Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon


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I’m Back

Word of the day ~ Undertake. A  pick from Roget’s International Thesaurus. Ran my finger down a randomly selected page with my eyes closed and landed on undertake. Would normally think caskets, mortuaries, funeral planning. But the word I landed on is a verb and a subsection of address oneself to. I do love a good romp through a thesaurus. Undertake, such a humble word has too many synonyms to mention and has inspired its own stable of cliches:

Knuckle down ~~ Put one’s shoulder to the wheel ~~ Take the bull by the horns

I’ve done all three the last few weeks, editing my manuscript, my excuse for being away from my blogging.

And why the association with grave diggers?

Word Origin and History for undertaker
c.1400, “a contractor or projector of any sort,” agent noun from undertake (v.). The specialized sense (1690s) emerged from funeral-undertaker. = {http://www.dictionary.com/browse/undertaker}

Back to Thoughts While Walking the Dog.

Happy Spring!

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I’ve just finished reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it along with the majority of the other, over 23,000, reviewers who also wrote lovely descriptions of the story on Amazon and Goodreads. Many more reviewers raved about the book than those who criticized it.

I found much beauty and suspense in the novel along with the horror of WWII and the Nazi regime. I  felt immersed in the lives of the characters and once I got into the story had no problem following the back and forth in time.

Of course the book got me thinking about war and good vs. evil. One NY Times reviewer criticized Doerr for including von Rumpel as a not fully developed character along with Frederick, Werner’s friend in the Nazi Youth School. I guess both fall into the category of minor characters, not much backstory to flesh out either of them or make us care too much about them. But for me the two of them are metaphors for the theme of good and evil inherent in most stories about Nazi Germany.

Frederick represents the delicate nature  of good in the face of evil. When he defies authority, he is  severely punished. Werner knows in his heart the right thing to do, but does not have the courage to act. There are many, many riveting scenes, but that one stays with me. I keep asking myself – What would I do in a similar situation? Would I have the guts to  defend a friend or loved one in a situation where we would both more than likely lose our lives if I speak up?

Sgt. Maj. von Rumpel is evil to the core, toeing the party line and being eaten up inside by his cancer. Isn’t that the very essence of evil to destroy itself in the end. Doerr spared us a narrative about evil by showing it to us in the character of von Rumpel.

Did you read the book? Do you have a scene that stays with you? I’ll be away from my computer for the rest of the week on family business, but look forward to any comments you have.

Thanks for stopping by.


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Reflection

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Apologies for my computer glitches this morning. Some of you have now received this three times.😱

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I can’t remember how I learned about the A-Z Challenge. Wish I could remember so I could give that blogger a great big thank you. I’d been wanting to start a blog, but didn’t like the idea of writing without anyone knowing I was there. The Challenge offered me the perfect place to start.

I strapped on my hiking boots and set off to climb the mountain. Like Cheryl Strayed in Wild, I wasn’t quite prepared for the journey. First I had to learn how to add a bog to my website. No problem, I called on Maggie McLaughlin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maggie-mclaughlin

who advises me on all things technical. By the end of March my image was of Maggie as Sisyphus at the bottom of the hill endlessly pushing me, the boulder, up the hill only to have me roll back. We both persevered and got the blog up and running.

I signed up as number 508, Thoughts While Walking the Dog, with the theme of Women in the 1930s.

 With April looming on the horizon, I planned to have all my posts done and still be able to take my already paid-for vacation at the end of the month. Life has a way of wiggling itself onto the trail, and I had to take a detour from my plan. No worries. I’d just write two posts every day and be finished by mid-April. And that’s sort of how it worked out. Determined not to drop out or miss a post, I devoted myself each day, even Sundays, to write for the Challenge. But near the end I was scrambling.

Would I do it again? Yes. It was lots of work, but so much fun too. Next year I hope I’ll be able to stick to my plan and do more blog hopping and commenting.

One precious thing I take away is that I no longer fear “being out there.” Well, I do still have some fear, but now that I’ve done it, I know I can swim with the big kids. As a writer, I’m an introvert. But I do want people to read my writing.

My regrets are that I didn’t find or take the time to figure out the #AtoZChats on Thursdays, didn’t post on Facebook and only tweeted about the Challenge once, which might have something to do with being visible and a lot to do with my technical savvy. I also wish I had more skill in arranging and using photos and videos. There is time to develop that for next year.

I’ve connected with people around the world that I would not have found in a million years. Here’s a list in random order of some of the sites I’ve enjoyed reading.

http://www.historyroundabout.wordpress.com

http://www.pluckingofmyheartstrings.com

http://www.thecourseofevents.wordpress.com

http://www.solveigwermer.com

http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

http://www.joyofhealthbeautyandnutrition.wordpress.com

http://www.jenncrowell.com

http://www.savingshards.wordpress.com

http://www.julieweathers.com

http://www.stephenyhoughtlin.com

http://www.doreeweller.wordpress.com

http://www.lifeaspotpourri.com

http://www.cassmob.wordpress.com

http://www.larawillard.com

There are many, many more at:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

My thanks to the organizers of the Challenge. See you next year.

 

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All right then. Let’s throw a couple.


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Things My Mother Taught Me

My mother died when I was nine, so I had to learn her lessons quickly. She was estranged from her family, full of secrets and in relationship with a woman. Together we navigated life in the early 1950s on the Mojave Desert, far from telephones or any kind of public transportation. Before my mother’s death, I learned about unconditional love. Her stories, told through the adventures of a magical dapple-gray horse, wrapped me in the security of the kind of love that sets a foundation for life. Love of self and others.

We lived in a canyon remote and desolate as the surface of the moon. Our cabin overlooked a ravine, home to amazing, adaptable creatures. The trapdoor spider, the tarantula and horned toad are only a few of our seldom-seen neighbors. She wove tales of danger and respect and the need for protection from the living, breathing desert. One day I found her dissecting a rattlesnake on the kitchen counter. Afraid I might step on the rattler, she had killed it out by the back step. She later fried the meat for dinner.

My mother shared her love of books and literature with me and taught me to read before I entered school. At night we’d sit by our kerosene stove with our books. I loved to pretend to read out loud, turning the pages of her books full of words I didn’t understand. She listened and encouraged me while I amused her with childish made-up stories.

She fought her cancer with food from an early health-food guru, Adele Davis, and left me a life-long legacy of healthy eating. To this day I still make bone soup and note it’s recent rise from the ashes as the new cure-all for what ails us.

After her death, too old for adoption and with no known family, I ended up in foster homes. For me as a child the ever-present threat of moving took a certain level of detachment. I learned this survival method from my mother, a woman who never mentioned the father of her child. She had me. We had each other. That was enough.

The Mojave conceals an inner life. Caves hide underground springs where watercress and other edible plants can be found. Wildflower seeds wait under the sand, sometimes for years, for the exact amount of raindrops needed to sprout.

My mother had to know her time to walk with me on this earth would be short. She and her partner mimicked the mystery of the land where they chose to live. It is with sadness that I imagine how difficult her choices must have been. It is with gratitude that I acknowledge I inherited the tenacity of a wildflower from my mother and overcame early adversity to thrive.

On this Mother’s Day I savor my mother’s memory and her lessons taught from the Mojave Desert.

 

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A to Z Challenge Survivor

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Yes. I survived my first A to Z Challenge. It has been a great adventure posting and visiting other bloggers taking the Challenge. I’ve learned a  lot and made new friends. I had a great time researching and writing my theme, Women in the 1930s.

If you want to find other A to Z Challenges, go to:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

and check out a theme that interests you.

I’m hopelessly behind in posting and responding to comments. Back soon with new posts and Reflections on the Challenge.

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Wake me up for that.

Thanks your stopping by.