#weekendcoffeeshare – 04/29/2018

Please, grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit with me. I have been out of things for awhile and I only just learned that eclecticali has taken over #weekendcoffeeshare and I want to say a big thank you! I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading these posts and have missed it!

If we were having coffee, I would try to catch you up on my writing and my life while asking about you. I feel that I’ve gotten to know so many of you and this is the forum where we could always share and catch up with each other. As for me, it has been a tough winter here in the Ohio Valley in the U.S. A long winter that started in November and hasn’t ended yet since it frosted last night. Very cold, snowy. Spring is trying to come, but it’s a very late spring since in two days, it will be May!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I took a rather long writing break during the winter. I was in the middle of my novel and for those of you who have written a book, you know that the middle is the hardest part. I put it down and have just now picked it back up again. I feel like I’ve now gotten some perspective on it and can continue to write. Sometimes, you have to get some distance. The distance helped me and I think, now, I can write with a vengeance.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been without a dog for over nine months now. That’s the longest I’ve ever been without a canine companion in my life. I had a dog during this time, but she was a fear biter so that didn’t work out. I’m waiting on a puppy! I’m excited about that and hope that this works out. Anything can happen with puppies, so right now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.  I should know in about two weeks about the puppy, so be hopeful for me!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I don’t do well without a dog in my life. I’ve always had a special relationship with them.

If we were having coffee, I would share with you that my husband is waiting to see a neurosurgeon. He has a back issue that is painful and somewhat disabling. We are both worried and hope that he can try physical therapy first. We don’t intend to jump into surgery.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you to tell me how you have been and what is going on with your writing and your life. I’ve missed hearing your stories! I’d also like to know if there is a badge or image that we should put on our #weekendcoffeeshare posts? Thanks!

Thanks to electicali for hosting #weekendcoffeeshare

The Plight of Honey Bees and the Effect on our World

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Time Magazine reports that if you take away the honey bees from pollinating the crops grown by farmers, 237 out of 453 food items will disappear from grocery store shelves. That is a shocking statistic. But, the demise of the honey bee doesn’t only affect food items. It is much more far-reaching than that.

Honey bees are dying off at an unprecedented rate. Parasites and disease in the hives, pesticides in the fields, stress, and poor weather are factors in killing the honey bee population. Business Insider reports that one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on the honey bee population for pollination. A world without honey bees is a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Without honey bees, we would not have leafy greens, broccoli, pumpkins, cucumbers, avocados, apples, cherries, blueberries, and almonds. The effect on almonds is particularly serious. Almonds are used for many things. The shells are often ground up and used for feed for cows. If cows don’t have the proper nutrients, they can’t produce milk which affects dairy products. Alfalfa will also perish, which will affect both beef and dairy cattle. There will be no milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream if we cannot provide feed for cattle. There will also be no beef.

Honey bees pollinate the oilseeds, like cotton seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Without them, more than half of the world’s supply of fat and oil would disappear. The lack of cotton would eliminate 35% of the world’s clothing and many household products.

Fortunately, staple grain products won’t be affected. Neither will pigs since they aren’t dependent on crops like alfalfa to eat.

If honey bees disappear, our diets will be devoid of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and beef. There may be some chicken and there will be fish near the coastlines. On a daily basis, how would you like your diet to consist of high fat pork and bread, plus some chicken and fish when you can get it?

Get involved in the movement to save the honey bees. Buy organic to encourage organic farming without pesticide use.

amwriting with The Writing Reader

Hay Monsters

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Ray was drunk. He had to leave his car and walk the country road home from the bar tonight. He smelled the sweet smell of the pasture. He just wanted to lie down. Pass out really. He staggered off the road into the pasture, tumbled down the hill, and was asleep before he hit the bottom.

Dawn woke him. Rather, it tried to wake him as he viewed the light with bleary eyes and shut them again. He realized he wasn’t sober yet. He wanted to sleep it off. The sun started to get warm. Two hours later, it was hot. Ray awoke again, still not completely sober. He decided to get up and make his way to the house.

He opened his eyes as he stood. When he looked up, he screamed. There were strange-looking people working the pasture. They had no faces and hay bales for heads. They were seven feet tall.

Ray turned and ran toward the house, vowing all the way never to drink again.

170 words

Photo credit to Ellspeth

The Wine Tasting

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“Oh, but isn’t the blue fun, the Gik, darling? It’s so new and different,” Juan asked the party at the wine-tasting.

”It’s fun, but I feel like I’m drinking cough medicine,” the American said.

”But the taste! It’s sweet, light, and bubbly. I’m taking some home for my daughter’s wedding,” the British man commented.

The three men, friends for many years, were attending a wine tasting in Spain, where they were on holiday. It was at a small, rather mysterious winery that none of them had heard of before they got the invitation.

“The yellow! The Vin Jeune! This is the first time I’ve tasted it,” cried the American. “How unique! It’s nutty and fruity at the same time. Delicious.”

”It’s just overdeveloped white wine. Next, please,” said the Brit. The Spaniard was delighting in the taste of the yellow.  The three men briefly argued about the characteristics of the blue versus the yellow.

They came to the red, the burgundy. They agreed. Full-bodied, delicious, perhaps the best.

A commotion took place at the door and two masked men appeared.

”Place your wallets on the table. Then walk into the vat room,” one of the men said.

#SoCS – 04/21/2018

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My writing muse spoke to me today for the first time in weeks. When I’m dealing with the intricacies of life, I’ve found that the muse escapes me. If there are situations in my life that demand my attention, I feel my creativity slipping away. Those mundane situations sap any creative impulses that normally motivate me to write. When I realize that is happening, it’s very disturbing to me. I’ve been writing since I was nine years old. It’s how I’ve always dealt with stress and stretched my mind.

Recently, I’ve been juggling a lot of balls in my non-writing life. I’ve been too busy to write. My day doesn’t seem complete unless I can write, but there haven’t been enough hours in the day. I’ve ended my days very frustrated because I haven’t written a word.

When I feel like this, I try to take a few minutes to do some writing-related tasks. I’m in the middle of a novel, so I do some editing. I also read. I try to pick books that, for example, are good character studies or have excellent plot lines so I can get better at both techniques. I want to write some short stories, so I’m reading the latest collection of short stories compiled by the “Pushcart” collection. I also read the Writer’s Digest magazine and other publications on writing techniques.

What do you do when the writing muse isn’t with you?

#AtoZChallenge – Jumpy

The first day of the first class that all ten of them had together found them jumpy. They didn’t know each other yet. They had just been assigned a desk in the bullpen. It was a graduate class in management. The Professor walked in and in a booming voice said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

She never forgot that quote and it came to signify their entire academic experience. They looked at each other and knew that the roller coaster of their graduate experience had begun. They all knew, from the outset, that getting a doctoral degree was difficult. Beyond difficult. It was a lifetime commitment. Some of them had families. Some didn’t have children yet, but were married. Some single. All determined to join the elusive Club. The Professorship.

They didn’t know yet that, by the end of their two years of classwork, and endless years of writing their dissertations, that the commitment to join the Club would take a heavy toll on their lives, families, and relationships. Only a few more than half of them would even succeed. For those that did, it would make their lives. It would define their lives. The Professorship would become more important to them and they would become more important to each other than anything else in their lives.

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#AtoZChallenge – Idealistic

They met when they were graduate students who happened to share the same field and the bullpen. That was the office where the university dumped the graduate teaching and research assistants. They studied there, prepared for classes there, got to know each other there. There were ten of them.

They were all drawn to each other. They had similar intellects, similar interests. As they grew to know each other, they found they’d even had similar lives, though their ages differed by as much as ten years. One characteristic they all shared was that they were idealistic, to an extreme. About life, about love. That would all change during the twenty, thirty, and in some cases, forty years they knew each other.

They mixed and matched in all sorts of smaller groups and pairs over the two years in that bullpen, developing strong friendships and relationships. They laughed that getting their degrees was like fighting a war together.

What they didn’t know then was that those were the Glory Days.

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#AtoZChallenge – Happy

As she grew up, she felt lucky to be part of a big extended family. She didn’t have any siblings, but she did have lots of first cousins. Their mothers and fathers were close, so the children saw each other often. There was almost 40 years between the oldest cousin and the youngest. It never occurred to her that they would not always be close. To her, the cousins were her siblings. She counted on them to be her family.

Until they weren’t. They all got older, married, and life got in the way. She was as guilty of that as any of them. Distance developed between them. There were still family reunions, visits, closeness, but as time passed, it became different and less frequent. She still counted on them.

Riffs in the family didn’t happen until a little more than ten years ago. She still doesn’t know what happened, but something did. Two of the cousins didn’t communicate with her anymore. She didn’t know why and, for a time, tried to find out but it was hopeless. Heartbroken, she gave up. As time passed, she heard less from the other cousins who were younger than her. She became embittered, angry, and very sad. She didn’t understand. From time to time, she would try to make contact, but it never turned out well.

She still had a relationship with her older cousins, but now the one who wrote the letter and revealed her private business in such a vindictive way had undoubtedly ruined that. She was alone, an orphan.

Except for her friends. Fate had smiled on her regarding her friends. She felt she had the best friends in the world. They had come through for her time and time again. She could never repay them. They had become her family without her realizing it. She hoped they felt the same.

She knew that it was time to move on and leave the dreams of childhood and that big, extended family behind, except for the handful who had stood beside her. The only way to be happy in the future was to find a future without them.

Author’s note: Posts A through H of the #AtoZChallenge are the beginnings of an idea for a novel. Thank you for reading. I would love your comments!

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#AtoZChallenge – Gracious

The only word that could describe her aunt was gracious. The other family on that hill, her second set of parents, were her mother’s sister and her husband. They were childless. Even as an adult, she ran between the two houses and didn’t really differentiate between her parents and her aunt and uncle. She loved them equally. Her aunt, like her grandmother, was a take-charge woman. Liberated, strong, but loving and above all, gracious. In so many ways, she saved her.

Her aunt was a teacher and she made a nice test student. She tested her for reading, math, all skills, from the time she was three or four years old. She insisted she be well-rounded and bought her a piano. She started lessons at seven years old. She had all the reading material that a girl could want. Between her mother and her aunt, they bought her beautiful school clothes in the nearest big city. She often felt like a princess. But, she was shy and most people didn’t know any of this.

Her aunt tried to teach her how to be a lady, but she was a tomboy. They lived in the country and all of her playmates, except two, were boys. She learned to play baseball and was the pitcher. Her aunt just shook her head. Her first love, for all of her life, were her dogs. Her uncle would find dogs by the road and bring them home to her. She would nurse them back to health. Her aunt would smile in spite of herself and shake her head again. She always found time to study and four hours each day to practice piano.

She had great respect for her aunt. She listened to her lessons about life. She listened to her lessons about their family. She particularly listened to her lessons about her parents. Her aunt desperately wanted her to go on into higher education and become self-sufficient. She didn’t really know what that meant then, but later she did and she appreciated her aunt’s push in that direction. She depended on her for so many things.

Later in life, when she was a very young woman, her aunt became ill. Her Daddy was ill. Her mother was ill. Her aunt and her Daddy died within three months of each other. She was forlorn. She still had her mother and uncle. She still had a large extended family. But, she felt the very fabric of her life being ripped out from under her. She was losing the families on the hill and she didn’t know how to cope.

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#AtoZChallenge – Fair

After her Daddy came back home, she was changed. More mature in ways. Thankful he was back. They became more of a family on that hill. Her mother had grown up only 50 miles away, on a farm in the countryside. Her grandparents were still there. She and her parents visited them often on the weekends, sometimes spending the entire weekend. Sometimes just the day. The other family on the hill, her aunt and uncle, would join them. She was in the fourth grade.

Spending time on the farm was one of the best parts of her childhood. Her grandfather was the most fair and forgiving man. He taught her what men should be like. Her grandmother was a woman before her time. Liberated even then. Calling the shots. She probably got some of her fire and independence from her. But, it was her grandfather she identified with and who she talked with the most.

She was one of the middle cousins in age. Her older cousins were a lot older. She didn’t see them very much or when she did, they saw her as a child. Her younger cousins were either not born yet or still babies. Except for her uncle’s family and he was away in the military. She only saw them once a year. She was most often on the farm alone.

Some mornings, she got up early and went with her grandfather to milk the cows. Other days, he took her in his wagon, pulled by his mules, to his parents farm which seemed far away. It was a beautiful place with the old log cabin still standing. During those times with him, he talked to her about life, people, politics, and most of all, education. Lessons that helped form the rest of her life.

When she stops to think even now, she can see him and hear his laugh. Why do the most important people have to die and leave you?

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