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. 🙂 “

 

 

 

 

Mandala and Other Updates

Mandala

Part 12 is complete, The scallops as I thought took me about 3 1/2 hours per round. I’m very pleased with the color choices for this part. It is 65 inches now. I’m taking a short break from the mandala because we have a good friend coming in from Ohio and I promised her a snuggle under this gem.

 

Hat

I whipped up a hat this evening with the same colors because I really liked how they look together. Not that I needed another hat. The hat I completed in 2 hours, it’s just a simple beanie. I decided to do the long single crochet and half double crochet’s to make the pattern. The upper section is all double crochet which made it real quick to do.WIN_20170627_23_01_10_Pro

Writing Class

On Thursday evenings for the next ten weeks, I will be at a writing class with Raz Steel. He pledges that a writer can write a book with his instructions from start to finish with his techniques without getting stuck. I’m game. I can write great beginnings but then I crash, the middle gets my ass every time. Then I get frustrated and there it sits. Wish me luck.

Raz is a published author of two books Love Without Blood and Blood Between Lovers. We are very lucky to have him as one of the writers in our Lower Bucks Creative Writers Group that meets in Langhorne, PA every week.

I pruned the juniper shrubs, and the hydrangea vine because both have got out of control in my lower back yard. My back is screaming this evening from all the tugging I did on the dang English ivy that was overwhelming the yard.

I have one more task to complete on Writing.com than I can crash. I am so ready but I needed to get some writing time in today. Sadly, this entry is all I’ve done since I worked in the yard for over 8 hours today,  then I came in and made strawberry, orange and rhubarb scones for the guest staying with this evening. She mentioned how she loves strawberry rhubarb pie this morning during breakfast when she was eating strawberries. She inquired if I make pies. I told no, I’m not a good pie maker. I told her about the strawberry rhubarb scones and muffins I’ve made. She thought that was interesting so I promised I would make her some. Lucky Sara gets to enjoy them too when she arrives tomorrow. This is the first time I put the oranges in and that addition made them spectacular. Tangy and sweet, yummy.

Inspiration

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

Barack Obama

Sweet dreams

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

 😊❤️

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

 

 

 

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!

Writing Challenge Continued

The rough draft of the poem I shared several days ago about life in moments and another one about wildflowers I took with me to my writing critique group. They enjoyed the imagery but the feedback was the cadence was off in both. One of the authors Raz Steel suggested I merge my poems into paragraphs with punctuation and see what comes to mind with it in a different format. This is both poems together with punctuation.

  Life in a Snapshot

This morning, I saw the droplets of water on the glossy leaves and fragrant spring petals. The plants bowed in the breeze, joyful for their reprieve from Mother Nature’s exploits. The birds sang sweet melodies, and a squirrel chattered noisily. Each sure, they have the remedies for the making of a beautiful day.

I sat with my coffee cup to my right while I scribbled with my pencil on paper. I tried to keep my thoughts reined in, but I’m enchanted at the moment. My youngest kitten nudged my hand startling me out of my musing. I happily agreed to Macavity’s insistent demand.

Unable to focus, I asked Vic to come dance with me in the field of clover. Our toes tickled the sweet fragrances free. I entwined garlands of wild flowers for us to wear as the bumblebees happily buzzed from blossom to blossom. The celandine and berries add brilliant color to the spring canvas. The birds sang magical notes as we strolled hand in hand back home as the sun faded behind the treetops.

At our age, we cherish every minute in this revolving door called life.

Life in a Snapshot evolved further with Raz Steel ‘s help. He hates adverbs and redundancies and I’m guilty of using both. Needless to say, he jumped all over them and immediately brought them to my attention. I’m eternally grateful for his editing prowess.

What do you think of Life in a Snapshot now?

Droplets of water beaded on glossy leaves and spring petals this morning. The plants bowed in the breeze, joyful for their reprieve from Mother Nature’s exploits. Birds sang and squirrels chattered, each sure they had the remedy for rendering a beautiful day.

I sat with a coffee cup and scribbled with pencil on paper, my thoughts reined in, but enchanted, nonetheless. Macavity, my kitten, nudged my hand and startled me out of my musing, and I agreed to his insistent demand.

Unable to focus, I asked Vic to dance with me in the field of clover. I entwined garlands of daisies and lavender to wear, as the bumblebees buzzed from blossom to blossom. Our toes tickled the sweet fragrances free, and celandine and berries added brilliant color to the Spring canvas. Magic guided us home as we strolled hand in hand, and the sun faded behind the trees.

*************************************************************************************

My writing was derailed again. Unfortunately, it was for bad news.  My deceased husband’s aunt texted me to let me know my ex-brother-in-law Jimmy had passed away.  Wow, He’s the same age as me. Jimmy’s health had been complicated with diabetes and heart issues for some time now. I’ll miss him but I know he is in a better place.

RIP Jimmy Osborne.

angel

               Don’t Cry For Me © Deborah Garcia Gaitan

Don’t cry for me,
I will be okay.
Heaven is my home now,
and this is where I’ll stay.
Don’t cry for me,
I’m where I belong.
I want you to be happy
and try to stay strong.
Don’t cry for me,
It was just my time.
But I will see you someday
on the other side.
Don’t cry for me,
I am not alone.
The angels are with me
to welcome me home.
Don’t cry for me,
for I have no fear.
All my pain is gone,
and Jesus took my tears.
Don’t cry for me,
this is not the end.
I’ll be waiting here for you,
when we meet again.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/dont-cry-for-me

“I have come to know that it [death] is an important thing to keep in mind — not to complain or to make melancholy, but simply because only with the honest knowledge that one day I will die I can ever truly begin to live.”

—R.A. Salvatore, The Halfling’s Gem

I’m going to give a shameless plug too for my friend, fellow author Raz Steel. He has two published books available on Amazon. I’ve posted one link the other is easy to find.