Author Archives: Miriam Hurdle

Lens-Artists Challenge #125 – Save the Ocean

This week it’s all up to us – Tina asked us to choose our subject and to share whatever it is about it that we find interesting. 

I’m always interested in our planet earth. April 22 this year marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. For this post, I would like to reflect on what oceans mean to us and the part we play to save the ocean.

Oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and all the creatures that live there. They cover nearly three-quarters of the earth and hold 97% of our planet’s water. We depend on the oceans for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and even the products that keep us warm, safe, informed, and entertained. Ocean water can give our brain and senses a rest from overstimulation, get into a mindful state, and trigger insights and ideas. It also inspires us to be more compassionate and connected.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” – Sarah Kay

A morning walk with some lady friends on Huntington Beach, California.

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and, in its depths, it has its pearls too.” – Vincent van Gogh

My husband dived in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. His diving buddy took the photo.

“The sea knows no limits, makes no concessions. It has given us everything and it can take everything away from us.” – John Ajvide Lindqvist

Our last trip to Maui, Hawaii, on the way to Road to Hana.

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” – William James

We loved to visit Makena Beach, Maui, Hawaii.

“Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” — Christy Ann Martine

This was one of the surfers paradise day with waves at 10 feet high at Newport Beach, California.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Robert Wyland

I was so excited to see the school of dolphins swam under our diving boat in North Carolina.

“Like the ocean that remains calm in its depths even when waves rage over its surface, and like the sun that continues shining on high even during storms, we can at each moment create value and develop our state of life, enjoying our existence to the fullest in times of both suffering and joy.” –Daisaku Ikeda

Our first day of the Ensenada cruise on the North Pacific Ocean.

Ocean Threats and Solutions

Human Activities are threatening the health of the world’s oceans. More than 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From coral bleaching to sea level rise, entire marine ecosystems are rapidly changing. Global warming is causing alterations in ocean chemistry and many oceanic processes, and it is threatening many species of marine animals that cannot cope with higher temperatures. Overfishing is a serious problem in many parts of the world.

Conservationists advocate creating expansive marine reserves to protect the biodiversity of the oceans. We can play our part to reduce carbon dioxide, use reusable instead of single-use plastic products, properly dispose of hazardous materials, use less fertilizer, pick up garbage and littler near beaches, and buy ocean-friendly products and eat sustainable seafood – Sustainable seafood guide.

The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative asked Sir David Attenborough and four other leading thinkers on ocean conservation how they would invest $1 billion to protect the ocean.

YouTube June 8, 2020 12:11 minutes

~

Lens-Artists Challenge #125 – Save the Ocean

.

.

My Multitalented Muse

Fantasy, Fee, Flower, Meadow, Leaves, Wing, Magic
Images by Willgard at Pixabay

“You have a post to write for Diana’s prompt,” my muse said.

“I remember. I’ll do it when I get home from the walk,” me said.

“You can do both, walking and writing on your phone.”

“I know, it’s not the first time. I haven’t decided what to write, though. I took several days off from writing.”

“You’re supposed to write about your conversation with me. So just write what we’ve said so far and continue.”

“Okay… now I must slow down my walk. Good thing it hardly has any traffic in the neighborhood. I still ought to be careful. One eye on the phone, one eye on the road… alright, I’ve done this much. Then what?”

“Let me paint you a picture.”

“What are you talking about? I’m the in-house artist. Besides, we’re walking. How can you paint?”

“I’ll show you, just wait.”

“I see. There are words.”

“Exactly. Does it look like anything you know?”

“Well, half of it resembles something I remember and half of it looks disaster.”

“Remember now?”

“Remember what?”

“Of what it looks like…”

“The only thing I could think of is what I did for NaNoWriMo in 2017.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I didn’t write for days over the holidays but still wanted to reach the word count. I kept writing without the coherent plot.”

“What happened after that?”

“I put it in a folder, one of my many writing folders.”

“Are you going to do something about it?”

“I’m too busy to pick it up right now.”

“I know. You’re halfway through another project but kept going back to the beginning. Why?”

“I’m editing from the beginning.”

“Aren’t you supposed to finish the entire book before editing?”

“Well, I just need some satisfaction of polishing a few chapters and call them semi-done.”

“Don’t wait for too long before writing a new chapter.”

“I’ve been busy with another project as well.”

“I know. I’ve been helping you.”

“You have? What did you do?”

“Come on, be sensible. Didn’t I help you with the description of the book cover?”

“The last thing was the description of the children’s book cover for the illustrator. I thought I had given him a description.”

“You gave him a sketch of the book cover suggestion. He needed a description. You can’t assume what you see is the same as what he sees in the sketch.”

“Sorry for being absentminded. You helped to make some bullet points for him. Did he get the idea now?”

“I don’t know. You must wait for him to send you the sketch to see if your bullet points made sense to him. I can’t read his mind over the internet. I can’t talk to him either. He is in Ukraine.”

“Now what?”

“He would do unlimited revision, wouldn’t he? He did for many pages so far.”

“It took a year to find someone to work with. Three gigs failed me. The last one waited a month to tell me his grandfather died. I wonder how many times his grandfather died. This gig is busy, but at least he spends some time on my project.”

“I hope this gig’s grandfather won’t die too soon.”

“He put a lot of work into it. I don’t think he wants me to cancel the order, or he cancels on me at this point.”

“Fingers crossed.”

“Well, mate. We’re home.”

“Isn’t it a perfect timing? Now, just email the notes to yourself.”

“I can do that at the front porch. Until next time, my walking buddy.”

~

For Diana W. Peach – My Multitalented Muse

.

.

Lens-Artists Challenge #124 – Now and Then

Happy Thanksgiving from Beach Ford! | Beach Ford

This week Amy invited us to reflect on our time staying at home mostly due to the pandemic, compared to what happened to our life prior to this situation. What happened then, and what happened now?

“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” — Albert Schweitzer

It has been over eight months since COVID-19 hit. Did time go by fast?

It did not; it was like forever. The second week of March was difficult to be confined at home. I wanted to run outside to do something. I wanted to shout or talk to someone. It was boring to do the same things day after day. There were no special events such as travel, movies, family and social gathering, birthdays, or holidays to punctuate the different seasons. As time went by, I accepted the new normal and set up my new routine. In fact, I appreciated the concentrated time to do certain tasks without interruption. Even when the social distancing was relaxed, I was not ready to take risk except going to see my granddaughters with great caution.

On the other hand, time went by fast. This one enormous bubble of a single day was in fact eight months long. Yet, it will not last forever. History told us that this will end. I will do my part to observe the safety regulation. I will stay safe and keep healthy, so when this is over, I can fully enjoy my family.

We had been doing major traveling since 2000, went to Australia, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, Austria, Spain, and China, to name some countries. We didn’t go anywhere except Portland to see Mercy and her family. I spend a lot of time gardening.

Toledo, Spain

Thanksgiving is our major family gathering time. Two sister-in-laws and I took turns to host the Thanksgiving dinner. Mercy and her family came to California to join us. Two weeks ago, California, Oregon, and Washington jointly announced a new restriction. Upon arriving in Oregon, we would have to be self-quarantine for 14 days. The new spikes of cases spread throughout the country, it is worse than March when the pandemic started. Hubby and I will spend the holiday just the two of us, and cook a 15-pound turkey, eat some and freeze some for later.

Autumn had a big birthday party with many friends her age in 2019. We are not big cake eaters. Autumn had a birthday pie. This year, she had a smaller birthday party in the front yard serving a cake to her friends and aunties and uncles. They came in masks keeping the social distancing.

Nora is growing fast. The first two years of a kid’s life is the fast growing period in proportion to the remaining of one’s life. When I visited her in August, she was not sitting up yet. She turned eight months two days ago. She is now sitting up and enjoys eating many mashed veggies.

.

Lens Artists Challenge # 124: Now and Then

.

.

Lens-Artists Challenge #123 – Found in the Neighborhood

This week for Lens-Artists Challenge #123, Ann-Christine invited us to look at our neighborhood and see what we can find regardless of being trapped in our Covid19 bubbles.

It has been a while since we last walked around Laguna Lake which is within walking distance from our home. The weather in the last several months has been crazy with record breaking heat, stubborn fires, and a sharp drop of temperature with pouring rain. We had no other options exception staying home especially under the restriction of Covid-19.

After the cold spell, the temperature warmed up to 89oF this afternoon.  The trail around the lake is only ¾ mile. We walked around it twice. The waterfowls normally migrate in the winter but it’s not cold enough yet. They are still around in the afternoon sun. When the Egyptian geese first came to Laguna Lake, they only showed up occasionally. A year ago, they decided to make the lake their home.

The lake was built in the early 1900s as a watering hole for livestock. The lake originally was up to 11 feet deep, by the mid-1990s, had decreased to 5 feet as years of sludge piled up. In September 2004, the renovation started with the funding of $2 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, because the muck from the lake drained to the ocean after storms.

In the process of draining the lake, the workers discovered a monster, known to locals as Old Bob, who turned out to be a 100-pound alligator snapping turtle.

When the restoration completed in 2006, the lake was restocked with 1,000 trout, bass, catfish, and bluegill. Anybody with a fishing license can cast a line into the lake, but only the trout are large enough to keep.

Today, Laguna Lake Park is a pleasant park for joggers, hikers, bikers, horse riders, fishing, picnic, parents walking with their kids or baby in the strollers, or owners walking with their pets.

Home owners by the lake built staircases to have easy access to the lake.

524-Laguna Lake – Fullerton,CA – Where In The World Is Scott
Old Bob, Google Image
Fullerton asks: Why is Laguna Lake leaking, and how can it be stopped? –  Orange County Register
Old Bob, Google Image

.

Lens-Artists Challenge #123 – Found in the Neighborhood

.

.

Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #24 – The Odds

This is Weekly “Fiction in a Flash Challenge” Week #24. Each week Suzanne Burke will be featuring an image and inviting us to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the week #24 Image Prompt.

people-3120717_1920
Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay

The Odds

“Christmas is around the corner. My parents are hosting the family gathering this year. My mom is sending out invitations to all our extended family. It will be 58 people if they all could come,” Margaret said.

“How often do your parents host the Christmas party?” Darin asked.

“Once every five years. My mom has four siblings married with children. My dad has one sister. They live all over the country. My grandparents live close by.”

“Most of you aunts and uncles are from the same family. It sounds cozy.”

“My mom wants you to come.”

“Of course, I’ll come. We have a small family. Just my parents, three sets of aunts and uncle, my grandparents, and me. I should spend Christmas morning with them. I’ll come in the early afternoon. Is it okay?”

“Sure, the party will be all day long.”

“I’ll be away for a few days after Christmas.”

“Where’re you going?”

“It’s a long story. Well, I have to tell you, eventually. My parents shared something with me a year ago. My dad said he couldn’t give children to my mom. He suggested having sperm donation at a fertility clinic. My mom agreed. In fact, he went with my mom for the insemination.  My dad waited for my mom’s procedure. I felt awkward that my dad is not my dad. I mean, I don’t have his genes. It doesn’t matter now. He’s my only dad. They said that having children through using donated eggs, sperm or embryos are common alternatives for couples who have infertility problem to have their biological children.”

“Oh, thank you for telling me. I got something to tell you. But tell me more.”

“My dad suggested I had a DNA test to locate the sperm donor because it was anonymous at the time of the process. Not that he wanted me to meet him, but just didn’t want to leave it as a mystery.”

“Did you do it? What did you find out?”

“I did the DNA test. Unfortunately, I found out something shocking and wished it wasn’t true.”

“What was it?”

“The DNA pointed to a doctor who used his own sperm to help around 600 women conceived. Someone started a website calling people to do DNA test to find out if this doctor was their sperm donor. The guy of the website says these 600 people were literally half-siblings. The purpose of the identification was that people who have this doctor as the sperm donor won’t end up getting married. The risk that two of the offspring may meet unknowingly and start a family of their own, which could cause serious genetic problems in their children.”

“Oh, no.”

“What’s the problem? What’s wrong?”

“My mom told me when I turned 18, that she had me from a sperm donor. She also asked me to take a DNA test to identify the donor.”

“Oh gosh, what were the odds we met?”

 “Why will you be away after Christmas?”

“Among the people responded, five of them, two men and three women, who live in the neighboring states would like to meet. After all, they are… we are half-siblings. We just want to meet and talk. Did you find out the name of the donor?”

“Yes, the last name is Vardags. He was an Oxford law student at that time, and he only made one donation. What’s the name of your donor?”

“It was Dr. Bertold Wiesner. Oh, gosh, I’m so relieved. I don’t want to call you my sister. I want you to be my wife.”

.

Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #24 – The Odds

.

.

Breaking News

I don’t normally post local or international news, but I just made an exception.

(CNN) Drugmaker Pfizer said Monday an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective — a much better than expected efficacy if the trend continues.

By Nadia Kounang, CNN Updated 11:08 AM ET, Mon November 9, 2020

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN that Pfizer expects to have 50 million vaccine doses globally this year, and 1.3 billion in 2021. Continue reading…

(The world population in 2020 is 7.8 billion.)

.

.

.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #122: The Sun will come out Tomorrow

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #122, we are excited to have Ann as the guest host. Ann invited us to look at the theme, “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow.”

I follow the theme to meditate on the sun will come out tomorrow. This thought also led me to contemplate the idea that on a cloudy day, the sun is shining bright in the sky even when we don’t see it.

“What I know for sure is that every sunrise is like a new page, a chance to right ourselves and receive each day in all its glory. Each day is a wonder.” – Opera Winfrey

When something went wrong, instead of spending too much time asking why it happened, I found myself asking, “What should we do next?” It’s valuable to assess what went wrong so we could avoid making the same mistake. Staying in the pity pit for too long and we could be drowned.

Sunrise at a beach

“Hope abides; therefore, I abide. Hope abides; therefore, I bide. Countless frustrations have not cowed me. I am still alive, vibrant with life. The black cloud will disappear, the morning sun will appear once again in all its supernal glory.” – Sri Chinmoy

On one Maui trip, we drove up to the Haleakalā or the East Maui Volcano. The tallest peak of Haleakalā (“house of the sun”), at 10,023 feet (3,055 m), is Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill). Halfway up the mountain, the black clouds gathered, and it started to rain. We droved past the low clouds. I saw the bright sun in the clear sky. It was an experience I never forget. How often do I stay below to see the black cloud and forget the sun is still there even though I don’t see it at the moment? The similar experience applied to traveling on the plane. I could see the sun above the fluffy black clouds.

Haleakalā National Park
Key West sky

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some people say they don’t have any pleasant memories in their lives. I wonder if we could create a good memory today. When tomorrow come, we would have one day of good memory. It’s like making a deposit of one positive day at a time to the “Good Memory” bank.

Anchorage, Alaska

“Grace comes into the soul as the morning sun into the world: there is first a dawning, then a mean light, and at last the sun in his excellent brightness.” – Thomas Adams

My husband Lynton said to me, “I kiss you and tell you ‘I love you’ before we go to bed every night because I don’t know if we would die asleep. I hold you tight in the morning because I’m happy that we are alive to welcome a new day.”

Laguna Lake, California

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” – Helen Keller

There’s no doubt we have shadows in our life, the matter is our choice. We choose to face the sun and focus on the energy that carry us through the darkness.

A local park in Portland, Oregon

.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #122: The Sun will come out Tomorrow

.

.

New Release of Lords of Chaos by Diana Wallace Peach

Hot off the press! I’m excited to let you know that Diana W. Peach has a new release of Lords of Chaos (Unraveling the Veil Book 3).

A New Novelist's Dream Come True - Almost An Author

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2.jpg

First, Diana shared with us the story behind the journey of writing this series:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b1eslye7ljs._sy600_-1.jpg

When I started this series, back in July of 2018, I had no idea that I’d be finishing it up in late October of 2020, a year later than planned.

I couldn’t have imagined that my parents’ health would take a nose dive with E.coli, heart attacks, and a stroke. Nor that the world would be dealing with a rampaging virus and all the associated anxiety. Who knew that Chaos would become the order of the day – on and off the page?

But writing is about perseverance, determination, patience. Those who’ve finished books, regardless of the everyday chaos in their lives, know what I’m talking about. There’s no easy path up the mountain, and sometimes the journey becomes strenuous. There are cramps. There are blisters. We’re grubby and worn out when we get to top. But what a breathtaking view!

So here I stand at the top of my little summit, enjoying the sunshine and leafing through the latest book. Lords of Chaos finishes up the Unraveling the Veil series. I wonder what awaits me on the other side.

Now, let’s learn more about Lord of Chaos.

Amazon Purchase Link


The Blurb

In this thrilling conclusion to the Unraveling the Veil series, tensions mount and war looms.

After saving the changeling queen from a savage death, a second sworn oath sends Naj, Alue, and Talin to the mine where the first disappearances set the wheels of anarchy in motion. But it’s not the renders of Kalann il Drakk, the First of Chaos, who confront them in the blackness of the collapsed tunnels. It’s another foe, no less deadly.

When brutality strikes in the stone cells of the Authority, accusations and blame splinter trust. The fragile threads of loyalty that once bound the companions together on an impossible mission fray. The alliance finally breaks.

Naj, a goblin mage and traitor, returns to Jad’ra, determined to defend his home. With nothing to lose, Talin retreats to the changelings’ jungle to find his queen a stranger and his city on the verge of burning. Alue journeys to the Riverlands on a hopeless quest to enlist the aid of the elfin king.

All the while, the First of Chaos gloats. For only as allies will his three adversaries prevail. Above the hall of the First, the Veil vanishes before the truth. The hordes of chaos descend on the known land, and the final battle begins.

Continue to read more about the series at Myths of the Mirror

.

.

.

BOOK REVIEW OF Allies and Spies BY DIANA WALLACE PEACH

My Review of Allies and Spies by Diana Wallace Peach.

In Allies and Spies, all the roller coaster, chaos one after another kept me chasing the chapters. Even though this time I didn’t stay up for two night to finish the book, my husband said, “I’ll go upstairs to wait for you” on two of the three nights when I read the book.

My Review

In Liars and Thieves, Diana W. Peach built a fascinated world of three races, the Goblins, Elves, and Changelings, each wanted more crystals for power and daily life. I found Naj the goblin, Alue the elf, and Talin the changeling, represented the races, had likable personalities. In Allies and Spies, they revealed their hidden characteristics.

When the three were caught by the goblin elders, instead of execution, they were bonded by the oath for a mission to unlock the mystery of the quake that swallowed lives with no remains. 

There more pressing matter at hand was to pay a blood debt to the Changeling Queen Arianna when a changeling was killed by them. After they stole the crystals, Talin volunteered to take them to Arianna to pay the debt only to lose them to theft while he went gambling.

Peach created one climax after another to keep the reader’s heart pounding and relaxed the reader with a little break in between (I loved it).

The three blamed each other’s authority for the destruction. In the meantime, chaos happened everywhere. Naj’s wife was swallowed on the road to Jad’ra. The entire village disappeared. The elves lost the entire row of shops. When the tavern collapsed into an old city underground, Talin was buried with it. I couldn’t help but wished none of these characters vanished. They reunited long enough for me to take a deep breath before the next disaster happened.

There were a few hints behind the scenes enough to have the readers guess who might be in control, or designed the destruction, or suspect the changelings shifted to the other kind to influence the decisions. The guesses were not conclusive.

Naj, Alue, and Talin had their moments of distrust toward each other and the danger of losing their lives. They made mistakes and had doubts about themselves. In the priestess, Saira’s word to Alue, “Each life’s path is littered with mistakes, but even mistakes are useful. Step by step, they will deliver you closer to the truth.”

Peach concluded Allies and Spies with the three characters becoming stronger in their skills and a firmer commitment to bind as one to find the truth. I look forward to reading the Lords of Chaos.

I highly recommend this series.

My Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

Author the Author

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

~

~

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121: Focus on the Subject

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121, Patti shared “some helpful techniques from the experts that can help us create images that lead our viewers to our subject.”

Using Lines and repeated patterns to bring focus to the subject

At Valencia, Spain, we visited Hemisferic which is a splendid Laserium, Planetarium, and IMAX cinema (over 900 square meters of the screen). It is in the City of Arts and Sciences complex. The building was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The lines and repeated patterns draw the viewers’ attention to the shape of the eyes (one eye opened, one eye shut).

The tour bus arrived at a large parking lot. We entered a 124 m (407 ft) tunnel which leads to an ornate elevator that ascends the final 124 m (407 ft) to the building of Eagle’s Nest in Germany. The lines on the wall and the lights point to the elevator at the end of the tunnel.

Using colors and contrast to draw attention to the subject

The contrast light color of the flower and dark green background bring the attention to the single yellow Daffodil.

Using arches and doorways to frame the image

This is the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. The bridge has a 1,207-foot (368 m) center span and a total length of 2,067 feet (630 m). The arches of the bridge towers framed the Gothic cathedral-like image. The adjacent park and neighborhood of Cathedral Park are named after this appearance.

Using freezing the moment to capture the subject

Hummingbirds flap the wings more than 60 times a second. I had fun freezing the moment of the hummingbird flapping the wings. My baby Ruby Throated hummingbird was in a “standing” still position.

Using the eyes to draw attention to the subject

I had fun finding the eyes of the animals for you to fall in love with them. The cat in the neighborhood, the deer, and the monkeys in Nara and Kyoto, Japan.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #121: Focus on the Subject

.

.

.

« Older Entries