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Friday, July 5, 2019

The Wise Grasshopper




Grasshopper,
this bundled month,
I made homemade apricot jam rather
than spend time on edits.
Editing my book is like a patriotic parade,
with funereal slowness.
A sad march.
Characters are intimate friends.
I’m sensitive to their needs.
They want me to linger.

But I’m going swimming.
Plug in the fan,
turn on the air.
I’m crocheting a blanket.
Reading a book with dreary characters.
Local play rehearsals are my new diversion.
Town had a historic bell-ringing celebration.
Glad I could make it.
There’s the woman’s group,
the city meeting at Elks,
and of course,
church.

Jittery dogs need a walk.
Reruns on television.
It doesn’t seem fair to repeat quiz shows,
though my answers sound impressive.
I’d rather be an ear to a friend.
Their drama better than mine.
I’m not complaining.
But there’s something about this summer,
That’s kept me praying.

A sudden shift in normal--
perhaps just the alignment of the stars--
in the warmed-up sky.
One neighbor sailed away forever.
Our home shook on the Fourth of July.
You were here,
 as if to warn us,
centered on the gate.

Anyway, labels.
I need to make stickers for jam jars.

Go work on my manuscript?
What is wrong with you?
No wonder I took your photo.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Springing Into Summer Reading


Do you know you can read books on your Smart Phone? All you have to do is download the Amazon Kindle App(pictured above), and a world of books will be at your fingertips! Believe it or not, I've known this for a long time, but even with my new super-strong reading glasses, I prefer my eReader. Imagine my consternation when my eReader decided to freeze like a Popsicle during a heatwave? We tried everything. It went kaput. On the blink. Dead as a door nail. We tried pushing the on/off button for several seconds. Turning it back on, etc. Nothing but a dark sky. No stars.

The charger didn't work either. Everything was stuck, like that kid who licks the icy pole in A Christmas Story.  I searched the internet for technical repair ideas and watched how-to videos where computer experts remove the back of the gizmo with microscopic tools. When I shared some of those videos with my husband, he laughed and reminded me to set the clock on the DVD player. Guess we didn't inherit too many mechanical genes around here. The DVD is not even plugged in, but I've figured out the microwave clock. When they do away with daylight savings time, I'll be ahead of the game!

One day, I sashayed into the big electronic box store and asked the friendly, self-described geeky employee what he thought I should do. It was obvious he felt sorry for me. Several other employees gathered around and stared at me with sad, but kind eyes. They told me to bring it in for a tune-up, which, by the way, is pricier than a tune-up on our car. Certainly, more than the entire reader cost in the first place.  Blinking back tears, I worried I'd never get to read my giant pile of virtual books.  Can you imagine, I even went to a bookstore and purchased regular, tree-killing paper books?  Finally, I relented and bought a new reader online.

 And, while waiting for the package to arrive in the mail, I opened up that App on my phone and read some great books. 

Here's some spring favorites:





This book is the perfect companion for someone about to travel to Wales. I can imagine it would come in handy when making a bet at a pub. Crammed full of information, it’s almost intoxicating. I can tell the author could write several additional books about many of the subjects covered in this compendium. Of course, most of the tall tales are based on hearsay and the oral tradition. There's a lot of research here. That being said, the author, Jack Strange often uses the word ‘possibly’, as he navigates from one amazing topic to another. Lucky for him, he didn’t see most of this with his very own eyes.
There are detailed stories about Welsh dragons, witches, coal miners and their premonitions. There are several Welsh ghost stories, superstitions, courting rituals, wedding customs, the fate of wife beaters, food, miraculous springs, frog curses, pirates, monks, Merlin, King Arthur, The Holy Grail, fairies, mermaids, and Druids. Even unique Welsh sports such as Shin Kicking or Bog snorkeling.
And there’s more: The legendary afanc is apparently the Welsh equivalent of Nessie. Women acted as reinforcements during war, there’s the devil’s bridge and the sensational belief that a Welsh explorer by the name of Madoc, discovered Alabama in 1170.
“Wales is a country where everything has a song; the surf chants as it breaks on the shore, the rivers sing in their secret solitude through the hills, and even the wind whispers to its own tune.” So sensitive and so romantic.
Personally, I loved everything but the historic names and the strange combination of letters in the Welsh language.
My favorite quote is ‘Unraveling myth from folklore is nigh impossible in Wales, and that is part of the strange charm of this country.”





This book surprised me from beginning to end. Karen, the main character, worked so hard in previous books, I thought she had earned the right to snuggle, instead of traversing all over the United States helping friends with difficult issues. But, as you read about all the other lovable characters, you’ll be glad they have someone like Karen in their life. We all need a Karen to remind us of balance.

The author delves into topics such as: risking true love for family, the possible beginnings of Alzheimer’s, drugs, ethics, elder abuse, same-sex marriage, just to name a few. Almost every negative point has a positive counterpoint. One of my favorite lines, “While I complained, a half-dozen black and grey chickadees flitted over and began feeding.”

Spreen is an excellent writer. She keeps things lighthearted by even breaking through that fourth wall at times, addressing the reader. As in Chapter 20 about a hand gesture and how it’s “not the one you’re thinking,” or when she has to “plan” a trip and says, “you know”. Which cracked me up. The personal style makes for comfortable reading, as if Lynne Spreen is relaying her story to a close group of friends. Then, near the end there are even more clever surprises but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!





Once I got to the sentence,”Unfortunately, fate opted for revenge over some past indiscretion to come back with the vengeance of a thousand plagues,” there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I’d be in for an entertaining cozy mystery.

Kellen’s father is the president of Braxton College where two murders take place in Diamond Hall. Hercule Poirot, he’s not, but Kellen does have a certain intuition about things that may help Sheriff Montague solve the double homicide cases. There are red herrings that pulled me into several maze-like false beliefs about the killer’s identity, which, made for fast page turning. Could it be the Coach? His friend Conner? His old flame Maggie? One of the students? The Dean? Maybe even his dad?

Nana might know. After all, she’s busy baking things and giving him insight into local politics, while serving Kellen shortbread with lemon icing or coconut cream pie. I have to admit I was distracted and drooling, by the time he wrote about the blueberry scones, the double fudge brownies, peach cobbler and my all-time favorite: cherry pie. This author needs to write a cookbook or at least he should attach a few of his Nana’s recipes.
Either way, most of the truth will come out in the end, but there are a few surprises and a major curve-ball that will make you crave more of this author’s work. Of course, you might also want a side of Nana D’s corn muffins with raspberry jam, or her warm cinnamon buns on the side.



This book will inspire anyone. You don’t need to like dogs or auto racing to see the underlying metaphorical message that weaves throughout this novel. “That which you manifest is before you.” In other words, looking behind you, or glancing in the rear-view mirror, especially if you’re a race car driver and it’s raining, can cause a lot of trouble, even death.
Enzo, is a dog, and the narrator of this unique, artful story. Everything is from his perspective and you’ll almost forget that a talented author by the name of Garth Stein is the actual author. Since Enzo’s person, Denny is a race car driver, that makes Enzo describe everything as if, he too, were a race car driver. When there’s a courtroom battle, Enzo wants to be part of it. Each time Enzo uses the pronoun ‘we’ instead of me, or him, your heart will melt into a thousand pieces. You see this dog listens to everything and knows the truth about Denny. In fact, he understands things that humans don’t even understand. And though the story is nothing like Old Yeller, you’ll probably need a tissue by the time you reach the finish line.





With years of experience in marketing and advertising, I enjoyed this fantasy about neuromarketing. In this case, a demon from Hell wants power over Heaven, God and our country, using electronic devices that influence souls. In this action-packed story with detailed characters, the author talks about goggles that make users unable to think for themselves. Reginald is in charge of marketing the goggles, and Timothie is a gay superhero from another planet. Bael is the demon wanting millions of souls. Even if “good always wins over evil,” there are sections that make you wonder. Is the planet doomed? There are funny parts that made me laugh out loud, and wild twists that kept me turning pages. I think, if you like superhero stories such as the Avengers, you’ll like Timothie Hill And The Cloak of Power.

How about you? Read any great books, lately? 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Photo Blog of Santa Rosas

 I wrote about hiking in the Santa Rosa mountains five years ago, during a drought. Here's the link to that post: https://evegaal.blogspot.com/2014/11/hiking-preserving-good-ideas-praying.html

Imagine how lovely everything is after the recent rains.
 Here's our April hike. 
Snow in the distance
California poppies
Crazy wild cacti
The adobes
Poppies
The road less traveled.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Connecting With a Brilliant Author!





Connections. Isn’t that the entire reason for the Internet and all the various, social media sites?

Here's a bizarre tale of a tale:
The other day, we had a new LED bulb that went dark in the kitchen. I got on a chair with a wooden spoon and pushed the bulb, gently towards the ceiling, a tiny bit. It had lost its connection. When we flipped the switch on the wall, the bulb lit up like magic.

Oddly, this was a precursor to a special connection I was about to make that very same day!

You see, I have read a few books by my friend author Barbara Roman, but never thought I'd be lucky enough to meet her in person. I love reading many different types of books, but somehow, I’m especially drawn to fantasy and fairy-tales. Her spiritual stories captured my heart. 
So, imagine my curious feeling about the light-bulb in the kitchen, when I know I’m about to meet an author who wrote a mystical, children’s book about how people are similar to different types of light-bulbs! Yes! A light-bulb went off in my brain, that seemed to say,"Try to listen, Eve. You might learn something."

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of making a human connection because of technological advances that were not possible even twenty years ago. And, after the light-bulb in my kitchen incident, I realized it’s an important, one-of-a-kind connection.


We both wore pink. 
Lovely Barbara's on the right.


 My interview with author, Barbara Roman


1. Tell us the name you write your books under and give us an easy way— or a clue perhaps—a type of memory hint-- that will help us always remember your name or the name of one of your books.

Hi, Eve.  Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your Blog page. 

I write under two names:  I use B. Roman for my novels (The Moon Singer Series and my suspense thriller “Whatever Became of Sin?”) - somehow I thought just using a first initial wouldn’t influence a reader’s bias about it being from a male or female author and let the story speak for itself.   

For my children’s books I use the full Barbara Roman.  I felt it was softer and more approachable than just a first initial.  My children’s books definitely have a “feminine voice” so I wanted my name to be an indicator of a softer style.

That said, I could be completely wrong and am just confusing my readers!  Ha. 

2. Tell us something that no one knows about you.

Like many writers my background is somewhat eclectic.  I’ve been a professional singer since my teen years (eons!) and my “jobs” have been in journalism, marketing, promotion and feature writing for newspapers and magazines.  All of this intertwined with writing about music, then into children’s stories, then novels. 

I love all kinds of movies except horror and slasher/hacker violent films.  My television addictions are medical shows (Saving Hope, New Amsterdam, The Resident); and legal dramas (For The People), and political shows such as Madam Secretary  and Designated Survivor.  And just for contrast would you believe I was completely obsessed with the fantasy TV series Smallville?  Loved it.

3. What are your favorite genres to read? Favorites to write?

My reading tastes swing wide, when I have the time to read, which is very limited.  But I am especially drawn to legal thrillers, and have read a lot of spiritual and metaphysical books that are self-empowering.  These preferences are evident in the books I have written.

4. What are you working on right now?

My work-in-progress is another suspense thriller called “A Man’s Face.”  I have a lot of work to do on it but here’s a little teaser:   
A teenager walks in on his mother’s murder but now, 15 years later, can still only remember the scarred face of a man standing over her body. Through many plot twists and turns he discovers that the man he saw is his fiance's brother. Worse still, his fiance's father is the actual murderer - the brother had covered up the crime.  It’s a multi-generational saga of treachery and corruption set in the backdrop of the elite wine industry from Spain to California.
Suspense/Thriller

Wow, "A Man's Face," sounds like it's in the vein of your suspenseful novel, "Whatever Became of Sin".
 Well, anyway, thanks so much for meeting me, Barbara.  You, and your books are wonderful. I'm so glad we made this connection. 

For any age child.
5. You can buy her books by going to these links:


http://mybook.to/hubertinheaven
Spiritual

Update: While in the kitchen for lunch, before finishing this post,
 the same exact bulb flickered. Coincidence? 
How about you? Have you met any of your online friends? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy Easter Anyway!



I’ve heard stories about how the crocus flower peeps through the snow.
Daffodil bulbs with an innate desire to grow.
Tulips that thrived in the cold,
withering when shipped to be sold.
Fiona spots one of our tulips
This one has blown away.
I’ve read Eliot’s poem about April being cruel,
especially noting the price of fuel.
I see the icy highways on the news,
wild seas and the unpleasant cruise.
Watched our petals take to the sky,
like butterflies waving a brief goodbye.
Though things seem bleak,
the way many speak,
we cannot mope.
We must understand this visual depiction of hope.
The promising end to winter storms,
as a time to be reborn.
Easter-time.




Saturday, March 30, 2019

Metamorphosis and a Long Journey



You, tender little thing, along with millions of friends and relatives, were born down south, beyond the border in romantic, sunny Mexico. And yet, somewhere in the four steps of your life, perhaps while nibbling on the leaves of jalapeno pepper plants, as a hungry caterpillar, you remembered a song and had a deep desire to lift off someday, and head north. Perhaps it was part of an unspoken, mandatory plan. Patiently, you waited for the rain to subside.

Inside that chrysalis, you changed into your superhero outfit. A flashy number in shades of tangerine orange, against a background of black, with white polka dots decorating the edges. In case you were wondering, the chocolate-hued lingerie coordinates perfectly. Elegant, almost like a miniature Monarch. The media calls you a Painted Lady, but you know you’re more than your colors. You have the strength to travel thousands of miles, and are determined to see the world.  

When the rains drained into the sandy soil, you emerged, flapping adorable, transparent wings. Traveling by day, you avoided windshields and swooping birds that rushed towards you, as you fluttered over fences.
Taking a short break on my rosemary plants.

At times, you’d stop along the way for pollen refreshments before checking out the famous super bloom of poppies along the fifteen freeway. 

The warm spring air and the blossoms of sweetness will carry you as far as you desire. Goodbye butterfly. Safe travels.  

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ten More Days Until Spring!!


Signs of Spring


This Monday in March,
I searched for evidence.
A comforting reassurance hidden behind turbulent clouds.
The garden fairies were sure to be shivering,
But the sound of tiny wings fluttered above.
Their voices subdued,
as if humbled by the weather.
Perhaps working overtime and exhausted,
paintbrushes dry,
canvases sodden with months of rain,
they hide in the wild clover.

Stitching petals in the overgrowth,
behind evergreens and tall grass,

on the other side of the gazebo,
they create the magic.






I noticed small hints.
Wee colorful scraps,
vivid shreds,
akin to short pieces of yarn,
swept into the dustpan after crafting.
They popped out near the rosemary.

Tiny bouquets of pink,

sprouting bulbs,
a single African daisy.
Each a smile bursting from the soil;
The promised harbingers of Spring.

Physical hope,
here in my garden.









--Eve Gaal