No offense intended to those of you who have been cut loose from the posts I follow, but I need a place where I can blog. Good old Valves and Roger Wilkerson will stay. They amuse me, although I have not heard from Good old Valves for a couple of months. (Roger just drips with nostalgia).
I am going to try to make this a weekly “thing”, now that I have managed to write and put a novel on the market. My intent (going forward) is to give some insight on my writing. This week, with the release of The Legacy of Miss Annie Darden Coggins, I am going to write a little bit more about Magnolia, Ohio, the setting for most of the story.
The model for Magnolia is Piketon, Ohio, a village on a bend of the Scioto River in Pike County, Ohio. I have been through Piketon a couple of times in the past year or so to help confirm my impressions of the town from about 17 years ago when it was part of my “Territory” as a District Circulation Manager for the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette.
Piketon sits on the intersection of two main highways, Ohio 32 (The Appalachian Highway) and US 23. The downtown section is roughly shaped like a wedge with Main Street running north and south in a straight line while US 23 arcs to the east before heading south to meet South Street (which runs east and west) on the south side of downtown. There are streets running to the west of Main Street and to the south of South Street… but not very far.
Downtown is mostly dead these days. Most of the commercial activity in Piketon is concentrated along US 23 south of South Street on a service road.
Magnolia is quite like, yet, unlike Piketon. It occupies the same space, yet there are some differences. For one, Downtown Magnolia is a busy hub of activity, most of it centered around a three story Hotel built in the early part of the 20th century. The Hotel never spent much time as a hotel. It was vacant until just after WWII when the title character in my book (Miss Annie Darden Coggins) came to town with her ex husband’s money to set up “Annie’s Coffee Cup”.
The bank, the hardware store, the park and the antique shops on Cherry street are all made up, too. For a small town, Magnolia has a lot going for it… more than the contemporary Piketon. More will be said about the setting as my writing about Magnolia, Ohio continues.
Yes, Virginia… there are more tales of Magnolia, Ohio yet to come. There are characters we have yet to meet with stories which need to be told. I will be getting to those in due course.
Just so you know that I know, yes, there really is a Magnolia, Ohio. It’s just south of Canton if I recall. It’s not unusual for there to be two towns of the same name in the same state… there are at least 2 Bainbridge, Ohios (The one I am familiar with is in Ross County) and at least 2 Fairview, West Virginias (my mother is from Fairview in Marion County, about 10 miles out of Fairmont). In this case, the second Magnolia isn’t on the map; it exists only in the imagination.
So, if you have a Kindle, stop by Amazon, buy the book and come visit Magnolia.
If the world is going to end on December 21st (as suggested by the Mayans) or if we really are on a collision course with ‘Planet X’, then it would make sense for us to vote for candidates in the upcoming elections we really don’t like… so that we can blame them for the upcoming catastrophes!
The question came out of the blue, from the mouth of a woman I had known for a good portion of my life at the time; a woman six months my junior; a woman who had been my ‘first date’ some seven years earlier.
“Useful for masturbation,” was the answer which fortunately did not come spilling from my mouth.
“How do I answer that question?” I asked myself. “Sounds like some sort of a trick.”
It was one of those questions which no sane person would dare answer. I knew that the moment I opened my mouth, whatever I said would be wrong.
I didn’t want to risk it with Debbie.
In one sense, she was the twin sister I never had. We had managed to make it through puberty together – yet apart, due to the inconvenience of living nearly 200 miles from each other for six of the aforementioned seven years.
We conducted a correspondence, celebrating our diametrically opposed birthdays (exactly six months apart to the day) and Christmas through the services of the U.S. Postal Service. At other times, we would regale each other with letters detailing little bits and pieces of our personal lives on average of once a month or so.
For me, it was a necessity. I had been torn apart from Debbie, forced into a move to another town by uncaring (in my 14 year-old eyes) by my uncaring parents. I swore that I would never have friends ever again.
Everyone at the new school was hostile. I knew it. I was the 8th grade freak, tapped by the music teacher to blend in with the 10th, 11th and 12th graders on a cold, rainy trip to a different unknown city less than two weeks after being exiled to the middle of nowhere. I was the final piece in that puzzle, a Godsend to a music teacher who was wanting the perfect score in a music competition.
“Outstanding”, read the certificate touting my skills at playing the Cello in an individual competition held in my former haunts less than two months earlier.
“Outstanding”, read Debbie’s certificate for her prowess playing the Violin at that same competition.
Both of us were quite pleased with ourselves.
The girls at the new school who rode on that bus viewed me as some sort of novelty. The other guys on the bus viewed me with suspicion. There were undertones that life past the 8th grade weren’t going to be quite as pleasant as they had been when Debbie was around.
Debbie remained my anchor. The memories I had of her had also slowed me down.
I had a photograph of the two of us taken on the night of the Seventh Grade Party… our ‘first date’. We had dared to dance a slow dance, next to each other, the first time we had had physical contact with someone of the opposite gender who was not related to us in one way or another.
I was very aware of myself. I was one of the earliest of my peers to actually start growing pubic hair… a sign of impending manhood.
I became aware of her, too. She wore a low-cut dress, suggesting that her breasts were her own, not some fabrication fortified courtesy of the folks at Kimberly-Clark.
Both of us were starting to come of age.
That photograph was my touchstone in those years we were fated to be apart. It was my proof that I had enjoyed a woman’s charms.
Now she was mocking me with a question I dared not answer.
“So what do you think of naked women?” I knew the form from art… the classics, the statuary. I also knew the form from the forbidden photographs, air brushed to improve on perfection, from… sources. The sources would certainly kill me had I revealed where I had obtained the ill-gotten booty.
I could surmise her form as she sat in the passenger seat of the automobile waiting for my answer. She wore a halter top which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that what she was endowed with was real… the only revelation yet to be made would be for her to show me her nipples and aureole.
I started to fight back the urges which were starting at the back of my brain. I was afraid that I would develop an erection and that the erection would embarrass me in front of the woman who had revealed to me earlier that day that we had been in the third grade together. An erection was certainly something I didn’t want to reveal to my spirit-sister… at least not in the car. It would be more embarrassing to me than the erection I had developed when I took out a woman who was not Debbie three months earlier.
Not Debbie and I had connected at Junior College. We went to dinner before heading back to her home where she introduced me to the basics of expressing love toward another person. I left that evening hiding my excitement as well as the emission which had seeped from it.
I wanted desperately to practice what I had learned on the woman I had grown up with. There was a fleeting vision of the two of us going back to the apartment Debbie shared with her mother, where we would throw caution to the wind to explore each other and discover the previously forbidden world of uninhibited sex.
My answer to the question was more of a delaying tactic than it was an actual answer to the question she asked.
I respected her.
My respect was mostly out of fear of the unknown.
I wasn’t afraid of getting caught as much as I was afraid of what might happen when the two of us would copulate. I knew the process. Sperm meets egg, yields child.
I wasn’t ready for the responsibility. I knew that I wasn’t ready for the responsibility. In knowing that I wasn’t ready and by admitting to myself that I wasn’t ready was proof that I was indeed ready.
The question was eventually shelved. We spent the remainder of that summer afternoon basking in each other, remembering ourselves as we were. When it was time for me to take the trip back to where my family lived, Debbie came out with me.
We paused at the car, taking one long last look at each other before we drew into each other’s arms.
I held her for too brief a time.
I thought of giving her a kiss, a kiss to make up for all of the kisses we never had. As it turned out, we were fated never to kiss.
That fall, I returned to College close to home. She went back to the East Coast to finish her studies. Our correspondence was never renewed. I never saw or heard from Debbie again.
Nearly forty years later, I remember that day, that question and that night. Although I am secure in knowing that I love and that I am loved by the woman to whom I am married, my thoughts still occasionally drift back to that time in my life, the razor’s edge in time when I transitioned from my childhood to my adulthood… the dilemma I had on that day being solved many times over.
I would like to think that she feels the same about me.
I took my partner to a nude beach once and had the misfortune of having to ‘deal with’ a loser taking photographs of her with a zoom lens. ‘Voyeur’ type nudist photography really bothers me and I NEVER post it on my tumblr. There are plenty of ‘posed’ nudist images out there without resorting to posting photographs taken without consent.
I wish more tumblr nudists whould take a stand against ‘voyeur’ images.
A great day to be off and able to indulge in a little free-hiking. Just as I was about to leave the house to go to my favorite hiking venue, I spied a note from a woman I work with, stating that she was going on a hike herself. I sent her a quick note telling her where I was going and what I intended to accomplish (six miles, lakeside with varied terrain) giving an implicit invitation to join me. Fortunately, by the time I had the requisite water and GPSr ready to go, she messaged that she had returned from her own little jaunt.
Truth be known, I’m happy that she didn’t join me. It would have interfered with the ‘free’ portion of my hike.
I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I am partially in the closet as far as naturism is concerned. While I enjoy the freedom of hiking in the nude, I feel the necessity of doing so alone or with the other half (as I have done from time to time). It has been said that a man can be naked in front of his wife or a man can be naked in front of his Doctor… but not when the two of them are in the same room. The same can be said for free-hiking. While I understand and the spouse understands that free-hiking is a non-sexual activity, there are some who might see it otherwise and take offense.
It was a good hike, none the less. This time I remembered the sun screen and took my time. Except for that last mile, I had the trail all to myself!
Reminds me of the story my mother told of taking her father to lunch in northern West Virginia back in the late ’80s:
They were traveling behind a car with a “Shit Happens” bumper sticker. My mother laughed out loud… my grandfather asked what was funny. She pointed out the bumper sticker. His reaction… “That’s not funny, that’s an obscenity on the back of that car!”
Another gentleman of my acquaintance had bumper stickers made up with the legend: “Vicissitudes Occur”. When he died about 5 years ago, a few of us got memorial bumper stickers - mine, worn proudly here in north Texas for at least a year before it fell off.
“Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity - these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing. They are not ashamed.”—Mark Twain (via arizonavichi)
Last night, I finished a semi-final edit of a novel I have been working on for over a year. The only reason I consider the novel to be semi-final is that I have some issues with using some real place names in the story. The issue will set and simmer for a bit.
Reality is a challenge for some people. The other half was taken aback by my use of the word fuck on page 3, while her son, (the stepson, aged 16) was mightily impressed. I’ve shared bits and pieces of the story with some of my work mates and with class mates at a course I took in novel writing. The general consensus was that while the word has shock value, the word also adds reality in some situations. The wife ‘gets’ it now.
I’ve also written some tasteful nudity into the story… nudity without involving a sexual act. One reviewer was aghast at the idea, others, enjoying the reality of characters who were, at times, undressed. Perhaps there’s some shock value in naked people, too.
I have too much to tell about what I do on my days off to effectively communicate everything in a single post. The basic thrust of this post has to do with my hobby (Geocaching) and how I like to do it.
I first ran into the sport ten years ago. Geocaching has been described as “Using million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.” Part of the reality of the sport is that no way to play it is wrong. There are those who attempt to find large numbers of caches, there are those who attempt to be the first to find new caches, or there are those who like to try finding ‘night caches’.
My variation is to occasionally try to find a cache while free-hiking.
This is my confession of being a closet naturist.
I have explored naturism on my own terms for the past several years and have adapted the ‘lifestyle’ to my own tastes.
For instance, I don’t see it as being too huge a deal to be naked within certain boundaries. I’m certainly not going to walk out on Main Street in broad daylight wearing nothing but a smile, but in the privacy of my own home, or out on a seldom-used trail… why not? It’s not a sexual thing (despite efforts by some to make it so), it’s more of a freedom thing.
There are a couple of things about the ‘Naturist Movement’ which bother me, though… and keep me in the closet.
There are, for instance, a few people who rationalize being naturist by saying that they are ‘Christian’ and that if they are ‘Christian’, it’s okay… it’s almost as if they are ashamed of being naturists.
There are also the photographs. For some reason, the large majority of photographs of people enjoying the ‘Naturist Lifestyle’ are of men with six-pack ‘abs’ and perfectly proportioned women with perfect breasts. Oh, how I wish. My pot-belly (middle-age spread) and several body scars scream for a photographic re-make… my wife - happy to be alive, but sporting prostheses and prominent scars instead of the modest breasts she had when we were married.
So, I soldier on. Yesterday, I went to check on a couple of local caches and found opportunity to hike roughly a third of the way in the buff. The other people using the same trail were not exposed, and not offended… I had ample warning of their presence to cover up. Today, back to the same place and without clothing for over half the distance, again, not exposing myself in situations where there might be people who would be offended. Nice breeze today, too, coursing its way around my body.