Blog, Writing

The Handmaid’s Tale — Inspiration

MGM Television, The Handmaid’s Tale intertitle, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Day 360

While I have been in Florida, I have re-watched a few episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. There is so much I could say about this story — religion, politics, dystopia Vs. utopia, equal rights, fear, will to live, self preservation…the list goes on and on. Instead I want to talk about the power of the writing.

First of all, I know the book or the series is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is hard to watch. For me, watching it generates an emotional and almost primal response, fight or flight. I find myself wondering what kind of inner strength I have and wondering if I could survive. After watching, it takes a few minutes to leave that world and step back into reality.

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.” 
 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I enrolled in Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass months ago and completed the entire class. Today I decided to go back and revisit the classroom and remind myself of the advice and cautions she gave. The imagery spun by her words is unsettling. Her characters are fully fleshed out and the circumstances and unpredictability make this story a feast for a reader.

Her characters are not entirely good or evil. They walk that line which makes us trust no one. We find ourselves liking aspects of the characters while also fearing them. It takes a commitment from the reader to take sides and decide who to root for.

The sad part of all this is that I have never read the entire book. Having only seen the series on Hulu, I want to see all the seasons through before I read it. I checked my library today and while there are 44 digital copies available, 53 people are in the queue to read it, so the wait time is well over a month.

I might just break down and order it on Kindle. Then I want to revisit the MasterClass again. What an inspiration.

Blog, Writing

Return of the Night Visitor

Day 211

I decided to get a quick blog out since we have a lot of running around on our calendar today. Tonight we will be attending our grandson’s spring band concert which is always wonderful. For a high school band, they are very impressive and the music selection is always enjoyable.

I woke at 6:30 a.m. this morning. The first thing I noticed was the pole for the bird feeder lying across the ground. I knew without a doubt what that meant. Our night visitor had returned. Bears are common in this area, although I would have thought there might be adequate natural food supplies out there right now. We learned two years ago that you cannot leave bird feeders out all night here.

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To be on the safe side, we took our pocket air horn with us on our morning walk. There was nothing to be seen. When we returned from our walk, I retrieved the card from the trail camera. There he was. A black bear. Most likely a couple of years old. He pushed over the bird feeder pole, found nothing, then went on his way. Look at the size of those paws!

Miscellaneous Catch-Up

  • I decided NOT to go on the writing retreat. I did some research and did not feel the facilitator was a good match for me. I felt the cost far outweighed the value.
  • Yesterday marked my first official day on Medicare. This represents a huge saving for us — at least so far.
  • For the last two or three weeks, every time I look at the clock the time is 11:11. My daughter told me that is a sign of angels being near. I like that. If you have something negative to say about that, keep it to yourself.
  • A meaningful rose produced a bud this morning. It is gorgeous and I know will disappear as quickly as it came.
  • The garden is doing well. We have a few blooms on the tomato plants, some tiny peppers on the pepper plants, small broccoli heads, and the radishes are coming up!
  • I saw what I thought were wild strawberries and I was so excited! Unfortunately, they turned out to be mock strawberries which may be an invasive species.
  • We saw our first black snake yesterday. Maybe he can take care of the moles that are tunneling through our yard.
  • Tomorrow I am going to stay with my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren for 3 or 4 days while my son is out of town. I see cooking and playing on my agenda.

There has been a lot on the news that weighs me down, but I am trying hard to maintain my perspective and focus on making a positive difference in my corner of the world.

Happy Thursday! Feel free to share your good news in the comments!

Blog, Writing

Writer’s Workshops


Day 205

I have been thinking about attending a writer’s workshop and honestly, I am struggling with whether or not to attend. All my close family members are very encouraging and supportive but I am not sure it is worth the cost. I am extremely interested in any input or feedback on your experiences with writing workshops.

This event is a small 8 person workshop being held at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. A house has been rented near the beach. The event spans four days and is from what I gather there will be time to get together for discussions twice and day during which there will be sharing and advice. The remaining time is set aside for writing. Now, writing at the beach sounds delightful to me, but I’m not sure of the value for the cost.

There is also a one day conference hosted by the North Carolina Writer’s Network in November. The cost is much more reasonable and the conference will be held closer to home. I would have the opportunity to select from multiple tracks and even attend Master Classes (which I may not be ready for) or submit an excerpt to a slush pile to be read and evaluated by editors. Some of this sounds frightening, but it is more geared toward lectures and possible feedback from well-established authors and editors.

Now, I know I am staring down my ego that is telling me I cannot do this. I know I need to take a leap, but I am struggling on which leap if I am only able to select one. I am not really looking for someone to answer that question for me, I know that is completely up to me. But since I am out of my element, I would love it if anyone had any experiences to share.

This is where my head is tonight and I think I’m going to go meditate for a bit and see if I can clear out a few cobwebs around this decision-making.

Tomorrow we drive up to Spruce Mountain, NC to attend Fire on the Mountain – a day of blacksmithing and forging demonstrations and education. It is an event we attend every year – it’s hubby’s thing, but I do love to snap pictures of the events and the drive is simply beautiful. We may have the opportunity to buy some ramps on the way home, too. Eggs and ramps Sunday morning! Here are a couple of pictures from last year:

Jason Knight
Jason Knight, Forged in Fire Judge
Smelting Demonstration
Ramps, cleaned and ready to cook
Blog, Writing

When It’s Not in the Cards

Day 183

Today started on a high note. Meditation was awesome. I am finding that 45 minute sweet spot when my brain stops all the chatter. Now I see why people want to meditate longer.

I worked outside again this morning. I planted sunflowers and milkweed for the butterflies.

All day I looked forward to attending a writers’ group meeting in Asheville with a friend. I left home half an hour early to give myself plenty of time to find parking.

Unfortunately, as soon as I got on the highway, traffic came to a complete stop. There was an accident ahead and all three lanes of traffic were at a standstill. It took me a full hour to get to the next exit and I knew I would not make it all the way to Asheville in time. I called my friend to cancel and turned around to come home.

At home I found my internet and WiFi down. Some things were just not in the cards today. I am always mindful that I was fortunate to get home safely when someone else had been in a traffic accident. I am counting my blessings.

Now to see if I can post this through my cellular data and call it a day.

Blog, Writing

Unclaimed Freight

Day 153

Image from

I was in grade school when my family first moved to Ohio. I was a country girl who was now living in a much more urban space. Our house was in a suburb nestled into a nice community, but I felt out of place and far from everything I knew. People made fun of my accent — even my teachers. I learned very quickly how to change my speech and my dialogue to fit in.

My dad worked in a steel mill in a very industrial part of town. He discovered an unclaimed freight store and our family often went there on Saturdays. To be honest, I am not sure what they were looking for because I am not sure I remember them ever buying anything. Maybe they bought a carpet remnant at one time. Perhaps it was a way to just pass the time.

I have written about this before. For me, the unclaimed freight store was a place my imagination ran wild. There were often suitcases, locked with no key, waiting for someone to buy them. I begged my parents to buy a suitcase, but of course they never did. Such a shame really, because I am sure they were filled with mystery and intrigue.

Image from

I was sure that a mysterious woman had boarded a train in the early morning hours. She was running away from someone, or perhaps to someone. Unfortunately, she met a tragic death on the rails, trying to move from one car to another, running from something…or someone. Inside her suitcase or her travel bag were clues that would give away her identity and answer the questions about where she was going and why. Did she murder her felonious husband? Or had she boarded the train with money she had stolen from the wealthy banker for whom she served as a low paid laundress?

I was never to find the answers to the mysteries I conjured up in my head. Suitcases and trunks, often abandoned, show up frequently in my writing. I guess there are some childhood thoughts we never quite outgrow.