Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking Back On 2016

Maggie & Me in my library.

This is my first blog of a new year; the 273rd blog I’ve written since I started with Writers Who Kill in 2012. I wasn’t sure what to write about and decided to write about my year in 2016.

I keep a daily journal in which I record that day after I settle into my nesting chair and before I read. It isn’t anything particularly interesting. At the top are the day, date and what CD I’m listening to. Usually, my journal goes over what I did that day as well as the weather maybe. Behind Maggie above are some of the many journals I've written.I don’t live an exciting life by any means, and I’ve not found a body hanging in my woods since the one I found several years ago.

My day starts with coffee and oatmeal after I put my collie Maggie out and then let her in to eat breakfast. I also feed my two cats. After my breakfast I head outside to feed and water my two ponies, my four old hens and a younger one. Then I walk over to my son’s house to feed his peacock since he leaves for work early. Weather permitting, I go on my morning walk in the woods with Maggie. Pretty boring so far, isn’t it?

The Red Read book club who meet for dinner & wine.

I belong to two book clubs and two writing groups including my SinC group. I also deliver Mobile Meals every other Thursday and go to Mass every Sunday so I do get out. I go to folk concerts in Cuyahoga Valley National Park with a good friend of mine. From September to spring we usually go to one a month.  A lot of the CDs I listen to are ones I buy from various bands we’ve went to see play there.

January through much of March was cold and snowy so I got a lot of writing and reading in. I managed to get my seventh book, Blood Red Poinsettias published before I left for Malice Domestic. I was also able to read twenty-seven books between the first of January and the end of March. I know this because every book I finish, I write inside the front and back covers of my journal.

Maggie on one of our walks.

In March, the third wife of my ex-husband Jim died in Florida. Because he had cancer and diabetes, my son went down to Florida and packed Jim’s possessions up, put them in a pod and sent it north. He also put his dad’s house up for sale, and brought him to Ohio to his house next door to me. Every morning I delivered yesterday’s paper to Jim and visited with him before I went on my morning walk. He always begged me to stay longer. Our granddaughter, Sami, took over his care when my son was at work. He enjoyed her two little children – our great-grand-children. When my daughter Sue, or granddaughter weren’t free to take him to his doctor appointments I did, and then we went to lunch afterwards. He used a walker or cane, and could no longer drive, but usually had someone who would take him out to lunch or shopping.
Jim, Jacob,  and both grandmothers at his Eagle Scout Ceremony.

In April and May in addition to attending Malice Domestic, I was busy with my gardening. I have gardens enough to keep three gardeners busy. Unfortunately, the seeds I planted in my vegetable garden came up looking good until rabbits managed to get under my fenced in veggie garden and ate everything even the annuals I’d planted. The only thing left were the tomato plants and the marigolds. They ate all the lettuce, peas, green beans, pepper plants, cosmos, zinnias and other flowers I planted. Also in May, my youngest grandson, Jacob got his Eagle Scout Award and graduated from high school. (I got fifteen books read in April & May totaled.)
This is my tent, my sisters' tents were further away.

In June I went camping in the N.Y. Catskills with my sisters Elaine and Suzanne. We had a lovely campsite on a lake with only one other site taken there. School hadn’t let out yet. We also visited Elaine’s daughter Emily, a veterinarian, at the college where she teaches. She worked with another vet before she went into the teaching side of it. We stayed at her home a few days before heading back to Ohio. (Only five books read.)

The veggie garden in 2015 with no rabbits.

Nothing much happened in July other than mowing, and not with a riding mower, fighting weeds, caring for my critters, and attending book clubs, writers groups, Mobile meals, I managed to read nine books.

He was awesome and we all enjoyed him.

This past year I was on a three person committee planning our 60th class reunion. We had about four or five meetings until our reunion in August. There were only fifty-seven in our class and at our age some have passed on, or have moved away, or are in poor health and couldn’t make it. Still we had a little over thirty come to the event center we rented with an Elvis Presley impersonator who did a great job.

Just some of those there that day.

The next day on a Sunday, I had a picnic at my house for those in the class who wanted to come. There were about seventeen of us at my house that afternoon.. All but the two I worked with had never been to my house. It felt good they could see who I am especially when they saw my library. Most of them didn’t know I write mysteries. One couple got excited about it because both love mysteries so I gave them a signed copy of my first one.

Uncle Bill in the red hat, and Jim next to him.

The following Sunday I had the Jones family reunion at my house, too. My Uncle Bill now 93 years old is my mother’s youngest sibling. My mother’s family wasn’t a large one like my dad’s side. This year there weren’t a lot of people who came because the family is so small now.

Jim, Sami and me with the birthday hat.

Also in August my son Joe, my daughter Sue, my granddaughter Sami, and Jim planned a surprise birthday party for my 78th birthday. They picked a day before the actual day so I was really surprised by almost my whole family being there. It was the first birthday party I’ve had except as a kid with my parents and siblings when I got to pick what I wanted for dinner and I got gifts, plus a birthday cake. There were never birthday parties for kids like there are now. As an adult I received gifts and a cake, and sometimes my sisters and sister-in-law would take me out for lunch and have gifts for me, too. I was totally surprised when I walked in and everyone was there shouting Happy Birthday with balloons and all. I’d been told Joe was having a group of his friends coming over. (Only five books read in August.)

Mary at the Benicia book store with her dog.

In September I flew to California to visit my daughter Mary, who lives in Benicia. We had a good time except when I tripped over a sidewalk in San Francisco in the wharf area and fell on my face. Ouch. I was lucky because nothing broke and all I had was a bruised cheek bone. I did get nine books read, mostly because I read when I’m flying and during layovers.

My sisters, brother and I goofing off at my Sister-in-law's home.

October was a month of mixed feelings. My Washington State sister flew into Cleveland, rented a car and went to the Finger Lakes region to tour it before the rest of her siblings arrived for the wedding on October first of our niece Emily, the vet. It was a lovely long weekend. When we got home, my sister Catherine spent a night with me, then moved on to other sisters for several nights with each. We went out to eat, hiking on trails and doing things together most days.  

My last hours with Jim.

On Thursday I stayed home. I got a call after I’d gone to bed from Sue. She was crying and on her way to Joe’s house. He’d called her crying and said their Dad was dying. I got dressed, walked over, and stayed with them until almost four o’clock in the morning. The Hospice nurse came, but she couldn’t do anything.  His sugar count was so low he was sinking into a coma. I went back over the next morning. He was only semi-conscious. I held his hand for several hours. He didn’t want to let it go of it. Even when I told him I needed to go to the bathroom, he held on harder. Susan slipped her hand between ours so I could. I came back and held it again. Later I had to leave. My sister-in-law was having an event for Catherine before she flew out, and I needed to lead her home to my house which is  hard to find after dark because woods on one side and trees in my yard. When I got home  a message on my answering machine from my daughter said, “He’s gone.”

Mary was coming in to say good-bye to her father as he went downhill, but he died three days before she got here. Joe put on a dinner for him with all the food Jim loved. All his family was there, Joe, Sue, Mary, me and the grandchildren, Sami, and our step grandson’s Chad and Steve with their spouses and our seven great grandchildren. It was a mixture of sadness and happiness.  I had let go of all anger less than a year after he walked out on a marriage of thirty-one years almost twenty-seven years ago. After all we shared a lot of years and four kids. It wasn’t a bad marriage, and he regretted his second marriage in less than two years, but by then I was happy in the house I bought and had no desire to move south like he wanted to do.
My tombstone is there without a death date, but I haven't taken a picture.

Last summer he gave me an expensive gift; a tombstone. Yes, that seems weird, but we have three plots at the cemetery where our eighteen year old son is buried and our six year old granddaughter. Jim wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in Florida with those of his third wife. So I have a stone already in place with a small picture of me, and an epitaph that says, “Teacher, Author and Poet” Close to it my parents are buried as are aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and ancestors going back to the 1800s.. (Only five books read in October.)

November went back to normal with book clubs, writing groups, Mobile Meals, etc. and Thanksgiving at my sister Elaine’s house. I had lots of  leaves and pine needles to rake, and never did get it all done. It’ll have to wait until spring. (I got ten books read.)
My tree is smaller than I usually get, but still pretty.

December was a hectic month. I bought a tree. Sami’s husband Tim helped me put it up. It was days getting all the decorating done. I was late getting my shopping done. My Third Thursday Book Club met at my house to pick out books to be read the following year. We had a pot luck lunch and each one who came had ideas for books we might want to read the following year.

Our guide took us to the basement to show us an amazing organ.

 I went to a wonderful tour of Play House Square in Cleveland with a group of retired teachers on a Saturday, and an awesome concert at Happy Days to see Cherish the Ladies who brought along some Irish step dancers.

My local writer friend made the bouquets to match each book.

Another Saturday, I had a table at my church’s annual craft show. I sold a fair amount of books. And of course there were the Christmas parties on Christmas Eve First for a half hour at my son’s house before I headed almost thirty miles away for the annual Christmas Eve at my sister Suzanne’s house. Christmas Day was dinner at my house. I’m not sure when I actually started the eighth book in my series, Amaryllis for Phyllis but I’m getting close to the end of it now. Hopefully, I’ll have it done before the end of January, and my step-granddaughter will have the cover finished.  Somehow I managed to get eight books read this month making a total of eighty-five books read in 2016.

I do put Phoebe and Puffy in their warm stalls at night.

Even though I’m worried about what will happen since the election in November, I’m hoping for a good year in 2017. I’m eager to finish the book I’m working on and can’t wait to start a new one. I’m hoping the weather warms up enough so I can get back to my daily walks, and that the eye problems discovered a few months ago will not get worse, and that next year there won’t be so many rabbits to destroy my garden. May you all have a wonderful year in 2017.

How was your year in 2016?


  1. I love your pictures, Gloria. Here on Hatteras Island, it seems no one cages their chickens and roosters. My brakes took a hit the other day when driving on Route 12. A bunch of Rhode Island reds were nearly in the road--weirdly enough with a group of beautiful turkeys--all showstoppers. You live quite a full life, which many people have passed through, their lives made richer for having known you. Don't know if I could stomach having my tombstone erected before my time, though. 2016 was all transition for me. Give Phoebe and Puffy pats for me!

  2. I’m tired just by reading about your year, Gloria. I hope 2017 is a great one for you.

    ~ Jim

  3. E.B. a lot of people believe in free ranging their chickens and I suppose it's not so bad if you don't have neighbors around. My old guinea fowl that you saw in front mostly ran free by choice, but wasn't a problem. However, he wasn't there for awhile this winter, and Maggie found him frozen and brought him to my back door with not a mark on him. As for the tombstone, I thought it was nice of him although funny. Now my kids won't have to spend money on putting one up. I will give Phoebe and Puffy a pet and maybe a cookie this morning when I go out.

    Jim, I hope 2017 will be a great year, too. But then I wish that for everyone I know and care about.

  4. Gloria, you've got a handle on 2017. I loved your photos, especially the one of you with bouquets for all your books.

  5. Thank you, Margaret. My friend Laura made them for the 2015 craft show and surprised me with them. She's a very dear friend.

  6. Overall, your life sounds so pleasant and productive, Gloria! My year was quite a strange and sometimes sad one, as the first year alone after being married for over 30 years. You gave me something good to think about, in leaving anger behind after a marriage that doesn't work out. My plans for 2017 are to write and submit more AND to read more, after hearing how many books you read!

  7. You certainly lead an interesting and busy life! I hope that 2017 is just as good for you.

  8. What a wonderful year you had, Gloria. You and your family live life to the fullest!

    I hope everyone has a great 2017.

  9. Becky, I'm glad you made the decision to let go of your anger. Too many people suffer from holding onto it. I like your plans for 2017 and hope you get your work acepted and published.

    Grace, I'm not sure how interesting it is, but hope 2017 will be good for both of us.

  10. KM, I'm lucky to have been born into the family I have. I give credit to my parents for that.They were honest, caring, with strong values and fun to be with.