when I was little: a pink mouse, a red dog with long ears, a yellow duck, and a candy apple. I wondered why I kept them all these years. Why had I wanted them in the first place?They were whimsical, shiny, and smooth to the touch. I remembered that looking at them when I was little made me smile and allowed my imagination to take flight. Such simple things, these candles, yet they accomplished things that I now find difficult. Now when I’m looking for my imagination to activate, I think of taking a trip. When I was young, all I needed was a colorful, shiny, smooth candle.

Unpacking makes room for old as well as new thoughts and ideas to generate. It also makes old memories fresh, and takes us back to perhaps a simpler time where we can remember and revisit people and things we loved so that we can love them anew through a scent, a texture, a thought. Take time to remember and wonder about something this week and see where the memories take you. Maybe you, too, have an old box waiting for you to unlock its treasures.

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I’ll Be There – Angel Ridge, The Next Chapter

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It’s a big week for me. The Fourth of my Angel Ridge Novels is now available. Well, sort of. It’s been a week of stops and starts, but that happens in the publishing world. Usually, when the book is available, it’s available in all formats at once. But there was a small glitch this time. I’ll Be There is available, now, right this second, as an Amazon download. If you like to hold a book in your hand, you will be able to hold this one in your hand as well. But not now. Later this week. I hope! The files are being uploaded to the printer. So, soon. I promise.

In the meantime, it’s exciting to have the book available now in any format. It’s exciting every time. That feeling will never grow old. This book is special to me for several reasons. First, it was the thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing program at Goddard College. It was also the second novel I wrote in the program. Not done to impress, but rather out of necessity, I had two publishing deadlines in the two years I was in the program. My thesis advisors were the incomparable Victoria Nelson and Darrah Cloud. What a privilege to work with two such fine writers! Second, this book is dedicated to my dear friend, Katy Zirbel. Katy’s mom has become a great fan of the Angel Ridge series. I can’t wait to send her a copy!

In order of publication, the books in the series are Only You, A Home for Christmas, What the Heart Wants, and I’ll Be There. But the inside information, just for you, is that chronologically, they go like this: What the Heart Wants, I’ll Be There, Only You and A Home for Christmas. The last two books published are prequels to the first two. Confused? Don’t be. You can really read them in any order. They were each written to stand alone.

There are challenges that come with writing a series. Some people do spreadsheets with all the information about what happened in each of the books in a series. I probably should have done that, but I didn’t. There are some discrepancies in the books, minor details really, that do not detract from the stories unless you are a stickler for detail. They’re fun books all set in a small East Tennessee town called Angel Ridge. I came up with the idea for the town when I moved into my historic farmhouse located in the Little Tennessee River Valley. It was built sometime around 1867 by W.B. Howard. He lived here with his wife, Mary Montgomery Howard, until 1900. The Little Tennessee River Valley has a rich and interesting history which includes plantation homes, paddle boats, week long extravagant parties, fast horses, private schools, flooding, a volatile relationship with the Cherokee Indian Nation, and feuds. I took all this history, and put it in the history of Angel Ridge. Those plantation homes were destroyed by a dam that flooded the river valley that is now a lake. I forced my make-believe families from those homes up into the town that formed high on a ridge, safe from the flooding. What results is an interesting mix of traditional older folks and non-traditional younger people who want to move Angel Ridge into a more modern era.

Only You and A Home for Christmas, acquaint the reader with this little town that time has forgotten. What the Heart Wants and I’ll Be There feature skeletons falling out of the closet, revealing a past that most residents of Angel Ridge would rather forget. As a writer, this allowed me to flex my writing muscles and venture into the territory of action-adventure/suspense. It was difficult, but great fun. Moving in this direction also allowed me to bring more depth to Angel Ridge and its characters.

Visit my newly revamped website to read an excerpt from each of the novels: http://www.deborahgracestaley.com

Visit http://www.amazon.come to purchase the novels of Angel Ridge.

Happy reading!

Debbie

 

 

Remembering…

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Remembering

Still thinking about my friend Katy today, and remembering her.

I’ve been on YouTube looking at songs about remembering. I love this line from the Sarah MacLachlin song:

I will remember you

Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life

Pass you by

Weep not for the memories.

Weep not for the memories…so many sweet memories.

In a moment, read these lyrics from the Josh Groban song, “Remember Me,” then listen to him beautifully sing it in the video below that was put together by a mother dealing with the loss of her daughter.

My favorite line from the song is this:

I’m with you

Whenever you tell, my story

I’ve shared a lot of Katy stories with friends. I want to share one now with you.

Katy was brilliantly talented. She was a scientist and held a degree in biology. It always amazes me that people with left-brain capabilities can be creative, because my left-brain hardly functions at all. But she was not only a scientist, she was a writer and an artist.

She saw something in a gift shop. I don’t remember now what it was, but it was made of this special metal that when struck made the most beautiful, musical sound. She found out what the metal was—that was the scientist in her. She bought a roll of the wire and made magic wands. She made four of them: one for herself, me, Regina Tingle and Victoria Nelson.

She was so pleased with herself, as well she should have been. I remember over a Skype session that she was striking the wand so I could hear the sound it made. And she laughed—she had an amazing laugh. High and pure and infectious. There was no way anyone could listen to her laugh and not smile. Her laughed filled those who heard it with the joy she felt because it spilled out in the sound. And her smile, it was huge and bright. Combined, her laugh and smile were quite simply magical, like the magic wands she made for us.

So, today, I’m striking that magical wand, remembering and feeling the joy that was Katy. And I’m smiling. Are you?

Katy's Magic Wand

Remember Me by Josh Groban

 

Remember, I will still be here

As long as you hold me, in your memory

Remember, when your dreams have ended

Time can be transcended

Just remember me

I am the one star that keeps burning, so brightly,

It is the last light, to fade into the rising sun

I’m with you

Whenever you tell, my story

For I am all I’ve done

Remember, I will still be here

As long as you hold me, in your memory

Remember me

I am the one voice in the cold wind, that whispers

And if you listen, you’ll hear me call across the sky

As long as I still can reach out, and touch you

Then I will never die

Remember, I’ll never leave you

If you will only

Remember me

Remember me…

Remember, I will still be here

As long as you hold me

In your memory

Remember, when your dreams have ended

Time can be transcended

I live forever

Remember me

Remember me

Remember… me…

Time

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It’s a rainy day–a day for reflection. I recently lost my dear friend, Katy. Quite simply, I miss her. Some days, like today, more acutely. I wish we’d had more time, but I cherish the time we had.

Here’s my offering on time.

 

 

Time is a feckless bitch

She’s here and she’s not

She’s blamed and praised

She never stands still

She moves ahead, relentlessly

Nothing stops her

She goes

Whether we go with her or not

She’s blamed and we grieve

When a child leaves us

By choice or too soon

We blame her and grieve

When a friend leaves us

At 50 or 80, we say

Where did the time go?

I wish we’d had more time

We talk about how they

Cared for the time they had

But still their time is gone

Along with our time with them

Gone

 

Time keeps moving

Despite our vain attempts

To stop or slow

Her unremitting march

Diet, exercise, surgery, chemo

Still she moves at the same tempo

We ignore her

Long for more of this feckless lover

But in the end

She always leaves

 

Time has only one

Against whom

she has no defense…

 

Now

 

Hold her

Embrace and caress her

Live in her

Appreciate her

Love her

Acknowledge her

 

And time loses her power

We think not of time

So absorbed and occupied

We become rather by

 

Now

© Deborah Grace Staley

 

What I Know …

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This is a blog about, well, what I know–or at least, what I think I  know

About Writing

About Living with Depression

About Being a Mom

About Being a Wife

About Being a Friend

About, well, Anything!

I’m a woman of a certain age. Being such, there are a few things I’ve learned, some through traditional methods, some the hard way. Let’s just say, I’m not one of those people for whom things come easily. I am quite familiar with the circuitous route and often, I figure things out slowly and painstakingly through trial and error.

 

So, if you’ll indulge me, I thought as inspiration strikes, I might write about things I’ve learned along the way in this thing called life. I do not presume to think that what works for me will work for anyone else. But I do hope that by reading my posts, you might gain some insights that will help you think about how you’re walking your road.

P.S. Thanks to my friends Kim, Regina, and KaLyn for inspiring me!