A Lovely Shade of Moon

If you were looking up last night, you saw the beautiful supermoon called a pink moon. The name refers to a spring flower, the wild ground Plox (Moss Plox). It was a lovely sight, as is always the moon.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.

A full moon is always a delight to see; one never gets tired of it.

Things That Make Me Go ???

I am puzzled; I just don’t get it. In July 1st Virginia will become one of the states were recreational marijuana is allowed. Our democratic governor happily signed, and legislation passed by 48-43 vote, I think, if I did not misread. In his words, “We are giving Virginians what they want.” I personally doubt that. Our governor is a physician, a pediatrician. I know that should not influence anything he signs, but why rush this legalization? Don’t these things take some preparation and training (law enforcement training for example)? Virginia will join 12 states (11 plus Washington DC, and we are a Commonwealth by definition, not a state, but that is another ???) these being Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey (joined in February 2021),Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. . There might be more I missed. All except Alaska, are democratic states. Virginians will be able to enjoy the pot, and grow up to four plants per household, prohibited from selling it, but you can offer it as a gift to someone (yup, I will gift you this lovely plant, but can you lend me some $$$?), must label their plants (really?), keep them out of public view (why, isn’t it legal now, and aren’t the plants labeled?), and keep them away from anyone under 21 years old (we know how that will work out). Virginians cannot smoke it in public, or in a vehicle (Ha!), and penalties will remain the same for minors, possession and use in schools (at least some sense). All this in the name of “social equity” because I guess minorities are criminalized more for possession (not my words). There’s another layer to this in relation with business licensing, and preference to minorities for grant licensing (???).

Ok so now that we have cover the basics here, this is what puzzles me. When I was a kid, it was hammered over and over in Health studies that marijuana was a very very very bad drug, and we had to memorize the horrible effects, physical, social, etc. and then pour the precious knowledge out into a test. So was I brainwashed as a kid? Well, I am not so sure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Advancing Addiction Science, yes Science) seems to have its pretty “old fashioned” view on this topic. You can read all about the dangerous side effects and implications here Marijuana DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

If this government agency still thinks this way, then WHY, WHY, WHY? Pollyanna asks. Seriously, take a quick look at all the effects, impairment and other stuff, in case you forgot Health studies. I am sure we all know someone who had smoke it, or still does, but honestly, the people who I have seen smoking it acted like clowns, impaired nimrods … Maybe I never saw a pot-smoking human who acts normal or posed? So why am I so concerned? Simply, I can see the effects on the street (now that it is legalized and easier to access here), people driving erratically after smoking while texting going to work, and messing up their work, which might require a high level of concentration and skill. Don’t want someone forgetting to tighten those brakes, or putting sugar in your cappuccino, or forgetting that bistoury inside you (after all, One of many physicians agrees). But most of all, I think of how soon my car insurance will go up again, and I say again, because it went up by an additional $500 a year during Covid season, yes and we were not driving much, and so the rest of the world, so I can’t wait to see how much our 20 year old cars will cost to drive next year, and by the way, driven by two old farts who have been accident free for decades, but are getting older now. When I moved from Jersey (city) to Virginia (rural VA) my insurance went up. When I asked why, I was told that more accidents happen here. I guess those long lone country roads are quite dangerous here.

Now that I aired my selfish motives, if you read the link, you will understand the rest, and I don’t have to mention it on this post. I am sure that most people who smoke it will be good responsible citizens who mean no harm and got it together, so maybe I am exaggerating here, and all is well. It is not my intention to judge people either; it is not my place. I will have to educate myself on the effects on those states, after legalization took place, and if there were any significant changes. Despite the risks of using this drug (labeled as such by the NIDA) the image being sold is one of minorities being treated fairly for smoking pot, not jailed, and that jailed people (for small possession) will be set free and gallop into the sunshine. And we will live happily ever after.

*Disclaimer – This post has been written by an American woman of Hispanic (Puerto Rican)/Spaniard/Basque/Canarian … and a whole much more descent. Any views presented here are hers only, and are not part of this network or its affiliates. (Could not help myself).

In God’s Image (Poetic Rant)

Photo by M.A.D.

In God’s Image – A poetic Rant

When you call out inclusion, I am insulted; I believe I am a part already.

When you want to lower standards for me, I am underrated; I have high standards.

How can there be equality when I am being set apart as being different or less than by the same policies that claim equity?

Your policies are intended to keep me down, but I have never seen myself as a victim.

I am made in the image of God, and in God I trust.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

The Most Influential Figure in My Life Made It to My Books, and I Didn’t Know It.

Most of us can think of someone who has been the most influential person in our lives, whether as a child or an adult. For me, that person was my grandmother. I was raised by my grandmother. She was a strong woman, a Christian woman full of faith, a hardcore Catholic who spoke in tongues and prayed the rosary everyday. A woman filled with the Holy Spirit every single day of her life. She also had a strong character, and authority. To me, it seemed as she was always in control, no matter what was going around her. Her faith sustained her. She was compassionate, but never weak. When she spoke her mind, she just did, but never offended anyone. She had poise, presence, and good manners – good manners were very important to her. She was known in our small neighborhood, and was always eager to help in what she could. She never denied a glass of water (or coffee) to a stranger that would stop at our house. I never heard her complain about anything, but heard her sing throughout the day. She was frugal, but never in generosity. She also had a softer side, which she let out from time to time. Her word was law. She was a warrior.

It wasn’t until I had finished writing The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy that I realized one day how much Olga Gartier (the leader of The Blue Lily Society, the protectors of Dinorah Sandbeck) reminded me of my grandmother. I had drawn so much from my grandmother’s character to create Olga Gartier. The physical part was unlike my grandmother, the opposite, but her character was were I could clearly see her. It was a pleasant discovery, joyful. I even dedicated to her, in memory, the first book of the trilogy – Ramblings of the Spirit.

I have never met anyone like her in all my years, and she remains in my heart, memories, and somehow, inside the pages of my books.

This Old Farmhouse – My Take on the Journey So Far

About ten years ago, my husband and I bought an abandoned old farmhouse that was dilapidated and almost buried under a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and trees. It wasn’t until five years ago that we moved into it. It took some money, time, and a lot of work to make it livable, and there are many areas that still need to be addressed, mainly exterior work. It has been hard work, and I mean, real hard work. Because we did not count with a large budget, we had to do most of the work ourselves (about 95%), just the two of us. We continue to work together in some outdoor projects, slowly, as the budget allows.

Will we do it again? Although a simple question that requires a yes or no answer, I find myself unable to answer it in such way simply because it has been quite a journey. A journey full of bittersweet moments – great moments, exhausting moments, unnerving moments, proud moments, and moments of faith as well. We both have learned so much – about ourselves, about working together and our working styles, about new skills, about the house, about appreciation and gratefulness, about our limits and disposition, and much more; but mostly, about trusting the Lord in our everyday lives. This is why a simple yes or no answer does not suffice.

In the practical sense, a bigger budget would have made things easier and faster – hiring people, easier/better materials and tools, and overall contracting out the hard work areas, and only dealing with the fun tasks. Ideally. However, we would have not experienced and learned as much, grown with the project, and appreciate it as much. It was hard work, but also fun. We would have done some things in a different way, but other things in the same way we did. Overall, I think the experience built up character, but also faith. In that sense, it is a step up from where we started. The long and hard working hours improved our physical stamina but also our mind; the overall experience, our souls. We will continue to work together on this old farmhouse and will share some projects here.

So going back to the yes or no question – will we do it again? I will answer the question for myself, but I think my husband feels the same way about it. The hard work was physically taxing but the overall experience was worth it. If you would like to take a look at the progress so far, please check out the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts on this blog.

Yes.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.

A Great Eagle’s Prayer

Photo by M.A.D.

I have not been able to write a poem in so long. As I watched the evening news yesterday, this one came to me, as a prayer for our nation.

A Great Eagle’s Prayer

Through the dark clouds

an eagle soars

A ray of light

its wings restores.

Following the sun

wings spread, sublime it soars

Higher and higher its climb

for land and freedom implores.

High in the sky Great Eagle sees

darkness is gone, freedom restored

For God has seen its bloody wings

flapping in prayer, closer to heaven.

High in the sky Eagle can see

the fragile land that lies beneath

Its vision keen, its wings are strong

in God it trusts, its heart has healed.

Stronger than ever the Eagle stands

in Faith, in Freedom, in Holy Land

For it has conquered darkness of soul

the serpent crushed, in God it trusts.

When Others Don’t Understand What You Do

This is a light humor post, but one that will resonate with many writers who have gone through similar situations. It is written in the spirit of encouraging new and aspiring writers, as well as the veterans in the field whose work have not been found or given recognition. Consider this scenario, very common.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Hum, a car dealership writer, an underwriter?” (Fill the blank on this one)

“No, I write books.”

“Oh …” (followed by a blank stare)

For most people, unless you last name is King or you live at a coastal mansion, you are not a real writer. You are “playing writer” or are going through a phase. In their minds, Writing books = $$$, and a real writer is supposed to have status of some kind. You become one when you achieve this. If not, why do it? Sometimes, we entertain those same thoughts and feelings; you know what I mean. It seems to go deeper than that.

I would like to share a funny story, a conversation I had along those lines. About two years ago, a nearby neighbor had someone fixing her roof. She knew the person since he was a kid. He was starting his roofing business and she needed a new roof, so it was a perfect match. I was at her home when he arrived for that day, and since I had some questions about metal roofs, we began a casual conversation which centered on the type of roof for my 1910 farmhouse, which has an old style construction (beams) and an original stone foundation. The weight of a new roof on the structure was my main concern. After a few exchanges, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I was a writer, without going into much detail. Immediately, he shared that he always wanted to write a book and that he knew someone who worked at a local radio station “BUT” she was a “REAL” writer. (Imagine my polite smile). I asked him, “Really, and how many books does she have under her belt?” He answered that she had written a book sometime ago. I smiled, but could not help myself and said, “Oh, just one? I am in my sixth, and it doesn’t get any easier.” I thanked him, waved a goodbye, and walked home. Now we know who will not get my business when it is time for a new roof. I will hire a real roofer.

This is a perfect example of how writers are viewed based on status, which usually equals money in the mind of many people. Which brings another issue – fame before talent. These days, if you are a celebrity a publisher is ready and waiting, and your celebrity name/status precedes your book. You can write about anything and it will be published, promoted, and praised, because in most minds, celebrities can be writers. Ask a Cover Girl model what she thinks about that.

At another level, the sting is more bothersome when it comes from someone closer, who is viewed as a line of support, such a family or a close friend. A friend related to me how annoyed and hurt she was when her mother became very excited about someone’s first book, a person she barely knew, but not hers (many) because her books did not sell much. OUCH!

When I published my first novel, I was excited and proud of myself. I had prepared and waited years for this. I gifted a copy to someone I truly thought would be happy for me, and whom I knew for over 30 years, and for whom I had been there always as needed. Her response baffled me. She threw the book on top of the dinning table and said, “I won’t be reading it; I don’t have time for that.” I was shocked. I did not have a quick comeback for that one. It is different when it doesn’t come from a stranger.

People had asked, “Do you make any money?” or “How much money do you make doing that?” One of my favorites is, “Oh, you should write a book about this or that; I bet it will make money.” We know it doesn’t work like that, and for most of us, it is not even about the money. I am sure you have many similar stories as well. My point to all this? Many people don’t understand what writers do or why we do it. In truth, it is not about how many books, or how much money you make … it is about perception, people’s values, and about what it is important to them, ultimately the reason why they don’t understand what you do. Hence why you should be above it all, don’t give it two thoughts, and keep on doing “your thing.” When people don’t understand what you do, it is inconsequential as long as you know why you do it. Never judge a book by its cover?

The Right to Create Responsibly

These days, phrases and words like cultural appropriation, woke, and many other, are common in our vocabulary. We hear them in social media, the news … These concepts have become “a thing” and many are using them and are “finger-ready” to point it at the first sign of such heresy. The self-righteous mob found a new quest, and with it the holy grail of the times, the “woke” got up and chanted a new song of mob shaming. Just because we are so perfect and spotless, right? The taste of new blood becomes an obsession in social media, and in mainstream media as well. It has migrated into writing, with the latest censoring of old books, the shaming of “old culture”, and the removal of many from social media and the shelves. How will it all play out in the end? It is a question I ask myself. Will we become better people? Will we become better communicators and writers/creatives? Will we sensor ourselves, diluting the words as much as we can so we are not perceived as offensive? What about the writers who are in the historical fiction genre? How will they write a scene that has accurate historical influences in wording because it might be perceived as offensive? Will writers avoid certain ethnicities in their novels for fear of being misunderstood? Will writers of crime thrillers be accused of “inspiring” or “inciting” a crime if an unstable person decides to recreate that particular crime? Will authors be censored, arrested, and prosecuted? Will writing and every form of creativity become “illegal” in the future?

I ask myself those questions and many more. I don’t think I am too crazy and far off. Lone gone are the days when you and I could disagree on something, have a conversation about it, have an opinion, and express it freely without being chastised. We must respect one another by learning to listen to one another all over again, by learning to find common ground even when we disagree on many things, and by understanding that we are more alike than we think we are. As writers, I think that we should strive to write the best story we can write without being disrespectful while being true to the story and history, in the case of historical fiction based on facts. As humans, we are less than perfect, and I believe that most of us try to be as decent as we can, and strive to do better each day. When we look at another as a reflection of ourselves, most likely we end up seeing ourselves in that person in some way or another.

We are more alike than we care to admit (photo by M.A.D.)

Intermittent Writing

No one expected last year, and certainly, this year is already showing up as challenging in many ways for this country. It has affected people in many different ways and aspects of their lives. No one the same. This post is about an update on my latest novel, The Girl Who Could Not Love. What’s up with my novel? The quick answer is nothing is up. I have had to put it aside for a while, after periods of long intermittent writing. The past year has affected my writing in ways that I did not expect, after all, as a writer I enjoyed solitude, and it helped my writing in the past. However, I find myself with a dry inkwell and no desire to tackle my current novel, something very unusual for me. Everything that last year brought, which hasn’t changed much this year, played a number on my “little psyche” thus affecting my writing disposition. I have been busy with many other projects, but not with what I consider my most important and precious endeavor (it is to me). If you have been able to finish a novel during the past year until now, I congratulate you, and please, give yourself a pat in the back, because I know it has not been an easy task. God bless you. You are a Warrior Writer.

So what now? This post serves (me) as an outlet, a source of release, a sort of permission, a passing ritual, and an acknowledgement to myself – the writer – that it is fine to feel this way, that is is ok to put the guilt feelings of a writer aside, and to pick up that novel again sometime in the future, when the writer has healed the soul. For now, all previous self-imposed deadlines are released, and each day will be received and acknowledged with a grateful heart.

Totally unrelated – Find the bird in this picture.

Can you find the bird? (Photo by M.A.D.)