Author Archives: Miriam Hurdle

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

This week for the Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137, Ann-Christine wanted to continue with another S – Soft. This is all about how we interpret Soft.

I see soft Physical appearances, softness of characteristics, and hear soft sounds everywhere. The photos included here represent the several things that are soft in sight and in touch.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.” – Sharon Draper

This photo was taken from the ship of the Ensenada Cruise. It was my first time watching the soft glow of sunset in the middle of the ocean, even though we were not too far from land.

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We saw the fluffy clouds all the time when we were in Maui, Hawaii. They don’t seem to bring any rain except on one trip among our multiple trips.

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This clearly shows the principle of softness overcoming hardness. ” Lao Tzu

Water is soft, but when it combines with other natural phenomena, it can be powerful. The tide was coming in this sunny afternoon on the Makena Beach, Maui.

“The red rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love; O, the red rose is a falcon, and the white rose is a dove. ” – John Boyle O’Reilly

I love the softness of the Iceberg Roses. The innocent color brings me refreshing calmness.

“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…” – Albert Einstein

This was my daughter’s neighbor’s cat. She had such an unusual combination of soft fur colors and soft blue eyes, and I wondered if it was a kitten. I would love to have a kitten like this one.

“A wee bit of Heaven drifted down from above, a handful of happiness, a heartful of love.​When the baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into thousands of pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” From Peter Pan

Thank you for Balroop Singh‘s comment on the softness of a newborn baby. I added this photo of my younger granddaughter Nora. My daughter Mercy did a photoshoot of her when she was three weeks’ old. Nora will be one-year-old on March 22! I look forward to going to her birthday party.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #137 – Soft

Weekend Sky #19 – March 6th

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Welcome to Day 9 of the 2021 RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! @NonnieJules @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 9 and the conclusion of the RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour!  We’d like to introduce you to an amazingly supportive RWISA member, Author, Nonnie Jules, who is also the Founder of RRBC & RWISA.  Take a peek at her writing below…

A LIFE ISN’T WORTH LIVING IF NOT IN SERVICE TO OTHERS

I’d like to begin by thanking two of my fellow RWISA Authors who were also on this tour, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko and Linnea Tanner, who both had the courage to write about, or reference the ills of our world, that many would like to keep deeply hidden.  I speak of hatred and systemic racism.  Again, thank you both for your courage to write with such substance and I hope that it is still resonating with all who read both of your pieces.  I am honored that your words are a continual ring in my ears.

The theme of this year’s REVOLUTION tour is A NEW YEAR – A FRESH START, and with that theme in mind, I’d like to share my thoughts on what a fresh start in this new year looks like for, and, to me.

My quote above, “A life isn’t worth living if not in service to others,” is what gives my life meaning and purpose.  RRBC and RWISA came to be because I didn’t see enough service being spread around the web when I came aboard.  I noticed a ton of selfish behavior, “me, me, and more me” attitudes, and a strong indifference to lending a hand to help the next person climbing after you, also reach the top.  I felt myself drowning in an ocean of “gimme,” and surrounded by a nation of takers.  In my mind, I had to do something.

With the inception of RRBC, the rules of the land were (and still are) that members support members.  Some came aboard and quickly embraced the concept, either because it was inherently part of their makeup, or because they realized it was the fastest route to gaining support for their own agendas.

And then, there were the others – the takers and the ones from the land of “gimme.”  They came aboard in droves – taking all that they could, and once they realized we were on to them, they quickly abandoned their squatter positions.  By the way, we do so appreciate their exits as they made room for the uber-supportive members I’ll reference below.

The members on our roster who are constantly being profiled, promoted, pushed, and honored, are the members who show, by their actions, that they are living in service to others.  They don’t make excuses, they make a way.  They don’t see a tweet and merely re-tweet it, they click the link first to see how they can support their fellow members even more and even better.  They don’t re-tweet only tweets with their Twitter handle included.  They don’t show up only when they are the ones being profiled, interviewed or whose book is being discussed. And their social media feeds?  Well, they are clogged with promotion of others! 

Their support doesn’t stop there.  These members consistently show up to support in a myriad of ways, including the following…

  • following along member blog tours, leaving comments and sharing the posts on social media
  • hosting fellow members on their blog tours, such as our “SPOTLIGHT” Authors
  • sitting in the audience of member interviews on our RAVE WAVES shows,
  • showing up to our book club discussions to support BOOK OF THE MONTH Authors
  • purchasing, reading and reviewing fellow member books from the RRBC & RWISA catalogs
  • sharing members’ RRBC AUTHOR PAGES and RWISA PROFILE PAGES to social media
  • sharing members’ books directly from Amazon, along with the purchase links and book covers
  • visiting members’ book trailers on YouTube, leaving comments and sharing to social media
  • following members’ blogs and websites and ensuring that they are active in these blogging communities
  • and even showing up to participate in club activities, to ensure that our organizations remain fluid and not stagnant and boring.

These are but a few ways that the supportive and active members of RRBC/RWISA ensure that they are exhibiting a life of service to others, especially on social media.  We are not an organization interested in supporting those who don’t support others.  If you show me that I’m not that important to you, then why would I go out of my way to place you on my special pedestal of support?  If you’re not purchasing, reading and reviewing member books here, then guess what, you will never find yourself in the BOOK OF THE MONTH hot seat.  Why would we tell others to run out and support you, when you don’t bother to show up to support them?  And by the way, showing up is more than just sending out tweets and re-tweets.  It takes so much more than that to create success.

2020 was a hard year for all of us, but 2021 rolled right in, giving us a clean slate to write new, more positive chapters in our life stories.  Lucky for us all, this new year opened the door wide for us to make positive changes.

So, today, I ask you, what kind of life are you living?  When we drop by to support you and we peruse your Twitter feed, will we see that you are in love with you, OR, will we smile when we see how hard you’re pushing someone else?   When we look out into the gallery of our RAVE WAVES shows and our monthly book club discussions, will we see your pretty smiley face, OR, will we see only the beautiful faces of those who typically show up with their amazing support?  Will you be counted among the many (who do nothing to support others) OR, will you be proudly counted among the few (who do more than their share to push others to the top?)  Where will you stand when the roll is counted?  With the givers or the takers?

Yes, it’s a new year, and also the most perfect opportunity for a fresh start!  If you have been straddling the fence, finding it hard to get down, take that leap of faith and jump right in … somewhere … anywhere you can make a positive difference in the life of someone else.  When you support others, you are supported ten-fold within RRBC/RWISA.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution on December 31, 2020?  I didn’t.  I made an Intention, and that is, I intend to continue sharing and educating as many as I can on the importance of living a life of service.  Less selfishness and more selflessness will continue to be my mission’s slogan. 

I’ll ask once more, which road will you take?

Did you enjoy Nonnie’s writing?  Then please, help us support her and her work along this REVOLUTION tour! We ask that you click on the author’s RWISA Profile below and visit all of her profile pages – some offering more insight into the member and others showcasing the author’s talent.

Lastly, we ask that you support this member as well as the host of this blog, by sharing this page and the author’s profile pages across all your social media platforms.

RWISA Profile

What Nonnie has to say about RWISA…

Check out Nonnie’s book…

OPEN, SHUT

Now, we’d like to give you a chance at some of this awesome promotion for yourself!

Have you written that book or short story you want the whole world to know about? Are you looking for a great way to promote your creative endeavors? Perhaps you’re seeking to add some prestige to your body of work! If this sounds like you, we invite you to come on over to RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA.

At RWISA, we invite and accept into membership only the very best writers the Indie community has to offer.

If your work is exemplary and speaks for itself, stop by the RWISA website today at RaveWriters.wordpress.com and find out how you can submit your sample of writing for consideration.

We’re an exclusive bunch but we’d love to have you join us!

NOTE:  If you’re looking to improve your writing while taking another route to membership into RWISA, while you’re at the site, visit RWISA UNIVERSITY!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to leave the author a comment below!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the tour’s home page!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136, we’re circling back to the alphabet. This time, Patti invited us to focus on the letter S. She quoted Mike Wilks who strung a sentence with all the words begin with the letter S and indicated on the shelves in his store stacked with stock of 1,234 Ss to see.

I don’t want to list some seventy-seven S-things. I only chose several to be included in this post. I simply tried to have samples.

“May you see sunshine where others see shadows and opportunities where others see obstacles.” – Anonymous

Sunny sky above the summer sand

“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” – Mario Fernandez

Sunny sky above the snowy summit

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

“If roses tried to be sunflowers, they would lose their beauty; and if sunflowers tried to be roses, they would lose their strength.” Matshona Dhliwayo

Sunflowers surged into the sky searching the sunlight

“Millions of trees in the world are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts, then forget where they hid them. Do good and forget. It’ll grow someday.” – Anonymous

“Little squirrel opens human heart because they have lots of practice with the nuts.” – Swapna Ch

Squirrel, squirrel, what do you see?

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” -Tom Wilson

“Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” – Peace Pilgrim

Sweet smiles from my daughter Mercy

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.” – Amy Li

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” – Margaret Mead

Songs sisters Autumn and Nora sing together

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #136: Subjects Starting with the Letter–S

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Welcome to Day 6 of the 2021 RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! @JanSikes3 @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 6 of the RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour!  We’d like to introduce you to an amazingly supportive RWISA member, Author, Jan Sikes, who is also RWISA Vice-President.  Take a peek at her writing below…

How Blogging Keeps Me Sane

As with each new year that rolls around, I view it as an opportunity to start with a fresh perspective and clean slate.

When I looked back on my goals for 2020, I found with some sense of satisfaction, I had accomplished almost all of them, despite the pandemic.

Some goals remain the same from year to year, such as clean eating, exercising, practicing meditation, being kind, and gentle with myself and others. I classify those as my permanent or ongoing goals. They never change.

Setting expanded goals for 2021 was quite different. COVID19 has affected us all. Not only in the way we socialize, but also in every other aspect of life, from how we shop to the way we promote our books.

The necessity for self-preservation has catapulted us into a virtual world. We order groceries online and have curbside pickup. We now visit with family via Zoom calls, and so much for getting out and attending book festivals to promote our books. That simply isn’t going to happen.

So, when I took an elemental look at how to market my books in 2021, I realized I needed to harness social media’s power. 

The most powerful tool I have for marketing my work is, hands-down, my blog. I am fortunate to have built a substantial following over the years, which works to my advantage now.

I want to share with you some of the nuts and bolts of this fabulous tool, as well as some of the things I’ve learned about the art of blogging. Hopefully, you will benefit from them as well.

One of the greatest joys in my life is promoting and uplifting others. Because of this, I am always happy to offer my blog platform to support others, whether they be authors or indie music artists. And each time I spotlight a new author or artist, I gain a handful of organic followers. It’s a beautiful equation that works every time. It is the classic win-win for everyone.

The first and perhaps most important aspect of a blog is the title you create. There are many reasons for this, but mainly it is because the title needs to be eye-catching. If it isn’t, many potential readers may scroll on by and never take a peek. I know this from experience. I subscribe to a lot of blogs, so my email inbox is flooded each day. The blog titles are how I decide which ones I will pass on or read.

Some of the best practices in naming your blog post are asking a question, offering a solution, a list of solutions, or just making it fun and quirky. One recent post I wrote for a blog tour was entitled “The 3 P’s of Writing.”

That title makes you wonder what the P’s could be. I had a lot of success with that post. Fun and quirky will get me every time. You can also offer a promise of something in your title, such as a “How To” or a giveaway.

Another super important thing to add to a title is your guest’s Twitter handle (when you feature a guest). Why? Because each time that blog is shared on Twitter, it will tag them. It serves as a timesaver, and keeps the guest in your loop. I have found adding that one simple piece to a blog title gets it shared at least fifty percent more than a title without a tag.

Hashtags are another great way to get more shares. For instance, when I post a blog advertising a new book release, I will add #NewRelease to the title, which increases exposure in the feed.  

Whatever your subject is, try adding a few hashtags to increase visibility.

Another super important detail, as a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and The Rave Writers – Int’l Society of Authors, includes adding those handles and hashtags to the blog title when the content is relevant to the organizations. Again, it is proven to increase visibility and sharing.

Blog content can be about anything. I have found my niche, and although it is broad, it works for me. I blog about every aspect of the craft of writing, books I’ve read, feature guests, new music from indie artists, and all things spiritual, from meditations and Tarot cards to Runes. Those define me and my interests.

It’s good to brand yourself. Make a statement as to what you are about through your blog posts.

Once you publish a blog post, I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging. When someone takes the time to comment on your blog, please respond. Just as it is rude to ignore someone who is speaking to you in a physical setting, it is rude to ignore blog comments.

When I host a guest, I emphasize the importance of engaging and responding to comments. If my followers and I are taking the time and effort to promote you and your work, the least you can do is engage and respond. Most authors are outstanding in this area. Music artists, not so much. No matter how many times I say the words, “You need to engage,” they don’t seem to get it. I think the biggest reason is the fact that many music artists hate computers and don’t have a lot of tech savvy outside the recording studio. Nevertheless, they miss out on potential new music followers when they don’t bother to stop by.

These are a few of the basics; things I’ve learned through my experience of blogging.

Facing an ever-growing reliance on a virtual world in the days, weeks, and possibly years ahead, by fully utilizing my blog site, I will continue to grow and flourish despite COVID19.

My blog is the compass, my North Star, which helps me navigate the turbulent waters of the world in which we live.

See you there!

http://www.jansikesblog.com

RWISA Profile

What Jan has to say about RWISA…

Check out Jan’s book…

“GHOSTLY INTERFERENCE”

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Now, we’d like to give you a chance at some of this awesome promotion for yourself!

Have you written that book or short story you want the whole world to know about? Are you looking for a great way to promote your creative endeavors? Perhaps you’re seeking to add some prestige to your body of work! If this sounds like you, we invite you to come on over to RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA.

At RWISA, we invite and accept into membership only the very best writers the Indie community has to offer.

If your work is exemplary and speaks for itself, stop by the RWISA website today at RaveWriters.wordpress.com and find out how you can submit your sample of writing for consideration.

We’re an exclusive bunch but we’d love to have you join us!

NOTE:  If you’re looking to improve your writing while taking another route to membership into RWISA, while you’re at the site, visit RWISA UNIVERSITY!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to leave the author a comment below!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the tour’s home page!

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Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’She invited us to show the things we love that make our world spin or things about our world that make us delirious with joy.

The immediate world that fills me with inspiration and amazement is my garden. My morning routine, especially in the summer, is to visit the garden while I drink my coffee. After coffee, with the gardening tools in hand, I check the flower bushes, trim the dead branches, or dig up weeds.

I started feeding birds from 2014 and the regular visitors are Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, mourning doves, American Finch, American God Finch, Scrub Jay, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, and a few I couldn’t quite identify. Over the years, there were baby Mourning Dove, baby House Finches, and One baby Hummingbird born in my garden.

There are other animals such as squirrels, stray cats, and lizards roaming during the day or at night.

I have many hobbies, more than I have time to fully enjoy each of them. Not included in the images here is photography, which I started as a teenager when the photos were black and white. Another hobby is ceramic. I did the whale free hand with clay. I made it into a nightlight for my baby daughter. When my daughter was nine years old, we took a ceramic painting class together in the summer. It’s something we continue doing separately until these days.

I learned to draw and watercolor painting as a young adult. After retirement, I took classes on both and used some watercolor painting to illustrate the poems in my book.

My immediate community of 35 years is a church fellowship and the group of ladies. They are a part of my world for fun, for friendship and support. Some of these friends’ kids and my daughter grew up together. The ladies gave a bridal shower to Mercy for her wedding. Some friends still send gifts to my granddaughters as their own.

Music has been my world since I was a kid. I didn’t have a family background to nurture my love of classical music. It seems to be a natural favorite. The first time I performed Handel’s Messiah was when I was still in Hong Kong.

Most of my family except for one sister are in Hong Kong. Lynton’s family is my extended family, and we see each other regularly.

The biggest world to me is my daughter’s family. My granddaughters lighten my heart and give joy every day. My daughter has a TinyBeans.com account where she posts multiple photos and videos daily to chronicle the kids’ growth and family activities. There was not one day I go without checking on what they do. Nora’s birthday on March 22, and I wish to visit them.  

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Thank you for reading. I hope to hear what the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.

Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

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Welcome to Day 3 of the 2021 RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! @YvetteMCalleiro @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 3 of the RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour!  We’d like to introduce you to an amazingly supportive RWISA member, Author, Yvette M. Calleiro.  Take a peek at her writing below…

EMERGENCE

The cocoon –
Formed because of a virus,
Reinforced by fear and anxiety.
Surrounded
Protected
Sheltered
Imprisoned

The incubation –
Agonizing silence led to loneliness.
My inner voice tormented
Until the tears flowed freely
And the salty river healed the soul.
Meditation led to self-reflection.
Acceptance
Forgiveness
Release
Self-care

Emergence –
The walls slowly crumble.
Timid to step out but
Resolved to join the world again,
To rise up and feel whole.
Resilience
Strength
Courage
Hope

The RWISA Revolution Blog Tour challenged its authors to write with this year’s theme in mind: A New Year – A Fresh Start. Immediately, I thought of a cocoon. A caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly is not an easy one. This past year has not been easy for any of us. Even though I’m used to being home most of the time, being isolated and fearful of getting COVID (or worse, giving it to someone I love) has crippled me at times. I spent this year working on my inner self. I took meditation courses and worked with my therapist to manage my anxiety better. I’m a constant work in progress, but I feel stronger and healthier today than I was a year ago. For that, I am grateful. RWISA (Rave Writers – International Society of Authors) asked us to ponder a few questions, so here are my thoughts.

What are your plans for the new year?

This year, I plan to continue being careful and cautious when out and about. I will continue to strengthen my physical, emotional, and mental well-being. I will nurture the friendships that held firm despite the distancing. I will continue to create memorable moments with my family. Without them, this year would have been much more difficult.

What are your goals?

I had hoped to write an entire novel during COVID since I was home so much, but my muse locked herself in her own cocoon and refused to cooperate. She, too, has burst through and has begun to share her mojo with me. With the help of my RWISA critique group, I am going through my final edits for a new novel. It’s a young adult novel with no connection to my current series. I will publish it at some point this year.

I am also writing Drake’s story once again. For those who have read my Chronicles of the Diasodz series, you know I’ve been working on this for a few years. He and I have had a bit of a difficult time in telling his story, but we are finding our way through. My goal is to finish writing his story this year. Then, I’ll use next year to revise and edit it before sending it out into the world for everyone to enjoy.

What will you do to contribute to the betterment of our society?

I believe in the energies of the world, and I choose to spread kindness, love, and laughter as often as possible. As a teacher at a middle school, I empower my students to be confident in their abilities and challenge them to be positive and productive members of their communities. I also post inspirational quotes on my Instagram. I have a separate Instagram that focuses on being proud of the beauty within. It’s been dormant for a bit, but I’m hoping to get it restarted. We need more positivity in the world, and that’s my little contribution.

How will you succeed in the midst and in spite of COVID-19?

One needs to define success in order to answer this question. For me, success is a day when I stay present in the moment. It presents itself as a moment where I notice my anxiety and allow it to flow down my mind’s river of worry without me. It’s when I make a student feel accepted and cared for or when my son sits with me at night to watch a show together.

I do not measure success by money earned or by a title. Instead, I measure success by the impact my choices have on those around me and on myself. As we continue to deal with COVID-19, any day where those whom I love are alive and well is a successful day for me. This year, I celebrate the little things because those are what matter most.

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Did you enjoy Yvette’s writing?  Then please, help us support her and her work along this REVOLUTION tour! We ask that you click on the author’s RWISA Profile below and visit all of her profile pages – some offering more insight into the member and others showcasing the author’s talent.

Lastly, we ask that you support this member as well as the host of this blog, by sharing this page and the author’s profile pages across all your social media platforms.

RWISA Profile

What Yvette has to say about RWISA…

Check out Yvette’s book…

“BREATHLESS”

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Now, we’d like to give you a chance at some of this awesome promotion for yourself!

Have you written that book or short story you want the whole world to know about? Are you looking for a great way to promote your creative endeavors? Perhaps you’re seeking to add some prestige to your body of work! If this sounds like you, we invite you to come on over to RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA.

At RWISA, we invite and accept into membership only the very best writers the Indie community has to offer.

If your work is exemplary and speaks for itself, stop by the RWISA website today at RaveWriters.wordpress.com and find out how you can submit your sample of writing for consideration.

We’re an exclusive bunch but we’d love to have you join us!

NOTE:  If you’re looking to improve your writing while taking another route to membership into RWISA, while you’re at the site, visit RWISA UNIVERSITY!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to leave the author a comment below!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the tour’s home page!

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2021 RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! @Jinlobify @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 2 of the RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! We’d like to introduce you to an amazing RWISA member, Author, JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO

Take a peek at her writing below…

 A Light In The Tunnel!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my new year started on November 3, 2020, when Biden was pronounced the winner of the presidential election. I went to bed that night early because I needed to be alone in prayer for God to rid America of the worst four years of this country’s political life. I did not want to see the results trickling in, especially as the first results did not favor Biden.

This has always been my practice. Even when the team I’m rooting for is playing, I never watch the game. I would rather wait for the end of the game to know the results. The live game always gives me something near to a heart attack. This was why I didn’t wait up to watch the results of the election as they came in. I wanted to wake up in the morning to the news that Biden had won!

It was with great trepidation that I woke up the next morning, November 4, 2020., to find out who won.  First, I turned my Television to CNN, and saw Van Jones in tears. I didn’t know why he was in tears, but I joined him. In my head, I had concluded that anything that would cause Mr. Jones to cry could not be good. Slowly, it started to dawn on me that his tears, my tears, were tears of victory. Biden had won! Glory to God for He had answered my prayers! I forgot my aches and pains and did a jive! What a glorious day it was!

For me, Biden’s win opened up for people of goodwill, many positive possibilities. The first thing I felt was that the gloom which hovered over everything sane, the sense of despair that dogged the last administration’s tenure, the fear about where all the damaging rhetoric was taking us, and the danger of the divide, had all dissipated. I felt the sun shining again. My hopes for the future of this great country returned. I knew that all would be well again.

When Trump threatened the results of the election by refusing to acknowledge defeat or concede, at first, I thought it was a passing whim. Somehow, deep inside me, I was strong in my belief that God had spoken. The deal was done. Nothing and no one could overturn the results of the election!

The funny thing about all this, is that while we were rejoicing here in America about Biden’s win, in Nigeria, some misguided individuals were carrying about banners of a Trump’s win. I couldn’t understand how the business of the American elections had become the business of Nigeria. Relatives from Nigeria started texting me to sympathize with me. A cousin from London texted to warn me about an impending war in America. I texted him back asking him where he would want me to run to. The cousin humorously replied, from frying pan to fire! That’s a Nigerian idiom meaning from bad to worse.

I remember that day very clearly. In fact, we were having a fun time on the RRBC chat forum when I turned on my Television and saw, in horror, Trump and his cohorts moving to the USA Capitol. Well, he promised to march with them, then he snuck away. I alerted the RRBC chat members who were still talking about everything mundane on WhatsApp. It was horrible! How could one man hold this country to ransom? Why was Trump trying to ruin my new year’s resolutions?

There is a saying that goes, our happiness is in our own hands. Then and there I decided that Trump or no Trump, this election was done. Biden won! God had spoken, and thanks be to God! The whole world, and I mean, the whole world was in jubilation!

Before Biden’s win, I prayed to God for him to win. After his win, I upgraded my prayer. This time, I prayed that the two outstanding seats in the Senate should go to the Democrats so that Biden would be able to do a good job for the country without being blocked by the Republicans. I still remember what they did to the Obama administration, so I prayed night and day for those two seats to go to the Democrats, and now that they have those seats, my prayers have changed again. I have started channeling my prayer for Biden’s safety and good health. I am sure he needs both. I’m sure you will all agree with me that he looks so frail every time we see him, and his voice sounds so tired when he speaks. May God sustain him!

This year is looking good already. I am able to write again. Last year was one of my worst writing years. I couldn’t write at all, and this had nothing to do with writer’s block. I could see my stories. Sometimes, I would jot somethings down, and then, that feeling of hopelessness … like the end was near, would overwhelm me. I would ask myself, why bother? Rather than write, I would sit and stare into space, and dream. Although I was not putting anything down on paper, I would rehash everything in my head.

With the country calmer now, my worries have started to melt away. I can now focus more and stay on course. I can’t believe that in just two days, I have written two blog posts. In short, I am back!

I am happy that Biden is on course, too. He is not allowing anything, to distract him. When the country is on course, we are all on course. I pray that God will help him to heal America and pull America back from the hole which the last administration had plunged it. America deserves better. We deserve better.

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Pregnant Future: No One Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring by [Joy Lo-Bamijoko]

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Chinese New Year – Memories, Calendar, Legend, and Traditions

Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021. It is the year of Ox. The holiday was traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors. It was also a time to bring the family together for feasting.

Image result for personality of an ox

Childhood Memories

When I was a kid, my favorite family time was Chinese New Year. We had one week off from school and my dad had five days off from work. On New Year’s Eve, Flower Markets took place in major parks. They were open from early evening to 5:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

One year, I went to the Flower Market with my older sister and her boyfriend. We lived in western side on the Hong Kong island, and took the tram to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. By the time we finished walking through the entire market, there was no tram in operation until morning. We followed the tram track and took one hour and thirty minutes to walk home.

Victoria Park Chinese New Year Market
Victoria Park, Causeway, Hong Kong

I was half asleep even though my feet were moving with one hand holding my sister’s and other hand holding something she bought me. I dropped the bag on the ground many times, bent down, picked it up and continued walking on autopilot.

By the time we got home, my mom had made special food as part of the Chinese New Year ritual. I liked sweet rice balls. We ate and went to sleep for a few hours. On New Year’s Day, everyone put on new clothing. Kids would say “Gung Hei Fat Choi” (Wishing you prosperous) to the parents and adults. My parents and the adults in the neighborhood gave us kids Lucky Money in red envelopes. It was the tradition for the married people to give Lucky Money to the kids and unmarried adults. We visited our relatives on the second, fourth, and fifth day. Kids loved that because we could keep all our Lucky Money. 

We anticipated with excitement on the 3rd day. There were three activities became our family tradition. In the morning we went to Tiger Balm Garden, which was a private mansion and garden that eventually became a public garden. After Tiger Balm Garden, we went to the Botanic Arboretum, and visited the Governor’s Garden, which was open to the public during Chinese New Year.

Being able to spend five holidays with my parents was the best thing for me as a kid.

Why Chinese New Year is on a different date each year?

Image result for images of lunar calendar

Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. It functioned as a religious, dynastic, and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records show the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C. when the Shang Dynasty was in power.

A lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases, with the new moon being the first of the month and full moon the middle of the month.

Each lunation is approximately ​29 1⁄2 days. The lunar calendar alternates between 29 and 30 days a month and an average of 354 days a year.

Leap Year

The Gregorian calendar has an average of 365.25 days a year, and therefore 365 days a year with 366 days in a leap year every four years.

Approximately every three years (7 times in 19 years), a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar. To determine when, we find the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year and the 11th month in the following year. A leap month is inserted if there are 13 New Moon from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the next year.

Chinese New Year usually begins when the new moon occurs between January 21 and February 20, and it lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.

The Legend of Chinese New Year celebration

Image result for lion dance
Lion Dance, Chinese New Year, Hong Kong

According to Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast lived under the sea or in the mountains. It was unclear whether the Nian was an authentic folk mythology or a local oral tradition. Some sources cited it resembled a lion’s head with a dog’s body. Towards the end of winter, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Nian came out to feed on crops and sometime children. All the villagers hid from the beast. One year, an old man came to the village. On the New Year’s Eve, after the villagers escaped, he put red papers up and set off firecrackers to drive off the creature. The next day, the villagers came back to their town and saw that nothing was destroyed. They later found out the old man discovered the Nian was afraid of red and loud noises. It became the tradition the villagers celebrated the New Year wearing red clothes, hanging red lanterns, and red scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.

Chinese New Year Traditions and Symbols

New Clothes

The Chinese New Year is a time of change and new beginnings, wearing something new is a symbol of removing the old and welcoming the new. Red is the color for celebrating any happy occasion, as it represents prosperity and good luck.

Lucky Money Red Envelopes
The married people give the Lucky Money red envelopes to children or unmarried adults to bless them with good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance.

Image result for lucky money red envelope

Plum and Peach Blossoms

People decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolize a plentiful crop in the new year. Peach blossoms symbolize long life, romance, and prosperity.

Fish

The homophone of the Chinese word ‘fish’ is the same as the word for ‘surplus’ inferring more than enough. By hanging up fish decorations or eat fish, people hope the New Year will bring wealth and prosperity.

Tangerines and Oranges

Both fruits symbolize abundant happiness. The homophone of ‘tangerine’ is the same for the word ‘luck’ and the homophone of ‘orange’ sounds the same as the word for ‘wealth’. When visiting family and friends, it is a custom to take a gift bag of oranges or tangerines.

Rice-cake — Progression or Promotion

Glutinous rice cake is a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. This is play on words to infer “getting higher year after year.” It can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study, or promotions at work.

Image result for Chinese new year Glutinous rice cake
Rice Cake

Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness

The homophone of ‘ball’ and round shape are associated with reunion and being together. They are favorite food during the New Year celebrations.

Image result for happy chinese new year 2021

I hope you enjoyed finding out something interesting!

Wishing you a

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

This week for Lens-Artists Challenge #134, Tina invited us to show a few images that may not have met our original expectations but that through editing we’ve turned into “keepers”. I turned two originals into three edited photos. The originals are at the end of the post.

The small Alcatraz island in San Francisco was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum-security federal penitentiary. The prison is famous because no prisoner had ever successfully escaped. The 1966 American action thriller film The Rock was filmed at this site. The film, stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, is about the eighty-one civilians on a tour of Alcatraz. During the tour, Marine General Francis Xavier Hummel takes the civilians hostage with the help of other Marines. He threatens the F.B.I. to launch the VX rockets. The F.B.I. is forced to resort to John Patrick Mason, an ex-con who broke out of Alcatraz in 1962, to break into Alcatraz to defuse the launch.

Sean Connery is one of my favorite actors, and we watched The Rock at least twice. Alcatraz Island fascinates me because of the film and the history. I have never taken a tour on the island, but during one visit, my friends and I leisurely walked on Fisherman’s Wharf and I took several shots of the Island.

I had a small pocket camera. The day was smoggy. I looked at the shots afterwards and was disappointed. Then something caught my eyes. A bird flew in front of the camera and showed up in one shot. I did some cropping and editing the colors and clarity to make two version, one to bring out the bird and the other with more clarity of the Island.

2017 was the first year the plum tree had an abundant blossom. I just needed the bees to pollinate the flowers. Yellow flowers were not my favorite color until this year. I had clover plant with yellow flowers popping up in early spring every year. I usually pulled them out and tried hard to replace with other plants in the same spots. But clover bulbs multiply and multiply, and there seem to be no way to get rid of them. One morning this early spring in 2017, I pulled a couple handfuls of clover plants out, but at the corner of my eyes, caught some bees hovering on the yellow flowers.

It surprised me with excitement, and I wanted to plug the plants back into the soil. From that moment on, I had a keen interest in the clover and the bees. I cropped and edited one photo of the clover and brought out the focus on the bee.

Here are the originals.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #134 – From Forgettable to Favorite

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Christopher Plummer, Actor from ‘The Sound of Music,’ Dies at 91

The film version of The Sound of Music was released in 1965. When it was showing in Hong Kong, my childhood best friend who currently lives in London, saw it seven times.

When my daughter was in the second grade, she participated in the children’s theater and played the goat in The Sound of Music. I still have the costume made for her performance.

Fast forward to 2013 when Lynton and I took a trip to Austria, we went to Salzburg and Vienna. My daughter did her summer study in Salzburg and visited the movie site. Although it was not part of our itinerary to visit the movie site, the tour bus passed by the Von Trapp family home and I took a photo from distance.

When Christopher Plummer died yesterday, it brought back a lot of memories.

The story of Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer as Capt. Georg von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.” It was his best-known film, but for years he disparaged the role as an “empty carcass.”
Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp

The prolific and versatile Canadian-born actor, Christopher Plummer, who rose to celebrity as the romantic lead in perhaps the most popular movie musical of all time, won an Oscar, two Tonys and two Emmys. His performance as Captain von Trapp in one of the most popular movies propelled a steady half-century parade of television and film roles.

He died on Friday, February 5 at his home in Weston, Conn. He was 91. His wife, Elaine Taylor, said the cause was a blow to the head as a result of a fall.

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.  

The musical and the movie was generally based on the first section of Maria’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers published in 1949. There was interest from various quarters in buying the film rights. In 1955, the von Trapp family was strapped for money and Maria sold the rights to German movie producer Wolfgang Reinhardt for a flat $9,000.

She and her family would see no royalties from the two subsequent German films based on the von Trapp family’s adventures, or from the Broadway production of The Sound of Music, which ran for over three years, or from the film version, which has grossed around $300 million.

The Sound of Music – Edelweiss (Reprise)

 The Story of the von Trapp Family

Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. They had seven children together. After World War I, Austria lost all of its seaports, and Georg retired from the navy. His wife died in 1922 of scarlet fever. Her death devastated the family and unable to bear living in a place where they had been so happy, Georg sold his property in Pola (now Pula, Croatia) and bought an estate in Salzburg.

Maria Augusta Kutschera was born in Vienna, Austria. She attended the State Teachers’ College of Progressive Education in Vienna. Soon after Maria graduated from college, and because of her religious awakening, she entered the Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg as a novice. When Georg von Trapp approached the Reverend Mother of the Abbey seeking a teacher for his sick daughter, Maria was chosen. Maria tutored young Maria and developed a caring and loving relationship with all the children. She enjoyed singing with them and getting them involved in outdoor activities. During this time, Georg fell in love with Maria and asked her to stay with him and become a second mother to his children. Of his proposal, Maria said, “God must have made him word it that way because if he had only asked me to marry him. I might not have said yes.” Maria Kutschera and Georg von Trapp married in 1927. They had three children together.

The family lost most of its wealth through the worldwide depression when their bank failed in the early 1930s. Maria tightened belts all around by dismissing most of the servants and taking in boarders. It was around this time that they began considering making the family hobby of singing into a profession. As depicted in The Sound of Music, the family won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936 and became successful, singing Renaissance and Baroque music, madrigals, and folk songs all across Europe.

When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, the von Trapps realized they were on thin ice with a regime they abhorred. Georg not only refused to fly the Nazi flag on their house, but he also declined a naval command and a request to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. They also realized the Nazis’ anti-religious propaganda and policies, the pervasive fear that those around them could act as spies for the Nazis, and the brainwashing of children against their parents. They weighed staying in Austria and taking advantage of the enticements the Nazis were offering against leaving behind everything they knew. They decided they could not compromise their principles and left.

The family did not secretly escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland, carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. They left by train in June, pretending nothing, and traveled with their musical conductor to Italy, not Switzerland, later to London. By September, they were on a ship to New York to begin a concert tour in Pennsylvania. In the early 1940s the family settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they bought a farm. They ran a music camp on the property when they were not on tour. 

Georg died in 1947 and was buried in the family cemetery on the property.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Plummer

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/05/movies/christopher-plummer-dead

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps-html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapp_Family

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_von_Trapp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Music_(film)

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