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It's about adventure! Life, Scouting, Family, writing what else is there?
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GEMINI RISING

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UPDATED INTRO 4 JULY 2019:
Just a little about me. I've been married for 27 years and currently live in Southern California, but I grew up in New Hampshire.

I've got 2 kids, a 17 yrs old and a 12 yr old. Both are boys. Nuff said.

I work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. I enjoy my job a lot.

I love to write, but since I've been so involved with the Boy Scouts program since 2015 (now Scouts BSA since girls were invited to come on board) I haven't written much. I hope to get back to more writing soon, as I'm scaling back my BSA commitment.

I like to get out in nature, take walks around Castaic Lake, drink coffee and watch football.

Here's a little bi about my zodiac.

GEMINI: Gemini, the sign of the Twins, is dual-natured, elusive, complex and contradictory. On the one hand it produces the virtue of versatility, and on the other the vices of two-facedness and flightiness. The sign is linked with Mercury, the planet of childhood and youth, and its subjects tend to have the graces and faults of the young. When they are good, they are very attractive; when they are bad they are more the worse for being the charmers they are. Like children they are lively, and happy, if circumstances are right for them, or egocentric, imaginative and restless.

Their good qualities are attractive and come easily to them. They are affectionate, courteous, kind, generous, and thoughtful towards the poor and suffering - provided none of the activities resulting from expressing these traits interferes too greatly with their own lives and comforts.

Geminians can be successful in many walks of life though their general characteristics tend to make them unreliable. They are often skilled manipulators of language, in speech and writing, and may be: debaters, diplomats (though in politics they are more interested in theory than practice), orators, preachers (brilliant rather than profound), teachers, authors, poets, journalists, or lawyers.

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This is me. I am a Gemini. Pure, Raw, passionate.

The NEW focus of this blog is to share my adventures, scouting adventures, book reviews, thoughts, opinions, and writing adventures from actual writing, writing/editing tips, marketing, research. I'll get there.

Another Signature

Find me at:

WEBSITE:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

TWITTER:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor

GOOD READS:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart

YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee

Previous GRATITIOUS Warning, that I decided to keep in case I post about something that might offend.

*Exclaim* WARNING *Exclaim*

I intend to be open, honest, and forthright. No topic is off limits from religion to you name it, I'm going there. If you think you might be offended...back up now - this blog isn't for you. For those who "dare" *Wink* check out the "Gemini Rising..."

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August 7, 2009 at 5:18pm
August 7, 2009 at 5:18pm
#662647
Book Review for “Kabul Beauty School”
Written by: Deborah Rodriguez
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-8129-7673-1
301 pages
$14.95
5 Stars

Written from Debbie Rodriguez’s personal experiences in Afghanistan between 2001-2006, “Kabul Beauty School” not only tells Debbie’s story, but the stories of the Afghanistan women that Debbie met during her stay in the country. Rodriguez uses an easy writing style that has the reader turning the pages without realizing it. The stories of Afghanistan and it’s women will swell up a range of emotion from happiness to despair, but thankfully Rodriguez leaves us with hope for the future.

Rodriguez begins her tale in 2001. She worked as a hairdresser in her mother’s salon. She was also in an abusive relationship. Wanting to challenge herself, Rodriguez takes emergency aid classes and is sent to Afghanistan two months after 9-11. Rodriguez spends several months helping out, and toward the end, when people learn she has skills as a hair stylist, the idea to create the Kabul Beauty School is born. Debbie leaves to go back to the states, but will be back to help teach school when it opens.

While Debbie is in the states, she finally leaves her abusive husband, but it isn’t an easy break up. Thankfully, Debbie has the support of her mother and sons. She also works on supplies for the new school. When everything is ready, Debbie heads back to Afghanistan to help get the school off the ground. It’s a satisfying time as the reader sees Debbie’s strength in the face of her hardships.

Conditions in Afghanistan are pitiful. It is the epitome of a war zone. Not only that, the Afghanis have strict customs towards men and women, customs that most modern civilizations don’t understand. Rodriguez paints a beautiful example of the difference in the opening chapter of the book where she goes to attend the wedding. Her friend, Roshanna, is expected to be a virgin for her arranged marriage – but she isn’t. She was married previously and abandoned by her husband after he took her virginity. After several attempts to consummate her new marriage don’t produce any virginal blood, Debbie pricks her nail and stains her blood on a rag. Then she gives it to Roshanna to prove her virginity. The story is heartbreaking.

Rodriguez uses a very conversational style that made turning the pages easy. I felt like I was in the trenches right there with her. Her strength to pave new paths in Afghanistan stood out, but when it came to her own path, Rodriguez, surprisingly, marries an Afghan man, Sam. Sam understands Debbie’s western ways, but doesn’t necessarily approve. He also has a wife with eight children. It’s something that’s hard to except in the western world.

Rodriguez tells the story of how the Beauty School is kept open through 2006, until she’s forced to leave. She also shares stories of several more Afghan women who went to the beauty school. These women had to overcome hardships that are practically unthinkable by the western world.

Rodriguez’s story leaves the reader feeling hopeful for the future. “Kabul Beauty School” is a tale of human strength, endurance, and heartbreak that will have the reader lingering on Debbie’s story days after finishing the novel.

***********
An Update: According to several posts on the Internet, Debbie went back in mid-May 2007. She didn't stay long. (I could be wrong on the date, but I think I'm accurate.) She stayed maybe three days but had to leave since she and her son received death threats. - And supposidely her Afghan, husband, Sam was not to be trusted.
Upon publication of her book, it was not well received in Afgahistan. The women mentioned in the book were upset with Debbie. Debbie was supposed to share a percent of the royalities with them, but they claim they haven't any seen any percentage. Their lives, since the book, have become uncomfortable in Afgahistan. The Kabul Beauty School is due to come out as a movie in 2010 or 2011.
August 5, 2009 at 3:46pm
August 5, 2009 at 3:46pm
#662320
Here's another professional review on "The Wolf's Torment."

***********

Professional Review, Andrew Ian Dodge, Blogger News Network


The Wolf’s Torment
S.G. Cardin
iUniverse (2007)
ISBN 9780595417339
Reviewed by Andrew Ian Dodge, Nov 2007

I am fan of gothic horror novels, having written a few tales myself in the genre, but I do have a low tolerance for derivative novels that add nothing new to the genre. This is not one of those. Despite the fact the author has never been to places in the book; she has been in the region however, she evokes the feeling of that part of Central Europe oh so well.

The novel includes a pack of wolves, some witches and a bunch of vampires thrown in for good measure. For this story she has come up with a few legends and “facts” about supernaturals which is a nice touch. The legends of all intertwine in that part of the world; so the method used in this novel is accurate.

It reads well and does not hang around too long. There is none of the bloat that you find in modern gothic horror novels. While its plain to see that the author is a woman; from the romance aspects of the novel, there is none of the soap opera like plodding that can affect some novels in this genre. I found this far more enjoyable than the last few Anne Rice and Anita Blake novels.

The fact several of the main characters start out in London is a nice touch. The spoiled upper class girl who gets more than she bargained for is most amusing as well. Might be a lesson to some of those in the UK/US who marry Eastern Europeans without finding out who they really are first.

Only one criticism and this is personal taste. Why does it always have to be the werewolf that is the evil one in the end? That said the author was keen to make sure her werewolves were not one-dimensional knuckle-dragging beasts.

I hope to hell that she decided to publish this via iUniverse and its not because publishers rejected her novel. Because any publisher who rejected this novel needs to seriously have their head examined.

I enjoyed the novel immensely and was pleased to see that there will be a sequel in future. I hope that they author will include me on her review list once again. The fact I stayed up past midnight two days before an operation to finish this novel speaks volumes.
August 4, 2009 at 8:21pm
August 4, 2009 at 8:21pm
#662221
I just thought I'd post a few thoughts about past vs present tense. When do you use them?

Generally, most children books are written in present tense. It's easier for them to understand the story unfolding in the "now."

Post adult books are written in the past tense. It's easier to understand and read as an adult.

Here's an example: Present tense. Caterpillar licks his lips.

Past tense: The caterpillar licked his lips.

Present tense can be a bit disconcerting for adult readers, but for young readers just starting out, it's easier for them to understand the story in the present.



Food for thought when considering what tense to use for your next story or project.
Smiles,
Steph
August 3, 2009 at 1:20pm
August 3, 2009 at 1:20pm
#662047
This excerpt is from my novel, "Destination:Berlin." It's 1988 and Sharon has just discovered she carries top secret documents. She's in the middle of Communist East Germany.

************

A million wild thoughts were racing through Sharon’s mind, but one thing worried her. She hoped Jr. Sgt. Nagory wasn’t returning with the KGB. As she walked toward the fire, her upper body felt stiff and sore with the slightest motion. Yet she was sure that if she used it a little, she could soothe some of the tightening of the muscles.

It’s only muscle pain, but it could have been me and the junior sergeant both burnt to a crisp in that inferno over there. I’m grateful we weren’t.

Was it like this for her father, too? He had been a first lieutenant in the infantry during Vietnam. Certainly he’d faced intense situations like this.

“Corporal?”Sharon stopped, realizing she hadn’t gone far.

“Over here, Jr. Sgt.”He approached and motioned for them to kneel against the bushes, then he looked hard at her. Sharon could sense a change in his demeanor and it unnerved her.

“Corporal,” he said seriously, “I need for you to be totally and completely honest with me right now. Can you do that?”

“Of course,” Sharon answered. “What’s wrong?”

“Are you a courier? Do you have classified government documents with you? Documents the Stasi want?” asked Dimitri.

Sharon shook her head. “No,” she said slowly. “I told you in the dining car. I’m going to Berlin to attend the Orientation Tour.”

Dimitri stared hard at her for a moment. In the darkness, Sharon was sure she could detect him softening, but he asked again, “You have no secret documents on you?”

“No,” she repeated firmly. “What’s going on?”

“What’s in your briefcase?”“My paperwork. Border crossing documentation.”“Let me see it,” he said firmly.

“Why?” she said, her voice sounding calmer than she felt. “What are you expecting to find? Secret government documents?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not lying to you, Jr. Sgt.”

Dimitri put his hand on hers and looked gently into her eyes. “I believe you. Please let me look. Our lives depend on it.”

“Look.” She gave him the briefcase, confident he would find nothing out of the ordinary.He opened the case and read her border crossing documents, squinting in the firelight. Satisfied, he removed the entire contents and jiggled the bottom of the case. It began to move and then separated altogether from the case.

“It’s got a false bottom,” Sharon remarked, keeping her voice even and firm. She hoped it hid the trepidation she felt.Dimitri extracted a folder. He recognized the top sheet, blue and with the word “Top Secret” printed on it. She was stunned. What was going on, she wondered, her heart racing? Where had that file come from? She didn’t put it there. How did it get there and how did Dimitri know about it?He looked at her harshly.

“Tell me again you’re not a courier.”

“I’m not,” Sharon said coolly. “I have no idea where that came from, but it’s classified. I can’t let you see any more of it.”

They faced off, her eyes looking for answers and trust. A minute ticked by as her heart pounded in her chest, entertaining the idea that he was lying. Just when she thought they’d hit a stalemate, he blinked first. His hands shook as he gave the folder back to her. As Sharon took it, both realized that a certain amount of trust had been exchanged between them when he handed her the folder.

“The Stasi are willing to kill you and take that folder from your dead body. I heard them making plans to do just such a thing. I think you need to know what it contains,” he explained.

“I agree.” She turned the page over and was aghast at what she read. “The launch codes,” she whispered, in muted shock.The documents contained the launch codes for the very nuclear weapons she guarded at the site in Osnabrueck. They could have only come from one place – the COMSEC vault.

“Corporal?”

Sharon closed the file and put it back in the briefcase. “You said they were willing to kill me for these documents? You’re right.”

“You said they were launch codes?” he asked.Sharon pursed her lips, trying to push her fear back so it wouldn’t show on her face.

“I’m a military police soldier who guards nuclear weapons. These are the launch codes to those weapons.”
August 2, 2009 at 5:17pm
August 2, 2009 at 5:17pm
#661943
Hampton Beach - I'll always remember it as fondly as a remember a New Hampshire summer. Sigh...

Did you know? New Hampshire has the smallest coastline in the USA - only 9 miles. Trust me, Rhode Island has much more. But Hampton Beach has a part of that coastline. It's a place many in the state flock to during the summer time and back in the mid to late 1970's, my family did too.
I'll always have fond memories of Hampton Beach. They also give me good memories of my family. Just like Bear Brook, my family would pack up the car, stuff the ice chest, pack the chairs and beach umbrellia and we were off. It took about an hour to get to Hampton Beach using the state highway. I think it was the 101 but I could be wrong. During the peak season in the summer time, I remember that traffic would get backed up leaving and arriving. My dad always wanted to leave early to get there and then stay late to avoid the "rush."

Of course my granny and grandpa would be there. Most of the times Auntie Sue was there with Uncle Gary, Emily & Matt. Uncle Mark or Uncle Rusty would come sometimes.

Ah, the 1970's. The world seemed carefree to a little butterfly like me, but even back then it was complicated. Fleetwood Mac rocked. Vietnam was just ending, and everyone believed that Jimmy Carter would be a great president. Poor Ford. Inflation was crazy, and drugs, well drugs were avaliable back then just like they are now.

We'd get to the beach, park, and usually we used the public parking. I remember the public parking was relatively inexpensive, but I could be wrong. Sometimes we used the parking lots for $5.00. We'd lug our stuff down to the beach and set up the chairs, blankets and beach umbrella. Sometimes we'd rent one.

After a cooler packed lunch it was time to play in the water. It was usually cold, but not umcomfortly so. We'd play frizbee. Auntie Sue and I would make sand castles or make holes in the sand and bury me in them. Sometimes we'd walk the rocks and look for starfish and lobsters. My dad liked to catch the lobsters.

Sometimes we'd walk the boardwalk and window shop, and get an ice cream. At the end of the day we'd wash off the sand and lug our stuff back to the car. It was fun watching the tide come and in out. And it always came in so quickly!

I loved riding the waves. I was a little fish back then.

In the early to mid 1990's, I had a couple of opportunities to go back to Hampton Beach. I took my husband one time. He thought the water was cold. It was hard for me to impart the love I had for the beach to him, and I don't think he every really understood the appeal of the beach. The memories, I suppose. How can I share happy memories when he wasn't really there? He does have a love for the beach, growing up an hour away from the Pacific and we both love the water, but even with that, he found little appealing about Hampton's shore or it's boardwalk. Maybe it was just too East Coast for him?

Anyway, I look forward to the day when I can take my boys, Andrew & Joe. And maybe share some memories with them. I'll have to dig into the photo album to see what I can find. Maybe Auntie Sue has some more photos...


Smiles,
Steph
August 1, 2009 at 4:39pm
August 1, 2009 at 4:39pm
#661793
Looking for an agent? It can be a challenging task. If you're ready to query, a good source on the Internet is: http://www.agentquery.com

Agent Query lists agents, what they're looking for, and if they're open to new authors.

Tip #1 - Research. Did you write an action/adventure? a thriller? a romance? Research those agents that are interested in those projects.

Tip #2 - DON'T: Write this as your first sentence: "I'm looking for a experienced agent who has made multi-million dollar deals..."

OPEN WITH SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

I had an opportunity to read your “bio” on Agent Query’s website and I was very impressed . With consideration to your acquisitions, I feel you will enjoy my novel, "The Wolf's Torment," set in Romania 1865, dealing with werewolf myths and legends. This novel blends your interests of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.

Then hit the agent with the 1-2 sentence blurb that will knock their socks off. Something like this:

Can the intense young Crown Prince of Moldavia overcome the curse that haunts his family and his nation when a werewolf bites his best friend?

Or what might be more effective, now that I think about it - Open with your blurb and then go into the paragraph.

Here's how it should read:

Can the intense young Crown Prince of Moldavia overcome the curse that haunts his family and his nation when a werewolf bites his best friend?

I had an opportunity to read your “bio” on Agent Query’s website and I was very impressed . In doing the marketing research for my recently written novel, With consideration to your acquisitions, I feel you will enjoy my novel, "The Wolf's Torment," set in Romania 1865, dealing with werewolf myths and legends. This novel blends your interests of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.

Thoughts, comments, feedback welcomed.
Steph
July 31, 2009 at 7:02pm
July 31, 2009 at 7:02pm
#661677
Here's a review of Lisa Kleypas's book: "Suddenly You." Enjoy. If you like romance, you'll enjoy Lisa.
*****

Book Review for: “Suddenly You”
Written By: Lisa Kleypas
Avon Books
ISBN: 0-380-80232-5
375 pages
$7.50
5 Stars

Lisa Kleypas, A New York Times bestselling author, crafts a masterful historical romance with “Suddenly You.” Kleypas is a skillful plotter. “Suddenly You” is a book the reader can’t put down.

The novel starts in 1835 against the backdrop of London’s fast moving society. Jack Devlin is a young, successful publisher, bastard son of an Earl who grew up at an abusive school. He enjoys the company of the female sex, but doesn’t want to lose his heart to a woman.

Amanda Briars is a successful novelist – a rare accomplishment for a woman in her time, but after carrying for her sick parents, Amanda is past what everyone considers her prime – she’s thirty. Amanda’s settled into the fact that she’s a spinster. Against her better judgment, she visits a high-priced bordello. She wants to hire a man to have sex with her on her birthday. The madam, Mrs. Bradshaw, arranges for Jack, unwittingly, to meet with Amanda.

Jacks wants to meet Amanda because he wants to publish a novel she wrote. When she opens the door, there’s some serious miscommunication between them and Jack takes advantage of Amanda’s plight. The would-be lovers kiss and grow amorous, but Jack calls it off before going too far. When he leaves, Amanda secretly hopes to see him again.

The next time Jack and Amanda meet it’s in a business setting. Amanda is embarrassed, but Jack is thrilled. He loves Amanda’s writing and offers her a contract she can’t refuse. Soon, they begin working together as writer/editor and their chemistry is undeniable. After attending Jack’s Christmas party, Amanda gives into the passion between her and Jack. The couple make love, but Amanda, wanting to guard her heart, makes Jack agree to a three month affair.

Both Jack and Amanda enjoy their passionate lovemaking. During an evening out, they make love in a small parlor, however, Jack is careless and Amanda is soon pregnant.

Knowing how Jack feels about marriage, she tries to keep the truth from him, but when she attempts to marry someone else, Jack refuses to let her. He marries her after she confesses the truth about the baby. Amanda is still unsure about the situation, but their marriage and their willingness to admit their love is tested when Amanda loses the baby.

Kleypas is a master at description, painting 1830’s London with broad, yet vivid words that easily allow the reader to picture the backdrop of the story. Her love scenes are tantalizing. Kleypas writes in a “Lonesome Dove” perspective which switches point of view without line breaks or clear divisions which some readers might find disconcerting. Her dialogue is “spot on,” for the time period. The plot and pacing are perfect, allowing the reader to slow down and get a breath before accelerating again. “Suddenly You” is a delicious way to spend a rainy weekend.
July 29, 2009 at 7:02pm
July 29, 2009 at 7:02pm
#661408
The Wolf’s Torment
Professional Review, Clarion/ForeWord Magazine

FICTION: ROMANCE / FANTASY

The Wolf’s Torment
S.G. Cardin
iUniverse
355 pages
Softcover $20.95
ISBN: 978-0-595-41733-9
4 stars

A good romantic novel is not the massed-produced formulaic massively consumed quickie book commonly known as a “Bodice Ripper.” A romantic novel is more than thin plot lines designed to get the main characters from one sexual congress to the next.

S. G. Cardin’s debut novel, The Wolf’s Torment, is a romantic novel without being a clichéd ridden “romance” novel. With elements of historical fiction combined with the gothic supernatural, The Wolf’s Torment is in the similar vein as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witch Chronicles, but the story is also convoluted like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations as well as dark Arthurian undertones. It is an erotically charged novel with powerful sexual scenes that are not gratuitous, but necessary for the development of character and plot.

Cardin’s hero, child Prince Mihai Sigmaringen of Moldavia in the 1800s, watches helplessly as his mother is murdered by an evil witch. An older Mihai realizes that he lives in country with real monsters, and the modernization and unification of Romania is the only way to rid Eastern Europe of these ancient evils. Cardin writes, “He had a future to fulfill… He would modernize the country and drive out such beings as witches and werewolves that would have the rest of the world think his country as uncultured.”

But the ancient evil persists, and Mihai’s best friend Victor, who he met in England while attending university, is bitten by a werewolf. When the beast overcomes the man, Victor’s werewolf nature invades his humanity and he betrays Mihai.

Mihai makes his own betrayals: to see his plans reach fruition he submits to an arranged marriage to the Lady Theresa von Kracken, even though Alexandra, his gold-digging mistress from London, is pregnant with his baby. Theresa believes that Mihai is the prince that her precognitive dreams had shown her as a child.

After the death of his father, Mihai is crowned King and Theresa becomes his queen. Like Lancelot and Guinevere who betray King Arthur’s trust, Victor has his way with Queen Theresa—the difference being Victor drugs Theresa and takes advantage of her vulnerability. Unlike Guinevere, she never stops being deeply in love with her husband.

The story turns desperate as King Mihai relentlessly drags a reluctant Moldavia into a modern age, even while chthonic forces attempt to pull Moldavia out of enlightenment and back into the darkness of magic, fear and superstition.

Cardin has provided a Q and A session as well as deleted scenes and discussion issues. Readers that enjoy fast-paced novels with some scares and mystery will find themselves waiting impatiently for a sequel to this historical and supernatural romance.

Reviewed by Lee Gooden




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The Wolf's Torment   (Rated: 18+)
ASIN: 0595417337
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July 28, 2009 at 4:38pm
July 28, 2009 at 4:38pm
#661217
I thought I'd briefly share some thoughts on Mystery Writing:

Writing for the mystery genre can be fun, but there’s a lot of preliminary work that goes into it before you can sit down and begin.

One of the most important aspects of mystery writing is the plot. This genre is very plot driven and it’s important to flesh out a good strong plot before beginning. This includes creating several plot points leading readers on different paths. Don’t give out too much information too soon in your story. Equally important is knowing how your story will end. By outlining your plot and establishing your ending up front, you’ll know how to structure the other elements of your story.

A mystery incorporates the following elements: a problem or conflict, a villain, a detective or hero, clues/red herrings, and suspense. Also, the time and setting are important elements as well. Time and setting can augment suspense and mood of the story.

The best way to begin the story is with action. Put the hero, villain, or both in action when you start. This engages the reader and lends itself to introducing the problem/conflict that the hero has to solve.

Characters should include the hero/detective, villain, and a supporting cast. Define your main character. Is he or she a go-getter like “Nancy Drew” or a hard-charging police detective determined to solve any mystery? The villain must be appropriately matched. Having a “Nancy Drew-like” sleuth bring down a crime cartel wouldn’t be realistic. Also, when considering the mystery, or crime/problem to be solved, cruelty to animals or violence directed at anyone is generally discouraged in this genre. Your hero should be striving to solve a murder mystery (like in “The DaVinci Code”) or trying to locate a stolen, rare painting. Keep in mind, as your hero navigates your plot, he or she has to use believable and legal forms of evidence. This keeps your story grounded in reality and believable.

*****

WRITING TIP: As you sit down to do the preminlary work for your next project, do some character bios on your main characters. Get to know as well as you can before you write. Don't just do the basics - like physical characteristics. Here's an example of an "Emotional" Mini Bio:

Stefan Sigmaringen : Emotional Mini Bio

Three things he values:

Three things he fears the most:

His basic attitude about life:

What does he need to know about the other person in order to accept them as trustworthy?

What would cause him pain?

What is the most wonderful thing that could happen to him?

What three moods would he use to describe himself, accurate or not?

Organization: Why or Why not?


***********

Hope this helps.
Write on.
Smiles
July 26, 2009 at 7:10pm
July 26, 2009 at 7:10pm
#660929
Growing up as a little girl, one of my favorite things to do, and some of my happiest memories are going to Bear Brook State Park with my family.




This was in the 1970's - the mid 1970's to the late 1970's. The drive wasn't far, maybe about 30-50 minutes. We'd always go on a Sunday. Everyone had the day off back then. It would be me, my dad, my mom, and my younger sister, Christine; and we'd all coordinate to meet the rest of the family at the park at the same time. Who was the rest of the family?




My grandparents on my father's side would come - Granny and Grandpa. One of my favorite Aunties, Auntie Sue would be there with Uncle Gary and Emily and Matthew, their kids, my cousins. They were little like Christine. Sometimes my Uncle Rusty and my Uncle Mark would come too.




We'd get there early, about 10, when it opened, and even back then, we had to pay a small fee to get in. Then we'd unload the car with our towels and coolers and reclining chairs and walk from the parking lot into the park. We liked to get there early so we could get shade. One of our favorite spots was by a brook because my dad and grandfather and my uncles would fish.




After we got all set up, my dad might rent a boat and fish. The "women," my mom, Auntie Sue, and Granny would start the grill. After lunch, I remember going down to the swimming area in the lake. They had a floating platform in the deep end and I remember that I was very proud of myself when I learned to swim all the way out there. It was fun to jump off the platform. The picture above is the "gatehouse" in front of the swimming area where you could rent boats, rent umbrellas, and even get snacks.




After swimming, we'd go on a hike - the women and the kids. Sometimes my dad took me fishing, sometimes he wanted to be alone. What I loved about hiking in the afternoon is going on the paths, picking blueberries and finding the little swing, teeter totter and merry go around in the middle of the woods. We would have so much fun. I can't explain the fun, but I can tell you it's like the sun parting gray clouds in the middle of a deary day and smiling it's warmth down on you. Sigh...




After our hike, we'd go back, eat a dinner, usually our lunch dinner were hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and I remember some steaks. There was plenty to drink.




We took a lot of pictures. Sadly, I don't have access to them. My mom had a 8 mm camera and she took some great pictures of our family gatherings, but 8mm is soooo out these days. My Auntie Sue probably has pictures from the 1970's. I'll have to ask her. The picture on the left is a picture of one of the picnic areas. I remember the park would be packed with families on Sundays. We never used that area because our family wasn't usually that big.
After dinner, we might swim a little longer until the sun started to go down and then we'd go home. Good memories. Happy memories of a young girl.

**
Bear Brook is off NH Route 28 in Allentown. It's not far from Manchester where I grew up. This blurb is from http://www.nhstateparks.com/bearbrook.html:

Bear Brook, with over 10,000 acres is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire. Located in the southeast region of the state, there is plenty to do and see for everyone.

Hiking, biking, swimming and fishing are a few of the favorites. Forty miles of trails traverse the heavily forested park, leading to seldom visited marshes, bogs, summits and ponds and offer a variety of options for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Canoe rentals are available at Catamount Ponds, while rowboat rentals are also available at Beaver Pond.
Fly-fishing enthusiasts will be pleased to know Archery Pond welcomes their specialty and is universally accessible. Across the road from Archery Pond is a special little pond just for children under twelve to fish. If archery is your sport you might already know that Bear Brook boasts the only two archery ranges in the state park system. One 15-target range is maintained by the N.H. Fish and Game Department, plus an additional 4-target practice range that is universally accessible. (Bring your own archery equipment.)

Worried about no workouts or aerobics while on vacation? You can stay in shape by using the park's 1 1/4 mile, twenty-station fitness course that is fun for the whole family. A charge for admission is collected at the toll booth near Catamount Pond. Pets: Leashed pets are permitted in the campground on the trails only, not in the day-use area. Service animals are exempt from this policy.
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There's still a small fee for entry for day use $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for kids. Not bad, considering the memories you'll make there.

And that's my NH tidbit of the day. Bear Brook State Park. I hope someday soon, I'll be able to take my boys there. I know they'll have a blast.

That said, we have a woodsy type park near us, Castaic Lake Park. It costs $10 to get in, but there are plenty of places to BBQ and there are places to swim. It's not as wooded or as nice as Bear Brook with it's hiking and camping facilities, but does offer something similiar were I'm at now in California.

Brent and I took Andrew and Joseph there a couple years back, when Joe had just turned one. We had a nice time, but it was also anxious time since Joe had just started toddling. I think we'll go back when Joe's a mature 3 year old next year.
Smiles,
Steph



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