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Writing 101: Day Nineteen, Don’t Stop the Rockin’

I’ve been AWOL from writing 101 and from blogging in general. As far as writing goes, my inkwell has been empty. The prompt description for today says it perfectly. I’m not …

feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident.

But, as my thoughts run crazy through my brain, I have taken my frustrations out on my yard. The good thing about that is that it is starting to take shape.

Last year, I planted some veggies in buckets and had pretty good success. My latest project …

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A raised bed vegetable garden that might keep the bunnies out of it and that could be either temporary or permanent. I didn’t want to love my garden and in a couple years the walls started to rot away. So, I used cinder blocks. It seemed like a good idea … until about 54ish blocks later. Back! Breaking! Work!

Why the crazy design you might ask? Because I found my MAJOR design flaw after I was at least 95% done with the wall build. Ugh! My two sides did not mesh up together correctly. I had too much room left over after I added my last block but not enough room to add a spacer block. So, I improvised & got a little creative … turning two blocks side ways left just enough room to use a paver as a spacer and hid the fact that my two sides didn’t line up.

I planted wave petunias in a few of the cinder block holes to liven up the blah look of the blocks… when they finally fill out. And, I planted herbs, marigolds and onions in the other holes. My grandson particularly loves the little paver seat that I added for another camouflage effect.

The cement pavers around the side were placed flush with the ground so that I do not have extra weed eating to do … we can mow right up to this baby! And as is blatantly obvious, I was short 2 pavers.

I admit, this was not the “frugal” way to make a raised bed garden. Although, I did cut my costs a little by starting my plants from seeds and using a bunch of compost I had been brewing and mulch from my yard.

Voila!

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My first raised bed garden. (I guess I should have swept before the photo)

Planted in the bed … lettuce, corn carrots, tomatoes & cucumbers.

Now to not so patiently wait for the veggies to grow!

Writing 101: Day Eleven, Size Matters (In Sentences)

map

My childhood home sat amongst rows of other houses. A ranch style house with a rock face, it consisted of 1100 square feet and a two car garage. I am sure it was nothing special to others. But, to me, it was perfect. Full of so much love!

Growing up with two brothers, I had to put up with their endless antics … like their games of “feet in the face” or chasing me with my Dad’s false teeth. But, as the odd girl out, I also got my own room. Now that memory brings a smile. The best way to describe my room at 12 years old was yellow and wall to wall girly! And, I always had a hamster. When one died, some well meaning friend would buy me another. To this day, I cannot even think about getting a hamster.

My Dad was Army. So, we lived near the military base. Growing up, we had to say goodbye to friends in school way too soon. But, on our street, we were lucky. We were stuck with each other in both good and bad until we graduated and moved on to new adventures.

Being 12 back in the day before the internet and cell phones, our typical day consisted of skateboard races, riding bikes, playing cowboys and Indians and whatever other adventures we could find to get into until dark. Our parent’s would often get together to have coffee and chat. Growing up in such a close neighborhood was great! But, it was not unheard of for any of us to have fist fights and get into scrapes. I was disciplined and patched up on many occasions by a friend’s Mom or Dad. I can even remember a time that I was carried home kicking and screaming by a neighboring Dad. It was not pretty.

Oh, to be 12 again!

In response to today’s Writing 101 assignment …

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old?

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

Writing 101: Day 7, Give and Take

Today’s post is in response to Blogging U’s Writing 101 prompt …

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

As I sat in the waiting room, I could hear loud voices and laughter coming from a back room. Ten minutes after my scheduled appointment, I could feel my panic rising.

“If you leave right now, no one will ever know that you were here.” taunted Flight.

Fight answered firmly, “No, I can do this!”

Looking around at all of the information on the wall, Flight just couldn’t stay quiet. “Look at all of this information. You’ll never be able to handle this.”

Taking a deep breath, Fight replied a little less assuredly now, “I can do this.”

Hearing the door open and two women emerge, Flight laughed. “Well, you missed your chance to get out unnoticed.”

One woman whispered a question and the other boisterously answered, “She’s for me and she can wait.”

This didn’t sit well with Flight. “Are you going to let her talk about you like that?”

Fight whispered, “I am here and now I have to do this.”

Once inside the office, the woman announced confidently, “I am an attorney and I will be interviewing you today.”

Flight, of course, was quick to speak up. “An attorney. You are interviewing with an attorney. She must be really smart. Just try not to make yourself look too stupid.”

Fight shivered, “Is it cold in here? My teeth are chattering.”

As the questions continued and the interview took a turn for the worst, Flight just couldn’t stay silent, “Did you really just say that? I don’t know. What kind of answer is that?”

Fight replied, “It was a hard question. I really didn’t know the answer. Be quiet Flight so that I can concentrate.”

As the interviewer wrapped up the questions with the standard statement … more interviews scheduled next week … we’ll call you … Flight had to butt in. “I knew you should have been more prepared. You should have done more research.”

Fight had no more fight left in her, “Maybe you are right Flight. But, I did the best that I could.”

Writing 101: Day 6, A Character-Building Experience

Caroline … not her real name, but one I shall call her. The name fits her well for both the true Southern Belle that she is and also the locale that she originates from. Caroline is in her 80’s, although she would be appalled if she realized that I knew that. She has beautiful white hair, always perfectly coifed from the beauty parlor. She wouldn’t be caught outdoors without her make-up on and is always stylishly dressed, even though she claims that her clothes are older than I am. She would never speak with her mouth full, nor point when she is talking. Caroline and I are exact opposites in almost every way. But, at times, looking at her is like looking into a mirror of time … to the person I am destined to be. That both excites me and scares me!

Caroline and I are not related. We met after she became a widow. My husband introduced us. She describes herself as anti-social. However, she keeps the roads hot … visiting her doctor, insurance agent, banker & salon weekly. Caroline dines out every weekday to a lunch alone, something that I could never do. She befriends the wait staff of her various haunts and becomes their weekly customer like clockwork. She tips generously but not to the extreme. This is how she met my husband.

We meet for lunch on Saturday afternoons. We talk freely, never running out of things to say. But, she will often call me later, fearful that she spoke out of turn or might have been misunderstood. I can tell that she has gone home and worried herself sick over things she has said or not said while we’ve chatted. I reassure her that all is well between us. She often refers to things she needs done at her home. We offer to help her with those things. But, she refuses. She doesn’t want to cut into our family time. We have invited her to family events. She never comes. No amount of persuasion works. Caroline is used to getting her own way. She likes keeping us to only lunch and an extended chat every other weekend.

Caroline and her husband used to travel the world. She rarely does anymore. She loves flowers but will not plant any. She worries about having dementia but is sharper than a tack. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a widow, but I do believe that she is still searching for her way without her husband. Understandably so!

I would have liked to have met her husband … the man she speaks so fondly of and misses so terribly. I would have liked to have known her as part of a couple. I would have liked to have known the Caroline before she lost her husband. To know the ways his loss has changed her, made her more vulnerable, made her stronger, made her the Caroline that I know today.

** Today’s post is in response to the prompt given in the Writing 101class offered by Blogging U

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Writing 101: Day Four, Serially Lost

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Dear Hannah,

I remember the day that I first saw you on the ultrasound. Being our third child, we didn’t want to be surprised about whether you would be our son or our daughter. However, you had your own ideas as you kept your tiny little legs clamped together the entire ultrasound. Your Grandma commented that your profile in the ultrasound photo looked just like your brother J, more like your Dad’s side of the family. We would find out much too soon that she was right.

Even though we couldn’t be sure from that one test that you were a little girl, I knew. I knew you were going to be my Hannah from the moment that I knew about your existence.

I remember one night while working, your normally tiny little flutter became one giant kick. I actually grabbed my stomach and commented about you letting me know that you were there. I didn’t know at the time that it would be the last time that I felt you move. I believe now that you were saying goodbye.

Later that night, I felt that something was not quite right. It wasn’t anything physical with me, just a feeling about you. Since I worked on a labor and delivery unit, we listened for your heartbeat. They reassured me that you were still so very small and it was nothing to worry about when we didn’t hear your heartbeat. I wanted to believe them. But, I knew.

A couple days later, I went to my normal appointment. The girls at work had already warned my doctor. He asked me why I didn’t talk to him sooner. At 22 weeks, what could he have done? I was in denial and waiting allowed me to hold onto you for a bit longer.

He sent me to the hospital for another ultrasound. She excused herself from the room. My worst fears were quietly confirmed in that moment. Dr. L burst into the room a few moments later. He grabbed ahold of me and told me how sorry that he was. I was crushed. Truthfully, I still am!

I was admitted to labor and delivery to be induced. The girls that I worked with took care of me. Our pastor came to see me. The medication made me very sick. At some points, I became delirious. Your Dad even had to carry me to the bathroom a few times. He witnessed me at my worst.

But, I always knew that God was with me. I remember during the labor that I looked to the doorway and saw my friend and her sister in law standing in the doorway holding hands. They were surrounded by bright white light. Later, I would learn that they did not visit but they had prayed for me.

You came into this world with your amniotic sac intact. Grandma kept me from seeing when they cut the sac open and you emerged. They announced what I already knew, “it’s a girl.” The nurse, my friend, told me that you looked like your brother, J. Dr. L noted 3 kinks in your cord where you had twisted around. One looked as if someone had actually placed a hemostat on it. They hadn’t.

After they took care of business … weighed you, measured you, foot printed you & took your photo, I held you. You were so tiny. Your skin was so fragile and dark. Someone took our photo as a family. Those photos became lost at the hospital. Your hair was just fuzz, so we couldn’t take a keepsake lock.

Since you fell below the weight where you had to be buried, my doctor offered to “take care of you” for us. I was in shock and let your father decide. I regret that. I cannot get the vision of you floating in a white bucket in formaldehyde out of my mind. But, to be honest, I am not sure the vision of you nestled in a tiny coffin underground would be any better. And when we left Texas, I would have had to leave you behind.

Once we went home from the hospital, we tried to go back to normal … for your brother’s sake. But, nothing ever goes back to normal after losing your baby. Nothing!

** I have combined two posts today into one. My last day for the Black and White Photo 5 Day Challenge AND today’s assignment for the Writing 101 class on Blogging U.

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Part Two Coming Soon!

Writing 101 Day 3: Commit to a Writing Practice

I am not much of a music person. That sounds odd considering as a child I took dance classes and as a teen I played the flute in a band. On most days, music adds chaos to my already cluttered mind. I prefer peace. I prefer quiet.

But, when I am in need of music. When my mind literally cannot process. Cannot shut down. Cannot move forward. Music is my answer. Music overrides those things in my mind and takes control.

While I was still working as a nurse, I woke at 4am every morning & made a 50 minute drive to work each day. One morning when I had already had a sleepless night and the stress of my job was starting to get to me and I was having serious doubts about my life, my job, my purpose, I flipped on the radio while I was driving to work and this was playing.

I admit, I bawled like a newborn baby. I knew that message was for me.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Lyrics from Lyricshall

As I continued my journey from leaving my job in nursing and seeking my purpose in life, or at least the rest of this life, I sought comfort and refuge in the songs of Josh Groban. My son & husband have always been great fans of his. But, I never really listened … until the need arose.

My husband said that song was probably his least favorite out of all of his songs. For me, “Weeping” was like my fight song. Conquering my demons … well, as much as I can. Fighting that fear.

Keeping in line with my Josh Groban therapy, I go to

Somedays, we forget to look around us,
Somedays, we can’t see the joy that surrounds us,
So caught up inside ourselves,
We take when we should give,
So for tonight we pray for,
What we know can be,
And on this day we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There’s so much to be thankful for,
Look beyond ourselves,
There’s so much sorrow,
It’s way to late to say, I’ll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth,
It’s so long overdue,
So for tonight we pray for,

What we know can be,
And everyday, we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There’s so much to be thankful for,
Even with our differences,
There is a place we’re all connected,
Each of us can find each others light,
So for tonight, we pray for
What we know can be,
And on this day, we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though this world needs so much more
There’s so much to be thankful for.

Josh Groban – Thankful Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It all felt too important to cut any of those words out.

Despite my issues, despite my shortcomings, despite my fears & my demons, I can count my blessings because there is so much to be thankful for!

And one day,

Ok, I know that is 4 songs but they are all needed to complete my story. My purpose is not my own. My journey should be with one goal, one end result in mind. Now just to remember that each day.

** Today’s writing 101 assignment was to free write (no thinking, no correcting, losing control) for 15 minutes about the 3 most important songs in my life and what they mean to me.

Writing 101: Day 2, A Room With a View

As I step out of the French doors, I notice the smudge of finger prints left by my rambunctious grandson. I am suddenly distracted by the rough wood felt by my bare feet. I gaze up into the vivid blue sky and automatically squeeze my eyes shut in response to the intense rays cast out by the sunshine. I feel the warmth on my face, the soft breeze through my hair. I catch the faint scent of honeysuckle that is hanging on a nearby fence. I breathe slowly, in and out. Total relaxation!

After a moment, I force myself to open my eyes and move forward. As I walk the garden path enjoying the beautiful flowers, I admire the perfect little pink daisies. I begin to hear the water as it slaps against the shoreline. It’s soothing sounds interrupted by the rough knock of the sailboat as it bumps against the beams.

I reach the end of my garden, but which pathway shall I take? I can turn and go back the way that I came, missing out on all of the other endless possibilities. I crane my neck slightly to view the mountains beyond the trees. I can turn left and follow the path up the beautiful mountainside, looking for hidden gems. Taking photos. Watching wildlife. Getting fresh air and exercise. I can turn right and follow the trail into town. I can shop. Grab some lunch. Talk with neighbors. Or I can stay the course and continue forward. I see the fishing poles leaning against the rails. I could fish. I look down at my shorts and ratty t-shirt. I could swim. I see the old boat rocking. I could paddle out a bit. So many choices.

I glance down at my hands, looking more like my Mother’s every day. I see the heat steaming out of my teacup. I take a tiny sip. My taste buds are assaulted with the bitter-sweet taste of the honey and lemon. I suddenly remember my still naked feet. I cross the length of the short deck, feeling it sway ever so gently as I walk. A bit stiff and hearing my joints crackle, I squat down to sit on the edge of the dock. I dip my feet into the cool water. I watch the fish send little bubbles to the surface as they come to greet me. A couple brave souls swim over to nibble my toes. It tickles. I hear the birds singing sweetly in the trees. I hear an occasional frog croak. I stare at a boat in the distance. My mind begins to wonder.

As I snap out of my little trance, I have no idea how long I have been sitting still, daydreaming. I know I must get up. I must go back to reality. I need to get busy with my daunting daily tasks. I hate to leave this happy place. See you again soon my dear little slice of heaven.

Chris Martin Writes

Life is a great big canvas, throw all the paint on it you can. - Danny Kaye

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