Thursday, February 21, 2013


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Yesterday was my birthday. I'm not shy about my age so I'll tell you up front I am over thirty-five. I took the day "off" meaning I only did laundry, straightened the house once, made a crock pot dinner and watched the Little Man. I did have chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a red frosting rose on it as has been my tradition since I was five. Well, I experimented with ice cream cake in my teens, but I returned to my senses as an adult. For my birthday I received a few cards and a number of Facebook greetings. The best gift, however came from my husband and son. Little Man sang Happy Birthday to me. The first chorus he substituted his name for Mama but corrected it in the subsequent five verses. We even sang it as our bedtime song. My gift was two plaster stars. One with pretty colored glass tiles and stones pressed into it and the other one is painted multiple colors with the word Mama spelled out in glitter. To me, they are the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The real gift is not the stars but having watched Hubby and Little Man together for the past few days. They went shopping on Sunday together, then they worked together in the garage for days. I could hear the giggles and laughter and that was wonderful.

So, of course, I start thinking about birthdays past and family. One of the many, many, many projects I'm working on is the family tree. Not just my side, but my husband's side as well since this is something I want to pass down to Little Man. I don't want to just find names and dates of people. I want photos, if I can get them and stories if I can find people still alive that remember things. And memories from my siblings too. And maps to show the family's migration across this country. I want a family orchard, not just a tree. I am the middle child of three. My brother has two children. Someday my son and my brother's sons will have families of their own too. So, because I'm weird, I start thinking not just about the ancestors that have been but also about the descendent to come. What will I leave them?
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I have lived over thirty-five years and in that time I have learned that family is important. There are different kinds of family though. There's the blood-kin as my mother would say. Then there is the adopted family. My sister-in-law was adopted but her parents and her brother (also adopted) were a family just the same. Certainly, my husband's family is now my family and my family is now my husband's family. And then there's what I call extended family. These are the people who mean a lot to you - best friends you think of as a sister or brother, mentors that are like an aunt or uncle or even a parent. I consider myself fortunate because I have many of such people in my life. These all belong in the orchard.

So, because I did take the day "off" leaving me lots of time to just think, I started thinking about how my family orchard is really my back story, or at least part of it. So my characters must also have a family orchard. It may, or may not, play into the storyline of my novel but it could add to their personality, idiosyncrasies, hobbies, neuroses and psychoses. Perhaps, when it comes time to edit and revise and I need to deepen my characters, I might want to look into their family orchards. I feel bad because right now, I don't know when Walter's birthday is. Maybe he should share mine.

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