Dads: Tell Your Stories

by @AnnieDaylon

My father never sat still for a second. When he wasn’t at work, he was working around the house: building, painting, repairing. Now, although remarkably healthy for a man of ninety-two, he is physically incapable of creating the things he once could, such as the chaise longue in the picture below.

Dad built this when he was in his seventies. A beautiful piece, which I, as custodian, have given an honored place in my home.

 

A while back, I was trying to come up with an idea for a flash fiction contest. The premise? Write a complete, untitled story in fifty words or fewer without using the letter ‘e’.  I pondered it for a day or two. Then, as I was driving along a country road, I spotted a man on a ladder, re-painting the tired green trim on his two-story house.  That triggered a memory: something my brother had told me, something that my dad had told him. Dad’s words? “Last night I built a whole house in my head. Getting old is tough. Body can’t do the work.”

There it was, my story idea! But I couldn’t use the words house or head (no e’s allowed.) I also did not want to use the phrase last night because of word count limitations. I came up with a story and submitted it to an On the Premises mini contest; I edited the result slightly before including it in my short story collection, Passages. Here’s the final cut:

Today, I built a mansion, foundation to rooftop.
Laid floors, hung doors, put in windows.
Alas, no triumph.
Today, I built a mansion, but only in my mind.
My body is old, sagging. My hands? Arthritic claws.
I’m stuck, longing for past skills, biding my days…
waiting for God.

I treasure this short piece, not because it won any contest (not even short-listed) but because it is a candid portrayal of the inevitability of the life cycle. And, of course, because it was inspired by my father. Thanks, Dad.

To all the Dads out there: Keep talking, sharing, telling, building legacies…

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My best to you,

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Garage Sales and Annie Tales

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I am a garage sale afficionado. So much so that I avoid scheduling classes or appointments or meetings on a Saturday morning, especially now, in spring when garage sales abound. Love hunting sales. Love having sales.

At garage sales, I have gotten not only incredible deals for household and gifts, but also great ideas for stories and novels. And today, after I had read Molly Greene ‘s blog post Yes, the Barn’s For Sale, I decided to share a few of each.

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FURNITURE DEAL: One of my earliest, and perhaps one of my favorite, is my oak hall stand, bought years ago. My husband and I went garage saling very early that morning; my parents were visiting and my father was champing at the bit to get on the road. A good choice. Had we been two minutes later we would have missed this steal of a deal.

Passages Book Cover

 

STORY IDEA: One came from a lady who invited me in to her house to see all her wares. I followed her as she shoved the door open and “navigated her way through a four-foot high labyrinth of cardboard boxes, newspaper stacks, and clothing mounds.” She told me how the loss of a loved one had sent her on a spending spree, one in which she rapidly “amassed four hundred thousand dollars worth of place settings, ornaments, dolls, linens, and Christmas ornaments.” Her story moved me and inspired me to write  Lost Foreverwhich is now in my collection, Passages.

 

 

 

Garage Sale Finds 001FOUR ART DEALS:  When I see a painting or needlework that speaks to me, if the price is right, I grab it.

1) I love the depth of Light and Shadowsa print by F. Carmichael.

 

 

Garage Sale Finds 0052) I love theGarage Sale Finds 004 detail of Pinkie and Blue Boy; I have done some needlework and have great respect for the patience and talent required produce this pair. It’s difficult to see in the photos, but the work is petit pointe. I may have walked by them though, had it not been for the oval matte and the octagonal frames.

 

3) I love my copy of The Forest Has Eyes by Bev Doolittle; every time I run into a problem with a story line, I stare at this picture and hunt for camouflaged faces. (Apparently, there are thirteen of them although I have never counted that many.) The images remind me to look at my story from different angles.Garage Sale Finds 010

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4) I love this cross stitch of mother teaching child; it evokes a sense of a roadmap through generations.

 

 

 

 

 

ANOTHER STORY IDEA: One day, at a flea market, I noticed a woman who was wearing “knee-high, gold leather, gladiator sandals,” a black, leather mini-skirt, and had long golden hair. Her back was turned to me, but her confident strut brought to mind the image of a femme fatale:  “A blonde Angela Jolie–minus the Brad Pitt connection and the eclectic collection of children.” As she turned, she shook her head slowly from side to side, and her blonde locks waved at passersby. When she faced my direction, my jaw dropped. Why? It’s in the story, Tall Letters. (Again, in Passages.)

 

Garage Sale Finds 011SPA DEAL: Okay, one more household find. Simplicity here. I like the spa quality of my bathroom; in order to enhance that, I wanted a fancy towel set, you know  what I mean: the ultra-fluffy kind you hang, never use, just throw into the dryer every now and then to get rid of the dust. But I didn’t want to mortgage the house to buy them. I am usually leary of buying any kind of linen or upholstered furniture at garage sales for obvious reasons, but in this case, I knew and trusted the seller. So I bought this set of towels which included 3 bath towels, 4 regular towels, 2 hand towels and 2 facecloths. A stunning deal.

 

‘NOVEL’ IDEA: And last, my best garage-sale-inspired writing idea to date, is one which arrived at a sale I was hosting. At the time, I was working on my novel, Castles in the Sand, and was seeking something that would represent Castles in the Sand Thumbnail‘forever’ to my character, Sarah. The something wasn’t readily apparent, so I decided to throw the problem out into the universe and see what would show up. Well, into my garage strolled a lady who was wearing flip flops. I noticed that she had tiny paw prints tatooed onto the instep of her right foot. When I asked, she explained that her tiny dog had a habit of parking his front paws on her foot whenever he wanted her attention. She loved that dog and wanted to keep the memory with her always so she used an ink pad to copy his pawprints and headed off to the tattoo parlor. And there, I had it. Sarah’s forever.

 

Gotta love garage sales!

Wait… you want to know the costs, don’t you?
Oak Hallstand: $30; Light and Shadows: $10; Pinkie and Blue Boy: $15/pair; The Forest Has Eyes: $20; Mother and Daughter Cross Stitch: $10; Towels: $7/set. (Note: All art/needlepoint came with the frames seen here.)

Can’t wait ’til Saturday so I can treasure hunt again!

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Inspiration

shutterstock_132108815Who or What Inspires You?

Who inspires you to face the blank page? What makes you do it?

Whenever the daily routine of facing the page grinds on me, I park myself at the computer anyway. I let the words stutter and stumble. I trust that the rust and sputter will eventually give way to clarity and flow. I know that the time to do get started is now, because now, I can.

I was always going to write… someday. That someday became today after my husband was diagnosed with, and treated for cancer… twice. In 2005, he had an autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplant with a 50% chance of survival and a 10% chance the treatment alone would kill him. He survived. He smiles. He thrives. And, he inspires.

There is no someday. There is only today. And today, I am gifted with health, time, and opportunity. Today, I write, because today I can.

Who or what inspires you?

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