Monthly Archives: April 2019

Winter is Here (Still)



Yesterday was a mish-mash of relaxed urgency for a Sunday, reading the paper and then running to Costco to remedy a billing debacle, and the excited hurry-up-and-wait drama of the return of Games of Thrones. By 9:00, I was ready to retreat to my cave and just watch all the reunion-y goodness and the requisite badness of GOT. Personally, I think it was worth the wait.

In keeping with the GOT winter theme in my little cave, it’s snowing here in Ohio this morning. After several days of temps in the 60s and 70s, the budding tulips and fragile spring flowers are getting one more soft white blanket. One can only hope that it won’t last long and is not a harbinger of still more winter to come–or the coming of the Knight’s King (according to GRRM) which would not surprise me in the least.

On to other things: Chapter 3 in the saga of George Fairweather. I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

Chapter 3

George was happy to discover that William would be spending the entire summer with her great-aunt Harriett over on Wilbersham Terrace, just a hop, skip, and a jump from George’s own front porch. It took no time at all for the girls to work out a routine of reading, laughing, and playing during their long warm days of summer. George’s mother soon grew accustomed to leaving a muffin and a cup of milk on the counter by the back door rather than scolding George for not eating a proper breakfast.

“No time!’ George would shout as she scooted out the back door. She would, however, take a moment to drink the milk and grab the muffin, more often than not stuffing it into her pocket to share with William which was better than nothing, her mother figured. She often didn’t see her daughter again until just before dark when George would come running through the back door, skidding across the linoleum to beat her curfew.

“The light on Maple just blinked on!” she’d announce breathless, having run all the way from William’s.

“Wash your hands…” Rita began,

“…and your face and tidy up,” George finished for her. “I know, I know. I’m a mess.”

Wash up finished, George would sit with her mother for an early supper, usually a light meal of tuna sandwiches or a casserole and peas.

“Anything interesting happening in the village?” her mother would always inquire.

“Not really,” was the standard answer, although George could be counted on to dish the details if anything at all was going on.

“Did you hear about Mrs. Crawford’s tumble down the stairs?” George asked. “She had a doctor’s appointment and was supposed to meet her sister Ruth at the curb for a ride. When she didn’t come out, Ruth went in and found poor Mrs. Crawford all in a jumble at the foot of the stairs, knocked out cold—or so she said.”

“Who said?” her mother asked, daintily picking at her food.

“Mrs. Crawford’s sister Ruth.” George stopped eating her sandwich and looked directly at her mother. “I’ve heard her yell at Mrs. Crawford in the grocery, telling her to hurry up, nudging her sharply. I wouldn’t be surprised if she batted her sister over the head and knocked her out just to make the story more interesting. I’ll bet Mrs. Crawford had simply fallen and was probably calling for help.”

Rita sighed loudly. “Now, sweetheart, there’s no need to elaborate on the facts. A tumble down the stairs at Mrs. Crawford’s age could very well have knocked her unconscious. I doubt very much if her sister would do something as mean as hitting her sister after such an event. Where do you get such outlandish ideas?”

George gazed off into the distance, thinking. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Maybe too much television.”

“Then I suppose we should put a limit on how much you watch. Or maybe just stick to uplifting programs.”

Rita doubted television made much of an impact on her daughter. As a family they rarely watched TV, all three, mother, father, and daughter, preferring books to television, especially her daughter who since she’d learned to read at the age of three, was determined to read into the wee hours of the morning. Turning out the bedroom light and going to sleep had long since been a battle Rita had rarely won. Her daughter preferred to go to school happily sleepy rather than go to sleep not knowing how a story ended. Rita understood and only very rarely enforced the midnight lights out rule. She herself could stay up reading until dawn and with only an occasional yawn or two, make it all the way through the day and into evening. Reading through to the end of a book was a happy thrill only superseded by the thrill of beginning a new one. So, Rita and her daughter were constantly in a state of happy satisfaction or even happier anticipation.

Unless, of course, the book they were reading was a real stinker which happened now and again. When that was the case, there was no happiness to be found in the Wilson household for everyone knew it from the grumbles and sighs and angry exhortations that bounced through the house at all hours.

“You really must enforce the lights out rule,” Howard often said to Rita. “I don’t know that I can stand night after night of this.” This being the groans and shouts coming from their daughter’s room. Rita empathized with her husband but unerringly knew that once the book was finished—and most likely buried in the back yard or burned in the trash heap—her daughter would find another to take its place and all would be right with the world again. Perhaps. Hopefully.

Summertime was a wonderful spate of solace in the Wilson household as Howard worked long hours, coming home long after dark, and Rita spent most of her day lounging in the back yard, contemplating weeding the flowers and/or planting a vegetable garden. Yard work was always on her to do list but somehow never managed to bubble to the top, languishing idly at the bottom waiting for Rita to feel inspired which she almost never did. She’d bought a houseplant once and set it on the front porch to catch the light and a little air. The spindly carcass of the plant was ultimately tossed out with the rubbish, pot and all, as Rita had forgotten about it once she’d set it outside. Forgetfulness seemed to be a Wilson family trait, although they were all meticulously punctual about returning library books. They might forget to eat or buy tea or turn the wash into the dryer, but they always always always returned their library books on time if not before they were due.

Mrs. Paschal, the head librarian at the main library, believed it was so they could call in library favors such as being the first on the list when an anxiously awaited book was due from the publishers. Or an extra five minutes to select a book right at closing time when everyone had been shooed out and poor Mrs. Paschal stood waiting to lock the doors. She always obliged mostly because the Wilsons were such nice friendly people but always with a mind to the knowledge that they had never in all the years she’d known them returned a book after its due date. Nor would they ever. “It would have to be a matter of life and death, I do believe,” Mrs Paschal said to Merry Beecham one afternoon when the Wilson child came scurrying in just before closing time to return a stack of books as tall as she.

“My mother’s, mine, and the one on the bottom is my father’s,” the child said brightly. “I’ll be quick,” she’d said as she lit off to the young adult section to make her selection. Merry Beecham had to agree. “I’m quite sure nothing could keep them away.”


Now here she stood, that same child now a grown woman, at the counter of the genealogical wing of the Windham Library in Sussex County asking for assistance in locating George Fairweather.

“I’ve traced the name to here,” George explained, “to the county seat. It seems Mr. Fairweather was a man of some prominence—or perhaps it was his family. I’m not sure. I only know that the records have led me here to Sussex County and I was wondering…”

“If we have any information, a book, microfiche perhaps, that will help you in your search.” The librarian on the other side of the counter gave George a whimsical look and then smiled. “That’s what we do here, Miss. Genealogy. We help people find their ancestors.”

George smiled shyly, her face turning pink. “Well, of course. That’s why I’m here,” she admitted.

“Now, what was the family name? Fairweather you said?” The librarian’s face seemed open and kind but her eyes were lasers of intensity. George felt exposed somehow, under the woman’s gaze.

“Yes, George Fairweather.”

“Let me check,” the librarian said turning away, her fingers fairly flying over the keyboard in front of her. “Well, it seems you’re in luck,” she announced almost instantly. “There are quite a few references for the name Fairweather as well as several for George Fairweather in particular. Give me just a moment and I’ll print them for you.”

Walking to the printer on the desk behind the counter, the librarian explained the information she was about to give George. “Each entry will have a reference number with title, page, and date published. Several of our volumes are under lock and key so it will be necessary for you to fill out a form requesting that the volumes be pulled for you to review. I can take care of that for you with a little more information.”

The librarian handed George the paper she’d torn from the printer which was quite a bit longer than George had expected.

“Looks like you have your work cut out for you,” the young woman said with a grin. “The volumes marked with an asterisk are in the private collection. I’ll give you a minute to peruse the list and then let me know if you’d like to make an appointment to review them.”

George stood with the list in hand, immediately struck by the smallness of the print and the number of entries cascading down the page. It might take weeks to get through each and every reference. Perhaps she had not allotted enough time for her research after all.

“You may find a seat in the alcove if you’d like,” the librarian suggested. “There are tables and chairs and a desk or two if you’d prefer.”

George stepped in that direction, just to the right of the reference counter and into the path of a dark haired young woman standing behind her waiting in line.

“I’m sorry,” George said as she relinquished her spot in front of the counter. Turning back to the librarian George offered a quick thank you.

“No problem,” the librarian said, focusing her intense gaze on her next customer.


George stepped up to the counter once more, laying out the printout with the references for the librarian to see.

“I’ve highlighted the volumes I’d like to review,” she said. “I’m not sure they’re all necessary but I want to at least look through them while I’m here.”

The librarian looked at the clock behind her. “We’ll be closing in twenty minutes. If you’d like to leave the list, perhaps I could pull the volumes and have them ready for you tomorrow. I can reserve a carol in your name or a private study if you’d like.”

George glanced at her own watch. “I thought the library closed at seven.”

“Except on Wednesdays,” the librarian said. “We close at four on Wednesdays.”

“Then I’d like to leave the list if you don’t mind. Or perhaps make a copy?”

The librarian picked up George’s list and walked to the copier that boasted a sign reading, “10 cents per copy.” George dug in her pocket for a dime but was waved away when the librarian returned. “This is for me,” the librarian said handing back George’s list. “No charge for you.”

George smiled. “Thanks. What time do you open tomorrow?”

“Nine on Thursdays. I get in about eight so I’ll pull the volumes you’ve selected and look around for anything else I think might be of help to you.”

“That’s very kind of you,” George said.

“No problem,” the librarian smiled. “Now, let me get your name so I can reserve a private study.”

George hesitated, suddenly—and for the first time—felt flustered about giving her name. “George,” she said tentatively. “George Fairweather.”

The librarian looked up sharply in surprise. “Really?”

“Really,” George replied.

“George F.,” the librarian wrote on her schedule, marking an “x” on study 301 on a seating chart. “I’ll see you tomorrow, George.”

“Yes, and thank you,” George said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

George turned to walk away but decided to ask one last question. “May I have your name?” she asked, “so I know who to ask for in the morning.”

“I’ll be the only one here in the morning,” the librarian demurred.

George nodded and turned away.

“But I’ll tell you my name anyway,” the librarian continued. “My name is Michael. Michael Everest.”

George smiled and kept on walking jauntily all the way back to the inn.

(to be continued)



It’s My Turn!

create space


I’ve been working on a new novel, The Tunnel, that I hope will be finalized and ready for publication within the next few weeks. But as most writers know, it’s often advantageous to step away from the book after it’s been sent off for editing and review, to refrain from tweaking and rewriting. (It’s also fun to play around with images for the book’s cover, hence the photo above, a shot of Coos Bay, OR.) So, in the spirit of respite from Cassandra Benniver and Fenrick Banta and their ensuing complications, I’ve been working on another story. Or, I should more truthfully say, a story has been working on me.

While in the throes of writing, it’s not unusual for a character to whisper in my ear. It’s also not unusual for a character to wake me from a sound sleep, shouting for me to, “Get up and write my story!” Such is the case of George Fairweather, a character who has become a frequent companion over the past few months.

In order to placate my own sense of wasting-away-with-nothing-to-do while I wait for reviews, and to silence this character’s pleas of, “It’s my turn!” I have decided to open the door of my comfy cave and introduce you to George Fairweather.

As of this morning, this story has no title. I don’t know if this is a short story, a novella, a full-blown novel, or just a ramble inside my head. In any case, I intend to release snippets of George’s story over the coming weeks.


Her name was Martha. Martha’s name was Martha only because her grandmother’s name was Martha. There was no standing beside the bassinet, her parents lovingly looking for clues as to the name of their sweetest darling daughter. There was no debate, no decision, really. No, it was decided that Martha’s name would be Martha long before her conception, long before her parents’ marriage, in fact, long before Howard had ever laid eyes on Rita.

Howard’s mother’s name was Martha, the perfect name, the most lovely of names, and Howard had decided that should God ever bless him with a baby girl, he would name her after his mother. So Martha was Martha, although she never felt her name fit her exactly. Long, flexible limbs and an agile personality were not the traits of a stodgy, old fashioned name like Martha in Martha’s mind. But there was no going back, no do-overs, no change-ups. Her name was Martha and that was that.

Until Martha became George, that is.

Out of respect, she’d waited for the death of both of her parents before deciding to legally change her name. And while she was at it, and just for kicks more than anything else, or so she told herself in unguarded moments, Martha Wilson became George Fairweather, for if Martha was anything at all she was the utter definition of a fair weather friend.

George Fairweather was born on August 28 at four fifteen in the afternoon. Or so says the blue clerk’s stamp beside the judge’s signature at the bottom of the document making it so. The original petition and the final order are forever married in a blue folder kept in the top right hand sock drawer of George’s bureau. Even now, after so many years, it’s still wedged in among wool knee highs and dress silks, white tubes and gray athletics, socks for any occasion George likes to think, although most are brand new and just for show. Just like the rows of dark suits and starched white shirts that crowd her closet. And the brown and black leather shoes lined up like soldiers ready for battle. Someday, they whisper. Someday, we’ll march out the door and down the street. Someday. (The socks know better, however. Never, they whisper back. And the suits agree.) But George was born long before the ink dried on vellum, long before the years of waiting finally came to a close, even before Howard and Rita made the exciting announcement to family and friends that they were, happily, having a baby girl. The spark of George existed. The how and when of it seemed inconsequential. The embodiment of George Fairweather was an undeniable fact and one that Martha relished.

“What if I’d been born in a small town?” George often asked herself, usually on Sunday afternoons as she sat on her patio and watched the seagulls fly in circles above the ocean. “What if everyone knew me, knew my parents, knew my likes and dislikes? What if I’d had to start over from scratch and everyone knew every detail of my business? Hell, oh hell, oh hell!” she lamented often. Although she’d never had to start over or hide from her neighbors or be afraid she’d run into someone who knew Martha or her mother or father. Her neighbors came and went with regularity, always a new face, a new name to remember. But George never remembered the face or the name. On the rare occasions that she met someone in the hallway, opening or closing a door, George merely sighed and hurried out, down the hallway, down the stairs, out the door, and gone. She scattered her visits to lunch counters and diners all around town, making a game of finding new and exciting places to eat where she didn’t recognize a single face. If a waitress fixed her with an eye of recognition, she was out the door like a shot, settling into the back booth of a new burger place a block or two or three away where she was sure that no one knew her name.

Martha’s life had been a piece of cake; George’s life was pie all the way.

Chapter 1

“So, let me get this straight,” the interviewer said again. That seemed to be her favorite phrase, let me get this straight, as though the words and thoughts expressed had somehow formed a crooked line that she couldn’t quite follow.

“Yes?” George said, waiting. “What is it you don’t quite understand?”

“You legally changed your name to George. From Martha to George, not with the Washingtons in mind, I suppose.”

George winced at the blonde giggle that followed.

“Not at all,” George replied.

“And you represent yourself in public as a woman.”

“I am a woman,” George confirmed.

“And you don’t consider yourself transgender. You don’t think of yourself as a man trapped in a woman’s body.” Another blonde giggle.

“No,” George replied with a sigh. Here we go again.

“Then why change your name? Why go to all the trouble and expense of petitioning the court to legally change your name? Why all the fuss and bother?”

George blinked. And blinked again. “I never thought of changing my name as fuss and bother. It was no trouble at all and the expense was actually quite minimal. Four hundred dollars, actually. I don’t consider that an exorbitant expense to legally change one’s name.”

“But why bother?” the interviewer asked. “If there is no medical or psychological reason to change your name, why not just remain Martha? Why did you feel the need to become George Fairweather?”

“Because that’s who I am,” George said. “I am George Fairweather. For as long as I can remember, from the point just prior to my conception and for eons before, I have known myself to be George Fairweather.”

“But how can you know that? How can you possibly know that you are who you think you are? Or better yet…”

That thought, whatever it was, ended mid-sentence.

The interviewer’s blank stare startled George.

“Are you okay?” she asked. Looking around, George waved to the director, to the camera man, to the people standing just off camera for help. “I believe she needs assistance,” George said quietly.

George had seen this reaction before, this catatonic stare, the dead eyes of people thrust into a moment of realization. Not quite an epiphany, not quite an awakening, more like a blunt whack on the head, when understanding descended there seemed to be a short in the circuitry, a moment of paralysis, and an irrevocable shift in perception.

“Oh,” the interviewer mumbled. “I think I understand.”

George stood up and removed the microphone from the neck of her sweater, looping the wire around her fingers before handing it to the set coordinator who’d come onstage.

“She’ll be fine,” George said to no one in particular. “A cup of tea and she’ll be good as new.”

George blanched at her own lie, fumbled with her purse, and moved through the burgeoning crowd to the exit at the back of the studio.

“Thank you,” George whispered to the man at the door, a young boy manning the exit, maintaining security during the interview. “I’ve had a lovely time.”


The interview would never make it to the six o’clock news. Or the eleven o’clock news for which it was intended. “It was a stretch anyway,” the news director decided. “So a woman changed her name? What’s the big deal?” which was precisely what George was thinking when she’d been contacted. “What’s the big deal?” she’d asked. “Women have been named traditional men’s names forever. Michael, David, Riley, Morgan, and I’m sure there’s a George in there somewhere. Yes, women use masculine pen names, alter egos, camouflage. And yes, this is different. I don’t have an agenda. There’s no rhyme or reason other than that I know for a fact that I am George, George Fairweather to be exact.”

Perhaps it was the knowing part that had intrigued the reporter. Perhaps it was the lurking hidden story that had seemed strange and unusual. For George, there was no part of her story that was strange or unusual or campy or funny or outside the realm of normal. George felt blessed to have been born with such a strong understanding of who she was. She’d never had a moment of floundering uncertainty about her identity, her name, her place in the world. Only respect for her parents had kept her from becoming George Fairweather much earlier in her life. Her parents, her rigidly religious, non-spiritual, closed-minded parents would have been appalled to hear that sweet little Martha longed to be called George. It would have broken their hearts and that is one thing George would not consider. For all their right-minded, wrong-headed intentions, George loved her parents deeply and unashamedly. She would no more inflict on them her own beliefs than burn their house to the ground. George was patient and kind and considerate of her parents, of everyone in general, and so she had waited until she felt the freedom from their watchful eyes.

George’s lawyer, a thoughtful and competent man in his sixties, filed two petitions following the death of George’s parents by misadventure. [Her father had never been a great driver but over the years, his reflexes had diminished to the point where George refused to ride with him even on short trips to the local grocery.]

“There’s no real need to wait,” Mr. Cumberson had explained to George. “The coroner’s preliminary report is in. Your father simply ran off the road albeit at a very unfortunate turn. At this point, we can begin the probate of your parents’ estate and file for your name change simultaneously, get all of the paperwork out of the way at once.”

Both would be simple processes with all the records in order. As sole beneficiary, everything in her parents’ estate came to George who promptly sold the house, the cars, the jewelry, the furniture, and donated everything else to charity. George discarded everything that held an attachment to Martha right down to the tiny baby socks her mother had knitted so long ago. The only item George kept was a quilt made by her great grandmother. This she spread on her own bed each night, sleeping under the comfort of her own personal piece of history.

(to be continued)