Posts Tagged ‘challenges’


Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.


Barbara walked into the room. She had been standing at the door watching her grandmother sitting at the window looking out at nothing with a vacant look in her eyes. No one knew what she was seeing or what she was thinking. Grandma hadn’t been able to tell them that in a couple of years but Barbara never lost hope that one day her grandmother would be able to tell them something or recognize her.

Day after day, she sat at the window looking out at the wall of the adjacent building. Barbara wished she could have her moved to a room with a view where she could look out at the park behind the home, or even out at the street in front of the building. The Director said there were no rooms available so they had to wait. Barbara felt a little guilty because as she hoped for a vacancy, that meant someone would be dying because that was about the only way people left this place. But Barbara wanted a view for Grandma. She remembered all the times her grandmother would take her to parks to play and to the river for walks. Her grandmother had loved to watch people and make up imaginary stories about where they were off to when they left her view. At the park, Grandma would push her on the swings, even after she learned to pump her legs to swing herself. Grandma ran with her and laughed with her; she kissed her boo boos and held her tight. Grandma was the only one allowed to call her Babs. No one else could do that without getting a kick in the shins. Only Grandma. Barbara missed her so much.

She walked to Grandma and started talking to her. They said Grandma didn’t understand her but Barbara didn’t care. Barbara sat and talked to her and reminded her of the days they went to the park and the trips they used to take and she laughed for Grandma, even if Grandma couldn’t laugh for herself.

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So this one is sort of about letters. And it doesn’t involve me. It’s about my ex-husband and his sister. They tell a story, and I believe it because I know them both, about one year when his older sister was at UCLA and he was at MIT. They wrote letters all year long. He didn’t have money to fly home for any holidays so he stayed in Boston from August until May. Long distance phone calls in those days (the late 60’s) were very expensive so the only way to stay in touch was through letters. Mr. Google has led me to several sites that say first class letter postage in 1969 was six cents. It doesn’t seem like much, does it?

One year, they used the same stamp all year long, back and forth the stamp traveled. They figured out that you could use a pencil eraser to erase the postmark stamping from the stamp and they were very careful about taking the stamp off. I am not sure which glue they sued but I vaguely remember that it was rubber cement. So the stamp would travel from Los Angeles to Boston and back again, over and over. I don’t know how often they wrote but I am thinking it was about once a month so that stamp must have made the round trip at least ten times! And I don’t think they did it to save money. I think they did it more just to prove that it could be done.

That’s my letter-ish post for today!

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I remember hearing this phrase a lot when I was growing up. Instead of asking someone to “shoot me and email” when they arrived, we used to say, “drop me a line” or “don’t forget to write.” Those were the days. The old days.

Letter writing, and even writing with pen and paper, is a lost art. I pick up a pen and try to write some notes and I almost can’t remember how. It feels so alien to me. I think we also have a generation growing up without learning to write in cursive and without learning how to format a letter or even write the most basic salutation. That can’t be good.

I enjoy letter writing. Or at least I used to. I wrote a letter to my friend Kim, in Australia and really enjoyed it. I was pressed for time or I would have written more. And I wrote a letter to Deborah who is a woman in one of the Buy Nothing groups I belong to. We chat when she picks something up and sometimes we send text messages to each other regarding an item to  be picked up. However, I have thought for some time that it would be nice to have her as a friend. A friend I might invite for a cup of coffee or meet for a quick chat. So I jumped in and used her address for one of my February letters for Incowrimo. It occurs to me that it is also one person I am reaching out to, a person on the fringes of my circle of friends, as I wrote about in Expand. So I’m on my way!

One thing that I like about letter writing is that it is so much more personal. When you open a letter from someone, you are holding the same paper they held and reading the words they wrote out in long hand. Maybe you are also witnessing their choice in paper or ink on the letter. In some cases, even the stamp used is a personal choice. So much more personal than anything else.

Well, on to writing my February 3 letter before the day is done! Happy writing!

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I was recently made award of a newish wri-mo event. Not NaNoWriMo this time. February is International Correspondence Writing Month or INCOWRIMO. So for the month of February, the idea is to write at least one letter, postcard, or other correspondence and mail it, each day. So now I am hooked! I will be writing letters and postcards and some valentine cards this month, every day. I have a list of people to write to but I haven’t counted them. If you would like to receive a piece of mail from me, let me know in the comments then I will email you for the address. Do not post your address here, please.

If you want more info on the month long event, click on the link above. All the info is there, including a place to enter your address if you want mail (please note that it is a public document so you might not want to post the address there) and there is also an address book with hundreds of people that would like mail if you want to participate. There are also a number of sites with videos and tutorials on good old fashioned letter writing. Check below for a couple of links. You might even get a pen pal out of this, if you wish to continue after February. Also, remember that you can write Valentine cards to people and that will count! Have fun with this! I challenge you!

So now, keep me honest. Bug me. Ask me if I am up to date with my letter writing this month!


The Power Of the Letter (Ted Talk)


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Well, a new year. I wish you each a wonderful one! May it bring you all that you wish; all that you work for; all that you deserve!

I’ve come across a mention, in a Face Book group, of some people wanting to set a goal to do 18 specific things in 2018. For example, one woman is thinking of sending 18 pieces of snail mail during the year. Another is planning on reading 18 books by first time authors. That sort of thing. I think it is intriguing. I’m thinking of it too but my take is something like 18 pieces of snail mail, 18 movies (I know more than half will be kid movies but I just discovered a theater that has a Senior price every Tuesday and it’s quite affordable if I go alone), 18 new to me TV programs (of course this will include streaming as I’ve no cable and barely a signal for regular TV), and 18 things gifted that I thought I would never get rid of. That sort of thing. A list of 18 things each containing 18 items. Yeah, over reaching probably, but I think it’s doable. I’ll let you know what my list is. Hopefully I will be finalizing it by the end of the week.

Have YOU ever done anything like that? How has it gone? Do you have any suggestions for my list?

I’m working on lots of things today and I keep coming across thoughts I want to share with you. I have a message in to a friend to see if I can quote his idea here. I’m full of energy today. Well, maybe mental energy! These bones are tired.  🙂

Hasta luego!

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Like I explained last week, plot ninjas are meant to give you a way out when you are stuck. They spark your imagination so that you can keep writing. It may end up giving you a scene, a chapter, or a whole sub plot!

Here are a few more:

–One of your characters says “It never happened.”

–Give your character(s) a favorite beverage. Tell the background of why it’s a favorite. (Maybe over a drink at a bar; at a party?)

–The door bell rings. Who is it? What do they want? What bearing does it have on your story?

–Your main character admits something. What?


Use one or more of these words in your story:







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Sunrise on Haleakala

Welcome to the first #WeekendCoffeeShare post of 2016! May we continue to share our worlds over delicious beverages throughout the year! I think the picture of the sun rising over Haleakala crater in Maui (taken in August of 2004) is a fitting way to open this post, and I always love to share this photo, so there’s that!

If we were having coffee, you would see that the sun is bright out today but looking out from inside, it can be deceiving because we’re sitting at 27 degrees  with a “feels like” of 18 degrees. Let’s see, what is the conversion…-2.7 degrees actual and a feels like of -7.7. That’s pretty chilly, any way you look at it! Even with the heat on inside the house, it’s chilly! How is it in your neck of the woods?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week has been very busy doing not a lot! I’ve been spending a lot of time with my daughter and the boys which has, most nights, kept me over at their house late into the night…or late into the morning, actually! This coming week, on Tuesday, I will be packing up the car and heading for Seattle to house sit for my son…and dog sit…and cat sit…while he and his wife go to Hawaii as their last vacation trip before the baby comes in May. It will guarantee me alone time. I used to go up there and just stay in the house while they were gone but the last couple of times I have been there I’ve ventured out a bit. I can now get to anyone of several breweries, to the Seattle Center (Space Needle plus), Pikes Place Market, Discovery Park (lots of hiking and beautiful views of the Sound), and other places. I’m hoping for dry weather, even if it is cold, so I can get out and take some pictures and go for a hike or two. I will be there for a full week.

I’m currently reading several books which is new for me as I tend to concentrate on only one at a time. I’m reading Searching For Malumba by Luther Siler, which is a collection of essays around the theme of education. I’m also reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, which is a middle grade novel that I am reading for the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and Witch Is Where It All Began by Adele Abbott, a YA mystery novel. Are you participating in any reading challenges this year? Which ones? I am also doing a personal challenge on Good Reads, challenging myself to read 75 books in 2016.

Do you make resolutions? Did you? I don’t like to make them and don’t. I like to “work toward” doing certain things during the year, which for me is much more forgiving than a resolution and so much more doable than resolutions which practically set one up for failure. My “work toward” for this year is about enjoying life and doing what I like to do or would like to do and taking on personal challenges. I’m also going to go back to last year’s word…Create…because my creativity was halted when I got sick. That threw everything off. I’m going back to Create this year. You? Do you have a word for 2016?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I finally wrote my About Me post. I said at the beginning of 2015 that I would write it and I finally did…on December 30…and used it as my first post of 2016. It will go into an About page that will be created this weekend. You will, most likely, not find a lot of new things there if you’ve followed my blog. No surprises. What you see is what you get!

I am fighting against time here because the battery on the laptop is about to die so this is a good place to end this coffee share. Please let me know what you are up to! Plans for the week? Any travel coming up? New projects? Tell, tell!

I’ll leave you with a great song to start the year:

Visit Diana at Part Time Monster for more #WeekendCoffeeShares!



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Nerd In the Brain is currently running a Go Play challenge.  Yeah, play…PLAY!  How many of us take the time to do that these days?  I know I rarely do, except for playing a gazillion games of Word With Friends (which is an acceptable activity for Go Play by the way), that is.  In her current Go Play challenge, you will find challenges such as: go on a hike; visit a museum and pose with something interesting; take pictures of as many animals as you can in one day; visit a garden; visit the nearest body of water; play any game; ride a swing; go on a picnic; wear a costume; pose with a dinosaur; visit a new park.  Sound like fun?  You can interpret the challenges just about any way you wish.  There are a lot of other challenges right now.  I think the number is over 120 currently.  There really is something for everyone!  This Go Play challenge runs through mid November and this month, Diana at Part Time Monster is collaborating with Nerd’s Go Play challenge by adding 31 October themed challenges.  And Alli over at Eclectic Alli added history to the mix last month when she added some Go Learn challenges.  All of the challenges count toward Nerd In the Brain’s challenges. Even if you don’t join (it’s not too late to join), take a look at the challenges and pick a few to do.  I’m sure you will have as much fun as I have been having. Go Play challenge.  I think I’ve done abut 120?  Not sure. I haven’t checked the rankings page in a couple of days.  Oh, by the way, you can do the challenges more than once.  So each time you complete a puzzle, you can claim that challenge; each time you take a hike you can claim the challenge.

It really is fun and who can’t use that?  When was the last time you jumped in a puddle?  Played in the rain?  Danced? Went to a street fair or market?  Played catch?  Watched a scary movie? Built a Halloween playlist?  Yup, all challenges.

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Reading a friend’s blog in which she writes about her daughter’s application, prep, and audition to an arts school, I was reminded about my own daughter’s desire to attend an arts high school and the preparations.

During the last year of living in Los Angeles, I decided that it was time for me to move out of the area.  It was too stressful for me. Everywhere we went, we encountered traffic, rude people, crowds, etc.  My diabetes was very bad then and it is exacerbated by stress so I needed to cut down on my stress.  At that time, it was just my youngest with me.  She was about to enter high school and I knew that if we stayed, she would begin school and we would be stuck there for four more years so the time to make the move was before she entered high school.  She was home schooled for middle school so we could, theoretically, move anytime before September.  When I discussed this with her and with the older kids, Susie went ballistic. She did not want to move and leave all her friends behind.  She said she wanted to go to the performing arts high school.  She had mentioned this previously but I didn’t realize she was serious about applying.  So we did some research (of course she had already gotten a lot of information and made some inquiries from her choir teacher from elementary and from before she left middle school).  We looked online for the time frame for applications and auditions.

I felt bad that I was taking her from something she wanted so badly.  The rent where we were living was astronomical.  It was over $1700 for a one bedroom townhouse with 875 square feet of livable space.  My health, both physical and mental, were declining.  But I wanted her to be happy.  So I told her that I would help her apply and prepare and if she made it into the school, we would find a rental closer to the school which is on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles (basically east L.A., not a great place to live but we would find something affordable and safe) and we would stay until she finished high school.  If she didn’t make it into the school, we would move as soon as we could find some place to move.

The Los Angeles County High School for Performing Arts is very exclusive in who they accept.  They demand excellence and prepare their students to enter performing arts colleges and/or professional employment.  Each year thousands of students apply for admission.  Of the applicants, those that make the academic cut go on to audition.  Then those that make the audition are put into a lottery because the number of successful auditions is far more than the number of slots available each year.  That particular year, it was something like 30 openings for the choral program.  The number that auditioned was at least a couple of hundred.

Her academic application was accepted and she had begun to work with a choral coach in preparation for the audition, even before we knew if she would be accepted on her academic record.  She was excited but of course, with so much riding on the audition, she was very apprehensive.  So was I.  I knew the best thing for me was to move out of the area (to northern California) but I knew that Susie really wanted to attend this school.  I was torn but I stuck to my deal with her as we both prepared for the audition.  We began to look for a pianist to accompany her at the audition because each applicant had to provide their own.  I also began scouring the newspaper and the internet for information about the area and prices of rentals.

The audition was mentally grueling.  There were hundreds of (mostly) girls auditioning, each with their “stage mother” and singing coaches.  The atmosphere was very strained as they all looked upon each other as the “enemy” they had to beat.  Susie had only me and did a good job of keeping as calm as she could. When it was time for her audition, I had to leave because no one was allowed to view/listen to the auditions.  I went outside to decompress and enjoy the beautiful March day.  Her accompanist came out and I knew the audition was over.  He came over and told me she had done beautifully.

In the end, she made the cut with the auditions but not the lottery.  She was so far down on the wait list that we knew she would not get it.  By then, she had pretty much decided that the people at the school were “too snooty” and she didn’t want to go there anyway.  She still didn’t want to move out of Los Angeles but that was the deal.  With a lot of arguing and rationalizing, we went up north to look around.  She was determined not to like it. She pretended to be asleep the entire drive and then as we drove around a few small towns I had picked to investigate as possible places to move.  Even after I had signed the two year lease on a house three blocks from the local high school (she had decided to go back to school instead of being home schooled), she resisted, contacting her father and asking if she could move in with him so she could stay in Los Angeles.  He said yes but after a family meeting with all three of the kids and their father and I, her dad realized what he was getting into and started to back down.  Susie realized that her step mother would not allow her to bring her cats or her bearded dragon or her geckos with her if she moved in with them so she decided to move to Santa Rosa with me.  I was relieved because I knew that if she stayed behind, there was no way I could move away and I would end up staying in Los Angeles which would be suicide for me.

End of story is that she had set her sights on something and we had made a deal.  We both followed through.  It didn’t work out for her the way she wanted it to work out but in the end, she found a wonderful group of friends in the very artsy Santa Rosa. We were less than an hour away from San Francisco and we went there often.  She ended up with home schooling there, too. When she graduated, she went on to an arts college in Baltimore and upon graduation, moved back to Santa Rosa where she is working and happy and thriving!

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To join in the fun of Weekend Coffee Shares, write your post, publish it, then visit Diana’s blog, Part Time Monster, and enter your blog post’s url into the linky at the end of her post.  It’s fun and we’re a very welcoming bunch of people!

If we were having coffee this weekend, we’d be in southern California where it has been as high as 106 degrees this weekend.  Today we are expecting a “cool” 100.  Currently it is 93.  So we would definitely be indoors, preferably down the road at Starbucks where I would love to have my favorite frappuccino, the caramel ribbon crunch.  I hope you have a car thought because I don’t have one on this visit and it’s probably about 8 miles, too far to walk!

This is the first year my dad has been gone for Father’s Day.   To make it worse, yesterday’s “celebration” of his life could not have gone worse.  I won’t go into details but it involves a family member who is feeling pressured and like she is a slave and she is ready to blow.  And blow she did.  We didn’t expect it, and certainly not from her.  She’s not well.  Mom says she is not taking her meds (anti depressants and pain pills) so she’s not in a good place right now and we all suffer(ed) for it. She won’t listen to anyone about her meds or calming down or seeing someone she can talk to.  Not a good situation.

Anyway, so much for family drama.  Let’s  move on and enjoy our cold drinks!

What have you been up to?  I’m participating in Nerd In the Brain’s summer reading challenge and have completed three challenges, almost four.  I’m currently re-reading Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl as one of the challenges.  I haven’t read it since I was in fifth grade!  It’s about time I did.

That’s it for this weekend.  I fly home tomorrow afternoon, assuming my sister is in a frame of mind to take me to the airport which is almost an hour away from here.  Otherwise, who knows?  Maybe I’ll take the bus to LA;s Union Station and take Amtrak.  Ai ai ai!  Have a super week and let me know how you’re doing in the comments.  I’ll try to come around and read all your coffee shares!

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