Entries to Win Afghan

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fire in the Sky

You could say, "oh, just another sunset," but I'm not going to apologize.

It's been gray here for days and days. No sunrises, no sunsets, just gray. After I took a cold uninspiring walk, I was sitting in my chair doing computer stuff when a blast of orange light shot through the window. Ran out with the camera and this is what I saw. Not bad!


We played handbells this morning too. The video isn't that great. I may post it or not. Meh.

See Sun, Moon, Venus, Sun, Sun
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

What's Your Angle?

It seemed to me that there haven't been many posts recently about things outdoors, so today I went for a little walk (in the rain), and gave myself a simple photo assignment. I decided to look for angles. The results you see are presented in the order I took the pictures. If you can find meaning in that, more power to you!

Of course, the first thing that pops to mind in the outdoors when one says "angle," is tree limbs. I forced myself to be limited to one such picture. Here's my choice... lichen covered dead sumac branches.

sumac branches

Next, I found three autumn olive leaves plastered together by the wind and rain. The fact that one was back-side showing gave the composition some color interest, and I liked the angles between the points. That rotten plant might as well be good for something, even if it's only an interesting picture.

autumn olive leaves

Beetle bark galleries oddly echo the same pattern as the tree branches!

beetle bark galleries

And there I was at the railroad tracks, with their parallel straight (180 degree) angles.

railroad tracks

Angles galore at the space station (AKA grain elevator).

grain elevator

The best two finds were last. I'd never noticed these before. There are some old slabs of concrete that were dumped at the back of a neighboring property. On what was previously the underside, you can see the impression of large equipment tracks left in the dirt before the concrete was poured. Although it softens the impression of the angles, I especially like the encroaching moss on the right. One can almost see those tracks as huge dike or elevated highways with whole neighborhoods of green trees and rooftops in the valleys.

tire tracks

On the next hunk of man-made stone were more tracks with a different tire pattern. These certainly have angles!

tire tracks

So I got a little wet, but I got a little exercise, and although none of these is high-quality art, it was fun setting an assignment and doing it.

See Crosshatched
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Hope You Like Newspapers

Newspapers take over the life of everyone in the mailroom this week and next. The Black Friday editions of the shopper supplements, and the regular paper next Wednesday are the biggest ones we do all year. They are huge, difficult and heavy. We have several pieces of semi-broken equipment, and we ended up having to pull papers off the end by hand today instead of sending them through the stacker.

Today I worked 8.5 hours, but I did actually sit down for 10 minutes, mid-afternoon. In just a couple of hours I get to go do it all again.

This is part of what we stuffed this afternoon. Some of the tubs and high-rises had already gone to the warehouse.


And next week? This is about half of our storage space, filled with inserts for next week's papers. The other half is just as full.

warehouse shelves

After watching us work for a bit last time she was here, Ester said, "It's like getting paid to have a gym membership." That's sure true now and next week. We are all sore and tired and working right out at the edges of our limits.

So that's all that is going on in my life today.

See 150 and 9
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Light at the End of the Non-Tunnel

When I was in grad school at the University of Michigan, there was a poster on a professor's door that said, "Due to the energy crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off." Grad school is such a stressful, non-stop environment that many of us really identified with that poster!

My life is neither quite that stressful or non-stop now. Certainly not like a dark tunnel with no foreseeable end. However, there is still a bit on an analogy there with where I want to go.

And the sky even cooperated with that theme this afternoon. For several days it's been thick solid gray. Not even a hint of color or gleam of light at sunrise. Oddly enough, as I came home from work (bunny trail... 8 hours, 15 minutes on my feet, starving by end, so stopped for decadent fast food), there was one strip of pink light in the sky. But not in the west. That was still solid gray. The light was in an unexpected place- due south

pink sky

I've been thinking a lot lately about when I should quit this job. That's where the analogy fails. My job is not nearly as bad as a dark tunnel. But it definitely puts the brakes on what I would prefer to be doing.

It's a balancing act between having the freedom to write and having enough money to get by. When the job goes, I have enough saved to squeak along for a while, during which time the plan is that I will build book sales.

This morning I mailed a complete set of mysteries. In fact, this was my first sale of a paperback copy of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist which isn't even printed yet. The person paid in advance and I'll send it later. This is great! This is what I will need to have happen a LOT more. This sale was to a friend. Don't get me wrong, selling books to friends is wonderful, but if one is going to try to live off book sales, one must sell books way beyond those circles of friends and acquaintances.

book mailer

Next issue... I've learned how to do a better job of it, but I'm not a great marketer. Mostly because I don't like it very much.

Several opportunities have popped up recently that I want to be able to participate in, but the job is in the way.

When do I make the big jump? Almost have my mind made up... right now... bed and book. I get to do the job thing again tomorrow.

See A Piece of the Next Level
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Art - Spring Reflection

The book launch party last Saturday evening for my friend Jeanie was held at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts. They have become a real force for the arts in the area. You may have noticed many works of art on the walls in the post about that event.

The current display is featuring works by artist Carole Hunnes-Nielson. She's Michigan based.

I really had a hard time choosing just one picture as a "favorite." I have a hard time with that whole concept anyway, but I forced myself to pick one. Mostly I asked myself, "If I were going to spend the money but could buy just one, which one would it be."

My final choice was "Spring Reflections." The technique is watercolor batik, a wax-resist method of painting.

Spring Reflections by Carole Hunnes-Nielson

The feature that finally tipped the balance to this one is that the picture looks different when viewed from far away and close. Here's a tiny piece close in.

Spring Reflections by Carole Hunnes-Nielson

I'm still working like crazy on a whole bunch of details for the upcoming release of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist.

See Jeanie's Book Launch
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Run Bambi!

I don't have much in the way of pictures. It was a very busy day- pretty much all good- but no time for unscheduled activities.

Gun deer season opens in the morning here. There's going to be a lot of this seen for the next couple of weeks.

deer running

Copies of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist have gone to the Beta readers. Worked half day. Post office and other errands in the afternoon. Handbell practice. Writers' Group. The next thing on that list is going to be bed.

See The Local Deer Herd
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Editing and Tooting

Ha, ha! Made you look just to see what I meant, right?

Just about all I've done for the past two days is edit Dead Mule Swamp Druggist. I took a short walk each day to keep my joints from turning to concrete, but I'm on serious wordcraft overload.

The MS will go to my Beta Readers tomorrow, and I've got it almost ready.

computer with papers

The tooting? No, my digestion is fine; thanks for asking!

I quote the late Gospel singer London Parris, who always said, "He who tooteth not his own horn, it shall not be tooted." I know, I know, this isn't exactly the way one shows humility, but once in a while one needs to say a positive thing or two in self-promotion if an indie author.

And, I present the source of the tooting with great humility. My West Side Gang writer's group has heard most of the chapters of all the Dead Mule Swamp books. They provide constant encouragement and some great critique. It's a great company to be a part of.

Today, I've been going through all the notes they have made on this story over the past months and incorporating changes, fixing typos, etc, etc. Of course, as author, I don't have to use every change they suggest, but quite often they catch things that seriously need changing. Sometimes the way someone else reads a phrase will impart a different meaning than I had in mind, so I'll need to fix those to be less ambiguous. And on and on...

Here are some of their comments:

"This is a fun story- I really want to know what is going to happen."

"The first person point of view is smoothly done without a lot of 'I's."

"I like that funny Adele," and "Great dialogue. That Adele is still a character."

"Pulls me right in."

However, this is my favorite set. These are all from the same person:
on Chapter 8- "I like this and am really curious as to where it is heading."
on Chapter 33- "like the story but am pretty sure I know where it is going.
on Chapter 44-"I like where it's heading but I really have no clue as to where that is."

Music to a mystery writer's ears! Keep 'em guessing.

If you plan to get the eBook, you can pre-order at Amazon, B&N, Kobo or iBooks for delivery on December 26.

If you have signed up for the email newsletter, you will receive Chapter 2 for free next week (see link in header). Chapter 1 can be read at Shark Bytes and Tales.

Now, I need to get back to the task- I'm SO close!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Long Ago and Late Veteran's Day Story

My family has not been known for generations of military service. That said, my grandmother joined the D.A.R. as a descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier. Maybe I'll write about that another day.

My dad was not in the service. He was too young in WWI and too old in WWII. My half brother was in the Seabees.

But today, I'm going to tell you about a woman. Her name was Susan E. Hall, and she's my great-great-great aunt. She was sister to Hervey Smith Hall, my great-great-great grandfather.

I only learned this story a couple of years ago when I came across this newspaper clipping in my grandmother's papers.

newspaper clipping about Susan E. Hall
Although there is no newspaper banner or date, from reading the article I can tell it was probably a Spencer, NY paper, and was definitely in 1912. The column is a death notice for Mrs. Robert Barry, who was Susan E. Hall.

Here's how it begins: "When, in 1861, Dorothy Dix issued her call for women nurses to go to the front, the first woman of this state [New York] to respond was a 'woman doctor.' of the city of New York-- Miss Susan E. Hall.

"Though she was a graduated doctor, she said to her associates, 'this is not the time for us to stand on our rank.' She served until the close of the war and was one of the nurses who went with the ambulances to the battle field.

"She was at the first battle of Bull Run, at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, and on many other bloody fields. Sometimes by the fortunes of war she was for days within the enemy's lines.

"She was a recipient of many honors. Possibly her most cherished possession was a gold badge, (only five were ever granted) which was given her for her distinguished service in connection with the Twelfth Army Corps.

"She never could forget the horrors of the civil war. With tears streaming down her face, she would sum up her stories of war times with 'There should be no more war. War is terrible.'"

It also tells that she nursed a wounded Chicago soldier, Robert Barry, whom she later married.

She lived until she was five days shy of her 86th birthday. That puts her dates at March 20, 1826- March 15, 1912.

The article also mentions that she had a "very notable" collection of autographed photos from soldiers and other tokens. I hope some museum has that, and I wonder if I could track it down.

Yet another really tough lady in my lineage. Wow.

See Jean Hall and Joan Hall for another reference to Hervey Smith Hall
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Taking In the Seasons with Jeanie

Tonight I went to a book launch of a writer friend of mine. Jeanie Mortensen published her second book, Taking In the Seasons. Her first is a novel, but this is a book of poems.

Our writers' group is a big fan of Jeanie. Her poems are poignant, nostalgic, and full of evocative imagery. She read five of them at the launch party.

Jeanie Mortensen

We had a really good turnout for this kind of event. It was held at the Ludington Center for the Arts.

Jeanie Mortensen's book launch

Here's Jeanie in the center, visiting with people.

Jeanie Mortensen's book launch

The cake was decorated with an edible reproduction of her book cover.

Jeanie Mortensen's book launch

You can see and buy both her books at Amazon.

See Writers' Rendezvous
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Morning Light

I liked the earliest stripes of light before the sun actually came up.


You can see how the stripe persisted behind the apple tree on the right, but as the sun rose that bank of clouds lit up.


In a couple more minutes I realized it was going to be one of those sunrises that lights up everything to the west with interesting colors. First it turned the aspen trees pink.

light on aspen

This was the whole scene out back. Yet another mood of my backyard.

sunrise on trees

Just before the effect faded, it made the two mulberry trees glow. This is the same effect that turned them all pink a few years ago (link at bottom- that picture is stunning). However, this time, it made them all orange.

sunrise on trees

Back to work in a couple of hours. I'm really tired tonight, so I hope things keep moving. If I can't think about it, it's not too bad.

See Pink, Blue (and Red)
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

First Snow Winter 2017-2018

It began while I was at work. I got home after dark. Long day... there will be more of them between now and Black Friday because of all the advertising flyers.

Anyway, we aren't supposed to get clobbered like many other areas in the state. Good thing, because I currently have no working snowblower.


Guess I'd better put the wheelbarrow away!

See First Skiing Winter 2016
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Frosty Morning II

This is the second frosty morning here this fall, but it's also the second time I've used the title.

frosty window

The hard frost last night brought down nearly all the leaves on the mulberry, making a carpet for the early sun to catch.

mulberry tree

The sun was also glowing through these geranium leaves.

red geranium leaves

But what I like best is when the edges of leaves get frosted. I managed to find several with various shapes before I had to scoot for work.

frosty leaves

frosty leaves

frosty leaves

frosty leaves

I actually had a hugely productive day. Wish they could all be like this, but they cant, and I have to accept that.

After I blogged last night, I finished the draft of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist. Now the editing begins.

Today is supposed to be the last day of clear weather, so I really needed to whip through a list of final outdoor tasks after work.

The first task was before work. As soon as it was light enough to see, and still frozen, I covered every inch of skin and blasted those German Yellowjackets. Not even one tried to come after me. I was afraid some might escape into the house. They've been getting into one of the downstairs rooms. But I haven't seen any after the WMD attack this morning. So far so good.

This afternoon, I:
Mowed down by the road.
Put away the hoses.
Started the snowblower to make sure it's ready for winter (but it may be reported as a death on Monday... stay tuned. I ended up calling the shop guy because it made a REALLY bad noise and quit).
Mowed my trail to be ready for skiing.
Put Stabil in the mower tank. I tell you this minor detail only because I forget to do this SO many years.

See Frosty Morning
See Frosty
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