Listen Up! “B” is for Bagpipes

Listen Up! “B” is for Bagpipes


B

I say bagpipes, you think of Scotland, right? Danny Boy (or Londonderry Air). But although it’s mainly Scotland that comes to mind, bagpipes have been played for centuries in other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. In southern Italy, it’s called a zampogna. In Hungary, a duda. In Turkey, a tulum. Now have a listen:

Listen Up! “A” is for Accordion

Listen Up! “A” is for Accordion


A

Welcome to the 2015 Blogging from A to Z Challenge! This is my fourth year participating, and I hope you enjoy this month of blog posts. I try to keep them short, as I know you’re visiting a number of bloggers this month.

“A” is for accordion! Believed to have been invented in the early 1800s, by 1874, the yearly production rate was 700,000. It’s traditionally been used to perform folk and ethnic music.

Listen to “La Mer” played by Hideshi Kibi:

The End of a Month

The End of a Month


Dreaming of Summer photo by M. Reynolds

Dreaming of Summer
photo by M. Reynolds

It’s not as if I delude myself into thinking the month of April will come and troubles will disappear (like the snow still on the ground here). No, I’m not stupid. Life is full of angles, curves, obstacles. Perhaps if I hadn’t been so winter-weary, March would have been little more than an annoyance, a sloppy, muddy slog to the spring thaw. Tulips and daffodils. Opening Day at Fenway. Easter pastels and more salads.

But March was filled with….I don’t know, crap? It seemed there wasn’t a day that didn’t bring bad news, either on the international, national, or domestic front or close to home in our troubled little state.

Our car was rear-ended at the end of February, on a day that was supposed to be free, relaxing, adventurous. On the spur of the moment, we drove to Marshfield, Massachusetts, intent on seeing the Marshfield General Store, purchased by Massachusetts native Steve Carell and his wife Nancy. We drove into a blizzard (seemed as if there was one every day) and another car slid into ours as we were stopped at a red light. Day: ruined. And as I’m sure you know, even when the accident isn’t your fault, there are days and weeks ahead that are irritating and annoying. So it was with us, every day, it seemed.

Three weeks after that accident, we were at the collision shop to pick up our car when the car we were in (my father-in-law’s) was sideswiped. Yup. Here we go all over again. That was on Friday the 13th, so yeah. Add to that the daily worries that accompany caring for an elderly parent (or in-law).

Sad days are remembered in March – the anniversary of one friend’s death a year ago and two family deaths – on the same day, memories of difficult and trying times still open and raw, and now, at the very end of this wretched month, I learn that my college friend’s son has died at twenty-one, under heartbreakingly tragic circumstances. Almost fitting for March. T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month,” but I disagree.

I won’t have a blog post in April, as my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts begin tomorrow. They’re good and positive! I hope you enjoy them. Play a guessing game, try to figure out what comes next. I’ll see you back here in May, always hopeful, forever grateful.

photo by M. Reynolds

photo by M. Reynolds

Theme Reveal – Blogging from A to Z

Theme Reveal – Blogging from A to Z


Today is the day for bloggers (1,152 participants as of this writing!) to reveal their chosen theme for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge. A theme isn’t required, and many bloggers choose not to have a theme, which is perfectly acceptable.

I’ve always picked a theme – it helps me maintain focus for the month of blog posts. And I have deliberately kept my posts short, as the idea of this event is to visit as many new blogs as possible.

This year I’ve titled my theme Listen Up! If you know me, you know I love travel, food, music, and literature. In 2012, I blogged about writers, essayists, lyricists, and poets. In 2013, it was Oh! The Places I’ve Been! And last year’s theme was Smile and Say…. (an alphabetical blog about cheese). This year we’ll visit musical instruments from A to Z, with a post each day except Sundays in April.

So I hope you’ll tune in! If you don’t already follow my blog, you can sign up right on the main page.

APRIL-CALENDAR [2015]

 

March Blues

March Blues


330px-4-leaf_cloverI never really cared for the month of March. There are no holidays in March, and here in New England it’s still cold, even though spring starts on the 21st. Blustery, muddy March. Rainy days led to historic flooding in Rhode Island at the end of March 2010.

We’re all just so weary from this past winter, the never-ending snow, mountains of it taller than the average person. My husband calls it an unlucky month – I guess he has cause. He lost two family members on the same date in March. I quit my job in March four years ago, a job that likely would have given me a heart attack or stroke.

And yet…..and yet. I can’t write this post without trying to turn it around somehow. There are patches of grass visible. Even crocus in some spots. We had a 50-plus degree day this past week, a sweet promise of weather to come. So celebrate the feast of St. Patrick this Tuesday, and smile!

Irish blessing

 

It’s OSCAR Night! #GIVEAWAY

It’s OSCAR Night! #GIVEAWAY


The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

It’s Oscar night and I can’t wait! I’ve seen some, not all of the nominated films and performances. Will you watch?

So, I’m doing a giveaway. All you have to do is comment with ONE movie that you loved this year. It doesn’t have to be an Academy award-nominated film, or your favorite. It can be a movie you hated, but in your comment, say whether you liked it or not and why.

All comments must be up by 7:00pm EST. I’m giving away an Amazon gift card for you to purchase a book or a movie (or whatever).

Enjoy!

Thoughts for the 13th

Thoughts for the 13th


Waiting for Spring - photo by M. Reynolds

Waiting for Spring – photo by M. Reynolds

It’s been too long since I last posted anything here, especially with such good material (Super Bowl, snow fatigue, movies [no, not that one]). Here are some random musings for Friday the 13th:

  • I read the 50 Shades trilogy a couple of years ago. Yeah, I admit it. Poorly written, but I wanted to know what made it such a runaway bestseller. Still not sure. And I have no interest in seeing the movie. Some see this whole thing as harmless fun, some see it as a degradation of women. I just think life is too short to spend time doing something that doesn’t move or inspire you – and this movie would do neither.
  • We’ve got snow – and more on the way this weekend. Those of you who know me are well aware that I love winter. Cold is good! Fleece is fun! I have not complained about this winter, and I won’t, because it won’t change anything!
  • I’m writing a new book, and it’s taking a lot longer than my previous books. Why? Well, I work part-time now. Usually just a day or two per week, but I’m still trying to figure out how to best utilize my time. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t blogged.
  • Speaking of books, I just finished reading one by a well-known author. Traditionally published, meaning she had a team of editors and proofreaders, and still I found typos and obvious misspellings (‘phased’ instead of ‘fazed’). When did mediocre become acceptable?
  • Does Friday the 13th scare you? Do you believe it’s unlucky? My writer pal Kathleen Paterka says it’s lucky, not unlucky (she and I were both born in the 13th, so I have to agree). What other superstitions have a hold on you?
  • I’ve been fascinated by the idea of chicken and waffles. There are basically two versions – the Penn Dutch kind and the ‘soul food’ kind from Baltimore and points south. Not the healthiest choice, but give me a break – we have four feet of snow on the ground, I should be able to eat waffles. If you’re local (Rhode Island) and want to try this dish, head over to Dante’s Kitchen on Main Street in East Greenwich. Love this place!

  • I’m preparing for the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge, which starts in April. My posts will appear right here, every day (Sundays off), and my theme this year is Listen Up! This’ll be my fourth year participating (previous themes included Writers, Poets, Lyricists, Places I’ve Been, and A Whole Lotta Cheese). I hope you’ll follow along in April! And I promise to post a few more blogs before then.
37 Years Between Historic Blizzards

37 Years Between Historic Blizzards


We’re supposed to get a blizzard of “historic proportions” starting tomorrow. I was a sophomore at Providence College when, not even two months after a tragic dorm fire that eventually claimed the lives of ten young women, the Blizzard of ’78 hit us hard. Two and a half feet of snow stopped traffic, stranded hundreds, and made for an extra, unexpected vacation for us.

But I’m not 20 years old anymore, and now I think about what we have on hand for an emergency: batteries, candles, food that doesn’t need to be cooked. An elderly father-in-law, a sister living alone. Weather like this can be treacherous! So be safe and stay home if possible. Read a book. Drink wine and tea. Eat chocolate. Play a game with your kids (or, as I’m learning is more the case with my peers, grandkids). Make love. Then eat again!

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Where Hope Walks

Where Hope Walks


Martha Reynolds:

My neighbor and friend Pauline was the inspiration for this blog post. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, early Saturday morning.

Originally posted on Martha Reynolds Writes:

I have a few options for getting home. I can drive over the Natick bridge, the one that was closed after the big flood in 2010. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, though, you’re forced to look at the big empty house, boarded up, gaping holes where windows once were, pieces of glass clinging to the frames. The house is ugly and should be razed. Everyone has moved out. But the house still stands, decrepit, faded, and gray.

Or I can go home the back way and drive up the hill from the fire station, past the golf course that straddles the road, mindful of golfers crossing the street to get to the next hole, careful to keep my speed down because there’s usually a police car hidden behind the trees near the elementary school. Yesterday there was a bad accident on the road, farther down. People drive too fast.

And now that part of…

View original 167 more words

Twin Piques is Here!

Twin Piques is Here!


SmTwinPiquesCoverArt

Tracie Banister is one of my favorite independent authors, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of her third novel, Twin Piques. Love the title! Here’s what the book is about:

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (a teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?

Author Tracie Banister

Author Tracie Banister

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)
Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the back burner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a “real” job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Twin Piques is her third Chick Lit release. The pet psychic character in this novel was inspired by Tracie’s rascally rescue dogs. She’d love to know what goes on in their heads!

You can grab a copy of Twin Piques here:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Twin-Piques-Tracie-Banister-ebook/dp/B00RSEP056

Amazon Global: myBook.to/TwinPiques

Twin Piques on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24302229-twin-piques

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