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.

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.

Is writing ever wasted?

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

Wrapping up the Month of Little Things is a photo reminder of those precious moments. It’s easy enough to do; there are a lot of phone apps out there for you to create A Picture A Day composite. I use Photo 365, because if your day is too awesome for one memory, this app lets you post more than one photo to the day, even though only one is visible on the calendar. I don’t stress if I miss a day or three, but since I take so many pics and screenshots, I almost always fill a box.

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I spy a happy plant–Sprout is a baby tree, actually–WiiFitness activity, Swarm checkin moments and other celebrations. and coffee shops. Three days in a row writing in coffee shops

Speaking of writing, remember that brief tirade of stress yesterday about my contest and procrastination? I chose to cut one entry from the final submission package, which was, surprisingly, a good thing.

I posted a photo yesterday on Instagram of the holiday memoir I was working on. That’s the one I removed from the contest submission. The writing of it was not a failure, it was not wasted time.

First off, that piece only somewhat fit the category requirements for Holiday Memoir. The event I wrote about did happen at Christmastime, but it didn’t have anything to do specifically with the holiday. I liked that entry, but I found a better one from an earlier piece of writing that came from my journal. In fact, all three pieces were previous half-written material, but they fit the contest requirement because none of them have been published.

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Farewell…for now

So that vignette didn’t make it. Big deal, or no big deal. Does that leave me with another half-finished piece of writing? Absolutely. But now I have a piece that I can tweak into something else in the future. Besides, I would have had to do some serious editing to make that fit the required word count, and I was not prepared to do that. I let it go.

I had to edit the other three entries anyway, and I forgot how tough tight writing is. Every word occupies valuable real estate on the page. The word count for poetry was 100; mine was 85, cut down from 120 words. the Holiday Memoir category was between 200-400 words; I got mine down from 533 to 371 words. The First Page of a Novel had a word count of 250; I made it at 199 words. Since I waited until the 11th hour to submit–literally, about 11:30pm–there was no way I would’ve been able to do justice to make that 789 word moment into a cohesive, intriguing 400 word story. I cut it entirely.

When I wrote it, I expected to have a ruthless editing session to make it work, but by the time I got past the backstory into the actual event, it was a mess. It takes a talented writer to condense 400-ish words, chopping a piece in half. It also takes time. I have the talent but not the time.

Still, what made that exercise so good is that I was writing. I wasn’t spending time planning or blogging or planning blogposts. I wasn’t editing or rewriting or thinking about writing–I was writing. Not journaling; creative writing with a purpose. I felt free. I missed that feeling of initial creation. I’ve been so bogged down in external nonsense that I forgot to write for fun. That’s one of my ROW80 goals achieved.

Celebrating THON on this #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Thanks for meeting us here at Miracle Coffee. It’s our annual tradition to watch the Penn State THON Total Reveal in a coffeeshop, and he chose here this time. He’s a fan of the blended Miracle Mocha. I’m trying that as a hot drink. *sip, sip* Mmmmm, if you like sweet, this is good hot or cold.

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Check out the window reflection: perfect for THON

How was your week? We kinda celebrated my husband’s birthday on Monday. He flew out of town for a business meeting the next day–*”in New Jersey and the weather was terrible” he says*–yeah, his Tuesday flight was cancelled and his Friday flight was delayed. This weekend is more of his Birthday Week. Everyone should have one of those, or a Birthday Month. I highly recommend that!

I got some writing done, but my ROW80 goals, geez, those are a struggle. I’m not making an effort, I guess. You know how that is, the laundry takes over the cooking takes over the writing time takes over the TV time takes over the email time takes over…you get it. So here’s my embarrassing goal work:

1 & 6–I still haven’t published Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I haven’t touched it in awhile, really, because I got lost in the timeline and names and such. I need to make time to review that Scrivener email and stuff. Why haven’t I? You know, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a great form of procrastination: if I don’t know how to fix it, I can ignore it. The same goes for my memoir; I’m so focused on the messy rewrites that I can’t move forward. I’m stuck.

Do you ever feel that way? Yeah? Can you offer any suggestions?

2–I keep moving my search for a blog hosting site day-to-day, week-to-week, no matter how small I break down the tasks. It’s probably not hard–in fact, I’m probably spending more time shuffling it than the review will actually be–but I don’t know why I’m not making the time.

3 & 4–I am having fun with my planner, and that at least is keeping me on track with blog posts and to-dos. Unless I ignore them and move them to another week. *Smiles and sips coffee drink self-consciously*

Everything else–playing and reading and writing just for the thrill of it–I’m successful to moderate degrees.

Wait! It’s 3:15pm, and we missed Family Hour. Just as well; hearing the cancer stories of survival and watching the slideshow of those who will never see another THON always makes me cry. See? Hand me a napkin, please. *sniffle sniffle, wipes eyes*

Have I told you about THON? Maybe we talked about it when I briefly mentioned my alumni experience or back when I reminisced about my undergrad experience. It’s a group of Penn State students and alumni who raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that pays the doctor bills and traveling expenses for families of kids with cancer. It’s part of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Yes, Hershey, the chocolate town, and after 43 years, we’ve raised:

$137.6 Million dollars.

Yes, million with a capital M. It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Yes, World.

THON is in the last hour. Go Go Gadget is playing. Back when I danced, Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band was the go-to group, but they broke up and then the lead singer died about 15 years ago.

It’s 3:50. Almost time for the last Line Dance. I still sing some of the verses from dancing in my THON as an alumni 6 years ago. Yes, I danced as an undergrad and as a something-something-year-old woman. My partner and I will do it again in four years from now, every 10 years. Some people run marathons; I stand and stay awake for 46 hours.

10…9…8…7…6

What a magical countdown.

5…4…3…2…1

“Dancers, you may sit down.”

What magical words after 46 hours on your feet.

This year…hold on, the cards are being raised and flipped…I have 9.77 Million more reasons to be a proud Penn State alum.

Wow. *sniffles even more* What a great way to end the weekend: For The Kids.

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!

A Super-Bawl #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Isn’t this place cool? It was great to rediscover No.VI Coffee last month when a friend checked in on Swarm. I’m usually only up this way when I have a particular doctor appointment, which I did a few days ago. Remembering that checkin, I came here to write all afternoon–I was quite productive–and raved about the place to my husband. We’re always on the search for new coffee shops to visit, so that’s why we’re here today. Thanks for meeting us here.

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Such a polite sign….

As I said, writing was productive after the crazy start to my week. I did some blog posts, critiqued the pieces for my writer’s group, and did some blogging and planning. Yeah, I haven’t touched my memoir or Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks in a few weeks, and I’m feeling really guilty about that. There’s so much I want to do, need to do, and stuff keeps falling through the cracks between my laptop keys.

My husband’s enjoying time on his tablet, so we have time to chat. Want another cup of the Mocha Java French press? It’s good, right? Until you get to the very bottom, that is, so enjoy it now.

Get this: for some reason, I felt compelled to open my Timehop app. By connecting your social media, it shows the history of you. Well, on this date three years ago–it was a Thursday–I was sitting in this very shop also eating breakfast. It was a Caribou Coffee then, but now it’s a local shop.

This is the first time Timehop has gone back 6 years. I really didn’t get into social media until 2010, which blows my mind in so many ways. On this day, I was prepping for THON and just connected with my Moraler. Gosh, the thought of that still makes me cry and….

Sorry, give me a moment. Hand me that napkin, please. Thank you.

*wipes eyes in a self-conscious but thoroughly happy way*

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February 7: A Day in my History

Sorry, just the mention of THON always brings tears. Not in a sad way but in a super duper happy proud way. I danced as an undergrad, and six years ago I had the honor of raising enough money to dance for the THON Alumni organization, DMAIG. Yes, 46 hours awake and your feet to raise money for children’s cancer. I’ll tell you more about it later; I just can’t talk anymore.

*sniffs into a third napkin*

Have you ever done something so worthy, something so proud, that you can’t forget it? That’s THON for me, the greatest thing Penn State has done and will ever do.

It’s a sunny day out, and he’s getting a bit antsy in here. It’s a sunny, snow-free day, super-nice for February in Michigan. Let’s head out for a drive, or maybe a wander around a bookstore. It’s great sharing today with you. What’s new in your world of magic?

A new year, a new #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

It’s kinda nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been cooped up all week–far from it!–but sitting in this Starbucks gives us some space to spread out. Too bad that local coffee shop in Maple Glen closed. It was charming. They started a tab for me the last time I was there. How cool was that? How dangerous was that? I wanted to show my husband, but alas. I was hoping we’d meet there, too, but this is the best we’ve got at 6:12pm.

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Happy New Year in Philly

Happy New Year! How did you spend yours? My husband and I were crossing the highway hand-in-hand when everyone tooted horns and yelled out windows. We made it to Sugarbush Casino to see the fireworks over Philadelphia. Much warmer than last year, and this spot in Philly is easier to get to. Maybe you’ll be in town to join us?

My gosh, a worldwind week: shopping in New York City; train ride from New Jersey; craft stores in North Wales here; mall shopping at King of Prussia and here in Montgomery Mall; coffee shops everywhere; and so much more. The weather was great all week.

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Believe in the magic of Christmas and window displays

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Celebrating in the City and beyond

It was in the 40s when we were in the City, perfect for walking around. Times Square was the most crowded, maybe because some streets were already blocked off for the ball drop the next day. The Macy’s window displays were creative. The bookish geek in me adored the Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus display, but the Charlie Brown animatronic windows were divoon. My favorite was the Red Baron one with Snoopy decorating his dog house in lights then taking off into the sky among fireworks. The way the curtain of clouds revealed the story made everyone gasp.

We found some fun Starbucks Christmas tree ornaments and exclusive Times Square mugs. It rained only as we got to Penn Station for the train home, and of course we got roasted nuts. No trip to the City is complete without nuts.
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The Penn State bowl game yesterday was a loss, but it wasn’t. My husband and I watched the game with the Montco Penn State Alumni Chapter. They hosted it at a bar and provided free appetizers. The final score was 24-17 Georgia, but our team came back with two 4th quarter touchdowns to make it a game at the end. It all came down to the last play of the game, and it was a real effort. No one gave up, and we don’t feel bad about the outcome. Okay, we hoped they would win, but the soul and the spirit that the players showed was enough for me to feel proud about it all.

I did get some writing done, as well as some writing organization. I didn’t touch Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks once I chose not to publish by December 31, but I did some blogging, some planning for blog and writing time, and I’m catching up on my much-neglected social media.

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Lucky the puppy flops on the stairs waiting for head and tummy scritches

It’s strange that people are going back to work tomorrow, but we’re still on vacation until Wednesday. Not that I mind. It’s been nice visiting with my in-laws and the puppy. Eat, nap, scratch, eat, sleep…oh, the life of a dog. I feel like that today since I’m sleeping in tomorrow.
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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t, and I don’t intend to. It’s complicated but really simple: I don’t want the pressure. I’m being kind to myself that way, but that’s why this whole writing-planning thing is important. I’m setting goals and striving towards them, which is different than “resolutions.”

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Together time: he whooped my butt in air hockey

It’s been all about food. There was brunch last Sunday, pizza from another delicious hole-in-the-strip-mall Italian restaurant here, more pizza in the City, homemade lasagna, Wawa subs and…. Let me say that I’m looking forward to getting home if only to eat “normal” food and exercise on my WiiFit.

It’s really been all about family. And the puppy. My husband and I had together time, we talked with his folks around the dinner table a few nights, we played with the puppy, stuff like that. His folks are getting older, so it’s good that we make these times to be together. Make no mistake, I wasted many hours playing games on my phone and watching YouTube videos, but we were here in the house with them. Sometimes just being is enough.

Care for more coffee or tea? There’s free in-store refills for Starbucks Gold Card members, and I have yet to hear what you’ve been up to. How was your week?

Feeling okay with a less-than-perfect NaNoWriMo word count

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”~Jimmy Dean, American actor

It’s third way thru NaNoWriMo and I am not ashamed at my word count, or lack of word count.

Those 8 words represent my name and title.

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I’m not worried about word count because I am incredible.

Early November is always challenging for me. There’s usually a Penn State football game my husband and I travel to around that time. This year, in fact, it was Halloween weekend, and I signed up for NaNoWriMo around 11:30pm on October 31. Our wedding anniversary falls mid-October–which should not be an excuse–but when travel or events are planned for that, there’s little time for me to settle back into a routine before any football games arrive. This year, my work schedule changed the last week of October–just before the football game, which we won big! over Illinois–and I’m still rearranging my life around that change.

And, I’ll admit it, I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I did have a format. This year, I’m breaking away for the norms. NaNoWriMo is intended to be the inspirational event for you to write the first 50,000 words of your fiction novel, but in my past NaNo years, I wrote those words and then left them to rot in some folder-in-a-folder on my computer. I was never inspired by the stories after that.

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I’m important and incredible!

My previous 8-Hour short stories, however, have proved successful, so I’m choosing to do more of them. The idea is one 12,500-ish story per week, something easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. I’m more invested that way, and I’ll have something to show for my toils and tribulations this month.

Always be kind to yourself, words written or not, other goals met or not. You wouldn’t say to “you failed” to your best friend because he or she wrote only 43,177 words, so don’t say that to yourself. Ever! About anything.

I’m not ashamed of that word count because that work schedule change opened up more potential writing windows of opportunity that I can–and am–taking advantage of. Also, by releasing the Zentangle aspect of my life earlier this year, I have freed my mind from that distraction. I have the time and the will to focus on my true passion and talent: writing.

Word count is calling to me. I now have a great idea–well, ideas–for what to write about. Let’s see how that goes before I share them here.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare of writing…failures?

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”~Margaret Mead, American scientist

If we were having coffee, I might be dozing off. It’s been a long week. I guess I haven’t caught up on sleep from last weekend’s trip to State College for the Penn State-Illinois football game. We ate too much, stayed up too late, shopped way too much, cheered until we couldn’t speak, and just other general alumni rowdiness.

My writing has fallen off this week, and I guess that’s just part of life, the universe and everything. I signed up for NaNoWriMo at 11:30pm on October 31, and my current word count is six, I think, and that’s because I typed in a proposed title. My idea with NaNo this year is bucking against the “rules” to write 50,000 words of one novel. I plan to write 3-4 short stories, easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. That’s a good use of my November, rather than draft another novel-I’ve-always-wanted-to-write just to have it sit in a file on my computer.

Other writing goals are sluggish. I did finish my Scrivener tutorial. What a mentally exhausting task that was. In the process, I seem to have muffed up the program itself, so I’m awaiting response from the developers to see what I did. MailChimp is proving to be not as easy as others said it would be, or else I’m making more of it than I should.

I haven’t submitted anything to my writers’ group in a few months, but I did discuss with them the options of self-hosting this blogsite and finally using the domain name I’ve been hanging onto for about 5 years. At least I planned ahead for that.

My husband’s off sulking because Penn State didn’t win this week’s football game. I’m a bit bummed myself. It came down to one play–a poor play call, even I could tell–but a lot of games this season have been won by one final play.

Grab an Oreo cookie to-go; we have plenty left from my Halloween blog party. Have a safe drive home, and I’ll see you next week.

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