Monday, June 11, 2018

New Work at Eyedrum Periodically




Not sure when it will go live, and not certain if part of the anthology or only online—or both. The editor said June 15. I’ll be gone on my bike ride so will post this now.

It is a piece called Missed Connections, inspired by missed connections at Craigslist. A few years ago I got into the habit of reading missed connections. Some of the posts could be raunchy, some were lonely and pathetic, but most seemed like people just trying to reach out to the universe. There is a sense of possibility, a hope that there is logic behind randomness. The piece gathers up a lot of things: desire for connection, grief in the midst of unexplained loss, making sense of the world. A tall order. So glad Eyedrum Periodically, an arts and culture magazine out of Atlanta, GA, liked it enough to publish it.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Scanlandia: Flying with your bicycle


I’ve had experience traveling with my bicycle. The hard part is not packing the bike (taking off pedals, turning the handlebars, taking care to wrap forks and derailleur) but cutting the red tape surrounding extra fees.

In 2015 I paid $70 to fly with my bike to Jacksonville, FL using Southwest who have generous baggage policy. The last two times I’ve used Air Canada, who though involving passing through either Montreal and Toronto for connecting flights has been very good in regards to my bike showing up at the same time as me and in good condition. I’ve checked the bike as my one piece of check-in luggage and paid $50 for special handling.

Click here for a larger version of the picture
This time it is a bit more convoluted. I booked the ticket through a third party (what most people do) who conglomerates tickets getting customers the cheapest rate. It seemed at first like I would be using a single carrier but with all the mergers and airline alliances it was . . . Delta going out and KLM upon return. They are part of the same “group” but unfortunately have separate baggage guidelines and fees. Delta, outbound, is more generous with weight, the bike box can be up to 70 pounds. They charge $150 (ouch) for the bike handling. KLM, the Dutch airlines which should understand cycling enthusiasts and someone flying with a bicycle, are much more of sticklers about bike box dimensions and weight, allowing only 50.5 pounds. AND, you have to phone them 48 hours ahead of flying to tell them EXACTLY how much the box weighs and dimensions. The extra fee is $125.

As you can see this adds up.

Now for the part I’m appealing. I’ve already emailed a complaint to both airlines. I checked all this out before pressing buy. I always do. I do not buy a ticket and then wonder what bike policy is. So none of this came as a surprise. Keeping it all straight is hard, and it is annoying all the extra fees, but not a surprise. What I did learn after phoning Delta to inform them I would be flying out next week with a bike is that there is NO checked luggage. “Your ticket is basic.” I told them this was news to me. No where on my ticket were the words basic or economy. I would not know this except for them telling me at that moment. So they plan to DOUBLE CHARGE me. I need to pay $60 for a check-in item plus $150. I am, of course, appealing this. It seems in the extreme to penalize a flyer who is already paying the excessive handling fee of $150 another fee on top of that. Basically what I’m saying is that as a customer I should have been made aware at the time of purchase that my ticket was basic/economy. I see disclaimers galore especially the words baggage fees extra, see guidelines. That’s where I read that an overseas flight in coach was one personal, one carry-on, and one checked piece.

My contention with KLM was that I booked a connecting flight from Stavanger, Norway using KLM to Amsterdam separately but at the time asked the agent if because the two flights were less than 12 hours apart if my bike could be “checked through”, therefore not necessitating that I take it for the few hours between. In deed the KLM website stated that flights no more than 24 hours apart, luggage can be checked through. Now they are saying no. For sure I will not pay twice for the bike.

I’m feeling anxious, which is never a good thing, about what I’ll encounter at the counter. Sticker shock. I will report how these situations are resolved.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

365 Affirmations for the Writer





Writing is a journey. Every time we sit down to begin a piece or write the first chapter or the first line we are venturing into uncharted territory. We never know how it is going to turn out. Oh, we have a certain idea, like most pioneers or explorers. But, these journeys can take detours; we have to react to circumstances and often go with our gut.

365 Affirmations for the Writer is about listening to those who have gone before us and letting them guide us with their insight, their own trials. They know the terrain, how harsh it can be; they know where we can find water, shade, and rest along the way. By reading what others have said, we can survey the path before us, count the cost, and plunge ahead.

My motivation for compiling 365 Affirmations for the Writer is to offer light along the way. From day to day, week to week, we are getting further inside our writing, further down the path.

The book is 365 days of inspiration—quotes from writers and writing prompts. Here is a what you might expect, from the first week in January:

**
365 Affirmations for the Writer is an eBook I wrote to inspire us to write and keep us writing. If you’re looking for inspiration for you or a fellow writer, then order today. Available from Amazon as well as ALL other outlets.
Every morning I read 365 Affirmations for the Writer by Jane Hertenstein. It's a daily shot of encouragement in the arm.—Sue Shanahan

November 3
Taking Risks
Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To invent. To leap. To fly. To fall.
― Susan Sontag, New York Times, “Writers on Writing”

November 4
Crazy or Insane
One must be capable of allowing the darkest, most ancient and shrewd parts of one’s being to take over the work from time to time. . . Strangeness is the one quality in fiction that cannot be faked.
― John Gardner, from On Becoming a Novelist

Memoir writing. When did you realize you were a writer? Was there a time when words jumped off a page at you? When did you decide you wanted to tell a story?

November 5
Keep Going
The only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.
― Richard Peck, Newbery-award winning author of A Long Way from Chicago
**
Check out 365 Affirmations for the Writer, an eBook that will inspire you and keep you writing.
*The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through
Apple

Baker & Taylor Blio

Baker-Taylor Axis360

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

Flipkart

Gardners Extended Retail

Gardners Library

Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)

Kobo

Library Direct

Odilo

OverDrive

Oyster

Scribd

Sony

Tolino

txtr

Yuzu


Monday, June 4, 2018

The Memory of Snails


We all have heard about the memory of elephants—they can retain info for a long, long time. But lately there have been experiments on:
Snails

“Memory transfer has been at the heart of science fiction for decades, but it's becoming more like science fact.

A team successfully transplanted memories by transferring a form of genetic information called RNA from one snail into another.

The snails were trained to develop a defensive reaction.

When the RNA was inserted into snails that had not undergone this process, they behaved just as if they had been sensitised.

The research, published in the journal eNeuro, could provide new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory.

RNA stands for ribonucleic acid; it's a large molecule involved in various essential roles within biological organisms - including the assembly of proteins and the way that genes are expressed more generally.

The scientists gave mild electric shocks to the tails of a species of marine snail called Aplysia californica. After these shocks were administered, the snails' defensive withdrawal reflex - where the snails contract in order to protect themselves from harm - became more pronounced.

When the researchers subsequently tapped the snails, they found those that had been given the shocks displayed a defensive contraction lasting about 50 seconds, while those that had not received the shocks contracted for only about one second.

The shocked snails had been "sensitised" to the stimulus.”

For more:



Friday, June 1, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses available for pre-order


Cloud of Witnesses
By Jane Hertenstein


“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”
Book cover Clouds of Witnesses by author Jane HertensteinRoland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.

He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses, the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.

Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Be the first to read
Cloud of Witnesses!
Preorder now and save $2
$8.99  $6.99 plus shipping
Your book will be shipped
as soon as it’s available

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Freeze Frame--order it today


Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir,
will inspire you and keep you writing.
*The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through
Apple

Baker & Taylor Blio

Baker-Taylor Axis360

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

Flipkart

Gardners Extended Retail

Gardners Library

Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)

Kobo

Library Direct

Odilo

OverDrive

Oyster

Scribd

Sony

Tolino

txtr

Yuzu

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses available to pre-order


Cloud of Witnesses
By Jane Hertenstein


“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”
Book cover Clouds of Witnesses by author Jane HertensteinRoland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.

He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses, the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.

Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Be the first to read
Cloud of Witnesses!
Preorder now and save $2
$8.99  $6.99 plus shipping
Your book will be shipped
as soon as it’s available

Monday, May 28, 2018

Flash Memoir: Writing Prompts to get you Flashing



Flash Memoir: Writing Prompts to get you Flashing
available EVERYWHERE. Oder it today.*
*The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through
Apple

Baker & Taylor Blio

Baker-Taylor Axis360

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

Flipkart

Gardners Extended Retail

Gardners Library

Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)

Kobo

Library Direct

Odilo

OverDrive

Oyster

Scribd

Sony

Tolino

txtr

Yuzu

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Work Out





I have a short short in the Vassar Review that I’d originally titled A Celebration of Life. Since the editors requested a name change and we couldn’t come to a consensus, it’s simply Untitled. Anyway, click on the link to get connected to an issue of the Vassar Review.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Royal Dysfunction



Did you watch the royal wedding? I did. I woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the pomp and pageantry. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Not sure how I feel about the monarchy and its place in politics. Let’s just say with their track record for Empire that they wouldn’t have voted to leave the EU. Wasn’t there a motto to make the world England?

Now England will be mostly—England. No one is sure if Scotland or even Northern Ireland will land back on the side of the EU. In a world of complex global alliances, to go it alone leaves very little wiggle room. Especially with a vacillating US who from one day to the next wants to impose tariffs, start a trade war, or tear up deals/treaties/agreements. Suddenly having a trading partner is raised to a whole new level.

But for now our greatest export has been Meghan Markle. She was a radiant gem on Saturday. A delight. The wedding commentators kept saying over and over—this is modern. I had the impression that Rev. Bishop Curry was the most radical thing to happen to the royal family since—since, well, they quit India. There’s a new color in the castle—and I’m loving it.

I also kept wondering what was going through Meghan Markle’s mother’s mind. I wondered if at some point she thought: I can’t wait to get back to LA. If after a while the rules and “proper” way of doing something, the spoken and unspoken rules and decorum might be enough, out her over the edge. If at a certain point you just wanted someone to burp or fart. Stand up and scratch their crotch.

Not that that is typically American, but it is a sign of letting one’s hair down. One of my favorite moments, was the unguarded joy of a child, when the fanfare started up when Meghan entered the church and the boy/page holding her veil broke into a gaped-tooth smile.

This to me and the arrival of Meghan’s dog in the queen’s automobile were priceless.
Image may contain: 1 person, standing and wedding

Meghan Markle's Dog Rides With The Queen And The Internet Is Stoked


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--available for pre-order



Cloud of Witnesses
By Jane Hertenstein


“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”
Book cover Clouds of Witnesses by author Jane HertensteinRoland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.

He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses, the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.

Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Be the first to read
Cloud of Witnesses!
Preorder now and save $2
$8.99  $6.99 plus shipping
Your book will be shipped
as soon as it’s available




Monday, May 21, 2018

Your one wild and precious life

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
          
 Mary Oliver
The Summer Day

This is the time of year when you are likely to sit through boring commencement speeches. Though there have been some winners—Neil Gaiman, David Foster Wallace, John Waters (A career in the arts is like a hitchhiking trip: All you need is one person to say “Get in” and off you go. And then the confidence begins.)

The above poem reminds me of something one might hear at their graduation, the question:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Actually graduation speeches are lost on graduates—it’s the parent who can more easily resonate because now they have the rest of their life—one albeit abbreviated compared to a recent grad’s—to figure out what they want to do. Hopefully their kid won’t be coming home to live in the basement and freeload. Hopefully they can save money since they won’t be facing those college bills, yearly tuition that resembles the cost of open-heart surgery (times 4!) They have some time left before disease, old age, other limitations befall them.

At least how I figure it—I’ll be turning 60 this year. I’m thinking about my one wild and precious life—and this is what has motivated me to take up long-distance cycle touring. Regardless of the facts:
1)      I’m poor. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take a lot of $$ to travel, just a lot of chutzpah.
2)      I am a solo woman traveler. This fact alone might be enough to dissuade most people. I go hoping I’ll run into other cyclists and that we can ride together. It happened for 2 days in England. Not at all in Nova Scotia (Maritimes tour). Nevertheless, I wasn’t lonely. Riding can tend to be solitary anyway. If bored I just plug in my iPod and listen to a Podcast. At night in my tent I play Solitaire or read on my Kindle.

The crux of the matter is that once you realize you have a bucket list you also realize you don’t have a lot of time to begin checking things off. That time is now. The time to start is as soon as possible.

That’s why I’m embarking on Scanlandia.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Phone Books

Remember those? Doorstoppers. Booster seats at Thanksgiving. Ten pound slabs of paper delivered every year. If we went on holiday to another town, we’d look up our name in the town phone book—out of curiosity, to see how many other Feebacks there were. Usually none. It was a name from the hoots and hollers of Kentucky. Yet every now and then we’d come across a stray one in North or South Carolina, or Virginia Beach.

I was reminded of the phone book last night while watching a TV show set n the 1970s. THIS IS US, the part about the parents is a time period I’m totally familiar with. I recognize the dishes she uses, the hair styles, and clothes. Then there was the phone book.

I remember having a crush on a boy and looking his name up I the phone book. His parent’s surname. Then I’d guess which one might be him, since there might be two or three with the same last name. Then I’d hop on my bike and ride past his house. I’d make several passes.

I guess today you’d just stalk them on Facebook and Instagram.

Sometimes when bored, I’d read the phone book. I remember a TV show about savants. A guy who memorized the numbers on a whole line of passing trains. Then there was the guy who memorized the phone book. This is how you won contests. This was black and white reality TV.

I can’t tell you the last time I saw a phone book. A number of years ago I saw one sitting outside in the rain—no one bothering to bring it inside.
Image result for telephone book on telephone table

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kilauea

Hawaii had been in the news lately. There was the unfortunate alert sent out that the island was in imminent danger of attack that proved to be false. And now Kilauea looks to be erupting. The latest report is that 18 fissures have opened up and lava bombs the size of refrigerators might come flying down upon people living in subdivisions in the volcano’s shadow. So this threat is real. There is speculation from pressure building inside that the whole thing might blow.

Which leads me to the thought: perhaps Harvey Weinstein could push a virgin into the volcano’s mouth and appease the fire gods. I read that Pele the mythical fire goddess was both a protector and feared. Either way she was a continual presence among the natives. It was actually television that introduced the idea of indigenous Hawaiians sacrificing virgins to Pele. It wasn’t originally part of the religion.

So putting the two ideas together I came up with a plan: Harvey Weinstein pushing a young woman into the lava center of a volcano. It could be done. It has been done. And, what is one virgin when there are so many? For him there was always more where that came from. An unending line of them.

I read that the eruptions are disrupting air traffic, that it might affect tourism, that folks are worried. They’re taking anti-depressants, eating Spam, finding it hard to sleep at night. Please someone call Harvey Weinstein and tell him to fly over; he can bring his assistant with him. He knows how to divert people, keep them entertained. Perhaps he can stop the lava flows, bring peace to the Big Island. Let’s start a new hash tag campaign #Meinto

Let’s calm Kilauea with all the modern methods at our disposal: sacrificing women, an age-old rite.
Image result for harvey weinstein

Monday, May 14, 2018

NEW EQUIPMENT


 First off, I ordered covers for my shoes for when it rains like crazy—and believe me it will. I discovered on my Nova Scotia tour that once my shoes get wet it takes ages to dry. There’s nothing worse than wearing shoes two days in a row that go squish. No amount of wool socks will keep my feet dry if the shoes are soaking.

After the Grand Rapids cancellation because of ice and snow, I realized I need a somewhat more water resistant jacket. I ordered a Sugoibright yellow jacket off eBay for $11

It’s not waterproof, nothing really is, but it will go a long way in helping to keep me somewhat dry. And, the neon yellow is eye-catching—as in no driver could ever say I didn’t see her! I’m also thinking about other clothes for cold and warm conditions. I’ll probably experience it all. Plus mosquitoes and mid-night sun.

Also NEW this year is the back wheel. After my past trips where I broke spokes I knew I needed something with better reinforcement. This new wheel has 36 spokes as opposed to the original one with 28. The new back wheel also had a few more teeth (13-26t to my lowest gear is now 34.). The Torker Interurban Mixte was meant to be a commuter bike and so I had to retrofit it for touring. I removed the compact crank (50/34) and put on a triple crank that bottoms out at 20 (42/32/20). I’m fairly confident I can tackle hills and more.

I have a fairly new chain and Schwalbe Marathon tires installed last fall without a lot of wear.

Here’s hoping—


Image result for vaude rain covers

Friday, May 11, 2018

Scanlandia: A Tour of the Countries Bordering the North Sea




I’m about to jump off a cliff.

After my mind-boggling JOGLE in September of 2016 I’ve been thinking of another trip across the big pond with my bicycle—and what better place to begin than Amsterdam. Holland the land of windmills, dykes, and bikes. Also I knew I wanted to take more time (though, once again, I’ve come up with a mile-intense itinerary).

So beginning June 5, I fly to Amsterdam for a tour of the countries bordering the North Sea. Namely, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Along the way I will hopefully meet up with old friends and make new acquaintances.

Am I nervous, freaked out, tortured by self-doubt? Cha! But I also know that it will be amazing no matter what. On a scale of 1 being dying and 10 being easy rides everyday in sunshine and no rain, then, yeah, I think I’ll find a middle road.

Concerns right now are that I haven’t trained as much as I’d hoped to—what with the COLDEST APRIL in 137 years. But I was able to ride my bike to Milwaukee and back a weekend ago (77 miles each way) in cold and windy conditions. Then this past weekend I went to the Recyclery and worked on my back wheel. Replacing and tightening spokes. Whereupon I discovered my hub was loose. So got all that straightened out—yet, still I’m worried about the strength of my back wheel and overall maintenance. I’m not really a mechanic.

I guess it wouldn’t be an adventure without fear. Fear sharpens the senses and quickens the adrenaline. It reminds me that I’m alive.

This trip knocks a few things off my bucket list: windmills, mid-summer, and maypoles. I’ve always wanted to experience these.

Image result for maypole midsummer

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Flash Contest, deadline May 16th


Image result for flash
Force Majeure: a great and unexpected power. We're looking for the best small things, any form, any content, any fine and wonderful creation.

CONTEST GUIDELINES
Top prize for a single flash $300

Two second prizes $100 each

Deadline EXTENDED: May 16th.

Two ways to enter:

Upload 1 flash (you'll receive an ebook of the prize issue) - $5
Upload 1–3 flashes in a single file (receive a print copy of the prize issue) - $12
Multiple entries are great. Simultaneous submissions are just fine; if a flash is accepted elsewhere, please notify us via a note on the submission within Submittable. Winning flash must not be (scheduled to be) published in print, ebook, or website before August 2018.

All entries considered for publication in Storm Cellar. Contest entries in any number do not violate our one-at-a-time general submissions policy.

What is a flash?

Shorter than 1000 words
Not more than 5 pages
May contain fiction, nonfiction, marks, or images, in any combination
May bend genre, form, brains
We encourage submissions by women, people of color, indigenous, disabled, lgbtq+, and poor authors, as well as members of other under-represented groups. Authors who cannot pay the entry fee, because of financial hardship or unavailability of online payment (PP/card) in their country, should email the editors with the brief statement that they have need so that we can arrange an entry (that they have need, not how); they should send that email from the email address used for their Submittable account and attach their entry as a .docx or .pdf file. Incarcerated authors may mail submissions, postmarked by the deadline, to the address listed on our website, no entry fee required (include someone's email address if you desire ebook delivery).

Contest will be decided by the editors. Close friends, family, current students, and employers of the editors may not enter. While not a member of the CLMP, we strive to achieve a similar level of transparency and virtue.

All proceeds will go to prizes and production costs for the magazine. No fees may be refunded. "Extra" flashes within entries will not be read. We may disqualify entrants on the basis of harassing behavior. Entrants will be notified of their contest outcome by email, on or before June 30, 2018.

Handy link to examples of flash we've printed. Surprise us!


Friday, May 4, 2018

Another Acceptance

A little story with elements of fantasy entitled Missed Connections was just accepted by Eyedrum Periodically

I'll let you know when it appears. So far 4 acceptances in 2018. If you are curious about where to submit your work go to Places to Submit.

also check out rejection letters to famous authors, The Atlantic
Gertrude Stein

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weezie Walk

Image result for weezie walk weiss hospital garage



In a world filled with bad news stories, let me offer you something different: A story that will remind you of the circle of life—and resilience.

For the past 4 years a goose couple have been making their nest on the rooftop of Weiss Hospital Parking Garage. This is not so unusual. Geese mate for life and have very good memories. If something has worked once they’ll come back to it. I have several friends who do urban gardening on the Weiss rooftop. The administrator for the program has a window that looks out onto the rooftop garden. She and Wally and Linda have gotten to know each other through the years.

Wally is literally a goose whisperer. And, of course, the animals all love Wally because he feeds them. Often I’ll see him returning from Weiss with the most beautiful chicken eggs and Linda offers up produce from her garden starting  . . . soon, I hope. The geese remember Wally from previous years as he and Linda have helped the family get back down to the lake with the hatchlings.

This year, with the help of Weiss, things were even more organized.

She laid 9 eggs and 6 hatched. This was over 2 weeks ago and by the beginning of this week Wally was getting calls from the administrator that the geese parents were getting antsy, they’d start off down the ramp and abort the walk to the lake. Wally would rush over and shoo them back up to their nest. The 1.4 mile walk to the lake crosses major intersections. He’d need a team to help with the migration to the lake.

So this year Wally and Linda put out a call and assembled a crew to “walk” the geese to the lake. You see there is very little food up top and at a certain point they need to all leave and get their goose routine going. We weren’t necessarily evicting them, but assisting them to follow the imprint of nature. Fifteen of us arrived on the 6th floor of Weiss at noon to start the Weezie Walk, named after Mama Goose. https://www.facebook.com/abc7chicago/videos/10155569956951162/

The little goslings followed mommy with their short little legs down the spiraling ramp with daddy hissing if one of us got too close. Ahead of us Weiss security led the parade keeping cars from driving up. Everyone seemed to understand. At intersections drivers got out their phones and rolled down their windows—“They’re so cute!” We heard over and over.

Once in the park we had to be on the lookout for dogs. Again pet owners and cyclists paid attention and stopped. Everyone seemed to grasp this was a sacred moment. We were keeping a family together, ensuring that this herd of geese made it to where they needed to be.

Instinctively the mom and dad knew too—where to go. As if there was a homing device in their brains, they made the right turns and after a while Wally didn’t need to cue them—they were running toward open water!

At the edge of Montrose Harbor there is a 7 foot drop. This might be the gosling equivalent to the Victorian Falls. Plus they had never seen water before let alone grass and cement. Up till now their entire world had been the Weiss rooftop. It was a lot for the little ones to take in at once. Now they would have to jump and just swim. This was literally a LEAP OF FAITH.

Mom and Dad went in first. They turned and waited. The 6 goslings lined up at the edge. Minutes ticked by. Then one, two, three—all six jumped and landed in the cold, cold water (they have a natural oil in their feathers that helps protect them). All of us goose trackers cheered. See you next year Weezie!


Monday, April 30, 2018

Junk Mail



Remember when you were a kid and you got junk mail. Real mail, through the slot or in the mailbox? Your mom got it and turned it over or not even that—and threw it out.

Today that same mom is the prime target for “fake” internet news.

PBS Newshour is doing a series titled Junk Mail. One, I like this title as opposed to fake news as that terminology has gotten corrupted. The anology of junk mail rings true with my generation (plus). We all can relate to those annoying adverts, credit cards we didn’t order, appeals for funds. We weren’t fooled. Not so today.

A young IT guy has developed for PBS a Junk News Tracker. Cameron Hickey did not have to look far for a person to base his research upon: he turned to 86-year old grandmother. This lady is total click bait, a sucker for everything coming down the drain. A self-proclaimed conservative Christian from Ohio.
Image result for grandmA On the internet

“To understand the scale and shape of a problem that was incredibly opaque, we began intensive research to collect and analyze the sources of this misinformation.

. . .  This process led us to create a tool we call NewsTracker, which helped identify new stories that would give our viewers the necessary context to make sense of this phenomenon.

, , , We used the Facebook API to collect all the stories posted to these pages as well as their engagement data — how many times users liked, shared, and commented on the stories. We continuously monitored this feed to identify patterns in and assess the substance of the posts.”

He needed someone to base algorithms off of in order to analyze the problem of junk mail. In upcoming pod- and newscasts he will be interviewing his sweet, hymn singing grandma to learn why she clicks on the most outrageous, egregious news out there. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2018

I’ve Got a Ticket to Anne Frank’s House


So yesterday I bought a ticket to Ann Frank’s house, making an upcoming trip seem all the more real. This year I will be turning 60. Some establishments are already giving me a senior discount. This is a good and sobering thing. It means I am getting closer to the abyss.

A friend who has been in Florida for 4 months doing parent care put it succinctly: You can easily imagine a death conveyor belt—and we are on it.

Of course we are from the day we are born, but it only becomes more real the older you get. A big reason to start in on that bucket list. So yesterday I bought a ticket to Ann Frank’s house.

Actually it started with purchasing an airline ticket to Amsterdam, leaving Chicago June 5. I will take my bicycle with me, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll end up in Stavanger, Norway where I have another ticket. All together I will be gone 40 days.

The online research is the easy part—executing the plan is freaking me out. More so now that I have committed by buying a ticket. Last time I flew overseas with my bike I was absolutely flummoxed by lack of cellphone data and bought a SIM card. This time since I’m going to a number of countries (and currencies!! More freaking out) it wouldn’t be feasible to buy SIM cards. I’ll have to rely on measly 2G and offline navigation with Mapsme and downloading Google maps when WiFi is available. Believe me nothing is more intense than being in a foreign country with no idea where to go or which direction to take. And it is 100% sure this will happen.

Also last time I flew with my bike there was a missed connection and I ended up losing all my reservations on the other end because of the delay. The what ifs can be overwhelming—what if my plane is late and I miss my connection this time. What if they lose my bike box? (I’ll write later about all the extra $$ you have to spend for this.)

So fingers crossed: I’ll actually get to redeem my ticket to Ann Frank’s house. Something I’ve only ever dreamed about. Across miles and years I’m coming to you.
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The secret annex

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What a difference a week makes!


I was beginning to wonder if it was just me—being lazy, depressed by winter. Perhaps a bit of both. But, no, the records confirm it. This has been the coldest April in Chicago in 137 years.

When I left for Grand Rapids a week and a half ago for my writer’s conference, I had the idea of riding my bike back. This is not too unrealistic as I’ve done it about 3 times already. I say about as the first time I didn’t quite make it. Around New Buffalo, MI I retired to my tent for the night. I slept soundly as the woods were super quiet. In the morning when I unzipped my tent I was astounded to discover a world of white. During the night it had snowed about 3 inches. My husband phoned me and asked if I was alive—it had gotten down to 23 degrees. I had no idea as I was snug and cozy in my sleeping bag with a fleece liner.

But once I got on the road it was clear that the roads were icy and the wind off the lake felt even colder. So in Michigan City (Indiana) I called and asked him to come get me. What would have taken ¾ of a day took 60 minutes to get back home.

You win some and lose some when it comes to weather and outdoor activities. One year I was surprised by how hot it was for the middle of April and got a bad sunburn. Often I get rained on. So I usually try to come prepared. Yet I was unprepared for last weekend’s weather. Rain, freezing rain, snow, oh and winds 25 – 30 mph. The amount of slush on Grand Rapids’ streets on Sunday was ankle high. It was a good thing I cancelled.

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But now I am left with having to put in extra hours training. I simply need time in the saddle to condition the fanny for an upcoming long-distance ride. This weekend the weather though still a bit chilly was glorious. By the lake temps were in the 50s, but away from the water it got up to almost 60. The wind was from the NE but relatively calm. I rode a 44 mile loop from my house up to the Botanical Gardens via the North Branch Trail and then southward along the Green Bay and Channel Trails. Once home I sat out in the garden and observed green blades coming up=irises. The daffodils were out as well as the crocuses. Siberian squill filled in. I drank tea from my thermos and pondered: What a difference a week makes!

Friday, April 20, 2018

There’s Nothing for Certain


Which is why I’m intrigued by stories of mystery and faith. That crux where one must rest despite ambiguity.

Which is why I suspect the Norwegians say there is no such thing as bad weather but bad clothes (gear). Readers of this blog, particularly of my posts pertaining to cycling, know I have issues with claims of waterproof. Waterproof for me has ended up being a misnomer. I am a waterproof skeptic.

So for my aborted ride home from Grand Rapids this past weekend I seriously looked at and came to the conclusion that I needed something at least a bit more water resistant that what I’d brought. Let’s face it: most of my performance gear has been collected off the ground from runners waiting at the start for the Chicago Marathon—something I last did five years ago. All that ended with the Boston Marathon bombing. Now you need a Presidential invitation to get within a half mile of the start and finish line.

Riding the 2.5 miles from my host’s house to the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids for my writer’s conference was like being lashed to the mast of a sailboat during a category 5 storm. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived and had to sit all day in damp clothing. The temp outside never rose above 35 degrees. On top of rain was freezing rain and 25 mph winds. It was crazy. It made more sense when it actually just settled down to snow because it only accumulated in the crocus and tulip beds and not on the sidewalk.

As a waterproof skeptic I’ve come to the conclusion that what passes for waterproof is financially cost-prohibitive and that anything less than Gore-Tex though still a gazillion dollars only works to a degree—like it keeps me dry on the outside yet WET on the inside from sweat. And I have a bone to pick about colors: usually black or charcoal (basically a light black) when visibility is a necessity.

I thought if I just can wear something that sheds rain or me somewhat dry then layers of wool will take care of the rest. At least I can stay warm while wet. But that theory got blown up this past weekend. When I was wet and cold wearing wool.

Even if nothing is for certain, I’m going to have to have a minimum of confidence that I’m not going to die of hypothermia. Thus, I’ll be looking for a new rain suit and plastics to go over my riding shoes.
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Riding Back from Grand Rapids


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This pretty much sums up my aspirations to cycle home from Grand Rapids starting Sunday – Wednesday in mid-APRIL.

Yes, I know spring can be iffy, that April showers bring May flowers, that one day it can be sun and the next cold. But certainly not ARTIC. I experienced a range of weather that would baffle and frustrate even Shakleton. My plan was to drive in a van with my friend to the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids and then cycle back to Chicago. I’ve done this trip before. In brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth, and in rain and a douse of snow. And also in what might be described as “normal” conditions. What happened this past weekend defies anything close to what I’m used to.

I’ve never had to cancel a bike trip, though there were times I should have.

I ended up cancelling. 1) Wind, there were tree branches scattered everywhere after a night of high-winds that continued into the day and part of the next. 2) Rain. I commuted 2.5 miles to the festival and by the time I arrived I was soaked. This despite I was wearing protective gear. Albeit NOT waterproof, but had served me in the past as tolerable. 3) Temps, hovering above freezing. 4) Which leads me to freezing rain. On Sunday, the day I’d planned to begin cycling to Kalamazoo there was freezing rain to the extent that when it fell to the ground the roads looked like slushy machines. The accumulated ice was up to my ankles.

By this time I’d already decided to cancel. My friend and I waited before getting on the highway to come home after the conference. We drove to a movie theater to see A Quiet Place. The car ride there was scary. She slowed down before slowing down at intersections where we saw cars slide sideways. I fully expected to be rear-ended. After that the apocalyptic horror movie seemed calming. I felt like someone who had survived the end of the world. When we emerged from the theater the sun was shining.

Quick! Get in the car before anything else happens. We were able to drive home because of a window in the weather. Right now outside my window here in Chicago it is snowing. In APRIL!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Places to Submit

Check out the tab=Places to Submit
I've tidied it up and tried to eradicate dropped links, defunct publications etc

Here's a new one:

  • Glassworks Seeks Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry, and Micro Essays
  • Deadline: Rolling
Glassworks Magazine seeks flash fiction, prose poetry, and micro essays for publication in Flash Glass, our online feature. In glassworking, "flashed glass" is a specific technique by which color is not simply added, but is created by layering, opening almost unlimited possibilities of variation. The glass allows light to shine through but prevents inquisitive eyes from invading people's privacy. Send us your written work that does the same! All work published online in Flash Glass is included in a print anthology at the end of the year. Submit up to three shorts under 500 word. Guidelines and submit atwww.rowanglassworks.org.

  • Brilliant Submissions Wanted
  • Deadline: Rolling
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Submissions wanted: 1,000 words or less. We are looking for short works that give the reader a "flash" of revelation or surprise; or beautifully written (or humorous) short, short stories that burn into the reader's memory... and, check out our no-fee writing contests. No poetry, please. brilliantflashfiction.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Festival of Faith & Writing

I’m off for a week at a conference in Grand Rapids called the Festival of Faith & Writing. This is my thing. I never knew how much I looked forward to FFW, but now it is a part of my spring ritual. (Actually it’s held every 2 years.) FFW to me are crocuses springing forth, the green blade arising. In the dead of cold, dark winter I begin to read the authors invited to the festival. I make itineraries and mock schedules. I reserve a car, I request a bed with a couchsurfing host.

I’m so ready for next week. So ready for warmth, conversation about books, crossing the quad and seeing some of the same faces I’ve come to recognize. This is a time of renewal.

Then I plan to cycle back from Grand Rapids. This is where things get tricky. The weather has been very unpredictable.

Well, it’s spring you say. Yes, when you wake up to snow almost every morning this week, you begin to question the calendar.

So good wishes, thoughts, light, vibes=send them my way as I ride back to Chicago. I will spend one night camping at Dunewood Campground and I expect it to be cold. And, of course, there will be rain. What is a bike trip for Jane without rain??  

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Vernacular Flash



Readers of this blog know that I am addicted to Antiques Roadshow. I watch mostly for the description. Crenulated. Wingback. Bezel. That thing on the top of cabinet clocks. When is an object more than just a thing—when you hear one of the Keno brothers go into detail about it. You come to understand it is the sum of the parts, the work invested, the craftsmanship.

One of the appraisers was evaluating a book of police mugshots from Portland, Oregon circa 1900s. The term she used to describe it was vernacular, as in vernacular photos have become very popular.

Here’s how Daile Kaplan defined the term: The photography of the everyday, the photography that's a record, that's a document, that has a historic truth.

This is also how I might define flash memoir.

This is not the letter from Abraham Lincoln or the guy who found the Rembrandt in the trash. This is more like the story behind the toy train. I got it for Christmas one year and it’s been in our family ever since.

Some of us might use this as an excuse to get something out of the fridge or make popcorn. While some of us will lean closer to the TV and say out loud: I have something just like it! We learn that that thing we’ve always had and took for granted is now of value. That moment we almost forgot about, is suddenly the linchpin of an important memory. The thing that binds us together in a universal experience.

This is why it’s important to capture and write things down. We never know when the landline will disappear or that when we talk about a video or even now a DVD kids will look at us cross-eyed. We never know when writing the ordinary that it will someday become historic, a record of the past.

*newspapers
*the avocado-colored wall phone
*film cannisters
*typewriters
*butterflies
*station wagons
*MAD magazine

Try to think of something that was ubiquitous when growing up has already gone the way of all things. Write about it.
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