Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Friendship


We were each allowed to choose a card with a random word for meditation at church recently. I first picked the word “Weaver.”

“That’s really not me’” was my first response.

The pastor said, “Then pick another.” So, I did. The second was “Friendship.”

However, “weaver” kept haunting me, and I realized how these two words perfectly intersected in my life.

You see, one of my closest friends in grammar school and high school, Marie [Stratton] Cole is a weaver. She taught herself to make pine needle baskets using the ancient techniques of the Native Americans. She collects her own pine needles, dries them, dyes them using the organic dyes, which have been used for hundreds of years. Her creations are in museums and galleries in the Pacific Northwest. I own four of them, and each is a small masterpiece.

I think she sent me the first one, called “Childhood Memories,” for a milestone birthday years ago. This precious gift sits on my desk, where I see it every day. It is about four inches in diameter, and the tiny stitches form a pattern that perfectly illustrates our friendship. The two colors intersect, then separate, then come back together—just like we have. I always think of Marie as close to the natural world. She loved camping and being out in nature. Today she and her husband live in a remote area of Oregon and is content to listen to the birds and be among the trees. In contrast, I’m a bit of a hothouse flower. I don’t like getting my hands dirty! In the two colors, I saw us clearly: Marie in the grounded brown, and me in the beautiful blue. (My house is decorated in this color.)

We were together in high school, sharing many interests. After graduation, we went our separate ways.

Marie was a bridesmaid in our wedding.

Wedding Party: Victoria Hanner, Marie Stratton, Kathleen Murphy, Me, Larry, Virgil Thomas, Patrick Tedford, Jim Tedford

After we both married, we lived close to each other. When Star Trek began on TV, both of our husbands were obsessed. We met every Wednesday night at alternating homes for dinner and to watch the show.

Her husband enlisted in the Air Force, so we were separated yet again. However, he was being stationed in Colorado, where we were living at the time. Their housing wasn’t ready when they arrived, so they and their baby daughter, Maretta, stayed with us and our four-year-old for a short time.

We returned to California, and Marie continued to move around. But she often returned to see her mother. Whenever she was in town, we went to see her. Not only was she one of my closest friends, but her brother, John, was Larry’s best friend through school, so their mother was a fixture in our lives.

Finally, Marie moved to Oregon, and we remained in California.

However, we always stayed in touch, both through email and phone calls, but also through her mother.

In 2014, our class from Alhambra High School celebrated its fiftieth reunion. We asked any class members who created unique items to donate one or two for a silent auction. (We donated several books.)


Marie sent this charming basket, obviously created just for the occasion. It features the school colors and our graduation year. Several people bid on it, but Larry knew how much I loved it. Even though I already had one of Marie’s masterpieces, I was very taken with this one. Unbeknownst to me, he kept an eye on the bidding and outbid everyone else. It is my favorite memento from the event. This one is about four-and-a-half inches tall and four inches in diameter. It sits in a place of honor on the etagere upstairs with other high school memorabilia.

The following year, Larry and I celebrated our fiftieth anniversary. What an amazing surprise to receive a box in the mail from Marie!

Inside was this beauty called “Connecting Links.” This matches the colors in our living room perfectly! It is four-and-a half inches tall and four inches in diameter. It is a perfect metaphor for our relationship.

During one of our visits to her in 2003, Marie’s mother, Millie, told me she had begun to write her memoir of growing up in Alhambra, California. I said when she finished it, I would edit and publish it for her. Her son, John, worked on it with her for several years prior to his death from cancer in 2016. Each time I spoke with her, I asked how it was coming. She always said she was still working on it.

As she aged, her eyesight grew worse and her typing less accurate. She went from typewritten pages to the computer, but she was afraid she would lose her work when she closed the file. So, she learned to rename each chapter with the current date appended as soon as she opened it.

After she turned 100, she decided she was finished. We went to her house, collected all the typewritten pages, and copied all the files onto a flash drive. Then, I had to go through the chapters, combine the ones that went together, and try to decipher what I thought she meant.

Fortunately, her mind was sharp. If I had a question, I called her, and she always had an answer. Where there were holes in the manuscript, I did research and filled them in. Her caregiver and one of my friends read the chapters to her as I finished them, and Millie gave me notes—always thoughtful and interesting.

By 2020, I was nearly finished, but I still had one or two questions. As always, her answers were quick and to the point. Three days later, she passed away at the age of 102.

Despite my promise to publish the book, her daughters decided they just wanted copies for family members, so I sent the files. (Marie’s younger sister, Judi, passed away a couple of years ago. I still would like to have the book published. I know quite a few people who would enjoy it. But as long as they are reluctant, it will remain on my computer.)

To thank Larry and me for completing her mother’s book (Larry created a beautiful cover), Marie sent us this gorgeous piece, “Chaparral Hills.”

Her inspiration was the chaparral-covered hills around Los Angeles. The white pearl plants are reminiscent of the pampas grass readily found in the area. This holds a place of honor in our china closet.

Each time I look at these beautiful works of art, I am reminded of my friend, Marie, and our treasured friendship. So, both words—“Weaver” and “Friendship”—were appropriate and perfect for meditation.


Friday, January 26, 2024

Remembering Kae

 

Kae Komiyama came into our lives as part of a homestay. In prior years, we had hosted five other young ladies from Japan and one from Spain for this six-to-eight-week English-intensive program. Our close friend, Terri, was the coordinator and teacher. Students were housed in individual homes and became part of their families for the time of their stay. In our case, they have remained part of our family.

For this group, our student was Fumiko. Our daughter, Kim, who lived about five blocks away at the time, hosted Ikue. And her neighbors, Ceil and Keith, hosted Kae. I said we got three for the price of one in this group because they spent a great deal of time together—often at our house.

My mother was living with us at the time, and she often provided transportation for the girls. She couldn’t remember their Japanese names, so she identified them by their personal characteristics: Fumiko was “the funny one,” because of her ready sense of humor. Ikue was “the little one,” because she was short like our daughter, Kim. Kae was “the pretty one” because she was beautiful. Mom adored them all.

L-R: Kim, Kae, Ikue, Fumiko, me

One evening, they fixed dinner for all of their host families. Another evening, they put on a fashion show. Kae and Fumiko wore my formal clothing, and Ikue wore Kim’s. Kae’s host mother did their hair and makeup. Such fun memories!

Ikue, Kae, Fumiko

Being silly with Dad: Fumiko, Kae, Ikue with Larry

It was hard to say goodbye to this group, but we hoped we would see them again when we moved to Japan the following August.

Saying Goodbye: Kae, me, Ikue, Fumiko

In April of 1999, Kim and Mom came to visit us in Japan. We would spend a total of 31 months there building the Universal Studios Japan theme park. While they were there, we celebrated Larry’s birthday, and Kae and her then-boyfriend (and future husband), Toshi, were in attendance.

Kae, Toshi, Kim

Larry blowing out his candles

During our time in Japan, they visited about once a month. They arrived with no agenda except to be with us. Although we saw all but one of our Japanese daughters while we lived there, we saw Kae and Toshi the most.

We returned to California in the spring of 2001. Toshi had a job which required him to come to the US a couple of times a year on business. He always tried to extend his trips so he could spend a few days with us. He sometimes brought Kae with him.

One day in late October of 2003, we received a message from them. They had been married in Japan. Like many other countries in the world, they went to the city hall, filled out the paperwork, and left officially married. The wedding, however, was a separate occasion.

“Mom, we want to have our wedding in Orange County. We will arrive on December 28.”

They wanted an American wedding. What the heck was that?

We had a few questions.

Church or at the park where Larry’s brother had been married? Church. (When our kids stayed with us, they attended church with us on Sundays, despite the fact that the Japanese don’t really practice any religion.)

The pastor was Larry’s best friend, and they had met him several times before. They wanted him to marry them. Religious or secular ceremony? Religious.

They didn’t need a license since they were already married, but they insisted. They wanted one stating that they were married in Orange County. Toshi had already done his homework and found that he could complete all the paperwork online and pick up the license in Santa Ana. They went straight from the airport to the city hall and picked it up.

Kae’s brother was coming with them and he would be Toshi’s best man. Kim would be Kae’s maid of honor. I mentioned that here, it was traditional for the father of the bride to walk her down the aisle. “Do you think Dad would do it?”

Silly question. Of course, he would. But he no longer owned a suit. When he left the engineering company where he’d worked for over 30 years, he donated all of his suits. We had to rush out and get a 3-day suit so he could be the father of the bride. (Kae’s father had died when she was quite young. I think I identified with her because I had lost mine at a young age, too.)

The wedding came off without a hitch, and it was beautiful.


Mom, Kae, Toshi, Dad

On our anniversary, September 4 of 2010, our phone rang at about 3:00 a.m. Toshi could barely speak because he was so upset. “Kae collapsed. She may not make it.”

“We’ll put her on the church prayer chain, and we will pray for her, too.”

Of course, I went to pieces as soon as we hung up.

She’d had an aneurism. The neurosurgeon who treated her (the best one in all of Japan) later told Toshi he would have given her less than 5% chance of survival. However, Toshi posted a picture on her Caring Bridge site on her birthday, October 16, of her jumping on her bed. Her doctor could not explain how she had recovered with only slight impairment. He called it a miracle.

Of course, I was worried about her until the following March when we went back to Japan for the 10th anniversary of the opening of USJ. Kae and Toshi came down to Osaka and spent several days with us. It felt so good to hug Kae and tell her how much we loved her. Even more important, we got to see how well she was.

A couple of years after her aneurism, Kae attended culinary school at Cordon Bleu in Tokyo. With a lot of help from Toshi, she graduated. Quite an accomplishment!

In 2015 when they next visited, she brought her chef’s coat and toque and cooked a gorgeous four-course dinner for us and four other couples. Magnificent!

Chef Kae and Ruth

She wouldn’t have been able to handle the fast-paced schedule in a restaurant, but she started her own cooking school at home. She taught private lessons to small groups of women and thoroughly enjoyed it.

They continued to visit often, and we kept in touch through email, text, and Facebook.

Then in April of last year, when she was supposed to be starting a college course toward her MBA, Toshi sent me a message: “Kae might have pancreatic cancer.”

Unfortunately, she did, and Toshi fought to get her the treatment she required. I assured him I had two prayer chains praying for her with some of the same people who had prayed for her before.

She underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and more experimental treatment Toshi researched. He wanted to bring her to see us, but her doctor would not clear her for plane travel following surgery to place a drain.

Meanwhile, Toshi’s father died, so he had his hands full dealing with that and caring for Kae.

She was finally cleared to fly, and he brought her on September 29 for ten days. She still had a drain in place.

After we returned from the airport, she came in the front door, looked around, smiled at me, and said, ”Mom, I’m home.”

This both touched me and broke my heart because I knew more than anywhere else in the world, this truly was her home, and we truly were her family.

They were joined a couple of days later by her best friend from high school, Ayumi.

This was Kae’s “bucket list” trip. She had about six or seven items she wanted to do while she was here. And she did all of them and more, including a final trip to Disneyland.

She looked much better by the time they left. And she was happy.

Kae with wig at the church where they were married

A couple of weeks later, I received a message from Toshi. They had been to see her doctor, and he told them she probably had only four to six weeks left. His last line, however, really broke my heart: I’m sorry. Mom. I couldn’t save her.

On the morning of December 20 at about 10:00 a.m. our time, Toshi messaged me: Kae loses consciousness…hope she comes back. I began to pray for both of them and continued throughout the morning.

We went to Larry’s brother’s house for lunch to deliver his family’s Christmas presents. I had the ringer turned off on my phone, but Larry’s was on. He had an incoming call. “I don’t recognize this number.”

I did. “I know the country code. It’s Toshi.”

“She’s gone.”

I had been thinking about what would happen afterward and suggested he might think about bringing some or all of her ashes here to spread in the ocean off Dana Point, her true home.

“I have a written note from her. This is what she wants.”

So, he will bring her back this spring and we will take her out to sea after a small memorial service at the church where they were married and many people prayed for her, both when she had her aneurism and this past year. She’ll be with Grandma, who truly was the only grandparent she had.

We will love her always. She was truly our daughter.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

STUMPY THE SNOWMAN

 


On Thursday morning, Larry went out to bring in the last trash can and found this on the porch.



It came with a note:

Mr. and Mrs. Collins,

This is Stumpy The Snowman. He was turned from a piece of wood that we removed when the lift was installed. (The grain looked like redwood, but it may be something else.) The body and hat are one piece, the limbs were taken from a neighbor’s bush, and the pipe was cut from chopsticks.

Enjoy!

Mark

We were fortunate to have had this talented craftsman and excellent woodworker contribute to the construction/installation of our lift. We got to know him and realized he was as much of a perfectionist as I am.

This little guy was a complete bonus surprise.

When I first saw him, I thought about the snowman decoration I grew up with. Ours was made of Styrofoam balls and toothpicks. I know Mom didn’t buy it, but I think she attended a luncheon and won the centerpiece.

My little brother named ours “Frosty.” Not too original, but it worked.

Frosty came out every year and was a mainstay of our holiday decorations.

When Mom sold the house, my brother took all the family decorations. Each year, he brought out everything, including Frosty.

When my brother died in 2020, we cleaned out his place. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any of my family’s decorations. I assume they were broken or fell apart over the years.

This little reminder of Frosty brought back sweet memories of childhood holidays.

Stumpy will now become a part of our future holidays, just like Frosty did in my childhood family. And he will be a reminder of Mark and his talent. I can’t thank him enough for this sweet gift.

 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

GETTING A LIFT

 With all my physical issues this past year, I became more aware of how difficult it might become living in a house with two stories. Larry had surgery this year, too, and he realized the challenge our stairs could pose as we get older. We discussed downsizing to a single-story house. We’ve even begun to dispose of some of our “stuff.” (Not a bad idea altogether.)

However, we have already made a lot of improvements to this house consistent with the way we live.

Larry started researching the alternatives to allow us to stay here, even with the stairs.

For several reasons, we eliminated the option of a chair lift. They take up quite a bit of room on the steps and partially compromise the treads. Also, our stairs have a 90-degree turn in them, and it would pose a challenge.

He finally located a small one-person lift—like an elevator but smaller. He made an appointment for the salesperson to come out to the house to see if it would work.

The engineer (Larry, of course) had picked out a location  he thought might work, but he was afraid the unit would be too large.

However, the representative from the company (Stiltz) suggested coming to the house to check. We agreed.

Ryan arrived with a neat app on his phone. He could point it at a spot, and it would tell him if there were room to install the equipment.

He found one location in the living room going up to our guest room. Uh…no. Then he found another from our dining room to our office. Nope to that one, too. He finally checked the area Larry had selected—and it not only would work, but it would fit perfectly. And we wouldn’t need to cut a hole in the ceiling.

Last Monday morning at 8:00 a.m., Mark arrived to begin the installation. By early afternoon, our hall was completely draped in plastic, heavy tarps were secured to the stairs, and the floors were covered in cardboard. It looked like we were going setting up for a haunted house!

The first item was to cut out a section of the 2nd floor handrail for access to the upper hallway from the lift.


I didn’t realize the pieces of the section of handrail would be used to build the external gate—and that it would match the existing handrail.



Then came days of drilling and hammering and sanding to construct all the other parts necessary for the installation, including the electrical work. The dust and dirt were confined to the hallway because of the plastic installed there.

At last, the unit itself and accessories arrived.



First, the supports were brought in and installed.



Finally, on Saturday, after six long days, the installation was completed, and the lift was ready to be used.






The lift sits in the curve of the stairs. It works very simply and holds only one person at a time. But it really makes living with the stairs easier!

I think we are going to be very happy with this solution.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

100 Years – And Still Counting

 

On August 26, 2023, we were privileged to attend the 100th birthday party for my Aunt Evelyn in Reno, NV. Our daughter, Kim, flew out from Texas to join us. Thank goodness, because she did about 60% of the driving to and from.

We were there last year for Aunt Evelyn’s 99th birthday, and what a joy to share her 100th with her.



The party was a surprise, and my cousin, Karen, and her twin sister, Kathy, managed to pull it off. It was held at an art gallery and catered by a terrific restaurant.



They told her we were coming to meet them for dinner, but she certainly didn’t expect to see the approximately 60 guests who were assembled.

All of my surviving cousins on my mom’s side came, and several of their kids were there, too.







My aunt and uncle used to live in San Mateo, CA, and several of Aunt Evie’s friends from there attended. It says quite a bit about her that so many people came so far to celebrate her life.




We all enjoyed a wonderful meal and lots of conversation, sharing memories.

Aunt Evie and Uncle Frank were wonderful ballroom dancers. For years, they took a lesson once a week and then went dancing another night. Several of the younger members of their dance group attended the party.

The highlight of the evening for me was when one of the dancers took my aunt out onto the floor and waltzed her around. Her face just glowed.



All-in-all, it was a joyous celebration of a life well-lived.

On Monday, we went to visit her on her actual birthday. She was still excited about her party, and several of those who had attended had stopped by to see her before they left town.

The next morning, we got back on the road toward home early. Several landslides from the recent storm had blocked the road, causing a reduction to one lane. The traffic in one direction was allowed to pass. Then it stopped, and the traffic going the other direction could go. In addition, construction trucks and other vehicles were loading dirt and rocks and conveying them away. This delayed the trip several times.

We reached home that night, tired but so grateful for having been able to share this very special occasion with my aunt.

The video of all the party pictures is on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpdvosivxBk&t=2s

And here’s a video I made with photos from her life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2bmrqtAaKo&t=1s

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

REMEMBERING LAHAINA

 Sorry I have not been posting updates for a while. I have been dealing with my hearing loss, and my “good” knee went out. Getting shots in both knees and doing lots of PT trying to gain flexibility and strength back. Making progress—but slowly.

For the last week, I have been grieving the loss of historic Lahaina Town. We visited Maui (and five other islands) on our first trip to Hawaii in 1978. The charming, historical town became one of my favorite places.

On that first trip, we stayed in the old whaling hotel, the Pioneer Inn. It was rickety and had holes in the floor, but it was also a charming and fun location. On one memorable trip, we didn’t notice that we had booked our room in the hotel on Halloween. Big mistake! People from all over Hawaii and the mainland gathered in town for a noisy all-night party. They celebrated along Front Street. Our room faced the street. Needless to say, we got no sleep that night. But, hey, Larry got the Halloween t-shirt. He still has it.

And we stayed there several other times, just not on Halloween!

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, we tried to visit Hawaii nearly every year, several times more than once a year. We always went to Oahu, but we usually went to at least one other island. At the time, several friends lived on Maui. We arranged to visit them whenever we were there, and we always made a trip to Lahaina, even when we didn’t stay there.

Before our first trip, several friends told us to eat at Longhi’s. At the time, Bob Longhi was there in person. They had a verbal menu, and Bob delivered it with annoyance, as though guests were putting him out just by being there. He was hysterical! We usually went there for breakfast and always ordered one of their cinnamon rolls to split. It was one of our “must go” places whenever we were in Maui. The last time we were there, we ate dinner upstairs at sunset. Great food and a fabulous view.

Unfortunately, the Lahaina location closed in 2019, but their Kaanapali and Oahu locations remain. Bob Longhi passed away in 2012, but the restaurants bearing his name remain.

Our friend from work, Steve Russell, who lived in Wailuku, passed away in 2016, and Suzi Osbourne, our high school friend, who had lived on Maui for many years, passed away in 2020. On our last trip in 2015, we stayed with her, and she often stayed with us when she was in California. However, we have several other friends on the island. We have heard from one, but we can’t contact the others. We pray for them and will send a written note to let them know we are concerned.

When we used to go with our close friends, we stayed at the Maui Islander Resort. It was a great location, just a couple of blocks from Lahaina Harbor. Larry and Bob loved it because they could walk down to the harbor and surf early in the morning. Bernie and I loved it because there was lots of shopping, historical locations, art galleries, and dining in easy walking distance.

There used to be a Hilo Hattie’s store couple of blocks over, and we always shopped there for island clothing. Unfortunately, it closed, along with the flagship store in Honolulu. However, it appears a new one had opened in Lahaina. It was probably lost in the recent fires.

Whenever we were in Lahaina on a Sunday, we attended the Lahaina United Methodist Church. We loved this charming place, where everyone was “ohana.” Visitors were presented with leis made by church members from flowers grown in their own yards. They had a wonderful choir, and the pastor was delightful. We always felt included and at home. I cried when I read that it had burned down. However, the congregants have stayed in touch and met for worship in small groups last Sunday.

Seeing the historic Banyan Tree smoking and burning hurt my heart. It was such a symbol of the old town. Hearing there is some hope of its survival gave me reason for optimism amid all the loss.

However, the museums and other historical sites are gone forever.

While I grieve all the loss of places and people, I am also grateful that we were able to spend so much time enjoying the very special and magical place.

Friday, April 28, 2023

SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING

 I have been hearing about a new series called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. It is based on the book of the same name. I haven’t read it or watched the series yet, but I have been doing this for some time.

It may sound depressing, but the idea is that those of us of a “certain age” (Baby Boomers) are closer to the end of our lives than the beginning. Through the years, we have accumulated lots of stuff. In addition, many of us have lived in our homes for a long time (in our case, thirty-six years). Also, some of us (raises hand) have emotional attachment to our “stuff.”

However, realistically, we don’t want to leave the disposition of our “treasures” to those left behind. Besides, we want those items we treasure to go to those who will appreciate them.

SO, several months ago, I was looking at all of our small musical instruments. We used to play most of them, but they were now mostly decorative. Instruments need to be played in order to remain at their best.

We discussed it and decided we needed to find a home for them where they would be used and enjoyed. A young lady we have known since she was very young is an award-winning composer. We asked her to come to our house, and we offered them to her. (This photo shows only some of them.) We loaded them into her car, and she said it felt like Christmas. She was definitely the right person to have them. She will use and enjoy them.

Waiting in line for Soarin’ Over California at Disney’s California Adventure, we met a father and son. The little boy told us ALL about WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor. His eyes lit up, and he was so excited telling us about it. (Can you say “precocious”?)

As we left the ride, I reminded Larry about the Veteran’s Day we spent at the Arizona Memorial about ten years ago. Five of the surviving Arizona sailors were there. They had written a book about their experiences. (Only one now remains.) All of them signed the book and also gave us sheets with their photos and biographies. (They signed those as well.)

“I know where the Arizona book needs to go.”

Larry agreed.

We ran into the father and son a little later and told them about the book. He said he’d would send their mailing address so we could mail them the book. When we got home, we found the Arizona book and also a coffee table book about Honolulu. It had articles on the Arizona and on the Punch Bowl Cemetery.

They went into the mail, and we received a photo when they arrived.

When Larry worked at Universal City in 1997, for a year before we moved to Osaka to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park, they held quite a few cast member only sales. They usually closed out discontinued merchandise and other materials at huge savings.

At one, he bought an original cell from the cartoon The Little Engine That Could. He was able to get a background with it, too. When we got to Japan, we discovered our Japanese grandson was CRAZY about trains. At Christmas when we came back to California, we retrieved the cell and took it back with us for his Christmas gift.

At another sale, Larry had purchased a portfolio of signed and numbered dinosaur prints in a presentation folio. He had planned to hang them in his office at the job site. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to put them. So, they spent our stay under our bed.

When we got back home, they went behind his armoire, where they remained for twenty-two years. We asked if the kids would like to have them, and their dad said they would. So, we packed them up to send. We also found a book on how to fold origami dinosaurs and added it.

They arrived today. The mother sent us this note:

Hello! Thank you and Larry for the really fun dinosaur drawings and origami book! We went to our local science museum yesterday and saw their new dinosaur exhibit, so your incredibly kind gift had some especially good timing! We’ll have to checkout some dinosaur books next time we go to the library! Thanks again!


This is exactly what we had hoped would happen!

Yesterday, we had lunch at a local restaurant we enjoy. I had noticed before that they used odd cups, saucers, and luncheon plates to serve the food. I had a very large collection of odd cups, saucers, and plates. I’d used them for ladies’ luncheons, showers, etc. At one time, I had over three dozen of each. I don’t host those kinds of events anymore, and I haven’t used them for years. I kept about a third of my collection, but we boxed up about two thirds. We delivered them this morning, and the owners were delighted to get them. I look forward to eating a meal there someday soon served on my china.

Of course, we have just scratched the surface, but it feels good to have found homes for these items with people who will appreciate them.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

MAKE ME A CHARACTER IN ONE OF YOUR TEMPE MYSTERIES

 Today, my dear friend, Marilyn Meredith, tells you about how she created some of her supporting characters using her friends. I was fortunate to win a contest to have my name used in one of her books (Spirit Shapes). She used the character again in The Trash Harem. I loved “my” character! Today, she’ll tell you about another friend.


Yes, that was one of my good friend’s request.

Over the years, I’ve named characters after people—usually as a prize. This is an accepted practice used by many authors. However, the character’s appearance, profession, and personality are usually completely different.

I wasn’t sure if I should do what she wanted, but she was insistent. So, in this case, the name of the character is different. I called her Miqui Sherwood instead of using her real name. But everything else is very much like my friend: her looks, her hobbies, her interesting quirks, and personality traits

She appears in four of my Tempe Crabtree mysteries, including the latest one (which is also the last.) This time she asked, “How about giving me a boyfriend?”

I gave her two.

She’d given me some hints about what she liked in men as far as looks, behavior, etc.

Miqui Sherwood made her first appearance in Raging Water. Her friends told me I’d nailed it. And best of all, she loved it.

Now we will see if she likes what happens to her in A Final Farewell.

You might be interested in knowing how I feel about this being the last book in the series. When I wrote End of the Trail, I thought it might be the last—but then I got the idea for The Trash Harem, and it had to be written.

Because I had a major change in my life, which happened before I’d quite finished this tale, I knew I was saying goodbye to Tempe, her husband, Hutch, and all of her friends in Bear Creek. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. They’ve all lived in my imagination for many years.

Does this mean I won’t be writing anymore? Absolutely not. I can’t imagine my life without writing. I’m in the middle of rewriting a camping cookbook, and I have plans for either a young adult mystery set during World War II, or perhaps just a piece about me growing up during that time. Not sure yet.

I must say a big thank-you to my good friends Lorna and Larry Collins, who made it possible for all my books to be re-edited and re-published. It would not have happened without all their hard work.

 Marilyn Meredith



I'm the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series under the name, F. M. Meredith. I've also written stand-alones in other genres including historical family sagas and horror. Reading and writing have been a part of me since I was a little girl--a very long time ago. I love to hear from readers who have enjoyed my books. I've made many new and good friends among the readers and writers at various mystery conventions and conferences.

Hubby and I live in the foothills of the Sierra much like the place where my heroine Tempe Crabtree lives. And we once lived in a beach community that resembles Rocky Bluff.

I've also written several stand-alone books for Kindle and paper.

I love to hear from my readers or have them visit my webpage at http://fictionforyou.com


#20 and the newest and last in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, A Final Farewell.

The discovery of a body in a neighbor’s pond piques Tempe’s curiosity. No longer a deputy, she still begins her own investigation into to the death of a woman who’d been missing for several years. It isn’t long before someone tries to kill Tempe and her husband, Hutch. Miqui Sherwood has two handsome suitors. And Tempe’s longtime friend and mentor, Nick Two John, is extremely ill.

https://www.amazon.com/Final-Farewell-Marilyn-Meredith/dp/B0C1J7KR7K/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1F4XD4OIIWJFL&keywords=A+FINAL+FAREWELL+by+Marilyn+Meredith&qid=1681244429&s=books&sprefix=a+final+farewell+by+marilyn+meredith%2Cstripbooks%2C340&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

Monday, February 13, 2023

The Sound of Silence

 



On January 25 of this year, I woke up with no hearing in my left ear—suddenly, and without warning.

A few years ago, I noticed some loss of clarity in my hearing and made an appointment for a hearing test. However, it was impossible to conduct the test because one ear (also the left) had so much wax in it. I contacted my doctor, who referred me to an ENT. However, the specialist could not get me in for an appointment for over six weeks. Uh…no.

I went online and followed directions for flushing the ear with peroxide a couple of times. Then, I used a bulb syringe and warm water to complete the flush. Chunks of brown wax came out. Oh, and my hearing appeared to return to normal. Of course, this was during Covid, so I never scheduled another test.

This time, I assumed the cause was wax again. So, I flushed the ear. However, it did not help.

My Facebook friends raised concerns and encouraged (some ordered) me to see the doctor ASAP. The first appointment I could get was on Monday, the thirtieth.

She confirmed: no wax. She gave me a referral. Just as the last time, this doctor had no availability for over six weeks. They suggested contacting another doctor, which I did and made an appointment for February sixth.

Meanwhile, my primary doctor did some research and called in a prescription for strong steroids.

On the sixth, I underwent an extensive hearing test. The conclusion: “sudden sensorineural hearing loss.” The specialist explained that sometimes a virus of unknown origin will cause the body to attack the hearing. No known trigger or cause, and no effective and simple cure. Darn!

The only recommended treatment is steroid shots directly through the ear drum. (OUCH!) After the injection, the patient must remain perfectly still for fifteen minutes to allow the inner ear to absorb the liquid. (It is supposed to be more effective than systemic tablets.)

The recommended course is three shots over one week.

The other possible (though less likely) causes could be a tumor or blockage on the nerve or on the eustachian tubes behind the ear drum. In order to eliminate these as the cause, I am scheduled for an MRI.

Today, I had the third of the three shots. I’m sorry to say, there has been no change whatsoever. I still hear as though I am down a well with no sound from the left.

I love music. During my younger years, I did not listen to excessively loud music. Instead of loud rock, I listened to classical or showtunes. My iPods (yes, plural—I have several) contain my 20,000 favorite songs. I listen to them on the computer, in the car, and on long car rides.

However, with no stereo sound, my pleasure is considerably diminished.

I am finally nearly recovered from my broken leg, And now this…

I can’t seem to catch a break.

After the MRI on Thursday, I will undergo another hearing test. If there is still no improvement, we will do two more inner ear shots.

Once again, my many, many friends on Facebook have proved invaluable. Several have told me about people they know (or themselves) who have gone through the same thing. All have experienced improvement.

Whatever the outcome, I will no doubt require hearing aids—just like nearly all of my friends. And I am grateful for the technology!

So, one step at a time, praying for a positive outcome.