Memories

Laughter and tears,
one friend to another
we bonded in love
and blossomed
in the garden of life.
I miss you, heart sister.
Thanks for the memories

In Memory of Kathy Allen


Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.

No Promises

No resolutions for 2023. If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The joy of today can be quashed in a heartbeat by unanticipated, sometimes horrific reality. No, I have not abandoned my faith and Pollyanna approach to life; like you, I’ve just seen one reality-check after another in these days of Covid, inflation, RSV, flu, insane politics, wars everywhere, travel meltdowns, homelessness in ever-increasing numbers, devastating natural disasters… GASP! GASP! GASP!

What we have also seen is the generosity of one human toward another. Strength beyond imagining in people who lost homes and livelihood to fires and flood and war and more, people who, despite their own challenges, stepped in to help neighbors. We are not past the impact of devastation. Therein lies a whole other hill to climb and hopefully overcome. In the case of the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire and subsequent flood, will insurance provide the means by which loss can be recovered? How or will FEMA help or hinder? What resources are available to get reliable answers?

The onslaught of lawyers promising the moon is mind-boggling! I’m not sure lawyers are the answer. Here is the link to FEMA if you don’t already have it: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/current/hermits-peak.

Click below to open a two-page brochure with helpful information. The timeline extends into April 2023.

Below is my end-of-the-year poem. It is intended to be hopeful and maybe a wee bit helpful as we head into 2023. And really, when you think about it, January 1 is just another day. Be at peace with yourself and others, day by day.

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2022

There is reality in today,
hope in tomorrow.
Lean into the promise,
rest in the certainty
we live one day at a time
as best we can.
Let that be enough.
Some days will be wonderful,
some make us wonder –
how will I survive and thrive?
May the darkness of doubt
flee before the rising sun of hope
always on the horizon.


Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.

DECEMBER REFLECTION

Blue is the color
of sadness.
When the world seems
gilded with
a happy golden glow,
some grieve
others founder
on the shoals of loneliness.
Tragedy does not
take a holiday.
Take heart,
there is hope.
Someone cares.
That is the story
of the manger.


Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.

TIME

Time,
we believe
we have so much
when in truth
time spools out
like thread
on a spindle
weaving together
with other threads
creating a tapestry.
Your thread,
my thread,
can break
at any time.
I pray to consider carefully
the choices I make,
the actions I take
so the thread
from my spool
adds goodness to
the tapestry of life
before it breaks.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.

Covid Cascade, an essay

It is clear there is more to covid than scientists realized with its evolving variants. Now we have something called Monkeypox, which somehow indicates it comes from contact with monkeys. And it does, sort of. To be better informed about Monkeypox, check out this article from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Photo by Lorenzo Martinez the night we were evacuated.

I am not going to embark on a discourse about viruses and their dangers/impact on society. What I want to ramble on about is uncertainties we all face and how we are changed for better or worse by circumstances beyond our control.

In the recent fires in our area, we were evacuated for eight days from our home. Not because the house and property were in danger, but because the air quality was so dense, we could scarcely breath. And we didn’t know our house would be unharmed, especially when we looked to the hills behind the house and saw great plumes of grey smoke and flames leaping in blended slashes of orange and red and yellow heat.

We’re weeks past the declaration of containment and we should feel at ease, but we don’t. We know many people displaced by loss who are further devastated by flooding that takes destruction to a new level.

And it’s not these destructive fires and floods that weigh on us. It’s the unsettling mountains of shifting dialog about where to go for help and whether or how much help will be available. In the middle and immediately following the fires, the outpouring of love and support were beautifully staggering. Food. Hot meals. A place to stay. Clothing. Resources galore. As time has marched on, the tragedy of many has been left behind. The kindness remains but it is woefully disconnected from the specific needs of those most impacted by the devastation.

The thing is, we have all been hit with multiple tragedies: covid, the deaths of loved ones, illness, a senseless and devastating war in Ukraine, people at our borders struggling and suffering, Monkeypox for crying out loud, violence at every turn, mass shootings, an insensitive and cruel political environment, global warming/climate change… I could go on, and so could you. In a recent sermon, Pastor Katie Palmer likened it to Russian stacking dolls. See a summary here. We are individually at the core of layers and layers of influences over which we have no control, but they affect us in unimaginable ways. No wonder we’re edgy.

The other side of that are the acts of generosity and neighbor helping neighbor, strangers stepping up to help, a community taking in those in need, powerful acts of kindness unselfishly given.

One thing we can agree on: thanks to firefighters and first responders the response to the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon fire was phenomenal and kept a horrific situation from being worse. The community took them in as well.

Personal loss is just that – personal. Typically, most of us have a support network to see us through dark times. Where do we go when so much in the world seems to be so wrong?

It may sound simplistic, but live as best you can. Help in the ways you can. Go to the polls come election time and vote.

THE QUILT

Life is a quilt,
one created over time,
one square, one stitch
placed just so
over weeks,
months, decades.
Sometimes the stitches
knot up, tangled
in unexpected
life events:
death of a love one,
divorce,
too much of this
too little of that.
And then
it smooths out
when new bonds
are made,
babies are born,
life goes on.
The quilt spreads,
covering the span of life,
bringing comfort
and protection.
The quilt of life,
the connectedness
that bridges divides.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.comhttps://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooksAmazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

Writing: The journey continues

Hello, Writing Friends and the Merely Curious:

Write Now

My Personal Poem a Day Challenge is only in its sixth day, but I’m pleased to say, I’ve written a poem every day since May 1, after having written – along with a bunch of other writers – 30 poems in April. The May 6 poem was inspired by the aroma of cut grass and dandelions that wafted through the window as I drove home from town.

SPRING HAIKU
The smell of cut grass
shot color into my world
and my whole self smiled.

Being inspired in this way reminds me of the recent Dreams and Creativity seminar featuring Jan Beurskens sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon. Writing inspiration comes from many experiences. Dream symbolism is something I’ve been trying to explore since the seminar, but I have yet to remember a dream after the fact.

Sight, smell and emotional response to something seen or experienced is more likely to get my brain firing with ideas.

Mary Rose Henssler, one of the Lit Salon team members, wrote a great “kick-in-the-pants” article on the Salon website. Sometimes, that’s what we need, a little jog to get our writing out of a self-created rut.

Prompts are great ways to stimulate one’s thinking. You might not even use the prompt, but it’s food for your fertile brain so you can come up with something more, something different. If you are stuck, Google ‘writing prompts’ or ‘poetry prompts’ and be ready for the deluge of websites that have tons of them.

Here are a few links to get you started:

700+ Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You Right Now
500 Writing Prompts to Help Beat Writer’s Block
125 Of The Best Poetry Writing Prompts For Poets | Writer’s Relief
101 Poetry Prompts & Creative Ideas for Writing Poems

I know, daunting, isn’t it? But when you run through these, you see they represent a myriad of life experiences or ideas you’ve probably already had. It becomes doable to give the basic idea legs by adding your own experiences or creative thinking to the mix.

Writing is most often spurred by simply sitting down, and going at it. Writing is work. The more time you put into it, the better you get. You can spend a lot of time getting down the basics of grammar, plot development, character profiles, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad girl (or vice versa), but until you sit down and pound away at the keyboard, all that know-how will be for naught.

The greatest deterrent to writing is – I hate to say it – being afraid your work will never see the light of day, or laziness, only you can decide.

So, write, but after that – or in the process, look for outlets for your work. I have a writing friend who doesn’t believe writers should give their work away, that payment represents validation. “If you don’t value your work,” she says, “how will anyone else?” She has a point. And her next point is as important: getting published is hard work and you have to work hard at it.

Why am I writing a poem a day for 365 days? It’s writing practice, but my plan is to indie publish the best of the poems in a collection. Entrepreneurial publishing is gaining ground and I already have experience in the field. See my author page on this site. Click on the Books tab in the menu for links to the books I’ve written.

It matters not what you’re writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – the satisfaction you derive from creating a work from start to finish, is a reward all its own. Avoid apologizing for what you’ve written after the fact. You did it, maybe you made some errors or your work didn’t get the recognition (sales) you hoped for, let it be. Move on. Learn from your fumbles so your next project is an improvement over the last. Every new book, or article, or poem, or short story is its own creation.

There is a book on the market called Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success). I’m not recommending this book because I haven’t read it, but I like the title’s message. Write. Publish. Repeat.

What are your writing tips and tricks? What fires you up for writing. Enter your thoughts in the comments and I’ll share them in a follow-up post.

Happy Writing!

Taking on the Challenge

Write NowI just completed the Writer’s Digest 30-day Poem-a-Day challenge. I posted a poem every day – based on a prompt provided by Robert Lee Brewer – and loved every minute of it. This isn’t the first year I’ve done this challenge, but sometimes I’m playing catch up from the get-go or rushing madly to get all the poems done by April 30. I found doing them day by day so much better and way more satisfying.

So, why can’t I write poems every day the rest of the year? Why do I need a prompt kick in the pants to sit down and compose poetry? It’s not a lack of inspiration. I often convert my spiritual practice of writing devotionals into poetry based on Bible verses. Life generally is full of poetic fodder. With that in mind, I plan to continue the exercise of writing a poem a day until April 30, 2022.

Let it be said, my hand hovered over the delete button as soon as I typed that last sentence, but I stopped myself.

For a variety of reasons, I’ve neglected my writing in recent months. The poem-a-day challenge ignited the flickering embers of banked creativity into a flame. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, but it’s for external projects; not the kind of writing that feeds the author within.

In the comments, let me know what you think of the poetry posted below, three among the thirty I wrote in April, AND if you have a prompt you would like to see a poem about, leave it in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Just a reminder, the Las Vegas Literary Salon is publishing a book of short fiction, essays, and poetry. Read more about it here. And now for some Vander Meer poetry.

The Day 4 prompt was to write an active poem. How do you think I did?

POETRY ACTIVE
Why is my brain
a runaway train?
I write my thought,
will it come to naught?

I dither and stir,
mind in a whir.
Words flow out,
like a garish shout!
I want to sleep,
but will they keep?
These words, I pray,
will be good, another day.

The Day 7 prompt was to write a villain poem. I rather enjoyed writing this one, and if you don’t know who Natalie Goldberg is, you might want to check her out. She is a writing guru!

VILLAINS
The thieves of creativity
chew me up and spit me out.
Self-created villains,
gremlins of doubt, fear, anxiety,
chip away at my confidence,
and then, I Natalie Goldberg them,
and write anyway, as though someday,
someone will read my words
and smile… or not.

Day 11 had to be a prime number poem, which of course, begged the question, what the hell is a prime number? Math is NOT my strong suit. As it turns out, 3 is a prime number. So here’s my Haiku in tribute to the prompt.

THREE LINES
Two wings and a beak
tiny talons grip a fence
merry spring arrives.

If you’re a writer, happy writing. I hope this post is an inspiration. If you’re a reader, THANK YOU! Please follow this website, like this post, comment, and if you’re moved to do so, share.


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. Click the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work and to order my books. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I may be reached by email at fsvandermeer@gmail.com.