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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ and Over and Over…

Empire State Building - my hometown symbol.

Empire State Building – my hometown symbol.

ONCE A NEW YAWKER…

A few years ago, I shared the news about the  birth of my first granddaughter on my website.  One reader wrote to me and said I had to move to Florida, that I could not live a thousand miles away from a grandchild. Well…okay.  Maybe I agreed in spirit, but practical reasons prevailed then. Now, however, I know she was right!  Nothing beats living near family. So, for the fourth time in my married life, I’m starting over in a new home. Which might sound like a royal pain in the neck to many of you.

I grew up in the Empire state, in New York City, with aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby. For those of you who might imagine New York to be only a hustle and bustle place, let me assure you that family neighborhoods thrived. My childhood was secure in Jackson Heights, Queens, with many friends and real everyday people living in apartment houses, attached row houses or single family homes.

As a young married woman, I moved north to the Bay state, to a place called Worcester. I had never heard of the town and was very nervous about relocating and leaving my familiar territory. So Mike and I made weekend trips every month or six weeks back to the city to visit everyone. Both sets of parents visited us as well.  Grandchildren are such a draw! Worcester, Massachusetts became a place on the map for all of us. It took just a little time for us to settle in very well.

When our sons were in college, Mike and I headed to the Lone Star state because of a new job. Was I thrilled about moving?  No. We’d become very comfortable in Worcester and didn’t want to leave our friends behind. Who wanted to start over again? But, we did..Whether by plane or car, we headed back up north regularly. Every time LaGuardia airport came into sight, my heart raced with excitement. And two years ago, we started over in the Sunshine state.

I’ve actually loved living in all four places – New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida – and feel lucky to have tasted life in various sections of this beautiful country. What can beat genuine Texas B-B-Q or the casual lifestyle? “Hey, y’all. How’re doing?” Texas Friendly is what I call it.  And what can be more breath-taking than the blazing autumn foliage of New England, or more fun than apple picking time? I scarfed up the clam chowder and lobster whenever they were on sale.

The time it took to transition from tourist to resident, adapting to the culture of each region, became shorter with each move. But no amount of regional delights could erase my New Yawk beginnings.

It seems to me that ‘starting over’ is NOT a problem that interrupts your life. It’s simply part of the  long adventure that IS your life. Whether it’s a new home, or a new husband, I think starting over enriches the journey. While my New York roots remain strong, and I will always reach for a second cup of cawfee, a glass of Florida orange juice tastes very sweet, too. .

I’ve set several of my stories in New England and Texas. Oddly enough, The Soldier and the Rose, a WWII love story, was the only book I’ve written that took place in New York City. Are there any native New Yorkers out there reading this blog? How about visitors to my hometown? Or is New York the last place on earth you’d go?

DRAWING!  Post a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of Family Interrupted. Winner chosen tonight!  Will post winner’s name on Thursday.

I post a new blog every Tuesday and Thursday.  Hope to see you for the next episode of Starting Over.

Best always,

Linda

 

Starting Over ~ A New Home

These match. Mine don't :)

These match. Mine don’t 🙂

LET’S GET REAL…

Happiness in a  home can be measured in closet space. Whether you live in a one bedroom apartment or a four bedroom ranch house, closets are the real in “real estate.”  As an extra challenge, basements don’t exist in the southern tier of this country, So say goodbye to a terrific storage alternative. I spent my early married life in Massachusetts in a house with an unfinished basement, but it was large enough for us to throw down a rug and use as a playroom.  Mike even built a “sports” closet under the staircase–much appreciated for the basketballs, baseball gloves, ice skates, even sleds and whatever else kept our three boys busy during each season.

Then we moved to Texas, and now live in Florida. Southern enough? Definitely no basements. My organizational gene was challenged, but with a little surprise help, I conquered this issue..

In Texas, my lower kitchen cabinets were filled with a hodge-podge of pots, pans, storage containers, cutting boards, trays, colanders and even a George Forman grill. I will never have a color coordinated matching set of anything because everything I have still works beautifully, So how can I throw them out? Besides, I’m a basic cook. A decent basic cook. I know which pots I use for brisket – the two Dutch ovens. I know exactly which crummy one I use for boiling eggs so no other pot will turn black inside.  I’ll admit I’m a creature of habit and comfortable with my array of stainless.

But I wasn’t comfortable messing around inside the cabinets, trying to dig out the exact pan I needed. Aerobics in the kitchen. Bend. Reach. Bend. Reach. Left, right, center. Crash. Crash, crash. Oy, the noise! Every time I went through another crash routine, I’d think about installing sliding drawers which I’d seen at Lowe’s. But then I got busy and forgot about it until the next time.

Finally, next time arrived.  One Saturday, I walked into the kitchen to see a mess of Reverewear, Farberware, Emeril and whatever else I’d collected all over the floor. Mike was lying on his back, his head and arms scrunched inside that bottom cabinet. I could hear the curses and grunting emanating from the depths. Then the commands:

“Lin, hold this screw.”

I held it.

“Lin, I need the screw.”

I gave it.

And twenty minutes later, I had a stainless steel two-drawer storage unit. Pots on the bottom; covers on top. I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Surprised?” he asked.

“Sure am. How did you know to take this on?”

“Hard to miss with all that complaining you did.”

“Moi? Complain?”

His eyes gleamed. “Maybe just a little. Now, how about a kiss?”

I stepped closer, my feet bumping into the pans still on the floor. This time, I didn’t care about the noise. All I saw was the pleasure on Mike’s face for having made me happy.

So maybe “real” isn’t about closet space at all.

In Florida, I actually have enough drawers for the pots and pans, but those plastic and aluminum foil rolls, the plastic baggies and dish washing soaps had to go somewhere. And the space beneath the sink is totally inadequate the way it is.  Another item on the “honey-do” list.  And another kiss–maybe more than one–from me. Just keeping it real 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by, Hope I see you next time for another story about Starting Over.

Linda

Thanks so much for stopping by.  If you have a story you’d like to share about what love looks like to you, send me an email and it might appear in this column. Spelling and grammar don’t count!  

DRAWING:  Remember to leave a comment and your name will be in a drawing for a free copy of Family Interrupted. Drawing held at the end of the month.   

 

Writing is What I Do…

Linda at front doorI’m starting over in a new home.

Last year, Mike and I moved to an “active” retirement community in Florida. We discovered that we’re not 55 and older.  We’re 55 and better. We discovered that almost half the residents are still working-many full-time. A line of cars leaves every morning and returns at night.  The rest of the community is so busy, busy, busy. Who has time to retire?

I sure don’t. With a clean bill of health, I’m back to writing, writing, writing. Because that’s what I do. That’s what I enjoy. Which is the answer Neil Diamond gave when asked why he was still traveling around the country giving concerts.  “Because singing is what I do.” He loves his work just as I love mine. I attended one of his concerts a few years ago in Houston, and for a few hours forgot all my troubles as Sweet Caroline, Forever in Blue Jean and so many other favorites filled the air. I thought Diamond’s voice was better than ever. He gave a hundred and ten percent of himself to the audience that night. I’ll remember that concert for a long time.

Just as Neil Diamond’s goal may be to entertain audiences, my goal is to offer an emotional story with characters you’ll care about and remember after the last page is turned. I hope my writing improves with every book. I also understand, however, that I won’t please everyone all of the time. And that’s okay as long as I write the very best story I can.

I’m starting over in a new genre, extending my reach into women’s fiction or some might say plan old general fiction. <Sigh>  Categorizing books these days seems to be almost as challenging as writing them!  However, I love the stories of Jodi Picoult, Barbara O’Neal, Emily Giffin, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth Berg and so many other wonderful writers–and I don’t worry about how to categorize them. I just read them!

Family Interrupted is my first novel of this type and I intend to write more of these bigger stories with satisfying endings. However, I’ll also continue in the romance genre because I love writing a ‘happily ever after’ ending as well. Isn’t that what we all want in real life?

Have you read any books recently that are lingering in your mind? Tell us about them in the comment section below. Book lovers are always looking for another great read. I just finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. I loved it. Clever, emotional, so warm and wise. And my book club is discussing it this week. Can’t wait for that.

See you next time,

Linda

P.S. Almost Forgot!!  CONTEST!! You have a chance to win a copy of Family Interrupted or a copy of  any of my backlist books just by leaving a comment. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month.