Author: smarthu (Page 1 of 2)

The “Lost” Year?

My husband recently referred to this year (2020) as the “lost” year; he’s no longer able to conduct his business at the “brick-and-mortar” office, but is fortunate that his employees (fewer than 10 in all) are able to work from home offices. That’s one of the beauties of a software business (he owns and operates KnowWare Intl, which provides software, books and training). We’re all now in a new normal of working from (or trying to) work from home, trying to stay safe while maintaining some kind of normal life, trying not to gain too much weight from our new hobbies of candy-making and/or bread-making, trying out new hobbies and planning for a life hopefully beyond being quarantined.

I have to feel for children and young people (and the parents of those little people), for whom this has become a new frontier of growing up in a world that seems just a little more dangerous.

Maybe this isn’t a lost year, but a “found” year where we find new resourcefulness, new resilience, new hobbies, make life-changing decisions and make new connections.

On Motivation

I have a couple (okay, two and a half) projects to work on, but although I seem to have more time (due to 2020 Corona Virus), I also seem to have less motivation. Why is that? Is it because there seems to be more time to get things done and therefore I can be more lax about it? Is it because there are more distractions (such as husband being home a lot more & more news on t.v. and more shows to binge?).

My new tactic is to give myself more stringent deadlines, set a better schedule, try to ignore distractions. I feel many of us are in this situation, and hopefully things will get back to normal (and all of us will be healthy and safe).

2020 Will be Remembered as a Rough Year

Between navigating the dangers of a “new” virus, COVID19, and then on top of that, racial divide and protests, we will remember this year as one of big changes, fear and hope.

For me, I hope that this virus brings new changes in the way and speed in which we create new vaccines and treatments, changes in how we manage group homes and assisted living facilities, changes in education and schooling. (I’m noticing that we’re not hearing about school violence these days).

I don’t pretend to know or fully understand the agony and frustration around being black or brown in America, but I’m striving to understand and to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. And, if I was ever part of the problem in any way, big or small, I plan to do better.

Reading Tastes

I’ve been thinking about how my reading tastes have changed over the years beginning from my childhood love of books. We had only three television stations where/when I grew up in Western Colorado. We didn’t spend a lot of time in front of the television, so did games, played outside, and read.

The first time I remember falling in love with words and books was in fourth grade. My teacher, Mrs. Foster, used the entire last three months of the school year reading us books. I remember the wonderful stress-free time, gazing out the window, listening to her calm melodious voice reading from L’Engle (The Wrinkle in Time, Dr. Doolittle, Little Women & and couple for the boys (something about pirates). Mrs. Foster died that summer and the parents talked about it in hushed tones–something about cancer–and I never forgot her and never got over my love of books.

I graduated to books I found in the school and city library; Nancy Drew and then the Hardy boys; numerous other series and random books. During this time, it never occurred to me that there was a person behind these books–an author or authors. That came later and I became intrigued with the idea of actually writing a book. It took much longer than I would have imagined to make that happen.

Later on I moved on to more moody types of books; Edgar Allen Poe; Dickinson; Little Women, and yes–series romance books (although it didn’t take–I’m not very romantic).

I moved on to poetry, Sylvia Plath (although I was disappointed in her demise), Virginia Woolf and various other female authors.

These days I like series mysteries as they are predictable and easy-to-read (not so easy to write, I’m finding). I love non-fiction too and especially biographies (mostly auto-bios–I like to hear it from the horse’s mouth).

There is nothing like a book to carry you away–a movie might do it, but reading allows you to put your own images beside the words.

Being a “Bird Geek”

Colorado is rich in wildlife, including many varieties of birds. I’ve put out bird feeders for years and have gotten familiar with different species: raptors such as varieties of hawks, blue jays, flickers and woodpeckers and many other species.

I started watching the Boulder Osprey Cam this year and continued (through this COVID19 crisis). It’s a good stress-reliever (as is listening to music). The Boulder Osprey nest resulted in two babies this year. Here is one:

Boulder Fairgrounds Osprey Cam

So…I continue to surprise myself with new interests, and now bird-watching is one of them.

Are You Reading More During Quarantine?

Anxiety levels are up, we are all restless; it’s hard to concentrate through the news (that seems to change each day), the uncertainty, and the heightened emotions that this situation has caused.

I’m trying to read more; I’ve load my Kindle with five new books and I’ve ordered a couple of hard-back books to read. So far, I’m half-way through one book. My husband has read probably ten. He seems to be able to turn off the outside noise and deep-dive into a book (and also his work). He also reads more than anyone I’ve ever known.

I’m trying that strategy, but so far I have to force myself to turn off my favorite “binge” shows and read–or write.

Some of the books on my Kindle: Traps by Mackenzie Bezos (I admit I’m curious about how she’s doing); Dark Paradise by Tami Hoag (nothing like a good thriller written by a woman); Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima (president of Sisters in Crime Colorado); Get Real by Westlake (a caper); Pest Control by Fitzhugh (a good comedic caper); various non-fiction books about Colorado; some freebies like Gone With the Wind; numerous others that I may not get to.

Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to read, to write, to garden, to talk to my loved ones, to try a new recipe… so much I should be doing.

Is it Literature?

lit·er·a·ture/ˈlidərəCHər,ˈlidərəˌCHo͝or/ noun: literature; plural noun: literatures

  1. written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.”a great work of literature”

During these days of COVID19 quarantine, I have read with interest a lot of “what are you reading lists.” I see some people are reading old classics such as Moby Dick or classic romance such as Jane Austin novels, some new “litarary” novels such as “Little Fires Everywhere.” I don’t see many people confess to reading comic books or easy-read romance novels.

I’m reminded of an incident when my youngest daughter was in Junior High and was instructed to produce a book report for her English class. Hers was a Stephen King novel she happened to be reading. I okayed it, simply glad that she was reading. The report came back with a “not-a or b” grade and a comment that Stephen King does not write literature. I fumed about it for a few days, and discussed with my daughter, but I think to this day that literature is in the eye of the beholder. Anything to keep youngsters interest in reading (with boundaries, of course).

I’m confessing to reading series mysteries (a favorite genre of mine), with a couple of “literary novels” sprinkled in. By the way, my favorite romance novel is Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. But, I may read a few “trashy gossip magazines” if I come upon one, or even a comic strip.

It’s May 2020 and . . .

America is still in the grips of the COVID19 “disaster.” I’m optimistic that we’ll come through this and eventually all be better off, but it’s going to take time.

Some things that are comforting to me:

  • Reading –some books I’m reading now (rereading Where the Crawdads Sing) and for “popcorn” reading, C.J. Box mysteries–also books I’ve bought for my Kindle by Sisters in Crime writers (hoping to learn a things or two).
  • Cooking. Esp noodle dishes, (no bread–I’d eat it all), salmon dishes, mexican dishes & this new recipe my daughter gave me for “funeral potatoes,” which has hash browns, sour cream, cream, onion and lots of cheese.
  • Keeping up with children and grandchildren.
  • Helping my husband get through this–he’s a business owner and loves his office, and now goes in by himself as his employees work at home.
  • Realizing how lucky I am and my family is. Gratitude!

I hope this finds you and yours healthy and happy!

Comfort Noodles

Welcome to It’s a mystery

When I first started writing, I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to write in. It’s been a long experiment and I’ve learned a lot not only about writing, but about people, travel, myself and life in general.

I wrote and found a publisher for my first book–a self-help book for teenagers. Shortly after that, I began dabbling in writing fiction. I was confused at first about what kind of book I wanted to write. I’ve always read mysteries of all kinds, but soon found that I didn’t know there were so many sub-genres of mysteries. Cozies. Hard Boiled. Thrillers. Gothic. The list goes on. I knew I would be a lousy romance fiction novelist. I’m more cynical and I like to put things in order, and since I read mystery, that’s how I chose the genre. I admire popular women’s fiction writers and literary writers, and although I love reading those books, I don’t see myself writing one.

I’ve started (and not finished) about four novels. The one I’ve gone public with is Murder On Heartbreak Ranch, which is a series (so far two). In the process of sending my manuscript out for critique or publishing, I got feedback about what kind of book it is. It’s not romance. Not quite a cozy mystery. Not a thriller.

But, it, like many things, is a mystery to me.

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