Monday, December 31, 2012

My Half Century Birthday

If you're a regular reader of When Kate Blogs, you know that this isn't much of a personal blog as it is a location for writing samples and tidbits of information that I think are interesting enough to share.

This December has been a bit different in that while traditions and history have been mentioned, I've included more about my personal life than usual, and I've wondered why?

I just celebrated fiftieth birthday this month. As a child, a 50th birthday didn't occur to me. As a teen, my lifestyle and bad choices did give very good odds on making 25, forget 50. But things profoundly changed for me in 1984.

The more days that pass, the more amazed I am that I'm still here. All things considered, I am beating some serious odds. But then aren't we all.

I'm grateful that you have taken some time to read When Kate Blogs. I do so appreciate the clicks and comments. Some comments have become conversations which have turned into long-distance friendships via the internet. I consider myself blessed.

If you like what you read here, and you'd like to connect, here's how:

https://www.facebook.com/kathleenomara

https://www.facebook.com/kathleenomarawrites

https://twitter.com/SolidHappiness

I'm looking forward to it. ;)

May you have an excellent 2013!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stockings


A Germanic tradition, the hanging of the stocking predates the Christianization of Europe. The Norse story of Odin’s horse called ‘Sleipnir’. Sleipnir is the best of all horse and the child of Loki. In the lore, the eight legged horse is ridden to Asgard & Hel.

Local custom celebrating the Sleipnir’s travels included admirers leaving stockings full of carrots, grain and sugar for Sleipnir. After passing by and enjoying the food, Sleipnir would leave small gifts or candy in return.

After the religious change in German & Sweden, the tradition lived on with the Christian version of Saint Nicholas traveling by eating cookie and milk left by children, then filling stockings with small gifts and candy.

Christmas stockings have increased in size with the standard sized stocking fitting a large giant’s foot. The challenge for Saint Nick or any helper who would fill them is to fine just the right small gifts. Fun trinkets, silly toys and some yummy candy bring smiles to those pulling the boodle from the sock.

Our Christmas morning celebration includes the surprise of filled stockings each year. Our particular stockings were lovingly made by grandma and are cherished by our young ones. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wreaths


Since ancient times, the circle symbolizes protection. When made into a wreath the circle hung on the door protects the household and brings good tidings to those who are invited to enter.

Traditional wreaths of the Mediterranean are made from laurel. Laurel wreaths are also fashioned into head wreaths as a symbol of achievement. Often athletes, generals, gladiators and politicians were adorned with a wreath to commemorate their victory and show their status.

Harvest wreaths of Northern Europe were created from straw. Straw wreaths were  part of the autumnal celebration which included burning of straw icons during the harvest feast or fair.

As Christianity moved across Europe the wreath was transformed into an educational props by German Lutherans. The familiar circle symbol came to represent the everlasting life of Christ in the Advent wreath. 

During the Victorian period wreaths were incredibly popular with the floral display communicating message through the Language of the Flowers. Remembrance Day, Valentine’s Day, May Day and Christmas Day were among the ‘must hang a door wreath’ days of the year.

When you hang wreaths on  your door, does it have a meaning? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ornaments


Historians agree it was the Germans who first decorated trees during the Christmas holiday. 15th century glassblowers created baubles to hang on the evergreens.

With the family tradition of decorating trees for Christmas, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert brought the German tradition to England in the 18th century. So it wasn’t long until America too decorated Christmas trees with hand blown glass and other ornaments.

By the 20th century, five and dime stores stocked box sets of Christmas ball ornaments. More elaborate hand cast ornaments featured Santa, reindeer and icicles.

21st Century ornaments include traditional Christmas motifs as well as cartoon characters and sports players. Quirky cultural additions such as a pineapple, a chili or a pickle have found their way onto many Christmas trees.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ye Olde Tree Tradition

The tradition of an evergreen entering the house for the blessings and celebration of the season predates the common era. The scent of the pine tree fills the senses with an uplifting feeling that brings smiles and anticipation of the holiday times.

While my family of origin had holiday traditions, when I started my own family I took the time to analyze the good and the not-so-good of holiday traditions. I kept what I liked, what worked & brought happy thoughts to mind. Then I built new traditions with my spouse and children as they've grown.

Times have been tough so this year is the first in several that we've had a tree in our house. It was so delightful to bring this lovely little tree into the house and devise a way to include the best of the best memories and wishes for the coming year.

We support the tree farmer, the tree yard and young delivery man wishing only that we could have offered them more than what they asked, for the joy their work has given us already far exceeds the price & tips we gave. After the holiday, we will donate the tree to be recycled into mulch for common areas.

What traditions have you incorporated into your holiday celebrations?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fleur-de-lis


Fleur-de-lis is French for lily.

This enduring symbol has had many uses through the centuries. Of course, the most recognizable is the French monarchy who used the symbol within their heraldry. The heraldry helped families with their claims for the throne. French scholars date the use of the fleur to the 12th century, first used by Louis VI.

However, scholars date the use of the fleur-de-lis back to Charlemagne as a religious symbol. The Catholic Church acknowledges use of the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of the Trinity with the three petals representing the all-in-one nature of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.

Medieval art work of religious icons often used symbols to identify the various patron saints depicted for the illiterate public. The fleur-de-lis in the hand or at the feet of a woman identified her as the Virgin Mary.
The petals of the lily became a representation of the traits: faith, wisdom and chivalry which represented divine favor. The relation to chivalry led the contemporary organization, the Boys Scouts to adopt the symbol as their own.

Today the remnants of the reach and power French monarchy is found included in familial coat-of-arms of their descendants. Descendants share their heritage by flying the fleur-de-list around the world in the English coat-of-arms, the flag of Quebec, the fleur-de-lis of Florence, flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and flag of New Orleans among others.

For more information about the fleur-de-lis go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_heraldry


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Evelyn 'Bobbi' Trout

US Aviator license # 2613 belonged to Evelyn 'Bobbi' Trout, the fifth woman to be licensed to fly. She claimed her place in history as one of the participants in the Powder Puff Derby.

Born in Illinois on January 7, 1906, Evelyn set her sights on flying from the first time she saw a plane fly overhead. Her parents moved from Illinois to California where Evelyn had the opportunity to save $2,500 during her teenage years working at her parent's gas service station. She applied her money to flying lessons at Burdett Fuller's Flying School, obtaining her license in 1928.

By 1929, she and fellow female aviators competed to champion women's endurance flight. Howard Hughes and Will Rogers watched as the twenty women including Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes and Evelyn Trout powdered their noses before boarding their aircraft. The gentlemen dubbed the race, the Powder Puff Derby.

Pleased with their daughter, the Trouts gave Evelyn her first light weight plane in which she was able to set a number of records for increasingly long endurance flights, altitude records  and became famous for refueling during her longer flights. Her longest flight was 122 hours 50 minutes.. She was also the first woman to fly all night.

Through the 1930s, Evelyn flew around the country demonstrating airplanes and participating in races, sponsored by the Sunset Oil Company.  She continued to fly until WWII when she turned her attention toward entrepreneurial ventures. She owned a rivet company, a real estate company, printing company, insurance and investment company.
\
For more about Evelyn Trout go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobbi_Trout

For more about the Women's Air Derby aka Powder Puff Derby go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Air_Derby




Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to Basics

When difficulty presents itself, the way to the other side of trouble is through, one step at a time. Back to basics or 'hunker down' as the case may be, keeps life simple and the other side does arrive sooner or later.

What are the basics?


  1. Make a plan. 
  2. Take action. 
  3. Eat regular meals. 
  4. Talk with friends. 
  5. Keep anger away. 
  6. Get rest. 
  7. Laugh a little. 
Sometimes, the world gets so crazy busy that it becomes necessary to get back to basics. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Master Learner, Master Creative

An integral part of personal nature makes the difference between a learner and an ignoramus. This part is the ability to learn and apply knowledge.

The novice begins with or without the help and guidance of a particular master. If the apprenticed remains with a master, at some point  the blend must be followed by a break to independence. Otherwise, the apprentice is only a servant. The apprentice path is as simple and clear as it is created by the master for the apprentice. Always an advantage to be an apprentice to a master who without reservation gives freely to the novice.

But sometimes the novice has no single master. The world becomes the teacher. Each person gives information. Each experience adds to the apprentice's knowledge. This path is hardly clear, nor is it simple. However, this path is clearly profound.

Gautama discovered a particular path to enlightenment and became Buddha. He shared his discovery with followers who became his apprentices. Later the apprentices became masters who accepted apprentices and so on, for hundreds of years. But Gautama was the first.

For a creative spirit there are steps to learning which mirror the spiritual journey of Buddha. The feeling of unease spurs the creative to a new endeavor, a new teacher, a new technique, a new media, a new genre. The creative exhibits the inner need to expand, to find new and different experiences from which to select, manipulate, change, and imagine.

The path of the artist by definition must be a solitary journey. Certainly a collective project brings together artists but without the spark the process of art is just a copy. The newness of discovery is what separates the creative from an imitator.

Once imagined the creative moves toward making the unreal real. The process may be as small as a sketch or note. The process may be as large as a sculpture or building. The artist holds the experience in their heart, their being expands. They learn and grow from the experience and move closer to bliss.

However you may travel, with or without a master, the journey may be creative learning that leads to bliss. All you need to do is step on the path.





Friday, October 26, 2012

October Short Horror


It’s a small but cozy apartment. The overstuffed furniture fills the room. Center to the great room is a small table set for two.

White linen table cloth with two formal place settings, frame the centerpiece of roses and baby’s breath. This is the setting of a romance and proposals.

His impeccable suit complete with a white rose in the lapel confirms the special evening. Her formal velvet gown complete with sparkling diamond earrings and necklace accent the outfit with perfection ensures she knew this moment would be special.

As they had agreed, on the count of three… and as the blood drips onto the floor, they reach and touch each other’s hands one last time. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Place to Write


How important is the place you write? Is the place in your head? Is it an office? Is it a hotel room?

Discovering the how the process of writing happens for different writers can leave a new writer confused. Where does this thing called writing happen?

For Ernest Hemingway: he wrote much in hotel room, a fresh place with the solitude of anonymity.

For AA Milne: he wrote his beloved tales in his office.

For Oscar Wilde: his plays were developed in the parlor of various homes. His most productive times were when he went to the country.

For Virginia Woolf: of course, she required a room of her own.

For JK Rowling: Harry Potter came directly from the local coffee shop and later episodes from her mansion.

In the end, writers need to write where they are comfortable and have the ability to concentrate, imagine, formulate, and create. Fascinated with the process of writing, I wonder: where do you write? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What type of writer are you?


Writers, or storytellers, develop stories to fit the need of the audience or the need of their soul. The two types of writers come to the process of writing in different ways. Over the course of time, these writers use skills from both bags of tricks to keep their stories fresh and flowing.

Passionate writers write in fits and spurts. In general their work may or may not be in a genre but they all tell us that the story tells itself, or they listen to the muse.

Business writers write daily. They write what they estimate will sell to the audience.  Business writers are often monetarily successful but don’t create beloved stories .
Blending the two types of writing creates the money to survive and the joy to continue to write inspiring stories and pieces.

So where do stories come from?

The passionate writer wakes with a story and sits down to write usually before they even eat breakfast. The business writer sits with a plan and outline incorporating sales trends into the character choices.  Both writers are inspired and seek to fill the niche the reader seeks to find.

Inspiration: Write Every Day is a helpful daily read that is meant to be a record of thoughts and story ideas which creates a personal log for those times when the ideas aren’t flowing but the deadline still looms. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Honey

Bears love honey and I'm a Pooh Bear...

When my kids were little they were allowed a treat at the market if they were good throughout the store. Their good behavior was regularly rewarded with a honey stick. The straw honey holder was just enough sweet to encourage the best behavior and it was good for them too.

Local honey helps acclimate the human body tot he flora of the area. Eating the honey made from local pollen and becoming allergy resistant during high pollen days are directly related.

Pooh Bear has it right when it comes to Nature's sweet goodness. Honey is also an ingredient in medicines. It's also significant in many religions.

Honey is the produced by bees as they use the nectar to create and store the food source for the hive. The bees make honeycomb then fill the cell with honey from the pollen/nectar they're gathered from flowers. Beekeepers are masters as retrieving the extra honey from the hive to provide honey for humans and still sustain the bee hive for future production.

Honey as a medicine has been used since the beginning of human medical treatment. As a syrup, honey treats stomach troubles and indigestion. It is also an ingredient is salves and other topical treatments for wounds and burns. There is an antibacterial property that explains why these ancient medicines do work.

Venerated by the Hindus as a one of the five elixirs of immortality. Buddhists tell of the legendary monkey who brought honey for Buddha to eat. Jewish tradition calls the Promised Land, 'the land of milk and honey' and  Jews also include honey in the Rosh Hashanah celebration. Christians include honey in the story of John the Baptist who was sustained in the wilderness on honey. The Prophet Muhammad included honey in the list of healthy foods.

The National Board of Honey http://www.honey.com/nhb/ has an extensive website with a honey locator, a honey blog and recipes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Project Ends

As a writer, I deal with projects big and small. With those projects come deadlines and self inflicted deadlines and no deadlines at all.

Small projects come and go off my plate. Most of the time I meet the deadline. Every once in a while, I don't. 'To err is human' I remind myself, but still try to get all things done on time, even when it's not possible.

The smaller projects are easier for me to move through. I get attached to larger projects. I fiddle with commas, periods, semi-colons. I re-write, re-do and re-arrange. The larger projects are harder for me.

So I try to trick myself into believing that these smaller projects are unrelated. 12 projects instead of 12 chapters. Sometimes it works.

I dream about larger projects, they become part of me, a growing process. Larger projects leave me a wreck at the end. I miss them. It's as if a friend has died. Well, not really, but you understand me, yes?

There are these tidbits and remnants that no longer have value. I need to delete, clean my desk, clean my zip drive and move on.

So I woke this morning realizing that a page in the book of my life had turned. Onward and forward into the future.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Shaking it off from the Day


It seems that ‘stress’ is the name of the game. And the dishers are out there dishing extra lately.
When I’m stressed, I do two things 1) drink tea and 2) walk my dogs.

  • I have a little tea ritual that I do that makes my experience a calm moment. There’s the cup, the tea, and the ceremony which includes a survey of the color of the tea for just the right flavorful intensity. Anyone who knows me knows: I love my tea.
  • My dogs get the credit for my exercise program. I highly recommend getting a dog if you want to add walking to your daily activities. Every day they have those moments when they can tell that I need to get away. Whether we walk a long way or a short distance is usually determined by how tense I am at the beginning and how quickly I release the tension.

Resources for dealing with stress: 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Reflections on the water

'Reflections on the water, like shadows in my mind, Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time...' ~ Season Suite by John Denver

I find calm in watching the reflections on the water. There is something fascinating about the ripples, shadows and reflections that hold my attention to the point of calming my mind.

This is where stories are born...

From the depth of the water, the whisper rises up to the surface speaking of the secrets just below. 'Love,' says a voice. 'Hate,' says another. 'Choose,' says a third. 'Choose' sings the choir and the echo fades.

The choir begins with a quiet song, reaching crescendo before falling silent for seconds until the next song begins.

'Do this,' says one. 'Do that,' follows the next. 'What to do?' say the third. 'What to do? What to do?' they join together.

The beginning of the story comes into view:

A girl looks out onto the water. She sits watching the ducks, the bugs and the water. She comes to know all the creatures living near the pond. She comes to know their habits. She knows them so well, she begins to name them not only by their species name but also by their familiar name.

She began by calling the duck, 'duck'. After studying the duck, she learned it was a Mallard. Mallard became Mr. Mallard which became Mr. Merle Mallard. And when he waddled close to her, she resolved that Merle was a friend.

The story of 'Pond' waits to become real in the not so distant future.

In the meantime, you may like to listen to the Season Suite http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q5197B_7iI



Friday, September 7, 2012

Trouble with acronyms: a fictitious story


Steve saw Kay write it on the bottom of the note. It wasn’t much; just two letters.
Steve: What does this mean?
Kay: I saw it.
S: Yes, but what does it mean?
K: What? It means I saw the note.
S: What does the note have to do with Kilo Octet.
K: It doesn’t.
S: It isn’t about football! There’s no reason to mention Kelly Orton.
K: I didn’t.
S: Or the Kick off if you’re not talking about football.
K: Okay.
S: Are you Egyptian?
K: What?
S: You’re referring to Kemetic Orthodoxy?
K: No.
S: Did you attend Keystone Oaks High in Pennsylvania?
K: I visited Gettysburg once.
S: Are you buying stock in Coca-Cola?
K: Not today.
S: Knight Officer, Knight Online, Knock Out & Knowledge Object don’t make sense either.
K: What are you talking about?
S: You wrote KO.
K: Yes.
S: Why?
K: I acknowledged that I saw the note.
S: But what does it mean?
K: Those are my initials.
S: Oh.
The trouble with acronyms is twofold: acronyms are exclusive language, excluding many from the meaning. Acronyms are not clearly understood even by close associates as in our example.
The best practice is to say what you mean and write out the words: name the organization, spell out the technical term or provide a point of reference so that the information is complete for all who may read it.
To view the current level of ridiculous go to: http://www.acronymfinder.com

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Half Marathon

Today was the half marathon at Disney Resort, Anaheim, California. I was privileged to number among the force of volunteers who helped to make the event a great success.

3:30a.m. & I don't see each other very often. It's quite dark at that time, even with the nearly full moon in the sky.

By 5:45a.m. the water station was up and ready for the nearly 50,000 runners, walkers and bicyclists. At the first water station there were participants in all conditions, from 'I'm a runner & 2 miles is nothing' to 'I've got a stitch in my side & this was a very big mistake but I'm not giving up.'

All the runners impressed me. The energy and smiles, not to mention the genuine 'Thank you' put a smile on my face. The enthusiasm was catching even though early morning isn't my thing and running in a large group isn't on my list.

But what I can do is pour water and hand cups to some very nice, health minded people who are great examples of what people can do when they set their mind to it.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

Blue Moon or an extra full moon in the season or an extra moon within a calendar month was once called the betrayer or liar’s moon. At one time priests decided to use the extra moon, the thirteenth moon to relate the story of Judas the betrayer, the thirteenth follower of Jesus.

Since the medieval time, superstitions have come and gone to explain the moon and it's effects on the tides and people's hearts.

  • Superstitions about blue moons include an old farmer belief that the full moon pulls the plants up from the ground. The extra full moon symbolizes the promise of a bumper crop on the way.
  • Underground vegetables such as carrots or potatoes grow better if they’re planted by the moon.
  • For the romantic, the full moon is as good as a green light to take your relationship to the next level. Many a young woman hoped to receive long stem roses and a ring by the light of the full moon.
  • For the sick, the full moon represented a time for curing illness. As doctor’s know now, if a patient believes something is a good omen or the sign of healing, the belief often works it’s placebo effect and the patient does exhibit improvement.

Poets often write about the moon as did JRR Tolkien in the following:

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
'The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She* hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

The next blue moon will arrive August 21, 2013.

)0(


Saturday, August 25, 2012

What to do with a broken heart

When you’re broken, you pick up the pieces you can find and move on. There really isn’t anything else that can be done. Putting things back together doesn’t work out, it’s never really fixed. With time, a scar grows where your heart broke and you do the best you can with what you’re given, but the heart is never really whole again.

I discovered my heart was truly broken in the emergency room of a hospital. I was eighteen and beside myself with grief. Within minutes of devastating news, my symptoms included shortness of breath, dizziness, heart racing and chest pain. Of course, I panicked, which is another symptom.

The doctors were entirely nonchalant while the nurses hooked up monitors and discovered my heart was broken, I had a mitral value prolapse. They were a bit concerned because while the condition often has no symptoms, I seemed to be having them all.

On the home front, I had just discovered a) I was pregnant and b) my new husband of about four months was having an affair. I suppose I was a bit stressed out.

After several days they released me from the hospital. They were unable to determine physically why the symptoms appeared. I was instructed to modify my activity and life based on the severity of the symptoms.

Since that day I've followed the doctor's advice modifying life to manage unexpected situations. Now, doctors and nurses just love to listen to this classic mitral value prolapse which requires no treatment.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Myth and Story

Life gives characters and storyline ideas to every writer on a daily basis. There’s so much information in a day, it’s incredible. When the question comes up what to write, how does a writer decide what’s worth the telling?

The writers I like best tell stories about real life in fiction or non-fiction; it doesn’t really matter as long as truth comes through. Joseph Campbell is one of my favorite writers.

Myth serves to provide base stories for culture, much of the information given in myths in a general way works with individual life too. Given a long enough time line the characters in myth are seen for who or what they are, often providing the information needed for others or for the listener to come to the correct conclusion. Trends lead the protagonist or hero through a series of adventures to reach the discovery.

Often the discovery of self which is at least a portion of the quest includes overcoming obstacles, sin or character flaws to gain important skills and to acquire a sense of self or virtues along the way. In addition, the secondary players in the quest such as the villain or the trickster often reveal him/herself through the course of the story.

This is the stuff that makes a good story. Young writers who read myth gain the wisdom of the ages in a few short years. In addition to reading, observing people in their natural habitats help to make characters more believable. To become an accomplished writer there is a need to understand the basics of a good story as well as how people interact, so the story is not only entertaining but believable.

Resources:

http://www.jcf.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Queen Mary and the Ghosts

In 1967, the City of Long Beach bought the Queen Mary, a recently decommissioned luxury cruise ship. What the city counsel didn't know was they weren't just inviting the ship to port. They also invited the ghosts who are trapped mid-way through their passage between this world and ours.

The Queen Mary was named for Queen Mary also known as Mary of Teck. She was the Queen consort of the United Kingdom and wife of George V.

The ship was built by John Brown and company. The Queen Mary set sail from England to the United States on her first voyage in 1936. The largest luxury liner during the era, the ship was also the fastest way to cross the ocean.

During World War II, the Queen Mary was renamed the Grey Ghost serving as a troop ship. The Grey Ghost's expediency was so well known that Adolf Hitler offered a large bounty to any U-Boat captain who could sink the ship. Luckily for the Allies none of the U-boats could catch the fast-moving ship.

Today the Queen Mary serves the area as a hotel, restaurant and tourist attraction. The tours includes a self-guided tour from one end of the ship to the other. Exhibits present the most interesting information and displays at each point of interest, such as: the bridge, the captain's and officer's quarters, communications, engine room, infirmary and deck areas.

The ghost tour moves through the bowels of the ship at a quick pace telling the sad tales that ended on board the ship. A vortex in the pool area has been determined as one of the main areas of paranormal activity by more than one set of ghost hunters.

Lists of the dead include former passengers, crew and stow-a-ways which seem long considering the medical advances available at the time. Probably the most horrible story involves the companion ship that was hit and sunk within five minutes during a WWII mission. There were no survivors.

The Queen Mary needs some work as the barnicles are visible from the dock and some of the lesser used areas are in need of repair. The main shopping and dining areas are excellent examples of the Art Deco period reminiscent of a grander time in World History.




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award


Sharla Shults nominated When Kate Blogs for the Liebster Blog Award.

What is the Liebster Blog Award?
“The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers.
The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.” Wow! Thank you, Sharla!

Click back to Sharla's blog Awakenings http://awakenings2012.blogspot.com/

As with all blog awards, there are 'rules' so here are the answers to the 11 questions Sharla left for me to answer:

1. Who do you admire most and why?

John Lennon for writing lovely music & being an excellent example of a working class hero. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lKwXwU5iWs

2. What is the best book you have read this year and why would you recommend it to others?

My Magical World by Samantha Blackwell

This is a lovely story written by an up and coming writer.


3. Where do you get your inspiration?

I'm inspired by life, every day.

4. What is your favorite part of nature?

Babies are always amazing.

5. Would you rather be a bumble bee or a butterfly?

A bee because they make honey.

6. When did you first begin to write?

Age 3, on the wall. I finished my first book in the 6th grade: Randy Raccoon and friends.

7. What is your favorite sport?

Baseball

8. If you had a choice for a pet, would you rather have a gerbil or an iguana?

Neither.

9. If you could be reincarnated, who would you like to be?

I'll have to wait to find out... but that's very exciting.

10. Which would best describe you, a cool cucumber salad or a hot tamale?

Hot Tamale. I'm passionate about many things.

11. What is the best food you ever ate and where?

Oh, that is a tough question! My favorite restaurants are: Roasted Garlic in Alpharetta, Georgia for their roasted garlic, Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland for their enchilada plate and Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque, NM for breakfast.

Here are the 11 blogs that I nominate for the award. They are in no particular order. I do read these blogs & hope you'll enjoy them as well.












Here are your 11 questions:

1. Who is your favorite author?
2. What is your favorite book?
3. Do you give books as gifts? If so, how do you decide which book to give?
4. Who is your favorite up and coming author?
5. What music do you love?
6. What art do you love?
7. Coffee or Tea?
8. Vanilla or Chocolate?
9. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn?
10. Beginning or End?
11. Why do you blog?


:D

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beluga Whales


Known as the white whale, beluga whales or Dephinapterus leucas naturally live in the Arctic & sub-Arctic regions of the ocean, around Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland. Adult Belugas grow up to length of 16 feet and live to 50 years in captivity. They are stunningly white. The name Beluga comes from the Russian word ‘belukkha’ which means white.

Scientists refer to the Belugas as canaries for the high pitch sound they make. But the term canary is also accurate in that the whales are sensitive to pollution and serve as indicators of healthful or unhealthful environments, much like the mine canaries.

Beluga whales were the first live ocean mammal to be displayed in a permanent tank to the public in New York City. Since that time Belugas are periodically harvested from the sea to replenish the aquatic centers around the world. Researchers working with the whale have discovered that the whales are able to identify and have distinctive sounds for particular objects, giving the hope that someday humans and whales will be able to communicate.

Belugas swim at a tranquil pace and appear to be smiling most of the time. They are known to be playful with each other and their human handlers. In general, they are social creatures living in pods. However, belugas move from pod to pod increasing their social circles.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Figurehead Folk Lore

Figure heads on the front or prow of ships were carved from wood. Many were carved in the shape of a woman but some striking examples included Neptune or other mythological characters or animals, such as lions or horses.

The figurehead was often meant to help non-literate people understand the ship’s name. Figureheads were popular until the 20th Century.

Maritime folk tales tell others stories about figureheads. Water spirits or Water faeries inhabit the figurehead. These spirits guide the ship and keep it from danger as well as protect the crew and passengers from sickness and other traveling maladies. If misfortune overtook the ship, the faeries would lead the sailor’s to Heaven. Without the masthead and the fairies, the sailors would be left to haunt the seas.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pulitzer Prize winning author: E.B. White

E.B. White’s body of work includes Charlotte’s Web & Stuart Little and Elements of Style.

He first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1927. He continued to write for the magazine for decades as well as writing a column for Harper’s Magazine. He turned from magazine articles to children’s fiction publishing Stuart Little in 1945 and Charlotte’s Web in 1952.

In 1959, he focused on his former professor, William Strunk’s work: Elements of Style originally published in 1918. His improvements made the book become a grammar standard.

E.B. White’s story Charlotte’s Web is now a children’s classic. His impeccable writing provides an excellent example of well written literature. The story is character driven with only mild action but such heart-warming characters that children around the world know and love Fern, Wilbur, Charlotte, and Templeton.

Fern’s compassion saves the life of Wilbur, the runt of the litter.

The runt of litter, Wilbur overcomes his lowly status to become: SOME PIG and win at the county fair.

Charlotte helps save Wilbur from slaughter. She explains her life pattern to Wilbur who doesn’t like her necessary diet, but comes to understand his friend’s habits.

Templeton, a fairground rat serves himself first and offers life’s lessons to the sheltered pig.

The lesson for writers from E.B. White life is to keep writing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Better Plan

Within a block of the coffee shop the world changed. Outside the scope of the security company and police surveillance the realness of the world, the sadness of the world, the harsh life revealing the meanness living within humans became a reality.

Buildings looking like bombed out a war zone with refugees resting within the remnant shadows along the causeway. It could be a post-apocalyptic set of the next billion dollar movie.

If the scenes in the four square blocks of hopeless homeless people doesn't touch your heart, you may need to check your humanity. But what can be done with countless families being crushed down into lower status, there is less from the middle to help the lower class? With the country in crisis there are fewer resources to help those in poverty.

For the long term planning, these issues, these areas, these people must be a point of focus. The focus determines the reality for not only the homeless people but for the whole area. A plan to bring compassion to the areas of greatest need would change the world and the balance sheet.

The dilemma remains the amount of resource placed in areas to bring the greatest good to the whole of the system. Long term community planning can rehabilitate the area, the people and provide greater income to the source of the reconstruction.

I noticed within the four block area there were all the resources to sustain an economic system with the exception of the first investment. What I recognized from this was the speed with which recovery could turn the economic downturn into a boom practically overnight. The ability to see the resources within the remnants of the last generation makes the difference between boom or bust. It needs only a spark.

The credit for the vision of course will go the investors willing to look at the long term goal rather than the short term. The spread sheet over the last 12 years is dismal when the consideration of investment in the future or lack thereof becomes apparent in the current statistics. Understanding the long term balance is the difference between the rain and a hurricane, long term prosperity with greater portions all around versus the devastation of an overindulgent blast.

Loyalty from the population helped by the investment will be unanimous with the love and the short profits over the long term yielding more than could be calculated by the short-sighted will be the boon for the few visionaries.

Direct plans available.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writer Talk

Creating a talk for writers and the parent of writers is one of the most challenging tasks I've had on my to-do list lately. So much I want to share and a limited time to do it.

In general, the tasks added to the to-do lists of writers are ever increasing. Not only are we expected to write something fabulous, we are also required to create and engage our audience regularly.The social media has taken over, changed life as we used to know it: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube; and oh yeah, have a life too. It's difficult to remain as self-disciplined as it's necessary to complete our main job, writing.

Thank goodness for me, it's not a gripe. I actually like talking with people who want to talk with me. I love sharing about writing and helping other writer find their voice. There is a great joy, a competitive camaraderie between writers that I trulylove. The challenging part is sharing what is realistic in an exciting way.

Outline ready with some fabulous photos for the powerpoint and I believe it will be, at least, a good basic talk about what it's like to be a writer, without being too scary for the parents. If your child is destined to write, there really isn't anything that can be done about it.

Mid-month, I'll be at the California Homeschool Network Conference in Ontario. I'm so excited to meet everyone and share with parents ways that they can support their young writers.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bougainvillea: A Childhood Memory

Bougainvillea is firmly planted in my childhood memory. The pink flowering plant native to South America grows well in the warmer climates of the US.

Bougainvillea is a frost-sensitive so it grows best outside in warm, frost-free climates and in pots or baskets in cooler climates where the plant can be brought indoors. It’s a slow growing plant that flowers year-round when planted in fertile soil.

Start a Bouganvilla with a four to six inch cutting. Strip the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Plant the cutting in a good potting mix. Water thoroughly. Place the pot in an area of filtered sunlight until the cutting starts to grow. At six weeks transfer the Bougainvillea into the garden.

In my memory, the Bougainvillea shaded the back porch, protected me from the hot summer sun and gave me a great place to play with my dog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Annotate

Annotation is the practice of highlighting, underlining or jotting notes in the margins while reading. Creating comments which are usually a phrase to a couple of sentences gives points of reference and relevance to the writing.

Learning to annotate in books that you’ll use as reference in the future is helpful for several reasons.

  1. Placing notes with definitions help with the understanding of the document or work.
  2. Notes will remind you of your frame of reference.
  3. Stream of thought notes will recreate those moments of discovery or realization.
  4. Words and thoughts will move you from one thought to another for growth through a systematic form of logic.

Read a passage. Pause. Do you have any questions or thoughts? Write them in the margin.

As an example: The first paragraph of the Gettysburg Address with Annotation

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

What is four score and seven? A score is twenty years – four score is eighty years- 87 years ago.

Who are the fathers? Revolutionary Founders and Country Forefathers: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, etc.

Conceived in liberty Dictionary lib·er·ty   [lib-er-tee] noun, plural lib·er·ties.1.freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control. 2. Freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.3.freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.4.freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint: The prisoner soon regained his liberty.5.permission granted to a sailor, especially in the navy, to go ashore.

Why is this speech so moving so many years later?

Gettysburg was haunting when I visited there.

Annotating makes the book your own. It helps study. It helps memory. It helps growth. Annotating is a good habit for readers and writers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Write What You Love

If you write daily, write often, write, write, write; you are a writer. Writing is something that writers do.

Picking projects, finishing them and moving them through to publishing, is the business of writing. Today's market requires writers do much of the editor and publisher duties. In addition. writers are expected to market their books too. Wearing 10 hats is the business of writing today.

With so much on a writer’s to-do list it’s amazing that any writer gets anything written. The answer is to write about what you absolutely love or hate, passion will make the difference in writing regularly.

One of my passions is Disneyland. I was three when my parent s first took me to the Magical Kingdom. I’ve loved Walt Disney’s creation ever since. Today, I have a regular column at Examiner.com about Disney California. It’s easy to write about the Happiest Place on Earth.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Billy & Miss Sally


“Would you like a glass of Sassafras?” The barmaid offered her suggestion to the rugged cowhand. She liked Billy. She also knew that Billy had a problem with whiskey. It seemed the strong stuff led him one of two places into jail or into a gun-fight.

“Why, yes, ma’am, I’d love me some of your Sassafras,” he smiled his charming smile at Miss Sally. “I never liked it before, but your recipe is the best in the west.”

Miss Sally’s recipe changed every time she made it based on available ingredients. She was thrilled that Billy liked hers best. The base ingredient was the Sassafras root but she could use Licorice or Sarsaparilla too. Spicing the root for a zing flavor, she often added chocolate, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, hops, mint or anise.

“I’m so pleased you like it Billy, but you know it’s different every time,” Sally smiled.

“This one is the very best Miss Sally, I hope you wrote down what went into this here, Root Beer,” he said with some foam dripping from his upper lip.

“This time I did,” she waved a small piece of paper with the ingredients back & forth like a flag.

Billy sighed, “Sally, I think I’m in love.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writer's Inspiration

Life happens and writers write about it. Well, that’s sometimes true. More often than not, life happens and writers write to vent their frustrations or create a new universe. I’ve done both.

All life is inspiration if we choose to see it that way. Wherever it comes from, the inspiration to write should be honored. Take notes of those moments when you think to yourself. This so-and-so should be the victim of a serial killer. Don’t kill him, just write about it.

Therapists often assign writing as a way to work through problems. These writings need not be fodder for blogs but they can be used as inspiration. For example: a certain 7th grade English teacher was excellent as a pompous merchant in a short story. The butt-in-ski nose with the small half-moon glasses was priceless. I couldn’t make it up. But I did change his profession and exaggerated his character-traits to the delight of my editor.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you!


A Big Thank You to Sandra McLeod Humphrey for passing the Versatile Blogger award this way for the post 'Avoid Kid Melt-Down'

Sandra's excellent blog is called Kids Can Do It! Dare to Dream Big!

http://www.kidscandoit.com/blog/


Instructions for the Award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award

2. Include a link to their blog.

3. Paste the award on your blog.

4. Share 7 things about yourself.

5. Pass this award on to as many as 15 blogs you enjoy reading and let them know about the award!

Seven Things about Me:

1) Tea Drinker

2) Love Chocolate

3) Ride Horses

4) Ride Motorcycles

5) Love Big Dogs

6) First Children's Story was Randy Raccoon

7) Thrilled to help other writers; the focus of Inspiration Write Every Day

15 Bloggers Who Are Versatile:

Rob @ http://robztobor.blogspot.com/


ED @ http://flotsamandjetsamandderelictme.blogspot.com/


Donna @ http://donna-realworldwriting.blogspot.com/


Lynn @ http://lynnproctor.blogspot.com/


Kathleen @ http://parlezmoiblog.blogspot.com/


Jen @ http://whatsonthebookshelf-jen.blogspot.com/


Cami @ http://myaddictionisreading.blogspot.com/


Tracy @ http://pullupatoadstool.blogspot.com/


Joanne @ http://wordsplash-joannefaries.blogspot.com/


Delores @ http://mybabyjohn.blogspot.com/


Mieke @ http://www.miekezmackay.com/


Joshua @ http://vivelenerd.blogspot.com/


Mysti @ http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/


Sabrina @ http://sabrinaafish.blogspot.com/


Sarah @ http://sarahallanauthor.blogspot.com/



Thanks again Sandra :)