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Two More Days…

There’s a song by Burt Bacharach that’s run through my head every day this summer – my constant earworm. And lately it’s been getting louder and louder as I close in to Operation Empty Nest:

 One less man to pick up after… I should be happy. But all I do is cry.

— One Less Bell to Answer

Well, I shout and whoop for joy sometimes too, like when I realize I’ll be able to walk around in my jammies without having to mummify myself in the fluffer-robe…,

If only I looked so cute

If only I looked so cute

but mostly I sniffle and choke down the lump in my throat.

Two more days, and Wings moves into his apartment style dorm. Four guys with their own bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living area and – YES! – their own washer/dryer (which I’m sure will be the tiny model that fits one pair of man-sized jeans , but hey… it’s one pair of clean jeans, right?

Wings has been collecting my cast off kitchen things: the yellow strainer that’s too small for a 3man-sized spaghetti dinner , that plastic set of tongs that somebody used in a hot fondue pot (don’t ask) so the fork prongs melted, the skillet with the mystery – food tattoo that nobody knows how it got there.

This might be the source of the food tatoo

This might be the source of the food tattoo – roasted tomatoes

 

And while I’m happy with the extra space his pilfering has brought me, all of those things – and everything that’s left – carry with them memories of endless pots of spaghetti when I went to grad school at night or odd casseroles that used up the leftover bites of this and that in the fridge (because thanks to my Depression era parents it’s a sin to throw food away). Outside of his room at the end of the hall is his pile – more like a tower – of groceries, linens,  pilfered kitchen items and beginner plastic furnishings.

When we first moved into this house our kitchen dining set was our plastic patio table and  lawn chairs. A fun adventure for 6 and 3 year olds, a money saver for cash poor new homeowners.

I guess that stuck with Wings.

Photo by AJC Staff Photographer, John Spink: © Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Photo by AJC Staff Photographer, John Spink: © Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Sometimes I wish I were a panda mama like Lun Lun at Zoo Atlanta. Because if I were a panda mama I’d have no problem with letting go I think. I wouldn’t have these crazy memory attachments on pots and tongs and plastic furniture. I’d be okay with letting my panda cub go off into the wilderness to forage and survive without advice on how to not to overstuff the washing machine and avoid flooding the apartment.

But then I wouldn’t have those crazy memories to hang onto for myself, would I?

I wonder… Do panda mamas recognize their offspring after they’re full grown and off into their independent lives?   I hope so, if only to give them something to look forward to, like weekend visits and (ohgodplease!) phone calls.

More importantly, do panda sons… I mean, cubs … recognize their mamas after they’re grown and come of drinking age and discovered girls… and girls have discovered them back?  At least at times other than the holidays and Mother’s Day and shopping trips to stock up on wine and Limearitas?

I have a good support network of women who have done this before me, and goodness knows it’s time for this cub to go. So I’ll wear my big Hollywood sunglasses to hide my tears and hug him tight and enjoy my memories and more spacious kitchen.

Until the next day, when Fins leaves for his dorm.

 

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Here’s to the next 31

31 years

In 31 years we’ve raised 2 sons, loved and lost our mothers …. We’ve had 6 homes, 12 cars, 15 bikes, 1 motorcycle and 7 pets (not all at the same time). We’ve gone through soccer, baseball, cub scouts, boy scouts, JROTC, marching band and grad school … 18 camping trips and 22 vacations… 18 jobs, 10 computers, and 5 careers. We’ve had the flu together twice (let’s not do that again).
If I could, I would tell my 21yo bride self to run – don’t walk – down that aisle.
I can’t wait to see what the next 31 years will bring.

The night before we got married the heavens opened and the rain poured.  I had to walk on plywood laid on the ground to get from the house to the waiting limousine, with my bridesmaids holding my dress up all around me. I was so nervous walking down the aisle I almost tripped, and my daddy cried when we got to the altar.

My flowers had been cut fresh that morning from a lady’s garden, and arranged in borrowed silver champagne coolers. A friend’s uncle took photos and a neighbor lady baked our wedding cake in her kitchen. Our architectural history professor who was also my good friend’s father read from Corinthians. Our priest happened to have grown up with my father in New Orleans. And my sister-in-law’s sister sang the most beautiful Ave Maria in her classically trained alto voice that I have ever heard.

At the reception, Jeff’s boss’s wife let us use all of her silver, china and crystal, and cooked delicious food, all while dressed in heels and pearls. My parents danced to the jazz quartet we’d hired in the front room, and my friends danced – less conservatively – in the back,, near the food. And then I changed out of the veil and lace and left with my new husband.

A new dress, a new name, a new life. The beginning of us.

It doesn’t escape me that it all sounds so old fashioned compared to weddings that happen today. I gasp at Say Yes to the Dress and Bridezillas and Rate My Wedding on TLC. We spent less on our whole wedding than those brides spend on their dress, and it was just as beautiful. It was an uncomplicated ceremony and party with friends and family. And it was paid for in cash, so we didn’t start out with debt hanging over our heads. I hadn’t graduated college yet, and Jeff was working his first job. But we scraped and saved our pennies and we used hole punchers to make confetti from colored tissue paper (!), we stuffed our own favor bags and we scoured the city for people who baked cakes in their home kitchens and arranged bridal bouquets in their living rooms and took wedding photos as a home business.

And maybe it was all still beautiful because everyone we hired gave of themselves from a place in their hearts. Maybe they saw a couple in love who didn’t have much money but wanted the best they could afford and would be proud to share. Because people have goodness, and sincerely want to give their best to others. Because it’s a nice thing to give young people as good a start in life as possible.

It also doesn’t escape me that I have a fairy tale for my story. I have friends who are scarred from divorce, illness, and death. I can feel the ache of loneliness and helplessness, their tiredness from overwork. If anything, social media has given us all an outlet to reach out and share our pain as well as our triumphs … and it’s taken away our excuses to ignore their hurt.

We got lucky. It’s not the Powerball — it’s better than that. It is solid and blessed.

Tonight, I hope you eat cake or buy yourself some flowers …  wear something new or do something that makes you feel pretty. You are special.

Thank you for helping us celebrate our day.

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How Do You Jump Into the Pool?

Okay… if you know me, you know that my whole life is wrapped up in my family.

I left home at the ripe ol’ age of 17 – accelerated high school and went to college three hours away from my parents and got a job (actually two) and got married and a degree. A little out of order but it worked for me. There was no turning back once we said “I do”  — gasp! — thirty-one years ago. And I couldn’t be happier.                  (Well, okay I could be happier with a big house on an island and a bicycle to ride everywhere, but everything brings along its own set of problems doesn’t it? So yeah, I could be happier but then… I couldn’t. You know what I mean.)

And then we had our family, but there are all kinds of families — the family you’re born into, the one you raise, and finally the family you choose to adopt into, identify yourself with. Kinda like taking on a new last name or dyeing your hair a completely different color, or losing weight and going down a whole size and trying on clothes you’d never considered for yourself before….

Yeah, that hasn’t happened for me in a long time either. Anyway…

Wings — my older son whose head is in the clouds — and Fins — my younger, very serious, scuba diver son — are packing up to move to their dorms. Operation Empty Nest happens in two weeks. And OMyGoodness TWO WEEKS FROM FRIDAY I WILL HAVE AN EMPTY NEST ! At least until the holidays. I think.

I have been assured that this will be a good phase for me by my adopted sisters in several of my different adoptive families. What I’ll need for this new phase include wine, chocolate, and options to explore, combined with an exercise plan and a support network to combat the effects of alcohol and chocolate on my menopausal metabolism.

Now, about the wine. I am not a Pinterest Foodie and neither am I a Wine Expert. If it’s in a wine-type container – bottle, communion chalice or cardbordeaux – it’s all fine with me. I plan to try out some recipes for sangria and granita — a summer ago I ripped a watermelon-wine granita recipe out of an old O magazine. And since that magazine was from the dentist’s office I guess I owe them a Sangria-Granita party. Maybe with a piñata filled with chocolate.

My latest exercise fixation is an aqua aerobics class at a public pool. My knees can’t take the pounding from running anymore and I’d like to walk as long as possible in my old age and also if I ever go on another cruise I want to be able to swim like Shelley Winters did in the Poseidon Adventure. Just in case.

I’ve noticed that everybody’s got their own ‘jump-into-the-pool’ style. Those of advanced age with weightier bodies and stiffer joints, too much food or too much pain from illness and injuries tend to take the stairs and tentatively walk from the shallow end to the deeper end. They stay where it’s comfortable, keeping their head and shoulders dry. Those who are more athletic and more confident of their bodies’ abilities step right into the water at the deeper end, unafraid of going under or hitting bottom, sure they’ll bounce right back up like a buoy.

Children jump. Willy-nilly, full-in, with or without arms to jump into. And then they laugh (usually). Trusting that they’ll surface… that the water will be a friend.

Is the difference from knowing how much there is to lose? Do the athletes feel more comfortable in a physical situation because they have more confidence in themselves and their bodies? Do we shy away from immersing ourselves into what’s unknown or uncomfortable because we’re afraid we won’t surface? Are we afraid no one will catch us when we fall?

I  am a hopper — I sit on the edge and put in my feet and then hop in somewhere between shallow and deep, immersing only half of myself, keeping my head dry until class begins. And then I get totally wet, but only after testing the bottom, testing my support system, testing myself.

I’m ready to step into the deep end of the pool now.

What’s your next phase? Your jump-in-the-pool style? Do you trust yourself? Or do you trust the water will be a friend, buoying you back up?

Or do you have family, people who will help you surface if you hit bottom?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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To Wings for your Commencement Exercises

Dear Son,

You are much too grown up for your own age.

Here I am at fifty-two, seeking ways to make my work the same as play and to make every day a holiday. My knees hurt, my baby fat simply won’t budge no matter how many laps I swim, and all the peroxide in the county won’t cover the silver at my temples. I blame it on my genes.

I suspect you will too, sometime in the next forty years.

Last week you graduated from high school. You already have a good peek into your future: first paycheck, first car, first love, first time living away from home. Not all  firsts are so exciting and happy. You’ll have your first tax return, first flat tire, first heartbreak. We won’t talk about last week’s spider incident, but that should teach you to keep the apartment clean, or else you’ll have another not-so-nice first.

I know… I’m raining on my own holiday.

But I can’t stop the rain, and I can’t stop you from living your life and growing away from me.

I have more life lessons for you, like don’t overload a washing machine or use dish soap in the dishwasher, and do always wear clean underwear. Stand up for yourself and be loyal to your friends but don’t be a doormat. Study hard and get your sleep during the week. Party on the weekends — but be smart and keep it legal.

It all boils down to those four words I say to you and your brother every so often:

Don’t do anything stupid.

We’ll be four hours apart, but for me it may as well be four lifetimes. I know you’re not one to boomerang. Next summer if I’m lucky you’ll come home for a few weeks’ summer break, and maybe we’ll be us again — but you’ll be visiting, careful to not make promises you won’t be able to keep about visits and holidays and calling more often. (Okay-Okay! I’ll figure out Skype!)

Somehow I knew the first time I held you against my shoulder and you held your head up by yourself that you were independent and I wouldn’t get to hold onto you for long. Less than an hour after you were born, and I could tell you were already an old soul. Stubborn. Able to stand alone and apart from your peers. Your own person.

And oh how you prove it — you with your bowtie and suspenders style. You’ve started a fashion trend among the freshmen, breaking out of the saggy pants crowd.

More advice you don’t want: never assume. Always be honest and grow a thick skin. Speak up and keep your head down and work hard. Have the integrity your Dad and I have worked hard to instill in you. Don’t forget that there are cameras everywhere, so again—

Don’t do anything stupid.

You’ll do well if you remember everything we’ve taught you. You’ll do fine if you forget. By now you’ve figured out that your parents are not superheroes; just ordinary people who try always to do our best. Now it’s your turn.

Do YOUR best.

I have faith in you.

Love,

Mom

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How to Stay Out of the Temple of

How to Stay Out of the Temple of Padded Walls and Win the Writing Game

There is something magical about a quiet morning, a full cup of coffee, a computer and T I M E —

Time to explore and to finally look at instructions.

That’s what I did one morning, tooling around Windows 8 and discovering for the first time –

Microsoft Blogs!

Voila! Wonderful instructions, one lesson at a time, one application at a time. Word. Excel. OneNote.

Now, maybe you’re the kind who reads directions on the back of the game box and goes forth confidently into Microsoft Candy Land, but I am not. I’m the kind who sets up the board, dumps out all the pieces, throws the dice and lands on “Go directly to  Padded Cell”. I jump in with both feet, start to write… and write… and copy/paste into a new document… and loses her words because she didn’t press save… and writes some more… renames the file… adds to the file….

Totally unorganized. I’m lucky to find my files and last night’s doc.

Well, maybe not that bad – if I were any worse though, I’d never get anything done.

Anyway, here’s the link for Word’s blog, which offers up spiffy webinar videos on things like:

Setting Margins in Word, Tricks from Word Expert [and Editor] Hilary Powers (author of Making Word Work for You, a handbook for Editors), Change the Footnote and Endnote Separator (Oemgee I think this one will be a lifechanger for us!) and more.

Maybe it sounds silly and trivial and gee whiz Pamela what are you doing reading tech’y blogs again when you’re in the middle of writing your great American novel?

But you know what…?

If you’ve ever been on Facebook in the middle of  procrastinating and another writer posts a frantic SOS to tell them how to delete a page break line that’s sitting right in the middle of a  contest entry or query or requested submission and minutes are ticking down out loud and way too fast… you’ll understand. And now you can be a hero and point them to this post.

Oh okay… bookmark the Word blog instead and point them to that and be a hero. Just don’t forget where you got your green lantern. If I say it a third time it’s a “Pay Pamela $200 in 10s and 20s kind of thing. Heh…I used the control K shortcut to do that.

Tomorrow: Lessons from the App side – OR – What the heck is a third party app on Facebook and why do I need one?

Mississippi Mud – Coffee AND Dessert

 

For your weekend sugar fix, I give you Southern Bite.com’s Chocolate Spoon Cake. Yes, it is like a perfectly undercooked (but still cooked) brownie in all its gooey glory. Yes you will scarf this stuff up and yes… you will need to swim a mile to burn it off .

I think I’ll make this but try adding some instant coffee granules to the cocoa. Or rum. Hmmm…..

I’m working on several things: a short story submission, a womens’ fiction, and some blog posts with tech and social media lessons for those of us who grew up thinking Spirographs and Etch-a-Sketch’s were on the technological edge. If you missed it, here is a link to my post for Romance University last month – From Jane Austen to Jane Jetson: Making Yourself at Home in the Digital Age.

And on Monday I’ll have more coffee for you, along with Commencement Exercises.

Now, click the link to get the recipe for Southern Bite’s Chocolate Spoon Cake and enjoy your weekend !

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Let’s have coffee on Romance U today!

From Community Coffee: ^coffee brewing, coffee with chicory, how to use a French Press.

Today I am on Romance University with a peek at my workshop                                                                                                                                                                        “From Jane Austen to Jane Jetson – Making Yourself at Home Online.”

Please come by and say hello! I’m giving away… a cup of coffee! Yep — Starbucks via Facebook gift cards to two separate commenters who can answer a simple question. So give it a try !

If you are reinventing yourself, starting your next chapter in life, or simply following your dream and getting started, this is a post to help you get your feet wet with social networking.  Hope you drop by!

Thursday : Mississippi Mud Cake and Coffee…

and Word Count breakdowns. Because work goes better with chocolate and caffeine, right?

A bientot!

Update… Tip… and Melvina’s Iced Coffee Recipe

Because I’ve been away for awhile dealing with all things Life, I’m here with an update on coming attractions, a tip, and my friend Melvina’s Iced Coffee Concentrate recipe.

First, the update:

Tomorrow I will be on 5 For Fiction with a post on the romance of rain.  

                                                                                                                                                     Can there be anything more passionate than kissing in the rain, soaked to the skin trying to warm up by holding on to each other? Or cozier than snuggling with the one you love with the wild rain pelting the windows outside? …                                                                                                                                                                   Yeah, that’s how this post goes, so be sure to  click on the YouTube link to hear Trisha Yearwood singing Georgia Rain while you read it, and let your mind take you there.

Also tomorrow, WriterMason Productions’ client Linda Joyce, author of Bayou Born, will be on Tea Time with Dellani radio show at 3pm EDT!     I know — tomorrow will be a busy day.

Monday, April 29I’ll be featured on Romance University  — I’m so excited! If you go look at their site now, I’m the little blip under “Upcoming Posts” — go ahead, I’ll wait for you while you look at it.

I know, right?! There I am… From Jane Austen to Jane Jetson – Making Yourself At Home Online with Pamela Mason. I’m a big Jane Jetson fan — oh… you all thought I was going to say Jane Austen, weren’t you? I like her too, but Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is the spark (heh) that fueled my desire to read and write romances. Jane Eyre is over the top, soap operatic melodrama — just the way I like mine.

My post is about why your online presence on social media is so important… and how to feel comfortable doing so. If you’re in Georgia in July, I’ll be giving a presentation with more instruction and in-depth discussion to the Sisters In Crime Chapter at the Smyrna Public Library on this — so watch for more details on date and time!

I was floored when RU’s Jennifer Tanner contacted me after the 5 a.m. Writers Birthday Party last month, so I hope you’ll take a look and comment. I’ll even have two prizes to give away!

The Tip — OMyGoodness Writers, this will make your life so much easier! 

Today on Facebook Sharon Sala via Teresa Keesee Williams shared a F A B U L O U S photo on shortcuts for symbols on your keyboard, using ‘alt’ + ___  < whatever you fill in this blank determines your result. Here’s the link to the photo on my FB writer’s page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pamela-V-Mason/116648295079582?ref=hl

Hey, while you’re there, do me a favor and press the “Like” button please? I mean… only if you like me. Which I think, if you’re still here reading, you do. ☺ Now I rock the em dash… watch me rock the copyright symbol at the end of this post!

The Coffee Recipe! : 
In the summer time when the weather is hot,I drink my coffee over ice. I do not drink soda, and this is refreshing and gives a good jolt of caffeine in the afternoon without making you hotter. I asked Melvina where she got this, and she can’t recall… so it’s one of those recipes from the internet and if you know the source or have a tweak, speak up!

I like to give credit where it’s due, so for now, this is…

Melvina’s Iced Coffee Concentrate Recipe: 

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup instant coffee
1 1/2 tps. vanilla
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping.
Bring all ingredients to boil. Cool and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Use 2 tbsp. concentrate with 8 ounces of milk over ice! Enjoy!

I’m going to talk coffee — or tea —on Mondays, just to remain accountable to my blog friends here. And maybe a cocktail or dessert recipe on Thursdays… just so you can get ready for your weekends. But I’ll need your help! So, if you know of something Coffee Wonderful, or Tea Worthy, Dessert Delish or Boozealicious, please point me in the direction or offer it up. Hey… maybe you’d even like to be a guest here! Just contact me here on the blog.

A Bientot!

Bayou Born official Book Launch Party!

WooHoo! Come see what the buzz about Bayou Born is all about! Wear your best sweatpants and socks, mes amies… and laissez les bons temps roulez on Facebook, Friday 8pm EDT ! Giveaways and Fun!

Linda Joyce Contemplates

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WriterMason Productions presents Bayou Born official Book Launch Party!

You’re invited! FRIDAY APRIL 12 at 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET ON FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/#!/events/513615902006941/

MEET LINDA JOYCE AUTHOR OF BAYOU BORN

BOOK 1 of the FLEUR DE LIS SERIES  ~  PUBLISHED BY THE WILD ROSE PRESS

perf5.000x8.000.inddIn case this is your first party event on Facebook, here are your instructions:
1. Dress up in your comfiest clothes (nobody can see you!)
2. Pour yourself a yummy drink – cocktail or mocktail, your choice
3. Make sure the dog’s been out and the cat’s food bowl is full
4. Children must be safely occupied : a loooong Disney dvd, video games, or Mom-free projects. Make sure popcorn for the microwave is ready to go! …
5. Settle in, click on the party link, and enjoy! You can post comments, make virtual drink requests, post mancandy pictures (no full nudity please)…

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Let ME Take YOU There

Linda Joyce, author of the contemporary romance Bayou Born, on settings – plus she offers another chance to win an ecopy of Bayou Born – on MuseTracks today;

Linda Joyce Contemplates

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Good Morning! Happy Friday!

I’m over at MuseTracks today and I hope you’ll Let ME Take YOU There. It’s only a click away and THERE’S a GIVEAWAY!

http://musetracks.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/musetracks-guest-linda-joyce-let-me-take-you-there-giveaway/#comment-66637

I am so appreciative of the opportunity to share a favorite poem I wrote about my home. The poem was published in the literary magazine, The Coal City Review.

Please pop in and visit with me and if you leave a note, you have an opportunity to win!

Smiles,

Linda Joyce

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