Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oh No! Bathing Suit Season

A couple of days ago I tried on bathing suits from last year, the year before and the year before that.  I never seem to stay the same size from year to year.
I now have a collection of suits, circa 2012, 2013, and 2014.  None fit.
I suppose I keep the suits from year to year as motivation or inspiration.  Which, by the way, winds up being neither of those but rather, instead, puts me in a depressed mood.  That’s when I make my annual declaration.  “I will never wear another swim suit again.”  Heck, I don’t even know how to swim.
“It’s ridiculous,” I complain to Ross.  “A woman of my maturity (ha!) shouldn’t be wearing one of those things anyway.”
But we live near the beach,  have a pool in our community and I’ve been going to water aerobics.  

I have given up “in store” bathing suit shopping.  (I do bathe.)  I cringe when I stand in front of one of those horrible fun house dressing room mirrors.
That’s why I have been online shopping for suits since 2012.  I have the garments shipped to my house.
It works out nicely. I can try the suits on in my own bedroom.   The mirrors here are much more forgiving. Besides,  I keep the lights low and the shades drawn.

So, yesterday, I spent several hours browse shopping online.
Lands End, LL Bean, Macy’s Jc Penny’s and Nordstroms all carry similar styles. But, I was looking for something more unique.
While I was browsing on Amazon, though,  I stumbled across a manufacturer of vintage retro style bathing suits called Cocoship.
First of all the prices are incredibly cheap.  That’s right, not reasonable, not inexpensive, CHEAP!
They range in price from $18.99 to 28.99.
Secondly, there is a varied selection.
A slight glitch is that the sizing is not the standard US sizes.  However,  there is a conversion chart.  But even with the conversion chart, I was unsure about what size I should choose.  I was also hesitant about the quality of a $24.00 bathing suit.

Fortunately, there were over 1,200 customer reviews, some with photos.   They were rather entertaining to read and helpful, especially about the sizes.
I don’t know about you but when I read customer reviews I read the single star reviews first.
For example:

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
ByKatie Anyanon July 8, 2014
This swim suit is very cute, but poor quality. As soon as I put it on the first time I heard threads tearing (not because of the fit).
 Ive worn it twice and the panty line seam is already stretched out even though the bottoms were actually too large. 
The bottoms also come up VERY high- all the way up to the top. If you want a 1-time-wonder, then by all means, go for it, 
but I would not recommend purchasing this particular brand.

Then I go on to the five star reviews:

58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2015
I really liked this suit. it came after about 10 days, it seems to have quality construction, and fits me pretty well.
The sizing seemed confusing with mixed reviews, but I decided to go with my gut and get the small.
 I am 5'6" 110 lbs and have a pretty straight up and down body type. The bottoms fit well but are a little loose at the top.
 I may take them in a bit. But they fit my butt well and that is what really matters. 
From the photos it was hard to tell the coverage level of the bottoms, they are full coverage front and back, 
keeping true to the classic style of the suit.
The top is a little strange. It is padded, not push up, but the cups are a little far apart for me, like others had 
mentioned in their reviews, 
but it would be easy to tack it together or possibly knot it. 
I have a relatively small chest and I was worried that the large coverage bra would shrink them more. 
This is sort of the case, especially as the bra is fully padded, it looks like it would be a push up, and it is not. 
So you are left thinking, where is the cleavage? I would rather have an un-padded bra or a push up. 
But hey, small chest problems.
All in all it is a good, well made suit that happened to fit well. I am happy with it.

Since there were over 600 five stars and only 40 with one star I decided to give the suits a try.

I chose three styles.  I ordered the items yesterday afternoon and Amazing Amazon will be delivering them tomorrow and the shipping was free.  

I like this retro look.  They seem to fit my ahem, maturity. 

I’ll be adding my own review here once I get my delivery.  No photos though.

Do you read customer reviews?   Do they influence your purchase?  Do you write reviews?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Part Three The Red Sweater Serial

During the month of April I participated in the A to Z blogging challenge.  A first for me, I attempted fiction for the first time.  I had such fun with it that I decided to give it another go.

This time I will be writing a serial type of story.

As I meander through my imagination, I expect an episode to take shape in time to be posted each Tuesday. 
If you would like to catch up simply click on the “Red Sweater Serial Tab” at the top of the blog. 

Part Three

Rachel sat at the white painted desk with her chin cupped in her hands.  The desk fit cozily in the windowed alcove of her Inn room.  It was barely sunrise.  She was exhausted.
As she gazed out the window,  she saw Michael, the inn keeper, leading the horses out of the barn into the field. 
Rachel was having second thoughts about this visit to the Charington, especially after her restless night.  She was particularly questioning her judgement to stay in the White Pine room. 
She had tossed and turned, unable to find solace in the oversized bed.  Fond reminisces of happy times she shared with Sam turned into taunting nightmarish dreams.   She woke several times during the night feeling fitful and uneasy.     
Rachel, who struggled with anxiety, had panicked the night before when she thought she had lost the sweater.  
It was barely a swatch.  The sleeves were pilled from years of stroking.  The heart shaped buttons dangled, barely hanging on by a single thread.  
Like her life, she ruefully thought. 
She still could not figure out how the sweater wound up on the floor next to the bed.  It must have fallen out of the tote when she tossed the bag on the bed, she reasoned.   She laughed when she spotted it. 
That’s what I get for being so careless,  she thought.  
Sam would have been the one to neatly place the luggage on the bedside rack.
Remembering the scare she had last night, thinking that she might have lost the most precious link she had, her stomach clenched.  She could feel a warm flush creep up from her neck and into her cheeks.  The palms of her hands began to sweat and her heart pounded in her chest.  Only she understood why a shabby faded piece of cloth meant everything to her.  It was like the fuzzy pink “blankie” she carried around with her when she was a child.   
Pull yourself together, woman!   You have to follow through with your plan, she admonished.
Sam was the easy going one.  His mild, serene composure provided the stability her chaos required.   The shock of  the past two months, not having Sam with her,  had jolted her into realizing that she should have trusted his love.  
Rachel looked at her watch.  She had to talk to Evie, but it was too early to call her.  
She could smell the aroma of fresh brewed coffee wafting up from the kitchen and decided to go down to grab a cup. 
The pot was set up in the dining room along with fresh warm croissents.  As she was pouring her coffee, Roz came into the room.
“Good morning, Rachel!  You’re up mighty early.  Did you sleep ok?” 
“Morning, Roz,” Rachel answered.  “To tell you the truth, I didn’t get much sleep.”
“I think I understand,” Roz said kindly. 
“Roz I need to ask a favor.  I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me.” 
“I’ll help, if I can,” said Roz. 
“I’m trying to locate an old friend of mine,” she said.  “I’ve found out through “” that she may have relocated to this area.”
Rachel reached into her jean’s pocket and pulled out a scrap of folded paper.   She opened it flat and read off a name.  
Rachel caught a look of recognition on Roz’s face.  
But, Roz hesitantly said, “Uh…no.  No, I can’t say I’ve ever heard the name.  Sorry.”
“Oh,” said Rachel.  “Well, I have an address, here.  Are you familiar with this area?”  Rachel asked, pointing to the address on the paper. 
Roz said, “I’ve got to get breakfast ready, my dear.  Will you be joining the other guests this morning?”  Seemingly avoiding Rachel’s question and not waiting for her answer, Roz went scurrying off to the kitchen. 
Rachel left the dining room with her coffee and went out to the wide front porch. The sun was up by then and there was a slight breeze.  She sat in one of the red slatted rockers and tapped in Evie’s phone number. 
After a brief conversation, Evie promised to call Rachel back in 15 minutes. 
While she waited for Evie,  she contemplated the path she had been on and what led her back to Charington.
And as she had done every day since the day she finished knitting “ Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket” in persimmon red, she felt a deep longing and unbearable sadness.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Value In Fictional Writing? or Why Bother?

In the May 10th New York Times Book Review section, Tom Perrotta began his article about “A God In Ruins” by Kate Atkinson this way:

“In recent years, a number of talented novelists have experienced a sudden and alarming loss of faith in their chosen literary form. David Shields thinks most novels are boring and disconnected from reality. Nicole Krauss is “sick of plot and characters and scenes and climax and resolution.” Rachel Cusk has decided that conventional fiction is “fake and embarrassing.” Karl Ove Knausgaard goes even further, dismissing the entire enterprise: “Fictional writing has no value.”
This distaste for the clunky machinery of traditional narrative fiction has spread quickly. Some of the most interesting “novels” of the past few years — Teju Cole’s “Open City,” Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation,” Ben Lerner’s “Leaving the Atocha Station,” not to mention Knausgaard’s epic, “My Struggle” — are barely novels at all. They read more like memoirs, or a series of lightly fictionalized journal entries, recounting the mundane lives and off-kilter ruminations of their first-person narrators, who are either postgraduate students or blocked writers. There’s a bracing smallness to these books — even those of Knausgaard, who’s a miniaturist on a gargantuan scale — and a serene indifference to what has long passed for ambition in the novel. There’s no plot and barely any action, very few characters, no shifting points of view or tricky chronologies, no attempt to recreate a distant era or illuminate the inner workings of a particular society at a particular moment in time. There’s just the writer, eating his omelet, putting her child to bed.”

Perrotta goes on to say:

"And the thing is, they’re all terrific books — fresh, unpredictable, intellectually stimulating and often quite funny (especially Offill’s and Lerner’s). It’s enough to make even the most committed advocate of conventional fiction wonder if Shields and company are on to something: Maybe the realistic novel has outlived its usefulness. (God knows we’ve all read some boring ones.) Maybe it’s time to wean ourselves off plot and character and scenes and conflict and all the rest, just leave those things to television. Maybe the most we can hope for on the page is a pinpoint focus on the writer in front of us, the adventures of a single consciousness at play.

I have just started to dabble in an attempt to write little fictional pieces. After reading Perrotta’s article, I thought how silly am I  to think I could possibly write fiction.  Especially, since I have had zero formal training.  I know nothing about conflict, plot or character scenes.  I simply enjoy inventing, imagining, and telling stories.  I haven’t figured out how to liken a sunset, a running brook or a dark and stormy night to something other than a sunset, running brook or dark and stormy night.
I have no grand illusions, or for that matter, a desire to publish anywhere except my blog. 

Ross encourages me to continue with my stories.  I have had a few positive comments on my blog.  Of course, I wonder if they are like the families and friends of less than talented America Idol contestants who tell their loved ones’ “You can sing, you can really sing!”

I am fascinated by writers. Writers who simply have to write because it is their passion.  I admire and am in awe of their talent and abilities.   Because I am a reader, always have been, I say, please keep writing.

And then when I am in the shower or lying in bed unable to sleep, my imagination takes over and I find myself in the midst of a story wondering, “what will happen next?” as if someone else has been telling me a story.

I guess that’s why I write, “to find out what happens next”.

By the way Mr. Perrotta gives “A God in Ruins” a good review.

"But then you read a novel like Kate Atkinson’s “A God in Ruins,” a sprawling, unapologetically ambitious saga that tells the story of postwar Britain through the microcosm of a single family, and you remember what a big, old-school novel can do. Atkinson’s book covers almost a century, tracks four generations, and is almost inexhaustibly rich in scenes and characters and incidents. It deploys the whole realist bag of tricks, and none of it feels fake or embarrassing. In fact, it’s a masterly and frequently exhilarating performance by a novelist who seems utterly undaunted by the imposing challenges she’s set for herself.

How do you feel about fiction writing?   Do you agree with Karl Ove Knausgaard that “Fictional writing has no value”?

By the way, I’m pretty sure I know how you will answer. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Part Two of The Red Sweater Serial

During the month of April I participated in the A to Z blogging challenge.  A first for me, I attempted fiction for the first time.  I had such fun with it that I decided to give it another go.

This time I will be writing a serial type of story.

As I meander through my imagination, I expect an episode to take shape in time to be posted each Tuesday. 
If you would like to catch up:Part One of Six 

The Red Sweater
Part Two 

Evie heard the squeak of the bathroom door and then a thud as it closed.  Those were the two sounds that woke her each morning.
She and Ed have been together for a dozen years. It was a second marriage for both.   
As she found out early on,  he was a creature of habit.   He had his own internal alarm clock, waking up every day at 7:15.   
She yawned and stretched.   She thought about rolling over and going back to sleep, but then she remembered her commitment.  She propped herself up on her elbow and fumbled around for her glasses.   She picked up her phone to check the time.  
How strange, she thought.  It was only 6:15.   More proof that Ed hasn’t been himself lately.  
Something was bothering him.  Whenever she asked him about it, he dismissed it, saying he was feeling a little tired.  
“That’s all it is, really,” he would say. 
The door squeaked again as Ed came out of the bathroom.  
Evie watched as her husband rustled around in his dresser.  
“Ed, why are you up so early?” she asked.
He came over to her and gave her a kiss.  
They used to joke about how he always brushed his teeth before the first morning kiss.  
She called it  his CMF kiss.  “Your breath is so Crest Minty Fresh, she would tease. 
She noticed he hadn’t brushed today.   
“I have to go into work a little early,” he said. 
“You didn’t get home until 9:00 last night, she said.  “What’s going on?”
“I’m covering for Rachel while she’s out of town,” he said.  “Double the work.”
Rachel and Ed were partners.  They were co-owners of Old & Yew, an antique and yarn shop housed in a long, low cinder block building down by the docks.  
Fifteen years ago Ed lost his first wife, Kathy.   
Kathy and Ed were the original owners of Old & Yew.  
Rachel, an avid knitter and lover of precious bygone era treasures, was not only a steady customer, but soon became close friends with both Ed and Kathy. 
“I felt a warmth of comfort from the first moment I walked into the shop,” Rachel repeatedly told Evie.
She remembered how animated Rachel was when she told Evie all about the shop.
"An old fashioned cow bell on the door announces the comings and goings of customers.
The large space is divided in half with beautiful antiques and unusual vintage items on the right hand side. There are dark walnut breakfronts displaying beautiful old china and crystal.
The drawers of a maple dresser are filled with crisp white linens.  Some are hand embroidered with simple cross stitch designs,” Rachel would say as if in awe. 
"Ed , one of the owners, sits behind an antique case filled with estate jewelry.  He has stories about each of the diamond rings,  ruby pendants and emerald bracelets that he was lucky enough to acquire from Aunt Sadie or Grandma Rose’s collection,” Rachel would breathlessly relate. 
Rachel would be especially tender when talking about the other side of the room.  “That side is Kathy’s creation.  She sectioned off an area by placing old large wooden rockers in a circle.  Rough pine cabinets surround the cozy ring of old chairs. The cubbies are filled with scrumptious fibers wound into rainbow balls.  Loose hanks of shimmering gossamer webs hang from low ceiling rafters,” Rachel would continue. 
“A showcase of lovely scarves, hats, sweaters and shawls proudly made by Kathy’s students are tucked here and there among the displays of yarns, needles and hooks. Knitters and crocheters rock and chat away many a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon nestled in Kathy’s cocoon of peaceful,” Rachel would emotionally say. 
After Kathy passed away, Ed thought about closing up the shop.  
“It’s too much for me,” he told Rachel one afternoon when she stopped in to see how he was doing. 
“There are too many memories here,” he added.
Rachel convinced him to take some time before making a decision.   She began stopping in daily to check on Ed.  
It isn’t clear who had the idea first.  It sort of happened naturally that she and Ed became partners.  
The day that Rachel took over Kathy’s side, Evie knew that Rachel would honor Kathy’s memory by keeping everything the same.  
“It had been a life long dream of Kathy’s,” Rachel said. 
 Rachel soon asked Evie to come in a couple of times a week to lend a hand. 
That’s how Evie and Ed met each other.
“Have you heard from her?” Ed asked, casually. 
Evie said, “I got a text from her saying she arrived and she would call me today.”
“Who is this old friend she is going to meet?”  Ed asked. 
“Someone she went to school with.” Evie answered evasively.  
She didn’t like lying to Ed.  But she promised Rachel she wouldn’t tell anyone where she really was going or why. 
“Do you think you’ll be home in time for dinner?”  Evie asked, trying to change the subject.
“Not sure,” he replied.
“It’s my day to come into the shop, you know,” said Evie.   “Rachel left me a list of things she wanted me to take care of.”
Ed was now in the walk in closet.  Evie could hear clanging of hangers  being pushed along the rack. 
“Ed,” called Evie.  “What are you looking for?”
Just then the phone rang.  It was Rachel.  
Eve answered, “Rachel?”
“Eve,” Rachel said and then hesitated. 
“What is it?” asked Evie.  
“Uh, I was wondering.”  she finally said.  “Has Ed left for work yet?”
“No, he’s right here.  Do you want to talk to him?”
Well, yeah, it’s just shop stuff, though.  I’ll call him later.”
“How are you?”  Evie asked, in an urgent whisper. 
“Something bizarre happened here yesterday.”  Rachel said.  “I knew this was the right place to start.”  
“Look, I just want to know if you are all right,”  said Evie.  “Are you?  Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.  Really, I am.”
“Okay.   Ed is about to leave for work.  I’ll call you in about fifteen minutes.”
Evie hung up the phone just as Ed walked out of the closet.  
“Who was that?”  he asked.  
“Just a wrong number.”  she answered.
“Evie, have you seen my red sweater?”  Ed asked.  “You know, the one that Rachel knitted?
“I can’t seem to find it,” he exclaimed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Red Sweater - A Six Week (or perhaps more) Serial

During the month of April I participated in the A to Z blogging challenge.  A first for me, I attempted fiction for the first time.  I had such fun with it that I decided to give it another go.

This time I will be writing a serial type of story.

As I meander through my imagination, I expect an episode to take shape in time to be posted each Tuesday.

The Red Sweater
Part One of Six (or maybe more) :)

“You’ll be fine Mom,” Rachel said tenderly.   “I’ll be back in a few days.”
Rachel had the phone propped up to her ear, trying to hold it steady with a hunched shoulder as she walked around the apartment.
She turned the burner knobs on the stove to make sure all four were off.
“Mom, you know Mary takes good care of you and Evie said she will stop by every morning.”
Rachel walked into the bedroom to assure herself that she had indeed unplugged the iron.
She had the feeling that she was forgetting something, though.
She could almost hear Sam’s teasing voice, ”Rachel, you’ve checked four times already.”
"Everything is fine,” he would say.   “It’s going to be okay.”
Everything was fine once.   She missed him.
“Mom, I’ll call you tonight, okay?”
“Love, you too, Mom.”
Rachel sighed.
She tried to practice the “Sam Method" of dealing with stress.
“What’s the worst that can happen?”  he would say.
She let out a rueful little laugh.  She could think of a lot of worst things right now.
Her phone rang, startling her out of her reverie.
The caller ID displayed the number of the car service.
“Hello Ms. DeRogatis?
“It’s Rich Salice, he said.  The car service driver?”
“Oh, sure,” Rachel said.
“I’m down here in the parking lot.  If you’re ready, I’ll come up to get your bags,” he said.
“Yes,” Rachel said.  “I’m ready.”  “Please come on up.”
She unlocked the door, opened it and stepped into the hallway.
The driver lumbered up the steps.  He was short and stocky with graying hair.
They greeted each other with “Hi” and “How are you?”
Rachel motioned towards her suitcase and duffle.
As he headed out the door with her bags she told him that she would be down in minute.
She took a final look around.  She heaved a heavy sigh and shook her head.
“I hope I’m doing the right thing,” she said quietly.
She walked out, locked her door and headed down the steps to the awaiting car.
Rich held the door open for her.
“All set?” he asked, once he saw that she was seated and buckled in.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Rachel answered, letting out another sigh.
Soon they were coasting along the highway.
“Your plane leaves at noon, right?”  Rich asked.
“Yes,” Rachel answered.
“Which airline?” he asked.
“We’ll be there in plenty of time,” the driver promised.
Rachel said, “Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.”  She didn’t want him to mistake her conversation for one that she was attempting to have with him.
She tapped in her sister’s number.
At the fourth ring, Rachel was about to hang up, when Evie answered.
“Hi, Rachel.”
Before Rachel could say a word, Evie said, “Look Rachel, you don’t have to remind me again.  I said I would look in on Mom every day, didn’t I?”
“I know you will.”  Rachel said.
“Anyway, Rach, how are you doing?”
“I’m nervous, Evie.  Really nervous.”
“I don’t know why you are doing this, Rach, Evie said.  “It’s too soon.”
“Evie, we talked about this.  I told you I think it will help me.  I want to know what happened.”
“Besides,” Rachel went on, “you know the connection I have to the place.”
“What are you hoping to find?  Are you going there to try to find her?”
"How many times have you been through this Rachel?” Evie asked in a challenging tone.
“Listen, Evie, I have to hang up now.  We are almost at the airport.”
Evie and Rachel were born 13 months apart, with Evie being the older of the two.
When they were younger, even though neither one of them thought they looked like the other,  they were often mistaken for twins.
They both had fair skin, hazel eyes and light brown hair.   Evie was the one with the freckles.
They were each other’s best friend, one or the other taking on the role of protector when the occasion warranted.
Rachel knew that Evie was concerned about her, but she did not want to have that conversation again with her sister.
She reached into her tote and wrapped her fingers around the knitted fabric, bunching the sleeve into a ball in the palm of her hand.  She was sure the red sweater in her bag would lead her to find answers to the questions she agonized over.
As they pulled into the passenger drop off area, Rachel felt the tears start to well up.  She squeezed her eyes tight, trying hard to hold them in.
Sitting at the gate, waiting to board the plane, she tried to remember the last time she travelled on her own.
She glanced around at the other passengers.  She was sure she was not the only one who was a single.   In fact she noticed several people reading or engrossed in one device or another, seemingly alone.
But, she was drawn to the couple across from her.  She tried not to stare.  One time the woman caught her looking and Rachel quickly looked down at her magazine. She smiled to herself and wondered if they were as happy as she and Sam, forgetting her reality for a brief moment.
She had reservations at the Charington Inn.   Charington is a small town on the eastern shore.  Rachel and Sam discovered the Inn once on a weekend jaunt.
She chose the White Pine room, of course.   She recalled sunset memories on the balcony overlooking the meadow.
The innkeepers, Roz and Michael, welcomed her warmly.
“Rachel, I’m so sorry,” said Roz mournfully.
Rachel thanked her and said, “I hope you’ll be able to help me, Roz.”
Rachel caught Michael giving his wife a warning look.
Up in her room, she called to check in on her mother.
Mary, her mother’s caregiver, answered the phone.
“Oh, she’s been waiting for your call.”
Rachel spent a few moments comforting her mother.  She reassured her that she would be not be away too long.
“Bye, Mom.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Have a good night.”
She decided to take a long luxurious bath before dinner.
She opened her tote and reached in to take out the sweater.
It wasn’t there.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I Found a Long Lost Cousin on FaceBook

Facebook has long reaching tentacles doesn’t it?  One friend leads to another, which then may lead to a group, which then, as in my case, led to a long lost cousin.
Actually this isn’t the first time I have found a long lost cousin on Facebook.  The first time it happened, though, she found me, on Facebook.

“Hello Lynda,

My grandfather and your grandfather were first cousins.  They lived around the corner from each other and worked in the same steel plant.”

That’s what her Facebook message said.

It was funny because I had never heard about this relative before.   I called my Aunt Edie, my father’s sister.  She was the youngest of the siblings and the only one still alive.   I asked her about this cousin.  She told me that she did remember something about her father having a cousin, but didn’t know much about him.

After I saw Dottie’s picture, that’s my newly found cousin, it was absolutely clear, we were related.

Now, we exchange FB pleasantries.  You know, she’ll “like” a post of mine.  I’ll make a comment on a photo she has posted.  That sort of thing.  We did speak on the phone once also.

A more recent find happened just the other day.  A couple of months ago I joined a FB group.  The members are people from my high school graduating class of 19something or other, which is the year I graduated.

I was perusing through the comment chatter and noticed a familiar name.

My mother’s side of the family has a complicated family tree.  I called my Aunt Dolores, my mother’s sister.  I asked her about this cousin.  Between the two of us we tried to jostle each other’s memories.

We decided that yes, Bob was a cousin.  His father and my mother (and of course Aunt Dolores) were first cousins.  So I guess that makes me and Bob second cousins?

As we were reminiscing, I recalled that Bob and his twin brother did go to the same high school as I did and we were in the same class. They lived on the north end of the town, we were on the south end.  It was a long time ago and we really didn’t hang out together.

I sent Bob a friend request.  After a couple of weeks, no reply.   Well, I thought, maybe I was mistaken.

Then I had a sudden realization. I hadn’t included a note of explanation with the friend request.  He probably didn’t recognize my married name.

I sent him a FB message, with an explanation.  He immediately replied back.

"Lynda, OMG it has been too long.  Yes we are cousins.  I worked with your X years ago.  I will send you a friend request.   Please call me when you have a minute.  I will be going to the class reunion in July, will you be going?

We chatted back and forth for a few minutes and then decided to talk on the phone.    

We tried to sort out the family tree.  His grandma Lucy and my grandpa Emil were brother and sister?  I think.  Like I said it’s complicated.  

We caught up with family news. His long marriage to a childhood sweetheart. 
I told him I remarried.   When he mentioned he and my ex-husband worked together at one time.  I said, “Oh that’s right, I remember that now.”   
We exchanged, how many children and grandchildren, we each had.

Bob tried to persuade me to go our high school reunion.  But, as I explained to him,  I am still painfully shy and back in high school I was never part of any group.  

Before we hung up, Bob said to me, “Lynda, please think about coming.  I would love to see you.  Come on you can sit with us. I’ll save you a seat.”

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reflections - A to Z Blogging Challenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
April 2015
Last month I participated in the “Blogging from A-Z Challenge

What was it?

I blogged everyday beginning on April first with a topic themed on something with the letterA, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on and finished on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.   The theme of the day was the letter scheduled for that day.

My theme was short fictional (well mostly fictional) stories about women.  Each woman’s name began with the appropriate letter of the alphabet for that day.

Today’s post is a reflection of my experience with the A-Z challenge.

I have participated in this challenged since 2012.  So this was my fourth time.

This year, as in years past,  instead of having all 26 posts written ahead of time,  I wrote my posts just one or two days before the specified letter day.
Doing it this way provided me with an encouraging nudge to get back into writing more regularly. 
As some of you know, my son passed away in 2011, the same year I started my blog. Writing that year helped me sort out the most painful and emotional period of my life.    
As time went on,  I slowly began an awakening.  By that I mean the ice cold shock started to thaw and the awareness of my loss heightened. 
I became sad, lethargic and depressed.  As you can see by my stats, it was obvious that my desire to write waned

I described it this way in my L post: 

"Her stories became mournful.  
They were filled with melancholy yesterdays. 
Then one day, there were no more stories for she could no longer imagine.”   

For me this year’s challenge was the most fulfilling and rewarding.  
I attempted fiction for the first time.  In doing so, I re-discovered my imagination and my love of story telling. 
For a few hours a day I was able to escape away into the minds, hearts and souls of my own creations. 

About half way through the challenge, I worried that I may have been a little too ambitious in my commitment to write these 26 pieces.

But in reality I found that I not only looked forward to the stories these women were determined to tell, I realized that they would absolutely not remain silent. 

By the beginning of week 4, I started to think about how my blog might evolve.  Perhaps I would include a fictional story one day a week.   Perhaps I could try to make a commitment to keep my blog updated on a regular basis.  Maybe, I could write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays with themes for each day.  I have to do more thinking about my plans.
This year’s challenge, in particular, has helped to lead me down that path.

The second part of the challenge is to visit other blogging participants.  So far I have gone to 250 other blogs. 
 I have discovered several new blogs to follow.  
There were many, but I’d like to specifically mention a few:
Tamara Nayaran, Author:  I learned that math can be interesting and fun. 
The Bird’s Nest:  A fellow Jersey girl, reminded me how many interesting places there are to visit in our home state. 
Doctor Faerie: A to Z video posts about the trials and tribulations of writing to publish.  Although that is something I have never even thought about doing, I found her advice thoroughly interesting. 
A Bench With A View: Betty’s blog is not new to me.  She has visited my blog every day of the challenge and has left kind and encouraging comments. 
Laws of Gravity Liz’s blog is not new to me.  She also has visited my blog every day of the challenge.  Having loyal readers like Liz encouraged me to keep writing.

I did find many blogs that did not keep up with the challenge.  

This is the harder part for me.  I try to keep an open mind when visiting other blogs.   But just as I’m sure my blog is not going to appeal to everyone, there were blog topics which did not interest me. 
Even though I might not re-visit those blogs, I appreciate their commitment to their passions.

I have to admit I am a little disappointed that I did not reach my goal of 100 followers.  I did pick up 5 new ones but lost one along the way. 

But I still have a lot of visiting to do.

I have to say, that I have no criticism, negative or constructive of how the challenge is organized.
For me it was a positive experience.  

I would like to thank the leaders, organizers and helpers of the A to Z challenge.  
Arlee Bird, thank you for originating this challenge.