Wednesday, January 22, 2014

IT's TIME FOR A NEW BEGINNING ...

Hi, All...

Sorry I am posting so late on this Wednesday, but I have been working on my current WIP... I have't had a chance to work on my Film Noir novella in months. Mainly because I have been working on the rewrites on my second novel. I still have another half to go... As most of you know these take SO MUCH TIME!

This morning I bit the bullet, put my novel away and brought up my novella, which is currently ALL OVER THE PLACE. LOL.

This all started with an entry for the Romantic Friday Writers, hosted by dear friends Denise Covey and Donna Hole. Sadly the RFW no longer exists, BUT, Denise has created a new and exciting monthly blog hop instead featured at the W. E. P. know as Write... Edit... Publish. If you are not familiar with the WEP, do drop by and say hi to Denise and check out the site. It's really a fun way to post monthly and you can post anything creative. Art, photography, quips, quotes, Flash Fiction, whatever... as long as it pertains to the prompt, anything goes!

This prompt is a new beginning.

This is a longer post so please bear with me.


Today I'm featuring another segment of my on going tale of Rosemary. Here's a quick blurb, so you know what's going on...


Rosemary, a young, pretty woman, from the wrong side of the tracks, finds herself caught up in murder. On October 31, 1947, Rosemary is invited to an elegant Halloween party at the elegant Palmer House and this is where our story begins...

But this scene opens on the following day...

The Palace Grill’s marquis barely penetrates the dim, charcoal sky, as the northwest winds sweep the downtown streets with the debris of once colorful autumn leaves.

All but one booth is empty. A flamingo pink polished hand raises a steaming cup of joe. Rosebud lips pucker and blow, sending vapor curls into an unsuspecting jukebox. A tinny click resonates and another selection begins to play. Rosemary glances at the shimmering, Lady Gruen curvex watch positioned strategically on her wrist.

The bell tinkles at the door and her eyes shift to a dumpy figure hidden under a policeman’s cap. With his head down and eyes averted , he trudges toward her. Leather soles squeak to the beat of Francis Craig crooning Near You. Each step quickens Rosemary’s heartbeat.

A gloved hand reaches inside his coat and pulls out a crumpled envelope. Rosemary extends her hand and grasps the letter. Silence louder than a sonic boom deafens her. 

“Thank you, officer.”

He tips his hat, turns, and leaves.

Rosemary stares at the envelop in her trembling fingers. Why didn’t he come? Breathing deeply, she frees the note and drops it onto the table, smoothing out the wrinkles.

Only seven words ink the plain stationary. 

In a flash, Rosemary slides out of the booth. She crams the paper into her pocket book, gathers her coat and suit case, and bolts to the door.

Dozens of headlights reflect off chrome bumpers streaking uptown. Rosemary flags a bright yellow, checkered taxi. The brakes grind to a stop. A moment later, a rumpled driver steps onto the sidewalk. Cigar ashes drop inches from Rosemary’s feet as he snatches the luggage and loads it into the trunk. He pulls the door open and stomps around to the driver’s side.

Rosemary slips into the peeling vinyl seat and gasps. A thick haze of cigar smoke suffocates whatever oxygen is present. She winds down the window and her lungs seer from the crisp outside air.

The cabby turns his head and another ash drifts close to her feet. “Where will it be, lady?” His eyes wander to her exposed calves and slowly work their way up to her face.

Heat radiates through her cheeks, tinting them with a hint of ruby. She clears her throat. “Chicago Air Park.” 

She is thrust back into the seat as the taxi peels away from the curb.



*     *     *     


Thick fingers drum the weathered desk as smoke rings curl into a caterpillar-like state. Haunting, bloodshot eyes read the same letter for the hundredth time. What can she possibly say to me? She’s a murderess. She’s lucky I don’t arrest her on the spot for Marty’s death.

He tosses the note into the gunmetal trash can. “I should go. Hear her side of it.” He slouches back into his desk chair and tears at his thick, raven hair. I

t had to be self defense. Marty was no alter boy.

The smoldering cigarette invites him to take another drag. Inhaling, his lungs fill. Slowly, like steam engine exhaust, the smoke escapes his throat. The minute hand on the clock continues to tick. Each click magnifying the urgency. He snuffs out the butt. As the smoke clears, the hour hand sweeps into the Ninth position.

By the next tock, he is gone.



A black an white pulls in front of the Palace Grill. The fedora hat nearly lifts off his head by an unanticipated gust of wind. He slams the door, takes a step, and nearly falls. He loosens the tail of his coat, rushes inside, and surveys the scene. A family of six sit a circular booth in back corner. A young, teenage couple share a malted in the smallest booth. And other couples and families fill most of the remaining tables, but no Rosemary. 

He steps to the counter. 

“What’s buzzin cousin?” the waitress asks.

“Have you seen a blonde, young girl alone, earlier?” he asks in a gruff voice.

She eyes the detective like a hawk ready to devour its next meal. “She’s long gone, sweetie. But I get off in fifteen minutes.” She snaps her gum and winks at him.

“Did she say where she was going?”

The waitress didn’t answer.

“This is police business. You better tell me everything you know or I’ll run you in for questioning.”

Her face flushes. “All right, don’t flip your wig.” She snapped her gum. “All I knows is, she had luggage with her and she was dressed pretty spiffy. I’d try the airport if I was you. That gussied up dame wasn’t goin on no bus or train.”
“Fine. I’ll check the airport first.” He turns on his scuffed wing tips and heads out the door.


* * * * * * *


A hazy moon beams through starched clouds on this All Hallows evening. Each one filled with icy flakes anxiously waiting to dust the streets of Chicago with its crystalized beauty. No longer do the winds rend. Only a quiet chill permeates the air as two automobiles streak southwest toward the same destination.

Polished chrome wings reflect bright incandescent rays on a single cinder runway. Frost lives in the brown-black vesicles, glinting fragments of starry light. Two figures appear and position a staircase in front of the aircraft door. 

Scantly dressed passengers cloaked in furs and overcoats wait inside the lobby. Only one more passenger is expected. A checkered taxi parallels the curb. The door opens. Rosemary steps out onto the sidewalk and rushes inside. The cabby drops her luggage at the curb and is gone in a flash.

The porter joins Rosemary a moment later. She hands him a bill and smiles. The young man pales. His freckles more noticeable than ever. “T-Thank you, miss.” His voice cracks.

Rosemary nods. 

An enormous stack of Louis Vuitton suitcases and trunks roll into sight. Rosemary glances at the tragic valise next to her and pulls the veil from the hat over her eyes.

How could I forget the luggage. Now they will know I’m not one of them.

The porter lifts her bag and adds it to the top of the tram.

“Fifteen minutes to Boarding for flight 227 to Miami,” blasts from an overhead speaker. 

The elegant group of seasoned travelers gather, and stroll merrily to the the gate. Chills run down Rosemary’s back. 

It’s time. My life will never be the same. 

She inhales and checks the seams in her silk stockings, squares her shoulders, and takes her first step.

“Rosemary.”


* * * * * * * * *

Rosemary’s penciled brow raises and with wide eyes stares at the person in front of her.

“What’s the matter honey, cat got your tongue? Wasn’t expecting me, were ya?”

Rosemary swallows and licks her lips. 

“Doris. What are you doing here?”

“Never you mind. Where’s my Marty, you two-bit hussy?" Doris turns her head in different directions. “In the gents, I bet. Sprucing up for your big trip.”

She closes in on Rosemary and flicks the delicate fur collar on Rosemary’s coat. “Spent a pretty penny on ya, didn’t he? That louse never bought me anything this nice.”

Rosemary backs away. “Doris, you don’t understand. It’s not at all what you think.”

“Oh. And what’s that honey. That you and Marty cooked up this whole scheme, so you can run away together.” She steps toward Rosemary, pointing a finger. “I see it so clear now, all those warnings about what Marty was.” She pokes Rosemary in the shoulder. “You just wanted him for yourself.”

“That hood! Not even for a million bucks.” Rosemary pushes past Doris. “I have a plane to catch.”

“You ain’t going nowhere, toots. Not with my Marty, you ain’t.” Doris grabs hold of her arm as heavy footsteps pound the floor.

“Rosemary! Doris!”

Both heads turn. Cal charges up to them and skids to a halt.

“Doris, what are you doing here? I thought you would be in mourning, and preparing for Marty’s funeral?”

Doris pales to alabaster and faints into Rosemary’s arms. “Quick Cal. Help me with her please.”

He rushes to her side and lowers Doris gently to the ground. 

Rosemary whispers, “He’s dead…he’s honestly dead?”

Cal turns toward Rosemary and lifts her face, locking his eyes on hers. “You didn’t know? I thought…”

She pulls away from him. “You thought what?”

Cal flushes pink. “I thought perhaps…you may have bumped him off.”

“What?! You’re just as nutty as she is!” Rosemary points at Doris still passed out on the floor.

“Last call for flight 227 to Miami.”

She steps toward the exit. “I have to go. Goodbye Cal.”

“Rosemary, wait!” He sprints passed her and blocks the gate. “I want to know what happened.”

“Please get out of my way, Cal. You already think I’m guilty.”

“I thought it was self defense. I know Marty dragged you off, during the party.”

“Yes he did, and almost… If it wasn’t for—”

“For what? Please tell me.”

Rosemary sighs and looks up into Cal’s deep, brown eyes. “I need to leave town. That’s all I can say.” 

He wipes the beads of sweat from his brow. “Nothing more?” 

She moves closer to Cal and stands on tip toe, reaching toward him. He hunches over as she kisses him on the cheek and whispers, “I didn’t do it.”

In one swift movement, Rosemary pulls away and exits through the gate, holding her breath.

Farewell Cal. Farewell Chicago.

She exhales and her warm breath mingles with the chilly night air, creating a veil of fine mist. Bright flecks of silver glint in the hazy light. Rosemary quickens her step. As she approaches the beaming aircraft, a weight lifts from her shoulders and she sails up the stairs and into cabin. 

The stewardess smiles. “Welcome to Pam American Airlines, flight 227, miss. May I have your ticket please?” 

Rosemary fumbles through her purse, clasps the ticket, and hands it to the uninformed woman.
“Follow me, please.” She skirts down the aisle with grace and composure. Her soldier blue cap at a jaunty angle, accenting her blushed cheekbones and rosy-red lips.

Excited conversations echo around Rosemary, as the luxurious surroundings and Chicago’s elite begin to overwhelm her.

What am I doing? I don’t belong here. I should go back to Cal.

“Miss. Are you all right?” The stewardess beckons her, waving a white-gloved hand through the ringlets of smoke, curling in front of her. “You have a lovely window seat. No need to be nervous. We’ll do everything we can to make you comfortable.”

The cabin door slams behind her.

Oh, no. There is no turning back now.

Rosemary unlocks her legs and like a new born colt, advances toward the awaiting stewardess, holding her breath once more. She exhales slowly, clearing away some of the anxiety.

The stewardess smiles as Rosemary brushes passed her. She slips into the seat next to  a woman clad in silver mink.

“Good evening,” she says. “Is this your first flight.”

Rosemary nods.

“Relax dear. Before you know it, we will be in Miami.” She pats Rosemary on the arm and her kind eyes sparkle from a ray of bright light, emanating from the runway. 

“I will try. Thank you, Madame.”

“Better buckle up, we should be leaving shortly.”

Rosemary reaches for the fine, leather straps and buckles herself around the waist. As she settles into the plush seat, a loud bang comes from the cabin door. 

“Open up! This is the police!” 


  
Well, that's it. I hope you all enjoyed it! Please let me know what you think! The last section is what I wrote today, so it may be a bit rough.

Please drop by and read the other entries...I know you'll enjoy them!

Have a WONDERFUL Eventing everyone!



70 comments:

  1. Oh, I was so happy she made it and then the police show up! Excellent, Michael. I really love the continuing story here. I did the same thing took a piece from a WIP for the challenge - now back the book 3. I haven't forgotten our goal though, it's time will come!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda,,, Neither have I.

      Good luck on book three!

      Delete
  2. I finally finished rewriting my own novella, and it was such a relief. Now I guess I have to edit it :(

    Thanks for sharing this snippet - I love the noir setting & feeling.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Trisha...

      Good luck with the edits!

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  3. I'm picturing Marlowe, either Bogie or Mitchum while reading this. Well done, and btw - who called the police? Hmmm.

    I love the noir genre.

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    1. Hi, DG... I guess you haven't realized that Cal is a police detective...

      Boogie is good, but not attractive enough for Cal... more like a John Gavin, Gregory Peck, or Cary Grant.

      Marlowe yes, but I'm thinking more a young Ann Margaret or a young Jane Fonda type.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful words. Just like I remember your writing! Glad to see you're still writing strong! I've never written a novella, but it's in the plans! Great to visit you again. :) Christy

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    1. Hey, Christy,

      Nice to see you too... Glad you enjoyed this piece. I need to stop by your blog to say hi...

      Delete
  5. You certainly have a way of making words JUMP off the screen. Really, really well done good sir!

    Edits. Ugh. Good luck!

    Writing Through College


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    Replies
    1. What a nice compliment. Thank you, Sam! You made my day/night!

      Delete
  6. Hey Michael, aren't you a sweetie to sit down and get this written/finished for the challenge. Also helps get your noir flash continued! Love the atmosphere, the descriptions, the characters. You've got the era down pat. Living in Chicago has some perks, eh, even if it is an icebox!

    A real cliffhanger ending. That page-turning-quality!

    Hope the re-writes are going well.

    And thanks for writing for WEP again Michael. I hope you can continue with us and get your noir finished this way!

    Denise

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    1. SO happy you liked it, Denise! Yes, it seems the only way I can get this novella finished is through your wonderful prompts at the WEP!

      Delete
  7. Oh, and bad me, I missed your coffee bloghop! I think I signed up but I thought it was February. Blame my jetlag. I'm just starting to feel normal again!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you did,,, No worries though, I completely understand... It was fun. We had a great time!

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  8. January 23rd, 2014

    Dear Michael,

    Wonderful to see your film-noir novella again. I'm looking forward to reading it as a complete story. I think it was a good thing that you included such a long excerpt; it's easier to understand and see the flow, when you have more of the text.

    I've been reading about plotting and trying all kinds of combinations with moving scenes around in my novel-to-be.
    I am using index cards and post-it stickers to plot.

    Snow came late to us. I was starting to believe that we were never going to get any snow. But alas, about 10 days ago winter arrived like a cold wet blanket over everything.

    Take care!
    Best wishes & hugs,
    Anna
    oxo

    Anna's WEP for January 2014

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anna
      I'm glad you are enjoying it. Happy to hear you are still working on you novel and trying different approaches.

      All the best this year!

      Delete
  9. I remember the first segments, but now you've left us hanging with the last one!

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    1. You know I always love a good cliff hanger, Alex! lol.

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  10. I love the feel of your writing. You choose strong verbs and aren't too heavy with the adjectives. It really makes the story flow. I haven't read the previous bits to this story, but it is very good. (I also noticed that Rosemary is Florida-bound from Chicago. :)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, yes...we all want to retreat Chicago in the winter months. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

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  11. Very evocative stuff, Michael! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

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  12. Is it Cal at the door or someone else? And who killed Marty? Nice excerpt!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it, Marcy...Now I can't reveal those answers to you...not yet, anyway. lol.

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  13. I'm so glad you're getting back to your noir story. I love it so much. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Misha.

      I am really happy to be writing move of it, too. I can't to finish it so you all can read the COMPLETE story instead of these little teasers.

      Delete
  14. I have been working on a few WIPs too. Got to write first, right?

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  15. How fun to read your noir! I especially enjoyed these lines/phrases: "Slowly, like steam engine exhaust, the smoke escapes his throat." and "By the next tock, he is gone." and the "starched clouds." Yay for writing fresh stuff!! So fun. :)

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    1. I so agree...in rewrites for the past two months is getting very trying. Sometimes we need to break free and write anew...

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  16. Beautiful and descriptive. I'm loving this piece very much and can't wait for the next installment.

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    1. Thanks so much, Melissa! You know how I LOVE my description!

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  17. But I wanted to know what was in the letter! And what's going to happen next? Ugh.

    Hey, here's wishing you all the best with your edits.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Crystal. Glad to keep you guessing and wanting more. lol.

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  18. I rewrote a book last month, so I know what you must be going through. I loved this piece, it was so descriptive. I like the name Rosemary a lot.

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    1. Thanks Rachna. Me, too. My mom's name was Rosemarie... the Italian version of Rosemary. She was a beautiful 1940's woman,too, so Rosemary is very loosely based on her.

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  19. It's fun to go back and work on something you've put aside for a bit. You have a whole new perspective. Good luck!

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  20. "Don't flip your wig" <---LOL! And I LOVE the opening paragraph in the third segment... Sooooo my thing. I love how haunting it is...

    As always, this is beautiful, Michael. I LOVE reading your noir work... it's so transporting. I just love being able to see and feel everything...

    And keep pushing... I'm SO very excited for you right now!!!

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    1. Thanks Morg. Me, too. It seems to be a popular passage.

      Noir is all about atmosphere. That's why I LOVE writing it! SO much fun!

      Delete
  21. I always love reading about Rosemary and this segment didn't disappoint. I can't believe where you left us though - that's cruel! :D I should have known poor Rosemary wasn't going to make it to Miami.
    I'm dying to know what happens next. Have a great weekend, Michael.

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    1. Thanks, Julie. Not sure whether or not Rosemary is going. She just may...hmmmm...imagine the possibilities.

      A beautiful young girl, amongst the jet set world of 1940's Miami.

      Delete
  22. Haven't read it all yet Michael, I will do later. However, I did notice one bit She was THRUSTED back. Not valid, she was thrust back maybe.

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  23. Thanks for catching that Jo. I hope you enjoy the rest!

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  24. Such language Michael! Totally authentic. I read this with that 40's slang, lol. Slipping into this world must feel totally different for you. You're capturing the Micky Spellane culture beautifully.

    Glad to hear you are so busy with your writing. I've missed you.

    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

    .......dhole

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  25. Hello Michael,

    You have a way of transporting your reader right to that time and place, the descriptions of late 40's and flying when it was so different from what it is now. So enjoyable.

    Sorry it has taken me forever to get here. Look forward to reading more of your Noir posts.

    Best wishes for 2014 and new beginnings and rewrites!
    Nilanjana.

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  26. Saturday January 25th, 2014

    Dear Michael,

    Your story make me think about the passage of time and how words change. You have cleverly used words and phrases that are 'time-markers' for the 'noir-period'. But there is always a risk that anachronisms sneak into your text. It can't be helped. We are not living 1947. You are trying to recreate the feeling of what we think it was like then.

    If your story is happening 1947, I think “Chicago Air Park.” is a wonderful choice, and lovely 'time-marker', if it really is accurate. I don't know if it really was used for a name for the Chicago Airport at that time, but it seems plausible for a name when it was just a small airport.

    I am guessing that you do research on all of this.

    One word that does bother me is 'VINYL', as in 'Rosemary slips into the peeling vinyl seat and gasps.' When was 'vinyl' a common article in everyday life? It may have come a little later, in the fifties and sixties.

    I remember the interior of my paternal grandparent's1950-Chevrolet. The seats were made of some kind of woolen material. No vinyl anywhere.

    The history of plastics could be time-markers in stories if you just could look up when certain products were available to the general public. But I have not yet found that kind of a history book.

    The names of different plastic material can be different too. What is 'bakalite' or 'lucite'? I know you have one foot in the design world, and know what I am talking about.

    I'm not saying that you are wrong. Maybe someone has described peeling vinyl seat-covers, but was it 1947 or 1957?

    I looked up VINYL on the Internet, but found nothing helpful. I wish I could ask my paternal grandmother, but she is no longer available.

    I maybe the only one who looks at these details. I just don't want you to get angry letters from readers AFTER your story is printed in bookform. Even if this is not the most important thing in your book.

    Forgive me for being so picky. I really love your story.

    Best wishes,
    Anna

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  27. Michael, I do have a comment or two, but I will wait until the story is complete. I just might be wrong.

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  28. I really like your writing. Hopefully someday we will be able to have a book written by you 8-D

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  29. Okay that was a wow, especially toward the end. This shows literary talent, and even though I knew the ending had to go that way, I liked how you did it, made me want to know how she's going to get out of it...! Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting!

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  30. Vivid imagery, Michael. Love the project. Good luck with it.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

    Mary Montague Sikes

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  31. That bought back vivid memories of when my father used to smoke cigars. At least he did until I set up a fan one day to blow the smoke at my brother. Hey, it wasn't my fault he was sitting there at the time. lol

    Great job, Michael. You have a way with description.

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  32. Of course I love the setting and the time period. Will this be a novella or novel? As usual, your writing is very visual.

    P.S. Hope you are staying warm today! My sister texted me to tell me it was something, like, 47 below in Glen Ellyn.

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  33. Aloha,

    Gosh Michael, you really can describe a scene and I kept expecting Bogart or Bacall to waltz in :)

    Great read and let me know when it's done - if you need a beta reader, I'd love to :)

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  34. Way to leave it on a cliffy! The story is so atmospheric. I hope you found the break from BG to be a good way to rev up for attacking the second half of edits!

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  35. I can see the era totally with your expressions and the cliffhanger at the end, priceless.

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  36. An interesting piece that I enjoyed reading. Good luck to you and your writing.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. ...love the descriptive prose, Michael. It's definitely your niche in the 'biz.' And everyone adores a healthy cliffhanger ;)

    Great to see how well you're doing to start the new year!

    El

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  39. Hey Michael,

    Oops, there you go apologising for not posting on time. As for me, I apologise for actually doing a posting! :)

    And enticing and intriguing read, my friend. However, I beg you, good sir, do try to make your stories shorter. I can barely keep up as it is. Anyway, you have a gift for writing that dances off the screen. No, not literally.

    Gary :)

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  40. Michael, your writing gets better and better all the time. I have always relished the rich, descriptive language and sensory detail. But I must compliment you on your verb choice, too! The verb is my favorite part of speech, and you do such an amazing job picking the perfect ones. Loved it...as always.

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  41. Never apologize for being late when writing is the cause! Here's to more writing. Keep up the good work. :-)

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  42. "Michael Di Gesu" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-sunday-drive.html

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  43. How fun Michael! Novellas are totally in right now too, so you could epublish them to Amazon or do serials. And since you do your own covers, you'd be able to work fast. :)

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  44. But but but!! They left poor Doris on the floor!! All swooned out! Oh dear!!!

    Take care
    x

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  45. Really liking the noir-ish tone, and you already know I'm a fan of your descriptions. Nice work, Michael.

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  46. Good for you -- tackling the challenge of a period piece. You are certainly evoking 1940's Chicago here (or what I imagine is 1940s Chicago). You've captured the feel of a Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett.

    One suggestion, in the opening of this excerpt, we are outside the diner, then inside in the next paragraph. Rosemary is at a booth, then the jukebox, then I'm not sure where. You might want to focus the location in the beginning -- describe Chicago streets outside as Rosemary sees them through the window inside the diner, in her booth. Then we'll know for sure where we are. :)

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  47. My mom always gets the winter blues and a good house cleaning and sprucing up of her decor always cheers her up. I never get that. I feel like I am always so busy and pulled in so many different directions that I look forward to the hibernation season. This snow which, which has left me cooped up and snow bound has helped me take a breather and feel like me again.

    Sorry to hear it's the anniversary of losing your loved ones. That is hard. At the beginning of each fall, I get that melancholy. Blah. It's no fun.

    Hugs and happy blitz Michael!!!

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