I Can Haz Sissy Bar?

Adventures / Family & Relationships / Motorcycles & me

Yep, I’m a sissy. I admit it. Or, maybe I’m just getting old. No. No. I’m a sissy.

This weekend was a bitter-sweet one. The sweetness came in that it was the first weekend of the motorcycle riding season here in Upstate NY that we’ve been able to enjoy since Jim moved in back in January. Saturday we rode out to Binghamton, NY to Southern Tier Harley Davidson for their Spring Open House. We nabbed two of the few remaining roast pork sammiches, oggled a few bikes, bumped into one of my co-workers and, much to JIm’s reluctance, ordered a pad for the sissy bar he took off the bike years ago. Our return ride included stopping at the Blue Dolphin for lunch. Sunday afternoon we headed out again. Stopping at Punk’s Place in Candor and The Pub in Waverly. Arriving home in one piece, Jim set to work starting some beef stew. Oh, my aching inner thighs!

Now, about that sissy bar. I’m not sure when my interest in motorcycles began. I remember my brother had a minibike when we were in middle school and I know my Uncle Jack had at least one bike he’d take me for rides on around the same period. It’s been more years than I care to admit. Uncle Jack didn’t have a sissy bar and as much as I loved riding with him, I always felt like I was hanging on for dear life when we rode. It was likely then that I decided that when/if I ever got a bike of my own, I’d do any passengers I might carry, the favor or not suffering as I had always done.

In 1986 when I bought my Honda Rebel I did just that. I had the bike for four years and only had a few passengers but they all were grateful for that bar. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my skills as a driver. LOL!

Fast forward to this weekend and the lack of said bar. I love to ride with my guy, don’t get me wrong, I really do, but without the bar there’s always that slight moment of terror when the red light turns green or that 40 mph speed zone ends or when someone finds it amusing to gun the engine then reaches back and pats me on the leg as if to say, “You still back there, baby?”  I couldn’t see it but I can bet ya he was smirking up there. My head fills with images of either 1) me flying off backwards and my head ending up looking like a smashed pumpkin the morning after Halloween Night or 2) me holding on so tight it yanks us BOTH off the bike. Neither is pretty and for some reason those images put quite the damper on the whole Fun Factor for me as a passenger. Not to mention those sore inner thigh muscles mentioned earlier and the sore arse I had because I kept sliding just far enough off back seat to make it well – unpleasant. I try not to be a selfish person, but in the case of the bar – it makes a HUGE difference to me. It will be a totally different and much more enjoyable ride for me once it’s there. Personally, I think he should think of it this way, if I can lean back a bit and relax, he can then in turn lean back a bit on me! It’s a win-win situation and if his biker friends pick on him about it, I’m more than happy to have the blame put on the Old Lady.

That was the Sweet part.. now the Bitter.

As mentioned, this was our first weekend ride together in Upstate NY. Sadly, it may be our last. He’s starting a new job that will include working weekends which means all the awesome stuff that goes on will likely be missed. We can really do with the income and it’s not like there won’t be week nights we can’t go out – still…just sorta a bummer in that regard. I’m happy and sad at the same time and I’m sure he’s feeling a bit of the same. We’ll make the best of it because that’s how we both roll. It’s just another life change and being as we took pretty close to the biggest step possible as a couple last January when he moved up here from Texas, I’m sure we’ll manage this.

So, I can haz a sissy bar as soon as the order comes in and one or the other of us can get out to pick it up and he gets it put on. And even if the rides together may be more rare, they will be made all the more sweeter when they do happen cuz I’ll be able to straddle my guy from behind a little less tightly and my thighs, though they could benefit from the workout, will be a little less sore.

The last time I had inner thighs this sore… well, never mind that.

How Modern Job Hunting Contributes To Unemployment

Job Hunting

I’ve known quite a few people looking for jobs over the past five years. All of them truly want to work. All of them have marketable skills in their chosen fields. All of them have done their best to get their resumes up-to-date and their applications out there.  What I’ve also noticed is how every single one of these people has complained about the changing face of job hunting.

Back when I was a fresh-faced kid out of high school my job hunting started at the ass-scratch of dawn with my Dad banging on my bedroom door ‘reminding’ me I needed to get up and go into town with him and mom to pound-the-pavement.  I didn’t have a car and living in the middle of nowhere in Upstate NY, public transport did not exist.  My only way to get anywhere was to ride into the city with my parents, find a friend or borrow my grandmother’s car. I certainly couldn’t afford a car because, well, I didn’t have a job!  Therefore, the fun often started at 6:00am. Mom and I were dropped off by Dad at around 7:30. Mom would head into her office while I would continue my walking adventure with a couple of tested pens, a dozen copies of my meager resume that consisted of my recent graduation from high school and some volunteer summer jobs I’d had, a good book, a packed lunch and a pair of sturdy walking shoes. I’d walk door-to-door, one shop to the next that held even the vaguest of employment interests to me. One application after another was filled out on the spot and stapled to a resume. When I ran out of resumes, my job hunting day was over. I did this weekly for months, centering on a different area of the city each time, making my name and lack of experience known to one and all. I was friendly and personable, doing my best to hide and overcome my introvert nature. By the end of that day, I was exhausted.  I’d trudge back to my mom’s office where we’d meet up with my dad at 4:45pm and head back home.

On my days off from this sort of job hunting, I would occasionally be able to drive my grandmother’s car or better yet, ride my bike – and I don’t mean a motorcycle here, kids. I mean a bicycle that you peddled with your very own legs! Remember, I lived out in the middle of nowhere. There was nowhere in town to get a job. Okay, maybe that’s not true. I could have tried at the lumber mill, the feed store or the hardware store, I suppose. The nearest large grocery store was fifteen miles away. If the weather seemed promising and Gramma’s car wasn’t available, filled my backpack with the above mentioned items, hopped on my trusty 10-speed and was on my way.  More applications filled out by hand. More resumes handed out.

Of course, the first words out of my dad’s mouth at the end of these days was always, “Find a job yet?” It took months before I could finally answer him with a yes.

Fast forward to today and the modern methods of job hunting.  You no longer walk door to door and if you do, you’re wasting your time.  Though it’s important to have your resume up-to-date, don’t bother printing out too many. Most places won’t take them. Hell, you don’t even need a frickin’ pen, let alone good walking shoes. Why? Because NO PLACE wants you to put the effort into filling out a paper application anymore. God forbid a person looking for a job should show any sort of true initiative when it comes to work! Time and time and time again, my job-seeking friends (every single one of them) has bemoaned to me the invention of the online job application. You can lounge at your computer in you sweat pants and wife-beater t-shirt while sipping shots of Jack Daniels out of your coffee cup if you want. Now there’s someone I’d be interested in hiring, NOT! No, give me the person who cares enough to get up early, shower, dress with a certain level of self respect and pound some pavement. THAT’S someone willing to actually work for a living.

Even if you fill out a dozen applications a day, you are nothing more than a faceless series of facts on a computer screen to a potential employer.  They have no idea who you are beyond that. There’s no information given to them that a person-to-person meeting can provide. There’s a lot to be said about first impressions.  Back in the day that first impression came the moment you walked into that building, your feet aching and your hand cramped and a ‘hire me’ smile plastered on your lips.  I believe in ‘vibes’, that we all give off certain vibes to others that we meet.  You could look at someone, check out how they dressed and the amount of effort they have put into getting the job they have showed up to apply for.  We’ll have none of that anymore.

I truly believe that today’s modern job hunting methods have actually contributed to the higher unemployment rates we now have. Despite Facebook’s best efforts, we have become a society of faceless bots without personalities or the know-how to judge others based on something beyond their ability to make themselves look good in writing.  Today, that first impression comes at the interview – if you are lucky enough to get that far. The good jobs go to those that can express themselves well in writing even if the jobs they are applying for have nothing to do with sentence structure or spelling.

I encourage all employers to PLEASE have paper applications on hand and be willing to accept that hand-written application and a printed resume instead of relying on corporate headquarters to do all the work for you. If you’re the manager, do some managing. Be proactive. Be responsible for who works for you on every level. Consider those few minutes it takes your potential employee to fill out that piece of paper your chance to observe from afar and to tune in with that inner part of each of us that takes first impressions seriously.  You could be missing out on one of the best workers you’ll ever have!  People want to work and I believe those that are willing to walk (literally) that extra mile to find a job, deserve more than to be turned away before they even have a chance with the off-handed remark, “Sorry, we only accept applications online.”

A Wordless Weekend.

Fresh Air & Sunshine / Mental health / Writer's Life

A few months ago a co-worker asked me to look over his manuscript. I foolishly told him I would. I knew he was writing what he said was a novel last fall. Four months later he announced it was done! Whoa, Nelly! That was fast. Turns out this ‘novel’ is really a short story. So, as I’d said I would, I started to look over what he’d done. It’s a good concept and I went through the first two chapters jotting down suggestions and the like and gave those two chapter to him to look over. It was then that he told me that only had he NOT yet even read over what he’d given me and that it was a first draft BUT! that he, personally doesn’t read fiction. Stephen King has a great quote out there that is something like “If you don’t have the time to read you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”  The admission that my co-worker doesn’t read fiction explained everything about the faults in his manuscript. I would like to finish the task as I told him I would but I’m not sure if it’s worth the time or effort.  It would be like someone deciding they are going to start a band if they have never even listened to the sort of music they want to play.

Another friend of mine had an art show opening this past Friday. We stopped in for a few minutes. I’d seen her work before and knew she was good so there were no surprises there. Unfortunately, the space was a big tight and I started to feel claustrophobic way too soon. Besides, I’m no good at mingling and making small talk about art. Its one of those subjective things. One man’s fine art is another man’s baby spit up on canvas. Still, I wanted to show her my support and made the effort to visit, albeit, briefly. We went off to explore some of the other art shows and music stuff going on after.

I’ve bought the books and artwork and etc of other creative friends to show them my support for their efforts. Even if I didn’t later care for the music or book after I had a listen or read more deeply.

I do have some talented writer friends, one is my cousin. We’ve had a lot of fun exchanging short story ideas and acting as readers and proofreaders for each others stuff. I encourage her every chance I get. Sadly, I don’t see her too much anymore since she moved. I have no idea if she’s bought my book.

I’ve been trying hard to write as often as possible but this weekend I didn’t even care. I planted herbs seeds and did yard work instead. It needed to be done, that is true, but I know I should have written something! I should have at least opened the file and re-read what I’d written earlier in the week for a quick proofread. It feels like my Muse has recently crawled into a deep, dark hole and doesn’t want to emerge all of a sudden. I’m pretty sure the recent life changes have something to do with that. Even when you have very positive life changes, it requires some adjusting.  When I’m stressed, my Muse shuts down just when I need her most to distract me and keep me from worrying about every little thing. It’s also been a very slow week over on my Facebook page. I’m not feeling ‘the Love’ as it were, like I was plus as I near completion of the next novel, the stress of searching for a publisher is weighing very heavily on my mind and soul. I try to be positive about it. I try to believe in myself and what I want to be when I grow up. It’s not always easy but I hope I don’t have too many more of these wordless weekends. It’s not good for me.

Man vs. Piggy

Adventures / Pets

I bought a pretend guinea pig last night.

I think its name is Skittles or Scuddles or Nibbles or some such thing. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the little critters and with the remaining balance I still had on the gift card I got at the pretend baby shower last year, Nibbles (or Wiggles) was actually free. Took the critter home to the castle and set up the cage. I have to admit to being a little disappointed. The ad seemed to indicate that little Wiggles could be held by my pretend daughter, Willow. At the very least, *I* wanted to be able to hold the little fella using some cute gesture. Nope. Poor thing just sits there, stuck to the side of my hand or motionless on the floor unless he’s in his cage. Then he scampers about and is cute as all get out. As long as Puddles (or Piddles) is happy, as happy as a pretend guinea pig can be, then I’m happy.

The real guinea pig I have isn’t much more affectionate than the pretend one, mind you. Plus I have to feed her and clear her cage. She’s the childhood pet I was never allowed to have as a child. My cousins had guinea pigs but I was never allowed. My dad never liked ‘rats’ as he called them. So, five years ago I decided to treat myself. Nona Bologna (Nona for short) makes noise, too, particularly when she hears you in the kitchen opening the veggie drawer and rustling plastic bags. It’s her subtle way of demanding her morning grape. Once this requirement it met, along with a few pieces of carrot and a handful of timothy hay, she’s quiet. Rare is the moment she deems you worthy of petting her on the head and nose, but when she does – it’s so damn cute. Nona is five-years-old now and sadly, though she still seems very healthy and active, her days are numbered. Her companion, Mina Louise, passed away last year. Nona doesn’t seem to mind being alone though. All the more grapes, carrots and hay for her.

When Nona leaves us Jim wants a dog. I’d prefer a cat. It’s one of those mixed relationships. Kinda like one person being a Republican and the other a Democrat only different and a lot less stressful. I’ll likely not get any more guinea pigs. It was fun and it fulfilled that little kid part of me that always wanted them but I’m ready to be pet-free for a while. I have Jim now instead.

JIm doesn’t squeal when I open the veggie drawer or rustle a bag, but he certainly lets me know when he needs feeding. One of these days I WILL rap his hand with a wooden spoon when he steals from the cutting board while I’m trying to cook. Either that or he’s going to get a finger chopped off. And, I can cuddle and hold him using a cute gesture. I haven’t tried just setting him on the floor to see what happens. I imagine, much like the pretend guinea pig, he’d just lay there motionless for awhile. Unlike Nona. Jim can (and usually does) clean up after himself. That’s a definite plus! Nona doesn’t cook nor does she even make the slightest effort to do the dishes.

Yeah, I think I’ll keep Jim around long after Nona Bologna goes to wherever guinea pigs go when they die. Nona never built me a pretend log cabin as a wedding gift and I’m pretty sure she has no interest in dressing up as a pirate and sinking navy ships or going to karaoke. And I know for a fact, she’ll never sit at my feet on the sofa and sing me to sleep.

In the battle of Man vs. Piggy,  Man wins.

Sorry, Nona.

Messin’ Wiff Yer Heads Tuesday!

Book Promo

I’ve started a word game over on my FB Author Page. It’s called ‘Messin’ Wiff Yer Heads Tuesday”. I’ll be posting a line or two from chapters of either my latest release “Blood of the Scarecrow” or from my current work in progress, “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of”. It’s up to you to figure out from which book these lines originate. So, hop over to my FB Author Page, LIKE! it and start playing. 🙂

Don’t have “Blood of the Scarecrow” yet, you say? Well, then you need to go to Pamela Morris Books and get one!

Over the weekend I finished up the first draft of Chapter 19 of “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” featuring a drunken undertaker who gleefully shouts, “The Butler did it!”  and a dish-to-pass gathering of witches!

With the promise of warmer weather and sunshine blooming on the horizon, my thoughts stray to that laptop that wants to be mine. It’s gonna be a fine, fine day indeed when I can sit outside at my picnic table under a big-ass umbrella and write. At my current rate, “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” should be done by August then my arduous journey of publisher searching begins.. or maybe I need to hunker down and do some serious agent searching instead. Or both. Either way, I can’t let the business end of this get me bogged down. In the meantime, I hope you’ll grant me the small pleasure of Messin’ Wiff Yer Heads a bit.

Do-do-do Looking Out My Back Door

Fresh Air & Sunshine / Mental health

Sat outside on my porch for a few minutes this afternoon. It was the first time I’ve done so this year what with the freakin’ white shite and cold refusing to go away. Watched the honey bees bopping around the purple and white crocuses for a spell. Decided to make my first jaunt around the yard to see what sort of clean-up was in order. Looks like A Whole Lotta Rakin’ will be going on.

Around back is the herb garden. Chives are coming up as are the Egyptian Onions. I’m sure the Chocolate Mint will make a roarin’ come back as well. The rest, the rosemary, cilantro, camomile and basil remain a mystery. I think I’ll be adding some parsley this time around. No sage or thyme though. There will be a lovely little beer pool set up for the slugs, too. They do so love their cheap beer and I am happy to oblige them that indulgence.

Over in the rock garden there was a lot of odd damage. A couple of statues were toppled over and a Shiny Thing was in an odd place. Not sure who to blame on those. Deer maybe. Not sure what the deer would want with a plastic blue beaded necklace though. That part of the yard seems to attract the deer. Maybe it’s because of the sheltering pine that hangs over the whole thing. T’is a fine place in the summer. The tree combined with the forsythia bush offer the only decent bit of outdoor privacy and shade in my yard,

The rest of the yard mainly needs only to have a few small, fallen tree limbs hauled to the campfire pile. Maybe we’ll actually have a campfire this year. Didn’t last year and I really missed doing that. My clothesline needs re-stringing, too, especially now that my 20+ year old dryer bit the big one last month.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a lot of whining. It’s just the opposite. I’m tired of being inside day in and day out. I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy type, but damn… I’m sure getting tired of exchanging one set of four walls for another.  My front, kitchen and back doors are begging to be left open. My bedroom window yearns to be raised. I want fresh air!!! FRESH AIR!!!!!!!

The sun is setting now. The warm sun that graced my front stoop has yielded to another chilly night buried under a heap of blankets and cuddled up next to my honey in search of warmth. Which, come to think of it, really isn’t such a bad place to be. 🙂

Written In My Tears

Mental health / Writer's Life

Every now and then I go in search of clever quotes by other writers. Usually I am looking for a simple sentence or two to express what I’m feeling on the subject on that particular day. Sometimes something silly attracts me. Sometimes it’s more serious. Today was such a day but instead of finding something simple I found a rather lengthy passage that brought me, well, let’s be honest here – to tears.

I’ve only come across this sort of thing two or three times in the past, a passage or experience that speaks to me on such a spiritual level that it’s like I could have written it or said it myself. Maybe it’s the knowing that I am not alone feeling as deeply as I do about writing. Someone recently asked me for some advice on writing and how I continue even in down times. What drives me to go on despite the struggles of a blank page? I told her that I simply cannot NOT write. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. If I stopped breathing, I would die. When there comes a day when I can no longer write, I may as well be dead.

And so, without further adieu, I present you with this quote by Rainer Marie Rilke:

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…

…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. – And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”

Write on, my friends! Write on.

That’s What Shadows Are Made Of

Barnesville Chronicles / Book Promo

Though I am still working on the first draft, I’ve reached a point where it’s time to give you all a sneak peak of what’s heading down the literary transom. Submitted for your approval, I give you… the unofficial blurb for “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” the newest mystery-thriller now in the works by yours truly.

Funeral director Dan Walden finds himself in a very tight place; bludgeoned and suffocated in one of his own display caskets.  But who would want such an upstanding member of the village of North Valley dead?  His son stands to gain control of a thriving family business. The owner of the new funeral home on the other side of town could benefit without the competition.  Maybe his invalid wife really did cast a spell that created a supernatural accomplice powerful enough to kill.

None of this should have anything to do with the coven in nearby Barnesville until Nell Miller, the High Priestess, starts seeing things and when family and friends all begin reporting they are experiencing unusual dreams and visions as well.  To darken matters, a pendant from beyond the grave appears at Nell’s place and her new kitten Familiar won’t go near it.

As the skeins of truth begin to unwind, the Coven members become convinced they must act to find and stop whatever devilry has been unleashed and in the process aid the authorities with their case. No one doubts there is a killer on the loose, but whether it be one of shadow or substance remains to be seen.  Even on the brightest of days, shadows, like some secrets, always seem to remain.  In this case, however, they have also turned deadly.