Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Novel Delta Dead...And A Nod To Stephen King

Back in the late seventies I picked up my first Stephen King book: ’Salem’s Lot. I was captivated. The man hooked me on the first page. Yes, the book is about vampires. But it’s about so much more. ’Salem’s Lot is about heartbreak and loss; about courage, and loyalty, and resolve; and about the nature of small towns, where everyone knows everyone and how doors are open to all. The perfect environment for The Vampire.

For those of you who think SK is only a horror writer, think again. Read – or watch – The Shawshank Redemption (first presented as the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption in the book Different Seasons). Read The Body, or watch its film incarnation, Stand By Me. Read The Stand, The Dead Zone, and the dozens (and dozens) of his other books. Read between the lines. Yes, he writes horror. But the way he constructs his sentences into beautiful paragraphs, into beautiful chapters, into beautiful stories; the way he develops characters, the way he holds you word by word, the way he causes you to weep when a character dies and then keeps you mourning for years after even though the character wasn’t a real person, is why the man is such a phenomenon.

Stephen King is a wonderful writer. I want him to be my neighbor. I want to be his buddy, hang out, talk about writing. I want to tell him how much he’s inspired me, how much a part of my life he’s become, how I’m his number one fan (uh-oh, didn’t he write a book called Misery about some nut who was the character’s number one fan?). I want to tell him I’m not a nut. I want to buy the man a steak dinner and say thank you for all your great work. Alas…it is not meant to be.

I have always wanted to be an author. Not a writer, because I’ve been a writer for a long time. I’ve wanted to be an author. Truly, since I was a kid. A million years ago a friend calligraphied a wall hanging for me: “If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then that is not the desire.” This framed artifact hangs in my office, urging me on. In part because of that aging message, I continue to write. (Thank you Judy Floyd, wherever you are.)

Half a million years ago I started writing a book about murder, then titled Delta Newsroom. Like Stephen King I go for the creepier side of life, though not horror. I tapped tapped away in a studio apartment in Manhattan, then set the book aside and got busy paying the rent. The book languished for years. In 1993 I started again and got halfway through. Then more rent paying was in order. In 1997 the chore became mortgage paying. Finally, a few years back, I finished the book, which I titled If Thine Eye Be Evil. I sent it to dozens of New York agents until finally one not only contacted me, but called on the phone.

“You’re a great writer,” she said (she really did say that). “You should be writing full time. Although I hate the title, and you need to cut 78,000 words.”

Ack.

But cut I did. Trimmed the book down to 90,000 words (this after publishing the big version through amazon.com and, if I do say so myself, getting some pretty good responses). Then the agent said the book still needed work and she suggested an editor, a fellow by the name of Richard Marek who launched Robert Ludlum’s career and was the acquisitions editor for Tom Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. A big-time editor. He took me on (to my stunned delight) and taught me things I didn’t know I didn’t know. The 466-page If Thine Eye Be Evil became the 265-page Delta Dead. Finally (finally!) the thing is done. It continues to float among New York agents. But my patience has run out.

On Tuesday of next week (June 28th) I’ll begin posting installments of Delta Dead, although I won't be posting the entire book. If you like what you read, the book will be available on amazon.com (I’ve tried to figure out Kindle but am not there yet). Interested readers will also be able to buy Delta Dead through my blog, and for a few bucks more you can get an autographed copy. For those of you who have read the original version, If Thine Eye Be Evil, this is the same story, yet quite different. And the ending is completely different. I write this now because I don’t want anyone who’s read the first version to think this is a brand new book. It isn’t. But in my opinion (and in Richard Marek’s) it’s better.

I don’t yet have a “traditional” publisher for Delta Dead, but I’m still looking. In the meantime, I’m hoping to get enough readers that one of the big boys will sit up and take notice. Book publishing is in a strange freefall these days now that we authors have online options that we never had before. I’m out there waving my flag. All of you, my readers (I hope), will help push that flag even higher. If you like Delta Dead please share this link with your friends. Encourage them to buy a copy. The magic number to get a big publisher’s attention seems to be 10,000 copies sold, which at the moment seems massive. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the response will be positive. As Mr. Marek told me at lunch one day, “It’s a good book, Kathy. But this is a wacky business.”

I’m opening my heart and telling some truths so please be kind about the fact I’m here hawking my own stuff. If you like the book, let me know by buying a copy. If you don’t like it…okay. Maybe you’ll like the next one. (I also write this with a tinge of frustration in that New Jersey housewife Theresa Giudice has a cookbook on the best-seller list, Theresa Giudice who pronounces the spice cumin “commin” and who calls that which she puts in her recipes “ingrediences.” But I digress…)

I’ll be taking something of a hiatus this summer in that I’ll be posting installments of Delta Dead on Tuesdays and writing only one column a week, on Fridays. In the meantime I’ll be working on my next novel, The Question Mark Murders. And I’ll keep you posted on anything exciting that might happen in my “author” career.

As for Stephen King? I don’t expect to hear from him about our dinner date. But if you’re reading this, Steve, thanks. There was always a fire in my belly. You’re the one who added gasoline.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Did Competition Become A Dirty Word?

I saw this clip online this week:

"Louisville, KY (AP) - School districts in Kentucky are beginning to move away from naming valedictorians for graduating classes. Instead, districts plan to de-emphasize what could be seen as unhealthy competition and recognize all high achievers."

Excuse my sputtering, but when the hell did competition become "unhealthy"?

Right up front here: I was not valedictorian of my class. In fact, I was so far from valedictorian by my senior year in high school that if I'd studied 24 hours a day for nine months and paid a bribe to every school official it wouldn't have made a difference. I mention this to clarify that my sputtering isn't because I would have lost the valedictorian title had similar "idea" people come up with this scheme in 1974. While I wasn't a great student, I was a competitive one. Most of my good friends in those days were high-achievers, and because of those motivated kids in my life who were competing against each other, and because all of these friends were pursuing higher education, I ultimately woke up and excelled. In spite of so-so grades I managed to get myself accepted to college and was straight A by the end of my freshman year. After four years of competing with thousands of university students, I was a high B/low A. I was proud of my academic achievement and so were my parents. In my little world I had become a champion and it felt great to win. It still does.

Competition in my life has substantially contributed to who I am, starting with my father's high-spirited style of teaching games at which he never let me win. Dad's coaching me to compete was only the beginning. I went on from there to hard-won high school band and color guard performances thanks to character-building (and yes, often grueling) practice schedules set up by instructors who understood that sooner or later we would enter the real world, a world where life-changing competition reared its healthy head every single day in the form of customers, bosses, co-workers, husbands, wives, children, mortgages, and massive responsibility for all of the above. Even today competition is a constant in my life, whether in a golf tournament, a weekend card game with my family, or in meeting a client deadline...even if the "client" is me and the deadline is self-imposed.

Somewhere on this road we've lost our way. We give trophies to every kid so they "can feel good about themselves." Coaches advise athletes to "go easy" on the other team, and in one instance that I witnessed personally a junior high coach told a great soccer player to stop making goals because heaven forbid they should beat the other team too badly. Simon Cowell used to get grief on American Idol because he told tone deaf young people to give up on music, causing the astounded non-singer to stomp off and wail in his mother's arms, a mother who then turned to cameras and cussed Simon out for "abusing" a child who'd been told all his life he was a star.  

Of course we need to give our kids positive feedback, but not to the point where we convince them that they're entitled to win no matter how poorly they perform. Through the span of my life I've watched other kids win trophies, other students receive accolades, other bands take home the big prize, other golfers win tournaments, and other adults make more money and get better jobs. So far I've managed to resist jumping off the nearest cliff in despondency because I understand how life works: they performed better than I did, giving me the option to either try harder or be a good loser and say congratulations. What should not be an option is making the competition easier. If a kid is asked to run a mile instead of ten, guess what? She's going to run the mile and only the mile, and maybe not even that if she can get a trophy just for showing up.

Educators in Kentucky are not "de-emphasizing what could be seen as unhealthy competition," they're emphasizing...and proliferating...mediocrity. Kentuckians, pick up a thesaurus. Under competition you'll find such words as striving, and struggle, and trial, and contest, and fight, and opposition, all adjectives for situations we adults encounter every day. Educators should be teaching children how to cope with life, not giving a quick fix for kiddy confidence. Competition is not "unhealthy," and winning a trophy for doing nothing, or eliminating recognition for a top student in a class, does not build self worth. True self esteem comes from winning in a field of fierce and talented competitors who want to win as much as you do. That's how champions are born.

Hey Kentucky, have you ever seen The Incredibles? Great kid flick with a clear message: When everybody's a winner, nobody is.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Saving All My Love For You

I'm hesitant to write a new post after the firestorm brought on by Tuesday's column about smoking. The comments were wonderful, both from those who agreed with me and from those who didn't (thank you all!). But post again I must because I have a deep confession to make. I am having a love affair and can stay silent no longer.

My paramour is white, short and stocky, and musical. Being in the presence of my beloved makes my heart sing. I find I cannot keep my hands to myself so enamored I am with the vigor, the ruggedness, the sense of satisfaction. At times I drape across my sweetheart murmuring "I adore you. There is no other like you. We will never be separated." I am hopelessly in love.

My inamorato is a washing machine.

Never in my life have I had a brand new out-of-the box washer. Like many of the frugal members of my sisterhood, I have always believed that washing machines were all the same: stuff in the clothes, add some soap, let the thing agitate, done. All of the laundry equipment I've owned over the years has been purchased second (or third) hand from friends who are moving or from shops that cater to those who feel there is no need to spend good money on a new machine when older yet sturdy models will suffice. I am here to tell you: we of the thrifty tribe have been misled. 

The day the men delivered the new washer I couldn't stay out of their way. Puppy-like I trailed behind them, hopping from one foot to the other, clapping my hands. Once installed the machine gleamed there in the laundry room, enticing me. I listened intently to instructions about power and pause, admiring the dial readings: bedding, active wear, heavy duty, permanent press, delicates, wool, sanitize (sanitize!). The lid of my new washer is glass and as we tested its function the men and I leaned down to watch the oversized tub fill with water and ultimately spin. The center agitator of the old models is gone, leaving instead a huge vessel that the manual promises can hold up to 35 towels at once. The new machines, as though built by NASA engineers, are supersonic, high efficiency, going boldly where no washer has gone before. Leave me, I wanted to say to the nice delivery men. My darling and I want to be alone.

For two days I washed everything in the house. Curtains, quilts, rugs, mountains of clothing piled high since the demise of my former appliance. I poured tiny amounts of detergent into succinct compartments. My eyes glowed at the twinkling modern lights, and at the tinkling tune played when the load was finished. For the first time in my life, every single washable item I own is clean, folded, and put away. Even Harry's toys have had a bath, and Harry himself skulks to other parts of the house fearing he's next to be tested in the fabulously sparkling new mechanical gizmo that has won my heart.

I remember a time when the arrival of a new stereo made me trill with joy. Those pointless and teenage days are gone. That which is important now is the chiming apparatus capable of sanitizing a massive bed coverlet upon which my dog has vomited. I am a woman in laundry heaven.

However, as all men know we females are fickle things. Even now my adulterous eye wanders, drawn to another with equal sparkle and gleam...and with a steam feature that promises "no more ironing." Another confession emerges. I also bought a new dryer.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Civil Liberties Up In Smoke

I heard on the news today that a recently proposed bill in New York State would ban smoking cigarettes in any vehicle containing children under 14.

I know I'm going to get flak for this one. Yes, I smoke cigarettes. Yes, I know they're bad for me. Yes, I know the studies show that second hand smoke is bad for others. No, I do not drive and blow plumes smoke into the back seat if there's a kid in the car because I have more brains than a chicken. I try to be considerate when smoking near other people, and if they're waving their hands around at the smoke or if they ask me to put the cigarette out, I usually do. I get it. Smoking is a vice. Smoking is a health hazard. We all know this. Nevertheless, the idea that politicians are poking around in my personal business and telling me where I can and can't smoke...first in bars and restaurants, then in offices and other public buildings, then outside, and now in my own car...chills me to the bone. What's next? Are they going to bust into my living room and tell me to stub that Marlboro out or else? Whatever happened to people being allowed to use good sense about what's right and wrong instead of our being punished like bad children by elected officials?

For me, this is not an issue about health. This is an issue about being told I am required be healthy and for that matter am also required to be responsible for the health of others. Everyone has gotten so busy worrying about being politically correct and "helping" our society to get on the supposed right track that we're starting to forget the importance of our own civil rights. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as written in the Declaration of Independence, is considered by many to be one of the most influential sentences in the history of the English language. That's because, in my humble and well-traveled opinion, there aren't very many places in this world where citizens have the right to such pursuit as dictated by their own founders. According to one of the most important documents ever put on paper, if it so happens that my definition of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to sit in my car or on a park bench or on top of the space needle and smoke a pack of cigarettes, I have that right. But not anymore. Now we have politicians drafting bills that interfere with my pursuit. Their reasoning I guess is that if my pursuit of happiness interferes with somebody else's pursuit, and if enough people decide my method of pursuing happiness and liberty isn't important anymore, then tough nuts to me.

So I repeat: What's next?

Let's just suppose there's a non-coffee drinking Washington politician who thinks it's dangerous to drive with a cup of coffee in one hand. He warns that coffee-drinking drivers might hit a speed bump and spill that coffee all over the innocent child in the passenger seat or (egads!) onto one's own lap, threatening future fertility. And walking with hot coffee can be dangerous, too. You might trip and slop your caffeine all over a fellow walker. That's it! Coffee drinking under any circumstances when you're moving...illegal! According to the new law, we must all be stationary when drinking coffee, sitting quietly facing forward with ankles crossed. The to-go coffee cup drifts into the quaint and misty past, brethren to the Swinger camera and the chamber pot. 

This might sound ridiculous but I have to say that not being able to smoke outside in New York City sounds ridiculous to me, like something from a movie portraying a scary future. If I'd looked into a crystal ball 30 years ago and heard this would happen I wouldn't have believed it.

Every day people I encounter do things I find objectionable. They pass gas, they belch, they're loud and obnoxious, they tell stupid jokes, all of which I suppose I could say affect my mental health because it makes me crazy. However my reaction, as a free American, is to stay or walk away: my choice, my right. Just like it's their choice...and their right...to tell another joke or let their flatulence fly. We are supposedly free in this country to pursue a life that makes us happy, even if our behavior doesn't thrill the people around us and even if the legal behavior (because let us not forget, cigarettes are legal) is unhealthy. Now suddenly our politicians have become our protectors, saving us from ourselves as though we're kindergarteners who don't have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Will somebody one day pass a bill restricting us to one slice of pizza because of the obesity problem? Will mothers get a ticket for giving their child a cookie because of rampant diabetes? And how long will it be, I wonder, before cops are knocking on my door to write me a ticket for smoking at my own kitchen counter?

This is a slippery slope, folks, and there's no sand in sight.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Maybe I Should Buy A Motorcycle

It hasn't been easy combining the contents of two houses. I moved upstate in November and faced the daunting task of merging belongings accumulated over 30 years into one final resting place. If I do say so myself, and as a self-proclaimed borderline hoarder, I've done pretty well. There are three spots, however, that remain problematic: the basement, the carriage house, and my car.

You might think the first location a person cleans out when they move would be the car. Not so. Today I took it on. Here's what I found still clattering around in the back seats and way back of my tortured Acura since last fall:

1 pair of black boots
1 pair of black shoes
1 pair of golf shoes
1 pair of flip-flops
golf socks
3 umbrellas
3 canvas bags
1 Christmas gift 
2 plastic water bottles, each half empty
a box of tissues
1 leather glove (mate MIA)
a bank statement from December
my father's cane (my father, who died in 1980)
dust jacket for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
table lamp with no shade
a gardening tool
camera bag with a wide angle lens and two flash units; camera location unknown
empty aluminum foil box
3 paper plates
dust jacket to Brunch: The Perfect Weekend Treat
golf cart cover bag
a red sweatshirt
a blue sweatshirt
a winter scarf
a blanket
a flashlight
a broken car vac
a box of dog bones
2 10-pound bags of mulch
3 snow brushes
a level
and a hammer

I've often joked that my car is like a big purse. I'm thinking now my car is more like a small house. I get the clothes and the golf stuff. Snow brushes are standard automobile items, as are the umbrellas, the flashlight, the blanket, the canvas shopping bags. The lamp and the cane were clearly items I moved from Long Island and never bothered to bring into the new house, as were (I'm guessing) the dust jackets and the gardening tool. The aluminum foil box and paper plates indicate I'm something of a slob. But why in the name of god would I have a level and a hammer in my vehicle? I sat on the front steps tonight staring at the giant box full of what I'd extricated from my car, pondering my behavior. Then I dragged the box inside and continued what seems to be an endless project of consolidating my belongings. I tossed the clothes and blanket into the washer and when it reached the spin cycle, the machine broke down. No amount of coaxing could get it moving again. I was met only with loud buzzing and no spinning. Admittedly not a new appliance, my Kenmore passed away this evening around 8 o'clock. A karma smack, I suppose, for the hoarding procrastinator.  

Tomorrow I'll head out to buy a new washer. But at least I'll be traveling in a nice clean car.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A little note on one of the dumbest things I've heard lately...

I was in the car. A young woman called into a radio program. She was complaining that she couldn't find a job and she and the radio personality were blaming the President.

"What do you do?" he asked.
"Web designer," she said.
"How long have you been out of work?"
"Three years."
"Where do you live?"
"Atlanta."
"Wow. That's terrible. And you can't find a job in Atlanta?"
"Well," she whined. "I could get a job at one of the big companies here. But I don't want to work for a big company."

Had I not been driving I might have called in and pointed out that this problem doesn't fall into the "can't" find a job category. This problem falls into "doesn't want" to find a job category. Look in the mirror, babe. The entitled person looking back is the reason you aren't working. But then I guess it's always easier to blame somebody else.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pageant of Bands

Last weekend was an event in my town called the Pageant of Bands, wonderful hoopla that's been going on for 62 years and that never seems to get old. High school bands and color guards from around the region flock to compete against each other the first Saturday of every June, causing homeowners to trim lawns and groundskeepers to snip bushes and polish park benches. On Friday night there's a block party on the south end of town, the sound of which spirals up, allowing even those who don't attend to enjoy the music from their own back yard. On Saturday morning portable chairs are lined along the curb sometimes placed the night before to secure a spot for the 1 p.m. step-off. Kids race along the sidewalks balancing plates of blooming onions and fried dough. Townsfolk lucky enough to have houses on the parade route host porch parties that include beverages, snacks, conversation, stories, and all manner of small town gaiety. Something city people may not realize: when you don't have every imaginable entertainment option at your disposal, you make your own fun.

This year I attended a porch party hosted by a local law firm. I felt like I was in the catbird seat, perched in a prime location to hear bands playing and see the Saturday afternoon crowd come to life. After the Star Spangled Banner, sung by a girl whose haunting voice rose up over reverent heads that stretched along the four corners of downtown, I settled in to chatter with passersby, watch pink dolphin-shaped balloons take flight in their escape from little hands, duck grade school Silly String fights, and kick back for a fine day with nothing to do but listen to the village heartbeat, thrumming right along with the bass drums.

There's nothing new about parades. In fact, if you videotaped a hundred and ran them one after the other you probably couldn't tell the difference. To this I say: so what? We need parades. There's something about getting a bunch of people together on the street, then getting even more people together to cheer as they go by, that has a pleasing tang to it. All of us in these strange and uncertain days need a little something to cheer about, especially if what we're cheering is hard-working band kids who arrive in town waving from school buses and who march proudly down our streets, playing their hearts out.

My friend Susana asked me to take a picture of her standing in front of a passing corps in blue. She was holding her new baby. "His first parade!" she said. I snapped the picture, glad to be an early participant in little Hudson's parade experience. May he have many more.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome Home, Rapunzel

I recall the first time I went into Manhattan to get my hair cut. I was 27 and terrified.

Getting a haircut is scary in and of itself in that you never know what the hairdresser is going to do, even if you’ve been going to them for years and even if you tell them specifically what you do and don’t want done. The fact is you’re trapped, with sopping wet hair and a person (sometimes a stranger) standing behind and above you with a pair of sharp scissors. The deed is done with the first cut, and all they can say after that, if the cut is crooked or too short, is “trust me.” If they make a mistake your only recourse is to lie and say you like it or throw a fit and not pay them. Either way, you’re stuck with an unfortunate “do” until the hair grows out.

The possibility of a coiffeur mistake was not, however, why I was terrified during my first Manhattan salon appointment. Fear bloomed because 1) I was getting my hair cut in what many consider to be the fashion capital of the world; 2) I was moved from station to station, first to the colorist, then to the shampoo girl, and finally to the stylist; and 3) the salon was high tech, with glitzy aluminum countertops, dozens of outer space-looking hairdressers, and blaring unrecognizable music with a stomach-thudding beat. Worse still, the stylist assigned to me was a guy named Hector. A good-looking guy named Hector. A good-looking guy named Hector who admitted before I was five minutes in the chair that he was a recovering crack addict. Back in those days people still smoked cigarettes in public places. I was so freaked out by Hector the good-looking crack addict that when I waved my hands airily as though good-looking crack addicts cut my hair every day I upended a huge plastic ashtray sitting on Hector’s station and sent the whole mess flying. The crackhead stylist, my lap, and countless scowling wet-haired Manhattanites were immediately showered with a potpourri of ashes and cigarette butts. To Hector’s credit he shrugged, brushed himself off, and signaled for the broom boy. My fellow hair-do customers weren’t so nice, causing me to sit mortified for 45 minutes before paying my exorbitant bill and skulking out, never to return.

I’ve gotten hundreds of metro haircuts since then and over the years no longer felt like a small-town mouse in the big city. “This is what I want,” I’d inform spike-haired stylists, my New York attitude finely (and finally) honed. No waving of hands. No skulking about. “Mess it up, I don’t pay, capisce?

These days I have left the posh Manhattan salons behind. My hair stylist now and forever (until she decides to hang up her scissors) is a girl named Pam who works at a local salon called Chi-Chi’s. I know Pam from high school. She was a rifle in color guard. I was a banner. She’s lived in Sherburne all her life. We know all the same people. Pam is calm and lovely with non-spiked hair. There are no Narcotics Anonymous guides lying around Pam’s station, and certainly no ashtrays full of stubbed-out Marlboros. I was there the other day and Pam’s niece arrived to show off a new kitten. On most days soft music gurgles in the background and sun streams through the big window out front. Pam’s sister is usually styling someone’s hair at a nearby chair, and it isn’t uncommon to see Chi Chi (Pam’s semi-retired hair stylist mom) snipping the hair of a hometown lady who is then transferred to the big drop-down hairdryer that gives off a comforting purr. Gentle gossip swirls: who’s getting married, who’s had a new baby, news about the chicken-and-biscuits supper over at the church. In this ambiance I am relaxed. I am serene. There is no colorist, no shampoo girl, no stylist, no broom boy. Pam does it all, and for a third of the price of so-called “posh” city salons.

A few months back I arrived at Chi-Chi’s ten minutes after my appointment time. When I walked in Pam glared at me and, hands on hips, announced, “You’re late!” Such admonishment is never heard in New York City. Downstate they don’t yell when you’re tardy: they murmur “No problem” and charge you more, and maybe for good measure cut your hair too short.

Scolded or not, hair day in my new incarnation draws a sigh of relief. My hairdresser isn’t a chain-smoking ex-crackhead. At Pam’s salon I can wear what I want, say what I want, and put my feet up for a nice long chat with someone whose skills are just as good as any stylist I ever trusted in New York City. Nowadays, my hairdresser is also my friend. For that, and for this homespun beauty parlor respite, Pam can yell at me all day long.

There’s something truly wonderful about living in a small town.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum