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.

Scrapbooking the #WeekendCoffeeShare away

If we were having coffee…

It’s been a strange week, my dear. Too many doctor appointments, too little writing. I did have time to pick up the teapot wall hanging I won at TranquiliTea last weekend. I am now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind, highly-coveted pottery piece handcrafted by the store owner. How delightful! After the 10th Anniversary extravaganza, I do not need more tea, for sure. Not right now, anyway.

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Handmade pottery is always a treasured item

At least here we are, sharing a cup at a Starbucks I don’t frequent that often. It’s nice that you came here, meeting me as I take a break from the Pajama Scrapbook Crop over at Baker’s Studio across the street. It’s a delightful local scrapbook store that opened about a year ago. I know the owner from years back, and it’s good to see her–and another store–thriving. Downtown Farmington Hills is a cute place, isn’t it? Have you tried Three Amigos? It’s good Mexican food, and there’s another restaurant near my house. perhaps we’ll go there someday. I get Mexican so infrequently. Dagwood’s Deli here is my go-to, right next door. I recommend the turkey or the tuna salad.

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What’s a sleepover crop without a snuggly nap?

It’s revitalizing to spend time with friends, both you and my scrapbook peeps. I almost lost one of them to an out-of-state move that, fortunately for me, didn’t happen. How is it that we seem to focus on friends and delight in their friendship until too late? Remind yourself: friendship is a good thing, not to be squandered. “Squandered.” I like that word. I so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence. It’s not something to use when friends and family are concerned, however. I hope you’re spending quality time this weekend.

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Do you think she’ll like it?


Sorry I can’t stay long today. I took a very comfy nap earlier. I’ve only got a few hours left, and I need to finish the belated birthday card for my mother-in-law. I found the most delightful paper and stamp quote, very fashion forward. I have no doubt she’ll love. If I do say so myself. *wide smile*

Let’s get together next week. I can’t wait to hear what’s new in your life!

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.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare about coffee and tea

If we were having coffee…

Wasn’t that fun? I haven’t been to a Starbucks coffee tasting in almost 10 years. The company stopped doing all that fun stuff, but I enjoyed pairing pastries with coffee. The last tasting I remember, we sampled chocolate brownies that were enhanced by the coffee, and it was the first time I’d considered drinking coffee black.

It’s like that now. Pike’s Place is like a sour house wine in restaurants, but when brewed on the Clover machine, it’s almost drinkable. What did you think of the other two? I felt silly covering the coffee with my hand to smell it first before “slurping” it, but wine drinkers do something similar swooshing the glass around to observe the legs of the liquid. I appreciate the experience here and I learned one thing: I do not like Latin American coffees. Too sharp and acidic. I like a rounder coffee. Of course, I like a Frappuccino more.

Have you been writing much? My writing has not been productive lately. It’s like I’m in a slump and I don’t know why. Maybe it was this week’s snowstorm? It’s a good thing I took my car into the repair shop on Tuesday, the day before that messy madness.

Oh, did I tell you? I discovered an adorable tea shop in downtown Ann Arbor called Tea Haus. You purchase loose leaf tea on one side of the store, and on the other side of the wall, you can purchase soups, scones and snappy macaroons. I can’t wait to go back and try it out. Almost makes me wish for a car repair now.

Speaking of tea, tomorrow is TranquiliTea’s 10th anniversary. The shop in Plymouth doesn’t have a tea room, but their selection of tea is outstanding. The silver needle was my go-to tea, but I’ll try something new tomorrow. Want to come? They always serve hot tea samples and cookies, and they have the greatest selection of teapots and cups.

I may not be writing these days, but I am playing with paper. In addition to decorating the weekly spreads in my Happy Planner–which I’m beginning to think is one writing distraction–I met my friend to scrapbook at her house yesterday. She made cupcakes. I saw her whip the cream cheese icing with an entire stick of butter. Oh, were those cupcakes good.

She and I are meeting next Friday for a weekend crop. It’s been forever since we went to one of those. Maybe you and I can meet up in downtown Farmington somewhere? There’s a Starbucks not far from the shop. We can chat over coffee and catch up again.

Coffee, cold and a contest

If we were having coffee….

I’m glad you stopped by, but I’m sorry I’m not all social today. I’ve been sick this week. My husband was out of town, so the couch became my best friend. I did nothing except for Starbucks tea trips.

It’s not worth focusing on this week’s ROW80 challenges. Really, going through them number by number every week is just darn depressing. I’m not making the progress I’d hoped for. This week, I can use my illness and a cheesy excuse, but still…. The best thing I can say is that I am breaking everything down into itsy-bitsy steps, no matter how embarrassingly simple they are. Anything to move forward with anything.

Besides, I have to compile my NFPW contest entries. I wish I could blame my sore throat on my procrastination, but I’ve had 31 days to get my words together and submit them. The deadline is February 1, but I don’t know if that means 11:59pm the day before the first or if I have until 11:59pm on February first to get everything complete. Best not to take the chance, so I have to get everything together tonight. I’m only entering in two categories this year–Specialty Craft Articles and Personal Blog–but I’m scrolling through all of my blogposts from 2015 to find ones contest-worthy. Surprisingly, I’m torn between 15 posts and three articles. I wrote some good stuff this year; at least I think so. I have to submit two each as the entry and I only have a couple hours to compile all that.

Shall we go out for another cup of tea? I’ll drive–I am feeling good enough to do that–and you can tell me all about your week.

Between haiku and illness

“No one can save us but ourselves.”~Buddha, Indian spiritual leader

It’s my weekly inspiration to post my haiku poetry. If you enjoy haiku, be sure to check out the ever-growing Haiku Horizons link site. There’s some amazing poetry there. The site’s been active for 84 challenges. It’s worth the hop over.

This week’s theme: Between. Yes, I am still struggling to get over my bronchitis.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: driving to PA wedding

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”~Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch artist

If we were having coffee, it’s a quick stop for a cup of to-go Joe. I’ve got a long drive ahead of me after an early morning work shift. I signed up for that months ago, so I’m committed, but I could use the sleep. My friend is getting married on Sunday, and I am driving 7 hours from Michigan to Pennsylvania to be there.

This woman was my personal Moraler when I danced in Penn State’s THON 2010. Because I danced as a undergrad, I was eligible to dance in THON as an alumni. My dance partner and I met online, and together we raised over $7000, qualifying us as dancers who raised the most money. This bride-to-be was the student who was there to support her dancer with whatever I needed. When you stay awake and stand on your feet for 46 hours–yes, two days–you need a lot of support. She decorated my hotel room thanks to my husband’s sneaky assistance, she brought me tennis balls to rub my feet with and her boyfriend-now-husband-to-be brought me mac-n-cheese from the Diner when I desperately wanted some at whatever weird hour it was.

She supported me; I’m supporting her. We are both tickled-excited I can make it.

I spent the latter part of this week doing those last-minute errands: pickup new glasses; schedule last-minute manicure; hair style; and write. Yes, writing is important enough to me, but this week is was squeezed in. My husband helped choose gifts from the registry. He helped me choose a new dress at the mall last week. I went to my monthly art group and created the first step of an altered book. My life has been all over the place this week, and no matter how much I plan to “pack ahead of time,” I’m up the night before stuffing my suitcase.

But I wrote. I wrote in coffeeshops. I tried new coffee, and a delightful new loose-leaf tea while out. I hugged my husband everyday. I did the important things.

Have fun this weekend. I’ll have lots of pic to share next week.

Dreaming of a writing forest

“Love grows more tremendously full, swift, poignant, as the years multiply.”~Zane Grey, American writer

I work from home a lot of days. To be my most productive, I need positive surroundings. That happy environment includes a cup of tea or coffee, background noise from TV or radio, natural light, a clean workspace, books and photos nearby, lip balm, Office Guys and plants.

I like plants more that flowers. Plants have a longer lifespan. They fill up a space better, be it with fluffy leaves or long trails framing a desk shelf. They’re green, a relaxing color to me. They’re solid and not showy like flowers, but that does not mean I’m not enamored by a dozen deep red roses. Plants equal stability.

That sentimentality is why the death-rebirth-hope of my umbrella tree is so disturbing. I’ve had her since my first evil ex-job, a mailed present from my first ex-boyfriend (still a good guy), years before I met my husband, a gift and she has moved through three states with me. She’s lived and died several times over, always growing back strong. This time, I am nervous.

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I’ll remove the complete branch tomorrow. I only have so much strength.

An offshoot branch lost the struggle for life, but I didn’t realize that until I cut off the “wrong” part of my tree. The main tree trunk had been cut back so many times that I thought the branch, which still had leaves, would be the best to survive. I blamed myself, that I was careless cutting off the wrong part of the tree. As those leaves shriveled, I knew her death is on my shears.

Then I noticed new growth. I’ve chronicled her journey on my Instagram feed, #TheWritersTree.

I have to believe that she is strong enough overcome all this and survive the shock of major operation: removing her branch. That’s even more disturbing because I saw new growth at the top of that branch just last week. Will she live? Will she die? If she lives, how will she look now? I admired her towering strength that filled the corner of my living room, her leaves crushing into the ceiling. That’s the image I have of her, for her. Will that be what will be?

She needs me to trust her. I need to trust myself to trust her.

I’m spending my days at home writing from the dining room table, in the corner closest to her. I’m watching, beside her, for her comfort and mine.

Procrastinate a writer with Coffee

AtoZ-LetterC-2015

Welcome to Day C of the A to Z Challenge. What you will learn this month is: 26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer
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3. The third way to procrastinate a writer: COFFEE

Coffee is something that every writer seems to need and embrace. It is the aphrodiacs. Coffee at home can be just as complex as outside. In the home, coffee can be brewed, taking care to get it just strong enough, just light enough. Choosing the right mug to put it in can challenge. Choosing just the right mug for your mood is vital to success of the writer. Without sheerful inspiration or a positive message screen printed onto a cup, then the writer can flounder in self doubt. Coffee holds all the answeres.

Drinking coffee is a coffeeshop is an exciting adventure for the lobelty writer trapped indoors at their desk with maybe a small high window to peek out at the world from. Surrounded by the overwhelming noise and distraction can be soothing and it can be overwhelming. The coffee choices are greater than at home, so you mucy choose the beverage your writer is in the mood for. Many coffeeshops offer pasteries as well, so the choice of food becomes an added issue. By the time you get set up with the proper drink, and pastry, and the right placement to take a picture with to post on social media, a lot of time has passed. It is now time for the writer to go home. So much time and thought there is nothing left thought taken in choosing the right seat (if there is one) and choosing the drinkin, sweetening it and lightening it just so, s deifferent chore than being in the house. then there is not much left.

A change of scenery, your writer will say. After all, fresh surroundings inspire fresh ideas.

Jayne and Her Writerself

“I have to get out of here,” Jayne said, gritting her teeth into the word “here.”

Jayne stuffed her laptop into her backpack, a sturdy, padded shoulder bag actually, chosen with care to properly protect a laptop and all of her edited writing drafts.

It was Friday and all the TGIF Working for the Weekend songs were streaming out of her radio. The sun was bright enough. She had opened the sliding outside door to let a bit of fresh air in, so she felt like she was a part of the world not apart from the world. The breeze only distracted her as she thought about sitting on a park bench and watching people and puppies walk by in the park.

“No, I will go out to a coffeeshop to write,” she said out loud, thus giving the thought more credence. “It will do me go to get a fresh atmosphere. For every 3500 words I write, I’ll buy a cup of coffee. When I finish a chapter, I’ll get a chocolate or blueberry muffin.”

Having made this deal with herself, Jayne got into her car and drove a few miles away to House of Joe Coffee. The local roaster opened up about 6 months ago, and she had been there at least once every month. Today she wasn’t going for takeout. No, she was sitting in, at a table, sipping coffee in a for-here mug. She imagined the stares she would get as she sat down, the other patrons wondering who was this aspiring, successful writer? They would not know that one day soon in the future they would be sitting in the same place that Jayne wrote her bestseller novel. They would be in the midst of their greatness, and they knew it in a vague way. Why else would a writer be at a coffeeshop?

The parking lot was full, so she drove around the block looking for a space that was close enough that hauling her computer bag–or Bag of Greatness as Tom called it–wouldn’t be so hard. Circling the block three times, she found a spot under a scraggly tree on the sidewalk, shade to keep her car cool while she wrote well into the afternoon. That was more incentive to stay.

The owners roasted their own coffee, so when she entered, she was smacked with a wave of burnt beans. Not an unpleasant smell, but one that seeped into your hair and clothes as a distinguished badge of honor. She pushed through the invisible fog of coffee smell and walked up to the counter.

What did she want to day? What would inspire her? She could get coffee, but what were they roasting? Maybe a chai tea would be nice. Or one of the many selective loose leaf fine teas the owners stocked.

Jayne looked for a place to set her bag down, but all tables were full. Three people were at one table, and they looked as if they were leaving. Jayne hung back. She didn’t want to rush them, as it might make them even slower. She never liked it when people hawked over her. She turned back to the cashier, but not before a quick wink at the table. She silently claimed it as hers.

She looked at the pastry case as her brian swirled with coffee ideas. The muffin looked good, as did the scone. The snickerdoodle cookies were brough in daily from the award-winning bakery down the next town over. They were featured on Cookie Madness the pastries dessert show, and they came in thrird place. That was good enough. and their food was in high demand and pricey. However, you can’t choose a pastry without deciding on the drink first. Can’t have a clash of flavors in the mouth.

“What’s roasting today?” Jayne asked the man behind the counter, A boy really, looked like he was fresj out of coffee and just the hipster style dud as would that would hang out at a coffee shop with his friends, a guitar case at his side.

“The last of our house blend is going fast. Get it while you can,” he said. “Our Ethiopian is good, a round smooth flavor. What are you in the mood for?”

Good question. Did she want something bold, like her writing, or did she want something smoother and herbal, to be the quiet writer who was hiding just before greatness broke out. What would make her sound impressive that she was also in the mood for?

“I’m feeling adventurous today,” she said. “I’ll try the Ethopian.”

“For here or to go?” the barista asked her.

“For here,” she said proudly. Yes, she was staying and going to be so productive. She eyed the table; the trio were hovering in that half-standing way, almost grabbing their light jackets.

“Anything else?” he asked.

Ah, yes, pastry time. Since the coffee was a smooth blend, she decided to get a compliment, but would a blueberry or lemon ginger scone be better? These were breakfast foods but the snickerdoodles called to her.

“I’ll take a cookie please, on a plate.” Jayne half turned from the counter as idly as possible watching the table.

“Good choice on coffees,” a voice said from beside her. A man in a small fedora spoke to her. His brown eyes glittered with friendly conversation. He was reading a newspaper. Who does that anymore? Jayne thought. Only older people, and he was maybe in his mid 30s.

“Thanks. Come for the coffee and stay for the snickerdoodles” she joked back.

“I prefer the cinnamon hazelnut muffins. They taste good together.”

“I’ll keep that in mind next time,” Jayne said.

“Do you come here often?” he asked, folding the newspaper down on the table.

The barista returned with her coffee, so Jayne turned to pay. She was listening to shuffles and “see you laters” behind her. Credit card. Sign this copy. Want a receipt?

When Jayne turned around, a tall guy was weaving between the tables to her now-empty table. He didn’t have a backpack or anything. He didn’t deserve the table.

Jayne looked down at Newspaper Guy. He smiled up at her. Her bag slipped down her shoulder. The tall guy was getting closer, his eyes focused only on the table. Jayne’s order was at the counter, and there was now an impatient line now behind her.

So much to juggle.

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