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!

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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!

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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!

DarkShadow - Bk 2 COE, Garden, Life, Writing

Write for Love – It is not always possible

Why do I write?

My brain is a miraculous thing. There are times I marvel at my thoughts. That’s why I write!

Today, I didn’t get to write like I wanted to do, but I did do some busy prep to help my websites stay approved and accessible.

Because of the time involved, I didn’t get to put down those thoughts that woke me at 5 a.m. this morning. But then, whoever has the chance to write their words without interruptions, they are very lucky souls.

Goals

Next week, I had a goal. It was to send out book two – DarkShadow – a work in progress – to my editor. Sadly, I haven’t gotten the last act written. Though, I know what I want to do, say, have happen, and explore.

The first fifteen pages are crafted, edited, and sent off to my writing leader for the writing retreat I am going on next week. My editor, well, she will get Acts One and Two when I go on the road. Act Three will not be finished as planned. So goes the writing life!

Writer’s Retreat

Where am I going? — Nimrod Hall. It is like the emblem of ancientness of Virginia. I am so excited and freaking scared.

How will I do? Will I fit in with the other writing gurus I will be connected with in real time? What can I offer that is important? I mean, after all, most of them are probably good writers. Me, not so much. Not even close. I’m a wanna-be writer that took it on the cuff to try to learn an elusive craft.

Oh, I’ve been traditionally published — academic publication as well as a book that was billed as a supplemental reader. The challenges I faced during the writing and publication of the supplemental reader were unbelievable. It was put on me, and my co-author friend, to market our book. We did a tremendous amount of editing and design work. That wasn’t really all bad until you realized how much of the royalties would go to the publishing company.

Self-Publishing

Having felt that pain, I realized that self-publishing was the way to go for the time on task. Why should I give 90% of my royalties to a publishing company when they didn’t even do the marketing, let alone, the editing, the design, the whatever.

So, I bit the bullet and wrote my stories my way. And, I feel good about what I’ve written. Oh, I used editors, beta readers, and I modified my stories according to feedback. Are they literary award winners? Absolutely not. I didn’t write for that goal. I wrote to tell a story. Did I succeed? I hope so, but only my readers will tell me. Some have, some haven’t.

Now, I’m writing my second series, and I find that I am just as weak-kneed as when I started my first book. I’m scared. I’m alone. And, I hope that my writing reaches someone. That is the goal. That I touch someone’s soul in that special way. That he or she will want to read more of my writings.

Will I succeed? I pray so. I’ll only know when the reader lets me know. Those moments are rare, but I cherish each one!

Motto – Write!

Write on! That is the motto! Live strong and prosper is the reward!

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, then sign up using the form in the right column (or if you are on mobile, scroll down until you see that sign-up form). If that fails, write me, I’ll get ya signed up.

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Until next time, I am
Pam

Pam in her garden.
Fun Image: Pam in her garden enjoying a break!

The blog post “Write for Love” was first posted on Pam’s Blog on July 12, 2019.

Blessings, Connecting, Family, Life, Love, Rainbows

Going Home, Again

They say it can be easy, but…

Such a simple phrase — Going Home, Again — but with profound implications when you grew up in an orphanage, a children’s home, or as a resident of family services. Going home again, can be a challenge, but it can also be a revelation.

The Home

A couple of weekends ago, June 22-23, 2019, a group of “old” kids got together to remember, reflect, and on Saturday, to dedicate The Hough House. We came home.

During the dedication ceremony of the brick structure that was the home of the Franklin Hough family, the current Executive Director, Dr. Richerson mentioned that the number of children that passed through the campus was counted to be over 30,000. I was one of them.

These were children who relied on the support of strangers. Not because they desired it, but in many cases, it meant life or death. Children who knew nothing about what their potential future may hold, but were clinging to the hope that the people who were entrusted with their care, would do them right.

The dedication of The Hough House helped bring that home to me. It also brought back many memories. Two of the three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Hough, Jr along with their daughter were there to celebrate their father and grandfather’s work. Together, we remembered living on campus as one and we celebrated the Hough legacy.

Listening to different ones share their memories through story, one thing became very obvious. We were family then. Not all by blood. But, by a unique set of events that thrust us together. The important thing I realized, we still are family.

What’s In A Name?

The Baptist Orphanage of Virginia first opened its doors in 1890. Then, around 1953 the name was changed to the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home (VBCH) to reflect the change in need of the children. Most were no longer true orphans, but were there due to financial hardships or other family tragedies. VBCH was the name I came to know, hate, and then loved.

The "Old Main" Building on VBCH campus
The “Old Main” Building on VBCH campus circa built 1900s raised 1960s

Through the years, the needs of Virginia’s youth, and adults required more help, more intervention, more hope. Thus, in 1985, the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home changed its name again to include the families it served. The change made the name long – The Virginia Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services. Now, it is doing business as HopeTree Family Services. There is still a residency campus in Salem, VA at the same location. This name covers more aptly the vast services offered.

The Work

Many of the old buildings are gone. I remembered walking their halls. But somehow, the ghosts of those old buildings reflected the work that is still going there now. And the new structures show the determination to continue that work.

When I was growing up there, at any one time, there were at least 200 or more young souls running around, being kids, learning how to live, and to do it together. There were adults who served as our houseparents. They were surrogates. Their job was not easy. I know that now. At the time, I thought they were there to be cruel, rub in the fact I was an “orphan,” or it was a job.

The administrative staff worked miracles as I look back on how they managed to wrangle so many of us with so many different issues. To think as many of us turned out as good as we did is in and of itself magic.

You see, the need has not changed, what has changed is the services offered to Virginia’s families now. It is much broader and reaches a diverse group of souls.

Reunion Time

The lives touched by those who made campus life in Salem possible was seen in the dedication of the members of the VBCH Reunion Committee. This committee is made up of “old” kids who were residents. Often their spouses pinched in to help.

It took me over 40 years to walk on campus again. And when I did in 2009, I was numb, excited, and marveled at how the campus looked different from my memory.

This past weekend, walking around the campus, I saw many more changes. Hours before the dedication was to take place, finishing touches were being made on a new handicap access ramp to the old print shop building, which now serves as a museum.

Then, I saw my brother, moving around the reunion table setup in front of the museum. He was helping Debbie, Stan, Fred, Larry, and many others, too numerous to name, getting things ready for the days ceremony.

Visiting – Greeting – Remembering

Different “old” kids began arriving. It was a joy to hug and greet them. It was going to be a good afternoon.

My husband, Albert, and I went into the museum. Pictures of the campus as it was in the early years were on display. They contrasted with images I had in my mind. We looked at old annuals of Andrew Lewis High School where “The HIll” kids mingled with “The City” kids. The annual I picked up and looked at with care was the “final” album. My little brother, Ralph, was a member of that last class–the class of 1977.

Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind…

Searching through the pages, I found images of him playing football. Happy. Five years later, he would be gone from us. Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind when we’d play, fight, and then run around the grounds with other “brothers and sisters.”

Next, we walked through rooms replicated to depict scenes of life on campus–the infirmary room, the dinning hall, a cottage room. Each I could relate to, and I shared with Albert memories or events.

On one wall were the portraits of two Executive Directors – Franklin Hough, Sr. and his son, Franklin Hough, Jr. They were the reason for the dedication of the Hough residence.

Life

During my ten-year residency, I lived in three cottages. The first being Hobday and the second was Robertson — an innovative cottage for brothers/sisters to live in together that was consider “close to a real home life.” The summer of my Junior year in high school, I moved to Shiloh cottage to live during my Senior year.

While on campus that Saturday, my last roommate with me in Shiloh, Laura, greeted me. We hadn’t seen each other for two years. It was fun to catch up, talk, and commiserate.

We walked the campus together talking about the different cottages as we meandered the sidewalk to where we lived. Shiloh no longer stood where it once protected us. The shadows of that building structure formed into a ghostly image. There it stood in my mind all the same.

Hobday Cottage on VBCH campus with the print shop to the left.

Hobday cottage with the print shop to the left

Then, when we walked back to the center of campus, across the parking area from where the old main building once stood. I looked to my right and saw myself as a young eight year-old girl, carrying my suitcase up the steps to Hobday cottage. Hoping my life would not end, praying I’d be okay.

And, as it turns out, I was okay then. On this day, I had come home again and I was doing well.

My husband waved to me. We needed to walk down to The Hough House. It was time to make more memories with my family.


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, then sign up using the form in the right column.

If you’d like to receive Pam’s Newsletter (sent out quarterly or less), join and get a FREE eBook – The Gist of It!

Personal Aside…

This past Wednesday, June 26, was our daughter, Julie’s birthday! Happy Birthday lovely, young woman! May you have a most wonderful year! HUGS to YOU!

Pam's Quill - Going Home

Write on!
Pam

This post Going Home, Again was first posted on Pam’s Blog on June 28, 2019.

Birthday, Life, Music

10 Things I’d Like to Tell My 14-year-old Self

Ten things I’d like to tell my 14-year-old self now that I’m 64…

My favorite musician and song writer, Paul McCartney’s song (credited to Lennon-McCartney), “When I’m Sixty-Four,” (Listen to song on Ultimate Classic Rock) has been a song I’ve loved since it’s release in 1967. Tomorrow, I turn sixty-four. So, while listening to this classic Beatles’ song, I thought I’d write my list of things I’ve learned through the years.

Pam-Pink Hat - 04-08-17
When I’m sixty-four…

Here it is, if given the chance, this is the short list of things I’d go back and tell myself I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Life is too short to be anything but happy — Sure there are times this is hard, real hard, but don’t look at others and see their happiness without taking it in; Give a smile, receive thousands back. Embrace life!
  2. Be yourself — Trying to be like those you think have it great is not a good thing; it causes you great pain. As Mr Scruffy says, “Be HOO You Owlways Are!” You’ll be happier for it.
  3. Be Pleased with What God Gave You to Work With — it may not look like the most beautiful beings you’ve encountered, but have you ever thought that just maybe you MIGHT look beautiful to others. Embrace what God gave you to work with and work it, girl!
  4. Don’t be afraid — of anything! Take that idea with you on every step you take. Be yourself. Be pleased with what God gave you, and don’t be afraid to try on that dress, that special hat, that smile! Live your life and enjoy it along the way, it helps on so many levels to not be afraid.
  5. Give and it will come back to you multiplied — luck isn’t something you receive, but something you earn through the act of giving. The more you pay it forward, the more it returns. I know that now.
  6. Use the time you are given — Live…embrace your goals, go after them, and enjoy it along the way, but also take time for yourself. Meditate more. Breath more. Love more. Pray more. Use your time more.
  7. Choose wisely — but don’t hesitate to say or do what you need when you are living up to points 1 through 6 above — My favorite line from “Little Big Man” is when the character Grandfather has gone to the top of the mountain to die, he says, “It is a good day to die.” Yes, it is a good day to die, but it is also a good day to live. Choose wisely.
  8. Focus on your goals — your dreams — your purpose — We’ve all been given a gift. Find what yours is and use it. Focus your goals to see them come to life. Dream, Dream, Dream, and Believe, Believe, Believe. The Secret is in the seeing of you being whom you should be and reaching your goals as you envisioned, always remembering to do good, be happy, and reach for the stars. It truly is possible.
  9. As you age, remember your past — It got me where I am now. Don’t think on the bad, the good, or the ugly, but embrace what you learned along the way. Learning from your past helps you have a most wonderful future. You’ve proven that in the past 64 years. Keep it up!
  10. Love whom your with – Love Nature, too! — Share your positive outlook with others, love all those who love you, share your smile to help those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn life isn’t always hurtful. Even during your darkest moments remember that the truth of the world is in balance. For every dark moment there is a light moment. Help the world stay in balance by lighting a candle of hope, love, and charity. Love all and you will receive love back. And, in loving all, remember to love nature, too! Mother Earth embraces all life, as should we!

    WildTurkey-Backyard-04-08-17
    Wild Turkey running along.

That’s it, for now. It is hoped my future sees more years where I can reflect back and ponder my life’s journey. These ideas I’ve placed here are not profound, but they are mine. I share them with you in hopes they help you along your journey!

Write on!

Pam