Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for ZEALOUS THOUGHTS ABOUT DESTINY #AtoZChallenge

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.



Z is for ZEALOUS THOUGHTS ABOUT DESTINY

Thank you to all my fellow A to Z'ers for sharing this month of April, offering your thoughts for me to read and reading the thoughts I put forth. A special thank you to the people who planned and executed this year's April A to Z Challenge. The amount of work involved is immeasurable.
 
Although posting 26 times in one month has its drawbacks, the fun of feeling so productive is another reason I find such joy in writing on a daily basis. I have chosen my path, one filled with simple pleasures. In this, I have made my own destiny.
 
May you always have control of your destiny.
 
 
 
Keep looking up, and reach for the sky!
 
 
Following are two prose poems from my Renshi-style poetry collection.
Both reflect my thoughts about destiny and how a person must take control of their own life.
 
 
36
Strength to Live 

Desire, Strength, Commitment
three separate paths
toward achieving success* 

Each path demands dedication
a lifetime of living
no distractions along the way 

Time is so short, even
dreaming must have purpose
when each day brings new challenges 

Hurdles appear insurmountable
as age takes its toll, leaving
destiny to mold and shape itself.
 
*The true meaning of success is in the minds’ eye of the beholder.
 
37

Molding Destiny

 
A fallacy,
both the molding
and the destiny
 
The master plan
includes free will,
without restriction
 
No ending
is pre-arranged
by calendar month:
 
Play here
Marry over there
Die on schedule
 
Rather: follow
what your heart
beats in time.
 
*****  *****
 
May your zest for life never diminish in power or enthusiasm.
 


 


 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for YEAR-LONG DECISION

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.


Y is for YEAR-LONG DECISION

This is another of my book reviews, number 39 of 71. While reading is one of my non-guilty pleasures associated with writing, some of my book selections are more serious than others. The storyline of this novel, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, involves a relationship that goes sideways due to an avoidable accident.

For the next twelve months, within the storyline, one partner in the relationship must decide how to deal with a new and tragically complicated set of circumstances. One of the decisions involves determining whether to stick with what had been a lifetime commitment or to move on to a new life.
 
 
 
THE DIVE
FROM
CLAUSEN'S PIER
 
Have you ever found yourself at a fork in the road that offers no direction or advice on how to proceed? Were the choices cut and dried, or almost too difficult to contemplate?
 
 
 
 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-COUNTRY SKIING #AtoZChallenge

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.



X is for X-Country Skiing

Skiing is far more fun than writing business letters or editing incident reports. When I took up writing novels full time, finding the fun in writing extended to X-Country skiing to keep my muscles from atrophying over the computer keys. Of course, this activity continued for only as long as I stayed in Wisconsin. When I moved, my skiis stayed back, along with thermo-insulated jackets and underwear, padded gloves, ski caps, thick socks, and snowmobile pants. 

Finding snow on Hawaiian soil is a bit more of a challenge. I've seen it on mountaintops. But my favorite "snow" these days is Hawaii's much better version of snow cones: Shave Ice!


 
Passion Fruit Shave Ice
As you can see, this was taken during one of my "Flat Stanley" projects!
 
 
 
For those who would like to see photographs of real snow in the Islands: 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for WALLONIA TO WISCONSIN #AtoZChallenge


For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.


W is for Wallonia to Wisconsin

Wallonia is the name for the French Belgian area of the country, the southern part. The northern part is Flemish, and in the very center is the capital, Brussels. The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages and dialects are spoken as well. English is widely spoken throughout Belgium as a second or third language.
 
My father's ancestors moved from Mehaigne, Belgium to Mishicot, Wisconsin in 1856. In 2007, I took a trip to Belgium to visit relatives and experience the country of my heritage. 
 
For a virtual tour of this beautiful country, please visit the blog site that I had so much fun compiling after the trip, and will use as research material for future stories. Featured are Brussels, Gent, Bruges, and all the little historical towns of my ancestors; plus the swans, beer, chocolate, and Mannekin Pis: 
 
 
 
 
 
Just south of Namur in the Ardennes village of Profondeville is the gracious Villa Gracia. The owner, Gisele, arranged a room for us for three nights in the hotel originally built as the secondary home of Belgium Army General Gracia.

 
 
 
Lacemaking in Brussels
 
 
 
Rooftops in Bruges (Brugge) built with stair-like roofs for easy exit in case of emergency
 
 
 

 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for VOLUNTEERS IN ALASKA #AtoZChallenge

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.



V is for VOLUNTEERS IN ALASKA

 
When it comes to volunteering, answering phones during a Hawaii Public Radio fund raiser is my speed. Something that will never appear on my "bucket list" of things to volunteer for is to spot the participating mushers during an Iditarod race, billed as The Last Great Race, and held each year in Alaska.
 
If I did volunteer, I'd want to work in the communication center to hear everything that's happening - from the warmth of an enclosed building. Anyone choosing to work out on the trail at checkpoints had better dress for cold weather! And carry a thermos of hot chocolate!
 
The coldest temperature ever recorded for the race was in 1973 when, with wind chill,
the temperature dropped to -130 degrees F.
 
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome, which takes place entirely in the US state of Alaska. Mushers and a team of 16 dogs, of which at least 6 must be on the towline at the finish line, cover the distance in 9–15 days or more.[1] The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams but evolved into today's highly competitive race. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
 
 
I had an opportunity to vacation and cruise in Alaska, taking time to visit the Iditarod Museum.
 
 
 

 
 
 


*****


Below is Book Review #37 for my goal to read and review 71 books by October 22, 2016


Murder on the Iditarod Trail - An Alaska Mystery by Sue Henry
 
 
 
 
I purchased Murder on the Iditarod Trail - An Alaska Mystery by Sue Henry after visiting the Iditarod Museum while on vacation in Alaska. One of the ongoing attractions of Alaska is the Iditarod Trail Race which is run each year in March.
 
The winner of Alaska’s world-famous Iditarod – a grueling 1100-mile dog sled race across a frigid Artic wilderness – takes home the prize money and bragging rights for the year.
 
The race is run as a tribute to the original mail carriers along this trail between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska. Anchorage stands at sea level and faces west over Cook Inlet. Rainy Pass, 230 miles into the race, is the highest point on the way to Nome. Views include rolling hills and the silence of majestic mountains. An army of volunteers keep the Pass open for the race. Trailbreakers carve out the “suggestion of a track” with snow machines. But these trails can be obliterated by new or blown snow in a matter of a few hours.
 
Add to the above treacherous scene one murder, and possibly more to come, with only vague understanding of why or how these events are occurring. The tension level, for the participants of the race and the investigating police force, rises with the body count.
 
The author’s vivid descriptions and stress-filled scenes allowed me to feel as though I were tagging along during the exhausting race – albeit from the warmth of my Hawaiian lanai.
 

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for 'UKULELES AND UNIQUE FLOWERS

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.



U is for 'Ukuleles and Unique Flowers

Several days ago, a friend and I drove up to Haleiwa along the
North Shore of O'ahu. She spotted a sign that fit perfectly with my post for today so we stopped to get a photograph! The sun was hot, the waves at Haleiwa Beach Park were high, and the shave ice with vanilla ice cream and azuki beans from Matsumoto Shave Ice was ono! Along with ukulele music and unique flowers, they are all good reasons to stay living in Hawaii, or at least to come for a visit.


My first introduction to the 'ukulele was through Arthur Godfrey strumming a tune on his radio show. He was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum in 2001. "It is likely that no other single person has been directly responsible for the sale of as many ukuleles as Arthur Godfrey."
 
When Mr. Godfrey visited Hawaii in 1959, he piloted a plane from Honolulu to Lihu'e Airport on Kaua'i. He was accompanied by the Ambassador of Aloha, Duke Kahanamoku, Duke's wife, Nadine, and Hawaiian singer Haleloke Kahauolopua.
 
Haleloke performed on his television show several times in the 1950s. On the show, she sang and danced while he strummed his 'ukulele.

One version of how 'Ukulele got its name

'Uku is the Hawaiian word for flea; lele is the Hawaiian word for fly, jump or leap. Seeing  a musician's fingers fly or jump over the strings of a musical instrument reminded the local people of a flea leaping around. (Now it makes sense where the ukulele string-tuning words originated: my dog has fleas).
 
What could be more Hawaiian than ukuleles and unique flowers?
 
After a recent board meeting, I walked past an area that always brings me to a stop so I can photograph the colorful, fresh-blooming hibiscus offerings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On ukulele:
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
by
Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole
 
 
 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Poems #33, #34, and #35 from ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING

During a break in the April A to Z Challenge, I am posting these three poems to keep up to date with my goal of posting all 70 poems by October 22, 2016. Rather than search for past poems in the book, you can just click on the link above marked "ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING essays" for the full list and a link to each blog post.


 
#33
Going Out
 
Remember staying home alone,
while the parents went out?
Watching Gunsmoke on television
and drinking chocolate malted milk. 

Later, sneaking beer and
lighting cigarettes at open windows. 

On and on until
we stayed out all night
and the parents
stayed home alone.
Where they no longer drank beer or
smoked cigarettes
but watched Johnny Carson on television
and ate Jiffy popcorn. 

Life goes on as Cowboys
justify their horsepower.
And Letterman signs off. 

It’s so easy to start singing The Statler Brothers’ song, “...smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo...” Of course, the song is about one man’s lonely life while the above poem relates to teens sneaking a smoke while the folks are out with friends. Everyone longs for something.

Remember watching “cowboy” shows like Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, and Have Gun–Will Travel? Or “comedies” like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show, The Jack Benny Show, and Leave It to Beaver. Back then, they were allowed to advertise cigarettes during commercial breaks; adults even smoked in televised shows. 

National television ran advertisements that glamorized smoking. The wording guaranteed it was healthy: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” and “27,679 physicians say ‘Luckies’ are less irritating.” 

As we aged, television didn’t change all that much. Late night programs differed in name only, first Jack Parr and Johnny Carson; then David Letterman and Jay Leno. “Cowboy” shows followed a pattern also. From Paladin’s Have Gun-Will Travel to Raylan Given’s Justified, it was non-stop shooting and killing in the name of justice around the country. 

Only “comedy” changed - drastically. 

Life might have seemed easier when we were watching free television and popping Jiffy-Pop popcorn over the stove. Maybe it wasn’t easier, only different . . . but the same.

*****     *****
 
#34
Letterman Style
Today’s Top Ten reasons
why people born in 1945
can be happy about
living past 70:
 
10. Whatever hasn’t killed you yet, you can probably keep doing.
 9. People continue to offer you their seat, everywhere.
 8. You can look forward to sequels of Jurassic World.
 7. Jägermeister will still be sold in those little 50ml bottles that fit in the coin slot of your walker wallet (see #10).
 6. Your Facebook friend count will keep growing.
 5. You replaced Windows 8.1 with Windows 10 and know you’ve still got decades to figure it out.
 4. You experienced Bruce Willis/Demi Moore and Jackie/Kelso reunions (with no one getting “Punked”.)
 3. Chances are good you will join in the pageantry of Queen Elizabeth II’s retirement, thanks to William and Kate (and George and Charlotte).
 2. You can witness what comes after Blu Ray.
 1. You may learn what it’s like to have a woman take over the White House --- as POTUS. (and celebrate or not: your choice.)
 
This is one of those lists that will be fun to update as time goes on. How many Facebook friends did you have before your last birthday, and how many have you gained since then? Which of the people listed in #4 are married, to each other, again? Is Windows still counting or did it stop at 10 point something or other? And how many sequels can Jurassic Park stand before Jeff Goldblum’s chaos theory destroys the world? 
Even as I was writing this particular “poem” the gossip magazines were reporting an upset in the royal matrimonial suite. The slings and arrows of debates and caucases and rallies and primaries had barely begun.
 
*****     *****
 
#35
Celebrate

 

So often she wanted to believe
It was over. Wish the pain
Would evaporate with the
Next summer’s breeze.
 
She prayed for control
Over ever-threatening
Salty tears
While the years played out.
 
Drifting in her mind
Like autumn leaves,
The school report cards and
Newspaper articles still beckoned.
 
“Time to do something
With his things,” she says.
But more a question
Then a decision to act.
 
“Why now?” they ask, all the while celebrating her strength to live.
 
A loved one dies, and those left behind try to pick up the pieces and move on. Each hour is comprised of placing one foot in front of the other to keep advancing forward without knowing if the result is worth the effort. One day, the pain subsides for many moments longer than any preceding span of time. Finally, only precious souvenirs of school days and confirmation photographs serve as reminders of happier times. 
As the years wear on, yellowed newspapers and curling tablet paper begin to fade along with the memory. Is it time to let go, put to rest that which can no longer be? The decision has been delayed for such a long time. For what purpose, to prolong the pain? 
No. 
Rejoice as you clutch the tangible reminders that represent a significant portion of your heart and soul. Do not let go until you decide that you are ready. There is no weakness in holding onto memories, only strength worth celebrating.
 
*****     *****
 
 



Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for TELEGRAMS, TELEPHONES, then TEXTING #AtoZChallenge

For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.



T is for TELEGRAMS, TELEPHONES, then TEXTING

So often, we are reminded of the inadequacies of the various methods of communication. Begin with face-to-face communication, when the speaker’s words are in direct opposition to the facial expression or body language. We say, “No problem,” while our eyes squint at the person who knocked the cell phone out of our hand.
 
Telegrams delivered heartrending news during the wars, informing families of a loved one's death; or news of someone missing in action. But telegrams also announced good news, such as births. My father received a telegram in the army notifying him when I was born.
 
Now we have instant messaging, but the service is often no more reliable than telegrams or mail that was once sent on ships across the ocean. Emails are misinterpreted; text messages are "spell-checked" by computer to become unintelligible or downright comedic.
 
 
 
As much fun as it is to complain about poor service from companies such as Verizon or Microsoft, I wonder, with some trepidation, if we could ever successfully survive a full-grid power failure.
 
How could we fend for ourselves with no e-Reader, Wi-Fi, or iPhone to keep us connected?

 
 
**********


Save a tree - Read an ebook:

FREE for #EarthDayWeekend:

DEADLY AS NATURE
Envy Spawns Grief


http://amzn.to/1MSMULR


**********
 
For my project of posting poems in order from ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING, the following is
 
#32
ALWAYS CONNECTED
 

Letters, addressed
Stamped and postmarked
Mailed
Delivered
Read
 
Telegrams, then air mail
Telephones and texting
Computers and skype
 
Instant contact through
Email smiley faces
Facebook games
Twitter characters
 
News first hand
Almost before it occurs
Births
Marriages
Careers
Instant karma in an electronic age
 
Where will the world be
When the lights go out?

 **********



Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for SAVE OUR PLANET #EarthDay #AtoZChallenge


S is for Save our Planet
 
Many people believe Planet Earth is indestructible. Earth may be shatterproof, if that is their idea of indestructible; or staunch, solid, and steadfast.
 
What I advocate for Earth Day is that everyone treat the planet as they do their own special private corner of the world, whether a bedroom, den, office, or a park bench under an old oak tree.
 
Pick up after yourself
Use what you need but don’t waste
Recycle
And buy a few eBooks in place of print books to help save a tree
 
Yes, trees are planted regularly to replace those cut down for making more houses and tables and school books and dressers and other necessities of the planet. The deforestation that caused the Great Peshtigo Firestorm of 1871 (more hellacious than the concurrent Chicago fire - Chicago just had better SEO to garner more attention at the time) is a thing of the past.
 
Are we small creatures capable of melting Greenland? 

Could fracking cause devastating earthquakes?
or
Will our Sun become a red planet and cause Earth to disintegrate? 

Wherever the truth lies for us in the next few billion years, we can choose to find ways to help keep our world intact and beautiful for now. For us. For our children and grandchildren. For future generations.
 
Today is Earth Day. 
To encourage the reading of non-pulp fiction,
I am offering my eBook, DEADLY AS NATURE,
FREE
 
 
 

 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for ROOT BEER FLOATS AND SUNDAES #AtoZChallenge,


 
For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.


R is for Root Beer Floats and Sundaes 

 
 


 
My early childhood is best remembered as drives through the countryside on Sunday afternoons, with stops to visit relatives along the way. This was followed by a trip to the Custard Stand, on the east side of town, for root beer floats or ice cream sundaes. I’m talking real pop (that’s Wisconsin-speak for soda) and honest-to-goodness real dairy-fresh ice cream.
 
The visits often included a stop to see an aunt's three solid acres of gladiolas, which she planted in a wild array of colors. As I stared at those long-stemmed flowers, my young mind didn’t understand how she must have taken great pleasure in planting each gladiola bulb in spring, then watched the green leaves sprout and rejoiced with the eventual budding of the perfect petals. If that was the case, her joy would have matched my own juvenile excitement at the first taste of a root beer float or chocolate-topped sundae. 
 
 
Yes, Ithaca, New York . . . Two Rivers, Wisconsin is the birthplace of the original ice cream sundae! 
 
Which food or other non-guilty pleasure did you enjoy, sparingly, in your youth?
 
Link to site that shares the history of Root Beer: