Monday, August 27, 2007

You're Invited!


To my 43rd birthday party! All of you are welcome to come.

Now, I know it's a bit of a distance for those of you in Australia, Bosnia, so I thought I'd make it easier on you and just have a cyber party.



We're going to have a St. Francis theme, even though we're still gonna party like it's 2099. But hey, nobody knew how to extract the joy out of life like St. Francis. Right? So, it's cool. Anyway, all the wine will be cyber wine. And the cyber cake has NO calories! So we will eat, drink, and be merry.

BUT!!!

There's almost always a but. You have to bring a present. I know. That's not very Franciscan, but it's not just for me. It's for the edification of all of us. I want you to bring with you a lovely quote from St. Francis. And dig deep lovies. Francis wrote more than the Canticle of the Sun.

But! If you must go with one of that one, please tell me what it means to you. How it speaks to you. And if you just can't find the right one, tell me if you've had your own love affair with the poor little man from Assisi. Can't think of a single incident where you've been moved by him? Then tell me something you may have learned from a Franciscan, like Richard Rohr or Murray Bodo. Or make up something with his vibe! I'm trying to make it easy for you. Work with me!

And use the comments, lovies. While I love to get personal email from you all, I want to share with everybody. It's a party for Heaven's sake!

This all kicks off on September 1st.

See you Saturday. I'll bring the food and wine. You bring your Francesco love.

Peace and all good!

Mair
(just because I'm embracing the name Claudia, doesn't mean I'll use it all the time. If I don't write it, just know an invisible Lame, but Intelligent is there.). :O)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adventures in Poverty: the Lame Name


That's a pretty provocative title for this blog entry, isn't it? You have no idea what I'm going to say. Maybe you're thinking I'm about to tell you how broke I am, or how I have to pay for something I really need but can't afford and how awful that is for me. At my parish Fr. Leo always gives us "soul food" after the Divine Liturgy, and I ain't talking about collard greens and chicken! He gives us a bit of wisdom he gleans from here and there that's good for the soul to feed on, digest, and take strength and nourishment from.

Once he told us that "enough" is always just under what you have. Most of you will nod and agree with the wit and wisdom of that morsel. The fact is, I could tell you a lot about my finances. I could go on and on about the worries, the things that I wish were in place that aren't. But that's not what I wanted to talk about now. See, I have some money. Maybe it's not "enough", but I have some. And I have a home. It has all the good things for a home. We have furniture. Everyone has a bed. There is electricity, and gas, and a water. There are canned goods, and dry goods in the cabinets we can eat, and meat in the freezer. There is fruit and milk in the refrigerator. Condiments. We even have snacks that exist purely to tickle our tongues.

No one went to bed hungry here. ZZ had a headache, there was children's Motrin to relieve her pain, and Benadryl for her sinus pressure. Provisions are here for the sick to be made well, though we have no health insurance.

My adventure in poverty tonight has nothing to do with the "stuff" of my life. Many people, in many parts of the world would see me as quite wealthy. By American standards I am just above the lowest socioeconomic stature. An upgrade from last year because I resold my old book contracts and added an additional one. A big year for me.

But I want to talk about my name. You know it. It's Claudia. I made you call me Mair because I don't really like Claudia. It wasn't always that way. I didn't put my ears over my head as soon as I'd gained enough muscle control as a baby because the sound of it was so offensive. No, I started hating it when I was old enough to read the meaning of my name in a dictionary we had. Maybe I was 10. Old enough to read quite well, and definitely old enough to take offense.

Claudia means lame. I so didn't want to be lame. It even gives a bit of something extra. It means, lame, but intelligent. As if that would be a consolation.

It grated on me everyday of my life after that. I stopped calling myself that several times. Mair is not the only new name incarnation I've had. I've tried to ditch that name for years.

I was going to get rid of it for good at the sacrament of Chrismation when I was received into the Eastern Orthodox church, but Father Leo had gotten on the internet. Man, the net is dangerous! He found out that Claudia is a saint's name, too, and I ended up being made in spirit Claudia Mary. Mary after my patron saint, St. Mary of Egypt. I kept Mary for all of ten minutes and decided I was unmary-like and became Mair, which is just another way of saying Mary.

The following year, I met neo-mystic Betty Skinner. She'd never call herself a neo-mystic, but she is one, as sure as any mystic I've ever heard of. I told her this funny name story and she laughed, but she said it was God's providence. She said God wanted me to accept my body pain an depression with joy and trust, as a sacrifice. I was meant to be Claudia in this life. In Betty's mind, I could call my self All the Saints. That's a little bulky, but no saint could take offense because I chose All the Saints to be my patron saint. My friend Jen Lemen actually knew someone with that name. The thought does appeal to me. I'd get, like, all their prayers and could try to emulate all their virtues. I'd fail miserably, but...

So, I could very well be Claudia All the Saints Burney, but I'd still have to be Claudia. God wants me to be lame. The first hint of this was my mother naming me that.

Once I was bemoaning my empty wallet and pain wracked body to friends of mine, Dan and Jane. Dan said, "You may have a vocation to suffer." I did not appreciate this bit of insight.

WHO THE HELL WANTS A VOCATION TO SUFFER!!!!???!!!!!! is what my head screamed, while I sat there smiling, and looking like I was deeply pondering this. He'd have never know how completely appalled and angry I was at his suggestion.

Another time I tried to read Julian of Norwich's Divine Revelations of Love. That heifer started in on embracing sickness and we weren't cool like that anymore. Our relationship was over. I didn't see that crap in the little book of quotes of hers I'd come to love. What kind of freak embraces sickness!? Asking God to show her how to suffer! Show her His passion!! Those saints were buck wild crazy.

But I loved them. I couldn't handle them, but I loved them.

Tonight I made the grand mistake of reading Richard Rohr's Simplicity. I have Wes Roberts to blame. See, I saw this book months ago at mother Border's. That's the first borders ever, and it's in Ann Arbor. I was right about to buy it, when this woman, an amazing Christian I was talking to gently rebuked me. I had just met her, and we had this thoughtful conversation right there in Border's. Anyway, she said, "Maybe you shouldn't buy all those books. You probably should just read the gospels." I didn't want to listen to that cow either, because I like books! Books make me happy!

Now you can see by me calling out people and referring to holy folks as livestock that perhaps I'm a tad uncomfortable with the idea of real Biblical simplicity, which Jesus spoke of repeatedly. Of all the books I got that night, I put the Rohr book back. Then I saw Wes was reading it not long ago. I told him I was going to get it again. I think both Wes and I are being challenged by Franciscan spirituality. You all know I've been feeling some serious Francesco love. Let me caution you: DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN THE SAME. That's all I have to say about that.

So, tonight I actually returned one of the completely unread books I got that day so I could get Simplicity. I was able to do this despite the fact that I bought that book at least five months ago. That shows you how unread and new looking it was. I came home and started reading, and oh, oh, oh! That stuff that makes me call Julian of Norwich heifer? And makes me want to beat up two perfectly lovely people suggesting God vocations? It rose up in me like a geyser.

Lame.

I didn't want to be lame all my life. I wanted to be Lioness that kicks everybody's butt! Now that's a name! Imagine what I'd be like walking around since I was ten knowing I am Lioness that kicks everybody's butt. I'd probably be so wretchedly awful that God would have had to kill me twenty years ago to spare humanity my torment. Or maybe it would have made me a little more confident. A bit more of a "winner." But I was as influenced by my lame name and knowing what it meant, and that I'd have it for a long time.

Tonight in Simplicity I got a stirring reminder of The Sermon on the Mount. I have to tell you lovies, there is nothing in the Bible that moves me like those words, especially the Beatitudes. I am certain the verse of my life is "Blessed are the poor in spirit." I told you I have no idea what it means, but I can assure you, I'm going to find out. Like it or not. God seems pretty invested in teaching me about it.

Can you imagine that day Jesus preached that sermon? Standing on a hill, with an audience of poor people? Rohr said that when Jesus talked to religious people about being poor they would try to debate, or start calling him names like I did Julian. Names like demon! They got mad and wanted to hurt him like I did Dan. They had a little bit too much "stuff" to say, "Amen!" So that sermon was delivered to poor people. They didn't have anything to protect. It is the most amazing bit of affirmation in scripture.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Maybe all my life Jesus has been whispering in my ear, "Blessed are the Lame." And what would follow that? What is the benefit of being lame?

Maybe.... "They shall be carried," or "They shall be supported by their friends," or how about, "They shall always need something strong and solid to help them walk. A crutch."

Tonight, I am going to embrace the Claudia, the Lame in me. I was so convicted by Rohr's words. By Jesus'! I have spent my adult life failing. I didn't achieve what I should have. Could have. People expected me to "run on" in the Lord, like old black COGIC spirituals suggest. But I didn't run on in the Lord. I hobbled and stumbled and fell in the Lord, right to this very moment. I was all kinds of Claudia, like it or not.

And you know what? I'm finally okay with that. Because maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe all the wisdom of the Christian walk is right there in those Beatitudes. Poor is the thing. Less is more. Dying to live. The cross impoverishes. It doesn't make rich. There was no bigger downsize in time than the incarnation. It was all about becoming poor. God in a diaper is the poor in spirit.

People keep telling me that I am going to be on Oprah, but I'd rather get smaller. I mean, yeah. I have to sell books in order to stay published, but isn't it funny that there are more books about poverty espoused St. Francis of Assisi than any Christian ever, except maybe Jesus' mama? And that the New Testament, really the book of Jesus, is the bestselling book of all time?

Like St. Terese, I want to be less. Smaller not bigger. I don't know what that will do to book sales, but it's beating my ambition like a slave. But honestly, when I stand before God, He's not going to go over sales numbers with me. We'll probably have a chat about whether or not I did justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with Him. I think even more than that, He'll probably be concerned with how I loved.

See, love makes you rich and poor. True love compels you to give all you have. You become nothing when you take injury and insult without scrambling to protect your ego. Can you imagine what it truly is to be a Christian? Jesus told us, but like Rohr said, we all ignore it. We are all like the rich young ruler, puzzling at a (God)Man that suggests we sell everything we have and give it to the poor. We would destroy our security if we did that. We'd have to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," and actually mean it. And then we'd have to trust that God would do it. We'd have to know believe that He wouldn't give us a stone instead of the bread we prayed for. It would be pretty radical to be that real, because it's a lot easier to pray for your daily bread if there's a loaf or two right in the kitchen.

Lame. Unable to walk without assistance. It would mean I'd need somebody's help. I'd have to live in beloved community.

Lame. Imperfect. It would mean that I'd have to accept my weakness. I'd have to let go of what other people think of me. That would be worse than going out without makeup! Being lame is soooo... pitiful. But I really won't know if He'll actually hold me if I'm so strong of a walker that I don't need help. It's something to ponder, isn't it?

And that's just a first, itty witty baby step toward poverty. It will take me all of my life to become really poor--utterly dependent--just as Jesus became poor.

I can't even imagine it.

Pax et Bonum!
(peace and all good)
Claudia Mair
The image of St. Francis Kissing the Leper is by Michael O'brien, www.studiobrien.com. I chose this image because history tells us that young Francesco despised leprosy and lepers. He had no power within himself to repent of his revulsion and embrace that which was most fearful to him. My abhorrence of poverty and dislike of my name is on that same level. All my life I've tried to get out from under the heel of what I thought was poverty. All my life I have wanted to be liked--popular and gorgeous. My way of thinking about poverty--about everything!-- is crumbling from the weight of Jesus ' words. This image gives me hope that through Christ I can embrace the true gospel. Notice it is the leper pictured here that bears the wounds of Christ, even though history tells us St. Francis received the sacred stigmata. The leper was Christ. Awesome thought.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Love, Peace, and Some Smooth Jazz

No, lovies, that's not the name of a new Amanda Bell Brown mystery. That's the kind of night I had!

Tonight, Inkster had it's first and hopefully annual Jazz on the Ave! Michigan Ave. to be specific. Only it rained a monsoon today, to the horror of church picnickers all over Southeast Michigan. We had our church picnic at St. Raphael's today! In the rain! But somebody was smart enough to think of tents, bless their hearts, and the show went on.

We got home from the picnic, and a few hours later was Jazz on the Ave! At first I thought they'd cancel, but I noticed that there were all kinds of signs in front of Inkster High School. I wondered if the concert would be held there because of the inclement weather conditions. Turns out that was exactly the plan, and though I was pretty tired after the picnic, I couldn't resist a free jazz concert, especially now that it was practically next door!

I grabbed my mother-in-law and ZZ, and the three of us walked the short distance in the rain to the concert. I can't remember the last time I walked through Inkster High. It's changed a lot. And in many ways, it's still the same.

So weird, going through your old high school. I did NOT do well in high school, as many of you know. And there was all this feeling slowly washing over me like the rain had outside. And it didn't feel bad. Just strange. It was a poignant feeling that I find hard to describe. It was a feeling of I was here. I spent four years here. And it wasn't all the bad stuff I remembered, because wherever there's a demon, there's also an angel, and we can't forget beloved, the angels still give the smack down to what's deviling us. I was surprised at all the goodness that I remembered, even though I was sorely miserable as a teen, and suspect the beginnings of bipolar disorder emerged in those particularly moody, depressed years.

We walked into the auditorium, and I found myself in a sea of African American people. And it was sooo strange, because in the past few years, I've walked into many a room full of white people! And often I was the only black person there. And now, here I was. Not the stranger. Not the other.

At this point in my life, I consider myself a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I don't say, "I don't see color." I do. I see glorious color and it's an honor to celebrate it. I like the diversity of the Kingdom of God. My citizenship in God's Kingdom trumps me being African American, and I love that. Once in my life, I was so into my "blackness" that I ended up a racist! And now, I just want to love, just as Jesus commands.

So, I walk in, and I see so many familiar faces. And so many unfamiliar. The city I once loved went right on with it's life. Keep moving people in and out. Babies got born. Old folks (and plenty of young ones) died. When I sat down, full of emotion, God spoke to me.

"Welcome home, baby," He said.

And grateful tears welled in my eyes. God is with me.

He's with me!

The music was magnificent. Jazz guitarist Tim Bowman, a native Detroiter, was the headliner. It was so peaceful. It reminded me of the Million Man march. At the march, so many people were prepared for riots, and folks just wanted to get together and celebrate each other. And chill. That's what we did. Chilled! Enjoyed good music without incident. What I witnessed was an auditorium full of people graced with the kind of goodwill that comes with the common goal of wanting more for their city. Not everybody had the means to leave. Not everybody wanted to. I had to remember Inkster wasn't all projects. There are lovely homes here. There are people who plant flowers, and paint walls, and this is their home. Everybody, everywhere, deserves that--a sense of home.

I admired the tenaciousness of the people of Inkster who'd come out in droves to get their groove on. I saw in those faces people who knew the worst that had happened here, and stepped up from the ashes like a collective Phoenix. The school system is changing. The morale is changing. God is moving here.

I saw Mr. Wilson on stage. Did I tell you about him? He was my fifth and sixth grade teacher. I was shy and awkward, but he let me perform the play during class that I wrote. That was the first creative thing I ever wrote. I became an actress and a writer in Mr. Wilson's class. I always improvised and played the grandmother in the plays. I was the only ten-year-old that Mr. Wilson nicknamed evermore, "Grandmother." He calls me that every time I see him. And now I am a grandmother!

When he found out I had dropped out of high school he looked for me. Told me if I'd go back he'd give me a scholarship, and he did! I went to nightschool two years after I should have graduated, and took two classes, and one of them was gym! That's all I needed to graduate. I had to start community college with that scholarship on probation because I'd had a D average throughout high school. But I went, academic probation and all, and going changed the course of my life.

No, I wasn't wildly successful, but imagine how things would have sucked for me if I never finished high school or went to college. Sometimes, that difference of just a few dollars more that I made because I'd gone to school made a huge difference in our lives. We didn't have much, but little bit more an hour meant more groceries for my big family. And school exposed me to ideas and people that widened my world considerably. I wouldn't be who I am without his intervention.

And there he was. Older. White-haired, but far from frail. His big spirit was still as charming and bright as ever. He was everything he used to be to me, and I'll admit, I still have a crush on him!

I tried to find him, but he'd gone home after he left the stage. I decided to go to the School Administration building tomorrow and give him a copy of the only book I have out now (Always Sisters) just to let him know how grateful I am. And that I accomplished more than I ever thought I would.

And here's a coup and star in his crown: Bill Gates just adopted the Inkster High School, and they are offering a free college education to any Inkster student who maintains a 3.0 GPA. Amazing, coming from a school system that at one time was so bad it was nearly shut down, and taken replaced by a neighboring city's school system.

I felt so good tonight that I got a City of Inkster denim, button down shirt! Put it on right there and wore it proudly! Ken walked over to the concert and we just chilled until he saw someone he knew and went to speak with him. I saw him smiling and embracing this man. My husband is so much happier here. He's out of isolation, and into community, and that alone is pure grace.

What a jazzy evening we had.

Sometimes, I realize that what I think is suffering is just an opportunity to learn something deep about God. And the thing is, I'm certain that on the day I cried in my Ann Arbor backyard, begging Jesus to please not make me move back to Inkster that He wept with me. Because He loves like that, even though He knew He'd pave my path with His roses.

When I got home I thought of a few other things. My Ann Arbor address did not keep my oldest soon out of prison. Or my other son from beginning to use marijuana. Jesus said ,"In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world." The roses sweetening our path still have a thorns that cut deeply into our flesh. Our footpaths will undoubtedly be stained with our blood. Isn't that a new spin on "Footprints in the Sand"? But, that's the way of the world. We will have tribulation. Zip codes don't bar us from tragedy. His promise was we could overcome because He had.

"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" That's what people in Jesus' community asked in his day. That sounds familiar. And you know what, God knew good could come out if it. He put the good, His Only Begotten Son, right there in that ancient ghetto.

"Can anything good come out of Inkster?"

I saw evidence of that tonight.

I'm so very grateful.
mair

Friday, August 17, 2007

I'm Covered!

Hey, lovies! My publishing houses have got me covered in a major way. Check it out!


This is the new Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man, ala Howard Books/Simon and Schuster. I actually had them design a cover with Jazz looking like I described him in the book (he can pass for White). But a lot of the people I showed the cover to GOT MAD! They kept saying, "Why did they make Jazz White?" I said, "Um, because he looks that way." But that didn't satisfy them. They wanted Jazz looking BLACK! They didn't care how he really looks! I folded and asked the art department to give me a more "ethnic", read that as "Black looking" Jazz so as not to cause a riot among these people. If I ever get a re-design, I'm going to insist that he looks like he does in the books, Mr. United Nations. But that guy is cute! Not as cute as Jazz, but...

And check out Bell! Honestly, she wouldn't wear her hair like that. You know she's into natural styles, to the horror of Carly and her mom. She probably wouldn't do that skirt either. She also wouldn't run in heels since she can scarcely stand in them. But she'd RAWK that purse!

Here is the cover for Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz. Notice Jazz doesn't look so happy on this one. I'd be ticked off too if I caught a case for killing my ex!

Hey! Did he kill his ex, skanky Kate???

I'll guess you'll have to wait until April to see!

I kinda think Bell is a little tall and skinny and, um, not like Bell here. But that's just me. And speaking of me, I'd say Bell looks a lot like me. And she oddly has my birthday. And skin color. And a good many of my thoughts, only she wears a size 10 and I wear a size 16! But hey, in books you can pretend to be somebody else and be a lot more fabulous than you are in real life.

Here they've got the braids right, but what is with the heels? It's a running joke in the books that Bell always trips in heels. They're a hazard to us! Whoops! I mean they're a hazard to her.

Now, you've seen this one for Zora and Nicky before, but personally, it's my favorite. Not that they didn't do a good job with the Amanda Bell Brown Mystery book covers, but I had the first set of covers from the ill-fated NavPress versions to compare them to. I think I'm still mourning those artful, fantastic covers, where Bell looked like me, even though she was a cartoon and her hair on the Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man cover was all wrong. And Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz had a SUGAR GLIDER on the cover! And it was purple! The cover that is, not the sugar glider, though he may have been purple, too. That was soooo cool.

But I'm sure I'll get used to these new covers and come to love them.

Right???

Please say right. Humor me!

Anyway here's Zora and Nicky. I'm gonna show it to you, again. Yes, the Design Works Group and David C. Cook put their foot in that one! I got to meet the geniuses behind this funky cover at ICRS. Wooo Hooo!
That doesn't mean this cover was without it's own drama. In the first version, Nicky, the guy, had these eyebrows that made him look like a serial killer to me. I asked them to change it. He was cute, but I needed Nicky to be a real hottie! So they gave me another Nicky. And uh, Zora would so not have that weave! But you know. What can you do!? Sistah do rawk those weaves, and these are stock photos. Nobody was going to spend a decade finding the perfect people in my mind.

Anyway, every reader brings to a book their own vision of what the characters look like. Your Jazz ain't mine, and so on. But it makes me wonder, if you saw these characters, would they stick in your mind as you read, even if the descriptions in the books are clearly different? Because the psychology behind cover designs is PICK UP THE BOOK! The images are made to compel you to pick it up and purchase before you read it. It's not necessarily true to the authors vision.

Anyway, you can pre-order these books, and covers! On Amazon! I'm getting a little excited. Can you tell??? I'm a writer! I'm a real writer!!! I'm on Amazon!!!! Even though you so won't see any of these covers posted on there yet. They're coming, lovies. And so are some fun reads, so hook a sistah up and pre-order.

Mwah! <-- that's a big ol' kiss, not a foreign language. And hey, tell me what YOU think.

Love ya!
Mair

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just Checking In From Ink Town


Hello lovies!

I am back, at least for a moment. Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, and some of you (Elysa) are getting violent, so here I am! I am settling in Ink Town just fine. And yes, I've gotten scores of INK references related to me being a writer, which oddly, I never thought of before, as much as I wanted to be a writer growing up.

The he townhouse is very nice! I love it! We have stairs that my children run up and down, slide up and down, fall up and down, and do all manner of things that end with the words, "up and down." I'm just longing to paint the walls something delicious looking, and plant my flower garden. I got lots of mums for the fall!

:::::Sigh:::: I so want to plant the flowers. Too tired! And too busy.

Apparently moving takes a lot more out of me than it used to! I'm exhausted, on deadline for the Exorsistah, and we are still not completely unpacked. And I still haven't finished cleaning out the old house. I have yet to take three HUGE boxes of books to the Salvation Army. Oh, the pain! But even with the ones I lost I still have a gazillion books.

This is a piccha of two of my book shelves, and this funky lamp I got at Target. One row of books is almost empty because after I shelved them I realize I need them for research for The Exorsistah! You can see that I've got the squiggly bulbs, and I even sprang for an HE washer and dryer. Woo hooo! I'm on my way to consciously living justly, as I eagerly await my copy of Will and Lisa Samson's Justice in the 'Burbs. Get your copy today! Not that I need another book in my life.

After moving all my heavy boxes of books Ken sais his next wife is going to be illiterate. He says at the first sign of interest, her glancing at the headline of a newspaper, anything! She's outta there!

Can you see their courtship?

Ken: Hey, baby. Are you hooked on phonics?

Illiterate wife-to-be: Uh uhn, baby. I'm hooked on YOU!

Yeah. A match made in heaven.

Okay, so maybe I should stop marrying my husband off to imaginary people.

Anyway, we are here. And this was also the first time I moved with a film crew on hand. Well, it was just one person, the lovely, amazing Elizabeth Marcus. She hung out for three days with us. It was so like being on a reality television show. Just strange. But Elizabeth was wonderful, and the film is going to be incredible. It's the film I told you about a long time ago, about poverty in America. I so don't feel poor. I feel like I'm in the land of plenty. When I think about the people I'll go spend time with in Swaziland... I feel so blessed. And now I don't get the food stamps, or have the Section 8 voucher. All these things my big, fat literary life has eliminated. Thank God. I made more money this year than I ever have. Than I ever thought I possibly could. But because I had to move away from the city that meant so much to me, and the fact that even with success I had big losses, Kurt wanted to capture that. And now I have no health insurance. It's funny, the haves and have-nots here in the Land of Prosperity. I am oddly between what I thought (and the government said) was poverty, and The American Dream. I suspect that's where a lot of Americans are. Elizabeth asked me what poverty is, and I said some lame thing about not having the necessities of life. Now I'm not sure how to answer that. There are so many sociological issues involved. And when I think about the crushing poverty of people who don't eat for weeks! Can I really say I was ever poor?

But enough musing on that. I'm sure I'll revisit that question again.

So, I'm here. Yesterday I took a walk with Abbie to visit my former bestfriend's mother. Tricia died right after she turned 30 of cancer. She'd been my girl since we were in third grade. Her mother was like my own mother. I remember taking refuge at Tricia's house many a day when the violence in my own home drove me out and into her mother's arms.

I got there and the house was boarded up. They've moved. I was so worried about her, because I saw her last year and she was so thin and frail. I was afraid when I saw the house that she'd died and they gave up the house. That house would not be the same without sassy Betty Robinson burning up dinner (she always burned dinner!) and making everyone laugh and so happy.

I found out they've moved on the other side of town. I was so relieved. I just hate that she's right around the corner anymore. I'm working on going to visit a lot of lovely, older women who were so important to me. Mom Robinson was first on my list. I'll have to drive to her house now, but that's okay, because she's still here. And I'll bet she has every bit as much love and laughter as she had most of my life.

It's late. I'd better get to sleep. I have to go to Grand Rapids tomorrow to talk to a sales team about Zora and Nicky: A Novel in black and white.

Hey, you can pre-order it, and the new Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man, and Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz on Amazon! They don't have the covers up yet, but I'll post them separately. And this time Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz is really going to come out! Really!

Until next time.

Mair