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I just joined the FaceBook group for my high school class. What a wonderful trip! I loved high school, but my high school and its class was so different from others I’ve heard of then or since. MyIHS class was the first graduating class. Maybe it was because we didn’t go into high school as underclassmen, didn’t get harassed or diminished by upperclassmen, so didn’t pass that around and down. There were the usual groups–smart kids, artsy kids, tough kids, jocks–but people belonged to more than one group and we were all friends. When I got to college, I didn’t understand the “snotty cheerleader” jokes other girls told, because our cheerleaders were really really nice people. Anyway, here’s a dreamy picture of Little Me from high school. My #3 daughter scoffs at pictures where the girls look like they’re wearing low-cut dresses, not understanding that these were not wardrobe choices but accessories called “drapes” that were provided to us. Weird, but true.

LancastersMy mother and I went to Lancaster’s in New Albany–not Tommy Lancasters, but Lancasters. It’s on Main Street, not far from the Y Aquatic Center. It’s a cafeteria, either run by or featuring former South Side people. Same great food, understandably priced a bit higher than South Side’s was. Times change, everything costs more. But worth it–definitely worth it. We were like NOM NOM NOM! Now we need to cook up some more errands to do in New Albany so we can eat there again without wasting gas to get there.

Speaking of New Albany, the fabulous Destinations Booksellers has a new cafe inside it, The Dueling Grounds. I haven’t been there yet, I don’t think it’s open yet, but you know how I am about coffee…and books…. I’m definitely going to have to schlepp down there once the DG is open.

My mother said, “The back seat of the car isn’t the best place to carry your books.” She was talking about the Toys for Tots anthology. I said, “Yeah, but it’s hard to sell them out of your car if you don’t have any IN your car.” And today I sold two copies because I was talking about the benefit and two people said, “I don’t guess you have a copy of that book with you for sale…?” and I did! So I rummaged around and got a little box to put them in to keep them from sliding all around in the back seat. I sell them for the retail price of $15. I deduct what they cost me to buy and give the rest to Community Services.

Folks, there is a food pantry or a clothes closet or a Community Services in your area. For less than $10, you can pick up some stuff when you go to the store and drop it by. Or clean out your closet or your pantry and get rid of stuff you don’t really want or need. Diapers, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, potatoes, apples, canned goods–a little goes a long way, and I’m sorry to say it has a long way to go. Mom and I have more fun shopping for bargains to see how far we can stretch a dollar for our Community Services donations! Have a shopping party with your friends or ask people to bring a couple of canned goods or something to your next meeting or party. People are hungry all year long, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and babies don’t stop pooping just because there aren’t any diapers around.

Here’s hoping it’s bright and sunny and colorful where you are, as it is outside my window today.

MA

writing prompt: What was high school like for your main character?

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Well, I give up–this post is determined to look weird. Forgive me.

Okay, so I went to the book sale building yesterday, and these are the books I got:

DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICANS by Frances Trollope, edited, with a history of Mrs. Trollope’s adventures in America by Donald Smalley

This is a 1974 reprint of a book first published in 1832, written by Anthony Trollope’s mother. According to the Introduction, Mrs. Trollope was not favorably impressed and her impressions were not well received in this country. I anticipate reading this book with great relish.

THE ILLUSTRATED PORTRAIT OF YORK by Ronald Willis, Illustrated by Graham Hards

York, England celebrated its 1,900th birthday in 1971. I repeat: York, England celebrated its 1,900th birthday in 1971. This book, published in 1972, gives the history of of the town with line drawings and photographs. Great for research!

Then I went to Destinations Booksellers and got:

MERCY AMONG THE CHILDREN by David Adams Richards

This book won the Giller Prize (Canada’s most prestigious literary award). He’s compared to Tolstoy, Camus, Melville and Thomas Hardy. Since I love all those writers, this looked like a damn good bet.

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT by Larry McMurtry

I didn’t know Larry McMurtry wrote TERMS OF ENDEARMENT! I totally loved the movie, and I usually (almost invariably) like the book better than the movie, even if the book is a novelization (this isn’t a novelization, I’m just sayin’), so I snapped this one up.

SALAMANDER by Thomas Wharton

Wharton’s first novel, ICEFIELDS, won a couple of Canadian book prizes, and he is compared to Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. I mean–dang!

THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan, being book one of the PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS series

I know it’s a children’s book, shut up. My youngest daughter, who works at Borders, read it and loved it. She has books two and three and loaned them to me, and now I can read them ’cause I have book one. The premise is brilliant–that all these learning disabled children are dyslexic and so on because they’re actually children of one mortal and one Olympian God. Who can read English when you’re genetically coded to read Ancient Greek?

So I have a lot of good reading to look forward to during these long winter evenings.

MA

writing prompt: What does your main character do on long winter evenings? What does your “bad guy” do?

No, I’m not channeling Ray Milland, and I’m not finding bottles of booze in my light fixtures, I’m just saying I didn’t get any work done this weekend. Busy all day yesterday, all day today.

This morning, the guests got up long before the crack o’ dawn and Charlie and I made breakfast. We had eaten all the canned biscuits–which Charlie prefers above all others–so I made buttermilk biscuits (recipe follows). Then our company left. I must say, I didn’t look forward to a houseful of guys, but this was a wonderful visit. The only thing that would have improved it would have been if one of them liked football.

Yesterday, they all came in town for my signing, then we went to Olga’s Mexican restaurant on the square and then they went to a piano concert in Louisville, meeting our #2 daughter and her husband and another friend there.

It’s good to have our house and quiet back, but I sure wish they lived closer so we could all get together more often. So much good talk, so much good spirits, so much friendship–it was a weekend to treasure.

Anyway, then I went to church and then I went to MOM’S church, for their Thanksgiving fund-raiser turkey dinner, which couldn’t be beat.

Mom and I went to Destinations Booksellers in New Albany. They’re having a birthday, and were giving discounts on anything bought this weekend. I got some books which I’ll list tomorrow. They’re carrying DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, so I also checked to see if I needed to bring any more in or pick unsold copies up. We were copacetic, so Mom and I moved on. On consideration, we skipped a couple of other errands we had contemplated and went home.

I don’t know what she did, but I flopped on the couch and napped for two hours. Another big day tomorrow and another on Tuesday, but I have good intentions of getting back in the groove and chugging out some good words for NaNoWriMo. I’m WAY behind on my word count goal now, but I believe I can catch up.

Oh–the recipe:

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS (free today–special reference for R&B fans)

  • 2 cups all-purpose (regular) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 450F. Mix dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients until the mixture looks like meal. Stir in almost all the buttermilk. Add more if necessary. Dough should be soft but workable. Put flour onto a board and knead dough lightly 20 to 25 times, about 1/2 minute. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Top with dots of butter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

MA

Writing prompt: Three of your characters spend the weekend WITH YOU. What do you do? What do you talk about? What do you eat? If you go somewhere, where do you go? How do you feel about each and all of them when it’s all over?

Yet another of my friends has won a bout with breast cancer. Lumpectomy, mastestectomy, bilateral and double mastectomies…. One had total reconstruction, others have not. One stuffed the empty cup of her bra with a colorful scarf and let the end hang out like a flag of victory. They all faced their choices with deliberation and courage. They’re amazing Amazons.

I don’t let a day go by without clicking on The Breast Cancer Site, which donates free mammograms to women who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

I also highly recommend Sheri L. Wright’s wonderful book of poetry, NUNS SHOOTING GUNS, especially her celebration of breast cancer survival, “Cut Flowers”. I bought my copy the other day at Destinations Booksellers in New Albany, Indiana. They have an online purchase site, too, which is cool.

Here’s to you, ladies.

MA

Writing prompt: Someone you care for faces breast cancer.

WELCOME TO MY BLAHG

Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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