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Monday, August 22, 2016


At 22, I left America and traveled  eastern Australia with my younger sister. One of our older sisters  married an Australian and still lives near Melbourne—we used her home as a jumping off point.  On one of our sojourns, the two of us ended up in Tasmania, off the coast of OZ.  There, we journeyed from town to town via the only public transportation, one passenger van that circled the small island territory daily. Climbing off at some point, we realized we’d passed noontime on Saturday when businesses closed.  It was a long weekend, banks wouldn’t reopen until Tuesday and ATM’s were only  for big cities back then.  We had enough cash to pay for a youth hostel at $3.00 each per night, but then we were broke, which meant no food until Tuesday. 

Slightly panicked, we debated what to do as we walked through the tiny town of St. Mary’s. Unbeknownst to us, one of our fellow van passengers, an elderly English gentleman traveling Australia, overhead our conversation.  Catching up to us, he insisted he’d be delighted to serve as a gallant knight (his words, not mine) to two troubled urchins in need, and offered us $20.00. Through misguided pride, we demurred and he  moved on, but once he left, real fear set in, so a few minutes later and in spite of our abject mortification, we tracked him down and with downcast eyes, mumbled that we guessed we’d take the money after all.   

For the rest of the weekend, we slept well enough, and with the help of his money, ate one good meal,  then subsisted on Ramen noodles and apples “liberated” from a tree in a local orchard.  Tuesday, after visiting a bank, we bought a card and wrote a thank you note. Enclosing a $20 bill we mailed it back to our benefactor who had provided us with a return address in England.  A few weeks later, we arrived back home in the the US, to find a letter on tissue-thin paper from our savior awaiting us.  This long lead up is actually about his letter, which I discovered while looking through photos the other night.  

I hope you'll take the time to read it, and imagine a the charm of this man, late seventies, maybe early eighties, stooped and balding, wearing  a tweed jacket as he trekked the breath of Australia as a kind of last hurrah.  Imagine him home again, perched in front of a typewriter composing a witty, heartfelt letter to two young women he would never see again, and understand how the story of his kindness, and his whimsical words, have become a part of my family folklore.  

I wrote back to him, but never received a response.  He seemed so very old, I thought perhaps he’d passed away soon after his trip, though I’ll never know.  Re-reading his letter after all these years, I hope, somewhere in Worthing, West Sussex, England, descendants of a man named Daniel Pinner remember their father, grandfather, uncle, brother as a dear, and his memory provokes warmth tinged with wistfulness, just as it does me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

One Word Photo Caption

What does this photo mean to you? Choose one word. I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG August 2016--First Writing

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read more posts, click here.

Today’s question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now, collecting dust or has it been published.

As a fourteen-year-old, I visited Cape Cod on a May weekend with two of my best friends, twin sisters whose family had a summer house near the water. Back then, I lived in a landlocked town, and being near the coast was a novelty for me.  One evening, we took a walk down to the beach to watch as the flaming sun dropped into the sea.  Low tide had rolled the water back, ginger mud flats wore dollops of seaweed, and barefoot, we crossed washboard sand festooned with broken-shell jewelry.  Awed by the beauty amid all that orange reflection, the need to record the experience swelled inside me.  As soon as we returned to the house, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a descriptive paragraph, desperate to portray the scene--the seagulls calling overhead, the damp hot air, the nose-wrinkling smell of low tide.

The next week, puffed up and filled with expectation, I gave the piece to a friend, one of the editors of our junior high school  magazine, thinking it was good enough to be published in the year-end issue.  She returned it to me a few weeks later speckled with comments from her peer reviewers. The first remark went something like, “You know I hate this kind of stuff. I don’t know why I'm even reading it.”  Someone else said, “Nice sentiment, but awkward phrasing. Pass.”  The third reviewer didn't bother to comment, but penciled in a numerical score--I believe it was two point five out of five.  Needless to say, that little bit of descriptive brilliance never made it to print. I packed away the disappointment and the piece, but never the swelling in my heart that drove me to pick up the pen.

A few weeks ago, I had an email exchange with one of those twin sisters, a friend I’ve known longer than anyone other than family.  She asked how my writing was going, and then reminded me of that weekend so long ago on the Cape.  “I was so jealous of you, how you could just sit down and write.”  I didn’t know, back then, that other people can't or don't care to perhaps, act on their feelings in the same manner that drives me.  I just knew that day on the beach, I'd witnessed true beauty and it called on me capture its essence.  Or, attempt to, anyway.

I've had lots of pieces published since then, but it took me a long time to get there, years in which I yearned to "become" a writer but afraid to label myself as one, and this IWSG question has led me to understand something.  It's likely this compelling need to chronicle what touches me defines many writers. Who knew?  It was never necessary for me to "become" a writer.  Since that dark-ages day on Cape Cod when I was a teen, I’ve been one.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Place Holder

I set the tripod up looking out the family room window and waited.  I just love these little fellas.  See you on Wednesday for IWSG.