Monday, April 25, 2011

Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong By Jolina Petersheim

Jolina Petersheim's blog, The Happy Book Blog, at a year old has been featured twice on Southern author River Jordan’s Clearstory Radio. Currently it is syndicated with The Tennessean's "On Nashville" Blogroll, featured under author Jessica McCann’s “Stuff for Writers,” award-winning freelance writer Melissa Crytzer-Fry’s Blogroll and numerous other creative writing sites. Jolina lives in the mountains of Tennessee with her Mohican-man husband, their 40 acres of untamed territory, and one unruly but lovable Southern novel-in-progress set on a tobacco plantation in northwest Tennessee.

Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong

It almost felt like we were Peeping Toms as my husband and I clustered around the computer screen, avidly watching the most intimate details of this young family’s life for the twentieth time in less than ten days. We laughed when the couple picked on each other, fretted when their offspring didn’t seem to be thriving the way we thought they should, wondered if all of them would be able to stand the harsh elements pervading their setting, and secretly questioned the parents’ abilities to keep their three offspring alive.

No, we weren’t watching the latest “reality” TV show churned out by Hollywood, but a family of bald eagles my husband had discovered through an online live cam. I had caught him watching them last Sunday, and although at first I couldn’t understand the draw, I soon became as addicted to their interactions as he. The mother and father shared the responsibility of their brood: the one sat on the hatchlings while the other flew over the dense Iowan woods--scouring it for rabbits, ravens, and even a fish whose scales reflected like tiny mirrors angled toward the sun. It actually took my breath as the mother/father (I still cannot tell them apart) ripped hunks of meat from their partner’s latest catch and carefully depositing it into their offspring's uplifted, chirping mouths.

Last evening, before I went for a walk in the graveyard, I watched one of the hatchlings teeter toward the edge of the nest on unsteady claws and flapping, downy wings. Less than five minutes later, when I was tying my tennis shoes, my husband called from the office, “Honey! C’mere! Quick!”

When I came into the office and looked at the screen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Both of the parents were in the six foot, one and a half ton nest, and they were balancing a tree branch between their yellow beaks. One of them then took it from the other and put it at the edge of the nest where the hatchling had just been.

“They’re doing that to keep the babies from falling out,” my husband explained. I told him to call if they did anything else exciting, and I’d come tearing back.

Sometimes when I walk to the graveyard beside our apartment, I completely forget why it is there. Encamped by rolling hills, swaying saplings covered with pink cotton ball blossoms, and soaring mountains, it seems no more a place for the dead as Mars is for the living. But last evening, it was different. I guess it was because I was tired, and that bald eagle family had gotten me thinking about family life in general. I guess part of it had to do with the past month and a half, and though I don't want to go into much detail to protect those it is more greatly affecting, I will say that it has been one of the toughest experiences of my life.

So, instead of trucking up and down that paved pathway, I walked onto the grass and swatted down before the gravestones. I looked at the cameoed photograph of a woman who’d died when she was years younger than I, yet born a decade before the birth of my own mother. I traced my fingers over the dates of the departed, and my heart ached for the couple who’d been severed by death because the other half of their whole had kept on living. In their photo, although neither of them were really smiling, I could see the love they’d shared in the way she put an arm around his shoulders, and the way he gently clasped it with one of his callused hands.

The sun was setting behind the distant hills, so I decided to head back toward our apartment. After spending a day wearing long sleeves in eighty degree weather, I’d also decided it was time to switch out my winter and summer clothes. This is a task I despise more than any other; I would rather alphabetize the contents of my refrigerator than sort and refold all of my clothing. Despite this, I lugged all of my summer totes into our bedroom, started shucking sweaters from hangers, then paused and walked into the living room. I needed some music to get me going. Feeling slightly sentimental, I scrolled down through the playlists on my laptop until I found the one I sought: Wedding Mix.

Singing off-key to Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Air Supply, and Dan Folgelberg, I suddenly got a second wind and soon had two totes completely emptied into drawers and refilled with sweaters. Then a new song began to play: “Love Life Us Up Where We Belong.” Because of what has transpired over the past month and a half, the lyrics resonated with me in a way they never have before. It spoke of living in a world where few hearts survive, how long the road is, how there are mountains in our way, but that love would lift us up to a place where -- and here I even got goose bumps -- eagles cry on a mountain high.

Needless to say, I was knocked into an emotional abyss before the second verse. Recalling that husband and wife gravestone when she’s not even dead, I began getting teary-eyed. Then I recalled how it said at the very bottom, “To know him was to love him,” and those tears, they started rolling.

Darting into the office, I stretched my arms out toward my husband and blubbered, “To know you is to love you!”

My husband, still watching the bald eagle family in between listing eBay items, looked back at me standing there with tears streaming down my face and said, “What? What happened?”

I pointed toward our bedroom and half-laughed/half-sobbed, “That song! Regardless of what we face, love will lift us up to a mountain high!” I then pointed to the computer screen where the father/mother eagle was tenderly feeding his/her young. “Just like them! Just like that bald eagle family!”

My husband pushed his rolling chair out from beneath the desk and stood. “Oh my, honey,” he said, “you’re really tore up.”

Wiping my face on my long shirtsleeve, I laughed, “I know! I don’t even know what happened!”

He walked with me back to our bedroom, which was strewn with chunky knit sweaters and sleeveless tanks. Reaching out his finger, he tapped down the volume on my laptop.

“Don’t!” I hollered. “I like it loud!”

“I know, but the song’s making you cry,” he said.

I wrapped my arms around him and looked up, “Yes, but these are happy tears, Randy. Happy tears. I’m just so, so blessed.”

Now, as I write this out on our land, my husband is strengthening our future home -- our love nest, if you will -- and I am sitting in the sun after having helped him pick up pieces of siding and fascia. And I know, regardless of how long our journey together is, how many mountains present themselves as we travel it, that love will continually lift us up to a place where we belong...just like those eagles.

(Live cam for bald eagles can be found here.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Launch Day!

I am about ready to get on another plane to start this tour off, but I was thinking about all of you on my first plane ride and for the first time I was crying not out of fear but out of joy. You all have made this journey so wonderful for me. You've picked me up. You've offered your arms. You've wiped my (many) tears. And I will never be able to tell you how that saved me and my little book over the last year and a half. I love you all and I mean it. You have my heart.

With Love from the Detroit Airport,

Monday, April 11, 2011

1 Day Before The Bird Sisters Launch!

I can't believe we are almost there! I want to wish everyone a great day -- I am trying to enjoy this day before I hop on a plane to Pennsylvania and officially get things rolling with The Bird Sisters. Thank you to all of you for being such wonderful supporters of me and the book. And of course friends!


Friday, April 8, 2011

BOOK CLUB IN A BOX--4 days until Launch Day!

Hi everyone -- I wanted to let you know about a GREAT giveaway happening c/o the amazing Dawn from Too Fond of Books. She is generously giving away up to ten hardcover copies of The Bird Sisters and a skype call with me for a book club. If you are part of a book club and are interested, here is the link: TOO FOND OF BOOKS

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Nervous Breakdown

Hi everyone-- I wanted to share with you a lovely feature on the Bird Sisters at The Nervous Breakdown, which includes a self-interview, an excerpt, and some other pretty wonderful things. Thank you so much for all of your support! I can't wait to go on the road and meet so many of you!

XOX Rebecca

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for putting up with my Facebook accounts recently -- they have been compromised and I am working on getting them restored. This has been a bit of a nightmare, and it's all of my friends who have been getting me through. Visit me on Twitter or at my website if you need anything.

Thank you again for your support and your love and patience.

It's now only 10 days until the Bird Sisters launch! If you pre-order the book and would like me to send you a signed bookplate, simply email me at thebirdsisters {at] gmail {dot} com

Also, GREAT NEWS! The Bird Sisters is a Fiction Pick for Barnes and Noble for April! What an honor!


"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."