Love is in the air!

Winter is a time of blustery winds, warm blankets, and book friends to fill your heart.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Yesterday I Fasted

That's right. You read that correctly. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I fasted.

It was not for medical reasons. It was in support of the poor people in America.

In the past I have run a food pantry and assisted at a food kitchen. I know the face of hunger, and I know it well.

It can't always be read in the lines on a person's face nor in the body fat, or lack thereof, that they carry. Hunger may be affecting the cashier who gives you attitude at that store that underpays its employees. It may be hurting the man in the cubicle next to yours. Or the woman riding on the bus, maybe the woman driving the school bus you so lovingly entrust the road safety of your child to.

It could be affecting the child sitting next to your child who is taking a standardized test. The overall scores of all the students in the school are used to set a school's ranking. Hungry children cannot concentrate, so a child who is missing meals or not eating enough at each meal could be hurting your child's education and chance of getting into your dream college.

(My children attended a school where they had all the students bused in early when testing was being done so that every child in the school was fed a free breakfast on the mornings of the tests. They wanted to make sure there were no hungry bellies and distracted children taking the test. They wanted high test scores to keep their high ranking.)

If you are still with me you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with me fasting on Thanksgiving.

My family was scattered yesterday, so I was not tempted by the smells of delicious food being cooked. I did not sit by, salivating, while others enjoyed the food I denied myself. Yesterday was the ideal day to fast.

In the last few years the United States Congress has cut funding to school breakfast and lunch programs. It has cut food stamps. It has not raised the minimum wage, not has it given itself a pay cut.

This year when the supermarkets put the turkeys on sale, the sale price was ten (10) cents a pound higher than it was last year.

In months with major holidays, people on food stamps do not receive anything extra. 

Food stamps do not feed an individual nor a family for the entire month. (Check out Cory Booker's social experiment.)

Most food pantries limit food stamp recipients to once a month.

Too many people do not live close enough to a food pantry or soup kitchen to be able to utilize them. And in many areas it is a humiliating experience.

Fact: One in six people in America do not get enough to eat.

One in six people in the richest country in the world go hungry everyday!!!

I went hungry yesterday for the people who couldn't afford to do the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

I went hungry yesterday for the people who missed meals over the course of the last few months in order to save to have the traditional feast.

I went hungry yesterday to silently show my solidarity.

Did I miss the food? Hell yes!

I suffered with hunger pains that woke me up in the middle of the night. I suffered from a headache brought on by hunger. I suffered every time I thought of a child who had to go without.

Please remember when Congress takes away money from school food programs, they are actually taking the food right out of children's mouths! 

Another thing to remember, when Congress cuts food stamps it is taking food out of the mouths of children, elderly, working poor, veterans, and the families of active military personnel. 

Also remember, it is cheaper to feed your family macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, Little Debbies, and soda than it is to buy fresh produce, whole grain cereals, and milk. The thinking is, a full belly is better for the soul than an empty belly with little bits of apple passing through it.

Tis the season for giving. I say give your Congressman hell. Tell him or her that you want funding returned to the school lunch and food stamp programs. 

It is time America fought the war against poverty the way Lyndon Johnson wanted it. The country was never able to fulfill Johnson's vision of a "Great Society" because of a little conflict known as Vietnam. 

What started as an advisory position turned into a "police action" and then an undeclared war. It ate up the Federal budget and the War on Poverty has never been fully funded. Instead of being a cure, the social programs became a bandaid.

Ever since we left Vietnam each President has presided over some kind of conflict, whether it was part of the "cold" war or a flaming conflict, the industrial-military complex has continued to eat up the Federal budget. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, (a former General) warned us about the industrial-military complex, but it is a major part of Congressional pork. (And Congress never goes hungry - just look at their fresh donut budget!)

Even one of our Founding Fathers, President (and former General) George Washington warned us about getting involved in foreign conflicts.

It is time to fully fund the War on Poverty and stop the War on the Poor!

The politicians are blaming the poor because they don't want to tax their corporate sponsors. They are turning brother against brother. Blaming the poor for the middle class slipping into the ranks of the poor.

The poor don't have that kind of power.

The people with the power seek to divert our attention away from those that are really to blame for the monetary iniquity. (And it is not the person who is holding down two or three jobs just to survive.)

Sorry, I have digressed into a rant, but I am not going to erase it. I usually keep politics out of this blog and off my Facebook page. I have another persona who is the activist. However, as we are going into the "giving season" and there are so many more people who need a helping hand, I can no longer be silent. (At least today!)

If you are able, donate to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. If money is tight, then donate your time. A warm body is always appreciated.

Happy Holidays, my friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gone too soon

I had a strange childhood, never quite fitting in, but never completely ostracized. I lived in one town, but had to go to school in another. Having to keep my true home a secret. This made maintaining friendships difficult. (I was also a latchkey kid long before anyone had ever heard the term.)

I had a few friends, at different stages of my life and limited to the circumstances of our environments, but due to changing circumstances and differing life paths we lost touch. Over the years I have tried various methods of finding some of them. 

Today I finally tracked down another friend. Unfortunately it is too late to reconnect with Beverley, because I located her through her obituary. The obit didn't list her cause of death, but whatever it was, she was much too young. She was an extraordinary girl, clever and generous, I am sure she maintained those qualities as an adult.

Beverley and I met through our part-time, after school jobs, back in the days of old Ma Bell. We went to different schools, but we didn't live that far away from each other. Beverley not only had her license, she also had a car, and a father who was a policeman! He used to get us movie tickets. We were able to go to three different movie theaters in our town (only one of which still survives today). Where we went depended on what movie was playing.

After we graduated, I went on working for the phone company, moving to a Boston office while Beverley went away to college. We lost touch, but I thought of her, and still do, whenever I go to the movies.

Another friend I met through the job at New England Tel & Tel was Mary Ellen. She also lived within walking distance, and although we went to different schools, she would invite me over to do homework together. I still remember sitting at the counter in her kitchen and watching The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits with her and then having to walk home alone. Always hoping the street lights wouldn't flicker or go out when I passed them. (My history with street lights is the fodder for a future blog.) 

After graduation Mel went on to Nursing School while I went on to that full time job with the telephone company in Boston. We stayed in touch throughout most of her years in nursing school. She would invite me to go clubbing with her and her friends from Saint E's. She also introduced me to the first love of my life. (Unfortunately, he broke my heart, and Mel was still seeing his friend and things were too awkward for a couple of young naive teenagers to handle, and we drifted apart.) I also found her through her obit. 

I had been trying to find Mel to reconnect for years. When I had last talked to her, Mary Ellen had just earned her nursing degree. She had applied to med school, but had been denied. She wasn't giving up, though, she had every intention of re-applying. I don't know if she ever did, but according to her obituary she was a medical director and much respected, and she lived only a few towns away from me!

Then there was Anne. She was wonderful. She came along at a down point in my life. We were both dating losers, and when we ditched them our friendship continued. We paid a visit to her old college roommate who lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a borough of Brooklyn. Alice lived in a large apartment building, in a comfortable one bedroom apartment, with a tiny kitchen and no character, except for the artwork Alice had put on the walls.

We ate at some fantastic restaurants and I got to see my first two Broadway musicals - on Broadway. It was a wonderful visit.

Anne introduced me to the world of Kathleen Woodiwiss and I still thank her for it. We also had a lot of movie nights where a bunch of us would gather for old black & white comedies. You know the type where the lines are funny and it is not all about projectile vomiting.

Anne had a dream. She quit her teaching job and moved to New York City to become an actress. 

I understood Anne's dream. I had never wanted to be an actress, writing was my passion. 

Unfortunately, Anne's dream was never actualized, she worked as an insurance adjuster while studying acting in NYC, eventually coming back home to another teaching position. 

And as with my other friends, as our lives went down different paths. We lost touch until a few months ago when I found her obituary also. (I found both Mel and Anne on the same day.)

These three women had all touched my life in unique ways. They helped me through difficult and/or awkward stages in my "growing up" years. They showed me that there was always a light burning somewhere, and good people who offered healthy friendships.

I wish I could have reconnected with them before they left this world. I'm not sure if they needed to hear the words, but their friendship meant so much to me, that I have never forgotten them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today I released my first Small Town Romance, and not the Greek Billionaire everyone has been waiting for.

I have been as nervous as a young man in an old black and white movie. Pacing around and worrying. Even after the nurse had assured me that things were going well, I couldn't stop worrying.

Then late tonight a reader wrote to tell me she had just finished the book and would post a review tomorrow.

She "LOVED" it. 

The relief was overwhelming. I had been so afraid no one would like the hero, the heroine, or the story, and here was a woman who had read the book in one night and couldn't wait to tell me how much she liked it. 

The kind words of the reader made all the labor pains worth it. After all, we always feel better when someone admires out babies.

Will he leave with her heart or her heritage?

Barnes & Noble:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Okay, I admit it. I have already fallen behind in my NaNo goals. (My birthday and other work commitments should not be allowed to get in the way!)

However, today I met with my Crazy Crew for lunch and author J. M. Griffin surprised me with a notebook/calendar from NaNo. JM is also participating in the challenge.

She has recharged my enthusiasm and challenged me to catch up with her. 

Writing can be a very lonely occupation. Sure we have our characters, but I write romance and my characters seem to be more involved with each other than they are with me. 

It is nice to have a writing friend to push and challenge. 

Thank you, JM.

My friends, we all have stumbling blocks in our lives, but if you persevere you can get real close to achieving any goal you set for yourself! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

Today is day one of NaNoWriMo. Many of my friends, well a couple anyway,  (Liz Decaf is the only one who comes to mind at the moment) have been successful at completing their first drafts during the month of November thanks to NaNoWriMo. 

I have never participated in the annual November event before. (I'm afraid of commitment.) This will be my first year with NaNo. And as of 1:30 AM I had already completed my first day goal!!!

This is a big mental boost for me. This past summer I participated for the first time in a NaNoWriMo event. I went to summer camp in July. 

There are many valid excuses I can give you for not completing my work in July, but you don't want excuses you want to see the finished product . . . The Misplaced Bride. And you shall, but unfortunately not as soon as I had hoped. Ajax's story will not be for sale until Spring of 2014.

If you are a writer and procrastination is your usual MO, I would advise you to sign up for NaNo. It's not too late. Even if you do not complete your project or meet your goal you will still have made progress. If you do complete your project, then you have hit the jackpot!!!

If you are a friend of a writer or a reader, you may be seeing a lot of FB updates. Encourage your friends along their road to writing.

The path can be fun, intriguing, mysterious, scary, and/or difficult, but having a friend to hold your hand, or pat your shoulder and encourage you to keep going will go a long way to helping someone to meet their goal.

I look forward to seeing you throughout my journey.