Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Childhood Leukemia - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

photo from: fineartamerica.com
After a long dreary winter, one of the first flowers to spring from the ground is the daffodil. Representative of new life, the daffodil is the American Cancer Society flower. When someone has survived the disease, sending flowers is a wonderful way to say "Congratulations!" The more colorful the better! You can read more about gifting flowers to cancer survivors at this florist's site:  http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/flowers-for-a-cancer-survivor/ But if you have flowers in your garden or in the back field, a personal bouquet will have special meaning! 


September is Children's Cancer Awareness Month. Because I wanted to include varied names of organizations and foundations that support research and treatment of cancer, I searched the internet for a list. Most unfortunate is that the list is extremely long: unfortunate because it represents a tragic need for this support around the world.
 
Reading about the services provided, the support to family and patients, and the success in the rate of cures or remissions, tugs at the heart strings. Watching the videos brings home some of the emotional costs not included in the statistical figures. A warm note is hearing the children state with emphases: "I beat cancer."

The following sites offer important information about childhood cancer, research, treatment, experiences, and heartwarming success stories.
 
 
The Jimmy Fund
solely supports Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.
You will find the history of the Jimmy Fund at this site:

 
American Childhood Cancer Organization
Help make a difference in the lives of the nation’s
childhood cancer patients, survivors, and their families.
You can learn how by clicking on this link:
http://www.acco.org/childhood-cancer-awareness-month/


St. Baldrick's Foundation
St. Baldrick’s Foundation exists to change the realities of Childhood Cancer
They work closely with leading pediatric oncologists to determine the most promising
research "to fund and create funding priorities to make the greatest impact . . ."
Read the sad facts of these realities and more here:  http://www.stbaldricks.org/


Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation
Serving the Needs of Hawaii's Families Coping With Cancer
Serving to assist, support and advocate for the needs of children diagnosed with cancer, their families, and long-term survivors of childhood cancer: http://hccf.org/

(if this video link is unavailable, you can view it at http://hccf.org)
 
"I don't think it's fair that anyone has cancer." Child with cancer
"Helpless." Mother of child diagnosed with cancer
"Released from job, foreclosed on house." Parents of child with cancer
"She's on the swim team." Smiling Father of child whose cancer is in remission
 

 
 
 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

THOSE WHO DARE and COPING NATURALLY Poems #40-41

40
Those Who Dare*
 
 

Dare to be aware of surroundings
That keep it real, like being
Honest
Safe
Responsible 

Dare to build communication between
adults and teens that develops
decision-making skills
through role play 

Saying “no” does not only relate to
drugs or alcohol or sex or cigarettes,
but to anything
that steals control 

Refuse
Explain
Avoid
Leave 

Get right.
By keeping it REAL you learn to cope naturally.
 
*DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) originated in 1983, improved upon in later years to become an exceptional program thanks to all the hard work and trial-and-error that went before.
 
*****
 
I worked for a police department in Minnesota. At the time, they were one of the first departments to promote DARE. The local youth in the area looked up to the police, and the program held drug use to a minimum. At the time, the focus was on helping teens to maintain control of their lives. But it is important for young people to learn that they will always have a right to be in control of their lives.
 
Allowing someone else to take control of your thoughts and actions is one of the worst forms of degradation I can imagine. Relinquishing that control through force is truly unimaginable to me.
 
***** *****

 



41
Coping Naturally 

A coyote forced out of
its comfort zone by hunger
seeks food while coping
naturally. 

The child abandoned in
the street to wander, by instinct
learns to scavenge
for survival. 

Souls lost to dependence find
light and guidance in
the supernatural of their
own existence.

 *****     *****

 
This poem follows the ending with the words "you learn to cope naturally." My first thought was of animals coping in the wild. When their natural habitat is disrupted, their instinct is to roam to other areas to meet their needs.  This led me to thoughts of humans who are forced to cope in less than ideal situations. Finally, I focused on persons with addictions who must find ways for them to cope naturally.
 
As used in this poem, the word "child" can refer to the product of our environment where people are abandoned without guaranteed shelter or daily meals. The homeless focus on finding food for sustenance and shelter from the elements through scavenging. Basic needs are met through their instinct for survival.
 
When words are first written, their meaning is not always clear. Poems aren't meant to provide answers to the universe, but to provoke thought that can ultimately lead to solutions. As long as the world ignores encroachment on wilderness habitats, homelessness, and addiction, there will always be threat of extinction, homelessness, and addictions in the world.
 
 
 

 

 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

4 BOOK REVIEWS FOR AUGUST #FridayReads

The goal I set for myself was to read and review 71 books between Oct., 2015 and Oct. 2016. Including the four books reviewed below, I've read 46 books, 65%, and submitted the reviews to my Goodreads "My Books" page. With 25 more books to read before October 22, 2016, I'd better get cracking!

The books I read in August are:


JUST ADD WATER Jinx Schwartz

Jinx has written an entire series of "JUST" novels that I look forward to reading. I don't think she's finished with the series yet, so I can rest easy, knowing it will be some time before I reach the end.

In JUST ADD WATER, I met and sailed with Hetta Coffee as she edged her way into a new life of living on the water. How many times have you wished you could make a clean slate of your life and start over, with you in the driver's seat? Expectations of independence are much more lax now for women. But it wasn't that many (decades) ago that men did most of the driving. That's why it can be so much fun for readers of a certain age to immerse themselves into the story.

Just imagine the wind in your hair as you take control of the wheel of your very own yacht. That's independence!

Can't wait to dive into JUST ADD SALT!

*****     *****     *****


THE IMMACULATE by Marian McMahon Stanley

I was lucky to win a copy of THE IMMACULATE in a blogsite contest giveaway earlier this year. After receiving the book in the mail, it took some time for me to add it to my schedule. When I found a few days open, I sat to read the book and finished in less than two days. To me, that is a sign of a well-written novel. The story line is straightforward and the characters are delightfully fleshed out and likeable. Even the villains are 3-dimensional in their un-likeability.

What I especially appreciated about the story was how the protagonist related to the other characters, on a unique and individual basis. As the main character, Rosaria O'Reilly had an emotional connection to every situation and the sensitivity she portrayed in each scene grounded the story in reality.

*****     *****     *****


THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

This book was recommended to me by my sister. It deals with a grittier topic than I was expecting, that of a man convicted of the crime of rape and murder who has been released from prison during his last months before dying. The Netflex series Making of a Murderer comes to mind while reading the story. But the project assigned to the protagonist, Joe Talbert, is to interview this stranger and write a short biography of the man. Of course, the plot thickens as Joe does his research and interviews the man.

Ultimately, the story gives readers an opportunity for inner debate on where they stand concerning certain issues arising in today's society. Granted, during an election year, we have no lack of issues to consider, but this one is more hypothetical and therefore more of an
exercise. Without being personally invested in the final decision, the story can also be entertaining for the reader.

*****     *****     *****

and

THE CITY & YTIC EHT by China Mieville

This is a book club choice for the group that meets at Coffee Talk in Kaimuki on the first Saturday of each month. This book, chosen by David Jones, helps to illustrate just how diverse our selections are from month to month.

I'm not sure I could have made it through this novel without the help of an online chapter-by-chapter synopsis. I certainly recommend that a reader consult an in depth synopsis before tackling the story unless you are already a great fan of eccentric world building and appreciate learning all the intricate details as the story unfolds.

In the world of THE CITY & YTIC EHT, best-selling author China Mieville takes us on a tour of two cities which overlap one other. These are not two dimensions, existing side by side, but two cities existing simultaneously on the same spot with residents of each expected to ignore the other. This is, of course, a simplistic explanation of a world that grows increasingly complicated as the story evolves.

This story presented many unusual twists. The mystery aspect of the plot is almost incidental as the reader is given ongoing updates of how these particular worlds work, or in some cases don't work. Big Brother is definitely involved, regardless how the story unfolds. One thing is certain, the book club choice will make for interesting discussion.

*****     *****     *****



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Poems #38 Heart Beats in time and #39 The Next Mistake


38
Heart Beats in Time
 

 

How could she know
Life’s metronome
Set the pace
As she said, “I Do.” 

Expecting tradition
Receiving instead
“Blazing trails.” 

Alcohol made them invincible
Until they weren’t
Abuse tore at life’s fabric
Tatters too small to recognize,
Repair, or mend. 

As the moon rises, then
Fades into another morning,
Her heart pumps out hours,
Beating down ambition
Now knowing there is nothing
Except time to contemplate
The next mistake.
 
*****     *****     *****
 
Too young to understand that life is not static, the teenaged bride has unrealistic expectations that reality distorts at every turn. Unpredictability is not reserved for the undisciplined or uneducated. Nor is misfortune reserved for only those who abuse others or themselves.
 
As the days pass, and change becomes reality, the urge is strong to blame one's self for bad decisions or unpredictable results. Then, while existing in a vacuum of inevitability, emptiness weighs heavy with the false guilt of wrong turns.
 
 
*****     *****     *****

39

The Next Mistake

 
Why must every
wrong action
be labeled a mistake
When lessons are learned 
Experiments lead to
calculated alterations
with eyes on another
Much-improved mouse trap 
Fear furrows ruts of stalemate
while confidence applied
conquers frontiers
Rewarding those who dare.
 
*****
Everyone knows a story about someone who failed enough times to become a success. The more times a person fails, the closer they come to that moment of "eureka". No one is born with honed skills or talents.  Only training or education applied will lead to accomplishment.
Hearing someone say "You could never do that" reveals more about the speaker than the person receiving the negative advice. The best "revenge" for such guidance is to prove the person wrong. Receive the training or education required to accomplish your goal, and then apply the knowledge toward reaching that goal.
Learn from mistakes. (One definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results.) When something doesn't work, change the experiment. We've learned that from Thomas Edison who "succeeded" 1000 times to prove something didn't work so he could then succeed in discovering what did work.
Let there be light!
 
 
 
 *****     *****     *****

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#AlohaFriday - Hot Hawaiian History

My #AlohaFriday search actually began in 1992, when I first moved to Hawai'i. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island drew me like a magnet. Active since 1986, Kilauea caldera is known as the walk-in volcano, friendly from afar and not-so-far away. Any trip to that island included a visit to Volcano House and Halema'uma'u Crater.

Once I learned the legend of the fire goddess Pele, walked on still-warm lava flow and through a lava tube, and watched glowing lava flow from the Pu'u O'o vent, I was hooked.

The photographs included in James Cave's article are jaw-dropping!

James Cave, a Lifestyle writer for The Huffington Post has a bubbling hot story to tell.
Beautiful Time-Lapse Of Kilauea Volcano Dives Into The ‘Fiery Blood Of Earth’
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/20/kilauea-time-lapse-fire-within-video_n_6914270.html


Some of Gail's Personal "Aloha Volcano Views"
 
Walking to the Lava Tube
Desolate lava field
Entering Lava Tube on Big Island
 
Halemaumau Crater in
Hawai'i Volcano National Park
Middle of Lava Tube VERY DARK


Monday, August 15, 2016

Congratulations: Goodreads WINNERS of Blood Red Homicide!

Today I want to thank all of the Goodreads members who participated in the Goodreads Giveaway contest for my latest Pepper Bibeau mystery, BLOOD RED HOMICIDE.

 This year, I published two mystery novels in the series. NESHOTO JUNCTION HOMICIDE came out in January and is dedicated to my father, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday that month. BLOOD RED HOMICIDE was published in June to celebrate the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth. I am especially pleased with the amount of interest taken in the printed copy of these to books honoring my parents.

NESHOTO JUNCTION HOMICIDE is set in my old stomping grounds. The title reflects an ancient name applied to the area where two meandering rivers meet before flowing gently into the Great Lakes' fresh waters of Lake Michigan

The Goodreads Giveaway contest ran from July 19 to August 9. These dates encompassed most of the days I spent in my birth state of Wisconsin for a family reunion and lots of activities with family and friends. Who better to boost your confidence in this competitive world than those who know you best? One event of note was touring the Packers stadium and museum in Green Bay. My healthiest routine was raiding niece Nikki's raspberry patch for breakfast each morning!





Goodreads has chosen the winners of the three copies of BLOOD RED HOMICIDE offered in the giveaway. The winners have been announced and I want to congratulate each of the Goodreads members who displayed an interest in my work by participating in the contest!

CONGRATULATIONS to the WINNERS
who are:
 
SHERRY FRYMAN
 
KATHRYN FARRINGTON
 
LISA COBB SABATINI
 
 
 

Again, thank you to everyone who participated in the Goodreads Giveaway. To show my appreciation for your interest in reading BLOOD RED HOMICIDE, the kindle edition will be on sale for $.99 through Sunday, August 21, 2016. Just click on the cover to the right  >  >  >  >  >  >  >


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Poems #36 and #37 THOUGHTS ABOUT DESTINY

Two beautiful sherbet-colored hibiscus
'Strength to Live' and 'Molding Destiny'
    
Following are two prose poems from my Renshi-style poetry collection, Strength to Live and Molding Destiny (the latter one probably my favorite of all 70 poems). Both reflect my thoughts about destiny and how a person must take control of their own life.
 
     These poems were originally posted during the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Immediately following the poems is an excerpt from my final post of the challenge Zealous Thoughts About Destiny.
 
 
 
 
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.
 
Z is for ZEALOUS THOUGHTS ABOUT DESTINY
 
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!
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

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

 
My goal is to post all 70 poems from Another New Beginning by October 22, 2016. Once complete, rather than having to search for past poems throughout this site, a special linked page on this site will list of all the articles:
 
 "ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING essays"

 #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. J├Ągermeister 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 an 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 caucuses and rallies and primaries had barely begun.
 
*****     *****
 
#35
Celebrate

Red, white or pink poinsettias
are said to bring wishes of celebration
 

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. For what purpose, to prolong the pain? The decision has been delayed for such a long time. Is it not time to let go, putting to rest that which can no longer be?
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, if ever. There is no weakness in holding onto memories, only strength worth celebrating.
 
*****     *****