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When I Grow Up

I've just come back to work after nine glorious, sun-drenched days at home. This year, vacation was the week of July 4th. We stayed home instead of dashing off to a cottage on a lake. Aside from saving a few thousand bucks, I had plans! Amazing plans! Projects galore, and the gumption to tackle every one of them!

I planned to weed every garden on the grounds. There would be no stragglers left standing when I was through! I would relocate the strawberry and raspberry beds to new locations. That, in itself, would be no small feat, since they are massive. Massive, and loaded with weeds, I might add. I would rototill a whole new border garden by the roadside and move the choked peonies and sundrops to a new home. It would be splendid! Superb! Riotous with color!

And, best of all, I would completely scour my proofs for Upstaged, the second book in the LeGarde Mystery Series. Due "any day now," I'd been promised that they'd arrive just in time for my carefully planned hiatus. When finished with Upstaged, I'd work on Counterpoint, the ninth book, and write until my fingers cramped or I became a mummified author, glued to the laptop with a glazed expression of delight on my ugly mug. I was psyched! I was ready! I was bursting with energy!

On top of the lofty goals for garden and books, I planned to spend every possible second with my grandsons. Julian, two and a half, is a whirling dervish who actually helps me in the gardens and keeps up a constant, delightful chatter that offers true companionship. He attacks the weeds with relish, and has begun to recognize the difference between the bean plants and the pigweed. Gordon, one and a half, toddles around happily, playing with the dirt and water and the sandbox until he is covered in mud. Both boys beg for rides on the lawn tractor, and we spend many an hour riding around the grounds, ducking beneath low hanging branches and plucking ripe gooseberries and blueberries from the bushes that we pass. The boys provide superb inspiration for my characters in the LeGarde mysteries. Gus, the protagonist, is blessed with three grandchildren. I soak up as much detail as possible when I'm with those little ones. Aside from the soul-quenching love that I receive, they keep me hopping.

All right. Back to the plan. How did it turn out? What vacation ever turns out as planned? Who's ever accomplished all of the things on their long "To Do" list? The gardens were finally weeded to completion. They'll stay that way for a few weeks. I never did move the major beds or start the roadside flower show. We picked and cooked gourmet feasts with cukes, zucchini, beans, beets, kale, peas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and more. I spent hours with my little buddies, lolling in the sun, floating in the pool, and digging in the dirt. Julian learned to jump in the water and go under! Gordon munched on Blue Lake beans and added to his vocabulary. I enjoyed a successful book signing at Borders. And I wrote like the wind.

Upstaged didn't arrive ? matter of fact, it's now due tomorrow, the day I return to work! But I polished up Mazurka, which is due to my new publisher soon, anyway. It's ready to go and should be out in November.

I'll be back to work in the morning. Glad to see my friends, but cringing at the thought of losing this amazing sense of freedom. As I've been sitting here writing this, it struck me. THIS is what I want to do when I grow up! Forget about that engineering stuff, I want to stay home! To spend time outside! To write! To cook! To love my grandbabies! To create roller coaster stories, ripe with life and endearing characters, to be passionate and alive and free!

Sigh. When I grow up, I want to be? retired!

Aaron Paul Lazar lives in Upstate New York with his wife, three daughters, two grandsons, mother-in- law, two dogs, and three cats. After writing in the early morning hours, he works as an electrophotographic engineer at NexPress Solutions in Rochester, New York. Additional passions include gardening, preparing large family feasts, photography, cross-country skiing, playing a distinctly amateur level of piano, and spending "time" with the French Impressionists whenever possible.

This article is from the "Seedlings" Column, found in "The Back Room" newsletter at: /current_issue.htm

Although he adored raising his three delightful daughters, Mr. Lazar finds grandfathering his "two little buddies" to be one of the finest experiences of his life. Double Forte', the first in the series, was published in January 2005. Upstaged, number two, will be released in August 2005. Mazurka, number three, is scheduled for November 2005 release. With eight books under his belt, Mr. Lazar is currently working on the ninth, which features Gus LeGarde and his famil

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