Monthly Archives: March 2014

Reflections ~ Spring is in the air, move over dust bunnies

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Mueller, illustrator, photographer PDMI Publishing, LLC

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Mueller, illustrator, photographer PDMI Publishing, LLC

Spring Cleaning. It sounds like clean sheets, dried in the yard with spring breezes. Sparkling glassware and light covers, dusted out corners, the annual eviction of spiders and bugs back into the yard where they belong. What a lovely euphemism for a process that sometimes requires back-breaking hard work, sentimental and heartbreaking journeys. “Why did we keep this?” “How can I ever let this go?” “Honestly, how much weight do I think I can lose before this becomes moth-dust?”

This year my spring cleaning takes on a different cast. A bit darker, and certainly a bit more stressful. For months my husband has been moving “stuff” from “his” room to the spare bedroom. Clothes he does not believe belong to him. Books and magazines he brought upstairs from the library below and now does not want. Small and medium boxes of the collected mementos of a long and somewhat colorful life.

When it was all said and done, we managed to haul off half a dozen bags of clothes, shoes barely worn, belts and ties, a couple of boxes of the previous dish set, a portable heater, the infamous exercise bike mentioned in my book, and other assorted tid bits to the lineup at Goodwill. Always refreshing when it’s all done but a bit of a chore in the process.

Spring also speaks to thoughts of migrations. The great seasonal movements of beasties that fly, crawl, hop, skip and even drive from one climate to another. Foraging, seeking mates, resting weary bones. It is a season that speaks of future things. Some bright, some sad beginnings of another stage in life.

I, too, am beginning a migration. It is one that I expected but that sneaked up behind me at a vulnerable moment and knocked me off my trolley. When it comes to the vagaries of dementia, recognition of family members seems to disappear early in the process. It did for us. That is, of course, the inspiration for the title to my book, Who I Am Yesterday. Now days he will sit by my side as I work and look at my Facebook page pointing to the photo of “Victoria Adams” and tell me, “If we could find her, boy, does she know what she is doing.” Then I guess I better get busy and find that woman.

Along with lack of recognition you know, deep down in your heart, there will come a day when you are no longer welcome in your own bedroom. So far, I’ve been lucky. In fact some nights it seems as though he cannot sleep until I am there. But, it has begun. There came a night when I was not welcome and, consequently, ended up on the couch. The next night when I was not recognized during my first attempt to retire, I was informed he was saving the spot for someone else. Fifteen minutes later he was in my office wondering why I hadn’t come to bed.

Our couch is not all that conducive to a good night’s sleep; especially with the disadvantage of arthritic bones. So, part of my spring cleaning adventure was to exchange the exercise bike for a standby, roll up bed. I’ve taken a liking to late-night Yoga anyway. It could not be something that would get him worried about extra visitors; but something that would give me a landing place should the need arise. Next stop – my office.

So another spring to clean out the corners, rearrange life and prepare for the next migration.

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Reviews ~ If you had the chance…

PeterLiving Life Backwards by Peter Wells

This is a rare privilege and an honor.  As a little background, and in the interest of full disclosure, here is the story. When I have the chance I tend to follow up on the people who choose to “follow” my Alcove.  Who they are and what we might have in common intrigues me.  There are times when I have no idea why the person found interest in my cyber-room, then there are the times I am delightfully pleased.  Such was the case when Mr. Wells stumbled upon my space some months ago.  One visit to his blog and I was absolutely hooked.  As it happens, I am a business director for a small press based in the southern United States.  In order to make sure I had my senses about me I asked one of our editors to take a look see.  The verdict?  Go get him.  And so I did.

After three years of blogging success, Peter has allowed PDMI Publishing, LLC, the privilege of publishing his first novel.   And what a novel it is.  If you spend time on Peter’s blog, Counting Ducks (and I highly recommend you do) you will find a delightful mix of humor, serious observation on the plights of people and humanity in general, and a craftsman’s skill at the development and illumination of character.

In Living Life Backwards Peter shows a unique aptitude for storytelling.  He creates characters that you know, or will instantly recognize the next time you are out and about.  Perhaps they will cause you to chuckle or even blush because of some quirk or trait a little too close to your own.  This is something that I find is a lost art in much of current literature, creating characters the reader cares about.  When you grow to know these people they have lives outside of the novel.  You are always expecting to see them just around the next corner.

With these well developed tools, Peter weaves a story that every reader can relate to.  Maybe not the same circumstances, but certainly the logic, emotions, and struggles we each face in our lives.  What do you do when you have reached a point in your life when things are somewhat balanced, when you know what is expected of you, when you know deep down that this is at least what you thought you wanted, and suddenly the brass ring is placed within your reach?  When that moment comes, do you decide to remain safe, and maybe even just a touch miserable?  Or do you reach for paradise, perhaps knowing perhaps not, that paradise may not be all it is cracked up to be.

I highly recommend this read.  You will come away having enjoyed a touch of humor, some entertainment, and quite a bit to think upon!

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Filed under My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

Reflections ~ The Day the TV Died

For those of you who have read my book, Who I Am Yesterday, you may recall a brief chapter on TVs and movies and how life in the viewing world changes when you are a caregiver. I left off at a point where just about the only thing my husband could watch was romantic comedies or science shows. As with everything else, this too has its progression.

First the movies had to go. He could no longer sit for the 90 minutes or more that it takes to get through one. There was always work he had to do.

Then everyone suddenly became stupid, except for Morgan Freeman and his narration of “Through the Wormhole.” As much as I love science, seeing these cuts 30 times or so became a bit of a drag. I found other things to do while sitting on the couch. Logic problems, reading, sleeping. Then he decided he had seen it all or so and so didn’t know what he or she was talking about. For a brief window we watched a few other programs; again. Some I had to put away because, well, they were bad or terrible or out to do something or other.  No dead or agony allowed.

There was a brief spell where he thought it was interesting to watch some of the course material I have acquired in order to build my knowledge of philosophy and the art of writing. One morning he sat for a full 4 hours watching lecture after lecture. Within a few days I realized that he thought the instructor was speaking directly to him and he wasn’t sure what to think of it all. Back to Morgan.

One afternoon I heard him talking in the living room and, never sure of what to expect, I peeked. He was telling Moran (the image on the title frame of the series) that I was a nice lady and he hoped we might meet one day.

I think you see the progression here. The glass pane between our living room and the world in the box was fast melting away as my husband’s sense of where reality started or ended was devoured by the disease. Somewhere in here he decided to learn how to use the remotes.

Now, once he takes over something it is his. The remotes became his property, kept in “his” room. He actually managed fairly well. Press a button, things aren’t quite working, lady in computer room hops up and changes things. Then Morgan fell from his pedestal and morphed into a bad person. Someone that wanted me. Someone we mustn’t talk to. Morgan was taken out of the DVD deck.

Next he found the cable remote and we had a few lessons on that. Worked for, oh, maybe 5 days. Then the weather channel became the science channel and there was Morgan, again.

One morning this past week I was working away in my office and heard the programs reeling out. Lunch time approached and he wasn’t at my door. I finished some things and then went to the living room to see if he was hungry. He was huddled beside the refrigerator in the kitchen hiding from Mr. Freeman. Whispering to me, “He’s back.”

Well, there was no way I could get him to stop pushing buttons and it was obvious we were at a point where whatever was on that screen would be misinterpreted in some way so I promised to make Mr. Freeman go away and unplugged the TV. Forever.

Perhaps this is not as tragic as the inspiration for this song, but then again, maybe it is.

 

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Review ~ Wild Woman Waking: Finding the Path to Who You Are

Wild Woman Waking by Morgan Dragonwillow with photography by Tui Snider

Morgacover18n is a dear friend of mine. One of those found in the madness known as Facebook. This is her second visit to my little alcove. You may remember her previous offering, Dancing within Shadow. Her poetry touched me then, and it continues to do so. Through her poetry she finds a way to paint a story of the pain, discovery and joy of her life. She openly shares her journey so that others may find the strength necessary to seek their own path, their own journey to healing.

Morgan’s work is beautifully illustrated by photos from another friend of mine, Tue Snider. This lady has an incredible eye for detail and can turn the mundane into an amazing inner journey. Who would think that a photo of a drain in a boat house would have artist interest? Somehow, this photographer can and does.

Here are just a few bits of how these artists have managed to create together. I chose this first piece because it speaks to me. I know something of the journey from insecurity and fear to strength and peace.

Fall

When you are hiding
within yourself
afraid to be who
you really are
it is hard to speak
your inner truth
fear is a constant
companion
daring you to trip
daring you to fall
but falling is
the only option
because standing
hurts
too
much

Another one that resonated with me so deeply was “Fire.”  I don’t recall have a circle of friends I could feel this free with; but I do know a few people who can make my heart dance and sing.

fire sm

Fire
Born in the dark of night
slow
moist
and sacred
embrace your brilliant self
wake to your desires
to the blazing morning fire
velvet
soft
wild
open
where the soul remembers
bringing women to the circle
to dance laugh and celebrate.
in the dazzling joy of life

And just one more teaser of Tui’s work, finding extraordinary in the ordinary:

Pic3 2Check out Morgan’s musings, and Tui’s impressions of the world around us. I’m pretty sure you’ll find something just for you.

Morgan Dragonwillow is a shadow poet and recovering perfectionist that strives to inspire other poets and writers. She especially enjoys helping those that have had trouble letting go of the fear holding back their words from landing on the page. It thrills her to her marrow when her words inspire someone to write; it is one of her greatest joys. Morgan released her first poetry book, Dancing within Shadow, in March 2013. She is intimate with shadow and dances into the heart of it. She believes that diving into what most people try to avoid makes great fertilizer for all types of creativity, especially writing and poetry. She writes poetry to be able to say things, feel things that she can’t seem to express or feel anywhere else. Morgan lives in Marietta Ga. with her partner, their Pekinese, and their long haired Tabby. She loves creating of all kinds but words are her passion. You can connect with Morgan from the links below.
Morgan Dragonwillow’s Amazon author page
Morgan Dragonwillow’s Shadow Poet & Author Page: Dancing where others fear to tread.
Facebook Author Page
Pinterest
Twitter

Tui Snider is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. She is also a photographer. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book. For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas. You can find Tui all around the web.  Tui has been a guest here as well, check out her book Unexpected Texas.

Feel free to say hi:

Tui Snider’s Amazon author page
Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel blog
Facebook author page
Instagram
Pinterest

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Current times, Poetry

Book Reviews ~ and a trip down memory lane.

tui-snider-unexpected-texasA friend of mine contacted me and asked if I would mind taking a look at a little book she has come out with entitled, Unexpected Texas.  Admittedly, my time in Texas was not something I would care to repeat.  Yet I found myself remembering some of the things I did enjoy. Browsing through Tui’s delightful little book some of the special little treasurers that are so exquisitely “Texas” popped into my mind.

Tui begins with just a hint of the lesser known aspects of Texas history.  It did not all start and end at the Alamo!  There is a deep and rich history that includes a sizable German immigrant community throughout the state (primarily from pre-World War I Germany), a strong Spanish and Mexican influence (it was part of Spain at one point), a bit of French influence (likewise), a fierce independence (it was a separate nation for awhile), and its own celebration of Emancipation.

Tui’s book focuses on places and events in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  I lived in the area for several years and I sincerely feel she has picked some of the best examples of Texan quirkiness and general cultural interest. And, she’s right.  There is a bank and a church in every town of any size.  She doesn’t mention it but you need a road map to know if you are in a dry county or not and at least one town is split down main street.  Texan’s can be the friendliest, or the most aloof (I never figured out the code on that one).  Here are a few quick notes on some of her discoveries.

Tui’s description of Antique Alley took me back to a number of pleasant bits and pieces.  It sounded very much like First Mondays in Canton (east of Dallas and a bit north of Athens).  Yep, people with everything from card tables to the latest in motor homes.  Crafts, imports, garage sales, and some of the most fascinating antiques you’ll find anywhere.  Whole “towns” that spring up overnight for a few days or a week, trade like any carnival or traveling show, and then off they all go – somewhere over the horizon.

bluebonnet2

Courtesy Rodalena
Photograph, Blogger, Author

Speaking of Antiques, the “German town” area in hill country is a great place to visit for a number of reasons. First, Texas hill country is beautiful.  New Braunfels, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and Boerne are all German heritage communities with wonderful October fests and antique shops that market pieces that go as far back as immigration.  Tui explains that the Texas-German dialect has developed rather differently than the mother tongue and in as many different ways as there were immigrants.  The speaking of German became a misdemeanor in some places in Texas during WWII.  Many Germans were sent to internment camps.  This derailed the preservation of a unique dialect and many of those who still speak it are in their 60s.  Hans Boas has created the Texas German Dialect Archive in an effort to preserve this piece of history.

Another stop on Tui’s tour is Archer City.  Tiny little Texas county seat (Pop. Less than 1,800) with a lovely courthouse and one of the most famous bookstores in the country; Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up.  Should you be among the uninitiated, Mr. McMurtry is the author of many books including Lonesome Dove.  This is a huge book store with a stock of some 200,000 books shelved in 4 buildings which take up a full city block.  Homey, well decorated, and with a stock ranging from collectors’ editions to used book treasures with budget prices, it is a fascinating place to explore the written word.

Little cubby holes, interesting activities, and even a buried space alien.  Tui leads you through a number of day trips and describes the world in gentle humor.  Who knows, her narrative may inspire you to look at your own home town in a different way and discover unexpected treasures right under your nose!

Tui Snider is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her fism-head-shot-tuirst book.

For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, Unexpected Texas is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas.

You can find Tui all around the web. Feel free to say hi:

Amazon author page
Offbeat & Overlook Travel Blog
Facebook author page
Instagram
Pinterest

For visitors to my site, Tui has selected the following prizes:A paperback of the book, an Unexpected Texas notebook,and a bag of sea salt dark chocolate caramel candy. The latter is a nod to the ancient sea that created the salt mines for Grand Saline! She wanted a tie-in with something historical for this stop on the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Current times, Personal Journeys