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Thoughts, Reflections, and Occasional Writing Stuff from Along the River.
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Along The River
by:  Ric Marion
e-mail:  ric@ricmarion.com
Life is not about the number of breaths we take, but about the number of times that it takes your breath away.
July 10, 2014

Still Searching for Neil Gaiman

July 10, 2014 10am 66 degrees, another beautiful summer day under clear blue skies.

Yes, I realize Neil's been busy doing his Black Mountain presentations on both sides of the Atlantic (Pacific, too, come to that). Still hoping that one of the few who frequent this blog will pass it on to him.

Life in the country is always interesting. The past few days have brought warm weather, warmer nights, and now, a nice cool down. I have been overrun by animals, large and small. I guess that is one of the benefits of not having pets of any kind. And, just as I did on the farm, the urge to name them all.

Jerrod, the chipmunk who runs through my flower bed, across the front porch and around the end of the house to the garage to find the last of the sunflower seeds spilled there. I went out for morning coffee, set the cup down by my chair and he came running through the flowers and nearly knocked himself out when he hit the cup. Very funny.

Clarence, the groundhog, has taken putting on weight for the winter to a whole new level. I almost think I could catch him since he moves so slow.

Alex & Lorraine, two full size rabbits that frolic in the back yard, pretty sure the frolicking will result in more bunnies.

The neighbor planted timothy and alfalfa in the field across the way. The deer have been coming out every night to graze. 4, 6, 8 at a time, light brown gleaming in the setting sun against an impossibly green.

And a small doe, and buck with 4 inch spikes, have taken up residence in the back yard. They are there every night at dusk, eating wild clover that somehow makes up much of the lawn. I can sit on the couch and watch them through the open window. Last night, another young buck showed up, a four point rack. They sleep under the apple tree.

I have named them Ted & Carol & Bob - still waiting for Alice to appear.

Had a Momma Raccoon with three little ones in the back yard as well. Something spooked the Momma and she took off with two little ones. a few minutes later, the last one started creating a loud plaintive cry, and Momma came back and gathered him.

One would suspect naming animals, pets, and such would make it easy to name characters. I think it does, names come quickly to me, no long suffering angst over the right moniker.

Life is good - sometimes, even great.

May 30, 2014 2pm 77 degrees, glorious blue Michigan sky.

Okay, so here is the dilemma. On Christmas Eve, sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts, I unwrapped a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane. I casually threw into the conversation that Neil was one of my blogging buddies.
My son-in-law, Gene, looked startled and said, “You KNOW Neil Gaiman?”
“Yeah, we chat on each other’s blogs.”
“No way, do you have any idea how famous he is?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
At this point, Gene absented himself from the room and returned a few minutes later with a plastic case containing a rare Gaiman comic book. “Do you have any idea how much more this would be worth if it were signed?”
“I imagine quite a bit.” And at that point, the conversation ended.

Here we are at the end of May, and I’m trying to figure out how to: 1. Impress my son-in-law with a kick ass Christmas present; and 2. Convince the non-believing husband of my only daughter that I REALLY do know Neil Gaiman and, more importantly, Neil knows me.

Now, here is the problem. Back in the hey day of blogging, say 12 years ago or so, I was active on a lot of writer’s blogs - many of who have gone on to successfully publish at least one, sometimes more books. Susan Henderson, Patry Francis, Ellen Meister, Robin Slick, Lance Reynald, and lots more. We were a sort of community, all trying to break in. I’m still working on that, but their insights at the beginning are the foundation I keep building my work on.

Way back then, Neil was living in the woods in Wisconsin and occasionally popped up with some insight for all of us. It was quite a long time ago and records, copies, saved files of those blogs apparently disappeared, as have the computers we used, into landfills and toxic waste retrieval sites in China.

Which means, I can’t actually prove any of the above. Of course, I could simply contact Neil and ask if he remembers me. Which, if you peruse his website, is NOT going to happen. Good Lord, the man has a million and a half twitter followers. It’s not like he gave out his personal email address on a blog.

Add to this that my son-in-law, the aforementioned Gene, is a comic book collector/trader/broker. His office walls are covered with sealed plastic frames containing early Spider Man, Marvel, and other wonders each of which he can rattle off the print run, date of issue and current value.

The question is how does a not yet successful as he wants to be author impress his hot shot son-in-law that he actually blogged online with Neil Gaiman?

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February 10, 2014

May, Oh May

May 13, 2014 11am 77 degrees, Clear blue Michigan skies. what a difference from the last entry. Snow is gone, green grass and thunderstorms.

Farmers hereabouts are having a slow spring. The ground is too wet to plant. It will all get done, just taking a bit longer than they are comfortable with.

My, oh My, what a beautiful day. Baltimore Orioles at the feeder, flashing their bright orange across the front yard. You can feel the last vestiges of winter easing out of the soil, the maples budding out, the willows yellow green exploding.

Interesting times here. I lost a sister-in-law last week to MRSA - nasty antibiotic resistant bug she caught in the hospital a year ago. My brother is lost - having been her primary caregiver for the past year - they celebrated 50 years of marriage last month. So the entire family from coast to coast came in for the wake. Good times among sad times. Sometimes, it is necessary to be with those you love, to show you care, to offer a hug, a smile, a promise it will get better.

A lull in my real business. Nothing really to sell, or work on. Different than always having to be out there searching for the sale that will make the house payment, buy gas for the car, feed the machine. All that is taken care of the moment. Very odd. I'll take it, not going to pass the chance to write a little, dream a lot, sit and soak up the sun's rays. Winter still a bit deep in my bones yet, as well.

Feb. 10, 2014 1pm 17 degrees, just now changing from clear blue skies to fluffy white clouds. 30 inches of snow on the ground, piles to 8 feet high.

Fifty years ago, on a cold Sunday night, in a little farmhouse on Cade Road, the world changed. This was not something happening just to the family sitting in the living room watching the 24 inch RCA Victor black and white; it happened to nearly everyone in the country at the same time. I was twelve years old, my brother, 16, and Mom and Dad on the couch watching, as we did every Sunday night, the Ed Sullivan Show. My mother, at the time, 40 years old and nine months pregnant, gasped at the screaming girls, overcome with their emotions on national tv. My Dad, who loved to observe, could be seen smiling lightly.
My brother and I got caught up in the excitement coming from the small screen. It was contagious, it was wonderful, it was so different from anything we'd ever seen before. What was this? What was this new kind of music? Why did they have long hair? Why were they wearing cool suits?
And it changed everything. Within weeks, there were kids being expelled from school for having hair too long for the dress code. Every time you turned on the radio, the Beatles were playing, every station. Excitement seemed to be hanging in the very air.
And in those weeks, life changed for me. Two days after the show, my little brother was born and I was no longer the youngest child. A month later, I became a teenager and a month after that, my oldest brother got married.
Things were changing for everyone - Civil rights, Medicare, the simmering war in Viet-Nam, the '64 elections, and, there was no going back, no more Fifties, no more Pat Boone, or Sinatra. The world had changed.
And every time you turned on the radio, you heard the Beatles. In every small town, in every city, in every farm tucked along a gravel road, the world had changed.

Some of us like to think for the better.

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February 5, 2014

Another Week, Another Snowstorm

February 5, 2014 10am, 20 degrees, snow falling heavily, driveway drifted in, about two feet of snow on the ground, piles pushed back by the snowplows are 8 feet tall.

There is a lot of snow out there. Did see a pair of robins who obviously made a wrong turn somewhere, hopefully, this appearance is a good sign, an early end to this misery.

Propane - which is what I use to heat my house and my office - has doubled in price and is even hard to get - they are rationing deliveries.

We just roll with it. Nothing much else you can do.

Finished Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford. An excellent read, good stuff for a second novel. Though I don't consider myself to be mentally dense, his agent keeps referring to his work as "Literary Fiction". Still having some internal conflict as to what exactly that means. Any help, Kristin?

A little work on my own stuff today, since the snow is precluding me from doing much else.

Life is good.

January 18, 2014 3pm 18 degrees, slate gray skies, about a foot of snow on the ground.

It has been an eventful winter. Record low temperatures, woke one morning to -20 F. Last entry I noted the dead ash trees? on the Sunday before Christmas, we got a half inch of ice on everything and it brought down ash trees, and many other trees and branches as well. Opening the door that morning, sounded like we were in a war zone, loud cracks echoing through the air as each branch gave way and cracked off.
Five days without power, Christmas at home ruined for the kids, lost everything in my frig and freezers, have enormous tree damage and branches everywhere.

Just when things are starting to get back to normal, 17 inches of snow which stopped everyone their tracks. Quickly followed by the Polar Vortex dropping the temps by 40 degrees and freezing the snow solid to the roads creating fun ice skating opportunities for your vehicles.

Today is quiet. Had four inches of fresh powder yesterday, expecting another blast of Polar air this week. Bitter cold, nasty winds, snow everywhere, time to seriously think about moving south until spring.

The worst part of this, of course, is that business has ground to a halt. My other business. The one that is supposed to keep food on the table. No one can get out to buy anything, so no customers means no business, means no money to pay for advertising....

So, we curl up and read a good book. Not like the cable works. Or the television for that matter when the power is out.

Read Neil Gaiman's latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Nice job, Neil. Read it in one sitting on Christmas Day. Thanks for the book, Julie.

Finished Stephen King's latest as well. Thank you, Tania.

Rolling along towards tomorrow.

November 1, 2013 2pm, 48 degrees, a cloudy, windy day with dropping temps as a cold front crashes through, taking with it a number of ash trees that have succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer. There are so many of these trees that the local road commission is kept busy trying to keep the roads open after each wind storm.

Trying to get enough energy up to tackle NaNoWriMo - you know, whatever it will take to get me writing again with some consistency. So many things are vying for my time - finishing the attic insulation, battening down the house for the winter, right now, I'm waiting on an electrician friend to install a new cook top. And, I still have to get to the printer and pick up my weekly allotment of placemats and deliver some of those.
And, of course, Granddaughter Guinevere's First Birthday, really need to be there for that. When am I ever supposed to find the time to write 2500 words?

And not to mention all the fun stuff happening on the internet, clicking through to peruse such items as Apple's Irish headquarters which allows them to bypass a bunch of taxes, or playing endless games of Mahjong - the bane of my existence.

That said, I'm going to give it a good old college try. I'll keep you informed....

October 14, 2013 9am 44 degrees, a magnificent blue Michigan sky, nary a cloud, a stunning background to yellow leaves, bare branches and dark dark greens hanging on to the last vestiges of summer growth.

We have had a long string of these perfect days, some warm, some cooler, but dry, sky so blue you can practically taste it. The farmers are harvesting soybeans, driving on rural roads can create some interesting encounters with large farm equipment.

A local boy made good, Johnathan Rand, who authors an amazingly popular series called Michigan Thrillers for kids. Our long time county treasurer, booted out of office, hooked up with her husband, contacted Johnathan and wrote a musical based on his books. This debuted at the Pix Theatre in beautiful Downtown Lapeer over the past couple weekends to sold out crowds.

Our local bookstore, The Bookshelf, owned for years by a couple local teachers, has been sold to yet another teacher. Margie, who has been behind the counter since I can remember, decided it was time to join her teacher husband in retirement. They didn't want the store to close, continuing to refer to it as a 'viable' business, essentially sold it for the cost of the inventory - i.e. not very much. Just walk away without holding hope you were gonna get rich selling a bookstore. So, it will remain open, with new blood, and hopes it will stay our local spot for author signings and the latest books.

Off to enjoy this wonderful weather.

Oct. 8, 2013 9am 36 degrees, almost a frosty morning, my impatiens survive another week or so, spreading their lovely colors into the changing green of the surrounding trees.

Had an interesting exchange with Michael Cader about the National Book Award nominees. He stated Alice McDermott was the only previous winner nominated - although Thomas Pynchon won in 1974. The response to my query was, "Well, it's complicated since he wouldn't accept the award." Yeah, okay, but does that mean he didn't WIN it? That he wasn't chosen over the other books that year?
The anecdote, if I recall correctly, is when informed of his winning, Pynchon said, "They just want me to show up to entertain them." So, instead of going himself, he sent a stand up comedian to tell jokes to the publishing crowd. (feel free to jump in here anytime, Tom).
So, the fact that he didn't accept the award does not mean he didn't earn it, win it, get to add it to his numerous accolades. George C. Scott was forever known as an Oscar winner, even though he declined the award. And I'm sure there are other examples as well.

Enough said, Michael did make the correction.

Back in 1975, I took a class at Oakland University with Dr. Pete - sorry, the years have taken a toll on his last name which doesn't appear anywhere I can find it. The class was Major English Authors of the 20th Century and it was Pynchon. Dr. Pete had a thing about Pynchon, he was obsessed. There were only 5 of us in the class, two of whom smoked pipes and we would meet in the lounge of the English Department on the 5th floor of Matilda Wilson Hall. Pete got annoyed at me for questioning his interpretation of the writing. I was just pointing out that one could not infer the meaning based on the information we had. He finally got ticked enough he ordered me to his office where he demanded that I drop the class. When I was allowed to explain what I thought and how his jumps in logic (never a good thing when discussing Pynchon) were confusing everyone else in the class, he not only retracted his demand but insisted I stay in and contribute heavily. Now, of course, after spending a half hour trying to locate his last name, I will be obsessed with tracking the poor man down. Seems to me his last name was Macsticholli or something like that - if anyone has come across a short bearded Italian with a penchant for Pynchon, let me know.

Okay, that's it from here.

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September 12, 2013

Autumn Comes

September 12, 2013 11am, 67 degrees.
Enjoying a respite from two 90+ degree days, today is glorious, tomorrow's high in the 50's. Sky is a magnificent blue, with fast moving puffs of white, and, unlike 12 years ago, jets and jet trails every which direction.

Stars were dazzling this morning, very early on. Had a new experience about 7am - I saw an animal running across the front year, back and forth, as if he were looking for something. Took a moment to realize it was a small black mink - have never seen one this time of year and I'm not sure what he was looking for, but when he heard traffic coming down the road, he moved to cover extremely fast.

Sitting on the front porch, when the traffic slows down enough to hear the crickets and hummingbirds, other noises filter through, acorns dropping from the huge oaks south of the house. Banner crop for the nuts this year, can't remember if that means hard winter or something else - like fat squirrels.

Off to the local library for a book on the Gnostic Bible. Like I don't have enough time to write, but I can be researching some obscure religion. Or I could be reading the latest Jamie Ford novel I picked up from my local book store last week. Songs of Willow Frost - yeah, yeah, Jamie, I'm a hundred pages in....

Life is good.

August 26, 2013 10am, 75 degrees, clouding over, rain coming hopefully, very dry here, watered the flowers yesterday, first time all summer.

Random Summer Time Notes:
We have a strident male hummingbird who has taken to guarding the feeders. First time I've heard them vocalize warnings to each other, they get quite loud arguing over the nectar.

Wandered off to Mackinaw Island for a wedding last weekend. Stepping back in time among the horses and fudge, stayed at the same hotel as the crew of Somewhere In Time, not the Grand Hotel, the other one... Great place for a wedding, out on the big lawn, with Lake Huron in the background, sunshine and love. Very cool.

It appears, in the run-up to Obamacare, that all those folks who have been trying to get me to give up my pack a day smoking habit are actually going to win. My insurance will have a 50% premium tacked on that will not be covered by subsidies, thereby pricing me out of the market still again unless I quit smoking. WTF?

Wandered downtown to my local bookseller to preorder Jamie Ford's new book. Support your brick and mortar book store.

One can tell they are getting older and out of touch when they have to google Twerk to see what all the fuss was about last night with Miley Cyrus.

Moving on towards tomorrow, Life is Good.

July 31, 2013 Cloudy, Rainy morning, 63 degrees. After a week in the 90's, we set a record low temp of 44. The roller coaster continues.

Little bits of writing appearing at odd times. Having a hard time just sitting down and making it happen. Clearly the WIP is having issues. The idea is good, the pages are excellent, but the forward motion still eludes me.

My other business is keeping me busy - keeps growing and getting by day by day is becoming much easier. Presumably this will allow me to pencil in more hours to write. That is the plan.

One would suspect having reached this point in my life, I should be content to just ignore my muse turning up at odd moments. The kids are gone, off making a life for themselves. Grandkids are growing rapidly, everything else in my life is going wonderfully. I have the time to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors... and, yet, my muse calls.

Those odd moments, sitting in my big blue chair, glass of wine, cigarette, watching the play of light on the flowers and the trees beyond, the yellows of the wheat stubble across the way, the deep orange of the day lilies, the ruby throated hummingbirds at the feeders. Instead of simply enjoying the sight, the taste, the feel, I find myself wondering if there is a story here, a tale to be told, a message to be massaged into a few thousand words.

Or late at night, after John Oliver has signed off the Daily Show, crawling into bed next to my lightly snoring wife, going over the events of the day, did I miss something? Was there a story in the young girl I saw obviously shoplifting at Rite Aid? Was that candy bar she stuffed into her pocket for her? Or maybe for a little one in the car, her sweet reminder of a boyfriend long gone, whose hunger, now that the food stamps have run out, keeps her up at night wondering how she can make it to tomorrow?

Is there a story there? And why do I not share it?

July 3, 2013 Clear Blue Michigan Sky, cool with brilliant sunshine.

Up early today, early even for me, sitting out on the front porch as the eastern sky begins turning lighter and lighter as the day approaches. A lovely crescent moon, dimming as the bats swoop overhead getting ready to call it a night. Early bird calls remind me of trips bringing Mom home from Florida, in the southern wilds outside cheap motels, grabbing the first cigarette of the day, the birds moving north with the warm temps, calling out to friends and mates.
As the sun rises, the dew sparkles on grass that needs clipping, a groundhog peers across the quiet street wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. A bunny, likely the same one that has been trying to interest the awkward teenage bunny who seems more interested in eating the clover than making more bunnies, strolls out strutting her stuff.
A young deer wanders down the driveway, unaware he is being watched from no more than thirty feet away.
The sun higher now, the orioles in their brilliant orange come swooping into the feeder for a morning nosh of grape jelly, such an incredibly beautiful bird.
Summer has arrived, time to stop and smell the roses, and they smell very sweet indeed.

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June 5, 2013

Mom's 90th Birthday

June 5, 2013 Cloudy and sunny spots, 51 degrees, cool and breezy.

Today is my Mother’s 90th birthday.
I cannot fathom, even as I get up in years myself, what a lifetime that long must mean. She has seen much and can recall most of it. And now, with the inevitable toll that aging takes on us all, she recalls the earlier times better than what occurred yesterday or last week. This gives way to stories we have never heard, reasons for certain traits, and the sheer joy of her happy and wonderful childhood and teenage years.
And they were wondrous, coming of age in the Depression, but growing up on a working farm, where some money, not a lot, was always available. Her older brother and sister had tuition for college, music lessons, and Grandpa bought a brand new 1939 Chrysler. Mom has fond memories of those years, playing in the band in high school, driving everywhere with her friends - and she had LOTS of friends. They thought nothing of driving 50 miles just to dance, or party, or hang out. And she was looker, too.

Being the Depression, some of the relatives from the city would appear in late May, after school let out and deposit their children on the farm, knowing they would be fed, returning to pick them up around Labor Day. Mom said her Dad would take them into town, buy them boots and clothes and then repeat the gesture in August so they would have decent clothes for school.

Just found out this past Mother’s Day, as we were driving through Juhl, no more than a wide spot in the road now, with an old church and a big derelict building at the crossroads. Mom looked at it as we drove by and said, “They used to have the best dances there.”
I asked, “Did Dad take you there?”
“Of course, but he didn’t dance, then. His family didn’t believe in dancing, thought it was un-Christian like.”
“But Dad was a great dancer?”
“He took lessons. He would come to take me out and I wanted to go dancing. He would sit in the corner and watch me dance with all the other fellas and couldn’t take it, so he learned how to dance so he could have me all to himself.”

Funny the things you learn about your parents.

In 1951, my parents bought a farm, a real working farm where I grew up with my brothers and raised corn and wheat and oats and beans and hay for the cattle. Also in 1951, my Dad went to work for the Ford Motor Company and Mom was left to milk the cows, make sure everything got done, and raise three young boys. And she did this, all the while being involved with church, women’s club, Eastern Star, and living in a 900 square foot house, while Dad worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, two hours drive each way.

I did not find out, until a few years ago, long after my Father passed, that my mother, who would go to the barn in the middle of the night to help a cow deliver a calf, tying rope on the protruding hoofs to pull it out, absolutely hated living on the farm. She hated every minute of it, it was not what she had envisioned for herself, dancing her teenage years away with rich friends.

I commented that we kids never knew that. She said it wasn’t fair to burden us with something she couldn’t change and, besides, a farm was a great place to raise boys.
I asked her why she lived there fifty years if she disliked it so much and she said, “It was where your Father wanted to be.”

And that answered many questions about my parent’s relationship - it was love story about two people who sacrificed so much to give their children a wonderful childhood. Mom hated the farm and Dad hated the 30 years he put in at Fords. But it allowed us boys to grow strong, go to college, and marry women who, marvelously, are just as loving and wonderful as our Mother.

May 29, 2013 8am 68 degrees, thunderstorm - 2 1/2 inches rain in past 24 hours, plus tornadoes, wind, hail, and other fun stuff.

Morning all,
>
> So I have this pile of brush, see, and I haven't gotten a chance to burn
> it for, oh say, ten years or so. Just take whatever cuttings,
> clippings, branches, leaves, pine needles and pile them on. Ten years
> worth. And, then the majority of branches from the big pine tree that
> came down last month in the windstorm. My pile is down on the river
> bank, between an ancient willow tree and two newly dead Elm trees.
> (these three trees are each a hundred foot tall or so, and the willow is
> sickly)
>
> With my freshly minted burning permit from the Township, I waited for a
> day when the wind was minimal and set it on fire, standing by with my
> trusty garden hose.
> So far, so good.
>
> Nice little fire. Then, bigger, and bigger still, and even bigger yet.
> The flames were nearly as high as the tree tops. My garden hose was
> pretty much useless at this point as I couldn't get close enough for the
> water to reach because of the heat.
>
> Since the fire was out close to the road, people driving by would slow
> down and I would give them a thumbs up, no problems here, just a really
> big fire.
>
> Of course, it didn't take long, what with cell phones and such, that the
> neighborhood fire department showed up, blocked the entire road,
> detouring people, causing all kinds of commotion. At one point, my son
> asked, "How many firefighters are there?"
> "All of them."
>
> By this time, I have fire in the elm trees 80 feet off the ground, and
> the willow was burning pretty good as well, and up high. All the
> volunteer firemen were having a great time shooting tanker after tanker
> of water onto the trees.
>
> All the neighbors that we never seem to see out and about came over to
> check everything out, and it was nice to chat with them.
>
> Two hours later, the firemen are packing up their stuff, opening the
> road again, when the willow tree burst into flames about 30 feet off the
> ground. This time, they shot flame retardant all over everything. Then
> they got out another fancy hose and proceeded to blast the bark off my
> dead Elm trees. Lots of fun.
>
> This morning, I looked out to see smoke rising from that 30 foot up
> branch on the willow, not much, just a little. So I took my ladder out,
> climbed up and sprayed the dickens out of it. Not smoldering now. And
> we have a thundershower coming through as I write.
>
> Fun in Michigan in May.

May 18, 2013 10am 56 degrees, clouds clearing to bright blue Michigan skies.

Much happening. More reading, Bradbury short stories, Falling Angel by Tracy Chevalier - very odd set-up, hard to follow, but worth the work, a couple of Agatha Christie - without the recurring characters, (I'm a big fan of Miss Marple but I've read every word about her - Poirot is okay as long as I can picture David Suchet doing the role).

My other business is going extremely well. Things rolling right along, giving me time to think, read and write.

Baltimore Orioles appeared last night, bright orange and black flitting across the yard.

Much yard work to do, plant flowers after last week's late frost, start the annual fight with the crab grass that seems to have infected my flower beds.

Life is good.

April 21, 2013 1pm 39 degrees, clear blue Michigan sky, slight breeze, warming up.

A wondrous week - weather all over the place, roads flooding, trees down (including in my yard), got a lot of work done on my other job, new phone, new email addresses, new web domains, just moving right along.

Discovered a writer with the same surname as mine - Issac Marion Book isn't bad - though I can say I'm not really into zombies - I will watch the movie though - Warm Bodies - but mostly because it stars one of the characters from a BBC America show that I enjoyed.

And a prayer for the son of a friend of mine who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. Steven Woolfenden - who lost a foot and his young son was hit with shrapnel. All my best for Steven.

April 5, 2013 10 am 37 degrees, sky clearing, but a bitter northeast wind. Daffodils are budding out, but the cold still retains her grip.

Monday, I got to do something very special. My youngest son has been busy devising different gifts and surprises for his parents. (obviously, this grad school thing is way too easy) For my birthday, he bought tickets to Sigur Ros at the Fox Theater in Detroit. We drove down early, parked the car, walked 1/2 mile to Greektown for dinner in an authentic Greek restaurant - The Parthanon - which is
on four levels, each open to the one below - and lots of "OPA" as they lit plates of food on fire.
Then walked back through downtown Detroit to the Fox. I had never been there. Mike Illitch who owns Little Ceasars and the Tigers,restored this art deco masterpiece. He and I had time to wander around and check it out before the show. Fascinating place.
Sigur Ros is an Icelandic band that plays artistic rock - all the lyrics to their songs are in Icelandic so you can't understand them. I thought, okay....
They apparently are a Hipster favorite and Pat and I watched the crowd as they filed in, picking out the Hipsters. They all have scarfs, and beards (even the women), and black Buddy Holly glasses. It was great fun. And, this band that no one my age has ever heard of, sold out the Fox Theater at $60 a pop. And they were very good. It was a great concert. Even in a foreign language, you could feel the emotion in the singer's voice and it drew you in.

How you could you not love a present like that?

March 24, 2013 10am 29 degrees, cloudy and cold. The winter that will not end, enough already. Wondering when I'll be able to go dig through the dead leaves in search of green shoots, or when the tiny purple crocus will appear beneath the bird feeders. Anytime would be good.
Across the way, in the wheat field, huge geese are walki

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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

A Hint of Spring
originally posted: March 10, 2013

March 10, 2013 11am 47 degrees Robins are rummaging on the few bare patches of yard, snow is slowly disappearing.

Taking time from my real job, which has been exceptionally hectic, to finish the outline for the WIP. I recall the last novel went from 25k in the middle of March to 85k and done by the end of April. Hoping to recreate that incredibly productive time. Last novel was written from a ten line outline - don't need much, just enough to know about where you're going.

This time, however, I'm having a bit of a problem in that line 7 keeps wanting to insert itself into the ms at line 2. Ah, well, it will all work out....

Onward and Upward.

February 10,2013 1pm 30 degrees - 6-8 inches of snow on the ground, chilly morning, rain coming in this afternoon, lots of it, rising temps, melting snow, good stuff.

Going to a celebration of life this afternoon, a friend who started the local Writers Circle is putting on a little party for himself to celebrate the power of prayer - he was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer and, through a network of churches, prayer circles, vigils, etc., has gone into remission. Certainly something to celebrate.

Life is good.

February 8, 2013 2pm, 25 degrees, 6 inches of fresh powdery snow out there, all schools closed, wind picking up, drifting the north south roads, a blustery winter day.

Had a great meeting of my local Writers Circle last night - 7 brave souls who took no notice of the impending snow storm - One writing non-fiction, another new retiree, just getting started, lots of interesting ideas.

I'm kinda snowbound this afternoon. No real reason to go out into the cold and very iffy roads. May have to go out later, but the plows should be back by momentarily.

Gearing up for another run at the WIP. Stage is set, the lights are going down, almost curtain time.

Well, I suppose that's one way to put it.

Back when I started doing this, you sent a letter to an agent in New York, with a self addressed stamped return envelope - I used to buy a box of #10 and a box of #9, so it was all very neat and orderly.
Times have changed but the time to actually compose the novel has not. What does that mean? or does it mean anything? Or are today's writers typing that much faster?

Perhaps the world has changed and I just don't realize it.....

February 4, 2013 2pm 18 degrees, been snowing most of the morning, roads look bad, cold weekend, down to -3 at one point.

My neighbor, Hubert, used to tell me I should be halfway through the woodpile by Groundhog's Day. That would leave you enough wood to get through the winter. With 3 inches of snow on the ground and very cold temps, that is a decidedly distressing concept. I'm ready for this to be over and the glorious colors of spring to return.

Trying a few different things to get the writing off ground zero and moving in the right direction. Doing a little soul searching and am liking what I find.
One of the blogs I follow is helping with that.

http://timetowrite.blogs.com/weblog/

Onward and Upward.

January 29, 2013 9am 36 degrees, rain and thunderstorms this morning, going for a record high in the 50's

The current novel is percolating loudly in my head - some of it is even getting on the page. Amazing, the way the process works.

It is what it is.

January 7, 2013 7am 29 degrees, 5 inches of snow on the ground, January Thaw coming this week, will all be gone by Friday.
Don't know about anyone else, but I'm about 'footballed out'. Not as if our beloved Detroit Lions are involved anyway. And, we still have another month??
Once Upon A Time is back with new episodes. The writers have AAHD really bad. Thing bounces all over the place, which I suppose is part of its charm.
Writing is going well - first time in a very long time. This is something I've been working toward for a while now. The words are flowing and soon I'll have something to report back with.
And so it goes.

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Ah, Winter
originally posted: December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012 8am 23 degrees - lightly snowing - 8 inches of snow so far this week - a winter wonderland.

On the way home from Christmas celebrations on the 24th, I turned to my wife and said, "This is the first time in memory that I haven't gotten a book for Christmas."
My Daughter called the next day to say they had found a present for me that didn't get opened. And, yes, it is a book. Still don't know which one - I asked for a few - but the string wasn't broken - paper lives!

My brother, who is a defrocked protestant minister, sent me "Heaven is for Real", which I have wanted to read since it came out. Finished it last night and enjoyed it. They did a nice job with what could have easily been controversial. My brother sent a note that said "It appears to not contradict the Bible."
An interesting note to attach.

This is the brother who taught me how to read at age 4, setting me on this journey. Still, somewhere along the line, we have discovered we can read the same things and get totally different interpretations. i.e., the Bible.

He's a great brother, we get along fine, just don't know where our paths careened in such bizarre fashion.

Life is good.

November 29, 2012 9am 36 degrees - a rare December warm-up this weekend.

In Today's Deals, the first two entries are in the Inspirational Fiction category. Both have in the tag line - train wrecks. What are the odds? Or is this a trend? Must have drama - what better drama than a train wreck?

Out here in the boondocks, they have ripped up most railroads and replaced them with paved walking/biking paths. My hometown still has a track to haul mountains of corn and soybeans off to market. And, oddly, we have an Amtrak train station not 10 miles away. You can only go to Chicago, but it is something.

Life is good.

November 25, 2012 11am 29 degrees, Inch & 1/2 of new fluffy snow - first of the year - very pretty to look at, especially when you have nowhere to go. Snow plow has come, roads look fine. Was 65 here on Thursday, now, winter has made an appearance.

These long weekends with no real work to do give plenty of time to reassess and rearrange your life, plans, dreams, fantasies, whatever. One can only watch so much football, old movies, random shows until you just turn the damned thing off. Or drink too much wine - which, in itself, is not a bad thing. And snack continually on pumpkin pie, sage dressing, cookies and cranberries.

At some point, you are left alone with your thoughts.

Is this the point where you make another run at publication? Get the story done, get something done. Try something else? Dig out some of the novels under the bed, try to make something out of them? Do the research and epub some stuff - get your name out there, try to build on that?

And then you realize it is much, much easier to open another bottle of wine and worry about it later.

November 12, 2012 1pm 41 degrees, rainy, cold, yesterday was 70 degrees here, temp has been dropping since midnight - almost 30 degrees so far and more to go.

Since I was here last, I have added another granddaughter - Guinevere. Joyous time, life is indeed good.

Managed to get through the election with no big problems. Being a small business owner, one immediately expects you are a Republican. And, oddly, many small business owners are and are not reticent about sharing their political views. I've been biting my tongue so much, it is painful. But, at least, it is over.

My heart goes out to those in NYC who are bearing the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. There are many places I remember from my younger days of wandering the West Village.

Life goes on - the novel continuous to evade my ability to put it down on paper, roaring over and over in my mind, but somehow unable to recreate itself on my keyboard which refuses to put one word after another in any coherent form.

Ah, perhaps with the advent of winter, the long cold dark days with time hanging hard against the bleak sun, my writing muse will relax her stranglehold and the worlds will flow again like the melting snow streaming into my little river.

Life is good, hope continues,

Sept. 16, 2012 10am 59 degrees, clear blue Michigan skies - cool in the house this morning, I keep shivering - going to be a very long winter.

My middle son's girlfriend has gotten a car from her father's estate. They, being mid 20 somethings have no where to store it, so we spent yesterday cleaning out my shed. The shed is a Quonset hut - 16x32 with a garage door at one end. For the past 27 years, I've been sticking stuff in there. There was still room for a little more, but, alas, no room for a car.

The local recycling shop is going to get large amounts of scrap iron, steel, copper, aluminum, and the burn pile is getting much larger. Any furniture I had stored there has been infested with mold and moisture, cracking the veneers and generally making them unusable.

I did come across a treasure trove of matchbox cars. This is telling since my youngest is now 22.

Moving some plywood, I noticed what appeared to be a tail - a large bushy tail. I assumed a cat had somehow met his end there beneath the lumber. However, the paws -or what remained of the paws - did not look feline. Removing the mostly skeletal remains indicated a larger animal, with very large teeth. It appears an American Badger had somehow gotten into the shed and expired. Very strange. Don't recall ever having see one around here. Yet another mystery in my little space Along the River.

Still not done with the cleaning - and, oh yes, the car in question is a 47 Plymouth, completely restored.

And so it goes.

Sept. 10, 2012 - 8am 42 degrees, clear blue Michigan Skies - a definite touch of autumn in the air - 42 is cold with the windows open.

In regards to the 50 Shades of Gray, I managed to get through another 100 pages, but I do not envision myself finishing the book. There just isn't enough to incentive to pick it up again.

I have always been a 'night' person. Sleeping in til whenever and staying up late watching Johnny Carson - or lately, George Stropolopolis on CBC into the early hours.

Six months or so ago, God decided that I needed to be up at 5:30 am. Doesn't matter when I go to bed, doesn't matter how much I press my eyes tight to not look at the led clock next to the bed, at 5:30, I am awake.

Don't know what it means, don't know what grand plan is in the works, I just know that I am awake at 5:30. Some mornings, I can refuse the call, get another hour or so before rolling out, but most mornings I'm staring at the coffee maker willing it to brew faster.

After fighting this oddity for six months, I am now using this newly acquired two hours every morning to get some real writing done. Who knew?

Life is strange - perhaps this is leading to something better.

My new age friends say they are having the same problem, getting up at odd hours - one poor gal is waking from dead sleep at 3:30 which is raising all sorts of problems from her spouse and kids. The reason, because everything happens for a reason - according to the new age reasoning - is we are getting prepped for the new age, the new beginning scheduled for December of this year.

Now THAT should be interesting. And it appears I'm going to be awake for it.

Aug. 20,2010 - 8am 51 degrees, clear blue Michigan Skies, a glorious summer day.

Okay, folks, work with me here. In an attempt to find something - anything to read - actually I was in my local RiteAid looking for a magazine - Vogue, which, oddly, they don't seem to carry, but then we do live a bit further out from the metropolis, fashion here tends to be more the Women of Walmart. At any rate, I picked up a very thick Bourne installment I haven't read yet and, lo and behold, there on the top of the rack was one single copy of...... Fifty Shades of Gray.
So, for $15.95, I figured I would find out what all the fuss is about. When my wife saw it, she said all the waitresses at work jabber about it all the time and, Lord knows, the book world can't seem to get enough of it either. Okay, then. I bring it home, sit on my front porch, with a cup of coffee, and begin.
Twenty pages in, yeah, it's a little clunky, as one might expect from a self published work. Not bad, though. Forty pages in, WTF? Where is this going? - well, actually, I have a pretty good idea where it is going but why is it putting me through this indeterminable drivel to get me there?
I can go with suspension of belief to enjoy a good story. This, however, is asking too much. When every other page is "Oh, yeah, like that would ever happen.
Now, the book has taken on a bitter medicine feel. Should I take it all at once and get it over with, or should I continue reading ten pages at a time, so that I don't overdose on poisonous prose?
This morning, I am halfway through. And, we haven't even gotten to any of the BDSM stuff. Geeze, how long can this go on?
One of the publishing posts mentioned Ms. James was pulling in a half a million a week from royalties. Am I jealous? Yes, of course I am. Am I surprised? Amazingly so. Before self publishing, this never would have seen the light of day - it wouldn't even have seen a glimmer on the horizon. Now, it is going to set back the publishing industry ten years, which, as we all know, is something they don't need right now.
I've been around a long time, I've seen these phenomena come and go. And, most times, it is the same. Does anyone remember "The Bridges of Madison County", or "Love Story" or "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull"? Same concept, same how in the world did this thing get published?
Is this a case of serendipity? Or is this a case of publishers not judging the audience correctly? Or, perhaps, some combination of them both?

I'll let you know who the BDSM stuff works - if I

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Ric Marion is a writer, far from New York, in the rural thumb of Michigan. Done about everything, welfare caseworker, shop rat, trucking supervisor, editor, columnist, small business owner.
This writer is in search of agency representation.


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