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Friday, September 28, 2012

On the Day I Was Born

I made the newspaper on the day I was born. My father, a reporter for the Jersey Journal, was covering a very important press conference with Governor Driscoll (the Driscoll Bridge over the Raritan River is named for Governor Driscoll).

Several years ago, my father handed me the yellowed clipping of the article mentioning my birth. It was directly underneath the article he had written about the governor.


Happy Birthday to me! :^)

P.S. Governor Driscoll did not become my godfather.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memories of Camping

This is a picture Daughter #2 drew on one of our family camping trips. It depicts our three daughters washing and drying the dishes after a meal. There are two basins on the picnic table for the dishes--one for soapy water and one for the rinse. The big green shape is the big old canvas tent we slept in our our camping trips.

Aside from being economical, camping was a good way for all of us to learn to cooperate with each other and to get closer to nature. Back then, the internet and cellphones did not exist--so there were fewer distractions to miss. :^) We spent our days touring the nearby sights and swimming. At night, we sat around the campfire, toasted marshmallows, and sang songs (we brought the guitar).

Our expeditions were made more memorable because as the girls grew, our vacation journals became more elaborate. They drew pictures and I typed in explanations to go with the drawings.

This picture was drawn by Daughter #3. You can see where I typed in the description--using my daughter's words.

As nice as it is to stay in a fancy hotel, camping is an experience children never forget. For parents who want to foster great creativity and imaginations in their children, I suggest you take them camping instead of going to Disneyworld.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coming to a Kiosk Near You


The Espresso Book Machine has been in existence for quite a while, but according to an article in Publisher's Weekly, more of these machines should be arriving at a Kodak kiosk near you. This is good news for everyone.

Most big book stores (aka Barnes & Noble) do not shelve paper copies of my books. While anyone can go to a bookstore and order my books, it will take a while for the books to arrive.

Technically, with the Espresso Book Machine anyone can order any book--as long as it is formatted in pdf and included in the catalog. Whether my books will be listed is a matter of speculation, but the possibility exists.

For those who insist on reading only paper editions, this is fantastic news. A book lover can select the book they desire at the kiosk, go shopping, and come back for a nice fresh book in a matter of minutes.

I can hardly wait to see one of these machines. I am looking forward to getting a brand new book, hot from the press. I bet it will smell heavenly--like ink and clean paper. :^)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Stairway to the Top






















Is it worth the climb?
Do I have the energy to get to the top?
Can I go around it?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cioci

Here's another ancient photo. Hubby's guess is that it's from around 1940. On the left is hubby's aunt. We called her Cioci, which is the Polish word for aunt. To her right is her husband and next to him is hubby's mother. Our children always called her Babci, which is another Polish word and translates into grandmother.

Cioci died last week at the age of 96. She was not in good health for the last few years and needed help, but she stayed in her home and passed away quietly in her sleep.

She did not have an easy life. Her husband had a good job with the transit system in New York, but one day he was digging in the garden to plant tomatoes and hit his foot with the shovel. He died of lockjaw. Her daughter died of cancer. Her son, a musician whose band played at our wedding, also died.

Despite the tragedies, Cioci remained positive. With a tender heart, she felt compelled to feed the stray cats outside. When she found a mouse in her house, she put it in a cage fearing that is she let it go the cats would get it. She always had a joke to tell and she loved to feed us when we visited. She kept in touch, too, by phoning on a regular basis.

She had eight grandchildren and several great-grand children. Her funeral was a celebration of her life. Yes, we'll miss her, but it was a privilege to have known her.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Always Check the Facts

I'm a fiction writer. I make up stories that are not true, although even in fiction the characters, setting, and so forth must appear real.

Many have noted that truth is crazier than fiction, and strangely enough that often seems to be the case. However, an email message I received the other day left me speechless.

Here's what it said:

"In the Muslim religion, dogs are unclean and not allowed to travel in the same vehicle as the Muslim.

Bo has never traveled in the same means of transportation with the First Family."

Um ... really?

No!

This is the season for politics and crazy political messages abound.

While it is true that politicians on both sides frequently state half-truths or distort the statistics to their own advantage, there are some things I've received in email that are so fantastic, they resemble fairy tales.

Yes, it is great to support your favorite political candidate, but before you hit send, at least check to see if the facts are correct. Otherwise, the lies and distortions are perpetuated.

And really...I hate to see lies and distortions being tossed about. Lies and distortions are my business and must be carefully crafted. I write much better lies than whoever is making up some of these wacky political propaganda messages.

The website I usually go to first to check wild rumors is Snopes.com. They have an one entire page dedicated to myths about President Obama, another one dedicated to Mitt Romney, and more pages for other well-known politicians.

Snopes is not the only fact-checking website. You can go to FactCheck.org for plenty of concise information on what's real and what's not.

An awesome site is PolitiFact. This one has the Truth-O-Meter. You can add the app to your cellphone! In seconds, you can discover whether a political candidate has spoken the truth, a half-truth, something false, or something truly wild--real pants on fire stuff.

I know everyone makes mistakes. Politicians in their zeal to win voters to their side are often caught twisting facts. Concerned voters have a right to know exactly which facts were scrambled in the endless rhetoric spewed from the podium, but it is highly unlikely you will find truth in a forwarded email.

I write fiction, but when it comes to political truth, I want the real thing.

Oh. And don't forget to vote. :^)




Friday, September 07, 2012

Thank You, New Jersey!

Here I am in my official graduation portrait, the proud recipient of a teaching degree. I had help getting the degree. The State of New Jersey gave me a scholarship. NJ also gave a scholarship to my brother. We got the scholarships because we were good students, but came from a low-income family. My father worked as a journalist every day for forty years, but most journalists don't make the kind of salaries that chief executives make.

The scholarship paid for my tuition. I went to a state college and the tuition was very low. I wound up costing the state approximately $1200 over four years. The scholarship did not pay for books or any other college costs. I did not live on campus, I commuted to college on buses--a round trip of approximately sixty miles. I worked during the summers.

I finished college on time and got a job in my hometown. My salary for the first year of teaching was $8000. I lived at home with my parents, but I bought a car. :^)

I taught for twenty-five years, but it wouldn't have happened if I didn't have help in the beginning.

So thank you, New Jersey. I will always be grateful to you.