Book News

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​Book News is a new series that is for sharing, for sounding board, for feedback, and for my own accountability. I’ve mentioned several times in the past about the two books that I’ve been “in the middle of” for what seems like forever. I feel like my Wales book is a reward for when my House book is finished. The problem with that is that writing the House book is extraordinarily emotional and I have a hard time getting through it for several reasons that I need to address within the pages of the book.

I don’t know if it will be a monthly or a biweekly feature (I’m leaning towards biweekly) , but it will be on my calendar, and so I will need to set goals based on my outlines, and begin the research for some of their aspects.

Book News will let me keep a log of those things that aren’t necessarily post-worthy or essay/articles, but that still need to be accomplished in order to publish.

I think this will work for me, and I appreciate your support as I make changes and grow as a writer.

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Yr Hen Galan

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I mentioned yesterday about the plethora of New Years that I observed and set goals for in the past few months with the Chinese New Year coming in just a couple of more weeks.

Little did I know that I was forgetting one: the Welsh New Year or Hen Galan.

I discovered on Facebook that it began with the switch to the Gregorian calendar and it was yesterday! As I wrote and posted, I had no idea that I’d missed one!

Some more reading: New Year’s Traditions in  Wales

If we keep our eyes and ears open, we learn something new each day.

New Year, New You?

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​It’s not just about breaking bad habits or starting an exercise regiment. Don’t forget to nourish your soul and your spirit. That can mean spiritually, which can refer to a deeper religious mindfulness or it can be secular – something to keep your mind and body in balance as you tackle new things this new year.

For all of us, this will be a challenging year because of the new US presidential administration, regardless of who you voted for. This post is not meant to be political, but it is certainly a factor in many people’s lives. I would recommend to everyone reading this to get on your cable or dish network’s version of On Demand and watch the most recent black-ish episode entitled Lemons. It really does give a good look into what people of all backgrounds are feeling, and may help some of us who don’t understand the anxiety and fright to understand it a little bit better. It’s not even about changing minds; it’s about empathy and continued discussion.

For some of us, this is also our third new year since summer ended. Back in September and October was the Jewish New Year, and at the end of November when Advent began was the Catholic New Year and the beginning of the liturgical calendar and of course, we’ve just celebrated a global new year on January 1st. Coming up on January 28th is the Chinese New Year, celebrated by many Asian countries as well as in places like the US, Canada, and the UK where Asians live in greater numbers.

I’ve actually used each of the three previous new years to set goals and then reevaluate them when the next new year approaches. I find that setting three or six month goals, or a combination of both is a good way to not only stay on track, but also a good way to not burn myself out with too much new activity and change all at once. Another good reason is instead of just giving up on resolutions that didn’t work out too well or were to much at the start, we can reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how do we continue down the path of change or sameness and adjust our goals accordingly.

Some suggestions that I’ve used in the past (or have been recently suggested):

1. JournalingWords, Art or both. Simple journaling can be a list of what you’ve done for the day, a list of goals and how they worked out, bullet journaling for those of us that are not into lengthy writing.

2. Jars to keep track of the good things throughout the year. I did this one year, and I loved reading all the good from the year before on New Year’s Eve.

3. Wish Jar. What are some of the things you want this year? Did you get them done?

4. Prompt jar. This is great for writers or artists who sometimes need a pick me up. It’s a good idea to drop some of our extra ideas into this jar for those dry times. We all know feast or famine.

5. Surprise Me Jar. Take a walk. Go out for coffee or tea. Go to the park with your camera. We all need spontaneity, but not all of us are spontaneous. This can often help.

6. Quotation Jar or Pouch. When you see or hear a good quotation or get a good fortune cookie, drop it into the jar or pouch and when you’re not in a good space or need a little motivating help, choose one randomly and read it. You can also use this opportunity to write about it, Instagram it, draw it, or photograph it. I was wary of Instagram, but I find that I enjoy its central visuality a lot more than I expected to. I use it nearly every day and then find a way to share those visuals here.

7. Once-a-Months. Once a month, randomly or scheduled, do something you normally don’t do. My family reads comic books, but I don’t. A few months ago, I picked up The Rough Riders. It was something different, and I enjoyed it. If you’re not an outdoors person, try a nature walk or go to a local park that’s still close to civilization. A third suggestion would be for the church-goers. If you only worship in a formal setting, look up local shrines or other religious places in your area that you’ve never been to and sit quietly, meditate, pray a rosary or something that fits into your life.

Last year, my husband proclaimed TSNTry Something New, and he and we did. It was different and we kept open minds about each other’s hobbies and interests.

TSN.

A Resolution Revolution

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One of my 2017 resolutions is to do more art so one of the things that I’ve done in the past week has been these two art pieces. The second one is similar to my I’m ^still With Her word art that I did in the fall after the election, which I’ve been enjoying more and more.

Some sketches of things that I’m looking forward to in 2017. Not a prediction or an in depth plan, and I may add pictures to it as the months progress. (c)2017

This type of resolution list was inspired by my friend, Leah. This is a six month goal set that will be added to as new goals come to mind or these need adjustment. Each item has more than the simple quick note. I will expand on them in a future post. (c)2017

Thank you, President Obama

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Watching the President’s Farewell Address last night was like turning the page at the end of a chapter. I happily and gratefully and proudly voted for Barack Obama in 2008, knowing that not only was I getting a good and decent man who would be a great President, I was also making history, and I treated it as such.

As late as his election night speech was in 2008, we woke up our then-eleven year old to watch him live. We recorded it if I recall correctly. People would be talking about this for the rest of history. He will stand alongside George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and others who withstand the test of time.

When the Farewell Address began, I took the ear phones and tablets away from my younger kids, and made the television louder. We sat and ignored everyhting else around us for the near hour that he spoke, reminding us of the never ending (hopefully) and the ever constant responsibility we have to continue this American experiment. It is bigger than any one man (or woman).

Thank you.

Yes, We Can. And Yes, We Did.

We did on so many things, and it would be redundant to list them in my less polished way. Please watch the video and read the transcript. Remember what we accomplished together, through discourse and decency.

For the future, beginning in a little more than a week, I say: Fired up. Ready to go.

Full Transcript

The Red Apron

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​What’s the one item in your kitchen you can’t possibly cook without? A spice, your grandma’s measuring cup, instant ramen — what’s your magic ingredient, and why?

From The Daily Post on WordPress

So many things that pop into my head with this question, this prompt.

The one thing I probably always, always, always use when I am cooking is my apron. I was never a fan of aprons. I thought they were old-fashioned and silly and ridiculous looking. They are also one size fits all, and one size almost never fits me. I would never wear an apron.

I think I’m conflating two or three Thanksgivings that we hosted. I picture different apartments, different guests, but I also seem to recall only cooking Thanksgiving on my own once. We moved away from our families, about two hundred fifty miles – lower cost of living, not as crowded, and while we usually returned home for some of the holidays, this one year we did not. 

I don’t know what made me buy the apron. In addition to it being one size fits all, it was red; my least favorite color.

A red apron. It was probably literally one of the last things I would ever own, let alone buy.

I first time I used it, it was smooth, and tied easily around my back. I adjusted the neck, and stuck my hands in the large double pockets in the front. I still thought I looked ridiculous, but hey, it was Thanksgiving – wasn’t I supposed to wear an apron as part of the festivities?

I began to cook. I don’t remember what we made other than a very huge turkey that barely fit in our small apartment sized oven. I’m sure there were mashed potatoes and a vegetable. There was probably a sweet potato pie – my favorite and this long ago I probably also followed the recipe more closely, so it was near perfect to my friend’s who taught it to me.

What I do remember is unconsciously wiping my dirty hands on my apron, and after two more times and some long minutes, I realized what I was doing, and I was never more grateful for a kitchen item in my life. That apron saved my clothes.

It was then that I realized that this one size fits all that never fits, actually went a little bit around my hips protecting my dark pants as well.

I nodded my head, and grinned, and I was really glad that I bought this red apron.

In the years since then, that apron gives me the illusion of being a cook. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am actually a good cook. I do food good. Breads. Sweet breads. Ginger cookies. I’m terrible at baking, which is why none of my kids get a homemade birthday cake except my middle guy – he loves cheesecake and asks for it every year, so that’s win-win for everyone.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve left my watch in the pocket; or my wedding rings from baking bread from scratch or my cell phone. The pockets are even big enough to hold my kindle that I use for some of the recipes.

I have actually brought that apron on vacation with me. I’ve brought it to my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner to help out in the kitchen. I made three trips to visit friends – once to Denver and twice to Williamsburg, Virginia, and I brought it and used it both times. The first time I also brought frozen ginger snap cookie dough to make when I got there. After the last time, I wore it to polish silver for our special, fancy dinner, and it changed the color of my red apron in some places.

I was sad, but I can’t bear to get rid of it or replace it. After three years, it seems to have gained character from the stain.

The last time I wore it was probably Christmas dinner just a few weeks ago. Roast beef, butter, sticky marshmallows, and I think I spilled a soda.

I’m really glad I had that apron on.

Election Reflection – The Press

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​I spent half an hour on Sunday night writing about a free press. It was a little bit ranty, but it was a first draft. Before book and bed, I went to Facebook to catch up on my friends, and my entire feed was filled with Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes.

As a writer, it pains me to say that sometimes others can say what you are trying to say better than you could possibly, and that happened Sunday night. Meryl Streep was right on track with what I wanted to say, only much more eloquently than I could say it. I will still try my hand, and I will include a video of Meryl and a transcript of what she said.

Before anything else, I would like to note that the President-Elect responded exactly how predicted, on Twitter, in the early hours of the morning, and with name-calling. It is easy to dismiss this simply as a child’s ravings, but unfortunately, this man is not a child; in a few short days he will be the President of the United States.

His response to any kind of criticism is through mocking, name-calling, and falsehood. This needs to stop, and if it doesn’t stop, it needs to be called out at every turn where it affects our rights, most especially our Bill of Rights, and our First Amendment, the one that makes all the other ones possible.

The First acknowledges and legally supports our speech, our gatherings, our independent and free press, and our religion. There is no minimum age or maximum age on it. It is there for everyone, with few, very few, exceptions.

Benjamin Franklin was a member of the press. As was Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Matthew Brady, and in our modern days, Edward R. Murrow and Woodward and Bernstein. Without the Press, there may have never been a Revolution or Constitution at all, beginning with Broadsheets to Weeklies to Dailies to Television News. Without the Press, there would have been no Nixon resignation, no disclosure of Iraq’s lack of weapons or the change from the Soviet Union back to Russia.

The Press must stand alone and independent.

Yes, ther eis a place for pundits and punditry, opinions, and editorials, but in all of that, the truth must be adhered to.

Post-truth simply means untruths.

Facts are not negotiable. You can agree or not, but you can’t change them. We can’t pretend that they don’t exist. 

Since becoming President-Elect, Mr. Trump has tweeted, his primary source of communication, and in tweeting, he has caused three multibillion dollar American companies to lose more than two billion dollars because of impulsive and untrue things he’s said. He’s caused a rift with China, and through his words encouraged them to take one of our technological properties in international waters. They’ve lodged a formal complaint. He’s taken the sides of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Alex Jones (a crackpot if ever I saw one, but of course that’s only my opinion) over the NSA and the Intelligence community that the rest of us understand to be professionals and nonpartisan. He’s continued his personal attacks on television programs and personalities, last night’s being the last egregious. He called Meryl Streep overrated. Now, I can guarantee, ven not knowing her that this does not bother her. She’s been called worse by better, I’m sure, and certainly overratedness is an opinion, but really? Meryl Streep? Overrated? I’m not sure that’s an accurate assessment of not only her acting ability, but her personal decorum and behavior.

We, as citizens of this country, and the Press need to call it out when their hypocrisy takes over.

On The Walking Dead, the character of Rick was admonishing his barely a teenager son by telling him, “Don’t Talk. Think.” I made it into an art project actually. Perhaps someone should tell the President-Elect, “Don’t Tweet. Think.” It would help the rest of us who just want to survive the next four years intact.

Supporting the Press isn’t just reading and taking sides. It’s also promoting their investigative journalism even when it goes against our own opinions. It is also donating to groups like the one Meryl Streep suggested, the Committee to Protect Journalists as well, I would suggest as the ACLU. It is also subscribing to  news organizations, print newspapers and magazines like The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic.

The Free Press needs to remain independent in order to be free.

Note: Before inauguration day, I will have a new page with links that will highlight news sources, journalists, and organizations meant to keep the checks and balance on the new Administration and the GOP led Congress. Most are nonpartisan. If there is an opinion/editorial writer or organization, I hope to label it as such.

Transcript of Meryl Streep’s Acceptance Speech (provided by Entertainment Weekly):

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