A Mini Writing Retreat

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Never make plans. They never work out. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I planned a mini-retreat for this week. Take some time for myself to get my head on straight and my spirit centered before the kids are home for the summer. I planned for the part of the week after Memorial Day since there was only one appointment on my calendar and no school obligations after everyone went back to school and work after the Memorial Day holiday. Our house has been pretty clutter-free for the past couple of weeks, so I enjoy being there again. I mentioned to my husband last week while I was sitting in my corner office that I didn’t want to leave the house. I really liked being there. But let’s be real, if I stay home to write, I’d end up watching Supernatural or The Walking Dead reruns on Netflix. I have the rest of the month for that.

I started thinking about what I wanted to do this week and separately what I wanted to accomplish. I’d attend Mass on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve been missing the daily masses both by not attending and also missing them deeply. I’d start my day with G-d, leaving the house at 8:30 and planning to return by 3 when the kids came home from school. It sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?


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The Spring Garden

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One of the things I love about my house is the backyard. I don’t get out there much because of my reaction to the sun due to one of my medications, but we have a really lovely backyard. My husband takes very good care of it. He gets his green thumb from his mother. I did well when we had an apartment and we had only containers to garden in. Those were beautiful. Gardening is hard work though.

One of the things I love about our yard is the lilac tree. Some years it blooms better than others, but every year I wait and I wait, and when it comes that is usually my first foray into the back. I love to smell them, and touch them, and of course, photograph them. They have different colors depending on how the light hits the petals.

When I went out this past week it was nice and shady by the lilacs so I got to spend a bit more time with them. There were many clusters that gave me some good pictures. I also watched some bees doing their thing and I think I caught some of them in the act.

The second Instagram set is some of the highlights that I discovered on that recent visit outside. While my kids are too big for those toys, they still made me feel like a parent of kids. It wasn’t a nostalgic feeling as much as content. I hadn’t noticed that my husband hung the windchimes in the back porch. After taking a couple of pictures, I pushed on them and listened to their perfect harmony. Some advice for buying windchimes: When you find one that you like, listen to it. They all have their own sound, so find one that you can listen to for the rest of your life.

National Hamburger Day

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I’ve heard this as a national day, national week, and national month depending on which burger place is promoting their burgers. In fact, with this being Memorial Day weekend, The Fresh Market has their (typically on Thursday) Little Big Meal Deal for burgers available now through Monday. We’ve had this before and it’s well worth the $20 sale price. We picked it up today to have for tomorrow’s dinner.

For that $20, this meal, which serves four easily (we’re a family of 5 and we split the burgers and it’s still plenty of food) includes: four gourmet burgers, 4 brioche buns, choice of potator or macaroni salad, 4 cobs of corn, package of cheese, and a box of 10 pillow cookies (choice of lemon, almond or raspberry). Please note that you must to buy all of the items in order to get the discount. We also grabbed a Red, White, and Blue pie (apple, blueberry, cherry) for only $5.99.

Excluding fast food places, here is a list and respective lnks to satisfy your burger cravings no matter when they strike.

Burger 21

Burger Fi

Chili’s

Elevation Burger

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Fuddrucker’s

In n Out

Juicy Burger & More

Red Robin

Smashburger

Sonic

Wahlburger’s

Don’t Panic

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At some point we are all Arthur Dent. Someone comes along and tells us to don’t panic and of course at that moment we do. And we continue to panic until we realize that all we need is a guide and a towel. And in my case in the picture above, a babelfish.

Count to 42 and enjoy the ride.

Six Degrees of Social Media

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I have come to the social media phenomenon slowly, kicking and screaming the whole way, but go I do. My first social media was Live Journal before I really knew what social media was. The only one I didn’t question was Tumblr, I think. I don’t know. Maybe it was something else. I can’t remember. I’ve always followed my friend, Andy and as the months went by and turned into years – is it really eight years since I’ve joined the online revolution?! – I’ve refined what I do with my social media. I’ve gotten rid of some, and increased my usage of others. I’ve connected some and I love Instagram more than I think I should.

While my Facebook is primarily for family and personal things, I do follow pages and in follwoing certain pages, I’ve been exposed and introduced to others and so on.

And that is how I come to you to recommend seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s not typically my thing. I never read the comic  books, watched the animated shows or any of the other movies.

I followed Jared Padalecki because he’s on the CW’s Supernatural and he’s an all around good guy with a smile that is warm and inviting. I love his whole family. Whenever I’d see him or Gen or the boys on social media or in photos of conventions, it would make me smile. It would uplift my mood. I can’t explain why. It just is. All of the Supernatural cast & crew are very much like a family, and I love that and am drawn to that.

Well, he’s friends with Stephen Amell who is on Arrow, also on the CW. So I followed Stephen Amell. He spoke his mind and this got him into trouble sometimes. He’d apologize, sometimes, and this down-to-earthiness of his personality was what kept me following his Facebook.

I listened to his live chats and I loved seeing him with his daughter.

He posted the trailer to TMNT, a movie I have no interest in seeing. I watched the trailer to support Stephen’s Facebook.

I liked it.

It made me interested in something because I watched the trailer.

I watched the trailer because I follow Stephen Amell. I follow Stephen Amell because I follow Jared Padalecki. And now I actually want to see this movie.

This is how social media works.

At least how it’s supposed to.

My Top 5 Social Media Personalities
In addition to Jared and Stephen:
1. Misha Collins
2. William Shatner
3. Wil Wheaton
4. John Barrowman
5. George Takei

My Top 5 Political Pundits
1. Ezra Klein (Vox)
2. Connie Schultz
3. Chris Cilizza
4. Planned Parenthood Action
5. Chuck Todd

My Top 5 Writers
In addition to any on the other lists above:
1. Lin-Manuel Miranda
2. Danai Gurira
3. Adam Glass
4. Robert Behrens
5. Neil Gaiman

Others that I Love
1. Norman Reedus
2. Greg Nicotero
3. Kim Rhodes & Briana Buckmaster
4. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Instagramming Across May

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When I first heard about Instagram, I thought, oh no, not another social media thingy. But once I began to use it, I really enjoyed it. Especially the way I can post directly from it to my Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Because those two latter ones are more anonymous than my FB, I do need to be careful not to post any identifying information or at least to be aware of it when I do.

In getting my new smartphone, I’ve discovered that its camera is better than my camera-camera and my Kindle camera and having 4G that actually works is the bonus, so I’ve been using it more lately. I also love the way the layout on multiple pictures looks. It lets me be creative and really use my imagination.

This May has been incredibly busy as you’ve read in the posts I’ve made and in the lack of posts I haven’t made. But I have managed to make Instagram posts because they are just so easy to upload.

I wanted to share them with you.

As a writer, I hate the saying, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Choices

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As Lin-Manuel [Miranda] said in his commencement address at UPenn this past weekend, “we choose the stories we tell.” That is wholly true, but those stories are shaped by what we choose to do in our lives.

I will tell you about my life this week. It is a ridiculously busy week. Even the calendar is cluttered.  I made a list of everything on my calendar from Sunday the 15th until Saturday the 21st.  Assuming I wrote everything down, that’s twenty-five things. Although I forgot to  include the Target run for household goods and grocery shopping plus two trips this week to The Fresh Market for their specials that are only available on certain days. I also didn’t include my son’s girlfriend visiting us this weekend for the first time. Oh crap! What are we going to make for dinner?!

All but one of the television shows on that list are for the entire family’s viewing. It’s season finales for many of them this week and next. Not listed are writing group assignments, three greeting cards that need to be written out and sent and my journal submission for one class. I also need to clean my house.

So I guess that makes it thirty-four in actuality.

As of this writing, I’ve accomplished the first nine, skipped three and will complete two more tonight plus start another one. I’ve crossed five out as conflicts with more important things that either need to be done or that I would rather do. [Watch my son get a scholarship award at his college and meet a friend of my husband’s visiting from Amsterdam for instance. My daughter also has a concert with her school’s chorus.] All on Thursday.

We will postpone Thursday’s TV until Friday, on demand, or on the CW app.

We will be late to my daughter’s concert and I kind of invited my son’s girlfriend over this weekend without telling anyone, thinking that my son would postpone it until next week. As I said earlier, it’s happening this week.

The Yartzeit for my Dad was a day late, and I didn’t go to mass this morning.

Did I forget to list that I need a couple (or more) of showers on that list?

So, we choose.

And we choose and we adjust our lives and whether through facebook or writing class or the stories we tell our friends, we are constantly making choices.

To pick the best one; the funniest one, the one with the lesson learned or the embarrassing one that we finally find funny.

Whichever one we choose they are our stories; your stories.

Choose them well.