#weekendcoffeeshare 12/24/2016

img_0373

Good morning, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah, to all of you! Please come right in and join me for our Christmas Eve special #weekendcoffeeshare. I have several types of coffee for you. I have just about every type of tea as I am a tea aficionado. Blackberry and other herbals. Russian and other bold teas. Lighter green teas. Even white tea which is a treat to try. My favorite Hot Cinnamon Black Tea. I also have, as a holiday treat, scones and muffins. So load up your plates and let’s talk!

The Holiday Season is here. It isn’t especially my time of year but so many people love it. I’ve been around some friends this year who really get into Christmas and it’s almost been a new experience. I haven’t celebrated Christmas in a big way in a lot of years. Watching my friends prepare for their holiday has been amazing and overwhelming. I don’t see how they do it! Those days are gone for me but I have enjoyed watching them.

Since we’re all writers, I want to report on some writer stuff. I got my Brother laser printer hooked up this week. It is WiFi-enabled and it was terribly easy to hook up. It is handling two different computer with ease – an iPad and a Windows laptop. I’m impressed. I’d forgotten how easy a laser printer is since I have used an inkjet for many years. Here’s the good part. This laser printer was no more expensive than an inkjet. I can remember when they cost $700. Check out Amazon if you need a printer. You will be pleasantly surprised.

I probably would not have thought of a laser printer had it not been for another writer who recommended it. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Chuck Wendig. He is a well-known horror writer in the U.K. and increasingly in the U.S. I love his website and reading his writings. He is amazingly talented and gives great tips to other writers. He also hosts the occasional challenge which are indeed challenging. I would recommend signing up to receive his blog. One caveat: It is at least R-rated so if bad language offends you, don’t do it. Trust me, the information you will gain as a writer is more than worth it. His site is terribleminds.com. You don’t have to write in his genre to take advantage of the information he passes on.

Speaking of gear for writers, my new keyboard for my iPad arrives today. I will report next time on it. Take a look. You can find it at querky.com.

So that takes care of Christmas presents for writers!

I’ve had a productive writing week and hope all of you have too. I am making good progress on my novel which has morphed from a romance novel into a psychological thriller. If that sounds weird to you, believe me, it was weird to me too. Now that I have let the story flow naturally and become what it was meant to be, the writing is easy. I have some free time over the next couple of weeks and I am shooting for maybe 20,000 more words.

I’m taking a trip! Soon, my husband and I are taking our RV and going to Florida to escape Kentucky’s cold weather. I’m just about over having four seasons and am ready for one season – a warm one! We’re spending several weeks there and I was lucky enough to find a house sitter. We will be in my favorite area of Florida most of the time, the Gulf Coast along the peninsula but will spend a week or more along the panhandle as well. I hope to get lots of good pictures and have many experiences that I will share with all of you.

I will blog the entire time I’m gone and I also have a consulting project I will probablly have to work on. But only for a few hours each day.

That wraps it up for this Christmas Eve edition of #weekendcoffeeshare for me. I would love to hear your plans for the holidays! Leave a note for me and tell us about them in the comments! Next time we talk, it will be New Year’s Eve, the dawn of 2017. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #Christmas #Florida

Thanks to Diana and Parttimemonsterblog.com

#SoCS – Dec 24/16

img_0319

Good morning to everyone! I only have one thing of importance on my mind today. I want to say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone out there celebrating the holidays. In the United States, it has been such a disturbing year from a political standpoint. Since starting to blog on WordPress this year, I’ve met so many wonderful people of all political and religious persuasions. When we interact, their politics or religion never occurs to me.

I hope that, in 2017, we can all come together – Christians, Jews, Muslims – and every other religion and every political persuasion – and show our governments who seem to be trying to tear us apart, that WE are, indeed, the world. That despite the differences in how we worship or who we elect to lead us, WE are the world. The people and not the small groups of governmental officials. Those officials don’t represent us all and, in some cases, represent very few of us.

When we interact one on one, politics and religion don’t matter. We’re all just people, trying to survive, take care of our families, somehow make our way toward self-actualization. We can get along with our neighbors who may worship differently or have a different view of political governing, but WE, the people, are the world. WE are important, not the little groups at the top who try to cook up something between us. No matter what country we live in.

I’ve met a lot of people this year from all around the world. I want my blogger friends on WordPress to know that knowing them and reading their work has enriched my life. I have new friends on Facebook because of my writing who are also writers and I feel the same about you. I’ve come to like Twitter as there are people there who will help a budding writer and I’ve certainly made new friends there and I want to thank them. It hasn’t mattered one bit about their politics or religion and they haven’t let it matter about mine. I respect all these people immensely. I want to thank all of you for your friendship and help this year.

My old friends. What can I say? The year has been hard for me and to those of you who have shared those hard times with me, I will never be able to repay you and you have my gratitude. My old friends are more than special to me and I hope you will always be in my life.

To all of you, have a blessed holiday. WE are the people and WE are the world. Don’t let anyone take that away from US. #religion #politics #Christmas #Hanukkah #amwriting #amblogging #writing #WordPress

Post in response to Stream of Consciousness Dec 24/16

Thanks, Linda!

Discover What You Need

img_0413

No matter how old or young we are, we constantly discover things we need, and don’t need, in our lives. I have been slowly discovering, over a period of time, what I need. But I only just came to a decision regarding what to do about it. Sometimes, discoveries are difficult, even painful. My discovery about what I need to do with my life isn’t painful, but it is going to be rather difficult even though on many levels, it’s exciting.

My decision. I have to move. Change my residence. Have a new place to live. Have some new experiences. When I say that I have discovered I have to move, I don’t just mean to the next town, I mean 1000 miles away. South. Near the ocean and where the weather is always warm. Margaritaville. Paradise. I guess that gives you a clue.

I moved from the city to the country 18 years ago. I grew up in the country, right in the area to which I moved. I moved because of my career. It’s true what they say. You can’t go home again. I haven’t been happy since I moved back to the country. I guess I unknowingly became a city girl in the 25 years I was away. When you move away from your hometown just 2 1/2 years after high school and stay gone for 25 years except to show up there for your job and drive back to the city to go home each day, you lose touch. You lose touch with the people and the culture. You lose touch with your friends that still live in your hometown. You lose touch with the culture they live in. You become different over the years and so do they. My hometown, where I worked but didn’t live, became different right under my nose. I’ve been lonely since I moved back to the country.

I’ve thought about just moving back to the city, but now I’ve changed and it doesn’t suit me anymore. I have good friends there but things like the climate don’t suit me. I need things now that weren’t so important to me in the past. Warm weather. The ocean. A smaller city with close access to a big city. People my own age with interests similar to mine. Because of the type of career I had, I have friends all over the country. College professors are transient by nature. I’d like to live in a college community.

I need to be close to the conveniences of life. I’m not now and I have to drive a 150 mile round trip to the city to take advantage of those conveniences. Sometimes, I drive to the city three times each week. Often, it is two times per week. I’m tired. I’m tired of that drive and living on the interstate. What I consider necessary conveniences for me may not be necessary for you. What I do know for sure is that the time is coming where the drive is going to be very hard for me. I want to be able to walk out my front door and have a good restaurant within a mile or two instead of 75 miles. I want to expend the energy I use for that drive on other fun things. Like sitting on the beach.

Imagine this. For 23 years, I’ve commuted several times a week, one way or the other. I can’t imagine how many years of my life I’ve expended on that interstate!

It was not an easy decision for me to move 1000 miles from home. I like to put down roots. Completely pulling up stakes and leaving everything familiar to me scares me to death. A wise person once said to me that you should do what scares you. That’s where growth lies. I believe that.

I’m lucky. I still work but I can do what I do from anywhere since I am a writer/consultant.

Soon, we will start house-hunting in the area where we want to live.. Then, in the spring, we will put my house up for sale and hope we can somehow simultaneously sell the house and buy another in Paradise.

It’s scary. Wish me luck! Go out and get what YOU need! #amwriting #amblogging #writing

A Reply to “Academia, Love Me Back” by Tiffany Martinez

Between 1981 and 1988, I was trying to do something similar to what Tiffany Martinez was doing in her essay, Academia, Love Me Back. I was trying to earn a doctorate degree. Tiffany was trying to earn an undergraduate degree on her way to a graduate program. The degrees we were trying to earn don’t matter. The discrimination both of us faced in academia does matter. The reasons we faced that discrimination matters. Tiffany alleges that academia is broken and her essay is current. Tiffany, academia was broken when I was trying to earn my doctorate between 1981-1988. It was broken because of discrimination. You faced the same discrimination I did. You just faced it 35 years later. That is quite an indictment of academia and a legitimate indictment.

I entered a doctoral program to earn a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) in the Fall of 1981. That was 35 years ago. I find it terribly disturbing that what was broken in academia 35 years ago has not yet been fixed. Tiffany, you faced discrimination because of your last name and because you are a woman. You say it was because you didn’t look like everyone else. Of course, that is true.

As for me, I am a white female who was in my late 20s at the time I entered the doctoral program. I was of American descent (Northern European). I did look like most other American women. What I did not look like was a man. In 1981, few women entered my field, the field of finance. It was seen as a man’s world. Only one other woman was in the finance program with me. Sometimes, I felt I was treated like a pet. Even worse, I had to work twice as hard as the men in the program for half the credit. Why? Because I didn’t look like everyone else in the finance program. I was female. I couldn’t possibly conquer finance. Bear in mind. Tiffany, you are facing exactly the same problem 35 years later.

I want to give my fellow finance students in that program credit. The men who were my fellow students were wonderfully accepting. There was no discrimination there. We studied together. We socialized together. I made lifelong friends who are still very much in my life. It was the administration and the professors in the program who discriminated. Not all of them and I don’t want to indict all of them. But enough of them to cause a problem for me.

You might have expected this 35 years ago. Women had just begun breaking into fields that had typically been male-dominated. I suppose one could say that it was more understandable then. Thirty-five years have passed and women are in many male-dominated professions. We have had a woman run for President of the United States. What are we doing discriminating against a female student because of her appearance and her last name?

My biggest problem came when I was finishing my degree. The last step in obtaining a doctorate degree is writing a dissertation and defending it to a committee of your professors and an outside reader. There was an older, very traditional professor on the committee. It was well-known that he did not think it appropriate for a female to have a doctorate in finance. I knew he would vote against me when I defended my dissertation. I was very prepared but I was also scared to death.

I defended my dissertation and stepped outside the room as asked. I don’t know exactly what happened in that room, but I knew that my dissertation chairman was on my side – a more progressive, younger professor. Some time passed and my dissertation chairman stepped out and congratulated me. I had to really control myself to keep from crying with relief.

The time I spent in the doctoral program were some of the best years of my life – and some of the worst. Yes, I faced discrimination but I also had support from my fellow students, mostly male. It disappoints me greatly to think that, 35 years later, a female student like you, Tiffany, is facing the same discrimination in her quest for higher education. I, too, love academia, Tiffany. I, too, wanted it to love me back and went on to become a college professor myself. I tried never to judge a student based on anything but their work.

Tiffany, keep on fighting. Your fellow students will help you. Most professors will help you. There are bad apples in every bunch. You ran into a bad apple who is still caught in the discrimination mindset. Academia needs students like you. Students who will speak out. Students with your credentials. Students with your smarts. Academia will eventually love you back. It is like most institutions. Very slow to change. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #academia

The Veteran and Christmas Spirit

 

img_0411

The old guy sitting in the diner was a Vietnam vet. He didn’t know what to do. His last buddy, also his roommate, died today. That meant his home was gone too.

He had been there for hours. The manager had noticed him. She walked over and asked if he needed anything.

“A place to stay. My friends are gone.”

She got him to tell his story. She saw their Christmas tree and asked him if he would like to stay in their back room.

“I’m a good cook,” he exclaimed, as his whole face lit up with a smile.

 

100 words

#amblogging #amwriting #writing #flashfiction #fiction

This post is in response to Friday Fictioneers

Photo credit to Roger Bultot

Gone

 

img_0408

They always looked smoky for a reason. There was always a haze that hung over and around them. The Great Smoky Mountains. As the man and the woman looked at from the ruins of what used to be their home, the haze now was real smoke. The remnants of the terrible fire that had swept their beautiful mountains a few days before and claimed their home.

The town below devastated. Their dog and pet pig gone. All their treasures gone. Thousands of acres of timber and wild animals gone. Everything they loved but each other.

“What now?” he asked, his face crumbling, as he looked at her.

She sighed as she looked with love at his aging face.

“Are you game for rebuilding and helping out here?” she asked. “We need to help put this place back together again.”

His face broke into a smile.

145 words

 

A tribute to the people, animals, and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park after the East Tennessee Fires. The cause – arson.

#amblogging #amwriting #writing #flashfiction #fiction

Photo Credit to Joy Pixley

Post for FFfAW Challenge.

Thanks, Priceless Joy!

Flint Michigan Water Crisis: Don’t Forget About Flint

img_0407

A lot of press was given to the Native American Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance, which has now been resolved. Some press has been given to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but we don’t seem to know quite as much about it. The Standing Rock protest was being held to try to protect their water supply. The Flint, Michigan water supply has already been severely contaminated.

The Flint, Michigan water supply was contaminated beginning in April, 2014. Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River. The Flint River was treated improperly and the pipes in it leached lead into the river which made its way into the drinking water. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to lead in their water. An outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in the area is most likely the result of the contamination of the water supply. Ten deaths resulted.

By June of 2015, Virginia Tech tested Flint’s water and found that it had almost three times the amount of lead in it that water had that the Environmental Protection Agency classified as hazardous waste. Children were getting sick with rashes and mysterious illnesses. Lead has a particularly bad effect on the nervous system.

The President declared a state of emergency in Flint in January 2016. Criminal charges have been filed against some officials who were involved this situation. Some were involved in what amounted to a cover-up.

At this time, the Flint water supplied has been switched back to the Detroit supply though it takes a long time for the lines to be clear of lead.

Not enough attention has been paid to Flint and the children of Flint. What is going to be done about those 6,000-12,000 children who have been exposed to very high levels of  lead? Since lead is a neurotoxin, it causes behaviorial delays, lowered IQ, and developmental problems. These issues can’t be reversed. The proper diet can decrease the absorption of lead so parents are being given information regarding mitigating the circumstances somewhat. Of course, switching water supplies back to the old one is also necessary and has already happened.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Flint is still ongoing and has not had the positive ending that the Standing Rock crisis was able to accomplish.#amwriting #amblogging #writing #Flint

 

Protecting Ourselves in Today’s Uncertain World

img_0406

In writing posts for Elizabeth’s Creativity Challenges (number 29), I’ve focused mostly on factual information. When you are writing about the word “protect,” as I am for this post, I would normally focus on the factual information on what we as a nation could do to protect ourselves from the uncertainly and distress in the world. I could also focus on what we as individuals could focus on to protect ourselves. I find myself in a different place as a writer than I’ve ever been and I think, at least according to some of us, we find ourselves in a different place as a nation.

I have to pose a question. How do we protect ourselves from our ultimate protector? Not just the protector of the United States but the protector and the most powerful man in the free world? No one more than me hopes that myself and my contemporaries turn out to be wrong about President-elect Donald Trump. I hope that he is our protector and our leader as he is going to swear to be on January 20, 2017.

I don’t believe we are wrong. At best, I don’t believe Mr. Trump knows what he is getting into. I don’t believe he has enough political or diplomatic knowledge of the workings of the world to understand what it means to be President of the United States. He sees it as a power grab. A power grab from “the other side” however he defines the other side. Since he is now a Republican, I assume he defines the other side as Democrats. He, himself, was a registered Democrat not long ago. Men who become leaders because they seek power and without the understanding of the ramifications of that power are dangerous when they command armies.

At worst, Mr. Trump does know what he is getting into and is doing things like waging Twitter wars, appointing inappropriate people to his Cabinet that have conflicts of interest, focusing on issues that are irrelevant like his feud with the New York Times, because he considers these things more important than, for example, taking his foreign policy briefings every day. This begs the question of why the President-elect does not want to know what’s going on in the world? Is he really that arrogant? Or is there a darker reason?

Another issue. Mr. Trump alienates the media on purpose. Why? He doesn’t want to be held accountable by the media. The media is an unofficial source of checks and balances. Perhaps more or less corrupt than our three branches of government. Even though we are skeptical of Congress, there are some good people there that are honest and who would try to help.

Is the protection between us, as citizens of the U.S. or the free world, suddenly just gone? What a horrifying thought and there is nothing we can do as individuals to protect ourselves on a global scale from that.

Can we protect ourselves on a personal level? That is a good question. We don’t know how Donald Trump is going to govern yet and we won’t know for sure until after January 20, 2017. We can’t plan for what we don’t know. What we can do is protect our state of mind. We can try to stay positive at least about ourselves. We can’t spend 24/7 thinking about the state of the world or we will be useless and unable to help ourselves or anyone else. We have to get on with life. Work, socialize with like-minded people, see friends and family. Don’t spend too much time living inside your own head. Instead of just getting your news from sound bites on cable news, buy a newspaper. Read that newspaper. Form your own opinions. Keep yourself physically healthy. You will feel better if you eat the right food. Drink water. Get exercise to relieve stress.

My opinion? We may need our strength. Individually and collectively. Just as important. We don’t know yet. #amwriting #amblogging #writing

 

The Challenge here is to use your creative talent to bring light into the current distress in the world around you, in whatever form that talent takes. The word today is “protect.”

O Holy Night – A Personal Note

img_0405

I just heard my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. It makes me think about the true meaning of Christmas, minus all the commercialization. It also makes me think about my dad. That’s why I marked this blog post as a personal note. It’s very personal. All the beautiful, spiritual Christmas songs remind me of my dad. He was a beautiful, spiritual person who loved Christmas and made me love Christmas.

So why am I writing this blog post? My family and friends wonder why I can’t enjoy Christmas anymore. Maybe this personal note will help them understand. I haven’t been able to enjoy Christmas since my dad died many decades ago. I’m sure many think I should be able to get past that by now and get back to enjoying Christmas. How I wish that were true. You see, my dad was Christmas to me. He taught me the Christmas story, much more than Sunday School or church ever did. He got up with me in the middle of the night to admire the tree he decorated with me. We looked for the star in the sky together. He always smiled and was jolly with me. He taught me to smile and laugh and have fun and, of course, enjoy Christmas.

Then, he died. At Christmas. He was younger than I am now when he passed away. He knew he was going to die even though he had only been ill for six weeks. He had been in the hospital for a few days and when we got back to the family home after he passed away, he had left presents for all of us. They weren’t there when we took him to the hospital only a few days before. Don’t ask me to explain that. We buried him on Christmas Eve when it was 19 degrees below zero and the snow was one and one half foot deep. I’ll never forget when they played Taps, as he was a veteran, and the men who were freezing and who were his friends and were determined to serve as pallbearers anyway.

His brother, my Uncle Billy, was here for the funeral. He came from Detroit and, given the weather, it was not an easy trip. He came for me. He stayed in a local motel and he took me back there after the funeral and got me drunk. He knew what I needed. To get drunk and cry. I wish it had been a permanent solution.

For a few Christmas’s after that, I tried. I really did. My mother was still alive and I tried for her, but I realized that she was not a “Christmas person” and it was not necessary. I quit trying and haven’t since. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to try. I never do.

I acknowledge Christmas in my own way but always very privately. I listen to the spiritual Christmas songs like O Holy Night and I always play piano at Christmas but only those songs. I take a wreath to the cemetery. I celebrate the birth of Christ. I also celebrate and grieve the death of my dad. He was a man who lived life to the fullest. I’m very much like him and have often been criticized for that, probably because I’m female. But, that was another lesson my dad taught me. Not to care what others thought and said and to live my life to the fullest.

Another legacy my dad left that not many people know about is that he was a writer. He didn’t try to make his living as a writer as he had his family to support and that would have been almost impossible then. I have some of his writings that I cherish. I also cherish that he gave me his gift, at least a part of it. He was better than me.

In four more days, my dad will have been gone 33 years. It feels like yesterday, just like it does every Christmas. I will go to the cemetery, play my songs, and remember how he used to sing Ava Maria in an operatic voice. I will hope that Christmas is over soon.

#amblogging #amwriting #writing #Christmas

The Place I’m Most at Home

img_0176

Finding Your Place

I didn’t see the ocean for the first time until I was 23 years old. I had always known something was missing from my life. Until I saw the ocean, I didn’t know what it was. Suddenly, I knew. It doesn’t matter what ocean. Any of the oceans. As long as I can see that big body of water with no end, I’m at home.

I was born in a landlocked state and was never around water much, except the smallest of ponds and lakes, until I went to the ocean the first time. I could try to explain why the ocean makes me feel at home but I wouldn’t be successful. There are lots of things I cannot explain through the spoken word. There are very few things I cannot explain through the written word. This is one of them.

But let me try to jot down a few of my thoughts. The ocean makes me feel that, no matter what happens, life goes on. It represents infinity to me and that is comforting. Not that my own life is infinite, but that life itself is infinite. In what have been the darkest times of my life, I have craved the ocean, going to the ocean, sitting by the ocean, submerging myself in the ocean, hearing the ocean’s waves crashing against the rocks, even just looking at the ocean. It soothes me if I’m upset. It gives me hope for the future.

Maybe the explanation is very simple. I believe we all originated from the ocean. Maybe going to the ocean really is going home to me. Maybe it just soothes my soul. #DiscoverWP #amwriting #amblogging #writing