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PARAPROSDOKIANS December 31, 2012

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  PARAPROSDOKIANS I did not write the following. It was sent to me by a friend, but is so delightful I felt compelled to share. My favorites are numbers 6, 8 and 12.  Happy 2013!

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous. Winston Churchill loved them.
1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
9. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
10. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, Notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR’.
11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
13. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
15. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
16. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
17. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

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AWAKENING THE BUDDHIST HEART By Lama Surya Das December 27, 2012

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Awakening-the-Buddha-Within         When I tell others I am studying Buddhism, they take a step back or stare, almost with horror. But Lama Surya Das’ books explains the principles of Buddhism and how it can enrich our lives. The basic tenets are not much different from any other religion that preaches doing unto others as we would like done unto ourselves. I was greatly inspired by this book, which shows that adversity is a part of life, so it must be embraced. How? By looking deep to find the lessons hidden within. The book embraces concepts of letting go of old hurts to make room for new worthwhile people and experiences. It tells how we are all the same, so must all be revered. In Buddhism, this principle extends down to even the lowliest creature on the face of the earth, since Buddhist wisdom preaches reincarnation and relies on the belief that each and every person lived through a number of stages as animals, and even insects, before living even their first life as a human being.
        This book is very inspirational. It encourages us to live in the moment, keep our eyes wide open to pluck out the lessons from all our experiences and treat every creature on earth as a thing deserving of a pain-free life — the best and happiest life possible.
        Whether or not you are presently going through hard times, there are lessons and revelations within the pages of AWAKENING THE BUDDHIST HEART. I am now going on to another of Lama Surya Das’ books so I may continue to learn and soak up the teachings  of this wise and gentle man who has much to teach us all. AWAKENING THE BUDDHA WITHIN  actually came out before this selection, but I doubt the order in which they are read will matter much. I could not get a photo of AWAKENING THE BUDDHIST HEART to load into the blog, so took the Buddhist path, inserted the image of this book instead, and am happy for it.

WHY I STILL BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS December 13, 2012

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santa       I don’t remember how old I was when my aunt turned to me and said, “You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?” I know that I was young enough that my brother gasped and turned to stare at me with wide, horrified eyes and my mother was furious. But there was no need for shock or anger because I didn’t believe her anyway. I figured Santa simply gave up on those who didn’t believe in him and stole out of their lives, but was alive and ever-present for all of us who did. And I believe that to this day.
        Who among us doesn’t recall being a child and struggling to stay awake long enough to see or hear Santa’s sleigh? Do you still listen for it? I do, even though I can’t explain why, and my husband says this gives him all the evidence he’ll ever need to have me committed one day. But without fail, a fantastic wave of enchantment rises up and hits me every Christmas Eve. I suddenly turn back into that snotty-nosed little kid who strains to hear sleigh bells as her mile-long Christmas list parades through her head.
       To lose one’s faith in Santa Claus is an awful thing. It’s losing one of the most glimmering parts of yourself, and surrendering to an existence that doesn’t allow for magic, miracles or promise. It’s trading the possibility of all that can be for the mundane. I won’t ever lose my faith in Santa. My stocking might hang empty and my Christmas wish list may never grow any shorter, but every year I’ll receive a wonderful gift of hope while my heart beats quickly and my eyes shine with optimism as they stare up into a winter’s sky in search of Santa’s sleigh.
        Christmas isn’t just one day out of the year, it’s a season. To many, it’s only a season of shopping and baking and making yourself both crazy and broke. But for others, it’s a time to reflect and consider how to make a contribution to this world. Christmas is a feeling of goodness, a sensation of being connected to our fellow human beings, a flood of wonderful memories and a warming of the heart. It’s a time when we feel thankful for what we have and strive to share our good fortune with those less fortunate. The generosity of people donating to food banks, shelters and charities is overwhelming during the winter holidays, and if such rampant giving took place all year long, nobody would ever be hungry. This beautiful spirit of giving is Santa. He exists.

WRITING, VALIUM AND VODKA November 28, 2012

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        We ‘ve all heard about Thomas Kincaid doing himself in (perhaps accidentally as reported) with vodka and Valium. I must say, having just discovered this magical combination, that it’s a wonderful and very numbing concoction that allows cares to melt completely away. Why a successful recognized artist like Kincaid would need numbing is beyond me, but it’s a terrific diversion for someone like me who sits waiting, waiting, waiting for an agent to take me on — or a job offer in the nine-to-five world where I have never quite fit in. February will mark two years that I have been looking — submitting resumes weekly but getting a mere handful of interviews, and no calls back. Perhaps I don’t realize it, but am actually somehow blocking my success in that area since I truly want to write full-time.
I should be on top of the world right now. I had an agency request a six-week exclusive on one of my books. Two months later they reported a positive response and said it was going on to another reader. That was October 10 and I am still waiting for the second opinion. I have another agency looking at it, too, and their response is due any day now. But they are in NYC so who knows how long Hurricane Sandy will have set them back. These are reasons for hope, so perhaps I’m depressed because I’m in between books right now, having just finishing my latest. It’s hard for me to just live this life and not have a book to obsess me.
I work part-time at a small local paper and they sent the staff to a life coach so we could do an article on our experiences with her. She spoke about symbolic creatures — deceitful monkeys that climb on our shoulders and sabotage our success with their negative talk. If we listen, we fall. If we can ignore them, we can climb over them and crush them with the heels of our boots. She said their voices grow stronger the closer we get to our goals, so I am trying to keep those thoughts foremost in my mind and convince my brain that I am very close to success. Another statement I cling to until my fingers bleed is “Success is doing what you say you are going to do.” I say I am going to write and finish novels. And I do. That makes me, to some degree, a success. I’m a great success to my dogs. I get them fed every day. I take them out for walks and romps in all weather, and I provide them with their every wish and whim. As a matter of fact, I will finish this up and stumble outside with them for a while. It’s nice being a hero to someone.
But why am I so stressed? This is a dream life compared to those of people in many other parts of the world. I manage to pay my bills each month with my assortment of creative ways to make money. I lack for nothing, being sheltered, fed, clothed and entertained. But the monkeys on my shoulder keep scaring me about not having anything for retirement. Maybe I never will. I’ll be a greeter or hostess or a freelance writer forever. Let’s hope dementia sets in just enough for me to be one of those incessantly happy little ladies who are joyous for the experience of seeing every person whose path they cross.

If any of you have experience with Valium and vodka, please let me know so we can share war stories. I could use some contact with someone who understands what I’m going through.

AWAKENING THE BUDDHA WITHIN: TIBETAN WISDOM FOR THE WESTERN WORLD By Lama Surya Das November 18, 2012

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Whether you are merely curious about Buddhism or determined to transform your life, this selection is a storehouse of information about the Buddhist religion. Lama Surya Das shares his personal experiences, explains the messages and teachings of Buddhism and offers exercises to relieve oneself of negative and materialistic inclinations and step out onto a more peaceful and fulfilling path. This book is interesting, easy to read, and inspiring. It is a book to buy and keep always handy for reference to help awaken and enlighten.

A FEW LAST GLIMPSES OF FALL November 4, 2012

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          I finally downloaded the many pictures I have been taking into the computer. There are some very nice autumn shots, so I thought I’d share a few of them. Most were taken on the warm October afternoons when it felt as if fall would be with us forever. Today, it’s evident that it is past. It’s very cold, and the leaves are goners, merely soggy, shapeless clumps where they linger stubbornly on the ground.

           I like the shot of our barn with the branch boasting autumn colors draping across the front. The old oak and the other ancient trees on this side of the house are my solace all four seasons.

         It seems the only sign left of autumn is this bag of Halloween tortilla chips that we haven’t yet opened. So we better eat them slowly and savor each one, for they, too, will be gone before we know it.

FRANKENCAKE FOR THE FRANKENSTORM October 31, 2012

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        A rowdy gang of various storms joined forces, stitching themselves together into one big angry mess, and earning the name Frankenstorm. We here in NE Ohio were warned we’d get a healthy enough dose of this tirade and to be ready for power outages. I live in a rural area and have learned to stock up and just go ahead and complete all my errands for the week while I’m out to save having to tear myself away from my books another day. So I went and got a new pile of work to keep me going, filled up Vivian Vibe’s gas tank, and bought dog kibble and groceries.
        What is it about Halloween that makes your sweet tooth stand on end and scream for sugar? I can resist most candy, unless it’s truly luscious and decadent, but I had to grab some candy corn and those heavenly buttercream pumpkins that curl my teeth and make me swear off them for an entire year. But I also craved chocolate cake. The cake is so good this time of year, probably because of all the orange frosting. But there’s also a lot of green frosting appearing, and I found a doozie of a green cake. A Frankencake! Seeing how easy this would be to make, I have found a new Halloween party back up plan for future years.
        The wind is howling and pelting my windows with rain, leaves, twigs and other debris. Not very far away, Lake Erie is heaving herself up to devour the land. It’s wet and somewhat dismal, but dismal has its rewards, especially for a writer. As long as the power stays on, there are plenty of spooky movies to watch on TCM. There’s a fresh gallon of milk, a yummy cake and plenty of candles and lighters. This year, looks like it’s a Halloween hunker-down.

MAD DOCTORS CARVING PUMPKINS October 22, 2012

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         Much like a mad scientist, the pumpkin carver is creating life. The pumpkin turns under the carving knife from sluggish, faceless orange gourd into a glowing personality who will be around for a goodly time. So be wary of your creative cuts. The Lycan Libratrian will say no more about it. Not this time of year!
      

         It’s a glorious day here in Northeastern Ohio. The sky is bright blue with a few puffy clouds. Many leaves are still on the trees, and they’re drenched with reds, yellows, oranges, browns and greens. Two dogs and I spent the afternoon carving our first pumpkin of 2012. He’s a handsome fellow with sharp teeth and pupils that may or may not stay in his head once he heats up. The seeds from his guts are roasting in the oven, loaded with sea salt, and they smell heavenly.

        Since I feel so energized and inspired after completing that artistic endeavor, I have decided to carve a pumpkin a day. We had a bumper crop this year and I must have 30 of them skittering up and down the stairs of the porch and deck. I imagine they are all tumbling internally with nervous excitement at the thought of  wearing  glowing faces, and feel I have to carve as many as I can. I like to save a few, leave them whole, for Thanksgiving, but I still have an entire orphanage full of faces waiting to be lifted up into existence. Hooray!

     Go, right now. Run, walk, bike, or get there however you can, but go. Find that pumpkin display with the annoying Pumpkins 4 Sale sign, and pick yourself out a few. Live with them a few days until you see the faces hidden within them. And then let the blades fly as you dig and gouge and slice, and create your masterpiece. Once you light the candle plopped into the hollowed body, turn off the lights and look, look at your creation. There is only one thing to think while getting that first glance at a lit, freshly carved pumpkin. “It’s alive!”

DOUBLE YOLK EGGS October 20, 2012

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        Superstitions abound in all areas of our lives, and a rare occurence like a double yolk egg is supposed to be a portend of good fortune. Friends of ours began raising chickens this year and they sent over some eggs. The very first one I cracked had two beautiful golden yolks. So I’m calling out the gods of luck to send me my happy reward. If I were a high ruling entity I would enjoy sending these twin orbs out to bless the days of bakers, egg-eaters and breakfast makers. It seems such a lofty sign, as eggs are locked up so tightly, so chancing upon anything unusual when the seal is broken seems both fun and magical. Especially this time of year when magic is all around us, at every spin of a fallen leaf and in each blustery gale of wind. So off I go into my afternoon with high hopes for all good things. If this is an unfounded superstition, then I guess both yolks are on me. (Go ahead – groan. I groaned myself as I typed that.)

FALL FOODS October 16, 2012

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        Our ancestors always celebrated the fall harvest and took advantage of their last days of nice weather for the year. The tradition continues, especially  in those places that really know it’s winter once that brutal season arrives. I went to our Huntsburg Pumpkin Festival, but there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. But this past weekend I went to the Burton Apple Butter Festival and ate my way through it. Before stepping onto the grounds of the event, it was necessary to pass numerous vendors displaying their wares. The jewelry was as tempting to me as the food, but, unfortunately, nobody was offering free samples of the jewels. There were tables and tables of food for sale, and every few steps there were new interesting treats to sample. So I nibbled fudge, truffles, salsas, breads and apples. I did buy some incredible truffles. They were labeled as “Adult Truffles” because they contained alcohol. I bought the Ramped Raspberry and Christmas Cherry flavors because they contained 100 proof vodka, my drink of choice.
       

        Once reaching Century Village, there were more options presented. One simply has to taste the delicious, warm apple butter being produced before your eyes. The aromas of apples and spices hung heavily in the air, which was just crisp enough to feel like fall, yet warm and comfortable enough to spend a day outdoors. My first food purchase was a half-dozen tiny donuts covered lavishly with sugar and cinnamon. Thank goodness I had a friend along to help me eat them. But then she spotted the apple butter spread on homemade Amish bread and I had to help her eat that. We shared a tub of french fries sprinkled with vinegar and lots of salt, and washed it down with some cold apple cider. We walked around some more and went into the fabulous historic buildings that had been plucked from their original sites and planted in the village through the years, and marveled at how easy our lives are today. Wringer washers, hundred year old kettles and pans, and hand-operated woodworking tools were sharp reminders of the hardships of life past.
       

        My last bit of food was chicken fajita. When I passed the stand on the way in, I decided that was what I would have. I considered having it without the chicken and with only the grilled veggies, but decided at the last minute to include the meat. I often don’t, because I prefer free range chicken or no meat at all, but was told these were made from local poultry who had normal lives and had been permitted to peck for bugs in the grass and enjoy the feel of the sun on their wings. (Now I just made myself feel bad for eating one of them.)  Once we waddled to the car, I felt fuller than I have in a very long time. But, oddly, was hungry later that night. So I ate an apple, had some tea, and that was enough.
         

          This is my favorite time of year because it is a treat for every sense. There are beautiful colors, amazing aromas, delightful things to taste, crisp breezes to flow along your skin, the crackle of dried leaves under your feet, and intoxicating bonfires that also provide wonderful smells, sights and sounds. Fall is gorgeous here, and is the favorite season of many people in the area. To me it’s worth it to put up with winter because the other three seasons provide such a wealth of wonderful experiences. Of course, it’s easier for a writer who works from home to say that than the poor sap who has to drive to and from work five days a week. I get to play with the dogs in the snow, sip tea as I stare out at a raging blizzard, and, best of all, ignore those weather forecasts that are wrong about as often as they are right. Lucky, lucky me!

        Enjoy your autumn.