What is your favorite month of the year? Only 2% of Americans will answer February, probably those who have a birthday that falls in the month or a strong affinity to Lunar New Year or Mardi Gras. I believe that February gets such a bad rap because it is the middle of winter. January has the residue of Christmas and New Year, March contains the first day of spring, but February is deep, cold, endless winter.
Enter the mid-winter festival.
In America, we call this Groundhog Day, Catholics refer to it as Candlemas, and for the ancient Celts, it was Imbolc. All celebrations for one reason or another but if we are honest, the fact that February 4th falls midway between the first day of winter (winter solstice) and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) is reason enough to celebrate. Astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere is half over!
It’s self-published so not such a big deal. Anyone who can pull together a script and slap a halfway decent cover on it can be a published author these days because print-on-demand services do not check for worthiness of content. My market is so niche’ I didn’t believe that any publishing house would consider it. It wouldn’t make them enough money to be worth their time. Still, by all accounts it has done well. I sold 142 copies in the first three months and since 300 copies in the first year is considered success, I am almost halfway there.
But I promoted it. A lot. I am completely unknown and people are suspicious of independent authors for the reasons listed above (no check on worthiness). I paid for ads that showed my book to potential buyers 183,000+ times, at Christmas, and I sold 142 copies. *SIGH* Good thing that I am in it for the long haul. Book of Snark 1 will continue to sell and Book of Snark 2 is already in the works. I have eight text reviews on Amazon andsix text reviews on Goodreads, all good and not all from my friends and family. I even garnered a ‘drive-by’ anonymous 1-star rating without an associated text review on Amazon by whoever or whatever and a lovely text review on Goodreads from book blogger, Amie’s Book Reviews in Toronto, who said the book “will appeal to anyone and everyone who likes British humor”.
I bought my first home February 28, 2020, a condo in a building built in 1912. I moved my possessions two weeks later on St. Patrick’s Day. I left for Peoria, IL four days later on March 21, to help my mother at the end of her life. She died on Mother’s Day and we buried her a week later. I returned to my home in Minneapolis, May 23.
Although I have owned my condo for five months, it does not feel like home yet. In my mind, my home is still a one-bedroom apartment in an old house off an ally behind a hair salon about five blocks from here. It was my refuge after my loft apartment burned with my belongings in May 2013. I lived there alone and rebuilt my life.
I trained for and rode RAGBRAI twice while living there. I traveled domestic extensively for work and pleasure and even internationally once to Turkey. I published a posthumous memoir by my friend Todd about leukemia, the disease that finally took my mother. I started this blog, wrote the material for the book I’m publishing this fall, and started attending poetry open mics around the Twin Cities. That’s where I met Loren, my partner who I live with now.
My last two moves were in the midst of major crisis and upheaval.
I didn’t expect to until summer but on February 28, 2020, my partner and I sat in Sotheby’s International Realty office and signed a whole stack of papers allowing me to become a homeowner for the first time in my life. He’s old hat. They gave us a gift box with two Tiffany crystal wine glasses, a gold coin to get a bottle out of the champagne vending machine, and most importantly, a set of shining silver keys to the doors of our new home.
It is not lost on me that I moved into my current apartment in the wake of steep tragedy and I will move out of my apartment in the weight of impending tragedy. Continue reading →
2020 will be one of the most difficult years of my life.
And whenever you postulate on future events, there is always someone in the crowd with the need to say, “You don’t know that.” I think maybe they like being contrary or are often wrong or are interested in what they might consider to be a safe bet on telling you later, “I told you so!”
I had to think about it. My original blog was on Blogger.com in 2004: ‘Writing is a Tapeworm’. I am quite sure no one remembers it. It was pre-Face Book and during the height of My Space (they’re still around, did you know?). It served me much the same way my current social media does- random chatter but without the audience. I closed it right around the time I was looking for a new job… cmmounts.com launched in July 2014, died in January 2015, then like a phoenix rose out of the paper shredder in January 2017 with regular posts and visitors ever since. Continue reading →
What I wanted for Christmas in the past was my own home, with my own tree, and my own children. I wanted my spouse. I wanted our life and traditions together. But like many, the American Dream of hearth and home passed me by. I never married therefore never divorced but had 15 years solid of long-term relationships before 10 years of single life. I spent many years single at Christmas.
And what I wanted for Christmas as a single professional was time off. Real time off and peace. To get away from the daily grind and get some real writing done. I wanted resolution of personal tragedy, release from all the hangs on and drags on, from regret. I wanted a solid plan for the challenges of the coming new year. What is Christmas about if not hope in the midst of darkest night? Continue reading →
It doesn’t help that the jet stream often covers our state in a deep blue-purple swath or that International Falls actually went to court for the official trademark title: “Icebox of America”. Yes, by some people’s calendar, winter lasts six months here.
By the astronomical calendar, the winter solstice will occur at 10:19pm Central Time on December 21, 2019. This means in very real planetary terms that the South Pole of the earth is tilted toward the Sun and the Sun will be at its southernmost position in our sky, the Tropic of Capricorn.
But for those of us living in Minneapolis on the 45th northern parallel, which is halfway between the North Pole and the equator, winter has already arrived. As of Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport measured 9.2 inches of snow. We got an additional 2 inches last night and they expect another 4+ inches of snow tonight. Continue reading →
Friday, June 21 to Monday, June 24 ~ FL-GA (496 miles)
Jacksonville, FL; Savannah, GA; Tybee Island, GA
Every trip has its ups and downs…
The trip from Pensacola to Savannah is a bit of a downer. Neither of us want to leave Pensacola yet. It is a special place for our family, full of happy memories, a beach escape from the vast fields of Illinois corn. But we have made a plan to also visit Savannah and Charleston. Mom is determined to stick to that plan, despite the two days we are short on travel due to our late start and early return.
We travel the interstate through the Florida panhandle, far from the coast and surrounded by thick green forest. We get to Tallahassee and mom announces she “wants to eat somewhere where they have tuna fish on tap.” And the search for the seafood restaurant marks the beginning of Lorraine’s bad behavior. Continue reading →
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 to Thursday, June 20 ~ AL-FL (315 miles)
Birmingham, AL; Mobile, AL; Pensacola, FL
If you pay attention to my route, you might ask why I drove 60 miles out of the way to Mobile, AL instead of cutting south on the direct route of Hwy 113/29. And the answer is simple: there is no Florida Welcome Center along that route and therefore no official Florida state map. Mom was determined to collect a state map from every welcome center as a souvenir. Also, the way we always and forever entered Florida was through Mobile, so for the sake of upholding tradition, sacrifices must be made. Continue reading →