Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Ponderings and Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 9/30/13


SNARKY RESPONSE: Of course. It'd be ridiculous to say that one's ability for success will be followed by accomplishment. No, wait! That makes sense too? Today's fortune is a kind of palindrome. Who knew?

Your ability for accomplishment will be followed by success.

I was going to write about something else, hopefully something inspiring and worthy of a fortune about "accomplishment" and "success," but as I sit here at my desk, with my window open, I'm thinking about fall.

Sure, I can still hear frogs inviting someone, anyone, over for a drink and a roll on their lily pad, but soon the temps will drive every self-respecting amphibian into hibernation. Alone. Solitary confinement until spring when they'll emerge and begin their chorus all over again. Unless they don't survive the plummeting temps, in which case it's the next generation who will take up the tune.

Anyway, potential death in the marsh notwithstanding, fall is definitely beginning that downward spiral to winter.

Temps are falling,
Sap is receding,
Leaves are falling,
Daylight hours are dwindling. Everything is headed down.
Despite the holiday heyday,
Life is heading toward
Winter's full stop.

Despite the fatalistic vibe, I still find this my favorite season. The crisp Fall air, such a relief after the smothering humidity of Summer. The shifting of the greens of Summer to the glorious reds, golds, and yellows of Fall.

Summer's indolence rolls over and applies itself to harvesting and nesting. Meals cooked outside over an open flame, billowing smoke into a summer's day, shift to crock pots and stew pots and spice-laden air wafting through the house.

I'm pulling out sweaters, polishing boots, anticipating sleeves in all their lengths and weights. Summer whites, tropical brights, and cool pastels are packed away or pushed to the back of the closet to make room for fall and winter tones, earthy, jeweled, and spiced.

How do you anticipate Fall? Do you spend it mourning Summer's passing? Do you count it only as the approach of Winter?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Belief, Writing, and Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 9/23/13


SNARKY RESPONSE: Just make sure you've got that parachute before you take that leap of faith!

Believing is doing.

Back in 2000, I decided that if I really thought I was a writer, I was going to have to get serious and write! All the talking about that great story idea I'd been harboring, or that neat character who'd been haunting me wasn't getting me anywhere. I had to actually put my fingers to keyboard and start typing. Until I did, it was nothing but a pipedream.

I joined a critique group, listened, learned, wrote, and eventually began putting pages in front of them for review and critique. It was scary, putting my words in front of unbiased eyes. It was hard listening when flaws were spotted, mistakes corrected, plot holes identified, but I believed I could improve if I listened. If I remained open to learning new ways of seeing my writing. I kept at it, believing I could do it. I kept doing it, believing it was an evolving effort that would result in my becoming a better writer.

It's still true. Even now, discussing my newest idea with my critique groups is only so much hot air if I'm not putting it down on the screen. If I'm not putting words to screen, I'm not writing and I believe the only proof is in the pudding, or the writing. That's also why being in a critique group is so good for me. Not only must I believe in my writing and do the writing, but I have to turn in pages to the group, thereby holding me accountable for my dreams.

There's no getting around it, no short-cutting it, no foolin - if you want to be a writer, you have to WRITE!

And once you're doing that, YOU ARE A WRITER. Don't dismiss it, don't duck your head and scuff your shoe mumbling. Lift that head, meet the other person eye to eye and say aloud, "Yes, I'm a writer."

It took time, patience, effort, openness, and determination, but now I can truly say that I believe I'm a writer and because I'm a writer, I write!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baltimore Ukrainian Festival and Your Monday Fortune Cookie


SNARKY RESPONSE: If you want proof, ask OnStar.

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

The OnStar comment may seem odd, but believe me, Joe and I have traveled many a winding road because OnStar thought it was the most direct route. We've been on backwoods roads so deep in the wilderness that I would have sworn I heard banjo's playing.

Well, OnStar did it again this last Saturday to get us to the Baltimore Ukrainian Festival and though it took us on a route we had not anticipated, it did get us there in good time. So as the Bard says, all's well that ends well.

The Baltimore Ukrainian Festival is held in Patterson Park in Baltimore, not far from the Inner Harbor. Actually on the other side of Little Italy. This was their 38th year and going strong. The festival is set up around the monument to Poland with food, drink, novelties, and live entertainment.

Saturday in Baltimore was lovely. As we drove through Baltimore to the festival, it rapidly became apparent that it was a very busy day in Baltimore. There was a game at the stadium, and a sudden encounter with people costumed like super heroes revealed that the Baltimore Comic Con was at the Inner Harbor. Then passing through the neighborhood to get to the Ukrainian Festival, we discovered there was a small Polish Festival being held at a church several blocks from the park. Determined to avail ourselves of both events, we parked in a midway area and headed in. 

The Baltimore Ukrainian Festival features booths from four different Ukrainian churches offering Ukrainian foods, a Ukranian Beer Garden where you could enjoy Ukrainian beers, vodka, and honey liquor and vendors with lovely Ukranian decorated eggs and embroidered shirts. Cabbage rolls and pierogi are not photogenic, but they were delicious. I guarantee it.

This was a vegetarian offering of spaetzle, mushrooms, and cabbage. And the beers were very refreshing.

The cabbage rolls and pierogi differed from church booth to church booth in subtle ways, but all were delicious.

Sitting on our blanket in the shade of a tree, Joe and I enjoyed watching a wonderful dancing group performing traditional Ukrainian dances, a talented violinist playing Ukrainian music, and a local Ukrainian acapella group. The temperature was perfect and a steady breeze kept us all comfortable. I admit I did feel for the performers, but honestly, it's been hotter in past years, and none of them were noticeably drooping.


The Cossack dances are always exciting to watch. The young men leaping about and kicking from squats were impressive. My knees ached just watching them jump up and down. And there was one dance where they whirled the girls in the air. Fun!

The Polish Festival was being held at a nearby church and included entertainment, vendors, historical displays and, of course, food. This was a new event for us and, we loved the smaller venue. Being a one church event, it felt cozier and the food came right out of the kitchen to your plate. Yum!

There's something so delightfully rich about enjoying an event steeped in tradition. Hearing people speaking their native languages and sharing food and stories about their history with welcome strangers. These two cultures are my husband's heritage, and I love that he enjoys sharing it with me. It reminds me how marvelously diverse our country is, the world is, and how much we need to remember and celebrate that diversity with joy and love.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day, Seasonal Shift, and Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 9/2/13


SNARKY RESPONSE: Yeah, and the admission requirements are ridiculous.

We Live At The Edge Of The Miraculous

First - Happy Labor Day!

And this Monday Fortune Cookie seems to tie right in. Labor Day is the proverbial "last day of summer" when the freedom of summer ends and the reality of life returns. The long, luxurious days of summer start winding down, days get shorter (actually have been since the Summer Equinox), and activity shifts from lazing to crazing. The slide from here to the end of the year is one of increasing speed with responsibilities picking up, holidays popping up, and stress levels shooting up.

So why not, take today, this moment, as we teeter on the edge of the seasonal shift and not only think back longingly to the summer's festivities, but look ahead in anticipation of the roller coaster ride to come.

Fall is my absolutely favorite time of the year. The temperature drops into the bearable levels, windows stay open, moving around outside becomes more than a sweat-slicked dash from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned house/office/store. The color palette begins to open from shades of green to golds and reds as the trees begin their autumnal costume party.

Yeah, the stores and the advertising machine have already begun their siren's shriek about the Yule gift-giving season, but you don't have to buy into it yet. I personally develop blinders to anything not related to the true calendar and it helps. You might try to adopt a pair yourself if the pressure gets too much.

Try to slow down the plummet toward the end of the year and, just like we do during the summer, laze your way through the holidays. Adopt a beach-like attitude where it'll all get done in time, but for now, just enjoy. Put yourself back on a natural rhythm. Don't let the stores dictate when you put up your holiday decorations (if you decorate). Don't feel guilty if decorating is not your thing. Let yourself slow down a bit sooner in the evening as the nights grow longer. It's okay. It's natural.

Let's see if we can't make this step over the edge of the miraculous less of a doozy and more of a yahooy!