Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Novel Places

It has been hot here in OK and muggy. Last weekend we worked on the house getting up and out very early to beat the heat. Still, when I stepped outside in the early morning and in the shade, my clothes stuck to me with all the humidity mixed with sweat. I asked Toby if we could just work nekkid, but I guess that would not have been practical. By noon, it is just too hot to do much work outside. I think the Italians have it right when they close their business after lunch and don’t open until evening, if at all. We have been like that here – eating supper earlier so that we can work when it cools off. Last night we worked on the soffit and fascia. Yep, it is going slow, but that is okay. Chipping away is better than nothing.

For most of the summer I have been fasting – sort of. I quit reading romance novels to focus on other things. Romance novels may be silly, but they are just the thing in the summer when you don’t want anything heavy or serious. The fast has gone well, but I needed some light reading – something wistful and fun. I needed a Luanne Rice novel. I love her beach stories set on the north East Coast. Many of her books are set in a fictional town of Hubbard Point, Connecticut, which was inspired by a place where she spent her summers as a child. The town is a haven for artists and lovers. She describes the families and the relationships in a small town – intertwining character’ lives. Some characters are summer people and others live there year around, but they always seem to be drawn to the town by something mystical. She writes wonderful stories of sisters and girl friends and the strength they draw from one another. She describes the beaches, the boats, the water, and the landmarks as if they were magical. She makes growing up in such a place seem like the perfect childhood, yet there is always some tragedy to overcome.

Never having been a beach person myself, you might wonder why I love these books. Maybe it is because they remind me of life growing up in RR. As kids we had free reign of the mountains. My brother and I had "forts" and special places all up Bitter Creek. We played up and down the town as if we owned it. Later, The Island would become our very special place where a handful of us kids played. I’ve mentioned the Community House and how we gathered there to dance and be with our friends. The friends we made growing up, the bonds formed have been everlasting. Romances found and lost. The relationships and the strength we draw from one another – magical. Yet tragedy has struck many of the families. Life in the mountains is beautiful, but it can be harsh.

I get upset sometimes with the harshness of life in RR – the divorces, the alcohol and drug abuse, the financial difficulties of resort living, etc, but I cannot deny the pull of the mountains. Not just any mountains – it is the relationships and friends and the memories and bonds that bind us to RR. If I could write like Luanne Rice, I would write of the magic of the mountains and the friends and families there.


Buck said...

I always seem to go off on a tangent in comments, Lou... and this is no different. I had a roommate/housemate in the way-back (in Westby, Montana... just before TSMP and I were married)... a female buck sergeant who collected Harlequin romance novels. Actually, she and her Mom collected them, and Mom would send Roomie Jill a box of the things EVERY week. Jill would park herself on our couch on Saturday mornings, open that box, and read maybe four or five of those things straight through, stopping only for the call of nature and food. I always thought that was kinda strange. There's more to this story... about life imitating "art" (if you can call Harlequin books art), but we'll leave that for another time. ;-)

I envy you growing up in RR and forming lasting bonds. That's something I never experienced as a military brat and something I have difficulty even imagining. I think it's great.

Christina LMT said...

I love Luanne Rice novels. She's a talented writer and her world comes alive inside her books. I'm not much of a beach fan myself, but I do enjoy reading novels set there.
I'm a romance novel reader, and I'm no longer ashamed to admit it! I don't read as many as I used to (Buck's former roommate has NOTHING on me! ;)), but there are certain authors I can't desert. I especially enjoy well-written and -researched historical romances. Like a time machine in book format!
Thanks for sharing, Lou.

Bag Blog said...

Buck, I am a of a romance novel snob. I am picky about my novels and will not read just anything. I have read Harlequin novels, but only as a last resort and then rarely at that. I want something that it is written well and has interesting characters. Some romances are just silly - I can't read those. I like something with a good plot or mystery or that is historically correct. When I find a writer who is really good, I inhale the books.

Christina, I used to be embarrassed by my love for romance novels, but then I decided that if people can watch such silly movies that come out today, why can't I read the same sort of stuff or better?

Andy said...

Lou, I really enjoyed reading this for many reasons.

Growing up as a flat land Southerner in NW Louisiana, I was always fascinated by the mountains. For four years of my adult life we lived in the San Juans, in and around Durango/Bayfield/Ignacio, Colorado. So, I am familiar with your growing up turf.

It was (as you noted) just a visibly gorgeous place to reside. And, I can also truly understand what you're saying about divorces/alcoholism (I worked on an Indian Reservation)/financial difficulties of resort living (in and around Wolf Creek, and Purgatory I had many friends that dealt with it), etc. Reading this post brought back so many heart warming, and so many painful will never know how many. Heck, I probably don't either.

But, as I pass the half century mark, my memories turn more and more to my own hot, humid, Southern upbringing...and my pals I shared those childhood experiences with. In the last few years I have been able to reconnect with many of them, and it has been sweet. Really sweet.

The forts we shared, the fishing trips that almost ended in disaster, and the time we lost a buddy (literally) to our foolishness.

I'm worse than Buck when it comes to rambling. Obviously. So, I'll just chop this off and note that your "it is the relationships and friends and the memories and bonds that bind us to RR." is something that I can truly identify a child, and as an adult.

And, I'll let you off the hook on the romance novel thingy. My wife (who has not one bone of foolishness in her body) reads those things, too. So, it must be least for personal therapy...which she certainly deserves.

Anonymous said...

..... you are already an artist, Lou..... who knows, maybe you should try to write YOUR romance novel....... your blog is excellent, so you already have the skills....... who knows, you might should give it a try!...


Bag Blog said...

Eric, thanks for the kind words. I do think about writing my own novel - someday.

Andy, Lots of people move to beautiful places like the mountains thinking that it will solve all their problems. But the problems just intensify with the harshness of the land and the economy. You are right - you can find more peace and happiness with good friends. I love it when you leave long, well thought out comments.

Andy said...

Heh! Lou, that reminds me of a story I heard a loooooong time ago.

"A woman took a trip to Hawaii to get away from her problems. But when she got off the plane 'there she was.' "

Junk Diva said...

I think you writing a book is a novel idea.

Jo Castillo said...

Oh, good idea a novel. You would be great at that. Have you tried Barbara Burnett Smith? She wrote 5 Purple Sage novels and 1 1/2 about beads, the last one was finished by Karen Macinerney. Barbara was Gene's niece's sister-in-law. She was run over and killed in San Antonio in 2005 bringing a dog home to Austin that they had rescued. The novels are set in fictional Purple Sage near Austin. They are fun.

Bag Blog said...

Jo, the Purple Sage novels sound intersting - I'm always on the look-out for new authors.