Or, How My Mind Works

My mind is like a shark—always moving and eating words, ready to spew them out at a moment’s notice.

Make no mistake about it, my siblings are each creative in unique ways. My younger sister Joanne is artistic, from painting to surprises—once making me a cardboard fireplace for an apartment that had none. It was quite the Christmas gift and we had fun stacking presents around it and pretending to warm up via its red and orange construction paper, non-dancing flames. She recently crocheted a dashing green poncho (do we still call them that 1970’s term or is there a decade-2000 new name?) for our older sister, with matching fingerless gloves for typing on those brisk Montana days.

poncho

Jackie wearing Joanne’s poncho

My brother Joey works magic restoring vintage automobiles and has had cars featured in magazines and on calendars and has had cars win multiple contests since he was sixteen. His eye for detail and perfectionism is appreciated by many classic car owners who return time and again with a new challenge for him.

t-shirts

Dad & Joe, the gray t-shirt men

And Jackie? She can whip up a batch of cookies or a round of bear claws in record time and the kitchen experiences an iota of the explosion that occurs when I attempt one of those things. In my kitchen, flour is everywhere, all available mixing bowls and six spatulas are dirty, dough residue sticks to the inside of the sink (where I mixed things until the recent arrival of my KitchenAid) like a lighter version of concrete.

I plan my kitchen cleaning around my baking schedule.

Jackie can layout a pattern, read the instructions and voila! I have a new suit or dress for my wardrobe. After many attempts to teach me to be a seamstress, she reached the point of saying, “You can lay out the pattern, pin it to the fabric, and cut it out. After that, just walk away.”

“What about marking the darts and holes and…”

“Just walk away.”

This is particularly weird since throughout junior and senior high school I made many of my own outfits—green corduroy pants, a waist-length black jacket, skirts with dots, short buttonless vests and once, the most elegant couldn’t-be-worn-except-in-the-1970s ankle-touching, delicately flowing vest. I can still picture it (oh and how I wish there were a photo of it!)—dark blue with faint and tiny white flowers on it, trimmed the entire way around in white ribbon. I felt like a starlet wearing it with my bell bottom jeans.

Jackie, Joanne, Joey, Rosemary circa 1970

I made this green outfit!

Why I lost my sewing ability is a mystery, but I couldn’t blame Jackie for making me stop, just stop, since she frequently wound up fixing my mistakes.

My list of things Jackie can do is extensive: make gorgeous soaps, look at anything on Pinterest and improve upon the idea, make her own flower pots, use a well-placed pun to cause instantaneous laughter to erupt, and make the crankiest person smile when she lets loose one of her own.

My siblings are talented, no doubt about it.

But the one thing I have over them is the written word.

We four are great book worms. Our mom was an avid reader and taught us to love books of every kind—read for education or read for fun. We share this enjoyment of books.

But me? I’m in love with words. 

I am madly, flipping, have-been-my-whole-life, in love with words. I love reading well-placed words upon the page and I love seeing words appear on my computer screen, the legal pad, my left arm when I’ve run out of paper. I nearly had a panic attack the other day when I thought I’d left home without a pen in my purse.

I love words.

I love rearranging words, revamping them to make the message clear and more clear. It’s why I puzzle over anyone who can write and publish a blog in twenty minutes. Are you some sort of wizard? My blogs take hours, take re-writes, take re-thinks and proofreading.

For my mystery, I read it on the Kindle as a way to proof it—confirm my wit (yes, yes, I’m quite witty—oh that one scene with Jethro and Lloyd causes me to laugh out loud each time I read it!) at placing the right words in the right person’s mouth at the right time so the reader feels what the characters are feeling—well, gosh isn’t that awesome?

So when Jackie emails wordsmith me from the vacation home company she works for, Red Lodge Rentals, and requests: 

Think of a blurb for a “Celebrate Summer Special” for our vacation houses. I’m thinking 10% off per night for a 3-night stay during the week of June 16-22.  Something catchy. 

In less than five minutes I come back with:

Celebrate the Summer Solstice Montana-style with a spectacular deal of 10% off per night for a 3-night stay. Our vacation properties provide you with a welcoming in of summer that sets the tone for a great season. With the 10% you save, you’ll be able to enjoy even more time in our local shops & restaurants.

I go on to whip off three variations for her so she can choose what she thinks sounds catchiest.  (As I write this blog I think of three more ways to say the same thing.)

It was also fun to caption these two photos for her of the resident Airedale, Daisy:

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I’m ready to jump into spring with a stay at Red Lodge Rentals!

Airedale

Daisy – the airborne Aierdale

If you don’t give me back my toy, I won’t tell you about the great deal going on with Red Lodge Rentals!

In response to her stunned, “How do you do that?” I feel superior. For a minute. I type the brilliant retort written above: “My mind is like a shark—always moving and eating words, ready to spew them out at a moment’s notice.”

She may be cracking up out there in gorgeous Montana, but here in Pittsburgh I’m thinking:

It’s good to sometimes be the Queen of Words.

What’s your regal skill?