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Monthly Archives: July 2013

A change in programming

storyadayaugWell, tomorrow starts a month of major transitions as the actual relocation from England to the US looms large. I know for sure I will not have internet access for at least a week during August, and am not certain how much time or energy I’ll have on the days when I do have a connection, so I wanted to be sure I ended July with a plan to keep posting every day. Thanks to WordPress’ feature that allows me to draft and schedule posts in advance, and a 31-day daily blogging challenge originally hosted in May by Jenni on Story of My LifeI’ve got August covered. I hope that I can find some time to throw in some fiction and/or photography posts during the month, but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep, so we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, here’s the rundown of what you can expect to see in the next 31 days…

  • Day 1: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph… no one will be counting your words… probably)
  • Day 2: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)
  • Day 3: Things that make you uncomfortable
  • Day 4: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
  • Day 5: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member
  • Day 6: If you couldn’t answer with your job, how would you answer the question, ‘what do you do’?
  • Day 7: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of
  • Day 8: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
  • Day 9: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
  • Day 10: Most embarrassing moment(s). Spill.
  • Day 11: Sell yourself in 10 words or less
  • Day 12: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life…)
  • Day 13: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.
  • Day 14: Ten things that make you really happy
  • Day 15: A day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day – this could be “a photo an hour” if you’d like)
  • Day 16: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it
  • Day 17: A favorite photo of yourself and why
  • Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.
  • Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.
  • Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.
  • Day 21: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.
  • Day 22: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)
  • Day 23: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you
  • Day 24: Your top 3 worst traits
  • Day 25: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)
  • Day 26: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you’d like.
  • Day 27: A letter to your readers
  • Day 28: Only pictures
  • Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in the post
  • Day 30: React to this term: Letting Go
  • Day 31: A vivid memory
 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Known unto God

11,954 burials, 8,367 of which are unidentifiedCommanders in far-off war-rooms issue orders as if the supply of khaki-clad boys were limitless. Bravely they do as they are told, charging bunkers, strafing airfields, storming beaches. By the tens of thousands they fall, sons, brothers, fathers, uncles. Too many to send home, too many to identify–nameless heroes planted reverently in some farmer’s field. In perpetual anonymity they rest, their final slumber deep, if not peaceful.

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five sentence fictionLillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt for this week was the word “limitless.” When I visited the WWI battlefields near Ypres, Belgium, earlier this year, the rows of gravestones of unknown soldiers buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery seemed limitless to me. No surprise, I guess, since there are nearly 12,000 headstones, 8,300 of which are nameless. The waste of human life took my breath away as I tried to imagine the families back home who were left with empty arms and were not even given the cold comfort of a gravesite to visit in return.

My five sentences didn’t emerge as fiction…my apologies for that.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Challenges

 

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2013: The year of accomplishments

oxford sweatshirt

Today’s directive from The Daily Post: Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.

How can seven months of 2013 be in the books already? My parents always told me that the older I got, the faster time would fly. I didn’t understand the physics of that as a child, and I still don’t to this day, but they were right.

I’d have to say at this point in the year, my overall feeling is one of accomplishment and contentment. I have no regrets about things I should have done, there have been no huge disasters to contend with, there are no nagging worries keeping me awake at night.

  • I’m halfway to my goal of getting back to the weight on my driver’s license.
  • I’ve posted an entry on this blog–occasionally more than one–every single day in 2013.
  • I enrolled in, attended, and passed the three classes I had put on my to-do list for the year (I have one official transcript, one carved spoon, and one Oxford sweatshirt to prove it).
  • I perused, clipped, and recycled a monstrous two-year backlog of magazines.
  • I purged my file cabinet.
  • I refinished a small chest of drawers.
  • I travelled to Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Wales, in addition to two weekend getaways and countless day trips within England.
  • I played host to my mom and my friend from Japan during their respective visits, planning outings to give them a good taste of British life.
  • I crocheted an afghan.
  • I’ve read half a dozen books (not a lot by most people’s standards, but a record for me in the past 20 years or so).
  • I jumped through all the hoops to renew my teaching license.
  • I created two procedural manuals to leave behind for my replacements in the frame shop.
  • I’ve used up most of the food in my pantry and freezer pre-move–ten more days to use up a steak, three pork chops, two tilapia filets, a batch of taquitos, and some chicken tenderloins.

Life is good, and I expect the downhill side of 2013 to be just as rewarding as the first half has been. The hubby and I’ll soon be back in our old stomping grounds–back in our old house, hanging out with our old friends, swimming (me) and playing racquetball (him) at our old gym. I’m two weeks away from being back within a three-hour drive of 80% of my immediate family, and within a day’s drive of the in-laws. Some amazing new job is waiting for me in the States, and all I have to do is find it. The to-do list is still massive, but I’ve picked up some serious momentum in the last seven months, and see no reason (aside from the fact that most of the projects are packed and in transit for the next two months) that I can’t tick several more boxes before the ball drops in Times Square. 2013 is on its way to being the most satisfying, fulfilling year in the past decade!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Daily Prompt: A to Z–The job switch

102_1171Annabel rose and peeked out the bedroom window. Barest hints of dawn were just visible on the eastern horizon. Curtains settled back into place as she turned away from the view. Days ago, she’d dreaded each sunrise, as it meant another eight hours shackled by a headset to a desk in a windowless cubicle. Eagerness was not a feeling to which she was accustomed. Finally, this morning she was waking with a sense of purpose and anticipation. Gently, so as not to wake her sleeping husband, Annabel padded down the hallway to get ready.

Her resumé had seemed woefully inadequate when, on a whim, she’d responded to the help wanted ad. Instead of waiting weeks for a call that never came, she’d been summoned almost immediately to the magazine’s head office for an interview. Just as surprisingly, she’d been hired on the spot and given her first assignment.

Ken, bless him, had been totally supportive since she’d first mentioned wanting to change careers. Loosening the plane ticket from her clenched fist the evening after the interview, her husband had cynically eyed her inaugural destination. “My, my, they’re certainly flinging you to the far corners of the world!”

Now, emerging from the shower, Annabel swiped the steam off the mirror with her towel. Outfits had fallen by the dozen last night as she’d agonized over what to pack and, more importantly, what to wear today. Piling her hair in a chic knot at her nape, she stood back and critically eyed her reflection. Quite respectable for a newly minted travel writer, she thought.

Retracing her steps to the bedroom, she carefully placed a kiss on Ken’s forehead as he slept. Silently she crept to the front door, slung her bags over her shoulder, and slipped off the porch into the waiting taxi.

“To the airport, please.”

“United Airlines flight 897 to Beijing is now boarding at Gate 37.”

Very nearly 24 hours’ travel lay ahead of her. Wheeling her carry-on down the gangway, Annabel contemplated the subject of her debut article. Xiamen Piano Museum had gotten enough positive reviews on tripadvisor that her employer had decided it worth a feature article in the upcoming issue. Years of banging the ivory at her parents’ insistence would hopefully ensure she had the background knowledge to do the piece justice. Zipping her Chinese phrase book back into her bag, Annabel settled into her assigned seat and envisioned a day in the very near future when she’d open the inflight magazine to see her own byline staring back at her.

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The Daily Post from July 27 instructed: Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.

 

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So many memories

100_187350 things I’ll miss about England

With only 12 days left on our tour in England, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I’ll miss when we go back to the States…

  • rainbows
  • free medical care via the NHS
  • sheep
  • fields divided by hedgerows and stone walls
  • chicken and mushroom pie at Puddingface
  • sticky toffee pudding
  • dogs in pubs
  • long walks along rural roads
  • antique fairs
  • Bargain Hunt
  • 300+ year old cottages, stately homes, and everything in between
  • passing horses on the road
  • the multitude of English accents (and Welsh, and Irish, and Scottish)
  • English gardens (not mine specifically, but in general)
  • not being rushed through dinner when eating out
  • bacon rolls
  • chip and pin cards
  • rest areas on the motorways
  • British humor
  • fortnightly auctions
  • postcodes
  • Stella
  • British potatoes (new potatoes, jacket potatoes, chips, mash, you name it)
  • pedestrianized town centres
  • the preservation of old properties (rarely is a building torn down–it is repurposed)
  • the way Brits sniff when anything less than 150 years old is billed as antique
  • courteous drivers
  • high vis clothing
  • endless miles of public footpaths
  • tomato and basil soup
  • Treasure Trails
  • canal boats
  • rainy Sunday afternoons
  • our conservatory
  • the expectation that you will stop work for tea breaks, morning and afternoon
  • the reserved but friendly nature of the natives
  • leaving the door wide open while unloading groceries from the car (bugs come in through the screenless windows anyway, so what’s a few more through the door?)
  • no cell phone use while driving
  • BBC period dramas Downton Abbey, The Paradise, and Call the Midwife
  • Monday night church bell practice
  • the alternating smells of roasting coffee beans, bread, burning coal, and manure that waft by our house
  • finding fossils every time I pull weeds
  • bright yellow rapeseed fields
  • wood pigeons singing down my chimney
  • the fact that the entire country looks like a picture postcard
  • gurgling radiators
  • Wellies
  • charity shops
  • B&Bs
  • mushrooms on every menu
 
 

In the eye of the beholder

cloudsPhoto copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

After only the briefest glance, Deena slammed the book shut and stuffed it with shaking hands back into the Amazon.com box the UPS driver had just delivered to her door.

Jake had spent the last ten years schlepping his assortment of Nikons from country to country, capturing unique views of the world’s most stunning vistas. Now that his efforts had finally drawn the attention of a publisher, her brother had every right to be proud.

She was touched that he’d sent her a copy from the first printing.

But the book was the stuff of nightmares for a severe agoraphobic.

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friday-fictioneersThe muse has been on strike for the past couple of weeks so I’ve opted out of participating with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ crew of writers at Friday Fictioneers. The muse and I have reached a tentative labor agreement, so here’s my 100-word attempt for this week’s photo prompt.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction

 

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In excess

sixfingerPhoto copyright Jan Sandahl

Digger, a friend and loyal follower of this blog, recently submitted a question for Deep Thought Thursday:

You have one too many.  What do you do?

I’ve tried repeatedly to ponder my answer to this question, but every time I look at it, Kenny Chesney starts singing in my brain, “One is one too many, one more is never enough.” It’s been difficult to get past the earworm to my real thoughts on the subject.

First of all, I’m not sure I can think of a situation where I would consider having one too many as a problem. For every scenario I’ve been able to come up with, I’d consider myself blessed to have an extra of anything.

That being said, an extra isn’t necessarily always convenient. Especially when one has some OCD tendencies that she tries to keep hidden. I like it when things are as they are supposed to be, and I don’t have to work too hard.

So basically what it all boils down to is, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It would depend entirely on one too many what?

For example, if I had one too many Oreos (say I was trying to divide the rest of the package equally among x Oreo lovers) I would surreptitiously eat the extra one to eliminate the inequality. Then I would have to be careful not to breathe near the hubby if he were one of the Oreo lovers. He is a human cookie breathalyzer. From a hundred paces. And more than happy to call me out for sneaking one.

In a completely unrelated vein, I have been collecting antique door knobs for years with the intention of attaching them to a board to make a coat rack. I have no idea how many knobs I have now, since some are in storage. I need an odd number for the project, and there’s a really good chance I’ve got one too many (for all I know, I have five too many by now). If that’s the case, I’d list the extra(s) for sale on ebay, in hopes that someone else out there is looking for single, mismatched door knobs for a special project.

If I had one too many people coming to dinner, I’d have to consider in what way s/he was too many. Do I have one too few chairs? If so, I’d drag out my paint-spattered folding step-stool, and I’d wedge my butt between its handles while I enjoyed the extra person’s company during the meal. Does my lasagna recipe feed eight, but this person makes a party of nine? In that case, I’d make a double recipe, and have hearty leftover lunches for the coming week.

I am nothing if not resourceful. One too many of anything isn’t going to throw me off for very long. Give me a minute to think, and I’ll make it seem like whatever number I’ve got is exactly the number I meant to have.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Deep Thought Thursday, On Me