A shortlist of stuff

  • Today’s bad weather in Georgia came and went between dawn and noon. No tornados. Blowing rain and river flooding.
  • Just wondering why I didn’t write Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. A comment from the character Miss Harty about Billy Sunday sets the tone for the novel: “There was great excitement. Mr. Sunday got up and declared at the top of his voice that Savannah was ‘the wickedest city in the world!’ Well, of course, we all thought that was perfectly marvelous.”
  • Regardless of which side of the political divide we live on, I think all of us are tired of the crap at the Mexican border. We don’t need to mistreat people, nor do we need to be emotionally brainwashed into letting everyone in. This isn’t rocket science.
  • I guess I’ve led a sheltered life. I’ve been vaccinated against mostly everything and haven’t given it a second thought. Now with COVID, I’m learning there are people whose distrust of vaccines is (for them) like holy writ. I don’t understand that. But it does raise the question about whether or not forced vaccinations and vaccination cards are too much government. I see this as rather like the Brits mandating blackout curtains during the blitz: it makes us all safer as long as the cops don’t hassle us on the street asking to see “our papers.”
  • The ninth book in Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series Go Tell The Bees That I’m Gone will be published this year (I think). I’ve read all the primary novels in the series, but few of those based on secondary characters. Who knew when this storyline began that reading it would be a lifetime pursuit? But I’ll probably get a copy after we get out of the expensive hardcover phase of book releases. I’m a Scot. I’m cheap even though I met Diana years ago in Atlanta.
  • A friend of mine will probably have to drive several states away from her home to look after her aging parents again. Her last visit was more dear than she expected and yet she wonders why none of her siblings will lend a hand. She’s just as busy as her siblings, but they have unending excuses for not helping. Elderly parents often make decisions that make life harder for their children, and usually, the difficulties are left to the oldest daughter to solve.
  • The Glacier Park employees’ reunion will take place this summer at Many Glacier Hotel. They happen from time to time but are too far away for me to attend. Everyone was worried about access to the east side of the park, but the Blackfeet Reservation has announced it will be open for travelers going to the park (unlike last summer). I will miss it more than I can say.

–Malcolm

I’ve written several novels set in the park.

The Sandwich Generation

Today’s guest post is by Rhett DeVane, author of “Mama’s Comfort Food,” “Evenings on Dark Island” (with Larry Rock), and “Accidental Ambition” (with  Robert W. McKnight). Her new novel “Cathead Crazy”  is the “story of one woman’s determined journey through love, loss, and the surprises of mid-life.” Rhett’s post gives us a glimpse of the realities and inspiration behind the novel.

The Sandwich Generation

Over 10 million Americans are part of the “sandwich generation,” caring for both children and elderly family members. This group falls between ages 34-54, and are of all cultures and ethnicities. Caretaking brings a crash course in legal and financial matters, difficult medical decisions, and questions about housing. Add to that, finding time for the caretaker to rejuvenate before his or her own health and relationships suffer. Wow.

As the years pass, I realize what a charmed childhood I led— raised in the gentle rolling hills of North Florida with two outstanding parents, fresh air and homegrown vegetables, and always more than enough dogs, cats, chickens, and the occasional rescued tortoise, squirrel, or rabbit. My parents were my my biggest cheerleaders, especially my mom. As she put it, I served as “her caboose,” until her later years when I became “her engine.” After my father’s death at 79, Mom stayed in that big farmhouse on Bonnie Hill until her late 80s, when she decided to move close to my home in Tallahassee.

My brother lived a few towns distant, and my sister in Tennessee, so I became the go-to, go-get, go-crazy girl. The one who gets called at 2 a.m. when the ambulance is on the way. The one who dries tears. The one who occasionally thinks of steering her car one-way out of town and not leaving a bread trail.

Mom and I did the typical “girly” things: we shopped, enjoyed the monthly mani-pedi, tried new local eateries, and gossiped on the front porch. I got caught up in the goings-on at her assisted living facility and never visited that I didn’t end up laughing, or at least in a much better mood. It wasn’t all nirvana; there were times when we stomped all over each other’s last nerve. We kissed and made up, then pressed on.

Cathead Crazy follows one woman’s similar bumpy journey. But it could be anyone’s. The anecdotes are based on truth, either personal or those shared with me. Though Mae has many of my mother’s traits, Hannah’s mother is much more cantankerous. Nor did I have two teenaged kids to add to the mix. Fiction demands drama, so I went all-out to torment Hannah. Poor dear.

In our reality, my family faced the sudden death of my sister Melody, six months before my mother “left for Home.” Both women are reportedly doing well on the Other Side (as my brother and I have been shown in dreams); my mother drives a bakery food truck and my sister sings to those nearing death. They stay busy. No huge surprise.

The draft for Cathead Crazy idled in my computer’s hard drive for over two years before I could bring myself to revisit it. And how grateful I felt that I written it as I rowed my leaky caretaker canoe upstream. The memories flooded back, and I healed as I slugged through the revisions.

I think Mama D would be proud. She’d say, “Sugar, this one’s a keeper.”

Cathead Crazy Launch Party

While paperback and Kindle editions of Cathead Crazy are already available on on Amazon, the party is yet to come. If you’re in Tallahassee, Florida on April 26, stop by the Mockingbird Cafe from 5:30 till 8:00 pm to meet Rhett and enjoy the excitement that’s part of the official launch of a new book.

“This one will make you smile, make your eyes leak, and make you want to rush to the kitchen to bake a batch of fresh ‘catheads.'” – Rhett DeVane