Tag Archives: #MarilynJayeLewis

Living the Dream!

I have a few more photos to regale you with, these are from inside the house and they focus more on — the cats!

However, loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recognize that  the really old-looking radio is actually a brand new record player (which I love, gang!! You will recall an earlier post that explained it not only plays records, but is an AM-FM radio, CD player, cassette player and also plays MP3 files!).

Daddycakes relaxing in the dining room.

And that the new “Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Retro Modern Faux Leather Upholstered Wooden Lounge Chair, Brown ” is known more affectionately as “my new chair.”

Weenie under the new chair.

This next photo has little to do with any previous posts. It is just a photo of the critters having breakfast!

Daddycakes, Lucy McGoose, Tommygirl, Doris-the-Exploress, Huckleberry, Francis, Weenie, and Scottie Fitzgerald McPhee (in the center)!

My flowers (also from a recent post, see below somewhere) are just exploding in a  riot of color, gang. I can’t believe how well they’re doing. It’s a just a few flower boxes full of impatiens, petunias, and begonias that I planted on Memorial Day, but boy do they add a splash of life.

Yesterday morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee and standing in front of the open screen door, when a teenage boy and his mom walked past my side porch (you’ll no doubt recall that my house is really close to the sidewalk around here and that when neighbors pass by, they are, for all intents and purposes, walking directly inside my house ).  At the same moment that I saw them and said, “Hi”, I heard both of them say, “Beautiful, just beautiful.”

No, they were not talking about me, they were talking about the flowers blooming.

When I lived at the previous house, I had 11 cultivated flower beds, along with a bunch of window boxes full of flowers and some hanging flower baskets. Here, it’s just a handful of flowers, by comparison. But you never know what is going to brighten up a stranger’s day, do you, folks? Their reaction really took me by surprise.  In a good way.

All right, well. I have a lot of writing and editing to do around here for the next several days, so I have to get at it. Smashwords informed me this week that an eBook I published a century ago (The Muse Revisited, Volume One) indicated that it was in fact only one volume in a series and they were curious where the rest of the series was, and that it had to be re-categorized in the “Series” section, posthaste. And so it occurred to me that Volumes Two & Three really should have been published ages ago. They’re just collections of previously published stories, hence it’s really sort of a no-brainer type of project. So I’m trying to get those books up and published in the next few days.

Then, I am totally re-writing the Miracle Cats. This is the mystery series that I’m writing and that my friend, Val in Brooklyn, is illustrating. We began the project close to 3 years ago, when suddenly everyone in her family began dying and then a couple of my cats and a few of her cats, died, too, and then I moved, twice, so we were just not able to emotionally revisit the whole project until now.

But, revisit it we are, in fact, doing. And it’s become almost a whole new book. So that’s really cool.

Oh, before I close this post, I wanted to say that I’ve been reading a bit of history about this village I now live in here in the Hinterlands and I discovered that the railroad train that passes –yes– practically inside my house, was built in 1855, and that it runs on “a diagonal through the town.” Yes, that would be the very same railroad train! It was sort of cool to know that the train has been passing by this very house for 46 years before the house was even built. Knowing that made me feel really connected to all the people who have ever lived here before me in the last 117 years. I can’t tell you how much I love this place; the house and the old town.  It just keeps getting better and better.

The train! As seen from the kitchen porch.

All righty! As always, thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

Holiday Weekend

For those of us living State-side, this past weekend was a national holiday.  When I was growing up, it was called Decoration Day because you decorated grave sites with flowers on that day, and it  was always on May 30th. It has since been more formally known as Memorial Day and it now falls on the last Monday in May, giving us the first 3-day weekend to officially kick off the summer.

Memorial Day weekend is when I usually go buy my summer flowers for the flower pots, because everyone’s got the flowers on sale. And this Memorial Day weekend was no different!

Well, the only difference being that I seemed to have trekked off to the store with only half my brain this time because I came home with a car chock full of petunias that I didn’t realize I’d bought…

I wanted a ton of impatiens for the front of the house because it not only faces north but also has that enormous maple tree to contend with, so the flowerbeds in front get no sun, and impatiens do really well in no sun.  Well, I only wound up buying half a ton of impatiens, because I’d accidentally bought all those petunias.

But I made do. And I also decided not to plant any impatiens in the actual flowerbeds in front because I think the beds need better soil and I wasn’t prepared to go to all that expense this year. So they are only in flower boxes (along with begonias):

While I had hoped to have lots more impatiens on the front porch than I wound up with, you’ll note that I tried to cleverly conceal as much of the cracking cement as I could with the flowers I had. I’m hoping to get the cement repaired this summer, but I’m not positive if I will.  I’ve got such a long list of outside repairs.

You’ll also note just how close the front of my house is to the street. The window behind St. Francis there looks in on my family room. (If you click on the photos, it gets larger.) The front door apparently hasn’t been opened in, literally, decades. It’s been painted shut many times over. At first, I thought I would want to get that front door opened and put up a new screen door, but then I realized it is really close to the street. Anyone walking by on the sidewalk is basically in my family room. So now I know why no one bothered to open that door all these years.

It’s a really cool old door though. The door, the iron door knob, and the inside lock appear to be original to the house, making them all 117 years old. The inside lock is a big old iron hook & eye thing. Too cool.

Anyway, here’s the side porch! The plethora of accidental petunias are in flower boxes down there at the front of the porch step.

The sagging gutter is where the starling built her nest. I think she had 3 babies. It was quite a busy & noisy affair for awhile there. But the birds flew the nest just a couple days ago and so all is silent again.

I was actually taking these photos for a friend in Brooklyn, who wanted to see more photos of the house, so I’ll regale you with a few more pictures.

The guest room, with Francis!

Her nickname is Peanut, because she’s as cute as one and is teeny tiny. The table is there so that many cats can conveniently perch there at once and look out the window!

And now,  3 shots of my sanctuary!!

My bedroom! Complete with stain on carpet that came with the house!
The wall next to the bed there was where the old coal-burning fireplace was a long, long time ago. It’s plastered over now.
My desk is at the foot of the bed.

Long-time readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that this desk has been appearing on my many blogs and on my various websites since 1998. The desk is actually 37 years old. It was a wedding gift to me from my first husband. He bought it from a small furniture store on 8th Avenue, where everything in the store was handmade, from pine.

When we got married, we lived on the corner of W.45th Street and 8th Avenue, in the Camelot Building in Manhattan’s theater district. I used to sit at that desk and type on my IBM Selectric typewriter, and look out over the gay hustler bars that were on the opposite corner of 8th Avenue back then. I bought the Selectric at a pawn shop, also on 8th Avenue, and thought it was the absolute coolest thing!

I always just assumed that I would buy a bigger, more professional desk at some point.  Especially in the late 90s, when desktop computers were enormous and took up the whole desk.  But the years went on, and I wrote 5 novels, edited 7 anthologies, wrote 4 or 5 novellas, about 100 short stories, 3 TV pilots, and countless essays, blog posts, letters, etc., at this very small desk!

I’m closing in on 60 years old, gang. I’m getting the feeling this will be my Forever Desk… Ah well. It works.

Okay, gang! It’s hot as blazes out here in the Hinterlands today.  I’m planning on staying inside for most of the day, working on story notes for The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport.  Then, at some point, I’ll probably just collapse from the heat and stare into space.  What could be better?

I leave you with this. I was playing it really loud in the car the other day and having a ball. I hadn’t heard this song in probably 20 years! And I suddenly realized that the chorus somehow became the story of my life — I don’t have TV anymore, I don’t read newspapers, I became a non-denominational ordained minister, moved to the country, planted a garden, etc., etc. I highly recommend it, folks! It worked for me…

Okay. See ya! Thanks for visiting!

Updates on Happiness, Raccoons, Writing & More!

It’s a stunning morning here in the Hinterlands! Hard to believe it’s supposed to be raining, yet again, by this evening.  I guess we’ll see. The only thing I don’t like about the rain, is that I have to go around and close all 22 of the windows I had already opened.

Since I last posted here, there have been all sorts of interesting things going on. For starters, my friend Diane came out to the Hinterlands and helped me FINALLY get my main barn door OPEN.

Yes! That means I was finally able to get into the main section of my barn. The part where the horse was kept long, long ago. The other section, the part where the buggy was kept, was really easy to get into from day one. And inside that section was the half-door for feeding the long-ago horse once  kept in the stall side, so I could at least look into that side of the barn. But what a cool feeling to actually be able to get into the other side and look at all the ancient stuff that’s still in there.

For one thing, we discovered that the barn had a front addition built onto it at some distant point in the long ago past. So the current (really old) front of the barn (pictured above) has perfectly preserved the original old front of the barn that was built in 1910.

I was going to get you photos of all this, but as it happened, at the last minute, a friend needed a place to store his 1965 VW camper van as he headed out to Yellowstone National Park for the summer. Since I can’t really afford to do the thousands of dollars worth of work that the barn needs right now, I offered him the use of the barn since we were finally able to get the door open, and now a great big VW camper van is taking up the entire space for the next few months…

Not this one — but this is a very reasonable facsimile!

 

There is enough room left along one side of the inside of the barn to kind of get one of the side doors of the camper open a smidge. So my friend generously offered that anytime I wanted to just hang out inside  the camper, I could!

Well, that was too cute! While it is often really fun to hang out inside those old VW camper vans, I have an entire new house to hang out in, as well as a really cool porch! But I did appreciate the offer, nevertheless.

My porch, by the way, is wonderful. Quite a few friends have already come by my new 117-year-old house in the Hinterlands  and they all immediately head for a chair on the side porch, plop down and get comfortable.  Not only is the porch really welcoming, but the screen door also opens right onto the kitchen, where the fridge is always stocked with beer. (Not the kind of beer that I drink, btw. Everybody around here seems to like Bud Light. Whereas, loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that I like Newcastle Brown Ale — a far cry from Bud Light. My guy-friend was over the other day to say farewell before heading off to Alaska for a big fishing tournament, and he accidentally helped himself to my one and only bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. He said, “What the hell is this??!!” And I replied, “It’s MINE!!!” and I grabbed it away from him. My hostessing politeness only extends so far…)

Anyhow.  Not only is it so cool to finally have a great porch of my own that people actually stop by and hang out on, regardless of how deep into the Hinterlands I have gotten, but it is also cool that neighbors drive by — neighbors that I have not met yet — and they all smile and wave.

I don’t know, gang; I think I somehow ended up in Mayberry…

Mayberry — The Andy Griffith Show TV town

Yes, I am so happy here.

And for those of you waiting with bated breath on any updates regarding my raccoon… Ah yes. The dear little thing is indeed a female, and already has a pack of little cubs down inside the hollow of the tree.

No not these kinds of raccoon cubs…

These kind!!

And these kind get up onto the roof and create havoc a lot more frequently than the other kind do… Well, we’ll see how it goes as the unbelievably cute destructiveness pervades the upcoming summer months.

Meanwhile, I have been getting literally tons of inspiration for both of the mystery books I’ve had on the back burner for nearly 2 years (The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge (also a TV pilot), and The Miracle Cats: The Case of the Purloined Passport).  I just need to get some breathing room from the theater projects and the Cleveland’s Burning TV pilot. However, all of those projects are looking so incredibly promising right now, that they all seem to need my attention before I can get back to writing novels.

I can’t go into detail on the blog right now re: the one-woman musical I’m working on with Sandra Caldwell in NYC, but it is a really exciting development connected with the workshop/staged reading of the show. And it continues to bode really, really well for the stage adaptation I’m working on of  Tell My Bones, the play about Helen LaFrance that I’m writing as a vehicle for Sandra.

However, regarding my TV pilot, once titled Cleveland’s Burning but now known more affectionately as Untitled Cleveland Drama, I can say here that we have had interest in the project from several places within the last few days, including OWN, ABC-Disney, and Act 4 Entertainment. This is all just initial interest, gang, but it still excites me beyond belief.  I came so close to simply shelving the project forever, after working with several other producers who wound up not really sharing my vision for it and who completely exasperated me. But after I hooked up with the EVP of Development at Bohemia Group (for the Tea Cozy Murder Club pilot),  things with Cleveland’s Burning came back to life with them, specifically with the EVP’s all-out enthusiasm for the Cleveland project.

Well, as usual, the morning has now pretty much evaporated while I’ve been sitting here blogging at the computer! I must scurry, gang, and get some other stuff done.

Hope you have a terrific Monday that leads into a really amazing week, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting, gang.  See ya!

“That’s all, folks!”

 

 

Home Sweet Home plus Raccoon

Long-time loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that when I had my last house (not the house I recently rented, but the house I owned before that), I was plagued with delightfully adorable and indescribably destructive raccoons.

Back then, I had a mid-century split level, which means I had 2 rooftops. Each rooftop gave the many raccoons hours and hours of entertainment all summer long, for years.  They not only tore hole after hole in my many window screens, but they also tore up roof tiles, creating many leaks that I always had to have patched. Then, my last summer in that house, they finally discovered the spacious luxury of my attic, below one of the holes they tore in the roof. But once they discovered my attic, they could not get back out. The attic was a walk up that you could access directly from my bedroom, so I would frequently be rudely (and somewhat terrifyingly) awakened in the middle of the night by raccoons frolicking around on the other side of the attic door.

I did eventually get them safely out, but they made me, and my cats, nuts. Even while, when the raccoons had babies and could be seen in the early morning hours frolicking in the backyard, and were really, really CUTE, they still made me a nervous wreck. There were so many raccoons in that old neighborhood.

Well, this morning, around 6:30, I was lying half-awake in bed, staring out the open window at the enormous maple tree just outside, and I saw something furry moving around in one of the hollows of the old tree. Even though I didn’t have my glasses on, I knew exactly what it was. I can recognize even a blurry raccoon.

I was so not thrilled by this. I have such big beautiful windows, with brand new screens. And no central AC yet in the house, so for now, the windows have to stay open.  But since this is such a rural environment I’m living in now, maybe the raccoons don’t need to entertain themselves by tearing up window screens and roof tiles.  And I can only hope that this is a male raccoon, and that I won’t be regaled with utterly adorable yet indescribably destructive little raccoons all summer long. However, I couldn’t help but notice when I moved in, that the house next door to mine had one of those life-like fake owls nailed to their rooftop… We shall see, gang.

Meanwhile, such potentially great news on the writing front, with a couple of different projects. I’m very excited!! I will keep you posted!

Have a frolicking-good Friday, wherever you are, folks. Thanks for visiting! See ya!

Ah, Hinterlands!

 

 

 

El Paso Redux

Recently, a much younger friend mentioned he was learning the lyrics to the old Marty Robbins classic, El Paso, because he was going to sing it at a local Karaoke bar.

I don’t know if he knows the original Marty Robbins version, or if he knows a more current cover of that song, but, wow, gang. For some reason, that really astounded me. That a guy so young would sing such an old song that was such a huge part of my childhood, and at a Karaoke bar, no less!

I mean, it’s a good thing. But the older you get, the harder it is to process certain things. Like: he’s so young, how can he possibly know that song? Or: I’m so old!! Jeepers, how did that happen?? Things like that…

When he said this, about trying to learn the lyrics to El Paso, I instantly flashed-back to being an 11-year-old girl, sitting at the record player in my bedroom, trying really hard to scribble down all the lyrics to El Paso as the record played. I would have to keep picking up the needle, catch up with the lyrics, then carefully try to drop the needle back down in the right place and then scribble some more, etc., etc. This went on until the entire (really wordy and long song) was fully captured by my scribbles.

I really, really, REALLY loved this song, gang, and I needed to be able to sing along with Marty. Even though I played guitar by the time I was 11 (and violin, and piano), my skills were nowhere near accomplished enough to tackle a song like El Paso.  It was thrilling enough for me to simply sing the song . I eventually had the song completely memorized.

I loved many of Marty Robbins’ songs — he had such a beautiful voice — including Devil Woman, A White Sport Coat, Ribbon of Darkness, The Hanging Tree. Actually, the list goes on & on. But there was never a song that struck me quite like El Paso.

Then, of course, when I was older and finally got to meet Don, my birth father, Marty Robbins became part of my intense but brief relationship with Don. Marty Robbins was already dead by this time, but Don (my father) was a big fan of Marty Robbins, and had even known him because Don’s late wife had been lifelong friends with Marty, having grown up with him in Arizona . (Also, some Ohio musicians had played with Marty Robbins on his last record — I believe it was The Allen Brothers. And my Uncle Ralph, Don’s brother, was  a professional Country singer down in Nashville and also knew and/or played with the Allen Brothers.)

Anyway, my first trip out to Nevada to meet Don, he played the Marty Robbins Greatest Hits album on his record player — the same album I had back at home and knew by heart.  Me and my birth father (who played guitar and wrote songs, as I did) turned out to be extremely connected through music. He was only 15 years older than I was, so we had a lot of cultural things in common by then. (We met when I was 28 years old.)

My birth father died 10 years later, from a type of cancer that we believe was caused by his exposure to Agent Orange during his many years of active duty as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. My brief relationship with my birth father was intense, amazing, staggering, heartbreaking, and, above all, memorable. And Marty Robbins provided much of the soundtrack for it.

I wrote a highly biographical, and controversial, novella about that first trip out to Nevada to meet Don, titled Ribbon of Darkness (after the above-mentioned Marty Robbins song), that my dear colleague Michael Hemmingson published in his anthology, Short and Sweet: Original Novellas by Erotica’s Hottest Writers. The book is now out of print; it was published 12 years ago.  Even Michael Hemmingson is dead now and has been for 4 years. (These are some of the things I mean when I say it’s hard to process getting OLD, practically overnight!! Where does the time go??)

Even considering everything I’ve just written about above, the thing that strikes me most profoundly about the song El Paso, can be found within the lyrics of another great Marty Robbins song from the mid-1970s called, El Paso City.

If you’re not familiar with the song, El Paso City, give it a listen (linked above).  In it, Marty gradually reveals that he believes the reason the lyrics to El Paso came to him so quickly, so vividly, and so completely –within the space of a few hours— back in 1959, is because he thinks that the whole story about Feleena and the murder in the cantina actually happened to him in a previous life. He believed he was the one who killed the cowboy and then was hunted down by a posse and killed, as well. How cool is that, gang?  That song became his first #1 hit and affected a whole heck of a lot of people.

Now that I’m finally in my new house and all my music is unpacked and back in my life, I came across my Marty Robbins’ Greatest Hits CD the other day and took it along with me in my car. Wow. El Paso sure does hold up well, gang. It still gave me chills, and I still knew every word to the song. I was driving alone, on a pitch-dark highway in the middle of nowhere, listening to it, quietly singing along as I drove, and it suddenly struck me as really amusing that an 11-year-old girl, sitting alone in her room, was so desperate to know every word to such a gun-and-death-ridden song!

And it’s so cool that a guy whose parents might even be younger than me, is learning the lyrics to that song 50 years after it was a hit on the AM radio. Life does indeed go on (and maybe the same lives come back and go on…) We’ll find out.

 

 

 

 

I love this crazy town!

One of the things that I really love about this town (est. out here in the Hinterlands in 1828), is how they just let the ghosts stick around. It is too cool.

By that, I mean that when buildings around here get old (and I mean really old) they just leave them sit and build something new right next to it. Or — in the case of the Methodist Church — right across the street from it.  (The original old Methodist church, made from wood and painted white, is still standing and is too cool, while right across the street from it is the “new” church, made of brick and built many, many years ago.)

However, older still and just up the block from the church… the pool hall, and a couple other buildings, built maybe late 1890s, based on the architecture, are also still standing, looking as if you could maybe just walk right in, but they are absolutely 100% closed and I don’t know for how long they’ve been that way.

The old pool hall is 2nd from the right. This is right around the corner from me.

There are plenty of houses on this street, where people are still living. The volunteer fire department, the city hall (a store front) and the police department (wedged between the city hall and the diner) are all on this street. There’s an old bar across from these buildings (above) that is also closed, but the sign out front of it makes it seem like you can just walk right in and order a beer.

Yet you cannot! It’s abandoned.

This old farm house (below) is not to be believed. It is right outside the corporate limit, where the speed limit changes from 35 mph to 55 mph and the road becomes a highway with farms on either side for miles. I drive past this old farmhouse a couple of times a day.

I don’t know who took this photo, but the farmhouse is already several years older now, and even more deteriorated, if you can even imagine that. I wish I could get a good picture of it, but it’s on private property. There are new barns right next to it. The farmhouse is set off on a hill, with 2 big trees in front of it, and — and I love this part — someone planted a ton of daffodils in the “front yard” and they are all in bloom right now! It is awesome.

On this same road, there are quite a number of houses, barns, and even a church, that are in this same deteriorated condition, with new barns, and houses that people live in, right on the same properties. (The old barn with the Mail Pouch Tobacco sign painted on it, that I posted below somewhere, is on this same road. The barn photo was photo-shopped, though. It doesn’t look nearly that good in real life.)

Right down the street from me, just over the railroad tracks, where portions of the original brick sidewalks can be glimpsed here and there as you walk along, is an old hardware store that looks like you can knock it over with a whisper. It looks like it’s from the early 1900s. It’s behind those buildings where the old pool hall is.  And people live right next door to it — the hardware store, I mean.

Speaking of the old train tracks, I found this old postcard online. The train depot that used to be here in my town!

I’ll have to follow the train tracks sometime, to get an idea of where this depot was, but I’m thinking it was over by  where the Dairy Queen is now, in the “center” of town. For all I know, the “depot” is still there, but being used as something else. The post office, perhaps? That’s along the train tracks…

And I found this photo of my house online, taken at some point when all the trees around had leaves. That hasn’t happened yet this year…

That is my kitchen porch, at the side there, and my horse & buggy barn way at the end of the fence.

And speaking of my new (very old) house… It has one of those unfinished basements, made of exposed stone and dirt. And it still has its old coal shoot, although it’s nailed closed and now vinyl siding is over the outside of it. However, I noticed just the other day, when i was down in the basement, changing the filter on the furnace, that the coal bin is still mostly there, under the stairs! It’s falling apart, but it’s still there. No one, in all this time, thought about dismantling it and removing it. They just worked around it, instead.

I get the best, most amazing, happy vibes living here, folks. I feel like the guy who first built the house, back in 1901, is probably still around in spirit. I keep wondering, if I got a Ouija board who would I contact? Probably way more spirits than I would know what to do with! So I don’t think I’ll go there…

All righty. On that happy note… Have a great Wednesday out there, gang, wherever you are in the world (physical or spiritual!!) I gotta get crackin’ around here. We’re putting up my new shower curtain rod today! Yay. Okay. Thanks for visiting. See ya!

My wonderful old horse & buggy barn!