Lost in Time

“Describe one thing you did today. And tell us why you think we should know about it.”

I don’t know where I got that suggestion from — to describe one thing and explain why people should know about. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably got the idea from a book I read, jotted it down, and promptly forgot it. Today, I was trolling around in my notes to find a blog topic, and there it was.

I suppose I never followed through on this suggestion for a blog topic because I always follow through. Wow, that’s confusing! I mean I never specifically set out to follow through and describe one thing I did in response to this particular suggestion. Despite that, it does seem to be the current theme of this blog: to find one thing out of an otherwise eventless day to remark upon. I’m not sure if anyone but me needs to know about anything that happens in my life, but I do think it’s important for me to make note of at least one event or sight or thought every day, otherwise the days tend to pass unnoticed and unwitnessed. And I don’t want to be one of those people who, at the end of their life, look around and wonder where it all went. I’m sure I’ll do that anyway, because it does seem to be something we all think about as the number of our days shrink.

Still, here I am scrambling around in my mind trying to think of one particular thing I did today that I — or anyone — should know about.

I read, I dug, I watered my plants, I took a photo of my ice plant (although it’s pink, supposedly it’s called an ice plant because it shimmers as if icy), and because this is forecast to be the last searingly hot day of the year, I made a point to enjoy the heat.

The most noteworthy thing about the day, though, was how lost in time I felt. I had to keep checking my phone to see what day it was. (Checking a calendar doesn’t help, because if you don’t know what day it is, you won’t be able to tell what day it is.) Not that the day of the week mattered except to make sure it isn’t a work day, but for some reason, the whole concept of time and days of the week confused me today.

I’m sure the confusion is more of a reaction to three days off with no one to talk to rather than age-related discombobulation. (Surely, I talked to someone during these days, but except for a few brief words with a neighbor, I don’t think I did. Weird.) It will be interesting for me to see my reaction to time when my job comes to an end, especially if I immerse myself in writing another book. Then I really will have to make note of something each day to separate one day from another.

But that’s in the future. Today is . . . today. Monday. And despite the periodic confusion about time, it was a good day. And that’s important to know.

What about you? What did you do today, and why should we know about it?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Wow! What a Story!

Thanks to suggestions from blog readers and offline friends, I finally wrote the mystery for the museum. I still have to list the characters and their movements and motivations on the fateful night, but for the most part, it’s finished. It sounds like a synopsis for a truly interesting novel. This is what I have so far:

History

It is late July, 1899, on the cusp of a new century. William McKinley is president of the United States of America. The United States, until now uninterested in expansion, has begun to assert itself and has officially become a world power. The first automobiles appear on the roads and the first traffic fatality will occur in a few weeks. Electricity is beginning to light the country.

Locally, horse racing is an important event, and people come from all over Colorado and Kansas to race and watch and bet. Gypsies camp down by the river. The Gardner House hotel is celebrating its seventh anniversary. Cowboys, as always, let off steam and try to shoot out the oil-lit street lights in front of the hotel.

Regionally, there is unrest among the Cheyenne, both the Northern Cheyenne and the Southern Cheyenne. The Medicine Hat Bundle, which included a ceremonial pipe and a buffalo horn, was the most sacred possession of the Northern Cheyenne, but in the 1870s, after a tribal dispute with the Keeper of the Sacred Medicine Hat Bundle, the pipe disappeared.

And oh, yes — a flock of crows is called a “murder of crows.”

This Story

Despite the rapid growth of southeast Colorado and the diverse people living there, it’s become a fairly safe place to live.

Until the murder of the Crows.

The Crows were drummers (traveling salespeople). John sold men’s haberdashery, and Abigail sold women’s unmentionables. When they arrived at the Gardener House, they found only one room still available because of all the activity in town. Instead of staying in room #3, which they considered lucky, the Crows reluctantly checked into room #5. Things were fine the first night, but on the second night, Abigail wakes to hear someone in the room. She starts to call out, but a figure descends on her like an immense black bird with wings outstretched. She feels terrible pain, then nothing. When she wakes again, she is dead.

The intruder is desperate. Two weeks ago, the intruder met a fellow traveler who was dying. The traveler gave the intruder a bundle containing an old peace pipe, and requested that it be delivered to a Cheyenne woman called Bright Raven in southeastern Colorado no later than midnight on July 28th or the world would burn in a terrible world war. The intruder promised, but during the journey, the intruder sensed the power of the pipe and figured there was money to be made from such an artifact. Because of the ill fortune that followed the intruder after accepting the pipe, the intruder stashed the bundle under the floorboards in the closet of room #5 in the Gardner House where the intruder was staying, until better plans could be made. But the intruder could find no one who would pay big money for an unlucky pipe of dubious origin. Ill fortune continued to follow the intruder. In desperation, remembering the July 28 deadline, the intruder, disguised in a voluminous black cape, returned to the hotel shortly before midnight on that date to retrieve the item.

It was bad luck room #5 was occupied. Bad luck that the woman occupant awoke. Bad luck that when the intruder swooped down on the woman, the knife the intruder had been using to pry up the floorboard in hand, the woman died. Bad luck that the husband awoke. Bad luck that the cowboys chose that very moment to shoot out the street lights. Bad luck that the intruder had to escape without the artifact.

During the investigation that followed the murders, the artifact was retrieved but in the confusion, the sacred pipe disappeared again. Bright Raven never received the pipe, never got to perform the cleansing ritual she’d needed to do to remove the taint.

Exactly fifteen years later, on July 28, 1914, a shot rang out.

And World War I began.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times

A Tale of Two Mysteries

I’m supposed to be figuring out a mystery for a “Nite at the Museum” event at the local historical museum, but instead, the bare bones of my next book are poking at me. Not that I know what will happen in that story any more than the I know what will happen at the museum, but I am getting the feel for the story — a woman (Pat!) buys a house years after the death of her husband in an effort to build a new life for herself. As she digs around her yard, cleaning things up, she finds remnants of a previous owner’s life. She gets curious about the woman, and tries to find out what happened to her, but everyone she talks to has a different story. Some think she went to a nursing home in a nearby town. Some think she went to live with a relative in another state. As Pat continues to dig and learns more about the woman’s life, she discovers that the woman was much like her — widowed, alone, elderly, no children, few financial resources, and no one to really care what happened to her. That’s when Pat ramps up her search for woman — because whatever fate the woman met, so might the hapless Pat.

I have no idea if there is a book in these musings or if they are only in my mind to keep me from thinking about what I am supposed to be thinking of — the museum murder.

We have a basic plot for the murder, where the murdered couple (The Crows) were put in a hotel room at the Gardner House that someone else wanted. That someone else had stolen an artifact (or been given it to dispose of it), and hid it in the hotel until the heat was off and now person came back to get the artifact. Why it was necessary to get the pipe that particular night, I haven’t yet figured out, so if you have any ideas, I’d be glad to hear them. Apparently, Mrs. Crow wakes up and sees the thief. The thief swoops down on her, and when she awakes again, she finds herself dead.

What fascinates me about writing is that once a scenario presents itself, research almost always helps bring the story to life. (This has been called the gift of the library gods.)

In this case, research brought me to the Medicine Hat Bundle, which included a ceremonial pipe and a buffalo horn, and was the most sacred possession of the Northern Cheyenne. After a dispute with the Keeper of the Sacred Medicine Hat Bundle, the pipe disappeared until 1908 when a woman named Hattie Gott acquired it from a Southern Cheyenne called Burnt All Over. Hattie Gott donated the artifact to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1911. The significance of the pipe was finally discovered around 1997, and from what I can tell, it’s been returned to the Northern Cheyenne.

So my dilemma for The Murder of Crows is how the pipe wound up here (Southern Cheyenne territory) at the turn of the twentieth century, eight years before it ended up in Oklahoma, why someone hid it in the Gardner House, and why reclaiming it was so urgent as to necessitate killing the occupants of the room where it was hidden.

I suppose it could have been stolen again, either on purpose (knowing what it was), or accidentally (not knowing what it was). I also need to have some idea of what the thief hoped to gain by owning the pipe. Maybe holding it for ransom if the person knew what it was? Or desperate to get rid of it and the bad luck that followed it if the person didn’t know what it was? Although the pipe was supposed to be good luck for the Northern Cheyenne, it brought bad luck to other folk. It’s probable that the pipe was placed in the room previously, and only now has the person found a chance to return to the area to retrieve it.

So confusing!

No wonder it’s easier to think about a novel I might or might not write in some eventless future rather than thinking about a mystery event I have to create in the very near future.

Like before the end of the month. Eek!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times

Happy Fourteenth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog fourteen years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have nine books available: four suspense novels, one mystery, three books about grief (one fiction and two non-fiction), and my most recent book, Bob: The Right Hand of God. (My publisher said, “Bob: The Right Hand of God is playful, fun and well-written. It spans genres, so I’m not sure if there is an exploitable target audience. I don’t care. I like it.”

Two-and-half years after I started this blog, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. And I struck a chord with people who were also dealing with grief. It’s no wonder my top posts are grief related: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas? with 91,801 views and The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief with 40,705 views.

This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father after Jeff’s death, and it gave me a place to rest when my father died four years later, and I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned.

This blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

And when I settled into a house of my own, this blog gave me a place of familiarity in an otherwise unfamiliar life.

Currently, as I am dealing with the infirmities of the encroaching years as well as the many facets of first-time homeownership, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

During the past fourteen years, I have written 3,207 blogs, received 21,115 comments, and garnered 960,164 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsies.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past eleven and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Place That’s Uniquely My Own

It’s hard for people to understand one another because each of us come with particular problems, needs, and perhaps even assets that help define who we are. If we don’t take all that background information into consideration, we can never truly understand another person’s point of view. That’s a good thing for me to remember as a writer because it might make for a deeper character portrayal or put the story in a different light, but in real life, it’s not so interesting.

I talked to someone yesterday who harangued me for quite a while about my keeping the same contractor. The word “sucker” was even bandied about. To be honest, most people don’t approve of this particular choice, but they tend to keep their opinions to themselves. And admittedly, they do have a point since the contractor is way behind on the work he’s promised to do, but that’s not the issue here.

The person I talked to is young (well, younger), married, strong, has an extended family in the vicinity, has lived in the same area his whole life so he has a solid place in the community and knows where to go and who to call to get things done that he can’t do himself. He probably also has people who owe him favors from years back.

Then there’s me. Old. Alone. No family in the area. No ties to the community except those I’ve managed to secure in the past couple of years. No idea how to take care of a house or where to find honorable people who will get things done.

Not surprisingly, the only person who agrees with me about sticking with the same contractor is also an older widow with a house to take care of and no family nearby. She knows, because she’s been there, how almost impossible it is to find someone who will do all that is necessary, and who will respond to calls and concerns, and who will show up in an emergency. All of that is as important as the work getting done.

I do get frustrated at times, but the truth is, in some odd way, it doesn’t really matter. The work will get done. Or it won’t. Someone told me that the Chinese have a proverb that when your house is done, you will die. At the rate I’m going, I will live forever. (And, since I’m paraphrasing proverbs, the Irish have one they’ve used since the 1300s about better the devil you know.)

The other thing that’s hard to admit to anyone but myself is that I’m not sure I want the work to be finished. Certainly, I want the jobs that are started to be completed because I get tired of tripping over things that are in the way, but there is an excitement to having people come and work on my place and even offer suggestions. (Some of the unfinished projects are ideas they’ve come up with that I would never have thought of and that will vastly improve the accessibility of the property as I age.) It’s almost . . . familial . . . having someone else care about and get invested in creating a safe and attractive place for me to live out my final years.

And when the work is all done, that part of my life will be finished.

Perhaps these are simply excuses for keeping the status quo, but they’re my excuses, coming from a place and a point of view and a set of requirements that’s uniquely my own.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The Last 100 Days of the Year

100Tomorrow begins the last one hundred days of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to plant the tulips you’ve always wanted? Are you going to do that house repair project you’ve been putting off? Or instead, are you going to give up and find a new place to live? Are you going to ease up on yourself and take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to push yourself to get a better job? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you’ve been thinking about? Are you going to make a commitment to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — make a commitment to blog every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 730 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane. And the will does wane. When I was grieving, it was easier to come up with topics than it is now when I am in a more comfortable situation. It’s hard to find lessons in being at peace. I suppose peace is a lesson in itself, but what can you say beyond that you’re at peace?

I read once that reading and writing go hand in hand because reading is inhaling and writing is exhaling. (That’s how I always felt about reading, as if it were a type of breathing.) Keeping up with this blog is how I am exhaling, though I’m not sure what I am actually exhaling. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and no wisdom (at least not that I can discern) with which to say it, but still, I do manage to find something to write about each day. My sincere apologies for the more mindless posts and my eternal gratitude to everyone who reads anything I write. A special thank you to those who comment, and a heartfelt appreciation for the thought-provoking responses. It’s always good to have more thoughts in my head than simply those I put there.

This has been mostly a good year for me, so it’s not as though I’m counting down to the end of the year in order to get rid of this one. It’s more about making this year count, or at least making the last 100 days count, rather than simply counting the days.

So, what about you? How are you going to make the final days of this year count?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Creating a Story

When I first moved here and started having work done on the house as well as working around the place myself, I kept finding odd things, such as a deep pit under the enclosed back porch, a bloody shirt that had been buried, bone fragments. Back then, I considered writing a “Pat as protagonist” mystery using all these various oddities, but at the time, I had no interest in writing. Now that I’m getting the itch to write again, my own experiences seem like a good place to start.

My sister, who spent a couple of nights here, wouldn’t sleep in the second bedroom because she claimed the ghost of an old woman sat and watched her. I’m sure it was some sort of lucid dream because no one around here remembers anyone dying in this house. Still, that old woman seems to have served herself up as a handy victim.

I have no idea where to go with the story, which makes sense since if it turns out that the fictional woman was murdered here and her body disposed of, perhaps in the cistern under the porch or maybe in the dungeony basement, I can’t see that there would be any resolution to the story.

Would you dig up part of your house on the mere suspicion that someone was buried there? (I really would like to know.) I sure wouldn’t, especially since I spent so much money pouring a new basement floor and redoing the back porch (foundation, new sewer line, new floor).

And anyway, if it happened a long time ago, the person who did the dastardly deed might even be dead now, too, so there’d be no resolution to that, either — no bringing the killer to justice. I suppose the mystery could be why she was disposed of in whatever way I choose to deal with her, but there’d still be the problem of no ticking clock. If it happened a long time ago (even a decade or so ago is a long time) and no one seems to miss the woman or even know or care what happened to her, where’s the urgency to solve the mystery?

Obviously, there is no urgency for me to write the story, either, since it’s been percolating (albeit exceedingly slowly) in the back of my mind for more than two years, and it will probably be another year before all the current foci of my life have been dealt with so as to give me the mental space to write.

In all my previous books, I knew how the story started, and I knew how it ended, so it was just a matter of making the convoluted journey from one point to the other. It’s entirely possible that this book will be different, in that I might not have a clue how it ends. Or even begins.

If, in fact, it ever does begin.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

I Dig Digging

Lots more digging today! I did my morning stint after I came home from the mechanic’s shop without any work being done on my car. (The shop was closed, so I hope he’s not having another setback.)

I can’t do much digging at a time, only a strip of one or two feet by eight feet because the soil is compacted clay held together by the dense roots of Bermuda grass. To be honest, I don’t care how little I do. I’m just delighted to be able to do any physical work at my age. Apparently, I am considered elderly, which isn’t as bad as being called an old woman. I mean I am one, but still, it’s demoralizing to be defined in such a way. In my world, I’ve never been this age before, so it’s new to me. In fact, this is the youngest I will ever be, and besides, I still have the whole rest of my life ahead of me. Does that sound old-womanish? No, I didn’t think so.

But I digress.

After I did my morning dig, I relaxed a bit, so when the mail came with a package of plants that needed to be put to bed, I was raring to go. Luckily, it’s a lovely day with a cool breeze, so it didn’t matter that I was out working just after noon. (Last week, the afternoons were hot enough to give me heatstroke if I did anything outside.)

The plants are magnus echinacea. I ordered one plant a year ago, and it seems to be doing well, so I thought I’d try a few more. They are in their new home now. Since they don’t like to be transplanted, I hope they like where I put them.

One other gardening project I did today was start a notebook at the suggestion of one of my gardening readers. I got an empty binder, which I will fill with the planting guides that come with my purchases, descriptions of the plants, location in my yard, and whatever else I need to keep track of. The yard is a good size, but it’s not so big that I couldn’t keep track of all my plantings, but there is that elderly thing, so who knows when the memory will go. Having a ready guide to my various gardens should make up for any forgetfulness.

I’m glad I didn’t get a house with a yard that was already landscaped. I think it would have been too much for me to keep up at the beginning — it was complicated enough getting to know the care and feeding of a house without dealing with someone else’s idea of what a yard should be. This way, I get to figure it out as I go along. And if I eventually decide it’s too much and let it go, well, it will only be myself I’m letting down and not some master gardener.

Tomorrow will be another cool day before we hit the nineties again, so more digging is in my forecast.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Yesterday was an errand day. A friend and I went to a nearby town to shop for necessities, and since plants are one of my necessities, I bought a chrysanthemum. I stuck the pot in a hanging planter, and will enjoy the color until it’s gone, then I’ll put it in the ground.

Today was a digging day. No, “digging” is not a new euphemism for “great,” like a shortened version of “hot diggity dog.” Nor is it a euphemism for a terrible day, like wanting to dig a hole to hide in.

A digging day is merely a day for digging. But then, you knew that.

I spent some time digging in my future micro meadow, though with as little as I am able to dig each day, and considering how long it will take me to dig up all the old Bermuda grass and weeds, it’s beginning to seem like an macro meadow of vast acreage instead of a mere 200 square feet or so.

I also took time out to winterize my greengage plum tree by making a dirt barrier around it and filling it with mulch. I did the same thing for the tree that died back. It was supposed to be a six-foot tree, but all that survived the winter was one tiny branch right above the graft site. I cut off the tree above that branch, and it’s grown a bit. Maybe it will continue growing. If not, well, I have a replacement on the way. Luckily, they won’t be sending the new tree until the end of winter instead of the beginning as they did last year, so it should be able to settle in before it has to deal with the cold and snow.

The most exciting thing I did today was count my wildflower seeds. Well, a quarter teaspoonful of them anyway. The directions say to plant a maximum of 75 to 150 seeds per square foot depending on soil conditions and how colorful of a meadow is desired. I dreaded doing the small chore, imagining seeds all over my kitchen, but in the end, it was easy. I laid out a white piece of cardboard, sprinkled on a quarter teaspoonful of seeds, and then moved them around with the tip of a small knife. In case you’re curious, there are 100 seeds in a quarter of a teaspoonful.

Tomorrow is a car day. The mechanic seems to be well again, so we’re going to try once again to get the brakes fixed. If for some reason he isn’t there, or if he doesn’t feel up to doing the work, I’ll turn around and come home. It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before, though one of these days, the work will be done. That would be a surprise for sure!

And the day after that? It will be a work day, but anything beyond the scope of yesterday, today, and tomorrow is too far away to even think about.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Pat As Protagonist

Ever since I mentioned that I am getting the itch to write again, I’ve been becoming more involved in the process. Not involved in the actual writing, you understand, but involved in the thinking of writing.

A blog reader I respect gave me a good reason for not doing a sequel to Bob: The Right Hand of God — he said what comes next is best left to the imagination of the reader. I appreciate that. I’m not sure I want to go back to that world, anyway. Being involved in a world in flux was interesting at the time, but if I were do an Adam and Eve sequel, it would be years later, the world would no longer be in flux, and Bob would have gone on to another job. Which would mean it would be like any story of young people roaming around a fictitious world doing . . . something. Still, I do see Eve standing at the gate of the compound (Eden), while the polka-dot snake urges her to leave. As fun as that beginning would be, I have no idea whatsoever about what comes after that. So I will leave her standing there, trying to get the courage either to listen to the snake or to stay where she is.

I doubt I’d ever again be able to write the sort of books I started with — those first four suspense novels were the reflection and culmination of all the research Jeff and I had done, first on our own, then during our years together. I don’t think I want to delve into conspiracy theories any more. No, that’s not true. I know I don’t want to delve into conspiracy theories any more. All the shenanigans of the past couple of years — politics, pandemics, propaganda — has made any possible fictional story seem pale by comparison.

I thought of writing a book about a woman who is looking in a mirror, and her reflection does something different from what she is doing, but I’m not sure I want to delve into that story, either. Sounds like madness — both the story and the writing of it — though it might make a nice short story. And I do need a couple of more short stories to fill out an anthology of my shorter works, but not quite yet.

I have no interest in writing anything more about grief, either fiction or non-fiction, mostly because I have nothing more to say. Any protagonist, however, would have to be an older widow, probably years after the death of her soul mate, because I can no longer imagine any other character. I certainly can’t imagine a young protagonist — I don’t remember what that was like. Nor can I imagine a happily (or unhappily) married protagonist. Secondary characters can be anyone, but to get into the head of a major character vastly unlike me takes a leap I can no longer make. That’s okay, actually. I’m fine with writing about an older woman on her own, trying to live life the best she can on her own terms. It might not be the sort of book that would be published by a real publishing house, but I have no intention of trying to get someone to publish any future books. I’m to the point where I have no interest in setting myself up for rejection. If I ever publish another book, I’ll do it myself.

I haven’t been able to figure out what the underlying theme of a potential novel would be. A mystery, of course, but beyond that, I didn’t really know until today. Three separate incidents — a conversation, an email, and a blog comment — all seemed to point the way.

The conversation was about my book Daughter Am I, and how much the reader enjoyed the way the young woman gathered up old folks as she went about her task of finding out who her grandparents were. It reminded me how much I enjoy that particular storyline. First there’s one character on a quest, then two, then three, then . . .

The email was part of a discussion with a friend about getting older and how this particular birthday (the same one I had a few months ago) is scary because it’s about stepping into the unknown future of aging. This is a decade of rapid aging, and it is scary if you think about how close we are getting to a time of infirmity, but we still just march along, doing the best we can. She also mentioned a show she’s watching about all sorts of misfits who try to change their lives by participating in a dance production, which sounds like fun.

And the comment was left on an old post: Resuming my Lonely March into the Future, about well, about resuming my lonely march into the future.

Oh, and there was a fourth thing — the perfect name for a fictional town popped into my head while I was writing this blog.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write another Pat book because too many local people are asking me to write one in the hope that they will be in it, but I’m not interested in putting real people in my books any more, at least not where they can recognize themselves, because that really is a good way to lose friends, and since I am here for the duration of my life, I can’t afford to alienate anyone.

Combining all this, it seems as if my next book should be another Pat-as-protagonist book, about setting up house, gathering confederates (perhaps people who are all lost in some way), and marching relentlessly into the future despite wonky knees, all the while solving some sort of mystery. Perhaps a murder that had unknowingly been done in Pat’s house years before.

Of course, by the time I actually clear my head of all the clutter and sit down to write, I might end up with something completely different, but this “Pat moving to a new town, gathering misfits, and solving a crime” scenario seems to be where my mind is heading at the moment.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times