Shakey S. Smith

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Branching or Blame my June birthday

Posted by [email protected] on July 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I will be tackling the Dupee Family Tree in the next few days

There is a genealogical style family tree that Mary created for me.There are a lot of characters.  I, myself, enjoy reading books with lots of characters. I grew up on Wodehouse and the Oz books, lots of interlocking characters and that is the way I see the world. —well, I draw the line at “100 Years of Solitude.” 100 characters named Jose? I won’t do that to you. I do not have Garcia Marquez' talent for weaving storylines.

There are a lot of Dupees, 5 generations of them all crammed into one small, hardscrabble, dusty, Kansas County. Gray County is kind of like Garcia Marquez’ Macondo—sleepy, isolated, a little backwards but always humorously forgiving of its own.

I write what I know. I live in a sparsely populated place, myself, where everyone is connected to everyone else, whether by blood, experience or paper. The names are few and repeat over the generations. Even the most obscure citizen has six or seven legends attached to his/her name, some from infancy.

I came here as a stranger 8 years ago. I came here from another place, a lot like this and I grew up in yet another dreamy backwater. Not a lot happens out here so people tell stories. When a person moves to one of these Kansas Macondos, she hears stories about characters before she knows the characters. These stories are fascinating but seem unconnected, like blocks in a colorful quilt that has yet to be pieced and stitched. As time goes by the quilt blocks come together and the stitching that holds it all together becomes visible.

This is how I envision the reader picking up my stories and piecing them together. There is no order to them. Any story the reader picks up will eventually become a part of the whole.

Like a real family the Dupees do share family names. This aspect of family life has fascinated me since I was a little girl. My own Helfrich family tree has the names George Valentine and Valentine George used over and over since the 1500s. It strikes me as funny, weird and, somehow almost spiritual; almost as if families are entities in themselves and one generation heals the karmic wounds of the last generation, passing its errors on to the next generation to correct. At least that is one way to explain my “branching” characters. Another explanation is that I am a Gemini—always seeing double.

Anyway, I plan to write a short thumbnail description of each Dupee before trying to load the tree. I will arrange the tree chronologically beginning with the first Jaks (Jaques) Dupee, his partner Timoteo Le Barre and their Kiowa wives, Tea Kettle and Tin Cup.

 


 


D.P.

Posted by [email protected] on July 4, 2014 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (1)

The house thing is really getting to me. Today is the 40th day that Anne and I have been living at my sister's house.Things are going smoothly enough but It is a nerve wracking situation. The house is so close to being ready but now it seems that the contractors have jumped ship. I have been going to water and check on the house but nothing is getting done. This is exactly what I dreaded. The contractors are good at their job but have so many other jobs that mine doesn't get top billing. They have a habit of leaving little things undone at the end of the job. The catch is that there are almost no contractors in our small town and I have heard horror stories about pooorly done projects about the others. At least mine does a good job and is reasonable but damn!

I took Maz to see the house. The walls are taped and partially sanded, the floor is bare, the room is empty. It does look better than it did but Maz couldn't see that. She looked around the room, heaved a sigh and said "This was once our happy home."Not sure where she heard that but it cracked me up.


Yes the World Wide Web Is Great But You Make Me Salvivate

Posted by [email protected] on June 27, 2014 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (1)

Kip's crooning to one side, I am not so sure I can adapt  to life on screen. Until last week, I wasn't even sure it was necessary. Screen time takes away from writing time. All I really want to do is write.  Nowadays it isn’t enough.

Recently I entered a contest that required a hard copy manuscript be mailed in—to the Post Office I went, with SASE, cover letter and manuscript envelope. The postal worker weighed and stamped both envelopes and postmarked them, just like in the Olden Days. All the time I was thinking Wow! Can't believe that I really used to do this! Screens are better so I must evolve electronically.

So here I am; trying to learn new tricks and very much an old dog. I remember my parents being totally baffled by cable tv, word processors, pizza and microwave ovens. My grandparents never got the hang of electric lights and shoelaces. My own grandfather told me that a hand crank and gear shift was a lot easier to start a car because “you knew what you were doing!” I don't want to be left in the dust trying to crank a Model T.


 

Walking My Nephew

Posted by [email protected] on June 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

My sister is out of town for a few days and I have temporary custody of their Westie, Doogie. Now Doogie and I have never really bonded which is strange because I dreamed him a few days before she found him, but that is another story.

I think we haven’t bonded because Doogie is a timid soul; more of a heel nipper than a barker. My dog,Molly,  Doogie’s departed cousin, was a Jack Russel and an entirely different cup of doggie tea. She had no problem barking her mind, anywhere anytime. She had no problem starting a fight with anything on a leash or off a leash; a rattlesnake and a big Boxer come to mind. A walk with her was like riding herd on a gaggle of two year olds, all threats, chases and bluster. “Don’t you dare!” “Don’t start! Do not even start!” “No! You are not going to sniff any Pit Bull’s ass and especially not one with a studded collar!” and she liked to slip the leash and roll in stuff like dead armadillos.

Not so Doogie. He is content to waddle and sniff and when something spooky comes up, he huddlesw next to my leg and whimpers. My dogwalking monolog with him goes something like “Don’t worry. He is in a fence.” “It is a truck. It can’t get you. I won’t let it.” And, since I am walking the streets of the town where I grew up, my parents and even my grandparents grew up, I lapse into memories. The worst of it is that Doogie is such a good listener. If I stop talking, he stops walking and frowns up at me like he is saying “And then what happened Aunt Shannon?“

Naturally I am in for any audience I can get at my age. When I get really wound up, I point. “Oh, look, Doogie! See that house? When I was a kid we used to think that house was haunted! I remember one time…”

Today I was at a street corner, pointing out  Roosevelt Junior High to my doggy nephew and telling him about my goofy World Geography teacher, when a lady stopped her car, and said “Ma’am, are you lost?”

I smiled and said no, but it really puts me off when strangers intrude on famiy conversations.

 

 


Promo/Reno

Posted by [email protected] on June 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I am a displaced person. My house is undergoing a major but necessary renovation. The walls and ceiling, wiring, roof and floorboards are being ripped up. I have been dreading this since I bought the house 5 years ago. The price was right but there was a lot of work to be done. This particular nightmare was supposed to take 6-8 days so we scheduled it for summer vacation. We are going on our 25th day with no end in sight.. I have been living with my sister in another county, trrying to write but mainly pulling my hair out in frustration.The good news is that, once this is finished we will no longer be sleeping in a knob and tube death trap.

WAMM is also undergoing a major renovation. Like my house it is getting a newer more efficient wiring. You can see the new changes at  http://www.writersamuseme.com

At my age I find all change flummoxing but, in the long run, change is always worth the hassle. Here is my latest novel. I have been working on another this summer. This one is about Elspeth's best friend Tennyson, her girlfriend Sam and how Sam and Bozo fought a duel in a cowpasture for Tennyson's honor.

Getting Serious

Posted by [email protected] on March 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I have another novel out. This one is called "Six Hearts; Seven Stories." It centers around the Charles and Elena Dupee family. Charles is Cy Dupees younger brother. Charles and Elena are aunt and uncle to Lauren, Freda, callie, Meggs and Clyde. Their sons, Ira and Sandy, are first cousins, although much younger.

I like this family because ...well, because Elena is a hybrid of my mother and my sister. She says the goofy things they have said. They are a little more upscale than the other Dupees. Sandy is an interesting character-- a late in life baby who pretty much has his doting parents wrapped around his finger but not a total worm. He likes things his way but in the end he is a good son, a good father and husband enough for two women. 

Ira is a failed author, so of course that part of hime is me. I do like White Russians although gin and tonic is my drink of choice. I don't pilfer other people's kitchens but I would argue evolution with Aunt Connie. Tori is pieced from five or six cowgirl students I have had over the years. Joan and Eldon are bar buddies of mine. Marie is my hero. Wheelie is me.

Joy to the W.

Posted by [email protected] on January 15, 2012 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Some major family drama over the holidays. I don't want to talk about it or even remember it. Things are calm again and that's all that matters. The tree was a pain, not at all what I wanted to deal with at the time. It didn't go up until the 24th. Our ornaments were spread out over two counties--a scavenger hunt to find them. It was a new tree and too expensive. Anne and I put it together backwards twice before we got it right but working together we did it.Once the lights were on the whole mood changed.

It was more than worth it when Mazzy came through the door and started picking out her favorite ornaments. She remembered them--the ones Aunt Kitty gave us in the seventies; the florida ornaments; the ones her mom cross stitched in the eighth grade; the cars, airplanes super heroes, , girls, cowboys; the bicycles that Lois and i bought together  and my Hopalong Cassiday. Maz wanted the story for each.  I love that every ornament has a story. How did I forget that? For the whole week  I sat in the dark and watched the lights just like I did when I was six and Kim and I used to fall asleep under the tree.

It was the same with the Christmas dinner-- roast pork loin, cornbread stuffing, ensalada de noche buena and sweet potatoes. Easy enough for a cook but a major challenge for me. I was stressed enough to wish the whole damn thing could be cancelled and I could spend the day vegged out over a true crime show. But it was a quiet joy, enjoying good food with family, comparing gifts, sledding with Mazzy. I'm so glad that Annie and I wrestled that tree out of the box . The thing is, it isn't a holiday if it  isn't a pain in the a** for someone. 

The squeeze is on

Posted by [email protected] on December 2, 2011 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The schoolyear is chugging towards Christmas break. Don't ask about the tree. I don't even know where it is at the moment. Usually have all my Christmas shopping wrapped and ready by Thanksgiving. Not this year. So much has happened, so much I haven't had time to record. The time squeeze is on. 

I'm not doing any creation writing. I have ideas, i see scenes and hear dialogs in my head but I don't have the time to write them down. Sad to say but my writing time is gone.. I teach. I peddle books. I submit. I edit books I have written. I took the T-giving break to really clean house and that should give me more time on the weekend mornings. Morning is always my best time. Dentist appt. today so I am home for a little bit this a.m. I should set up a couple of posts to sell books but really need to catch this up. And all in 34 minutes.

I have been driving to local libraries and dropping off copies of my book. Probably an antiquated strategy in this day and age but people out here still read old fashioned books. And the people I write about live out here. Better go, Dr. Hopkins is waiting for me. Routine cleaning and check up so no sweat, just wish I could write while I'm in the chair.

Nurse/ MH Counselor/ Prison Guard/Spanish Teacher

Posted by [email protected] on November 20, 2011 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Turns out I can run an infirmary for sick kids and teach Spanish--also proof term papers and essays and sponsor the scholar's bowl team  in my spare time. This week wasn't nearly as rough as last week. In fact the latest exams were passed by all with only three C's. Now that we are finished with the Chapter Tests, the kids and I have been going on Google Earth searching places that we know or have read about. We found the street corner in Parral where Panch Villa was shot down. We could almost read the plaque on the sidewalk. We found the universidad in Puebla where I attended one summer and el museo del cinco de mayo--Viva Puebla!.

Mainly we look for the kid's grandparent's homes. What with things like they are with the border and the violence and the economy most of my hispanic students haven't seen their grandparents in years. We have been to Montana, too. One of my students lived there for a while and wanted to see her old house and school. She was telling us flatlanders what it was like to live in the mountains.

Now these are high school kids--juniors and seniors even get a little chokey when they talk about their grandparents. Once we got all turned around in a little town in Chihuahua. We were about to give up the search when the girls gasped "Oh my god! There's my aunt's house!" Technology--  it's a great time to be alive--s6


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