Nan Reinhardt, Author

Grown-up love stories, because we’re never too old for a little sexy romance…
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Don’t Be Skeered…It’s Just Me

August21

Not long ago, I had Son update my website and put my blog back on the Home page, so it’s the first thing anyone who visits sees. I did this on purpose because I need writing motivation and I’m hope that knowing how tacky an out-of-date blog is will make me write at least something each day. My thirty days of blogging in April was good for me, but as soon as that challenge ended, I slid back into letting life take precedence over writing—any kind of writing.

Here’s the thing. I want to write. I want to finish novels 4 and 5 of the Women of Willow Bay and start Annabelle’s story because it’s a wonderful kind of time-travel thing that’s been in the back of my head and for which I have tons of little notes here and there.

I have a new laptop, I have a good amount of editing work to do, but I can still write. I can still be creative and let the people in my head tell their stories through me. To that end, hello–I’m here. I’m back. I make no promises about how much I’ll be here, I’m going to make an effort to be here as regularly as I can, even if all I do is post a lake life picture or one of my darling Grandboy. But, I’m here . . .

So, I’m not really a writer who finds character inspiration in actors. I don’t go looking for pictures of actors to play the roles in my novels. However, I was watching a movie the other night (absorbing narrative–it’s a good thing!), and one of the actors was my Tony McAdams–the hero of Book 4 of the Women of Willow Bay series. Book 4 is currently under construction . . . it’s Sarah Everett’s story. Remember Sarah from Sex and the Widow Miles? She ran the consignment shop La Belle Femme at the Chicago women’s shelter where Julie volunteered. Well, for reasons you’ll soon learn, Sarah’s moving to Willow Bay. And Tony–the captain of Liam’s yacht, who moved to Willow Bay after Liam and Carrie got married–well, he’s a deputy sheriff now and he’s painting houses . . . and  he and Sarah are about to meet . . . Yeah, it’s Jeffery Dean Morgan . . . stay tuned!

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Happy Birthday, Mom

May13

May 13 Nan_Momis my mother’s birthday. If she’d lived, she’d be 88 years old today, but she died when she was only 60. I can’t even imagine Mom at 88 years old, although I can promise you, she’d be a totally unique 88-year-old. Picture dangly earrings, a long gypsy skirt, and a full-sleeved, colorful gauzy top. You see, Mom was born about 25 years too early. She should have been a hippie–she would’ve been great at it. I can so imagine her in Haight-Ashbury in the late ’60s, weaving daisies into her hair, dancing with bracelets and anklets jingling, and wishing peace and love to tourists and passersby–the ultimate flower child.

But she was born in 1927–a lost soul in her late teens in post-WWII America, when soldiers were coming home to their GI housing and women were expected to be housewives and mothers. She did that life because it was what was expected of her, but she never really fit in. Her ideas were too liberal, she could be outrageous, and she loved shocking people. She was a free spirit who didn’t fit the mold that had been made for her and that disappointed hell out of my grandmother and my father. I remember my dad telling the story of coming home from work one day, expecting dinner to be on the table, the house to be neat and tidy, and us kids all scrubbed and ready for Daddy. Instead, the house was in disarray and supper wasn’t even started. Mom had pulled out the sofa bed and had all four us snuggled together while she read aloud to us. Dad was furious and Mom truly couldn’t understand what his problem was. He stormed out, and although I don’t personally remember the incident, I’m guessing Mom gave us kids a shrug and that inimitable grin and continued reading.

Not long after that, my dad left us, mostly, I think, because Mom just couldn’t be the woman he wanted her to be and he couldn’t accept who she actually was. Once he was gone, she began working full time and going to nursing school full time–God only knows when the woman slept. I kinda think maybe she didn’t sleep for over two years. Money was scarce and I know now how worried she always was about keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. My grandparents helped out as they could, but Mother shouldered the biggest part of the burden of four young children and a husband who’d gone AWOL.

Yet, I don’t remember ever being afraid or worried–life was safe and secure. I thought everyone had pancakes or eggs for supper a couple of nights a week. Sunday night suppers were always grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup–I thought it was tradition. It never occurred to me it was economy. I wore my sisters’ hand-me-downs that my Aunt Alice carefully altered to fit, and I felt very grown-up. And didn’t everyone’s Grandpa show up a couple of times a week with a bag of groceries? Housecleaning fell to us kids, and we did chores while Mom was at work or school. It was simply our life, nothing out of the ordinary.

Mom studied on weekends–I have a vivid memory of PJ quizzing her on anatomy while I read, curled up next to my mother on the sofa, squeezing close to her to avoid the place with the broken spring. I was amazed that she got almost every answer right. Today, I’m even more amazed–how did she do it? Study, work full time, take care of four children, and attend classes to get her nursing degree in just two years. I’m an empty-Nester, and yet as I try to fit editing gigs, caring for two houses, helping with yard work, the gym, meal planning, and writing into one week, I’m in awe of Mom’s drive and determination.

We never went hungry, we were dressed in clean clothes, homework got checked, and she always made time if one of us needed to talk. What she didn’t make time for was arguing among ourselves–“Ten minutes to pout and then you work it out” was her rule. I realize now that she didn’t have time or energy for kid drama and temper tantrums. Can we blame her?

charlie's b-day 057I miss my mom. To me, she’ll always be that zany, slightly off-center lady who was up for any new adventure. Perhaps that would have changed about her had she had the opportunity to grow older. But I like to believe she’d have been the 88-year-old woman who danced on a beach in the moonlight. I hope I’m becoming more like her in that way—freer of spirit… bolder. Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so much. I hope you and Kate are up there in heaven, dancing together in the moonlight.

 

It’s Real…

May11

So many times since December 19, I’ve thought, okay, now it’s real. Kate is dead. Seeing her just moments after she passed—my precious sister so peaceful and beautiful—was one of those moments obviously. Talking to my brother that same day and feeling the pain of his grief over losing our sister—that surely made it real. Not spending Christmas Eve with her was another. Her memorial service was a real big one—yeah, that was “it’s real” time, absolutely.

But in between those kinds of moments are the ones where I can pretend that none of this ever happened. Kate never got sick, cancer didn’t destroy her. She’s at work, keeping Dr. Matt in line, and I can text her or fly by her office for a quick hug and hello when I go up to see Dr. Abby on Thursday. PJ and I can meet her for lunch at Bravo’s next week, where Kate and I will order that wonderful Riesling they have and eat too much bread. She’ll get the chicken and pasta she loves and I’ll have a chopped salad and probably some more bread. She’ll call me on her way home from work and bitch about the traffic and we’ll share news while she goes five miles per hour on the highway.

Then yesterday, there was this. kathisgrave1It showed up on Facebook  as I was cruising through my news feed on the drive home from the lake. I must have gasped or something because Husband asked, “What?” and for a couple of minutes, I couldn’t even breathe. The words, “Kate’s gravestone is set” stuck in my throat and a heavy weight settled onto my heart.

kathisgrave2Holy shit–my sister’s got a gravestone… in a cemetery. And here’s the weirdest part, that grave is right next to my father’s grave. Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had that knowledge tucked away—that Kate and Ev had purchased plots in the same cemetery where our dad was buried. But, it was very… I don’t know, disconcerting? To see them side-by-side because Dad’s dead and has been for over fifteen years. Kate’s not in the same category in my brain. Does that even make sense?

We haven’t had the committal ceremony yet where we bury Kate’s ashes next to our dad’s and say our final and forever goodbyes. We were waiting on the marker and on warmer spring weather. Well, the marker’s here and so is spring, so I guess we have that service coming along soon. There were other pictures in my niece’s Facebook album—Kate’s kids and grandkids and Ev all surrounding the new grave site, the sun shining, the grass lush and verdant, the yellow flowers that were just what Kate would love. Under no circumstances am I disrespecting my niece for putting the pictures up—they’re beautiful and they record the day for her and her kids and grandkids, who were all there to see their Nana’s final resting place. She had no way of knowing that seeing the pictures would blindside me, and I would never have expected her to know. She’s precious and is working through her grief in her own way, as I am in mine. I pray for her peace every single day.

KathiBut here’s the thing… and then I’ll stop, I promise (well, at least for this post); I’m not ready for that to be the picture in my head of Kate because this is still the picture in my head when I think of my sister. Right now, I can’t make both of them fit in my brain… in my heart. I don’t want to…

Still Here…

May3

…and I think what I learned from the 30 Days of Blogging is that I’m not really in search of clarity at all–I’m looking for relief from the sorrow, respite from the often-overwhelming sad of losing Kate. I’m wishing that writing might make the tears less imminent and the lump in my throat easier to swallow.

I guess that has happened to some small extent, but I’m still teary when I speak of her or when I see something that makes me think of her or when people ask me how I’m coping. The good news is I am coping. Life is going on. I’m working, I’m writing, I’m lunching with friends, I’m going to the gym with PJ, I’m doing yard work and housework and laundry, and going to the lake. Life is going on. I can’t decide what surprises me more–that life does indeed go on much as before–the bills still have to paid, the bathrooms still need scrubbing, and the dishes won’t magically do themselves just because I’ve endured a tragedy. Or how very much losing Kate has affected me.

IM001910Why am I surprised by the level of sadness that I feel at Kate’s death? Because it was so fast and unexpected? Because Kate and I didn’t live in each other pockets when she was alive and well? Because frequently, we went for a week or longer without even talking on the phone? All those things, I guess, but I think the biggest reason is that Kate is my sister, and I feel like a piece of me went with her. Kate is one of a few people in the world who knew my history, who shared my childhood intimately, who could say, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” when I’d bring up some long-ago memory. There are very few people left in my life that I shared my childhood with–PJ, Bud… well, PJ and Bud.

Even Husband, with whom I’ve shared over 43 years doesn’t have that connection to my past. He doesn’t remember Mom gathering us all on her bed to read Anne of Green Gables to us. He wasn’t there when Nana and Gacky arrived on Christmas mornings with their arms full of gifts for four squirmy excited kids. He’s never tasted Mom’s amazing crumb coffeecake or her homemade pork and beans or her mashed potato doughnuts. He didn’t get to share beach campfires in Michigan and s’mores in the sand and Mom, again, reading to us by firelight.

I don’t want those reminiscences to ever dissolve and I’m afraid they might, because Kate was one of the keepers of the family memories and she’s not here anymore. So, it’s important for me to talk about and write about those old days–now I get why older people do that so much. If we don’t talk, if we don’t remember and share, then those times will be lost forever.

Nan In Search of Clarity–Day 30

May1

IM000883Well, how typical! My last blog in this adventure and I’m 42 minutes late with it. Are we even surprised? Although, I actually have a good reason for not getting here until 12:42–I was writing. A scene for the new WOWB book has been nudging me and I just needed to get it down, so I started writing right after I talked to Husband around ten p.m. or so and just closed the file on 3,769 words. It felt good–damn good!

Today’s picture is from 2005, when Son got his Master’s degree. We had a party for him and Kate was there–this is her with our niece’s little boy. Isn’t that a great smile? Kate sure loved babies… they always made her smile.

I saw my gorgeous cousin, Kay, for lunch today and what a treat! It was emotional and weepy, but Kay and I are Meehans and Irish, so we cry a lot anyway. She is beautiful–her heart just shines out of her face. She told me how much she loved my books and how she’s telling all her friends about them. Isn’t that just the best? She came into my life just a few years ago–we didn’t grow up together, but how I wish we had! I think Kay would have been an excellent childhood playmate, although frankly, she’s a darn good friend to do things with now! She’s been a blessing. We talked about Kate–Kay had been to visit about a week before Kate died, but had to miss the memorial service because she was having knee surgery. So with a lot of tears, I told her all about it and about how I got to be with Kate right before she died. It was good to talk about it, and I know that one day, I might be able to do it without crying. But you know, even if I never can, who cares?

I think maybe the blogging has helped me–not fixed the sad or the weepiness, but helped me to see that this is just the natural order of things. Crying and missing Kate so bad I ache are simply part of the grieving process–something I was kicking and screaming against since December 19. I realize now I need to let myself feel all the stuff I’m feeling. I need to cry and howl like a baby if I want to because that’s what Kate would be doing if she the one left here on Earth. So get ready–I’m probably not done blogging or crying or howling… or being grateful… thanks to all of you who took time out of your day to read this. I’ll be here… maybe not every day, but more regularly, I think… I hope to see you as I continue this journey.

Five Things I’m Grateful For Today:

  1. I actually managed to blog for 30 days in a row.
  2. I have good supportive friends and family.
  3. Grandboy took Poppy to school today for show-and-tell. (“Look! I have Poppy!” he announced, upon entering the classroom with Poppy in tow. Lord, that kid’s cute!)
  4. Husband and Son are getting things done and enjoying one another.
  5. I’m writing!

Nan In Search of Clarity–Day 28

April29

IMG_0188Another good day–how lovely that they’re more frequent and I kinda think that writing is helping that happen. Another thing that’s happening is that the people in my head are talking to me again. Ideas are spinning round and I’m plotting and dialoguing and building characters. I’m in Discovery–which, according to my wondrous editor Lani involves not just thinking about my book, but also absorbing narrative with books and movies and TV.

I didn’t do a soundtrack for my last book, but this one, I think, needs a soundtrack, so I’ve started listening to music on my iPod and figuring out which songs will work for this story. And I’m going to do something I’ve never done for a book before–I’m going to find pictures of people who fit the characters in my head. Usually, I have a face in my head and rarely do they look like an actor or a person who’s famous. Sometimes they are people I know or amalgamations of people I know, but mostly they’re just characters from my imagination. This will be different for me.

It’s been good for me to be outside and working in the yard–very satisfying to see the results of our hard work and it made me anxious to go to the nursery and start buying herbs and plants. Yard work is a good time to write in my mind–I can do the work with my hands but be elsewhere in my head… not at all a bad thing…

Five Things I’m Grateful for Today:

  1. A sweet text from PJ–she read yesterday’s blog and needed to remind me that I’m a good sister. Thanks, PJ! I love you!
  2. Love working on a test for a new client.
  3. The backyard is cleaned up and ready for spring planting!
  4. Got to see Grandboy and Son tonight on Skype!
  5. Watched the new episode of Outlander this afternoon after yard work–what an amazing series!

 

Nan In Search of Clarity–Day 27

April27

I woke up this morning very early and watched the sun rise from my bed. I was thinking about what a good time PJ and I had yesterday sharing church and lunch and then attending the Stuart McLean show together. It was a good sister day.

I want so much to be the sister that PJ deserves because PJ is a good woman who should always have people in her life who love her and take care of her. She’s had some tragedy in her life with the loss of her precious boy and now, our Kate. She and Kate shared an especially close relationship–they were “the big kids” and Bud, my brother and I were “the little kids.” I don’t think Mom meant to divide us that way, it just sorta happened like that by virtue of our birth order, I guess.

sistersBut the division occurred nonetheless, and although I loved my sisters and still love them dearly, I always felt on the outside of their relationship–like a child outside in the cold with her nose pressed against the window of a warm house. They both would be so sad to know that I felt that way and most likely Kate would be the first to give me a tap on the back of the head and tell me to “snap out of it!” So this isn’t their problem at all, it’s mine. They never excluded me. They were simply a unit–“the big kids”–“PJ and Kate,” like salt and pepper. I regret not spending more time with Kate, but our lives were so different for such a long time, and now…well… now all I can do is be a better sister for PJ.

mowerFive Things I’m Grateful for Today:

  1. Gardens in front are ready for spring.
  2. I got a call from a new client today–so excited to test for them!
  3. Trip to Costco meant a new coffeemaker.
  4. Talked to Grandboy, who told me he sang a song and jumped on the carpet at school.
  5. Husband is really getting a kick out his new mower. Fun!

Nan In Search of Clarity–Day 25

April26

Clarity–is that even anything that’s possible? Maybe I’m trying to find something that will never be there, trying to make sense of something that won’t ever make sense. I don’t buy that God wanted Kate with him or that her cancer and death were his will for her. I think that’s crap. If I don’t believe that it’s always God’s will that people are healthy and strong and that we live, then that shakes the very foundation of my faith. I have to know that God is a loving father and no loving father would ever want for his child to be sick or to die. I do know that.

But I think we live in an imperfect world where bad stuff happens and it’s pretty freaking random. Bad stuff happens because we make bad choices (and don’t we all do that!) and bad stuff happens just because we’re in this world. There’s often no rhyme or reason. See? In my head, I get that. But my heart keeps asking why? Why Kate? Why Dee? Why David? Why Connie?

cyberchondriaAnd then the self-centered part of me asks, “What about me? Am I next?” I’m an idiot cyber-chondriac anyway and sometimes the fear is unreasonably big–mostly when I’m hurting somewhere or not feeling great. I can’t just shake it off with, “Okay, so today my arthritis hurts” or “maybe I’ve caught a little bug” or “no sleep often means you feel like crap the next day.” Confession? It’s gotten a little worse since Kate died. Thing is, I know she’s up there in heaven laughing her ethereal ass off every time I clutch over some ache or pain. You’re right, Kate… you’re so right… yeesh!

Five Things I’m Grateful for Today:

  1. Got to talk to Grandboy who said, “I love you, Nanny!” I love you, too, precious boy!
  2. I finished my basket pattern dishcloth and it’s pretty.
  3. I started another dishcloth. I really love knitting dishcloths because I can learn new knitting patterns.
  4. Got the first pass done on the project I’m working on.
  5. Had a gorgeous pinot noir today–really delicious.

Nan In Search of Clarity–Day 24

April25

Nothing but joy today–it’s true. It has been a joyful, peaceful day and I’m so thankful for it.

We just got home from the Allisonville Christian Church–Arts at Allisonville production of The Wizard of Oz. Who knew there Wizcould be so much talent in one congregation and tonight’s event just made us even happier we’ve thrown our lot in with this wonderful church. Delightful play and even more delightful players, including my sister PJ, who was a townsperson in Oz and in the chorus. So fun to watch her up there!

This morning, I went to the gym and spent an hour working hard in the pool–it felt great! Then I came home, got a bunch of little tasks done that needed doing. Nothing major, just stuff I’ve been putting off–crossed about eight things off my list. Whew! Also got to spend about half an hour on the phone with Dee just talking. A very good thing.

I looked up some new knitting patterns on the Internet today and tomorrow I’m going to go to Michael’s to buy some more cotton yarn. I love making dishcloths because they’re quick, fun, and an easy way to learn new patterns. I’m knitting! Me! Who knew? 😉

All in all, a good day and you know, even being at church felt good, too–no sad memories of Kate because tonight was all about PJ. I thought fleetingly how much Kate would’ve enjoyed the play, but otherwise, the fun was all mine…and PJ’s, of course.

Five Things I’m Grateful for Today:

  1. The Arts at Allisonville and everyone associated with tonight’s production
  2. Being back in the pool–gosh, it was grand!
  3. I tried the sit-ups on the balance ball again today and discovered that the pain in my side is definitely a pulled muscle–good to know.
  4. Saw Husband’s cousin at the play tonight–one of those 6-people away connections–but it was good to see her!
  5. Sunshine today, most all day.

Nan in Search of Clarity–Day 15

April16

So…yeah…I’m about six hours and fifty minutes late with this post. I’d love to tell you that I was so deliriously happy yesterday that I completely forgot about posting and that life is grand and I’ve totally resolved all my issues and no need to remain committed to my thirty days of blogging. Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice?

Well, not so much…fact is, I plain forgot. We cleaned the carpet at the lake and scooted home. The drive back wsleepy snoopyas mine this time and I came as close to falling asleep while driving as I’ve ever come. Seriously–if Husband hadn’t been there to keep me talking, I’d probably be snoring upside-down in my car in some as-yet-planted corn or soybean field even now. The fact that I got so sleepy driving made me realize how much I’m sleeping right now. Not like all the time or anything, but more than usual for me. I’m going to bed earlier and sleeping later. I know that’s one of the signs of depression, but it’s also a sign of avoidance on my part–if I go to bed earlier, then I don’t have to think about the fact that I’m not writing because, see, I’m a late-night writer.

My best creative time is at night, when the rest of the house is asleep. In nice weather, I can open my office window or sit in the big chair by the open window at the lake, and listen to the night sounds outside, crickets, critters, the occasional car driving by. For some reason, being all alone at night gets my creative juices flowing. But ever since Kate died, I’m going to bed with the chickens and waking up…well, waking up whenever I damn well please. I deliberately began writing this blog and posting at night, not just because I wanted to write after the day had ended, but also because it was making me write at my personal best writing time.

All this to say, I blew it yesterday–Day 15 came and went with nothing extraordinary happening…nothing at all really and I forgot to blog. But I’m here this morning and it’s not 8 a.m. yet, which means I got up when I woke up instead of staying in bed cuddled up to Husband’s comfortable warmth. I’ve got an actual To-Do list today, and the last thing on it is “Blog,” so I will.

Five Things I Was Grateful for Yesterday

  1. I didn’t fall asleep driving and kill us both in our new car
  2. I got work! YAY!!
  3. Got to talk to Son, who is in Rome doing important stuff
  4. The carpet in the cottage is clean and next week, the bedroom carpet gets it!
  5. I didn’t overeat or long for a glass of wine
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