Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Non-Writing Weekend Bracketed by Two Aletas

by Betsy Ashton

Duane, Aleta, me and Terry
Aleta is a fairly rare name. To have two Aletas in the same family is rarer yet. And both were named after Princess Aleta in the old Prince Valiant comic strip.

The first Aleta in our long weekend away is my cousin who lives in Burlington, VT with her significant other, Duane. Her mother, who was like my second mother and for whom I am named, loved the comic strip. Our selfie is the fearless foursome at the Saratoga Race Track, a place we like to meet once a year if possible. Aleta and Duane are both in health care, she a psychologist, he a psych nurse.

We don't get together more than twice a year, but each time it's like we just ended one sentence and started another, with months in between. 

Our road trip took us from Southwest Virginia through Maryland, Pennsylvania and finally into New York. We ended in Albany where we spent three nights. Aleta and Duane drove from Burlington to Albany. Their drive was a wee bit shorter, about three hours to our twelve. We backtracked a few miles to Saratoga for two days of racing. None of us did very well, but we didn't care. We had wonderful conversations about mental health, politics, the color of grass, writing, and playing the bagpipes. Duane is in a pipe band up in Burlington. In fact, they left after dinner on Friday because Duane had Scottish games on Saturday.

The other Aleta is my husband's daughter. He too loved Prince Valiant. Who could have guessed I'd find a man with a daughter named Aleta?

Aleta and her husband live in a small town in Orange County, New York, about an hour and a half south and west of Albany, where she is an event planner and her husband puts bad people in jail. Seeing them is terrific, but seeing our only grandsons may be even better. Howie is four with an adult-sized vocabulary, especially about trucks, planes and trains. He loves his PopPop and dominates his time. John Callan is two and is into grandfathers rather than grandmothers. Just the right age for male bonding. I don't mind. I get plenty of time, including bedtime, where I read stories to Howie to calm him down enough to sleep. PopPop/Terry ended up with bathtime. 'nuff said.
Cal, Aleta and Howie

Much as we hated to leave on Monday, we did have to get back to work. I left my novel at home, because I was stuck on how to make the last movement work smoothly. Hours of listening to two suspense novels and plenty of windshield time unlocked the ending. I've always known how it ends but I didn't know how much of the draft had to be rewritten and trimmed. I have my shears out for trimming and the delete key at the ready. 

 That was my summer vacation, lovely weekend with the two Aletas. Can't wait for December when we all get together again for the "Tween the Holidays" party.


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Brenda Whiteside said...

Sounds like good time, Betsy!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Fun time, Betsy. Good that you let your subconscious do the work for you on the novel ending...while you enjoyed yourself. I love that aspect of writing. For me, it's often when I'm blow-drying my hair :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Sounds like you had a terrific time. The knots in my stories unravel when I'm in the woods, walking with my dog. Usually a step away from the computer screen works wonders!

Diane Burton said...

How interesting about the Aletas in your family. My daughter's middle name is Almeada after Hubs' grandmother. Another unusual name.It sounds like you had a great time. I agree about setting your work aside and letting your subconscious work. Can't wait to read it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Ideas come to me through the windshield, too, and while I'm in the shower, shampooing my hair...or in a dream. I love time with the grandkids, too, but mine are older. Great post.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Nothing better than getting together with good friends and family, as you say, especially the grandkids. (No offense, Kids!) The best writing ideas always come when you're doing something else.

Betsy Ashton said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. I love the grands but don't get to see them very often. That 10-hour drive is hard to schedule.

Leah St. James said...

What a great time! And that is neat about the two Aletas, but even more cool, is they both had some sort of Prince Valiant connection. :-) The weirdest "name" thing I've ever experienced was at my current "paycheck job." When I first started several years ago, there were three Ursulas in the company. I'd never met anyone named Ursula before, and suddenly there were three in one place!

The Writer said...

Last year we made a trip up to NY a lot easier by taking the train from Lynchburg to Albany. We rented a car from there-- husband Frank drove up to see family and I went to a writers' conference at Colgate U. Then he picked me up and we drove scenic Route 20 (?) passing by Seneca Falls, where the first women's rights convention was held in 1848. Yes, New York, the state of suffragettes and innovators!