New and Updated Website at DWHirsch.com

May 17, 2016

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed a lack of posts–or you haven’t because I haven’t written anything here to notify you of. The reason? I have moved my WolfHowlings blog over to a self-hosted site:

DWHirsch.com

At this time, this blog will stay open as a static history of me and all of you. I am posting new content at my other blog, and I will get in touch with all of you, my dedicated subscribers, to let you personally know of this change. This was a decision a long time in the making–and a difficult task in the transition. More on that there. The new site is still under construction, and sporatic updates will be posted here.

Come join the fun: all this site had to offer and MORE!!

I look forward to seeing you there.

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April 1: Art and #AtoZChallenge

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“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.”~Mignon McLaughlin, American writer
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Welcome to Day 1 of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Today I feel more Zzzzzz than Awake. April is just one of those busy months. And, really, how did it become the 4th month of 2016 already?

I chose an easy enough theme this year so I could actually complete AtoZ this year, and I totally forgot what April is. April is National Poetry Month. That I knew, but I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I decided to do Alphabet Haiku as my AtoZ Challenge.

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What I didn’t know is that this year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. The social media hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth is exploding throughout the creative writing world.

Creating writing and catching up is just another theme with me this month, as I will complete the remaining letters of last year’s AtoZ Challenge: 26 Ways to Distract a Writer. Did you ever have one of those nagging things that you just can’t let go of, no matter how practical or useful it is to do that? For me, last year’s AtoZ is that. I’ll post those new links here as they get posted, which means you’ll have to come back every day if you want to find out how Jayne and her Writerself tale ends…for now.

If you want an idea of what Jayne is up to, read about her first day on the procrastination journey here.

Art is something I’ve struggled with lately, from Artist Trading Cards to Zentangle. I was an active member on ATCs For All, a delightfully creative online site for people to trade art with other artists. One of the most delightful events there was the monthly Bizarre Holiday Swap. Even my husband enjoyed seeing those cards! This is a mixed-media card I made from one of the those swaps:


Today’s Bizarre Holiday: One Cent Day. One cent and the 1st day of April. No April Fools here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve created art like that. I stepped back from that because I lost the interest and the thrill. I know when I feel the pull of it again, I’ll enjoy it even more.

For now, I’m enjoying my poetry journey. I hope you do, too.

A fishy Easter #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Wasn’t that coffee tasting fun?

I know, you may not be such a Starbucks supporter, but these monthly events are now something my husband and I look forward to. So far, I’ve learned that I do not like Latin American coffees, and African ones are hit-or-miss. You heard me ask Barista Dean about the types of coffees I like, and it’s the Asia-Pacific ones that seem to offer the mouth feel that I like. The roundness, was that what he called it? You’d think me a coffee drinker fresh out of the womb, but it was an acquired taste, born from the sleepiness of 5:00am film crew calls. That’s a story for another time. I want to tell you about last night.

My husband and I went to a Lenten fish fry.

This was my first fish fry since my Pittsburgh childhood. Oh, memories.

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Our current Peeps haul is larger than this…

Tomorrow is Easter. We’re already overflowing with Marshmallow Peeps, a childhood tradition and a joke between me and my husband from my 2009 article about the History of Marshmallow Peeps. I’m saving my one Cadbury Creme Egg for tomorrow, another family tradition.

And maybe I’m being extra-reflective because of the blogs I’ve been reading lately. Yes, I actually made time this week to read blogs, a lot of goal-setting between the ROW80 Round 1 wrap ups and A to Z Challenge Theme Reveals (you can currently find me at #493).  It’s the Throwback Thursday historic posts that have focused on family and memories in addition to goals. I’ve commented on these with my own family memories, which brings me back to fish frys.

Catholics typically don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, the weeks that lead up to Easter. Regardless of my parents’ health, what state I lived in or current religious activity, my family always observed meatless Fridays during Lent. It’s ingrained in me, so when I found this fish fry back in February, I so wanted to go.

There are so many pleasant memories about that. Riding the PAT bus through the neighborhood to St. Benedict’s, a school and a monastery. As we walked up the hill, what felt like a mountain, I always wondered what made a nun want to be a nun. Neither Mom nor Dad could tell me, but Dad would regale stories of his schooldays that every year involved nuns and wooden rulers on finger knuckles. The brick building with the ramp I had to go up instead of the steps. The stark hall, dull with tan walls yet screamingly bright from industrial overhead lights. The hum of chatter, voices laughing, saying hellos. The fast-food smell of cooking oil. A buffet line, find your seats first. White cardboard plates heavy and soggy from the river of coleslaw juice running under fish pieces. Sitting with Mom, Dad and my aunt. It was a party, and since we didn’t eat dinner out often, this was an event.

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Military rather than religious, it could almost be Pittsburgh

It took us until Good Friday to finally make it. We drove past a fish fry on the way to this fish fry. Who knew? At the VFW in Plymouth, we had the choice to sit in the Hall, which could’ve been my Pittsburgh memory plopped down in Michigan, or in the VFW Bar. 

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Baked and fried fish options at the modern-day fish fry

My husband chose the Bar. For the ambiance, he said.

We sat at a table across the room from the pool tables, next to the jukebox. It was the 4th Friday so live music started at 7pm and the pitchers of beer came out.

This was not my childhood fish fry.  It was still a good one.

Marshmallow Peeps, ghosts and friendship: a #ThrowbackThursday post

I’m happy I stumbled upon the Throwback Thursday Link Party.

There’s a lot of #tbt flopping out there on social media, but a lot of it is selfish. Look at me! Me me me!! It’s all about me!! People post their photo or whatever and then go away until next week.

If you don’t connect with the person directly, a lot of that stuff is “so what?” Blog hops are places that encourage people to visit and perhaps connect with other bloggers–you know, people…the interacting part of “social” media. Bloggers travel through their treasure trove of historic posts and share something written 30+ days ago. In doing this, I’m rediscovering myself in the process.

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Trying to keep with the Easter holiday theme, I discovered that I’ve written NO posts specifically about Marshmallow Peeps. If you know my history with them, my gosh, you will find this unbelievable.

My Throwback Thursday contribution is my Halloween story about marshmallow ghosts and friendship.

This holiday tale was originally told during A Fanciful Twist’s 2011 Halloween Party. Vanessa’s site was my first experience with a blog hop, and my Halloween Party post is awaited by all my friends. How cool is that?! One of my scrapbooking friends bought me a tripod for my digital camera/smartphone so that I could take steady pictures in low-light settings.

Stop on over and take your own trip through history on this site.

The fun #AtoZChallenge 2016 Theme Reveal

“Do or Do Not; there is no Try”~Yoda, Jedi Master

It’s the first day after the first day of Spring. That means it’s the end of March. That means bloggers around the world unite in mass hysteria for the phenomenon:

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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Every April, participating bloggers write daily posts–except on Sundays–that correspond to that day’s letter of the alphabet.
AtoZ-BlogChallenge-2016-AprilBadgeApril 1 is for the letter A, the first letter; April 2 is the letter B; April 3…well, you get the idea. The topic is anything you want, or nothing at all. Bloggers will pre-write and schedule posts so they can better blog hop while others just write on a whim each day. Photos, recipes, favorite books, villains, teddy bears…you name it, and the theme is probably there. It’s November’s NaNoWriMo for bloggers.

Last year was my first time participating, and it was quite a flop. I only completed half the month’s worth of posts because I created a theme that just exploded into a delicious mess of complications. My theme “26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer” was designed to be a humorous look at the ways we writers procrastinate, and how we allow others to enable us in distractions. What started out as short tips led to longer, detailed explorations. Then Jayne came in. She was my flash fiction to show by example what the distraction can do to a writer. Her life developed in a soap opera.

See? Complicated. Way too much for this talent-yet-unplanned writer. My April 2, 2015 post should have been “B is for…Blogging from A to Z” because I buried myself in expectations.

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This year, I’m keeping it simple–simpler, at least–with:
Alphabet Haiku

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The idea did not spring forth because April is National Poetry month, although that’s a nice happenstance. This theme came from a haiku challenge I had started on a now-defunct (?) social app community called Heyku. Later renamed Ku, my app stopped working, and I haven’t confirmed its non-existence on Facebook, since FB is the only place people actually communicate with others. Anyway, I did an alphabet challenge where every word of a haiku began with the same letter. I almost reached the end–“W” for werewolves never posted on the app site–but I never got to Z. Old photos on my phone reminded me of this, and it seemed like a good thing to revisit.

I will NOT reuse any of those old haikus. That’s part of my challenge. I may mix it up a bit: all words begin with the same letter, end with the same letter, rhyme somehow…I’m not sure how things will shake up.

If you followed last year’s adventures, I will also be finishing up those Procrastination posts of Jayne and her Writeself. They’ve been a weight hanging over me, one I cannot let go of. I need to finish them. Knowing that many of them are mostly-written makes me feel somewhat positive about completing. Again, I’m not sure how things will shake up; as my husband says with annoying regularity: “We’ll see.”

If you want to see what other bloggers are doing, check out the Theme Reveal here. As of this post, there’s almost 500 bloggers participating.

Rediscovering Zentangle in a coffeeshop

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.”~George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer

Today, I am doing just that.

One month ago, Colleen contacted me about Zentangle classes. I’m not actively teaching, but the big-box craft store I had been teaching at never updated their website. Truth is, mine was cobwebby as well. I felt so gosh darn sad, guilty and responsible for no reason that I told her we could meet and tangle together. We found a midpoint between us in a local coffeeshop, and we met for the first time last week.

I forgot the newfound passion one has for discovering Zentangle. You see, for me it’s been so much a “job” or “profession” that I haven’t enjoyed it. I haven’t tangled in–what, months? years? I’m embarrassed to think about that.

My mind still goes back to that strong memory I have as a newly-minted CZT. I sat on the couch next to my husband, enthralled with it all. He watched TV and I tangled on a black tile. Content.

Somewhen after that, Zentangle contentment became commitment. I had to post weekly entries in the delightful Diva Zentangle Challenge to remain in people’s minds. I had to look for teaching gigs because I knew anyone could benefit from this art. I had to blog about Zentangle so that others knew my passion. In all that busyness, I lost the innocence and the joy. It was there, but buried under so much duty that I forgot to be excited.

Until today.

Colleen is that younger me: unsure but boundless, timid yet bold, amazed by the creations and creativity, exploding with possibilities. The first time we met, her enthusiasm oozed onto the table and into my coffee cup. Why wasn’t I excited like she was? It all overwhelmed me, partly because she wanted me to teach classes. She had to share this with her world, with the world, and she had all sorts of marketing and promotion and location ideas. She was my strongest advocate for me since me.

Where was she a year ago?

No, that’s an excuse because it would not have mattered. I was struggling to balance my job with two time-consuming passions: writing and Zentangle. I couldn’t commit to both, so they both suffered. No one I met recently was excited about Zentangle, which was discouraging. I wasn’t excited. My writing, however…I’m a da#n good writer–always have been, always will be–and here I was wasting precious writing time on unfulfilling Zentangle.

That’s why and when I chose to step back. It took me about 3 months to convince myself that I was okay to do this and that I had the courage to let go. Yet seven months later, I found myself in a coffee shop discussing teaching. I felt trapped.

I calendared time to meet with her again–remember, the guilt–and today is our second day together. I told her I didn’t want to teach formally, standing at the front of a room with a large pad of paper on an easel, but a casual meeting like this would be okay.

Once I released my expectations, or perhaps it was my commitments, I relaxed.

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Preparing to tangle with what I’ll call an “abstract celtic knot”

I suggested we do this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #259: Touch of Irish, interpreting St. Patrick’s Day however we chose. I wanted green.

The green marker I had with me was scraggly and dry. I thought a wash with paint or my Inktense pencils would rejuvenate my love of those art supplies, but they were at home. If I didn’t finish the tile here and now, it wouldn’t get done otherwise. Using what I had, I pulled two green ink pens out of my writing bag. Colleen had a great idea to do a Celtic Knot string. I found the traditional triangle image, but didn’t want to spend a lot of time getting it oh-so-perfection. I sketched it quickly in pencil–I was excited to actually tangle, not drawing–and came up with this weird Knot reflection. I like to think if you turned my image inside-out and around, you’d see a crude knot there, and that’s what I’m going with.

Ink pens don’t flow well on Zentangle tiles; at least these pens didn’t. I knew in my mind’s eye what I wanted to create, but I didn’t know how. I figured I’d just feel it along the way.

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Notice how it disappears off the edges into beautiful nothingness

I wanted the emphasis to be the circle and the center space that didn’t feel complete as just white space. I over-overdid the center area, and now it is the dusty focus, or that’s how my eyes see it.

Like Zentangle philosophy–I haven’t forgotten that–I accepted it. Slowly; I did forget how to be Zen with the process and be forgiving with myself. It was not what I imagined, but what it became.

Colleen, of course, loved it, sparkled by the touch of color everywhere. She asked for my casual guidance and input along her way, and we shared inspiration alongside un-oozy coffee. She felt hers was choppy in comparison, but I adored the fun and fresh lines of someone at the beginning of her journey.

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Together: the tools of inspiration and creation

Remember, it’s all in our eyes and our mind.

I’m relearning, too. Stay tuned.

February 29 : Leap day means another day to procrastinate

Procrastin-a-a-ation’s making me late.

That sentence works best if you sing along with Carly Simon.

Today is Leap day, and I have an extra day to enter the Rochester Writers 2016 Winter Contest. I’m still working on my pieces.

There are four categories: flash fiction; poetry; holiday memoir; and opening of a novel. I plan to enter three of them. Flash fiction scares me.

I didn’t pay super-duper attention to the word count requirements. No, I just thought that 400 words was longer than it is. It really is not as many words as you think. The ending comes way too quick. Tight writing and editing is what I need to focus on because all of my entries are significantly over word count. Stay tuned.

Birthdays are in the details

“Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.”~Ausonius, Roman poet

Another February 15th rolls to an end, another birthday for my husband curls up for a 365-day nap. Birthdays are in the little touches.

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Bright balloon bouquets should greet very birthday boy and girl–no matter their age–when they walk through the door.

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Pooh napkins and cupcakes for either chocolate/vanilla mood, complete with separate forks so flavor-contamination…or for sharing.

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Don’t forget the Happy Birthday flags, a separate color for each cupcake.

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To the last detail: birthday balloon bouquet tied with smiley face ribbon.

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Don’t cover up words with a little red bow; let each one delight the gift. What’s fun without some Penn State-colored beads?

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Hershey’s chocolates in a bedside kiss. Good night!

Crazy little thing called…

Love.

Smallish details seems to be this month’s blog theme because here I go again.

There’s a blog party over at Suzie Speaks with the theme of love.

Who doesn’t love a good party? Given the theme, how could I not participate? I thought of the specific details of “what is love?” to me and I came up with one word:

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Receipts.

Specifically, meal receipts.

Early on when my husband and I were dating, he took the itemized receipt after some dinner out and wrote a note on it, something commemorating the event or location. I probably blushed, smiled for so many reasons and cooed “thank you” to this charming, sentimental man who was not my own (yet). Whatever my reaction was, it was enough for him to do it the next time out. He hasn’t stopped since.

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I adore it.

It’s a tradition now, almost expected and yet not.

What makes a meal receipt-worthy? The event. The location. The food. The memory. There was something significant and not commonplace about eating there at that time, and he captures that. I’m not allowed to write them; he does that.

Except one time when I took him out for his birthday. That was my receipt responsibility; he couldn’t write on his own birthday. That was my treat.

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My first arrow heart I Love You just yesterday

The notations evolve over the years. There are flags for sporting events, birthday hats, holiday hearts, even a diamond ring for one wedding anniversary. The excitement is discovering what new sentiment he’ll scribble down. He never fails to delight me.

Such a little thing. Such a big deal.

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