The Writing Calendar

By Kathy Dunnehoff

I’m a cheater, and I bet you are too.

I hope you’re still reading after that. Let me explain… Humans, all of us, have a great capacity to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing better than we are. Did you eat enough vegetables yesterday? Uh, yeah, pretty sure I had a salad. Well, maybe that was last Tuesday.

You see where I’m going with this? As a person wanting health, this inaccurate recollection of how we’re doing can have some serious implications. If your goal is to exercise four times a week, you may think you came close with three times, but the reality may be that you worked out three times this month.

As a writer, this questionable ability to kid myself was not helping me at all, so I decided to hold myself accountable in a new way. I used one of those free calendars everyone gives you in January, and I made a writing calendar. It sits where I write, and at the end of a writing session, I record how long I wrote and what I accomplished. writing calendar

At a glance, it becomes very clear to me how I’m doing. Sometimes when I think I’ve only skipped one writing morning, I’m shocked to see that it’s been two or even three, and I get back at it.

I think a calendar, whether a lovely freebie from a local florist or an electronic version, can become a twelve-month accountability partner in whatever you want to accomplish. Try making one for a habit you’d like to nurture. Exercise? Playing your ukulele? (I need one of those), cooking more meals at home?

I think you’ll find, as I did, that you’re a cheater, but with a little accountability, you can be true to whatever goals are near and dear to you.

 

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BUSYNESS VS. CALM

By Ann Minnett

I was driving down snow-covered Star Meadow Road Monday morning in a slight panic. I dug blindly in my bag for the list of Christmas gifts to buy and errands to complete in between yoga, a meeting at 11:30, dinner with a friend at 5:30 (we’re old), and finally another meeting at 6:30. Mustn’t forget to drop off my critique pages at Marie’s, I thought. Now where was that pen I stashed in the console…

I’m retired. We live near a resort town that currently looks like a tranquil Christmas card. How can I be this busy?

A huge bird—a golden eagle—flew over my car, filling the windshield and making me flinch. His flapping wings appeared jointed in five places each and nearly spanned the narrow road. He flew low and slowly in front of my moving car, hunting along Star

Star Meadow Road

Star Meadow Road – Photo courtesy of Mike Coleman

Meadow Road the way I’ve seen eagles follow rivers. We traveled at 30 mph, swooping downhill for a mile or more until he banked to the right, and I lost him in snow-laden pines. The busyness of my day fell away in the beat of his wings, towing me in the silence.

(Previously posted Dec 2014)

January Book News

McCaffrey

 

 

Blame the Car Ride will be released in the first part of January. Exact date will be announced soon on my website.

A simple game of chance results in Corinne Cooper’s best friend’s death and set her on a collision course with a detective still nursing hate from the past.

Three years of lonesome widowhood leads Corinne Cooper to a simple need. She wants a man. She cons her friend Edgy Brewster into helping her find just the right guy. They visit a honkytonk, the biggest church in town, and a bingo parlor looking for an eligible bachelor. Nothing goes as planned. Now Corinne is the prime suspect in a murder and must prove her innocence. Any of the four men she has met could have committed the heinous act. But which one?

 

Marie F Martin

Reflections on Snow

By M. F. Erler

Snow…I’ve lived in places that get a lot of it.  Like Ashton, Idaho–where about four feet on the level was an average winter.  Michigan, where lake effect could dump a couple of feet in a couple of hours.  And I will admit I never liked driving in it, especially after I slid off Montana Highway 37 one day between Rexford and Eureka.

But now, I find myself wishing for it. No, I’m not a skier, though there has been some cross-country skiing in the past.  Maybe it’s because I’m retired…

I have two theories on this.  My current one is I’m reverting to my childhood.  I grew up in southern Arkansas (until I turned 11).  I never saw snow until I was past five years old.  It was amazing!  I remember running out to touch and being surprised that it was cold.  Maybe I was expecting that cottony stuff they put in the store windows to look like snow.

It never snowed at Christmas in Arkansas, but my two younger brothers and I always secretly wished for it.  Dad helped this along by playing his old 78-rpm Bing Crosby record every Christmas Eve.  It was “White Christmas” of course.  white christmas

When we moved to northern Illinois in 1963, I had my first actual white Christmas, and the house we were renting even had some old sleds in the garage.  What fun we had!  I guess this is my current state of mind–looking for ways to find joy in life, as the years fly past me.  Being back in Montana and seeing the snow-covered mountains is wonderful.  And I am thankful for the old memories, too. 

 

MAKING REAL CHRISTMAS TREE MEMORIES

By Anne B. Howard

IMG_0441

 

Each holiday season as Keith and I trim a fresh tree, I always think back to my childhood and the shiny aluminum tree my parents displayed proudly, year after year. Dad mounted a rotating pink, blue and gold spotlight on the ceiling, creating a kaleidoscope-of-color effect, and he and my mother thought it was the most beautiful tree in town. I was not convinced. I yearned for a “real Christmas tree.” A freshly cut tree that smelled of the forest. A tree I could decorate with beautiful ornaments, sparkling garland, colored lights and silvery tinsel draped over its branches. I felt afraid of that aluminum tree my parents coveted, afraid and resentful, because I couldn’t go near it. “Stay away from that tree,” my mother scolded. “If you knock it over, it could cut you to pieces.” After thrilling my folks for ten years, silver was eventually replaced with “artificial green,” but I was so disappointed I cried.

That first Christmas that Keith and I spent in Montana, in 1993, after our move from Kansas to “real-Christmas-tree heaven,” I was delighted by my selection of freshly cut trees. Several years passed, however, before I realized the true extent of my options. One evening, over a bottle of wine with friends, I confessed to my obsession with real Christmas trees.

“We’re in,” my friend said. “Tomorrow we get a permit and head up Crane Mountain, on Forest Service land, to find you the freshest, most beautiful tree you’ve ever seen. Cut any one you like for five bucks.”

Excited by the prospect of selecting a fresh tree from the forest, Keith and I, and our two friends, drove quite a long way up the Crane Mountain Road before pulling the car over and trudging through eight inches of fresh snow to a broad meadow, sprinkled with trees of every variety. Immediately, I saw the tree I wanted, but before Keith could get his saw in motion, I changed my mind. For well over an hour I ran from one tree to the next, vowing that each would be “my final choice,” only to find a bare spot or a crooked trunk, which every Christmas tree critic knows is a deal-breaker. Typically a very patient man, I had pushed him to his breaking point. “I mean it, Becky. Make a decision. This is it. I’m going home.”

Meanwhile, our friends stood patiently next to their selection—a measly little thing, by my standards. I mean, they were paying the same five dollars as me for a nice big tree, so why, I wondered, hadn’t they chosen the tallest tree they could get on their car?

Growing more annoyed by the minute, Keith jumped on my latest “final choice” with clenched teeth, and began working his saw. It took the four of us, panting and groaning, to drag that snow-laden tree over the stumps and downfall, and out of that meadow, where, after another hour spent cursing and scratching the car finish and losing the tree off the opposite side, we secured her to the roof. “I’ll never get this so-and-so through the front door,” Keith declared, furious. I kept my mouth shut—it was safer that way. Unfortunately, however, he was right. The tree wouldn’t go through the front door. Or the back door. Not even with four adults pushing and pulling with all of our might, determined to force it through. “Not going. No way,” he declared, angrily.

“What about the French doors off the deck?” I suggested, timidly.

Next, they dragged the enormous Frazier Fur up the back steps and onto the deck as I raced through the house and threw open the doors. Just as I suspected, the tree slipped easily through, but was a good four feet too tall for my ceiling. By this point, I was in big trouble and I knew it. “I’ll throw the damn thing off the deck,” Keith threatened.

Then, it began to snow. Big flakes, the size of quarters, began to stick to the cold needles creating a lovely lace flocking. “Set it up on the deck,” I said, “outside the French doors. I’ll load it with colored lights and the spotlight will illuminate the falling snow. It will be beautiful.” He shook his head and rolled his eyes, but with the help of our friends, we muscled the big tree into a make-shift stand and secured it to the railing, so it couldn’t fall over.

Once the tree was lit and flocked with snow, Keith came around. In fact, I may have heard him bragging a little to our neighbors, when he thought I was out of earshot. He said it was the perfect place for such a great Christmas tree. And, yes, it was a unique holiday experience that year, having the tree on the deck, its branches ablaze with colored lights and heavily flocked with snow. Different, but incredibly beautiful—a memory I’ll always hold close to my heart as the best Christmas tree ever.

(Previously posted December 2015)