The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Historical Fiction: The Magic of combining Fact with Fiction :by Kathryn Gauci

Source: Historical Fiction: The Magic of combining Fact with Fiction :by Kathryn Gauci

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One Pepper Plant at a Time

I am saving seeds from a Jingle Bell Pepper plant. cute, sweet red peppers. The seeds are easy to save. Eat pepper. You can eat them like candy. You can eat them raw, cook in any recipe or preserve them for later use and have a bit of delicious red in the dark, cold winter.  Dry seeds. Label to plant next year.  Freeze or keep in a dry cool place.

In the spring plant the seeds!  They make a great container plant. Lovely and decorative and etiable!!  Water.  Watch it grow.

Preserving the seed and replanting takes you our of the corporate food chain and lessens the burdens and control of feeding the people.  One pepper plant at a time we can gain some independence, taking a minimal amount of pressure off the system.

Need seeds?  i am honored to send you a few to get started.  One pepper gives 30-50 seeds and the opportunity to share. Abundance is inherent, grown in each fruit.

I challenge you, just like the manager of the Kroger challenged Uncle John with the Impatience in 1956.  Would you like some Jingle Bell pepper seeds?

Uncle John grew impatience from his own seeds until 2006.  And they were happy and healthy plants that held the love of Uncle John, the gardener, that I absorbed every season.  My annual Impatience are beautiful and splash color under the oak tree that shades my front yard, but they don’t have the same gift for me when I look at them.

They are tiny seeds, like a grain of black pepper.  Such a miracle that they grow to produce lively, colorful flowers.  Sadly, I didn’t get my greenhouse together to plant the Mason jar full of seeds we found in his basement.

So, I continue the legacy with red peppers.  They match my hair and feed my body and my beliefs in living with some degree of independence!

If you want some seeds, let me know!

 

 

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A total eclipse of the sun

Awesome!

A family road trip. Picnic and back roads. Wishing for a paper map because, while the phones are informative, the details are difficult to “stretch” into existence. The phone benefit is the red line, heavy traffic warning. I-65 and 31E.  The phone experts in the car found a route and we had an adventure. Springfield. Lebanon.  Across the Green River.  Columbia and the Cumberland Parkway. Edmonton.  Haywood and Barren River Lake to Scottsville.  A spectacular drive through rural Kentucky.

While watching previews from Oregon.

We found a small park.  Paid our $5 to park and claimed a vacant spot.  We spread our blankets, set up chairs and ate an amazing picnic lunch among a thousand or so other spectators.  Lots of funny glasses, tents, coolers, kids, telescopes, cameras and excitement.  Vendors sold festival food, watermelon and slushies.

A festive, holiday Monday in south central Kentucky.

The blue sky back dropped nature’s spectacle with only a few wispy clouds.  Hot.  High 80’s.  Humid.  August.

We arrived just as the moon approached the sun and we watched through our paper safety glasses while the cloaking began.  A local man had his telescope set up with protective lenses and invited every passerby to have a look.  A sun of brilliant, golden yellow with a dark circle encroaching.

As the moon slid across, the temperature dropped and the crowd quieted.  The hot dog man turned off his generator and the venue was stilled.  Whispers of conversation.  People mesmerized by nature’s theater.  Not a leaf moved.  Did the clouds actually stand still?  No dogs barking.  No traffic noise. No music.

As the temperature dropped and the light faded an energy seemed to surround us.  A blur, a haze of just the slightest distortion of the outline of things.  Complete dark didn’t happen so the remarkable thing was how much light the sun provided even with the smallest fingernail of itself visible.

When totality was reached, a cheer arose.  The awkward glasses came off and all voiced in wonder.  Awestruck at the black hole and it’s corona of glimmering white glory.   A super white electric with a small red flame of light and beauty.  Not blocking all light.

Dusk at 1:30 pm.  Eerie.  Still.  Stillness.  A calm, quiet, stillness.

Planets hung in a muted fuzzy day sky the night sky darker, like their point of light against denim not solid dark.

Taking the brief opportunity to scan the fields during totality we saw a hazy dawn atop the hazy trees.

And then in total reverse shapes the moon continued it’s journey.  And the glasses were again put on as the sun reappeared.

The 2 1/2 hour drive there.  The 4 1/2 hour drive home.  Worth every second of this wonderstruck one hour experience.

Going into a crowd of total strangers feeling totally safe to share an event of a lifetime together in peace and awe – Priceless.

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Prompt #5 Before and After

Sticking to the guidelines today. After all, the prompts are merely suggestions not rules. My issues of authority surfacing again!

Many items come to mind. I could go historical and do the automobile, refrigerator, dish washer, gas stove. I could describe my yard before and after the raised beds or the aquaponic system I am learning to operate.  I could describe the canner and go into my attempts to remove myself from the corporate food chain and chemicals in my own small way.  Yet I’ve written about these previously.

I am lead to the wood stove!  I love heating with wood.  I’m not totally sure it lowers the heating costs if we don’t manage to obtain free wood which we have had a lot of! We’ve cut, shopped and split several driveways full of wood.  Rest in peace downed ash, maple, oak, walnut and Osage.  We burned the Bradford Pear that didn’t survive the four tornado day a couple of years ago.  But the money to rent the splitter and gasoline and transportation…Am I saving resources?  The process of me or anyone getting the wood to the point of use and the smokey by-product wafting into the air has to factor in.  There is an environmental cost for everything.  I feel like the burning of the deceased trees is a part of speeded up recycling!

I feel strong when operating the splitter.  It’s fun!  And hard work.  I feel strong lifting and stacking wood.  I feel strong carrying wood even though I carry only 3-4 logs at a time.  Carrying wood forces me to get outside in the cold, damp, snow, fog, ice.  so I am still connected with the outside when the windows are shut and the daylight is in short supply.  And I am moving.  I am stretching and using my body.

I cook soups and veggies atop the stove.  Cast iron.  I dry our clothes on racks in front of the stove.  I sit and stare, my feet resting on the brick foundation and browse seed catalogues and read.

The whirr and hum of the furnace is replaced by wood crackling and popping as the fire dances life.  The heart light glowing from the center of my house.

 

 

 

 

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Prompt #3 – Paint a Word Picture

Today, I am to use all my senses to describe. Paint a word picture. I think I can stick to the instruction today!
Oh, the many things I could write about. Paris. The earth beneath my feet on the Camino. Closer to home, my flowers or my bee stings.

August is a ripe and sensory month. Humidity that drips from the air and is sucked up by the heat. Heat and harvest.

Then there are the trash men who deal with all of the senses all day. God bless those brave strong people who brave the smells and weights and shapes of what we throw away. The grinding truck rolls away and my cans are emptied, ready to refill.

I settle on the green and red fruits hanging from the tall vines, caged for strength, the power of their growth so focused the plant quickly outgrows its core capabilities. Tomatoes are over achievers! Roots suck nutrition and water from the composted soil, fed with worms and minerals with one mission – grow. And grow. And grow. Product fruit, their one specific mission. Until – the cold sets in and the seeds of the unused fruit fall on cold, hard ground, waiting out winter and the return of sun and heat.

The tomato is an ambitious plant. Started from a tiny seed, raising itself to a 6’ vine giant. Green, rich is the unmistakable smell of tomato goodness, even from a touch of the seedling, then the little white flower turns into a globe of red lusciousness, their smell permeates.

A green stem reaches outside the rim of a silver washtub where smooth, red, ripe goodness waits . Abundance, sustenance, summer time, like the magic of seed to fruit, like a pizza parlor, like the kitchens of gardeners in August. Fruit flies catch a whiff, follow the trail and indulge. I will blanche, core and freeze to add summer warmth to winter soups, stews and chili.

I suggest you carry the salt shaker to the garden and capture some of the sun’s warmth as you bite through the skin of this luscious goodness. Let the seeds run down your chin. Let that ummm escape from your throat, past lips reaching for another bite.

Salute to the Goddess of the tomato!

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Writing Prompt #2 –TV/Movie reaction

Not exactly following the suggestion – but I am pretty good at “bucking the system” by twisting the rules just a bit.  There is an entire blog post on that personal revelation!

I have adapted the prompt to : emotion associated with a movie or TV show

I don’t watch much TV.  Movies I love if they are funny, character driven and not too violent.  I walked out of the horse head scene in Godfather and again in Black Hawk Down.  I don’t know how they even talked me into that movie.  Many a movie or show I’ve tried gets too careless with death and gore for me.  Like No Country for Old Men.  Love the cast of actors.  But the opening scene in a desolate American West.  Two cars.  Only two cars and two men.  They stop and the guy in the tail car approaches and blows the other one off the map.  Bang you are dead.  In this wide open space, full of emptiness and possibility two men and boom.  Now, granted I did not stick around long enough to see the guy hit the ground so i don’t know the when, why or wherefore.  I just know that I had had enough in 3-4 minutes.

I cringe at the violence in the 30 second advertising slots for the detective shows especially when there are children involved.

I am not denying there are terrible things that happen to people.  Horrific, tragic situations.  Still I don’t want to see imagined, horrific, tragic situations play out in a 40 minute skit broken into commercial segments selling the viewers medicine for depression.  And the next week the main players are all fine and redo to go into another episode.  There is no reality of healing time, grief, anger, frustration.  No regrouping time.  Only scenes from next week.

Several years ago, I regularly watched a show I can’t remember the name of.  Maybe you all can add the name!  (I could do a blog post on instant recall if I could remember to.)   Heroes, I found it on the web, of course.  The players had super powers.  The main character was a cheerleader in high school.  The combat between good and evil was more of a mental battleground at first but then the story line got really brutal and gory.  I quit watching.

I believe the constant depictions violence hardens us, desensitizes us, creates an underlying sense of mistrust and does little to assist in dealing with these situations on a reality basis.  And then what is the reality?  Is Hollywood creating the reality of our society by telling us this is how our society is? Oh, maybe I should just watch the news.  Oh, dear, never mind that.

And then there are the violent video games.  Teaching how to kill with animation that looks like real people.  Training for…?

Call me idealistic, a Pollyanna.  Tell me I have my head in the sand.  Okay.  And still I’ll stick with watching Antiques Roadshow and the shows about personal talents.  Why are there no more Doc Martin episodes?  I do watch Madame Secretary which can occasionally get a bit bloody.  60 minutes and Sunday Morning.  Oh, and Grace and Frankie!  And documentaries.

 

 

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Writing Prompts Day #1 – Books

I am challenging myself to write with an email prompt for 31 days. To sharp my skills, to force myself to write. Writer’s write. So if I want to publish again, well… pen in hand, Susan Rea.

The first prompt is: Write about a beloved book and relive your memories of the time spent entranced by a wonderful story.
Being the Libra poster child, I can’t pick just one. So here is my response.

The first novel I read was Old Yeller by Fred Gibson. I cried so hard. That dog became as personal to me as Dusty! I learned then the power of the written word. I was hooked. Give me a good book and a quiet spot from my early teens.

From a family of storytellers , now wishing I had listened and could remember some of them better, I thank you Uncle John for the snippets in the bundle of letters we found in your desk. I am trying to take it from there, writing little personality bio’s for the faces I have represented in the archives I have assembled.

Another book I well remember is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Life changing. The book really changed my belief system. The Goddess connection spoke to me and drew me in – connected with me. From this reading, I experienced possibility and earth spirituality. This didn’t strike me as fantasy but a reality channeled through an open mind.

The Hobbit and trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, while much more action packed and violent than I usually read, held me spell bound. I propped these books in the window sill to read while I was washing dishes! Heroes, with every character flaw and self-doubt, faith and courageous curiosity. By the way I think Samwise is the hero of this story.

I love books where the historical characters come alive, are given personality. Historical fiction – I suspect many are channeled or directed in some part by divine syncronicity. The focus of the writer on a specific character can often be too intense to not connect with the energy of that character and time. I believe it’s possible.

When I read The Invention of Wings, which I read because Sue Monk Kidd wrote it and I loved The Secret Life of Bees and the strength of the female community, I was entranced, fascinated and so angry.

Thoroughly intrigued with the book and insulted that my history lessons had not taught me, not mentioned or considered important the Grinke sisters, Handful and her mother Charlotte important enough to include in it’s references. (See my previous blog post from July 2015.) Grossly unfair to our culture’s story in both areas of race and gender.

Maybe that’s why I tend to female writers. Louise Erdrich. Barbara Kingsolver. Isabelle Allende. And…Mary Oliver’s poems. Sena Jeter Naslund’s, Ahab’s Wife. Of course, Anita Diamant’s Red Tent.  My list does go on and on and on.

That being said, I have read many Tony Hillerman novels and love them all.

I am fascinated by books written on Mary Magdalene, her history and the theory that she was the most beloved disciple and wife of Jesus. Also, Anna, Jesus grandmother and the Essenes.

I also love stories about the English Queens, their strengths and limitations.

I enjoy young adult literature, but not the fantasy, so much.  It’s concise entertaining, blatantly real.  I did enjoy Harry Potter.  Even though – even his Owl got killed off.  Gezzzzz.

So, I am practicing with writing prompts to bring Hazel and Uncle Ira alive for those who will someday care to peruse what I have archived.

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The Camino – continued

AND… I may post several articles about the Camino!

And…I learned something about focus; about letting the extraneous distractions go.  I so often hear myself saying, “I am on an ADHD retirement program.”  Yes, I do have lots of interests and a great deal of curiosity.  I like being busy.  And I don’t sit still well.  Maybe my explorer lifetime was cut short or limited in some way.  I probably did something stupid or was ill prepared and got dead really early!

So, how do I juggle lots of interests and involvements without feeling driven and frustrated?  Maybe I drive myself because of my age and the ever-present knowledge I am on the downhill of this lifetime.  Or maybe I feel the physical limitations of aging slowly creeping up on me.

I do know that returning to my previous life from three weeks in Europe (1 week on the Camino following 10 days in France with my granddaughter’s school tour) has been impossible!  I have only a certain amount of energy to give daily and I am in a chair for an hour or so and in bed early!  Jet lag?  Walking a hundred or so miles in 3 weeks in the heat while schlepping luggage, sleeping in different beds and all the other travel factors definitely play their role in my fatigue.  The downtime has given me great insight into picking what is important for today and what I can leave until the next day… or leave altogether.

My choices are weighed.  Not all options are mandatory.  Yet, my love of moving, of doing is such a part of me…I have this journal that I make my ongoing list in.  Checking a completed task is ridiculously rewarding for me.  That part is not in any danger of being eliminated from my lifestyle!

So, I am thinking more naps and more awareness of the ramifications of my decisions and involvements.  Less multitasking.

On the France tour we went from one event to the next.  I followed the schedule.  I made few decisions.  On the Camino I put one foot in front of the other.

The measure of success is that deep breath on the pillow at the end of the day.  Am I satisfied?  Am I comfortable with what my day presented?  And if it’s a yes, I win!

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Does fear stop you from creating?

YES!!

Dare boldly

Work in Progress. No. 44
#ShePersisted Series

Over at Live and Learn yesterday, David Kanigan shares an expert from a Robert Ito article in the NY Times about funny-man Ray Romano.

“It’s just doubt, that’s the biggest thing.”

Doubt, uncertainty, insecurity can keep me from doing things I love.

Like painting.

I have begun working on No. 44 of my #ShePersisted series.

No. 44.

It’s taken me awhile to get to No. 44. With every piece I complete, I worry the next one won’t appear. Or won’t be any good. Or won’t ring true.

I worry I can’t paint. I’m not creative enough. I don’t have any talent.

And in my worry, I hesitate. I avoid. I ‘take a break’, convincing myself it’s what I need, even though I know, that’s the lie.

Deep within me, to the farthest reaches of every cell in my body, I feel the compelling…

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Why I March

I will march with women as long as my feet will carry me. In my 67 years I have worked my way through many a gender equality issue.
I married young because I believed it “the thing to do”.

After 10 years, I became a single mother and discovered that in spite of having complete control of the finances, I was without any credit rating. After my second divorce, and while, indisputably, not the primary bread winner in either marriage, yet being again in charge of the finances, I was AGAIN without any individual credit rating.  Yes, even with the 7 years of living single between marriages. Credit ratings were attached only to the male and because my single days were previous to the 2nd  marriage they disappeared.

I worked as a banquet waitress (my second job) carrying heavy trays wearing high heels because it was the dress! Why haven’t males been expected to wear high heels to be sexy?

I lost a job once because my commissions paid me more than the boss made for a quarter of that year.

I was any number of times sexually harassed in my job. I was in sales and I certainly encountered sex for business offers. One, in particular, from a  man who was a friend of my father’s, albeit, my father was deceased.

I’ve bought make up, had my nails polished -many women color their hair (I don’t. My hair is still red!) -to step correctly, ie young and perfect, into the cultural acceptance of beauty. Has a man?

So, we, across the board, earn less and we spend on looking culturally acceptable.. (I LOVE YOU, PAULA ANN, my dear friend who does nails and throws in the loving counseling because that is the kind generous soul she is). And, I really do like to have my toenails polished in the summer!

And whose is benefiting from the sale of all that make up and cream and beauty enhancer that we are force fed by our culture? A marketing plan that tells us to be who we are and shine through our God given faces?

Why isn’t there a male word with the same connotation as  misogyny?
mi·sog·y·ny — (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
“she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny”)

Why is hysterical and hysterectomy from the same root word?

Why is is history and not her-story? Because I think they would write differently.

How many years has it been since women were chattel? Not so many.

Why isn’t there male genital mutilation?

Why is there still a sex trade using young girls as bartering tools?

Why were the girl children killed in China?

Why was there foot binding?

Need I go on?

Yes, I sill go on and I will march for the freedom/equality path I have and will continue to pave for my daughters and my granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters.

Take nothing for granted. The freedoms we have now, someone has protested to provide.

Why is this permitted?

Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

 

 

Thank you Donald Trump for bringing our issues to the open and letting us examine our values in front of the world, our neighbors, ourselves.  I am certainly more and more convinced of my beliefs – the truths I hold to be self-evident.

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