Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Counting my Blessings

Last Wednesday was a strange and wonderful day.

I woke up with an odd feeling: no part of me hurt. No foot pain. The back pain from the yard work-related pulled muscle that had sidelined me for over two weeks was gone. I’d almost forgotten how good it feels to feel good.

As soon as I got out of bed, I could stand up straight. I could walk without limping.

Things got even better. When I checked my email, I found a message from a student I’d taught thirty years ago.

“I'm not sure you would remember me,” he began, and later added, “I'm not vain enough to think that you would remember me, but I did take your drama class in the 8th grade.” He went on to describe the play he remembered appearing in when I taught drama at what was then Madison Junior High.

But I did remember him—he was a nice kid who had beautiful curls. He was one of several memorable students in a very good class.

“I was inspired to look you up on the internet and amazingly after nearly 30 years—I discover that you are real. It's funny how such a length of time can pass and you wonder if your childhood really existed,” he wrote. Then he told me about his life—the degrees he’d earned, the business he owned, and his wife and sons.

Because he’d recently watched the movie Chalk, he started thinking of teachers who’d influenced him. The next part of his email made my day:

I made myself think of the one teacher in my life who made an impact on me—it was you—whether you remember me or not—I remember you.

His parents now own a place on Smith Mountain Lake; he and his family visit a few times during the summers. “If you are up for it, I could visit you the next time we are down. I'll bring a bottle of wine and cat toys and you can pretend that you remember me.”

I don’t have to pretend. I do remember him. And I look forward to seeing a former student who has done so well.

Wednesday stayed good: The Pen Women luncheon was delightful. A talented and creative quilter was our guest speaker, and Gene Marrano interviewed a few of us for an up-coming Studio Virginia broadcast on the local public radio station, WVTF. Our Pen Women branch is sponsoring a scholarship for women over thirty who have returned to college, and we want to get the word out. Since Gene also edits the Cave Spring Connection and the Vinton Messenger, he’ll give us print coverage, too.

Oh, and I cashed my check from Leisure Publishing for a photo I didn’t know they were going to use in the 2008 Smith Mountain Lake Newcomer’s Guide. They’d paid me months ago for the article I wrote; an additional payment for the photo was a pleasant surprise.

Thursday, I still felt great! I submitted a story to a literary magazine that has bought a couple of stories from me in the past. Maybe they’ll buy this one, too. In the afternoon, I went to Roanoke and hung out with ’Nita at MMC&T. Then I went to Valley Writers where the discussions and critiques were pretty good.

Friday, we got much needed rain. The hayfields are turning green. I felt so good I cleaned several rooms. I received a call from a cousin who wants to come out and explore family cemeteries and family land. I sent a CD of family photos to another distant cousin, whom I’d met for the first time a few weeks ago when she was in the area. That cousin lives in California. And I’ve been exchanging pictures and emails with another cousin whom I’ve never met; she lives in Chesterfield. Lately, I’ve discovered relatives I never knew I had.

Saturday was delightful! My Lake Writer buddy Marion and I went to Hollins University for the annual Hollins Literary Festival. Three of the writers-in-residence read from their works. All were great (this wasn’t the case last year when only one was great). I think it’s important for writer wanna-bes like myself to hear professionals read from their work and to network with professionals. We ran into Jeff Reid, an excellent writer who used report for the Smith Mountain Eagle but who is now a student (on full scholarship!) at Randolph College in Lynchburg. At lunch, Marion and I shared a table and good conversation with a Botetourt librarian and the arts & culture writer for The Roanoke Times.

The price of gas had dropped by several cents ($2.91 at the Crossroads Kroger), so I tanked up.

Today— Sunday—I felt good enough to walk two dogs (Maggie and Emma), clean the dog pen, run the shedding blade over the mares, and work in the yard a bit.

And even though spring is still ten days away, the signs of it are here.


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Blogger CountryDew said...

Sounds like you had a fine week. I'm glad your aches stopped paining you!

5:32 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

Oh I'm glad you had a good trip to Hollins! I would have been there had I not stayed up so late on Friday night. My English class visited the No Shame theater downtown Roanoke at midnight...ugh. I wanted to hear my good friend Moira's critique at 3pm. She submitted a poem for the contest. I'm so glad you are feeling wonderful, and Becky it doesn't surprise me one bit that a former student would contact you. My guess is you have touched more students in your career than you know. I know you've impacted me a great deal, and I appreciate you!!!!

9:15 PM  
Blogger Amy Hanek said...

After the painful fall and winter you've endured, it's about time you cashed in on the blessings owed to you! Great to hear you are doing so well. By the way, success you deserve!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Becky, have you noticed that you are in communications with a lot of people from your past? Old cousins, old friends, an old student now.

You know you're not a wanna-be writer. Don't make me laugh.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Until I get the contract from a commercial publisher—complete with advance and royalites—I'm still in the wanna-be category.

I still have a lot to learn (but I learned a bit more at the recent CNU conference!).

9:06 AM  

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