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Author Archives: Meredith Allen Conner

About Meredith Allen Conner

Mom and writer - which translates as a little crazy at times. Retired dogsled driver and Chihuahua manager. Fly-fisherwoman and avid reader.

Sweet Tea

I’m a Southern transplant, although I have to confess I lived in the South for only a few short months before I started walking. I’ve lived as a Yankee for almost my entire life. Honestly, I don’t tend to dwell on age old grudges, divisive politics or cultural differences very much at all. A few minutes here and there each year tends to satisfy the odd Confederate impulse. Usually after a season of watching Swamp People.

Until summer arrives.

Then every Southern part of me converges in full force in the form of Sweet Tea. Growing up, I had no idea that there was a different type of tea that did not involve a cup and a half of sugar per gallon. Mom made sun tea by floating tea bags in a gallon of water outside in the heat of the sun. Or she simply boiled a two quart pot and added the tea bags and then an equal amount of cold water. Either way, she added plenty of sugar.

The first time I ordered tea in a restaurant (in a Northern state of course), I thought my mouth would simply shrivel up with the sourness. I can still remember the horror. The last time I visited my relatives I noticed that many Southern restaurants will actually distinguish Sweet Tea from any other – and in my opinion flat out awful – tea. I’m sure this is due to the emphasis on healthy living these days. Which I am all for, as long as it doesn’t involve my beloved Sweet Tea.

I don’t drink it year round. My Southern side tends to rise with the temperature. Come October, it will fade and wait patiently for that first hot day again.

I think it has something to do with the fact that we visited my relatives during the summer months. It was like visiting a foreign country. I come from a long line of coal miners and farmers. Down to earth. Hardworking. Family at its core.

We’d all gather at my great-grandmother’s house. It had four rooms and a root cellar. Metal folding chairs were set all over her front yard – thirty at a minimum. Kids running and screaming. At least one dog and usually a couple of the wild cats she could never quite get rid of kept us kids entertained. Tables were set up and platters and bowls and plates of the most delicious fried, baked and boiled food competed for every inch of available space. And gallons of Sweet Tea.¬†At night we’d chase fireflies, listen to stories of days long passed until we couldn’t keep our eyes open for a second longer.

I still see fireflies and hear a soft drawl every time I drink a glass of Sweet Tea.

How about you? Any favorites from your youth that you still enjoy today?

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Plot Revisited

I love reading, I love finding new authors and I love to find authors who write something new and totally unexpected. But more than anything I love to read books that are different takes on a not so original plot.

There is something comforting and familiar to me about knowing the general plot line ahead of time. And I love to read an author’s take on that plot and see what new twists and turns she or he has added in.

My all time favorite? Beauty and the Beast. I love that fairy tale. I find it fascinating and intriguing. A woman falling in love with the man inside the beast. It always makes me sigh.

Christina Dodd has a new book out entitled “Wilder” which has a Beauty and the Beast plot line. I’ve never read one of her books. I will be picking up her book tomorrow. I can’t wait.

I do the same thing with certain characters. Is it a book about werewolves? Sign me up. A Seal? oh, yeah baby. Actually, that could be any man in uniform. I’m not picky.

My favorite heroines? The shy, not so attractive, socially awkward misfits. I love to cheer for them.

I’ve always been drawn towards certain books. They’re like that favorite blanket I had as a child. Patched, color-faded with ragged edges, it went everywhere I went. On trips to new places. In airplanes and boats. It was always there. The familiar with the new.

What about you? Do you have any favorite plot lines? Any heroines or heroes that get you time and again?

 
15 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Definition

My dictionary defines definition as: 1. A brief precise statement of what a word or expression means and 6. Somebody or something believed to represent or embody a particular idea or quality.

If I were to describe myself, I would list “writer” in the top four descriptions, even though I am (currently) an unpublished writer. I still consider myself to be a writer. I love words. I love reading words. I love writing. I am a writer.

Yet the other day I met someone new and when she asked me what I do for a living, I failed to mention writing. Why? Because I am not yet published. And in my mind that means I don’t qualify.

IN MY MIND.

After I had left this person, it bugged me. All the way home. Why hadn’t I mentioned writing? I think about it all the time. Characters and ideas are in a never-ending wrestling match in my head. It is a major part of who I am.

And yet . . .

I often fail to mention it. Because I am not yet published. In my mind that means I do not have the street credit. I can’t claim it. This enormous part of who I am. Every writer out there – published or unpublished – was once an aspiring writer with a story in their head.

I am a writer.

Yes, I am not published. Yet. But I am still a writer. It is who I am and part of who I will always be.

How do you define yourself?

 

 
14 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Idaho

 

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The Mating Call of Power Tools

We have three seasons where I live: Winter, Mud and Construction. Winter is about 8 months long. Mud Season is due to the fact that most of our roads are not paved – it makes life interesting and can begin and end at any time. Then there is Construction Season. It begins when the ground is clear of frost and goes until it freezes once more. Or right now.

The birds are out, the snow is in the mountains and not in the valley and the call is in the air. The deep throated roar of power tools.

They come in small to extremely large varieties. Some are mobile and some fixed. Most are stiff, while a few have flexible parts.

From the male point of view, these are not considered toys. They can be used recreationally, but only with the utmost care and reverence. The louder and more powerful the tool, the better. For a man, these tools are an extension of himself. They like to show off their tools – accompanied with manly Tim Allen grunts – point out their size and fire up their motors in thrilling displays of strength and mastery.

From the female point of view, these are objects that are to be admired in loving support of our significant others. We might comment on the size or the firmness or the power as we hold a tool in our hands, but we don’t put them on the same pedestal as men. We also understand the time and care that they need with regular oil and maintenance routines planned. However, they are there for a purpose. Handling one can be fun, but more often its use needs to be scheduled when we have the time.

Men are fascinated when women use power tools. This is in a completely different category than the chest thumping, masculine display with other men. When a woman picks up a power tool, men view it from another perspective entirely. They scrutinize technique. They make notes on the familiarity of the tool handler. And most importantly, they scope out the skill involved.

Construction Season has begun. Tools of all shapes and sizes are revving up their motors and structures are being erected every where.

Zzzz-zzzzz.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Bookstores

I live in a small town. Very small. We have one stoplight. One. When they installed it about five years ago it caused a major stir. People who live in small towns usually don’t like a lot of change. It’s one of the reasons they live in small towns. Change happens rarely and slowly.

I grew up in Minneapolis which, back then, was more of a small town masquerading as a larger city. I’ve lived over seas and in enormous cities with mind numbing populations. I’ve never minded change.

Until this past week.

Change has been happening all over the country in the past few years as a result of the economy. Some good and some bad and most because people are simply trying to stay afloat.

Last weekend our local bookstore closed.

I cannot even begin to describe how devastating this is to me. I have never lived in a town without a bookstore. I love reading. I love books. I love to wander around a bookstore and see what is out there. Smell the paper and the ink. Feel the creativity. Immerse myself in other worlds.

And on an entirely different level, it scares me. Does this mean that bookstores truly are becoming a thing of the past? Are e-books the future? I don’t have anything against e-books. I have a Kindle and it’s great for travel. The convenience is awesome.

But it’s not a real bookstore. There is something magical and special about bookstores. Holding a book in my hands. It would break my heart to live in a world without bookstores.

What’s your opinion? Paper books vs e-books? A combination of the two? Do you have a favorite bookstore?

 
12 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Fifty Shades of Love

There has been a lot said in the media about the book “Fifty Shades of Gray.” I haven’t read the book and I’m not planning on commenting on it. What I would like to comment on is the romance genre in general.

Romance – in books termed Romance – has always been bashed by the media. I’ve never understood it. Ever. Audiences can flock to romantic movies, read Shakespeare and Jane Austen and a countless number of other authors and books can be written about dating and love and how to spice up a marriage and as long as they are all labeled something else (romantic comedy, classic literature or self-help) then it is okay to talk about.

If it is a Romance then it is something to be giggled over, snickered at and never admitted to actually reading. They are bodice rippers, something women only read, the language is flowery and ludicrous and, gasp, there may even be a sex scene or two. Or maybe the entire book is just about sex.

Dreadful.

And yet, Romance books hit the best-seller lists all the time. Romance authors can actually make a living off of their craft. Readers like Romance.

The Romance genre encompasses a wide variety of sub-categories from sweet to erotica and everything in between. An Inspirational book will have more emphasis on religion than the intimate relationship and a book like Fifty Shades of Grey will have more emphasis on the intimate relationship. But they will both be about the romantic relationship between the two main characters.

Romance is about love. It has a happy ending.

Dreadful, isn’t it?

I read just about every category of book out there except war. Romance is my all time favorite. I love the characters in the books – the ordinary ones, the kick-butt ones, the ones that make me laugh. I love the plot twists – the crazy ones, the end of the world ones, the every day life ones. I love the different writing styles – the humorous, the sad, the ones that make my eyes pop wide.

Huh, that sort of sounds like almost any genre. Oh no, wait. All of these books are going to have a happy ending too. What a shame.

I love Romance. In my books and in my life. It’s a lovely thing.

What about you?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Idaho

 

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Life, Death, Irate Moose and a New Cosmic Rule

I was talking to my Dad once and he told me that I was six years old before I learned to stick my hands out to prevent major damage when I fell. I was both a clumsy child and a very slow learner. I wasn’t upset when my Dad told me this. In fact it explains a lot about me.

It certainly helps account for the reason I was chased into my house this morning by a moose.

We live in a small town in Eastern Idaho, surrounded by the Teton mountain range on one side and other smaller mountain ranges on two other sides. We don’t live in town, but about 7 miles out in the country. As far as the moose are concerned that doesn’t really matter – they’ve been known to trot through town as well – but they do prefer open spaces. Which is why I frequently check the yard before I let our dogs out. This particular morning I did not.

We have a 170 lb Newfoundland, 80 lb Yellow Lab and 6 lb Chihuahua. The Yellow Lab and Chihuahua were already outside when our Newfoundland started to bark to go outside. He is a sweet and lovable giant of a dog, but not terribly intelligent. We affectionately call him Doof.

Doof - our lovable, but not terribly intelligent Newfoundland.

I thought he had to go to the bathroom really badly. When he continued to bark after he went outside I realized – in my non-caffeinated brain – that there was probably an animal in the yard. We get moose and elk on a regular basis. In my pajamas, bare feet and without my glasses on, I went outside and peered around the edge of the garage.

There is no such thing as a small moose. Even blurry they are incredibly large. Especially if they are about 200 feet away.

Female moose - relatively happy and more than 200 feet away.

That’s when the chaos ensued.

I would also like to insert at this point that I think there should be a cosmic rule that no life and death situations should be allowed to happen before 7am.

I started yelling for the dogs who were doing doggie things like barking at the giant female moose and protecting their territory. Dogs feel that protecting their territory is their duty. Moose do not take kindly to this type of thinking. Especially when they are being barked at.

She put her head down and charged the Yellow Lab. The Yellow Lab never listens to me. I stopped yelling at the dogs and started screaming for my husband. He came out on our second story deck and hollered. The Yellow Lab always listens to him.

Yellow Lab who does not listen to me

I got the Yellow Lab inside and slammed the door.

Then I had my brilliant thought.

I needed to take more action in this situation.

I put on my husband’s shoes – 4 sizes too big – and went outside. With the moose, the Chihuahua and the Newfoundland.

I’ve lived long enough – and in this part of the country long enough – to know that a) the moose was really unhappy and felt very threatened with a large dog still barking at her b) I knew not to walk into the open – I stayed next to my husband’s pick up and c) I know Doof. We call him that for a reason.

I was at the end of my husband’s pick up. Doof about 15 feet away from me. The moose maybe 15 more feet beyond.

The Chihuahua became irrelevant at this point. Not that we don’t love him. We do. But he can fit under objects like pickup trucks.

Our Chihuahua as a puppy. Not much bigger now and easily able to fit under a truck and away from a rampaging moose.

I yelled for Doof, my husband (behind me at the door, in his boxers and nothing else) yelled at me and the moose lowered her head and swiveled her massive body.

Luckily for me, my thought process has sped up in the past 36 years.

I immediately decided that Doof should face the consequences of his actions on his own and turned around and hightailed it to the door. In my husband’s shoes – 4 sizes too big. Without my glasses and still unable to see clearly. I was able, however, to see the whites of my husband’s eyes and hear him screaming. Very loudly. At me.

As soon as I got within reach, he flung me inside, leapt in behind me and slammed the door. I turned to see the BACKSIDE of the moose as she rounded the truck, still chasing Doof. I figure she’d been less than 5 feet away when my husband flung me inside.

Doof underwent a spontaneous shift in thinking. It occurred to him – as he rounded the end of the truck with a very irate moose a hoofbeat away – that perhaps antagonizing animals 6 or 7 times his size is not the best idea. He continued on around the pickup and we opened the door when he reached it – sans rampaging moose this time. We let him in and shut the door.

The moose – hackles still raised – stood in the yard for several more minutes before continuing on her walk.

We went upstairs. The clock read 6:50 am. That’s when the new cosmic rule occurred to me. My husband offered me a cup of coffee. Which I declined, citing the adrenaline still racing through my system.

It’s highly likely that this incident will somehow make it into one of my books. What about you? Any life or death experiences lately?

(**This incident happened about 2 weeks ago, but I was suddenly inspired to write a blog about it and did so shortly after the moose left the premises.)

 
18 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Idaho

 

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