July flew by on me

Writing Course- Write a Novel in 10 weeks

I just completed the halfway point of the course. Our assignment for this week was the first page of our book. 250 words maximum with the one margin all the way around, 12pt font size and in Times Roman with a header of our title and our last name.  Except, I don’t have a name yet, so I wrote TITLE and then my last name. I always leave word in the setting it comes with and apparently that’s not publishing standards so I had to correct that and the font size. Nor do I ever pay attention to the margins or indentations because typically I write poetry.  It’s just more things to remember to do before I write.

With that said, I wrote my first page and received positive feedback and I’m proud of you from the instructor. I read it to my husband Vic and a good friend who both agreed I had curiosity aroused immediately and they were invested in the character.

Theresa, I have averaged 25 hours a week this month. I have a twelve-page character traits list, three-page ordinary world scene set-up. I have a strange outline going but right now I’m not really sure how much I’ll stick to it. Mairin, my character has a mind of her own and she keeps surprising me as I write.

And if that isn’t enough on  I’m participating in two different writing challenges for the month of August. One I am leading is a virtual blogging trip through all 13 countries in South America. I’ve created activities and planned our lodging and food for each country and the bloggers have to write from those prompts. It’s a fun way to learn about different parts of the world.

Then there is a challenge where we form teams,  we review like crazy other writers work, and do writing challenges in hopes of beating the other teams. There are battles where the two teams pledge to do so many reviews and the winner during the set time frame wins extra points. It’s called Game of Thrones, kind of a play off the show. My house is Florent, there is a fox on our banner. There are 13 total houses competing with 10 people on each team for the whole month of August. Last year, we got bumped out of the top three where we had been for 3 years.

Crocheting Project

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This is one of the jellyfish I’m working on for my eldest granddaughter’s new apartment in Santa Barbara. She loves the ocean so everything in her apartment is related.

AIRBNB

Thus far we’ve only had 2 days off this month of insanity. Thankfully, no more broken pipes like we began the month. A company came in and removed the rug, what a disaster that was. They set up drying equipment and treated the area for mold. There was no way with my allergies could I handle removing the rug, I had difficulty breathing down there with the cleaning I did do.

We’ve met some fascinating people from around the world. We’ve hosted 3 different families from China, a father, and son from the UK,  two different German couples, a young man from India, a woman from Romania, a man from Italy, and right now a young woman from Bangladesh. And tomorrow we have a woman arriving from India and on Monday a man from Africa.

My scones are definitely a hit! Right now I have cinnamon chip scones and cookies I used to make my kids with Rice Krispies, oatmeal, and flour with shredded coconut. There called Ranger cookies. I always tweak them with different ingredients and these have chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.  If I get ambitious tomorrow I’ll post the recipe with a picture.

Garden 

I have peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers growing in containers on the lower level. Everything is growing very well in spite of the crazy weather we’ve had. I am amazed at how huge my cucumber plants are, guess they enjoyed all the rain, because they’re huge and covered with buds. I’ve picked three so far that were six inches long. I’ve picked about 20 cherry tomatoes and 2 huge green peppers and there are at least a dozen more almost ready for picking. The zucchini has been a bit slower but it does have buds finally. I did have lettuce but the dang squirrels dug it up. So to be safe I put bird netting on the rest of my planters.

Reading

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to read all the blogs but after this intense writing course I will catch up.

I’m reading Octavia Butler’s book Parable of a Sower. “Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. When a fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into the world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.” I’m really enjoying the protagonist who is a self-assured young woman who instead of being defeated is taking life by the horns.

Real Life Writers and Critique Group

Now, this is definitely something new for me and the writing group as well, we’re going to an open mic in Philadelphia.  A bunch of us are going to present our work to a live audience. To be frankly honest, I’m scared shitless. I panic when I get on stage and there definitely is one there in the bar where this is going on.  Thank goodness I won’t be alone. Jordan, Dan, Marcus, are definitely doing presentations. The guys are so comfortable in their skin whereas I’m not. There are going to be about 10 of us going together to support each other. I wish Sara and Pam were in town, their part of our group but no longer live in this area. The ladies would rock at this. So right now it’s me and the guys.

By the way one of my poems was published in a local newspaper.

http://www.princetoninfo.com/index.php/component/us1archive/?d=current&Itemid=24

Imperfectly Perfect
People Saw It at The Time
Mismatched Yet Perfectly Paired
Idealism
And
Horrific Brutality
Up-close and Unsettled
Inspired by What Lies Beneath
Purposely
Seduced and Betrayed
In a Galaxy, Far Far Away
We See
Belief is Potent
Every Angle
Mismatched Yet Perfectly Paired
We Understand
The World
Doesn’t
Change
For Better
Or WorseLive

 

Enjoy!

 

241st Birthday and other things

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4th of July

Happy 241st Birthday USA!  There are many aspects of our beautiful country I am proud of but unfortunately, there are many aspects I am not. Our present leadership and the increasing amount of hatred for individual differences I find appalling.  I’m sick at the path our country is heading as I am sure our forefathers are. They would be very disappointed at the misuse of power that happens daily in our country with the twisting of the Constitution they wrote.  We are facing dark times and I’m not sure the damage can be repaired.

We have to stop trying to make everyone into one mold if this world is going to thrive. We need to embrace each individual, and respect their uniqueness and whenever possible support them in their journey because together we can do anything. We need to remember ultimately we all share the same home…. Earth.

May, June,  and early July

I really enjoyed reading Tami’s summation of her month and decided I’m going to give it a whirl today but I’m going to do the past three months.  I love reading other blogs because you get so many inspiring ideas.  Theresa has helped me focus more on the time I spend writing. I actually managed to write for the month of June 80 hours. Not too bad but I need to get more writing time in.

I’ve enjoyed reading the different bloggers the past three months. Initially, I tried to read everyone each day but found it was too time-consuming so  I choose five different ones each day. I spend time catching up with their entries while I am there. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers. Thank you!

In the 7  weeks, I’ve been crocheting on the Mandala I have 103 hours invested. There will be probably that much more to complete it because the rounds are so much larger.  I am very happy with the color choices, it is so vibrant. My friends Sara and Debbie each had the opportunity during the past weekend to snuggle underneath it. The smiles on their faces made all the time invested so worth it. I wish I had taken a picture of them, next time I will definitely do that.

I did take a couple mental health breaks from the Mandala and crocheted a couple hats and a scarf. Right now I’m working on jellyfish in turquoise and blue for my oldest granddaughter Mikhayla’s new apartment’s bathroom in Goleta, California. I still can’t believe she’s 21 now, time flies when you’re having fun.

In May and June, we’ve had 18 guests in the Airbnb part of our lives staying in our home. I baked scones, muffins, cookies, and brownies for their enjoyment.  Staying on top of the furballs was probably the most time consuming since they are shedding a lot with the warmer weather. The calendar is important too because our lives require a bit more planning than they once did but all in all it’s worked. We blocked out time each month for family and friends so we’re not overwhelmed.

We’ve been enjoying having the windows open before the peak of summer really hits so that has added to their shedding I’m sure. So far in the month of July, there are 8 bookings and in August we have 6 thus far.

Macavity has benefitted the most, in my opinion, he was a very shy cat with strangers but has become more social with the different interactions. I had to chuckle with his recent antics of lying on the front landing in front of the stairs to go up to the upper level to reach the bedrooms so whomever passes must rub his belly. He especially loved having Sara dote on him while she was spending time with us.  We can’t wait until she returns again, we have so much fun together.

The renovations are coming along slow but sure. The dang water pipes Vic has got under control since the pex pipes and shark bite fittings have made the process rather easy.

I finally got the back yard under control with the dang weeds growing between the patio stones. The birds drop so much seed it is an ongoing battle all the time. I had to put bird netting around my peppers, squash, cucumbers and tomato plants because of the pesky squirrels. The have-a-heart trap is going back in the lower yard too because they are so destructive to my garden.

Sara and Vic hung the lights on the lower level before the party on the first of July. It looks so pretty down there after dark, I love how the lights give the space a beautiful ambiance. Speaking of the party, we hosted “a gathering of the minds” party with the writing group and their significant others. At one point there was 26 of us here out of the 30 invited. 🙂  Sara and I made three different salads and homemade sangria. We were very pleased with the results. Vic cooked burgers, hot dogs, and kielbasa on the grill and Mother Nature even cooperated long enough to complete the grilling time before she down poured on us. Even then it was only a brief shower and we were able to go back outside.  I was very pleased with how everything came together and seeing the enjoyment of all that joined us made all the extra work so worth it. I even managed to get 15 minutes writing time in early that morning.

My first writing class and assignment went well. I am excited about the class but also worried that in the process I will lose my own voice with the methodology. Several of us taking the course discussed the same concerns with other writers and decided to work together if we have issues. That’s the best part of our in-person writing group, we help each other grow to our potential with honest feedback. I’ve created a character Mairin, she’s going to be my hero in my story about facing death. I’m going to work on expanding on her character traits today so I’m ready for the next class.

I need to bake fresh scones and cookies this evening or maybe tomorrow morning since a new guest will be joining u tomorrow evening. Today, Vic and I are going to spend some much-needed couple quality time together.

Enjoy your day wherever you are. I’m sending you positive vibes.

Quote

“I’m good at multi-tasking. I can listen, ignore and forget all at once. 🙂 “

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Resources and more

Author’s Connection

This link surprised me with the information available for writers. It’s always a good thing to double check before entering contests or submitting work for anthologies because the expenses can add up and if you’re like me money doesn’t grow on trees. I was surprised at how many bogus contests there really are.

http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/contests/

Mandala

I’m on round 82 the last round of part 12, I’ll post a picture when I’m done. I am very pleased with the turquoise, teal, and burgundy together. I’ve decided to do a hat and scarf in the three colors for me.

Airbnb 

I made cinnamon macadamia scones and cranberry macadamia scones for the guests this weekend for breakfast. The fresh fruit is pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew melon. I also have Stonyfield French Vanilla yogurt. They shouldn’t be hungry.

For dessert in the evening, they have the choice of buttermilk sugar cookies, coffee white chocolate macadamia cookies, and double chocolate chunk cookies. I try to keep a varied selection on hand.  My favorite of this week’s selection is the coffee white chocolate macadamia ones, they are so moist!

Here’s the original recipe by Cindy. I never follow any recipe to the letter, it’s just me. I’m not a huge fan of almonds so I substituted chopped macadamia nuts and I used white chocolate instead of the chocolate. I didn’t bother to toast the macadamia nuts either. I also increased the vanilla to 2 teaspoons because I am a huge vanilla fan. However, you prepare them they are divine and the perfect adult cookie.

Recipe By: Cindy Carnes
“These cookies are a step above any you have ever tasted.”

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Toast almonds in oven for 10 minutes or until brown.
  3. Dissolve coffee in 2 tablespoons hot water. In a separate small mixing bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer at a medium speed until fluffy. Pour coffee, vanilla and eggs into the butter mixture; mix well. Reduce mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  5. Fold chocolate chips and almonds into the dough. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.

 

Quote

“Memories may find me but they will always be behind me. I’ll take today over yesterday…any day ” unknown

 😊❤️

Mandala Madness Among Other Things

Mandala Update

The last time I blogged I mentioned how I was going to bring some of the earlier colors back into the Mandala to help keep the colors fluid. I reintroduced orange and the light yellow in Round 11. As I was working with the yellow and orange it reminded me of a sunset so I decided to make the third color red. The Mandala measures 60 1/2 inches now and I really feel it on my legs when working on it. It’s quite heavy. I don’t think I will need another blanket with it in during the winter months.

Theresa Barker inquired how long the rows are taking now. Row 74 and 75 each took an hour to do because they were simply single crochet and then treble crochet. Rows 76 and 77 took almost 3 hours each because of the long sc and having to follow different patterns in each part. At this point, I have 100 hours invested in this project and I am on row 80 with 31 more rows to go.

In Round 12, I reintroduced the turquoise, burgundy, dark blue and teal to continue with the fluidity from the earlier sections. There are shells and scallops in this section so I know I will be spending more time.

Airbnb 

We’ve hosted guests from Switzerland, Russia, and Poland thus far in addition to six U.S. travelers. We opened the door to guests on May 21st and we’ve had 12 so far. The calendar for July is pretty full already.  It’s been quite interesting to learn about the different lifestyles. I’m certainly acquiring great writing resources for down the road.

I did block the first weekend out in July after the 4th so we can go to Virginia for the oldest grandson’s 13th birthday. I still can’t believe he’s going to be 13. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

I’ve found for practical purposes cookies for the evening and a selection of scones for breakfast work the best. This allows me to cook only twice a week instead of daily. Though as quick as my scones disappear I make them more frequently. Cranberry nut and date seem to be the most popular which surprised me. I was sure the blueberry would disappear the quickest.  My banana nut muffins vanish every time I make them. On the weekends I make sure to whip up a batch. I always have fresh fruit to complete the offering.

Writing Update

I’m still not able to get more than 30-35 minutes a day.  I’ve just too many distractions going on and feel frustrated when my to-do list doesn’t disappear. Like this afternoon, the guest needed to arrive earlier than the 4 pm check in because he had meetings to attend in the evening so I had to get things done earlier. Normally, I write in the early morning or in the early evening. But with his arrival and return time different, writing is just getting done now when I should really be hitting the sack. I only had 2 hours of sleep last night, between the knee,  my migraine and a noisy husband. I’m running on caffeine.

Tomorrow is my real time writing group, I need to get something finished to share for critique. So come hell or high water tomorrow I will find time to write.

Remodeling Projects on the house that never stops giving and giving.

I finally got the sanding done on the fireplace wall, hopefully, I’ll be able to paint it this weekend. We don’t have anyone here on Sunday thus far. In the meantime, we’re tackling a leaky pipe tomorrow. The copper pipes have been springing pin hole leaks because the water is so acidic. I’m looking at the pipes and wondering what it is doing to my skin. We’ve decided a water filtration system as soon as we can afford it is next. Our cooking water I use the Brita filter pitchers and the refrigerator has a filtered water unit for drinking.  I chuckle when I fill the cat bowls with water from the fridge because they all love when the water is cold and come over to drink immediately. Sometimes, I toss ice cubes in and Macavity has a ball batting the cubes around. Who would have thought cats have water preferences?

Inspirational Quotes

Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguish the strong soul from the weak.~ Thomas Carlyle

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.~ Albert Einstein

 

Enjoy your evening.

 

 

 

Life in a Nutshell

I’m on Round 73 with the Mandala. I added orange, pale yellow and red from earlier rounds to bring the colors outward. My inspiration for part 11 was the fiery sunset, the sky glowed intensely Saturday evening with the beginning of our heat wave here in Jersey. Thankfully, today is the last of this heat and air advisory. I don’t mind the heat so much but 95 is more than I enjoy.  I’m crocheting the Mandala directly under a ceiling fan or I’d be roasting. The picture doesn’t do the three colors justice but next to the blue is the orange, then its yellow followed by the cherry red and when I begin Round 74 it will be yellow again then the orange will end this part. The stitches are hdc, dc and dtr which are easy enough to do.DSC_0019

I did sneak in a mental health break and worked on a seashell hat and scarf pattern that I saw on Rhondda’s  Oombawka Design Crochet. I was very pleased with how it worked up. I’m not thrilled with the buttons I’ve come across yet so that part isn’t done yet. The brown button isn’t large enough nor does it contrast enough. The white plastic just looks cheap to me. Maybe it’s just me because I really wanted a seashell about the size of the white button but finding it thus far has been quite frustrating.

I’m inclined to have the lighter turquoise be the front versus the darker only because so much of the darker turquoise shows on the hat. This is the first time, I’ve tried Caron’s Cake skeins, I loved how the colors unfolded in this pattern. I still have a small ball of yarn after completing the scarf and hat.

If you haven’t checked out Rhondda’s patterns they work real easy with the clear instructions. I’ve included the link to the next hat I’m going to do for my grandson.

https://oombawkadesigncrochet.com/2017/06/just-my-style-hat-free-pattern.html

Writing challenge for the week wasn’t as much as I hoped but I still did accomplish 35 minutes a day with the blogging challenge I am doing on Writing.com and I wrote 2 poems that I’m still mucking with before I share them.

We’ve had guests at our home since last Tuesday until yesterday with the Airbnb part of our lives. Tuesday through Thursday, we had two writers join us because they were attending a writing conference in Princeton. Then we had a couple from DC up to watch their son in a soccer championship for the weekend. And the final guests were a one-night college couple that left a lot to be desired and encouraged me to change the details on my listing. Two of the three groups were awesome and we really enjoyed the conversations immensely. I was genuinely sad to see the DC couple leave.

After looking at Tami’s cinnamon rolls and broccoli alfredo I decided to make the alfredo Saturday evening for dinner, the lesser of the two evils much to Vic’s disappointment.  He’s not starving by a long shot. I made lemon cupcakes and apple brownies for the guests to enjoy and there were tons of leftovers. We had blueberry muffins and a lemon coffee cake for breakfast.  The alfredo, I decided to try a low-cal version with vegetable broth, flour, and a bit of olive oil instead of heavy cream with freshly grated parmesan and garlic. I added broccoli that I had sauteed with garlic and fresh herbs from the garden after the sauce began to thicken.  I love using fresh herbs. I grow rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, chives, and sage in rail planters.   It came out so good, Tami, thanks for the inspiration.  But I can never cook just for one meal so, on Sunday, I decided to add chicken and mushrooms which definitely took it to the next level. YUM!

Yesterday, I made us grilled cheese with tomato and fresh basil on sourdough bread for lunch. It was simply too hot to eat anything heavier and besides we had a dinner plan that was a lot more appealing. We went out for an ice cream date with our grandson, Chris. I don’t know about you but when it’s 92 degrees ice cream is a perfect dinner alternative. He enjoyed having ice cream instead of dinner too.

I’ve been enjoying reading USA Through Our Eyes posts about Rochester, New York. I learned a lot about the city and saw some lovely glimpses of the area. Gabe’s digital painting is really good , you should check it out.

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/52885002/posts/1489123409

If you’re looking for healthcare info  I suggest you check out my better half’s blog Crain’s Comments.

https://vlcrain17.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/more-scandals-in-for-profit-medicine/

He’s a researcher and enjoys helping people be prepared for life’s unexpected nuances. If you have a question, he’s the person to ask, he’s really good at finding answers to health issues.

I’m going to close with Theresa’s challenge to write with our inner child creativity inspiring us to do something different than we normally write. That in itself is difficult to do because we’re just creatures of habit. At least, I know I am and writing differently sometimes makes me feel unnerved. I need my coffee cup and my pencil in hand. Even this blog entry I wrote the jest of it on paper and then copied it here on WordPress. I feel safe with my paper and pencil.

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/56405964/posts/6515

If you haven’t checked out Theresa’s Tattoo Girl, you’re missing an enjoyable read. I can’ t wait to see what happens next with Jaime and Corey.

 

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. ”   

Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

Life’s blessings

I’ll begin with the Airbnb part of our lives, thus far we’ve had 4 ideal guests and 1 not so much but that’s to be expected. It’s not that the one did anything wrong it’s just a courtesy thing that apparently isn’t a given across cultures. If I ask someone for an exception because I can’t make it happen in the timeframe I call and update the person so they can plan accordingly. Like for instance, check in is between 4 pm and 11 pm which is a 7-hour leeway. These guests asked if they could have a bit later than 11 pm and my response was no later than midnight before they even booked with us. Midnight came and went without a word from our guests. They arrived at 2 am and all they said was we’re late, oops. So that made for a short nights sleep for us. They left at 8 am, didn’t want breakfast after I had it ready. It was annoying because I had inquired when they arrived if they wanted breakfast and at what time would work for their schedule and then to simply dismiss the effort. Communication is a great thing when both parties use it. Oh, well chalk it up to experience. I changed the wording on the check-in process, so it is clear if you are going to be later than I need to be updated with a new arrival time or the check-in time will not occur.

I was in the lower yard taking down the compost from the kitchen to the compost bin when I decided to do some weeding while I was there on Saturday. We have a small courtyard with our townhouse that borders with our neighbors. On one side I have lilies planted and I saw this vine wrapped around my lilies strangling them from my neighbor’s yard. I untangled the ivy and put it back on her side of the fence. I didn’t think anything of it just focused on getting the yard cleaned up some. I came in and washed my hands and went on with my day. I woke up Sunday morning with my right eye swollen shut and my left eye puffy but able to move, unlike my right eye. My left arm was covered with red blotches and tons of blisters. Oops, that ivy I moved was poison ivy. I applied a coffee compress to get the swelling in my eye under control and applied banana peels to my eyelids after that to draw the oil out of my eye area since I couldn’t apply calamine lotion that closes to my eyes. I took Benadryl to help with the discomfort and tried to get on with my day. Finally, I asked my husband to take me to the hospital my eyes were on fire.

At the hospital, they numbed my eyes and checked to make sure I didn’t burn my cornea because it can happen with poison ivy than they flushed my eyes with water to reduce the oil levels there. The doctor then started me on a steroid regime to help get things under control. Yesterday, I could see out of my eyes but today, I arose with my right eye swollen shut again so again with the coffee compresses. ( Coffee works very well on swelling, it reduces the swelling quickly so if you have bags under your eyes that you want to conceal try some black coffee there, it works.)  Are we having fun yet?

I have completed round 10 on the Mandala Madness project. It was very frustrating and challenging to stop and start because of the stitches involved.DSC_0012DSC_0013

As you see it has become rather ripped on the edges but the designer notes this will happen and the next rounds will flatten things back out. I did all of round 10 in sky blue and royal blue. Today, I am looking at my colors used and decided that I need to tie some of my earlier colors back into the project so I am beginning part 11 with the orange I used in the center.

Writing update, I didn’t get more than 15-20 minutes in writing over the weekend because of the eye, I’m struggling right now to see with one eye. I wish I could say I am such a good typer I don’t need to look at the keyboard but I’m not. I know where all the letters are located but fat fingers do make errors.

I’m in a blogging challenge on Writing.com so I have managed to get a blog post done each day thus far but they are really short for me. Hopefully, this is the turning point and my eyes will shrink back to their norm.

I entered one of my poems in the US 1, which is a local paper in my area for their annual local featured author’s edition coming out in July.  The editor dropped me an email and commented how unusual the poem was and that was the first time anyone had submitted a found poem to their featured collection. 🙂

We got the sheetrock hung in the living room where we are doing the renovation around the fireplace. It looks so much better than it did already and we’re not even close to being done. A friend of mine is really good at spackling so she is getting the wall ready for me to paint.  This is what it looked like with the ugly black glass and pink tile surround. My adopted grandson helping me take the old crap down.

 

Fatal Attractions and life

I was reading the latest newsletter from Book Riot about the most disturbing books and chuckled when I realized I’ve read all of the titles Romeo Rosales had listed. Oops, I definitely have eclectic and morbid reading habits. I’m sure you’ll recognize the titles, too! Why as readers are we attracted to true crimes and horror stories?

American Pyscho by Brett Ellis appealed to me because at the time I was trying to find myself similar to the author except I’m definitely female. Ellis comments about American Pyscho  “Whenever I am asked to talk American Psycho, I have to remember why I was writing it at the time and what it meant to me. A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one because all it was about was status.” Me either, the status quo wasn’t appealing at all. The character of this book represents everything that is wrong with American culture, extreme consumerism, making a lot of money at any cost, and nihilism of some group of young people. We hate the character yet we wonder secretly if we have some of those traits. (1991) (1)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote appealed to the younger me because I was told this book was too graphic for me to read so, of course, I snuck it and read it anyway.  In Holcomb, Kansas the Herbert Clutter family was brutally murdered in 1959. Capote and his friend Harper Lee went there to research the case. It took him 6 years to complete the first non-fiction crime drama. The killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested six weeks after the murders and later executed by the state of Kansas. I read it by flashlight in my bed at night and needless to say, I didn’t sleep well but I couldn’t put it down either. My grandmother did discover her book missing and I got grounded to boot.(1966) (2)

The Excorist by William Peter Blatty I originally saw at the drive-in theater on the Barre-Montpelier Road back in the dark ages it seems. I was a whopping 16 years old, married to my first husband when it was released. I couldn’t sleep at all that night after the movie. Nor could I forget the movie, I had to know more so I purchased the book and read it in two sittings.  I was like a moth to the flame. The novel was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession and exorcism according to Blatty. He heard about demonic possession while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University. (3)

Wolf Boys by Dan Slater This was a grisly yet compelling tale of impoverished Mexican-American youth molded into assassins by Los Zetas, the fearsome drug cartel. It’s an engrossing read with a nightmarish vision of a hyperviolent and corporatized narcotics industry, seducing a new generation with minimal alternatives. A reminder what lies behind the social landscape in the border region of extreme poverty and garish wealth…elaborate courtesy and low-barbarian violence. I stayed up all night with my head wrapped up in all 352 pages because of all the media coverage about the need for a wall between our countries. A wall will not solve the issues. (2016) (4)

Blood Meridan by Cormac McCarthy I was reading a lot during this time about the old west when someone recommended this one to me. I was interested in learning more about the Glanton gang but soon found out they were not appealing characters at all. “The bulk of the novel details the gang’s conversations and depraved, murderous activities as they travel on horseback throughout the borderlands. The gang encounters a traveling carnival, and, in untranslated Spanish, each of their fortunes is told with Tarot cards. The gang originally contracts with various regional leaders to exterminate Apaches and are given a bounty for each scalp they recover. Before long, however, they murder almost anything in their path, including peaceful agrarian Indians, unprotected Mexican villagers, and even Mexican and American soldiers.” I gagged a few times but persevered to the end. Zane Grey’s book about the west are a lot easier to read than McCarthy’s. (1985) (5)

Helter Skelter  by Vincent Bugliosi  Like everyone else at the times it seems I wanted to know more about the Tate/LaBianca  murders and Charles Manson. What created this monster? Why were so many young women attracted to this morbid man?  It wasn’t enough to read the book, again that moth in the flame moment I watched the movie, too! I can’t imagine what went through Bugliosi’s mind writing the book. (1974) {6)

The Road Out of Hell by Anthony Flacco I couldn’t believe this man was a decorated WWII vet, a loving father, and grandfather in addition to being an active community member. Just goes to show how deceiving surface images can be. “The heinous murders were committed by Gordon Stuart Northcott; a Canadian-born sadist who murdered between three and twenty young boys. The story is told by Sanford Clark, Gordon’s nephew and captive from the age of thirteen to fifteen. Sanford was beaten, molested, and raped by his uncle while he was held captive. But the worst part: He was forced to take part in the murders or risk being murdered himself. ” The movie Changeling is loosely based on this book. Yup, I saw that too! (7) (8)

People are morbidly fascinated with crime scenes and horror and sadly some feel the need to replicate the scenarios.  How can we treat our fellow humans so deplorably?

While I am on this topic I would like to send prayers for all the families involved in the bombing incident in Manchester, England yesterday. I pray for a time when all violence stops and we exist peacefully together.

Speaking of peacefully, I cannot say Round 66 on my mandala has been a peaceful journey. This row and I established a love-hate relationship. I’ve taken each of the eight sides apart more than once now so the spacing works. It is so easy to miss a stitch and when you do the end of the section will not work. I am on the final section and when it is done I will share a picture with you.

In Vic and Lyn’s world, this is our first week of being an Airbnb hosts and thus far our first guest initially booked for one week but now as extended his stay for three more weeks. He is here Sunday evening and leaves on Friday morning to return to his home. He works less than a mile from our home so it works out perfectly. We have guests joining us each weekend for the next month as well.

When I put the listing up on Monday, May 15th, I never anticipated how quickly this would all come together. My husband and I did some quick renovations to our home over the weekend and finished an hour before our first guest arrived. Phew!

I hope all of our guests will be as easy as our 1st one has been. Time will tell.

My writing time took a serious hit over the weekend with all the cleaning and renovation projects but hopefully, I’ll be back on track. Yesterday, I was too tired to write and reality wise I was too tired to crochet too but I did it anyway. Unfortunately, I ended up having to take it out and fix my mistakes there too. 😦

Today, I’ve accomplished 35 minutes straight. 🙂

1.https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/47587-american-psycho-at-20-catching-up-with-bret-easton-ellis.html

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Cold_Blood

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_(novel)

4. http://www.npr.org/2016/09/10/493436482/wolf-boys-tells-the-story-of-americans-lured-to-join-mexican-drug-cartel

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Meridian

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helter_Skelter_(book)

7. http://bookriot.com/2017/05/22/the-most-disturbing-book-i-have-ever-read/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Riot%20Rundown&utm_term=BookRiot_TheRiotRundown_Tue-Thur

8. https://anthonyflacco.com/the-road-out-of-hell/

Featured Poet~Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska

On Death, without Exaggeration

It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.

There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.

 

By Wislawa Szymborska
From “The People on the Bridge”, 1986
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and each man.
I know I won’t be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

 

Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.

 

Poets and Poetry, Writing Challenge and the Mandala

I will admit there is a smugness among poets because we try to use our poetry to make something happen or stop happening. We hang onto that thread of belief that what we wrote will shorten a nightmare, maybe even save a life. We find it unimaginable to not try with our writing.

There are definitely some bad poems out there but for every bad poem, there is the one intellectual poem that will strike a nerve. As an author on more than one occasion, a poem I’ve written has surprised me with the end result being different than where I began.

This particular poem has engaged different readers in ways I didn’t anticipate. From how did you know how alone I feel, or I’ve been there or are you okay?

Undesired

I lie

withered beside

the road like

a broken little bird

to confused to fly.

My neglected state

is apparent

even to the most

oblivious of

the oblivious.

Anger and frustration

sustain me

initially

but even that

energy fades

leaving a pitiful wisp

of what I once

was.

Now, a memory

shuffled among

many, I’ve

lost value

over time

until all

that is left

of me is

dust.©

The writing challenge had a slight bump in the road, Monday, and Tuesday no matter what I began writing ended up torn into pieces in frustration. My poor pencil snapped at one point because I was pushing so hard into the pad. Course, having my migraine spike that the control meds didn’t take the edge off didn’t help. I decided to sleep,  read some and work on the mandala until the Botox injections finally kicked in and the migraine from hades dissipated. It’s been three days since the injections and I am still struggling but at least today when I sat down to write I wrote something I liked.

Marcus sent me back my critique on Death and I and unfortunately, his commentary was the same as Vic’s that with all the time I’ve been spending trying to emulate what other authors in our local writing group do I lost my own voice in the process. So today, I went back to the table with my beloved pencil and began again line by line.

Funny thing before I knew it three hours had flown by and a whole pot of coffee drank. Oops, sorry, Vic.  (I’m a serious coffee drinker unlike my husband, he doesn’t usually drink more than one cup whereas I am usually a pot and more. I sleep like a baby every night regardless what time I indulge.) For this week, Theresa, Ronel, Tami I have almost 5 hours accomplished, although 2 I really feel were unproductive.

I did get some blog reading done. I spent some time with usathroughtyoureyeswith Audrey, Tom, and Emma (their dog). I also tried finger crocheting without much success, Yolanda. I did enjoy catching up with your crochet posts. The sweater is gorgeous but she (Yolanda) is frustrated with the sleeves. My only crochet clothing projects were vests for my children when they were younger. I do hats and scarves quite often because I love the look of Tunisian stitches. I’ve avoided shirts because of the sleeves and the way they drape or don’t drape as she discovered. Misstalkaholic had an interesting post about the Wagah border I enjoyed in addition to her examples of baggy shirts and wearing options. I’m guilty of liking loose baggy shirts untucked and just hanging there but then I’m 61 years old and comfort matters immensely to me. Tami is trying out bloglovin. I wish you lots of luck Tami.  I blog on Writing.com, I don’t have time to commit to another site beyond here and there. I did see oceanoriginals is looking for pattern testers. I briefly contemplated that and decided not to stretch myself any thinner than I already am.

We’re on Airbnb now, trying to earn some much-needed money to finish the renovations in this stone fortress so I really need to stay on top of the house cleaning and not let my furballs get to out of hand.

Mandala update:

I’m on round 66, the most challenging row thus far I have encountered. The directions are a bit complicated and working with two yarns at once have definitely slowed my progress. I’m working with baby blue and royal blue in this section which is Part 10. The designer did note there are only two colors in this part.

Round 64 and 65 were a snap unlike 66. I have taken it apart now 3 times because I messed up the popcorn spacing and the changing of colors which shows big time if you don’t have it as directed. It didn’t help either that Purryl, our oldest tabby, decided to chew the yarn I had pulled out either. A migraine didn’t help either.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis

I’m taking my time and checking often now so I don’t have to take it apart again. Plus I moved to the table so the mandala did not lay on top of me because it is mighty toasty here. I could give in and put the AC on but I’m resisting. We’ve been shut up for so long I want to hear the birds sing, and even that crazy woodpecker who’s clearly not working for the government because I can see his accomplishments .:)

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

Have a great day!