13

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October 13, 2017, is our second Friday the 13ths in 2017. Most calendar years have at least one Friday the 13th, but no more than three Friday the 13ths. The last time there was only one Friday the 13th in a calendar year was in May 2016 and the next time won’t be until August 2021. Did you know there were three Friday the 13ths in 2015 (February, March, November)? Yup, we survived! It will happen again in 2026. This year, in 2017, there are two Friday the 13ths (January and October). Today is it.

Now if you have friggatriskaidekaphobia – an irrational fear of Friday the 13th – Here’s something to consider this year’s second Friday the 13th on October 13, 2017, happens exactly 39 weeks (3 x 13 weeks) after the last Friday the 13th in January 2017. Just think 2018 is right around the corner and it has two Friday the 13ths. The first one comes on April 13, 2018, exactly 26 weeks (2 x 13 weeks) after the Friday the 13th in October 2017. Then the second Friday the 13th of 2018 falls on July 13, 2018, exactly 13 weeks after the first Friday the 13th in April 2018.

Just noting the coincidences involving the number 13.

Does hope really exist?

Dedicated to a dear friend who walks with two spirits, a woman trapped inside of a man’s body, fearful that any moment his/her life will be diminished by ignorance in rural Maine. The issue is very real for her because people there are not open to change. They cling to their conservative and fanatical religious beliefs like the clan does their white sheets.

There was a brief glimmer of hope
it floated like a mist over a river
when humanity’s door briefly opened,
acknowledging the possibility of gender fluidity.
But like our fickle climate, hope vanished
and with it came a renewed surge
of hatred and entitlement. Deny or destroy
anyone that dares ask for equality.
Even the moon withheld his glowing face
as he/she contemplates the next course of action
in this vicious cycle called a transgendered life.
Darkness prevails!  The remaining shreds of hope
float away leaving only a trace of compassion
hardly noticeable in the grand scheme of things
when guns silence the masses and zealots
claim righteousness prevails.

I pray for sanity in this world.

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. 🙂 “

 

 

 

 

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

Scone variation 

I followed the same recipe except I added 1/2 cup more flour to compensate for the fruit. I added 1 cup of finely chopped rhubarb and 1 cup of chopped strawberries 🍓 and the zest of one halo tangerines and then I finished peeling it and chopped it up.  I baked them on 400 just like the original recipe but for 20 minutes because they were wetter than when I used the dried fruit and nuts.  I love how they’re tart and sweet.

Scone recipe

This is the recipe I’ve been using for the Airbnb guests and everyone has loved them thus far.
Recipe By:USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson
“Make a holiday breakfast — or afternoon tea — really special with these sweet bakery treats.”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

I don’t do the frozen butter all the time either. If I have bars unfrozen I used my pastry blender or two forks to work it in. The end results are the same.

I’ve substituted the raisins or currants with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or dates and a half cup of chopped nuts. I’ve used walnuts, macadamia and almonds thus far. I’ve done a cup of blueberries too. I did strawberries and rhubarb but used only 1/2 cup of each. I’ve  also done a whole 12-ounce bag of cinnamon chips with chopped walnuts. As you can tell the substitutions are endless, just have fun.

I did them once without parchment paper and the bottoms browned too much, so I agree with Pam about using the paper to get a light golden bottom.

The great part in an air tight container they stay delightfully fresh for a week.

If you want to make them fancier drizzle icing on them.

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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.