Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Blog Is LIVE!!!

Check out my new blog:

Subscribe to it . . . share it with others . . . read it with devotion . . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stories Are The Most Powerful Force In The Universe

I'd like to start today off with a video recommendation - if you like sports, or even if you just like funny, you've got to see a special production by Carson, this video (yes, he's just as famous as Prince or Madonna because we can now refer to him by ONE NAME ONLY - CARSON), about a Philadelphia sports fan who, even after attending over 20 sporting events, has yet to see a Philly team win . . . (wow talk about run-on sentence) . . .

Now on to the promised introduction I talked about yesterday - an organization that harnesses the most powerful element in the universe. The organization is "7 Women, 7 Stories". It was founded by Anne Beiler (founder of Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels) after she published her story in the book "Twist of Faith" and discovered the freedom that comes when you embrace, and share, your story.

The most powerful element in the world? No, it's not plutonium or baked beans or that little pen the president uses to sign stuff into laws. The most powerful element in the world is story. It's story, folks!

Tell yours.

And check out 7 Women, 7 Stories to find out more.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Favorite Novel of All Time

We are finally moved in. Kind of. There are still a few boxes lying around, full of pictures that need to be put up, little knick-knacks with which we need to clutter the house. But the bulk is done. And I feel that I'm ready to get back into blogging on a daily basis.

For those of you who checked in last week to see what my favorite novel of all time is, I apologize: at that point the boxes were still winning, and we had no internet (my efforts to get internet to our house were nearly as interesting as my attempt to get the $69.95 charge from McAfee for my double-subscription taken off my credit card).

Anyway, without further ado, my favorite novel of all time is . . .

Wait. First let me give you the first few sentences . . .

"The Salinas Valley is in Northern California. It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into Monterey Bay.

"I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer - and what trees and seasons smelled like - how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich."

So begins John Steinbeck's epic novel, East of Eden. The back of the book describes it as a "the Trasks and Hamiltons helpless reenactment of the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel." In this book I encountered the most evil character I have ever encountered in literature (Catherine Trask) and one of the most wise and likeable (Samuel Hamilton). While the book is not as widely read as Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (the political and social aspects of "Grapes" make it mandatory reading in nearly every high school and college across the country), Steinbeck felt that East of Eden was his best work. And I agree with him.

Two of our children's names come from this book (youngest daughter Abra, and youngest son Samuel). I hope you'll take the time to read it.

Tune in tomorrow for an introduction to an organization that harnesses the most powerful element in the universe (and I'm not talking about He-Man).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Friendly Reminder . . .

My first round of writing workshops are officially over, but we’re starting up again on April 7th and 8th. This time around it will be on Wednesday or Thursday nights for 6 weeks (there are 6:30 and 7:45 time slots available on Wednesday evenings, and 7:45 time slots on Thursday evenings) – each week we focus on a different aspect of writing as they pertain to storytelling in fiction and non-fiction: imagination, narrative voice, plot, dialogue, setting and living a writing life. Each person will work on short pieces to clarify their voice and sharpen their writing.

There is also a second-level course available on Thursday evenings at 6:30, also for 6 weeks – to enroll in this class you will need to either have completed the first level course or submit a writing sample. This particular class will focus on completing 3-4 short stories or refining/writing one longer piece.

Check out Janelle’s blog to see what she thinks about the class.

Both evenings are at the Family Center in Gap, PA. I may also be conducting a 6-week, first-level writing workshop in Gettysburg, but the details for that are still up in the air. The cost for all 6 weeks at either location is $125. Please let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested – I can be reached at

If you don’t mind sharing a link to this on your Facebook page or blog, I’d appreciate it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

My 10 Favorite Things About Moving

10) The kids find toys that have been in storage for 5 months - it is like Christmas

9) You find clothes that were accidentally placed in storage for 5 months - it is like Christmas

8) Throwing stuff out just because you get so tired of moving things you haven't actually used for years

7) "Accidentally" breaking things during the move that your spouse had previously refused to part with

6) Finding lots of change - Starbucks/Angela's Cafe fund is rejuvenated for at least a day and a half

5) Eating lots of junk food (all food prep equipment is in a box you cannot find)

4) The youngest kids actually go an entire day without whining and crying because the living room is temporarily turned into a jungle gym of boxes and out-of-place furniture in which they climb around and get lost

3) Finding old pictures of yourself from college and not knowing whether you should laugh or cry

2) Trying to create a clever argument as to why the mirror with the black frame needs to go even though it belonged to your spouse's grandmother ("accidentally" breaking this piece is not an option because you've been trying to get rid of it for years and your spouse would see right through an "accident" such as this)

1) Realizing the outlet plug on your clothes dryer actually fits the dryer outlet in the house

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pulling Out My Hair

"Hi, this is _______ with McAfee. How can I help you?"

"Hi, I just realized that you charged $69.99 to my credit card and I wasn't sure why?"

"Okay, sir, if I could just get some information to verify the account. To what card was this charged?"

"Um, I've actually cut up the card recently, so I don't know the card number. I just have my credit card statement which only shows the last 6 digits."

"Okay, sir, how about a telephone number?"

"Um, try this one ---/---/----."

"Okay, sir, that number is not in our system. Do you have another number?"

"How about ---/---/----."


"Okay, sir, that number is not in our system either."


"Um, is there any other way of accessing my account that you just charged $69.99?"

Silence. I hear the sound of pages turning in the background.

"Yes, sir. Can you give me a valid email address?"

"Uh, how about"

"Okay, there is a McAfee account on that email address but it is valid through 2011 and there have been no charges to it."

"Um, you just charged me $69.99."

"Okay, sir, do you have another valid email address?"

"You can try"


"Okay, sir, that account did have an automatic renewal option which is why you were charged $69.99."

"Oh, okay, can we take that off?"

"The automatic renewal?"


"Okay, sir, I've taken care of that. Will there be anything else today?"

"No, I don't think . . . wait. How much longer does that keep me protected?"

"Well, actually sir, you have also have a special offer with Dell that covers you for three years and goes through 2012."

"What? Then what was I just charged for?"

"You were charged for the automatic renewal."

"So I'm covered twice on one computer."


"Yes, sir."



"Sir, what would you like me to do with your second subscription?"

"What are my options?"

"You can transfer it to a friend or relative, you could . . ."

"Could I just get my money back?"


"Okay, sir, your refund of $69.99 has been processed."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Time To Move On . . .

Tomorrow we move (there will probably be a few days this week that I will not blog due to all the fun involved with changing homes).

It will be a big move for us - we've been living in mom and dad's basement now for about five months, and you get used to the constant hum of a full house (not that our three bedroom will be empty). But there's something nice about intergenerational living - the kids hanging out with the grandparents, seeing my sister and grandma just about every day, spending evenings just talking and playing Scrabble.

There's also something nice about having a place of your own, and Maile and I are looking forward to it. The house we're moving to is small, but it's on two acres of forest and yard, with a stream and a garden and lots of room for the kids to run around. The timing is right.

I think it's time for a change to my blog, too. I'm realizing that you can only write about not doing something for so long, whether it's "not watching tv" or "not eating chocolate" or "not sleeping on your left side".

With all these changes taking place, I thought I'd get into retelling some of the stories that led to Maile and I moving back to Pennsylvania. There's a lot of stuff that's gone on in our lives in the last six months, exciting stuff and sad stuff and extraordinary stuff.

So, as soon as I can get Gent to finish up, I'll start on the new blog. If you see him, tell him to stop spending so much time on the dinner theatre he is writing, directing, producing, and acting in. Tell him you are way too eager to stop reading about someone who is not watching television. (Gent, if you're reading this, I'm totally kidding. No hurry, now close this blog and get back to your production).

Okay, now that we've got rid of Gent, get on his case. We need, and we need it now.