Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Another Day Out with Mom #2: Dependable Underwear

"Tom, that train ride to Iowa is a long one, isn't it?"

"About two days."

"Maybe you should take some of your Dad's absorbant underwear with you. He's in the rest home now, and these are just sitting here not being used."

"Mom! They've got bathrooms on the train. I don't need a diaper."

"It's a long ride. Maybe you won't make it to the restroom or will have to wait too long in line."

"They've got restrooms for each car, about six, in fact."

"Maybe for while you're sleeping. It can sneak up on you!"

"I'll be OK."

". . . You know, sometimes at your age you can leak."

"I know, and it's nobody's fault, but I'm really OK, Mom."

"They're nice and padded, too. You said it's a long trip."

"The seats aren't that bad."

"We've got several boxes, so there's no need not to take some in your bag, just in case."

"Honest, Mom, I'll be fine. Maybe next time, OK?"

Meanwhile, my brother is silently laughing his head off. Laughing so hard, I hope he pees his pants.

If you found this entry fun, you might want to read my first book,  A Day Out with Mom, to find out what I've discovered about my parents so far. The chapters are short, just perfect for the "reading room."

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Next Fantasy Story Is a Rewrite

Now that I've finished A Day Out with Mom, I want to spend some time writing some fantasy short stories set in the Dragons of Blood and Stone universe, eventually to compile them into a collection, Tales of the Stone Dragon Inn. It's like going on a journey in the universe of my imagination, five hundred to several thousand words at a time!

Here are some stories I've written and need to polish:
  • a baker who conjures the spirits of his ingredients
  • a sea dragon in a woman's body who has forgotten her true self
  • a magician with the horrible power to grant to others what they really want
  • a healer who starts with the soul . . . and a window
  • a child who finds a beast within the river willows
Which one will I work on first? I don't really care! I'll make them all easily accessible (some were written a while ago and stuck in corners) and then set aside the time.

The world of the imagination is real. It just has that dreamlike quality of those times and places when we finally arrive for the first time at a long-awaited destination, at dawn or sunset, sky filled with wind and fire, the path before us and children in the distance, calling and laughing, expecting and unexpected guest.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Day Out with Mom: Mom and Dad's Honeymoon

"We traveled around in Lake County on our honeymoon, and my dad stayed at our place to make sure nothing was stolen," Mom says. Before age set in, before the Alzheimer's/dementia, before the stroke, Dad drove some sweet rigs down the highway, Mom sitting beside him. Some of those rides we kids also rode along on trips to the ocean or trips to the Sierra Nevadas.

The photo above was the rig Dad pulled on Mom and Dad's honeymoon. Looks like a great set-up! I believe Mom said there was a cooking station in the back and a bed before it, but it took some arranging to get it all set.

Mom had lived some in Lake County as a little girl. I later lived in the area at Cobb Mountain in my early 20's. Mom and Dad were married in August, so it must have been hot for camping, but the mountains must have provided some coolness from the elevation.

I love the convertible Dad was driving. Anybody know the make and model? Remember that Mom never drove because of her poor eyesight.

This was in 1946. I have this picture in my mind: Mom and Dad newly married, their family waving them off from their new home, the top down, the sun bright and hopeful. 

I'll ask Mom about it, though. It's a wonderful story--not much money, so that's why they camped. The whole world ahead of them.

We shouldn't just count our blessings; we should savor them, savor our moments of glory. 

It's like the words of the Navaho Night Chant:
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.
May every day of our life be a beautiful honeymoon, the highway open before us and calling.

This blog post was inspired by Mom's narration from A Day Out with Mom, from the chapter entitled "Engagement and Marriage."

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another Day Out with Mom #1: Were My Mom's Parents Gangsters?

1944-45: Earl Sanders (Mom's uncle), Mom (18 years old), my Uncle Harry and his first wife, Mary Lou
My mom was adopted when she was first born, and she has always said that the people who raise you are your parents, your family. There are a few things I've been thinking about, considering the stories Mom has told me about her parents.

First and foremost, my grandparents on my mother's side met in Kansas City, where my grandma ran a dance hall and my grandpa was in charge or the bar. Now, Prohibition began in 1920 and ended in 1933. My first question is this: Did my grandparents move to California because Prohibition made them shut down their business, or did they move to California because the law Kansas City was closing in on them? Did they own a speakeasy?

Second, I'm watching Ken Burns' jazz documentary right now, and even though I know my grandparents met in Kansas City, I also know that my grandma was from New Orleans and part French and part Cherokee. I imagine, then, that she could have considered herself a Creole. She was a good cook and ran a restaurant in California and also cooked for a private girls' school somewhere in the Coast Ranges of California. According to the Ken Burns documentary, New Orleans was a pretty diverse city with lots of loose living but also lots of conservative, church-going folks. It appears that there were a number of folks living in New Orleans who enjoyed both a robust night life and going to church. I'll have to ask my mom more about her mother's early life.

My grandfather was born in Arizona, partly of Hispanic descent. During his life, as many workers during the Great Depression, he had many jobs. I know he was a cowboy and had been raised on a ranch. He worked in the lumber industry, in an underground mine in Oroville (the Lucky 7), worked on a gold dredger, and evidently had run a bar. He and my grandmother had been unable to have a child, adopted my mom, and then were happily surprised when Harry, my uncle, came along. Grandma was always very protective of my mother because my mother had been blind as a little girl and even though Mom regained most of her sight, she never really had good vision.

My grandma had another cook in her family. I'm not certain who. He retired and was feted by the US Forest Service as being a great camp cook, working up at Angels Camp in the Sierra Nevadas for a long time. Before that he worked at two night clubs in California in the Oroville area--The Palms and The Crystal Palace. These night clubs must have also existed during the Prohibition era, so they could very well have been pretty rowdy places. Mom said they both burned down, and that's probably why her uncle (or great uncle) moved on to cooking for the forest service. I once asked her if it was her uncle's fault as the cook that the night clubs burned down. "Oh, no," she said, laughing.

My grandparents' restaurant in Oroville was called the Gilmore Inn. I believe Mom said it was on Feather River Blvd. I think Mom said it also burned down. It seems like a lot of restaurants burned down in the 1930's, especially ones connected with my mom's family.

I have a lot of questions for my mom the next time I see her. It will be fun to keep her engaged, to sit on the sofa on her left side (next to her "good" ear, the one with 12.5 % hearing without her hearing aid), and listen as she tells me the story of her youth.

When I get some more specifics on my gangster grandparents, I'll pass them on to you. In the meantime, you might want to read my first book,  A Day Out with Mom, to find out what I've discovered about my parents so far.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Days Away from My Computer Were Days Out with Mom

Finally my blog is functioning properly again, after about two months of my URL not connecting properly. It was not time lost, though, because I spent those days out with my mom. I spent those days finishing my book A Day Out with Mom, now available online.

Yes, I compiled the book, polished and established continuity and unity, received feedback from beta readers, and fixed formatting and editing errors. I even asked Mom for feedback and was given a few clarifications and additions. That was fun--reading chapters to her and having her comment on them!

Now the book is available at the CreateSpace store, on Amazon, and Kindle. (It may take a day or two for the Kindle version to be ready.) Of these stores, The CreateSpace store (as printer) provides the best royalties for me, so please consider that first if buying a paper copy.
I recently had a local artist and his wife say this about my book:
"There are many, many Baby Boomers out there with elderly parents. Your book will speak to them."
It was a funny thing living with my parents as an adult for over seven months. Yes, I had the priceless opportunity to get to know them again. In a strange but real way, though, I also got to see myself in them. That was a little strange and a little wonderful. seeing those powerful beginnings of who I am today.

I hope you choose to spend a day out with Mom, too. She's quite a character.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved