Saturday, July 30, 2016

ALWAYS CONNECTED Poem 32 #AnotherNewBeginning


Letters, addressed
Stamped and postmarked
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
Instant karma in an electronic age
Where will the world be
When the lights go out?



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?


Thursday, July 28, 2016

I SEE RUDE PEOPLE by Amy Alkon #FridayReads

My goal of reading and reviewing 71 books between October 2015 and October 2016 is moving along quite smoothly. Well, maybe more in a jerking fashion. In the beginning, I would read as many as three books in a week. Then April brought the annual A to Z Blog Challenge. 26 straight days of blogging (with Sundays off for good behavior) tripped me up a bit. Strategic planning kept me ahead of the game, but recuperating from A-to-Z set me back. So I'm fairly even. I've read and reviewed 41 books to date (plus my own latest Pepper Bibeau mystery.) With 12 weeks to go, and 30 books to read, that means approximately three books per week. Piece of cake. Actually, lots of chocolate!

My Book Club's reading choice for June was I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society by


*Yes, it did!
How do you deal with rude people?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A MOTHER'S LOVE Poem 31 of #AnotherNewBeginning

A Mother’s Love
Photo taken in side yard of RiverEdge Galleries
Mishicot, Wisconsin
does not
release the bonds,
or lessen
the strength of
emotions experienced
at birth. 

God’s plan
for claiming His own
has no
rhyme or reason
in the minds
and hearts
of mere mortals. 

Once connected
How easy to take the suggested title from the final words of the previous poem, “experience a mother’s love” and immediately hone in on the eternal connection between mother and baby as the topic. No matter the age of the child, from prenatal to old age, one never loses the comfort of the strong tie symbolized by the life-giving umbilical cord of the womb. 

As the child matures, strong bonds are formed with other relatives and friends, also. This poem as easily highlights ties with a lifetime friend, a lover, a marriage partner. Regardless of the relationship, when God chooses to bring a member of His family home, the pain of loss for those left behind still creates an emptiness that appears to have no rhyme or reason. 

For those struggling with the loss of a loved one, regardless of the amount of time that has passed, always remember that with hearts, minds, and souls:

Once connected



Thursday, July 21, 2016

#AlohaFriday - Helping Homeless Halflings - Heartwarming!

Surf Waikiki June 2016
How is reading about the homeless going to put me in a happy mood on #AlohaFriday? I debated the question with myself for some time. The last way to perk up an end-of-week sagging mood would be to discuss folks living on the street. When this story came to my attention, though, I gave a hearty "Eureka!"

Because it is published in the Star*Advertiser Hawaii newspaper, it is possible not everyone will be able to access the article. For this reason I will not only include the link, I'll do a bit of paraphrasing about the story!

June 27, 2016
Hawaii News
Homeless keiki stoked on waves
By Dominique Times
(keiki is Hawaiian for child, offspring, descendent; pronounced kay-key)

Local children living in a family shelter were given surfing lessons on Waikiki Beach. This was part of a program sponsored by the Institute for Human Services' Children's Enrichment. The program was six weeks long, packed with activities aimed at building the kids' self-esteem while also serving as an educational program.

By the time "Big Wave Dave" led the group of kids fifteen feet offshore, they were ready to catch their own waves -- riding "with big grins all the way to the shore."

I hope you can access the article for all the informative and heartwarming information provided about these beautiful people who are spending time with the kids, and the kids themselves!

Some of Gail's Personal "Aloha Off-Shore Views"

Photos on the wall at Duke's Barefoot Bar of the original
Waikiki Beach boys
Admiring the fancy surfboards (with Flat Lucy!)


Saturday, July 16, 2016


It is difficult to describe the pleasure I derived from writing the poetry that ultimately became a little book: ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING. I believe my participation in years of "April A to Z Challenge" prepared me to "stick with it" until I wrote and edited all 70 poems. This light-hearted poem reflects our unique ability to absorb emotions.



Sensing Anticipation 

She sees

Crust, a crispy shell dimpled
by miniature bubbles.
Like fragile lava, hardened
She tastes
Lemon filling, with scrapings
from the rind.
Tangy and mouth-watering
She touches
Eggs, whipped while adding
sugar to the mix.
Scooped atop the filling
She inhales
Meringue, toasted light
until peaks curl and brown.
Experience a mother’s love
*****     *****     *****
Mom always had little tricks for making foods taste a bit more special. She added small amounts of sugar to her pots of chili. She grated lemon rind and added it to her lemon pie filling to give it that extra tanginess. The back of my mouth waters just thinking about the flavor of her lemon pies.
Her meringue always came out with perfectly browned and curled peaks. I guess all of her desserts seemed perfect to me. The only “tale” we ever heard as kids was the one about the chocolate pudding. 
Dad loved to tell the story about when they were newly married. Mom attempted to make chocolate pudding for him. He said it ended up the texture of tanned horse-hide. He always got the “faux air slap” gesture for telling the tale, but I think Mom enjoyed having him tell it. She had no inadequacies in her role as homemaker. 
While Dad served in the Army during World War II, she ran the household and took care of three small children. Rosie the Riveter, doing her patriotic duty in the factory while her man protected the country’s freedom, had nothing on my mother. Housewives kept “home fires” burning during that time. When the men returned home to their families, they found strong, independent women waiting for them. 
Images of “Leave It To Beaver” moms and “I Love Lucy” wives were as much a joke to these women as to the men. 

 *****     *****     *****


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SWANS: My Thoughts for #WriterWednesday

Swans have long held a particular fascination for me, possibly because of an early presentation of the ballet performance, Swan Lake. The production that most stands out for me appeared in Montreal, Canada, during my trip to a land of paternal ancestors. Quebec does not first spark thoughts of stage musicals, but more likely of fur trapping or the latest DiCaprio movie, The Revenant. Yet, for me, thoughts of Quebec conjure up feelings of gracefulness and peace represented by swans. Whether white or black, swans cast a beautiful shadow. photo
A second powerful connection in my mind involves the swans of Bruges/Brugge. “It’s in Belgium,” offers a culturally-challenged main character in the movie, In Bruges. Belgium is another of my ancestral homelands. The famous story of the Bruges swans goes back to the 15th century. Legend has it that Emperor Maximilian of Austria was quite unpopular with the oppressed people of Bruges. They revolted, capturing and imprisoning the emperor in a house on Market Square. They did the same for his adviser, Pieter Lanckhais, who was equally unpopular. Pieter was condemned to death. The emperor's life was spared but he was forced to watch the rather brutal execution before escaping and taking his revenge. Until the end of time, he decreed, Bruges must keep swans on all its lakes and canals, and do so at their own expense.
Why swans?
The city legend was born because swans have long necks and the Dutch word for “long necks” is “lange hals” or “lanckhals”.

ChocoladevanBrugge - The Swans of Chocolade van Brugge
While visiting relatives in Boston, you can imagine my excitement at seeing two beautiful swans in the Public Gardens lagoon at Boston Common. Two swans, always only two swans, and always named Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, it became necessary to include them in my latest book, much of which is set in the Boston area. While the novel is entitled Red Blood Homicide, no swans were harmed during the writing of this story!

For more information or to read a sample of Blood Red Homicide:

*****     *****

Saturday, July 9, 2016

#28 A Hard Winter and #29 Hot Cocoa linked poetry

Two of the poems I wrote for Another New Beginning focused on the cold weather in Wisconsin. Often times, thoughts of winter bring pleasant thoughts of ice skating, hockey, and skiing. Those are memories of fun times. In this first poem, though, not so much:

A Hard Winter
Drag himself out of a warm sleep
Dress fast
Ice forming psychedelic shapes on window panes. 

Rush down the stairs,
through his parents’ bedroom to
the bathroom for his turn to wash and brush. 

Milk and hot oatmeal at the kitchen table
Mom pours orange juice, smiles encouragement
until the engine cranks outside. 

Over the chugging sounds, Dad calls,
“Get a move on Danny,” adding his mantra,
“The mail won’t wait.” 

At the post office
gather satchels of letters and cardboard boxes
filled with the route’s daily deliveries. 

Up and down country roads,
Slide envelopes into mailboxes, or tromp
through snow delivering packages to front doors. 

The old Ford with chained wheels
like a German tank; so cold, the bones ache.
Shivering to keep warm. Hot cocoa on his mind.

Grampa Baugniet worked for the hometown post office all his life. He had this fantastic car for delivering the mail, probably built in the 1930s. He modified it with a full set of chains, like an army tank, so he could plow through the heavy Wisconsin snowfalls.
I remember a picture of us kids standing on a snowbank that reached to the telephone wires. Snowplowing continually added to the bank’s height. But long winters kept the snow frozen in place for months.
During the time I was doing most of my family genealogy research, my father told me about how he helped his dad on the mail route. When I suggested it must have been fun, he said, “No, it was hard work. And in the winter time, it was very cold.”
In a town that extended seven miles into Lake Michigan, you can imagine the wind chill coming off the lake. That’s why it was easy to imagine my father having hot cocoa on his mind!


Hot Cocoa


Skating at the ice rink across from
the high school or the pond in our own
backyard. Swing forward, weave back, slice
left or right.
Race, glide, tiptoes, edges.
Into the warming house when fingers
grow numb. Thick mittens removed for
a brisk rub of the arms, stomping blades on
bare concrete, thinking
of whipped cream topping as frozen toes thaw. 
Return outside quick before body heat
makes you adjust to the cold all–over–again.
Play ice tag with three school mates. Then home,
tired, feet sore, stomach growling;
smiling, in anticipation. 
When I wrote the linking poetry, I wasn’t aware of my strong focus on sports. No surprise, though. We didn’t have videos, iPhones, or e-readers to occupy us. (I’m making up for it now!) We would never have considered watching television after school. Other than meal time, we seldom spent daylight hours inside the house unless the weather was bad.
As a young grade-schooler, ice skating at the rink across from the high school was a big deal. Part of the appeal was that I could walk to the candy store up the street. One day, I removed my skates and put my shoes back on, then hiked down to the store. Visions of penny candy danced in my head.
At the store, I tried to open the front door but it was stuck. I must have made quite a racket trying to get that door open because the candy store owner finally came and opened it for me. He lived up above the store. It was Sunday. The store was closed!
He let me come in to make my penny candy purchase, then locked up again as I climbed down the porch steps. I've always thought he’d been kind to do that for me.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#IWSG Strategy for Relieving Tension

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find a list of all the other members of the group here

His awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott! 

JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
I will answer this question at the bottom of my blog post for today.
*****     *****     *****

Stress and tension are a normal part of a writer's day. If it isn't a novel's character running amok or a scene refusing to be visual enough to interest a reader, then chances are the point of view has become skewered. When I received my edited work-in-progress back from the editor, red marks ran rampant. Along with comments about cliches and over-used words, several pages featured such comments as "talking heads" and "need more scene setting."

At times like this, it is always good to have a strategy for relieving tension. Sometimes jumping right back into writing works for me, especially if it involves composing a fun blog post. If a particular activity helps to relieve stress, all the better. In this case, I combined the two by writing about an activity that helps me reduce tension.

When Life Gives You Blood Oranges

Iced tea lemonade on the lanai - what a great way to relax! At times its just old-fashioned lemonade or fruit juice. But last time I mixed up a batch, I decided the preparation might make an interesting blog post. The tart lemons, lime, and blood oranges would certainly present a colorful picture story.

With the fruit at room temperature, I rolled each lemon and the lime across the table to “loosen” the juice inside. Then I used my manual hand-squeezer. If you have one of those electric juicers (lucky you) then you can probably skip this step.

Oranges, especially blood oranges, are soft enough and I don’t roll those, just slice them in half and squeeze. (The first time I cut open a blood orange and saw the deep red color of its pulp, I almost dropped it!)

In my hometown cookbook, I found an old recipe from 1951 that suggests combining 3 ¼ cups of cold water with ½ cup of lemon juice, then sugar to taste. Everyone has their own preferences and a nice variation on regular sugar is honey, or even ginger ale for a fizzy drink.
Whatever your method, just remember: If life gives you lemons, smile because you can use your pent-up energy to create something of value. I convert my stress (usually computer related) into character conflict that drives the next scene of my novel. Or fix my "talking heads."

When life gives you lemons, what is your strategy for relieving tension?
JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
I'm not sure if this answer quite fits the question, but it tickles me when someone says how much they like the protagonist in my mystery series. I have grown quite attached to Pepper, and a compliment about her is considered a compliment to me.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


The 4th of July represents Independence to Americans, freedoms as outlined in the Constitution of the United States
We the People:

and the United States Bill of Rights:

For some, the day conjures up images of Paul Revere ring ... ring ... ringing those freedom bells.

For others, the day offers all-American hot dogs and fireworks.

Whatever Independence means to you, I want to wish you a


Red, White, and Blue
                 signifies the United States of America.

Musically, certain songs will have folks clapping, wolf-whistling, or exchanging high-fives. A select few tunes, anthems almost, bring tears of joy, sorrow, anger, or maybe all three.

Songs on my top-hits list for the fireworks display focus on our Military, the most important reason we are able to exercise and celebrate our RIGHT TO FREEDOM each July 4th:

Merle Haggard's
Fighting Side of Me
(from the Vietnam era: Remember, you can be against war and still support our Military personnel);

Lee Greenwood performing his patriotic
God Bless the USA

Johnny Cash relating
The Ballad of Ira Hayes (a WWII ballad)

Alan Jackson asking
Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (that September Day)?

One of my photos from Magic Island 4th Fireworks 2009
and the irreverent and totally relevant
Toby Keith singing
Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue
to the troops:

Toby Keith Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

use this link:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

#27 BREATHE DEEP from Another New Beginning


One of the more fun, and light-hearted poems in ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING is:

Breathe Deep
Apple pie
baking in the oven;

in bloom;
It only takes a moment to breathe deep.

Ocean breezes;
L’air du Temps;
Fresh bread cooling on the rack;
Baby’s powdered skin.

Breathe even deeper.
after another hard winter.

*****  *****  *****

The sense of smell is a strong trigger for memories. Who doesn’t get a warm feeling when reminded of a special food cooking on the stove or apple pie baking in the oven as you walked in the door after school? But how did you feel about the guy in the next cubicle at the office who wore too much aftershave? Did you need an alarm clock to wake you when bacon was frying in the kitchen?
When someone says, “The nose knows,” everyone nods an acknowledgement. Not all “bad” odors are bad, evidenced by a newborn baby’s soiled diaper. You’re just glad the baby is so healthy! Bed wetting, on the other hand, may conjure up completely different emotions.
Fragrant flowers (such as: Lilacs in bloom) recall a wide variety of memories ranging from weddings and birthdays to funerals. There is the carnation fragrance of a wrist corsage from your favorite prom date; the Hawaiian plumeria lei tossed in the ocean at the end a fantastic second-honeymoon vacation; the flowers for your son’s bar mitzvah; the table bouquets at your daughter’s baby shower.
During the editing process of writing a story, the writer is urged to embellish scenes with greater use of the senses for description. When the reader is drawn into the scene with their senses, they become much more emotionally involved in the story rather than being a mere observer.
With food, smell and taste often go hand in hand. What non-food odors, aromas, or fragrances are readily recognized and generate an immediate emotional reaction in you?