Friday, November 22, 2013

A snippet from my email

My workshop proposal has been accepted by Story Circle Network. Hooray- it's official! I'll be presenting in Austin at the Story Circle Network National Conference in April. 



Dear Marlene:

We are pleased to inform you that your proposed workshop, "When Digital Isn't Real - Fact Finding Offline For Serious Writers" has been chosen for presentation at our conference in April. Congratulations on your selection!

Thanks for helping to make our conference the best ever!

Warm Regards,
Mary Jo Doig
Program Chair

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Workshop Based Upon New Book

My new book, When Digital Isn't Real, evolved out of the various workshops I've conducted over the years, including several with Story Circle Network. All writers need to establish the reliability of their information. But in order to keep readers interested and present credible content, they also must enhance their work by providing a high level of verisimilitude.

This is the outside. Now go take a look at the inside!

You're probably thinking that anything and everything you could possibly need for your craft is online, right? True, so much is available online and in digital format but (and it's a very big but) what about all that incredibly rich, unique, and "never-to-make-its way into the digital world" material? What about all the often overlooked sources for information and facts such as one-on-one interviews, visits to geographic locations, rummaging through scrapbooks, recipe collections, and snooping around in closets and in family photo albums?

Well, you get where I'm going with all this! My new book deals with precisely these points and more. And my forthcoming workshop will show attendees exactly how to decide what information and details they need, where to look in the real, non-digital world, and what unconventional sources are available.

if you can't join me in Austin,  you can still buy a copy of When Digital Isn't Real. It's available in both print and as a Kindle.









Sunday, November 3, 2013

Berlin - Surprises Abound

Photo via flickr- ERmes Vatali
There’s a tiny, little known museum in Berlin, Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt. During World War II and before, it had been a brush factory. Its owner, Otto Weidt, became increasingly interested in creating a safe work environment for visually impaired, blind and deaf workers. It was a workshop in which they were given the opportunity to be productive and remain economically independent. The reason for his interest: Otto Weidt gradually was losing his own eye sight. Visiting this unusual, out of the way spot was one of the highlights of the week for all the surprises it held.


     After the climb up a narrow, creaky flight of wooden steps, I opened the door to the museum’s small entry. It had been pouring rain through out the morning and our group was drenched. The desk clerk greeted us pleasantly in German, asking us to leave  our wet coats and umbrellas in the entry to prevent water damage to the exhibits. The soft spoken man was the security guard / maintenance staff / sales clerk / resident historian and basically filled every position imaginable at this museum.

     He had an amazing smile, pleasant disposition, but had spoken to us in German. “He’s amazing!” I whispered to our tour leader. “I’d so love to take his photo. Do you think he’d mind?”

     “Mind? Are you kidding?" our group leader replied. "He’d absolutely love it, just ask him. His English is perfect and actually he competes in the International Beard and Mustache Competition. You know, he once won third place and is super proud of this!”
     

     This museum is a must-visit tribute to a German citizen, a non-Jewish hero. While reading about the museum, I learned that its administered by the German Resistance Memorial Centre Foundation - an organization developed as a result of a student project.   Otto Weidt’s story is told through the use of archival photos and in transcripts from interviews conducted with some of those he had saved. The mustache man enriched an already enriching experience. 



     During World War II, the visually impaired brush and broom manufacturer, Otto Weidt,  employed quite a number of Jews in the small factory still located at Rosenthaler 39. As the Nazi party rose to power, Weidt worked tirelessly to protect his blind and deaf employees from deportation to concentration camps. He bribed the Gestapo, falsified documents, and ultimately hid a family behind a backless cupboard in his shop’s workroom.

     Hesitantly, I approached his desk. Apologetically I spoke up. “Sir, excuse me but would you mind if I took a photo of you? My friends in the USA would find your mustache amazing. I know I sure do!”

     “It would be my honor." He said in perfect, accent free English. "This is a good place for me to work. Here, in a brush factory, right? And even more funny, I’m Jewish! Fortunately, I’m not yet blind. I must say though that some people are certain I’m deaf!”

     The encounter was a bigger surprise than I was prepared for that day. And thanks to the man with the award-winning mustache, I learned much more about Mr. Weidt’s brushes, the empoyees he saved and about “mustache man” himself. His own parents had fled Berlin, went to Israel (then Palestine) and remained there. The Israeli- born competitive mustache grower returned to live in Berlin after completing college.  

     

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Seeing Things Anew

Grim reminder of my own parents' experiences listed here - 3 out of these twelve.
Far too many others not even listed: Auschwitz, Ravensbruck & Dachau.
   
     Sometimes a break from blogging is a good thing. My break has been so long, I almost forgot how to post new content - not the writing part but the actual mechanics! Somewhat scary. Could this be a case of "use it or lose it?"

     The past three months have been insanely hectic. August was devoted to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico where I presented and conducted one-on-one consults for the AROHO Conference. I returned to Chicago in September and a two week trip to Berlin with University of Chicago's Graham School, and a visit to Santa Cruz, CA.

     There was the frenzy of writing and submitting my proposal to present at the Story Circle Network National Conference in Austin, TX., publication of my new book, When Digital Isn't Real followed by a total overhaul of the same just one week after it was released. Oh, I forgot to mention the Kindle Edition as well.

     These are some of the topics about which I'll be posting during the coming weeks. And there are also other activities; writing a few guest posts, providing my "two cents" of feedback on some fellow writers' books, my activities as a member of University of Chicago's Visiting Committee to the Graduate Division of the Social Sciences, and working on my forthcoming short story collection.

     So what about all those photos I'm eager to post and write about?  Some are more emotionally packed than others, but first things first. I've posted a photo of one of the intense moments for me but coming to grips with all this proved to be a positive and valuable experience.

Please check back this week for new content!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I am a Berliner!




Hi I'm in Berlin right now on an trip with University of Chicago Graham School. 
Tell you all about it when I get back.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Out on the bookshelves now: Marlene's new Reference Guide, When Digital Isn't Real

Much Needed Resource For Writers—A Reference Guide!

Do you think all the information you need can be found online? Think again! Not all the facts you need to ensure accuracy in your writing is online. And even information that's made its way online may not be all that accurate. The magnitude of online information, accessed at lightening fast speed, has eroded our beliefs in the importance of hard-copy references. Worse, too many writers are losing their research skills. In order to conduct non-digital research, writers need the skills to identify data sources but moreover, knowing how and where to find them, then deciding which ones to use, is both critical and daunting. Every writer who cares about the accuracy of his or her written work needs this book!

 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Where's Mangia Monday been?

 "Mangia Monday" on this blog - a series of yummy recipes and tips for getting the most out of your food dollars and having the least to waste. 

ANOTHER DAY GOURMET!

Have a Look!  Here's where you'll now find all the recipes, essays, and great tips for getting the most out of your food. Check in with this blog for updates and news about all my writing, publications, workshops and presentations but from now on all the food related fun will be "in residence" at Another Day Gourmet. Thanks and happy cooking!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Witnessing Diversity, Embracing Community

This past Saturday, I attended both a bat- and bar-mitzvah in Washington, D.C., the only reason for my trip to the district. But while in our nation's capital, I decided to take advantage of a few unscheduled hours in which to conduct historical research at the USHMM - The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Friday afternoon I devoted 3 hours to my research.

But, on Saturday, sitting in the synagogue's sanctuary, the significance of the two events - my Holocaust research and the bat mitzvah's unique celebratory character thoroughly overwhelmed me.

The young lady having her bat mitzvah is our close friends' daughter -- I'll refer to her  as Julia Jia Li Davis. The young man becoming a "bar mitzvah," Jordan David Martínez-Goldberg, shared the Dias and planning of the service with Julia.
She is Chinese. He is bi-racial Jewish-Dominican, and according to one aunt, also has some Peruvian origins. The service was simultaneously amazing, encouraging, and beautiful. But beyond its diversity -- and vastly more important, was the sense of community and hope it evoked that so thoroughly overwhelmed us all. 

I scanned the sanctuary.  It was impossible not to notice that almost everyone there was teary-eyed and intensely moved. It wasn't simply the ethnic, racial, national, and cultural diversity that gave us pause but rather the tremendous significance of the scene and of our good fortune to be a part of it. The point was lost on no one! 
It was also the epitome of our American ethos. It's one of the greatest and most enduring of America's values. 
More than a century ago, the United States of America was referred to as the  "great melting-pot," a term derived from a play by Israel Zangwill. First performed in 1908, the story depicts difficulties encountered by a Russian-Jewish immigrant family named the Quixanos. 

The protagonist and hero, David Quixano, survived a pogrom that killed both his mother and sister -- an over-whelming horror he constantly struggles to put behind him.
David creates an "American Symphony" -- his goal is to envision a society free from ethnic divisions and hatred rather than to remember his tragic past.

David proclaims, "America is God's crucible, the great melting-pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming... Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians." He is overcome with emotion by his vision and shouts, "Into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American!"
Given the play's historical context, Zangwill's main character's proclamation is truer and more evident in contemporary America than it was when he wrote it in 1908. Today, America is in a constant state of social and demographic flux, adapting and embracing its diversity followed by yet more growth, change and diversity.
The continuous changing "face" of America benefits us all, helping us evolve into a vastly more compassionate and humane society.
This special bat mitzvah followed my afternoon at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's 5th floor where I scanned miles of footage in the Steven Spielberg Film Archives -- footage that documented Nazi era atrocities.

Regardless of what we think we know about events that occurred during those very dark Holocaust years, seeing raw film footage taken from news reels of the time is a brutally sobering experience. 

 I'm still trying to comprehend the amazing contrast between what I saw  documenting the inhumane violence inflicted upon millions of human beings simply because of their cultural, religious, and racial differences and the wonderful encouraging sense of community that permeated the entire bat mitzvah weekend I was so fortunate to be a part of!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Little Blue Book

I pulled my passport out of the special leather case in which it's protected. We were on a flight headed to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and it was about a half hour before touchdown. Flight-attendants hurriedly began distributing Mexican tourist visa forms to be completed and handed to waiting Mexican Passport Control officers inside the airport.

But just before I opened my passport - navy blue, white letters, U.S.A., I held it in my hand a moment longer than any of my fellow passengers did theirs; turned it over to look at some security stickers from past adventures. I read the information in the first few pages before the photo page, before finding my passport number, and before I completed the form.

It's been an incredibly tense time in the national media, tense for all Americans in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Everyone has stayed glued to their televisions, ears tuned to news reports.  I was following minute-by-minute updates about the hunt for the bombers -- News about their national origins, their acquiring the privilege to enter and remain in the USA.

I opened my pen, ready to copy my passport information into the form issued to United Airline passengers -  I examined its cover. I held it in my hand a bit longer, taking a few extra moments to think about the privilege of having an American passport.

Mine was not obtained as the result of the coincidence of my place of birth. It was not because of  the good fortune to have been born in the USA. Instead, my passport was obtained as the result of a 14 year wait to gain my immigration visa from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services. It's the result of an additional five-year wait to gain the privilege to take the USA citizenship exam and only after that, was I fortunate enough to travel on an American passport.

I remember making the trip downtown to the Federal Building in Chicago on the appointed day, stomach all in knots, after weeks of diligent preparation for my interview and exam. After one full hour, I emerged from the cubicle extremely lightheaded.

"Please take a seat in the main room along with your fellow Americans." said the blond haired INS officer, the one who had given me my exam. She moved to the front of the room, stepped up to the podium flanked by the Stars and Stripes on one side, and the State of Illinois flag on the other.

"Congratulations, you are now American citizens! Welcome to the United States of America!"

And as I looked around the room, barely a dry eye was to be found among eyes of many shapes, colors, and lands - so many of which had seen unspeakable hardships and sorrows.  Many of the families, just like my own, had been in transit for many generations.

It all came back to me during this past week of national tragedy. I've been holding my passport very close, marveling at my own good fortune to be an American and so saddened that there are those for whom the same is not true.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Regrets Undone - Long Story Short Ezine

An essay of mine called Regrets Undone, about (finally) completing my Ph.D., has been featured on Long Story Short, An Ezine for Writers.  

The one cocktail party question I’ve dreaded so much that I move across the room, away from the hors d'oeuvre platter just to avoid facing it. “So, what exactly is it that you do?” It’s a question that packs enough ammunition to transform me into mumbling scatterbrain. “Excuse me, I see someone I really need to say hello to.” Is an escape-clause I’ve developed when I even sniff that someone on the verge of asking it. And how is it that grownups, a group of which I’m a member, think nothing of asking such a personal question of a total stranger in the most casual of tones?

 Read the rest Here!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I just learned I've Been Selected As A Finalist In A Writing Competition

Thanks to my AROHO friends on Facebook, specifically Lisa Rizzo and Barbara Rockman, I just learned that I'm a finalist in A Room of Her Own Foundation's ORLANDO PRIZE in the  non-fiction category for my story entitled,The Pretending Suitcase Game. Sometimes I'm so clueless! 

AROHO is dedicated to furthering the vision of Virginia Woolf and bridging the gap between a woman’s economic reality and her artistic creation. We bridge this gap by offering generous financial support to women of diverse artistic expression—the written arts (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting), as well as the visual arts (painting, sculpture, and photography). We further Woolf’s vision by providing moral support and professional guidance to independent creative women who are committed to their art.
You can Read the Rules of the Contest here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Star Blogger For Story Circle Network

"From: Peggy Moody

Date: March 25, 2013, 2:43:54 PM CDT
To: Marlene Samuels

Subject: SCN Star Blogger

Hi Marlene. We wanted to let you know that, with your permission, we will be featuring your outstanding blog in our upcoming Story Circle Network national eletter at www.storycircle.org/!

Peggy Moody,
Executive Director
Story Circle Network"

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ghost Ranch, I'm Totally Ready!

Two years ago I attended the AROHO's (A Room of Her Own Foundation) Retreat at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The event takes place only once in two years at artist Georgia O'Keefe's ranch. Following her death, Ghost Ranch was designated as a retreat site, one of incomparable rustic beauty.

I'd been hearing about Ghost Ranch for years - about the AROHO Retreat, the ranch's spiritual nature, and about the amazing impact it has upon one's sense of inner calm and connection with nature. I'd never been to New Mexico, never been to the Southwest, nor had I ever experienced desert terrain. But at last, I was privileged to attend.

So reluctantly, in spring 2011, I submitted my application which required a writing sample. I braced for rejection. I understood, anew, Groucho Marx's cliche about joining clubs that would include me among their members. And then I was surprised when my acceptance letter arrived - surprised but then also exceedingly worried.

What if they discover I'm really not a writer? What if they made a mistake, they confused me with another Marlene? What if the other attendees are brilliant, well-published, famous writers? And what if...the list was endless. I pulled out my lucky Woodstock Tee-shirt, one reserved for only the most special of events!



At AROHO,  I was awed by the level of creativity, camaraderie, and kindness. i was touched by the total absence of judgement these women embraced. Clearly, we all seemed to be dealing with a phenomenon I learned was referred to as "the inner critic". I was amazed by the women who offered one-on-one consultations; the ones who taught afternoon small groups; others who conducted one-time whole group presentations.

This January, I again submitted my application plus the reluctant writing sample. I even mustered up the confidence to submit two proposals; one for a group exercise about regrets and the ways in which we can transform past regrets into future gains; my second proposal was to offer individual consultations about research methods that will add credibility to our writing.

Then, at the end of February, my email inbox held an AROHO surprise. I braced for disappointment, convinced myself that no way would AROHO consider me as a presenter, I mean - after all, what do I know about writing anyway? But, there it was - not one, but TWO acceptances!

Come this August, I'll be presenting at AROHO's Retreat at Ghost Ranch. And with only 5 months left, I'm finding myself giddy and nervous. As my sons pointed out that day, "when it comes to writing and teaching, it's never too soon to start thinking and planning, never too soon to be worrying!"  My lucky t-shirt is clean, folded and ready!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When 30 Women Writers Get Together for A Weekend


It's indescribable! One week after returning from the Story Circle Network retreat in Round Top, Texas, my head is still swimming with the amazing stories we shared.

Sheila Bender provided inspiring prompts, time to think, to write and to exchange ideas. We learned to become  "responders" as opposed to critics; we listened for "Velcro" words and phrases, and in the midst of the process, gained insight into reading our own work with a new eye and ear.

The experience left me in awe of the range of amazing stories each woman had to tell, about which to write, stories needing to be told. Behind each face was complexity, creativity, and compassion but also there were untold sorrows and joys. But most of all, the common thread of shared understanding defies description but moved us to tears as well as to bouts of hysterical laughter!

And, on that last point, any writerly soul who's never attended a writing retreat ought to reconsider - it's a time during which magic happens



Part of the funky weird gardens constructed from discarded bricks, slate, and found materials


So many places to sit and meditate

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It Must Be My Lucky Day



August 12 - 18, 2013 
AROHO Writers' Retreat - Ghost Ranch,

 Abiquiu, NM.

I've been accepted to present at TWO levels at A Room of Her Own (AROHO) Foundation's Ghost Ranch Retreat. I'll be presenting a short participatory activity entitled: Transforming Regrets into Rewards. 

And, I've been accepted as a consultant, available to meet with participants on a one-on-one basis to assist them with research problems they may be having related to their current writing. My consultation specialty:  Research Methods for Writers.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Costco Connection Magazine - March 2013

Hooray, it's out at last! The March issue of Costco Connection Magazine features a number of my recipes - created, tested and totally enjoyed in my very own home kitchen. The interview was conducted and prepared by freelance writer Georgia Orcutt and my wonderful creations were tested again in  the Costco test kitchens. I'm extremely excited and this must be my lucky week. This article follows on the heels of the Women Magazine posting and a non-food essay I just learned has been accepted for publication. More about that on my next post.

If you're not a Costco member you can still read the Costco Connection Magazine on-line. How about a recipe for Mac & Cheese Frittata? You've read about roasting root vegetables here but have you considered potato salad soup? You may be surprised by how incredibly delicious, quick, easy and incredibly "green" (as in no waste) these creations are.














Check out my recipes. I'd love to hear back from you. Click on the link below and go directly to the article and then to your kitchen!       http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201303#pg41

A Guest Post: Women Magazine

Hello everyone! I have some more exciting news today: 
The editor of Women Magazine posted 2 of my recipes on the blog. If subscribers like it, there may be more regular posting opportunities of my recipes either on their blog or even in the magazine!

I wasn't especially familiar with Women Magazine but after reading several issues, I am very impresses. Here's what I found out: Women Magazine initially began as a monthly for women recovering from cancer, gradually "morphing" into a health, prevention and fitness approach while retaining some of its focus on managing and recovering from cancer. 

My recipe for barley, pine nut & currant salad can be seen HERE.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where I am Now: Sidney, Nebraska

Just arrived in Sidney, Nebraska and spending the night at a hotel across the street from the World Wide Headquarters of CABELAS.

That aside, my charming husband and I drove 786 miles today - I'm going to fudge it and say 800 miles for simplicity.

Definitely glad I brought the bottle of Glenlivet single malt I always pack in the dogs' food bag. Since their bag gets unloaded from the car before everything else does, and since they're fed before anything else happens, I pour myself a respectable shot in the hotel's plastic cup, relax and watch the puppies eat as I sip and savor. A few moments of down time, relaxation and a bit of libation is just enough. Those few moments of quality time alone works wonders to keep me from saying all those really regrettable things that come to mind when we're tired, hungry, crabby and road-weary.

Note: Opportunities for relationship-testing abound!

I'd highly recommend that anyone contemplating marriage would be wise to drive cross country with his or her beloved accompanied by 2 very large farting dogs while also being prepared for blizzards, dust storms, pea-soup fog, black ice (never heard of that stuff before I began driving cross-country), in addition to migrating herds of elk, antelope (not to be confused with can't elope) the occasional stray cow who might wander onto the highway, and deer who engage in games of "chicken" with their fellow deer by darting in front of speeding vehicles. All these events generally occur during times of diminished visibility or extreme cold!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

People In the Workshop I'm Conducting

During the last 3 weeks, I taught my memoir writing class – a workshop really, an introduction really, for local folks who’ve been thinking about writing in this genre for a long time but haven’t gotten going. It’s not for lack of interest. More likely, it’s from not knowing where or how to proceed. That said, it’s a tough go. I know. I, too, faced those dilemmas for an incredibly long time.

The workshop title - Writing Your Life: Beyond Journaling. The people who attended - one by one,  claimed they weren't writers
  • But here is the misperception; a writer is someone who writes. Whether their writing is published, whether publishing is a goal or whether their writing is tucked away in a desk drawer to be savored privately - this doesn’t alter the definition of “writer.”

  • The people in my workshop were an incredibly diverse and complex group. The people in myworkshop are passionate writers – each one approached the in-class writing exercises from uniqueperspectives and in highly creative ways. One gentleman drove two hours each way to attend. Heintrigued us with insights into rural life, reading aloud about horses, scriptures, and farming. All of thisso removed from my own urban life experiences. He arrived to our third and final meeting bearing agift: a huge jar of natural honey.

  • There was the doctor and his wife who shared their common goal: to write their memoirtogether. But amazingly, they also wrote their own detailed pieces; he - about transporting childrenfrom overseas to the USA for specialized heart surgery; she - about her good fortune of having attendedcooking classes in Normandy.

  • There was the man who could attend only on the first session but who came to learn whateverhe could in order to write about the search for his Polish roots. One woman, who hailed from NewYork to Idaho via thirty years in Los Angeles, wrote words that landed on paper as poetry. We sharedshort essays written in response to prompts. There were photos brought in, drawings of floor plansof childhood homes, and during our last meeting – scents contained within a group of containers thatranged from antiseptic cleaners to cinnamon and peanut butter.

  • The people in my class may have learned about memoirs and prompts, about methods forapproaching the difficult task of organizing their memories and family documents, but I learned more. Iwas heartened by their willingness to read their written exercises, by their efforts to put into words theanswers to my challenging worksheets, and by the complex and well thought out questions they asked.
The people in my class may have taught me more than I taught them!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The COSTCO Connection

Exciting news about my food writing and Another Day Gourmet!  This past month, I was interviewed by freelance food writer, Georgia Orcutt for an article about no-waste cooking.

I focused on maximizing the use of once-cooked and left over foods, many of which are perishable and often purchased in massive quantities at Costco. HOORAY!!  

Costco Connection Magazine will be featuring the interview in its March issue. The article contains a number of my "tried & true" recipes - vegetable side dishes, rice, grains and a food slant towards the healthy. 

What a great opportunity to encourage home chefs to think creatively about their food, their left-overs, and minimizing waste. I hope to hear back from my blog visitors and from Costco Connection readers, of which there are 44.8 million. 

Recipes anyone? Send your ideas along to me and I'll post them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

With Regard to Elk


Where I am until the end of the month has become a happy feasting ground for elk. After seeing herds of twenty and more at a time up close and in real life, after a few amazing photo-ops, and after realizing that they’re about the size of a real S.U.V., I decided to consult some research sources and add my own observations, first hand. So, no matter what the photos look like, here are a few:

1. Their butts are not bald but very, very furry – in fact, a lovely shade of taupe fluff.
 Sources suggest that it's evolutionary evidence that boy elks (who have really bad vision) need a great deal of help finding those sexy girl elks. The taupe butts must be elk language for, “it’s here, stupid!”

2. There’s a big mane of black fuzzy fur around their necks, more on the boys than the girls.
 It’s similar to cashmere found on Cashmere goats and better at keeping the elk warm than an L.L.Bean polar fleece scarf.

3. We've had herds of elk down in the residential 'hoods surrounding Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey.Wolf populations in the Idaho Sawtooth Mountain Range have increased. This year, they’ve made their way south from Stanley, Idaho – higher elevations, towards Ketchum. The pack, referred to as the Phantom Hill wolves, has increased its numbers. It’s become obvious that all these seemingly unrelated events are very much part of a single chain. Elk, in response to increased wolf populations, arrived on local golf courses, in neighborhood gardens, and along the roads. What an amazing local wildlife
ecosystem to observe first hand!

So when elk traveled to the lower regions, mountain lions paid a visit to feast on elk. After filling up on elk steaks, elk burgers, and maybe a few chops, the lions retreated fairly satiated. But they’re not the neatest eaters and failed to clean up after themselves. No worries, however! Wolves arrived and tidied up a bit after the mountain lions. It’s a nice feast for wolves.

My conclusions:
1. Glad to have two gigantic Rhodesian Ridgebacks, a.k.a. African lion dogs. Big bad lions beware!
2. Coming upon a male elk and his harem feasting on the vestiges of my garden, it was less than a
second before the male lifted his fully racked head in response to the click of my camera.
3. When a male elk lifts his antler-adorned head to look in my direction, retreating backwards into
my car or house is definitely a prudent idea!
4. A grown elk really is about the size of a Dodge Durango or Jeep Cherokee!

Elk Basics:
North American Elk, or Cervus elaphus, are split by some biologists into six subspecies:
• Rocky Mountain (Rocky Mountain West, now transplanted to other locations) – largest antlers of
all subspecies
• Roosevelt's (Coastal Pacific Northwest)
– largest in body size of all subspecies, but not antler size
• Tule (Central California) – smallest body size of all subspecies
• Manitoban (northern Great Plains)
• Merriam's (Southwest and Mexico) - Extinct
Eastern (east of the Mississippi) – Extinct

Antlers - The interesting stuff!
• Only male elk have antlers
• Bulls shed and grow a new set of antlers every year
• New antlers are covered in fuzzy skin called velvet
• Antlers harden by late summer and the velvet peels away
• By September, antlers are solid bone
• A set of antlers on a mature bull can weigh up to 40 pounds

Body Postures:
• When alarmed, elk raise their heads high, open eyes wide, move stiffly rotating their ears to listen.
• If a harem cow wanders, the bull stretches his neck low, tips his nose, tilts antlers back to circle her.

• Elk threaten each other by curling back their upper lip, grinding their teeth and hissing.

• Agitated elk hold their heads high, flatten ears back and flare nostrils, sometimes punch with their
front hooves

And the amazing thing is that elk talk. They’re known to be among the noisiest ungulates,
communicating danger loudly and identifying each other by sound. Their favorite times to
talk to one another seems to be sometime around 2:00-3:00 a.m. lately!




Monday, January 21, 2013

Where I'll Be!

LifeLines
A Story Circle LifeWriting Retreat
with Sheila Bender


March 8-10, 2013
Festival Hill, Round Top TX

"Located in historic Round Top, Texas, 75 miles east of Austin, The International Festival-Institute was founded in 1972 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick and has developed incredible year-round education and performance programs. It's on a unique 200-acre campus named Festival Hill with performance facilities, historic houses, incredible gardens, parks and nature preserves. In addition, housed on the campus are rare books, manuscripts, archival material, music and historic recordings, photographs and objects. The Festival-Institute is regarded as a center for research and scholarly study. Landscaping is breath-taking regardless of the time of year. There are thousands of trees and bushes of various species, lakes, picnic areas, jogging trails, and aromatic herb gardens. "

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The AROHO Retreat in August is on!

Hooray! I'll be attending the AROHO Retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico again in August. What a great bit of news to be accepted. Amazing organization, incredible women, a life-changing week! www.aroomofherown.org

Why Write Your Memoir? Why Take My Workshop?

On Friday, I was honored to be the guest speaker at the Wood River Jewish Community annual women’s luncheon in Ketchum, Idaho. The primary focus of my presentation: to promote the workshop I’ll be leading in January entitled, “Writing Your Life: Beyond Journaling.” The workshop will meet three times for two and a half hours each session. Enthusiasm seemed high but a subdued level of reluctance was in the air!

There are an unlimited number of reasons to write our memoirs. I've organized my workshops for anyone and everyone who has motivation and interest - for writers who've written volumes to those who have written little else besides checks and to those who write in journals regularly or rarely.

So often people express enthusiasm and interest, curiosity about and an intense desire in writing their memoirs yet, at the same time when given the opportunity, become reluctant to participate in a workshop. Regardless of how old we are - how self-confident and accomplished, there’s still that element of worry that lingers from childhood, too much concern about what others might think of our writing, of our stories, or even whether our stories merit writing about.

So all up, reluctance to write our “truths” isn’t really about being shy or inexperienced but about an overwhelming concern of how our writing and stories might measure up. So many “wanna-be” memoir writers make the same comment to me, “But I haven’t done anything special, nothing traumatic has happened to me. No one would care about my stories. “
In my effort to convince a roomful of women to sign up for my memoir writing workshop, I assembled a list of ten very persuasive reasons why everyone should write memoirs. One qualifier: memoirs are not necessarily written only with publication as our goal.


10 REASONS TO WRITE YOUR MEMOIR:
(Yes, I presented 10 but the reasons are in the hundreds!)

1. Writing your memoir helps you discover who you are and how you got to your present place in life.

2. When you write about your life, others learn life lessons from reading your work.

3. Writing about your life increases your self-esteem because the process of remembering long-forgotten events enables you to share with your siblings, your children and grandchildren.

4. Writing your own “truth” not anyone else’s is entirely about perceptions – yours, and consequently can be very liberating.

5. Writing your memoir provides you with the means to save your memories, can result in added insight and offers a vehicle by which to share your memories.

6. The process of writing about your life increases brain activity as you search your memories. The process of trying to remember specifics stimulates brain activity which helps grow neurons.

7. Journaling and life-writing has proven to be therapeutic and healing; it helps resolve dilemmas, focus your goals and vision and can lead you to recreate yourself.

8. Writing enhances creativity but writing about your life encourages you to become a better observer of your family and of your surroundings.

9. Writing your memoir provides a great sense of accomplishment.

10. Your memoir – regardless of its style, is your legacy, your kids’ and grand-kids  legacies, and provides a connecting thread between our pasts and futures.

But more than anything - our stories make us human because our stories have universality.
Einstein is credited with once having said,


   “ The universe is made not of atoms but of stories!”