One of the most asked questions by readers of “Mama’s Club” is about my wife, Helen. Yes, that seventeen-year-old young lady that you see on this post who would become my wife on April 11, 1964. And that question is: Did she leave the Club shortly after you were married? The answer is “no.” It wouldn’t be until 1986 before she could break the stranglehold of the Club’s cult-like beliefs and practices. But our challenges for the next twenty-two years will be the fodder for my sequel, “Ghosts From Mama’s Club.” In the meantime, Helen and I will be celebrating our forty-fourth wedding anniversary next month. Ironically, my sister, Mary Lyn, was murdered on April 11, ten years ago.
I started this blog with good intentions. I wouldn’t let two or three days pass without making a contribution. But then, my wife, Helen, and I left west Michigan on October 17, migrating south and west for the winter.
The first leg of our semi-annual migration took us 1,275 miles to Houston, Texas, where our son, Keith, lives. This is always a treat because we not only enjoy visiting with him, we get to spend time with his wife Amy and our eleven-year-old granddaughters, (and twins) Hannah and Katrina. Some of the highlights of our visit with them were hearing the twins sing with a group from their middle school, watching climbers scale the Matterhorn at an IMAX theatre showing, a tour of the traveling 125,000-year-old Lucy exhibit and her Ethiopian birthplace, and being treated to one of the best movies that I have seen in awhile, Michael Clayton.
The last leg of our journey took us 1,100 miles to our Tucson home. And as we neared our high desert home in the Catalina Mountains, we were most grateful for books on tape. We had listened to and thoroughly enjoyed two unabridged books, His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph Ellis and Wild Swans, by Jung Chang. Both books were well written and narrated stories about how a single man can and did make a significant difference to the history of his country, the USA and China. One was very good and the other was a disaster.
When we arrived back in Tucson there was much that needed to be done to make our house a home. And we had only a week to prepare for houseguests. Visiting with us for five days would be someone I hadn’t seen in almost fifty years. John Hoyle and I were only kids when we last spent quality time together. Ironically, my parents were instrumental into bringing his parents into ”the truth.” Oops. There I go again. I mean the Club. That happened in February of 1952 and we last played together in the fall of 1958. John made contact with me via the Internet in July when he heard about my book, Growing Up In Mama’s Club.
To make a long story short, we had a delightful time with John, his wife Sharon, and their adorable, less than a year old Maltese puppy, Lilly. While they were here, we explored nearby Sabino Canyon, drove to the top of 9,200-feet Mount Lemmon, and just talked and talked and laughed and reminisced.
Now it’s back to writing full time. And I’ve made a decision (gulp!) to dramatically improve the third printing of Mama’s Club, which I expect to have ready by January 2008. What changes do I plan to make? I will report that in subsequent blogs.
I love to write and tell stories, and much prefer that over marketing. However, my book, Growing Up In Mama’s Club, is not able to sell itself. And so, for the last few weeks, I’ve spent most of my time promoting my book, and not writing, to a variety of new market niches. A very daunting task for me.
Thank heavens for pleasant diversions. And I have two of them. I try to walk at least four miles a day and I play bridge on Wednesday and Thursday while I’m in Grand Rapids. While the bidding and play of the cards can be challenging, one of the best parts of the experience is the neat people you meet. What an interesting dichotomy of retired teachers, lawyers, accountants, bankers, housewives, etc. One of those special persons is Annette Vogelsang. She was an excellent school teacher in her previous life, or at least that’s what I’ve been told, and brings that “I’m in charge!” attitude when she directs or makes chit chat before and after playing bridge with her. While some members may be intimidated, I like her a lot. She is a caring person who tries her best to make the bridge experience something positive for new players and folks like me who need a healthy diversion. And Annette loves to read. Her eyes light up and her face sparkles when she starts talking about a good book she’s just read. As an author, I love seeing and feeling her positive energy. In fact, it’s Annette’s animated, enthusiastic demeanor that I visualize when I’m hard at work marketing and promoting Mama’s Club. Annette is my “poster child image” for how I want people to react after reading my book. Good visualization of a happy reader is a must for any new author who believes they can write well and tell compelling stories.