Believe it or not, I left Naples (FL) at 5:00 am on Tuesday of this week and arrived back in Hibbing at 9:30 pm the following day. That’s 2082 miles in two days! By myself. What does that say about me? Crazy? O.C.D.? Homesick? Or is it something more obscure? I’ve heard that the Range (In my case Hibbing) has some magnetic pull on those of us who have spent much of their lives here. Perhaps it’s the magnetite in the earth that draws us back or warm our memories this place conjures. I assure you that it was not the northeastern Minnesota weather that motivated my departure from Florida. My months in Naples were wonderful and the people in my neighborhood just marvelous. But, here I am and here is where I should be.
Arriving ‘home’ I found the house in perfect order and Gail looking good–even younger than I remembered. Maybe being a new grandmother and the fulfillment that goes with that are part of it all. We didn’t ‘facetime’ over the winter months but talked almost daily. Thanks, Gail. Part of the reason for leaving earlier than usual was that my grandson, Braden will be having his First Communion tomorrow in Grand Rapids. I miss my grandkids terribly when I’m away. And I miss my son Tiffer and daughter-in-law, Susan, as well. Shannon (my oldest) came down for a two-week visit at my little Florida home, and my granddaughtr Cali (finishing her second year at the UofM) and i must get together soon as she will be traveling to Europe this summer for studies. She’s twenty already. My youngest granddaughter. Grace Ann, turned three on the 17th of this month and her ‘big brother’ Jack is a sophomore in high school. I was Jack’s Confirmation sponsor in February. Erin continues to stay strong through her post-divorce struggles with her ex. I’m glad I could be of some support for her through this winter. Family! I have a sign on my deck that sums everything up in three of the most meaningful words I can think of: FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS. So is life for most all of us in this turbulent world.
While away I wrote my next novel–the rough draft is the most fun because everything is new and exciting and so very unpredictable. I left Florida with my more than 100,000 word first draft and am beginning the rewrite process which is the most tedious work. In that I already know the ending the rewrites are a combination of polishing transitions, improving flow, and some rudimentary preliminary editing. These things have to be done before the story goes on to my pre-readers and then to professional editing, formatting, and the copywrite procedures. My working title is TEARS. I so enjoyed my last story and the interaction of its characters that I couldn’t leave them out of the new story. And I so enjoy creating new exploits for my protagonist, Father Mickey. At the risk of being a ‘huxster’ I will say that having previously read THE SACRED SEAL and THE LAST MORAN will add to the texture to my new novel. (Locally, all of my books are available at the Mulberry Bush in the Mesabi Mall. See Patty, she has a fine little shop.) I will add another more informational blog closer to my anticipated publication date in October. So you still have time to read the others.
I will say this however. I’ve wanted to tell a teacher story for years. So much of who I am is due to my years of teaching. Teaching for me was learning new things every day. So, my challenge was to integrate a teacher into the fabric of a murder/mystery that didn’t involve the teacher at all . . . or, not literally anyhow. It was fun to do, even if it may be controversial. I take literary license to make some strong references to what has become of this once fair city in recent times. I posted some candid observations on Facebook just to see if my perceptions were legitimate and had a strong response. It is hard for me to say that I’m of the impression that the town I love is dying a slow death, the symptoms seem almost too obvious to be ignored.
On a more upbeat note, I am anxious to renew my friendships–many years of friendships. I have missed seeing so many of you at church, or Super One, or almost anywhere in town. I still think some of the brightest, and finest people I’ve ever known are still here. It made me happy with anticipation to see the sign HIBBING as I finished my 2082 miles home. God bless.