Coffee Share 211203: Dark edges of The Petaluma Valley

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
About My Site & Map to my Stories.

Brrr! Quick, come on in. It’s a cold morning on the edge of the Petaluma valley today; foggy and dark  so I’ve thrown a few large  logs on the virtual fire and have a warm place ready for you. Coffee, with a multitude tasty virtual contaminates are all laid out. Let’s chat.

gw card shot 2 croppedMy news update this week is light.

Work got busy. I’ve made good progress on a work-related study program to become more familiar with software security and bla, bla, bla.  Sorry; nothing interesting here.

A good friend’s elderly mother-in-law passed away yesterday. She was one of the iconic family leaders in the recent history of the Petaluma valley and was one of those who rarely saw the inside of a hospital until her last few years. Her passing was noted on emotional seismographs around the county. My involvement was distant; prayer and support level stuff but I’ll be in the sanctuary when the time comes to honor her passing.

But more relevant to what normally happens on this story-blog, I’ve made some great progress on my new darker story that I’ve written updates on before. This was the one that I tried just blasting through the narrative without much thought or filtering and the result I thought was much too dark and graphic for my own taste. That story will not be posted but I wondered out loud on a previous coffee share about if or how to save the basic story. Several commented back with advice on how I might redo the story and twist things differently and from that feedback arose a path to a solution.

This week I rearranged things, captured more historical facts (it was always going to be historical fiction) about the time and location. I  set my two characters into position and let them work their way through the 3rd of 4 chapters and I love the result. I think the 4th chapter will now be easier as the characters themselves resolved a problem I was struggling with.

Creating fiction can be such an odd experience of both being in control of how a story is framed then staying out of the way as characters tell the story they want told.  Anyway, I now think this thing will be ready before the end of the year.

You know I’m sensitive about how long a story is because so many of my readers aren’t fond of longer pieces (unless perhaps, they are bound up in book form — hmm). Anyway, this new story will be in the 7-8000 word range or somewhere between 20-35 minutes for that average 300 wpm reader.  But that does not take into account my normal last step of trimming a final story before posting to get rid of stuff that is not imperative either to progress the story or is compelling in entertainment value – so I may get it down to something smaller.

For my local readers, the story will be set at a real place, the Washoe (road) House at the far north-western rim of the Petaluma Valley. My wife and I attempted a fact-finding visit last weekend, but on arrival the place was crowded with what had to be a hundred or more bikers and their motorcycles so even the large parking lot was jammed.  Not a good time for casual wandering the property. . .  But I’ll get this done yet. I want my own photo of all the dollar bills pinned to the ceiling of the bar room to share.

So, what do I have for you to read today? How about a real memory from the other end of the Petaluma valley.  Locals will recognize the Goat Hill, aka, Petaluma Golf & Country Club.  It’s a mid-size golf course set in the often-steep rolling hills overlooking the south-east end of Petaluma. Back in the early 1970s, I was in high school, lived nearby and worked at this golf course as the night water boy, where my true skills of attracting chaos made for a great adventure.  It’s the perfect story for a cold and foggy winter’s day read as long as you’re bundled up, warm and snug.  I hope you enjoy this retelling of how one night, my job went over the top of scary.

The Scary Night Adventure

Blessings all! 

GW bio card 4

14 thoughts on “Coffee Share 211203: Dark edges of The Petaluma Valley

  1. It’s a bit chilly here, too. We have snow on the ground again. By the middle of the coming week, I expect any snow will accumulate rather than melt away to nothing. And it is sad to see the dwindling number of the older people in our vicinity. A lot of knowledge and local history vanishes with them.

    Best wishes for the week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We rarely get snow in this part of California. It is sad. I did not know this woman well, but am very good friends with her daughter-in-law all the way back to high school. The family has struggled with losing their mom and grandmother which is both appropriate and hard to watch.


  2. Brrr….said it all! Definitely feeling the cold here. Admire the rate you turn out your stories Gary, Perhaps you could publish them all in a kind of short stories volume for those folk who like to read on paper. I know I really struggle with long form content. I’ve a whole bunch of IT reading I need to get through and really struggle with it. Stay warm and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks EC.
      One of our members (a published author herself) a couple of years ago encouraged me to do just that and referred me to a short series of similar essay collections which I read, liked, and thought about. But the promotion the author has to do simply would not work for a guy with my day job. Have you noticeded how consuming IT can be . . . ? 😬

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, last night I was in and out my study throughout the night just checking a run book for a failover test was going to plan. Tonight same worries wondering if they put everything back in the right place!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susanne.
      Ha – given my state of mind at the time, it really was best that I not escalate. As it was, I was just barely still in control. But now, now it’s a fun story, with no homicide components. 😎


  3. Sorry to hear about friend’s mother-in-law Gary. Condolences all around.

    Good to hear that you got your story sorted out. I look forward to reading. I like how you lay out the length and time from of the read. I will be able to know that starting the read requires a new hot coffee. Thanks for the virtual cup.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done with the progress you’ve made on your story Gary. I hope you get to re-visit Washoe House on a quiet day. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Gary,
    My condolences to the family and friends in the passing of their mother-in-law. My sister’s father-in-law passed away recently too, right after Thanksgiving. Such a tough time to lose loved ones at the holidays.
    I’ll head over and read the stories. I now have 2 I want to read that you wrote and I’m so happy you have a place here to share them. I can’t imagine trying to put a book together but just think when you retire you’ll have all these memories and stories waiting for a book you’ll put together for all to read in paperback! I agree, it’s hard enough keeping up with WordPress reading and writing working full time!! 💖 Have a wonderful week ahead! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana.
      I must confess, I do love to hear that you’ve read one of my stories.
      I may someday find a market for a dead tree version of my works, but am not set on doing it. I may just be too lazy than to make the effort.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. HI Gary. So good to gear you are getting to the writing. Don’t sweat th e word counts until you are done and ready to edit. In my last book, I slashed scenes I loved but slowed the pace. They are not gone forever, just not included. HAve a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am late to the commenting party again this week. Boy life takes over. It is always fascinating to me to hear how writers formulate their stories. I love reading about the process. I’ll have to get back and read the story you posted for us to read, for now I’m off to do some VA work and get ready to go to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kirstin, Your visits are never too late, but are always welcomed. I agree with you that the creative process of producing a story is fascinating. Sometimes I wonder if any of us even have real control over our fictional characters as mine frequently seem to run off on their own and I kind of enjoy “watching” where they lead the story to.
      I could tell you stories about how my fictional stories surprised me. The story I left you with in this coffee share is a memory of an odd job I had in high school. It was not fiction but it has become one of my more popular adventures of growing up. You’ll laugh and you’ll shudder for my discomfort, as this all actually happened to me one dark and cold night. One friend described it as “reading a good movie.” Isn’t that a cool thing to have said? I’m going to quote him somewhere. Finally, thank you for caring for our vets. They are often the ammunition of our international politics, fighting for our values while knowing they are being led often by the most flawed leaders to be found.
      I could not do what these men and women have and are doing. Bless you my friend.


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