WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.
It was time. I was waiting for the perfect moment to turn in my paperwork to announce my intent to retire. After telling my supervisor, I brought cupcakes in for my co-workers with a note announcing my retirement. Over the previous six months there had been several announcements about pending births that were met with enthusiasm and rounds of congratulations. Three hours passed, I received one congratulations from a co-worker. Some never said anything and another was jealous. No mention was ever made of the years I had worked or the contributions I had made. Throughout the coming months I received comments such as “I wish I was retiring” or “where will you be moving to”. To which I responded “you do know you have to be older to retire or very wealthy” and “there are no plans to move right now”. It was a relief to turn in my paperwork. After months of thinking about retiring and not saying anything I could now talk about it. After a few years of uncertainty whether I would have a job I could retire with grace and on my own terms.
The concept of retirement meant a change in how I worked. It certainly did not mean I would sit around on a rocking chair overlooking a beach or in my case the mountains day after day. I knew I needed to stay busy and find activities which had meaning to me. The first three years of retirement were an adjustment. At times I felt stuck, uncertain and perhaps a little depressed that I didn’t know what I wanted to do despite having created a list of things that interested me. The first three years of retirement included our son graduating from college, some health issues, a pandemic and uncertainty as how I was going to navigate this change.
I started off the year reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I found the first part of the book boring and very repetitive. As I often do when a book is like that but yet I still kind of want to know what happens I will start jumping around, which I did. I landed in the middle and began to become intrigued with the book and stayed with it until the end. The story line is of a girl, Addie who makes a deal with a dark god to live her life in freedom. Unfortunately this means others will not remember her when she sees them again. Until she meets Henry in 2014 who remembers her. The book parallels Addie’s life from her birth in the late 1600’s with her life in 2014. The author has done an excellent job connecting this parallel timelines. The ending was a surprise, though it shouldn’t have been. Still not sure if I liked the ending but overall this was an excellent read.
Dinner at my house, growing up, was never a mystery; If it was Thursday we were having Macaroni & Cheese and on a Friday we would be having Liver and Onions or fried fish. On Sunday it was usually fried chicken, city chicken and sometimes beef. Beef was expensive so it was a rare treat, well, if you like very well-done steak.
The rest of the week we ate casseroles: tuna fish and noodles, chicken tetrazzini, Hungarian galosh, occasionally scalloped potatoes and ham or savory rice. There was always dessert – apple dumplings were my favorite and then brownies, cake, pie but always something sweet.
My mom was not an adventurous cook but she was organized. She kept a calendar of meals to prepare and stuck with it. Years later, when talking to my older brother about cooking at home I realized that our meals were pretty much the same every week. There was little variety, even though she owned a variety of cookbooks, mostly Better Homes and Gardens and their many special cookbooks. There was also a Pillsbury cookbook and Better Crocker. What all these meals had in common was that they were made from scratch, involved some form of Campbell’s cream soup, canned mushrooms and canned tuna.
We were a large family that lived off of casseroles, primarily because there was very little prepared food available. TV dinners and hamburger helper showed up during my teen years in the 60s. While my older sister and brothers loved the casseroles and still make them to this day I found them extremely hard to put in my mouth, much less to digest. My youngest brother invented a way to fill his mouth with just enough food and leave the dinner table for a bathroom break.
I was talking to my older brother one time about my son being a selective eater and my sister piped in that mom always said I was a picky eater. And that is a fair statement. I do not like the textures of some combinations of food and there are only a couple of recipes that I will eat that involve cream soup. My child has never experienced casseroles in his house growing up.
No matter what our tastes my brothers, sister and I all learned to cook. I don’t remember there being a lesson of sorts but we each spent our time in the kitchen with our mom cooking. I remember my mom taking leftover pie dough and rolling it out into a small circle and putting sugar and cinnamon on it and baking it for me to have as a snack. I also remember receiving my first Betty Crocker cookbook for kids; very excited and ready to make every recipe.
Over the years I have continued to enjoy cooking. I will try new recipes and play around with spices. My son has taken this a step further and creates his own healthy recipes.
What happened to you was powerful—but will anyone else want to read it? And which events from your life go in the book, anyway? Do you need more backstory? Or more action? Is the reader going to get it? The foul-mouthed creators of South Park and The Book of Mormon know the answer. You might […]How to Know if Your Memoir Is Boring — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jasamine and Ashton, both have their share of baggage as they are paired together in a new TV series. The author switches back and forth between taping of the show and their off screen relationship. A hot and steamy read with some depth to it. Well worth reading.
View all my reviews
Good morning, everyone! I can’t believe that it’s already the first of November! Today is National Author’s Day, which is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the work of your favorite authors. Here are a few ideas for how you could celebrate National Author’s Day… Set aside some time to read a book by your favorite […]National Author’s Day and NaNoWriMo — The Unapologetic Bookworm
How do you treat yourself? We are often harshest in our treatment of ourselves in the way our inner voice reprimands us for making mistakes. Rather than an objective assessment of our actions, we strive for perfection in ourselves, and are disappointed or angry with ourselves if we cannot attain that desired standard. Source: http://forestwoodfolkart.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/58006-1ye5vss3wrvp7nv7b51ldzw.png %5B…%5DDealing with that Inner Voice of Criticism — Something to Ponder About
Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World by H.R. McMaster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Strategic narcissism is the phrase McMaster uses to describe the US foreign policy in the world. Whether you agree with his assessment or not he does give an often tedious but very well researched background on the role of foreign policy over several presidential administrations not just the current one. It is well worth reading to get a better idea of the philosophies and views of some of the hotspots in the world and how the US could relate better.
View all my reviews
I have been engaged in reading books from cross the board the last six weeks. The top three deal with the serious issue of racism and its history. Ta-Nehisi’s book Between the World and Me is a letter to his son of what to expect as he grows up. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi deal with racism and its history. A history that is hard to read and unforgivable that it was going on right in front of us. Isabel Wilkerson puts a different spin on the subject in Caste and suggests that America has a caste system not unlike India. All three books are very informative and thought provoking.
On to some lighter reads. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin is a weird, fantastical and wonderful book. It is fantasy and includes Avatars with some magical powers. Throughout the book I kept thinking — Where did the ideas for this novel come from. Jemisin has an amazing imagination and ties the story together well. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Mary Kay Andrew’s book Beachtown was given to me by my sister in-law and does not disappoint. Written a few years ago it is the story of a movie location scout’s search for a perfect small town in Florida. What follows is the perfect beach read complete with romance. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary I thought was going to be a rom-com. While there are definitely some tender and light moments the bigger issue to tackle is emotional abuse. Tiffy is kicked out of her apartment by her emotionally abusive boyfriend and shares a flat with a roommate she never sees. She begins to move on with her life when her ex-boyfriend is back leaving her in turmoil. O’Leary does an excellent job showing the impact that emotional abuse has on one’s self esteem. Loved this book.
It’s been a month of intense reading. I am determined to increase my understanding of the issues of racism facing America so I can make better decisions. Calvin Baker’s book – A More Perfect ReUnion is an incredible book about the history of racism in this country. The book Passing by Nella Larsen was written in the 1920’s and is as important today as it was then. The Pale Rider covers the social and cultural aspects of the 1918 Influenza pandemic. Along with John Barry’s book the Great Influenza this gives an incredible background on what went on in 1918.
I am ready for some lighter reads.
First, I would like to say that I decided to read American Dirt by because of the controversy about it early in the year. I tend not to like Oprah’s picks but try not to dismiss books just because of that. This book is a story about a mother and her son who, after witnessing a terrible massacre of her family run to el Norte. While this is a horrible story it does have a lot of courageous characters who’s strength leads them to success – getting out of Mexico, though at a high cost. I often felt that the author was telling me how to feel rather than showing me the action and letting me determine the emotional aspects of the story. At times the story fell flat. Perhaps by including the Spanish dialect in the story the author felt it gave it more credibility. But I did not feel it was necessary to get across the point.
One of the criticisms of this book had to do with the author being white and having never experienced the gangs and migration from Latin American countries. While this appears to be true the author has said that she consulted with others and researched this topic before writing. This is after all a work of fiction and it speaks well of the author that she did the research. I would not want to start critiquing fiction authors about whether they have experienced their stories first hand. Certainly Stephen King did not have experience with a rapid dog terrorizing the neighborhood when he wrote Cujo and he certainly did not travel back in time to save President Kennedy as he wrote about in 11/22/63. Fiction authors give us good stories; some from their own experiences and others from an idea that popped into their head. Either way they may add creative touches to their story. Some are light and fill a need to relax or reduce stress; others give us more to think about.
While I do not feel this is well written it has encouraged me to start a list of other books on the subject and learn more. If a book can do that then it has accomplished a lot.
My only hope is that these words “unprecedented” and “new normal” do not stick around in our vocabulary for long. Other terms such as the world is spinning out of control or we are coming apart at the seams come to mind comes to mind as well .
After talking to two people within three days about the negative role that media is playing in the information we receive I realized that my brain was working overtime. Having been retired for over two years now I have adjusted to a slower routine, and being home more. While our travel has stopped for now we are adjusting. So at the beginning of the pandemic I was doing ok. My husband and I are wearing masks, using grocery pickup, limiting our social visits with only close friends. As time went on though I have felt more despair and a little depressed. After a much needed haircut and a beautiful day (60’s and 70’s) yesterday I helped my husband wash the cars, not only because they needed it but it was a great way to be outside and focused on something else. After replaying discussions and arguing with people in my head throughout the day I knew it was time to do things differently. Standing up for black rights and safe health practices are very important and I do not want to become indifferent to them. Taking care of ourselves and staying in the present is also important.
- I thought being in quarantine would give me plenty of time to write. It did not. I could not get myself motivated. I realized that I was writing on my blog or in my journal. Even putting together my family history book is writing and creative. These will never be published but I am still writing.
- I will only read the news in the morning and listen to the national news in the evening.
- I will continue to exercise and increase meditation.
- I will go outside for walks or to work in the garden.
- I will read and binge watch TV without guilt.
- I will try to stay in the present and not dredge up things from the past.
- I will continue to practice healthy safeguards for myself and others.
These are “unprecented” times (sorry). Most of us have not experienced a pandemic before but we will get through this. Be kind to yourself, keep writing and stay safe!
I love donuts. The one filled with lots of sugar and fried in oil. They are so tasteful but in the same time so not healthy for you. For years now, I made my donuts as light as possible, most of the time baked in the oven with maple syrup or honey. But, sometimes you […]Mom’s donuts — Cooking Without Limits
The Covid19 virus has given us all more time to think and try out things we have not done before or at least not done in a long time. I have always loved to cook and sometimes bake. Lately I have been wanting to cook and bake more. I was very surprised that when I went to the grocery store that there was little flour and no yeast. It appears that a lot of people are baking. And they are not alone. I too have been thinking about baking more and trying some recipes in the cookbooks sitting on my shelves. Even though my recent attempt at cookies and muffins did not turn out well I’m still eager to do more. Now I just need to find some yeast.
I am curious to know if others are cooking or baking more and what. Did you learn to cook as a child or is this new? If you have children are you teaching them? I would love to hear your stories.
By Mary E. Fiorenza I have many unfinished writing projects. They often nag me, like my mother used to nag me about chores. The goal of tidy and done makes a certain kind of happiness — at least for certain people. Each of my unfinished projects has taken me places. I walked miles of sentences, […]On Being a Writer Who Wanders — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog
I haven’t been keeping track of the days but I think we are probably in the second or third week of Covid. In some ways I am luckier than others. I am retired and don’t have to go out much and am at home more. Still I needed a day of doing things differently. So I ditched my routine except for the breakfast and stretching. I started by planting my blanket flower seeds in some seedling trays. I have never planted seedlings before in trays so we will see how it goes.
I also did not want to write today. I am reaching some blocks in my memoir writing and needed to step away. So I worked in the flower garden and baked. Now baking is not my best skill as you can see in this photo. Still the cookies tasted ok. That’s what you get when you try to reduce a cookie recipe. There is something about the right proportion of liquid to dry items. The muffins turned out better.
How are you coping with Covid my friends? Stay healthy.
Opinion New York Times
I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share
Take it from someone who couldn’t: Go outside.
By Scott Kelly
Mr. Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station.
March 21, 2020
Scott Kelly inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, in preparation for travel to the International Space Station.
Scott Kelly inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, in preparation for travel to the International Space Station.Credit…Bill Ingalls/NASA
Leer en español
Being stuck at home can be challenging. When I lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year, it wasn’t easy. When I went to sleep, I was at work. When I woke up, I was still at work. Flying in space is probably the only job you absolutely cannot quit.
But I learned some things during my time up there that I’d like to share — because they are about to come in handy again, as we all confine ourselves at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few tips on living in isolation, from someone who has been there.
Follow a schedule
On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. Sometimes this involved a spacewalk that could last up to eight hours; other times, it involved a five-minute task, like checking on the experimental flowers I was growing in space. You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without.
But pace yourself
When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul — just like we all are today. Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge-watched all of “Game of Thrones” — twice.
And don’t forget to include in your schedule a consistent bedtime. NASA scientists closely study astronauts’ sleep when we are in space, and they have found that quality of sleep relates to cognition, mood, and interpersonal relations — all essential to getting through a mission in space or a quarantine at home.
One of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature — the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face. That flower experiment became more important to me than I could have ever imagined. My colleagues liked to play a recording of Earth sounds, like birds and rustling trees, and even mosquitoes, over and over. It brought me back to earth. (Although occasionally I found myself swatting my ears at the mosquitoes. )
For an astronaut, going outside is a dangerous undertaking that requires days of preparation, so I appreciate that in our current predicament, I can step outside any time I want for a walk or a hike — no spacesuit needed. Research has shown that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health, as is exercise. You don’t need to work out two and a half hours a day, as astronauts on the space station do, but getting moving once a day should be part of your quarantine schedule (just stay at least six feet away from others).
You need a hobby
When you are confined in a small space you need an outlet that isn’t work or maintaining your environment.
Some people are surprised to learn I brought books with me to space. The quiet and absorption you can find in a physical book — one that doesn’t ping you with notifications or tempt you to open a new tab — is priceless. Many small bookstores are currently offering curbside pickup or home delivery service, which means you can support a local business while also cultivating some much-needed unplugged time.
You can also practice an instrument (I just bought a digital guitar trainer online), try a craft, or make some art. Astronauts take time for all of these while in space. (Remember Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s famous cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity?)
Keep a journal
NASA has been studying the effects of isolation on humans for decades, and one surprising finding they have made is the value of keeping a journal. Throughout my yearlong mission, I took the time to write about my experiences almost every day. If you find yourself just chronicling the days’ events (which, under the circumstances, might get repetitive) instead try describing what you are experiencing through your five senses or write about memories. Even if you don’t wind up writing a book based on your journal like I did, writing about your days will help put your experiences in perspective and let you look back later on what this unique time in history has meant.
Take time to connect
Even with all the responsibilities of serving as commander of a space station, I never missed the chance to have a videoconference with family and friends. Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune systems. Technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, so it’s worth making time to connect with someone every day — it might actually help you fight off viruses.
Listen to experts
I’ve found that most problems aren’t rocket science, but when they are rocket science, you should ask a rocket scientist. Living in space taught me a lot about the importance of trusting the advice of people who knew more than I did about their subjects, whether it was science, engineering, medicine, or the design of the incredibly complex space station that was keeping me alive.
Especially in a challenging moment like the one we are living through now, we have to seek out knowledge from those who know the most about it and listen to them. Social media and other poorly vetted sources can be transmitters of misinformation just as handshakes transmit viruses, so we have to make a point of seeking out reputable sources of facts, like the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
We are all connected
Seen from space, the Earth has no borders. The spread of the coronavirus is showing us that what we share is much more powerful than what keeps us apart, for better or for worse. All people are inescapably interconnected, and the more we can come together to solve our problems, the better off we will all be.
One of the side effects of seeing Earth from the perspective of space, at least for me, is feeling more compassion for others. As helpless as we may feel stuck inside our homes, there are always things we can do — I’ve seen people reading to children via videoconference, donating their time and dollars to charities online, and running errands for elderly or immuno-compromised neighbors. The benefits for the volunteer are just as great as for those helped.
I’ve seen humans work together to prevail over some of the toughest challenges imaginable, and I know we can prevail over this one if we all do our part and work together as a team.
Oh, and wash your hands — often.
Scott Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station.
In the face of Covid19 I am trying to remain positive, follow a routine, read, write and watch television. An abundance of rain offers no help here in the Midwest but as with all things these will pass and we will get back to “normal” or a new “normal”.
I started looking through box of family papers that have been sitting in the closet for years. I pulled them out the other day and started reading some of the letters. These are letters from the 1930’s and 40’s; from my mom, my great grandmother, and great aunts and some from myself in the 1980’s. These letters are a series of conversations about the weather, favorite subjects and grades at school and their plans to visit.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a few letters about making Springerle cookies. One side of my mom’s family emigrated from Germany and brought many of their recipes with them. One of those recipes was for springerle cookies which are still being made. Springerle cookies are traditional Christmas cookies from Germany and Austria and date back to the 1600’s. They are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. They taste best when made a month before they are eaten. I found three letters in which my great grandmother Ella and her daughters (my great aunts) were making Springerles for the holidays. In a much later letter my great aunt referenced a conversation to my mother about my interest in learning how to make them. I don’t remember if my aunt showed me how to make them but I did find a recipe and made them years later. I found the old family recipe from my great aunt and combined the two recipes. Below is my family recipe, the oldest recipe I have in my cookbook. It dates from 1850.
What family kitchen stories do you have?
Springerle Cookies (1850 recipe)
From the kitchen of: Bess Blackwell Meyers
· 4 eggs, large
· 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
· 4 cups flour
· 1 round teaspoon baking powder
· 1 pinch salt
· 1 Tablespoon anise seed
1. Separate the 4 eggs. Beat whites until very dry and stiff. Beat yolks till light and creamy.
2. Beat yolks and whites together. Add 1 pound of powdered sugar, beating till light.
3. Add 4 cups flour, 1 Tbsp. anise seed, pinch salt and 1 tsp. rounded of baking powder, mixed together before adding to egg and sugar mixture.
4. Beat in flour—probably you will have to work some in by hand. If a small amount won’t go in—save to flour pastry board. Roll out about 1/8 inch or little more and press small piece into mold or roller.
5. Cut into shape and dry face up on floured towel. I make them about 7:30 p.m. When I go to bed, 11 p.m., I turn face down to dry.
6. Bake in a 350 oven 6-7 minutes. Bake only until very light cream color. They raise a little more than 1/2 original size.
Let cool and store in a closed container in a cool, dark location.
The older adult population is growing and will continue to grow for the next several decades. They are a diverse group with a variety of needs and backgrounds. While some older adults are mobile, there are those who, for cognitive and physical reasons, are living with family, in residential and assisted living facilities, or spend part of their day in adult day care. The adult population has different needs at different points in their life though, programming for older adults is often lumped together with all adult library programming.
On the Go with Senior Services now available on Niche Academy website: https://www.nicheacademy.com/blog/on-the-go-with-senior-services
In this free one-hour webinar, Phyllis Goodman will address the needs of the older adult population and how to create programs for them.
Attendees will gain insight into who the older adult population is and recent research on how the brain ages, and how educational and creative programs can improve their quality of life.
Techniques for working with older adults and specifically those with early stages of dementia will be discussed.
Sample programs that have worked well at libraries around the country will be shared.
I recently presented a webinar about connecting with older adults. One of the participants asked if I would address how to work with older adults when you are so much younger than they are. It is a very good question and one which many adult services librarians are not prepared for after receiving their library degree, even if they plan to work in adult services.
Free Webinar – On the Go with Senior Services now available on Niche Academy website: https://www.nicheacademy.com/blog/on-the-go-with-senior-services
The older adult population is a diverse group with a variety of needs and interests just like every other age group. They grew up with a variety of music and technology and events which shaped them. This along with cultural and ethnic traditions has made them who they are today. Older adults you may come into contact with during an outreach program may also have cognitive and physical limitations which affect how well they are able to complete daily tasks or interact with others. They may also be embarrassed by their limitations and loss of independence. And there are others who make the best of their situation and love the opportunity to play games, being read or creating something and interacting with others.
How does One Interact with the Older Adult Population?
- It never hurts to repeat and remember the golden rule-treat people the way you want to be treated, no matter the age. Treat older adults with dignity and respect and try not to buy into stereotypes. Research shows that older adults are capable of learning and many want to continue to do so though it may be in a different way than they have done before. Interacting with others and participating in activities greatly contributes to one’s well-being.
- Also remember that you deserve respect and have skills and expertise to create and implement outreach programs. Many older adults will appreciate your efforts and look forward to interacting in these library programs.
- Capitalize on your strengths. Find a format that works for you. If you enjoy storytelling then incorporate that into your programs. If you are having fun then your group will too. Try not to take comments personally. The individual may be having a bad day or have physical or emotional issues that cause them to react in certain ways.
- Learn as much as you can about older adults but keep in mind how much variety there is.
- Before doing an outreach program learn as much as you can about the center and the people you will be presenting programs to. If possible, visit the senior facility before your first visit and talk to the activity coordinator.
- Ask what equipment will be available to you to use during the program.
- Where in the center will you be doing the program? How many people will be participating? Will the program be held before or after lunch?
- Who will be participating? What are their abilities and limits? What are their ages and are there particular subjects they are interested in? (You may not always know who will be in your group, but it doesn’t hurt to ask). What kinds of programs have been successful in the past?
- At the first program also ask your audience they are interested in, what events and activities they enjoyed when they were growing up. I had a group that loved local history so my programs focused on that and they loved to talk about the local places and events they remembered.
- Talk with the group as they enter the room or finish up an activity. Tell them what the program will be about and what they may be doing.
- Ask the activity coordinator or staff member to stay in the room with you. They know the audience best and can redirect behavior or comments.
- Relax and be flexible. Don’t worry if the discussion goes off track. Some of the best programs happen because a passing comment opens up discussion on another topic which may open up a potential program the next time you visit.
Check out my book On the Go with Senior Services: library programs for any time and any place with gives more insights into who the older adult population is and interacting with them. There is guidance on working with individuals with dementia and taking computer classes on the road. Complete detailed step-by-step programs are also included.
Having forgot that I read this book in 2017 I read it again and got more out of it the second time. It is like a sweet onion. As you peel away the layers you uncover more and more about the characters and what has led up to the final events. Great read.
Once tow-headed children ran across the floors, bouncing balls and playing jacks. Sitting in the chairs reading on a snowy day; sunshine streaming through the windows. Now forgotten among the overgrown grass and trees.
Getting a start on March reading. Currently reading the Lager Queen of Minnesota which I am enjoying.