Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Celebrating Summer

A little exercise last week had me contemplating how summer is celebrated. I came up with a comparative then and now list.


  • Go camping with Girl Scouts. Go camping with YMCA. Go camping with church group.

  • Play outside.

  • Walk barefoot – just about everywhere except church and while picking blackberries.

  • Swimming – at the neighborhood pool; and at the shore in Cape May on vacation.

  • At least three trips to Kennywood Park (amusement park outside Pittsburgh) for rollercoasters.

  • Shorts and flipflops and watermelon and playing jacks on grandma’s front porch.

  • Popsicles!

  • Plant flowers; watch the garden grow.

  • Some sort of car trip.

  • Read books in the library’s summer reading program.


  • Look at the calendar and wonder how it got to be summer! Wasn’t Christmas just last month???

  • Vow to be swimsuit ready by Labor Day. (yeah, right!)

  • Remind myself not to complain about the 90-100 degree heat because I complained about the winter’s cold.

  • Fret that I’m going to miss summer.

  • Plant flowers; tend to yard.

  • Head to the beach!

  • Read books in the library’s summer reading program.


  • Hmm, I see a theme! :)

How do you celebrate summer?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's the most significant event in your lifetime?

Un-Journal Prompt 4

What do you think has been the most significant event that has taken place during your life?

How I wish I could say there was just one significant event. There have however been many. While I don’t remember either of these tragic events, they happened during my lifetime: the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My parents have recounted what they were doing and when for each. Just like for my own list, I could tell you exactly what I was doing when and where when each event happened.

Since each of the following eight events could in and of themselves be full journal entries, I’ll only list them and provide a sentence or two on the why. The memorable and significant events in my own memory include:

Death of Pope John Paul I in 1978: I was 16 and in Alaska when we heard the news. I remember being glued to the television in a hotel and crying.

Explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, Jan. 28, 1986: So excited about this. So devastated. I have a photo of the crew that I later got at Kennedy Space Center.

Sale of my first book in 1993 and Its publication in 1994: This still makes me smile … all these years later.

My brother’s death on Feb. 3, 1996: I miss him every day and go to his grave whenever I’m home in Pennsylvania.

Death of Princess Diana in 1997: Spent the entire night with CNN; felt as if a sister had died. I wrote a column for the newspaper about why women were so devastated about her death. The column’s basic premise: We’re fed the Prince Charming fairy tale from childhood and this one didn’t end right.

Sept. 11, 2001: Horror of all horrors.

Election of Barack Obama/Inauguration of President Obama: The election for the historical significance of the first African-American president; the inauguration on Jan. 28, 2009, because of my neighbor Dave’s suicide-by-cop incident. (Way too long to get into here: short version, neighbor on street went crazy; SWAT, bomb squad, evacuation; eventually shot by police when he came out with what they thought was a bomb attached to his chest. On any other day, this would have dominated the front page of the paper and TV broadcasts, but it was Inauguration Day.) So for me, the president’s inauguration will always be tied with that incident..

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What's it like to live with you?

Un-journal Prompt 3

Describe what you think it is like to live with you

What is it like to live with me? Probably horrible. Why? Let me list the reasons:

I’m more than a tad obsessive-compulsive (OCD), a borderline hoarder, a lousy housekeeper, a handbag/totebag-a-holic and way too set in my ways.

I have, as my mother says, “too many hobbies” – a statement I disagree with, by the way. I’m just interested in life! – which translates into a lot of stuff that supports each of the interest areas.

I’m a wild sleeper, always have been, so only a king-size bed is big enough.

I don’t like curtains, blinds or shades on the windows on the back of the house. I like the sun to shine in, including in the bedroom, and I love seeing the egrets fly in. (My property backs a wetlands so there’s nothing out there but water, birds and nature.)

I hate to wash dishes and clothes, and put off both tasks until there is absolutely nothing left clean to eat on or to wear.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou Tribute

My first encounter with phenomenal woman Sister Maya Angelou was in her books. Later, I met her as a freshman in college. She was a frequent speaker on campus, and I was blessed to have heard her speak and teach on many occasions through the years.

'Still I Rise' is my all-time favorite poem of hers, followed by 'Phenomenal Woman.'
Today, I remember her life and legacy, a lasting gift to writers, poets and creative souls.

R.I.P. Dr. Maya Angelou.

What's your favorite book?

Un-journal Prompt 2

Favorite book

Short answer: There are way too many to name in choosing a single favorite book. Besides, I have favorites in various genres and themes.

Longer answer: How about if I tell you about a favorite series by a favorite author. The series and author I’ve selected to rhapsodize about is Robert B. Parker. In hindsight, I really should have selected another favorite author, one a little less prolific. There’s so much out there by and about Dr. Parker that this could very well turn into a dissertation. However, it’s Parker I chose because it’s Spenser I love!

Spenser, a Boston private investigator, has been the PI in more than 30 novels written by Parker who died in January 2010. It’s no exaggeration that Parker has been called the dean of American crime fiction. He won tons of awards; and more than 50 books, graduate theses, and scholarly papers have been written about Parker and his work. His widow Joan contracted with mystery writer Ace Atkins to continue the Spenser series. And I must say, Atkins has been true to Spenser. In addition to the Spenser series, Robert B. Parker wrote three other series: one featuring Jesse Stone, a small town police chief with an alcohol problem; one featuring Sunny Randall, a female PI; a western series; and several stand-along novels. His estate now has four writers continuing the work one man did!

Anyway, back to Spenser. I was introduced to Spenser via the television show, “Spenser: for Hire.” Robert Urich was Spenser and Avery Brooks was Hawk. Both of them were gorgeous! J The show (1985-1988) was well done with lots of action and snappy dialogue. The spin-off show (one season 1989) featuring Hawk was called “A Man Called Hawk.” When the two dramas went off the air, I was bereft. Really! It wasn’t until the early 1990s when the first of several TV movies aired that I found out, realized and/or discovered that the weekly programs and the TV movies were based on books!! Out I dashed to the nearest bookstore to get my Spenser fix. That’s when I found out that this author by the name of Robert B. Parker had been writing these Spenser novels since 1974!! The rest is … well, you know.

For the last several years, I’ve read each new Spenser novel via audiobook. Joe Mantegna, who portrayed Spenser in several A&E movies, reads all of the Spenser novels. In my mind’s eye, Spenser, his long-time love Susan Silverman, and Hawk remain the characters I used to see on TV. In the books, Spenser is always in his 40s, even though time does pass - a neat trick!

As for which of the books in the series is my favorite, I’d have to pick “Now and Then” from 2008. Here’s an excerpt from my 2008 Reading Log (and, yes, I've been keeping an annual reading log that long!):
“Now and Then” is truly classic Spenser with Spenser, Hawk, Susan; and the backup players Chollo, Quirk, Belson, etc. In this case, the rift between Spenser and Susan that happened 20 years ago is back in the forefront as Spenser investigates an adultery case. The couple ends up dead – he an FBI agent, she a college professor having an affair with a probable terrorist. Susan winds up in danger and it takes all of Spenser’s crew to protect her. This was one of the best Spenser cases in a while.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Thank you for your sacrifice

City workers were putting up the flags along Jefferson Avenue in Newport News in honor of those who have died in service of our country. I captured this image and pause today to pay tribute to the thousands who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.