by MD Maurice
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Welcome to the place were I chronicle my own falls down dark holes and adventures chasing white rabbits! Come on In, Take a Bite, You Never Know What You May Find...
"Curiouser and curiouser." Alice in Wonderland
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT May 5th
Happy Sunday! Take the time in your blog today to reflect on your week. Share one thing you accomplished this week and one thing you hope to accomplish next week.
This past week was crazy busy at work. I feel the list of what I failed to accomplish might be easier to come up with if I am honest. This was a week where the days simply did not have enough hours in them to check off my list. I did managed to almost blog every day (I missed Sat, and had to catch up today) and I plan to have more success at that next week. Trying to establish some measure of discipline is something I really need to work as a writer I know.
I also managed to get more steps in, more activity rather than letting myself stay trapped behind my desk at work. That is a trend I hope continues into next week and beyond.
Next week I hope my weigh-in goes well although I anticipate it won't. It has been difficult this week to cook or prepare meals and I've not made the best choices as a result. Long work days coupled with a tweeked back and host of school related activities have distracted me from the plans that I so needed to follow to ensure some measure of success. So with four days to go before I face the scale, and that room full of peers, I'm just going to walk my butt off (literally I hope) and stick to my meal plans and meal prep like there is no tomorrow. Hopefully that will save me!
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT May 4th
Stand outside for two minutes. Make a list of ten things you can smell, ten things you can hear, and ten things you can feel.
I feel a little like I am cheating because I am doing this one a day late and I'm not standing outside because once again, it is raining. All we have had here in the Northeast is rain, rain, torrential rain and more rain. I do have my window cracking in my little writing nook though and so I think I can manage to tackle the prompt without dragging myself outside into the wet Spring.
Ten things I can hear:
1. Birds, and lots of them. We moved last summer from a largely urban lot to a much more rural neighborhood. It is amazing how many more birds you can hear without the drone of traffic, ambulance and police sirens and the general ambient noise of living near a small city. The birds are my favorite sound now.
2. Rain...the consistent soundtrack of my days. I can hear the rain falling on the slate walkway, dripping down from the trees and pattering the windowsill.
3. My mother-in-law is in the kitchen washing the breakfast dishes and I can hear her trying not to clank them together as she puts them away. She has a reputation for breaking things that she is actively trying to amend.
4.. The little dog is snoring remarkably louder than one would imagine.
5. My mother-in-law is now shouting at said little dog, obviously she has found any number of bad things he might have done...the garbage (his garbage-diving skills are the stuff of legends), an accident (he loathes pooping outside in the rain) or some new evil surprise he has left just for her.
6. My neighbor across the street is tinkering loudly in his open garage, most likely aggravated that the rain is once again keeping his yard work at bay.
7. Somewhere there is a child laughing loudly, possibly the house behind us.
8. The subdued roar of a plane passing overhead, something big and high in the sky.
9. A car has just driven by, too quickly for the rain. They are far less frequent than on my old street.
10. The gentle whirling of the dryer comes through the floorboards under my feet. Another perk of the new house is a washer-dryer on the main level instead of in a creepy basement. The noise of the machines is strangely calming.
Smelling is harder...I smell rain, the clean Spring scent of wet grass. I also smell the remnants of the breakfast just cooked that pretty much hangs about me and reminds me that I need to shower the smell of Turkey bacon off me soon.
As far as ten things I can feel...the list is equally short. I feel blessed. I am sitting in front of an open window and the world outside is green and full of promise. Yes, it is raining but it is not snowing...and it is not humid. I have a managed to find a few moments to write and that is the very best feeling.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT May 3rd
Tell us a fact about one of your ancestors. Where does your family come from? How far back can you trace your ancestry?
My ancestors on my father's side are all French Canadian. I had a great grandmother who still spoke in her lilting native tongue and welcomed station wagon loads of relatives to our homestead each summer when I was a child. They would arrive, speaking in rapid fire French, to grab our little faces to plant kisses on both cheeks. It was interesting...
I have long planned to go to Quebec to see where my family really comes from. Our name was actually spelled differently but was modified on my great grandfather's trip through immigration and customs. There are still roads and parcels of land there bearing my family's surname. My great grandparents came here together, a young couple who worked the land. My great grandmother in particular was the strongest lady I ever met. She was very independent. She never missed a day of church and demanded my father open our pool up in April. As soon as the cover was off and the chemicals cleared, she'd come marching up the drive in her bathing cap and suit and in she would go. It had to be frigid and we would watch her from the windows in absolute awe.
The most interesting ancestor though had to be my great-great-great grandmother on my mother's side. She hailed from the Azores. She spoke seven different languages and apparently worked for the government as a translator, something nearly unheard of for a woman from her time. My grandfather would talk about her in this revered way, this tiny, fierce lady who had the most gifted of brains.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT May 2nd
Remember bringing something from home for “Show and Tell” at school when we were little? Today, I want you to do the same in your blog. Pick an object that means something to you and describe it. What does it remind you of? How did the object come into your life? Does it bring you comfort? What is the story behind the object?
I am a little later to the party today than usual but I threw my back out, or tweeked it, or otherwise messed it up and so I've been laid up for most of the day with the dogs and my heating pad.
Show and Tell was one of my favorite school memories. We would sit in a big circle on Ms Poirot's Picasso-colored rug, each of us clutching our treasure of the week and waiting for our moment in the spotlight. I distinctly remember my mother reviewing every potential show and tell item to be absolutely sure it was acceptable and would not embarrass her in any conceivable way. Other kids parents were not as over-reaching, which made for some memorable shares...
If we got to do real, adulting versions of show and tell...there is a multitude of potential items that come to mind and none of them would make my mom's approved list for sure! Life is short, best to make it interesting. My share might be my first ever publishing cred which happens to have been in an erotic horror anthology cheekily titled, "Nailed" for example. It is special because it felt like a coming out moment for me...a throwing open of the curtain and crying "yup, here I am!".
More than likely though, I would share something sentimental like my grandfather's pipe which has graced every mantel in my home since his suicide. It serves as a reminder of love and forgiveness. It reminds me of a man who, despite his gruff exterior, made me feel special at a time when I felt unseen. Or, the pawprint impression of our first rescue puppy that we lost too soon to cancer. Our big, beautiful Shepard mix Ricky Bobby, who stole all of our hearts and taught me that saying goodbye is sometimes the greatest gift we can give to them.
As I am writing this, I realize that blogging is really a lot like show and tell. Each day we come to share a piece of ourselves. we read the prompt, reflect and then we craft our moment. We put it out there. We "show and tell" in our words and our electronic ink.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT May 1st
Crazy as it may sound, we are now officially 1/3 of the way through 2019. Write about some of your goals and plans for the remainder of the year. What are you looking forward to?
2019 has moved at a break-neck pace for me so I am hardly surprised to find that May 1st marks the 1/3 til over mark. I have set up some goals for myself, but they are more lifestyle changes rather than things that I planned to do before the year is out. I have a few short terms ones though, like hit every day in this blog challenge...even the weekends which have been historically harder to do for me. I plan to ride out the last few events and commitments for my role of Treasurer in my daughter's PTO. I will wrap it all up in a bow and hand the role over to the new victim without seeming too gleeful or ecstatic as I actually feel inside. I am really looking forward to getting that monkey off my back after two LONG, LONG years of service. I have learned several key things from the experience...#1. If you step up to volunteer, no one else ever will. #2. The PTO will not gain you friends or influence so you must take from it only the gratitude of service and the knowledge that you have done your part. #3. Get out before your burn out. Seriously....because it will burn you out especially if you have other responsibilities, like a job, or kids, or a marriage or a pet or a plant!
I also started Weight Watchers. It is time, so much so, to shrink my ass and get fitter. My 40-something year old body has been protesting loudly for too long. My goal is to get to an acceptable weight so that I can ride with my sister and my daughter this summer. I have too much respect for those horses to put myself on their backs at my current weight. I'm doing it with my little sister and I feel like that is key, having a partner in the long fight. My sister and I always have each other's backs - who better to keep me from driving off a cliff or eating a donut!
So the remainder of this year for me seems to be largely about shedding things...weight, extra responsibilities and lame excuses for not doing the things I want to, and need to do. I am eager to see how my world looks and feels by year's end.
|As a parent, there are a few of those milestone moments you know are coming down the pike. Some of them are terrifying to contemplate, like the onset of puberty and all those awkward talks you just know are waiting in the wings. Then there are those moments you look forward to with sweet contentment, like the day the training wheels come off their bike and they learn to ride.
You think you know how it will go. There will be a few bumps and bruises but they will turn their little faces to you, ready to sop up all your sage advice and guidance. You will encourage and empower them and they will be determined and grateful. Then comes the reward, watching them glide away from you, the wind at their backs and their gleeful voices singing your praises for delivering them to this amazing new world. You have been their guide, their teacher, their hero. It was an amazing parenting win.
When I pulled my daughter's bike out of the garage, I fully expected the experience to live up to my expectations. I eagerly waited for her to don her helmet and knee pads. I was so sure that this would be the Rockwell-esque version of the milestone I had dreamt about.
Here is how it actually went down...
As it turns out, my daughter would have been content to operate her bike with training wheels until she was ready to trade it in for a car. Needless to say, she took to the task of learning with barely contained resentment, barking at me each time she wobbled or got banged on the knee by the pedals. If I tried holding her seat, I was doing it wrong. If I tried giving her advice or encouragement, she frowned and snapped at me. Several times she broke into frustrated tears and more than once, I had to walk away from her as she bristled with child rage and hit with me a litany of excuses. The seat was too high, too hard, too crooked. I was holding her wrong. The driveway was to uneven. We finally decided to take a break. She abandoned the bike and her helmet in a heap by the garage and I went inside to nurse my disappointment.
It was several weeks later before we tried again. The day was the perfect harbinger of an early Spring with a cloudless cerulean sky above our heads and a warming sun on our backs. This time I had reinforcements, my husband took a break from the yard work to lend a hand. I warned him she was liable to be difficult, even a little mean as she struggled hard to master something she believed she should just "get right out of the box". Even with my warnings, he was surprised at the level of open hostility she directed toward the lesson, and us, as her repeated attempts to gain her balance met failure again and again. I could see the collapse of her confidence in her bowed head and welling eyes. My requests for "one more try", were met with deep frowns and groans but we knew we could not let her quit. As everything threatened to collapse, we decided to try another approach.
This time we took it to the street, at least the straight strip of pavement consisting of 100 feet between our neighbor's mailboxes. The roadway was level and the path open wide in front of her, no turns or inclines. We told her to get her feet in position and just get moving forward. We encouraged her to keep going, even if she had to take her foot of the pedal once or twice along the way.
After a few wobbly attempts, she managed to stay upright and pedal for about seven feet. I saw the first smile break at the corners of her mouth and the glimmer in her sea change eyes that signaled the return of a little of her confidence. She had done it, just for a few seconds, but it had been enough. I watched her rally then, engaging all her young grit and determination. She immediately dropped the attitude and began to really listen to our advice and encouragement. After a few moments, she was managing to go almost the full span between mailboxes, pedaling and maintain her balance and at last, she was really smiling.
The last pass she made she cheekily told me to "watch out" in case she ran me down. Then, just like I told her she would, she was doing it, riding a bike on her own. Just as suddenly, we were those celebrating parents from a Hallmark movie or sappy commercial, bouncing on our toes and clapping in the middle of our street. Watching her riding away from me, the wind at her back, knowing she was smiling under that helmet and feeling accomplished... I had my milestone moment at last. It might not have come to me the way I imagined but when it came it was no less sweet.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2270: February 5, 2019
Prompt: Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one's voice. Joseph B. Wirthlin
Write about the little things you are grateful for.
I often tell myself to appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes its those small, fleeting moments of happiness that make the whole crazy ride really worth it. For me, it is those moments that I try to take stock in, file away or write about as evidence that I'm doing something right in this life. Moments like crawling back into bed early Sunday morning after taking the dogs out before the sun. It is the only morning my husband is there to sleep in and I have to smile watching the dogs both jockey for the prime position of lying next to him. My daughter almost always wakes with a warm smile, surrounded by all the people and fur siblings she most loves in all the world. She feels safe and contented and is shows on her soft features. Sometimes we take coffee and bagels in bed and watch the news, reluctant to part ways right away and get up and start the day doing our own things. Sunday mornings are filled with my most favorite little things.
Simple things tend like freshly brewed cup of Italian roast on the back deck watching the birds, laughing with my sister over something one of us said, or doing some coloring or art with my daughter...are filled with the kind of brevity you need in a life that often feels out of balance or chaotic. Spending an hour in a coffee shop catching up with my oldest friend is like balm on my soul. Sitting by the fire with a good glass of red wine and a book is just heavenly. Watching the sun rise, or spending a few moments appreciating the painted sky at sunset gives me a chance to catch my breathe and feel grateful for all life's blessings.
"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1876--February 5, 2019
Prompt: “Sometimes there is no darker place than our thoughts, the moonless midnight of the mind.” Dean Koontz
Why do you think people experience those dark thoughts, and even some become fixated on them?
I think all people have a dark side. I believe it is human to feel the dark thoughts and that it takes responsibility to not let them rule over us. Evil exists and I think we must always be wary of the power it has to corrupt us. I do not know how people give in and do evil things, how they allow it to take over and crawl from thoughts and nightmares into their reality - only that some do. Sometimes dark thoughts are born of doubt or fear but then others are spawned from more primitive instincts and impulses like greed and lust, and a hunger for something that can not be achieved unless their is an absence of light in one's soul and a lack of a sound moral compass.
I am watching the "Ted Bundy Tapes" on Netflicks the other day and I was thinking about this stuff. How does someone become that depraved? How does someone get so corrupted that they loose themselves completely in the "midnight"? Is it one trauma suffered at a crucial time of development or it is something more insidious at work? Is there such a thing as evil taking over and possessing someone? It that latter is true, how do we protect ourselves from people like this? People that can kill and murder without conscious or remorse, driven by some hidden evil entity that hides behind blue eyes and toothy grins...how do we fortify ourselves from something we can not explain or see coming? At the end of the day, why are we even drawn to watch things like this program? It is our morbid curiosity or some powerful need for self-preservation...is it easiest for us to fight off the evil we know?
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 30th
It's the last day of the official competition, and the last War Chest Wednesday, so it's only fitting I repeat this prompt from November. *Wink* Write a list of at least 5 blogging prompts to add to the Challenge War Chest to be used for future rounds of the 30DBC. Then, use one of your own prompts to write your entry.
I've really enjoyed participating in this month's challenge. Big thanks to Emily Scissorhands for keeping us all motivated and encouraged all month long - great job!!
My favorite prompts have been the ones that have demanded my own reflection and allowed me to reveal more about myself as a writer and a blogger. The only thing I felt I would have also liked to see more of are those kinds of prompts that would have challenged me to create something outside myself. My selection of prompts would feature a least one or two of these, designed to encourage a piece of new flash fiction, prose or poetry perhaps.
Five Future Prompts for Consideration:
1. Music is a prominent feature in many people's lives. Write a blog, piece of fiction, poetry of prose featuring music as a central theme.
2. What are your go to methods for overcoming writer's block?
3. Write a prompt inspired by the following quote by Emily Dickinson:
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all"
4. Let's sharpen our descriptive skills. Take us someplace! Write a story, blog or describe one of the following locations and transport us there with your words: a battle field, an evening carnival, a cruise ship, a country fair, a cemetery, a high school cafeteria, a tropical lagoon, or a skating rink.
5. According to Wikipedia, "Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. " What are your true feelings about this holiday? Is it a commercial trap? Do you observe or boycott it?
For my final entry of this month's challenge I will take this opportunity to practice my descriptive skills a bit...which would follow my own #4 prompt:
The torrential rains that had kept the battalions at bay for days, suddenly broke and yielded to the late July summer sunshine. The fingers of bright, warm light crept across the field, advancing quickly in the afternoon hours. There was a sudden eruption of sound as four sets of feet clambered noisy across the porch and launched into the damp, green yard, shedding socks and shoes in their wake. The leader John, his body tanned and lithe, was the first to reach the lime green hose on the far side of the house. Cranking the spigot, he began barking orders at his troops.
Georgia, the oldest girl was dispatched to get the bucket. Riley was instructed to gather the bags of ammunition. Bella and Ryan were sent to edge of the yard to watch should any of the enemy venture out prematurely. They all hunkered down and began working, efficiently filling, tying and stacking. They worked, a nearly silent contingent, building their reserves as the sun beat down on their bare backs. After fifteen minutes, their bucket was filled to the top.
"Would it be enough?" Riley looked at John, the question burning in his round eyes.
John looked back as his ragtag unit, their bodies were almost vibrating with the anticipation of the battle. It had to be enough, he thought.
"Go," he ordered Bella and Ryan. The two youngest set off running for the house, raising the alarm with loud, whooping cries.
Riley and Georgie moved into position, flanking John. They moved the bucket closer, well in range of their reaching caramel-colored arms. They were ready.
The decoys came racing back on pumping legs trailed by a good number of the enemy clutching colorful, sweating cocktails and wearing masks of mild confusion.
John waited, letting them draw closer and into range. The enemy moved in a sluggish mass across the wet grass. Their bellies were too full and their senses clouded with alcohol from the hours they'd spent making merriment instead of training, instead of planning their own assault. They were too slow to recognize with the threat in front of them.
"FIRE!" John suddenly shouted, raising both sinewy arms and tossing the heavy bombs as far as he could into the approaching enemy. Georgie and Riley echoed the war cry, letting loose their own barrage of fire power.
The water balloons connected with the group of adults, exploding across the broad chests and surprised faces. Screams filled the yard. Bella and Ryan fell behind their lines and took up arms, pumping fists and shouting in between throws. The four of them soaked the advancing adults, reloading again and again until the balloons began to run low. Sensing a pause in the onslaught, Uncle Leo dove in and snatched little Bella, tossing her on his hip and falling back toward the house. Too late, John realized he was going for the hose.
"Retreat!" John shouted to the remaining members of his squad. They scattered but where soon captured by the adults.
Uncle Leo commended John on his battle plan and bravery of his team before turning the hose on the captive regiment, all except little Bella who had turned traitor. She clapped and squealed with delight along with the enemy as her older cousins were hosed off their feet.
The victors retired to their armchairs and red solo cups while the losing squad traversed the yard plucking the colorful remnants of burst water balloons from the grass. The sun quickly dried their working bodies. They had fought hard. They had fought well. The summer was long. They would fight again.
| "Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2263: January 29, 2019
Prompt: "Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." Rabindranath Tagore
Let this quote inspire your blog entry today.
There is something beautiful about this quote. I've noticed that birds are often associated with Faith. I wonder if it is because they spend so much time in the sky, flying closer to Heaven than most of us ever get too?
Faith is tricky. It demands more of us when things are difficult. It is easy to have Faith when we are content and we can clearly see all the blessings in our life. It is when the darkness comes that Faith wants us to really put in the work. Faith calls us to believe there is light beyond the all the darkness and in that light, we will find Hope. Whether a person is religious or spiritual, Faith is something we must find for ourselves. It is not always bestowed upon us at birth. I have found my Faith through trial and prayer, through feeling that there was nothing left to hold me except one thing, and that thing must therefore be Faith. The symbolism of the bird stretching its wings in the dark, getting them ready to take flight into a Dawn it knows will come is a powerful representation of Faith for me.
"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1870-January 29, 2019
Prompt:What is a “loveless life” for you? Which kinds of love? Can anyone live loveless?
Love takes so many forms that it would be hard for anyone to live a life without love. You could certainly live a life without romantic love but most everyone has a passion for something...even a recluse loves their solitary existence. I'm tempted to say that there is no such thing as a truly "loveless life". A person could wall themselves off from the world and there would still be something they hold dear, something that drives them to breathe and wake each day. I would argue that if we exists, we do so because we love something.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT January 29th
Allow me to share this quote regarding my local weather this week: ”Dangerous wind chills of -45 degrees F (-43 C) to -65 degrees F (-54 C) are expected for most of the period from Tuesday night through Thursday morning. This is a life-threatening situation...” etcetera, etcetera... stay inside... frostbite... etcetera.
My question for you has two parts: What is the worst weather you’ve experienced? And what is your ideal weather?
In Southeast New England, we have alternated between winters that heap on the snow or, like this one, subject us to brief and bitter cold snaps and not a lot of the white stuff. This past summer was the most humid on record and it was horrendous. We seem to deal in extremes in my neck of the woods. Still, I would take snow over heat and humidity most years. Ideally, I would like it be early Fall all year round. Warm enough for long sleeves in the day, sweatshirt and bonfire weather come night. The weather that typically comes in on the heels of late September and stays until just after Halloween. The leaves turn colorful, there is that magical chill in the night air and the days are defined by bright sunshine. It is still warm enough for dingy rides up the Mystic river or to pick apples in your shirt sleeves by day but chilly enough to light a fire in the autumn evenings to ward off the coming cold. Of course, this near perfect weather also happens to fall in hurricane season for us here. So there is that...
The worst weather I've been in was during a hurricane in early October a few years back. It rained for days, so hard that the back yard turned into a lake. It was miserable with the dogs. Lots of trees came down, lots of people were out of power for days that stretched into weeks. It was the wind that was the worst, it whipped across the yard and churned the tops of the massive trees around like some kind of Hollywood special effect.
It is rare that a hurricane doesn't lose most of its punch before it hits our section of the East Coast. We watch news coverage of the damage in the Carolina's and Outer Banks and feel badly for those people, all the while knowing their Cat 4 hurricane will be a weakened tropical storm by the time it hits our shores...most often than not. Sometimes though, one of those intrepid storms will just surge on up, or dip out to see to get some more mojo before circling back to give us a direct hit. It hasn't happened very often and New Englanders mark every few decades with a raging storm like Bob, Carol, Gloria and Sandy.