Girls Rising up Like a Bad ‘B’ Movie

What’s up with all the “Girls” in literature these days? Everywhere I look–magazines dedicated to publishing, social media, library stacks, you name it–books with the word Girl stand out from the rest as if that particular gender demands it finally be recognized.

If only in the title of a book.

As a writer, I realize publishing goes through trends. We’ve seen books about pets who saved their person’s life, stories about LGBQT relationships or gender confusion, and everyone who was anyone was writing a memoir. We still see the occasional story about someone who went to Heaven and returned to inspire us. Within genres they even create trendy plots and titles.

I suppose one trend that won’t get much attention or come back with a bang is the Western (pun intended). You’d have to be a Stephen King to do it. (For proof, see The Dark Tower series)

You’ve probably read a few of the Girl titles I found during my browsing. Some have been bestsellers; others loved so well they were made into major motion pictures.

Banned books. Which have you read you “Naughty Girl”?

Here’s a list, not by any means complete, of some books I discovered with that word somewhere in the title.

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and the sequels)
  • The Girls of Atomic City
  • The Girl You Left Behind
  • The Girl Before
  • The Girl Next Door
  • The Girl Who Disappeared Twice
  • The Girl Who Was on Fire
  • Luckiest Girl Alive
  • The Girl Who Knew Too Much
  • The Girl on the Train
  • Gone Girl
  • The Girls
  • Girls Acting Catty
  • Girl, Stolen
  • Girls in White Dresses
  • Girl, Gone (sound familiar?)
  • Girl in Progress
  • A Girl’s Guide to Vampires
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  • Girls From Da Hood
  • Girls Dinner Club
  • Girls Rule
  • The Sandcastle Girls
  • Kiss the Girls
  • The Pained Girls
  • The Forgotten Girls
  • The Summer Girls
  • The Silent Girls
  • The Good Girls
  • The Drummond Girls
  • The Radium Girls
  • The Wicked Girls
  • Last Girls of Pompeii
  • Lab Girl
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls
  • When All the Girls Have Gone
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
  • The Dead Girls’ Dance
  • Rise of the Rocket Girls
  • The Girls She Left Behind
  • A Few of the Girls

That list is a humble offering from the over 300 entries on my library’s search list which included CD books, downloadable, large print and DVDs. I don’t know which are fiction, non-fiction, or media, but you get the idea.

There’s a bunch of “Girls” out there just waiting for your attention.

Not to mention the daughters, wives, and mistresses in titles. “Women, can’t live without ‘em, can’t kill ‘em” a friend of mine used to say. He could be wrong and it’s a crude thing to say. But I’d be willing to bet some of these titles include a woman dying, whether by natural means or murder.

Speaking of men, did you ever notice most books about men have vaguer titles? The title suggests action and adventure rather than mention “Him.” Men appreciate when we recognize how mysterious they want to remain. At least in fiction. Consider these: “Rogue Lawyer,” “Road Dogs,” “Mr. Majestyk,” and “Come and Get Us.”

Sometimes in literary fiction we get to know a guy inside and out. I’ve discovered those are books that both men and women rate four to five stars on a five-star scale. And yes, I could say that some of my real-life male friends are also open books, so to speak.

I don’t believe I’m going to be adding any of these titles to my “Must Read” list soon. However, I do have a copy of “Little Women” and I never read it as a youngster. It’s probably for good reasons the book is a classic.

Don’t be one of The Silent Girls (or boys). Let me know if you’ve read any of these titles. What did you think of it? How long before we see this trend go the way of the dinosaur (as in “Jurassic World”)

Enjoy your book nook!

Walking the Cemetery

Here’s something I don’t do often: just write an essay and throw it out there for no good reason. I’m posting today on what would be one of my “off” days because I want to share it with people from my hometown. Most of them will be able to see the lake, the fence, the headstones. They’ll experience that breeze blowing through the trees off in the corner of the woods. Perhaps they’ll remember one particular day…

Here you go, Lakeview. I don’t come around much any more, but I think of you still.

_____________________________________________

Walking the Cemetery by Paula Geister

We weren’t creepy kids. My best friend, Sandy, and I were just curious, and we found something that ended up being a learning experience when curiosity took us to the local cemetery. For the life of me, I can’t remember what prompted that first visit, but walking the cemetery became something we did fairly often.

Lakeview Cemetery was off the beaten path, but still in the village limits of our small town. A right turn off Lincoln Avenue, the main street through Lakeview, and you eventually came to the wrought iron gate of the cemetery.

Just inside the gate stood a marker. After such a long time, I don’t remember anything of significance it might have had written on it. The gate and marker only fascinated us on the first visit. We learned to walk the length of the narrow road to Lakeview Cemetery because we knew what we’d find.

Some would say our visits did have “creepy” written all over them. But we carefully avoided stepping on graves, and took our time exploring each time we went. Whether walking under overhanging shade trees or in the summer sun, we found small headstones and large family markers. Names familiar and names only the dead knew. Carved into each marker we were discovering our heritage, strange as those people were to us.

With sadness, we rubbed our fingers along a stone’s mossy face, trying to make out a faded etching. Our little hamlet was almost 100 years old. How old was the cemetery? How long had it taken for weather and time to erode those names, just as the memory of the folks buried there had disappeared?

In the oldest section of the property, we followed a curving trail. Situated on Tamarack Lake and tucked into the corner of a woods, the cemetery could be beautiful if you had the right mind set. We considered it beautiful. It’s possible we didn’t even know we were being creepy.

The more we visited the cemetery and walked through it, the more we discovered about our town. We also discovered more about life and death. As if watching a movie for the second or third time, we’d see something significant that was missed on a previous trip.

One time it was the baby.

That headstone was old. Terribly old, and even sadder than the moss and lichen growing on other headstones. Sandy and I were only teenagers. It was difficult for us to imagine a baby in a grave. Walking the cemetery was teaching lessons we didn’t expect to learn. But we always left feeling peaceful. Even invigorated.

Time eventually takes loved ones from us. So cemeteries have a purpose. They’re a place for not only the dead to rest, but for the living. For some reason, we have a need to visit our dead and pay respect to them even when they’re gone.

I’m told that elephants respect their dead in profound ways. Film crews shooting a documentary captured a herd of elephants on their way to find water during a drought. The elephants’ lives hung in a balance; it took days for them to finally find water. Yet on the way, they came to an elephant burial site. The herd stopped. They stood at the site and were still and quiet for over an hour.

How did they know? Were elephant bones strewn on the ground? Was there a scent only they could detect? Had they traveled that way before on a trip to find water and members of the herd had perished there? Is that elephant memory? Those questions don’t really need answers. The elephants were doing what elephants do.

And as creepy as it might seem, we do what comes naturally for us. We stand quietly or kneel at the grave site. We have conversations with our friend, parent, spouse, sibling. Whomever. We leave flowers, flags, notes, and trinkets. We weep. Others show no emotion at all.

We do it for ourselves. We may not walk the cemetery to discover our heritage, but we walk a familiar path and connect once again. We know our time is coming and for some reason, the marker and that little plot give us peace.

Today I know I can visit my home town cemetery and find a few loved ones buried there. My parents. Two neighbor girls who died unexpectedly and tragically. And Sandy, my best friend, has been buried there for over thirty years.

I’d love to talk and laugh with her again. For a while after her death, someone would do or say something to make me think of her. “Sandy would have appreciated that,” I’d think. Then I’d remember that little plot by the lake where she rests. I’d be quiet and still, doing what I do. Feeling peaceful and even invigorated.

As creepy as that might sound.

 

© 2016 Paula Geister

Mom’s “Notes to Self”

Dad decided to have an estate sale and clean out the old house I grew up in. Mom had died several years before and he had plenty of good reasons to clear out the contents.

The house was full of antiques he and mom had collected. He also had numerous guns and clocks to sell. There were even collector cards I didn’t know he had. Those eBay freaks went wild bidding on that stuff.

Before he let everything go, however, he told us eight children we could select one thing to keep. He also picked out something for us that he wanted us to have.

What did I pick? Mom’s writing. Anything we could find that was complete. Stuff she didn’t finish. Her two-and-a-half-inch three-ring binder full of poems. A short journal she started as she made decisions regarding cancer treatment. The package even included letters exchanged between her and Dad. And an autograph book from her high school days. It wasn’t exactly “one thing,” but Dad gave a little leeway. I guess he figured no one would bid on something like that. One of us ought to have it.

nurse-mom001

Mom’s graduation pic from nursing school

Today you get to read something she wrote on a 3×5 card. She probably wrote it some time in the 70s. I keep the card at my desk and look at it every now and then for inspiration. The words she wrote remind me so much of her, I can almost hear her speaking them.

Mom was a committed Christian. What she wrote here seems to me like “notes to self.” Maybe she kept the card handy to read as a prompt. Sort of like I do.

Here’s what she wrote on one side of that little unlined card in her utterly neat penmanship.

  1. Diligence–hasten to do a job well
  2. Faith–faith without diligence is dead. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me
  3. Virtue–honesty, courtesy
  4. Wisdom–ability to use knowledge James1:5
  5. Self-Control–discipline over all body appetites. A scheduling of mind, to control emotions, frustrations, etc.
  6. Godliness–kindness, love.

Now we are coming to the traits that show. The foundation of wisdom, virtue, and faith no one can see, but needs be in (sic) place first, then the character of godliness, love and kindness show through. Character seeks talent necessary to fulfill a task.

On the flip side of the card:

  1. If I have a friend, I will stick with and by them!
  2. I will base my decisions on right and wrong, not on how right or wrong turn out.
  3. I will not tamper with (pastor) or preaching. I will pray for (my pastor) every time I go to prayer.
  4. I will not seek riches.
  5. I will treat all people well no matter their station in life.

Thinking back on how Mom lived her life, I know the listed items on the “flip side” were evident in her daily practices. She always treated my friends well. I brought home some misfits like myself and we always had a good time with Mom. She treated them with dignity and they would comment on how she was a pretty good hostess. Even if she was trying occasionally to save their souls. Cookies usually accompanied the visits.

Years after the estate sale and now that my dad is deceased as well, I’m glad I asked for the writing. I knew about some of the stuff which was hidden away. But some of it came as a surprise.

As a writer, I know that what people put down using pen and paper reveals much about who they are. These days, it’s more often done on a computer. Staring at the blank page, we may be blogging about our lives. We might be sharing our thoughts on social media or journaling in private and storing our thoughts in a folder marked “Notes to Self.”

Someday, my kids will find out a little bit more about me when they discover my journals, the margin notes in a few of my Bibles and the stuff I keep in computer folders that have strange names.

Kids, if you’re reading this, look for “Miscellaneous Creations.”

Schedule for Stuff

Here at The Fruitful Life I like to post regular features. I may have started the blog to write about how the Christian faith molds my life. But since I began, I realize the word “fruitful” can mean more than that. I want to live the totally abundant life Christ came to give me.

My interests are many, thanks to God who created me. But to post about everything isn’t realistic.  However, you’ll find on this site essays about things I can’t help but share. Reading is a passion of mine. I reeeally enjoy watching movies (even old B&W ones!). So occasionally I feel a stirring and write about those things.

I also have a passion for food, learning more about cooking and baking, and discovering new recipes. Sometimes I’m precise in the process; sometimes I cook ‘by guess and by golly.’ That’s here too.

Below is a tentative schedule for postings on The Fruitful Life. Sometimes I take little vacations or life gets hectic and I have to skip a post. Remember that abundant life? Yep, that’s what happens.Blogging-shakespeare

 

Media Monday  Some Mondays will see either a book review or a movie review. Those offerings are strictly my opinion and the reviews may not be for media recently released. I believe that, after reading a book or watching a movie, I may help someone make a decision about whether to try it too. If that’s media which is not so new, it’s okay. I’m often influenced by the reviews–good and bad–that I read. You might even see an occasional mention of music here.

Wednesday is for Faith  The middle of the work week has been the usual day when I share something about how my faith instructs all I do. I’ll be the first to say I don’t live the Christian life perfectly. That’s why I so desperately need a savior. Writing about what I believe and using the Bible to explain it helps confirm my faith.

Foodie Friday  Friday food posts will be instantly recognizable since they’ll have the word “foodie” in the title. Friday features tips, recipes, ideas you may not have tried, or something heartfelt about how we respond to food and eating. I’m not a professional photographer so bear with me when I post my own picture stuff.

Good News Any Day  I decided recently, after some time being involved with social media, that I want to share some good news. “How do I do that?” I wondered. So far, I have a couple ideas. One is obvious: search the Internet. It’s not all bad news out there and we need to hear good news to keep our psyches afloat. Hope buoys us up and knowing people are doing well or ‘doing good’ gives us hope. I’ll be keeping an ear to the ground and either telling the story in my own way or offering links to various good news stories.

And speaking of Good News, please remember that I write from a Christian perspective. Even when I’m not writing about food, I pray what you see here will be seasoned with truth and grace. Just as Jesus offered everything he said and did.

Your comments are always welcome. It would be great to know if you found me on WordPress, Twitter or Facebook, if you care to say so.

Be a blessing to someone today.

After That Pause…A Page

Recently I decided to make my blog more like the website I hope to make it on another day. Including a photo of myself works. Including a ‘follow’ button and links to recent posts also works.

Another page under “Author Stuff” is something I needed. My introduction to myself is short and (I hope) somewhat humorous. It’s my way of letting you know who I am in a lighthearted way. “Published Stuff” is for the people who want to know a little more about the “author” mentioned in that page.Snoopy at typewriter

I’ve been writing for ghmsngrg years and this page addition includes information about past and present writing efforts. Sure, I’ve had other jobs. Retail experience in a grocery store, cleaning lady, secretary, bookkeeper, waitress, and proofreader, to name a few. But writing is a career for me, not just a job.

So hover over “Author Stuff” and take a look if you’re so inclined. Thanks for being a regular reader. As always, your comments are welcome.

Ode To A Wintry Day

I offered this post earlier this year when WordPress prompted us to write an ode to someone or something we love. (Extra points if it was poetry!) I happen to love the way snow falls and lies like a blanket on open fields. I’ve seen snow fall so heavily it seems to be sugar-coating the rows and rows of pines in that open field.

So here’s the poem I wrote years ago to describe what I saw. It seems especially appropriate since today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Snow Man
By Paula Geister

Step by step, a monstrous form
All arms and legs and head,
Takes his silent walk to the woods
To rest a bit, to find a bed.

The hulk takes giant steps tonightSnow covered forest of pine trees
On creaking snow like Styrofoam.
His breath is frozen in his beard,
But he presses on toward home.

Winter’s king all alone, he takes
The gloom from shrouded nights.
Stepping into the woods, he makes
The trees absorb his light.

That One Book

Writers must be readers. In fact, writers just can’t help but be readers and they’ve probably been voracious readers since they first began sounding out words.

Looking back, is there a book you read that created in you an urge to write a book?

If so, what was it about the book that created the urge?

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration now?

For me, as silly as it sounds, “Alice in Wonderland” had that effect on me. Perhaps it’s the silliness of the writing and the whole story that made it so. Between the ages of 12 and 20 I read the book three times. I also read its companion, “Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass.”

Today, my inspiration comes from hearing another story well-told. From an excellent turn-of-phrase. From watching people simply being the people they are.

We are a glorious lot of humanity with our gifts, our frailties and our idiosyncrasies.

Happy writing.

Ten Things I Can’t Do While Writing And What To Do About Followers

Besides re-blogging a post from another WordPress blogger, I haven’t been busy with The Fruitful Life lately. I haven’t any excuses; just a few reasons.

In March, I spent a week in the hospital and when I got home, spent more than a week catching up. (No details; it’s all too ugly). My life had been interrupted by something that, while necessary, was a pain in the neck. That’s not to say, neck pain was why I was hospitalized, but you get my meaning.

When I told a friend how frustrating it was, she said, “I know your personality too. You needed to have everything back in order immediately, didn’t you?”

She knows me well. That’s why I can call her a friend. However, things didn’t get into order immediately. Since I didn’t have Internet for a while and I was locked out of my laptop to boot, I had to go to the library to use their computers. I told you it was ugly.

A Broken Pencil
I thought about getting back to the blog because I hadn’t posted in so long. I even had a couple of back burner articles to post. But it seemed my pencil had been broken and writing got put on hold a little longer.
broken pencil

To tell you the truth, real life just plain got in the way of the writing life. Members of my writers’ group tell me it happens to them too. I just never thought it would happen to me. So here I am blogging again and I have to acknowledge things that I simply cannot do at the same time I’m writing.

1. Work on my Bible study
2. Engage in a hobby
3. Housework
4. Gab on the phone with my son, daughter and grand kids
5. Listen to the Detroit Tigers on the radio
6. Watch that new release movie I want to see
7. Shop for groceries
8. Sit down and pay the bills
9. Cook and eat a meal
10. Sleep

You may argue that some items on the list aren’t necessary for my household to stay up to snuff. To that I say, “All work and no play…”

Is Anybody Out There?
When I got back onto the blog, I noticed The Fruitful Life had nothing listed under Top Posts & Pages. There had been traffic, but not enough to rate, I suppose. Funny. I took a keen look at Twitter and the number of  ‘followers’ had done some wild stuff there too.

The surge of emails in my absence let me know I had new followers, but the actual number shown on Twitter didn’t reflect that. I’ve never been that great at math, but something didn’t come out right.

Now, I’m not all that concerned with numbers. It’s why I don’t have a counter on my blog or a notice below the Follow button saying how many people do (follow). The Twitter thing was one of those strange deals I just shook my head over. I figured as far as “followers” are concerned, I needn’t get too upset about it.

Not little old me.

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, lost followers too. Because he said some fairly harsh things and some outright difficult-to-understand things, folks stopped following. (See John 6:60-66) I haven’t used the term “brood of vipers.” I haven’t suggested people are going to hell. Nevertheless, I can’t consider myself in the same league as Christ Jesus.

[As an aside, if I really thought about the lives at stake, I would talk about hell. Gently. Accurately. Truth be told, quoting Jesus’ words about hell for a good reason would be more responsible than misquoting scripture to suit my own uses.]

Anyway, since the blog is supposed to reflect joy in my spiritual journey, I needed to write about this period of not facing the page in front of me. Writing is one of those things I feel very strongly God has given me a talent for and a calling to do. Besides, the writing itself gives me joy.

Now that I’m home and the groceries are bought, the laundry’s done, the bills are paid, I talked to my kids, and I even watched a new release movie, my broken pencil is back in action.

You’re certainly welcome to “follow.”

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Susan, the manager at our local library branch knows my book tastes. Through our many conversations, she even knows a lot of the books I’ve read. So when she told me about the release of a book about Harper Lee , I told her to put it on hold for me as soon as it became available.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

“The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee” by Marja Mills, reveals just about everything we want to know about the author who took her Pulitzer and seemingly disappeared. Over the years, I’d heard her called a recluse. Many asked why, if she was so talented, she didn’t write another novel. People also commented that “If your first novel won such a prestigious award, why bother to write another?”

Deciding to not be out in the limelight was probably just a part of Lee’s personality. Maybe going to cocktail parties and having to answer the same questions repeatedly became wearying to her.

Mills’ book about Nelle (Harper is Lee’s middle name) explains a lot of what people wanted to know. But in her opinionated and straightforward way, Nelle said her life hadn’t really been one of seclusion at all. She began to stay in her New York City home less frequently and eventually moved back home to Monroeville, Alabama with her sister, Alice. She knew the people well in the town where they grew up. Life there seemed to make her content.

Now, exciting news for fans says that another book written by Harper Lee will be released in July. “Go Set a Watchman,” a sequel to  Mockingbird, is creating just as much of a stir as when Lee left the public eye following publication of her prize-winning novel. And the stir doesn’t seem to be all positive.

It seems no one has ever been nor will ever be happy with whatever happens.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning novel published in 1960 is my favorite story. There are many which rank right up there with it, but I’ve read this story three times and I can’t even remember how many times I’ve watched the movie.

For my part, if Harper Lee wrote another book about Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout, I’m not going to question it. I just hope my friend Susan asks if I’d like to be put on hold for it. How could I say “no”?

It’s an offer I can’t refuse.