reflection

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Three


I should have titled this series “The Year to Living Minimally.” (Can you tell I’m doing revisions on my seventh novel?!)

Last week I cleaned out some drawers. This week I cleaned out some more. Don’t worry, though, I have plenty more!


Utensil drawer and gadget drawer. What I tossed out from the top left photo is not really visible, but there were packets of salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, etc. all in the back. Old. Ugh.

I used to love collecting kitchen gadgets. Some things I never even used – vegetable curlers and brown sugar softeners. A cheap little microplane and a spreader with a chipped handle. I’m keeping the Pampered Chef turkey lifters, even if I only cook one turkey a year. 😉


I hate these drawers! Truly the junk drawers, filled with screws and tape and batteries and tools. They’re really my husband’s domain, but I fixed them up, and put a pile of operating manuals (for small appliances we no longer possess) into the recycle bin.

This next one was more emotional…



I donated my piano last year, and was happy to see it find a new home. It wasn’t the piano I’d grown up with, so I didn’t have an attachment to the instrument. And I hadn’t played in a very long time. But I still have an antique sheet music cabinet (my mom was so happy when she found it for me!), and it was filled with music. Look at the close-up at the bottom left of this collage – my sister and I took weekly piano lessons from Mrs. Bowser, and in April 1969 (I was 10), she rewarded us with the musical score to Oliver!


My sheet music collection includes pop favorites from my high school years, hardcover, spiral-bound books (Great Songs of the Sixties, Big Bands, Timeless Classics), as well as all the classical music I practiced so hard to get right. “Rhapsody in Blue” – I never mastered it. Now I’ll listen to it on CD or through my iPod or Pandora, and I’ll enjoy it.

My friend Lila is accepting the sheet music. She’s the Music Director at Providence College, so I’m glad it’s going somewhere good. There is one book of music I can’t part with, though.


I mean, I tattooed my name on his chest! 🎶💙🎶

Our Day of Remembrance


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I wasn’t sure what to title this annual tribute. My previous posts about December 13 are listed here, if you want to revisit them:

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2012/12/12/ten-young-women/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2013/12/13/bring-all-the-priests/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2014/12/12/what-december-13th-means-to-us/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2015/12/12/the-memory-of-sense/

We were all affected by the Aquinas fire in 1977, whether we slept through the event (as I did) or witnessed it first-hand and survived. 39 years later, that memory is as sharp as it was then.

My classmate Michelle Dumont Vezina ’80 writes, “I experienced December 13th somewhat as an outsider looking in. We stayed up late that night studying for finals. We must have been in a deep sleep when everything was happening.

“I remember calling my parents to tell them. They had heard that morning that the largest dorm at Providence College was on fire. They assumed McVinney was the largest because of its height and thought I had been in the fire. They were relieved when I called.

“My mother picked me up that morning for what became the beginning of Christmas break. The campus was quiet, eerily so. I remember looking at Aquinas Chapel from my dorm room window, thinking about the girls who died.

“At that time, I had never experienced death of anyone close to me.  I didn’t really understand the feeling. No one really understands until they lose someone close to them.”

*****

A survivor, Kim Fasolo Martin ’80 writes, “December 13, 1977 changed every part of me down to my soul. For many years, I tried to figure out a specific event in my life that I was saved for, such as my marriage or the birth of my child. It took me decades to realize that I was saved for many reasons. I try to give the lessons that I learned from that terrible night to anyone who will listen. These are some of these lessons that I live by:

“Be kind to people. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and how much you love them every chance you get. Never go to bed mad at anyone. Cherish your friends. Do not judge people for how they act until you know what has happened in their life.

“There are so many more lessons that I learned and am still learning.

“All the women who suffered this tragedy on December 13, 1977 share a bond that cannot be broken even if we have not spoken to each other.

“Sometimes, out of tragedies, there is good and when this happens,  we have to share this good to anyone who will listen.”
*****

The Aquinas fire claimed the lives of ten women living on the north end of Aquinas Hall’s fourth floor on Dec. 13, 1977. Katie Andresakes ’80, Jackie Botelho ’79, Barbara Feeney ’81, Donna Galligan ’81, Sallyann Garvey ’81, Gretchen Ludwig ’81, Cathy Repucci ’81, Laura Ryan ’81, Debbie Smith ’78, and Dotty Widman ’81.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! All the Rest of her Days by Jane McCarthy


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In All the Rest of her Days, Jane McCarthy captures the difficult emotional realities beneath the 1950s patina of rectitude. A point brilliantly made that when tragedy befalls a family, there is a happy ending but rarely a happy ever after.

Sixteen-year-old Maggie is pregnant and the fabric of her family is shredded. The secret must be buried and lies must be told.  It will sadden you, excite you, and make you weep for the characters and rejoice in the successes.

“With sensitivity and empathy, Jane McCarthy tells the story of a boy given up for adoption in the 1950s, when an unwed mother was a pariah. Maggie Porter’s decision to give up her baby has ramifications across generations and continents, and McCarthy explores all facets of this 20th century tragedy.”

~ Betty Cotter, author of Robert’s Woods and The Winters

“All the Rest of Her Days is a poignant and provocative tale that touches our hearts as well as our minds. McCarthy’s epic-like, multi-generational saga confronts its characters with difficult choices that challenge their sensibilities in a way that’s every bit the equal of such genre stalwarts as Judith guest and Alice Hoffman. Wonderfully crafted and beautifully written, this is a tale certain to engage and enthrall.”

~ Jon Land, USA Today best selling author of the Caitlin Strong Series

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Jane has always been an avid reader, preferably accompanied by a cold glass of Pinot Grigio. As a Registered Nurse she learned much about the human response to sadness and joy. Friendships are important to her. She admires loyalty, integrity, and a sense of humor, which are the framework of who she is. All the Rest of Her Days is her first novel and she is writing her second. She lives in Narragansett with her husband and is willing to travel reasonable distances for book signings and discussion groups. Find her book here.

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

A Winding Stream


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I’m in the habit of doing ‘soft’ releases – minimal fanfare and proclamations. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly proud to announce the publication of this new book, and the first in my portfolio that’s non-fiction.

A Winding Stream chronicles the two-week canoe and camping trip that my maternal grandfather, Earl R. Handy, made with his friend, John B. Hudson, in 1924. 1924!  Five years before the Great Depression, seventeen years before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1924, the Snyder Act granted US citizenship to all American Indians. George Mallory and A.C. Irvine died attempting to climb Mount Everest. And on the last day of June in 1924, the Democratic National Convention adjourned at midnight with William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith deadlocked in balloting.

This little book (54 pages) may be of interest (outside my family!) to those interested in the region, canoeing and camping, the environment, local history, or to anyone wanting to take a quiet journey back ninety-two years. Paddle down the rivers with Earl and John for fourteen days. And if you think you might like to re-create this adventure, please let me know!

Pick up your copy at Amazon and come see me in December at one of my book events!

Thursday, December 1 (6:00pm) – Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

Saturday, December 3 (11:00-5:00) – RI Authors Expo at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI

Focus on the Positive


“Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.”

~ Deepak Chopra

I thought I’d post this one line instead of Chopra’s entire article (which you can read here if you’re so inclined). I didn’t want to turn it into a political post – haven’t we all had enough of this exhaustive ugliness anyway? It’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little bit lazy, so here are some pictures to brighten your day. Focus on the positive when you can – all this negativity does you no good.

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All photoS by M. Reynolds

Gandria, Switzerland

Gandria, Switzerland

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Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI

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Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI

 

 

Looking Back (Way Back)


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As I’ve been working on recreating this journal written by my maternal grandfather (which will be a book by December), it’s inevitably led to some family tree research.

Over twenty years ago, I picked up on my mother’s love of genealogy and created a binder of information for her. Lots of pages, many, many branches of a tree that went all the way back to King Alfred the Great. (‘Mom, if we’re descended from royalty, why do I have to work?’ ‘Someone married for love, that’s why.’) Of course, the argument can be made that we’re all connected, and the more I do this research, the more I believe it.

My husband’s mother was born in Salzburg, and we have documents, official certificates of births and marriages and deaths. I have Zeinzingers back to the late 1700s, and Strauss, Altmann, Eder. Everything in German!

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This has helped! So has my online friend Eva Merryman – her translations have been valuable in figuring out the who, the what, and the where.

So, how about you? Do you look back? Have you discovered something wonderful in your family history?

Oversharing


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I know three or four loyal readers of this blog who don’t have a social media presence (I love them!), but many of us do, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blahblahblahblahblah. We do it for varying reasons: I first joined Facebook at the invitation of a high school friend, and found I could enjoy a virtual reunion without worrying about what to wear. College friends, former co-workers, an old crush, neighbors, even my best friend from second grade. We’re all connected online.

Some have more of a presence than others, for different reasons. As an author, I’ve learned that it’s important to stay connected with readers. I try not to shill my books (they’re all right there on the page, isn’t that enough?!), and love to promote others. I enjoy seeing photos of my friends’  kids grandkids, pets, and even the same sunset from another viewpoint.

This past week I was struck with the concept of oversharing. And its opposite. A former co-worker completed her rounds of chemotherapy (breast cancer) without a single post to the world. Her family and close friends were aware, I’m sure, but someone like me, an acquaintance at best, had no need, and she didn’t find it necessary to share her struggle. Only when the chemo was completed did her husband post joyfully (with her okay). And I think we all felt the same joy for her, even if we hadn’t known what she’d endured these past months.

That isn’t to say that those who feel the need to share every last tidbit are bad people. According to the Daily Mail (UK), scientists have revealed that people who feel compelled to share intimate details of their lives on social media sites have heightened activity in the region of the brain relating to self-cognition. Some folks just like to share information about themselves. It’s their diary (for everyone to read!). And for us, we have the option to simply hide, delete, scroll through.

 

 

Two Weeks, Three Rivers


photo by Martha Reynolds

photo by Martha Reynolds

I’ve been working on a new novel, Villa del Sol, for months now. Sometimes the writing comes easily (I have the story in my head, but getting it out isn’t always easy). Life can be a distraction, an inspiration, a temporary derailment. And as much as I had wanted it to be finished in time for the 2016 Expo, that’s looking more and more unlikely. So what’s a writer to do?

Well, last week I was featured locally here, and perhaps it was talking about my grandfather that pushed me back to a project I’d backburnered. In 1924, Earl Handy (my mother’s father) and John B. Hudson (a local treasure and one of Rhode Island’s foremost naturalists), took a canoe trip. Two weeks and three rivers. Earl kept a journal of the adventure. There are photographs. I’d wanted to publish this account, and now I’m determined to do it.

photo by Martha Reynolds

photo by Martha Reynolds

In delving back into this project, I’ve reawakened an interest in family history. I’ve spent days at the library, scanning microfilmed pages of old newspapers, finding articles of note, reading about long-forgotten villages in Rhode Island and Connecticut. It’s fun! And, I hope, will provide for an interesting piece of history. So, stay tuned – my novel will be published sometime in 2017, but Two Weeks, Three Rivers will be ready by December (fingers and toes crossed).

Hi, My Name is….Introvert


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Some of you will read this title and think, ‘Not Martha!’  I know. I play a good game of it.

Last week I attended an event with my pal Lynne. I didn’t think I’d know anyone there. I ended up seeing a couple of former co-workers (people who were actually nice), and I was introduced to a few of Lynne’s colleagues. Smiles and handshakes all around. Nodding at conversation.

And yesterday I attended my 40th high school reunion. It was a very successful day, and, as I’d had a hand in the planning of the event, I received plenty of compliments and positive feedback about the day.

After a few hours, I couldn’t wait to leave.

Now hold on – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to see old friends. I did! And they’re really great people. Yes, we’ve all grown up (way up), and after forty years, much of my teenage angst is pushed back. Maybe not forgotten but certainly diluted by life’s joys and accomplishments. I had a chance to speak with just about everyone, and even led a goofy trivia contest.

Well, that doesn’t sound like an introvert, does it?

But here’s the thing, and I thank Lynne for the conversation last week as we were driving back home from the beach event: an extrovert derives energy from being around people – an introvert’s energy is sucked out by being around others. An introvert may work hard at being sociable, but it’s draining.

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Introverts don’t like small talk – not because they dislike people, but because it serves as a kind of barrier. Introverts sometimes feel alone, even in the midst of familiar faces. Introverts can be excellent public speakers (yes!), but find it more difficult and stressful to mingle with others afterwards. Introverts start to shut down after they’ve been active for too long. And I did, at both events. So, my apologies to my high school friends for leaving the party without saying my goodbyes. I was so grateful to be in your company! And for the ones from my high school class who couldn’t attend the reunion, meeting one-on-one or in a small group would be absolutely perfect. But you knew that.

Hot Songs – 1976


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Next week is my 40th high school reunion (ack!). So I’m reflecting, of course, and listening to music from 1976 – forty years ago. The 70’s gave us some great songs, ranging from the folky music of the early part of the decade to the raging disco music at the end.

Here are some of my favorites from the summer of ’76:

“Love is Alive” by Gary Wright. Peaked at #2.

“Silly Love Songs” by Wings. McCartney answered his critics with this one.

“Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. Hit #1 in July 1976.

“Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts. Sorry about the poor quality (it’s 1976!). S&C’s last Top 10 hit.

“Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck. Their debut single and biggest hit.

“You’re my Best Friend” by Queen. Reached #16 on the Billboard charts.