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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Chrysler and GM are seeking up to$39 billion in bailout funds, the Nation (that would be us, the Taxpayers) is already committed to bailing out failing banks and insurance companies. The nearly $800 billion stimulus package should keep government printing press operators working overtime for the next few months, and our kids paying off the debt for the next 200 years. My! My! Time Flies!

But does this stimulus package really get “down there” to the little people, people like us, who don’t own a bank or an insurance company or a U.S. car company? My husband and I considered this last night over the dinner table. Big companies who have done a crappy job over the last 20 years are getting massive amounts of bailout money, to help tide them over during the rough times and fund their 2010 Superbowl party, and conferences at Las Vegas resort hotels, and whopping bonus packages to CEO’s. (Glad to know they’ve got their priorities straight!) Meanwhile, small companies like our’s, that have done a pretty darn good job for the last 20 years, are getting nada. It just ain’t fair, ya know?

We want a bailout, too. Not a big one, mind you, just a small one. We think $750,000 is a nice roundish number, and with GM and Chryster getting $39 billion, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’ll never be missed.

Grand Premier Clannad

Grand Premier Clannad

We call it the Family Treecat Cat Show Stimulus Bill. For those of you who don’t know, two of our Maine Coons are show cats, recently retired from the ring with Grand Poobah awards, pretty photographs, ribbons & accolades, and major attitude problems about how important they are.

What we propose is to use part of our modest bailout money to purchase two Maine Coon kittens and take them to the show hall. Anyone who’s ever shown a cat or dog knows this is a major financial undertaking. Yet it is one where money is disseminated to many different people and industries, spurring their productivity and enabling them to spend money and stimulate the economy.

First, there’s the breeder, who spends enormous sums of money on food, litter, veterinary care, not to mention their costs in showing their animals. Buying their kittens enables them to maintain their hobby and avocation, and spend money doing it.

Showing cats supports transportation (gas for the car to haul the little moggies from show to show); the hotel and food industries. By giving us a small bailout, numerous pet-friendly LaQuinta hotels will benefit, along with Cracker Barrel and Waffle House restaurants! How’s that for spreading the wealth! Cat show registration fees keep cat show judges in business. The more cats that are in a show, the more spectators drawn to the show. The more spectators and cat show people at a cat show, the more money spent at the vending tables and booths selling pet products, including cat toys, cat shampoos, cat food, cat furniture, cat jewelry, cat clothing (for people, not for cats, who really wouldn’t want to wear a lot of what gets sold…)

As you can see, we’re not talking peanuts here (and especially not Peanut Corporation of America peanuts). The massive amounts of money spent to run cats for Grand Poobah awards has specific benefits for the “little people” of America, down at the grass roots level, who somehow seem to be missing out on the big bailout bucks the car companies, banks and insurance companies are getting. Yes, if they can get bailout money for being stupid (we’ll politely leave “greed” out of the equation), surely people like you and me can get bailout money for doing things right?

Yes, the Cat Show Economic Stimulus Package is a modest plan. Yet, I feel it is an effective one and, unlike the “big guys” we prommise to document every expenditure of our bailout funds. We’ll provide receipts for show registrations, food, travel costs, pet care needs. At the end of the show season, we promise to provide proof-of-success coupons in the form of Grand Poobah certificates to whatever new (and flabby) government agency is formed to oversee the bailout program.

We’re drawing up our bailout plan now, and we’ll see you at the cat show later!

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I have a goal: complete two chapters of a mystery/thriller I’m writing by the end of March.  Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming could pen entire novels in three months, but they didn’t have my family to contend with, they didn’t have flu for a week, or the increased work load brought on by a declining economy.

It’s inevitable that whenever I ensconce myself in my little home office to write, that something (in the form of a husband usually) wanders in demanding instant attention and answers to critical questions.  Where’s the big flashlight?  (I don’t know, I never use it.) What’s this charge on the credit card statement? (This has to be answered now?).  Things would fine if I could answer the question and that was it, but no.  As sure as night follows day and Roma Ryan penned Orinoco Flow, hovering follows, a sense that we must converse on something else! 

It’s not that I don’t want to answer questions or converse, I just want to do it later!   J.K. Rowling was lucky that she was divorced when she started Harry Potter No. I.  If she had been married, she never would have gotten to No. 7.  One of my favorite authors is mystery writer Sue Grafton.  If you go to Sue’s website, you’ll find photographs of her office.  You look at those photos and just know that Sue is never bothered by family distractions, credit card chatter or requests to find tools that she never uses. 

I have a goal.  I’m sure I’m going to meet it, but being an amateur writer dealing with all the distractions of the family republic doesn’t make it easy.

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Another nail in the coffin of the hand-written letter was announced last week by the U.S. Postal Service. Postage will increase by 2 cents in May, from 42 cents to 44 cents. As my husband succinctly put it, ‘they’re sucking wind like everyone else.’

Except for long notes scribbled in Christmas cards, I rarely get real letters these days. Last week I came home and found an largish envelope in my real mailbox. Dark brown, air-mail weight, postmarked — Belfast, from a friend on the other side of the puddle. Inside was a newspaper clipping he had promised to send, a Sunday Independent interview with Moya Brennan. The article I expected and was looking forward to reading, but the treat was the handwritten letter inside. A few comments about the article, another comment about Moya’s little sister’s latest, And Winter Came…, the weather, best regards. Written in a neat distinctive style, I immediately thought — this guy ought to use a fountain pen!

My friend could have sent me a PM and said the same things, and just clipped a short note saying ‘here it is’ to the clipping. It would have been easier for him to do that than take the time to write a real letter. The fact is, I read the letter with the kind of enjoyment that comes from holding paper and looking at the words written on it.  Writing a physical letter involves care that we often don’t take with email.  We organize our thoughts; there’s no cut and paste with paper and pen to rearrange paragraphs.  We take care with spelling to avoid blotchy crossed-out words.  We try to use our best handwriting so we can be read.  (This is particularly true whenever I write a letter!)

It’s an old-fashioned luxury to take such time to write a real letter. It’s a luxury I wish we had more opportunity and reason to indulge in.

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These are a few things I like:

Writing: I’ve got one supernatural and two mystery-thrillers going at the moment.

Fountain pens: There’s nothing like writing with a good fountain pen. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a expensive one or a $12.00 cheapie, as long as it writes well and it fits in my hand. I have a Prussian Blue Waterman Carene with a custom-ground cursive italic nib that’s a dream to hold and write with. I have cheap Pilot 78G’s that are surprising in how well they write straight out of the plastic bag from whatever seller I buy them from. In between, I have a gorgeous ivory Waterman Charleston, and a copper/bronze Waterman Expert II, that I think could be the best writing pen I own. My heart though, belongs to my 1951 Parker 51 in midnight blue with gold-filled cap. Writing with this 56 year old pen is writing with history.

..and paper: I’m currently addicted to Apica notebooks from Japan. The CD-15’s are my project books. The paper is a soft ivory and very smooth. Ink flows onto this paper. My journals are now kept on Apica A610’s. The paper is soft and grey-ish in color. It takes almost every ink I have very well. The notebooks are reasonably cheap: $3.78 for the CD-15 and $5.99 for the A610 at the local pen store. I also like Rhodia and Black n’ Red notebooks, and Ampad legal pads.

…and ink: Private Reserve Midnight Blues. I love the blue-gray color; it’s sophisticated; it’s … enigmatic. Also in use are Waterman Havana Brown and South Seas Blue, Private Reserve Black Cherry; Mont Blanc black and Mont Blanc bordeaux.

Music: Mostly Irish, mostly by the Brennan family–Clannad, Enya. Enya’s new album, And Winter Came… is the best seasonal album to come out in 2008. I was listening to Enya’s family (Clannad) a year before Enya released the soundtrack to The Celts documentary, and their Dulaman album gets played regularly around here.

I’ve got a new pen to try out tonight–a Cross-dressing Parker Big Red. A bunch of years ago, I bought an orange Big Red rollerball. When I took up fountain pens a few years ago, I eyed the rollerball and wished it was a fountain pen. Mostly because vintage Parker Duofolds, on which the Big Red was modeled, are way out of my price range. A few months ago, I found out that the nib and section of a Cross Solo could be used on the barrel of a Big Red. This week I got my Cross Solo (with a nice broad nib!) and sure ‘nuf, the nib fits on the Big Red. The nib was made by Pilot and true to Pilots, its quality is extremely good. It puts down a nice, even wet line without a skip or hiccup. I like the idea of giving my 25 year old Parker Big Red a new lease on life. Writing with it this evening is going to be fun.

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