Posted in A Bit of That, A Bit of This, Art, Blogging, Friends, Holidays, New Year's Day

Back From the Dead…Or Headed That Way

Sparkler
Lighting the Dark

I was planning to give up on wordpress.com. The interface became bogged down with multiple ways to add posts and pages. I was becoming more enamored of just plain ol’ WordPress, the kind you install on your own web host and customize from there. While WordPress.com kept getting slower and less efficient, wordpress-just-wordpress was becoming easier and easier to use.

So, why am I back? Maybe I just need to talk, to re-enter the forum I’d deserted so long ago. Maybe Facebook posts just don’t do it for me anymore. They’re not enough. Maybe the ready-made community here was the better option, at least for now.

I use WordPress a lot for my work. I even run a multisite network and learning how to manage that has been a trip and a half. But, maybe for some things anyway, I just need you.

Maybe it’s the new year. I’ve left a lot of my artistic inclinations on the floor as I’ve dealt with work-related issues which are always harder for someone who’s self-employed. I’ve had some medical issues, some of which seem to be retreating and others of which are somewhat more stable than they were before. Maybe 2018 will be kinder than 2017, 2016 and 2015. I’m looking forward to it, at least.

So…HELLOOOOOO out there. I may have nothing but my own voice echoing back to me in a vast, empty cavern. But, maybe some of you are still here. Maybe we can get a little something going that doesn’t include visits to medical specialists and therapists from a number of different backgrounds. Maybe 2017 taught me a little something about reaching out and finding another hand taking mine.

Posted in Blogging, Food, Seasons, Spring

Pop-Up Colors

As I’ve mentioned before, color is a challenge this time of year. Everything from the sky down to the grimy snow banks is a very dull gray.

I went to my local supermarket to do some shopping and to find some colors. You think they’d be there? Nope. I think it was the lighting, or maybe that plus the exhausted state of the vegetables that turned the whole place gray. I couldn’t believe it! If you couldn’t find color in a food store, where could you find it? I eventually came across something that might suit for this challenge: string bags filled with different types of fruit.

image

Well, okay, color! And I do like that tumbling down linear quality of it.

So, for your viewing please, here my pop of color for the day.

Posted in Blogging, Home, Nature, Photography, Photography 101

Water

We have a lovely park not far from where we live with a pond full of ducks in the spring and summer. The Town spruced it up a few years ago and added a canoe launch and a little beach. It’s a lovely little walk with water views that refresh my spirit every time I go.

I use both landscape and portrait orientations when I take pictures. It depends on the subject and the story I’m trying to tell. For example, I used this picture to give folks a sense of what the pond and park looks like as you approach it from a small parking lot:

spy pond
Here We Are at Spy Pond

The photo really captures the peaceful nature of the park, even when it’s full of little kids using the playground to the left of the bike. The paths are lined with gravel and bordered by rocks. All in all, it’s a very small place but its benefits to me are enormous.

I took this picture with a different orientation, since I wanted to give people a sense of depth and the feeling that they were walking to the water on the same pathway:

Spy Pond Pathway
Spy Pond Pathway

This orientation really lets you see the gravel and the border leading to that lovely, sparkling blue. In some places you can actually walk down one or two steps to the water. Or, like me, you can set yourself on one of those comfy stones and look over over a goodly helping of peace and tranquility.

Posted in Blogging, Fantasy, Fiction, Writing

Unlock the Mind

So, from Blogging 101 to Writing 101. You’re in for it now! I joined this writing challenge to get my fiction muscles back in shape. I haven’t worked them out for quite some time. I joined in a NaNoWriMo challenge last November, but stopped when my mother passed away early that month. I really didn’t feel like doing any fiction writing until earlier this year, but got sucked into some life challenges that dropped me in my tracks. Now there’s another NaNo challenge in July and I’m going to try it again. In the meantime, I’m going to see what I can do during this challenge to prepare for that.

I have a book I’ve been trying to finish for years. I started it during the worst part of the recession, when both my husband and I were pretty much hung out to dry. I suddenly started thinking about two travelers in a ravaged countryside, two people who had lost some very significant things. One person, the female protagonist, lost her entire family and village and the other, the male protagonist, a soldier who was blinded in an attack. I set this up as a fantasy, set in some pre-industrial era. I started it, then stopped, then started, then stopped. I signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2012 and got my 50,000 words in, but the novel still wasn’t finished. Since that time I’ve written about another 2,000 words.

So, I’ll give Writing 101 a try – if you guys can stand it. I may also post chapters and plot synopses, to see what you guys think about it.

So, here we go again!

Posted in Blogging, Gardening, The Weekly Bean, Writing

30 Days of Margy

Oh, boy, just what you wanted! Now my Blogging 101 mentors have directed us to create an editorial calendar to schedule posts over the next 30 days. Hey, no fair guys – that’s work! They have a point, though: discipline, discipline, discipline! My blog isn’t going to write itself. That being said, I still want to have fun. Remember, I Majored in English in college. I had to write lots and lots of term papers. Even though I was quite good at cranking them out, I really didn’t enjoy the experience.

It’s different with blogging. Here I’m just talking and sharing stuff with friends. I’m having a good laugh, not analyzing Shakespeare (or Ralph Waldo Emerson). True, the analysis did help develop my communication skills, but not as much as just plain old writing.

So, in that sense, a calendar makes sense. I’ve already committed to a weekly feature (The Weekly Bean), so there’s that to plan for. Yes, good practice. And especially useful for my business writing which is a challenge to keep from being so dry it’ll float away.

Posted in Blogging, Bouncing Tigger's Vegetarian Recipe Challenge, Food, Recipes

Death by Chili Pepper

I’m trying to knock out a few posts while I have the energy and before my desire to run downstairs and finish my book finally overcomes me. I’ve been meaning to spend some time with Tigger’s Veggie Challenge and I think I may have found a fun post for this one.

I really like Indian food but my tastes, all with all westerners probably, are pretty calmed down compared to the real thing. I also love to watch cooking videos and came across a chef who I can’t stop watching. He’s a really nice, respectful guy and at the same time brimming over with enthusiasm about the dishes he demonstrates. He calls himself the VahChef (prounounced “Wah Chef”) and he cooks stuff from throughout India. Yes, I know there are a lot of different cuisines and there’s really no such thing as “Indian” food, just like there’s really no such thing as “curry.”

The VahChef invites people to upload their own cooking videos, too, which is rather cool. He also prepares some western dishes, but doesn’t seems as excited about them as the “Indian” stuff. My favorite part, though? This dude is NOT afraid of hot peppers. It’s hysterical: “first you add some chili, then you add some chili powder and then you add more chili if the dish is not tasty enough.”

Yow! It sounds great and deadly. I might try modifying his recipes so that I can actually make them.

On another note, I’ve been following some really ugly issues regarding women and women’s right, not only in India but in Nigeria, too. I know women in both countries have gone into the streets to protest these atrocities and I stand with them. I want those kids in Nigeria back and I want women in all parts of India to be able to walk the street unmolested.

Posted in Blogging, Gardening, The Weekly Bean

Margy’s Blog, Featuring…Margy!

I’ve let a few assignments for my Blogging 101 challenge slide. I decided I needed a bit of time relaxing and chilling out with relatives, which I did in abundance over the weekend. My own mother passed away last November, but I have a mother-in-law that I love dearly and I got the chance to shower gifts, food and friendship with her.

So, back to work. Today, I need to start a series of post features. It could be anything that interests me, in any media format I choose. So, here’s what I’m going to do: my garden vegetables are starting to show a little hope. The lettuce is springing up nicely, as is the spinach and mint (it’s really hard to kill mint, so that doesn’t count). And, I’m starting to see a few green bean shoots just starting to pop their heads up. Not many, yet, but at different stages of development. We’ve had some intense rain, so I’m hoping the seeds haven’t been washed away during the latest monsoon. But, we shall see. We all shall see, starting today!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Weekly Bean! Brought to you by Margy’s Garden.

The Weekly Bean, Volume 1, May 12, 2014

Posted in Blogging, Life, Music, Poetry, Story-Telling, Writing

The Muse And Me

I was listening to the radio this morning (NPR Morning Edition) and caught something very interesting: a music competition hosted by the owner of Bleeding Fingers (Hans Zimmer), which produces music for television. Zimmer created a piece of music, very cinematic, and challenged musicians to compose pieces based on it. The winner would be hired as a staff composer at the studio.

Here’s the piece of music that the challenge is based on:

Yes, very cinematic. It’s something I’d expect to hear at a movie theater. Pretty grand overall.

The contest winner was announced on Morning Edition today. His name is Daniel Suett and he’s a 22 year old composer from London, England. He actually submitted 12 variations and each one was better than the next! This guy is brilliant. Here’s one riff he took:

Very open, very grand, no? But how about this one:

I must say, it knocked me off my socks! There are myriad themes he incorporates, some contemplative, some fiery, some exotic, some playful, some sad, all fabulous.

I could listen to these all day. But something else happened, too. I suddenly started thinking about the ways music has inspired my writing. I listen to music of one type or another all the time. I listen to some because I enjoy it. Others make me feel a certain way, like Daniel Suett’s did. I have a little library of sounds, like music snippets, stingers, loops and full-out songs. I like to play them, just to see what pictures and words fill my head.

I was browsing a royalty-free music site a few years ago and came across a piece by a German composer. It was one of their promotional free offers. The piece was moody, low, contemplative. It touched me somehow and I added it to the music snippets I so frequently listen to.

I was listening to the piece one night and words suddenly started popping into my head. I was having a bad year, I recall. It was shortly after the recession of 2009 hit and I had lost my job and run out of money. I was able to get back on my feet, but not without doing things I didn’t really want to do. I had to swallow a lot of pride that year and I hope to God I never have to do that again.

In my mind the words matched the music and, by extension, my mood. I started jotting the words down, trying to find the right balance: a beginning, a middle/climax, an end. Just like music, actually, and just like a story. I started hunting down images and videos, mostly my own, although there was one I took from a free image site. Then I began to put a video together, combining all those elements.

Spring Flower

The result after many, many edits, was a poem called “Ruminations.” It doesn’t rhyme, but I think it does have a certain oral balance to it.

So, this is my brain on music:

I’ve got other ones, mostly trailers for books or short stories. Damned if the videos aren’t better than the stories. I’ll have to do something about that!

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Food, Recipes

Ring of Fire, or Trial by Fire?

Okay, Blogging 101 universe, now I have to write a post based on this prompt:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

I’m going to digress a bit from this, since I’ve decided to try and go vegetarian this month (May). I’m not sure it’ll work, not because I’m game but because the hubby has his doubts. He wants his honey ham on a bagel each morning. So, we negotiated: I’ll make vegetarian whenever I’m cooking, he’s free to do what he wants when it’s his turn. I want to see what happens to our food bill, among other things. More than that, though, I just want a break from the usual routine.

I have a few hot-type items to add to my meals: dried chilis, Sriracha sauce and Tabasco, but I’m not one for a lot of heat. A tiny bit livens things up a bit, but too much and the hubby will end up driving me to the hospital. I have a very picky stomach. It doesn’t like deep-fried food, fried eggs, pork bacon or sausage or very hot food. I manage to do without these for the most part. When I haven’t, I’ve paid a very high price.

There’s so much in the world to eat and enjoy. I’m happy with what I’m eating and, if anything, want more variety along the same lines of my current diet of leafy greens, grains, legumes and all colors of vegetables. I went to a local farm stand to start the journey today and came home with Tuscan kale and collard greens (among other things). I’ve got a very nice recipe in which I can use either or both of those. I’m going to enjoy my veggies!

I also stopped in at Trader Joe’s and got some interesting new rice combinations. I’ve never tried black rice, so I bought some and added another bag of a brown rice mixture. Looks interesting.

Rice packages
The Rice Part of Rice and Beans

So, please do give me some recipes if you’ve got them and I’ll share mine with you.