“So who would you live with if I died tomorrow?”

My octogenarian in-laws have been thinking more than ever about what happens after one of them dies. After dinner last night, around the table a discussion arose among the four of us about their London house, and where would the survivor live, etc. My father now living without my mother in the same house they had bought together in Pennsylvania, and what he is going through as a widower, was the main immediate conversational catalyst.

However, my father-in-law insisted several times on taking matters too lightly for my mother-in-law’s taste. At one point, she put him on the spot: “Don’t joke,” she admonished him as he chuckled. “What will happen to you if I go first like Robert’s mum? You’re useless. You can’t do anything for yourself. You couldn’t live alone….”

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Warmth Amidst Winter’s Chill

As we know, e-books have changed writing in more ways than we can hope to count. Yet certain aspects of the “old-fashioned” paperback are hard to top. For instance, you can pull one you’d authored off a shelf and try to impress your nephew’s girlfriend…. ;-)

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Naturally, it’s, uh, “tougher” to autograph Kindles. If you have one or more of my novels, I just wanted once more to say “Thank you.” I hope you have enjoyed, or will enjoy, the read(s).

After all, without you there is really no point to any of this. And in a more personal sense I mean you beyond being a reader/follower. The three months since the sudden deaths of my mother and my uncle (and with many a conversation with my father since then taking to spiraling downwards into his depressingly declaring he’s wishes he was dead too) have been the toughest and saddest of my life….

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“My dear and beloved….”

Okay, I’m going to risk showing my age again here. If you are around mine, you likely recall this as well. We are perhaps of the last generation that actually wrote letters on paper, by hand, which we stamped and put into the post:

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.

I recall email catching fire when we were in our twenties – in the early 1990s. I got my first PC in 1994. The web came on about the same time.

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Telephone Time Again

I dread this: I have to call Dad in Pennsylvania – I haven’t spoken to him in about 5 days. I want to work as usual of course, but my mind will be pre-occupied until I get this over with once more. I can’t really ring him before 12 noon UK time.

My phone, and a coffee, a little while ago. [Photo by me, 2016.]
My phone, and a coffee, a little while ago. [Photo by me, 2016.]

For all the years I’ve been living over here, in fact since I was a college kid, my mother was the one with whom I did most of the parental talking on the phone. She was the center of it all: information was shared with her, and she then told him. Only rarely did I talk to him for any length of time; he was never a big phone user.

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The Evolution Of A Routine

Well, I’ve got the Google+ page up and running. (With a bit of help! Thank you, Adele!) Setting it up jogged my memory back to this post from what now seems so long ago December 2013. In it (back when almost no one was reading this blog! ;-) ), I wrote in part:

….Having previously worked in education, and then as a consultant, I have been used to working on my own and sometimes at home. While writing fiction is new to me, my new routine is not much different from previous ones.

A long-published writer relation of mine years ago told me he even found it difficult to avoid being bothered during the day. The assumption was that, being home, he must be “available.” He reached the point where he would rarely answer the phone (his answering machine always picked up), and never answered his door. “If I was in an office somewhere,” he said, “I wouldn’t be home to answer the door. When I’m working, I’m not here.”

He would write early in the day, and then head out to the gym or meet friends, and then return home to write more in the afternoon. It worked for him. That was also then pre-social media….

That “long-published writer relation” was, of course, my now late uncle. I remember visiting with him a bunch of times when I was a graduate student – when the rest of the “adult-world” was mostly out at their places of employment. I recall too how my now late mother used to poke fun at “Hemingway” (her nickname for him): “Is he actually writing anything?!”

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Because The Mourning Can’t Start Without Her

We’ve had a great deal of sympathy since my mother’s October 26 death (and my novelist uncle’s two weeks before – who I especially miss as a friend and a mentor). It has all been much appreciated. But there’s always others out there lurking, aren’t there?

You may unfortunately know the type yourself too: relations who are easily insulted, who are always stirring the pot, and are also always demanding – like overgrown children – to be the center of everyone’s attention, and if not given their way seek to create still more trouble, and often do their “stuff” in a deviously and underhanded manner so as never to get the entire family offsides. Divide and (try to) conquer, so to speak. (Please excuse the coarse language that appears in the following.)

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Don’t Think You Aren’t Missed

Ahem. While I’ve got your attention, I’d like to say this. I think it needs saying.

I admit it, I can become “attached.” If I don’t see posts for too long from those I check regularly, I find I feel a bit down. I wonder, where did you go? Is something wrong?

If you are going on hiatus, perhaps to take a cruise….

Cruise ship. Key West, Florida. [Photo by me, 2014.]
Cruise ship. Key West, Florida. [Photo by me, 2014.]

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“International Relations”

I want to share a great find with you: Adele Archer’s blog. She is author of International Relations, and well-worth following:

Screen capture of Amazon.com.
Screen capture of Amazon.com.

Read the full book description. Of course, you’d suspect I’d like that. And considering you’re here, I figured you would as well. ;-)

An amusing coincidence: last year, although neither of us knew the other existed, we’d lived only a few miles apart in the West Country (in England). She’s in Bath:

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See You Next In The 18th Century

It is a great way to start the new year: yesterday, the light bulb went on over my head. I don’t recall precisely what had led my mind down this route. However, one irritation certainly helped encourage me.

We see this a lot. Recently on Twitter, I encountered yet another person who authoritatively tweets easily debunked false/misleading Thomas Jefferson quotes. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this person do it, and, fed up with saying nothing, when I finally pointed one out to him as provably false evidently he thought joking about it justifies messing around with the historical record. He chose not to delete, or even to amend, that tweet, and as of today it remains up for his “100,000” Twitter followers and anyone else to stumble upon as “fact”:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Seeing that nonsense may have helped clarify my thinking. I know now what I’m going to try to do for my fourth novel. After my mind focused on the idea, I clicked around on the net to scope out any similar books and I’ve seen nothing exactly like it so far.

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For 2016: Let’s Resolve To Listen And Learn

The Voice of America radio and web site is about the closest you will find to an “official” media voice of the government of the United States. I like to visit it regularly – just to see what my government is thinking publicly. (Now, now, let’s not be overly cynical about public v. private for a moment at least.) Today, it has this story about New Year’s Resolutions:

Screen capture of the VOA web site.
Screen capture of the VOA web site.

The world is still a huge, diverse place. We always have our differences. Political ones are perhaps the touchiest.

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