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Down The Rabbit Hole May 31, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Life Balance.
56 comments

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like Alice.

In Wonderland.

I subscribe to a number of blogs, and read them regularly, often daily.

These beloved bloggers refer to other blogs in their posts (through the giving or receiving of awards, links to related articles, posts by guest bloggers, or re-blogging posts).

Even if my favorite bloggers remain silent, blog titles on side bars catch my eye, screaming out,  “Read me!,” with the same frequency as the Red Queen’s pronouncement, “Off with her head!”

However it happens, while reading one blogger’s blog, something inevitably catches my attention and, like Alice chasing the White Rabbit, I head through yet another cyber-door to see what waits for me there.

Emerging on the other side, I find still more cyber-doors clamoring for attention (“Read me!” “Eat me!”  “Drink me!”) . . . each leading to yet another blog with still more cyber portals to explore.

alice25thIn time, I come full circle, morphing back to familiar territory.

The clock chimes and chides me for spending hours giving chase to White Rabbits while traipsing around cyber croquet courts, cheering for Playing Cards armed with Pink Flamingoes.

Like Alice, I need a pill.

Alice experimented with pills that shrunk her down, down, down, and others that caused her to grow high, higher, highest.

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27I need a pill that stops the clock in real time so I can explore as many Blog Holes as desired without racing breathlessly back to reality chanting, “I’m late.  I’m late.  Late for an important date.”

Or maybe there’s an App for that?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Reposted for  Sidey’s Weekend Theme ~ Down The Rabbit Hole.

To see a real live Hobbit House, jump down THIS Rabbit Hole.

Illustrations:  Wikipedia ~ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & The Mad Hatter (in Public Domain)

Not A Word In 13 Years . . . May 30, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Magick & Mystery, People.
60 comments

IMGP1221In 2000, “L” and her family of 6 (plus her mother) visited us one week after we moved into a new home on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

I thought we had a fantastic time.

She seemed as friendly when she left as when she arrived.

I never heard from her again.

Not a word in 13 years.

Phone calls, e-mails, letters, holiday missives, and birthday cards all went unanswered.  To this day, I have NO IDEA what happened . . . despite having asked in every way I could think of.

Before we parted ways, L and I had been close friends for 24 years ~ from freshman year in college through moves, marriages, children (hers, not mine), changing philosophies, etc.

She served as a bridesmaid in my wedding.  I sang in her wedding.  She and her husband stayed with us in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Maryland.  We visited her family in Minnesota and at her mother’s house in New Jersey.

We held sleep overs for her kids and attended Batman-themed birthday parties. We visited playgrounds and parks.  We played penny poker.

IMGP1216bAll that stopped in June 2000.

Her four sons, now college-aged and older, friended me on Facebook.

They remember all the good times we had together when they were growing up.

But their mom is still mum.  She hasn’t spoken a word to me in 13 years.

Nada.  Nothing.  Zilch.

And I haven’t a clue as to why she drifted away.
It’s a mystery.

Related post:  Blood On My Tongue (Andra Watkins)

Have you ever had a close friend drift away and disappear “for no reason” you could discern?

Did the two of you ever reunite and re-ignite the friendship?

Wrting Groups May 29, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
38 comments

Tiggers-R-UsWriting groups are not for everyone.

What I enjoy most about writing is its solitary nature, with nothing between my thoughts and the page but my pen. Writing “by committee” holds no appeal.

Some critiques “bash” the motivation out of would-be writers. Other critiques probably aren’t critical enough.

Due to loyalty, or fear of future reprisals, members may say what the would-be writer WANTS to hear, not what s/he NEEDS to hear.

7dwarfsMeetings are time consuming and often a waste of time ~ social niceties, feigned friendship, and pats on the back (warranted and unwarranted) eat up LOTS of time.

If you’re in the wrong group . . . you hear the wrong advice.

If you hear any advice at all.

When we first moved to Florida, I attended a few meetings of the Gulf Coast Writers.  The group gathers once a month to read their writings to each other amid a smattering of polite applause ~ or deathly silence.

Occasionally, an outside speaker appears to elucidate writers in the group about how to get published  or self-publish their words.

The meeting time, mid-day on Wednesdays, ensures that most members are retired from the workforce . . . with an average age of 73.1 years.

At the second or third meeting I attended, the group discussed holding a Writers Forum on the island.  Excited, I attended the next meeting only to learn that a consensus had been reached to do nothing more than the group was already doing ~ acting as a polite audience for once a month readings.

At that point, I lost interest in the group, and I haven’t bothered to scout out another for the reasons cited above.

PC-CatThat said, if I stumbled upon someone and LOVED how they wrote and they agreed to read my WIP and give me an HONEST critique and it was HELPFUL and we started to share more of our writing with each other and . . .

That might work. ;)

Aah . . . that’s better!

What say you?

Have you ever participated in a writing group?
Did it help or hinder?

Related post:  Writing Groups: Yea or Nay? (Eric J. Baker)

Quote to ponder:  The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it. ~ Leo Rosten

Hitchcock May 28, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, People, Writing & Writers.
43 comments

Hitchcock’s namesake movie, a  masterful portrayal of the mind behind Psycho and other thrilling thrillers, demonstrates how often “brilliant” partners with “bizarre.”

What an odd and peculiar man.

Anthony Hopkins, as Hitchcock, is unsettling, encouraging viewers to keep one eye open at all times.  Helen Mirren, as his muse and wife, Alma Hitchcock, is fabulous, proving the adage ~ “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

Perfect cast.  Crisp script.  One-liners laced with poisonous dry wit.  We found nothing not to like in this period piece that peers through holes in the veneer and sees sides we’ve tried to hide.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you seen it?  Does it mesh with your vision of the man behind the movies?

Good Graeff May 27, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Music & Dance.
24 comments

Yesterday, we went to the Bradenton Riverwalk for Pickin’ Picnic ~ a free music event with bands pickin’ and strumming from 11 am until 10 pm.

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Our favorite band, Good Graeff, is twin sisters with lots of musical talent.

Here, have a listen:

They are definitely enjoying the journey on the way to who knows where:

They even sound great in black and white:

Aah . . . that’s better!

Stuck Like a Duck on a Deck May 26, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure.
35 comments

It’s Memorial Day in the States . . .

Creating a 3-day-weekend for many working folks who enjoy spending their “off hours” congregating in record numbers with other boaters in shallow waters atop barely submerged sandbars in the inter-coastal waterway while they float  from boat to boat, cans in hand, to discuss matters of deep import.

We didn’t join them.

Instead, we went for a long walk in the waves on alcohol-free beaches.

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We enjoyed $2 Happy Hour appetizers and a cold Yuengling at Bella Mia Grille on the Manatee River ~ our fave, fried green beans with chipotle dipping sauce.

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We listened to the Sarasota Jazz Project while strolling through the Farmer’s Market on Lemon Avenue.

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We enjoyed all the bright colors, textures, sounds, and aromas.

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We bought fresh corn-on-the-cob for dinner, a pair of ripe red tomatoes, and two considerably-less-ripe green tomatoes to pair with grits for lunch today.

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After getting our fill of the Farmer’s Market, we went for a short boat ride on Sarasota Bay with Captain Daryl of the Freedom Boat Club.

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The weather whispered, “kick back and relax.”

We complied.

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After having a few laughs, we headed north to Longboat Key Club for an Auction of Artwork and Diamond-studded Rolex Watches.

A Peep at Christies: Wikipedia ~ Elizabeth Farren (in Public Domain)

We didn’t bring our checkbooks, content to spectate only.

After watching an original Pissarro sell for $11,800 and a Rolex go for $8,900, we turned our backs on the stifled bidding and returned home.

Where we found a duck, stuck, on our deck.

We didn’t realize, at first, that she was stuck.  She seemed to be enjoying the shade of the palm tree.

An hour later, she began pacing, intent on finding a way out.

We screened the deck posts so Tigger can’t slip through.  The duck could have flown the coop by looking up.

But our stuck duck didn’t think of that as she waddled to and fro, flapping frustrated wings.

So we rescued her.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

We’re Getting More Stoopider May 24, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, Nature, People.
35 comments

The idea behind Planet of the Apes is not so far-fetched.

As it turns out, apes are getting smarter while we, their closest relatives, are getting dumber with each passing generation.

Why?

Downward spiraling evolution.

Geneticists cite a number of contributing factors:

* We no longer need to be resourceful to survive.  We rely on others for food, clothing, shelter . . . even allowing “them” to do our thinking.

* “Survival of the fittest” no longer weeds out losers in the IQ department.

* Intelligent women have fewer children while women with less intelligence breed in greater numbers.

I’ll add another factor . . . Reality TV, Pumpkin Chuckin, Monster Truck Rallies, and other entertainments aimed at the “lowest common denominator.”

Instead of engaging in intellectually stimulating debate on the “big issues” of the day, we spend time in mind-numbing pursuits causing brain atrophy.

3D-ApeWill our brains go the way of our tails, shrinking from non-use?

Will computers eventually do all our thinking for us?

Will the images from Planet of the Apes become our reality?

Perhaps.

Use it . . . or lose it.

If we brought an average citizen from 1,000 B.C. to the present, they would be far brighter than the average Joe of today:

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to suddenly appear among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companies, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues.”

Gerald Crabtree, a geneticist at Stanford University, whose findings were published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

And, just think, that citizen of Athens is none the wiser about Kim Kardashian and celebrities of like ilk who garner far too much recognition and attention for far too little reason.  Sometimes ignorance IS bliss!

Aah . . . that’s better!  

What do YOU think?

Related articles:  Dumb and Dumber ~ Humans are Losing Their Smarts (US News & World Report) * Leading Geneticist: Human Intelligence is Slowly Declining (Natural Society) * Idiocracy ~ the feel-bad comedy of the year

Three Perspectives on Endings May 23, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Poetry.
29 comments

Wikipedia ~ All’s Well That Ends Well (in Public Domain)

How we see life depends on which end of the telescope we gaze through:

There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.

~ Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

~ Dr. Seuss (perhaps)

All will be well in the end.
If all is not well, it is not yet the end.

~ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Aah . . . that’s better!

Which quote suits you best?  Does it depend upon your proximity to “The End”?

The Art of “Cooking” Raw Food May 22, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Humor.
36 comments

To counter health issues, my sister is on a Gluten Free Vegan diet with lots of Raw Food tossed into the hopper.

I equate Raw Food with crisp crunchy salads . . .

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Fresh fragrant fruit requiring little or no preparation . . .

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A plate of crisp crunchy crudités . . .

 

Or better still, a pairing of fresh veggies and fresh fruit . . .

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But what do I know?

A few weeks ago, my sister went to a Raw Food Sampling Event in Mount Dora, Florida.  Attendees received samples to try and recipes to take home but did not observe any actual food preparation because . . . preparing Raw Food would have taken too long.

I find that amusing.

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As it turns out, many Raw Food Recipes take hours longer to prepare than their cooked equivalents.  A few examples:

* White Basmati Rice takes 25 minutes to prepare in boiling water.  On a Raw Food diet, rice must be soaked overnight to become digestible.

* White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies take 8-10 minutes to bake, all the while perfuming the kitchen with delicious aromas that make it hard to eat just one.  In contrast, raw cookies must be dehydrated for hours before becoming (barely) edible.  And, even after all that time, they are still hard.

No, not hard to resist.  Just hard.

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When I asked my sister about the sampling event, she said, “Interesting talk and good food, especially the crunchy raw live crackers.”

“Did you enjoy any of the samples enough to recreate the recipes at home?”

“No.  Probably not.  Too much work.”

“Don’t you find it ironic that RAW food takes longer to prepare than COOKED food?”

“I suppose.”

“At least they didn’t call it a Raw Food “Cooking” Demo.  That would have been oxymoronic.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite Raw Food “Recipes”?

Smoothies?  Salads?  Fresh Fruit?  Or something more involved?

Related Articles:  The Raw Food Diet, Overcooked (David Katz, M.D.) * Raw Food Diet (WebMD) * Pros & Cons of a Raw Food Diet (Prevention)

Don’t Spoil The Broth . . . Trim The Fat May 21, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
22 comments

Whether you’re focused on fiction or fashion or food, details spice up your writing and make readers come back for seconds.

And thirds.

Nancy Curteman (Global Mysteries) offers up 10 sweet and savory examples designed to make scenes and stage-settings glow with energy and life:

10 Ways Details Can Spice Up Your Writing

BAM!

Just remember, whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or at the keyboard, moderation is key ~ too many seasonings competing for attention results in a mixed up muddled up puddle of a mess . . . a/k/a mud!

That’s boring.

And, as Eric points out with humor, charm, and chutzpah, boring is bad:

Don’t Write Boring!

Writers have it easy compared to cooks.  When something isn’t working, we can exercise our editing muscles to excise the excess . . . we can trim the fat.

In contrast, if too many cooks spoil the broth by adding too much salt to the stew, they find themselves in a real pickle.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Quote to Ponder:  I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.  ~ Blaise Pascal