Tag: Writer’s Life

Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich

Sounds like a Wheel of Fortune “before and after” puzzle doesn’t it? The only reason I am thinking of Wheel of Fortune is because I’ve spent the better part of a week with family members who adore Wheel of Fortune. Me, I’m more of a Jeopardy girl.

I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving and the past few weeks it has hit me that yes, I’m part of the Sandwich Generation. I have children still at home, or in college, and aging parents. I’m not alone. There are millions of us.

I am blessed. My parents and my in-laws have wonderful insurance and any help needed from the kids is relatively minimal.

Yet as I prepare for Thanksgiving (eldest son’s first time back since leaving for college!) my mind goes to all the adult children taking care of their elderly adult parents. How are they doing it? How are we doing it?

One day at a time, one meal at a time, one doctor’s visit at a time.

When faced with what can be a heartbreaking road, I’ve learned that gratitude is the best antidote for me. Not Pollyanna “all will be swell” crap. It’s the simple stuff. So in light of this week and our national feast of the yummiest dishes native to the USA, here’s my gratitude list. Feel free to add yours!

I am grateful for:
1. My health
2. My family–no matter their age, political preference, state of health or mind, lack of boundaries or too many walls to climb over. We are family.
3. My friends who keep me sane and laugh with me on this journey.
4. Great recipes, the funds to buy the ingredients and a comfortable kitchen in which to cook them.
5. Is there anything else worth mentioning?

Happy Thanksgiving!

How Do You Beat the Winter Blahs?

I went to Scotland. Castles, mountains, wool, history galore. A writer’s heaven.

Where JK Rowling Wrote Harry Potter
Where JK Rowling Wrote Harry Potter
As a kid in Western New York I loved winter and faced total confusion as my grandparents complained about the cold and snow. As long as I could make a snow man, ice skate, or even better, go sledding/tobogganing, I was thrilled.

Edinburgh Sun Rise
Edinburgh Sun Rise
The years have blinked by and now I “get” what they meant. It’s tough to drive in ice and snow, and worse to walk in it, especially in Russia where the ice can be inches thick on the sidewalks. If it’s hard for me and I consider myself in okay shape, how hard it must be for the elderly who need to walk to get to the kiosk that sells their favorite (most affordable) fruit or bread.

Swan on Loch Ness
Swan on Loch Ness
My children get a week off at the end of February for Winter Break, and we used the off-season prices to afford a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Friends and family in the States thought we were crazy–Scotland, in the winter? It’ll be cold, rainy, miserable! Nope. It was chilly the first few days, but a relative heat wave to us. And the last couple of days were downright balmy. In the 30’s at night, but 40’s, maybe even 50 during the day.

Edinburgh Castle--View from The Elephant House
Edinburgh Castle–View from The Elephant House
Enjoy the photos–if you’re still in the grips of Father Frost, wherever you are, I hope they give you hope for the coming Spring. By the way, it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit as I write, -2 wind chill.

Do You See Any Literary Fairy Dust in the Air?
Do You See Any Literary Fairy Dust in the Air?

Swimming in Jam

Do you ever feel like you’re swimming against the tide? Okay, maybe not against the tide but instead of flying in the current of life it’s tossing you around a bit, maybe leaving a few marks?
I’ve felt like this for a while now and I can’t put my finger on when it started. When we were evacuated from Moscow this summer, due to the smoke from the peat fires? When our stay in the States turned from 4 to 6 weeks and I was out of my routine for too long? When it hit me that life is constantly moving by whether or not I “hop on?”
It really doesn’t matter what caused this type of funk. And I feel guilty even saying it’s a funk. I enjoy life. I took myself and my laptop out into the city today to write this blog–I don’t know many people who can say they took their office out for a trip. Of course, they probably make a lot more money than I do, but that’s another blog (the I’m-not-defined-by-my-royalty-statement essay). It’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit in Moscow Russia on the 15th of November and I’m out here to enjoy it, for heaven’s sake.
Maybe when I was younger I wasn’t as aware of the fragility of life, the reality that we all get older if we’re blessed to live long enough. And getting older means saying good-bye to some youthful pursuits. Self-pity and self-centeredness top my favorite things to say “so long” to.
I must say I love the confidence and sense of knowing myself that maturation brings. It’s liberating and thrilling. The younger me would be horrified to know that indeed, my body can weigh the number of pounds it does–that my figure hasn’t stayed reed-thin and my clothes choices too often fall into the “comfortable writer” category. But the younger me had no clue as to the joys of raising children, dogs, novels, marriages (just one so far, Thank God).
The younger me didn’t notice she was swimming through jam. I was spinning my wheels too quickly to even note if I hit a speed bump.
Today I feel the speed bumps and heart palpitations. But I’m not afraid of any of it–it’s okay, it’s life, and I’m happy to be here.
And that means accepting when I’m treading in thick, syrupy jam. This too shall pass.

Proud to be a Veteran

When I resigned my commission fifteen years ago, I couldn’t wait to bid my active duty days adieu and head into the full-time Mom and writer sunset. I was proud of the nine years I’d served after graduating from the Naval Academy. My jobs in the Navy had been challenging and enjoyable, and at times felt so natural to me that I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else.


The call to motherhood came and for me the personal choice was clear–in order to keep my marriage thriving and provide the stability level for our family that I was comfortable with, it would require me to leave the service. Maybe if my husband had been a civilian I would have chosen a different path, but he was and is still, active duty. Active duty Navy, which means months away on ships or in squadrons, all over the world.

So with heartfelt good-byes I left the US Navy to become…a Navy wife. The first year was an adjustment. No longer the active duty woman in uniform, I was relegated to the back of the line at medical, the pharmacy, and even in the commissary or exchange where doing rush hours active duty in uniform have front-of-line privileges. As they should, of course. I relished time with my toddler son and before long we were blessed with his sister. The kids gave me a sense of purpose I’d never had before.

The people who meet me now have remarked that they can’t imagine me as an active-duty officer. The people who knew me as Lieutenant Commander Krotow have a hard time believing I went from the service to stay-at-home wife and mom, and now romance novelist.

I don’t see the issue. Because to me I’ve continued to serve my country. As a vet I can say that I know my contributions mattered while in uniform, and they matter now. Even if I wasn’t married to the military, raising and guiding healthy children to contribute to the greatest nation on earth is not only just as viable but essential.  From a global perspective, I’m raising two kids to whom I hope I’ve imparted a sense of self-sacrifice and healthy esteem. I hope they understand and live the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around any one individual or country–we’re all connected.

Where I learned the “we’re all connected” the most was firstly in my own home with a mother who always invited strangers to our Thanksgiving table or sent a meal to the hermit who lived across the street. Secondly, I learned it during my Plebe year at the Naval Academy.

I’m part of a special, privileged, blessed team of people who’ve served their country and indeed the world for the sake of freedom and peace. What I did to deserve this I’ll never comprehend, but I’m so grateful today. Thank all of you who’ve served and support those who serve. To the countless souls who’ve lost their lives for all of our sakes, thank you.

Moscow is for Writers

I’ve lived in Russia for over a month. An entire month–longer than most vacations, shorter than any Navy deployment I ever completed. Yet I feel the hands of the Russian culture as they beckon me to explore.

Reminders of this nation’s culture and history are everywhere. From the statues throughout the city, to the breathtaking views along the Moscow River, to the varied architecture, it’s obvious this is not a young country by any means. Moscow was founded in the middle of the 12th century. Keeps my own years in perspective–I’m still young!


What’s impressed me most is the constant flow of ideas for my writing. Whether I’m looking at a statue of Pushkin on the Old Arbat or watching folks sunbathe in Gorky park as I float down the river on a city cruise, ideas and themes abound.

I had an opportunity to visit Tolstoy’s estate, approximately 3.5 hours south of Moscow. Used to these types of bus tours, I packed appropriately. Knitting helps writing ideas come to mind, and I have a notebook with me  at all times.

The bus ride was bumpy and seemed endless at times, until we wound through the town of Tyla and then into Tolstoy’s estate grounds.

The Road to Tolstoy's EstateThe view as we started our walk is one I’ll always treasure and associate with Russia. The birch-lined road felt more like a cathedral as the sun filtered through the tallest boughs. The white bark contrasted with the lush greenery and it was clear this was a place of respite and serenity.

From the cafe-laden streets of Moscow to the majesty of one of Russia’s, and the world’s, greatest author’s home, I daresay this is a place for writers.