Pop’s birthday and some writing advice

I do not know what I would do without climbing. There is not another activity that I can think of or that I have done that so effectively forces the PTSD to cease and desist for the period of time during which I am engaged in it.  I would love to go climbing right about now, except for the fact that it is snowing outside at the moment.  That is Montana for you!  I hope that it does not snow too much and that we get rain instead, because we really need a lot more moisture down here in the valleys than the snow can provide this time of year.  The weather app that I have on my phone says that it is supposed to rain most of the day and that this snow is a temporary morning thing.  Odd weather.  That is what we get to deal with here in Montana.  At least we have seasons!  We have the winter season and the construction season.  Both seem to be perpetual.

Things outside are slow to green up, I am noticing.  I am watching three squirrels chasing each other around in the bare-branched trees across the road next to the ditch.  One of those squirrels likes my mom’s roof as a shortcut to the trees in the back yard and makes use of it regularly.

Today would be my Pop’s birthday, if he was still alive.  He would be 76 years old.  He passed away last year just before his 75th birthday.  It is a rough day that way.  I would be hugging him, teasing him, and sharing a birthday cake with him.  He always poured milk over the top of his cake, as I do, and as far as I am concerned, there is no better way to eat cake.  Pop used to make brownies especially for me when he knew I was coming out to the house.  Later, he got into salads, and would make my mom and me a salad for dinner or supper.  I called him “The Salad Master”.  He was so proud of his ability to make salads for us.  Then he had a stroke and could not make salads as easily, eventually giving up on the endeavor.  Pop hurt every moment of every day.  He had rheumatoid arthritis, emphysema, and a host of other conditions of aging.  He had high blood pressure, which was not surprising given how uptight he was.  My dad worried constantly, and mostly about his family — us kids and Mom.  He would spend his days watching Fox News and NASCAR races, occasionally football, and he would inevitably end up cussing at the television set.  He was a channel-flipper.  Just when something good was about to happen in a show, he would flip to another channel.  It was reflex.  He just could not help himself.  He became known as the “Curmudgeon”.  When we would point out that he was “curmudgeoning”, sometimes we got a laugh and other times we got grumbled at.  Either way, he would go out for a smoke.  Cigarettes.  My Pop just could not kick the habit.  He tried the Chantix and everything else.  He began smoking when he was 12 years old, and that was not a habit that he was capable of breaking.  It was not, however, for lack of trying, either!  The doctors would always tell my dad that he needed to stop smoking.  Pop got to the point that he would not go to see a doctor unless forced to (usually ending up in a hospitalization) due to that, and he ended up leaving AMA (against medical advice) almost every time he was hospitalized because the doctors at the hospital would tell him the same thing.  My dad was a long-haul trucker most of his life.  He would always bring something great home for my brother and me.  Pop was always thinking of us, and he called Mom every single night before he went to bed when he was on the road.  He never said he was proud of me, but Pop never failed to say, “I love you.”  I loved him, too.

On that happy note, I talked to my doctor today and the Doc gave me some good short story ideas.  I have to do a bit of research on ancient money and figure out what I want my story to be about, but it is going to be a change in the point of view on one of the parables of Jesus.  Instead of the viewpoint presented, which was the all-around general story, I am going to write a different short story from the point of view of each person involved in the parable.  They will not necessarily be the same story — far from it.  That should be fun!  I am looking forward to it.  It is a fresh idea and one that I like very much.  I think it will be a great exercise in playing with my imagination.

The Doc told me that I need to read more, too.  He said I have to read everything twice.  The first time through, you are just getting the story.  The second time through, you are analyzing the book to figure out how the author did what they did and when and how and why, etc.  That, too, will be a fun exercise.  I have a book of short stories by different authors that definitely shows their individual styles, and they are all takes on folktales and mythologies from around the world.  They are not the ancient “standards”, though.  They are modern interpretations of the old lore and are fantastic reading.  I will have to read them all again to make sure I know the stories, and then again, a third time, to figure out what the authors did and how they did it.  I want to know how they differ.  I will try to write a myth or tale in the style of another author, to see if I can do it.  Finding your voice in writing begins with imitation.  I know my voice, so imitation could be the tricky part!

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