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Posts Tagged ‘blogging 101’

What I really mean is fiction or non-fiction reading. Which do you prefer? When I was in grade school and first learned the terms fiction and non-fiction, the way I remembered which was which was by substituting “fake” for “fiction” because I didn’t readily remember what fiction meant but I knew what fake meant! I think I was in third grade!

I’m definitely a fiction kind of person but I find that when I read fiction, I am looking for the non-fiction in it, that is to say that I look things up that interest me in the fiction to learn more about those things as well as to make sure the author didn’t screw up on their facts! Recently, I’ve read about four of Daniel Silva’s series with Gabriel Allon. These books are filled with facts and fiction based on fact and they send me straight to search for the facts or to learn more about the subjects. I’ve read about the Holocaust (there’s always so much more to learn about it than what we know or think we know), about conflict in the Middle East, about the works of Caravaggio, just to name a few topics. It’s not just his books that do that to me. It’s almost every book. If an author mentions a type of plane used in WWII, I go look it up. If the name of a museum is mentioned, I’m off to find out more about it. As far as checking “facts” presented in fiction, I’m talking about dates and chronology. For example, if an author writes a scene in which a character stays at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and presents the date as 1992, I know they are wrong. I know that the hotel closed to guests in the 1980’s and I will go online and look for the dates to make sure I’m right. I am. Closure date was 1989. I then chalk it up to sloppy research and the rest of the book is tainted by it.

I read a lot about WWII and those books inevitably send me to find facts. Novels which make reference to art or music will do the same. Novels that reference specific locations with which I am unfamiliar will send me off to discover more.

I do enjoy reading some non-fiction but it has to be about a subject I am already interested in, or the memoirs or biography of someone I have previously hearing about in the past. One example is the Kennedy family. I am interested in all things Kennedy and have read extensively about them and books by them. In fact, my very first e-book when I got my Kindle in 2009, was True Compass by Ted Kennedy.

I just finished book #68 of an 80 book goal for 2014. I must say that the books next up on my list are all fiction but there are a few memoirs that have made the list so I might just load one of those on my Kindle. In fact, I had better run off and do that now so it will be ready to start up first thing in the morning!

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I discovered this week that my blog doesn’t have an “About” page. I think I used to have one when I first started this blog but I deleted it at one point because I was unhappy with it. I have trouble describing what my blog is about or telling people what I am about so that page no longer exists. But that should not be the case. I thought I had one. Oops! Well, I resolve to write a new “About” page before the page turns to October on my calendar. (Well, I don’t really have a calendar, nor do I wear a watch or use one, but that’s maybe something I can put into my About page.)

I’m also experimenting with changing my blog theme but I have to spend some time looking at what is available because a lot of the themes I have seen appear very cluttered and confusing to me. When I can’t figure out how to navigate a blog I land on, and I spend some time trying to and still can’t, then I have to conclude that the theme is too difficult for the Every Day Person to figure out. I have been blogging, writing them and reading them, for close to two decades so if I can’t figure it out, then something is wrong. So in the coming weeks I hope to find a new theme that works for me (and for you), however, if I don’t I’ll modify this one and update it so it looks a little newer. I will at least have to find a new header photo. The one I am using now shows my oldest grandson when he was about 20 months. He’s now 4 1/2 years old! So I need to change it!

I also want to add a page with books I’ve read in 2014, or maybe a widget listing the book I am currently reading or a link to my Goodreads page. We shall see.

Posts I need to write soon:
1. How to effectively critique a piece of writing without stomping on the writer and making them back into a corner never to pick up a pen again. Yeah, that happens. It shouldn’t. I’ll write about it.
2. My experiences with writing groups: what makes them work and what doesn’t (hint: it’s related to number 1 above).
3. How to help a child begin writing so that they learn to love it (should work for “non children” as well). I guess it will be an assortment of tips and tricks I’ve used while teaching writing and coaching writing teachers. I’m actually thinking it could be a once a week thing or maybe a separate Writing Page on this blog.

As you can see, I’ve a lot to do with this blog and I figured that if I put it down here, it makes me stick to doing it. These are my plans for this blog and I hope to get some of them done by the end of October so I can be free to concentrate on NaNoWriMo once again. Some things won’t be done but I hope to have started them…such as the Writing Page/Series.

So y’all come back now, y’a hear?

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Picture Day

I found a blog post a couple of days ago that made me think that I wanted to write about it but I hadn’t gotten around to it. Then just a few minutes ago, my niece posted a picture of her daughter’s hairdo for picture day on Facebook that reminded me so I had to come write it.

The post was called Picture Dayyy by Unoriginalblogger. She’s a young high school blogger that I just discovered while participating in the Blogging 101 exercise that WordPress is doing. I like that she is young and innocent and honest. She seems to be very open minded, too. I’m following her blog for now, and even when I don’t comment on her blog, she’s making me think!

The post is about it being picture day at her high school. It reminded me of all the picture days of my school years and, then later, the picture days of my own children. One of the first things we looked for when we got our school year schedules at the beginning of the year was the date of picture day. And then we started planning what we would wear and how we would fix our hair. Luckily, picture day was usually right at the start of the school year, the first or second week. Had it been any later in the year the stress would have been unbearable. We thought about it that much. In my family, with four girls spaced five years apart, we wore each others clothes so we had to make sure we all understood who was going to wear which outfit for picture day or there might be a mini war when the day arrived! How would we fix our hair and which jewelry would we wear? My high school years were in the early 70’s. We had long dangly earrings and chokers and tinted granny glasses. We had “ratted” hair, hair in braids, long stringy straight hair, hair done in a ‘fro (we called it a “natural” in those days) and all sorts of hair that was in style. Which would we choose? Just a couople of years before, in middle school, wiglets were in style so most of the girls added a wiglet full of curls at the back of their hair then we had to worry about it falling off! Talk about stressful!

Once the picture day had come and gone, we were left biting our nails until we got our pictures back. How had they turned out? Of course, even when they turned out great, we weren’t happy! Then we would start scheming on how to get onto the list for the “Make up Picture Day” which was really for those who had missed picture day the first time around but if you knew how to do it, you could get onto the list and have a re-do of picture day and hope for a better outcome!

Such stress. Such excitement. Such anticipation. Such memories. How did we survive?

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Rage

One minute I had been filled with love going through her things, touching them, remembering, incredulous that I would never see her again. Then I found that note. Who had she written it to? When? The paper, yellowed and brittle held that familiar handwriting. There was no doubt. She had written it. She had known what he was. She knew yet did nothing. He took my innocence. She could have prevented it. She could have kept him away from me. She didn’t.

She had failed me.

She had filled me with rage. That’s all that was left in me.

Rage.

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The other night, I streamed a couple of movies. It had been one of those days when I had needed a nap in the afternoon and had ended up sleeping more than I wanted to so then I couldn’t sleep that night. So I went to my watch list and picked one. Redwood Highway while being a 2013 movie is also the name of one of my favorite highways in California. In that stretch of Redwood Highway that goes from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern coastal tip of the state (this stretch is not only U.S. Route 199 but also U.S. Route 199), one can get a condensed view of what California has to offer…the big city, wide open fields, vineyards, the rocky yet serene shores of the Pacific Ocean, and the California redwoods, to name just a few of the gems found along this stretch of the Redwood Highway in California.

So when I picked this movie to add to my watch list, I picked it expecting to see some of the familiar sights along the Redwood Highway, as well as because of the synopsis which tells us that Marie, a resident of a retirement home, feeling neglected by her family, decides to embark on an 80 mile journey to her granddaughter’s wedding, on foot. Doesn’t that sound interesting? That’s all I read of the synopsis. That was enough.

I was not disappointed. Shirley Knight plays Marie who is in her 70’s and lives in a retirement home (we’re not told where but from photos, it appears to be somewhere in the area of Rogue River, Oregon) where her son placed and sort of forgot about her. She doesn’t have much family, only her son and a granddaughter who doesn’t visit her. Marie feels that she has been forced to live in the retirement home where she has been abandoned. She had lived in her own home until her son sold it and moved her out. She feels like she has lost control of her life and others are making the decisions for her. Her journey is inspiring and surprising. What struck me was that over and over Marie had been made to feel like she had no control over her life. Because she had reached an elderly age, those around her made all of her decisions, not always based on what was best for her but what was easiest for them. Marie’s life had been hijacked; stolen without her permission. This solo 80 mile trip, by herself, on foot, was the only way she could take back control of her life. And so she did it.

It’s an enjoyable movie. It also features Tom Skerritt (one of my favorite actors) as one of the many people she meets on her journey and one of the only ones that truly understands her.

After that movie, I streamed Renoir, a movie about the last few years of artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life (French language with English subtitles). At least that’s the setting. The story is more about the relationship between Jean Renoir, the artist’s son and Andree, one of the artist’s models. But what struck me about this movie was the way that Pierre-Auguste Renoir maintained control of his of life, even in his last years. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop painting, even though his health was quite poor. He suffered from, among other things, arthritis which left his hands painfully deformed. He had to have an assistant strap and position his hands, placing the brush in his fingers before he could paint. This assistant also had to mix his fill his palette with the colors he chose. He could no longer position his models or dress them with any props. He had to have others do that for him. Yet he continued because to him, to stop painting, which had been his life’s work, would be to stop living and to give in to death.
Both of these films had aging as a topic. Aging and its consequences and how those around us treat us when we age. They both dealt with the loss of, not only our youth, but also of control over our lives. They gave me a lot to think about as I age. I think we would all benefit from thinking about these issues. Do we let go of control and allow others to take that control from us? Do we allow ourselves to lose our independence and our dreams because someone thinks we are too old? Lots to think about in these movies. In fact, I’ll probably watch again.
Note: Both of these titles are available on Netflix as well as on Amazon Instant View.

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Soundtracks

Music.  It’s important to our lives, isn’t it?  In a previous post, I wrote about how music has the power to create memories and to have us associate strong emotions with certain songs.  I know it’s like that for me.  However, I find that these days I don’t go “out of my way” to listen to music.  I don’t have a stereo.  I have a MP3 player but I don’t have speakers to hook it up to and I really don’t like having earphones/buds in so I don’t use it unless I’m in the car and that’s usually only on long car trips.  I’ve allowed myself to ignore music, for the most part.

What are some of the important songs from my life?  That’s a tough one to answer because there are so many that are important to me for different reasons, not all of which are  in and of themselves important times/moments in my life.  And there are others that are important because I associate them with certain people that have meant a lot to me but I would rather not go into those.  Although I will say that I have created my own ringtones for my phone and associated them with specific people so when I hear California Girls on my phone I know it’s my eldest daughter who is the original California Girl…or at least til we moved to Oregon…but you know the saying “you can take the girl out of California but you can’t take the California out of the girl”!  When my youngest calls, I hear Suzie Q playing on my phone…that’s her name, Susie…and you know I love the way she talks and the way she walks, I love that Suzie Q!  Then there’s my son who works for Amazon and gifted me with my first Kindle.  He leads a hectic life running from work to home to athletic events to friends’ homes, etc.  And when he’s not running from one place to another, he takes it upon himself to be the helper-of-all-who-need-help and the host-to-all-who-have-no-place-else-to-go.  His ringtone is the music from an early Kindle commercial, a fun, energetic, and whimsical tune.

I find that songs pop into my head randomly.  This morning, I kept singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes as I read reports about a forest fire burning up the road from me.  A couple of weeks ago, as I left my mother’s house to drive the 1000 miles back home, it was Willie’s On the Road Again that I couldn’t get out of my head, and that’s okay because that’s a great song so I didn’t mind.  On Sunday’s, the first thing I think of is Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson singing  Sunday Morning Coming Down.  No, I’m not hung over, the title just sort of fits with Sunday mornings.  You get the picture…random songs…or maybe not so random.

Then there are the songs that I can’t stand to hear anymore because of the memories associated with them.  Samba Pa Ti.  When A Man Loves A Woman.  Is That You?  You’re Still A Young Man.  Yeah, I almost can’t even think of the titles without the negative feelings flooding over me.

Yup.  Music is strong; powerful.  It can lift us up and it can bring us down.  Sometimes it’s just too difficult to think of those songs and so we shield ourselves, going through a music-less world.  But not really.  Just around the corner you’ll see something that will bring it back and that music will be right back in your heart and in your mind–like it or not!

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Today’s blogging and writing exercise prompts didn’t ring a bell for me.  I ended up fixing myself a cup of coffee and sat in my corner of the couch to mull things over and see if I could come up with a room or a view to describe (today’s exercise).  I put the tablet aside and reached for the coffee cup that sat on the magazine table to my right.   Wrapping both hands around the chunky cup, my hands were warmed by the aromatic liquid and, instantly, I felt the soothing feeling flow through the cup to my hands and from my hands through my body.  That’s when the ritual took hold of me.  Slowly, one sip after another, my mind began to work as I relaxed and let it wander where it willed.

This is the important part of the day for me.  With luck, it happens in the morning but it could happen later in the day.  In fact, if it hasn’t happened by the evening, even thought I know I’ll have trouble sleeping, I go ahead and have that cup of coffee anyway.  It’s my “alone cup of coffee”.  It It’s thinking time.  It’s feeling time.  It’s my time.  When that first cup is gone, I can read or talk or get going.  I can begin the day and any of busy activity.  Or I can just sit and have more coffee but it’s that first cup that’s the ritual; the cup I allow myself to share with only myself.  And if it doesn’t happen, the grounding doesn’t happen and things just don’t flow on that day.

I guess you could say that it’s the grounds that ground me…at least the ones in that first cup, the ritual cup.

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