Monthly Archives: March 2013

Prelude to Blogging Challenge

A to Z Challenge [2013]

Well, friends, it’s almost time for the Blogging Challenge to begin. 

Starting Monday, April 1st, (promise, this isn’t an early April Fool’s joke), I will be posting daily. This will be an exercise in writing, but most importantly an exercise in relationship building.

Daily posts are not part of my blogging routine, as you know.  So, the challenge will be an interesting experiment and fall under the “exception rule,” come Main 1st.

How does the A to Z work? We post every day during the month of April, (topics starting with letter A and going from there, with Sundays off for good behavior), and visit  a list of blogs to make everything nice and busy. Pure fun!

Hey, I’m excited. But, then again, this is my first dance at the big party.

I don’t have an actual theme, but I will stay within the topics I usually cover on my blog. The freestyle format worked in drafting the posts. It remains to be seen if I’m still standing (or sitting) by the end of April.

It’s important to write what you know and love, right? Equally important to reach deep inside and show what you’re all about. What are your likes, what makes you sad or happy. Who are you?

My posts will include lots of photos, stories about people and places (a few stories from my beloved Romania), art, music, sports, reading and writing. 

Good luck to all, and here’s to an enjoyable blogging experience! See you on April 1st.

Poetry Month, a National Celebration

“Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.” Dennis Gabor

National Poetry Month is around the corner. My act of celebration is small … my love for poetry unmeasurable … and to express it I’ve compiled one small and final list.

Picking the poems is, of course, a very subjective task and a matter of personal taste … so please feel free to add to my list.

File:Emily Dickinson daguerreotype (cropped).jpg

Hope Is A Thing With Feathers
by Emily Dickinson

Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings a tune without words
And never stops at all.

And sweetest, in the gale, is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That keeps so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea
Yet, never, in extremity
It ask a crumb of me.


by Edgar Alan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then—in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.


Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Photos credit:  Emily Dickenson Created by William C. North, 
Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign; 
Edgar Alan Poe Portrait; Maya Angelou reciting her poem, 
"On the Pulse of Morning", at President Clinton's 
inauguration--all photos are from Wikimedia Commons, 
Public Domain.

April is National Poetry Month

April is Poetry Month, a national celebration.

Sure, we should celebrate poetry year-round, just as we celebrate our love of reading and writing.

But considering this will be the time when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture, and the  fact that I will be busy with the A to Z Challenge during April, I would like to take this last week of March and show my love for poetry.

Please feel free to join in. What are your favorite poems?

The celebration begins with Dorothy Parker’s “A Certain Lady.”


Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,
And drink your rushing words with eager lips,
And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red,
And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips.
When you rehearse your list of loves to me,
Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed.
And you laugh back, nor can you ever see
The thousand little deaths my heart has died.
And you believe, so well I know my part,
That I am gay as morning, light as snow,
And all the straining things within my heart
You’ll never know.
Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet,
And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, —
Of ladies delicately indiscreet,
Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things.
And you are pleased with me, and strive anew
To sing me sagas of your late delights.
Thus do you want me — marveling, gay, and true,
Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights.
And when, in search of novelty, you stray,
Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go ….
And what goes on, my love, while you’re away,
You’ll never know.

Legal Pot Stores Near City Banning Outdoor Smoking

Ideas for stories, they’re all around — the familiar ground fiction writers sometimes avoid, dismissing it as boring. Events witnessed daily, how interesting can they be?

Very. And why not? We’re surrounded by stories — bits of everyday life — and I found one (albeit not brand new) near my office in Calabasas, California.

You may have heard of the California smoking ban. We Californians are many things, and one of them is big on clean air.

If you smoke outdoors in Calabasas you get fined. First city to prohibit outdoor smoking in the state (a few cities followed suit), if you don’t count the beach of Solano.


No Smoking Signs and Smoking Related Pictures | SmokeForWhat? Quit ...

But in Calabasas we’re talking sidewalks, outdoor patios, or any other public areas. Don’t even think about striking that match or lighter.   

The law came into effect in 2008, and aside from some celebrities, no one made the news for being caught smoking outdoors — yet. 

What do you pay for breaking the law? A violation of the ordinance may result in fines up to $500 for repeat offenses and misdemeanor charge, or both.  Steep fine?

Whatever your opinion on smoking, I find the law in this particular city interesting, and I’ll tell you why.

I don’t smoke, and I don’t appreciate people lighting up near me without bothering to ask if I’m okay with it. But no one really smokes in public places these days. Not in California, the state with one of the toughest antismoking laws in the nation. 

But here is why the ordinance strikes me as interesting. By passing the law, Calabasas is not only trying to keep the air clean, but is presumably trying to teach us that second hand smoking is a toxic air contaminant, leading to asthma, cancer, heart disease and death. 

So, we have a stringent anti-smoking law, and with it many lessons, in a city located a mile away from … two legal pot shops.

That’s right, drive up Ventura Boulevard (Woodland Hills), just another mile or so, and you’ll find the first marijuana dispensary. The second one is within walking distance.  These are for health purposes, mind you, and no one buys pot without a doctor’s prescription.

Yeah, good luck enforcing that one. But that’s another point for another blog post.

Sure, the dispensaries don’t allow outdoors  smoking either, but what a different philosophy in a neighborhood that is more or less one big area.

No big deal, right? Two different municipalities and two ordinances — one supported by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, etc., and driven by the need for clear air at any cost. The second is driven by … free enterprise, the right to use what one’s heart pleases, money, state taxes. And more money.

A boundary line separates two cities, yet from a smoking/non-smoking perspective they are a world apart. And I’m sure there is a longer story in there somewhere.

So, what do you think? Has California gone too far/not far enough? Is it counterproductive to teach kids not to smoke then drive down Ventura Boulevard — a mile away from home — where a different form of smoking is not only allowed, but legal?