Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the Second Night of Hanukkah

blog post photo I participate in a community called Our Jewish Community Online a website (found at which is based in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Because Hanukkah (or Chanukah) started last night, I wasn't able to post before the online candle lighting (live last night due to Shabbat.) Subsequent candle lightings are being taped and put on the website as well as on Facebook where the organization also has a "Fan" page. I've noticed a few from my home state logging in. Hope you will check it out, too. Each night is being filmed at a different location. Past Shabbat services and Hanukkah candle lightings are archived for viewing. The first night is at the following link.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Losing Marbles?

blog post photo
I was watching an episode of "Dirty Jobs" the other night on the Discovery Channel network. Those who view the program regularly are familiar with the format. Mike Rowe takes on "dirty jobs" and they range in content to fairly straightforward to downright disgusting.

The recent episode I watched had a segment about the creation of marbles. It was the second time in the past year that the thought of "marbles" had rolled around in my head (sorry, couldn't resist the set-up!)

While watching the segment, I realized something that was mentioned. Does anyone play a game of marbles any more? Was my generation (the first post-World War II generation) the last to really play a game of marbles, or are they still played in some really rural areas, not distracted by cable television and the internet?

My older sibling and I played marbles when I was a child, and I confess that I was actually one who preferred just collecting them than actually playing a game with them. The latter hazard would occur if you played a game of "for keeps" with your agates or "aggies" "cat's eyes", etc. You also could lose those big shooters that looked like huge gumballs, sometimes referred to as "jaw breakers." (like the huge round candy of that era.)

One thing that was mentioned by the person who owned the marble making factory visited by Mike Rowe was that while marbles are still made, primarily for floral or aquarium art, the older marbles are collected. Some can cost up to several hundred dollars, depending on the material used (gold has been used) to create them.

I scanned a few Internet sites that discussed the game of Marbles, and discovered that the game originally started in the American colonies with boys using musket balls (hopefully, there were no fatalities from hard strikes!) Also, several people left messages bemoaning the fact of trying to teach their children and/or grandchildren how to play a game of Marbles, and those younger people found it reported more than once, "boring."

I'm going to have to look up information on the game of "jacks"--because I don't see that played too often these days, either.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writing and NPR

Years ago, I could not see myself typing on a computer which was also providing a background of soothing music, but here I sit listening to an NPR program which has played both classical and meditation music during this particular time period in the evenings. This particular program is called Night Moosic by Bob Mooberry.

I've become quite the fan of NPR--National Public Radio lately. Not sure what to attribute it to. It's not like it is the first time I've listened to NPR in my life. I'm familiar with Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, All Things Considered and a few other programs which are NPR staples, but tuning in one night, I came across this program hosted by Mooberry and have enjoyed it. It's a nice thing to end the day with, even when I'm not sitting at my computer. Another piece of technology, my iPhone has helped me link to NPR.

While it would be perhaps easier to catch the NPR feed from a station closer to where I live, that particular station is often filled with music related to the culture of the area where I live. I'm not a big fan of  the regional music, so that makes me look for stations farther afield to listen to so I can get my NPR fix.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

National Novel Writing Month Continues...Time Marches On!

I haven't been blogging as much as I had intended because I'm deep into the National Novel Writing Month project. I don't see myself reaching that desired goal of 55,000 words but I've been astounded at how many words I've churned out. Sometimes, I have had problems because I've gone back and inserted thoughts that have come to me later, instead of just letting the whole process flow through me (as the organizers of this event encourage you to do. Sort of a "Don't think, just write...") Their email "pep talks" have been fun to read, and make you want to push on, even if you know you won't make that desired goal. After I quit fretting about that huge number, I started finding that I was typing slower than my thoughts were going.

Thank whomever for word processing on computers. While it is a sign that I no longer find myself writing things down in a creative flash like I once did, at least I can read what I've written. My handwriting has waned as my reliance on technical devices has increased.

Interestingly, a side effect of this month long project has been reconnecting with my creative side and inner voice (creatively speaking) I have been amazed at how poems are beginning to get out of my head and onto a screen, if not on paper. It's still tangible and not abstract when I've recorded it in my computer's word processing program.

One lovely thing about writing this way, as opposed to handwriting or even using typewriters (remember those?) is that I can now magically edit, either subtract or add words and phrases without scribbling, erasing or blotting out changes in thoughts.

So I've actually got a novella at this point! Who knew? My last long non-academic writing project--a short story--wasn't this long. I'm well over thirty pages at this point (longer than any academic papers I wrote,) even though with that goal of the 55,000 word count, I don't think I'll make it to the equivalent of 175 pages. But it's opened the floodgates!! I'm so happy I got involved in this project and hope to keep going after November ends!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beliefs in Conflict

Someone I've known since my early years in college and I have gotten reconnected after many years. He was a grad student, I was a Freshman. He was my mentor as I was writing poetry outside of my classes. I'd met him through my Freshman English teacher who is now his wife of over 25 years.

Creatively, his guidance was, and is, invaluable. However, we don't "meld" when it comes to issues of a spiritual nature. "Poetic Owl" as I will refer to him, to protect his identity, sent me a link related to the topic of religion, more specifically, religious beliefs and I have to admit, the title of the website is intriguing to me.The website is titled "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" and is a series of writings to promote the idea that the concept of God is largely a "fairy tale" for people who aren't "rational." While some would refer to such people as "atheists" the writings on this website mention that the term "atheist" is not appropriate, because it means that you have to acknowledge the existence of God to deny it. If you don't believe in God in the first place, why should you deny it. Point taken. The website goes on to state that at least three major religions: Christianity, Islam and Mormons (which I guess is not considered under Christianity, due to the rather different teachings espoused by that group (in the past, I saw Mormons list as a "cult" in some places.) Curiously, I saw no mention of Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism. But perhaps I didn't read the material too closely.

In the website, if you deny the existence of God from the outset, then you are not an atheist, you are a "Rationalist." By virtue of believing something else that can't be proven, you are labeled "Irrational." The writings go on to divide rationalists and others, as "well" and "sick or delusional."  I do not see myself as delusional and think of myself as fairly rational. But that is my own self-interpretation. I do understand why someone might differ in opinion.

I'm fairly open-minded in my belief system, and I shared my thoughts with my friend and mentor. I don't wish to express the long, circuitous discussion I had with him via emails, but ultimately, I politely said this is just a case where we will have to agree to disagree. I am not seeking to convert him, and though he denied wanting to convert me to his thinking, I had to wonder. Or was he seeking validation for his views? I respect him, but again, I disagree.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Novel Writing Month is Here!

I decided to plunge into something I hadn't done in many years. Writing creatively at length. I'd written a few poems here and there, done some journalistic writing for area newspapers, started blogging (at one time having three going...which can prove exhausting!) but had not written really at length since leaving academia.

While reading someone's blog entry, I learned (for the second time) about Nanowrimo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, which occurs every November. The rules are fairly simple. You sign up, preferably by November 1, and write about 55,000 words until Midnight November 30...or you can stop at 55,000 before that time and upload your work to, the website. While there are amusing anectdotes about people who have written the same word 55,000 that really isn't "playing fair." But no one is going to come to your house to scold you or send an angry email with a reprimand. It's all about being creative. It's also helping someone like me, who has had ideas floating around but just not "quite ready" to put them down on paper (or into the computer word processor) to finally get that creative "mojo" working again. It's amazing how fast the words add up, especially if you're just listening to that creative voice within and not worrying about punctuation, correct grammar (though your computer program will probably help you with that) or anything else that might seem intimidating if you're you own worst critic. Never mind those past rejection letters you've gotten. Just write...for the fun of it.