Laura Haley-McNeil

8/27/17, Hanging onto Summer

Hello, Everyone!

This summer had so many wonderful moments with my niece graduating from college and my nephew marrying a beautiful young woman whom we all love. They honeymooned in Thailand, which I think is so exciting. Then the ultimate summer moment for my husband and me was when we took an actual vacation and spent some time on the east coast. I love that part of the country – the people, the history, the architecture – and know so little about it. We met wonderful people and learned many interesting things.

There was also a sad moment this summer because we lost someone very precious to us, which is something I’ll share at a later time.

Now that the kids are back in school, I’m gearing up for fall. Even though the weather is still nice this time of year, and I can spend time in the yard, I’m trying to focus on the house. We’ve spent the past two years remodeling. I now have a new kitchen and two new bathrooms. The house has been carpeted and painted. I still have furniture to buy, but may have to wait until next year for that. Last year, I bought a loveseat and an armchair and ottoman for our family room which is very tiny. It used to be the breezeway between the garage and the laundry room. The furniture was large and didn’t fit into the family room very well, but I was determined to make it work. Unfortunately, the furniture didn’t seem to be designed for sitting. I use this room as my office, though I try to keep it looking like a family room. I sit in the loveseat so I can look out the window at the patio and flower garden while I type on my laptop. I don’t have a desk – only my lap. A music stand holds my notes. Needless to say the cushion in the loveseat started to look shabby. I don’t have a lot of time to sit in it as I still have a day job and spend most of time at work, though I write in the evenings and on weekends so that’s when I sit in the loveseat. The furniture company tried to fix the cushion but it still collapsed so I had to return it. I’m now using a chair and hassock that my mother gave me years. That will have to do until I have time to buy new furniture which may be awhile. I’m trying to finish a couple of books before the end of the year and don’t want to spend any free time shopping.

When my husband and I married, we both owned grand pianos. Though I’ve never performed, I love to play. My husband has retired from performing. We converted one bedroom in our house into a studio where my husband teaches privately. We knocked out the window and installed a set of French doors so his students could have a direct entrance into the studio and not have to meander through the house. Our home was built in the 1930s and has undergone several additions and modifications. It’s still tiny so you can imagine what it was like initially. It only had one bedroom! When we began our remodeling project, I decided to sell my piano. It sat in the living room which made the room seem even smaller than it was. We had only used this piano for piano recitals, but times have changed and we no longer host the piano recitals. Because I wanted to remodel, we asked the owner of a piano store to sell the piano for us. That was almost 2 years ago. The piano still hasn’t sold. That makes me sad to think that fewer people are interested in studying piano. When I was young, everyone I knew owned a piano. It seems children’s interests are now directed elsewhere.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to finish a couple of books before the end of the year. I surprised myself by actually finishing a book this summer. It started out at 50,000 words, then I sent it to my editor. She suggested I cut some of the characters and plotlines. Now the book is 40,000 words. I wish I had thought of these changes before so I wouldn’t have written an extra 10,000 words. Never fear, though, I saved all the deletions into a separate file and will post these on my website. I always find it interesting to read what didn’t make it in a book. Just like scenes that have been cut from a movie. I remember a creative writing class I took in college where the professor brought in an edited manuscript from some famous writer. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the author’s name. We compared his original manuscript to his final manuscript. The changes were remarkable. This author had worked very hard to craft his writing. I can’t remember any of the details, but there was one paragraph that started out as a couple of sentences and through the editing had transformed into nearly a page. All that sort of thing fascinates so I’m sorry if I’m boring you.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and can spend some time outdoors doing something fun or there’s always my favorite option – curling up with a good book! I’m still downloading books to my ereader so I need to get busy and find some time to read them.

Have a wonderful and blessed week!