Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 31 - Random Status Post Thursday

So on this Halloween/last day of October to wrap up National Blog Writing Month, the post on my news feed this morning was as follows:

"If you were a booger, I'd pick you first :)"

Is that supposed to be a heartwarming sentiment?

No, it's snot!!!!  Hahahahaha!!!!!

I will miss writing random crap everyday, but it has been a great primer for National Novel Writing Month. Time to get down to some serious composing.  Today, I plan to set up my writing space and organize my notes from the writer's retreat I attended a couple years.  Grandma and Grandpa's letters are in the freezer (a technique I read about to stop mold from growing on paper), and then I will head over to NaNoWriMo to create my novel specs.

Check back in the days and weeks to come and follow my progress as I post about my novel writing experience.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some parting shots for the day...

I may have over estimated how much candy I would need for beggar's night!

Just one of seven jack-o-lanterns we will light for tonight's festivities.

Look up and be prepared!  You never know what might be lurking above.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 30 - A Foggy Day to go to Town

The dense fog advisory was supposed to expire at 9 a.m. today.  At noon, the advisory was extended into "sometime" this afternoon.

The fog did not keep us from our planned field trip, however.  We were going to learn the art of rug hooking today at Ewe and Eye Woolens and Such.  Marge and Beth were wonderful instructors and very knowledgeable on the craft.  After learning the technique, I was hooked!!

Cabin Coffee for caffeine and Flat Pie and Red Eye for Margherita pizza concluded our morning field trip.  Even though the drive home was still foggy and drizzly, we spotted a most unique yard display on the way...

...and we thought, "Hay!  Isn't that cute?!"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 29 - Are We There Yet Part 2


"I did a serious, hard look at why I wanted to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge and what I wanted to accomplish and came up with the following:"

NaNoWriMo is the motivation I need to write a novel (in just one month).  I can track my progress and get inspiration and support from fellow writers.

But why do I want to write a novel?  I had to break this down.  I definitely want to improve my writing skills. But do I need to write a novel to accomplish that?  Do I want others to read my work?  What do I have to offer that hasn't already been done that someone else would WANT to read?  My life story?  Parts of it maybe, but certainly not in its entirety!  As I asked myself these questions and pondered possible answers, I got down to the heart of the matter, and I realized it WAS the heart of the matter that mattered!!  I wouldn't be here today had my parents not gotten together and they wouldn't be here if their parents hadn't gotten together and so on down the ancestry line...which brought me to my reason for participating.

I have in my possession the letters my grandparents exchanged from the late 1920's during their courtship.  Five years ago when my grandmother passed away, I acquired the shoe box of correspondence that contained two surprising family stories. Upon reading a few pieces of the contents when the box was found, the stories began to unfold.  One of the stories was actually known by all of the family, but the other had been kept a secret--grandma had taken it to the grave (or so she thought).

Because of the age of the letters and the manner in which they had been stored, their fragile nature and mold spore content made it hard for us to continue to read them further...not to mention, they were not in chronological order making the story hard to piece together.  As the oldest grandchild, I was given the task of scanning/preserving the letters somehow.  I attempted this process by first trying to get the letters in order.  This was difficult due to the fact that grandma and grandpa rarely dated their letters to one another and the postmarks are mostly faded and stained making them unreadable.  Another attempt I made was just trying to read through the content to put them in order.  I had to work in a well-ventilated area with a mask on because the mold was getting to me pretty bad.  Scanning them didn't seem like an option since they are virtually falling apart.  I soon became frustrated and quit the project storing the box away.

Well...'s time to get the box back out!  Grandma and Grandpa's story needs to be told--if for no other reason than just for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to read.  It needs to be pieced together now while there are still family members around to fill in the gaps.

I will persevere as I preserve and finish what I started five years ago.  The challenge of National Novel Writing Month and the goal of writing 1,667 words a day through the month of November is totally doable and will provide the drive I need to power through the transcribing, sorting, and writing of their story.

I will attempt to keep this blog updated with daily word counts and snippets of storyline to hold me accountable to my goal.

I am now getting excited to begin and need to get busy on my character sketches and has a wonderful ending! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 28 - Are We There Yet? Part 1

Only three days left of National Blog Writing Month 2013.  I am pleased that I was able to achieve my goal of writing everyday for a month through this online blogging experience...even if some of the days didn't amount to much.

What did I learn from this experience?

I learned that setting goals is essential in order to stay on track--(not just in writing).

I observed whatever you want to write about has probably already been written about and is readily available on the internet so you better have a unique spin to your story.

I found purpose and intent filled my days as I developed story ideas and topics in preparation for writing my blog.

In reading other bloggers' posts...

...I discovered places I want to visit like...Long Beach, Washington and Missoula, Montana.

    ...I fell in love with Gregory's smile.

        ...I was in awe of Vanessa's strength and grace.

            ...I became inspired by Rebecca's courage and tenacity.

                ...I got acquainted with Gabe and Gigi's story in the book "My Message is C.L.E.A.R" and feel I have a greater awareness for those living through adversity.

                    ...I laughed at Aaron's vlog and appreciated his quirkiness.

As October closes and I reflect on the writing and the momentum I have gained this month, I look forward to continuing the routine through the National Novel Writing Month exercise beginning November 1 and ending 50,000 words later on November 30.

I find myself more closely examining my goals for this writing exercise as I think about some wise words I heard from actor/writer/producer Judd Nelson.  This past weekend, I attended a film making initiative meeting held in conjunction with the Iowa Independent Film Festival where Judd Nelson was an honored guest.  When asked a question about writing a screenplay, Nelson gave two solid points:

  1. Start small. 
  2. Be honest with why you are writing.  

" is for actors, film is for directors, and books are for writers."

Whether you are writing to tell your own story, to better your craft, or to seek doesn't matter the reason, as long as you are honest with yourself about your reason.  If you are honest, that will be the driving force that gets you through the project with a successful end result.

Don't start out with an infinite number of characters.  Start with one character in a room with one idea and build from there.

His points really resonated with me, and I did a serious, hard look at why I wanted to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge and what I wanted to accomplish and came up with the following:

(to be continued)...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 27 - Jack or Lantern

we was up to our elbows in pumpkin guts.

the neighbors must've thought we was nuts.

ain't a light on now in the whole dern place.
'cept what's comin' from the holes in they face.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 26 - Amazing Things

I promised I would write about amazing things and that's what I intend to do...

There is something amazing about being on the set of a movie for the first time.  We all watch movies, but how many of us get the amazing opportunity to experience being on a set for the actual filming, let alone getting to be in a movie as an extra?  My daughter and I had just such an opportunity in the Spring of 2012; and last night, we enjoyed our 4 seconds of fame as we previewed the rough-cut of Garner, Iowa at the Iowa Independent Film Festival.  We portrayed coffee shop patrons (which is a huge stretch for me--NOT).  My daughter, the drama queen instructed me:  "Whatever you do, Mom, don't look at the camera!"  It was an absolute thrill to see ourselves on the screen--if only for a few seconds.  The bigger thrill, however, was getting a behind-the-scenes look at film making and getting to interact with some of the actors and crew members.

The painstaking and tedious process of getting the lights and cameras just right before shooting a segment; and then the many, many takes to get all the camera angles needed for one scene lasted for hours and boiled down to a few short minutes after editing.  I am in awe at the skill involved in editing and adding in sound. What seemed disjointed and awkward at some points during the filming as we watched through the director's monitor, came together flawlessly and cohesively for each scene in the movie.

The talent and genuine concern and care for getting the story right and the characters believable was heartwarming and it definitely came through in the end product.

It truly was an amazing experience and one we will not soon forget!

Friday, October 25, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 25 - It Got Away From Me

It's too late to blog. I've had a busy day. Just wanted to say Good Night. I will blog amazing things tomorrow, so tune in then.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 24 - Random Status Post Thursday...Bumps in the Road of Life

A friend of mine from high school is the winner of today's random status post blog topic: 

"We all have bumps in the road. Sometimes they amount to nothing more than the anthill whereas other times they seem like they are more like Mount Kilimanjaro. Hold your head high, lean on friends and or family and you will be able to get up and over every one of them. Life is not a test run it is a one time dealeo. We are only here for a flicker make the most of each day! God Bless this Republic!!"

Very well stated!  Not much more I can think to add, so I will just pull one thought from today's post...

"Life is not a test run..."

How many times have I sat through a board or committee meeting and come out saying, "There's an hour out of my life I'll never get back!"?

"Life is not a test run..."

How many times have I picked the short line at the grocery store only to watch as all the longer lines around me move twice as fast?

"Life is not a test run..."

How many times have I been running a little late, and the person in the car in front of me chooses to drive 5-10 miles below the speed limit with no opportunities to pass?

"Life is not a test run..."

Then there are those moments that you wouldn't trade for a thousand board meeting hours or even picking the right line at the market every the moment your kids are born, or the moment your newborn wraps his tiny hand around your finger, or a first smile, or first giggle; or your son walking across the stage to receive his diploma, or your daughter reaffirming her faith on her confirmation day.

"Life is not a test run..."

Make every moment count...even the moments that are less than pleasant.  As it says in Romans 5:3-5:  "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

"Life is not a test run..."

If you're stuck in the "short line," take a deep breath and grab your mobile device to check email or prioritize your to-do list.  If you are stuck behind a slow driver, calm down and take it as a warning that there could be a speed trap up ahead or simply that arriving too early could put you in harm's way.  As for the board meeting...learn to pick your battles and make that necessary evil as short as possible.  (I struggle with this one, but I'm working on it.)

"Life is not a test run...We are only here for a flicker make the most of each day!"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 23 - Owl Be Back

I had a personal revelation quite out of the blue yesterday.

This revelation resulted from a walk down memory lane where I was recalling various craft projects I had attempted over the years.

I remember either wanting to try whatever my dad's current hobby entailed or just experiment with the latest art trend.  Unlike my father, however, I couldn't sell one hobby to pay for the next, so I was somewhat limited as to the depth of study for each art form.

A partial list includes seed bead chokers, crocheting, Styrofoam egg decoupage, latch-hook rugs, string art, watercolor, leatherworking, paint-by-number, candle making, macrame, shrinky dinks, tissue paper flowers, embroidery, loops and loom potholders, washcloth and yarn-fringed pillows, and calligraphy.

As I envisioned each project, the steps involved, and who I learned from, I discovered a reoccurring theme...owls had played a significant role in my vintage craft projects--my string art was an owl, one of my candle molds was an owl, and a finished macrame wall hanging was also an owl.

This revelation sent me on a search of owl symbolism where I found references to intuition, intelligence, protection, and the ability to see what others do not see.  One reference I kept coming back to talked about the heightened sense of awareness and how being drawn to owls may indicate shared abilities.  This really made sense to me.  As I tend to be more of a silent observer, I can sometimes see through pretense to the truth of actions and motives.  And I have to say this has been a curse as well as a blessing.  Anticipating others' needs tends to be a burden, as I end up putting myself last.

Most enlightening in my search thus far was a reference on the macrameowl page that said, "The owl also teaches us to acknowledge the dark side of our personality, and in that darkness we may find food for growth."  This is quite intriguing given my self diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder due to growing up with a narcissistic parent.  I would love to delve more deeply into living with joy instead of darkness.

Additionally, this new-found knowledge has me thirsting for more information.  I remember touching on Greek Mythology in a high school CP English class, but my memory has filed away those days too deep to be helpful.  I now want to explore and embrace all there is to know about the Greek goddess, Athena as her bird was the owl.  Perhaps it will lead me to growth and a further understanding of me.

Owl never know until I try.  :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 22 - Still Fall Here

In the wee hours today, about an hour south of where I live, the first snowfall of the region blanketed the still green grass and the various pieces of semiretired patio furniture.

The fall decorations and autumn tree colors in my immediate neck of the woods are still unscathed by the tangible icy white coating which is sure to usher winter in sooner rather than later.  So I thought I should capture some images during the peak of the color...

Farewell Autumn...til we meet again.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 21 - Words Flying High

Do you know anyone who has been proposed to with the skywriting method?

My daughter and I discussed this unique way to ask for someone's hand in marriage...

DAUGHTER:  "What if the skywriter wrote, 'MARRY ME, PATTY', and there were like ten 'Patty's' that saw the message; and maybe three of the 'Patty's' were in a serious relationship, and each thought they were the one being awkward would that be?"

ME:  "That's an interesting question.  But wouldn't the one doing the asking be right there on bended knee with ring outstretched when it happened?"

DAUGHTER:  "But what if one of the other Patty's was with her boyfriend waiting for him to pull out a ring and he's standing there looking stupid and pulls lint out of his pocket all apologetic and pitiful?"

ME:  "Okay, you have a point...that would be quite awkward.  Hopefully the skywriter will spell out the last name, too."

DAUGHTER:  "Not if they charge by the letter!  He better spend that money on the diamond."

ME:  "That's my girl!"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 20 - Are You Ready for Some Winter

There may have been a few snow flurries in the air today.  I say "may have been" as I'm still in denial that winter is upon us.  You would think after the 40-something winters I have been through (that I can recall) that I would recognize a flurry and know that the white stuff is imminent once the leaves turn and the temperatures drop.  I guess I'm just never ready to let go of summer and warm temps.

Do you have YOUR winter survival kit ready?  Did you leave the scraper in your car, or do you take it out for the summer and forget to replace it until the day you have to scrape ice from your windshield with a credit card?  Do you know the whereabouts of your mittens and snow boots, and are they laundered from the year before and in good condition?  Do you have the electric blanket on the bed?  My purse-onal necessities for surviving this frigid season include lip balm, extra tissues, hand lotion, and hand warmers.

My hubby gave me the best gift of all last year--heated gloves.  I feel like I'm in possession of some kind of 007 gadget when I wear them as they light up with red indicator lights...but, man, do they do the trick!

Life is short...don't get caught out in the cold unprepared!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 19 - Weather or Not

Today was partly cloudy...
 followed by cloudy...
 followed by dreary...
 followed by rainy...
 followed by sunny...
 followed by cloudy...
 followed by heavy rain...
 followed by pea-size hail
(although some said it was sleet)...
followed by rainy...
followed by sunny...
followed by cloudy...

Well, you get the picture.  Mother Nature could not make up her mind.

It closely mirrored my own mood swings:

followed by not quite awake...
followed by indecision...
followed by teary-eyed...
followed by joy...
followed by anxiety...
followed by frustration...
followed by a meltdown
(although some said it was an episode)...
followed by more crying...
followed by laughter...
followed by sadness...

I wish I could let go of the preconceived notions I have of the way I feel others should act and behave.

If only I didn't have expectations and standards...for myself as well as for those around me...or if I could just lower my expectations of others...then I would not constantly be disappointed and annoyed.

Life is too short to be consumed with bitterness.

Friday, October 18, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 18 - School Daze

Son is home on a short break from college working on some homework while daughter does her homeschool lessons...

One second is studious...

...the next second is silly.
Love, love having my kiddos home and all of us together!

Life is good :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 17 - Random Status Post Thursday - The Consequences of our Actions

The random status post on my facebook news feed this morning ended up being a lengthy rant regarding a local issue, so I looked to the next post for today's blog prompt--which was (of course) someone sharing someone else's photo-quote-recipe-grumpy-cat meme, etc..  Seems like 80 percent of the news feed anymore is "shared" content and not "friends" interacting...but I digress.

The shared image was a list of "House Rules"...which probably should have been displayed prominently in every room of my home:

  • If you sleep on it, make it up.
  • If you wear it, hang it up.
  • If you drop it, pick it up.
  • If you cook or eat from it, wash it up.
  • If you make a mess, clean it up.
  • If you open it, close it.
  • If you use it all, replace it.
  • If you borrow it, bring it back.
If I had just implemented this simple statement of preventative maintenance a long time ago when my kids were old enough to understand, I could have avoided so many conflicts and confrontations over the years. 

Not only should the rules be posted, but the consequences should be made clear as well if the rules are not followed.  

So often, parents make up consequences on the fly and not only are they unrealistic and not fitting to the circumstance, but they are not carried out--making them empty threats.  A child learns at a very early age about empty threats and knows that when the parent wields the "if-then" statement, it is nothing to be worried about...

I have watched and listened countless times as young parents state the following while their little ones pick at a meal:

"If you don't eat your food, then you won't get dessert."  

A half hour later when the youngster is screaming for a cookie and has only taken one tiny birdie bite from their plate, the child is handed a cookie.  That precise instant is when the parental unit loses all credibility and the threats become empty and the child KNOWS it.

My favorite threat to watch play out is the young family on an outing with other families. When the young one has a melt down or is picking on another child, the frustrated, exhausted parent says,

"If you don't stop that, I'm taking you home."  

About the fourth time this statement is uttered, not only is it laughable, but the child knows the parent is never going to leave the group to take them home making it useless as a tool of discipline.  I nearly chuckle out loud when the parent then whines, 

"How many times do I have to tell you?"  

And I think to myself...the exact number of times you have conditioned the child to hear that--indefinitely with no consequences.

It's called tough love for a reason.  Be the parent...not the pal.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 16 - SMILE!

Take care of your chompers...they are the only ones you get!

“You don’t have to floss all your teeth…only the ones you want to keep.” This was a quote on the wall in my dentist office that has always stuck with me and reminded me there’s more to good dental hygiene than just brushing.

The every six-month dental check up is essential. I’m so glad a visit to the dentist has improved over the years. Not that I didn’t like leaning over and spitting in the miniature toilet bowl next to the chair, but the new spit sucker is much more effective in grabbing the Technicolor rainbow that used to connect the patient to the spit bowl according to Bill Cosby’s comedy routine about going to the dentist.

The dentist chair isn’t the only area to see improvements in this necessary care-taking of the teeth and gums. I currently own a toothbrush with a sonic button and floss is strung taut across the end of a stick instead of cutting off the circulation in my fingers. The high priced rinse and whitening strips are ego trips but less expensive than cosmetic dentistry if you have that caffeine habit. But now that I have four things in my mouth, wanna ask me about my summer vacation?

My grandma had one good tooth left in her entire mouth at the age of 99. I wonder if that was the one she flossed consistently.

Life's short. Brush, floss, and see your dentist on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 15 - Chilled to the Bone

We attended my nephew's junior high football game this afternoon.  The temperature was 50-ish with mist that blew sideways.  My daughter laughed at me as a half hour before we left for the game, I began getting dressed--first the Cuddl Duds, followed by two pairs of socks, jeans, a turtleneck, and a long sleeve shirt.  A sweatshirt jacket, tennis shoes, hat, windbreaker, and two pairs of gloves completed my ensemble...not my first rodeo.  I know me and cold, and me is borderline cold urticaria (so I know there are not enough layers in my closet to do the trick).  I felt like Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story when he has his snowsuit on to go to school and can't put his arms down.  I did, however, manage to have my daughter grab a blanket as we headed out the door...she was still snickering at all my layers and feeling like the blanket was totally unnecessary.

Once we got to the field, we climbed up a few steps into the bleachers to sit down on what can only be described as slabs of ice.  Just that much higher up and the wind and sideways mist suddenly seemed gale force compared to the weather down in the parking lot.  Cups of hot cocoa became our life blood, and we huddled together like our lives depended on it.

An hour and a half later when the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the game, I was beyond numb and in desperate need of a fact, since I couldn't feel anything from the waist down, I wasn't sure if I actually had to go or if I had already gone!

Back at home, I began peeling off the layers and trying to prepare a hot supper to aid in my recovery.

It is now four and a half hours post-game time, and I just got the feeling back in my toes.

You're probably wondering how I'm going to survive the winter when I live in a state where the temperatures will most likely dip below zero for weeks on end.  I'm wondering the same thing, and the answer is probably stay indoors until next spring.

Monday, October 14, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 14 - Blog du jour

For our homeschool language this year, we are using Rosetta Stone French Homeschool edition.  If you're wondering if this hyped up course is all that it touts--rest assured, it is!...when it works.

Here's my tip of the day:  DO NOT think you will cut costs and buy used like I did!  Unfortunately, I ended up with an outdated version that would not install on my computer without a call to tech support.  And tech support (once I could understand what he was saying), was not all that helpful.  :(

It was not merely downloading a newer version from their support page as Mr. Tech Support led me to believe.  Thankfully, my hubby, who is a computer wizard, intervened and went through the 15 step process which basically amounted to fixing my outdated version with duct tape...a series of renaming files, deleting files, re-downloading files, and re-renaming files before re-installing from the start-up disk made my head spin as I watched the tedious process.  Unfortunately, all the rigmarole was not a perfect fix.  The program still crashes and my frustrated daughter has to restart the computer to get it to work.

All that being said, I have been very impressed by the Dynamic Immersion method of teaching that this language software provides, and I do look forward to continuing with all the levels...which I will purchase in the form of the latest version from a reliable source from now on!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 13 - A Recap of the Weekend

On Saturday morning, I met the MIL at a church salad luncheon and bazaar.  The church ladies bring out their finest salad recipes for this day and add crackers and bars and drinks for only a $5 donation.  Such yummy food and a craft and bake sale and raffle all under the same roof--that's multitasking.

Saturday afternoon was a shopping trip with the hubby and daughter for some clothes followed by pizza and a hot cookie sundae.

After viewing a couple tutorial videos on the ancient Japanese art of Kumihimo, I purchased a Kumihimo disk kit and bobbins and successfully completed my first braid.  I have so much extra time on my hands (NOT) that I decided to add this craft to my growing list of jewelry making skills.  I'm telling myself they will make great Christmas presents.

Saturday night, I attempted to keep a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old occupied for two and half hours while their parents visited with my mother.  It felt more like two and a half days, and I saw and heard (and smelled) things that I'm not used to seeing, hearing (and smelling) anymore.  I wouldn't say I babysat as I have always thought that was the most ridiculous term...I wish I COULD have sat on them, but with two such "high-spirited" children, sitting was definitely out of the question!

I was beaming with pride Sunday morning as my daughter read her faith statement to the congregation.  She will be confirmed in just two weeks...a milestone we look forward to celebrating with family and friends.

Lunch was Erberts and Gerberts, and then wash some bedding while making some of the favors for the Confirmation party.

A bike ride topped off the beautiful sunny Sunday before leftovers for supper and some mindless TV watching.  

I'm sure I've left out a few hundred other things, but life is too short for me to ramble on about my weekend.  It's time for sleep...perchance to dream.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 12 - It's a Bazaar Time of Year

I love to hate this time of year!  Craft fairs, church bazaars, and art festivals--OH, MY!!  Inspiration abounds browsing the various vendors and their wares.  Why didn't I reserve a table this year?

I am an artsy crafter.  I just lack the time and motivation to mass produce my handiwork for the unwashed masses year after year.

I still walk around admiring all the creative market items thinking..."I could do that.  If I started in right after the first of the year and made an item or two every week, I would have plenty to sell come this time next year!"

I actually have participated in three different craft shows--one indoors and two outside.  And while I do make more at the fairs than selling my jewelry in gift boutiques or on consignment, shows are a lot of work--and a huge investment.  You better be prepared to do several shows if you're going to do one, as the set up requires a lot more than just plenty of inventory to sell--tables, table coverings, canopy, display racks, signage, and a cash box are just a few of the necessary items needed to set up for a show.

Maybe next year I will get it in gear and set up at a craft show again.  In the meantime, this year will just be my year of inspiration.

My table at an outdoor main street craft show two years ago.

My table at a mall craft show three years ago.

Friday, October 11, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 11 - What Does Writing Mean to Me

To Write or Not to Write...That is the question.

     There is no write or wrong answer.

Writing is a type of therapy for me.  I've never been very good at thinking on my feet and having an intelligent conversation with someone that just flows effortlessly.  But writing gives my brain time to process and come up with more accurate and meaningful thoughts.  Writing allows me the eloquence I lack when I'm speaking.  Additionally, when I write, I can set my thoughts aside and come back to edit and fine tune later.

There was a time when I aspired to become a famous published author.  But now I just write for my own personal enjoyment.

Past accomplishments include a self-published children's book and a couple stories that were accepted for publication in a magazine.  I have created some other blogs which I have used for vacation journals so I can share my travels with family.

National Blog Writing Month helps me with my goal of writing everyday.  Writing is fulfilling.  It is my own and my own personal escape.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 10 - Random Status Post Thursday... **PLUS**

While it hasn't been too cold yet, everyone seems to be anticipating the winter weather in the true form of denial. This exclamatory cartoon by Charles Schulz was shared on my news feed this morning and sums up the feelings of many. Is it because I am getting older that the idea of cold, snow, and ice don't have the same appeal as it did when I was younger? I have said it before, and I'll say it again...I live in the wrong state. With my distaste for winter, it just doesn't make sense to live in a climate that has winter five months out of the year! Mayhaps I will be a snowbird when the hubby retires and we will fly south every winter :)

 And now for the **PLUS**... 

Darling daughter and I decided we needed a little de-stressing today. After she finished her lessons for the day, we took off down the road for our favorite outdoor labyrinth. The temperature was a perfect 73 degrees, the sky was a light cloudless blue, and there was a gentle breeze blowing. The Asian beetles were a little thick, but we persevered and accomplished what we set out to do.

 The labyrinth is a spiritual meditation experience. We use the entrance as a place to stop and reflect on our intentions and then enter with an open mind and a quiet heart. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. While walking the 40 foot circular sacred pattern to the center today, my focus was on letting go...letting go of anger, letting go of false notions, and letting go of inadequacies. At the center, I stop and pray a prayer of thanksgiving and to request the strength I need to live each day renewed and joyful. My walk back out is the preparation for returning to my daily tasks refreshed and with a thankful heart.

 I recalled my walk back out last time we did the son and daughter were with me (each with their own personal experiences). As we neared the end of the walk, we began hearing thunder off in the distance after what had been a sunny walk in. A cleansing rain concluded that walk.

 As there was no rain in the forecast today, I wondered briefly what we would take away from this second labyrinth experience, but immediately dismissed it as I was not looking for any signs when I set out on the path today.

 Darling daughter and I embraced as we exited the labyrinth and walked back to the car stopping briefly to take a couple pictures. Less than a quarter mile down the road after leaving the parking lot a white bird swooped gently down and flew in front of the car. At first, I thought it was a pigeon, and then I realized as it circled the car and flew in front of us again that it was a dove. So that I wasn't imagining the experience, I voiced out loud to my daughter, "Is that a dove?" With my daughter's confirmation of the sighting, the dove took one last dip in front of us and was gone.

 Sitting in stunned silence, we broke out in giddy smiles knowing we had just received a very special blessing.

 "Seeing a white dove is considered a sign of peace, harmony, and tranquility. It may also refer to experiencing the Holy Spirit, especially interpreted in a spiritual perspective." 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 9 - Sea Life in the Fast Lane

Today's home-school field trip took us to the SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium at Mall of America® ...actually, darling husband took us to the aquarium for our field trip.  Just before reaching our destination, however, we had a blowout.  Limping in to the parking spot, we left the car, flat tire and all, to be dealt with later.  We had a Behind-the-Scenes tour booked that we didn't want miss; and with more than 10,000 sea creatures, including sharks, sea turtles, rays, jellyfish, and seahorses, we wanted to get our underwater day underway.

The exhibits were colorful and interesting with several fun facts throughout and lots of opportunities for photo ops.  Even though it's an additional charge, I highly recommend the Behind-the-Scenes guided tour which took us up on deck above the tunnel system where we saw animals that are currently off-exhibit. One particular creature I could relate to was the blow fish or puffer fish.  We learned some back stories on some of the sea creatures--like Seymour the sea turtle who had his shell cracked in a boat vs. turtle accident, and another turtle named Amelio who had previously been named Amelia.  We got to see the laboratory where they do different tests to maintain the 1.3 million gallons of water that make up the aquarium. We also got to tour the Food Prep Kitchen to see what they feed the creatures in order to keep them healthy and strong. 

To keep the theme of the day going, we dined at Bubba Gump Shrimp for a late lunch...I know what you're thinking, but the fish and shrimp were quite tasty and we were okay with that.

We then headed back to the parking lot for the life skill lesson of changing a flat tire on the car:  

Step One:  Tear out chintzy tag board holding spare tire and tools from the trunk.  
Step Two:  Learn new swear words as Dad exclaims over how much he hates this particular kind of tire jack stand...frickin' jack!
Step Three:  Learn more swear words as the lug nuts won't immediately budge.  
Step Four:  kick the tire and swear some more when all the lug nuts are removed but the tire won't come off.  
Step Five:  Call for roadside assistance.  
Step Six:  Get so mad when roadside assistance tells you they will charge $115 to come out with a sledge hammer to remove the tire, that you kick it really hard and it pops off.  
Step Seven:  Hang up on over-priced roadside assistance, put on spare, throw everything in the trunk, and get the heck out of the parking lot where several people have come and gone and not one person asked if we needed any help.

What a day!  Field trips take a lot out of me!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 8 - Wealth is found in the most unlikely places

There is a poem circulating that gives a beautiful explanation to the mysterious findings of the pennies on the ground--our angels in heaven leave them for us. I've read the poem time and time again when it pops up on my newsfeed or gets forwarded in an email. I always thank my grandma every time I pick up a penny from the ground because of that poem. The other day, Grandma was feeling especially generous when she left me a dime--ten pennies all in the same pile!

I never imagined there would be any benefit to being shy and socially awkward. But while I was looking down to avoid uncomfortable eye contact in the hallway or while walking to school, I would easily spot all those coins that had slipped out of the hands or pockets of kids who would later be short when paying for lunch. Occasionally, I would even find a paper dollar. One time, I was so astonished to find a $20 bill, that I nonchalantly placed my foot over it while looking around to see if anyone else had seen my discovery or might want to lay claim to it.

 I remember a Christmas Eve driving through a deserted parking lot of the mall on the way home from our annual family gathering. I spied what appeared to be a wallet laying on the concrete. Dad stopped the car and I opened my door and reached down to retrieve what was indeed a woman's billfold. Inside were several fifty dollar bills--no doubt the hard-earned cash of someone doing some last minute Christmas shopping earlier in the day. In addition to all the cash was identification. We went home and I called the woman to let her know I had found what she had lost. I anticipated with the kind of money she was carrying that a reward of some sort would be forthcoming. Christmas Day, when she showed up to claim her lost item, not only was there no reward...there was not even a thank you. I remember vowing from that moment on that the next time I found a wallet full of cash, I would take the cash and put the billfold back where I found it. Well...that was 35 years ago, and I have yet to find another billfold to fulfill my vow.

But unexpected wealth isn't just in the occasional windfall of some pennies from heaven. Wealth can come as a kindness from a stranger--a friendly hello when you're feeling down, or a card or phone call from a friend you haven't heard from in awhile.

Spiritual wealth is found in a scripture passage that has been read over and over and then suddenly takes on a whole new meaning that can only be God inspired.

 Life is short...

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Monday, October 7, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 7 - All Coffee Shops are not Created Equal

Hi,my name is Deb, and I'm a coffee snob.

My family has threatened on several occasions to stage an intervention as my love of coffee has completely taken over my life. But I don't see it as a bad thing.

Just because I appreciate a perfect latte does not mean I have a problem.

Just because I focus on the first cup of coffee of the day before I can really function doesn't mean I'm addicted.

Just because I look forward to the days when I can go to my favorite coffee shop and sip my favorite caffeinated beverage doesn't mean I'm wishing my life away or obsessed.

Does it?

The yummy noises I make while taking the first few drinks of a hot caramel, vanilla latte--I've been told--are practically obscene.

I have more coffee punch cards in my billfold than credit cards.

I can taste the difference between gourmet Hazelnut flavoring and the other subpar brands.

...And a sugar-free, non-fat latte really is a "why bother!"

I used to get pretty excited when trying a new coffee house, but now that my favorite barista has me so incredibly spoiled, I approach all new coffee shop experiences with a bit of trepidation. Until I try that first sip and know that the espresso, milk, and flavoring are just right, I remain reserved.

I still have much to learn, as I couldn't just step behind a counter and run a commercial espresso machine, but I have perfected the process at home with my Capresso Ultima (which is obsolete, by the way, and I will be so very sad when it craps out).

I will continue to try new coffee places when I'm traveling, and I really don't see this as an obsession or a problem, just something I truly enjoy.

I have to close as I think I hear my Keurig calling me.

Life is too short to drink cheap coffee.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 6 - At Issue: "Mawage"

"Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva..."  The Princess Bride

The Rite of Holy Matrimony was included in our contemporary worship service today at church. According to our pastor, "...the wedding rite is designed to be used within a regularly scheduled worship service, and although many couples choose to have the wedding rite celebrated independently on a Saturday, Mark and Teresa have chosen to be the first couple at our church to be married during one of our Sunday worship services.  Their choice shows the importance of our church family in their lives and gives all of us a chance to celebrate with them and their families."

As I sat in church last Sunday reading what the pastor had written in the bulletin about the Rite of Holy Matrimony, I overheard one of the older congregation members protesting about this young couples' choice.  He was telling anyone around him who would listen that he felt very strongly that a wedding should take place in a church but just not on a Sunday during a worship service. Sunday worship service should be just for Sunday worship and weddings should be celebrated separate from that time.  He went on to say that he would not be attending the service he faithfully attends because that just wasn't right.

I pretended not to hear his rant and took my usual stance--on the fence.  Traditionally, yes, church weddings are performed separate from a regularly scheduled worship service.  But if a couple desires to share their vows with members of their church family on a Sunday during a worship service, I'm not going to boycott the church service.

Life is short...if you can spend it with your tru wuv, it's definitely a dweam come tru.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 5 - When Life Gets Busy, Take a Break

Monday of this week wasn't typical by any means, but it went something like this...

Get our elderly dog outside, give him his joint medication, feed him his special dog food/Metamucil mix, take him for a walk...go for a mile walk with the daughter...check yesterday's homeschool assignments and look at the lessons for the day.  Have a quick breakfast before Pledge of Allegiance and prayers prior to getting our homeschool day going.  It's garbage day, so the bags have to go out at our place as well as at my mom's.   Take Mom to her doctor's appointment...get her back home in time to run back to my house and grab the daughter to go deliver Meals on Wheels...back home and eat lunch quick before driving the half hour to the Children's Theater where we spend an hour and a half helping with a newsletter mailing.  Voice and drum lessons follow.  Then it's back home where we decide supper will be popcorn at the movie theater. After the movie, it's back over to mom's to get her mail in, load the dishwasher, water some plants, and anything else she needs before heading back home to collapse.  I didn't even have time to shower  **sigh**

As I said before, not entirely typical with the community service activities, doctor's appointment, and lessons...but there always seems to be way more on my plate than hours in the day.  That being said, my hubby has spread himself pretty thin at work as well, but instead of catching up or cleaning house, we decided to take a break this weekend.

We drove 8 hours to visit our son where he is attending college.  Today was rainy, cold, and windy, but we all had a ball together!  We found a new spot to get our coffee fix, then hit local fare for brunch.  Picked up some groceries and then found a bowling alley where we played a couple games of glow in the dark bowling.  Back at my son's place, we played card games and fixed a spaghetti supper.  The fun and laughter were nonstop.

Hubby and I are back at the hotel, enjoying some popcorn, and filling up the hot tub for a quick relaxing dip before hitting the sack.  What a great day with the kids.  I wouldn't trade it for 100 extra hours in the day!

Life is short...when it gets too busy, take a break!

Friday, October 4, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 4- Write with all the Colors of the Wind

I'm blogging from the road today.

 My better half is driving.

 iPod songs on shuffle.

 Daughter is quiet in the back seat plugged into her own iPod shuffle.

Latte to-go cup close by to sip on in-between gazing out the window and writing out my thoughts...

Now that the fog is lifting, I can see that the trees are just beginning to turn. The cornucopia of trees on the bluff to the right assures me that Fall is here, but experience warns that the changing colors will be short-lived. The plethora of descriptive fall color adjectives do not do the view justice. How can one write about fall colors in such a way that evokes that feeling one gets from taking in nature's beauty? The orange foliage is like the flames of a campfire licking at the night air. The yellow hues of the leaves are warm and comforting like the summer sun. The crushed velvet of a theatre curtain has nothing on the leaves of red...are they burgundy, are they maroon, are they black in the shadows...until the spotlight hits, it's impossible to tell. The browns and greens never get top billing, but the truth is that without their rich contrast, the bright yellows and burnt oranges and rich reds would have no depth.

 On one side of the road my hubby tells me the sea of green is drilled beans..."they won't make anything." The other side of the road has the golden glow of a field of corn ready to be harvested. Before the fog had begun to diminish, we noticed the strangest sight--nothing of color--instead grayish-white poles that started at the ground and then disappeared into the thick misty covering. Every once in awhile we would catch a glimpse of a blade cutting through the ominous low-level clouds so that we indeed could deduce that the top of the windmill was still there, just temporarily masked.

These grayish-white windmills are popping up in more and more rural areas dotting the countryside and striping the once blank canvases of farmland. For years, birds have taken advantage of the natural air currents to conserve energy in getting from here to there. Now man has figured out how to harness that natural energy as well. A good thing? Yes, but it obscures my autumn view. Ah, well. Soon the countryside will be blanketed in white and the windmills will blend right in.  There won't be as many colors of the wind to write with then.

Life is short...Autumn is short.  Enjoy the fall leaves and write with all the colors of the wind.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 3 - Random Status Post Thursday

Anticipating the start of NaBloWriMo, I came up with some specific topics I wanted to cover as well as creating some of my own writing prompts. One idea I wanted to try was on Thursdays through the month of October I would look to my FaceBook friends' status posts for inspiration--wherein the first post that appeared on my News Feed would become my topic/prompt for the day.

 So...that being said, the first post on my News Feed this morning went like this:
 "Fortunate to say I haven't had this crappy of a day in a long time! So, if any of you have the full version of the Parenting Book, I need a copy cuz mine seems to be missing ALOT of chapters...ugh"

 Volumes have been written on the subject of parenting; however, who has the time to read everything and sort out what would be helpful in any given situation while trying to handle the situation? Additionally, no two children are alike, so how could one Parenting Book fit the bill for all kids?

 On several occasions, I have tried to apologize to my children when I realize that I have reacted poorly or inappropriately to a situation. I will use the excuse that they didn't come with a manual. (I'm usually a great one to have around after the crisis is over.) Other times, my wonderful husband will be quick to remind me of my inadequacies by saying, "The Parent-of-the-Year award people didn't get it, again."

 In reading through some of the other NaBloWriMo posts, I noticed there are quite a few "new moms" or younger parents writing during this National Blog Writing Month. How quickly I have forgotten the issues that surrounded those times in my kids' lives. Each age brings new worries, new illnesses/injuries, and new heartache as well as a deeper love and a sense of pride that is indescribable.

 My kids are 14 and 24. This morning while walking with my 14-year-old, we talked about the dreams we had while sleeping and the dreams we have about the future. She tells me I'm a great mom. I also received a text from my 24-year-old this morning that said, "Did you know you are the coolest mom ever :)"

 So, today (at least), my FaceBook friend and I are not on the same page, but tomorrow is another day with another chapter to be written.

 Life is short...apologize sincerely, and love unconditionally.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2 - Three Stabbings and a Funeral

(NOTE - It is not my intent for my daily blog posts for this NaBloWriMo exercise to be dark and depressing, but I need to purge these thoughts swirling in my head before they consume me--and writing them out has always proven a good way to do that.)

Life's Short...sometimes TOO short!

This bedroom community that I live in has a population of just under 2,000 people. I have actually not found this town to be overly friendly ever since moving here 15 years ago, but at least I have felt relatively safe.  In light of some recent criminal activity, however, not only am I not very fond of this little burg, but I am not comfortable living here anymore.  I suppose no community is immune to crime of one form or another.  But a crime like a stabbing in any community is terrifyingly heinous, and that's what we've been dealing with here lately.

While a stabbing in a big metropolis is certainly tragic and senseless, it's like a drop in a large body of water.  A stabbing in a town with a population of less than 2,000 is like a drop in a drinking glass of water--the ripple effect is felt by all!  What is infinitely more disturbing here, is that after a homicide-free record for a countless number of years, three stabbing related incidents have occurred in the last four months--two resulting in death.

Even though the incidents in question were domestic situations and not random acts, it's still very unsettling.  One stabbing occurred in our city park in broad daylight and another occurred across from our school.  Coincidentally, residents from the public housing project were involved in two of the three stabbings, and drugs played a role in the third.  So words like gangs, race, and stereotypical are bandied about at the local market and coffee hangouts with the news and rumors on everyone's lips.

While I didn't know either one of the victims, I'm still left mourning...mourning the loss of innocence and a simpler time.  What is happening in our society today that makes people have a total disrespect for the sanctity of human life?  Are parents in today's generation ill-equipped to raise healthy, compassionate individuals?  Has the government-created welfare-state-of-mind been a factor? Have the public schools been so limited in dealing with negative and inappropriate behavior that it has become impossible to control on an academic level?  Have we, as a nation, been so desensitized through the instant media reports throwing the daily violence in our faces, that we are indifferent to it all and unable to take a stand?  Is the fact that churches and religion are no longer significant and having a Biblical foundation is not a priority so we no longer comprehend right from wrong?  Perhaps it's a combination of all of the above.

I keep hearing that there is still more good in the world than evil...but the statistics in my little corner of the world are proving otherwise.

Life's too short to be negative...tomorrow my post will be positive and bright!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1 - Life is Short...Put a Lid on It!

Life is too short to wear only one hat, so I wear many!

I am...

...a faithful wife,

   ...a homeschool mom, exhausted caregiver,

         ...a senior pet owner,

            ...a distraught sister, and

      estranged daughter...

                                (just to name a few).

For the month of October I will add..

                   ...a writer

National Blog Writing Month (NaBloWriMo) begins today.  Given the list of hats that I wear, I have plenty to scream write about!

I enjoy writing, but rarely take the time to indulge.  This month, I hope to dust off my writer's hat and cap off everyday by taking some time for me!