Saturday, March 19, 2016

Giving Thanks

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Another list! Soon, I'll have to make a list of my lists. Don't worry, I'm through with ranting and venting. (Sounds like the name of a law firm, doesn't it? Ranting & Venting, LLC.) Today, I'm sharing a list of what I'm grateful for. It's always a little easier to be grateful on the weekend, don't you think?

1.  Computers. Specifically, computer writing programs. Our mechanical-digital friends are so ubiquitous they tend to fade into the background of our lives, but I remember typing all my papers in college and grad school on my electric typewriter. I literally cannot imagine writing an entire novel - suitable for submission - that way. No wonder writers of yore drank so much. You'd have to, just to get through all the backing up, erasing and retyping. 

2.  Retinol-A. If you're old enough to know what this is, you know why I'm grateful for it. If it sounds like a vitamin to you, bless you, my sweet summer child. Enjoy your youth and dewy skin. 

3.  Cheap flowers at the grocery store. Because it's nice to pick up a bunch of cheer for ten or twelve dollars on your way home, even if you live in East Podunk, like I do.

4.  Enormous special-effect movies. Practically the only thing that lures us away from the dvd player is the opportunity to see aliens invade, or a huge ship sinking, or earthquakes destroy California (sorry, west coast readers!) I mean, I love other, more grown-up films - I thought Spotlight was one of the best flicks I've seen in years - but do I really need to see it on a supersized screen with Dolby Surround Sound? At ten bucks a pop? (And we're on the cheap side of tickets here in Maine. I understand they're more expensive most other places.) Plus, if you stick to movies filled with booming, blasting and blowing up, it's harder to hear the people who just won't stop talking. 

5.  Sorry, that kind of devolved into a rant, didn't it.

6.  Daylight Savings Time! (Turning that frown upside down now.) Because I really do love having a cookout and drinks with friends on the patio while it's still light at 9pm. 

7.  This winter. I feel more than a little guilty about being so pleased with our super-mild season this year. I know it's a preview of the warmer world we're all facing. But damn, it was nice to only have to shovel out the driveway three times. I saved a ton of money on heating oil and I'm willing to have to start dosing our pets with flea and tick repellent in February for the pleasure of hearing songbirds and peepers in March.

8.  Books in all their varied forms: hardcover and paper, digital and audio, from bookstores and libraries, by mail and by download. We are living in the Golden Age of literacy and accessibility, with more books available to more people in more places than ever before. I want to remember to appreciate that, not just as a writer, but as a very happy reader.

9.  A good cup of tea. Having tea with Rhys one time, I learned I take mine "builders' style" - ridiculously strong and sweet. Tea is that good friend who greets me first thing in the morning, keeps me company throughout the day, and helps me make it through the evening if I have to pick someone up from the train station at 11pm. You can substitute coffee - and most of you probably do - but the great advantage of tea is that you can have so much more of it before you start to twitch.

10.  Jungle Reds. Writing is a lonely profession. Writing as a woman, with children (grown or not) spouses, grandkids, community and business obligations, is a difficult haul sometimes. Having  a group of friends to see you though is priceless, and having a great community of commenters to talk with every day is a blessing. Thanks for being here, everybody. 

What are you grateful for, dear readers?


  1. What a great list, Julia [but I'm still grumbling about Daylight Savings Time] . . . YES to books and Jungle Red writers and readers and libraries and bookshops.

    Other things I'm grateful for:
    daffodils, lilacs, and all those spring flowers popping up in the garden . . .
    tea is great, but I'm also grateful for really good coffee.

  2. It shouldn't go without saying that we're grateful for the Internet and this blog and all the wonderful writers and readers we meet here . . . .

  3. Oh Julia you really are the best!
    Right now I'm grateful for grandbabies whose sweetness blocks out anything you might be feeling crabby about at the moment.

  4. Aww. I love you all too . I'm grateful for my garden, which is pushing up tulips and daffodils right now, and it always is so reassuring. The ducks are back in the pool! That is somehow so precious.
    ( I must respectfully however disagree about the special-effects movie. I just want to watch the movie--The Martian was ruined by my rocking seat and by having mist puffed on me. )
    I am also grateful for on-demand and DVR. Sadly.
    And that somehow I wound up in this book world… Not quite sure how that happens, but I am thankful every day.

  5. We don't have a garden, but I'm grateful for the crocuses and daffodils I can see in our courtyard and on my walks.

    And, of course, Hank's ducks.

  6. Oh, Julia, I thought you meant. 4 D movies. Really, they are so annoying. But big big action movies, oh yes!

  7. What a good list, and except for DST, I pretty much agree with all of it. I'd add one thing though:

    I am beyond grateful for Kindle. Yes I know it doesn't smell nor feel like a hardback book (bewk, if Catriona is reading this), but I read as opposed to smelling or feeling. I bought the first Kindle on the market, which is long since retired but resting in the original box. I was happily called an early adopter.

    Prior to Kindle, I pretty much bought books by weight. Since they all cost pretty much the same, I felt I had to get my money's worth, aiming for 400 plus pages. I made one trip per month to a book (bewk)store, and I spent about a hundred dollars. This got me 4-6 good reads per month, and most were good reads even if I had to guess at the quality.

    Now I am retired, and I read 5-7 books a week. Do the math all you writers. I spend a large portion of my discretionary income on Kindle books. Amazon loves me.

    Kindle, I love you so much that I sleep with you. Never fear that I would leave you for a Nook. I am ever faithful and thankful that I have the whole world of books at my fingertips.

    BTW, so far WAR AND PEACE is the best bang for the buck.

  8. Books and friends and Jungle Red Writers and pets and family and my sister and my husband--I give thanks!!

    And also, living in this country, even as bizarre and crazy as it seems right now...

  9. That first cup of tea (Irish breakfast) in the morning. Amen, Julia!

  10. A great way to start any day, Julia, and I share many of your listed gratitudes--except DST--I get the later hours of sunshine, but my body clock just can't cope--

    I love JRW--I am grateful that I can read--grateful that there are books books books always something new, always something funny, something thought provoking, something sweetly entertaining, something to reaffirm humanity. And even if someday I can't see, I can still 'read'--audiobooks are wonderful companions even now--when I'm quilting, for example.

    I too am grateful for the easy winter---for the swelling buds, the green shoots, the sweet warm breezes, the shedding of coats and hats and scarves.

    But most of all, I am grateful for my loved ones--my friends, my extended family, my sibs, my nephews--especially the two youngest, who fill my home with music and laughter and, um, cats--who, it turns out, provoke much spontaneous laughter and cuddles as well.

  11. What a great list, Julia. And yes, I love my daily trip to JRW - such a great community.

    I'm grateful for my critique group (we meet tomorrow - yay); they make me a better writer.

    I'm grateful for my blog sisters at Mysteristas, who are very supportive and encouraging.

    And right now, sitting with my tea, I'm grateful for quiet Saturday mornings, the calm before the storm (although the boys are off at a Scout thing, so no tumult there today).

  12. I'd add the rare mornings I get to wake up without the alarm clock and slowly start my day. Our usual mornings involve getting two teenage girls up and out the door for school or sports, so not so calm and unhurried as I'd like! Your list is perfect; even the DST because I, too, love to sit on the screened in porch and watch the daylight fade at 9pm.

  13. For Lent this year, I decided to try every day to make note of things for which I am grateful, things both big and small.Last week Daylight Saving Time made it on my list. I am also grateful for warmer weather, for a furnace that works (had to get a new one in the fall after weeks and weeks of having a repair man in). Also, I am grateful for my Kindle on the days when arthritis makes it difficult to hold a book; this way I never run out of reading material. I am grateful for the pleasure and the knowledge that I get through books. I am grateful for my sweet grandniece. I am grateful for my job, for health insurance, for my coworkers. I am grateful for leftovers, for refrigerators, microwave ovens, for chocolate. I am grateful for JRW. I am grateful for family and friends.

  14. Oh, and I am grateful that Julia gave us the opportunity to make this list today!

    Deb Romano

  15. I love this list. And I love thinking about the things I'm grateful for - the list is long. And, as luck would have it, I've been working on my next JRW post and it's going to be a little photo piece about the things I love. I'm having fun doing it and don't you enjoy the heck out of serendipity? (On my list of things I'm grateful for - my camera).

  16. Julia! I love your list, and am with you on every single thing--except I've never tried Retinol-A. Maybe I should? But I'll replace that with CC (color-correcting) lotions and foundations, which for the first time in my life make me look not-yellow.

    Tea, of course tea! Although a good latte is nice occasionally.

    I'm even on board with Daylight Saving, now that I've got over the shock to the system.

    I would add that I'm grateful, very very grateful, for the ability to string a few words together into something that people might want to read.

    And like Hallie, I'm grateful for the adorableness of grandbabies--and even more grateful that I get to cuddle mine almost every day!

  17. I have no argument with Daylight Savings Time.
    It means when I go for my morning walk in south Florida it isn't quite as hot yet.
    Just quit changing back and forth!

  18. Deborah Romano, I love your "grateful every day" idea! I'm going to use that next year for Lent.

    And Hank, I've never experienced "4D" movies - I can't go to 3D because they give me headaches - but it sounds awful. Misted by water? Did they also pipe in the smells of the human waste he used to compost potatoes? Yuch!

  19. I'm grateful for books and the authors who write them. I've been a bookworm my entire life. I'm grateful for my husband who puts up with me (that's a two-way street though!) I'm grateful that I have good friends and family that I actually like and love. I'm grateful to be able to travel from time to time. I'm grateful for JRW that has introduced me to so many wonderful authors. I'm grateful for the scent of blooming flowers here in the spring. I'm about to go pick up my granddaughter at the airport for her spring break and I'm grateful that it is not raining. Yet. Oh. Also I'm grateful for BBCAmerica and PBS and various channels with wonderful programs.

  20. I'm grateful for books, libraries, librarians, booksellers, and, of course, authors, without whom I couldn't be grateful for the first four. JRW heads the list as they have given me hours of reading pleasure and introduced so many new authors and authors new to me. Thank you.

    I'm the odd duck (and ours just returned to the community pool a couple of weeks ago) who doesn't care for DST. Just stop switching back and forth. It'll still be lighter longer as we progress through spring and summer; who cares what the clock says?

    I do a "frequently grateful list" since my cancer diagnosis and, yes, am grateful for that diagnosis as it's brought so much more into my life to be grateful for.

    And ditto Pat D.'s comments about BBCAmerica and PBS programs.


  21. I like your list, too, Julia, although I would have added dead British writers (Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, Collins, Trollope, and Ruth Rendell, P. D. James, and Dorothy Sayers among many others. I suppose I could throw in a few Americans, too: Melville, Hawthorne, most of Henry James, and some of Twain).

    I don't know how Ann managed to spend only $100 a month on books and survived; books have always been my drug of choice, even if it's just to look at all of that potential on my swaybacked shelves waiting to be savored--or re-savored, in the case of books I have had to buy again because I gave them away thirty or more years ago.

    And good tea. I'm also learning the joys of herbals (tisanes, Hercule Poirot would have called them), especially ginger, as introduced to me by my friend and fellow commenter Cindy Brown.

    And this blog, of course, where I learn so much about who's writing what, who's reading what, and the marvelous successes so many of you are enjoying in the writing life.

  22. Julia, what a wonderful list and wonderful topic today. My first activity on the computer every day is coming to the Jungle Reds Blog, where I feel so at home and where I learn so much and am introduced to new amazing authors. I love to read the comments of others here and feel like I know these dear people, even though I've not met them. As well as being introduced to new authors, I'm always excited to see a favorite author of mine appear here too, and, of course, keeping up with what the Reds authors are doing and writing is especially exciting. I'm so thankful for this blog and how it has enriched my life.

    I'm thankful for my extended book family, too, gained through attending Bouchercon and reading mystery/crime. It is such a generous, loving community of authors, publishing people, fellow-bloggers, and readers. I have so many to share my reading passion with and learn so much from so many. The mystery/crime community has to be one of the best places to be in the book world.

    Like Hallie and Debs, I'm most grateful for my grandchildren, who indeed make any day a good one. I pick up my six-year-old granddaughter from kindergarten on Wednesdays (even though it's an hour away, it's our day), and we never fail to actually run into each others arms when she comes out the school door. My fifteen-year-old granddaughter and I just this last week discovered we both love the Sherlock show with Benedict Cumberbatch and watched an episode together. Both girls love reading, and I'm ecstatically thankful for that. We share reading, which is so much fun. Six-year-old is reading Goosebumps and Harry Potter, which I gave her, and she gave me her copy of Just So Stories to read. Fifteen-year-old and I recently shared Rainbow Rowell's books and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

    I'm a coffee addict, so I'm grateful for coffee and my Bunn Coffee Maker that is swift to produce my black elixir in the morning so that I can think and function. Coffee is a comfort thing for me, too. It just feels so good to have a cup of coffee by my side when I am reading and in my happy place.

    Oh, there are so many basic things I'm thankful for and so many extraordinary, too. I'm thankful for running water and I'm thankful for the majesty of the mountains. Again, Julia, I thank you for setting this tone for my day today.

  23. Ann, I feel the same way about Nook, that I also bought the first version of. I'm now on my fifth version, but happily read via the Nook app on three other devices, including my smartphone.

    So I'm grateful for the technology that lets me carry around an encyclopedia, my personal library, as many tunes as I care to hear, my calendar, access to every friend and relative I have, and instant weather/news/stock reports/etc, all in one small device that fits in my pocket.

    And I'm so grateful for social media, including this blog. Peace out, Girl Scouts.

  24. I'm also grateful for my Red sisters. For my health. For the drive to keep writing and the ability to keep coming up with new ideas.
    For my iPhone, my iPad. I've been driving cross country, speaking at various stores and how easy to speak in the address and have my phone take me there.
    For Marriott beds. Such a great night's sleep!

  25. Flowers: Lately I've been buying myself those bunches of flowers at the grocery store. I didn't think I was a flower person per se though my husband gives them to me for our events. But they do brighten up the office when I have to stop by the store to pick something up on the way to work. :) A great splurge!