Darkness, Death, Life, Travel, Writing

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

Where does time go? You wake at four, five, or six in the early morning, darkness is all around you, and then BAM! The darkness of the night gives way to the rising sun. You realize it’s another day!

Disclaimer: This is a long post…plan to read for about fifteen to twenty or so minutes.

This past Wednesday (January 15) was filled with travel back to Winston-Salem, NC (an hour and half one-way trip) to pick up my MAC. It was FIXED!!! Happy Face was me! Read on to learn how I got a happy face!

Pam's face being licked with love.
Smiles of Love

DARKNESS FALLS UPON

Since December 9 or was it 10? I forget—I’ve lost track of time. My MAC became ill. It lost it’s ability to connect to WiFi. UGH! Computers, in this time of darkness, don’t seem to function well if they can’t connect. The cord was cut and I hadn’t planned for it to be.

Oh, I thought about it a lot—cutting the cord. It was the holiday time and what free time I had was being devoured by the darkness of monsters stealing me away to fix problems after problems after problems. I couldn’t afford to be bothered with fixing a MAC when the nearest service tech was in Winston-Salem. I had things to cook, gifts to finish, and Christmas was coming.

Fast Forward

After surviving the holiday time, I made the move to talk with Apple on January 03, which is my Dad’s Birthday and one of my favorite authors, J. R. R. Tolkien. This year would have been Dad’s 100th Birthday—Happy Birthday, Dad!

The Apple Gurus told me I would need to make sure my computer was backed up.

Do you think it was? Well, of course not. I didn’t have WiFi. My particular MacBook Pro doesn’t have an Ethernet port. I didn’t own a Thunderbolt, but I did own an Insignia. So, I proceeded to use it. What do you suppose happened?

More Troubles – More Darkness

Good guess. It didn’t work either. So, I spent two weeks trying to manually copy my files. Then, my mind did a wondrous thing. It remembered I owned a WD Passport that surprise, surprise, would hold my backup of my MAC.

After another four days, I managed to get my MAC backed up, called Apple, and got an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, January 14.

Albert and I made our trip down to Winston-Salem and found the wonderful tech, Mike, at I.T. Worx. And, Mike said he felt he could fix my issue, but I’d have to leave my laptop with him along with my back up. I was giddy with anticipation and hopeful he knew what he was doing.

The next day – January 15, we traveled back to Winston-Salem (did I mention it is an hour and one-half drive one way? It is all real miles in that hour and one-half too). Anywho, we got to the approved Authorized Apple Service provider and Bingo! My MAC was ready. Mike did a very nice quick check with my Insignia adapter and DVD external drive. Mike was happy. Albert was happy. Again, my face WAS happy!

During the Darkness …

I learned during the disconnected period (the darkness) that I get far more done disconnected!

My MAC being sick forced me to reopen my PC, which I had not opened since June 2019 when I closed my technical writing business. That one act required one week just to update the PC!!! DOUBLE UGH!!! (I know, the multiple exclamation points aren’t necessary, but I like ’em right now. Snicker)

By design, I do not have social media apps on my cell. My phone does the basics of calling, texting, and email. This forced me to disconnect from the likes of FaceBook, LinkedIn, and of course my website.

The timing could have been better (snide remark from the peanut gallery). Book Two – DarkShadow was released the beginning of November and I had planned to begin marketing the release of my new book to let others know another book from The Chronicles of Eldershire was available on Amazon in print and eBook formats.

The darkness stopped me from letting people know. Like KC in DarkShadow, I was in the dark too!

What Else Happened?

Darkness is or can be a friend! Being dark allowed me to reconnect with many friends in special ways and find new friends too.

The month of December started off with the typical season of celebration—holiday gatherings, the annual Christmas parade followed by smaller gatherings with friends and family. St. Paul United Methodist Church Choir had its annual Christmas Cantata on December 15. The Cantata has become a tradition serving as our family and friends’ official kick-off to the days of Christmas.

Right around that time is when my MAC computer went south for the winter and darkness began to descend—but a strange thing happened. I was cut from the daily grind of social media. Suddenly, I felt free.

Sadly, other forms of darkness crept into my life during Christmas week too. Those days were touched with the passing of two women who made their mark on my life by being the mothers of two dear friends—Shirley Grubb (mother to Jane) and Thelma Davis (mother to Linda). Our families’ hearts are with Jane and Linda as their loss is felt by all who knew their sweet mothers.

Knitting Came Next…

Because of the darkness, I had time to keep my hands busy with other tasks. Beside cooking, something I enjoy and try to do daily, other, albeit, older hobbies came back in full force because I had time. I had time to think, reflect, act.

I’ve been a knitter since I was five or six—not a spectacular knitter—it is a hobby that I have tried to build and improve my craft all my life. I became a knitter because of a gift given to me on my fifth birthday (I think. It could have been my sixth). I received a Barbie Doll in a tube canister that contained a set of knitting needles and yarn.

The significant thing was my Barbie had no clothes. I had to learn to knit to make her a dress. I did. My beautiful Barbie couldn’t go around without clothes. When the dress was done, I was proud. I had an happy face.

My pride shown on my face while caring my Barbie, showing her off around the neighborhood. It was 1959, and little girls always had their Barbies with them. Since then, I’ve knitted off and on again.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

On Thursday, December 19, after being in the dark (social media wise), Albert and I decided to make an unexpected trip to Blowing Rock, NC. We got on the road and found The Hemlock Inn—a must repeat place to stay. We were in Blowing Rock all of 24 hours, but what a fun time!

After checking into our room, we decided to walk up to Main Street and see what we could find for lunch. We were only one block away, not far from the main sitting area folks use during warm weather to watch people scurry by while shopping or doing work and errands.

We walked the length of Main over to the Speckled Trout for a lovely lunch. There is something about trout—rainbow at that—we love. Then, we stopped along, dropping into various shops while on a mission to find a yarn shop. I needed to purchase a nice pair of crochet hooks for a friend’s Christmas wish.

Tourists We Are

We found a shop, but learned upon entering that the “thread” in it’s name was dealing with fabric and not yarn too. Silly me. Though, I will say, I loved the fabrics there. I also saw a very cool kit used to make bowls out of fabrics. I think it may be a new craft I’ll want to learn.

After looking around, and trying to find a yarn shop on my cell, which I am not very savvy doing, I began to wonder why a town like Blowing Rock, which is supportive of artisans of all strips, wouldn’t have a yarn shop. I knew I was missing something.

We visited several more shops, and then walked back to the Hemlock Inn to rest a bit and see what we could find in the way of where we’d go for dinner. While relaxing in our beautiful room, I searched through the Hemlock Inn Welcome package. It had in it a tourist brochure! My friend, Rosa, would be proud of this town. I opened the brochure that gave me all of the essentials—maps, shops, places to eat, and lodging info.

Dinner Plans in the Darkness of the Night

Did you notice? I didn’t reach for my cell. Instead, Albert and I chose to search the old fashion way for what was available in the area during the holiday season. I was still in the clutches of darkness—and it seemed to be serving me well. I found there was a Mellow Mushroom restaurant across the street from the Speckled Trout. Yes!

Besides, I love being mellow (think “Have You Ever Been Mellow” sung by Olivia Newton-John) and I love mushrooms…what else is there not to love about Mellow Mushroom. By the way, I’m sure you took note that I evidently don’t look around my surroundings very well. We had walked past Mellow Mushroom TWICE and never noticed it. Triple UGH!

My love of Mellow Mushroom grew exponentially when I learned how allergen conscious they are with food allergies. They have recently created a special app to help their allergic sensitive customers find foods they can enjoy. It would be wonderful if more restaurants did this. (Side note: Olive Garden does this too!)

Food Allergies can Cause Darkness in One’s Life!

My food allergies are soybean and sesame. If you read labels, you know soybean (aka vegetable oil, mayonnaise, chocolate, salad dressing etc.) is in EVERYTHING! (I need to do a post on this topic regarding soybean and its by-products in food and non-food products too).

Anyway, the tourist brochure was educating me about all the places that I was finding that were within walking distance. The Hemlock Inn was proving to be a perfect place to stay.

Then, there it was! Bingo! A Yarn Shop! It was listed amongst the shops interwoven in the streets of Blowing Rock. The best part was its name: The Unwound Yarn Shop! Albert and I decided we would find that yarn shop the next day. It was already six in the evening. Darkness had descended upon us again.

We went to Mellow Mushroom where we enjoyed a Greek Salad, a House Special pizza, and I had a much needed Black and Tan.

Sunshine After the Darkness

The next morning, after packing the car and checking out of the Hemlock Inn, we thanked Donna, the owner, and told her we would be returning. Albert and I walked up to Main Street and visited The Spice & Tea Exchange (a wonderful store we had found during a prior trip). We purchased a large quantity of spices and teas to use for gifts and in our kitchen. After asking about where the Unwound Yarn Shop was located, we were directed back to the Thread Shop.

Walking along the streets, we stopped in several pottery shops while trying to find the Yarn Shop. Each time we asked, we were directed to the Thread Shop. Don’t get me wrong. I love fabric, but I was running out of time to find the crochet hooks. The last shop we visited, we saw sitting on the shelves some pottery bowls that were designed to hold yarn while a craftier knitted or crocheted. I had a good feeling about this shop.

The clerk was able to point out where we needed to walk to find the Unwound Yarn Shop. Success! When I walked into the store, I knew I had found yarn Nirvana. I was in heaven. Albert saw right away he would need to give me some time, so he said he’d go find some coffee.

Spirit Dolls Find Me!

And, of course, an hour later, I had bought a set of crochet hooks and knitting accessories I needed, and yes, I bought yarn, too. The items for me would go into my Christmas stocking. The clerk was winding my yarn into convenient balls when a nice looking couple came through the door.

After watching the lady find a beautiful wrap of yarn, I started a conversation. Her name was Louise and she makes spirit dolls. (Visit her site). Her husband, Matthew, joined us in our conversation and before we realized it, we had been there another hour.

It was almost one o’clock and neither of us had had lunch. We walked out and caught up with Albert. The four of us then walked over to the Six Pence Irish Pub where we enjoyed a lovely lunch until three in the afternoon. Did I mention that Louise & Matthew are wonderful people?

Before we parted, we made a commitment to connect again after the holidays. The darkness was starting to subside. The serendipitous nature of our meeting is expressed in the view that I wasn’t supposed to find the yarn shop until we could meet Louise and Matthew—Kindred spirits always!

Albert and Pam in front of Hemlock Inn.
Albert & Pam outside Hemlock Inn — See the carved owls?

Darkness Fading

Yesterday, January 16, my MAC was fixed and so now, I’m here working on my blog—darkness is slowly receding. I’m in the shadows, but I see a spot of light. I must believe!

My new rule of thumb—don’t get overly connected. Use social media to help connect, but keep it real, in person when possible. I will use my blog to talk with you, my readers, but I won’t rely on it to do what I need to do—connect with real souls!

Today, I created a 2020 Writing Schedule to blog and to begin Book 3 of The Chronicles of Eldershire. The working title of Book 3 is BELIEVE!

My challenge to You is to Keep Me Honest!

  • Write me using email. My author email is info AT pambnewberry DOT com
  • Leave comments below when I blog, if the comment option won’t work, email me!
  • Join my email list to receive my quarterly newsletters and receive a FREE eBook The Gist of It!
  • Help me stay connected with you by letting me know what you are reading, what you want to read, and check out my resources for my books, readers, and writers.

Thank you!

Writing is my passion, it’s how I make sense of the world, and it’s fun. But, without having readers like you that share your thoughts, your reactions, I wouldn’t know what I need to do to improve! Thank you for reaching out to me and supporting my writing.

Update on My Writing Journey

Thanks for reading. If you like this post and want to support it, forward it to someone who’d like it or, even better, buy them a book!

If you’re seeing this post for the first time, you can read prior posts on Pam’s Blog. To receive email notices of the next post, use the sign up form in the right column (on desktop) or below (on mobile).

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Write on!
Pam

This post “Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend” was first posted on Pam’s Blog on January 17, 2020. Happy Birthday to my friend, Rosa!

Challenges, Death, Family, Friends, Writing

Will it Make a Difference?

The senselessness – will it make a difference?

Ugh! I haven’t posted on my blog in a while. I try so hard to get a consistent transition going. What happens? Life!

Currently, I’m working on the development of two different writing projects as well as devoting my time to finalizing the release of book three. That’s my writing work.

Then, I have those fall/winter chores that make me whole — putting the garden to bed for the winter — flower and vegetable. My flower garden isn’t as detailed or complete with a variety of flowers like a friend of mine I refer to as my “Sis.” She has such a lovely garden, even in the heat of summer, it is gorgeous. She also works on it. My flower garden happens. I’ve learned to cultivate weeds. Some of my most prized weeds are in full bloom even now. Some of my weeds are even pretty. One day I’ll show a picture.

The vegetable garden is another one of those projects that grew and grew and grew. Now, with my old back not liking me bending and pulling weeds, I find the vegetable garden has the occasional food to eat, but the weeds have taken over in places there, too. The veggie garden going to bed for winter is probably a good thing. It will give me time to figure out what I want to do with it.

Sadly, my personal life has been traumatized these last few months by the death of very close friends and family. It is that time of year when things die. It seems death has been around my family too regularly since July.

July 6, 2015 – the passing of our grand-dog, Miloh, whom I miss talking with each day.

Miloh - The Granddog
Miloh – The Grand-dog

October 29, 2015 – the passing of a wonderful cousin and friend, Raymond.

Raymond Madden
Cousin Raymond Madden

November 12, 2015 – the passing of a friend, George, who was one of a kind.

George Fisher
George at a family reunion at the beach that he loved – August 2015

The passing of these souls have each touched my heart in special ways. Each brought to my life a certain kind of joy that is not easily put into words. I have struggled since July to express my feelings. There seems to be no words.

Then, yesterday, the senseless loss of life in Paris, France. I’m not sure I know how to express myself as I try not to be angry. Then, I wonder if I should let my anger go. I keep thinking of the phrase repeated by Rudolf Abel (played by Mark Rylance) in the new movie “Bridge of Spies.”

Abel says to Donovan (played by Tom Hanks) on several occasions during the movie, “Will it make a difference?”

Words to live by.

I wonder. Will it?

And, then…the circle of life seemed to rare its head up and remind me. Yes, it might!

About the same time on Thursday morning when we were  loosing our friend George, we had a miracle happen within our family. For the first time in 30 years, the Newberry family had a new baby born to our clan, Miss Elizabeth. It was a miracle in that she was not supposed to arrive until Friday. We were being given a light to shine on a gloomy period for us. She is a blessing. I look forward to meeting her and holding her in my arms.

So, I’ve managed to quail my anger. My heart is broken over the loss of our family and friends, and it is in deep sorrow over the loss in France of those souls I never knew. But, I’m resolute. I’ve made the decision to do what I need to do to bring joy to those around me. One way to do that is to be happy myself.

The funny thing about me, I’m happy when I’m writing. So, I stopped procrastinating, and I got down to it. Hence, this post today.

I dedicate this post to Miloh, Raymond, and George, and to those souls lost in the senselessness of last evening. I will work to do what I dream.

French-American Flags
French-American Flags — 11-13-15 — In solidarity!

I will make a difference!

Write On!
Pam

The “Will it Make a Difference?” post first appeared on Pam’s Blog November 14, 2015.

Death, Magical Moments, Music

Music, Death, and Magical Moments

After eleven days, I’m finally at a point where I can put into words my thoughts regarding music, death, and magical moments.

These words may seem strange put together, but they popped into my mind ten days ago when  I read Missing Pieces, a very touching blog post on the Letters to Ian blog written by Ian’s mother, Blair.

At the time of finding Blair’s blog, I was responding to an assignment given by the Blogging University 101 — assignment two to be exact. We were asked to visit other participants in the Blogging 101 class and to comment on the titles and tag lines of new blogs that were starting or to comment on those revised titles and tag lines of established blogs. Blair had updated her title to I Am Still Your Mother with a subtitle of Don’t you give me that look…

The second I read her title and tagline, I wanted to read her blog. I could so hear those words being said to me when I was growing up. I also knew I had said them myself to our daughter. I had even said them years ago to my little brothers when we were growing up in an orphanage (more about that in another post sometime). Of course, when I said those words to my brothers, it was more like screaming, and I said, “I’m your sister. And, you better not give me that look again!”

Reading Blair’s letter to Ian, Missing Pieces, took me back to feeling the grief and pain I had not felt for a while. Her letter reminded me of the magnitude of the loss of my youngest brother, Ralph, at the age of twenty-five in 1982, due to a motorcycle accident. He loved to listen to Queen, which was the artist Blair shared as she recounted the memory of listening to several of Queen’s songs with her son, Ian in a letter she writes him.

And, I felt the surge of grief and pain increase when I read the words from We are the Champions, which was a huge favorite of Ralph’s. Life being what it is, I began to think about music and how it affects our lives in so many ways.

Just as quickly, my mind took me to the memory, pain and loss of two nephews, Josh and Justin. Both were killed in a car accident in 2007. This time Creed’s With Arms Wide Open and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird were the center pieces as our family managed somehow to maneuver through the labyrinth of a two-day funeral process. One for Justin (eighteen and two weeks away from high school graduation) followed by one for Josh (twenty-four with a free spirit).

Creed’s With Arms Wide Open youtube video:

For years after their passing, listening to music by Queen, Creed, or Lynyrd Skynyrd would cause my heart to slow a little, pain a little, and then I’d shake it off, followed with anguish over the loss. Time, as many say, has a way of helping the healing process to begin. This I know. When I hear music by Queen, Creed, or Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is as though by magic, I no longer anguish over my brother’s or my two nephews’ loss. I celebrate in the memories. I cherish the time we had. I, do, still long for more. I pray that one day we will be reunited. Until that time, I’m going to play the music, dance when it moves me, and cherish the magic it brings to my soul.

How about you? How has music, death, or magical moments touched your life?