One summer we spent a few days at Jackson Hole. In one of the shops there was a darling rotund Santa on the shelf. At the time we were collecting Father Christmas figures. I went back later to buy it and they said they'd just sold it. I gave a description of Mr. J. and they said yes, he was the one. I tried to act surprised Christmas morning.
Early in our marriage, I bought him a Helen Reddy album for Christmas (LP! if you can believe it). And he bought the same thing for me. Ditto for a John Denver album and a Victor Borge book (but the one Mr. J bought for me was SIGNED), and then, a couple of years ago, we each unknowingly bought a CD of Gentri (very good a capella group) for each other.
These coincidences (I don't believe in coincidences) did not involve any selling of watches or cutting of hair, (as in The Gift of the Maji by O'Henry), so there were no true sacrifices involved, but still, great memories. I hope you make good memories this holiday.
Mr. J went back to his project, and I began to think about our conversation. First of all, what would he do without me to tell him where he was born? And then I mused for a bit. If my parents knew about me at the time he was born in Salt Lake City, they weren't telling anyone. My mother had tuberculosis and they didn't disclose the pregnancy to her doctors until it was past the first trimester and too late to terminate. I was only the size of a bean in Walnut Creek, California. If circumstances had been different, then I wouldn't be here at all and my life wouldn't have collided with Mr. J's (we met as members/competitors of USU's intercollegiate debate team). We went on to marry and honeymoon (if you can call grad school a honeymoon, and we did, most of the time) in Chicago for three years. When grad school was done, we were both beckoned home to jobs in the same college town where we met. Logan has always felt like a home town to me, so I happily set down roots. Our three children graduated from the same middle school and high school their father did, and some of the teachers and administrators even remembered their dad when he was their age (by all reports, he was an all-around perfect child who grew to be an all-around perfect young man). As my upbringing was rather nomadic, I really wanted continuity for my children. They only remember one move, to a home two miles across town, and they didn't have to change schools. I've often wondered what a toll the pregnancy took on my mother's overall health. I was born healthy, all seven pounds of me, but she was weak and still contagious, so another couple from their church community took me in for a couple of months. Imagine, caring for a newborn 24/7 out of kindness. My father used to bring me to my mother's bedroom window where she lay recovering, so she could see what I looked like. It was a subject that brought her to tears even at the end of her life. All things considered, I should have ended last night's conversation with this statement:
Meet Maggie Sullivan, 74, widowed, healthy, mentally sharp, living in the historic Eagle Gate Apartments in the heart of Salt Lake City, where it’s close enough to walk or take the bus anywhere she wants to go. Maggie’s in what she calls Act Three of her life, “more agile than most and still in possession of her original knees,” (and her own teeth), and chooses to live every day of that life happily. After the rent’s paid, her means are modest, (i.e., nearly nonexistent), but her needs are few; she’s comfortable and surrounded by good friends, who believe “anytime’s an excuse for a party” or a lively game of Scrabble.
Devastating and painful secrets from Acts One and Two of her life caused Maggie to revert to her maiden name and begin a new life, Act Three. Maggie’s grand-niece Carly appears at her door, deathly ill, with dangerous gang connections. Maggie takes her in lovingly, knowing Carly could run back to the gang anytime, but prays she won’t. A mysterious wealthy man, Ed from 8-B, begins to pay attention to Maggie, but, unlike the throng of eligible single women longing to meet him, casseroles in hand, Maggie’s not interested in dating, and something’s not quite right about Ed.
In Maggie’s Place, Salt Lake City is featured almost as a character itself, with its unique and historical beauty, upscale lifestyle and culture, and, unfortunately, with its underbelly of crime common to all large cities. Haws knows the city well, bringing the reader right to the actual bus stop where Maggie waits to ride to her part-time job at a knitting shop; the Symphony; the Broadway Theater; the Alta Club; the Beehive House, power walks around Temple Square; the unpredictable, often brutal, but sometimes extraordinarily beautiful winter weather; and the quiet old elegance of the Eagle Gate Apartments. Best of all, Haws leads us into the hearts and souls of the well-developed characters who live in them, as well as those who don’t.
Maggie’s place is a cozy read. Haws takes an honest, unflinching look at aging and all that goes with it, addressing it with honesty, grace, and humor. The plot is lively with unexpected elements, and the descriptions of the characters who wander in and out of Maggie’s Place are priceless.
I've seen a few of these around town, and there's one nearby where I deposit (and try not to take tempting ones home) books I'd like to share with my neighbors. It's made of 90+% recycled materials, and the housing for books is an old microwave! I'll post a picture of it in a future post. I love this concept. Interesting article here: https://bit.ly/36HCTBJ
So . . . I am taking an online class for writers. The instructor told us to develop an avatar---a very specific individual who is your target reader. She said inventors of the first iphone did that... and the phone sold well because their target, or avatar, did buy it, and buyers did match her profile, and extended beyond that. think that's what she said. Obviously, the phone sold well.
My book-in-progress, O'Connor's Honor, has the following reader:
She's 50, empty-nested, college-educated, well-read, with many hobbies and interests, always ready to learn something new. She drives a Honda electric car, is an ecclectic dresser, and an animal lover, especially dogs. Can't bear the thought of animal cruelty. Loves quilts. She's a good friend and neighbor, passionate about the environment, loves Fleetwood Mac, Celtic music, the Kingston Trio, most folk music, classical music (not country western), is a beginning yoga (at home) student. She's intuitive and tired of cooking. Formerly, she was a soccer mom, PTA president, and Cub Scout Leader. Loves art, especially watercolors. Loves the theater and traveling. Wishes she'd done theater in school and community when she was younger.
Her bucket list includes NOT skydiving, but more travel and a large oil painting by a local artist she's been lusting after (the painting, not the artist). She wonders if she has/had any artistic talent (painting or sculpting), regrets not staying with childhood piano lessons. Hates politics but cares deeply about her country. Writes letters commending exceptional service by store employees, also writes letters of complaint to CEOs when she feels treated unjustly. She's outgoing. Has health issues to manage. Hates New Years Resolutions. Loves old classic movies and books, is selective about contemporary books and movies. Loves libraries and bookstores. Has a dry sense of humor. She wonders what she's accomplished in the long run. She embraces her spirituality but has her doubts. She wears sensible shoes. She may or may not know where her car keys are.
I know, in some slight way, she may or may not resemble me, but my story resonates with me, so that's how I picture my avatar. Forgot to mention she's happily married and a grandma.
I have "surgical" ankles, feet and toes. They've had a total of seven surgeries. Painful. I hope that era is over. They are what they are. In the meantime, I have found the perfect "surgical shoe." It doesn't allow my toes to reach the end of the shoe. They remain untouched, unbattered as I walk. And they can get wet.
They're like waterproof Mary Janes, I guess, but it's all about comfort.
I've neglected this blog for a while. I'll blog more frequently on a variety of subjects---whatever comes to mind. First, though, some sad news:
I went to a workshop at the Logan Library yesterday and in the parking lot a helicopter droned overhead and the KSL News van was parked in front of the adjacent police station. It confirmed what I'd been dreading. There was to be a press conference. I kept on walking.
I've forgotten how to embed a link, but here's the story. She was only 5 years old. Lizzie was her name.