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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The waters in my life



It's the last day of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. As the sound of falling rain soothes me and quenches my dry surroundings, I write about the special place water has had in my life.

I grew up close to the northeast coastline. Summers in Connecticut were filled with days of sunshine and sandy beaches. I learned to swim in a close-by river. Later in teenage years, a long walk got me to a state park on the coast. If I didn't make it to the ocean, the nearby lake was a good substitute. Water was a special part of my growing years.

Marriage brought me to Texas where I got my introduction to the gulf coast. While my Coast Guardsman husband was out to sea, I'd drive to Padre Island and feed my hunger for ocean waves. His duty took him to Hawaii where I later joined him after our first son was born. Another part of the world, another chance to enjoy the ocean.

Several years after returning stateside and settling in East Texas, I joined my father when he decided to fulfill his dream of visiting California. When we arrived in San Diego, it was a cold, overcast day. Because we had to wait for the family member we planned to stay with to get home from work, we decided to visit the shore. We huddled for a short time on a nearby bench, amazed at the surfers who were braving the probably frigid waters.

when I got the opportunity to visit the Oregon Coast later in life, I could only wonder at the sameness and differences between this country's two coastlines. My family spent one entire day traveling south from Portland, seeking out new experiences. 

Wherever I've been blessed to travel in this world - the hallowed beaches of France, a chilling ferry crossing, the snowy cliffs of Dover - it is the presence of water that has made its impression on me.

Monday, July 30, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - a dove to bring hope


Don't you just love my dove? It hangs over my kitchen sink, a place where I see it all day long. This lovely window was made for me many years ago by a talented friend. I don't know if she still creates with stained glass or not but I do know she's also a terrific quilt-maker.

Over the years, I've been blessed with talented friends and acquaintances who have gifted me with so many special mementos. As I glance around, my gaze moves from one treasure to another, all created by someone special. Since I've reached that stage in life when it's time to down-size, all these love-expressions makes the task very difficult. 

My husband and I have lived in this farmhouse almost forty years. Now that I'm alone and find myself nearing the end of my days, the urge is there to eliminate the unnecessary that has accumulated and cluttered up my surroundings.

But it's not only the surroundings that need cleaning out. There are habits and activities that have evolved into routines that no longer satisfy which need to be cleared away. Life is too short to be wasted on what no longer fulfills my needs.

So I'm taking a long, hard look at my life. Going to ease out of long-term commitments and hand them over to someone more eager. Going to devote more of my time to trying out some things that I've wanted to explore and never made the time for.

There may not be many years left, but I'm determined to fill them to overflow.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - candle choices



Do you associate some ritual with a daily task? For years. I've taken time each morning to sit at my bedroom desk and hand-write three pages in a spiral notebook. I always use the same kind of notebook. And part of my preparation is to keep a scented candle lit while I write. Don't ask me why - I just do.

As the candle presently in use burns down to nothing, I know I'll need to find a replacement soon. And that got me thinking. If you are a candle-person, what's your preference? Do you prefer one that has been formed inside some type of glass container, or are you like me, rather have a candle without any outside covering, just set on something to catch any possible drips?

We all have different preferences, and as individuals, are equipped with different skills and talents. My two sons were as different as night and day. The older seemed to breeze through school without breaking into a sweat and gifted in the arts. He showed an early love for the piano and began  composing when only eight years old. He went on to achieve his degree in music, eventually taught piano at Willamette University in Oregon.

My younger son has a mechanical bent. School was hard for him but he drove the tractor before he was twelve. He continues to amaze me with his innate understanding of any kind of machinery. I'm thankful he lives close by, especially now that my husband is deceased. I can call on him for any  kind of crisis that arises, knowing he probably can fix whatever's gone wrong.

Reminds me of that familiar cliche - different strokes for different folks. Each of us are endowed, whether you believe genetically or spiritually, with unique gifts and talents. I challenge myself to  always acknowledge and embrace the differences. Will you take the challenge?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - do you review?


 Whew! This writing a blog a day has been a real challenge. Made it through the alphabet with a posting for each letter of the alphabet.  Some came easily, some were a struggle.

Today I'm taking a bit of a departure and want to talk about something very important to me as an author. Actually this is something all published authors crave. Reviews. Reviews are a vital part of an author's success or failure in this digital world we now live in. 

Recently fellow author Betty Lee Crosby (https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteleecrosby/?hc_ref=ARSJSgw8lxDChlxgSRaHYddSd1vnK7LEqBZ--ACoZ8vuQgft5aKZ28i0-4Vm5dQ9zp8) took a poll, asking her followers if they ever wrote reviews and where did they post them. I took advantage of the responses to compile a list of internet sites where a reader can let an author know their reaction to what they read.

Here are some of the responses: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook,  Goodreads, Twitter, Library Thing, Pinterest, Instagram, Book Brows, Booksy, BookBub, Net Gallery, and Audible. 

Some of these sites are not familiar to me and some I never considered posting a book review there. But, I'm challenging myself to write a review for every book I read (and I'm a voracious reader - in the middle of three at a time right now.)

Let me challenge you, if you enjoy a good read or even if it didn't meet your expectations. Take a moment or two to post a review. It doesn't need to be lengthy, just a sentence or two expressing your response to something an author put many months into writing. And, if you haven't read any of my books, let me encourage you to go to https://www.amazon.com/Gay-Ingram/e/B008VS6AJI and check them out.

Friday, July 27, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - zucchini

(My brother's first garden in Texas)

It's that time of year again. Zucchini season has come around in these parts. Also known  as courgette in much of the European countries, this vegetable needs to be picked when the seeds are still soft and immature. 

Botanically, zucchinis are fruits but are treated as a vegetable. One word of warning if you save your own seeds. Cross-fertilized seeds can have high levels of cucurbitacins and produce bitter and toxic fruit that could be harmful and even deadly. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking.

You can eat zucchini raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad but it's usually served cooked. You can steam it, boil it, grill it, stuff it and bake it. It can be barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. Did you know zucchini can even be shaped into noodle-like spirals and used as a low-carb substitute for pasta? A very versatile vegetable which is great because it grows quite prolifically.

Larger sized zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads. I try to make zucchini bread for the freezer every year to enjoy in the winter. Here's a basic  recipe: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/simple-zucchini-bread-recipe. 

A visit to my brother's garden (pictured above) yielded just the right ones to make this year's supply of zucchini bread. So, please excuse me while I busy myself in the kitchen.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - yellow



I chose yellow for today's word of the day, a predominant flower color in the garden. One site, Proflowers.com (https://www.proflowers.com/blog/yellow-flowers) lists thirty -three of the more easily recognized yellow flowers. Think of sunflowers, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and  roses among many others.

I'm not especially keen about yellow flowers in my garden beds but I can tolerate them easier than orange. Perhaps because our East Texas summers feature so many hot sunny days, I prefer to grow the cooler blues, lavender and white flowers.

Within the walls of my house, I have a preference for the cooler colors on the chart. In fact, a lot of blue surrounds me. I can't say it's a reflection of my mood. Perhaps I chose that soft, pale blue for my walls the last time we painted because I found it such a soothing, calming background.

Or perhaps the choice of color came about from the stained glass piece that hangs above my kitchen sink.

 It was made for me many years ago and I'm reminded of my friend every time I look up. It's also a reminder that God's Spirit is always near and available.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - 'x' marks the day

(Squared-rigged xebec of the 1780-1815 period - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

When I open my Miriam-Webster Dictionary (copyright 1963) it lists only one page of words beginning with 'x.' One of the letter definitions state this letter is used to represent an unknown quantity. So, for today's blog, I'll just cite a few of the little-known words that begin with this letter.

I'll bet you didn't know Socrates's wife was named Xanthippe. Urban Dictionary tells us a well known anecdote about Xanthippe is the one where she was so angry with her husband that she threw a bucket of washing water on him. Because of her supposedly argumentative nature, the name has been adopted (in the modern era) as a word for a scolding, ill-tempered woman. (https://www.behindthename.com/name/xanthippe)

A xebec is a three-masted Mediterranean sailing ship used mostly for trading with long overhanging bow and stern.

The final word listed on the page is xylotomy which is the art of preparing sections of wood for microscopic examination.

And that ends today's lesson about useful words that begin with the letter 'x.'

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - wonder



The word of the day is wonder. I hope I never lose my sense of wonder, being awed by this magnificent world we inhabit.

Sitting beach-side,enjoying the action of the ocean's tide washing the shoreline keeps me wondering. Scientists tell us it is the gravitational pull of the moon that controls our oceans's waters. How can that be? Those in the know may explain away the phenomenon but I can't help wondering how it works. In the meantime, I indulge my passion as often as I can.

 I go back every chance I can even though the nearest ocean is hundreds of miles from where I now live. I grew up close to the eastern coastline. To walk the sandy beach,  teased by incoming lapping waves is pure contentment. When I revisit my home-town area, there's one particular stretch I try to always visit.  I leave my car and clamber down among boulders. Protected from any breeze and warmed by the sun, I soon lose track of passing time. The constant swoosh and sighs of moving waters brings on a sense of all's-right-with-the world.

Another thing that causes me to wonder is how birds know when it's time to migrate to warmer climates and when it's time to return. As I sit on my front porch, there's a hummingbird hovering beside the nearby feeder. How is it possible for such a tiny creature to fly such distances? And...remember its way back to this same patch of East Texas every time?

I hope I never get too blasé that I take for granted, or worse yet, completely ignore the wonders of this enchanting planet we occupy.

Monday, July 23, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - variety



The word of the day is variety. It's been said variety is the spice of life. How much variety does your life contain? Are you finding yourself bogged down in the sameness of everyday life? With so much of our days locked into the sameness of routine, how does one go about injecting some variety?

As I accumulate years, I too find myself settling into those comfortable routines. Start the day with social media, cup of coffee in hand. From there, move to the desk in bedroom where I write my Morning Pages, breakfast in hand. And so it goes...every day much like the previous. I do try to add a bit of variety in my food choices to start the day...cold cereal or egg and toast or oatmeal. Some days I get ambitious and make myself a spinach omelet. But, come on. That's all so boring, right?

To tell the truth, as I started to put this blog together, my mind went blank when I tried to come up with ways in which I could add variety to my life.

Life hasn't always been this dull and predictable. There have been periods of challenging, exciting adventures along the way. My first-time flight cross-country to re-connect with my soon-to-be-husband at the innocent age of eighteen. Standing on the sidewalk with office compatriots cheering our president just minutes before his assassination. The three-week family vacation, including eighty-year-old father, spent driving across Germany, France and England. The thrill of holding a fresh copy of my first published book, 'Til Death Do Us Part (https://www.amazon.com/Til-Death-Do-Us-Part-ebook/dp/B005H7LNF2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF80.

So, I'm challenging myself today. Taking a long look at my life and will seek out ways to add variety to my life. Will you take the challenge with me? I'd sure like to hear of your successes or failures.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - unicorn.

     


The word of the day is unicorn. Merriam-Webster's dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unicorn) gives two definitions.


      A. a mythical, usually white animal generally depicted with the body and head of a horse with long flowing mane and tail and a single often spiraled horn in the middle of the forehead

      B an animal mentioned in the Bible that is usually considered an aurochs, a one-horned rhinoceros, or an antelope

The Encyclopedia Britannical (https://www.britannica.com/animal/aurochs) says the aurochs is an extinct species of large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. But all the pictures accompanying the article show two horns on the animal. Huh? I found the above picture in Google images when I searched the word aurochs.

 Unicorns are mentioned in the Bible – in fact, they are mentioned nine times but only occur in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible. 
  • In Numbers 23:22 and 24:8, the Bible speaks of the strength of a unicorn.
  • Deuteronomy 33:17,  Psalms 22: 21 and Psalms 92:10 speak of the unicorn’s horn.
  • Job 39:10 and 39:10 both speak of the unicorn not tilling the earth.
  • In Psalms 29:6, the unicorn is likened to a young calf skipping, while Isaiah 34:7 mentions unicorns in the same context as bulls and bullocks.
When a group of Greek scholars translated the original Hebrew biblical text to Greek around 250 B.C., the Hebrew word re’em puzzled them. It referred to a wild ox with one horn that apparently had become extinct. So they translated it to the closest word they knew - monokeros, meaning one-horned.

Are there unicorns in the Bible? Yes, but no one knows for sure what the Biblical unicorn really looked like.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - temperature

(Shalom - Peace. This sign greets all my visitors) 

The word of the day is temperature. Most of the US has been experiencing soaring temperatures.  recently, including my part of the country. I'm a fresh air fiend and delay closing up the house to turn on the air conditioner as long as possible. Besides, the thermostat on my air unit isn't functioning so  every-so-often I have to turn it off because the room gets too cold. Weird, huh?

But I want to talk about another temperature, the prevailing atmosphere of your surroundings. What's in the air, feelings-wise, around your place? Does it seem like life is just one crisis after another? Do you feel like you're always playing catch-up, never quite coming to a time when you can just pause, take a deep breath, and feel everything in your world is all right?

Perhaps your thought-life is a jumble of possible scenarios leading to multiple dire outcomes. Or, you find yourself continually speculating about future prospects. This inner unrest will affect how you react to outward happenings.

Living alone gives me an advantage. Other than seeing to the needs of a brother and a single-parent granddaughter who both live close by, my days are spent pretty much in solitaire. This makes peaceful surroundings a given. Being a loner gives me an advantage as far as outer surroundings, but I think what happens within often affects the outer.

If you find yourself always in a stew over what might or might not happen, it's time to retrain those brain waves. Latch onto something...a peaceful picture posted on the refrigerator...a phrase that brings a sense of calm every time it comes to mind. When those twirling thoughts begin to overwhelm, force yourself to focus on that picture or phrase. The world won't come to an end while you do. That spilled juice will still be there but you'll react differently. Instead of yelling, you'll have calm within and that's what will rule the moment.

It's not easy. It takes a deliberate choice in the beginning. Repetition eventually becomes a habit.  But, I guarantee, by doing so first, in the heat of the moment, you'll soon find yourself doing it as a natural reaction every time.

Friday, July 20, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - siesta



The word of the day is siesta and I'm embracing the concept wholeheartedly. Siestas typically occur in hot climates, allowing people to sleep though the hottest part of the day and avoid the sun’s strong midday rays. Here in Texas we've been experiencing triple-digit temperatures. That intense mid-day heat  really saps one's energy. An afternoon rest or nap taken during the hottest hours of the day sounds like a  really good idea.

Being a curious person, I had to seek out the meaning and history of the word 'siesta.' It's from the Spanish and literally means sixth hour. Huh? Then I went on to read since the hours of the day begin at dawn, the sixth hour is noon, which is when siestas often start. 

 Siestas are common in Spanish-speaking nations around the world, as well as Greece, Italy, The Philippines, and Nigeria, to name a few. Even the Romans regularly took daily naps. But even before it became common practice in these countries, the practice was recorded in Islamic Law and written about in the Koran. 

So, fair warning to anyone wanting my attention. Do not disturb between the hours of noon and two. I'll be out-of-pocket then. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - remembering



The word of the day is remembering. The ability to remember is such a handy skill - I wish I were more adept at it. Senior moments are an everyday occurrence for me. Some things come easy to remember, like my glasses. It's hard to forget to attach-to-face immediately upon waking since everything is a blur when I open my eyes.

But not everything is so easy to remember. I rely heavily on habit to keep things on an even roll. And notes...those scattered notepads and accompanying pens in every room really come in handy. Suppose I'm in the bathroom and notice there's only one roll of paper on the shelf? I make a beeline to the kitchen counter's on-going list to add that item.

Now it isn't only for items I need to restock I use that shopping list. It could include anything that needs to be gotten or done away from the house. The nearest city with a choice of stores is thirty miles away. I'm too far out in the country for a pizza delivery when I crave that TV snack. And I can't jump in the car for a quick run every time I need peanut butter for my lunch's sandwich. Pick up a library book? On the list. Need summer shoes? On the list.

So I keep a list going and not just one for shopping or errands. Sometimes a list gets made to help me remember the car's oil needs changing or I'm supposed to mail that card tomorrow.

I'm new to a smart phone, having given myself permission to graduate from flip-phone to smart just in the last year. I know there's a feature somewhere in that contraption for writing notes. Now...if I can just remember how to access it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - quilting

(Never attempted anything this small)

The word of the day is quilting.

Any quilters out there? This is something that gives me great pleasure. To be honest, what I do isn't really quilting. You know, that older-than-the-hills skill of using needle and thread to create a pleasing object from fabric. My thing is the piecing part of quilting.

It's playtime for me to shuffle through a stack of disparate scraps of fabric left-over from mine or someone else's sewing projects, choosing one or two, laying them beside each other, and deciding whether the combination will work or not. I like the fact that such a melange of color and pattern can be combined to make a colorful and warming covering.

Over the years, I've made pieced blankets in all sizes. Some years back, I got totally immersed in creating miniature quilts. Duplicating a design intended to cover a bed that's been reduced to using pieces sometimes only an inch in size I found quite challenging.

Now, I've set myself the goal of using up all those fabric scraps collected over the years. They're being implemented into cheerful, warm coverings that I will donate to a friend who ministers to the homeless in her city.

They may not qualify as creative art but someone will get comfort and warmth from my efforts. And I'll pat myself on the back for a job well done.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - purpose

(Image supplied by Shutterstock.com)


Does your life have purpose? Can you see a goal beyond the roles your life calls you to perform at this particular period of your life? Have you ever paused and asked yourself - why was I given this life to live? What is the purpose motivating everything I do?

To be honest, in my younger days I was way too busy to stop and seek an answer to those kinds of questions. As a working mother and wife who found herself also active in church activities squeezed between swimming meets, baseball practice, Boy Scouts, piano lessons and other such activities of two active boys, who had time to stop and ponder the deeper meanings of life?

But now, as my life winds down, I find myself contemplating the sometimes surprising twists and turns life has given me. Never did I imagine, growing up in that small New England village, I'd end up spending the better part of my life in the great state of Texas. As I neared adulthood, all I foresaw was getting gainfully employed so I could ease the burden my father had carried in providing for his eight children.

I look back on the open doors I've walked through, taking on challenges, not stopping to consider my ignorance. My past years record both failures and successes, disappointments and heart-stopping moments. I find it difficult to pinpoint one specific reason all of it happened. But, this I believe.

My God created me for His purpose and a driving force in my life has been to be available to be used as a vehicle of His Love. I hope that has happened often enough to be considered achievement of purpose.  Any other goals attained fade to insignificance.



Monday, July 16, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - organize



The word of the day is organize. How do you organize your day? Or is your life so chaotic that there is no way it can be organized? Have to admit, I'm a pretty organized person. Some could go so far a to say I'm compulsive. Perhaps it has something to do with the birth order. I grew up the eldest of eight children - that could have some bearing on that aspect of my personality.

One of my favorite maxims is a place for everything and everything in its place. As I slide toward the end of my life,  that's one of the ways I use to reduce the stresses of 'forgetfulness.' With a life-long habit of the 'everything' mentioned above. For instance, I've never misplaced my glasses. Since I began wearing them at the age of two, they remain firmly planted on my face. They're the first thing I grab in the morning and the last thing I take off before, and sometimes after, I turn out the nightlight.

I'm not the sort of person who changes accessories to match the occasion. So my going-to-town handbag always lands on the same designated spot. My bag is one of those organizer types where there is a slot or pocket for everything.

For some, this may sound like a dull, boring way of life. My take is: I don't sweat the small stuff and that frees me to focus on the more important issues of life. Now...where did you say we were meeting for lunch? Let me find my note.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - never

(My little cabin office in the piney woods of East Texas)

What is that old saying...never say never? Well, I'm just telling you, never plan to do a blog challenge and a yard sale at the same time. Add in a couple of committee meetings along with driving a granddaughter to her art class plus two night meetings, and you can see how crazy this week has turned out for me.

No, I'm not running for wonder-woman-of-the-year title. Guess I am just a sucker for self-punishment.

Thank goodness I have only myself to care for although a brother who lives nearby does take some attending to since Alzheimer's has affected his life. He just came to show me his preparations for making a couple yard sale signs...even though this is the fourth day of the sale.

So - can I say life continues to be an interesting experience around the Ingram place?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - motivation



The word of the day is motivation. What motivates you?

I've been motivated to downsizing. We've lived in this farmhouse for almost forty years and over that time have managed to accumulate a lot of 'stuff.' My husband's death eighteen months ago caused me to realize how cluttered up my surroundings have become. A footnote here - my husband fought change; moving a living room chair to a different spot had to be announced early to give him time to get used to the idea.

At first, I looked merely to rearranging my surroundings to be more convenient for me now that I'm living alone. My first major change was to bring my writing setup from the little house to the main house. I had no need to walk that distance just to have private time. All my time had become 'just me' time.

Re-arranging the bedroom came next as the bed no longer needed to be as close as possible to accommodate my husband's weaken ability to reach the bathroom. That's when I started looking around. Other than painting her bedroom's walls when my granddaughter reunited with us and moved in, it's been more years than I can recall since the inside of the house had been refreshed...and it shows it's age.

So, I've begun with collecting anything I know I don't want or use anymore. Only thing is...I'm finding it really hard to part with a lot of the pretties that give me pleasure every time they come into view. Maybe a smaller house would force my hand?

Friday, July 13, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - learning

(Not the correct year model but the right color)

The word of the day is learning, as in I've been learning to live alone after being married for fifty-nine years. He was a good provider and took care of me for all those years. It has been fifteen months since my husband's death after two and a half years of being his caretaker.

I've learned to remember to check the gauge in the car so I never run out of gas. In fact, I even negotiated the unknown waters of shopping for and buying a used car. My son wasn't too happy with my choice of a Kia Soul since he's a die-hard Jeep or Ford truck guy. But, I notice he never refuses when I offer the keys anytime we're going somewhere together.

 I've learned I don't panic in an emergence such as when a flooded bathroom floor told me I had a serious septic problem. Thank goodness for a willing son nearby to help with the repair and cleanup.

I notice time has a way of dissipating now that I live alone.  Household chores like cooking and cleaning don't seem to come around as often now that there's only me. Mealtime comes when hunger insists it needs attention.

Since I've always been a self-motivated kind of person and stayed busy learning a new craft or other, I never have a problem filling the hours of the day. If I grow bored with one project, I move on to some new craft or skill to conquer. It seems like there is always something new to learn in life.

Actually, if I stop and consider, my whole life has been a learning experience and I bet yours has been too. From the day of our first breath to the very last, we are on a learning curve.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - kaleidoscope

(Thanks to Google Images for picture)

Did you ever have a kaleidoscope as a child? You know, one of those tube-shaped toys with loose bits of colored material (such as glass or plastic) that changed symmetrical patterns when you looked inside one end and twisted the collar.

In 1814 Sir David Brewster was conducting experiments with light reflection. Several experiments and modifications later, he placed the reflecting panes in a draw tube with a concave lens to distinctly introduce surrounding objects into the reflected pattern. Voila! The kaleidoscope.

Most handmade kaleidoscopes are now made in Russia and Italy, intended as children's toys. Craft galleries sometimes carry handmade pieces that display fine craftsmanship. 

Interested in trying your hand at making your own? YouTube has a video of instruction. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2TDK_OQWU0

The word kaleidoscope can also mean a mixture of many different things, like the back room in my house. It's too small to be a bedroom and too far from a heating/cooling source to be comfortably lived-in. So it has become an everything-that-doesn't-have-a-place room.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - java


The word of the day is java. Some of you youngsters may not be familiar with the word. It's a slang word referring to a cup of coffee. In earlier times, the island of Java was a source of coffee beans (and it would have been stamped on the sacks they came in), hipsters of the early 20th century adopted java among many other terms as slang for coffee.

Did you know people have been drinking coffee since the middle of the 15th century? Wives of Norwegian immigrants originated the coffee break in the late 19th century. There's even a  Coffee Break Festival celebrated every year in the city of Stoughton, Wisconsin.  (http://www.stoughtonwi.com/events/details/stoughton-coffee-break-festival-2018-2351)

Close friends know how much of a coffee drinker I am. The drink of choice here in East Texas is sweet iced tea. Even though it's been sixty years since I 'came south', I never developed at taste for iced tea.

My day starts with a cup of steaming coffee as I scroll through  messages and emails. Usually there's a second cup at mid-morning. For some reason, in the summertime I skip it with lunch. My drink of choice then is usually a tall glass of raspberry iced tea. Perhaps our Texas summers have something to do with my choice. There could be n afternoon break for coffee if I can stop what I'm doing long enough. But most evenings, there's coffee beside me as I wind down my day.

Well, enough of this...time for a java break.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - intimate

(Not sure if this is the species of my visitor)

The word I've chosen for today is intimate.

Have you ever had an intimate encounter with a hummingbird? Yesterday I noticed the feeder that hangs on my front porch was near empty. Knowing it had at least one daily visitor, I hurriedly made feed and refilled it.

As I enjoyed the cooler morning air and savored my first cup of coffee for the day, I heard the distinctive buzz of hummingbird wings. It flew past the feeder and hung in the air a moment as if inspecting a change in surroundings.

I assume it was a she because of the lack of distinctive coloring although I've not been able to identify its species yet even after consulting Birds of Texas. (https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Texas-Field-Natural-History/dp/0890965455/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530800571&sr=1-12&keywords=Birds+of+Texas)

More than once, between sips of hummingbird nectar, it would leave the feeder and fly closer to hang there, its head jerking side to side. Then as if satisfied, it would return to its sipping. One last time, it left the feeder, came close and paused in mid-air as if to say thank you before flying off to perch on a nearby branch.

A few minutes later, another buzz of wings told me the hummingbird had returned. Must have been thirsty this morning. You're welcome, neighbor.

Monday, July 9, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - history



The word of the day is history. Not my usual blog but the tenor of recent times has me disturbed.

Why are people so intent on re-writing history simply because it doesn't reflect how things are presently?  You can't eradicate something that happened in the past just because you don't agree with it now. Don't they realize what happened in the past affects the future? Even if you manage to erase all memory or mention of an incident or an attitude that happened to be prevalent at that time, it has already imprinted the present.

I am a fiction writer. Many of the novels I've publish have been set in the past, preferably our country's past. My greatest satisfaction comes with the research this requires. I put a lot of effort into being historically accurate in all the details. If you're interested, go to https://www.amazon.com/author/gayingram and check out a couple like Mai Lin, Troubled Times or my latest George Washington, From Boy Surveyor to Soldier.

History, both the good and the bad, is there to teach us and to illustrate how we humans have evolved. Learn from the past but keep it in context of the times. Recognize society and people at that time differed from the present. What was acceptable then is not today simply because of history's effect.

You can't go back & change history but you can look back, learn from it not to make the same mistakes. That is the value of our word of the day - history.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Post - enjoy the music



Today I'd like to share with you a video made some time back. My older son David died unexpectedly in June of 2010. He began composing music when he was eight years old. At the time this picture was taken a couple years before his death, he was associated with Willamette University in Oregon and teaching privately.

This is the only performance he recorded on YouTube, an original piece composed for his daughter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2emgtAjEOoI  I hope you'll find the time to listen and enjoy.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - ginkgo

(Thanks to
for the photo)

The word of the day is ginkgo. I'm sure you've heard of the ginkgo tree, considered a living fossil. Only found in the wild in China, it's cultivated around the world. It has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine but  mainly it’s the seeds that are used. When the female ginkgo trees shed their leaves and berries, they smell like vomit. So why do people still plant them?

It's a survivor. A ginkgo can live hundreds of years in a city. Through London smog, New York congestion, and Washington’s swampy summers, the ginkgo has been the old standby. This slow-growing tree gives us a big show during fall when its leaves turn a vibrant yellow.

Some experts theorize the ginkgo smell would have attracted dinosaurs to eat it. It’s the outer part of the seed that produces the smell, so if you happen to have a tree that's bothersome, try to pick the berries before they fall to the ground.

For the definitive word on  the ginkgo tree, check out this site: 
https://e360.yale.edu/features/peter_crane_history_of_ginkgo_earths_oldest_tree

Satisfying my curiosity about this unique tree got me thinking. Learning of a plant that's been around since dinosaurs trod the planet made me more conscious of how short my days here on this earth are in comparison. 

I had to ask myself, am I making the most of the limited time I have? Is there more I can do to leave this a better place?  

Friday, July 6, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - family



The word of the day is family. When I checked Miriam-Webster's dictionary, it listed four definitions of the word. There's the basic unit consisting of two parents and children. Then we have a group of individuals living under one roof. Another definition considers a group of persons of common ancestry a family. (Kind of resembling the characters in my novel Mai Lin.) Then there's the group of people united by their convictions or a common affiliation.  

I'd like to add another group - the folks who occupy my family enclave here in East Texas. There's myself, the matriarch widow. Another residence is occupied by my only living son and his daughter with whom he was reunited after a ten-year separation. Recently come to this area is my oldest brother who moved here from Kentucky six months ago. All of these highly individual folks make up my immediate 'family.'

True, we are all blood-related, but until recently, years went by when we were out-of-touch with one another, especially my brother and I. My family could be considered people who share a common ancestry, if not a shared life experience.

Miriam-Webster's definition is in danger of becoming obsolete as present-day society is quickly changing what constitutes a family. I'd love to hear some response, pro & con, on this topic. What does your family'consist of?







Thursday, July 5, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - expectations



The word of the day is expectations. Again I refer to Miriam Webster's dictionary. the act or state of expecting; anticipation. So, what are my expectations from taking this challenge to write a blog a day for the month of July? 

Of course, I expect to return to writing after a very long absence due to life's interference. A blog a day is a good way to reinstate the habit of daily writing. Long-term expectation is to gain a host of new readers for the novels I've published in the past. 

Oh, have I not mentioned the dozen or so books, both fiction and nonfiction, are available in both print and Ebook format? The easiest way to check them out is to go to my Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/gayingram.

But what about expectations that will resonate in my personal life? Well, being forced to come up with something to post every day causes me to take a closer look at  myself and where I am in life. I've reached an age (I'll let you guess at that) where I don't anticipate any life-changing adventures, but you never can tell. God does have a sense of humor, I've discovered through past experiences.

But, I tend to agree with a comment John Mellencamp made in a recent Sunday Morning interview...and I paraphrase:"I only have so many summers left and I intend to keep doing."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Post - determination



Day Four of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. The word of the day is determination,

Some people see it as stubbornness--I call it determination. That ability to focus on the task at hand and devote all your energies to realizing completion. Determination is the fuel that propels a person's accomplishments.

When my son and I agreed to buy and move a house onto our property so he and his teenage daughter would be close by for me, it took determination to overcome the hurdles involved.

I didn't agree with the spot he chose to place the building...more than 300 feet deep into the property. It created additional costs and a whole lot of extra work. The electric company serving this area required a 30-foot area beneath the proposed line from street to house be cleared of all vegetation. I lost count of how many trees needed to be cut down in the process.

It took determination to push ourselves in hot Texas summer days to fulfill the requirement. But the rewards for our labors exceeded expectations.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Post - compromise



The word of the day is compromise. Merriam-Webster defines the word as a settlement of differences reached by consent of mutual concessions.

I promised myself I would not get political in this Ultimate Blog Challenge, a promise I'm struggling to keep during this volatile period of our country's existence. Then I receive an email from a good friend that shifts the whole situation into prospective.

James Still writes a regular article about our American beginnings. This week he addressed an incident that occurred ten years after the Revolutionary War ended. I could recap but better yet, checkout the whole message at  http://retraceoursteps.com/index.php/letters-by-james/2018/the-newburgh-veterans-1783 

Makes me ask myself, has this country lost the ability to compromise?

I come back to the word of the day-compromise-with a personal application. My brother isn't able to drive anymore so I provide him transportation. When it comes to grocery shopping, he prefers one store, I another.  By alternating which store we visit on shopping day each week, we worked out a compromise.

Give a little, take a little, now we have a do-able solution.

Monday, July 2, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - bewildered

(Photo courtesy of Google Images-
this is not my brother's picture) 

Day Two of July Blog Challenge - the word of the day is bewildered. The state of being my brother was in yesterday.

Victims of Alzheimer's have to cope with the bewildering experience of memory loss. In the past, my brother owned a landscaping business and took pride in the fact that he had the mechanical abilities and know-how to keep his equipment in top-notch running condition.

Yesterday he came to me, completely baffled by his inability to comprehend what mechanical failure prevented him from getting his mower to run. "I used to know but I can't figure out why it's not getting fuel." This was the first time I'd heard him express frustration about not being able to resolve a mechanical problem. It told me he had moved from the denial stage to the frustration stage of this advancing disease.

Up until now, he would scoff when I pointed out he was experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer's.  I can recount numerous times of  'forgetfulness' since he came to Texas to live. Arriving hours early for an appointment and then completely forgetting about it when it came time to leave. Dealing with numbers of any kind send him into a panic and he's allowed me power of attorney to handle his financial affairs.

I'm a bit apprehensive of the coming days, knowing this is just a fore-taste of the future. Thank goodness I can count on My Father providing all my needs...which most likely will be lots of patience.