Simple Pleasures

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I’ve decided that I’m going to keep a running list of simple pleasures. It’s kind of a hybrid of a bucket list and what I’m thankful for list.

In my last post, I shared that I was having some health issues. Well, eight days ago, I had extensive surgery on my neck and throat, not fun, but pretty amazing what modern medicine can do and I would like to give some credit to the miracle body machine we don’t always appreciate. My sister likes to say, “Our body spends twenty-four hours a day healing itself.” and she is right. After seven days, they took out the stitches and a drain. Yesterday, I could shower and wash my hair. I took a full on glorious shower. Then I went and had my hair washed and styled. I felt pretty.

It is the little luxuries that we take for granted. But, yesterday I fully appreciated those two little things.

What would you put on a “Simple Pleasures” list? I love reading your comments. Just click on the black comment box to make a comment. Thank you for reading my blog.  Laurel

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Just Stay

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Hello All, I’d like to say I just finished writing the final page of a novel, or I just completed a short story, or maybe even published an article, but I can’t say any of those. I have been reading, researching, and even writing in starts and stops, but writing nonetheless for brief times with large spans of time in between.

When I started this blog, I didn’t have a defined plan for its content. I wanted to connect with other bloggers as well as people who aspired to publish their writing. The first post was in April of 2012. Starting a blog was all part of a plan to hone my writing skills. I had been writing a young adult fantasy novel (I still am).

I never really did get this blog off the ground and I want to try again. I may find I will need to change the name of the blog to Laurel’s Rambles. 😀 Laughing.

Health issues since November of 2011 have caused me lost time, frustration, and stress. It is difficult for me to see myself as ill.  I’ve never smoked, I rarely drink, I eat right, and I like to exercise. Weird, Huh? Anyway, I’m having a tough time accepting this illness stuff. It came to me in the shower today, “I’m a healthy person trapped inside an ill body.” That being said I am going to try to post on this blog more often

Has anyone read The Light Between Oceans, by M.L.Stedman? It was a good read and an amazing first novel.  I googled M.L. Stedman and read an interesting interview at The Age Entertainment. I’d like to share some of what Stedman shared in the interview.

“When I start to write I let a picture or sentence or voice come to me.  …For me, the trick is to stay, just stay. It can be tempting to say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing there, but in my experience, if you wait without expectation or demand, there’s always something there that will eventually let itself be seen.”

This has a lot to say to me. If I “stay, just stay”, I will see my story unfold. It may change course, it may twist and turn, and it may even surprise me, but it will be written. I wonder how often we give up too soon, me included.

What do you think about M.L. Stedman’s process of writing? What is your experience? What do you do when you begin to write?

Let me hear from you. I appreciate all your individual ideas and feedback.

 Laurel  😀

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/interview-ml-stedman-20120322-1vkty.html

Friday Already!

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It’s Friday and I did work on a post for the blog, but I didn’t finish it. Time is not something that I have learned to use efficiently. Albert Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

He was wrong, because everything does happen at once. If someone invites us to dinner, inevitably, one of my kids has a band performance, it’s a family member’s birthday, and we have a chance to get free tickets to see “War Horse.” Yes, everything does happen at once for me.

Anyway, here is the condensed version… My sixteen-year-old son is suffering typical, teenage angst as he learns that friendship is not always smooth. What makes a good friend? What will be important in the end? …loyalty, integrity, support, status, wealth, or pretense? It coincides with what my daughter is reading in Great Expectations. The story takes you full circle and Pip learns what is important in friendship. It seems that we struggle with the same lessons as our ancestors and their ancestors before them. Maybe, that is one good reason to read the classics. Just a thought.

What are your thoughts? I would like to hear what you value in a friend.

What Do Your Passions Say About You?

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I’m a rock hound, well, not really, but I do love rocks.  Rocks find me. I have picked rocks up in Death Valley, along the beach at Pismo, and even at a Wendy’s Restaurant in the parking lot.

Why this obsession with rocks? I don’t have an answer. It is something I’ve always had; I’m sure my mom picked rocks out of my pockets when she did the laundry. I’ve always thought rocks were interesting and I wanted to keep them. I like rock gardens, rock waterfalls, and my all time favorite are boulders. I don’t have any boulders. I keep threatening to hire someone to truck in a couple. I think they would look great… one in the front yard and two or three in the back.

I do have large rocks in the front under the trees that came from my dad’s property. My sweet husband lugged them into the truck, brought them home, and arranged them for me. I have six huge crystals that my grandfather dug out of his land in Arkansas. I was lucky enough to inherit them. They are arranged on my back patio. I don’t know if they have healing powers, but I know they speak to my soul and make me feel like I have a piece of my granddad with me. I know he would be happy to know that his crystals have a guardian.

 Oh, and did I mention that I have six rocks that Skylar found for me in Lake Tapps in Washington? My sister-in-law and husband live on the lake and it is literally in their back yard. My daughter, AKA “The Goldfish,” lifted them out, and yes, you guessed it my sweet husband loaded them in the Odyssey and we brought them home. They are large so I accumulated six of them over time.

Where did I get this attraction for rocks? I am not advocating reincarnation, but in the interest of “what if” could I have been a petrologist or maybe a geologist in a previous life? Did you know that sixty percent of Americans believe that reincarnation is possible?  I have to say my vote is still out, but if it is possible, I sure hope I don’t end up like “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” and come back as a rock in my next life.

Are you part of that sixty percent, and even if you’re not what do your passions say about what you may have been in a previous life?

 

Book Club News

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Our first book club meeting was a success with six members present and others who are interested on the horizon. Yummy snacks were served, we decided on housekeeping issues with a date and place for our next meeting. People were enthusiastic when we shared ideas about the book choice. No fireworks or opposing views were expressed, and we all agreed it was a good read.

I am not a professional book reviewer and I confess this my first book review. Needles to say and I am going to say it anyway… It will not be like book reviews from The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. It will be more along the lines of The L.W. Independent Book Reviews: Lolly Writes Independent.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

Rating: 4

This is a story about the life and death of Henrietta Lacks, a young black woman who died of cervical cancer in the “colored” ward at John Hopkins Hospital in 1950. This is a story about how her cells were taken without her knowledge. This is a story about how Henrietta’s cells, named HeLa by scientists, were grown and lived to benefit research all over the world and are living today. This is a story that questions the ethics of things that may be labeled for the good of science. And this is a story that at the heart weaves a tale of Henrietta’s children and family.  It is their story of how losing their mother and learning about the existence of her immortal cells played out in their lives.

This book took a decade for the author to piece to together. It traces the journey of the infamous HeLa cells as the reader learns the follies and mistakes that lead to scientific discovery and its human repercussions spanning the 1950’s to the present.

Rebecca Skloot is a storyteller who weaves the intimate feelings of Henrietta Lacks’ family with the scientific events that embody Henrietta’s cells. She captures the human interest as well as the scientific implications of this powerful and significant story.

I found this book at times riveting as the story revealed not only the human side, but also the momentous contributions of Henrietta Lacks’ cells to science. I won’t say the whole book was a page-turner, but I will say it is a must read for people who want to be informed and an easy read that unfolds like a novel.

Let me know if you have read this book and share your insights. Does anyone have any recommendations of books that you think are important and keep people informed?

Rating Scale for LW Independent Book Reviews:

5: Great Read

4: Good Read

3: Average Read

2: Tough Read

1: Don’t Read

Scale is open to review and I suspect it will change overtime. Please notice it has elements of tongue-in-cheek.

                                                                                                            Laurel

 

Book Club

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I like the idea of belonging to a book club. If you’re like me, you can get in a rut. You know who and what you like to read and that’s what you read. This attitude can rule out a lot of good reading. That’s why I like belonging to a book club.

A book club can get you out of your comfort zone. You read books others suggest. You may be introduced to books you have never heard of or would have not considered. I like that idea because it challenges me. I have to step out of my box.

A blogger I read today would not agree with me. She is an avid reader but writes: One of the main reasons she isn’t part of a book club is, if a book doesn’t grab her early on she would rather not finish it, because there are so many other good books out there.

I would argue that we both are after the same thing. We want to read good books, but I don’t want to miss a good book because I didn’t try it.

So… my BF Jackie and I are starting up a book club. The first meeting is tonight. Jackie has been the main organizer of the club. The meeting will be at Jackie’s home and the book we read is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. We have snacks planned, five or six firm RSVP’s, and counting us seven or eight. It sounds like a good start.

What is your opinion of book clubs? Do you belong to one? Would you join if you had the opportunity?

EDITING-SCHMEDITING

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On Monday April 16, 2012 Heather Day Gilbert blogged about writing mistakes. Her advice, passed on from a friend, is “You cannot put your unedited work out there. Even on your blog.” She advises hiring an editor.

I know she is right. I will need a professional editor for my final manuscript, but…really, my blog.  I edit my blog and my husband reads it for mistakes before I publish it. Isn’t that enough?

Luckily, I read the comments and I found clarification. Jill commented and said that blogging is a different kind of writing. She said it should not be labored writing and you should be able to breath easier when you blog. She does a cursory examination and posts her blog unedited. Heather commented back and agreed with the unedited blog, but she does go over and preview her own post for routine errors before it goes public.

I am currently reading “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. Great book! Here is what he has to say about editing on page eighty-seven.

Learn to enjoy this tidying process. I don’t like to write; I like to have written. But I love to rewrite. I especially like to cut: to press the DELETE key and see an unnecessary word or phrase or sentence vanish into the electricity. I like to replace a humdrum word with one that has more precision or color. I like to strengthen the transition between one sentence and another. I like to rephrase a drab sentence to give it a more pleasing rhythm or a more graceful musical line. With every small refinement I feel that I’m coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that won the game.

Dr. Robert Cramer was my former professor many years ago in a graduate program. He was smart and inspiring and he taught me a lot. During a critique of one of my papers he said, “Your problem is you don’t like to edit.” Like so many things he said, I tucked it away and remembered it.

I think that Dr. Cramer was right. I don’t like to edit. On the other hand, I am a writer and I do want the reader to understand what I am saying, so I think I will take William Zinsser’s advice and learn to enjoy the tidying up process.

Tell me how you feel about editing. Do you enjoy it? Is it a difficult process for you? Let me know.                                                             Laurel