Southern Reflections

So…the trophy wife and I spent our anniversary week (28 years) in one of our favorite places, the mountains of North Carolina. We got a hotel room in a nice place on the river in one of the small towns in western North Carolina, and then visited other small towns around the area to just browse the shops and take in some local restaurants. No chain places for us on these trips. That’s part of getting away. The picture above is one I took just looking down the main street of one of the towns, and all of them pretty much look the same.

One of these towns is a stopping point for the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad train excursion. Riders get off the train and have some time to eat and browse, before getting back on and going back to the start. We took the lunch excursion a couple years ago on a previous anniversary trip and loved it.

While the group was in town I overheard one of the men comment that he wished they had stopped in a “nicer place”. I looked at him and noticed that he was probably in his thirties, wearing his modern clothes and a man purse. I couldn’t help but wonder where he was from and the fact that “he just don’t get it”. The town we were in is one of the most quaint and creative towns in this area, and it’s really neat to just walk and explore. Plus, the restaurants are really good here. Maybe it’s because I’m middle-aged, or that I grew up around a lot of this culture, or that I just have an appreciation for artisans and creative minds. I don’t consider myself better than anyone else, but I don’t think I’d put myself into a situation where I wouldn’t appreciate my surroundings.

Another reflection I had was in one of the shops, looking at some cookbooks of mountain cooking and country cooking and “hillbilly” cooking. I got to thinking about how we can go online and easily find recipes for anything and everything we want to cook and eat. I also got to thinking that there are so many recipes in those old books that no one ever hears about or cooks again. It made me wonder a couple things. One, would a lot of younger people even know what some of the ingredients were to some of those old dishes and, two, could you find a lot of the ingredients, with a lot of them being locally grown and referred to by names in the vernacular. I didn’t study any of them to test my musings. Coming from an Appalachian family, I just bet that seeing some of them would bring back some wonderful memories.

I love my time in the mountains. I spend a lot of time in the woods as a young boy, and love the feeling of being back outside. I live in a small town, just an hour away from western NC, so it’s always a quick and easy trip to return to those feelings when I need a recharge.

First Day of School

With school starting soon, and some already started, I am reminded of the day I took my oldest to her first day of kindergarten. I was worried that she would be one of those who would cry and not want me leave her there. Boy! did she surprise me.

All the way to the school I talked with my five year old daughter about being at the school all day, and meeting lots of new people and making new friends. I really tried to build it up so that she would feel better about being there. Well…when we got there her teacher came over to the car and opened the door. With a big smile and a bright, cheery, “Hello”, she helped my brave daughter out of the truck, and walked her, hand-in-hand to into the classroom. I CRIED ALL THE WAY HOME! I remember telling my wife, “She just went into the classroom! She didn’t even look back and wave to me!”

And she hasn’t looked back since. At an early age she knew she wanted to teach and, twenty years later, is about to start her fourth year as a middle school English/Language Arts teacher. She’s still having first days of school.

Sending best wishes to all students, parents, teachers, administrators and support staff for a great, exciting, safe and prosperous new school year.

I’m Still Here And Active

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

When I started blogging last September, I honestly didn’t give myself much credit for writing and keeping up with it. I figured it would have played out by Christmas. Now, here I am, eleven months later with thirty-three posts published, visited 398 times and 734 views. For those who do not know, I started blogging after a near-tragic medical event last August forced me to look at a lot of things in my life; things I had accomplished, things I was in the middle of accomplishing and things I always wanted to do, but never made time for them. To be honest, I am still having a hard time making time for things, thus the nearly three-month gap since my last blog post.

I have always said that I have several books swimming around in my head that I have just not put on paper. Last August I told myself that, if I was ever going to write a book, it was time to do it. I started thinking about what all went into writing and publishing and everything else that took a book from the initial conception to the shelf. Then I remembered that my daughter has been a Twitter user for several years, and has networked with several authors in the children’s and young adult genres. So, I set up a Twitter account with the intention of connecting with writers, authors, editors, publishers and people in all other areas of the “book biz”. What an amazing experience it has been, too. I have met some truly amazing authors, writers and bloggers. I have bought, received and read a lot of their books, regardless of genre. I have become a freelance reviewer on Amazon and Goodreads, and have posted several reviews here on my WordPress site. One of the authors I have met is New York author, William Lobb (you can read more about Bill in my blog review of his novel, The Third Step). It was Bill that told me to start a blog. He said it would not only get my words out to the public, but would also be good writing practice. To date, my blog posts have been seen in 14 different countries! WOW!

So, what have I been up to lately? Reading and reviewing mostly. As I said, I have been reading books of authors I have met, and I review on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as on here. I am still plugging away on my debut novel, which I am planning to self publish Winter 2019 (that’s the projected goal, anyway, and is subject to change). I am also working on a crime short story and an historical poem, along the lines of Walt Whitman. Three things I’d like to mention (It’s my blog and I’ll toot my own horn, if I want lol).

I am on a launch team for Allie Compeau’s soon-to-be-released children’s book, Aster The Spirit Talker, which is scheduled for release on August 7. I have written about Allie before (Meet K Alice Compeau). It’s a great book, and I have my review ready for launch day. I am currently reading her book, A Night Game, which is scheduled for later release.

My friend, Australian author, RL Andrew has just completed her second novel, A Demigodess’ Guide To Interplanetary Parenting and is sending me signed copies of the first and second novels (the first being A Lunatic’s Guide To Interplanetary Relationships). In a tweet the other day about her second novel, she told me that I had a mention in the acknowledgements! RL is an amazing author, as well as an inspirational woman. She is chronically ill, yet she still manages to, not only write, but meet and greet her fans at book fairs and market events. She is currently working on the third book in the series.

Another author friend, Sarah Tyley, author of Spaghetti Head, has, along with notable writers, host Becky Slack and guest tutor Helen Cross, started a Writer’s Workshop in SW France, and Sarah has asked me to submit a couple blog posts along the lines of “getting started” for their website. So, I will be submitting those as soon as possible. If you are reading this post, and are in or around the Southwest of France, AND/OR think you might be interested in their workshop in September, you can get more information about the workshop from their website: http://www.latelierdesecrivains.com.

Needless to say (but I will anyway) I am deeply appreciative and humbled by these three wonderful ladies for thinking of me, and giving me an opportunity to be a part of their writing successes.

Until next time (hopefully not three more months)…

Keep On Pushin’

5E22CD74-2F8D-4902-99AC-C6342AE12D19I have been saying for a couple years that I am going to take my old push mower and have a new engine put on it, so I can start pushmowing my yard again, and, in pure procrastinator fashion, have put it off…until recently. My yard consists of a little less than an acre and, for the first ten to twelve years we were in the house, I used that old push mower to keep the grass cut. When the engine was no longer serviceable I bought a nice little riding mower, which I have been using since.

My rationale for having a new engine put on the push mower was that I needed to start pushing the yard again for health reasons mainly. It would give me a reason to get outside and move, getting in a good walk in the process. Also to get hard to reach places, thus cutting down on using the weed eater. Well, about three weeks ago something broke in the engine of the riding mower with only a little bit of the yard left to mow. I told myself that, if I’m ever going to get a new engine for the push mower, now was a good time to do it. I also told myself that if I don’t start pushing the yard again now, I never will do it again. So, I threw my old push mower in the back of the truck and took it to the outdoor power supply store.

Yesterday, for the first time in about eighteen years, I push mowed ‘God’s Little (close to an) Acre’, and learned a few things:

1. It takes longer to do it with the push mower than it does with the riding mower.

2. Tracking my steps and distance showed that I almost double my mileage during two hours of mowing the yard, than I do during a twelve hour work shift.

3. It was a whole lot easier to do it eighteen years ago, when I was in my thirties, than it is now in my fities! In my defense, though, I had been awake about twenty-one hours and the temperature was already in the upper eighties before 9:00am.

It’s not even summer yet, and the temps are already pushing 90s?! I think I’m going to go and find a nice big, zero-turn, 78 inch cutting radius, heavy duty riding mower, and hire the guy who owns it to bring it to the house and cut my grass this summer!

I’m just kidding. I’ll push on (pun intended), and stick with it for a while anyway. Who knows. It may provide material for some future blogs.A9958B31-4C8F-425B-AA9B-85622EA8EE84.jpeg

 

King Arthur Challenge Complete! ⚔️🛡

So…in my last post, I told you about the virtual challenge I signed up for through Yes.Fit, the King Arthur Challenge. I am happy to announce that I have completed the challenge, days before my set goal. I promised that I would give tidbits of information as I went along, regarding the route as it partained to Arthurian legend, however, I got so caught up in the challenge, and virtually passed through townships so fast, that I couldn’t keep up with the research. I did learn about the virtual race course, though, and Yes.Fit would send me snapshots of the course as I went along, things that I would see if I was walking the course in real life. At certain mileposts they would send me links to pages, such as National Geographic and other sites about some of the history of the area and Arthurian legend, so I got to see some of the landscape and learned something as I walked the 23.2 miles to complete the challenge. Some of the things that I had been conscious about while doing the virtual challenge was keeping up with my distances each day. I tracked my progress on the Apple Health app on my phone, and I found myself purposely walking the longer routes and moving more. It was so neat to look at the app at the end of each day and see the number of miles walked and steps taken. It was also good to go to the Yes.Fit app dashboard and see the miles walked getting higher and higher each day. Being mindful of what I was eating and drinking was also, always, a plus.

As of now I am into my next challenge, The Way Of The Warrior, based on the ancient Samurai. It is a 77.5 mile challenge, and I look forward to completing it soon. I haven’t set my goal for this race yet, but being back at work should help with racking up the walking miles. Again, I will be tracking my distance and steps taken progress. Hopefully I will see some major improvements in my weight and overall health throughout all of this.

Come Take A Walk With Me, Virtually

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So…while perusing Facebook recently, I discovered a new app that allows the user to participate in virtual races. It’s called Yes.Fit, and they offer “over 65” different virtual challenges of varying lengths and series. They also have specialized races from time to time that are for specific categories and/or are limited to a number of participants. The best part of the program is that you can complete the challenges at your own pace, however, be advised that some of them may be time sensitive. I used the picture of the knight for this one, because the race I have chosen for my first challenge is called King Arthur. The legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have always been an interest of mine since I was a kid, and this one jumped out at me.

It was very easy to set up my profile and get started. I picked the race I wanted to do, picked my reward (yes, just like any other race you sign up for, you have a choice of a medal or a T-shirt at an additional cost), entered my shipping and payment information and I was set. Yes.Fit progress can be tracked through a number of fitness devices. I am using Apple Health on my phone for now, but may go to another device, as I don’t always have my phone on me when I walk.

My plan is to do this virtual challenge to get myself into a better routine of getting out and moving more, however, I want to take it a step further. Each challenge gives you an introduction to the race, plus a map of where you would be walking if you were doing it for real. This challenge is 23.2 miles long, and runs “along the rugged North Coast of Cornwall to Tintagel”. As I get further into each journey and come into different towns, I plan to blog about each town and some of the history as it may partain to Arthurian legend. You can join me in one of two ways. You can go to the Yes.Fit page on Facebook and sign up for your own challenge, or continue to follow my blog and walk along with me that way. Since this is my first race with Yes.Fit I’m not sure what all to expect. They sent me a picture this morning of a coastal scene from the beginning of the race. I’ll try and add those to the blogs, too.

I encourage you to go and check out the Yes.Fit Facebook page (Yes.Fit) and see what all they have to offer. I mentioned at the top that they offer challenges in different series. They have series, such as folklore, legends and myths; literary figures and authors; scenic highways and byways; wine countries; the Appalachian Trail and a lot more. You may find one that jumps out at you, too.

You all have a great day. I’ll blog more later. Right now, though, I’m going for a walk.