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.

It’s all fun and games with a twist this Halloween

Welcome to the annual Halloween Blog Party hop sponsored by A Fanciful Twist. Come stay, play and eat for awhile, and then hop over to the other parties you’ll find.

For now, walk up to the door.  Don’t be scared by the warning.  The zombies just cross the sidewalk; they don’t come inside the house.

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Greeted on the other side by our host, Sehlat.

“Welcome to my 6th Halloween party here.  Tonight is just about fun and games.  Come in, come in….”

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“Are you hungry?” he asks.  “There’s a buffet table in the other room.  Help yourself to some finger food.”

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“The coffin dip is on the kitchen counter.  Don’t worry about the crypt keeper.  He just hangs around.”

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In the living room, there’s a furious game of Scrabble in progress.  Snufflet and Finse keep score, but they’re in third place.  Lasso is last for the moment.  Socks is winning by 9 points, and she is quite happy about that. 

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Blue places her tiles for a score of 6, and the fourth round begins.

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Snufflet and Finse study their tiles intently….

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On the other side of the room, a game of Jenga has just started.  Boo Peeps celebrates his skill removing the his block.  It’s Snuff’s turn, so he looks up and studies the tower.  Otter, Brownie and Frost offer suggestions as they pace around the structure.

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There’s a warm, smoky smell coming from the kitchen. Appetizers are out of the oven.

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“My famous homemade Mummitizers,” Sehlat says, straightening his shoulders as he sets the tray down. “There are two types: savory and sweet. The sausage wraps are ones are a tad smoky. The banana ones have a touch of hazelnut spread to them. Be sure to take a napkin because the mummies are known to leak the sauce out onto your fingers.”

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It’s tough to say “Thank You” with a full mouth, but a nod is enough for Sehlat. With a smile and nod back, he takes off the oven mitts, grabs a nutty mummy and wanders into another room to mingle.

In the parlor, Whiffer and Ploppers hover over a handheld game. They’re playing Nintendogs on the special pink paw Nintendogs Nintendo DS console, a unit that was a limited edition.

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On the screen, Rosie the dachshund has been fed, washed, and now decides between a nap or playing ball.

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Wades, Tuesday, Prickles and Ice start a game of Clue.

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“Clue is a murder mystery game,” says Wades.  “Does anyone object to a more appropriate setting? 

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“Not at all,” says Prickles.  “What did you have in mind?”

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“This,” says Wades, and with a click flick of her wrist, the black light turns on.

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“What do you think?” she asks.

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“Oh, this is much better,” says Prickles.

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“Spooky-eerie,” says Tuesday, smiling beneath his mask.

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“Indeed,” says Ice.  “Let’s roll.”

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“Desserts are ready,” says a booming voice in the kitchen. Frankenpudding with tart orange cider.

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Hyde has already wandered over to the freshly-dipped caramel treats. He’s a favorite of the nut covered ones, but the smooth caramel looks enticing tonight.

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“It’s a football Saturday,” Catnap tells new lion. “Before Penn State takes the field, let’s get in some practice now.”

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If you’re looking for more games, there’s a pile in the corner, and there’s lots of Guys around to join in the fun.

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Sehlat calls the partygoers over for a round or three of group MadLibs.

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Friendship. Games. Chocolate. Makes for a good party. Hope you’ll be staying for awhile….

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Books on the Horizon: do you read?

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.”~Walt Disney, American Cartoonist

If you’re a writer, do you read books?

You should. That’s what everyone says. However, if you’re a writer, how do you find–or make–the time?

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If you’re a reader, how much do you read? Do you think it’s “enough?”

I’m both a writer and a reader, but I am guilty of all that. I don’t make the time to read because I’d rather write, but when I write, I want the relaxing downtime of reading. I don’t know about you, but if I am not doing both writing and reading, then the world says I’m not a good person.

This never used to be a problem. I swallowed books in elementary school. Mom had to limit my Scholastic Book order in middle school. In high school, I wrote extra credit stories based on books I read outside the classroom.

What changed? I guess Life happened. That and the Internet.

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Haiku Horizons Week 79: “Brush” reminds me of my choices

Social media in all its forms has distracted us. When was the last time you used your phone to call someone? I did the other day because my uncle doesn’t have a computer. It was cool to hear his voice. The familiar Pittsburgh accent made me miss him and my childhood home even more.

It’s so easy to get sucked in by everything else. That’s when you realize you said “just 10 minutes” over an hour ago. And books are hard to carry. It’s a physical item we don’t need when Life is on our phone which fits in our pocket.

But we do need them. Books are a throwback to a time when we made real connections, not just Likes. Five years ago, as my Timehop app reminds me, I preferred and actually read real books.

Now I’m a published author with currently three books available electronically. I’m procrastinating with the physical printing of them through a service such as Smashwords because I see no immediate rush. Everybody reads eBooks, right?

I thought my Deadwood Writers Voicesblogpost would inspire me to read, but that book I once liked held no interest now. I was reminded of a YA vampire book series I adored, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer, and I bought but never got around to the final book. I also found a tattered paperback my mom read and adored, The Face in the Abyss by A. Merritt. I remember the big scary snake on the front cover, but I still read it because of her. I loved it because of her, and I’m sure it has inspired me in my writing today. That’s the thing about physical books, the touchy-feely inspiration.

I won’t remember how or if it did inspire me until I read it. And yet it sits on the table, unopened but with a bookmark in it. I can see it as I sit here typing….

Anniversary, Father’s Day and #WeekendCoffeeShare, oh my!

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”~Helen Keller, American writer

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today is an exciting day. We’d settle down at the wooden dining table next to the living room–once I brushed aside space from the midst of my scrapbooking stuff. I just finished taking photos for my upcoming article in Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine, and I haven’t put everything away yet. I’m like that sometimes.

It’s Father’s Day in the U.S., so I’d share tales about my Dad, a man who died 10 years ago. So many things about him stand out, little things like no-salt potato chips, mailing birthday cards to my college roommate years after graduation, making friends with bank tellers and supermarket cashiers, and sharing his numerous health issues with anyone in earshot. You’d like him. Strange how “numbered” anniversaries stick in our minds making events extra-significant: 5-10-16-21-29-40-50-75. Actually, I didn’t realize it’s been 10 years until I thought about it on the day of his death back in January. It feels so common that he’s not around in my life anymore, and at the same time, his death feels like it was yesterday.

I wrote a book about him last year, a short story called Lessons from Dad: a Letter to You. It’s a prequel of sorts to the memoir I’m writing now. I published it just before Father’s Day, and the title refers to the daily letters he wrote me in college. Yes, daily! I’d tell you what his favorite topic to write abut was, what he said about the sports teams in my Pittsburgh hometown and what treats he frequently added inside the envelopes. I’d encourage you to read this award-winning book, second place in a national contest. The book is available on Amazon as an eBook for just 99-cents, I’d say with a wink.

I do have a father-in-law in my life, a man celebrating his 56th wedding anniversary today. I think he and my mother-in-law went out to dinner yesterday. He received a Father’s Day and anniversary card from his wife, while he only had to give an anniversary card. He told me today that he made out on the deal.

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Happy 13th engagement anniversary!

Maybe most important…well, one that couldn’t have happened without the first two events…is that my husband proposed to me on this date 13 years ago. Yes, he planned it to be on his parents’ anniversary date, which makes me melt in his sentimental nature. This morning, I wished him a Happy Anniversary while we were out at Starbucks drinking Reserve Clover coffee, and we reminisced every step along that way: how he chose the stone for my ring and planned the setting; how I thought–based on a conversation earlier in the day– that the box on the coffee table was from Costco, hence my confusion; when he knew I was The One; and how all my friends asked me about 6-months into our relationship, “When is he going to propose?” They knew that I knew he was My One. We were just waiting on him.

As I refilled your coffee cup, letting you choose the Keurig flavor, I’d ask you to tell me about your day. It’s all about sharing, my friend, and I can’t wait to hear what’s going on in your life.

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Dancing in memories: a reflection of April

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”~Peter Drucker, American businessman

Back to my regular blogging schedule now that the AtoZ Challenge has ended. Did I complete the challenge? No…and yes.

I did not post all of my alphabet posts on the day-of alphabet days. Why the delay? One: Life interfered. I took some vacation, had a minor house issue which required major effort to contain, and bought and installed a new computer and printer, the latter being not as easy a venture as I expected. The trip to State College to see the Penn State Blue-White game was the highlight. That involved daily Creamery ice cream cones, my husband’s first venture into The Phyrst bar, shopping, photos at the Lion and on the Beaver Stadium football field. That trip was followed by a mini-trip to visit his folks: dinner, a trip to quaint Doylestown and lots of puppy play time.

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The wonders of April 2015

I exercised more on my WiiFit–and it shows;
see Day 14–attended my friend’s book signing, bought three bags of used books for my Found Poetry Zentangle class next week and saw my baby turn 200K in our driveway.

Lots of little things make up one big life. Remember that.

But the second reason all of my AtoZ posts are not posted as of this blog post is that I wrote flash fiction in each of them. Flash fiction. It was spontaneous, not planned at all, but it takes time, more time than I expected. However, after Day One, I couldn’t stop; both for myself and for my readers. It was my first attempt at both flash fiction and AtoZ. My first time writing daily blog posts and daily storytelling.

Not the best idea I had.

So I’m extending the challenge posts throughout the month of May, rather than doing an info dump of alphabets on my readers.I hope you’ll come back and learn all the ways to Procrastinate a Writer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll feel for Jayne and Tom, and who is that Newspaper Guy? Or maybe you’ll just leave hungry for cookies.

Thanksgiving #tbt memories of Mom

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”~Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman statesman

I’ve been a Weight Watchers Lifetime member for more than 11 years, and the meeting topic for the fourth week in November is always the same: holiday food.

Why do we, as a society, associate food with holidays, especially Thanksgiving?

The real meaning of Thanksgiving is–or should be–to celebrate friends and family, but often food is the focus. I never felt that pull until today.

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Mom made turkey stuffing by hand, starting with real bread the night before. Bread cubes were browned in a pan on the stove, but this not yo” mama’s Stove Top. After sitting overnight, she added the seasonings and that’s it. Done. She made 3-4 loaves of bread so there was enough to eat raw and stuff the turkey. That turkey-stuffed stuffing…wowwwww…was that juicy and flavor-full smooshed pile of tastiness!

Since it’s just me and my husband in Michigan, our meal is smaller. Regardless, I can’t not make the stuffing because the food is sharing the holiday with Mom. She’s no longer alive, so this is how I share the meal with her. This is me inviting her to dinner.

Have I gone against the Weight Watchers creed and equated food with a holiday? Maybe. I have equated this one food with that one person, someone I miss dearly at this time because making stuffing was an activity we did together. I get it; food is part of the celebration of family.

And I make a mean, kick-butt stuffing that I like to think would make Mom proud.

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A look back, a look forward

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“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”~Marcus Aurelius, Roman soldier

October 2014. Friends. Family. Sketchbooks. Parties. Coffee. Tea. Zentangle. Penn State. A new phone. Good pastries. Good deeds. Halloween.

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A look back at October 2014

November looks to be a busy month. There’s my Dad Memoir to launch. However, My Father, My Friend may not be released until December, which brings new emotions and deadlines. I have articles and blog posts to write. There’s a Penn State football trip planned. THON fundraising.

And I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. Seriously, what am I thinking? This could be the year I don’t even try. This could also be another winning year. Of course I have story ideas, but do I have the time? Correction: do I want to make the time?
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Point is, I have committed myself to it, possibly over-committing to my life. Is that such a bad thing? I have the option now to participate or not, and I’ve let everyone know I’m a part of it all. Sometimes public peer pressure makes all the difference. I like options.

A #tbt for #PSU24 day

“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”~Margaret Mead, American scientist

As a rule, I don’t like blogpost titles that includes hashtags. It’s a sloppy shortcut to do double-duty without proper social media promotion. But in this case, rules are made to be broken.

Today, Penn State University showcased a 24-hour look at all the various actions going on at campus. However, this event turned into its own World Campus as students, alumni, employees, students abroad, other campus locations and anyone connected to Penn State showed their pride.

I made my alumni contributions on Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Instagram. In case you missed my day, here are some highlights:

(A special shout-out to author Marcie Hill who reminded me that it’s okay to do a picture-only blogpost.)

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