Smorgasbord Posts from the Archives 2021 – Pot Luck – #family #supernatural- Short Story – The Clock by D.L. Finn


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Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I have shared posts from the last six months of 2020 and the series is now closed to new participants.

This is the first post from D.L. Finn and she shares a short story that she wrote in response to Suzanne Burke’s “Fiction In A Flash ChallengeWeek #12 Image Prompt.

The Clock

Week 12 Fiction in a Flash Challenge

I gently shifted my weight in the chair, trying to pry my bare legs off the brown vinyl. Several deep breaths did nothing to relieve the tension in my shoulders. I pulled my sweater tightly around me with the realization it wasn’t wise to be dressed for a hot summer day while sitting in a cold hospital room. There had been no change in the last few hours. The constant beeps continued, and the oxygen flowed in and out with a gentle whoosh.

I shook my head at the tragic irony of a man needing me after how he treated me growing up. My father had an undiagnosed mental condition. He hid it well, so only those who lived with him knew his explosive violence under the shrewd mask of a family man. No one saw the marks; they were never on my face. He was careful even when he had lost control. The war and his parents had hurt him so deeply that when it bubbled to the surface – it hurt us. He never seemed aware of his faults, so there was never an opportunity for him to seek any help. My family spent every waking moment, trying not to upset him in the hopes all would be well. It wasn’t.

I sighed loudly and took the protein bar out of my purse. Though I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to pass out and end up in a hospital bed, too. I washed the crunchy honey oats down with a bottle of water. The nurse entered the room right after I finished. I pretended to be asleep. There was nothing new she could share with me.

Finally, she was gone, and I sat up staring at the lump of a once proud and cruel man. We were the only two left from my family. Alcohol and drugs took everyone down, except me. I knew when to quit. The man lying in bed had upped his intake of drinking until it was all he did. Today I watched them remove twenty-one bottles of liquid from his abdomen, relieving his labored breathing. He had no idea it was happening.

A flash of light caught my attention, and I quietly got up to investigate. It was coming from the nurse’s station where someone had placed a small golden clock that looked like a holiday ornament. It was the same as…a chill shot through me.

It looked exactly like the clock from my dream last night where I was boxing up my father’s belongings. My only thought had been he wasn’t dead. Then, in one box, was this device. It had a clock face on all four sides as it gently spun in a circle playing my father’s favorite Hank Williams Jr. song.

“Can’t be,” I whispered, hoping I’d seen it the day before.

A loud conversation cleared that up.

“Did you see what that patient in 202 left us today, Sissy?”

“I’ve never seen a clock like that before. How sweet of him.”

I gulped when I saw the time was the same as my dream. Unsure what to do, I stood there frozen until a sudden warmness wrapped me in its wisdom. I quietly closed the door and stood over my father.

“I forgive you, father, even after all you did to us. You weren’t happy here on earth, and I hope you’ll find some happiness where you are going. Please know I’m doing this in love, and I believe it’s what I’m meant to do. Rest in Peace.”

I picked up the extra pillow and held it tightly over his face. He never struggled, but at the last moment, his bloodshot eyes opened. I saw approval in them, as the machines went silent. His eyes closed. I put the pillow back and pushed the nurse’s button right as they threw the door open. Mercifully, they couldn’t revive him.

Later, when I left his room, I hurried past the clock still set at the same time, 11:53. After a long wait for the elevator, the clock began playing my father’s favorite song. I held back a smile when I saw the hands had moved to noon, which only justified my actions.

No one knew what I did that day. I was okay with that because he was free, and so was I.

©D.L. Finn 2020

About D.L. Finn

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her

A selection of books by D.L. Finn

One of the Five Star reviews for Dolphin’s Cave

Cathleen Townsend5.0 out of 5 stars A YA coming of age story that should appeal to fans of teen fantasy adventures  Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2021

Coral has always wanted to go to Hawaii, ever since her parents died there when she was only a kid. A recurring dream has visited her every night since—she rides a dolphin to an underwater cave. Only there will she find the answers she seeks about her parents’ death. But she always wakes up before she discovers what really happened.

Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, she’s thrilled to learn her aunt and some friends are taking her to Hawaii for Christmas. Coral loves the ocean, and she doesn’t get to see it very often, living as she does in a desert near Reno, Nevada.

But once they arrive in Hawaii, disquieting events steal some of her joy. Her aunt has met a new guy—nothing wrong with that—but this one seems to be nothing but a weasel. When Coral’s aunt nearly gets run over in the street, he merely stands there and watches. And everywhere they go, people seem to be taking their picture. Not just catching them in group photos, but specifically shooting photos of them, as if they were celebrities or something.

But then matters turn dangerous. Her aunt is hospitalized, the result of a near-fatal car crash. Coral can’t afford to ignore all the strange things going on anymore, or some of them may never make it home…

Dolphin’s Cave is a YA coming-of-age story that should appeal to fans of teen adventures, especially ones who love dolphins.  

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow D.L. Finn: Goodreads – Connect to D.L. Finn – Website: D.L. Finn Author – Facebook: D.L. Finn Author – Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

 

My thanks to Denise for permitting me to share her posts and I do suggest you head over to enjoy her archives.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021–#Life #Nature Why We Want to Be Blowin’ in the Wind by Melanie Stewart


2021 archives

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I have shared posts from the last six months of 2020 and the series is now closed to new participants.

This is the second post from October 2020 by Melanie Stewart and she explores the power of the wind in our lives and in nature.

Why We Want to Be Blowin’ in the Wind

The power of wind is as varied as the descriptive names for it: Chinook, Trade winds, gale force, Sirocco, the North wind and simply, breezes.

We’ve all felt the sharp change when wind gusts appear right before a thunderstorm, bending trees and blowing lawn furniture. And we have felt the small joys when the wind softly rustles tree leaves or a summer breeze refreshingly sweeps by, and we turn our necks, left and right, to cool our faces a little more.

At its worst, wind has a destructive side such as when a tornado, hurricane or haboob forms. It also causes flight turbulence and intensification of wildfires.  At its best, it provides power through windmills and turbines. It entertains as kites are lifted high and sailboats can scream across the water. It brings music through wind chimes.

As a literal force of nature, wind and peoples’ interaction with it has existed since men and women started walking the earth. I don’t have proof, but I suspect that illustrations of circular and horizontal lines still appear as part of ancient stories in ancient caves around the world.

I do know that there is a legend among the Shawnee nation of native Americans that Kako-u’hthé, translated to “Cyclone Man” was a powerful storm spirit. The tendrils of a tornado were believed to be the long hair of this spirit. Interestingly, the Shawnee did not fear Kako-u’hthé, but rather considered the spirit a friend and held no fear over the power of a tornado because their friend would never intentionally harm them.

Naïve, perhaps, but the point is that the movement of air is something with which we have an age-old relationship. Like water and fire, it’s been with us since the beginning.

So, I was interested when I learned a new description for wind. Uitwaaien. It is a Dutch word and philosophy for using wind to ease stress.

“Uitwaaien” (aut-vwl-en) means to go out in windy weather, particularly into nature or a park, as a means of refreshing oneself and clearing one’s mind…

…It “literally translates to ‘outblowing,’” explains Caitlin Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Dutch Linguistics.

“Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed — out with the bad air, in with the good,” Caitlin tells Alice Fleerackers of Nautilus. Thomas Oppong Oct. 7 Medium.com Thomas Oppong Oct.7 Medium.com

Although taking walks to feel emotionally and/or physically better is not a new concept, the Dutch seem to take it to a next level by recommending those walks be taken in specifically windy conditions.

I am drawn towards this concept. First, I love the idea that I can walk straight on into wind and receive bountiful fresh, healthy air in my lungs and that my mind will feel better (especially these days.) But it also touches on something else; some core memories and a bone-deep need to be a part of it.

I have many good feelings attached to wind. On windy days as a child, I would grab a paper towel and sensing a good gust, would jump from the top step of our home while tossing the paper towel upwards. Sometimes, the wind would pick it up like a kite and bounce it around far above me. It never lasted long before falling back onto the driveway or our neighbor’s lawn but it brought joy that something could take a paper towel from my hand and make it fly.

And I loved flying a kite in our local park with my own son when he was young. It was precious time spent together and maybe I hoped I was passing on knowledge and the sheer elemental joy that the nature of wind can bring. I also remember drives out to the country where I could see weather vanes at work. It was fascinating to me that the wind could show you it was blowing from the east or west with a simple turn of a metal rooster.

The above may be inadequate in describing why wind makes us feel the way we do, but the following songs show I’m not alone in my feelings. There are so many songs whose lyrics define wind or use it as an analogy, and the artists are infinitely better in conveying the poetic and nostalgic pull of it.

Here are just a few:

Blowing in the Wind, Summer Breeze, Summer Wind, Dust in the Wind, Wind Beneath My Wings, Candle in the Wind, Colors of the Wind, She’s Like the Wind, They Call the Wind Maria and The Association’s 1967 classic “Windy.” They are just a modern way to continue sharing the ancient stories of connection and interaction.

“Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.” – Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” 1972

“Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind” – Kansas “Dust in the Wind” 1977

There was even a perfume in the 1970’s called “Wind Song” and the jingle was “He can’t seem to forget you, your Wind Song stays on his mind.” There is clearly no direct link between perfume and wind, but the marketers knew what they were doing. Humans are drawn to wind so “he” will undoubtedly be drawn to “you.”

I’m all in for Uitwaaien. If there is another reason to get me out into the wind, I will gladly do it; for health, adrenaline, and a welcome feeling.

The basic scientific definition of wind is the horizontal movement of air from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. The greater the difference in pressure, the faster the air flows.

It’s succinct and accurate, but don’t the words from “Blowin’ in the Wind” just sound better?

“Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind” – Bob Dylan “Blowin’ in the Wind” 1963

Please feel free to share your own stories about wind below. I am also considering doing a limited series of wind stories by readers, depending on interest. If you have either a super short or longer story and are interested in being published on the blog, please email shareastory@leavingthedooropen.com. All are welcome.

Wind Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Weather Vane Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

©Melanie Stewart 2020

About Melanie Stewart

In the 1990’s, I worked as a freelance writer for a local newspaper in suburban Chicago. I covered everything from cloning & measuring the risk of heart disease to my “Day in the Life” series where I spent the day at local businesses ranging from a veterinarian to a bakery (that was an early wake-up call.)

A few years later, I started working for Legacy.com which hosts online obituaries for newspapers around the world. I loved that potential for connection; that someone sitting in an army base in Afghanistan could sign a guest book for a relative who passed in Illinois (true story.) I remained there for many years until my husband and I made the decision to move to Florida. Most of our family is here including my mother, who in recent years, has needed more assistance.

I missed writing, so I started to write about those every day situations that come with an aging parent. The volume of stories grew. Should you take away the car keys? When? The checkbook? How? How do you navigate their determination to remain independent?

The stories evolved into the blog Leaving The Door Open which officially launched April 29, 2019 as a way to share how both my family and readers have solved these aging parent issues.

And just as the blog was attracting more attention, I was diagnosed with cancer. I found myself writing about that. Then, COVID struck our world.

I will continue to stick with non-fiction as it informs and shows us the tough and triumphant realities people face, but it became evident that it was time to leave the door open to new ideas and broaden my writing to include feature stories and creative writing.

Don’t write me off as too serious though! I love to laugh, relish a good pun, and love watching a good scary movie and baseball. I just have this thing about writing about the realities of life. It’s my passion. I think I remain a reporter at heart and I only want to cover more ground.

I am also widely open to writing or sharing the realities of your life. If you would like to share a guest post on just about any topic, or be “interviewed” through written questions, contact me at shareastory@leavingthedooropen.com.

Connect to Melanie: Blog: Leaving the Door OpenTwitter: @storiesonaging

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021–#BookReview – Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by Sir David Attenborough by Jemima Pett


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Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I have shared posts from the last six months of 2020 and the series is now closed to new participants.

This is the second post from author Jemima Pett and it is a book review for Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by Sir David Attenborough

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A Life on Our Planet makes the third book published on 1st October I’ve reviewed this month. The publishers offered a small number of copies through NetGalley just before p-day, and I’m very grateful to them for including me.

It’s hard to review a book by a National Treasure, but I’ve done my best.

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future

by David Attenborough

In this scientifically informed account of the changes occurring in the world over the last century, award-winning broadcaster and natural historian shares a lifetime of wisdom and a hopeful vision for the future.

See the world. Then make it better.

I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.

As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day — the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.

I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake — and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.

We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.

All we need is the will to do so. [goodreads]

My Review

David Attenborough needs no introduction having been the face of our wild world on television for over fifty years. I even remember Zoo Quest on our tiny black and white television, which stood in a huge box in the corner of the room. It may not have installed a passion for wildlife conservation then, but it was certainly part of my awareness of the wonderful world we live in.

In this book he takes us back to the beginning, skipping rapidly through his past, with reminders of things we know he did, because it was on television, then or later, like his searching for fossils in his local wood, which came out much later. Being reminded of his encounter with the gorillas who came and searched his hair and the baby trying to play with his boots, was just one iconic moment from hundreds of hours of wildlife footage we are familiar with.

But Sir David recounts this in decades, and each starts with a doom-laden set of statistics: wilderness reduction, species reduction, human population growth and the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Each of them is the dreaded hockey stick graph, flat for centuries, then a sharp tick upward as we reach the industrial age, and an accelerating rise that has reached epic proportions since the 1960s. I felt sick as he recounted the examples of how we are destroying, have destroyed, our planet.

Then follows the voice of doom.

What life will be like if we carry on this way? To say it is not worth living is an understatement. And we are not talking about some distant future.  We are talking about 2050.  And I remember in the 1990s when forecasts for climate abnormalities, storms, habitat loss, and epidemics for the 2020s sounded bad. It’s all here, now.

It all got very depressing.  It seemed that nothing had changed in the last twenty years when I studied all this in my Masters Degree. Nobody had taken any notice of all the work we’d been doing… and yet…

Part three showed it doesn’t have to be that way. And it isn’t that difficult to do. Few of these things were new to me, and the scale of application required is scary. Yet many of them are already being done on a countrywide scale in enlightened parts of the world. Some countries are committed to rewilding, to a circular economy, to actual net zero emissions (not parking them on someone else).There is a way out of this mess.

We just need to step up and do it.

And the last quarter of the book is all the reference material you need to support the science, the facts, actions, the data and the scenarios he has put in front of us.

It is up to us

So in his easy-going, magnificent way of making the complex sound simple, Sir David has presented us with a stern warning and the ways we can solve our problem.  It is up to us to do it.

And after reading Humankind in the summer, I know that the doom-laden news is part of what’s holding us back.

I thank my ex-colleague Rod Janssen,for the very timely quote in his newsletter:

Barack Obama (b. 1961), the 44th US President, provides us with some inspiration that we all need this week: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Sir David Attenborough has brought together and presented all the reasons and tools we need to change the course of our history, to get back to living on the only planet we have.

Essential reading for us all.

And after reading Humankind in the summer, I know that the doom-laden news is part of what’s holding us back.

I thank my ex-colleague Rod Janssen,for the very timely quote in his newsletter:

Barack Obama (b. 1961), the 44th US President, provides us with some inspiration that we all need this week: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Sir David Attenborough has brought together and presented all the reasons and tools we need to change the course of our history, to get back to living on the only planet we have.

‘In his easy-going, magnificent way of making the complex sound simple, Sir David has given us a stern warning and the ways we can solve our problem. It is up to us to do it.’ A Life on Our Planet @EburyPublishing #attenborough Click To Tweet

©Jemima Pett 2020

A selection of books by Jemima Pett

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Find out more about Jemima’s books and read the reviews: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK – Blog:Jemima PettGoodreads:Jemima Pett – Twitter:@jemima_pett –

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Jemima Pett in her own words..I have had a number of different jobs, but in totally different fields. These included social work, business management, computer technology, environmental research. The thread running through all of them was communication – and that continued in my spare time with writing and editing club magazines, manuals, reports… I loved words, loved to learn and to apply my learning to the real world.

Eventually the world just wasn’t big enough, and so I went back to inventing my own, as I had as a child. First came the Realms, a feudal England run by princes in castles who just happen to be guinea pigs – although you can read them as people equally well. Then came the Viridian System, a planetary area on the outskirts of known space where a frontier mentality mixes with big business and tourism. Jemima now lives in Hampshire with her family of Guinea pigs, who also inhabit her fictional world.

My thanks to Jemima for allowing me to delve into her archives and I hope you head over to discover more.. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Wine – Recent News from the World of Wine Forgery by Carol A. Seidl


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I have shared posts from the last six months of 2020 and the series is now closed to new participants.

This is the first post from July 2020 by Carol A. Seidl and explores the side of wine we rarely taken into consideration as we enjoy our glass of red or white at the end of the day or at a dinner party..

Recent News from the World of Wine Forgery

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Last summer I wrote a post about Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the world’s greatest wine forger. His story is told in both a Netflix documentary, Sour Grapes, and an award-winning book, In Vino Duplicitas. Kurniawan, a young and charismatic wine dealer who scammed wealthy wine collectors out of millions, makes a beguiling central character. What’s more, there are several other intriguing personalities that graced his fraudulent trajectory. Last weekend, I thought I’d check and see what some of them are up to. This article updates my original post and adds a few missing details.

From Behind the Bar to Behind Bars

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Rudy Kurniawan

Before his arrest in 2012, Kurnaiwan was known as a gracious host who threw lavish parties in the poshest New York and LA restaurants. After his felony conviction in 2014, Kurniawan filed and lost two appeals. The first appeal claimed that sentencing had been too harsh. The judge had ordered Kurniawan to serve 10 years in prison and pay $28.4 million in restitution. When a three-judge panel denied the appeal, a second appeal argued that Kurniawan’s lawyers had botched his defense by not demanding hearings to suppress evidence. FBI agents found the disputed evidence in Kurniawan’s home at the time of his arrest. The appeal claimed the agents conducted a warrantless search. Incriminating stacks of crates and wine bottles, however, lay in plain view of the front door of Kurniawan’s home. As a result, the second appeal also fell flat.

Kurniawan is currently incarcerated in a Federal Correctional Facility in Pecos, Texas. His release is scheduled for November of this year. Since he was living in the United States illegally, he’ll then be deported to his native country of Indonesia. In searching the web, I couldn’t find any information on why Kurniawan’s prison term falls short of 10 years. But, by all accounts he is a smart and likable fellow so I assume the early release is due to good behavior. Also unanswered is how much of the $28.4 million he paid off, whether he is still liable, and if returning to Indonesia will release him from any outstanding obligation.

Vigneron Turned Detective Turned Author

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Laurent Ponsot

Laurent Ponsot, an illustrious wine-grower from the Burgundy region of France, was a key witness at Kurniawan’s trial. Ponsot was one of the first to discover that Kurniawan was selling counterfeit wines. His revelation came after noticing that Kurniawan was about to auction off 97 bottles of wine from the Ponsot Domaine. A few dozen of those bottles, Ponsot’s Clos Saint-Denis, vaunted dates between 1945 to 1971. Yet, the winery had only been making the vintage since the 1980s.

Evidently, selling fakes does not equate to creating them. Initially, Ponsot couldn’t be sure if Kurniawan was a counterfeiter or if he too had been the victim of one. He spent the next several months traveling the world, retracing Kurniawan’s footsteps. He now claims that the second half of the Netflix documentary, Sour Grapes, is fiction. One of the details that he disputes is the identity of Kurniawan’s mother and brother. Ponsot believes that the family members in Sour Grapes are not related to Kurniawan.

Ponsot also alleges that Kurniawan, who’s real name may be Zen Wang Huang, maintained 9 separate identities. The vigneron-turned-detective has been promising to write a book about these and other discoveries that he made during the course of his investigation. However, the man has been extremely busy with a new business venture. In February of 2017, he shocked Burgundy aficionados by leaving his family’s estate to strike out on his own.

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The Burgundy region lies in Eastern France.

Disenchanted with the high-end collector’s market, Ponsot confided in a 2018 interview that he wants “to produce wines that people can open and enjoy.” His new venture has expanded beyond the creation and marketing of a couple dozen new labels. Ponsot is also constructing another winery with a visitor center where people can learn about the wines, vineyards and terroir of Burgundy. It’s not surprising that he’s had little time for a book… until now.

During France’s 2-month COVID confinement period, Ponsot installed himself somewhere in the Jura mountains and began writing his long-awaited book. I was a bit disappointed to learn that he’s only written “3 of 31 chapters”. But, at least he has outlined the story in enough detail to envision 31 chapters. In an interview with Wine Spectator, Ponsot said, “I have it all organized and in my head. It’s just a matter of writing.” Still, even maintaining his recent lockdown pace, it could take another year to finish an initial draft.

Déjà Cru?

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Red burgundies are made from pinot noir grapes.

When Ponsot first became aware of Kurniawan’s conterfeits, the fraudulent bottles were scheduled for auction by Acker Meral & Conduit, the oldest wine merchant in America. Hours before auction, at Ponsot’s insistence, Acker withdrew the lot of forged Clos Saint-Denis. It was hardly the first time, however, that Acker represented Kurniawan. In fact, the prestigious auction house successfully sold more that $35 million worth of Kurniawan’s wines. Last month, Acker’s integrity was once again called into question.

This time, Acker’s Hong Kong-based Asia Auction division was supposedly offering a 1924 bottle of Romanée Conti for up to $28,400. Domaine de la Romanée Conti burgundies are among the most coveted wines in the world. In 2018, a 1945 Romanée-Conti set the world record for the costliest bottle ever sold with a price tag of $558,000. Not surprisingly, DRC wines were among those that Rudy Kurniawan specialized in. His affinity for and deep knowledge of the Romanée-Conti domaine impressed friends and colleagues to the point that they nicknamed him Dr. Conti.

Both Romanée-Conti and Clos Saint-Denis labels belong to a larger class of wines known as Grand Crus. Grand Cru is the highest classification of Burgundy wines, representing less than 1% of the total production of Burgundy. Grand Cru red wines are made from pinot noir grapes and many argue that these wines are the best in the world. Since Kurniawan’s arrest, other of his Grand Cru counterfeits have turned up, resulting in multi-million dollar lawsuits.

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Old bottles of Grand Cru.

In the case of the recent Hong Kong auction, the questionable Romanée-Conti exhibited some surprising idiosyncrasies. First, the bottle’s label was handwritten. Second, the bottle appeared to be made from 19th-century glass, which was no longer in use in 1924. Third, the wax capsule protecting the cork was obviously not the original. When Don Cornwell, an LA-based attorney, noticed the inconsistencies, he posted an extensive warning about why he believed the bottle to be a fake. After receiving repeated warnings from Mr. Cornwell, Acker withdrew the bottle from its catalog.

In a recent article, covering the scandal, W. Blake Gray, US editor of wine-searcher, noted that in Acker’s bio for Kurniawan they claimed that the young collector had spent “years acquiring the best of the best.” This time, Acker’s Hong Kong catalog stated that the consignor “has always had a taste for the best… always buys from the most significant collections at auction, those where he feels the provenance is top-notch”.

I find it astonishing that wine collectors are happy to spend enormous sums on wines when the provenance of that wine fails to clearly identify its owner. Buyers simply rely on the auction house to have done the proper due diligence. Yet, the auction house is hardly an uninterested bystander to the sale, taking a 6% cut from the final profits. When Gray contacted Acker in June with questions about the suspected fraud, they stood by the wine’s heritage, naming two of the bottle’s previous owners, neither of which happened to be the current owner. There seems to be so much subterfuge in this business that even experienced journalists like Gray are unable to truly verify a given wine’s authenticity. Novelist turned wine columnist Jay McInerney suggests that many wine buyers are more than happy to pay for their illusions and don’t care that much about legitimacy.

Koch’s Vendetta

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Bill Koch

As I wrote last year, billionaire Bill Koch was one of Kurniawan’s many victims. A wine collector with over 40,000 bottles, Koch took such trickery personally. When he discovered dubious bottles among his stock, he assembled a crack team of private investigators to gather information on Kurniawan and other potential counterfeiters. The cost of the operation is purported to exceed the value of Koch’s entire collection by $20 million. It’s safe to say, Bill Koch was the wrong person to mess with.

In 2011, Koch filed a lawsuit against Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd., again hoping to recapture money spent on counterfeits. Just before the case went to trial, in 2014, the two parties reached a settlement. The court order prevents Royal Wine Merchants from ever directly or indirectly selling, causing to be sold, offering for sale, consigning, or distributing “Certain Fine and Rare Wine”. This includes any container of wine purported to have a vintage earlier than 1976, or priced above $2500/bottle, or priced above $5,000/magnum.

However, last month, Don Cornwell, the same LA-attorney who denounced the Hong Kong offering, noticed several bottles for sale on Royal’s website that violated the court order. What’s more, Cornwell believes many of the bottles are potential counterfeits.

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Wine is for Drinking

I know practically nothing about wine collecting other than the little I’ve learned from writing these posts centered on Kurniawan. But apparently, trying to put an end to fraudulent wine deals is a bit like playing whack-a-mole. Perhaps naively, I’m glad to know that I’ll never be in a position where I feel compelled to spend time, energy, and money on a hunt for someone who has sold me a bad bottle of wine.

My sister-in-law has a saying that she coined at a young age, “candy is for eating, not for saving”. It’s become a family-wide meme. After completing the research for this post, my latest culinary motto fittingly extends the concept to the consumption of wine.

Update

Con-Man Kurniawan Exits Prison then Vanishes From the Public Eye

Other Resources

©Carol A. Seidl 2020

carol bio

About Carol A. Seidl

I divide my life into three phases. Phase 1: After earning a Master’s of Science in Engineering, I spent 17 years working in the software industry, founding, operating, and selling two software companies. The businesses I ran with my husband were our babies or perhaps we were their slaves, but we dearly loved working together and had time for little else. Phase 2: At the age of 40, I became a mother with the birth of my son shortly followed by twin girls. My passion turned from professional work to staying home with “3 under 3” and looking after aging parents. When my kids went off to school, I decided to pursue a long-held desire to learn French, eventually earning a Master’s of Arts in French Language and Literature. Phase 3: Now, I’m working on becoming a writer. My blog is a space where I investigate subjects that are of keen interest to me. I mainly write about French life and culture but you’ll also find articles on other subjects. In addition to my family and the great outdoors, I cherish reading, travel, history, culture, cooking, fitness, and dinner parties with friends.

Connect to Carol: Blog: cas d’interetFacebook: Carol SeidlTwitter: @caseidle

My thanks to Carol for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to discover more. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Humor/Humour by Leon Stevens


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the second post from poet Leon Stevens and Leon explores humour

Humor/Humour

I like to think of myself as a humorist/satirist. Making people laugh was a goal of mine from a young age. Many of my stories, blogs, and poems have a humorous tone to them. I’ll start this weekly segment with some reposts of my writings.

What is funny? Anything that makes you laugh, I suspect. Or chuckle, snicker, chortle, giggle, or smile. The measure of real humor is something that makes you laugh when you are alone. Think about it. When was the last time that you laughed out loud all alone? For most of us, it is rare, if non-existent. But, as they say, laughter is the best medicine. One feels contented after a good, long laugh.

I remember a time when I was sitting in the mall with my sister reading a newly purchased Calvin and Hobbes book. I remember it fondly because of the tears running down my cheeks from laughing so hard. There was the occasion when I couldn’t place my drive-thru order because I couldn’t talk through all my laughter (I don’t remember why, though). Then there was the time my mom said something that no one expected her to say…

You can’t feel angry when you are laughing. Or sad, or alone, or helpless…Pain disappears for a while (not counting the pain in your side). You can laugh so hard that you cry, and those tears can wash away any sad thoughts- at least for awhile. Laughing is contagious. Try to hold a straight face while others around you are partaking in the joy.

I like to make people laugh. It makes me happy. Most of my writing these days has a humorous edge to it, even with some of the more serious topics. Some of my ideas were the catalyst for my cartoon, The Miniscules.

People’s sense of humor evolves. What was funny as a child (farts) is not necessarily funny as an adult (notice that I said not necessarily, I bet you know someone who still laughs at them). Children get some of their sense of humor from their parents, and they also get it from peers and pop culture. Schools can be a breeding ground for hurtful humor, but I know that our educators do their best to teach what is acceptable.

Humor is constantly changing. What was thought of as humorous in the past is no longer acceptable. Many comedians went through times (some still do) of pushing boundaries and limits, using race, gender, sexual orientation, status, profanity, and taboo subjects in order to get a rise or laugh out of the crowd. People supported this hurtful, questionable content, demanding more profane, edgier routines.

I know. I was there. I admit, I laughed. Now I don’t.

Comedians now have to adapt their craft and evolve with the times. Many will fall and fade, while others will use their talent to give us the laughs we deserve.

One last thought: Has anybody ever actually laughed at a “Knock, Knock” joke?  – What do you find funny? I would love to know.

©Leon Stevens 2020

Books by Leon Stevens

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –follow Leon:GoodreadsWebsite:Lines by Leon Twitter: @linesbyleon

About Leon Stevens

Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He became a writer out of necessity. Along with song writing, poetry has allowed him to make sense and accept events and situations in his life. He published his first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020 and a book of original classical guitar compositions

 

Thanks very much for dropping in and I hope you will head over to check Leon’s books and blog out.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Humour – Let Marcia Meara lift your spirits.


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the second post from author Marcia Meara and is one of her regular humour posts to add much laughter to the day.

Okay, maybe not quite time for sparkling and shining, but how about
smiling or laughing? That’s doable, right?  So have at it!
😀

Being a huge believer that duct tape can fix anything, that last one is my personal favorite. 😀  Hope you found a couple you enjoyed, too! And there you have it for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great Moon’s Day!

©Marcia Meara 2020

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US And : Amazon UK – Marcia Meara on: Goodreads – Blog:Marcia Meara WritesTwitter: @MarciaMeara

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

 

Thanks very much for dropping in and I hope you will head over to check Marcia’s books out.. I have read several and I can highly recommend them.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Potluck – In Pursuit of Fame – Part 1 by Barbara Spencer


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the second post from author Barbara Spencer and in it she explores the pursuit of fame in the modern literary world… there is a part two and you can find that Here

In Pursuit of Fame – Part 1

Why does an otherwise normal person decide to commit their life to writing a book?

The answer to that question would form a vast mound of paper because we all have different reasons for setting pen to paper. For Daphne du Maurier, a foremost writer of the last century, it was to escape the unhappiness of a loveless marriage. For me, it was being forced to replace a sparkling career with the more mundane aspects of domesticity – cooking, cleaning and ironing. Maybe it was the tedium of housework that led me to writing for children, for whom the joys of domesticity, housework to you and me, remain undiscovered, somewhat like the river Nile, until they are at least 21.

Nevertheless, regardless of what we give as the reason for days spent peering into a notebook, typewriter or pc, the pursuit of ‘fame’ although strenuously denied is the most obvious goal, even if the words ‘and fortune’ do not accompany it. If someone says to me, I write only for myself, my retort is likely to be: ‘I confess the lady protests too much,’ something Shakespeare used about Hamlet’s mum in Hamlet. I mean, if they genuinely do only write for themselves, the book can live on a shelf or in a drawer – like Fagin’s ‘guilty secret’. (Dickens) It does not need the Internet.

I concede that the word ‘fame’ maybe too strong. Maybe recognition is more apt; the recognition of your peers who think it pretty damn good. That, for any would-be writer is the Everest of accolades. However, if in doubt as to your motives, apply the litmus test: why should someone buy my book? And does it matter if they don’t?
If your answer is: Like hell it does. Then, like the rest of us, you are seeking at the very least recognition as a writer, plus a wish and desire for fame.

Unfortunately, writing fame like snow leopards has become an endangered species, and far easier to achieve in, say, the last years of the nineteenth century than in these early years of the twenty-first. Maybe there were fewer aspiring novelists vying for the prize. For the vast majority, the idea of putting pen to paper was as bizarre as journeying to Mars is for me, especially for those for whom attendance at school happened only to others. Besides which, the word ‘leisure or spare time’, a basic requirement for any aspiring writer, had not yet formed part of their existence.

As for leisure pursuits … nope! And what the hell are those? People were either sleeping or working … no time for fancy embroidery or petite pointe unless it was an occupation to put bread on the table, in which case it was likely to occupy every waking hour. Candidates for writing fame grew from families who had a bob or two to spare, and who were able to educate their children and keep them at home without the family starving to death.

Although it is fair to say starving in a garret in Montmartre did become the in-thing for artists around this time. Never the most dependable of men, a good dose of cold and hunger went a long way in their search for fame and fortune, which brings up the point: how did they manage to live in squalor and never pay rent and yet spend all night in a bar drinking copious amount of brandy or wine? Be that as it may, once fame and fortune struck it was for many artists already too late to jettison the attic in favour of something warmer and more comfortable. Sadly, all too often the cold and damp, not to mention cheap liquor, resulted in TB which took them off at a very young age. (Look at La Bohême and La Traviata).

Surprisingly, this garret business did not apply to writers, mainly, as stated in a previous paragraph because writers needed a smattering of education which had to be paid for. In this regard the Bronte sisters might well be considered cool. Their father’s income was, or would have been, sufficient to keep them all handsomely had not their brother run up huge debts. However, having been fortunate enough to belong to the gentry who actually believed in girls being educated, and living in a picturesque part of Yorkshire, they were able to decide on a writing career as a way of providing for themselves, even if they did have to pass themselves off as men.(What a long way we women have come!) Indeed, it is likely there are more writers currently starving in garrets or basement flats than there were in the 19th century, although modern writers are often cushioned by a modest handout from the government, which presumably keeps the proverbial wolf from the door.

But I digress.

Even twenty years ago, becoming a household name as a writer was more readily achievable than it is today. However, if you want someone to blame for this downturn, I suggest you turn your attention to successive laws that have limited our working week in order to give us some much needed leisure time, adequate pensions that allow us to sit at home and twiddle our thumbs at the young age of 60 or 65, and Tim Berners Lee who created the Internet some twenty-eight years ago. (The jury is still out as to whether in the long run this will be considered evolutionary progress or a step backwards.)

As a result of this cataclysmic social change, a series of brilliant thinkers invented the play station, mobile phones, Facebook and virtual stores. Amazon sells its books in our sittingroom, children have become addicted to interactive games, independent bookshops have mostly disappeared, and the invention of Ereaders has given rise to free publishing on the web.

Did you know a million books were published on Amazon last year alone? I mean, what sort of odds can you give fame against that: a million to one against?

I still prefer the old-fashioned way of publishing a paperback because that may have a chance of finding its way onto the shelves in a bookshop or library. I remember vividly doing book-signings in Waterstones for one of my children’s books against the background of The Hunger Games, and seeing teenagers dragging their parents to the relevant shelf and exhorting them to read it.

(They probably still do this, but display the cover of the book to their parents on a mobile or computer screen.)

Of course fame is still possible as a small percentage of writers on Amazon have proved. Lightning does have a habit of striking in strange places – look at Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

So … write your book and hold onto your dream of achieving recognition and fame. It’s a wonderful dream to have but the likelihood is it will remain just that, a dream, unless you do something about it.

And I mean something with a capital S.

©Barbara Spencer 2020

My thanks to Barbara for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to follow her blog..

A selection of books by Barbara Spencer

One of the recent reviews for The Year the Swans Came

Lizzie Dee 5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written story wth a hint of mystery Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020

What I most enjoyed about Barbara Spencer’s novel was the beautiful descriptions and the warm family scenes she created in a post-war city, which I presumed to be Amsterdam. With hints of the past occupation but a determination to carry on and try to forget about the past, it was still evident that the scars of the past were not quite healed. I kept thinking I must pass this on to my Dutch friend, who grew up in a Dutch town and now lives close to the Anna Frank house. I think she’ll love it for the memories it would evoke. I have walked along those streets and canals many times and so I felt close to the family. I could picture the father working down in his basement, making mirrors. There was a hint of mystery about the past, particularly about the main protagonist’s brother who returned to the family home after a long absence. This made me curious. What was going on here? And who were these beautiful young men who were in love with Maidy’s best friend, Ruth. There’s a tale of love, sadness and betrayal, wrapped in beautiful prose and a lingering mystery throughout. I honestly didn’t see the ending coming until the final couple of chapters. I am reminded of a similar bit of folklore involving swans and one of the lakes near where I grew up in Ireland.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Barbara: Goodreads – Connect to Barbara Spencer: Blog: Barbara Spencer Author – Twitter: @BarbaraSpencerO – Facebook: Barbara Spencer Author – Facebook: Barbara Spencer

About Barbara Spencer

In 1967, Barbara Spencer hi-tailed it to the West Indies to watch cricket, the precursor to a highly colourful career spanning three continents, in which she was caught up in riots, wars, and choosing Miss World.

A regular visitor to both primary and secondary schools, in 2010, the publication of Running, a Y/A thriller, took Barbara countrywide, her travels eliciting a series of Blogs and short stories which were published in 2017 as Age and the Antique Sideboard. This marked her retirement from writing, since when Barbara has written several books for an older audience.

The first of these, The Year the Swans Came, a magical fairytale for adults/top teens, was published at the end of 2018.

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I know Barbara would love your feedback … Sally

 

Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021–#Family – Life During Lockdown – My Mother’s Story by Melanie Stewart


2021 archives

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I have shared posts from the last six months of 2020 and the series is now closed to new participants.

This is the first post from July 2020 by Melanie Stewart and she shares her mother’s experiences living in a senior residential facility and the challenges

Life During Lockdown – My Mother’s Story

Like so many of us who have elderly parents living in senior residential facilities, my 89-year-old mother Ginny has been on lockdown since mid-March because of the Corona virus.  This status has remained unchanged for an unprecedented 19 weeks. Since I have shared many of her stories here, I thought I would give an inside account on life during lockdown.

Ginny had only moved into the Independent living area of this facility in late October, so she passed the beginning weeks locating all three libraries in the two buildings and learning the checkout system. She enjoys reporting to me her newest “find” from the bookshelves. She also discovered that she likes walking out to the pool area and sitting, although she won’t go in the water. I am grateful that she has some freedom to take these daily walks. She is required to wear a mask.

Once management created a safe system for family and friends to “drop-off” items, my sister Hailey started to arrive every ten days or so with a load of groceries, and Ginny loves that. She stands in the lobby, waving madly while the guard sprays the exterior of the bags Hailey has placed on a table just outside the entrance. If Ginny gets too close, the guard gently extends his arm out as a reminder. During a recent phone call, she and I shared a good laugh when I joked “what would they do if you tried to make a run for it?” After the bags have moved through “customs”, mom is given a shopping cart and takes her delivery upstairs.

With no communal dining (they deliver food directly to the residents twice a day) mom has missed that social interaction. Sometimes she will walk to the front desk to “ask” a question, but we suspect it’s a way to get a conversation started. The staff is always polite. They probably receive a lot of “questions” a day. Sadly, one day a woman approached requesting if a staff car could please take her to her hair salon, her hair was “a mess”, and when she was kindly told “no”, she burst into tears. Interestingly, not long after that, they cautiously opened up the beauty salon for one day and took appointments.

Clearly, management is fighting a conflict on two fronts which is daunting. They must keep the virus out of their buildings and they must keep up the spirits of their residents. In terms of the virus, additional measures include checking the temperatures of their staff and screening them for symptoms before each shift. All employees must wear masks and gloves. As mandated by the state, their staff is tested for COVID every two weeks.

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It was after one of these tests recently that a result came back positive.  The staff member works in the Memory Care section of the facility. Appropriately, they moved forward to test every resident in that section. So far, all results have been negative. Some of the tests for staff are still pending.

I feel their safety protocols have been effective.  To me, 19 weeks is an extraordinary amount of time in keeping the contagious COVID out of such a large complex. But I do have fears. I have heard the stories of nursing homes where once the virus arrives, it can spread quickly in a closed environment. And I would be naïve to think that another case won’t appear inside the retirement home, especially since cases have been rising exponentially in Florida. It is reassuring that they just completed a deep cleaning of the facility because of that one positive test result.

And as the start of week 20 approaches, how does the company keep up the spirits of their residents? First, they continue to provide small, frequent surprises. For instance, mom may hear a knock on the door, and someone is delivering a small chocolate treat or a pastry. Or, she may open the door to someone with a cart asking whether she would like a cocktail. Or, she may find a cheery note stuck on her door when she opens it. And of course, they are always willing to set up the popular “tablet virtual visit” between a resident and a family member.

They have also allowed a certain number of doctor visits. Ginny needed her Prolia shot (for osteoporosis) which is administered every six months. This is a two-step process where she needs a blood test first and then she returns a week later for the shot. Hailey was able to schedule “rides” for Ginny where the resident is driven by a staff member. Mom was almost giddy after those outings, so a side benefit is the psychological boost they experience when they get to leave, if only for a while.

During my last phone call, she told me that a supervisor had distributed a sheet of paper with the heading What I will Do When Things Return to Normal. Residents are encouraged to write down the things they want to see and do. Maybe they will read off some of the responses on their intercom system as a “group” activity. As Ginny and I discussed how much she misses her own hairdresser, she said “Oh, I’m writing that down” and she did. She’s listening. She’s engaging.

Mom has been phenomenal in this trying time. She just seems to roll with it which amazes me.  Unfortunately, she is showing some naivete (or maybe just wishful thinking) in regards to her upcoming birthday. She thinks they may let her go to her hairdresser because it is a for a “special occasion.” Per their protocols, this won’t happen because they need 30 days of no new cases before they even consider moving to their “Recovering” step. She forgets, I think, that family members won’t see her hair up close on her special day.

And it is special. She is turning 90! I am very disappointed that my altered chemotherapy schedule now has me having my next round three days before her birthday. I won’t be able to drive the couple of hours to wave and show my support from a distance. But we will only delay the celebration just long enough so we can do it safely. Maybe she will add “celebrating 90” on her sheet of paper. What a long, strange 19 weeks it’s been.

©Melanie Stewart 2020

About Melanie Stewart

In the 1990’s, I worked as a freelance writer for a local newspaper in suburban Chicago. I covered everything from cloning & measuring the risk of heart disease to my “Day in the Life” series where I spent the day at local businesses ranging from a veterinarian to a bakery (that was an early wake-up call.)

A few years later, I started working for Legacy.com which hosts online obituaries for newspapers around the world. I loved that potential for connection; that someone sitting in an army base in Afghanistan could sign a guest book for a relative who passed in Illinois (true story.) I remained there for many years until my husband and I made the decision to move to Florida. Most of our family is here including my mother, who in recent years, has needed more assistance.

I missed writing, so I started to write about those every day situations that come with an aging parent. The volume of stories grew. Should you take away the car keys? When? The checkbook? How? How do you navigate their determination to remain independent?

The stories evolved into the blog Leaving The Door Open which officially launched April 29, 2019 as a way to share how both my family and readers have solved these aging parent issues.

And just as the blog was attracting more attention, I was diagnosed with cancer. I found myself writing about that. Then, COVID struck our world.

I will continue to stick with non-fiction as it informs and shows us the tough and triumphant realities people face, but it became evident that it was time to leave the door open to new ideas and broaden my writing to include feature stories and creative writing.

Don’t write me off as too serious though! I love to laugh, relish a good pun, and love watching a good scary movie and baseball. I just have this thing about writing about the realities of life. It’s my passion. I think I remain a reporter at heart and I only want to cover more ground.

I am also widely open to writing or sharing the realities of your life. If you would like to share a guest post on just about any topic, or be “interviewed” through written questions, contact me at shareastory@leavingthedooropen.com.

Connect to Melanie: Blog: Leaving the Door OpenTwitter: @storiesonaging

My thanks to Melanie for permitting me to delve into her archives and I hope you will head over to discover more of her posts..Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Music Monday: So Many Genres by Leon Stevens


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

This series is now closed for new participants but there will be a new series in August sharing posts from the first six months of 2021.

This is the first post from poet Leon Stevens and explores music and its wonderful variety of genres.

Music Monday: So Many Genres

Music was the earliest form of artistic creation. It brought together people to share traditions and relay important cultural ideals. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like some form of music? Keep thinking…

Well? That’s right. I think that it is extremely rare. And with so many styles of music to choose from, it’s difficult not to find something that you like. Every style of music has its standouts, and those standouts will differ from person to person. Some will have a narrow range of favorites; others are able to appreciate a wider variety.

My high school buddies and I were into heavy metal. “We’ll never stop rocking out man,” we would declare with conviction. Fast forward and I don’t think there is a genre of music that I can’t find at least one song to enjoy. Some music is a far cry from what we used to listen to.

What do I enjoy listening to? I googled several different genres to see what category(ies) best defines my choice in music. Apparently, according to the Billboard year-end charts, the winner is Adult Alternative. Which means, there are more songs on that chart that I know than on the Billboard Top 100. Not to say there are not some good ones on that one too, The Weeknd, Lizzo, and Drake are there.

I’ll listen to orchestral music quite a bit. You’ll notice I didn’t say classical music-that’s an era of music (for you nik-pickers out there) which I do enjoy along with renaissance, baroque, etc. My nylon string (or classical) guitar compositions, while technically are 20th century “classical” music, are strongly influenced by two widely separated eras: renaissance and modern minimalism. Anne Southam and Philp Glass come to mind. My steel string acoustic pieces have country, folk, and Irish influences. Sunday morning is a good fit for listening to choral concerts.

I really enjoy some of the traditional Latin songs, to the Latin pop that has exploded onto the North American scene in recent years. And yes, I was listening to it before Despasito. I can do country, when I am in the right mood, some hip-hop, and when a song from the 80’s comes on, I can usually sing most of the words.

There is not a genre that I dislike. There are however, songs within those genres, that I will turn off-or just don’t get what others hear in them, but that goes for anything, doesn’t it.

Music has played a large role in shaping my life. I am grateful for it. Music makes me happy, but it can also make me cry. My feelings and emotions flood out when I am listening, playing, or composing. Songs allow me to travel back in time to recall events in my life. Sometimes, a new song will remind me of a past experience because it just seems to fit.

What would I do without music? I don’t even want to entertain that notion.  How about you? What does music bring to your life?

©Leon Stevens 202

Books by Leon Stevens

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –follow Leon:GoodreadsWebsite:Lines by Leon Twitter: @linesbyleon

About Leon Stevens

Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He became a writer out of necessity. Along with song writing, poetry has allowed him to make sense and accept events and situations in his life. He published his first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020 and a book of original classical guitar compositions

 

Thanks very much for dropping in and I hope you will head over to check Leon’s books and blog out.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Pot Luck – #Writing – What’s In a Name? And How Do You Choose One? by Marcia Meara


Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

This series is now closed for new participants but there will be a new series in August sharing posts from the first six months of 2021.

This is the first post from author Marcia Meara and is an article she wrote for
Story Empire on the subject of characters and choosing suitable names.

 What’s In a Name? And How Do You Choose One? by Marcia Meara

Happy Moon’s Day, Everybody! Marcia here, with some thoughts about names. Shakespeare’s words above might be true for roses, but are they always true for the characters in our books? I’m not so sure. Certain names can trigger specific memories and images for each of us, for sure, but not always in ways that are what we want readers to picture when we tell our stories.

 

For instance, what would you choose to name a gorgeous, well-built Adonis of a hero like this one? Gomer? Probably not, unless you were deliberately being humorous or ironic.

And what about your nerdy little computer geek who saves the world? He might turn out to be a hero, but I’m guessing a name like Goliath would be a poor choice, for the same reason.

It’s not that names always have to point to what your hero/heroine looks like, or even what he or she may end up doing through the course of the book. It’s more that you should be aware that naming your stalwart and handsome Prince Charming after your Uncle Lembert is likely to put an image in the mind of your readers that might not be quite what you intend. Or want.

And then there’s the possibility that your book might actually defeat the odds and become a nationwide best seller and a smash hit movie one day. Okay, those are high odds, but why not write with them in mind if the idea of that pleases you? You know. Just in case. So if Lembert’s your prince, be aware that the second thing Hollywood will want to do–right after totally miscasting everyone in the film, of course–will be to rename your hero. Just ask James Fenimore Cooper how his Natty Bumppo became Nathaniel Poe in 1992’s Last of the Mohicans.

So with all of the above in mind, how do you go about picking the perfect name for your characters? I’m sure there are a lot of different ways to do this, but here are a few tips that might get you started.

First, think about your setting and the type of people who live in your fictional town or area. For instance, I write books set in the southern part of the U.S.A. because this is where I was born and have spent most of my life. I know the people and places and dialect pretty well, and am comfortable with southern characters in my books. So the first thing I do is look for old southern surnames. Yep. That’s a thing. (Probably works for every other locale, too.) One of my favorite sites contains a listing of over 700 southern surnames found in old graveyards.

That’s where I found the last name Painter, which I chose for my three brothers featured in one of my series. It’s also where I found southern last names that worked well for their first names, too, hence, Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. A little more poking around the graveyard gave me the surnames of Truitt (Billy) and Purvis (Lester) which worked perfectly for two more of my secondary characters.

But sometimes choosing old surnames isn’t the way to go, and it’s not how I picked the names for my two main characters in the first book of that same series. I had specific images in mind for both the heroine and the hero, based on very definite reasons related to the plot. The “old southern surnames” trick wouldn’t work.

My leading lady was to be a fiery, hot-tempered, redheaded gal of Irish heritage, so I chose the name Mary Margaret Devlin for her. I didn’t even have to research to know that her first and middle names are quite common Irish names. But I did do a search for Irish surnames, so I could choose one that fit, but yet was a bit different, too. So my final choice was Maggie Devlin, which worked for me.

For my hero, I deliberately wanted an impossibly good looking, big, and well-built man who was as genuinely nice as he was hunky and attractive. And since I wanted Maggie (who had a grudge against men in general) to hate this poor guy from the get-go, I decided to make him of Scandinavian descent, so she could poke fun at him for looking too much like “Thor.”

I went Googling again for appropriate Scandinavian names,, and ended up choosing Gunnar Wolfe because it sound very Vikingly and strong. To me, it had a heroic ring to it, and I wanted that as part of his whole persona, even though he’s actually a rather quiet man who loves nothing more than photography.

So that’s another way to go about it. Think of who you want your readers to picture and how you want them to connect with that character, then do your research–especially if you’re looking for regional or ethnic names. There are a ton of websites out there that can help you find names appropriate to your character’s looks, personality, and heritage. I usually narrow it down fairly quickly to two or three names I think will work, then make my final choice based on the one that feels right to me.

Then there’s my last method of choosing names. Again, relying on Google, I enter “popular baby names.” You can narrow the search by gender, or you can look for the most popular names around the time your character was born.

Approximate birth year alone can make a huge difference. Many names popular decades ago are not in use much today and vice versa. You probably don’t want to name your story’s 75-year-old granny Tiffany, for instance. I can pretty much guarantee you that no baby girls born in 1945 would have been christened that. Mildred, Bernice, or Maxine, maybe. Or even Marcia. 😉 But not Tiffany.

Tiffany? Is That You?

BTW, the most popular names in recent years include Ashely, Madison, Brianna, and Cheyenne, in case you’re wondering, with nary a Helen or Martha in the bunch. (NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend using the most popular current names in a book set today unless you are making a specific point with it. Looking for something popular but not overdone will likely serve you better.)

The take-away from all of this is:

  • Fictional names are important because they help your readers imagine your characters.
  • It’s worth spending some time picking just the right ones in hopes they’ll work the way you’d like.
  • Do your research based on what you want your readers to imagine when they meet each character. That can include how they picture the general appearance, heritage, and age of each character.
  • Try to choose names that will bolster your desired image if you are hoping for a certain look to pop into the minds of your readers immediately.
  • Seemingly inappropriate or surprising names can work great if you’re looking for irony or comedy, so by all means consider using them if that’s your goal.
  • And REMEMBER: Perfect character names won’t turn a bad book into a good one. They won’t magically improve your grammar, your plot, or your writing style. But great names can certainly make a good book even better. Maybe think of it as the icing on the cake.
  • Plus Hollywood won’t have to come up with new ones when they decide your story is movie material.

Just Sayin’ …..

And that’s it for this week, everyone. Now it’s your turn. Tell us below what you think. Have you employed search engines to help you choose your names? Do you try to find names that portray the look or actions of your characters? Do you have specific sites that have been extra helpful with this? As always, inquiring minds wanna know!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you’ll stay tuned for our regular Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts here on Story Empire. There are sure to be lots of good things coming up, so don’t miss out! I’ll be back before long with a new Why Write Wrong post for you, too. See you then!

Meanwhile, go forth to write with happy hearts and fabulously perfect character names! And Granny hopes you remember to have fun while you’re at it, because fun’s the very best thing to have! 😀

(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.)

©Marcia Meara 2020

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US And : Amazon UK – Marcia Meara on: Goodreads – Blog:Marcia Meara WritesTwitter: @MarciaMeara

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

 

Thanks very much for dropping in and I hope you will head over to check Marcia’s books out.. I have read several and I can highly recommend them.. thanks Sally.