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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


My Gratitude/Happiness List –April 13, 2014

My latest linkup with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude List at Alphabet Salad: here are some things for which I'm grateful and that made me happy this week.


  Listing our “other” house, a three-family, for sale
 
  Attending an excellent performance of Macbeth at a local theater

  Having a variety of small independent shops in our neighborhood, at one of which I just bought a new dress for Easter!


  Seeing a great concert by Manhattan Transfer with friends

  Watching my husband bowl in a tournament for charity and, in the penny social raffle they had, winning gift certificates for three free pizzas at a place we haven’t tried

  Having our taxes finished and filed and getting a refund

  Weather warm and beautiful enough to go outside without a jacket and jog on the streets again

  Finally winning a trivia competition after teaming up with two other people who knew a lot of the music and pop culture stuff that we didn’t

  That my temporary stomach upset Sunday morning cleared up in time for me to participate in Palm Sunday Mass as a lector and take one of the roles in the reading of the Passion

  Having the opportunity to be a lector at church

  Going for my yearly checkup and learning I lost 5 pounds since last year!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


 

 

Gratitude/Happiness List (March 27)

I’ve gotten behind in posting my lists lately, but here are some of the things I’ve been grateful for/made happy by this week. This is a linkup with Laurel Regan’s Alphabet Salad blog.


Receiving printed copies of the The Quotable issue in which my story appears.

 

 

The renewed feeling that getting a haircut brings.

Meeting two friends for dinner at Cheesecake Factory.

Meeting another friend for lunch and walking to the restaurant, a little over two miles round trip, on a beautiful day.

Buying three new books.

Finishing another prayer shawl.

A concert by the RI Philharmonic Orchestra featuring one of my favorite works, Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony.

Our dog getting a clean bill of health from the vet.

That what I thought was a broken tooth was just a broken crown and replaceable.

Watching Providence College in the NCAA tournament playing a great game and not feeling too bad about their losing to North Carolina.

That we missed the big storm that buried Cape Cod and other parts of Massachusetts.

 

 

Monday, March 10, 2014


My Gratitude/Happiness List (March 10, 2014)

I am again linking up with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude List with my own Happiness/Gratitude List to share what I am grateful for and what made me happy during the past week:

 One of my older blog posts about my mother being featured in Woven Tale Press (many thanks to Sandra Tyler!)

 Fresh bread from our neighborhood bakery.

 Another “date night”  with my husband: dinner, seeing Nebraska, and having dessert out afterward.

 Being involved in the prayer shawl ministry at church.

 That a good friend’s husband, who had a stroke just before Christmas, is now again able to get out and take his morning walk for coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.

 Having had a spurt of energy yesterday and cleaning my bathroom and kitchen floor!

 Reading the latest Writers Ask issue and feeling the itch to write again.

 That my husband is taking care of getting all our tax information together for the accountant.

 A nice quiet Sunday evening spent with my husband, having leftover vegetable stew (yum!) working on two crossword puzzles, reading the paper, and listening to the Billboard Top 100 from 1976 (not such a good year, though—remember “Disco Duck”?), with our dog curled up on the couch.

 Going to the next-to-last Brown University basketball home game.

 An unexpected Facebook conversation with a cousin beginning with his posting a great old song, “Darkness, Darkness” by the Youngbloods, touching on theology and philosophy, then to remembering our lost family members.

 Daylight Savings Time!
 
 

Monday, March 3, 2014


My Happiness/Gratitude List (March 3, 2014)

I am again linking up with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude List with my own Happiness/Gratitude List to share what I am grateful for and what made me happy during the past week:

The publication of my short story in TheQuotable .

My husband taking me out to dinner to celebrate my publication.

Receiving the DVDs I ordered: the first season of Dr. Kildare!

The sight of steam rising in the sunlight from my teacup.

 The sweet, earthy smell of a newly watered plant.
 

 Having written 13 blog posts in February.

 Having breakfast out on a weekday.

 My husband buying me flowers for no particular reason.
 

 Lectoring at church.

 A relaxing Sunday: a matinee of “Inside Llewyn Davis,” dinner, and watching the Oscars.

 Getting another skein of beautiful yarn so I can start the pattern I found to use it with!
 
(This color isn't true. The yarn is really much more red than this--not nearly this garish!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014


 


The Writer’s Roller Coaster

 

I’ve ridden the writer’s roller coaster over the past couple of weeks.

 

I was thrilled this week that my flash fiction “Breakage” was published in The Quotable literary magazine.

 

The week before I learned that another story I had entered in the Glimmer Train contest for new writers was not selected, either as a contest winner or for future publication.

 

As excited as I was about the first of these, I really wasn’t disappointed by the second.

 

Glimmer Train is my favorite literary magazine. Its quality is impeccable, and I’m always amazed at how good the writers featured in it are. So submitting my story here was chasing a dream, and I knew that. Even before I learned the results of the contest, I had followed the advice of two of my writing teachers and submitted the story to a second market, and I have a third and fourth in mind.

 

This, for me, is a huge step forward in my confidence.

 

I also thought about all the other writers who submitted—and there must have been thousands of entries. And how, in spite of all the likely disappointment, all of the effort to write and perfect a story for submission is not wasted.

 

I realize how lucky I am to be able to write at all, how lucky all of us who have some amount of talent—small or great—are to be able to create worlds out of words, to bring people to life, to get inside their heads and know them in ways we can’t know the real people in our lives.

 

I’ve been in love with writing since I was a child. All through high school it was what I wanted to be. But when I stepped into real life, I lost my confidence in my writing ability and set it aside. I didn’t pick it up again until the past decade or so, when I rediscovered my love for it.

 

I took several writing courses and made tentative steps forward. Yet I thought actual submission to actual publications was a reach for the sky. But I did impulsively enter a reader’s contest in Rosebud magazine, for which I wrote a poem using a line supplied by the editors. It was printed in the magazine: my first publication.

 

After that I took a leap and submitted a story I liked. When it was rejected, I was discouraged. I never tried to submit it anywhere else.

 

But I did keep trying. I kept taking courses. I finished a NaMoWriMo novel (which I am still trying to revise). And gradually I began to feel like a writer.

 

This week I achieved my third publication. And now I feel that I’ve earned a balanced perspective. I know that at my age, and without an MFA, I won’t be having a “career” as a writer. And that’s fine. What I do hope to do is keep on writing and learning, keep on trying to get better. If small publications do come along, I’ll be happy and grateful, but I won’t count on anything. And my overarching goal (far off as it may be) is to finish my novel. After that…don’t know. I may try for real publication or consider self-publication. In any event, I’ll be proud to have done it.

 

And I think the doing it is what really counts.


Image from MorgueFile

 

 

 

Monday, February 24, 2014


 

 

Happiness List 1: What Made Me Happy This Week

 


 
I’ve been enjoying doing the Gratitude List linkups at Laurel Regan’s Alphabet Salad, but I thought I’d try a different twist on it—that is, a Happiness List: a list of things that made me happy this past week.

I’ve decided to do this because I think it expands and enhances the Gratitude List to include things that we do for ourselves that make us happy, not only things that we’re given or that others do for us. I think it’s important that we remember that we’re responsible for our own happiness and remember to do those things that make us happy—which also include doing things to make others happy!

Looking back on these things is a great way to end the week and to start a new one! Reading over this list makes me feel like “my cup(s) runneth over”!

 


▪ Spending a fun evening with my husband playing trivia at a local pub.

▪ Meeting a friend for lunch.

▪ Seeing the first crocuses poking up in a neighbor’s yard.

▪ Seeing “Saving Mr. Banks” with my husband and having dinner out afterward.

▪ Getting my paycheck for the Monster Manuscript.

 

▪ Receiving the first issues of my subscription to “Relief,” a Christian literary magazine.

▪ Having milder weather and melting snow.

▪ Listening to the Billboard Top 100 from the early 70s—one year per night, about five hours of music each night, that took me back to my college years.

▪ Bringing home a piece of the world’s best chocolate fudge cake from Chelo’s restaurant—my last before Ash Wednesday, when my Lenten chocolate fast begins.

▪ Making a delicious vegetable chili for Sunday dinner—and having leftovers for tonight! Not having to make dinner makes me happy!

▪ Finishing the second book on the Plantagenets I’ve read this year.

▪ Knowing that the Olympics closed peacefully without any of the threatened terrorist attacks taking place.

▪ Continuing to work on the prayer shawl I’m crocheting for the ministry at church.



▪ Finding what I hope is the perfect pattern to use for the beautiful yarn I bought two years ago!

 

What has made you happy this week?

 

 

 

Friday, February 21, 2014




A Trivial Mind at Play

 
I have a trivial mind.

That’s what I tell people when they wonder how I can remember the name of a character actor from the 1940s or of an obscure one-hit-wonder band. My memory for unimportant things is impeccable.

 
So I should be a great trivia-contest player, right?
 

My husband and I do make a pretty formidable team when we play along with Jeopardy! on TV or when we play Trivial Pursuit with friends. I let him take the hard categories—science and geography—and I mostly handle the easy ones, like literature, art, and film. We complement each other well.


But the kind of high-stakes trivia contests they play in pubs? That’s another story.

 
The pub we went to the other night was jammed by the 9 p.m. starting time. We were lucky to get a table for two near the door. I looked around at all the tables and the bar, filled with teams of three, four, five or more people competing against just the two of us. It was daunting. Nevertheless, nourished by a glass of wine and a chicken pot pie, I made myself ready.

 
The host read off the categories, six rounds of ten questions each: pop culture; geography, history and sports; picture round; music; true/false round; and general knowledge. We actually did pretty well for the first few rounds. When we got to the geography etc. round I was very unsure but counted on my husband to help us at least keep from getting embarrassed. We blew all the other teams away on that round with 90 points (and I did help a little). Each round has a winner, and that one was ours. We actually won a prize--a set of coasters.

 


 
I was pumped. Bring on the rest of the questions; we were hot!


The peak turned immediately to a slope in the music round. I thought we made a promising start. On the first notes of the first song, we looked at each other and mouthed “Day Tripper” (so the people at the next table wouldn’t hear us—gotta be strategic). I happily wrote down “Day Tripper, The Beatles”. Wrong. Turned out it was a version by Jimi Hendrix (who knew Jimi Hendrix did a version of “Day Tripper”?). After that we correctly identified Tom Jones and Blondie. Then it fell apart. Halfway through the round, the host threw a country song at us, and we threw up our hands in surrender. No clue the rest of the way. “We’re too old for this round,” I grumbled to the host when he came to pick up our answer sheet. And I’m the one who likes new music!


After limping through the rest of the contest, we finished in tenth place out of about fourteen or fifteen teams. Oh well. We had a lot of fun, and we had our coasters to show for it.

 
Sometimes the little triumphs make all the difference.

 

PS: But next time we’ll try to recruit a couple of young people to come with us.