Monday, May 28, 2012

The Best Gifts are Free.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a little fish fry for my brother Jimmy’s birthday. Jimmy—Gabby—is my only living sibling. Our sister Melody passed away at the young age of 61, a few years back. Jimmy was golden before that—the older, wiser, and goofier sibling—but he became more dear to me after we lost our sister. Jimmy shares the DeVane family sense of humor and gift of gab. He and I can talk to just about anyone about anything, for hours. Makes running to the grocery store for just milk and bread an all-morning affair, at times.

Back when none of us had any money for presents, we would fashion heartfelt gifts from whatever we had on hand. Cards were drawn in ink, permanent markers, or crayon. For a few years, holiday gifts had to be handmade. And those were the ones we most valued.

Keeping with this Southern cracker-ingenuity tradition, I decided to make Jimmy’s gift. But what? Then the perfect solution appeared: a sign for his new recording studio. See, my brother, in addition to many other hats he has donned over the years, holds great love and respect for classic country music. For years, he co-owned a little private radio station in Quincy, Florida—WGWD. People knew they could depend on the station to air music not heard on mainstream, prerecorded formats. The DJs even made their own commercials for their advertisers, and often threw in tidbits about the recording artists. Imagine that.

When the station sold last year, the cries flew to the heavens! Where did y’all go? Where will we find anyone like you? So Jimmy and his cohorts launched a station onto the Internet, and it took off like a scalded dog. Soon, they had to change to a commercial status because of the high listener volume.

All this, to share why I made this sign. And how. I found a cruddy piece of sawed-off cedar. Brushed the dirt and cobwebs away. One end hadn’t been cut evenly, but that was perfect. I don’t generally use tools with the capacity to saw off digits, as I work as a dental hygienist, and write my novels with those fingers.

I searched for black paint for the lettering, but all of my art supplies had long since dried to cracked plastic. Run to Lowes? Nope. I blew out three black markers and two colored markers on that rough wood.

Next, how to hang it. I drilled two small holes (drills don’t generally maim) and ran a piece of wire through. I added a little flair with packing jute wrapped around the wire, using a knot I recalled from my macramé days. Then I added a little bow at either end.

Finally, to preserve the precious sign. No problem. I had spray polyurethane. I dragged the sign to a cement block outside. The spray container was useless—not empty, but clogged beyond hope and no pressure. Go to Lowes? Nope. I found a can of waterproofing—the kind you use on tents and hiking boots—and hosed down the sign. It sat outside to dry and get over the stench.

The next morning, I wrapped the handcrafted treasure in the gift paper I had on hand—luckily, birthday—and left for the party. My brother took one look at the sign and hammered a nail over one window in his little Internet studio for it to hang.

Whoever said the best things in life are free must’ve made gifts too. My brother's smile proved it.

Listen to Gabby’s show Monday through Friday, 8 till 10 p.m. EST.

Here’s the link: XMRB Internet Radio Station

Love you, bro!
Your "other sister," the one who writes novels and is near'bout as cathead crazy as you are,

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern twist

Rhett's author website
Rhett's writer's blog: Writers4Higher

Friday, May 25, 2012

Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for a wonderful man I knew only through snippets of conversation shared 50 minutes at a time, every 6 months, for over 25 years. I cherished him, as I do his family.

I've never been a fan of the extreme professional distance school of thought. My patients are much more than random people with "the same set of teeth."

Often, I wonder how medical and dental professionals can push aside attachments to their patients. I refuse to do that. Over my 34 years as a dental hygienist, I've treated the rich and the poor, the famous and the not-so, the angels and the curmudgeons. I've seen pictures of children, grandchildren, pets, gardens, travels, and homes.

My patients--this deep well of friends--listen in turn to my ramblings: plot lines, characters, all things unreal. They've cheered me on and stood in endless lines at book launches. To see those cherished smiles--ones I help to maintain--grinning at me: priceless!

They've also comforted me after the loss of my sister and both parents. Sent cards and flowers when I suddenly fell ill and required serious surgery. Lifted me up on days I didn't feel worth a "plug nickel."

Most know I'm an author, and often share some tale I might include in a novel. One volunteered to pose as a character model for "Hot Mama Jean in her high-healed boots and jeans," a woman I will include somewhere.

We've laughed often, cried a few times, and shared news of births, weddings, graduations, and deaths. Somewhere in there, I managed to do my work, making sure I contributed to their dental health.

When I lose one of my people to The Other Side, I grieve. Then I recall his or her smile, some story we shared, some way we reached across the void to link our humanity. And I feel honored to have been even a 50-minute, 6-month part of their lives.

Godspeed to you, my friend. May we meet again.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

Rhett's website

Writers4Higher Blog

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Crazy Southern author is back!

It's been way too long since I posted to this blog. Life has happened: deaths, births, laughter, tears.

In the meantime, I have published four books. Written thousands of words. Traveled. Met new friends.

From this point, I plan to sign on and blather from time to time. Join me if you wish.

Also visit my new blog dedicated to authors who give back: Writers4Higher

If you'd like a fresh look at my books and vision: Rhett's author website