Family

There are stories in every marriage that get told over and over again. This is one of those classics that Mr. Nina and I still laugh about … well, he laughs and I give him the hairy wife-eye! Anyway, this happened four years ago this weekend and I just thought it was worth sharing again. Enjoy …

Okay, so Baby Girl goes off to work, Little Boy Blue hops on the bus for a basketball game and DH asks… wait for it… “wanna go snowmobiling?” Not what I was expecting, but heck, we just got another foot of snow, it’s above 10 degrees F and the sun is shining. I figure what the heck. We’ve gone around and around about how much I enjoy staying on the trails and if he could please follow the map, I might enjoy myself.

Sure. Sure. No Problem.

First… (and this is where I should have jumped off the sled, thrown down my gloves, and stamped back into the house… obviously I didn’t) First, he’d like to swing over to a buddy’s camp and check out what he’s up to.

“Is it waaay off the beaten path?” He can see I’m ready to bolt. I’m not really interested in breaking new trails in the middle of the northern Maine woods–again.

He laughs. “Now honey. Would I do that to you after our last ride?” At which point he jumps on the sled, sending us hurtling into our next adventure. 

My first inkling that something had gone wrong was our trip down a very long road a couple towns over. Now, the police are pretty lenient here. You can cross the road, you can even travel a short distance on a road to get to the trail, but the law clearly states a sled may not use the road as a throughway. Fifteen minutes at 50 mph (you do the math) and we’re still on a major road, I’m thinking something’s wrong. But hey, if the cops stop us… it’s his license and being lost in civilization works for me.

Why I didn’t ask him to turn around at that point is beyond me. I knew, I mean, I knew nothing good was going come of this. Finally he turns off the road into the woods. I’m not freaked yet, he’s not going through fresh powder, at least one sled has come this way. Besides I’ve been to this guy’s camp… it’s nice… lots of well groomed trails. But then the trees close in on us. The sled’s wobbling here and there, but I’m not panicked. DH has assured me he can control the sled. I worry too much.

But then we’re really dragged off the trail. He compensates, only to be pulled the other way. I’m not panicking, he’s only dumped me once. (Off a snowbank in front of people coming out of church… but hey we managed that unscathed.) So as the sled continues to bounce from side to side I keep thinking he’s going to pull out of it.

Nope.

Next thing I know I’m being dragged off the sled as it catapults forward on its side. My foot is caught under the sled and for a moment I worry about refracturing my pelvis. But then all is still. DH hits the kill switch and tells me to get up! Now! Did I mention I have MS? Even under the best conditions nothing about my body moves fast. So he hauls my butt up and out of the brook we and the machine are laying in. A brook! The song “Islands in the Stream” took on a whole new meaning at that point.

Now, trust me when I tell you that gurgling mountain brooks are only pretty in the summer or on video tape. Seeing water running through the engine of the only thing transporting you out of the middle of hell nowhere is a little frightening even for the hardiest souls. Undaunted, DH manages to get all three of us at least out of the water. But now there is a brook and a 3 foot drop between the sled and the trail.

This is so not looking good.

“How far from the camp are we?” I ask, realizing there is no way I can walk.

“Between 1 and 4 miles.”

“You’re not leaving me here alone.”

“If you think I’m dragging your cute butt down this trail, you’re sadly mistaken. I can go faster alone.”

“At least leave me the cell phone.” I say, knowing there are no towers and it probably wouldn’t work anyway, but it might give me some comfort.   

“I didn’t bring it. Really. It won’t be long. Sit here in the trail. You’ll be fine.” And he turns and walks away.

Have you heard silence? Because snow is an insulator and it swallows all sound. There’s an eerie stillness in the middle of nowhere.

This quiet allows my vivid imagination to conjur up all sorts of wild stories. Not the least of which is the lead anchor of the local news cast reporting on the corpse of local author found frozen to the seat of her snowmobile mired in mud. 

So I sit and wait. Trying to remember all the stages of hypothermia. No, I’m not shivering, yes my fingers still move. And I wait some more wondering if I should start walking. (Mind you, I can barely get myself standing from this sitting position in the snow… but perhaps I should just give it a try.)

Then I hear another sled. And there they are, my knight in shining armor… and the @$$hole of a husband that told me we’d go for an uneventful ride.

Lots of lifting and maneuvering of a 650 pound snowmobile and some digging with a shovel and they had the machine back on the trail. I chose to ride with my knight and left DH to find his own way back to the camp.

I’m going to admit right here that I’m horrible with history. I remembered enough of it in high school to do well on the tests and promptly forgot it. As an adult I regret not seeing the value of understanding my country’s history. But eh, what does a 16 year old know about a 50 year old woman’s regrets? LOL!

But Pearl Harbor Day has become a personal experience for me that has touched my heart. Ten years ago today, I was in Hawaii visiting Mr. Nina’s great uncle. Though the man wasn’t in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, his boat was the first to arrive in the harbor. I can’t imagine the horrors he saw that day. He doesn’t talk about it.

But the morning of December 7, 1991, he pulled a ballcap out of a box in the hall and reverently placed it on his head. It was embroidered with the name of his ship. He wore it only one day a year. We bundled into his car and parked with all of the other visitors and stood in the very long line with the general public at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Uncle Caesar didn’t think he was anyone special. But as sailors walked by, they stopped and saluted him. Every. Single. One. At one point someone offered to escort him (and his guests) into the VIP area, but he refused. That section was for the real survivors of that day he said.

We sat through the memorial with the rest of the general public. And though I don’t remember the details, I do remember realizing how history was coming to life for me and how moved I was by the number of lives sacrificed that day. We went from there to a small pavilion where plaques for each of the ships and their crews were displayed. Uncle Caesar walked from stone to stone, standing at each for long quiet minutes. I was so moved by the respect the general public offered these men who very obviously were doing the same. I was in tears watching all of this unfold.

We didn’t go out to the memorial. The line was too long and Uncle Caesar and his wife had been out many times. Instead, he drove us to the military base nearby. We drove around looking at the buildings that still stand as a memorial to the attack. Broken windows, scarred brick walls, destruction everywhere. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like on that day. We did stop at one of the lesser known ships that is still in the harbor and spend time there. Uncle Caesar would not talk about that day. He didn’t share what happened when he arrived in the harbor. But I felt it in his solemnity.

I am grateful we got to share this day with a sailor who was actually there. I feel blessed I got live history on that day. Uncle Caesar is still alive and living in Hawaii. His health is not good and though he is not at the memorial today, I have no doubt he is spending time remembering.

So I’ve been intimating about my crazy personal life. It’s only been a year since Mr. Nina was unceremoniously let go from an administration job he’d had for over twenty years. In this economy, we were very fortunate he found another job quite quickly. Of course said job moved him 7 hours south to a new state … but it was all good.

I sold our house by spring and joined Mr. Nina in an apartment building. We put our house in storage and began shopping for new homes. How hard could it be? It’s a buyer’s market? Yeah, well, the house we have been trying to buy since May, still isn’t ours. But we keep hoping every paper we sign, every email we send, every month that passes will bring about a closing date. We have so much time invested at this point we hate to walk away, but man, this whole thing is getting ooooooold!

Then we find out our middle daughter, Baby Girl, is pregnant. Yay? Um, no. Bad situation. Long story. Gory details. But good news! We finally convince her to move to RI with us. Moving works perfectly because Little Boy Blue is going back to college and the broken car that is his transportation has been fixed in n. Maine and he can take it back the 3 hours to school.

Off goes the whole Pierce clan on a 7 hour drive to northern Maine to pack Baby Girl and collect fixed car. (Of course the same weekend a hurricane is barrelling up the eastern seaboard.)

After spending a couple hours literally throwing things into bags and boxes, Baby Girl is unhappily packed and Little Boy Blue jumps in car to head back to school. Twenty minutes later Beautiful Girl and I are heading down the road with Baby Girl’s car loaded with boxes and … stuff. But wait! Little Boy Blue’s car died on the side of the road. No oil. No coolant. Mr. Nina goes off to get fluids while I sit in Baby Girl’s car (with flashers on) keeping son company.

Fluids filled. Son’s car starts, but wait. Daughter’s battery is dead. Jump that car. Now both cars are running. But Little Boy Blue’s car temperature continues to run in the red. He drives 55 with heater running and the two cars limp the 3 hour drive to central Maine and get boy child to college. Of course the other car was vibrating so badly, Beautiful Girl can’t feel her hands and we still have 2 more hours of driving to get to southern Maine, racing Irene. (Did I mention there was no working radio or CD player in Baby Girl’s car?)

Needless to say oldest daughter wasn’t too happy she volunteered to drive her sister’s beater of a car down to southern Maine. Fortunately, everyone did make it to their destination safely. Well, sort of. Mr. Nina left today for parts Rhode Island, but seeing as most of the state still doesn’t have power, including our apartment, Baby Girl and I are staying put until further notice. We’ll be leaving Baby Girl’s car in Maine and drive my car (which runs quite well thank you) back home. Yeah, my car was in the mix there with the driing situation, but that got too complicated to explain.

Anyway, this is going to be one of those weekends we do as the “remember when” at the Pierce kitchen table for a long while.

And in happier news … how goes your life?

I know, I really have no excuse for dropping out of the blogosphere. Though I was on vacation last week, I totally could have uploaded some posts and didn’t manage to get that done. I’m hanging my head in shame.

And to top it off, I see Facebook and Twitter drawing so much attention, I think fewer and fewer people are finding time to peruse blogs. And I have to admit, since I hang out there a lot I’m kind of finding it hard to find interesting things to chat about.

But just as an update, we were in the process of buying a house and ran into a huge glitch. That’s after waiting 4 months for the bank to make a deal with the sellers who are upside down with their mortgage. Now this. I hate giving up on this house as it really fits our needs AND we’ve been putting money out to get things done that won’t be reimbursed to us if it all falls through. So yeah, that kind of is taking some of my time.

And all three of our children are going through MAJOR transitions. We continue to support them with hand holding and love. Lots of love. But seriously, with all of this swirling around me I’m trying to figure out what weird karma I may have sent out into the universe to have all of this happening at the same time.

Fortunately, this week I have a book release and I’m really looking forward to WEDNESDAY!

So how are things in your corner of the world? Any advice as to how to handle the craziness that is my life would be greatly appreciated.

I’m not telling you all something you don’t know … men and women are NOT the same! I really believe it’s God’s way to entertain himself. Because we do not travel through this life dancing to the same beat.

Toilet seat up or down? Socks rolled in a ball or folded neatly? Iron for perfection or straight out of the dryer? Action movie or romantic comedy? Wrestle with the kids or read them a book before bed? Talk it out or ignore the problem? Clean as you go or use every pot in the kitchen and overfill the dishwasher? Clean the dust or use it for love notes? Watch one show or flip continuously so you don’t miss anything?

Those are just some of the things Mr. Nina and I deal with. (And I’m not going to tell you which side of those I sit on.) ROFLMBO! Anyway, you get the point I’m trying to make.

I never realized how different our household was while my two daughters lived at home. The first year my youngest daughter headed off to college, leaving only my son and Mr. Nina to work the remote (because I’m always on my computer) all of a sudden the television programming changed. All kinds of motors and sports shows I had never watched became part of nightly programming. And it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Top Gear,Legend of the Seeker and Sports Center (okay, not sports center, but Top Gear rocks). It was like a smuck upside the head at how my men had been quietly shifted into an ancillary room to watch their guy programming.

With our new move we have new cable programs available to us including Discovery. I have become addicted to American Chopper (mostly because I’m totally in love with Paul Jr’s dimples *sigh*). I reward myself with an episode or two during lunch or while I’m working on marketing stuff. Mr. Nina laughed so hard when he turned the channel late one night and I was checking out one of the choppers and said “wow, I like the lines of that one”. He laughed himself silly. It never occurred to him that I would enjoy that show.

Now let me tell you what Discovery Channel has figured out that many sports programs are imitating. They pull the female audience in with relationships. I’m drawn more to the push and pull of the brothers and their dad than the actual technical aspects of building a bike. They’ve pushed it further by having the family build bikes for worthwhile charities, showing the family meeting the needy children. Of course it pulls at the female heartstrings. Great marketing for getting both genders to watch.

Sports programs are hoping to capture the reluctant female of the house by sharing stories of the quarterback’s comeback season from a serious injury or the story of a streetwise kid whose mother kept pushing them toward sports and save them from the gangs. Women are more likely to watch a game when they care about the athletes. (Please don’t give me a hard time if you’re a woman who LOVES the game. I know there are a lot of you out there. I’m just talking about the marketing expertise of these program directors. LOL!) Women are just wired differently, they react with their hearts rather than their heads.

Writing both sides of the gender coin can be a challenge. I know I’ve totally screwed up conversations between two guys when I wanted it to be all about the emotions. WRONG! Guys talk in short sentences around an issues. They’re about solving the problem and moving on. Women work on the emotional level. And both genders use their bodies to communicate. love getting into the head of my characters and having them play off each other.

How do you find reading/writing men and women in your books? Do you enjoy one point of view over the other?

In this day and age when an ultra sound will tell parents the sex of their baby before its born I am surprised by one family’s decision to keep the gender of their child from the rest of the world.

Now don’t even ask me how they managed to keep it from the doctor/midwife who delivered the bundle of joy (or from city where they obtained the birth certificate), but according to the mom, Kathy Witterick and the dad, David Stoker, no one but a close family friend and their two sons (who are 2 and 5 BTW) know the gender of the new bundle of joy welcomed into their home on New Year’s day and they plan to keep it that way. Huh?

Yep, it seems their oldest son has been mistaken for being a girl due to hairstyle and clothing choices. According to the limited information I can find, these parents don’t want to pigeon-hole their children so their older sons are encouraged to choose clothes from anywhere in the store. Okay, see, I have no problem with chidren playing dressup. Little Boy Blue grew up with two older sisters. He wore his fair share of skirts, makeup and hair accessories, but only in our home. I wouldn’t have let him head off to school in one of those outfits because kids can be cruel. Besides, my girls weren’t allowed to wear makeup in elementary school, it wouldn’t have been fair if their brother did. LOL!

Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t joke. But here’s my take on things. We’re born with certain plumbing. It’s nature. Yeah, things get screwed up now and again, but I want to stick to normal everyday indoor and outdoor plumbing with working pipes. That plumbing system comes with a particular kind of wiring, which means we’re programmed to act and react to the world around us a certain way. Yeah, there are girls who make car noises and play with trucks and young boys who would rather change the outfits of their Star Wars figurines than blow up the world, but I really think they’re the minority. I never dictated what my kids played with and I had gender neutral toys, but I can tell you for a fact, my girls played with dolls and my son crashed any two cars he could get his hands on.

The fact is no matter how hard we try, we are who we are. Hiding our true identities from the outside world isn’t going to change anything. Part of our identity is tied up in rolemodeling our parents. And whether Mr. Nina is doing dishes or I’m mowing the lawn, our children identified with how we interacted with each other. Um, again, it’s natural. It’s how parental units teach their offspring how to survive in the world.

So this couple has named their child “Storm” and I know they want him/her to grow up being able to choose how (s)he dresses and which gender to fall in love with without judgement or recriminations. I just don’t know if this is necessarily the best way to go about changing attitudes. And how long do they hope to keep this a secret? At some point the child is going to need to use public bathrooms and changing rooms. Seems to me it could get a little uncomfortable trying to use a urinal without the convenience of the right equipment. And I know for a fact that my great aunt wouldn’t be too pleased having an 8 year old boy strolling into the lady’s changing room because he wanted to get in touch with his feminine side that day.

So what do you think? Is it possible to raise a child without a gender? And really, when it comes right down to it, will they be changing any attitudes through this process?

So the “big” game is being played this weekend. And you know what? I don’t care. I mean, I’d like to … but I just don’t.

Mr. Nina and I won’t even be in the same house on Sunday, so it’s highly unlikely it will even be playing on my television. Well, maybe in the background so I can watch the commercials. But the game … meh. Not so much. Watching sports on television is torture to me. It doesn’t hold my attention. I just don’t care enough who scores or whether the left tackle takes out the quarterback in the second quarter.

The powers that be have figured out that woman want to care about the players. They want to know the rough road the tight end (and to my dismay this has nothing to do with the sexy backside of a player) traveled to get to this day. Producers put together packages prior to the game with interviews of Sunday school teacher’s and doctors that will hopefully make a connection between the players and the viewers. Doesn’t work for me. That’s not to say I’m cold-hearted, I feel for the player, it just doesn’t translate to me cheering them on to a win.

But you know, I’d like to. I’d like to feel the passion I see in others when there’s an interception or a missed field goal. I have family members who hug pillows against their chests and cover their eyes on a big play as if it were the pivotal scene in a horror movie. Being the logical scientist that I am I asked them to explain to me how they developed this passion. Why do they care so much? I mean this isn’t life or death hanging in the balance. It’s a football game.

I don’t get it. But seriously, I’d like to feel that fever. How about you? Do you enjoy football or any other sport with a passion? Because I’m trying to figure out how to find that passion.

Well an interesting thing happened during my New Year’s celebration this year. (Yes, it’s true I had a birthday and no, I’m not going to tell you how many candles were on the cake. 😉 ) There were lots of munchies and a glass of champagne or two or three or a bottle, and more than a few games of cards, but I’m not talking about any of that. I was surprised when somewhere around 4 am (yep, I was still up then) one of my extended family members started talking about my books.

Now, I’ll admit, it gets a little foggy as to how the conversation actually began. I remember feeling pretty smug that the attention was on me and my writing. But pride quickly turned to surprise. I can tell you, I had no idea the whole discussion would wind down a very precarious path. Well, not for me or Mr. Nina, but for a couple of people still hanging around the cribbage board.

You see, I was asked how I managed to reconcile what I write with the Big Guy Upstairs. Whoa. What??? (Hear the needle scrape across the record.) I’ve been asked a lot of things about writing erotica, but this was the first time someone wondered how I could write porn and exploit women and not feel like I’d thrown all my morals out the window.

Now, I LOVE a good debate. (Mr. NIna calls them arguments, but I prefer the term “heated discussion”. And I’m very good at them.) You see, I grew up in a family where not only were we encouraged to express an opposing opinion we were expected to debate our feelings on it. So I mentally rubbed my hands together and jumped into the fray with both feet. Both my writing and my faith are part of me. I don’t feel a need to defend either one. But educating? Ah, that’s where I went with this. It was the whole EROTIC ROMANCE vs. PORN discussion we smut peddlers seem to fall into every now and again. (Like every time my mother-in-law visits, but this isn’t about her … really.)

So I patiently explained why I write romance with the door open and not Hustler Forum letters. But then it got into the multiple partner situation and how wrong it is to encourage infidelity. Well no, it just so happens every one of my stories ends with a “Happy Ever After” and a commitment from all parties. Relationships are consensual regardless of the number of partners. And it’s about the fantasy of the story. Even Mr. Nina jumped into the discussion at this point. (I think mostly because he reaps the rewards of a long day of me writing erotic romance stories … if you follow me. 😉 ) Interestingly this person (who is my age) could not see any of it. He held fast to the notion that it was all porn and fantasies only lead to affairs. Huh. Not my experience, but okay.

After an hour or so we weren’t circling anything but the same points … so of course there was no resolution. I wasn’t going to feel guilty and he wasn’t going to change his mind. Though I am hoping he has a better understanding of how I feel about my writing and my stories. I figure a little education never hurt anyone even if it happens close to sunrise after more than a few beers. Nothing like a little alcohol to help someone truly express how embarassed they are by what I write. LOL!

So now I throw it out to you. Have you ever had to defend your reading/writing habits? Is there a moral disconnect between erotic romance and your faith? Cuz you know me … I’m dying of curiousity here.

Whew! I love the holiday season. i really enjoy spending time with my family. But I gotta tell you, by the time New Year’s is over and the Christmas decorations packed away for another year … I’m ready to collapse!

Of course this year was even crazier with Mr. Nina being several states away, our house half packed and children home from college with the usual chaos they bring with them. I spent last week taking it easy on myself while I was down in Rhode Island spending a little one on one time with my husband. But the vacation’s over and it’s time a took a good hard look at 2011 and what I’d like to accomplish professionally this year.

I’ve decided it’s time I turn over a new leaf and really buckle down into my writing. I’ve posted the motto “No one’s ever published a book that isn’t written” over my desk in hopes that my writing resolutions for 2011 won’t go the way of my eat healthier resolution that completely crumbled with my will power on New Year’s day when I consumed half my birthday cake and then finished it off today. Yeah, well, it’s one of the reasons I don’t make resolutions … I feel like such a rebel when I break them.

But not this year.

This year I intend to list my goals right out where I can see them. It’s not so much that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted in 2010, but I just feel like I could have done more. Much more. I see others reaching new heights in their careers and as much as I shouldn’t compare myself with other writers, I can’t help but want what they have. That means buckling down and following their example of butt in chair and fingers on the keyboard. Every day.

It won’t be easy, but I’m going to hold myself accountable. I’ve got stories crying to be written. I’m going to find the fun in the creativity again. Every career ebbs and flows and I’m looking to catch a tidal wave and ride it into a successful year.

I do have personal goals (not the least of which is selling my house and moving) and I’m throwing those into the list as well. I’m hoping that when I see them everyday hanging in my office it will be a motivate me to try a little bit harder.

So what about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions for the new year? Why or why not? And if you do make them I’d love to hear what you’re hoping to accomplish this year.

I’ve lived in northern Maine just over 20 years now. We’ve bought homes and raised our babies. But I will never truly be from here. That honor belongs to those whose grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can say they owned and worked the land or built businesses that they passed on to their children.

This is beautiful country. I have to give you that. Well, for the few months we’re without snow that is. Winters here are long and harsh. But I digress.

This past weekend was the annual Potato Blossom Festival. It really is amazing. Friday night they block off the main street and local service organizations and churches offer all kinds of food stuffs to raise money for their annual scholarships. They set up a stage for entertainment and one of the people performing was a good friend’s son who has moved away and is now making money as a musician downstate. My heart clogged as he sang beautiful songs of coming home. Swelled even more when his hard-working father, a potato farmer, who hasn’t really understood the artistic side of his son, stood with the rest of us totally mesmerized by this young man. I just kept thinking that those are the moments life is made of.

On Saturday I got to ride with Mr. Nina in a half-ton pickup pulling a float full of pageant queens. Yep northern Maine takes their pageants very seriously. Over the years a couple of the potato blossom queens have actually gone on to be “Miss Maine”. I really can’t express the emotions rolling over me as we rode the parade route waving at all the families lining the street 3 and 4 deep to watch the parade. It was so cute when the little ones blew kisses at the girls or waved calling to the “pretty princesses”. But I’m not making a statement about pageants or queens.

I’m talking about the hometown pride of the people standing there watching the parade. Obviously, not everyone was from the host town. But everyone was celebrating small town America pride. From the fireman on a float behind us singing patriotic songs to the politicians walking the parade route, shaking hands and looking for votes, everyone was just hot and smiling and … proud.

I have no doubt that somewhere near you there’s a celebration just like this. Maybe bigger. Maybe smaller. A time when the high school band plays and marches, the antique tractors and cars chug-a-lug, the veterans don their military uniforms to the applause of the crowd and the guy next door becomes a Shriner clown entertaining the crowd. *sigh*

Sometimes life just doesn’t get any better.

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