Remember writing in #tbt for May 21

Another throwback Thursday, with more writing lessons learned.

What have I discovered?

 

I engaged Twitter a lot more than I do today.  Will I exercise that media more now?  Should I?  Am I missing something vital?  Did I get much out of it then?  Obviously not, because I’m writing and functioning without Tweeting my life away.  Will I get much out of it now?  Yesterday, May 20th, after I (re)posted a link to my Letter Q #AtoZChallenge post, I received one direct message and one retweet.  Not bad for an abandoned account.

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I celebrated and shared my writing with other writers and journalists that day.  I won an award from Illinois Woman’s Press Association and received the award in Chicago.  Honestly, I don’t remember what the award was for or if my piece won First Place or Honorable Mention in the context I entered,  but I felt like a superstar.  I was an unexpected attendee.  It’s only 4 1/2 hours drive from Detroit to Chicago.  A solo weekend adventure was too good to miss.

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What is Chicago without some personal writing time?  Sitting among bookstores and a shady fountain, a journal and a pink pen is all I needed.  It was a warm, sunny day, not too hot, not too breezy. I hit my step count walking along the river, on a path that may or may not be part of the local Chicago Riverwalk. It was a long stretch of cement, reminding me of a pier stretching out, feeling like I could fall into all that blue of Lake Michigan and float in relaxation.

And coffee.  Always coffee. But not coffee.

That’s the last thing I discovered, not surprisingly: drinking coffee.  Or tea.  The important thing was the coffeeshop cafe experience.  It still is.

Millburn is boutique town filled with clothing shoppes and Italian restaurants , a place where the only chain stores downtown are Dunkin’, Kung Fu Tea, Häagen-Dazs and Starbucks.  Yes, I drink coffee and tea there, sitting at the tables in the upper floor.  Four doors up the street is The Coffee Mill Roasters, a moody coffeeshop with hi-top tables for patrons to look onto Main St. and become one with the world when those wall-length doors are opened in warmer weather.  A perfect setting to enjoy the handmade pastries and food baked by the owner and his wife.

Now let’s combine those two: drinks and writing.  That was the Wednesday for our bimonthly Deadwood Writers meeting.  My beloved critique group taught me so much about me and my writing, making me a better writer by sharing their honest comments on the pieces I submitted for group review. Word choice, flow, dialogue, and the meaning of an “info dump” made me stronger.  Sitting among the heart of cooking books section–until new management placed another shelf there and moved us to the cafe–was soothing and creative.  The setting in the cafe was loud, sitting there next to the blender grinding iced coffee drinks, but there was still creative friendship.  We just had to yell down the table to each other.  I always got to the meeting early so I could claim a seat in the middle of the two or three tables we pushed together.

But wait!  There’s more.

As a bonus discovery, Timehop showed Swarm check-ins from 2001 at places long gone, almost forgotten. Remember these places?

I miss Borders.  That store was more comfortable and spacious to stretch out in.  Room to read, relax, sip coffee drinks.  From the balcony cafe, I looked down on the store, my magazine piles mingled with the music finds my husband shared with me.

Archiver’s was a deep, color-full craft store filled with every type of pen, marker, ink, thread, paint, canvas, adhesive and papers imaginable.  If I was stuck inside the store overnight, I would delight in the creativity all mine.  I’d only stress about the thought of having to leave when the store opened the next day.  

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Three techniques to move your exciting memoir forward

Have you ever felt that “ah-ha!”moment of satisfaction when a word or phrase clicks with your writing style like mine did today?

Today, my MWG Memoir1 group met via Zoom for our bimonthly critique.  We use the same critique format as our former in-person library meetings: each member reads his or hers piece, and then we take our turns commenting.

One member shared his piece about dealing with his mentally ill wife.  Afterwards, a member of our group commented that the piece had “forward momentum.”  That phrase struck me and stuck with me.  Forward momentum is what makes good writing.  That is what makes us want to turn the page to read more.  How do you get there?

Try a teaser at the end of a chapter.  The writer above ended the chapter  with this sentence: “I have no choice [but] to ask her for a divorce.”  That is a page turner.

Dialogue moves you forward because discussions have an end purpose.  This is not writing dialogue for the sake of writing dialogue.  I’m talking about specific dialogue between you and others, followed by either your short, punchy thoughts or the speaker’s specific question that you do or do not expect and anticipate.

Consider my example using the mentally ill wife piece:

“I have news for you about your wife,” said the doctor.

That tone of voice, those carefully chosen words, that’s never a good sign.  It’s the kind of emotional bomb dropped in sappy drama movies.

“The news is difficult,” he continued.  “Are you ready to hear it?”

I don’t want to hear it, but he’s telling me anyway.

A third way to entice readers is by using a timestamp to share increasing information.  This moves people with you as you reveal details about you and the story.  “Over the next few days” is a great setup rather than using a chunky paragraph of information brain dump.

Consider this:

Over the next few days, I learned a lot about him.  Monday, he charmed me with stories about his international military assignments.  On Wednesday, he shared the reasons why he re-enlisted, but he never asked me why I decided to quit my most recent job.  By Friday, I found myself staring over his shoulder while he talked about battles and medals.  The squirrel shimmying up the backyard tree was more exciting.

Of these three techniques, I find my writing often combines the first two.  I can struggle with dialogue, so I want my words to serve a dual purpose: blending teasers and questions gives my memoirs the push through my thoughts for details while asking questions gives the reader a moment to pause and ask themselves questions.  Powerful.

Are you ready to write with deliberate forward momentum?  Is there a technique that resonates with you to engage readers in your story?

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Zany end to #AtoZChallenge 2020


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I wrote this before dinner. Just like grocery shopping, that was bad idea.

My dinner, however, that was a good one.

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X-ceptional haiku NOT using the word xylophone for #AtoZChallenge


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I wrote an alphabet haiku using the letter X without the word xylophone.

Clever me.  *big smile*

My A to Z Challenge theme is alphabet haiku, with each word using the alphabet letter for that day. Who says the letter for each word must be the first letter of the word? Not I.  Oh, that’s a different haiku. So is A.  Oh, O is an earlier haiku, too.

I also created an adult-themed haiku.  Quite proud of that, but hesitant to add it here.  If I change my mind, I’ll make a note at the top of this post.  Do you want to read it?

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Updating apps and understanding life through #AtoZChallenge

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Updating apps shows me even more memories I may or may not want to remember.

Looking at Timehop inspired me to scroll through my apps. Early phone pages should be filled with oft-used, important apps.  Screens 2 and 3 are cluttered with various text and photo editing apps, which surprises me. Why is this valuable real estate cluttered with apps I don’t use and skim over while looking for the app I really want.  They were useful at some point; now they are future experiments.  As I scrolled and studied, I could not find an app I wanted.

Ku, the app formerly known as Heyku, was space for people to write haiku and share them within the small community. This was one of those apps that autosaved images in a separate camera roll folder. My Ku has 64 images: text only, off-white squares with the upper right corner folded over to resemble a scrolling piece of paper. That was the beauty of Ku: words only.

This folder is proof that it existed.

My first Ku posted on August 29, 2014 and the final image was dated August 27, 2015. I’m not sure if that’s everything I wrote, because while I can access the app from my old, screen-cracked, iPhone6, there is nothing under my profile. This app closed down and deleted from the Apple App. Without the autosave feature Store.Without the autosave feature, these poems could have been lost forever.

I experimented with this Alphabet Haiku theme back then, because this is one of the Kus I created between 2014 and 2015, a poem touched up with effects from another rediscovered old new app Camera+ which I have to re-discover how to use. I wonder what else I’ll find.

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Travel back in time with #tbt and #AtoZChallenge

Thursdays are super scary days because of the #ThrowbackThursday or #tbt posts on your social media memories.

Unfamiliar with Throwback Thursdays?  It’s a hashtag highlighting photos of anything in your past: your deceased dog Bonner when he/she was still alive; you and mom at the neighborhood park when you were 8 years old; a gold ring today paired with a memory of 10 years ago; or your hairstyle from your 2001 high school graduation.  The possibilities are perpetual.

The embarrassments are endless.

Timehop is an app that automatically pulls a screenshot of that date from your linked social media. Each year’s image can be shared as-in on those same social media outlets.  You can also create a Then&Now image adding an current photo to that previous memory to compare and share.

My phone setting update apps manually because I want control over new versions. Updating apps also remind me that those apps exist.  I totally forgot this app existed.  I can’t remember that last time I did a Throwback Thursday post, nor the last time I used an image from Timehop.

Today is Thursday.  Today is a odd-date normal blogging day.  Five years ago, April 23 was a Thursday.  On that day, I tweeted about this A to Z Challenge.  Serendipity.  Today, I capture Thursday moments from Timehop.

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Five years ago, the geolocation app I adore, Swarm, shows me checking-in at Three Days Gourmet Cafe after doctor-requested bloodwork. I went to my Starbucks at Ford & Lotz Rds. in Canton, MI.  In the comment box, I noted using my reusable Steelers mug for a Frappuccino.  I exercised at home afterwards.
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Here’s where the A to Z Challenge shows up.  In 2015, I tweeted in an #azchat about a struggling and ultimately uncompleted attempt at this challenge five years ago.  I wonder if that chat is still around.  Is the hashtag still used?  You bet’cha I’m looking for that after finishing this post.
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April 23, 2015 was Earth Day.  My Instagram post that day was a Then&Now Timehop photo.  Since that post was “1 Year Ago,” my memory that year was from 2014. However, since Timehop was a Then post from 2014, the memory actually came from 2013.

Oh, the things that happen when you unravel time travel.

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Sharing this anniversary on #AtoZChallenge

Stars aligned 10 years ago to create magic, so today I celebrate my website anniversary.

On April 22, 2010, I created my original Wolf Howlings blog at the Canton Public Library in Michigan.  That historical moment occurred in the 8-table media room stuck tucked in the back of the library next to the Secondhand Prose used bookstore, this site was born.  Happy Birthday!

Dinosaur years ago, blogs and websites were created on two main platforms: WordPress and Blogger.  Much like VHS versus Betamax,  WordPress was becoming more popular because the templates and design were easier to navigate.  I had no opinion about any hubbub; I was desperate to get a website going and the first class I found used WordPress. The class was free and the website was free.  Bingo!

My second row seat presented close proximity to the hear instructor and see projector screen yet far enough back to avoid any potential pointed on-the-spot questions.  Perfect.

The first hardest part was choosing my site name. Since that was was Step One or Two, we, the creators, couldn’t move forward without it. The name was permanent and everlasting, so we had to choose.  Wisely.

Here’s the background to that historical moment: Wolf is my maiden name, a cruel  name for relentless and brutal schoolyard taunts.  Years ago, I  embraced that word as a part of me–especially since I no longer had Dodgeball to scare me–and created an email address based on that, long before you had to add a string of numbers and letters at the end of any word.  Simple.

My friends were grouped in a sub-folder separate from my professional email contacts.  I named that personal distribution list my Wolfpack.  Get it?  Wolf.  Wolfpack.  Since I would be communicating to my friends en masse, it’s like I’d be howling at everyone.  A wolf howls.  Howls at the moon, sure, so why not across the wide world of webs?   In that moment of cleverness and glory, “Wolf Howlings” was created.  Satisfied.

Besides, I couldn’t think of anything else. The instructor was moving on to the next step, and I was on the spot.  Pressure.

Those two hours choosing designs and sidebars clicked by and poof! my free website was created. Completed. 

“Now,” my instructor said, “write your first post and hit the Publish button.”

This was the second hardest part.  It made sense, but I had no idea the purpose of my website blog.  What was on my mind?  What was my focus?  What did I want to write about?  Help!

April 22, 2010:  White

It’s so me.

Looking back, looking forward. Welcome (back) to this current website.  Getting to this point was completely different experience. This time, the name was easier to choose.

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Realizing why I don’t read books: an #AtoZChallenge post


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Reading glasses must be a priority for me this month because I can’t read my comic books.
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I’m too young to be one of those squinty people who say
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“I need reading glasses” before buying an over-the-counter pair from those pharmacy store spinning racks. Let me specify: I need new prism prescription glasses that help my eye condition I can never remember the name.

You see it during your annual eye exam.  One twist, one tweak of that face machine and everything close or distant becomes crisp. “Oh, that looks so much better,” you say.  “I didn’t realize that,” even though you did.  Prisms add another layer of complexity for eye doctors adjusting my vision.  My current “distance” prism glasses are being fine-tuned; now it’s time for my “close-up” glasses to get a re-haul.

Last time I was in The City, I struggled to read the graphic novels in my beloved Kinokuniya bookstore.  I visited my town’s local comic book store–yes, they still exist–and learned there was a new ElfQuest series, but my eyes couldn’t appreciate the fine artwork by Wendy Pini.

I’m not reading books as much as I’d like to these days because tiny printed words scare me.  Yet no matter how many times I write it in my planner, I skip over it as an “I’ll get to it later” task.

Maybe I need glasses so I can read my writing.

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Quit procrastinating in #AtoZChallenge

The 20th way to procrastinate a writer is with Quizzes.

You know them; in fact, you’ve probably taken one or more. Women’s magazines were, perhaps still are, stuffed with “Is he the right boyfriend for you? Take this quiz to find out” articles.  The online universe barrages you with self-identifying factors.  Which Star Trek captain are you?  If you were a coffee drink, what would you be?   Find out the color of your inner soul.  What flavor of cake are you?  What living room object?  Which Brady Bunch kid are you?

Discover your spirit animal based on your McDonald’s order.

What is your superpower?  Which Disney princess/villain do you most resemble?  What board game best describes you?  Are your first date opinions normal or controversial?

The list continues.

Your writer needs to understand themselves, and the traits of their characters. This may seem superfluous, but quizzes offer deep insights.  Is your character even a Star Trek captain?  Does your character drink coffee?   Encourage the writer in you to take as many quizzes as possible.  Encourage your characters to take the same or different ones.  Quizzes are usually about 10 questions long, and that takes no time at all. What harm is there in taking one or two quizzes?

Except getting sucked into the next quiz.

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Ode to the future in this #AtoZChallenge haiku

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Once order is restored, there is so much to do.
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I will sip coffee with my husband at Track 5 in Cranford.

I will drive to Philadelphia to visit my in-laws and pet the puppy.

I will buy new clothes at the shops in Short Hills Mall.

I will get my nails done at my delicious salon, Nail Fitness, in Montclair.

I will get my hair styled at Avalon in Millburn.

I will meet my writing groups in person at the library.

I will drive down the street into tiny parking lot at Union’s County Zimmerman Park and spin the Pokestops.

I will see a movie at the AMC Theater in Aviation Plaza and eat salty popcorn.

I will eat lunch…anywhere.
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I will hug my friends deeply, guilt-free and pure.

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Laugh with today’s #AtoZChallenge


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Today is International Moment of Laughter Day, so find something that brings you delight.

I learned that tidbit of fun after I wrote today’s haiku feeling deep after watching The Pelican Brief last week.

It occurs to me that today is the birthday of my best friend from high school. She did laugh and was deliberate with everything she did. If homework was to write–as in, with a pen–one paragraph on something, the rest of us would scribble as fast as we could to finish the assignment. She slowly concentrated on each letter, making sure every word captured her signature style. Even today, I can picture her rounded loops with the curling flourish at the end of her Letter K.

Laughter is always and forever needed in the world, today and beyond. Thinking of her as I write this brings back memories of her teaching me Spanish. She taught me our code phrase él está [not] aquí meaning my high school crush was in school that day and not on a course field trip.  It’s a moment so ingrained that every now and then I hear myself saying that phrase for no reason at all.

Simple days when my whole self twisted between life or death based on that tall, skinny black haired guy being present, which gave me another chance for us to say more than “hi” to each other.  How silly.  How delight-full.

What’s making you laugh today?

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Insist on creativity for #AtoZChallenge


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Today’s Alphabet Haiku is brought to you by the letter I.
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Isn’t it interesting?

Intriguing?

Intrigued?

Indeed.

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Find fish and friends in #AtoZChallenge haiku


One fine way for a writer to procrastinate is with Fish.

Fish are Zen in motion. They go where they want, flip around in a different path at a whim. Writers identify with this path as they look for the directions to lead their characters. Writers must be deliberate in their choices while fish swim and sway in a random dance. Writers think and think and overthink events that move their characters forward. Fish stare at writers, maybe blink, and move on forward. It’s an indifference to make cats jealous.

Take your writerself to a pond, an aquarium or a Chinese restaurant where schools of fish scurry from reed to reef.  The writer follows their favorite fish in a playful hide-and-seek peek inside whimsical treasure chests.  Slide and glide through rock tunnels, mesmerizing color of coral buried in gravel.

That water, its own relaxing self, swirls in the trail of a fish’s tail. Writers close their eyes to savor the sounds of tank filter bubbles and burps. Their heart beats to the rhythmic gurgle-plop-gurgle of pulsing water. The writer returns home relaxed and soul soothed. The thought of sitting at a laptop or picking up a pen disturbs all thinking. The writer curls up in a chair or on the couch, the mind a pool of ripples that swirls in hypnotic memory.

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Encourage entertainment on the radio with #AtoZChallenge

Every Monday at 10:00am is the best start to my week.

NJ 101.5 is the New Jersey talk radio station whose hosts talk about everything entertaining.  Weekday morning commuting hours feature mostly news, politics and serious stuff.  The fun part of each radio day begins with the 10 am morning hosts.

Every Monday, Dennis and Judi ask the question, “Where are you now?”  They joke about how this question sets the tone to New Jerseyans in how the answers balance the mindset and creates the pulse of the upcoming week.

For me, this is true.

No matter how mundane something is, the hosts say, we want to know what that is because we all learn something about this great Garden State.  I schedule tasks and meetings around that hour as much as possible because it’s surprisingly true.

A person calls in saying he or she is on the parkway driving to the dentist.  Sounds pretty commonplace, right?  Why would a caller–heck, anyone in general–think that trip is talk show radio worthy?  The hosts ask  how the caller found that dentist. That answer leads to the caller’s biannual treat eating lunch at the diner down the treat, a restaurant favored by locals for the banana cream pie.

Listeners have just learned about a recommended doctor (dentist) and where to look for him/her (that small town).  If I want to try a new restaurant, I know one (diner). It’s a good diner because trusted people (locals) flock there for restaurant’s specialty (banana cream pie). One caller’s commonplace dentist appointment provided so much information about the state.

Because of that 10-11am hour, I know fishing techniques, cheese delivery, pizza in the town next to me, specialty shore towns, Meals on Wheels, au pare services, highway history, tree care, dancing, airport travel, yoga, car maintenance, libraries and dentists.

Where are you now?

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Dare: Are bloggers real writers? #AtoZChallenge

My name is Diana, and I am a writer.

I state that up front because despite my published articles, books and national writing awards, some people still raise eyebrows at the thought of writing being a profession.  You know, those people who speak in that quotation tone of voice. Now that anyone and everyone with an internet connection can expose themselves on a free website, what does that say about us as bloggers?  

Bloggers are writers, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

I’ve been writing since I was four years old, long before computers, so I guess that means I’m a writer who blogs. That gives more justification, I guess, but it’s a crappy deal that “bloggers” need to be distinguished from even “writers.” Like there’s a difference. Someone once compared writing to a coffeeshop. You’d never expect anyone to say, “Oh, you’re not a real coffeeshop because you’re just a local coffeeshop owner.”

That annoys me.  Worse, it offends me. 

Writers participating in April’s AtoZ Challenge attest to the fact that blogging takes work regardless if they write for personal escape or as a professional venture. Deadwood Writers Group–the creative people in Michigan who critique my work and make me a better writer for that–launched Deadwood Writers Voices more than six years ago as an place for members to have an online presence, regardless of any other writing they do or aspirations they have.

Some writers use blogging as an exercise towards publishing, be that traditionally or self-publishing. Sue Remisiewicz boldly states, “No matter what happens, I’m creative. I write. I’m a writer.”

So what if you “just” blog? Be proud of your effort. You are allowed to challenge yourself, if you dare.

Kelly Bixby writes essay-style blog posts, and says, “I try to make relationship issues, travel stories, grammar rules, and topics of faith each entertaining and/or inspiring,” she says. “The heart of every writer is curiosity, creativity and passion.”

Creativity is the key. “Quotation people” are afraid of creativity.  Perhaps they were told once that they weren’t creative. I am fortunate that others encouraged me to play with words. It’s never “just” blogging.

Karen Kittrell sums it up perfectly. “For myself, I write to connect. If I succeed, I define that as writing.”

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Childhood memoir in haiku for #AtoZChallenge

Here’s a slice of childhood life from my short memoir Lessons from Dad: A Letter to You:

Thank you for playing games with me.  Not many kids can say this.  I still have that picture from when I was two of me riding on your back and playing horsey.  You and Mom taught me card games.  It’s ironic to your personalities that she taught me Solitaire while you taught me Hearts.  When we played board games, Mom liked Mouse Trap and Connect Four. You preferred Candyland and Checkers. 
Back then, every night was “family game night.”

Today, the only deck of cards I have is probably some sports or movie themed collectible set, but I do have Solitaire on my laptop.  My old board games are in the closet, but my husband and I go out to coffee shops and play Yahtzee.

In the winter, you were a patient statue on the street as I rode my plastic sled down the hill across the street.  You stood there as I trudged back up, saying, “Daddy, watch me!” before I slid down again.  And again.  And again.

“C’mon, let’s go,” you’d finally say.

“Ohhh, just one more time?” I’d ask.  “Please?”

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“B”eing planted in the #AtoZChallenge moment

A gardener by any means I am not, but I cultivate a deep green houseplant forest.
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The lawn art my neighbors accomplish humbles me, but endless cycle of pulling weeds is not worth it. Houseplants are as green as my thumb gets, and I’m quite adept at keeping my plants thriving.

Plants hold a sentimental and practical meaning for me: they don’t die like flowers do.  In college, my friend brought me a plant when I was admitted into the hospital.  I still have that plant.  Over the years, he has been trimmed, cut and shared as gifts to my friends, including the dear who originally presented it to me.  She calls him Thor.

Tree was a gift from a friend who tried to brighten my awful work environment 22 years ago.  Being a quirky, smarmy guy, he sent me an Umbrella Tree.  He chose it because “tree” was in the name of the plant.  No windowsill plant here.  This imposing green stem with thick flapping leaves was large enough to be forceful and obnoxious in my open office.  I adore him for that. 

I named her Tree because she was one, despite being a houseplant.  Tree has been a part of my life since then, moving from state to state and house to house since then, long after that awful work situation passed.

Tree was once on life support–two or three times, actually, but we’re not counting–healed by heartbreaking action.  She grew a second trunk and stopped being a tall tree but a fluffy, failing bush.  I consulted with a garden store before I took action, and even with the knowledge of experts, the serious grooming needed scared me. My heart broke as I chopped off the side trunk, but the twin had to be severed so the one could grow strong. Skinny and scraggly afterward, I feared I had truly killed her this time.

Tree is resilient and grows strong today, as shown in Haiku B.  She is still more fluffy that tall, but one of her cutlings blossomed into a skyscraper I call Sprout.

Curious about their ongoing growth and transformations?  Follow my Instagram hashtag #TheWritersTree to travel along their journey of life and death and life.

“B” sure to visit other blogs travelling along the AtoZChallenge to read their journeys, “B”ginnings and all.

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April 1: Art, Artists and #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to Day 1 of the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

Today I feel more Zzzzzz than Awake. April is just one of those busy months. And, really, how did it become the 4th month already?

I’m distracted with inconveniences today, not emergencies.  Will the grocery store have toilet paper?  Do I need to buy a temporary hair color kit again?  What time does my drive-thru coffee store close?

I roamed my cable TV’s expanded On Demand lineup, and found The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019: Live Action free to watch; the 2020 one is available to rent.  My husband and I used to attend this event when we lived in Michigan.  The Detroit Institute of Arts presents 3 or 4 showings of  this compilation of all the nominated short documentary, animated and live action films, the part in the TV broadcast that serves as another bathroom break because most people never heard or seen these 15-minute creations, so winners mean nothing.
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I felt that way watching The Oscars long ago, wondering how these flimsy filmy things made it into this real competition.  Where could you see them?  Why would you want to see them?

I suppose independent film theaters show them, but I never thought much about it until my friend told me about this limited engagement.  Tickets were sold out the first year we tried, but we purchased them the next.

Two hours worth of quirky, dark, sad, funny, colorful and disturbing entertainment.  Films from Spain and France and the United States. Biography, science fiction, fantasy, action and family.  Alluring.  These 15-minute creations made us cry in laughter and sadness.  One animated short made us keep the bedroom light on that night.

We had to go next year.

We watched the Academy Awards that year just to see which of our films won.  The live action we liked won, the documentary was our first or second choice, but the animated winner was at the bottom of our ranking.

Moving back to New Jersey, we found a theater in Montclair that shows these shorts, but in separate segments: one for live action/documentary and one for animation.  I prefer to see them in one package, but seeing them separate is better than not seeing them at all.

We missed the nomination shows this year. Maybe we will rent 2020.  

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My fun #AtoZChallenge 2020 Theme Reveal

I wrote a haiku based on the letter X that does not include the word “xylophone”.

I hope you love the alphabet because we couldn’t write without it.

April is the month bloggers around the world unite to write daily posts for the phenomenon Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Posts correspond to the alphabet. April 1 is the first letter A. April 2 is the second letter B.  April 3…well, you get the idea. It’s November’s NaNoWriMo for bloggers.

This year, I’m keeping my theme simple yet challenging:
Alphabet Haiku

Last year, my grand experiment was a humorous look at the ways we writers procrastinate, as well as how we allow others to enable us. My “26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer” theme soured into an unsavory mess of words and, ironically, procrastination.  I introduced Jayne as my flash fictional character, to show by example what distractions can do to a writer I didn’t know where to take her character, and she didn’t tell me where to go.  Her life developed in a soap opera and I couldn’t rebound.  A beastly crud demonstrating exploding frustrations grew.  I gave up.

My haiku theme did not spring forth because April is National Poetry Month, although that’s a nice happenstance. It bloomed from a haiku challenge my college friend and I do: mail postcards to each other with haikus written on them.  Also ties rather well into National Letter Writing Month, don’t you think?

My challenge creates a haiku with each word beginning with the same letter. My X-haiku is quite inspiring.

As of this post, 350 bloggers are committing to the frivolity, themes including:  memoir; book reviews; MST3K; quilting; recipes; faerie; herbs; Disney; tea; Switzerland; cemeteries; Doctor Who; vampires; nursery rhymes; sunrises; and coloring pages.

Come join the fun?  Sign up ends Thursday, March 26.

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Lessons from a Lapras

Sometimes you have to believe, and sometimes you need to be believed in.

This is the story of a Lapras, the fighter in all of us.

In June 2017, my husband and I were adjusting to life in our New Jersey house. One distraction was finding area Starbucks and other local coffee shops. Another distraction was learning our neighborhood by playing Pokémon GO driving between Pokestops and Gyms. During the Fire and Ice event in mid-June, I caught my holy grail Pokémon: a Lapras.

I saw them defending Gyms in Michigan, these intimidating water creatures that everyone seemed to have but me. I never found one in Michigan, but here in New Jersey, I caught a tiny one. Size didn’t matter; I always knew I’d find one, and here he was. The next day, Saturday, my husband went up the street to the Dunkin Donuts and caught me a second, higher-CP Lapras. No disrespect to my little Lapras, I powered up this larger Lapras to be bold and intimidating.

Imitating Michigan, I placed my beloved Lapras in New Jersey Gyms. He was kicked out of Gyms almost immediately. Over and over, Lapras returned home without bringing coins, and he developed a complex. He wasn’t tough enough, brave enough, strong enough to be useful. I looked up “Lapras” online and discovered that his breed is rather weak. I didn’t care. I had searched long and hard for one of him, and I loved him no matter what. I believed in him. We were going to figure this out.

Little Lapras became my walking buddy so we would earn candies to power up my big Lapras. We were all in this together. I told my Lapras that we could do this. My walking buddy earned candies, we powered up the big guy and my Lapras still got kicked out of Gyms.

One day, he fought hard and returned without coins from a Gym that was gold. Gold is a Gym badge earned when a trainer has enough overall Pokémon activity in that particular Gym thus earning bragging rights and receiving more items when spinning there. The Gym was not gold when Lapras went in. Now it was.

I continued placing Lapras in Gyms. He came back occasionally with a few coins, but never the daily maximum amount. One time he returned from another Gym that became gold while he was there. I noticed that. We discovered his talent: he earns gold Gym badges.

Throughout the summer, I became gold at other Gyms with other Pokémon. There were two locations I was close to: Old Kean and Ship on the Highway. Since school started at Kean University, competition at Old Kean on campus has been tough. Ship on the Highway has always been hit or miss for any Pokémon based on shopping traffic at the P.C. Richards store that looks like a battleship. That Gym has remained the highest in overall points of my non-gold Gyms, and I don’t know why. Now it’s #5 in my list. I told Lapras he was my Golden Boy, and he was going to get me that gold badge.

When the ship Gym was full, I placed Lapras in other Gyms. The first day he fought hard and returned with 50 coins, he strutted around and flapped his fins and puffed his chest out. He was so proud of himself, the jinx broken, the bad karma gone. I gave him a Max Revive that day and powered him up twice. He deserved it. I knew he could do it. Now he did, too.

On Monday, there was space in the Ship on the Highway Gym. Of course I placed my Lapras there, and drove off for the night. This morning, not 48 hours after that, I received the notification, “Lapras needs a treat.”

I decided to feed him remotely, and when I clicked on the Gym, it was no longer silver but gold. He did it again! I texted his accomplishment to my husband, who texted back, “Hap-Lapras!”

Just now, as I share our story, Lapras was the first of the Pokémon in Gyms who fought hard and returned today. He brought back the daily max coins. I powered him up in preparation for our next goal: gold at Old Kean.

Sometimes you have to believe, and sometimes you need to be believed in.

Sometimes that is the same thing, and it needs to be you.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”~Zig Ziglar, American author

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