Saturday, July 13, 2019

If You Only Have 24 Hours in Chicago...

Okay, I had more than 24 hours. 48 maybe. Give or take.

I was thrilled to participate in a reading of my published short story "Google Answers Everything." I was equally thrilled to take in some of what the Windy City had to offer.

So, at the risk of sounding like a travel blog--here are some great things to do with 24 hours in Chicago--

1-- Have lunch in Millennium park.
Okay, maybe the "bean" thing is totally touristy. Maybe its where all the newbies go and you're overwhelmed with a group of Chicago school kids on their break from something. But it's still well worth taking in...and a good spot for some down time.

With the Cloud Gate ("Bean")

May in Chicago
2--Yes, take one of the cheesy hop-on-hop-off tours...
If for no other reason than to just be able to get around town easily. You learn things, get an idea of where the locals like to go--it's an easy win.

3-- Allow yourself to let go of the cynical. Embrace a chance to take in the wonder of a new place, to imagine what it would be like to take the green line every day, to live in a borough where you can see the Willis tower, where you wonder how the so politely put up with tourist. And marvel at how the locals enjoy the greening of the city after a rabid winter. An emerging. A rebirth.

4-- Visit the public library and the Chicago Cultural Center

I always like to visit the public libraries of the cities I visit, and Chicago did not disappoint.

There are incredible art displays and impressive galleries. 

The cultural center --which is also free-- provided great information on the city in a setting that was spectacular.

5-- Bike along the riverfront and marvel at the many shades of blue of Lake Michigan. And marvel at why there are so many TULIPS in Chicago. 

Tiffany glass rotunda in the cultural center.         

Friday, May 24, 2019

Book on Bipolar Disorder on Sale in Honor of May as Mental Health Month

I’m a bit behind this month---okay, VERY behind.

As many of you know (or don’t know) Mental Health is an important subject to me. 

I honestly feel that if there is still a lot of stigma that needs to be eliminated. I honestly believe if this were any other kind of disease that no one would be treated as unfairly. There would be more Congressional funding for research, there would be better access to physicians, and there would be more funding for mental health centers.

 Could you imagine if this were the situation for major causes such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes? There would be protesters at the Capitol with pitchforks and torches like on the old Frankenstein movies.

But I digress.

The novel I'm putting on sale is "Saint Jude," which was first published by Tudor Publishers of Greensboro (traditionally published).  It's  about a teen who has bipolar disorder.

BTW-- It takes place in the 80s--so you’ll not see any texting, tweeting or yeeting. I still honest to God have no idea how yeeting works.

For the rest of this month, I’m going to have the book on sale for 99 cents.

Here is a link to it on Amazon.

I hope it speaks to you, especially if you or someone you love has bipolar disorder.

John Oliver on Mental Health for May is Mental Health Month

I don't always agree with him...

... but I totally fell in love with him when he did this segment.

You can also read some of my earlier posts on mental health.

When someone you know and love has a mental illness, you have a completely different perspective.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Week at a Magic Mansion

Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities

So if you write during your day job, and you write for a hobby, when you go on vacation you...write?

Yes. As a matter of fact I do.

I wish I could explain the hold writing has on me. Many writers say that to go without it is like telling someone to go without breathing. 

One of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had as a writer/ novelist has been my time at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Writer's bliss. My view from the writing residency.

It's a gorgeous mansion --- complete with a ghost. I'm naturally skeptical, but I've had some supernatural experiences there. (Doors slamming in parts of the house where I know no one is staying, finding personal objects arranged neatly on dresser or "hidden" in drawers.)

The last time I was there, I was fortunate enough to witness a fox hunt. And before you get started:

No, they do NOT kill the fox.

Instead, they do something called "grounding" the fox, where they chase it into a den.
Here are some pictures.

Interesting fact: The hounds all have GPS collars because they often catch the scent of a coyote (and the coyote is far to smart for the dogs). These dogs have been found as far as 10 to 15 miles away. 

I'll post some pictures when my wi-fi starts behaving. I have evidently angered the computer gods.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Sort of Calm Before the Storm

My Writing Desk
Confession: I've always loved rainstorms.

 The weather is perfect for writing, like the rain is sending out tons of great ideas that drip down onto your laptop computer (well, not literally of course, because that would suck.)

An Appalachian mountain girl, I've found my career path took me down into the "flat lands" of North Carolina, and just two years ago I found where I believe I truly I belong: the gorgeous coastal town of Wilmington, NC.

But with Hurricane Matthew --- well, let's just say there is TOO much storm.

We've been very fortunate and my hearts and prayers go out to those in hard-hit areas.

My understanding (but I'm not a #WeatherChannel guru) is that #HurricaneMatthew will hit us around early AM Sunday. (My church services at the Episcopal church are cancelled. So with all those Episcopalians running around, you know there's an empty ABC store somewhere.)

But all kidding aside, there was no mandatory evacuation  for our area, so I'm just hunkered down and prepared in case the power does go off.

I'm hoping the wind and rain catch my ideas and let them flow into me...but as it looks, they are all being flowed into the tree outside my window.

Everyone stay safe during the #hurricaneWatch.

And for my family and friends in Asheville. You may not see effects from Andrew, but hold on, you'll have your chance when you get snowed in this winter because #WinterIsComing.

Here are some pre-landfall pictures from #CarolinaBeach. They were taken Yesterday 10-8. The picture outside my window was taken 10-7.

Monday, April 4, 2016

If the Political Candidates Were Downton Abbey Characters

No, it's not Downton Abbey. You know, that copyright thing.
Millions of Americans recently bid farewell to the Crawley family, and while we said goodbye to one period drama, we're still stuck in the middle of the political drama race to the White House. The presidential candidates and Downton Abbey characters have a lot in common. We've matched them with their counterparts, as well as some reasons you should (or should not) vote for them.

Hillary Clinton:
Violet Crawley
Why? She's been playing this game longer than anyone realizes, which is why she's able to get stuff done. When she can't, she will send a zinger when you least expect it, nailing you to a wall. Something warns you that turning your back on her may be the last thing you do.
Pros: Would always get the last word in diplomatic negotiations.
Cons: Would always get the last word in diplomatic negotiations.

Bernie Sanders:
Tom Branson
Why? Revolution! Everyone deserves a chance! Triumph of the middle class! Who cares about your damn emails! Sanders would be right there with Tom, waving signs at the socialist meetings, maybe even marrying into the Crawley family to bring down the system from the inside.
Pros: A good driver.
Cons: Well, that socialist thing.

Ted Cruz:
Lord Grantham
It's not that he's a bad guy, it's just that he's just so much BETTER than you. And he's always right. Except when he isn't. Then he's still right.
Pros: Impeccable taste in dressing gowns.
Cons: Losing half the family fortune.

John Kasich
Dr. Clarkson
Why? You forget he's there, then suddenly he shows up and delivers a life-changing diagnosis that puzzles everyone. When you want to know more, he fades into the background. 
Pros: Definitely who you want around during childbirth.
Cons: How often will he deliver babies at the White House?

Marco Rubio:
Ms. Pattmore
Wait, is he still in the race?  We don't know because he's running around behind the scenes just trying to keep the GOP family together and afloat, making sure everyone thinks the production was effortless, although it was nothing but blood, sweat and tears. 
Pros: Creates a fabulous Crepes Francaise
Cons: Has a bed and breakfast of "ill repute."

Donald Trump:
Lady Mary
Why? Looks great on camera, and despite being mean and spiteful, everyone still likes them. Is able to ruin your life and still somehow convince you that it's all your fault.
Pros: Lots of money, and comes through when the chips are down...eventually.
Cons: Must stay away from Turkish diplomats.

I'm typically an apolitcal person, but with the train wreck that is our recent elections, I'm wondering if, like Edith, the voters will ever be happy.

Of course, Frank Underwood from "House of Cards" could wipe the floor with all of them.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Seven Things You Didn't Know About Saint Patrick (and Why He's Cooler Than I Ever Thought He Was)

Confession: Technically, I took this picture in Scotland. But that's okay. Saint
Patrick may have been from there...
No matter where you're from, or where you were born, today, you are Irish. What better way to celebrate one of the great saints in Christendom than with green beer?

But seriously, the more I learned about St. Patrick, the more I learned he was even more cool than I ever knew. Here are the top seven  things you probably didn't know about St. Pat. for #SaintPatricksDay 

1. He was loaded.
At least, his parents were. While St. Patrick may have become a priest and lived a more modest existence later, in his earlier life, his parents were very well-off, particularly by the standards of the time.

2. He wasn't Irish.
He was Scottish. Or English. Maybe Welsh. No one is 100 percent sure where he was from--tradition says his parents were Roman citizens who were most likely living in England. One thing is for certain: he wasn't Irish.

3. Blue is actually the color traditionally associated with St. Patrick -- not green. I'm not sure why. You can see a traditional artistic rendering of his icon here  (or as I call them - Christian Super Hero Trading Cards)

4. He was a slave.
Raiders took Patrick when he was a young man and sold him into salvery where he wokred in Ireland as a shepherd. Patrick leaned on his faith to help him through this difficult time.

5 After he was freed, an angelic vision told him to go back to Ireland.
Imagine going back to the people who enslaved you! Patrick, guided by God, returned. As a result of God working through him, many of the Irish converted to Christianity.

6. He used the shamrock as a teaching tool. 
Patrick had a heart for the souls of the dear Irish people. At the time, the pagan celts were worshipping the sun, moon and other parts of nature. used the shamrock to explain the Trinity--how three separate elements of Father , Son and Holy Spirit can be both three in one, both different, yet the same.

7. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover?
This has nothing to do with Saint Patrick, but it's 1 in 10,000.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. #ErinGoBraugh!