Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Celebration of Vacation

Mom raccoon checking out lunch leftovers.

It’s summer and I’m on vacation. To celebrate I've found thirteen quotes about taking some time off.

  1. In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!~ Mehmet Murat ildan
  2. Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not. ~William James
  3. A vacation is like love — anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia. ~Author Unknown
  4. We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings. ~Erma Bombeck
  5. A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking. ~Earl Wilson
  6. I do not really like vacations. I much prefer an occasional day off when I do not feel like working. When I am confronted with a whole week in which I have nothing to do but enjoy myself I do not know where to begin. To me, enjoyment comes fleetingly and unheralded; I cannot determinedly enjoy myself for a whole week at a time. ~Robertson Davies
  7. Holidays are enticing only for the first week or so. After that, it is no longer such a novelty to rise late and have little to do. ~Margaret Laurence
  8. No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one. ~Elbert Hubbard
  9. When all else fails, take a vacation. ~Betty Williams
  10. The alternative to a vacation is to stay home and tip every third person you see. ~Author Unknown
  11. A good vacation is over when you begin to yearn for your work. ~Morris Fishbein
  12. I think people need hope when times are tough. I think they also need escape and adventure and fantasy. Books are like cheap mini vacations. ~ Michelle M. Pillow 
  13. To work for the sheer joy of it, to wake up and be really excited on a Monday, to love what you do so much that the idea of a long vacation looks boring - that's living. ~ Manoj Arora

What are you doing this summer? Do you have anything fun planned? Please share.

Raccoon babies waiting for Mom 


Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting My Writer's Groove Back

Sorry I haven't been around lately. The last time I posted on this blog was back in October. Shameful, I know. I wish I could blame it on plain old writer's block, but it's not so simple as that. A lot has been going on in my life in the past year and I found myself in a deep, dark hole, trying to claw my way out. I won't go into detail, but I lost two people I loved within months of each other (my dad and one of my best friends). Needless to say, I found it hard to write about love and happily-ever-afters. I think I'm finally getting back to a place where I can focus on my writing again, but it's been a struggle. I miss the ease of writing when my characters would not shut up, elbowing each other out of the way so that I could tell their stories. The characters in my current WIP (the sequel to my last book) won't tell me a thing. I'm actually re-reading the first book in my series in an effort to get myself back in the 'zone'. Hopefully that'll bring my muse back from wherever she's been hiding.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Changing Twilight of Summer

By Eilis Flynn

Light is an ever-changing thing during the spring and summer and autumn (not so much during winter, when there’s precious little of it, and around here, it’s mostly in shades of light gray and dark gray, probably more than 50, even), and that’s so clear in the days leading up to June 21, the official start of the summer season and what’s confusingly referred to as midsummer.

I’ve noticed this year, more than previous ones, that I’m more sensitive to the earlier lightening of the day (as opposed to lightning, very different). And it’s not just me: my hub has noticed it too. It’s weird to wake up at something like four o’clock in the morning and be able to see because it’s light out already. He’s sensible in that he rolls over and goes back to sleep when that happens to him, but I tend to be an early riser and I have to fight not getting up. Because, you know, if it’s light I should get up. But no! It’s too early! It’s not as if I have to get up, because right now I work at home. I could sleep in. By the time I do get back to sleep after this internal argument, I doze for a while and finally wake up for real by six o’clock, because, you know, the hub has to go to work.

Biorhythms are tricky things, and your internal clock is your own. Mornings are tough for me, because I have to work at not waking up too early. Night is another challenge because I get tired while it’s still light out, because in this area and at this time of year not only does the light present itself early in the morning, it goes away late in the evening. It’s light until almost ten o’clock, and by then, I’m ready to doze off. It’s embarrassing, I tell you.

And the summer twilight is a fascinating thing. Seeing it (when it’s not overcast around here) makes me appreciate the rich imaginations of composers who wrote music about it in earlier times, playwrights who used it as fodder for their work, and novelists who let it inspire them to reach into a magical otherworld (hey, like here!). It’s the time of day when the eye plays tricks on you, making you wonder if you indeed see what you thought you saw. Or did you? If you’ve ever seen Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, you know what that’s about.

But summer light ends quickly enough, and before too long (unfortunately, so, so soon), the twilight of magic is done. Autumn light is very different, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never glimpsed a magical otherworld where autumn is the norm. Come to think of it, why not? I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for it as I watch the summer light shift and change!

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at If you’re looking for an editor, you can find her at as Elizabeth Flynn. Either way, you’ll find her online somewhere!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fireworks: Thirteen Facts I Bet You Didn't Know

Hope you have a happy Fourth of July. If you’re like me, you will probably  see a ton of fireworks. There’s something fascinating about those splatters of light in the sky --something that tugs at the emotions and captures the imagination.

Everyone in my family has a favorite. A nephew especially enjoys the salutes. My aunt likes the ones that twinkle as they fall.

Ever wonder how these displays came about? Here’s what my research turned up:

1. Most people trace the invention of fireworks/gunpowder to an unfortunate Chinese alchemist who unintentionally heated sulfur and salt peter (potassium nitrate). It was an explosive discovery.

2. The Chinese call gunpowder "huo yao," which means fire chemical.

3. Early fireworks gave off more bang than light. As they exploded, people saw only a brief golden light.

4. Apparently the Chinese made the first fireworks by shoving gunpowder into bamboo reeds. They exploded them during their New Year’s celebration in hopes of frightening away evil spirits.

5. It’s believed that Marco Polo introduced gunpowder to Europe.

6. Around 1830, Italians began to add trace amounts of metal into the gunpowder, which “colored the explosions.”

7. Copper, for example, creates blue tinted light.

8. Aluminum and magnesium make a golden light.

9. Not surprisingly, other metals make other effects. Zinc creates clouds of smoke and titanium causes sparks.

10. Although onlookers have always enjoyed fireworks, they continue to be dangerous. May 16, 1770, is the date of one of the biggest fireworks tragedies. A fireworks display celebrating the marriage of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette went awry and caused a stampede, which killed some 800 people. Not eight or eighty but 800!

11. Even in recent years, the danger element hasn't disappeared. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that “fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in the U.S. hospital emergency departments during the calendar year 2002.”
12. Here’s an interesting statistic. Three times as many males are hurt in fireworks-related incidents than females, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

13. Although I enjoy watching fireworks, I don’t encourage people to set off their own. My suggestion: Consider attending fireworks displays put on by professionals in local parks or on lakefronts.

Correctly handled, fireworks can be a stunning way to celebrate special events. In the United States, we've used fireworks to celebrate Independence Day since 1776. 

That’s when John Adams declared, "The day (Independence Day) will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade...bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore."

But I’d like to hear about your holiday. Are you planning to see the fireworks? Which ones impress you most?