Category Archives: Creative Writing

Woo hoo!

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Mona at  https://www.waywardsparkles.com/ nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Yay!! I would be doing cartwheels but I’ve never had the physical coordination or strength to do such a thing.

Instead, I’m going to follow the rules.

And once I’ve followed the rules below, those bloggers who accept my nomination are to follow the rules as well.

Here they are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Respond to the questions (see below)
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award themselves and ask them to share 5-10 random facts about themselves (I’m sharing 5 myself-again, see below)
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award icon (so many to choose from!) in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on their blog post.

First off, a big thank you to Mona! We both recently discovered each other’s blogs and I am very surprised and honored that she thought well enough of my blog to nominate me! I look forward to being amused and inspired by Mona and her blog for a long time to come.

Now here’s the part where I nominate 5 other bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/. This woman has quite the way with words. She is insightful, clever, funny, and kind. I look forward to reading her posts every week. 

Alice @ https://lutheranliar.com/. I came upon her in a Facebook bloggers group (Blogging and a Beverage) and she never fails to crack me up with her true life stories for which she always punctuates her blog posts with the best (often nostalgic, which I totally dig) pictures. 

Annie @ https://givememeatloaf.com/. Like Alice, Annie also includes awesome pictures in her blog posts. Usually they are of delicious food she has eaten, some during her travels and some made by her and/or her adorable husband in her own kitchen. Her posts are fun to read and often inspire my foodie and travel tendencies. 

Then there’s Katie @ https://fattymccupcakes.net/. This lady is freaking hilarious! She tells tales of her struggles with weight and of  her travel adventures. Katie also is a master of sharing her comedic take on real life observations and annoyances. 

And finally, there’s Nicole @ https://entertainingmess.wordpress.com/. Her posts are thoughtful and well-written. Very sweet and authentic.  She often writes about her journey as a mom to two young kiddos and she sometimes shares recipes with us. 

I have great hopes that the above nominees will play along here and include 5 random facts about themselves. I say this because I think they are all awesome!

********5 Random Facts About Me**********

  1. I played the clarinet from middle school through high school. While I hated having to wear the odd-looking, heavy and hot Q-Tip shaped helmet while marching I absolutely loved the whole experience. However, I am certain if you gave me a clarinet right now there’s no way I’d be able to play a recognizable tune on it. It’s not like riding a bike for me. Not like I can ride a bike anymore either, folks, but that’s another story for another day.

  2. I have a brother who is 10 years older than me. I didn’t know until I was 14 that we didn’t have the same father. While completely shocked, it didn’t really matter; it didn’t change how I felt about him at all. But again–shocking.

  3. I say this with cautious optimism (knowing there’s a million different reasons, some I haven’t yet imagined but probably will because I’m an overthinker,  that this won’t come to fruition): I have recently been tapped to write a weekly blog for the non-profit I work for. Yikes! I’m nervous but excited. Wish me luck!

  4. I have never been to Europe. Of course, I want to go there (who doesn’t right?!). I actually have peeps who live there and it would tickle me so to visit them in their natural habitat. Hubs and I are shooting for a trip to Europe in 2020.

  5. I find the concept of having a “spirit animal” quite fascinating. Without a doubt, mine is the body of a turtle and the head and tail of a squirrel. Because as a blogger (and a 52 year old slightly out of shape white American female), I am physically a bit of a slow mover. But I suspect I have a tad bit of ADD as during my waking hours, my brain is swirling with plans and ideas. I really need to have an artist I know and love draw me a portrait of this mystical creature. Spawn #2, I’m looking at you.

Mona included the John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” in her “Sunshine Blogger Award” nomination post, which I love. I am following suit. Yes, I am being a copy-cat.

Caveat: While I am a humongous Beatles fan, I decided to do something different and use this funky, creative version instead of the original.  Aren’t these kiddos so cute?!

Thanks again, Mona!

 

 

 

 

Babblings on Beverages

Kind of like the bag of peppermint tea I sometimes have later in the evenings (to soothe my tummy and chill myself out), an idea has been seeping in my brain about publishing a post about beverages.

Really, ever since I found the groovy blog, Gin & Lemonade…with a twist.  I liked that the first question asked upon joining this delightful blogger’s group on Facebook was “what is your favorite beverage?” My response was “Trader Joe’s mango lemonade with vodka”. Bums me out that this lovely liquid has not been on the shelves at TJ’s the last 4 times I have been there.

So, let’s talk bevvies. Or as my mother in law calls them (the only person I know who uses this word on a regular basis): Beverages.

Here’s a few I would be pleased as punch to serve you if you came over for a visit:

Craft beer. Hey, I live in Colorado, so it’s a given that I’d offer you a beer. There’s so many choices here! If I can assume that you are not a craft-beer aficionado, I’d offer you this one, though it is likely not available at our local liquor store. We’d probably have to get in the car and take a short jaunt to this brewery together, where we could enjoy this fruity, tasty concoction on the lovely deck at Rail’s End.

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Bloody Mary’s. Not the kind with an entire meal perched precariously on top of it. The simple version: tomato juice, vodka, a generous sprinkling of celery salt. Green olives and a celery stick for garnish. It was one of my dad’s favorites.

Colorado Bulldogs. Most people know it as a White Russian.  The only difference really is the splash of coke. It was my parent’s signature cocktail when folks would come to visit them at their cabin. One time, someone’s puppy got into one and got a little squirrely. We all had a good laugh over that.

Chardonnay-ZD. This is a superb wine that Hubs and I discovered during our first UCC Synod (for those not in the know, this is essentially a bi-annual conference for members and delegates of the United Church of Christ, the denomination Hubs and I belong to). No, they weren’t serving it during plenary. Ha! It was at a dockside restaurant in California, where we ate fish and chips with other UCC peeps. We look for it every time we travel somewhere. We found it once and bought it; however it’s got a pretty hefty price tag, so it probably wouldn’t be our go-to wine if it was available here anyway. But of course, I’d find a way to get a bottle or two if you came over!

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Now for the non-alcoholic options: 

Water. I know in some places in this country, heck this world, the tap water isn’t so great. In Two Harbors, Minnesota, however, it comes out of the tap ice cold, clear, and perfect. Here in Colorado, the water is of good quality but it’s not TH water. I don’t understand the people who say they hate the taste of water. It’s like, c’mon, it has no “taste”, no flavor. It’s wet and thirst quenching. And I don’t think I’d get any arguments by saying it goes with everything. Personally, I drink it with most every meal.

Iced tea. Not a beverage I grew up with at all. Hubs did however, so along with those other things one adopts in their married lives, making pitchers of tea with just the right amount of sugar (or in our case, Truvia), is something we do.

Coffee. Hubs and I are both devoted coffee drinkers, like both sets of our parents. We like it dark, roasty, and bold. High-test, if you will. And while I usually keep fresh half and half in my fridge to add to my morning coffee, if you were visiting, I’d spring for a couple of flavored creams so you would have options.

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What’s your favorite beverage choice? Perhaps it depends on your mood, the weather, the time of day. Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

Wannabe intern

In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.

This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.

I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.

Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.

And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.

Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?

I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.

Here’s one possibility:

Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.

I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.

I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:

Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:

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For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:

Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.

What do you think-do I have a shot?

More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!

Word Nerd

A couple of months ago,  I engaged in conversation with a new food bank client. He told me about his life and his education. He shared his love of grammar and communication. He told me that he was so proud of his granddaughter, who at the age of 3, correctly used the word “ubiquitous” in a sentence.

Hard to believe, right? He may have been lying about this. Though who in their right mind would lie about this type of thing?

Either way, it matters not. This conversation, however, did get me thinking, as a former English major, about this basic fact: I love words. Especially unique ones. Ones that are fun to say. Words that have a super special ability to convey precisely the right sentiment at the right moment.

And of course, I was prompted to look up the actual definition of the word “ubiquitous”. You know, just to double check my understanding of it’s meaning. It’s been a few years since I was an English major.

According to good old Merriam-Webster:

Definition of ubiquitous

existing or being everywhere at the same time constantly encountered:
Allow me to use this beautiful word in a sentence:
One could say that the smell of weed on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado was ubiquitous.
Here’s a few more lovely words to nerd out on:

Definition of compunction

1aanxiety arising from awareness of guilt compunctions of conscience
bdistress of mind over an anticipated action or result… showed no compunction in planning devilish engines of … destruction.— Havelock Ellis
2a twinge of misgiving SCRUPLE cheated without compunction… he had no compunction about brushing aside legal technicalities.— Robert Penn Warren
Used in a sentence:
Attorney General William Barr summarized the Mueller report without compunction. 

Definition of kerfuffle

a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited him perfectly.— J. K. RowlingIt’s not the only school with dress code issues; almost every week there’s a local story about some kerfuffle over what kids wear to school.— Belinda Luscombe
In a sentence: Despite all the kerfuffle made by the Chicago police and the media at large, the case against Jussie Smollett has been thrown out. 

Definition of vociferous

marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry
What a great word, that vociferous.
In sentence form:
I vociferously disagree with climate change deniers. 

Definition of foppish

1obsolete FOOLISHSILLY
2acharacteristic of a fopfoppish dressing gown
bbehaving or dressing in the manner of a fop
A sentence for this word: 

Trump’s cronies are often quite foppish; just look at Roger Stone.

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Definition of milquetoast

a timid, meek, or unassertive person
In the form of a sentence:

Hubs has been telling me for a while now that he believes the democrats are too milquetoast. 

Now I’d like to hear from you, readers who appreciate words like I do: What are some words you enjoy using? 

It can’t always be ABOUT ME

Clearly, I flat out suck at coming up with titles for my blog posts. Any suggestions you may have to address this particular shortcoming of mine are appreciated.

Though the title I chose is better than the original : “To all the Blogs I’ve loved before”. That might have sounded just a tad creepy, right?

My objective in this particular post is to lift up those blogs and bloggers that I have been following ever since I started my own blog (and a couple of these I discovered prior to starting this blog).

I’ve been very fortunate to have discovered each of these blogs and I think if you haven’t yet discovered them yourself, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking them out now.

You see, these are the blogs that I feel I actually get something out of. Whether that be inspiration for my next blog post, a kick ass recipe, a new way of thinking about something, or a few hearty belly laughs, these are my “go-to’s”.

Elly @ http://ellylonon.com/:

I find Elly and her blog to be creative, talented, inspirational, hilarious, smart, and entertaining. And she plays a mean ukulele! If I had an opportunity to write with her, I’d take it in a hot second. Elly also wrote a hilarious book, complete with awesome illustrations, thanks to her cohort Joan Reilly, about a middle aged, liberal, educated, cat owning but not child owning (not like one owns their children of course), married couple traipsing across the country in an RV in an effort to make sense of what has become of our country in the wake of the Trump era.

She started her book as a regular feature in McSweeney’s. It’s titled “Amongst the Liberal Elite” and of course you can buy it on Amazon, like I did, or find it in your local bookstore.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/: She is a fantastic storyteller. A giver of wonderful recipes. She is smart, funny, and kind. She’s inspired and encouraged me throughout my blogging journey.

Because I am a giver too, here’s a post she penned that includes an awesome recipe that I have actually made: https://feedingonfolly.com/2018/09/19/on-apple-trees-cake-and-planning-ahead-for-panic-attacks/

Lorna @ https://ginlemonade.com/ Lorna is a very talented writer. Her tone is straightforward and her writing, through the lens of a mom/wife/American living in Scotland who gets around on wheels due to CP, is insightful. She is very hardworking and sincere in her writing. She also runs a great blogging group on Facebook which has been a pleasure for me to be a part of.

Then there’s Christine @ https://imsickandsoareyou.com/. She is the blogger who recommended Lorna’s blogging group on Facebook. She blogs from the viewpoint of a woman who was very sick for a good long time, due to a desmoid tumor, who has fairly recently regained her health. She is terribly witty, thoughtful, raw, and honest with her writing. She is imaginative and alternates between being laugh-out-loud funny with her writing and deeply personal and thoughtful.

Annie at https://givememeatloaf.com/ is a blogger I’ve been following I believe since before I started my own blog. She writes primarily about food and travel. She is a “living doll” as my mom used to say. She’s cute as a button and has a way of drawing you in with her beautiful pictures of delectable food (some she makes herself and some from dining out) and travel destinations. There is a sense of fun and adventure in all of her posts. And I owe her a thank you in advance for a recent post on her trip to Puerto Rico with her husband (aka Sir Dave). It helped me to talk Hubs into taking me to Puerto Rico for our next tropical vacation (ha ha! as if this is really a thing for us). But alas, we shall go there! Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in 2020, after all.

Now, there are of course several other blogs I regularly follow that I ought to mention. Because I respect your time, I will keep it simple-ish and drop links to a few of those.

https://butismileanyway.com/: Ritu writes, among other things, a regular feature “Chai and a Chat” in which she expresses her sweet, positive, effervescent personality. It’s a delight. Reading this always makes me wish I was sitting across from her, gabbing the day away in person.

Fatty McCupcakes (you’ll have to google it as I’m not much of a techie and couldn’t get the link to copy here) : Just trust me when I say that Katie is a great comedic writer. She tells the funniest stories and is very relatable.

https://debs-world.com/: Deb is inspirational. She is a world traveler who has lots of great stories to tell.

https://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/: Caitlin is a professional writer/journalist/photog who leads a fascinating life. Her posts are always interesting, thought provoking, and smart.

https://lutheranliar.com/: Alice is fiercely funny. She has the best pictures to illustrate her hilarious stories.

I hope you, smart and creative readers, will have an opportunity to check out these blogs that I dig so much.

Please share your favorite blogs in the comments too! Sharing is caring people 🙂

Fiction Writing Angst

Sometimes I worry that I put things out there, in the blogosphere, prematurely. Things that I want to do, want to write about. I worry that I’m setting myself up for failure. For embarrassment.

If you haven’t yet figured it out yet: here’s the truth. I’m a bit of a spaz. AKA, overly enthusiastic/nervous. Especially when it comes to writing.

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Like how I voluntarily shared on my newest blogging group “Kick Ass Creators” (Sorry, Ritu, I’m a tad anal about spelling “creators” with a “K”) that I was going to start writing fiction.

Ever since I did that, I’m in this weird state of feeling overwhelmed, excited, and just flat out scared.

Sometimes I worry that if I start publishing stories on my blog about the fictional characters that have been in my head for years now, someone will steal my idea and make it an even better story than I could possibly imagine. Turn it into the next comedic blockbuster, leaving me frustrated and without recourse. Maybe I ought to trademark this shit? How do I even do that? Is it going to involve a lot of technical skills or legal knowledge that I don’t have? It is going to cost me actual money, which I don’t exactly have much of for extra expenditures, especially given the fact that Hubs is currently furloughed and not being paid?

Sometimes I worry that I will get started on this fictional story of mine, and I will learn that I do not possess the skills needed to write snappy dialogue. Or that I will start the storyline then get totally stuck after a little while and decide that’s it. Or that my characters will come off as cartoonish, annoying, or just unrelatable.  Or that I will be made aware of another show, or book, or movie, that is so similar to what is currently in my head that it would be pure folly for me to press on, because my characters, my story, is simply just not that original after all.

I’m such a freaking mess.

Maybe I should just concentrate on writing blog posts. Keep my eyes, ears, and mind open to the fodder that is around me in the day-to-day. Write about that shit.

But then my characters will be stuck inside my head forever. Never to see the light of day. Stuck as perpetually middle aged, empty-nested, marrieds from the midwest for all eternity (as you might surmise, the main characters are loosely based on me and dear Hubs). Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Just stuck in my head along with my to-do lists, recipes I really need to try one day, worries about my loved ones, and concerns about the fate of the world.

If I write about these characters and their shenanigans, even if  it is only in my super top secret draft folder, they will not die the slow death caused by being smothered by all those other thoughts and plans in my head.

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And I might have some fun along the way.

On the other hand, when I shared with my blogger’s group that I was going to “try my hand at fiction”, I didn’t exactly say I was going to publish anything. So technically,  I could write stories to my heart’s content about my fictional characters and keep them all to myself. That way I’d still be expressing myself creatively and actually writing fiction, so these poor characters are no longer in pause mode, like Sims characters just waiting for direction. I’d be protected from humiliation and I wouldn’t have to live with the fear of being outed as a horrible fiction writer because no one would be reading my stories.

Or I might just keep writing blog posts about writing and publishing and all the anxiety that comes with it for the rest of time.

At this point it’s a bit of a toss up. Either way, my characters will at least be given a bit of a life in my draft folder. Maybe once they start blooming there, I will introduce them to you.

Excuse me, I’ve got some fiction to write.

And some research to do. Some inspiration to acquire. I’m starting to think I might be in this for the long haul.

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I went to the library! A writer needs to read, right? And FYI,  I’m not planning on writing chick lit. I grabbed that book for the main title. Make what you will of my other literary choices.