There are No Strangers in a Small Town
Fred had his first cataract surgery just before Christmas. All went well, and he's looking forward to doing the other eye on Jan. 25. The surgery takes 10 minutes. Preparation and recovery take a few hours, and he's ready for the world in a day. That's a big change from the old days when people stayed in bed for weeks. When Dr. Haines is done, Fred, who has worn glasses since he was about two years old, will probably only need specs for reading. Amazing.
I'm noticing these days that the man has the prettiest eyes. They're brown with flecks of green. That's not why I married him, but it doesn't hurt.
Having outpatient surgery in a small town becomes a surprisingly social affair. Everywhere we turned, we saw people we knew. As we waited to be called in, Nancy from my yoga class hurried down the hall in her nurse attire. In the prep area, we didn't know the nurse trainee, Willow, but her trainer said she had seen me playing guitar at church.
And then, speaking of guitars, in walks Brent Bunker, whom I know as a collector of old-time instruments and an excellent harp guitar player. We shared a gig at the historical museum in October. I stared at him in his scrubs and surgical cap as he said, "Hi, "I'm Brent Bunker, and I'll be your anesthesiologist today." Wow, this is what he does when he's not playing music? As the saying goes, real musicians have day jobs.
Writers, too. I had barely caught my breath from meeting Brent in curtain area number two when a woman similarly dressed called, "Hi, Sue." It was Cynthia from Writers on the Edge, and she was the anesthesiologist for the lady in curtain area number three. I had no idea.
And then there's Teresa Capri, my Portuguese friend, who goes to my church and also works in post-op. She came through to say hello and promise Fred a safe surgery, followed by muffins and coffee. I met her years ago when I was interviewing someone else at the hospital and overheard Teresa talking about the Azores on the phone. As soon as I could get her attention, I asked her, "Are you Portuguese?" Sure enough. Her family came from Pico and Faial, the same islands my family emigrated from.
Of course everyone in town has the same opthalmologist, so Dr. Haines was no stranger to anybody.
In the waiting room, everyone talked to each other. Around here, if you don't know each other's names, you're still thinking, "I've seen that person somewhere before." And you probably have.
In fact, when I went to the ER at midnight last year, the woman at the reception desk was the wife of a friend.
That's how it is in Newport, Oregon.
Luckily we were there for eye surgery this time. Last time, I was the one on the table, having a colonoscopy. Not a time when you want to meet people you know!
Happy New Year to all, and try to stay away from hospitals, okay?
Around the House
So far, we have escaped several major windstorms, including Oregon's first official hurricane winds, without damage. Trees came down all over the area, including one through the neighbor's roof and four down on the power lines on our street. We spent 31 hours without electricity. It has been a wild winter so far. We had storms from Thanksgiving through the end of December. If it wasn't raining, it was icy, and I've lost count of the windstorms. It even snowed lightly on the coast on Dec. 30, but on the 31st, the sun was shining, brightening our spirits and our hopes for the new year. Unfortunately it was raining again Jan. 1. They're predicting another windstorm for the first weekend of 2008. At least we don't have to worry about running out of water. We got some great Christmas presents. Thank you, all. As for those who insisted on sending chocolates, shame on you. And thank you, Michael, for spending the holiday with us. It made it especially nice.
Read me, Hear Me
Things have been busy with real life around here, but I can report a few work-related achievements: I sold a piece on Alzheimer's Disease to the Cup of Comfort series. That book will be out later this year. My Everything But Writing column at the Scriptorium should be reappearing any day now. This month (having analyzed my finances), we're looking at how to balance income and expenses. I have a new feature at the Writers on the Rise newsletter. Click the link to the main page, then click on "zine" for the latest edition. I'm offering a monthly challenge related to my Freelancing for Newspapers book. The January challenge is about writing reviews. Give it a shot, and read the other articles there, too. On the music side, I have an original song on the new South Beach Open Mic CD, produced locally last month. It really has some great music on it. If you want more information about the CD, e-mail me and I'll put you in touch with the people selling them. Better yet, if you're local, come to an open mic at the South Beach Community Center at 5 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month to hear us live.
Local Writer Events
The Coast Chapter of Willamette Writers gets off to a late start this month due to the holiday and the library's film series on the second Tuesdays, but on January 15, we will welcome Marianne Klekacz for the William Stafford Memorial Reading and poetry workshop at the Newport Library. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. for snacks and socializing, with the program starting at 7. You don't have to be a member to come, but we'd sure like you to join. This year we need to build a stronger team to keep things going. Dorothy Mack has done a fabulous job of lining up speakers for the year. Carol Cole and I try to keep the rest of it going, but we need more people to get seriously involved. Think about it. The Nye Beach Writers Series starts the new year on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center with Jack Hart, publisher of The Oregonian newspaper. He has a new book, A Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Words That Work. Admission is $5. The program includes an open mic, five minute time limit, for the first 10 people who sign up.
Clown Girl.by Monica Drake, Hawthorn Books, 2006. From the first line, in which the narrator says, " 'Balloon Tying for Christ' was the cheapest balloon manual, I could find," I was hooked on Clown Girl." The protagonist, Nita aka Sniffles, has dreams of being the best clown ever, working with her love Rex Galore, whom she considers the king of clowns. But Rex is gone, she has just had a miscarriage, she's living in the mud room of a drug dealer's house, and things go downhill from there. Drake's first novel has a classic plot, with complication piled on complication. It's also a journey of self-discovery, with an underlying theme about the costumes we all wear. It's simply a masterpiece, and blessedly unique. I zipped through the 297 pages in two days. Read it.
Note: Monica is our coast Willamette Writers speaker for March 4.
How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gill Gates, Gotham Books, 2007. Ignoring the obvious 265-page advertisement for the Starbucks coffee chain, this is a pleasant, uplifting read. Gill, son of a privileged family, Yale graduate, and an advertising executive who has devoted his whole life to staying at the top rung of society, gets fired and divorced and loses everything. Enter a job recruiter from Starbucks. Starting over at the bottom, he learns how the rest of the world lives and finds his heart. This is a good book, quick and easy, and you learn a lot about Starbucks.
Pretty is as Pretty Does by Alison Clement, MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 2001. Oregonian Clement has fashioned a protagonist, Lucy Fooshee (foo-SHAY), whom we shouldn't like. Lucy has flawed grammar, she's lazy, and she seems to have no sense of right and wrong. Yet I loved her. Why? Maybe there's a Lucy inside all of us. As the story begins, Lucy has been married to Bob Bybee for only two weeks. He comes from the second richest family in the county, so he's a real catch. But then one day, she goes into Aunt Babe's café and meets Babe's nephew, Billy Lee. From that moment, everything changes. Billy Lee is dark, mysterious and sexy. In comparison, Bob is fat, clumsy and repulsive. Yes, she's married, but she can't help what happens next. This book is so good, I can't wait to read Clement's second book, Twenty Questions, which also features Lucy Fooshee.
Well, that's it for now. I wish everyone the best of new years. 2007 was tough for a lot of people. May this year bring peace, health, and happiness to all.
All contents copyright 2008 Sue Fagalde Lick
If you would like me to send you a link to this newsletter every month, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to forward the newsletter to friends who might be interested. Also contact me if you want me to stop sending the link.
Note: I'm in the process of taking the 2003-2005 newsletters offline, but I will provide free PDF copies on request.