Monthly Archives: July 2015

Harvest Ground!

Swing open the new gate,
Enter with glee; not late!

Prepare for success. Now.
Reap benefits and chow,

Down on the seeds you’ve sown,
See blessings pour; full blown.

Stand on that harvest ground,
See goodness all around.

Lynn M.
July 30, 2015

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A Continuum: Tyre and Phoenix

Continuum-cover

My latest novella is called A Continuum: Tyre and Phoenix.  It just hit the Trafford Bookstore and Amazon websites last Thursday as a soft paperback.  The e-book is forthcoming! It is brief tale but it is power-packed.  It is a one, two punch!

People don’t have a lot of time these days so a quick read will keep the reader actively engaged.  Though it is short textual piece about Tyre and Phoenix, there is a lot to ponder. It could generate some lively discussions!

In the first book, A Golden Leaf in Time, Tyre (Trey) and Phoenix meet at the end of the book.  Both have had tumultuous lives with a series of failed relationships and job woes.  They are happy to meet each other and they see this union as a fresh breath of spring air.  There are possibilities on the horizon.

The sequel, Warm Intrigues focuses on Tyre and Phoenix’s dating scenes.  He lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago and she lives in the southern suburbs. The commute alone tests the seriousness of their new relationship.  They eat at a series of restaurants and go to a few hotspots in the Chicagoland area as they get to know each other.  They end up sealing the deal.

And now in A Continuum: Tyre and Phoenix,  they experience the ups and downs of their first year of marriage. He is a college professor and she is a college librarian and they now live in the city itself.  Will their love continue? Is the spark still there after a hard day’s work? Will the ghosts of the past pull them apart or will they further cement these two who seem to be lucky in love?

Order a copy of A Continuum: Tyre and Phoenix and see how things turn out!  Or order all three books and see how this love evolved through it all.

http://bookstore.trafford.com/Products/SKU-001039837/A-Continuum–Tyre-and-Phoenix.aspx

Golden Leaf thumbnail                                                                                                           Warm Intrigues -Cover

Lynn M.

July 27, 2015

Art!

Where does art come from?  Art comes from somewhere out of the core of our beings.  There is this central churning that spews out the creativity.  There is this something that demands to be formed or shaped into a tangible expression.

It may show up in the eyes of the world as a work of beauty whether it be lyrics to a song or a snazzy poem.  It could be an original dress design or odd-shaped ring or piece of jewelry.  Somehow, the artist possibly sees or hears something that no one else has seen or heard.  An interviewer asked Michael Jackson what inspired the lyrics and music for his songs.  He responded, “They just come. I hear them.”

Once an artist is clear about the messages received, this something is waiting to be chiseled or hammered into a recognizable result.  Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  He was referring to his famous sculpture of David.

It takes the eye and ear of an artist to not only see the possibility, but to tap, scrape, draw, sketch or write that blank form into a medium that others can see, feel or touch.  Art itself is often the artist’s way of channeling grieve, anger, disappointment, delays or other emotions that could have found adverse outlets.  After creating something grand, even the artist may feel a sense of relief and a greater level of clarity.  The light in the tunnel has been turned on for the viewers and for the artist as well.

Out of chaos, that something that has been formed may cause others to sigh and say, “Ah. Nice.” So, artist should take to those laptops, writing pads, canvases, paint brushes, music studios, pottery wheels or whatever medium and spill out those emotions.  Then onlookers can walk by, read or listen to the final product and say, “Yes. I like it!”

Lynn M.

July 26, 2015

Summer Reading

Many libraries work diligently to encourage young people to read during the summer months.  Several reading groups and reading clubs are formed to keep them positively engaged.  Book lists are leveled by age and genre and the youth can join in on the reading fun.

Rewards and incentives are filtered throughout the reading programs so that each participant can feel the wonder of achievement.  For those who cannot afford a summer vacation, an adventure is only a book away.

Adults also catch up on their reading during the summer months.  It is a great way to relax under the air-conditioning after enough hours have been spent outside in the hot sun.

Websites like Goodreads ask us, “What are you currently reading?”  It reminds us that we should be reading something.  The website also checks to see how far we’ve gotten in the book.  It keeps us on our toes because we should be making progress through a book.  And, if there is no progress, maybe we should discard the book, if it is not holding our interest.  That’s okay too, if it is not mandatory reading.

I have read a few books this summer and I really like it when one book refers me to another one.  While reading Williams’ The Lost Daughter, she mentioned Karr’s The Liar’s Club.  I had heard of the book and remember when it was quite the rave.  So, I felt that this was a perfect time to go and get a copy.

When I got to the library and found the right section, there were multiple copies of The Liar’s Club.  I am sure that this book has been in demand by book clubs and group discussions.  Although it came out in 1995, I am just getting around to it.  Better late than never!  I am well on my way and I am enjoying this memoir.

I pick up titles that I never found time to read during the summer and the Christmas holidays.   I now have the print copy of The Liar’s Club and just uploaded Forster’s A Room with a View on my Kindle.  I like to have the benefit of using both mediums.  When I get tired of reading one, I can pick up the other to stay busy during those lazy days of summer.

What you are currently reading during this summer?

Lynn M.

July 22, 2015

Lucky Me!

On Saturday, I went to the lakefront to attend my first Ethnic Arts Festival on the North Shore in Evanston.  It started at noon and I was fortunate enough to find parking off the beaten path a little after twelve.

The weather was perfect.  It was sunny, dry and not too hot.  As I walked into the park, I saw families out cooking  or just socializing.  Each had claimed their spots and their music was as diverse as the theme of the festival itself.  As I got closer, I saw an array of tents situated all around. There were flags representing different nations circling the pond.

Ethnic Art Fest

I leisurely strolled towards the tents and silently reminded myself of my shoestring budget.  So, I looked at the wonderful wares from a distance as I saw all types of jewelry, dresses, hats, baskets,drums, you name it.  It would have been so easy to blow the budget, so I walked in the middle.

And then, these headbands that only cost $4.00 caught my eye.  I thought, now that will go with my outfit and it started.  I picked up one and I also saw a pair of earrings that I could not leave hanging there.  That was my first damage for the day.

I continued on after I tucked my new headband and dangling earrings into my bag.  At that booth, I spent $10 and they charged me $1 for taxes.  Oh well!  I stayed away from the booths as I again observed their wares from a distance.  Artifacts, hats and lots and lots of jewelry. Whew!

But then, it happened.  The music!  I thought of Denise Levertov’s poem called Tree Telling of Orpheus.  These lines have stayed with me.  “But the music!  The music reached us.”  I heard the music. I walked towards the inviting sounds. I was able to find an empty seat and I saw a woman singing and playing a bass along with three other musicians.

Megitza

There was a guitarist, a drummer and one guy actually played an accordion.  An accordion!  I had not seen one of those in years.  I had only planned to listen to a couple of songs, but the group was so good, I ended up staying until they finished their set. Before I left, there was nowhere to sit and many people were standing and dancing to the rhythm. I later discovered that the lead vocalist and bass player’s name is Megitza and her group is called The Megitza Quartet.

I got up and headed back to the tents remembering that I had to pace myself. I again looked from a distance until… yes, until, I saw a fan.  A hand-woven fan!  It was only $8.00.  I picked it up and it fit so perfectly in my hand.  I did not see the woman sitting there observing me.  She said, “It is from Ghana.”  That did it.  I thought of my Ghanaian co-worker whom I fondly remember and said, “I’ll take it.”  I walked away smiling and fanning.

Then, there were the food stands and booths.  I had not eaten so I had to get something. I had so many choices.  Gyros? Hotdogs? What?  And then I saw the vendor who had sold me a Sandy Special at the Farmer’s Market the week earlier.  I decided to try their tacos. I bought two and spent $6.00 at $3.00 each.

I went to a table where others were eating and enjoyed the tacos and a little more sun. I noticed that more people were coming and it was getting more crowded.  When I finished eating, I slowly walked towards my car.  I had only spent $25.00 and I was quite happy with my finds.

On the way out, I saw a tent called Children’s Crafts.  It was very well-staffed and the children could walk up and create something.  They had a lot to choose from as they got their hands busy during the fest.  How thoughtful!  Whoever thought of that idea should be hugely rewarded.

More people were pulling and up and parking had become very scarce.  I felt that I was leaving just in time because I was able to enjoy the fest in a stress-free fashion. I left the festival and made one more stop on the way home.

After I had been home for about an hour, the weatherman came on and said that there were tornado warnings out.  Sure enough, a downpour did come shortly afterwards.  I thought of the vendors who had to put up their wares.  I thought of the many people out on the lakefront who had to run for shelter. I felt bad for them, but I thought of my time at the festival and said, “Lucky me!”

Lynn M.                                                                                                July 19, 2015

Friends

Friends?  What do real friends do? Real friends help us empty the receptacles of our minds.  Sometimes, we may toss and turn as we wrestle with those things which we find unsettling.  And then, there appears that friend; the one with whom we can bare our souls.

We can safely share those emotions that had us in a whirlwind.  As we talk, we hear ourselves and they become our sounding boards. Talking or conversing with a friend is similar to writing a literary piece.  William Faulkner wrote, “I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”

This also applies to in-depth conversations.  As we talk, we hear ourselves, our views and our thoughts.  We may be somewhat surprised as we listen to ourselves while in trusted company. We are unguarded and we feel safe enough to express from the seat of our souls.

Spilling it out into the open air frees us from those garbled thoughts as we get rid of the cobwebs of our minds.  I had an older sister who would say, “Come on down. Let’s talk about it.”

Another friend once sent me a card and on the front, it said, “Pour.” It was symbolic of pouring out those troubling thoughts that had been mulling around. They can keep us going in circles as the tape plays over and over again.

I think of the lost art of ironing.  We had to iron clothes as youngsters. It was a tedious job and I don’t know of anyone who looked forward to doing it.  Once a garment had been washed and dried, it had to be ironed or straightened out in order to present an acceptable appearance.  The wrinkles had to be dissipated.

That is what friends do.  They allow us to get rid of the crinkles.  They listen to us and we listen to them. We hear ourselves.  They hear themselves and when the parting comes, we can walk away feeling strengthened from the conversation.  We have more clarity.  The road has become linear and we exhale.  We sigh and as we later reflect, we can say to ourselves, “I know just what I need to do.”

Lynn M.                                                                                                              July 18, 2015

Like A Falcon

Falcon in flight

I never knew the characteristics of a falcon until yesterday.  After hearing a news story which stated that they were no longer extinct in Illinois, I decided to do a little research about them.

Interestingly, I had three cars that were Ford Falcons.  Their colors were mint green, metallic blue and white.  They were obviously named for the bird, known as the falcon. According to online sources, “The falcon is the Earth’s fastest moving creature. They can dive at 200 miles per hour.”

They are birds of prey so when they see something that they want, they go for it. We can learn from them because life is ever-changing and the moments are fleeting.  We should take advantage of every opportunity that will widen our horizons and not procrastinate.

These birds can fly at really high speeds and they can change directions rapidly.  How many times have we been asked to switch it up or go with the flow? Or we hear clichés that remind us to adapt to the times or to be flexible. All of the messages are saying,  just do it. It will probably benefit us in the long run.

There is a beloved children’s story called Anansi the Spider.  Anansi, the spider, often managed to get into the worst possible situations.  In this story, he is swallowed by a fish and later captured by a falcon. His six sons, each with unique talents, save him.  His sons were: See Trouble; Road Builder; River Drinker; Game Skinner; Stone Thrower and the youngest, Cushion.

Anansi -cover

I was reminded of this story when I read about the falcon’s keen vision.  He or she can see things from far away like Anansi’s son, See Trouble.  The falcon’s vision is said to be 2.6 times sharper than human beings.  See Trouble was the one who saw that their father was in trouble. He alerted his brothers and they all sprang into action. When Anansi was released from the falcon’s grip, he fell from the sky and landed on his youngest son, Cushion.

We too, must use our eyes of discernment.  We can ‘see trouble’ if we rely on our gut level feelings that alert us to danger.  My father used to remind me to, “Go with my first mind.” There is that something that speaks to warn us so that we have time to build our walls of defense against the negative forces.

We should learn from the falcon:

  • They travel at high speeds and act quickly. Like them, we can move it or lose it.
  • They can change directions at a moment’s notice. We  must make those necessary changes.
  • Falcons can see things from afar. We should trust those feelings that say that something is amiss.

We can soar like a falcon, if we remain flexible and keep a high watch! Then, we can cruise into those smooth landings!

Lynn M.                                                                                        July 16, 2015

Newspapers: Online or Actual Paper?

Suntimes

Which do you prefer?  An online newspaper or an actual paper?  As the saying goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I have some history with newspapers.  I have seen the big presses roll out the new, fresh copies.  It is something to witness! And I saw a few older gentlemen in Georgia who were typesetters.  They were up in age because they were a part of a dying art form and considered The Last of the Mohicans.  Setting the print was a very tedious process before the advent of the PC and the Internet.

I  took an A.B. Dick Offset Printing course at a local community college while in Georgia. So, I have smelled that fresh ink and with all of that said, my leanings are towards a real newspaper.  If the work week is hectic and I cannot find the time to go through a paper during the week, I will occasionally pick up the Sunday paper.

Going through the many articles can take hours. I can take breaks or eat snacks as I leisurely move through the paper.  I can relish each of the chosen tidbits and it is also a great way to get new ideas for writing.  Reading and writing will always go hand in hand.

With a real newspaper, I can pause. I can fold it to focus in on one particular article.  I can clip articles that I think are too valuable to throw away.  I probably got that from my Aunt Louise.  She had clipped articles throughout her apartment. She even dated some of the clippings and some were in her Bible.

When I want to read the news online, they often want to show a video instead. One commenter wrote, “I can read.”  But even if there is an actual article of the news story, I have to move at a pace that I might not find feasible.  Or I have to scroll down or wait for the computer to finish buffering.

With an actual printed copy in hand, I can move at my own speed.  I can read articles that may not have made the electronic circuit.  If I don’t get to all of it on the day of publication, I can pick up some sections the next day. One woman reminded me that “There is nothing as old as yesterday’s news.”  But for sections such as Book Reviews or the Arts and Entertainment , they can be enjoyed any time during the week and still be considered current.

So give me a real newspaper and if I sniff real close, on a good day, I might be able to get a whiff of that wet ink!  Which do  you prefer?

Lynn M.                                                                                                       July 14, 2015

The Farmer’s Market

In my book, Warm Intrigues, Tyre and Phoenix visit The Farmer’s Market held in the South Suburbs of Chicago.  It reads: 

“I say the Farmer’s Market, first. Then, eat,” he answered.“Okay,” she agreed.  At the Farmer’s Market, they picked nice healthy tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. He added a few sweet potatoes. They both made individual choices, and they moved along the aisles like clockwork. When they had completed the shopping spree, they put their bags in the back of his SUV.       

Well, today, I thought about that imaginary trip of theirs as I visited The Farmer’s Market for the first time on the North Shore of Chicago.  As I approached the lot where it was held, I heard a man singing as he strummed his guitar.

Before I actually saw him, I passed by the first row of vendors and saw toddlers’ clothes hanging at a booth that also had beautifully hand-crafted quilts.  Further down, there were wind chimes that looked like they were made of stained glass along with other mobile items. I had to quickly remind myself that I had mainly come for vegetables.

So, I made my way to another row where I saw all types of vegetables being displayed.  I could then see the man singing as he played his guitar.  Dollars filled his open guitar case and there was a little girl dancing with her father.  How cute!

I made my first purchase.  It was a bunch of fresh Spearmint.  It brought back memories of how we used to pick it in my early childhood days in rural Michigan.  My mother would put some in a pitcher of cold water and it gave us a good, minty taste.  Adding a tad of honey makes it even more enjoyable.

From another vendors’ table, I bought a few small white potatoes, an onion, some yellow squash and zucchini.  The yellow squash and the zucchini can be washed, sliced.  Let them simmer together; drain and add a few sliced tomatoes.  Warm them all together and there’d be a succulent side dish.

I continued to browse.  One man walked by with a huge container of freshly baked loaves of bread.  Many people stopped moving and their eyes followed him to see where that good smelling bread was going to land.  It reminded me of a scene from a children’s story where a man shouted, “Hot cross buns!  Get your hot cross buns!”

Again, I had to refocus on my mission when I turned and saw a table selling sweets.  I broke down and bought a small loaf of banana bread.  Who could resist?

A woman walked by who was eating something that she was really enjoying.  I asked her what it was and she said, “It’s called a Sandy Special.  I came here just to get this.”  I asked where she got it and she said at the Tamale Express Stand.  She pointed the way and said that I would see a long line.

I went to get my Sandy Special and sure enough, when I got to the booth, there was a long line.  I ordered my special.  The woman carved the corn off the cob into a paper tray and asked me for my choice of meat.  I had a choice of steak, chicken or Tilapia.  I chose chicken and walked away with a mix of chicken, chopped onions, green pepper chips, diced tomatoes and of course the corn.  There was heavy seasoning and I left smiling as I headed to the tables at the back of the lot to chow down.

I thought that I would have some left over to take home, so I asked for an extra bag.  But, that did not happen.  I ate it all. It was delicious and I will be returning for another Sandy Special.

After that, I knew that I should be heading out.  I saw and heard two other young musicians.  One was playing a violin and the other played a bass.  A little boy sat and their feet listening.  I heard him say, “Play something faster.” The musicians simply laughed.

I treated myself to a bouquet of freshly picked flowers.  The bouquet included lilies and I know I will further enjoy them when they open up.  On the way out, I paused to price the quilts and asked for the vendor’s business card.  She said that she makes them herself.  She will be seeing me again as well.

It was a splendid day at my first Farmer’s Market on the North Shore and it was a great way to spend a portion of my Saturday!

Warm Intrigues

Lynn M.                                                                           July 12, 2015