Checking out the week ahead…

IMG_1415.jpgMonday has rolled around once more, ushering in another week of opportunity to get things done. As such, today’s post will be a checklist of five things I want/need to accomplish by the close of “business” on Friday.

The items on the list are not arranged in any particular order, so I can pick and choose at my discretion as to when I want to get them done—Before Friday evening.

Here goes…
  • My novel, Birchwood’s Secret, still has “miles to go before it sleeps” (thanks, Robert Frost!) and patiently awaits my attention. A couple hours each morning would be a good step in getting it finished—sooner than later.
  • Write my post for my blog’s weekly feature, One Good Thing. This has been rather easy for the first two installments, since there is always something good in my life to share, and I’m sure this week will be no different.
  • Read the newest posts on the blogs I follow and comment appropriately. After all, I enjoy it when my own followers “like” and comment on my posts. If nothing else, it lets me know that I’ve reached some living, breathing person “out there!” But, seriously, I really do appreciate the words left by readers.
  • Increase my daily twenty-minute walks on the treadmill to at least thirty minutes. Of course, if our current mild weather continues, I can take it to the streets where I’d much rather spend the time walking. However, walking on the treadmill allows me the opportunity to watch American Pickers, Moonshiners, or a TCM movie I’ve recorded.
  • Clean up the litter that has accumulated along the back wooded area between our property and the farm field beyond. I have to do this several times during the year, particularly after the winds have blown the stuff our way. It gets caught up in the tall weeds and becomes rather unsightly. When we have snow, it’s all buried and out of sight.  Looking out there as I write this, there is no snow, and it’s pretty ugly! (I think this may be the first item on this checklist I’ll take on!)

And that’s my list of five things I want to work on and get done this week. I know that my life will not be limited to just these five things, and I’m certain that I’ll be building my week around them.

IMG_1411.jpgNow, without further ado, I suppose I’d better put on a coat, grab the trash bag, and make my way out back and collect the debris. What a way to start the week!

What’s on your checklist for the week?

Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List

Book clubs & “comfort zones”

ONE GOOD THING…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a new feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 

I love to read fiction, particularly mysteries full of suspense and intrigue. Of course, I have my favorite popular authors of that genre. Lee Child, John Sandford, and Stephen King come to mind immediately.

Yes, most of their books are formulaic and predictable, but there always seems to be something more within the context of the stories. For example, Stephen King usually has some surprises wrapped in and around his tales of horror, and I find those tales fun and enjoyable to read. Escapism at its best!

Regardless of the book’s premise or overall concept, I know what I’m going to get when, without hesitation, I place an order with Barnes & Noble for the newest release by Child, Sandford, or King.

I also enjoy non-fiction, and I have favorite authors within that genre, too. Homer Hickam and Bill Bryson come to mind quickly. Again, I never hesitate when it comes to buying something new from each of these two wonderful writers. Perhaps it’s because, like Child, Sandford, and King, they’ve a proven track record.

“Comfort Zone”

Whatever it is, it’s a very pleasant and cozy “comfort zone” in which I find myself happily ensconced. But what happens when I am “forced” out of that comfort zone?

Why should that ever happen, you ask? Book Clubs.

I belong to two of them. One is a small group of men from our church who get together the first Saturday morning of each month from October through May. Most of the books are non-fiction, although we’ve hit upon some good fiction from time to time. (The Art of Racing in the Rain,  An Officer and a Spy, All the Light We Cannot See)IMG_1350.jpg

We meet for an hour, and it’s something to which I look forward to. We drink hot coffee, nibble on muffins or other treats one of us brings in, and chat about various things that tie-in with the book we’re all supposed to have read. The fellowship is rewarding, and it’s good to talk about various books and how they relate to our own lives.

The other book club is made up of friends from our former city. Unlike the men’s group, this one consists of fifteen to twenty folks, all with distinct interests and passions. We don’t meet as often as my men’s group—usually every couple of months—but our discussions are lively and, at times, fiery.

Using a “blind” draw or a pick-a-number, we choose our titles from an ongoing list of books suggested by the group. This has always seemed fair, although some of the book choices have been less than fun to read.

On the other hand, there have been books that I would probably never have chosen without it being the one “next up” for discussion at the next gathering, and those have turned out to be fascinating, good, and enlightening. All because I was forced out of that reading “comfort zone.”

My favorite titles these groups have discussed include the following:

  • The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Enrique’s Journey
  •  One Summer America: 1927
  • The Greater Journey
  • The Big Burn
  •  Deep Down Dark
  •  The Wright Brothers
  •  An Officer and a Spy

Of course, there are others, and I won’t dwell on those titles which I didn’t care for. After all, this feature is for finding the good and positive!

Suffice it to say, being in a book club (or two!) is a wonderful thing. Believe it or not, it’s good to get out of that reading “comfort zone” every now and then and explore new genres. Sometimes it’s all worth the trip!

And that’s one good thing…

Is spring on the way, or are the robins confused?

OK, I’m not complaining, so please don’t read this wrong. But…

Around these parts, one of the first signs of spring is the appearance of robins—those happy-go-lucky, red-breasted winged friends who seem to arrive out of nowhere.

Without a doubt, we can always rely on them showing up around mid-March, and it’s always a special moment when we call out: “Hey, there’s a robin in the neighbor’s back yard!”

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“Hey, everyone. It’s spring! Or is it?”

Well, last week (January 27th to be exact!), as I was grinding away on my MacBook and happened to glance out through my “window to the world,” I spotted one of those happy-go-lucky, red-breasted winged friends bouncing about in the back yard, carrying on as though the calendar was much farther along then it really was.

I sensed that the perky, little robin wanted to be seen, and I could almost hear her shouting: “Hello, everyone. It’s springtime!”

It was a delightful feeling seeing that bird, and one which made me feel good about the direction our winter was taking.

True, this winter has been a far cry from winters past—particularly last year’s—and the fact that I’ve only used our snow thrower two times is testament to that fact. Again, not complaining!

Not surprisingly, soon after the first robin showed, there was what appeared to be an invasion of her friends, immediate family, relatives, and various other hangers-on of the robin clan.

Our yard seemed to be cluttered with them as they bounced around in search of snacks and treats in the grass no longer covered with winter’s blanket.

After awhile this battalion of birds moved from the back yard and maneuvered around to the side lot where I snapped a couple of photos of this earlier-than-usual showing.

Later that afternoon, while I was busily stoking the Weber charcoal grill on our driveway, I could see that the gang of robins was still in the vicinity, but that they had moved across the street to the large empty lot. Again, I snapped a photo from my driveway, and one must look carefully to recognize them as robins. If nothing else, take my word for it.

Funny thing is, I haven’t seen them since that day. Our weather has been unseasonably pleasant and very March-like, so one would think that the happy creatures would have stuck around and continued whatever it is they do to herald the onset of spring—even though that’s still quite a ways off!

Perhaps one bird in this merry contingent checked the calendar and had an “oops moment” and delivered the news to the leader, causing the embarrassed congregation of happy-go-lucky, red-breasted winged friends to slink away, realizing that they’d jumped the gun just a bit.

Whatever the reasons: Why they arrived when they did and Why they didn’t stick around, the wonders of nature never cease to amaze me! Something was definitely at work in the universe of the robins, telling them it was time to pop in to northern Illinois.

Maybe they were just checking things out, making sure everything was in order for their real arrival in several weeks from now. Whatever their reasons, we’ll be looking for them once again and will welcome them back to stay a lot longer!

Not complaining…

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Special birthday, special person

ONE GOOD THING…

It’s time for the inaugural post of a new feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 
Birthday Celebration in Ohio

My mom turned 87 on January 22. Hale and hearty and feisty as ever, she celebrated quietly, resting up from her two-and-a-half month stay at my younger sister’s place in New Castle, Colorado. She returned home on the 17th.

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Birthday Girl Pat Anderson

I haven’t seen Mom since before she left for Colorado in early November, so it will be good to do so this weekend as we are traveling to Port Clinton, Ohio. And since we weren’t able to be there to celebrate on the actual day of her birthday, we will do so a week late.

We have a cake from her favorite bakery in Western Springs, Illinois, and we’ll enjoy a dinner at one of her favorite restaurants Saturday evening.

It will be good to take her on her errands and the usual trip to the grocery store or Wal-Mart. It’s far from exciting, but the running out and about is important to her all the same, and one of my regular “duties” I tackle during each visit.

It will be a short visit this time as we will be returning to Illinois Sunday afternoon. There are many miles between our houses, but I never dread making the trip to see her. Happy birthday, Mom.

And that’s one good thing!

Until next time, here’s wishing everyone a good week ahead. :-)

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

Many thanks to Amy at Insights from the Edge for nominating Down Many Roads for theversatile_blogger_award.jpg Versatile Blogger Award. I am flattered and happy to participate in this event.

These are the rules:
  1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Nominate at least 15 bloggers of your choice. When considering a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, keep in mind the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subject matter, and the level of love displayed on the virtual page.
  3. Link your nominees and let them know about their nomination.
  4. Share seven facts about yourself.
7 Facts About Me:
  1. I have been retired from teaching middle school language arts for eight years.
  2. I live in rural northern Illinois.
  3. I have two grandsons, ages 10 and 8.
  4. I have published two books- Black Wolf Lodge (2010), The Good Luck Highway (2014) & two short stories-“Hobo Willie” (2014), “Pinewood Farm” (2014)
  5. I spend my summers in southwestern Michigan in an old cottage on a lake.
  6. Besides writing, I love reading, hockey, baseball, football, and NASCAR.
  7. I am currently working on my third novel, a sequel to Black Wolf Lodge.

Here are the blogs I wish to nominate. I enjoy each for its unique style and quality of writing and/or artistic design and content. Please check them out and enjoy.

  1. Jill Weatherholt
  2. Gwen Hernandez
  3. The Write Transition
  4. Disappearing in Plain Sight
  5. Writer Site
  6. Interesting Literature
  7. Cindy Knoke
  8. Through the Luminary Lens
  9. Writing by Randall
  10. This ‘n That
  11. A Day in the Life
  12. Ramblings of a Writer
  13. A Midnight Rider
  14. Flotsam & Jetsam
  15. Travels in the Middle East and Beyond

Happy reading and blogging, everyone! And thank you Amy. :-)

Blog on!

IMG_1392.jpgMonday.

The week begins anew. Coffee is hot (and good!).

The birds have emptied the feeders that I just re-filled on Saturday, yet they still hunt and peck about on the ground below in search of overlooked seeds.

Sipping the hot coffee, I read blog posts of those new friends from the Blogging 101 class that wrapped up at the end of last week.

I realize how much good information I took in during the fifteen-day run of the course. Thanks to the tasks and various activities therein, I am wiser and more comfortable in trying new and advanced things on this blog of mine.

To anyone beginning a blog of his or her own, I would offer the following suggestions:

  1. Set a limit to your word count. Brief is usually better!
  2. Pay attention to spelling, usage, and grammar. Personally, I dump out of reading posts full of errors. (No excuses if one is serious about sharing his or her writing with the world!)
  3. Find a theme that fits your style and personality. It will take some time, but there are many from which to choose.
  4. Read other blogs and comment on the posts you read, respectfully and sincerely.
  5. Make your blog pages easy to navigate.
  6. Have an ABOUT page that tells the reader about YOU and why you’re blogging and any other interesting stuff that might entice a reader to want to read more of what you write. (I always look for the location from where the writer is situated and am disappointed when that info is missing.)
  7. Make blogging a fun thing.

OK. Monday crawls onward. The coffee cup is empty (like the bird feeders). Blogging 101 still fresh in my mind, I plan my week and will now spend time scheduling my posts for the week ahead.

Enjoy the journey. Blog onward and upward!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/key-takeaway/”>Key Takeaway</a>

Weekend’s end…

It’s late Sunday night, the conclusion of a very busy and good weekend. First a road trip to Wisconsin. Then our grandsons’ basketball games. Finally, dinner and a hockey game with family and friends.

It started early Friday morning with a drive through rural northern Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, with two good friends.

The drive over took us through countryside we’d not been before, and it was a very pleasant and relaxing trip covering just under ninety miles.

Unknown.jpegWhy Kenosha? There is a Civil War Museum there located on the beautiful lakefront of Lake Michigan. Plus, it was just one of those times when we were ready for what the wife and I call a “field trip.”

Sometimes our trips are centered around genealogy searches, and others are all about doing and/or seeing something new. And what better way to enjoy one of our field trips than with two very good, long-time friends?

After a few hours of exploring the wonderful museum, we were ready to head out for lunch at the famous Brat Stop that would be right on our way back home.brat-stop.jpg

The place is located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee and features good bratwurst and various cold beers. It’s been around since the 60s and is one of those combination bar/restaurant/cheese shops that tends to lure tourists and other travelers in!

The next morning began early once again, finding us in attendance at each of our two grandsons’ basketball games, followed by an hour’s drive up to Rockford where we had a 5:00 dinner reservation.

After a delicious dinner at Capri’s Italian Restaurant, we took in an exciting hockey game between the Rockford Ice Hogs and the Iowa Wild. There was plenty of excitement that kept young and old on the edge of our seats!

By the time we got back home, it was almost midnight, and after our whirlwind two days, we were worn out and looking forward to a quiet Sunday following church and a pancake breakfast.

And so the day turned out to be pretty much just what we expected. I caught up on my blogging activities, reading and commenting on many that I follow, and Carolyn napped and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

And now we close it down and prepare for another week ahead. Until next time… :-)