Happy Eclipse Day!

Monday mornings always inspire me. I like the feeling of a fresh start. A clean slate. A whole week to accomplish the things I wanted to do last week but didn’t get around to. Well, we’ll see about that one. 🙂

Today we’re looking forward to the grand spectacle in the heavens, 10:30am -1pm our time. It’s a glorious day here with clear blue skies, so we can expect a good views of the eclipse. Right where we live they’re saying it will be 70%.

If you’d fly over the Canadian prairies today, you’d see that harvest has begun in Manitoba. Around where we live the golden fields are waving in the breeze and farmers are greasing up their combines. Our goldenrod and Canada thistle are coming into bloom — the first signs of autumn. Our nights are cool. The hummingbirds are still coming to our feeders, but it won’t be long until they’re on their way to Mexico.

Blog-ographically, you are going to see some change here, too, more book reviews in the next few weeks. Over the past two years, while I’ve been recovering from my illness, I’ve read quite a few books. I know all writers appreciate a (hopefully positive) review on Amazon and Kobo so, since I’m writing them anyway, I’ll post them here as well.

“What goes around comes around,” they say. I’m hoping when Silver Morning Song goes live on the vendors’ sites folks will review it, so I should be ready to do the same for other authors. As I write this, my book of short stories and poems is being formatted for download to the net. I’m getting excited to see it for sale on Amazon and Kobo!

One thing I should mention:
If you do purchase any e-book from Amazon, be sure to read, or at least skim through, the whole book. Unless they’ve changed their policy recently, they don’t pay an author unless most of the book is read. If you’re paying them for the book it seems only right the author gets their share, even if the book isn’t that hot.

I’ll kick off with this review:
One star — but I’ll give the writer credit for having a terrific imagination.

510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers
by Jonathan Wright
Kindle edition sold by Amazon Digital Services

“To each his own,” they say, and this book of prompts is NOT my cup of tea.

Usually I can find something that interests me in a book of writing prompts but I skimmed through the whole book looking for what I’d call a normal scenario. Nada. These are all the sensational types. If you write sci-fi, horror, thriller, paranormal, zombies, etc, this book is full of prompts for you.

Blog Alert: Posts Can Disappear

One day last year I wrote a limerick to fit with a cute picture I’d found and I posted it on my old blog, Christine’s Reflections. Yesterday I thought of that poem and decided I’d post it again so I did a search of my blog and found the Post title: “Bad Hair Day.” The title is there, the Likes and Comments are still all there — even the WordPress ad is there — but the post and image have disappeared!

Well! What happened?

Guess I’d better find my own stored copy. So I searched through my word processor and two flash drives looking for a copy and turned up Zilch. Nothing. I must have written it on an impulse, posted it, and not saved a copy. Foolish me!

I wondered if I could find that post by going through my blog’s media file. Sure enough, the image I’d used for the poem was in my media library. It gave the attachment page as “Bad Hair Day” with the date and the link. So I do have a record that I posted it August 29, 2016. Clicking on the link got me back to that title — and the empty post.

This is the second time this year that I searched for a post and found the main part gone. I’d e-mailed the link for one of my short stories to another blogger back around April, he’d read it and commented. A couple of weeks later when I wanted to find that story again and pass on the link, I found the title, the Likes and Comments still intact but the story itself had disappeared. Thankfully I had a backup copy in my file storage.

So what happened to my posts? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I consulted the folks at Word Press and they say I must have deleted that post — which I definitely did not. I wouldn’t have because I wanted to reblog them someday. Besides, when I’ve deleted posts before, everything is gone: the title, Likes, Comments. There’s no trace it ever existed.

So either there’s some glitch in my/their system and it slurps up post texts, or someone has snitched them. Not just copied, but totally removed.

I was ready to give up hope that my poem would ever show up again when I had a bright idea. My dear husband, bless his heart, subscribes to my blog — and he never deletes his incoming e-mails. I verified the date of the post, went into his In Box, searched through his e-mails for that day — and there was my poem! Sure, it’s not anything brilliant, but we writers are quite attached to our offspring scribblings and don’t want them disappearing.

Note to self: ALWAYS SAVE a copy! that’s why DropBox and flash drives were invented.

Given my own experience I’d advise other bloggers: subscribe to your own blog and save posts when they pop into your In Box. That way you’ll have a record of having posted this item if it should ever disappear and/or show up as someone else’s work. Or partner with a blogger friend to save each other’s posts, at least the poems and stories you may want to use again. Having a record could turn out to be very important.

Copyright reminder to all bloggers:
It’s against the law to help yourself to anyone else’s writings and claim them as your own. This is THEFT and can lead to PROSECUTION. Everything posted on anyone’s blog is automatically protected by international copyright laws; copying and saving someone else’s work without permission — never mind complete removal! — is a crime.

Respecting someone’s work, and giving credit where credit is due, is a basic human decency. Most bloggers are reasonable people and if you ask permission to copy something, assuming it’s for some good purpose and you give them credit as author, they’ll give it.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering about the poem I’m making all this fuss about, I’ll post the picture and limerick in my next post. It may be a silly little verse, but it’s mine. 🙂

Just A Clueless Tourist, Sir

Guilty As Charged

A writing exercise one day was: tell about an adventure you had while traveling, focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a scene from when I drove my daughter to Mississippi for a Teacher’s Summer Class.

Twelve years ago our daughter wanted to attend a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less. She didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. I was excited about the trip, having never been to the Deep South before. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I knew the chain gang was passe but I’d read some pretty awful accounts of arrests at gun-point and strip searches, etc. Not to mention fines and fees for a US lawyer.

A few minutes later we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50? As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I drew near yet another 55 mph sign, I wondered,  “Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Can they arrest me if I don’t just meekly follow? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?”

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser — we didn’t have cruise control so I kept one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!— I saw in my rear-view mirror that other cars had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when no lights started flashing they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?

The $2000 Crack

No, this isn’t the story of a drug deal — but it is the story of a BIG deal. Finding two grand is a fairly big deal at this house.

My tale started innocently enough Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. I took my hearing aids out of the box — and dropped one. Usually they stand a bit of shock, but this one went on strike. Nose out of joint — or whatever.

On Tuesday when we went into the city I took the injured appliance back to the Sask Hearing Aid Plan office where I’d purchased it — and learned that this plan was phased out in the recent provincial budget cuts. (Now only children are eligible.) The steno checked my record, though: I bought these hearing aids in Feb 2012 and they have a five year warrantee. Do the math.

I took them to a private clinic that fixes this brand and she couldn’t get the thing working again. She phoned the Oticon company and they did the math. For $500 I can get the warrantee extended for six more months. Then I can send it to their lab, but there’s no guarantee that when they take it apart they’ll be able to fix it.

A new hearing aid will cost somewhere between about $1400 and $3000. To complicate things, I have two, synchronized to work together, and there’s no guarantee a new hearing aid would be able to work in harmony with the old one. “Quite often,” the receptionist told me, “people end up having to buy two.” Whimper!

This story will be familiar to anyone who’s needed to replace a hearing aid; they just are pricey little gadgets. Dropping one isn’t wise, but it happens. So since that fateful fall my mind has been contemplating payment options:
— If I were in good health I could sell a kidney but I’m keeping my arms and legs.
— If I were a prolific writer I could crank out twenty novels by the end of the year.
— I could make do with only one hearing aid. (Bob vetoes that idea.)
At any rate, I have an appointment at a hearing aid clinic tomorrow morning and we’ll see what conclusion we can come to with those folks.

What can you say? The older we get, the more it costs.

I’ve finished Silver Morning Song, my book of short stories and poems, and am waiting now for a business name registration and an ISBN. But I have a number of stories and poems that don’t quite fit this book so I’ve been compiling a second book. The items in this one— I’m calling it Wisdom in Whimsy— will be mainly just-for-fun stories and poems.

I didn’t have very many items for this book until this morning when I plugged in an old flash-drive and found quite a few more to add. I’m thinking of writing some more stories about Winnie and Raylene (see Winnie Plays Monopoly) and including them in this second book, too.

During the past several weeks I’ve been going through a book on depression by Pastor J S Park, as one of his beta readers. Entitled How Dark It Really Is, this book is well worth reading if you want to understand what someone with depression is going through and how you can best help them. And if you’re the one dealing with this affliction, it helps you to identify negative voices that want to drag you down. You can read it and realize you’re not alone, that others have felt this same pressure, hung on in the bad times and made it through.

For no specific reason I was feeling rather blue myself last night, so I went for a walk. Need to do this more often. And I and saw a bobolink — first one I’ve seen in a long time. This afternoon at our finch feeder a mottled, odd-looking bird attracted my attention, being much larger than the pine siskins plastered on it these days. Got out my binoculars confirmed my initial guess: it was a young male rose-breasted grosbeak. A rare summer visitor.

Last week at a birthday party I was telling the ladies I hadn’t seen a gopher all summer. This is the prairie; gophers usually abound. So where are they? Have these last wet years taken such a toll on the gopher population?

Be careful what you wish for, they say. Yesterday I let my black tom, Angus, out and fifteen minutes later he came back with a full-size dead gopher dangling from his teeth. Hoping to bring it inside and eat it at his leisure. 😦 Nope — not a chance! But now I know why I never see any gophers around our yard.

Others don’t think it’s been very wet here, but it seems to me we’ve had a lot of thunder-storms and tornado alerts in the past six weeks. The sloughs along our road are drying up now, though.

And that’s another glimpse of life at our house. 🙂

Editing My Book

Lesson From A Weed

Entombed by four-inch asphalt,
frozen for months,
how can this weed know
it’s spring? That light is up this way
when not a pinpoint guides it?
How does it see that it must
conquer this blackness
and reach for life?

How can its leaves, salad-soft,
struggle so fiercely for their freedom?
Paper-thin, yet they pierce
like relentless tiny jackhammers
until their tips burst through
to claim their place in the sun.

Yet we humans, beset by foes
and woes, will so agreeably
roll over
and die.

TODAY AT OUR HOUSE:

We’ve been enjoying beautiful sunshine and mild temps today. Bob did some mowing, now he’s installing our window air-conditioner for the hot days ahead. And I’ve begun  working on the final revision of my book, Silver Morning Song.

About five years ago I started compiling this book of short stories and poems, including the poem above. My son-in-law, bless his dear heart, designed a lovely cover for it. Then leukemia came along and threw me into a completely different format. This spring I decided to revise the manuscript and include some new stories I’ve written since.

My book has been a back-burner thing since chemo treatment, while I was getting back onto my feet, then starting this new blog and doing some sewing for summer. But now it’s time to get Silver Morning Song propelled into circulation via that famous launching pad, CreateSpace.

Rik Hall of WildSeasFormatting.com has agreed to put my manuscript into e-book format and has the time right now, so I’d best get on it — and I’m quite excited at the prospect. Feels like this particular weed has finally broken through the pavement. 😉

Stay tuned for more details. And if you remember any stories or poems you’ve read here and think should be included in my book, please let me know in the comment box below.

The Scenic Route

Blazing A New Trail

For some reason this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt inspired me with another take on this scene, so I hope you’ll all bear with me.

In our early married life — back when GPS hadn’t entered its inventor’s dreams yet — my adventurous husband eschewed maps. As we wandered our way through new territory he would occasionally quote Daniel Boone, which went something like:
“I’m never lost. I may go for weeks not knowing where exactly I am…but I’m never lost.”

I’ve created another driver with the same adventurous soul — who took a wrong turn somewhere.

Photo © Ted Strutz

“Well, Dan’l Boone,” Dot Kentucky-twanged as their car pulled into the ferry crossing line behind several others. “New territory to explore?”

Jay frowned. “I’m not lost. Maybe somewhat misplaced at the moment.”

Colton, their youngest, stared over the back seat. “We’re going on a boat? There’s never been a river on the way to Grandpas before.”

“This isn’t Route 85, either,” Clark added. “When will we connect with that again?”

“A little miscalculation. Hang in there, guys. We’ll get there.”

“Okay, you two.” Dot threw them a quick glare-and-wink. “Dad’s taking the scenic route this time. Let’s enjoy the view.”

Not in the Job Description

It seems this week the plan for the Friday Fictioneers is to take a road trip somewhere, courtesy of Ted’s photo prompt. This picture has been chosen for us by our encouraging host, Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields. Please note: all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only.

Sad to say, last Thursday my cell phone fried its inner workings instead of properly charging. Since my cell phone has been my only connection to Friday Fictioneers — my computer refuses to visit Inlinkz — I was in offline mode and missed reading a lot of the responses. To make matters worse, in the process it cracked its Blue tooth so no data could be transferred, which means my icon was lost along with everything else. 😦

The good news is: on Tuesday I got this neat little Samsung phone with all the bells and whistles. 🙂
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it.
The even better news is: along with my new phone I got a tablet! I’ve been wanting one for awhile now.
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it. 😦

But I trust with one or the other I’ll be able to post my FF response, so here’s my tale. (I’m going to assume this photo setting as the on-ramp to a bridge.)

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

The young husband frantically waves to the guard and indicates his wife, who’s obviously in serious distress.

The guard signals him to follow and dashes to his emergency vehicle. “Another one,” he calls to his partner as he jumps in and flips on the flasher.

His partner hops in beside him. “What’s with this bridge anyway that so many babies want to be born on it?”

“An easy landing for storks?” The guard glances in his mirror to be sure the couple is keeping up.

His partner’s looking pale. “Sure wish they’d pick a hospital roof. I don’t deliver well.”