The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Squash Casserole and Peace on Earth

I wanted to post a recipe, one of my favorite summer eats. It’s easy and healthy and inexpensive. I served it for dinner last night. Prepared it in 10 minutes. I let it cook while I transplanted sunflower seedlings into containers to take to the Farmers Market Saturday.

Yes, I’ve signed on for a season at the Farmer’s Market at the Bluegrass Stock Yards. https://bgregionalmarketplace.com I sell several varieties of micro greens and the extra produce that will come from my garden. Plus a few extras. I’ve made some unique and fun shopping bags. I’ve made some glass flowers. A Pinterest project. No watering required.

And as I work to put all of this together, it all this seems so everyday. Such a “normal” existence when at the border of my country and so many other countries there are hungry, frightened displaced people knocking. Real people with families.

I have no reference to how desperate I’d need to be, how frightened and strong I’d need to be to leave my country and go to a place with a different language with nothing but the clothes on my back.

And then to find no respite? To fall again into more political entanglement and anger and become again the victim of the cruelties of man’s inhumanities? Where do they go? What do they do? Ugly. It’s ugly.

So how do I go on with my daily life? Living in safety, eating local food, grown in abundance with love and kindness while being justifiably appalled at the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers across the globe. I sign petitions and I pray a lot. But how is that enough?

I raise micro greens, super food for a healthier body. Broccoli, radish, sunflowers, a salad mix, peas.

I raise flowers which I sell and gift to delight the yard owners for a season. I send some money to grass roots organizations. I made an effort be as kind and compassionate to others when I am out and about. I call my Congressmen and I leave messages, when the phone lines are available. I find them mostly busy these days.

And I can be truly grateful for my situation in life. I am grateful that I have enough. I am safe and healthy. And I will be more aware of being the best person I can be in my own space in the world wherever I am in the world. And all this sounds very trivial next to the refugee/immigrant chaos but…I don’t know what else to do.

So, here is the recipe. I hope you will try it and enjoy it. And I ask you to bless all of we humans struggling to figure out how to live on the same planet together.

Aunt Janet’s Squash Casserole

Slice yellow squash and/or zucchini, onions, and tomatoes. Layer them in a greased pan. Add banana peppers for some heat as desired. Douse heavily with Parmesan cheese. Cook uncovered for 1 hour at 350.

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Tales from New Hampshire Drive

I am offering a story sample of the Tales from Smack in the Middle of New Hampshire Drive and Beyond. The book I just recently published. A book I’ve been thinking about writing for a long, long time.

My Dad and Ivan were a unique and entertaining pair. When they were around a story was created to be retold. Ah, their lightheartedness, their lust for life.

Here is of my favorite family stories. Thinking how lighthearted it is to reflect on the fun, good times — the goofy times.

Enjoy.

One Fast Chicken

Our property sat above the fence line of a hillside urban farm where my mom used to drop off Porky, the chicken, hoping the chicken would like the farm and the farmer would be grateful for an additional hen added to his livestock count. Porky had outgrown all the pink dye s/he arrived with so maybe none of the other chickens would make fun of her, you know, for being a suburban chick or a clucker from atop-the-hill.
Mary Jo and her best friend, Becky Jo, spot the chickens in a display just outside Foodland a couple of weeks before Easter. Purple and blue and pink chicks waddling, cheeping, falling all over each other. Chickens in a giant flat metal bin littered with chicken drippings – not the kind you save to make gravy with. So cute? Colorful pastels, because we all know that sweet, soft buttery yellow isn’t cute enough for a baby chicken.
The girls beg to become chicken owners for so many days-it works! Mary Jo’s chick arrives in a little cage just outside the basement door on Easter morning as part of the whole Easter basket tradition, the whole giant, big fat Easter bunny tale parents perpetuate. Mary Jo loves Porky at first sight. She holds it. She feeds it. She makes sure it has water. She learned that animals need food and water regularly when Gerry, the gerbil, succumbed during the previous summer’s 7 day vacation with none of either.
Of course my mother’s insistent, “Don’t bring that chicken into this house,” instruction doesn’t last long. Porky gets into the basement daily and struts his/her way around, upstairs and downstairs, looking for Mary Jo. Porky likes to sit on Mary Jo’s shoulder when she does her homework. Mary Jo swears she did homework on occasion. Was the fact that Porky pooped down her back the final straw in his/her banishment or was it because s/he never caught onto the multiplication tables? Was it the extra laundry or lack of tutoring?
Or was it because Porky started crowing?
In order to safely and kindly dispose of the barnyard animal, Mom, gently, repeatedly escorts said chicken down the hill to the adjoining farm, only to return to find Porky sitting patiently on the back porch waiting for her! One homesick chicken with a sense of direction. I can assure you Porky didn’t learn that from my sister who will tell you to turn right when, really, it’s left nearly every time.
To the farm and back. To the farm and back. And the daily frustration of feathers and other trails of the chicken’s whereabouts in the house forces a more straight forward action. A frustrated Mom has Joe, my boyfriend and future husband, and I take Porky with us one day when we are going to Greenbo Lake State Park to swim. “Just drop him off where you see a farm house,” Peggy instructs. “This is one educated chicken. Porky will survive and he can teach the other chickens their numbers.” We stuff the flapping, confused, unruly animal in a box with plenty of air holes and a couple of cucumber slices.
The farm looks friendly. There are other chickens. It is close to the road so we don’t have to drive cautiously down a very long unfamiliar driveway and approach the home of a total stranger. The deed is accomplished, although my mother looks for Porky to wander in for weeks after.
Even now, 35 years later, when chicken is served at a family function, decades later, the “trauma” of Porky’s banishment is abruptly brought to the attention of those gathered around a table sharing food and creating new family memories, Mary Jo will exclaim with theatrical melancholy, “You kidnapped Porky. You took Porky to a stranger’s farm. How can you eat that chicken knowing what you did to Porky. He was a shy chicken. He was my favorite chicken.”
“He was your only chicken,” some will remind her.
“He didn’t even know anyone at that strange farm.”
She is never comforted when I reply, “No one knows he started out pink.”
My sister can be a tad dramatic, like when she is asked to start the biscuits, she will pick up the plate, set it down in front of her and pull an “air” cord making a lawnmower noise as she jerks her arm. And she’s been known to show up with an empty bowl or plate when invited to a pot luck and is asked to “bring a dish.” She loves to wash dishes but sometimes has to go the bathroom – for, like, a long time! But, really, truly, she is the best carrot peeler and silver polisher.
So, why did they color dip those innocent newborn chicks? What color sold best? And how does one train to be a chicken dipper? Do all the purple ones go into one area until they dry so as not to flap purple spots onto a nice pink batch? “This won’t hurt for long little chick. Hold your breath and no flapping. It’s just like getting your hair colored.” Dunk.
Oh and FYI, Becky Jo’s chick died young. Note to self, “Don’t fall for the blue chick.” Guess the blue dye was a harsher chemical.
I am sure there was a neighborhood funeral; that the blue chick was buried in a shoe box and we read Bible verses; and that we set out to present a service with appropriate songs but the singers all broke into shyness or laughter before the first verse of Amazing Grace was complete.

Tales from Smack in the Middle of new Hampshire Drive can be purchased from Amazon:

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My yard is alive!

It’s spring, a warm spring at that and things are growing! The veggies are happy, the weeds are happy. The lawn mower is getting used. The rains come with thunder and leave humidity. Some days feel like August in KY not May! Maybe those few warm weeks in February were our spring.

The oak tree in my front yard was most likely planted around the same time the house was built in the 1020’s. It is tall and shady and scrumptious and at some times really messy. I don’t mind raking leaves but when it dumps the green stuff that hangs from the gutters? It’s messy. The worst this year is the sap that has mandated daily trips to the car wash for a week or so. Annoying. Not the perfect urban tree, yet it protects my house from the afternoon sun, that hot brutal summer afternoon sun. And I don’t have to air condition until the temps get into the high 80’s or the humidity gets as sticky as that sap.

Guess I am about to describe my front yard! Since you readers already know lots about the back yard. I have shade and the challenge of shade gardening and color. Columbines and ferns and hosta and wild local “somethings” I have brought home from the woods grow rather randomly. Amid lots of rocks outlining the beds! Rocks line the gardens in front of the house and encircle the Oak.

My favorite scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is when the Ents come to the rescue. The giants who are the forest.

I believe the separation from nature has cut us off from centuries of a deeply rooted relationship where we have had a working familiarity with the natural elements to support, feed and cloth ourselves. Now we conquer, bulldoze and concrete and level. And I believe the separation has created much of the issues of poor physical and mental health issues that plague our current culture.

I’m reading The Findhorn Garden. An amazing story about how the founders cultivated growing space where there was only sand and rock. Also a fascinating glimpse into the connection between the farmers and the natural elements. The farmers learn to communicate with the devas of each plant, of the soil, the water. They grow to have a personal relationship with each, believing, respecting, honoring the life force of each plant as it grows in relationship to the other. So, they talk to the plants. They listen to the plants, abide by their wishes and instructions and the garden grows better.

I do feel the life force of my plants and am grateful for the nutrition and the beauty. I do speak to my oak tree. I pray for it to hold on tight when the winds blow crazy. I thank it for the sticks it leaves me for kindling. It is a live protective being that lives with me on this little piece of property I call home.

Where Hobbits meet Treebeard.

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Gardening of all flavors – an update

Hugelkultur. It’s my new gardening method! Adapted to my urban “farm.” Urban farm sounds so much more professional than backyard hobby! Really, urban gardener, sounds more like it.
Am I a farmer? Well, I suppose I kind of am on a very small scale.

What denotes a farmer? One who grows plants? And while I mostly grow to feed myself, I am still growing plants to harvest and eat. The title farmer takes too much from those who work bigger areas. I will keep gardener on my resume.

As my gardening knees get creakier, I wish to raise my already raised beds so there’s not so much bending and moaning when I plant and weed. And there is the issues of dogs and rabbits and other critters…so, rather than buy more boards which are expensive (I have a couple of beds that need replacing after only a few years), I am replacing with an adaptation of Hugelkultur Gardening. https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur

I have adapted the bed that needed replacing by digging it out (ughhhh) and removing the rottening boards. I end up with flat ground, a blank slate.

I then got fencing and chicken wire and posts. The dirt was soft where the boards were removed. I pounded the posts in and engaged the help of two of my grandchildren in to help me pull the fencing and wire around the posts.

And the layering began. I started with green oak logs in the bottom. I layered and built up with leaves, compost, sticks, and the dirt I had just removed! I used a layer of peat and dirt at the top. As I was filling I lined the outsides with straw to keep any dirt from falling out. And I put two old screens along the sides as well. Call me obsessive!

And then I stood and planted! YES, I stood and planted!!

As the boards of my current raised beds rot I will replace them with this layered gardening. I’ve read I can put my composting scraps right on top of the dirt this winter.

The aquaponics system is up and running. Plugged the pump back in and it worked first cycle. As soon as the water is warmed I will add fish. For now, I have planted Black Seeded Simpson and snap pea seeds. I don’t know it it’s too late for the peas but the system is in afternoon shade so I am taking a chance. Worth the half a packet of seed gamble. The peas I planted in Feb in the raised bed were about half successful. I’m blaming the weather, which every gardener can certainly do this weird spring.
Asparagus didn’t do well either. Sigh….

I also placed a basil, some celeric, and broccoli still sprouting from the latest microgreen tray into the rocks of the aquaponics tub.

In the dirt, the old fashioned way (!), I have planted arugula, spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce, brussel sprouts, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, yellow squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe. And strawberries. I have potatoes in barrels.

Here’s to eating so local it’s right from my back yard.

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Prompt #8 – I do not choose to

The suggested prompt is: All good things must come to an end. That one way too close to a death and finality for me today so I say, “I do not choose to write about that,” which brings me to a story I can tell you about I do not choose to.

August 25, 1996 The Clinton family stopped in Riverfront Park Ashland on a whistle stop tour on their way to Chicago to accept the party’s renomination for Bill.

“The president is here in Ashland, Kentucky, first stop of his campaign train trip to Chicago, where he’ll accept his party’s renomination of the Democratic convention. His mission, to explain to Democrats and to Americans all over the country why he should be reelected and why Bob Dole should not enter the White House.” from an interview with CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/news/9608/25/clinton.interview/interview.shtml

Ashland is a river front town where the railroad tracks parallel the river.  A flood wall built a block or so away from the river protects with gates that can be open and shut at the streets that cross it.

The town rose to the call of the event.  Clean up.  Paint.  Build a speakers platform and podium.  Chairs.  Bunting and banners.  Celebration.  For several weeks, secret service men, yes, in trench coats, wandered the streets obviously not “from here,”  but setting up observation posts.   Our town was honored, decorated and safe.

After much anticipation, the train pulled from West Virginia where Hillary had spoken that morning and stopped just past one of the street openings of the flood wall.  Maybe 14th Street??

My step-ex-mother-in-law (that is a whole other story!), a long time Democrat, got tickets in the VIP seats via our friend, head of the Democratic Party at the time.  Juanita was beyond excited to attend the event, however, her physical health was such that she couldn’t walk great distances.  I picked her up early so we could get a parking place close to the speakers platform and her seat.  We that happened!  We found our seats, talked and visited all morning with all those gathering.  We watched from the center the frenzy of a Presidential visit to our small town.

The only other time a President graced us was when Nixon came through Russell to receive an illegal campaign contribution from Ashland Oil.  We, then, lined the streets for a glimpse.  Nixon didn’t stop to speak, just breezed through with his hand out.

I digress.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/1974/12/31/archives/170000-in-illegal-gifts-admitted-by-ashland-oil-special-to-the-new.html

So, the chugging train arrives as the anticipation grows.  And the President of the United States of America on stage with our local heroes and politicians speaks.  A fabulous speaker, Bill Clinton.  He smiles.  He offers promise and hope.  He entertains in an eloquent political speech.

When the podium empties and the applause stops the crowd is directed to leave through a street a block down from where our car was parked.  The train would stay parked while while Clinton does an interview with Wolf Blitzer.  CNN was so brand new then.

Juanita and I stand, speak to people leaving, wait until the crowd thins a bit.  When we leave we are directed to walk past the open flood gate where our car sits just on the other side to down to the next street.  Like from 14th Street to 15th.

“But my car is parked right over there,” she points to just a half a block away.

“Ma’am, this gate is closed now,” replies the secret service man very kindly.  And he turns to walk away but stops when he hears her speak.

“Sir, we came early to  park close so I wouldn’t have to walk far to get to and from my car.”

The man comes closer to us.  “I understand that, Ma’am.  But this street is closed for as long as the President’s train is parked.  I am going to ask you to walk this way,” and he points towards the crowd that is flowing out of the next street.

“And I am telling you I don’t choose to.”

“Ma’am, this street is closed.”

“Well, look, at all the other people using this street.”  She points behind him.

“I see them and each of them are an authorized part of the team here to protect the President.  Now, would you just walk on to the next block and exit.”

“I don’t choose to,” she firmly states.   “My car is parked right over there and I am going to walk straight to there from here.”

I look behind her to see several local officials now aware of and watching this conversation.  The Ashland Chief-of-Police is standing with his arms crossed and I suspect he and the mayor and council men have just placed a bet on who wins this one.

“Perhaps then you need assistance, Ma’am.  I can get you a wheelchair or I can call for an ambulance?”

And I knew at that moment, no matter what kind of weapon was under that coat,  the secret service man had lost his cause.

“Sir,” she took a step forward, “I can assure you I do not need assistance.”  And she took my arm.  “Let me remind you, sir, you are in my town only for a brief passing and I am going to use the streets in my town to my benefit.  I am going to walk across here and go to my car and you may arrest me or assist me.  Now, come on Susan.”

I see the local authorities smiling and I put my hand on her hers and we start to walk.

The man in the trench coat shrugs his shoulders, turns and says to the locals, “This is one tough crowd.”  And he follows us across the railroad tracks to our vehicle.

The text of Bill Clinton’s speech is:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=53232

 

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Prompt #6 The Perfect View

Certainly Paris from atop the Eiffel tower or from rock wall fortification in Montmarte.

Madrid’s night sky from the 23rd floor.

The Mediterranean from the hill road going into Monaco or from the sandy beach at Cannes.

The Atlantic from San Sebastian or Barritz.

The red roofs surrounding Caracassone.

The chickens outside my bedroom window at the Pension Eirexe.

From the cafe in O Pino the cows marching to be milked.

Or the eucalyptus trees from the room at the Headlands Center for the Arts where I could wander up the hill to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Or the real genius of Wendell Berry’s Window Poems, written from the inside the multipaned window in his studio.

As I look through all the pictures on my phone and am once again startled at the beauty and glory of nature and the creations of humankind, I believe the view I love best is from the futon on my back porch.  Looking into the yard I have, dug, raked, hoed, planted, harvested and maneuvered.  We have hauled dirt and compost to create six raised beds.  I’ve moved a rock walkway to create a 3-circuit labyrinth on  the left side of the yard and then hauled it to the right side so the grow beds and compost bin could be installed.  Now I’ve stacked them for a wall to line the walkway to the greenhouse.

Everchanging.

I have flowers along the garage with old metal window grates as trellising.  Red roses, pink white and purple zennias, orange Gerber daisys, purple phlox and a hearty tomato plant hovering over the thyme ground cover right next to the rain barrel.

It’s my little urban farm from and in which I love to work and play and plan.  And when the grass is cut and the weeding done, the raspberries trimmed back to manageable, the cucumber and squash contained, I sit and admire the plants that feed us food and joy.  And I nap and read and star,e surrounded by the quiet plot that holds the answer to many of my dreams.

Now for the aquaponics inside a bigger greenhouse….

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Prompt #5 Before and After

Sticking to the guidelines today. After all, the prompts are merely suggestions not rules. My issues of authority surfacing again!

Many items come to mind. I could go historical and do the automobile, refrigerator, dish washer, gas stove. I could describe my yard before and after the raised beds or the aquaponic system I am learning to operate.  I could describe the canner and go into my attempts to remove myself from the corporate food chain and chemicals in my own small way.  Yet I’ve written about these previously.

I am lead to the wood stove!  I love heating with wood.  I’m not totally sure it lowers the heating costs if we don’t manage to obtain free wood which we have had a lot of! We’ve cut, shopped and split several driveways full of wood.  Rest in peace downed ash, maple, oak, walnut and Osage.  We burned the Bradford Pear that didn’t survive the four tornado day a couple of years ago.  But the money to rent the splitter and gasoline and transportation…Am I saving resources?  The process of me or anyone getting the wood to the point of use and the smokey by-product wafting into the air has to factor in.  There is an environmental cost for everything.  I feel like the burning of the deceased trees is a part of speeded up recycling!

I feel strong when operating the splitter.  It’s fun!  And hard work.  I feel strong lifting and stacking wood.  I feel strong carrying wood even though I carry only 3-4 logs at a time.  Carrying wood forces me to get outside in the cold, damp, snow, fog, ice.  so I am still connected with the outside when the windows are shut and the daylight is in short supply.  And I am moving.  I am stretching and using my body.

I cook soups and veggies atop the stove.  Cast iron.  I dry our clothes on racks in front of the stove.  I sit and stare, my feet resting on the brick foundation and browse seed catalogues and read.

The whirr and hum of the furnace is replaced by wood crackling and popping as the fire dances life.  The heart light glowing from the center of my house.

 

 

 

 

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Writing Prompt #4. Who is driving?

Again, I diverge from the given topic! They say a quote from a movie. I am choosing a quote from Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, (HarperPerennial 1991). Maybe this book is my favorite of hers, but really everyone I read or reread is then my current favorite.

My friend Deborah and I did a writing prompt around this today.

Quote from pg 224 in a letter from Hallie to Codi: “What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you are on, and the fact that you know how to drive.”

The “I know how to drive” is what strikes me in this quote. So much of my life I have not felt like the driver but the passenger, not reacting primarily to my own thoughts, needs, desires or reactions but to someone else. Me, the peacekeeper, the one in service.  Let me fix this for you.  Let me do this for you.  Co-dependent.

Seeing the many roads and at this stage in my life, knowing and really believing at an independent level that I can make my own choices – I drive. Certainly with concern and compassion for any others involved but now including myself as equally relevant.

I drive sometimes with the top down and my hair blowing in the wind feeling the sun and the shade of the passing clouds.  Smelling the trees and skunks and road kill and cooking.

Sometimes I drive with the windows up and the music so loud I can’t hear my thoughts.

Sometimes I drive too fast, wanting everyone else to get out of my way, my mission being way more important than theirs.  Especially if I have caused myself time constraints.

Sometimes I go slower, wanting to look around (often at the bane of the me from the last paragraph in the cars behind me.)

Sometimes I leave the house without knowing directions to where I am going.  My second ex-husband claims Garamin was created for me.  I am now saved by Google maps and Siri and, conspiracitorally speaking, tracked by the same.  My new big brother, Google.

So I have been the driver, as well as a willing and unwilling passenger and I know absolutely the destination can certainly be colored by the journey.  Changing the “fine destination” to stressed, angry, happy or excited destination.  So how can I completely color or visualize the destination without leaving some areas for shading to accommodate the human emotions/experiences on the road to getting there?  Some fine destinations turn out to be so changed or rearranged by the time I get there!  Can I accurately color the future?  So what about intention?  Do I set them?  What about vision boards and dreams?  Do I even consider vision or envision?  How do I paint where I want to land, my destination?

The road I am on can be laced with, intersected by so many other interesting other roads.  Other options like curiosity and ADD and boredom can cause many a change in my direction.  And because I am directionally challenged I’m often turning left instead of right and vise versa.  Your side, my side works much better for me!  Lost is often its own unique journey.

I don’t read the last chapter of a book without reading the character’s journey through the middle.  Because here is lies the richness.  Here is where the ingredients, all mixed together, cook up into the serving/the destination as it is right now.  And then we are off to yet another …

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Writing Prompt #2 –TV/Movie reaction

Not exactly following the suggestion – but I am pretty good at “bucking the system” by twisting the rules just a bit.  There is an entire blog post on that personal revelation!

I have adapted the prompt to : emotion associated with a movie or TV show

I don’t watch much TV.  Movies I love if they are funny, character driven and not too violent.  I walked out of the horse head scene in Godfather and again in Black Hawk Down.  I don’t know how they even talked me into that movie.  Many a movie or show I’ve tried gets too careless with death and gore for me.  Like No Country for Old Men.  Love the cast of actors.  But the opening scene in a desolate American West.  Two cars.  Only two cars and two men.  They stop and the guy in the tail car approaches and blows the other one off the map.  Bang you are dead.  In this wide open space, full of emptiness and possibility two men and boom.  Now, granted I did not stick around long enough to see the guy hit the ground so i don’t know the when, why or wherefore.  I just know that I had had enough in 3-4 minutes.

I cringe at the violence in the 30 second advertising slots for the detective shows especially when there are children involved.

I am not denying there are terrible things that happen to people.  Horrific, tragic situations.  Still I don’t want to see imagined, horrific, tragic situations play out in a 40 minute skit broken into commercial segments selling the viewers medicine for depression.  And the next week the main players are all fine and redo to go into another episode.  There is no reality of healing time, grief, anger, frustration.  No regrouping time.  Only scenes from next week.

Several years ago, I regularly watched a show I can’t remember the name of.  Maybe you all can add the name!  (I could do a blog post on instant recall if I could remember to.)   Heroes, I found it on the web, of course.  The players had super powers.  The main character was a cheerleader in high school.  The combat between good and evil was more of a mental battleground at first but then the story line got really brutal and gory.  I quit watching.

I believe the constant depictions violence hardens us, desensitizes us, creates an underlying sense of mistrust and does little to assist in dealing with these situations on a reality basis.  And then what is the reality?  Is Hollywood creating the reality of our society by telling us this is how our society is? Oh, maybe I should just watch the news.  Oh, dear, never mind that.

And then there are the violent video games.  Teaching how to kill with animation that looks like real people.  Training for…?

Call me idealistic, a Pollyanna.  Tell me I have my head in the sand.  Okay.  And still I’ll stick with watching Antiques Roadshow and the shows about personal talents.  Why are there no more Doc Martin episodes?  I do watch Madame Secretary which can occasionally get a bit bloody.  60 minutes and Sunday Morning.  Oh, and Grace and Frankie!  And documentaries.

 

 

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Writing Prompts Day #1 – Books

I am challenging myself to write with an email prompt for 31 days. To sharp my skills, to force myself to write. Writer’s write. So if I want to publish again, well… pen in hand, Susan Rea.

The first prompt is: Write about a beloved book and relive your memories of the time spent entranced by a wonderful story.
Being the Libra poster child, I can’t pick just one. So here is my response.

The first novel I read was Old Yeller by Fred Gibson. I cried so hard. That dog became as personal to me as Dusty! I learned then the power of the written word. I was hooked. Give me a good book and a quiet spot from my early teens.

From a family of storytellers , now wishing I had listened and could remember some of them better, I thank you Uncle John for the snippets in the bundle of letters we found in your desk. I am trying to take it from there, writing little personality bio’s for the faces I have represented in the archives I have assembled.

Another book I well remember is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Life changing. The book really changed my belief system. The Goddess connection spoke to me and drew me in – connected with me. From this reading, I experienced possibility and earth spirituality. This didn’t strike me as fantasy but a reality channeled through an open mind.

The Hobbit and trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, while much more action packed and violent than I usually read, held me spell bound. I propped these books in the window sill to read while I was washing dishes! Heroes, with every character flaw and self-doubt, faith and courageous curiosity. By the way I think Samwise is the hero of this story.

I love books where the historical characters come alive, are given personality. Historical fiction – I suspect many are channeled or directed in some part by divine syncronicity. The focus of the writer on a specific character can often be too intense to not connect with the energy of that character and time. I believe it’s possible.

When I read The Invention of Wings, which I read because Sue Monk Kidd wrote it and I loved The Secret Life of Bees and the strength of the female community, I was entranced, fascinated and so angry.

Thoroughly intrigued with the book and insulted that my history lessons had not taught me, not mentioned or considered important the Grinke sisters, Handful and her mother Charlotte important enough to include in it’s references. (See my previous blog post from July 2015.) Grossly unfair to our culture’s story in both areas of race and gender.

Maybe that’s why I tend to female writers. Louise Erdrich. Barbara Kingsolver. Isabelle Allende. And…Mary Oliver’s poems. Sena Jeter Naslund’s, Ahab’s Wife. Of course, Anita Diamant’s Red Tent.  My list does go on and on and on.

That being said, I have read many Tony Hillerman novels and love them all.

I am fascinated by books written on Mary Magdalene, her history and the theory that she was the most beloved disciple and wife of Jesus. Also, Anna, Jesus grandmother and the Essenes.

I also love stories about the English Queens, their strengths and limitations.

I enjoy young adult literature, but not the fantasy, so much.  It’s concise entertaining, blatantly real.  I did enjoy Harry Potter.  Even though – even his Owl got killed off.  Gezzzzz.

So, I am practicing with writing prompts to bring Hazel and Uncle Ira alive for those who will someday care to peruse what I have archived.

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