Saturday, December 12, 2009
The Alley of Wishes is the book of my heart and a labor of love because I wrote it for my mother, who died long before it was published. My Name is Esther Clara is probably my best and most challenging book because I wrote it in first person, in my grandmother's voice. The Grass Dance was my first book and remains a fan favorite eight years after its release. However, it is not my favorite and I'd rewrite it if I could.
The second question asked by this new fan really sparked my imagination!! "If you could go back in time and visit any past era, when would it be?" Hmmmm......
At first I thought it would be wonderful to visit Israel during the time of Christ, to see him during his ministry on earth. But the politics and powers during Christ's time were as messy and discouraging as they are today so I eliminated that option. Next I thought about my lifelong fascination with ancient Egypt and seeing the building of the Sphinx and pyramids with my own eyes. But then I thought about the horrible conditions that surely must have existed then, with laborers driven like cattle to complete their tasks. I wanted to see something pristine, a time that, in my mind at least, would be less chaotic.
My answer to the fan was that I'd like to see my homeland -- America -- 500 to 1000 years ago before politics, before machines, before pollution. I want to see primeval forests east of the Mississippi River and the untouched grasslands of the plains as they were before the axe and plow changed their faces forever. I want to smell the air as it must have been back then, fresh with pure, rich, untainted oxygen. I want to see rivers and streams as they were before our modern actions muddied them -- so clear I can see the fish and fresh water clam beds in the depths. I want to see beaches along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf, before hotels, condos, and sprawling estates lined them. And most of all, I'd like to see the native people in their original habitat, before European diseases, politics, and "eminent domain" wrecked their beautiful world.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Politics & Politicians: I grew up listening to my grandparents argue and discuss politics and politicians. Maybe their mostly negative views influenced mine, because I find myself thinking more and more like they did 50 or 60 years ago: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So see? Nothing changes but the date and our age where politics are concerned.
Afghanistan & Iraq: I read a newspaper op ed that said Russia bankrupted itself fighting in Afghanistan. Well hey, the US had already been bankrupted by Wall Street, big business moving overseas, and fiscal mismanagement at every level, so guess we're good to go. I believe in our military forces and hold citizen soldiers in the highest esteem, but I don't believe in spending money on wars when schools and infrastructure are in such sad shape, and taxpayers are losing their jobs and homes.
Fame vs. Reality: Michael Jackson died and even our politicians acknowledged his passing with a moment of silence while in session. Where were the moments of silence for the soldiers and marines lost in Iraq and Afghanistan? Tiger Woods wrecked his car and refused to talk to the police, was fined $164. A young man I know did a slow-tap-on-pedal at a stop sign and had to do many hours of community service and pay a huge fine. Politicians that don't pay their taxes for years get no kind of punishment whatsoever. If Joe Public doesn't pay HIS taxes, the wrath of the IRS comes down on him with a vengeance. Can you see a pattern here?
Health Care: I've said all I have to say about health care in a previous blog. Pres. Obama has pushed the possibility of a health care plan farther than any other president, but my opinion has not changed. The House and Senate have over-complicated the issue with thousands of pages of rules and regs, none of which will control the real problems. As long as insurance companies and lawyers provide huge support and perks to politicians, we won't have a plan that really helps the American people.
So that was the ridiculous and discouraging. For the sublime, here are some links you might enjoy:
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Why so skeptical? you ask. Well, first of all, I don't believe there will be any sort of meaningful health care reform. Our politicians are too busy feuding along party lines to reform anything except new perks to benefit themselves and bankers. I know that's harsh, but it's what I think so why not say it. Second, unless the insurance companies are held on a short leash, reform will be difficult. No more denying of claims due to pre-existing conditions. No more telling doctors what tests they can and cannot do. No more huge profits taken from people who paid their dues and got no service in return from their insurance company of choice. Our politicians will not be delivering ultimatums or wrist slaps to insurance companies in my lifetime. Nor will they be controlling the lawyers who file law suits that drive up malpractice insurance and health care costs.
I'd like to know more about cap and trade -- and odd name that disguises what our politicians are ramming through behind our backs while we're being fed "health care reform" 24/7. What I've learned about cap and trade comes mainly in the form of education through our local electric co op and a few small town paper op eds. Anyone with low income or fixed income is already struggling to pay for gasoline and groceries. (Even that famous store that will not be undersold has raised prices so high I can't afford to shop there.) So what's gonna happen when the politicians cap and trade utility bills into the stratosphere? Will we have to choose between buying food and paying our utility bills? I fully expect that to be the case.
My suggestion to the media and politicians is to stop droning on and on about health care reform unless you truly intend to work towards that goal. Stop creating smoke screens of all kinds and tell us what legislation you have planned that will drive our utility bills up. I'd like to know what my options are before winter sets in.
One final word to our politicians: We can't continue to be a world power when you allow businesses and jobs to go overseas or when your tax paying citizens can't find work, afford food, or pay utility bills. A true world power sees to its own country's strength and stability first.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Summer came too early this year, along with its bugs and ghastly heat. We had a lovely fall like cool down in July that tortured me into believing we might have an early fall. But I was wrong. My brain goes on hiatus in summer. I hope it (my brain) returns when cold weather sets it.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I reluctantly joined Twitter and Facebook. For awhile I bravely struggled on and tried to tweet and do my Facebook thing. Even though I was a minimal participant, it took WAY too much of my time, time that would have been better spent doing other things. Following up on Mafia wars and Farmtown requests is a full time, unpaid job!! Maybe I'm just an old poop, but playing games online seems like a waste of time and energy to me. For now I'm trying to pay attention to my email people and write an occasional book review. Oh yeah, and make a Squidoo lens once in awhile.
The health care issue would be almost humorous if it wasn't so discouraging. I'm getting more like my grandma every day because my tolerance of politics is riding a thin thread. She would have said, "How do politicians who voted themselves every perk in the book, including free health care, have the nerve to whine about providing health care to citizens?" I second that, Grandma. She would have said, "Maybe if the politicians hadn't allowed so many American businesses to move outside the country, our economy would be strong enough to support a health care plan." I second that, Grandma. She would have said, "Maybe if the politicians weren't trying to fund wars around the world, we'd have the money to spend on health care." I second that, Grandma. In my younger years I didn't pay much attention to wasteful politicians. Now I'm old enough to see the political foolishness for what it is -- brazenly wasteful and arrogantly focused on helping themselves first.
The one bright point in an otherwise dismal TV news time is that Pres. Clinton successfully went to N. Korea and brought the two women home. What a joy it must have been for those two women to walk into a room and see Pres. Clinton standing there!!
So now you know why I haven't been around lately. Maybe this fall I'll perk up.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Space pirate Aston West stumbles upon a derelict freighter, fresh from a recent battle, and can’t fight the urge to pilfer a valuable cache of highly illegal weapons. While on-board, however, one last stowaway fights back, thinking him part of an earlier boarding crew. Attack craft return to finish the ship off and Aston has no choice but to save her from certain destruction.
Who is she? What are the weapons for? Why was the freighter destroyed?
Aston discovers more questions than answers, and his life is put in jeopardy every time he stops to catch his breath. His life motto of never getting involved is put to the test, and he must decide whether to become a hero for people in need, or continue his path of self-preservation.
Find out more about my hero Aston West here:
Here is Aston's story on Amaon:
Or find the book on Fictionwise:
READ THIS EXCERPT:
I awoke to a seductive female voice. “Aston...”
Too bad for me, it belonged to Jeanie, my ship’s computer. A cruel joke designed for mostly male pilots spending long periods alone. It was even worse when I ignored the fact she was simply a machine programmed to think.
“We’re entering the Toris system.”
Our current destination was my gateway to temporary financial security. I sat up from the hard, low-lying bunk, stood, and walked to the bridge. It was a short distance, nonetheless painful, as metallic floor panels clanked under my feet louder than normal.
As I walked onto my bridge, the hyper-speed engines disengaged and slowly wound down. I held onto my captain’s chair to steady myself until the ship reached a constant velocity. I sat down in my chair, reached into the side pocket, and pulled out the same bottle of Vladirian liquor that put me down.
“How are we doing on time?”
“Far ahead of schedule,” responded Jeanie. The second of my four cargo hatches held a cargo container full of blue organic crystals. When I picked it up, the seller told me to take it to Toris, the outer planet in the system of the same name. I didn’t know why, but I’d double my pay if I made it to Toris fast enough ahead of schedule. They didn’t have to tell me twice.
“Let me know when we reach the station.” I took a small taste of the light yellow liquid in the bottle. The storekeeper peddling the stuff at my last stop had filled me in with the full story behind the drink. A small animal called a Roshtu secreted the liquid as a defensive measure when attacked. The sweet smell and taste caused the attacking predator to lap it up and become intoxicated, while the Roshtu escaped unharmed. I took another drink, this one longer.
“So, Jeanie, what would you like me to buy you once I get paid?”
“I am currently running at peak performance, and have no requirements.”
I smiled and leaned back in my chair. I usually found scuttled and abandoned cargo, then sold it for profit. Scavenging was a less aggressive form of piracy, and usually safer, since you didn’t have to carry out threats of violence. Unfortunately, such cargo tended to be scarce, and had been more so lately. So, when I’d stumbled into an opportunity to carry cargo, I jumped at the chance. An extra bonus for speedy delivery didn’t hurt matters.
I took another sip of the Vladirian liquor and put it away. There needed to be something left to celebrate my fortune.
Jeanie ignored my question. “I’m picking up a ship on medium range sensors.”
The hair on the back of my neck rose. “Show me.”
My view screen lit up along the front wall of my bridge. A couple kilpars in length, the lines of the ship were smooth, tapering from the nose to a constant, rectangular cross-section around the first quarter of the hull. Near the back of the ship, I could see bell-shaped nozzles behind four embedded engines, darkened against the starfield. I recognized the configuration, but wanted some confirmation.
She gave the designation. “Green Three.”
I took another look at the sensor screen over my left armrest. “I don’t see any other ships out there.”
“There are none in the vicinity.”
A Rulusian freighter in an alien system, all by itself, made no sense. They often stuck together in vast convoys, to give themselves a better defensive position through sheer numbers.
“Status of the freighter?”
“Engines and main power are down, backup systems are in effect. No shields, no weapons charged.” She paused a moment. “No life signs.”
With the condition of the ship and no crew, I wondered what happened. Then a smile crossed my lips. I was a scavenger pirate at heart and wasn’t about to let a prime opportunity escape.
“Any cargo in the bays?”
Jeanie was hesitant. “Yes.”
“Well,” I chuckled, “what is it?”
“I’m picking up signs of cargo without accompanying records in the transport manifest.”
My smile grew. Rulusians were usually law-abiding. I had no idea why one of their ships would be hauling illegal cargo, but with three open bays on my ship and plenty of time to spare, there was only one thing on my mind.
Jeanie was too smart for her own good. “The logic of this situation does not compute.”
“It’s nice you worry about me, but I’ll be fine.” I nearly laughed at the thought of a machine with feelings.
She remained silent.
“Access their computer, and drop their cargo.”
“Unable to comply.”
If she wasn’t programmed to obey, I would have been upset. There had to be something wrong.
“The on-board systems were placed under a command-level lockout by the Captain of the vessel. Only the Captain can remove it.”
I clasped my hands behind my head and sighed as Green Three grew larger in the view screen. Finding the freighter made me think my luck was turning for the better. Now, the situation was tougher than it first seemed. My thoughts drifted to the state of the ship.
“Looks like they didn’t want anyone else gaining control. Maybe they abandoned her.”
“That theory appears plausible.”
I ran my hands through my dark brown, wavy locks, then massaged the tension out of the back of my neck. “I guess I’ll just have to go over and drop it manually. Move us to the starboard docking port.”
I've read the book so know what happens next. Poor Jeanie just can't keep Aston out of trouble. And he won't be sipping Vladirian liquor where he's headed!!
Monday, May 25, 2009
As we placed our flowers and reminisced among ourselves, I thought of the America I knew as a child in the World War Two era. I was very young, but understood that everything my family did was to help the war effort and soldiers any way they could.
- we saved our pennies and bought war bonds
- we raised Victory gardens
- we pooled our ration tickets with family and friends
- we ate that awful early version of margarine -- the gloppy white stuff with an orange color bead in it that we had to mix into the white glop -- so our soldiers overseas could have the butter.
- we hung flags on our porches and put stars in our windows.
I'm sure there were many more ways Americans sacrificed back then, but those are the efforts I remember. Grandpa spent a lot of time explaining to me why we had to economize:
- our boys overseas needed nourishing food and special vehicles and equipment to survive;
- Planes, tanks, weapons, warships cost a lot of money to make and that money had to come from citizens like us;
- buying war bonds helped keep the country strong during war time;
- what few little sacrifices we made were nothing compared to what our soldiers had to face in battle far away from home.
Today I'm thinking about how awful it must be to be a military person in a strange country. I'm thinking I don't mind if tax money is spent on protective equipment, whatever that might cost, to keep them as safe as possible.
The men and women in harm's way around the world deserve at least as much support as our country has given failed banks. That's what I'm thinking this Memorial Day 2009.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We decided to take a lesson from friends in the UK. They plant tomatoes and green peppers in five gallon buckets, so that's an experiment we tried this year with a couple tomato plants and green pepper plants. We're eagerly anticipating the first peas from our garden. My mother-in-law always planted peas with edible pods so we planted the same.
Reading and writing? I barely have enough concentration to read very often anymore. No, I don't have dementia or some other condition causing my lack of concentration. I can't explain this turn of events in a woman who has loved reading since kindergarten. Writing has suffered the same fate. I have nothing more to say to the world. Two major writing projects are patiently waiting for my muse to return. Somehow, I feel that won't happen. I have six books in my resume. That's enough for me.....unless I change my mind.
Right now I keep my writing muscles flexed a bit by making Squidoo lenses. Some recent topics include:
So if any of my fans out there get lonesome for my writing, you'll have to check out Squidoo. Meanwhile, I'll dream of a garden overflowing with veggies.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
I find humorous the recent wailing and gnashing of teeth by Republicans re: Obama's stimulus plan. Now, I come from a long LONG line of die hard Republicans. I'm not defending either party here, just saying what I think. Now back to the GOP wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Where was all their wailing when Pres. Bush ramrodded the country into the Iraqui war? Or when he proposed the Wallstreet Bailout and they approved it with no oversight whatsoever? Where was their teeth gnashing when the Bush-sponsored bailout produced no results, other than already rich bankers having our tax money to take trips, grab big bonuses, and remodel offices. Do the House and Senate Republicans think our memories are that short? If so, they need to guess again.
I'm sick of hearing Republican politicians whine about Obama and the Dems when they share the guilt for what happened in this country equally with their Democratic peers. Maybe part of their problem is that they allow Rush Limbaugh to be a Republican spokesperson. They should let the CITIZENS be their spokespersons and no one else. After all, it is the citizens of this country who provide their privileged life style.
Not to let the Dems off the hook, they helped create this economic hell right along with the GOP. They allowed big business to ship jobs outside the country, and supported said big business every step of the way. They helped allow trade deficits to grow and prosper, to the detriment of their homeland. And they expect the common man to pull in his or her belt and sacrifice, while they continue to receive free health care, a pension fund for life, and continue to take non-essential trips on the taxpayer nickel in the midst of economic chaos. (a recent trip to Italy comes to mind.) Dems and Republicans alike are guilty of feathering their nests while expecting citizens to sacrifice everything so they can continue to live large.
Before retirement, we paid, paid, paid our taxes. One April the IRS made a mistake and said we owed them $500. They came down on us like ugly on an ape by May and threatened dire consequences if full payment was not forthcoming immediately. Our tax prep person said we did not owe the money but we needed to pay it or the IRS would red flag us. We paid it, and by July the IRS returned our money, sans interest of course. I want to know how politicians get away with not paying their taxes? Is this yet another case of Rank Has Its Privileges? I suspect so. Common citizens have to pay their taxes or suffer bad consequences but politicians can do anything and come out smelling like a rose.
My point is, I'm willing to sacrifice. Most Americans are willing to sacrifice. So when do our politicians join in the sacrificial process? Cut their salaries, limit the pension fund for life to years served, or pay for their own health insurance??
I'm just asking.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Then I became a Squidlet over on SQUIDOO. No one could have ever convinced me I'd be making SQUIDOO lenses, but at latest count I've made ten.
Hmmmm. Then someone invited me to join FACEBOOK. I thought no way, no how, but now I'm on Facebook gathering friends and joining groups.
I said in a previous blog post that I don't TWITTER. Never say never cause now I'm a TWEEP on TWITTER.
Slowly and gradually, people I like have been dragging me kicking and screaming into the 21st century. You can hunt me up on FACEBOOK or TWITTER if the mood strikes. And I'd really be thrilled if you'd leave comments in the guestbooks on my lenses on SQUIDOO. I'm not a very accomplished lensmaster but my heart is in each Squidoo lens I make. The topics vary:
- http://www.squidoo.com/economylessons is about my grandparents and their life as documented in My Name is Esther Clara.
- http://www.squidoo.com/beckslovelessons is written from Beck's point of view. Beck is the main character in The Alley of Wishes.
- http://www.squidoo.com/friendsoftheheart is a testament to my long time friends. (This one is mentioned above as part of a contest to commemorate International Friendship Month.)
- http://www.squidoo.com/laurelspersonal-philosophy is just what the title implies.
- http://www.squidoo.com/kentuckymountains features photos and prose about the years I lived in the Kentucky mountains.
- http://www.squidoo.com/litbits tells about my writing experience from first book to last.
- http://www.squidoo.com/homelessinamerica features personal experience with and concerns about the homeless population.
OK enough of blowing my own horn. I'm not sure if blogging, squidooing, facebooking, and twittering has helped enhance my reputation as a person or a writer, but they've been interesting and new experiences.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sinking into discouragement at the outset of this new year would be easy. Who would blame us for our dark thoughts? Discouraging news is everywhere. Yes, we have the promise of hope from a new President, but even that has its downside. The new broom has to work with the same old dust and cobwebs. Can he sweep them clean? Forgive my doubts that a strong, young, determined broom can clean the Beltway's focus on "rescuing" already wealthy bankers and cohorts from the mess they've made for someone else to scrub. I'm not alone in thinking that even millionaires and billionaires who mismanaged the funds of investors should not be on house arrest, living in luxury or waiting for a tiny slap on the wrist for their misdeeds. To clean up and paraphrase Al Pacino's famous line: They belong in freaking JAIL.
I'm no economist, but my thought is if our politicians want to grant billions and trillions of dollars to anyone in hopes of jump starting our economy, that largesse should go to the citizens and taxpayers. Give every citizen of legal age $100,000, or even $10,000 and we'll spend it on things we've needed or wanted but are afraid to buy right now. Give us enough and we'll pay off our credit cards or our homes and start fresh. We'll shop til we drop. Yeah, I know I'm stupid for even having such a thought. Such a "bail out" might lift some people out of poverty and our politicians certainly would not want THAT. However, the Congress, Senate, and American people have seen no results from the first gift to our big banks so perhaps it's time to change focus.
Like most Americans, I don't expect my government to give me anything. I set my budget and live within it. If a few extra bucks accumulate, I might splurge and buy that new toaster I've been needing. If not, I'll do without. Too bad our elected politicians don't spend taxpayer money with the same thought in mind. They expect us to sacrifice, but are not willing to give up anything from their own benefits. They'll keep their health care and pension fund for life while citizens are losing theirs. Something is wrong with that picture. No politician should have entitlements for life, especially if they do nothing to earn such benefits.
Still, I am in charge of my own destiny. I am the one who determines how my life proceeds, so I'll continue what works for me and mine. Meanwhile, I'll entertain a small modicum of hope that our new broom will actually make inroads into the glutted mess our government has become.
Other Blogs I Read
- Aston West
- Chuck Foertmeyer
- Dandelion Books
- Economy Lessons from Esther and Herb
- EL Burton
- Elizabeth Lucas-Taylor
- How to Write Your Heart Out
- Jesus In Song
- Josh Sutton
- Nancy Mehl
- New Works Review
- Poet Ed Galing
- Quill and Parchment
- Shadow Poetry
- The Time Garden
- The Woman With Qualities
- Tom Parker
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