Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Life through my Windows Miscellanea Writing

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 12: Critique a Piece of Work

Today, express your opinion on a topic or a piece of artwork. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of entertainment that you love or despise. | You can approach this assignment in your own style and preferred format, and write about work in any genre or medium that speaks to you.

This assignment has presented a conundrum. A discontinuity. Critique and review are not the same thing, nor is a critical review or comments on an object of passion or entertainment. In the Resources section for this course, I read the alternative, “Offer your perspective on a topic of your choice (from politics to public education, from feminism to the environment, or any other topic you’re passionate about).” I wonder if we’re just asking, Do you feel strongly enough about some subject to speak about it?

According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, passionate is defined as “having very strong feelings or emotions”. I would go so far as to say that I have convictions. A conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”; synonyms include “idea, stance, thoughts, persuasion, article of faith,” &c.  I think that convictions translate more directly into decisions and actions, in contrast to passion, which I associate with reactions, rather than decisions, and less objectively focused with regard to consequences.

I don’t know why, but an incident…a couples questionnaire that my husband and I filled out during premarital counseling, required in order to marry in the church of our choice. The instrument was designed to analyze the family of origin in terms of structure and power. My husband’s family was categorized as rigid and authoritarian, while my environment was described as chaotic anarchy. And so, my opinions are my own and closely held, but I believe that I would be uncomfortable at finding myself among other people like me.

 

Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Lifestyle Miscellanea Writing

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 11: A Cup of Coffee

Toddy coffee cold-brew system
Toddy: The Night Before the Morning’s Coffee

If we were having coffee together, today, I would share some fresh, cold-brew coffee with you. Hot, warm or cold, made with water or milk or some of each. There’s also a selection of black tea in the cupboard and cold water in the refrigerator. The puppies aren’t used to having company, but they’ll lie down, once they’ve said “Hello”, and go back to sleep while we visit.

If we were having coffee together, today, I would tell you that my day went well. My husband is building a woodworking shop in the back yard, and today he was able to finish his To-Do List without my help. Tomorrow I’ll be back up on a ladder, lifting boards and holding them in place while he measures them or nails them onto to the studs. The building is taking shape with windows, doors, and exterior walls done, but for the siding.

If we were having coffee together, I would show you some of the photographs that I took, today, in the back yard. The cool quiet shade of the cotoneaster bushes providing the perfect spot to pull up camp chairs, a step stool for a table between them. Do you remember when film was expensive, as was having the pictures developed, and so we would limit our picture-taking and not be able to look at the photographs for months? That was on my budget, anyway. My parents, with a true sense of history, hauled their cameras with them wherever they went. Even to the Philippine Islands and Hawaii, when they were stationed there during WW II. There are so many photo albums in the family home, which one of my brothers bought after their deaths, that we could never get through them even to label the subjects of the photos or where they were taken.

If we were having coffee together, I would remind you that I have been changing around my various blogs and domains and their content as life is changing, here. We are back to going through papers, books, clothes, and such, and tossing the excess. I hope to get the longer desk in my back sitting room moved out to the workshop, so that I have more room for bookshelves. I would like to move those out of the basement, just in case we also get heavy rainfall here. One must think of those things. I have replaced many books with e-editions, but I still have hardcover books that I cherish.

Anyway, I went through The Art of Disorder and set all of my posts before May to “Private”. Instead of using that blog for tracking my health numbers and nattering about how I feel tired, I plan to use it more for challenges. I am feeling well enough, now, to try keeping up with the weekly photo challenges and the daily prompts from WordPress. This blog will go back to poetry, short stories, and perhaps essays, that don’t fit in with my Quilted Poetry posts at WordPress. Do you compartmentalize your creative efforts? I think that my flower photographs and my recipes/cooking activities go together, so I am not changing that for now. This is the blog where I posted my “Poem a Day” for the 2017 NaPoWriMo challenge. I did that with a group, this year, which was a lot of fun.

Everything will get sorted out eventually. Or not.

I am glad that we were able to get together for coffee, this evening. I hope you will stop by again.

Best wishes!
Lizl

P.S. (Almost) every weekend, I take part in the #WeekendCoffeeShare on my Stray Coffee Breaks blog (also on WordPress). Please drop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Life through my Windows Miscellanea

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 9: Writing and Not Writing

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking? Today, tell us.

A lot of pastimes were interrupted by health problems (approximately 2012-2015) and periodic flooding that caused a lot of upheaval (emptying the basement library/bedroom for a number of spring flood and rain incidents). Adding to that were the stresses of deaths in the family (2013-2017) and both my husband and I retiring in 2012.

Music

I started taking piano lessons at age six, when I was in second grade, and I’ve continued playing throughout the decades. I resumed playing the piano, last year. Basically exercises and beginning pieces, as I rebuild the muscles in my wrists, hands, and arms. I enjoy the movement involved in piano playing. A couple years ago, I gave away my cornet and trumpet, but I still occasionally play my soprano recorder and my harmonica.

Exercise

I use the elliptical machine in the front room when the weather isn’t suitable for the exercise bike that lives in the backyard gazebo, which is enclosed, but doesn’t have heat or air conditioning.  I try to spend at least fifteen minutes, one to three times a day, on one or the other. Recently, I have added my hand weights while I pedal (6.6 lb and 3.3 lb) to develop a better sense of balance (pedaling while not holding onto the handlebars). My goal is to continue rebuilding my arm and leg muscles. To help me get back into other activities I’m used to doing and beginning to pick up, again.

Carpenter’s Helper

My husband has started building his woodworking shop in our back yard, and I’ve helped in many ways with measuring, raising walls, carrying delivered materials from place to place, and getting on the ladder to hold the siding for measuring and nailing it into place. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable at the top end of the ladder (9-ft. ceiling). It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t really built anything since my mother and I made furniture for my first apartment. The woodworking shop will have room in the back (separate room with lock) for other hobbies, so as to free up basement space.

Gardening

I haven’t been growing herbs or culinary plants for several years, now, as my initial garden plot was displaced to make room for the concrete slab on which the woodworking shop now sits. The previous summer (2015?) we had work done to raise the ground around the house, addressing the problems with drainage and water seepage. Also, we put in an egress door. I have fencing to install around the new, 50-ft. garden at the bottom of the back yard, next time I’m not hauling around or bracing siding. Also, I’ve been fermenting spent coffee grounds to put in as a base when I dig up the silt around the house in sections to mix it with the peat moss. Also, I will be dividing the tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs/tubers so they’re properly spaced.

Photography/Photo Art

The garden was the basis for my formal photography/photo art business from 2004 to 2009; I continued to sell through RedBubble until I collected my last commission check in the spring of 2015. Every morning, when the puppies and I go outside, I take a camera with me. I love taking photographs of the animals and insects, berries on the shrubs, leaves in the grass…I could spend whole days doing that. When my husband and I were going out with our ham radio club for Skywarn storm spotting with the National Weather Service’s weather spotter activities, I would take a camera and photograph interesting cloud formations, trees in motion, and such. I still do that to a limited extent here in town, but Skywarn duty was really fun. I still have my ham radio license and check into the local net every once in a while.

Student

Current serious reading includes Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay, which I had to buy after I read the first volume: The Origins of Political Order. I am rereading some of my favorites from high school and college; the most recent is Buber’s I and Thou (intro. by Walter Kaufmann.) (My mother turned me on to Buber, Barth, Boltmann, Bonhoeffer et al., and my dad handed off a lot of history books and contemporary literature). I am also working my way through Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice. I got interested in bereavement, grief, and counseling while meeting with the grief counselor from Hospice after my parents died. I am fascinated by the concept of non-finite grief and finding the topic addressed in other books that my counselor recommended. I started college in math and the hard sciences, but made the move into the humanities the summer before my junior year. Completed an English major (literature and composition), and then picked up a major in philosophy. I have enrolled in a workshop that will be coming up pretty soon: Introduction to Japanese Poetry. I started writing haiku in 1965 or ’66, and I am looking forward to digging deeper into it. I’ve been reading The Haiku Handbook, this summer, but have on hand to read next a book on Haiku and one on Tanka that were written by the person who’s doing the online workshop.

Reader

Currently I am rereading L.E. Modesitt’s Imager Portfolio while waiting for the next book in the series to come out. I also favor Anne Bishop’s The Others series, anything by Julie Czerneda, Doranna Durgin, and William Sanders, as well as Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, and a couple dozen other authors who write science fiction, fantasy, cozy mysteries, “sweet” and traditional Regency romances, and having inherited the family’s Great Books of the Western World set upon our parents’ deaths, including the ten study guides and the inclusive Great Ideas Today yearbooks, I am rereading old favorites and thinking about tackling another guided study. (My mother took a speed reading course at a local college while I was in junior high school, and then sat me down to do all of the exercises; she also took me to the lab, where I practiced the techniques on the speed-reading equipment with a timer. Supposedly, it increases comprehension and retention.)

Target Pistol Shooting

Before I started having respiratory problems, I was involved in target pistol shooting, including practices for Bullseye competition (with my husband). The other objective of my exercising is to be able to shoot to that level again. Also, with the diabetes, my eyesight has changed. Now that the blood glucose levels are down, I am hoping that my next pair of eyeglasses will allow me to shoot at 50 ft. again. In the meanwhile, I have work on reloading for my favorite guns, because the price of factory ammunition is too high to be affordable. I am building up a good stock, because I will need a lot for proper practicing.

Cooking and Nutrition

With both diabetes and gluten sensitivity/celiac disease in the family, I spend much enjoyable time cooking for myself, coming up with new and different ways to cook the foods that I select, and collecting good cookware (when it goes on sale, preferably). I spent some time each day reading the community forums on the American Diabetes Association website. It is fascinating, coordinating food, sleep, exercise, and minimal medication to reach and maintain health weight and diet and deal effectively with any problems that arise.

I enjoy playing with the dogs, taking part in activities as I am able, doing chores, and having enjoyable discussions and daily conversation with my husband. An added pastime, this year: I am enjoying the New York Times daily crossword puzzles online. And I do write a lot of poetry along the way. I enjoy the variety in my life and the balance between acquisition, quiet for assimilation, and creative action.

 

Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Life through my Windows Lifestyle Miscellanea Writing

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 8: Reinvent the Letter Format (or not)

blue wild flax flower in the garden with stems; colour altered
Blue Wild Flax

Some might say a post in the form of a letter is trite and overdone. But with the right approach and tone, a letter can tell a great story and get your message across (and it doesn’t have to be negative or shaming — a letter can be joyous).

Today, write your post as a letter. About what, and to whom? Up to you!

As it turned out, I wrote a letter, sent by email, to a cousin who lives out-of-state, whom I have not seen face to face since we both were in high school, if I remember correctly. We have gotten into contact because of deaths in our immediate family: her parents (October and July) and mine (December and February). I wrote to her again yesterday, and I received an answering letter today.

That, of course, has brought to mind correspondents that I have not written to in years. One friend that I exchanged letters with in 2011-2012 has not responded since then, and I did not because of my poor health at the time. The other person? In the midst of all, I totally lost track of time, between my mother’s failing health, coping with the new puppies, and seemingly getting hit hard by the diabetes that was diagnosed this last December. I believe that she was the last one to write.

I don’t care to “reinvent the letter format”. What I do care to do, now that my other sister and I have begun exchanging notes again, is pick up some of the dropped threads. Over my lifetime I have enjoyed sending and receiving letters. It’s a whole different thing from blogging and texting.

That brings me to another thought. The ephemeral nature of electronic media. The intangible nature of it diminishes it, even as it makes it easier to hold onto during one’s life. (I take photos of letters I receive and stick them on my backup HD and a flash drive. My new puppy devours paper products. Loves sheets of paper and envelopes in particular. Especially if crunchy see-through windows are involved.)

Since I have hosted blogs, I expect that almost all of my poetry and photographic art will disappear within a short time after my death.

Ephemeral works of art. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

 

 

Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Miscellanea

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day Seven: Let Social Media Inspire You

One of the goals of this course is to help you tap into new and unexpected places for post ideas. Today, let’s look to Twitter for inspiration. Don’t worry — you don’t need an account. Even if Twitter isn’t for you, you might be surprised at how you can find starting points for our own writing there.

Below, you’ll see five tweets, and we hope one will elicit a response from you.

Blogging University, WordPress.com

I found a couple of the provided tweets that recall echoes from across the decades.

I found that to be a useful discovery early on. Being confident that I did not know, let me release the panic and terror of not knowing everything (a seeming demand for perfection and omniscience placed upon me by parents, neighbors, teachers et al.), so that I could concentrate on learning what was at hand. Knowing that I knew nothing, I had so many interesting paths to discovery! And no embarrassment for not having answers for anyone else’s questions. Ultimately, it took away the pressure of parental and academia’s unrealistic expectations and allowed me to continue on a carefree romp through my life of study.

https://twitter.com/BluMarTen/status/605128443475456001

Yeah, but nobody’s going to blame me for a star’s dying, even if they found out about it. And rightly so! On the other hand, my worrying about tomorrow’s work might actually prevent catastrophe. One that I could rightly be blamed for. The disparity of scale makes the comparison a bit silly.

Categories
Finding Everyday Inspiration Miscellanea Poetry

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 4: In Transit

In Transit

In Transit:
Nth Dimension Travel

the perfect place, filled
with people going somewhere—
step aside from them

picture one unnumbered world
where green, vibrant valleys wait

cross over, mindful
to watch your step–don’t look up
and lose the pathway

two stations, many journeys
may you new tomorrows find

Copyright © 2017-08-24, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

Finding Everyday Inspiration: A WordPress Course

Categories
Life through my Windows Miscellanea Poetry Writing

Too short, mourning

photograph of a family photo montage
family photographs

 

only photographs–
still, silent in their stark frames–
wait for tears to fall

12 months, too short for mourning …
too soon, the memories fade

 

too short, mourning. Copyright 2017-08-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Categories
Life through my Windows Miscellanea Writing

Getting It Right

blue wild flax flowers, shadows and light

“Getting it Right”

I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.

There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.

Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.

I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

Categories
Life through my Windows Lifestyle Miscellanea

Starting Out

On Our Street

This year…these past six months have been among the most difficult of my life, taking into account life changes. Both of my parents died, ages 94 and 100. The family home is being sold, although to one of my brothers, who is leasing the house from the estate until the paperwork is done for making the purchase. I’ve come around to good health with a major health issue, only to find a couple more that were stress triggered. And so, I am on a more restricted diet. I need to lose weight in addition to avoiding foods with gluten.

And my favorite place on the Internet, SFF Net, is closing down; I was a member there beginning in the autumn of 1997 (I got a newsgroup the following year). I met and got to know so many wonderful people there over the years, and they helped keep up my interest in writing as I struggled through decades of freelance writing and editing gigs. It is so wonderful to be retired, with more free time to write. Even with the additional aspects of living that I must now attend to, each day.

And, yes, I did need a different blog for writing these sorts of things. A place for me. Another of those quiet spaces in which to write, looking up to see in my mind’s eye the pasture in the distance, the creek and slough and the cottonwood and plum trees and lilacs beyond them. I can/would hear the red-winged blackbirds calling as they hung onto the cattails at the edge of the water, accompanied in the background by a high-pitched chorus of frogs.

Quiet spaces for the mind to see, even though decades (and burgeoning allergies) separate me from the places and activities of my grade school, high school, and college years and beyond. I am back on the exercise machine again, building stamina so that I can take long walks, again, come summer, when the school buses do not pollute the neighborhood air. I am not an indoor person by nature, and I strive to become more active. So far, it’s just the elliptical machine, a cheap one from a chain store, but I also have hand weights to add and some dance warm-up exercise DVDs to return to as I’m able.

It’s good, just being able to relax and write, again. Something besides poems in response to sporadic prompts.

Is good!