Of Coffee Shares, Link Parties, Writing Challenges, and other Lovely Things

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Most bloggers know that link parties, coffee shares, and other variations on the theme can be a great way to grow one’s readership. They are also a great way to grow one’s mind, and enlarge the circle of people that somehow become part of your “tribe”. So I thought for this week it would be fun to share some thoughts on The Weekend Coffee Share.

Credit, or blame, a blogger named Ju-Lynn. I was sitting on the edge of my bed the other night responding to something that she wrote to me in response to something I had written and could not help but think of the wonder of it all, me, in small town Pennsylvania, having a conversation with a writer in Singapore!

For friends, family and other readers who are not bloggers, a brief word of explanation may help here. Participating in a link party or coffee share carries with it the expectation that the writer will read posts by some of the writers, few people could read it all, and leave a comment about their post, as well as respond to comments that other bloggers leave on your comment wall in response to your post.

Sometimes, when a blogger is “new to you” in addition to reading the post they are sharing in the link party, exploring their site and reading something they have written, or their “about me” page can be helpful.

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Sometimes the comments made are brief and sometimes a real, although written conversation takes place, something like an e-mail, but connected to the blog format. When I started blogging I wanted to read what other bloggers were writing, partly to see if I was doing it right! But those earliest follows all seemed to be people who wrote book reviews and a) I do not do book reviews per se, although I am happy to tell you what I am reading. And b) I wanted to find bloggers who wrote similar types of posts to mine.

I stumbled into a mid-life blogging party, and although I was at the top end age-wise, maybe beyond what might be considered midlife, I was accepted into a group of similarly minded writers, mostly women. I eventually became part of the group, and saw that blogging can really be a form of community. Surprise; happy surprise. I thought blogging was just a way to get my writing out into the atmosphere, so all those thoughts in my head that were pouring out onto paper, did not, as my mother often joked, die of “solitary confinement.” But it become so much more.

Let me share just a few ways, I may be forced to name drop here, although I do not want to be considered a name dropper. Australia and New Zealand: If I start naming people, I may forget someone important. though I don’t expect feelings would be hurt. The First Australian blogger I remember reading and following was Deb from Deb’s World. http://debs-world.com/ Deb takes stunning pictures, is an avid bicyclist and a good writer. Many of the first bloggers I connected with were from Australia or New Zealand. So much so that I still would like to get a small but readable map of A/NZ so I can picture where they are. I do know where the continent is, but it would be nice go look at it and say, Oh, there, that is what they are talking about.

Ireland: Enda is a funny but also serious writer and I hope you will check out his blog. http://endastories.com/He is also patient because every now and then he uses a word I am unsure of, but rather than assume, I ask him and he is always gracious in his response. I am not a traveler and am quite sure I will never visit the places where I have blogging friends, well, Toronto might be doable and when I see Natalie’s amazing and inviting pictures, I think, maybe. http://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/ Bucket list?

Cheryl is in Bulgaria and we have become Facebook friends, for which I am really glad. She was living in Russia when I first encountered her and I have followed her through two moves. I started blogging at the end of December 2019, so much of my “international travel” via reading the words of other bloggers has happened during COVID.

That has been an education in itself that I wish many of my friends could experience. Even people who are not friends, I wish they could experience the COVID experience through the eyes of writers around the world. Sorry friends, but we can be very self centered in the United States when it comes to many things. I would give us the benefit of the doubt and say that we do not mean to be that way, it is often the end result. Reading the COVID life experiences of writers in other countries has been an education.

Benefits and Blessings of Blogging I am not sure what I thought retirement would be like, beyond having a vague notion that whatever I chose would be it, written in stone. One of the blessings or benefits of following other bloggers who are retired from their jobs, careers, or professions, is that it is possible to make a change, more than one. While that may seem obvious to some readers, it was not obvious to me.

Reading about changes that other bloggers have made in retirement, has helped me to broaden my horizons and dream, perhaps not about where I wanted to be, (pretty sure we fixed that in place by buying our retirement home), but what I wanted to be and how I wanted to spend part of my time, now feels open and not restricted. For instance, in a way I had not envisioned before, I realized I could make changes (weight loss), learn new skills (bread making), and retool others. In other words, I am not ready to choose a headstone, or set my life in stone.

Although I had some things in common with the writing community I stumbled into, age mostly and writing style, many of the early bloggers I followed are very much into healthy living, diet, exercise, physical activity; none of those things applied to me. I felt a little sheepish, as though I had wandered into the wrong room and hoped I would not be found out. When I began my weight loss journey in earnest, I found compassion, encouragement and support from my new friends. If you have read any of my #strongerthanthecookie posts, you know I have not shied away from honest confession of a lifetime of bad habits. They have generously and faithfully cheered me on. Perhaps even better, they did not seem to tire of my updates and they are champions of self-improvement.

Photo by Pixabay  from Pexels

There are a few other things that I found to be happy surprises or positive side-effects to blogging. But I will end with this, the exchange of ideas, opinions and experiences, especially in this long season of COVID has allowed me to get to know and care about people in other countries that I would never have met in person, or any other way in print. As a result, when I hear about an issue in Ireland, or England, or Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia or New Zealand, Singapore, or India, Toronto, British Columbia and other places as well, it no longer feels impersonal. I have friends there, who have impacted my life and who matter to me. Even though we will not likely ever meet in person, they matter. This is true also for blogging friends who live in other parts of the United States as well.

I wonder if more people had that experience, if there would be, could be, fewer wars. Granted bloggers generally connect with people with similar interests and feel an affinity with, yet it is our differences that are part of what enriches the process. If more people had more positive relationships with people in other countries, I would like to believe it would make a world of difference.

I’ll have another cup of coffee and maybe one biscuit.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Natalie’s #WeekendCoffeeShare, Denyse Whelan Blogs and Esme’s Senior Salon

Piece Meal Stories of Jack and Maggie, Part I

Both of my parents were good cooks. So it amazes me that for all the memories I have of my parents, my memories of specific meals, or food, are scant, piecemeal. Nevertheless, my mother’s cooking especially has been a large influence in my own love of cooking, and how I cook. What I remember are simply bits of pieces of meals and experiences and yet they were very formational.

Probably part of the reason I don’t remember much of those early meals is that I was young, and was only 11 when we moved from our house in Point Independence, to the Union Villa, the hotel, bar and restaurant that they bought at the end of 1961. We moved into an apartment on the first floor of the hotel shortly before my 12th birthday. So, I think of my parents’ cooking, my mom’s especially as before the Union Villa, during the seven years we lived there, and the years following the Union Villa. In addition, during these years, my dad was in the Merchant Marine and at sea, and in other ports, much more than at home, so family meals are a bit of a blur, if a family meal means everyone at the table.

Picture of an old woman wearing a sweater and sitting in an overstuffed chair, with a young girl holding a doll.
Me, at about 5 with an unnamed friend and my grandmother, Mary Marcellino

Before the Union Villa

I remember watching my mother decorate my birthday cake for my fourth birthday. I remember Thanksgivings and mom’s oyster dressing, that I thought was awful (although I love it now and make it whenever I can, when oysters are in season). I remember my mom picking up my grandmother Marcellino, and bringing her to our house for dinner and then taking her home. What I remember most though are the plates we ate on, I remember when she bought them at the hardware store/lumber yard. They were Melmac, some were a dusty rose, and others were grey. Fashionable in the 1950’s. The dining room furniture was blond oak, also very fashionable in the 1950’s.

Mealtime Traditions with Dad

These were simple, but for me unforgettable. Somewhere along the line, dad decided to amend the traditional Catholic table grace. When we got to the end of the prayer he would add, “God bless the provider of this table!” I suppose he did not want to be left out; to his addition, mom would retort, “…and the cook!”

I remember on many occasions when he was home, my dad pushing his chair back from the table after a meal, and saying to my mother, “My dear, I have dined sufficiently!” That was especially memorable because it was a real word and a rather large one. My dad was a sailor and talked like it, so much of his conversation was sprinkled with four letter words, and larger ones but with the same type of sentiments. Although I am sure that my mother did not invent this description, he was one of those folks who could swear two minutes straight, and not repeat himself.

In those early years before the Union Villa, he would make fried fish and jag (jagacita), a Portuguese rice dish. There are probably dozens of ways to make this, but he cooked it using salt pork, chopped onion, converted rice and peas or lima beans. It was his traditional, “just got home from sea and I’m going to cook dish.”

The alternate tradition for his just getting home from sea, was my favorite, “Let’s go out for dinner!” I have only recently come to realize, that this is probably the source of my enjoying going out to eat, and my desire to do so on special occasions. Sometimes, just because it is a welcome break from cooking and cleaning up. Not to recreate something lost; but the memory is so potent, that it does beckon, creating a humble, but hopeful expectation of something that speaks of love.

My favorite places that we went to, no longer exist. The China Maid Restaurant had Juke Box selection boxes at each table. There were small metal handles at the top of each page so you could ‘turn the pages’ to see what songs were on the juke box without having to leave the table make a selection. It was fun to browse through and pick out songs. The food was good too, though nothing really stands out, so many years have past

My other favorite place to eat was The White Rabbit, which was attached to Nickerson’s Bar. I loved the dinner rolls, that were like squared hamburger buns, buttered and grilled, toasty and delicious. Their seafood platter was my favorite dish. The waitresses wore dresses that were large flower prints, and white nurses shoes to ease tired feet. We sat in wooden booths, and the atmosphere was different than when we ate at tables in the bar. Pretty much any place we would go out to eat would have a bar, that was a given.

Postcard circa 1945?

The Union Villa

The menu at the Union Villa was limited to pizzas, spaghetti and meatballs, meatball sandwiches (Grinders, or subs) and traditional Grinders (Italian subs) and occasional stuffed quohogs. (Pronounced Ko-Hogs). I never ate mom’s stuffed quohogs, though now I wish I had. We could not eat dinner together when the bar was open. Somebody had to tend bar, and somebody had to cook, so we more or less ate separately.

Even though I still love pizza and spaghetti, there had to be other foods. Mostly I remember mom making fried rice, chicken or pork chops that she made in the electric frying pan. Meals were simple, because most of the cooking in the kitchen was for the restaurant, so our food had to be made concurrently with the restaurant fare. As amazing as it sounds, we went out for breakfast every morning, to Arthur’s Restaurant, just around the corner. Mom tried making a family breakfast for us at the Villa, but when customers would hang over the back of the booth and say, “Gee, Maggie, you got any for me?” that was the end of that. So off to Arthur’s we went. We sat at the counter, but it was the only meal we could eat together.

Picture of sandwiches and fruit on a table.
Photo by Kasumi Loffler from Pexels

Customer Appreciation Meals

We lived in a beach town, and the liquor license was seasonal. That meant that the Union Villa opened on April 1st and closed on November 30th. On opening day, and closing day, mom laid out a feast. She bought large lobsters, cooked them and made lobster salad. She cleaned the large claws and placed them on the table for decoration. There were trays of sandwiches, in addition to appetizers, and the requisite chips, nuts, etc. But it was how everything looked that caught my attention. It wasn’t just the taste, but the look of a party. I thought I wanted to be able to do that. I never wandered into catering for lots of reasons, but those customer appreciation events caught my eye. Mom made everything look special and taste good.

Dad’s Version of Customer Appreciation was a little different. There were roofers, and I suppose some other construction workers who stayed at the hotel by the week. Once a year he invited “the fellas” to a home cooked New England Boiled Dinner (corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and turnips). He also made beef stew for them once a year. I was a brat, loved dad, but those meals I was happy to get an invitation to eat elsewhere, or have spaghetti.

Home Cooking

Off season cooking was much different, but still my memory does not serve me well on this. Mom made boiled butternut squash, roast beef, but not pot roast, so the beef was roasted dry. She loved wild rice and back in the day, Stouffer’s made Spinach Souffle, something I haven’t seen in a long time. Unlike the stove in the restaurant kitchen, the stove in our apartment was apartment sized. The kitchen was small, there was no counter space to speak of, no dishwasher, and microwave ovens did not exist yet.

Everything the restaurant served was homemade. The pizza dough was made from scratch, meatballs, sauces. everything was made in our kitchen, nothing was pre-packaged. Although I am not sure how it came to be, mom made most of the restaurant food, but dad made the spaghetti sauce. So he kept his hand in, but mostly he was behind the bar and took care of the whisky and beer. I helped in the kitchen as needed, squeezing canned whole tomatoes to get the pulp out, making pizza dough when needed, although mostly my help was limited to things like folding pizza boxes. But in family businesses, you do what needs to be done and it was a way to be with my parents.

There is an important thread here, and part of the reason I wanted to write this story, because it leads into my current obsession with making bread. The short year I spent overseas with my first husband, the only food from home we could not get on the base (trying not to call it ‘junk food’) was pizza. So I began to make my own, which is something that I did often when the kids were growing up. Although I can only claim to be a novice bread maker at this stage, working with flour, yeast, salt and water, and also baking as a way to deal with sorrow or stress is just part of who I have been, who I am.

I hope you will come back to read more. What about you? If you are an adult of any age, who loves to cook or bake, have you ever explored the roots and connections of that love? What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Natalie’s #WeekendCoffeeShare, Denyse Whelan Blogs and Esme’s Senior Salon

My August Reading

 #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

The Reading Challenge

I love to read and love writing, as a blogger that goes without saying. But much of my reading is taken up by professional reading needs and so recreational reading is something that generally happens only on vacation. While I had come up with a plan for improving my reading capacity, there is nothing like a good challenge. So when I was invited to participate in this challenge, I jumped at the chance.

You can find an original post about the reading challenge here: http://debs-world.com/2021/08/20/whats-on-your-bookshelf-1/

That said, I only completed two whole books this month, but once again, I am happy that I had completed reading two whole books, that spoke into my life and held my interest. In addition to the two books that I am writing to share about, I am 70% through an auto-biography on Audible, and have started reading a book for Advent, that is professional, but also spiritual and enlightening.

Photo by Oziel Gómez from Pexels

Women Rowing North

I bought the book several months ago and moved it from my bookshelf to prop it up against the wall next to my bed. Fortunately, my bedroom floor is not littered with books, it would not be safe. But this book lived, leaning against the wall on my side of the bed, for a long time, like a daily reminder to pick it up and read it. The book? Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as we Age, by Mary Pipher (Bloomsbury Publishing 2019).

When I finally picked it up, having started it once before, it became a frequent companion. It may sound as though it could be depressing, but that is not the case. Pipher skillfully and creatively weaves the stories of several women in a variety of circumstances, with the emphasis on the specific challenges they faced and how they overcome them. In addition, she offers many practical suggestions.

Several years ago, I participated in a two year certificate program. I was 58 when I started. One of our group leaders, a retired pastor, often spoke about accepting her “diminishments.” I did not quite understand; I was still in the fullness of my life and work. Today, in 2021, I am probably the age she was when she was leading our group. I understand a little better today, and wish I had been more compassionate then.

When I am working with couples who are preparing for marriage, (okay, they probably prepare more for the wedding than the marriage), I ask them, “What is the most difficult thing you have experienced together?” In retrospect, I would be inclined to still ask that question, but also send them scurrying to interview their grandparents, or another older couple they know, to have them ask that question to the older couple. Hopefully, it would not scare them off, but generate some deeper conversation.

I think this book would be a good read for the sandwich generation, as well as for those of us approaching our own “diminishments” or those of our spouse or significant other. Perhaps it would offer insight to the struggles their parents face as we attempt to flourish in the face of unexpected changes. Having said that, I do not think I would give it to the couples about to be newlyweds to read.

In many ways this book struck very close to home, as I try to carefully discern next steps in what I call my partly retired life. I am glad that I finally picked the book up and read it.

Can a Book Choose You? As I was getting to the end of “Rowing” I was not sure what my next read would be. There are lots of choices right in my office and on my Kindle, but nothing was popping. I read on somebody’s blog about a “book choosing you.” I think I did anyway. I was skeptical, but it happened to me. At least I walked past a display of books, and a book by Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller (Atria Books, 2013) caught my attention. When I read the inside cover, I knew that my next book had indeed found me.

I love her writing and am always impressed with the amount of research she puts into her novels. I have been working very intentionally on baking bread and trying to move from novice bread baker to a capable baker. It was a small thing, and yet the bread in this novel is almost, but not quite a character. It is of some importance.

There are also morsels of writing process, placed on the mouths of some of the characters. While there is not enough dialogue about writing process to qualify it as a quasi character in the novel, I think this is a “must read” for bloggers and other writers.

One caveat I should share about something that comes up early in the novel. I mentioned Jodi Picoult’s research that she clearly does. One of the characters is a funeral director. Although it must have seemed essential to the plot, I could have gone the rest of my life without feeling the need to know that many details about preparing a body for viewing. Really.

The book was hard to put down. Trying to do it justice without trite superlatives is not easy. And since I do not do “book reviews” all I can do at this point is tell you the ways each of these books intersected my life and begged me follow.

I am sure that I will not end 2021 with a long list of books read, but I am off to a good start of having read and not just listened to, some worthwhile, and meaningful books. I like fiction, and yet many of my reading choices are non-fiction.

If you have read either of these books, I wonder what your impression was, what you found relevant, meaningful or intriguing? Or off-putting?

My next read? In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

My Summer into Fall Reading Plan

I was going to title this My Summer Reading Plan, Progress Note, (https://michelesomerville.blog/2021/06/14/my-summer-reading-plan but I feel the quickly draining away of summer, with all of the school supplies on sale, the summer clothes on sale that seem to be heralding the close, or clothes of one season morphing into another. I never did buy enough sleeveless tops to get through the heat of summer, but today I had to go digging for long sleeves, at least to get me through the cool of the morning and the dog’s first walk of the day.

I was at one of my favorite stores the other day and saw an attractive door decoration and was tempted to buy it. But I stopped myself with this thought, a stifled yell from somewhere in my psyche, “Don’t buy that yet, it screams fall and it is only July 21st!”

We have had a lot of rain the last few weeks in North Central Pennsylvania. Every. Day. Rain, storms, flooding and grey skies; definitely not good sunbathing weather, or swimming or other outdoor activity weather.

Picture of books in a book case with other mementos, including old cameras and suitcases on the top shelf. Picture has rounded edges.
Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

I admit, perhaps this chatter is to avoid telling you how abysmally my summer reading plan has turned out. And yet, not so bad in the long run. I have read a book that I enjoyed, and highly recommend: Mennonite Daughter: the Story of a Plain Girl, by Marian Longenecker Beaman. https://marianbeaman.com It is available on Amazon, I read it on my Kindle. I have a bad habit of checking out the ending of a book, but it is way to much hassle to do that when reading on a Kindle. So I was pleasantly surprised to find some recipes at the end of the book.

I found it to be well written and compelling and perhaps a must read, but also a potential trigger story, for anyone who has grown up with domestic violence and done the hard work of processing, attempting to understand the perpetrator, and find threads of love and forgiveness. In addition to that, she experienced extreme prejudice and bullying in a toxic work environment. There is a lot of redemption in her story and fulfillment.

It took me a while to get through the book, not because of any failing on the part of the author, but because I can be easily distracted and more importantly, had genuine family needs that required my attention.

Picture of a large black and tan dog on a brown pad on a light brown wood look floor.
Sheba

I had started reading a second book as well, the 25th Anniversary Edition of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This is a book that is good for writers at any stage, but in order to engage the book best, one needs to read a little and then write. I picked out a notebook to use, but just did not keep up. I intend to return to the reading and the work.

The second book that I successfully completed, was an audio book by one of my favorite authors, Jan Karon, the book was “To Be Where You Are.” I had read the book previously on a vacation, but I don’t go anywhere without an audiobook and I find comfort, encouragement and inspiration in Jan’s writing. It was an excellent companion during the stressful time of my husband’s surgery, hospitalization and recuperation.

My current read, that I am moving through slowly, but finding it important for the stage of life that I am in, is Mary Pipher’s “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age” It is a book I had started on a previous vacation and when I returned the copy to the library (unfinished) I determined to purchase my own copy. It had sat on the floor by my bed for several weeks, where I managed to avoid it, until one fateful morning it seemed to jump up and say, “Hey! Pick me!”

I am also listening to a current political memoir book on Audible, but my Kindle, or the app or my car sync can be temperamental, so I am only about 43% on that one.

So, the truth is I have only finished two books in the last month. On the other hand, I have finished two books this month! Hurrah! I know, it does not sound like much, but in the normal day to day of my work life, most actual reading is professional, which takes precedence over any other reading. It is usually on vacation that I can pick up one book read it, and then pick up another and come home from vacation with 3 to 5 books read. I always listen to audio books in the car when I am alone, so I hear books on average two a month, depending on the size of the book and the amount of car time.

Picture of an old fashioned typwriter with a paper inserted and the word "Goals" typed on the page.
Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

But my goal here is to pick up a book, or my Kindle and READ the whole thing!

Part of my goal that has been most successful is my determination to not sit in front of the television watching endless repeats of shows I have seen. One exception to this plan is Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.), if Blue Bloods is on, I am there. So I feel really accomplished in that way.

In addition to all the above, I have written and published two blog posts, and have two in process and have been intentional about reading and commenting on other blogs as I am able. Another wonderful part of my reading/writing life is a generally weekly phone conversation with a friend who writes, we share what is going on in our lives, but also encourage each other in writing progress or attempts and our hope to get back on track with our joint writing venture.

So my plan now is to continue the discipline and the reading plan into fall. That will require more intention on my part because the fall season of favorite shows is coming, and I will try to be choosy.

Oh, my other summer reading? Bread recipes! But that is another story for another post. What will my next read be? Tune in. What about you? Do you have a favorite author, or genre?

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Natalie’s #Coffee Share Weekend, #Esme Senior Salon and #Denyse Whelan’s life This Week

Sheba the Homebody

I initially titled this post, “Sheba the Gentle” yet, I am quite sure that any rabbits that would encounter her would not call her that, but with us, she is gentle, pushy, funny and a string of adjectives.

I wrote in October about my husband’s accident when he fractured his femur and had surgery about how empty the house felt with her at the kennel. I felt guilty, but I decided to leave her there through the end of the reservation period, while Roger and I got adjusted to his injury and care.

I thought she would probably shy away from him when he was using his walker, but wasn’t 100% sure that would be the case. With a new fracture and recent surgery, I didn’t want to risk the possibility that she might knock into him or otherwise trip him. But in the few extra days she remained in the kennel, while we got adjusted at home, the house felt painfully empty.

Picture of a black and tan dog, blurry because she moved her head.
Oops! She saw the camera and moved!

I was also concerned about how she might react to the parade of home health workers coming in and out of the house, her house and the possibility that it would require her to be relegated to her crate. I needn’t have worried.

She was fortunate, as were we, that each of the members of the home health team, both nurses and physical therapists, were dog owners. They were polite about her curiously sniffing their shoes or boots and bags, her snuffly greetings. On occasion she would even sniff a proffered hand. Then she would find an out of the way spot, either on her pillow in the living room, or the doorway to the living room to watch them put my husband through his paces. They could have required us to crate her during their presence.

Mystery Solved?

I wrote in October that I was surprised by the aching sense of absence I felt with Sheba at the kennel. Perhaps it is because she is seldom away more than one night while we are at home. We learned years ago that if we are making a trip out of town, we get on our way much faster in the morning if we take the dog to the kennel the night before. That, and occasional overnights at the vets. Other than that, we are a package deal.

This time she was at the kennel an additional six days until I picked her up. So the extra days she was away from us, certainly underscored her absence. But it is something more, than the fact that she was not in the house. She was not with me. In general, Sheba is my near constant companion. If I am going upstairs to bed, she runs up the stairs ahead of me. If I am going up during the day for something, she will usually race me upstairs. She still tries to walk where I am walking and will occasionally simply lean against my leg. Honestly, I feel like Mary, who had a little…dog.

Picture of a black and tan dog, leaning against a woman's leg. Blue jeans and tan chair.
Par for the course. There are two of these, not the same photo, but they might as well be.

Sheba has her own ideas about my behavior too. Admitedly, I stay in my office too late, almost every night. So she has gotten to the point of coming to get me and making a general nuisance of herself until I get up from my desk and go to the living room. She weighs 42 pounds, and when she wants to be pushy, it seems that she can put the full force of her weight into her face. She will come up to me and use her face to push my hand up forcefully for my desk, keyboard or writing surface.

Once I am seated on the couch, she might hang out to get petted, or she might simply lay on her cushion, her mission accomplished.

Camera Shy??!!!

Confession: I wrote most of this post last fall, and deleted several paragraphs to make room for this update. Part of the reason I did not publish it sooner is that I have a limited supply of good pictures of Sheba. While there are some wonderful free stock photos of other people’s dogs available on Pexels and other formats, this is her story and I wanted to use pictures of her, which I have intentionally spread throughout this post.

Once again, she saw the camera and moved fast, so you don’t get to see the whole “Aren’t I cute? Love me, adore me” pose.

Can you tell, that she does not like having her picture taken? I generally use my phone for pictures, so I do not know if it is the phone, or camera feature that bothers her. Just as a test, my husband got his phone out to try to take a picture and she turned away from him, whom she has grown to love. I wish I knew what that was about, because everyone who sees her on walks comments on how pretty sure is, I just don’t get any pictures unless she is unaware. There is photographic evidence here of just how quickly she can move!

But she is my girl, my near constant companion and I wanted to show her off. Well, there you have it. Sheba is, according to the records we have seven years old, she has been a member of the family for two and a half years, but it seems much longer. She has imprinted on my heart.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

#Stronger Than the Cookie: The first weeks of maintaining my weight loss

I spent the first months of the COVID lock-down in Pennsylvania, doing what I have done for much of my life, downing my favorite comfort foods of cake (with frosting), cookies and ice-cream, until a fateful day in June 2020 when I had a wake-up call. You can read that story here: https://michelesomerville.blog/2020/07/21/the-cookie-diary

I met my weight loss goal, ten months and fifty-five pounds later, on May 9, 2021. I knew that after all that work, it would take a plan to stay on track. Here is how it is going so far: my goal weight was 145 pounds. Metabolism will always take us up and down by ounces at least, other things being equal. For most of the days since May 9th, I have fluctuated between 143-144. My hope is that the goal weight of 145 will be the top end, rather than the bottom end of that fluctuation. So far, so good and that between the ups and downs of vacations, my husband’s health issues, which often send me to comfort food, and just normal life.

Picture of the author, dressed in blue and white, standing in a restuarant.
At goal weight ~ Photo by Shane Hicks-Lee

Thanks to a lot of learning and practice over the last year, I have been able to develop better habits, and to my surprise a new palette. I continue to weigh in every day, count calories and balance types of food. I have increased my calorie intake gradually, not taking anything for granted. I eat foods that I like and have learned to savor flavors, experiment with foods I had never eaten and enjoy occasional treats, just not daily treats. And although I do not cry very often, I have found that a good cry does me more good than a handful of warm, melty, delicious, chocolate chip cookies.

Vacation ups and downs

Having a plan for vacation food was crucial, especially because while food choices were under my control, food availability, not so much. Part of my plan that went well included bringing along Henrietta (my scale) as a traveling companion; I continue my practice of weighing in most days, and did not want to leave this to chance. Also, we brought a variety of fruit and cheese snacks for the hotels. For this particular vacation, all of our meals were restaurant meals. That proved to be a wild card in this time of gradual opening after COVID.

Fast food is not healthy food, but financially, we generally plan two meals a day to be fast food. But one particular fast food chain is doing drive in only. This practice seems to be consistent across the board for that one chain, but with other chains it varies.

I can do the fast food on vacation thing as long as I can sit down for supper and have vegetables as part of my meal. In saying that, I am not assuming all offerings of vegetables as side dishes are healthy, but part of vacation for me needs to be not having to cook or clean up, so these are the compromises and constraints that were part of staying on plan and maintaining my loss in the face of high-fat, high-salt, fast food, and sit down meals.

Emotion

There is probably a reason that certain foods are called comfort foods, whether the foods are a sentimental dish your mom or grandmother used to make, or traditional dishes like turkey with dressing, or your favorite kind of pie, or food from your family’s culture. For me, my favorite comfort food is ice cream, or cake with frosting, or both together and almost any kind of bread and butter. My list is long; maybe yours is too. My husband had surgery recently, and picking up fast food on the way home from the hospital is tempting, cookies from the hospital snack bar, also tempting. Leaving the hospital tired and stressed was like running a gauntlet made of sugar and spice.

Picture of a teddy bear on a bed, with a bowl of heart shaped cookies.
Photo by Dzenina Lukac from Pexels

Rejecting those things does not mean that I have turned into some paragon of virtue or self-control. It means that I have decided to make different choices. I love bagels, and I have a preferred brand, they are often my “go-to” breakfast four days a week or as an occasional evening snack. I love cheese, and we generally have an ounce of Colby jack cheese as part of an evening snack. Those simple foods are important to me and I continued eating them throughout my weight loss. So I am not suddenly splurging on them, but continuing to enjoy them.

I love rich creamy ice creams with lots of flavors, served in a cereal bowl, but I am willing to give that up in favor of maintaining my current size. Right now, and I hope for always, a chocolate Dixie cup ice cream a few nights a week, or an occasional small soft cone at the ice cream shop every few weeks in the summer is good enough.

And then there is bread. Don’t get me started. Well, I did start making my own bread a few months ago and I am learning as I go. I know from my own experience and from what social media friends have said, warm, freshly made bread can be a slippery slope. But I am pretty determined, so I slice and freeze the bread for my own use and weigh it, so that I am enjoying homemade bread, but limiting the enjoyment. I hope to write soon about my adventures in breadmaking so that is all I will say about that here.

Fear

I admit there have been times in the last few weeks that I have been afraid. I felt as though I were clinging to the wall of a tall building, for fear of going to close to the edge of reason, and falling off into an abyss made of chocolate syrup. So my first few weeks at goal, I only increased my calories to 1300-1350 daily. Now, two months after meeting my goal, I am pretty much holding at 1400-1500 calories a day and it feels like enough.

After all, this is still a work in progress and while I have learned to overcome emotional eating (for the most part) and practice mindfulness in choices and eating, there are some good habits I have yet to achieve. I am still not walking enough, still not drinking enough water and still, despite everything, forgetting to put my fork down between bites. A work in progress.

Determination and grace, lots of grace

Determination, along with a healthy plan and good support systems, have been key in the success that I have experienced. I try to never take it for granted. Some days, and today was one, that I find I am so hungry for something sugar laden, that I wonder if I have learned anything. Today, I succeeded and grabbed some grapes, counted and logged them along with a glass of sugar free ice tea. There is a bag of homemade cranberry scones on the counter, along with the blueberry scones I made for my husband. Planning on a cranberry scone for breakfast tomorrow and the rest will go in the freezer.

I plan to continue writing about this, charting progress and struggles in the hopes that there is something encouraging in my journey for others. And, it is a good way for me to remain accountable to myself at least. Sometimes, when I am hungry, and reach into the frig and pull out fruit, I wonder, “Who are you?”

I still feel the tug of frosting laden treats, but also know they are nothing but unrequited love. I am learning to love myself more than chocolate cake. ,I am still finding my way, and trying to not take anything for granted. I am thankful and still #Stronger than the Cookie.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon

Patient Prayers and Other Words

I began journaling my prayers, essentially writing letters to God, in a composition book in 1998. It has been a freeing spiritual practice for me. This post contains prayers that were written for the post, they are not “ripped from the pages of my prayer journal” but are very much my thoughts, reflections and prayers in this current season of our lives.

Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

A Prayer for Patience

Dear God,

You know that as a person and as a parson, I recommend prayer on a regular basis, especially prayer as a means of a maintaining a relationship with you, a means of two way conversation. So often prayer is regarded, and demoted to simply asking for things, as easily as one might call in an order to a local grocery store. Here is what I want, here is my list! Amen. Or, “inJesus’name,” (yes, that fast!) Amen.

One prayer that I discourage, however, is praying for patience, because it seems to me those requests for “Patience” are really something else. I think when we pray for patience it is because we want the thing we are experiencing to be taken away, done with, or otherwise ended. Pray for patience, and you are liable to be gifted with circumstances that require you to exercise patience and so build up your ability to be patient. That process requires cooperation on the part of the one praying, myself included. But when people pray for patience, my suspicion is that perhaps what they mean or need is endurance, not patience.

So, often my advice is, do not pray for patience unless you are prepared for the result. Pray instead for the ability to endure the circumstances, or at least to be able to discern. But I think there is an element of participation that is involved. I admit, Lord, that I do not know why this fact surprises some people.

An athlete who wants to excel in their sport has to participate in physical conditioning, whether it is push-ups, jumping jacks, running laps, or other strength building, endurance building exercicses. Participation in the process is a must.

Now that I have shared in writing, my particular prejudices about prayer for patience, I see that this prayer is actually a prayer of confession. Trusting you to show me the error of my ways.

Love, Michele

Picture of a person  in green scrubs holding  hands with a patient
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A Prayer for Patients’ Patience

Dear God,

Waiting for answers is so hard, whether it is for yourself or someone else. Waiting for biopsy results, waiting to see a specialist, waiting to know if they have cancer. Waiting with so many questions and wanting answers right away, wanting the doctors to know everything, because medicine and science have come so far in the last few decades. Today, in 2021, one hardly if ever hears a phrase that was once common place in the 1950s and 1960’s, “exploratory surgery.”

Yet, there are still invasive procedures, there are still times of waiting that seem endless, and questions, so many questions. Do I ask for a second opinion? Do I accept the suggested treatment without researching options? When it comes right down to it, God I am scared. When it comes right down to it, God, it is not the waiting that is the real problem. It is the answers.

And God, please guide my doctors.

Love, Michele

An “If there is anything I can do please call me” prayer

Dear God,

How am I supposed to answer that question? How do I even know what I need at this point? What are the limits and boundaries of what is being offered? What things are “off limits?” I am stressed, but I can still cook. Someone else could drive my spouse for treatments, or appointments, but I really need to be there to hear what the doctor has to say.

The truth is I have been on both sides of that offer. I have extended it, without any particular characterization or limits, and I have been the recipient of kind, although vague offers of help. This time around though I decided to act. A family in our community put a notice in a Community social media page offering assistance to “Elderly” families who need help with mowing. Did you notice the quotation marks around the word “Elderly?” that is because I am in denial. I am not convinced that at 71 I am elderly, although I admit to getting older.

“With my husband’s impending surgery and knowing he would not be able to mow, I finally reached out and asked specific question, and set a specific time frame (six weeks). Another friend who said, “If you need anything call me.” got a call, within two hours. I said, what I need most right now, is for you to come visit me. We can sit on the porch and sip tea and talk.” Another family friend prepared and delicious meal that took into consideration our calorie and carbohydrate information needs. Delish!

We are fortunate to live in a caring community, that is it’s own story. Thank you Lord, for the kindness of strangers and friends. Help me Lord, the next time I am tempted to offer a vague, “Call me if you need anything.” kind of offer, to find out what is needed or wanted, or to be specific in what I can do, like “I would be glad to pick up groceries on Tuesdays, or call me any afternoon if you need to vent, or need a ride to an appointment. Help me to never offer anything I do not mean to give and help me remember that helping them is a way of showing your love.

Thank you God, for hearing my prayer. Love, Michele

The hardest prayer

Dear God,

Christian Author Jan Karon, uses a phrase in the Mitford Series and Father Tim books, “The prayer that never fails.” It took me a lot of reading to realize that the “Prayer that Never Fails” is “Thy will be done.” But, God, I am not that mature. I always have a much clearer picture of my will than your will and I do not surrender easily. Help me, God, to be more discerning, more mature and to trust in your goodness, as I pray for others, as I pray for myself.

Sheepishly, Michele

Picture of a stuffed sheep on a desk with red paper hearts in the foreground.
Murray

In sickness and health

Dear God,

When I am working with couples who are preparing for marriage (the wedding, really), there are two questions I am careful to ask. “What is THE most difficult thing you have been through together?” And, looking at the traditional vows to “love, honor and cherish, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…” I ask them to write down two to three practical ways they will live those vows out. Hopefully, their difficult times will be minimal and the “Sickness and Health” part is a long way down the road. Getting ready for the wedding, it is hard to imagine, and perhaps morbid, too, the debilitating kinds of illness or injury of a spouse, child or family member that can require both a strong stomach and physical emotional endurance, but those things happen all the time.

In retrospect, I would tweak those questions a little bit and say, “if you, yourselves have not had anything too stressful to deal with together, check around your family, your church, your friends’ parents and ask if they will talk to you about the nitty gritty of life with illness or injury.” In almost thirty-five years of marriage, we have nursed each other through various surgeries and illnesses, joint replacements, and worse. When he is the patient and feels bad about the things I need to do, I just smile and say, “In sickness and health, dear.” It occurs to me these days that the long list of traditional vows, loving, honoring and cherishing are component parts of each of the other things. So that honoring and cherishing, are part of the actions needed “in sickness.” It is not sexy, but illness brings its own kind of intimacy and vulnerability that calls for honoring and cherishing, and preserving of dignity. Help me therefore, Lord, to not take cheap shots at the expense of a tender trust.

Thank you God, for your love and presence. Michele

A Prayer for Gratitude

Dear God,

Thank you for the gift of this day, the flowers that bloom, the clouds in the sky that look like floating mashed potatoes (no lumps!). Help me to be a person of gratitude, for my life, for my family and to you. Help me to notice the tangible expressions of grace and mercy. Help me to be thankful and not found wanting. Thank you for the gift of my life and all that it encompasses.

Love, Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Author info for Jan Karon: http://www.mitfordbooks.com/

My Summer Reading Plan

My summer reading plan is more of a how and when, than a what. But first, some background is in order. I love to read, it is an inherited trait from my mother. She was my first storyteller, the first person to read to me and the first person to take me to a book store and buy me grown up books.

We went to Saltmarsh’s, a book and stationary store in downtown New Bedford. New paperbacks cost an average of 35 cents in those days. She decided that I would like to read “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, and she was right. I also came home that day with a copy of “Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell,” and I loved reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”

Fast forward thirty plus years: one of the many blessings in my marriage is that my husband and I are both readers. There were times in our early marriage when we would read the same book. I called it a game of “dueling bookmarks” because I could read when he was driving, he read when I was cooking. In general though, we do not have similar tastes in books. But we have often sat at the dinner table or in the living room reading, and it has always struck me as feeling very companionable.

Clergy, and other Professionals Need to be Readers

In college and seminary, much of my reading was limited to course work and sermon writing. Each class syllabus contained an average of five to six books that were required reading. Unfortunately for me, I never learned to skim or speed read. I was too afraid I would miss something important. So I did my best to read everything that was required, skipping some things, I am only human.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Other resources that were used to write papers, I read just what was necessary. In addition to that reading though, a certain amount of reading is necessary in sermon preparation. There I do not attempt to read entire books, that would be impossible, but I do my best to read the relevant sections of three to five resources (commentaries).

That being said, much of my professional life has left little time for recreational reading, except…except for my audio book addiction. The first few years of college I listened to recorded lectures. By the time I graduated from college (at 49 years old) and started seminary (a three hour drive one way) I had three library cards to support my books on tape habit. In those days they were cassettes.

I would listen to history and some theology or philosophy, but most of my listening while driving was a variety of fiction books. Vacations were made for fiction, my favorite detective novels are a must and if they contain recipes, so much the better.

Being a pastor who preaches on average forty-eight Sundays a year, I have to be a reader. Sermons do not write themselves

Writers Need to be Readers; Bloggers Need to Read Other Bloggers

At this semi-retired stage of my life, I have more opportunity to read, but frequently struggle to make the time. I continue to listen to audio books when driving, even driving short distances when I am alone. Vacations are still made for fiction, although my recent vacation I made an uncharacteristic switch to non-fiction.

I still try to use at least three resources for sermon writing. I try to read at least five other blog posts, some weeks pushing it up to a lot more, depending on how many link parties I join. A link party is a meet up where bloggers share a post and hope that other bloggers will read and comment on our writing. In return, we do the same. While I consider this due diligence, it is not a dull or dry experience at all. Reading other bloggers had net me a sense of community made up of writers from around the world, that never would have happened any other way.

My Summer Reading Plan

Have I told you that I love television? Anyone who knows me well, even many of my parishioners could tell you what my most watched television shows are, and I do not mind watching repeats repetitively. Sometimes when you do that, you catch nuances that you missed the third or fourth time around. There is this other complication. I am easily distracted. When I sit down for some downtime, I am likely to bring along choices, as many as three or four possibilities and still reach for the remote.

This summer I have decided to turn over a new leaf. While I will continue listening to audio books when driving, I need more actual reading time. So my summer reading plan is this: to simply substitute watching repeats of my favorite shows with reading. That should net me eight to ten hours each week, of sitting with a book or e-book in my hand., enriching and feeding a need in my life. That is my how and my when.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

One of my goals is to list the books I have read, title, author and date read. I know there are apps for this, but I am an old-fashioned girl. While I use technology to the best of my ability in pursuit of contact with family and friends and also for ministry needs, I like nothing better than to take a pen and notebook and write. I write my sermon research notes, and I handwrite my much shorter preaching notes. I hand write my journal entries, so I will do that with at least a log of my summer reading.

This may be a recurring post and I may tell you what I am reading and what I like about it. If so, it will not be a traditional book review. There are many bloggers I know who do those very well, and others who will still read rings around me, despite the addition of eight to ten hours of reading time each week.

Vacation afforded me the opportunity to finish reading a book I had begun several months ago, but set aside. It was the story of the marriage of Martin Luther and Katherina Bora. Katherina and Martin Luther: The Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Radical Monk, by Michelle DeRusha www.michelederusha.com. I was able to find a quote from Martin Luther that I heard in seminary, but out of context, and the book filled in some information about the harshness of women’s lives in that time period and gave me a greater sense of gratitude for the freedoms I have. But I also found much of it shocking. I may have set the book down initially because I found it slow going, but this time around I was captivated. Favorite quote from Martin Luther? “Marriage is a chancy thing.” Agreed.

The first book that I started and finished! in this regime is blogger Liesbet Collaret’s first book, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary (I tried, valiantly, to be able to post the book covers for these two books, but got stuck on the technology. I hope you will take the time to look them up.)

I hated to put it down and couldn’t wait to pick it up again, to see what happened next. In the course of reading this book I have smiled, smirked, laughed, wept, worried and wondered. She has a way of bringing you into the story and sharing a bit of interior monologue as well. You just might want to read it with a handkerchief, to wipe away the salt water from the waves and wind, to wipe the occasional tears from your eyes, or to cover your mouth in mock shock. Seriously though, I was struck with admiration for her knowledge and ability to do the work of sailing, in partnership with her husband Mark. Liesbet blogs at Roaming About.

Wish me luck?

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon

Amanda in Malta

Doing something a little different today, by participating in a Virtual Book Tour to help promote author Darlene Foster’s newest book, Amanda in Malta. I hope you will check it out!

The Blurb:

 Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.
Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

There seems to be an animal in every book. Is there any significance to that?

Amanda loves animals, as many young people do. She would love a pet, especially a dog, but her parents say they are too busy to look after a pet. She makes a friend of Ali Baba the camel who she meets in Amanda in Arabia. In Amanda in Spain, she helps a Spanish rescue her dancing pony, Pedro from horse thieves. In England she meets a Maine Coon cat who lives in a bookstore and in Holland, Amanda and Leah find an abandoned puppy who they try to find a home for. In Malta, Amanda visits a Falconry and gets to hold Tinkerbell, a sweet tawny owl.  Amanda may not have a pet at home, but she meets special animals in her travels. Her love of animals displays her kind heart

Excerpt from Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

They had arrived at the Falconry Centre. After a short walk, they entered a spacious enclosure and were greeted by a friendly guide.

“My name is Allan. Merhba. That’s welcome in Maltese. If you’re lucky and the wind dies down, we will provide a show for you. In the meantime, you can view the birds and even hold some if you want. We’ve rescued most of the birds here. Often they’ve been found with a broken wing, so they can’t be released. Some we’ve raised ourselves. Follow me.”

He continued talking as they walked past massive cages. “Our aviary includes various falcons, hawks, eagles, vultures, and kites, as well as a number of owls. Malta has a falconry tradition that dates as far back as the thirteenth century. Emperors from all over Europe used to send their royal falconers to obtain highly-prized birds of Maltese origin.”

He stopped in front of one cage. A noble bird with a black head, blue-grey back, and white- striped under-feathers, perched on a branch.

“This, my friends, is the well-known Maltese falcon, or peregrine falcon as it is also called. Well known for its speed, it can reach over 320 kilometres per hour, or 200 miles per hour, during its hunting high-speed dive, called the stoop. It’s the fastest member of the animal kingdom and has been used in falconry for a long time, more than 3,000 years. Because of the widespread use of certain pesticides, the peregrine falcon became an endangered species in many areas of the world. But I am happy to report that this iconic bird is making a comeback here in Malta.”

“Do people hunt these birds?” asked Caleb.

“They used to. Malta was required to halt bird hunting in order to join the European Union in 2007. Sadly, there are still those criminals who think that they are above the law.” Allan clenched his jaw and looked down. “In fact, two white storks were shot just last week. They are a protected species too.” He shook his head.

“Oh, no.” Amanda’s eyes widened. “I saw a stork by the St. Lucian Tower earlier today.”

“They have a nest there and we have been keeping an eye on it. Hopefully, there will be little storks soon. Would you like to hold a bird?”

“You bet!” exclaimed Caleb.

“Yes, please.” Amanda beamed.

Allan handed them each a large glove. “Here, put on this leather gauntlet to protect your hand.” Then he opened the cage, walked in, and took out the falcon. He placed it on Caleb’s gloved hand and showed him how to stroke the bird with his other hand.

Caleb couldn’t stop grinning.

“This is Sonia. She is much larger than the male falcons.”

He looked at Amanda. “I have just the bird for you.”

Allan went to another cage, brought out an adorable owl and placed it on Amanda’s gloved hand. “This is Tinkerbell, a tawny owl. We rescued her from a restaurant where she was kept in a small cage and never let outside.”

Amanda squealed with delight. “She is sooo precious.” She held the bird close to her chest and stroked the owl’s soft brown feathers.

Be sure to read all the books in this exciting Amanda Travels series!
1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask
2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting
3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone
5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind
7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action
8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

Bio

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Social media links

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter

Twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Blog https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

The buy links

Amazon Canada here

Amazon UK here 

Amazon US here

Barnes and Noble here

Chapters/Indigo here

Looking for Some Feedback

This is the most unusual post I have written, partly because it will be SHORT! But I am putting this together with the plan to submit it to the link parties I try to participate in regularly, but also other followers will see this and comment.

I love my Word Press site and not looking to leave it. But because I am so new to blogging (almost a year and a half) I did not understand what to do with the “About Me” section or the contact page. I admit I share a lot of personal information in my blog, it is a memoir after all. But I have hesitated to put anything more specific in terms of contact, my exact geographical location, phone, etc. I have listed my personal e-mail, because one account is plenty to keep up with for me.

I have come to realize that as a result of this lack of knowledge, I did not really have a functioning menu, or a helpful one.

A fellow (sister) blogger recently mentioned that my “About” page was impersonal. I was not insulted by that at all, in fact I was challenged and then inspired by her comment. Inspired enough to take action. Another blogger several weeks ago mentioned an inadequacy about my contact page.

I looked at the blogs of several people that I follow to see what their “About” page lists. It was helpful. I decided to try something I hope is creative, and a little different from everything I have seen. I used a lot of picture and attempted to “show” in pictures and “tell” less in words. I did use my words, I am a writer after all.

My hope is that looking at my “About” page give you a good enough idea of what you are likely to find inside the blog itself.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

I am so pleased to have a functioning menu. Part of being new is that I acted under the assumption that interested readers would go right to the post without checking out the home page or menu.

What I have done is not set in stone, and I am not married to it. Like my writing, which is almost always long, there are a lot of pictures. Because of the nature of my blog is memoir, some of the pictures are old and worn. I am a little too!

So dear reader, please go to my site, https://msomervillesite.wordpress.com to the menu bar and click on About Me and The Beach Girl Chronicles. Constructive Comments welcomed.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Esme Senior Salon, #Life This Week (Denyse Whelan) and Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share