Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bear's Adventures Through the Breaking Glass, Bedroom Window Edition

Only he didn’t really go through it this time. But it is officially broken.

Baby Bear’s bedroom window is covered with an adhesive tinted sheet to cut down on glare from the sun and the neighbor’s white vinyl fence. We gave up trying to keep blinds or shades on the window, because he kept tearing them down. Fortunately his bedroom window is behind the gate leading to our back yard, so I don’t have to fret about passers-by peering inside (like they did when we lived in publicly accessible military housing out in California twenty years ago).

Anyway, it seems we should credit the tinted sheet with preventing shattered glass from flying everywhere and potentially cutting the Ursine Terror. The pane is still in place, boasting a lovely jagged pattern that could be a spider web or even a giant snowflake.

The point of impact is at roughly the same height to match his forehead (he’s now 6’4”), so I’m guessing this was another headbutting job.

“We knew he was going to do it eventually,” was all Mr. Lucky had to say about it.

But I suppose this means all betting books are now closed on the sliding glass door to the patio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Other Claim to Fame: Born in Forks, Washington

I am not a vampire, but I was born half a century ago in the very tiny town of Forks, Washington.

We moved to Port Angeles, an hour’s drive away, when I was still an infant; but my paternal grandmother remained in Forks, where she owned and operated the town’s only theater through at least five decades and nine U.S. presidents. It poured rain just about every time we visited her. To this day, I honestly have no idea which way is east or west in Forks, because I don’t recall ever seeing the sun out there. No wonder it became a very popular hangout for vampires!

Growing up in Port Angeles, I enjoyed, or at least in adolescence suffered, the less than stellar distinction of being just about the only person in my high school class born in dreary, piddly, puddly old Forks.

I dreamed of becoming a famous writer, the kind whose fans would descend like a plague of locusts upon little Forks, Washington, where they would make pilgrimages to the hospital where I was born (the doctor who brought me into the world was a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, to which I attribute my penchant for cooking and enjoying huge quantities of goulash). They would visit the charming little house where I used to visit my grandmother. And they would pose for photos in front of the theater where I first saw Gone With the Wind at the age of eight, when I would’ve much preferred to stay at home with the younger siblings and their babysitter to watch Heidi on TV—or come back to Forks the following weekend to see
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Maybe Forks would name a street after me. Or do like Myrtle Beach, SC did with Vanna White, and post a sign at the city limits proclaiming itself the birthplace of author Karen Lingefelt. Or do like Salzburg, Austria did with Mozart, and sell chocolates and cookie tins with my picture on them.

Ah, but my caffeine-fueled, feverish imagination didn’t stop there. Before True Pretenses, I wrote a series of books that chronicled seven generations of a fictional European royal family. I used to think how cool it would be if the series ever got published and became so wildly popular, that people planning their European vacations would try to book flights and bus tours and hotels in this make-believe kingdom that existed nowhere but in my head. How gleefully I would laugh all the way to the bank!

Obviously such hilarity never ensued. But I was reminded of all this recently when my father sent me an e-mail which, with his permission, I have excerpted here:

As you know Forks has become a destination place because of this "Twilight Saga." There are stores there and in Port Angeles, (and maybe Port Townsend) that cater to the enthusiasts. In Forks you see tourists having their pictures taken in front of anything described in the first book. One moron (24 years old) got himself stranded on James Island at LaPush because he wanted to see one of the love nest "sites" described there in the book. The Coast Guard picked him off with a helicopter.

Anyway, I guess all this hoopla makes you an original Twilight Child seeing as how you were born in this now-famous place! I know you've considered Forks as a sort of backwater town. But it has now evolved and you can say: ".........Forks? Oh.......yeah, I was born there."

Alas, when reality bites, it bites with the fangs of a vampire, for ’twas not to be Karen Lingefelt of True Pretenses fame who put Forks on the map, but another author,
Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.

But I think it’s just as well. The idea of chocolates with my likeness on the wrappers is embarrassing, and I’d hate to think a fan of mine who wanted to see the ravine where
Lausanne crashed her car, would get stuck down there and have to be plucked out by a Coast Guard helicopter and treated for exposure. Lausanne survived—but what if the fan hadn’t?

I sometimes wonder what my grandmother, who passed away in 2000, would think of the whole Twilight thing—but not as much as I wonder what she would think of the whole True Pretenses thing.

Except for Chapter 15, I think she would have been thrilled to pieces.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Was This Guy Hoping To Hit On Me?

Mr. Lucky and I went out for a late lunch at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet that was practically deserted—save for another couple on the far side of the room. We sat at a table across from each other. I’ve never counted the tables and chairs or checked the Maximum Occupancy sign, but the entire establishment can seat over a hundred patrons at once.

After a while, the other couple got up and left. Then an average-looking fortyish man in a baseball cap came in, affably chatting with the cashier while Mr. Lucky got up to load another plate at the buffet, and I remained at our table.

I didn’t notice anything unusual going on until we got up to leave some time later. Imagine my surprise to see that man sitting in the chair directly behind mine, dunking his bread stick into a bowl of marinara sauce.

Had I pushed my chair back just another couple of inches, it would have smacked into his or worse, we’d have an embarrassment of tangled legs—chair legs, chair legs! As it was, I wondered how I hadn’t even been aware that he’d sat down behind me. Neurotic, mistrustful creature that I am, I’m usually very sensitive about my sacred space and who dares to hover along its extensive periphery. He must have been very stealthy about it.

But why?

And why did he choose to sit there of all places, when there were more than a hundred other places he could have sat—some of them closer to the buffet, others closer to the televisions, still others near the restrooms and emergency exits.

At the very least, why didn’t he sit on the other side of the table behind me?

I’m not one of those women who slings her purse over the back of her chair—I keep it between my feet with the strap over one knee—so I don’t think he was after the purse.

Even Mr. Lucky was initially baffled when he returned to our table and saw this man’s back only inches from mine, but he said nothing until after we left. No doubt he knew it would freak me out if I’d been aware of this bewildering development, and he’d just sat down with a plate piled high with slices of pizza that he meant to enjoy.

By the time we reached our car, Mr. Lucky thought he knew what that man was up to: “He saw you sitting there alone, so he assumed you were single and saw an opportunity. He was probably hoping to hit on you.”

It wasn’t until we got home that I finally managed to stop laughing at such a preposterous notion. So the guy was scheming to pull the old and thoroughly pitiful, “Excuse me, but could I borrow your salt shaker?” stunt.

Next he’d ask to borrow the pepper, followed by a request for a few napkins and a painfully obvious, totally lame, “So you like pepperoni, huh? Everyone seems to like pepperoni, why is that?”, and if all went according to his tired, worn out, dog-eared, grease-spotted script, I would soon tell him how silly it was for us to keep chitchatting over our shoulders, and invite him to join me at my table.

But for the return of my husband.

Honestly, I didn’t think I looked that desperate. Pathetic, maybe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back Into the Vault You Go, My Venetian Pretties!

Venice, Italy, 1986. I was younger. Thinner. And now that I think about it, a lot wealthier, too.

Being single helped on all counts.

Back in those days I was in the Air Force, stationed in Germany. On weekends I would go on bus tours to various locales throughout Europe. Venice was one of my favorite destinations.

For the equivalent of $10.00, I rode a gondola—just so a quarter of a century later, I could write in my blog that I did it.

I walked from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto Bridge and back. I probably saw as many cats as I did pigeons.

I ate lunch in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the Basilica. I said two words to the waiter: “Ice cream!” He brought me an elaborate Neapolitan sundae, complete with whipped cream, cherry, and a wafer. I was delighted, and cared not what it cost or how many calories it had. For I was young, thin, and loaded with lira.

I’ll never forget the W.C. in that place. The toilet had no seat, and flushing was facilitated by a dribbling garden hose threaded through a high window.

On a trip to nearby Burano, I hit my head on an overhead beam as I climbed the stairs in a tiny shop selling the lace for which the island is famous.

I also visited Murano, where others in our group bought huge, ornate chandeliers they planned to hang in homes they had, or hoped to have someday, back in the States.

Shallow person that I am, I bought this set of glassware strictly for its looks:

I love the royal blue. I love the gold trim. And I love the enameled flowers with the tiny pearls at their centers.

Once acquired, these exquisite pieces remained in their original box for nearly twenty years, until we moved into our new home. By then, I decided my children were old enough and sufficiently distracted by video games, that it was safe to unpack the glassware so it could finally do what Old World master artisans had meticulously and lovingly crafted it to do: Collect dust.

And that’s what my royal blue Venetian pretties did in the hutch until yesterday, when Baby Bear smashed one of the glass doors. While they all survived with nary a nick, I’m afraid it’s for their own good that they must be packed away again until further notice.

I just hope it doesn’t take another twenty years.