Reclaiming memory

One thing led to the next. I deleted important (to me) photographs from my camera’s SD card after downloading them into a folder on my laptop, and then I inadvertently deleted the folder containing them. I still don’t know how it happened, but I could not find them anywhere.

I have always wondered about investigators removing computers from suspected criminals’ homes. I’ve heard that computer gurus can reclaim things that were deleted from the hard drive.  Now I’m no computer guru, but I can Google with the best of you.

“I deleted my photos by accident.”

You would be amazed at how many hits that Google search got.

Anyway, as I said, one thing led to the next and I found myself looking at a faded version of my recovered photographs using free software I downloaded. What they neglected to tell me was that I couldn’t actually access those photos unless I bought the program for around $50.  Talk about an effective tease. My pictures were right there. They were still alive. But I couldn’t reach them.

To make a long story short, I bought the software. The code they gave me to covert the free version to the fully functional program didn’t work. I made the phone call. I gave them permission to access my computer remotely. This was the scary part, but I was in for the duration now. I mean, my pictures were right there.  The guy I finally got, after the extended elevator music, wanted to sell me a $350 program to get rid of the virus he found that he said was responsible for the problem

Even though this account reads fairly quickly, it actually was taking a lot of time and my patience was wearing thin. This was a racket. And the worst part was that I had given this guy access to my computer.

We were on vacation at the beach and daylight was wasting. (Ignore the fact that I probably shouldn’t have been out in the sunlight anyway).

I told him there was no way I was spending more money on this project, and that he could give me a code that worked, or I wanted my money back. If I didn’t get my money back I was going to let the world know, through multiple blog posts, Facebook pages, and tweets, what a racket their company was running. That made him sit up and listen.

I got the code. I got my pictures. And I changed all my passwords out of paranoia.

But that wasn’t the memory I was talking about reclaiming.

Yesterday I was driving along and a memory popped up. It was of my childhood or teenage years. I think my sister Carol was in it. And it brought back to my senses the sights, sounds, and scents of home. It felt really good. And it wasn’t one of my over-used, tried and true, old-reliable memories that I keep for old-time’s sake and bring back out now and again, probably slightly modified with each review. It was a fresh memory.

I woke up this morning and could not access it. At all. I still can’t. I can’t remember any details about it except for how it made me feel.

Maybe I should Google it.

“How to access fleeting childhood memories.”

Do you think I’ll find “free” software for this one?



One day more

I woke up this morning grateful that our presidential election here in the United States of America is finally drawing to a close. One day more of campaign ads on the TV, campaign ads on the web, campaign ads littering the roadsides I drive. One day more of a barrage of phone calls from Cleveland and Columbus. . .

One day more of hope and uncertainty.

Then begins the disillusionment, disappointment, and outright anger that will be flung around for a while from disgruntled voters and politicians on the “losing” side. For the losing side will actually be a winning side in many states. Perhaps the losing side will actually be the winning side in the population as a whole—it’s happened before and I can tell you, if you happened to forget, it wasn’t pretty.

If you hadn’t already guessed, I lean to the left. But I understand and appreciate some of the philosophies of the right. I believe that is the way we all should strive to be instead of so combative and divided in this country.

I agree with the Republican concept of fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction.

I don’t understand the outrage over Obama Care. I really don’t. I know it may not be a perfectly defined system as it stands, but it is a beginning. Most other developed countries have a system of healthcare. And I think we live in a whole world now, and not an isolated country with some kind of misplaced sense of superiority that Americans know best. But regardless of what other countries are doing, I don’t know how it makes sense to continue the way we were going with health care. Many people are angry about the mandate to have insurance. But anyone who shows up at a hospital will be taken care of in this country whether they have insurance or can pay for it or not. Who pays for this? We are all paying for this in the form of medical costs and insurance premiums.

I agree with the concept of smaller government.

But I also think that people are flawed by nature and that history—from the days of feudal lords to corporate moguls—has shown time and time again that left to our own devices those with power (money) will more likely be driven by greed than goodwill. Corporations and businesses have a necessary place in our society, but they should not be the defining culture that makes us Americans.

Hopefully we will have a definitive election and by tomorrow night we will know who will lead this country for the next four years. And maybe, hopefully, this time, we will find a way to work together regardless of who it is.

One more day.

Why do I do this?

This is one of those days where I wonder why I do this. Do you ever have a day like that? I start thinking about how much time all this blogging, commenting, writing, and promoting is taking, and it makes me wonder. Why?

Sometimes I think it’s the stats and the comparison to others that gets me down.

Then I think about how it might feel if I quit. I would have to face not only the opinions of people who might think I was a quitter, but also I would have to face the void of no writing. I don’t know how I would feel if I wasn’t writing, but I’m fairly certain I would regret giving up what I’ve started.

So I continue.

Do you ever have days like this?

Besides, I have promises to keep. When my dad asked me when I was going to write his story several years ago, I told him I would. With each passing day, that promise becomes more important to me, even if his story is only typed on a stack of hole-punched papers in a three-ring binder.

A group of women wanted to tell their stories about children they placed for adoption, or in the less politically correct terminology, gave up for adoption, because regardless of what you call it, these women were bereft of a child they bore and could no longer hold, or see, or even know if he or she was happy and healthy, choosing this path only out of shame and lack of support. They held on to a firm belief that their child would be better off without them, that someone else was in a better position to care for them, that, in some cases, they didn’t deserve to raise the child. I promised them I would help them  tell their story.

So write I must.

There are promises to keep.

And books to write before I sleep.

I have garden photos I hope to post tomorrow, and a ghazal to squeeze in before poetry month comes to a close. And I still have to answer the question, “Where in the world is Dancing in Heaven?” I also want to show you photos from the Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, New York (just outside of Buffalo) from our trip there last weekend. And let’s not forget this year’s butterfly show. Which reminds me, below I copied a very short, 41 second, video of the wind chimes at Krohn Conservatory from CincinnatiParks.

I’ll end with a question I read on Touch2Touch, “Do you know what you are doing?” or “How good are you at knowing what you’re doing?” It’s a short post over there, I hope you’ll take a look. Would love to see your response.

Promoting in the world wide jungle

Tuesday, November 15th.

I thought it was just me, but today I started to put together a list of all the self-publication/marketing resources I’ve printed out, bookmarked on my browser, or are presently in my email inbox that I sent to myself or received from a friend.


It’s no wonder I’m stalling out on putting together a promotion plan. Where do I begin? I’m drowning in the helpful advice I’ve collected. You cannot imagine how many blogs are out there telling people what to do to be a successful author. And I’ve saved all of them in one form or another to read when I get the time.

I can’t continue on this path of destruction. This grab-n-go approach is not working for me.

When all else fails, make lists.

Here’s my plan. I’m going to make organized lists of the following:

Author pages or all sites where I have profile information. They include but may not be limited to: My blog, Facebook, Website, Author page on Createspace, Smashwords, Amazon, and B&N (I think. Will have to check), Goodreads, Kindle Boards, LinkedIn, and I will have to see if I can remember where else. The information should be consistent across these sites and right now I couldn’t tell you. Oh, don’t forget about Twitter. (These lists should be complete with user names and passwords. I’m going to type it up and leave a copy on my computer desktop. If somebody hacks my accounts, good riddance.)

Communities I’m signed up in. That would include She Writes, Goodreads boards, Writer’s Digest, I know I’ve signed up for some Indie communities. Will have to track those down.

Blogs with helpful information on promotion. This may take some time.

Reviewers. Probably should focus on this one.

Lists. I think I’ll start with a list of all the lists I need. I’m sure there are more things I need to organize.

Why do I feel like I just spent a lot of time counting the pages I have left to read in my history text book, instead of reading the book?

I think when I’m done figuring all of this out, I will be well on my way to my next non-fiction book: “Finding Readers when you’re over Fifty,” or “Going it alone for Grandmas: a guide to self-publishing for those too old to keep up.”

Thursday, November 17th.

Good news. I finally started to get myself organized after the information feeding frenzy. I’m all over it. Yesterday I bought a little three-section spiral notebook that I’m going to keep as a book promotion journal. The first section I’m listing by date all my promotional activities.  (I had started jotting things down on sticky notes here and there. After I bought the journal, I collected them all there.) So for example, my entries for November 15th:

-Stephanie at Goodreads requested a book for review. I packaged it to mail.

-Sent excerpts to Hospice of Dayton per their request for their website

-Attended free Webinar from Writer’s Digest on the seven secrets to success of self-publishing

-Filled out a contact form at

The second section of my new journal I am devoting to the publicity my book receives. So far I have five entries:

10-24 Blogger dogear review

11-5  Cynthia Robertson review

11-7 Listed on Goodreads giveaways (Five books to be given away after Dec. 7th. So far 201 people have requested it.)

11-8 William Lambers interview

11-15 Lisa Kramer review

I haven’t decided what I will use the third section of my promotion journal for. Yesterday I also created a file of promotion ideas where I placed all the information I’ve printed out. I still need to go through my e-mail and bookmarks and decide the fate of all the information I’ve saved there. I will either print it out, organize it into files, or delete it.

In some ways using the internet is like riding a wild bronco. If you don’t take the reigns and take control, you won’t be able to keep up and you will find yourself on a wild ride and eventually airborne, only to land face down in the dusty soil. Maybe I should switch to the old gray mare.

Sometimes I want to squawk

What to write about today? I visited my parents yesterday and stayed while my mom went out to lunch for maybe the third time in about two years. I felt good that she got to go out. But mostly I felt bad on the way home after my sister stopped by and Thanksgiving plans came up. Holidays have always been hard trying to divide ourselves between two families. Now they’ve gotten harder. I don’t want to post about Alzheimer’s today.

I went to a writing group at a local coffee shop yesterday for the second time. It seems to be an energizing group who have come to know each other fairly well. Being the outsider always has its problems. I don’t want to write about writing groups today.

When I let Arthur outside this morning I heard a now familiar squawk at regular intervals. Is that a bird? I wonder. Somedays I feel like standing and emitting a gut-wrenching squawk myself. So many expectations from inside and out. Some days I want to turn off the noise and directions and foget it all:

Painting on rug by Matthew A. Grote (2011)

Eat more fruit.
Eat more vegetables.
Eat more whole grains.
Eat less.

Do strength exercises.
Do yoga.
Take the dog for a daily walk.
Elevate and ice your knee.

Exercise your mind.
Don’t think at all—meditate.

Write every day.

Be kind, rewind.

Wash your hands.

Brush the dog’s hair.
Brush the dog’s teeth.
Whiten your teeth.

Take time to listen.
Take time to dream.
Be productive.

Stay in touch with those you love.
Have meaningful conversation with your spouse.
Be alone.

Blog regularly.
Comment on others’ blogs.
Tweet three or four times a day.
Keep writing.

Remember the reusable grocery bags!

Help others.
Make time for yourself.

Fight for what you believe in.
Make peace not war.


Why didn’t my doctor tell me? — or who’s taking care of the Alzheimer’s?

This is the question my mother asked when the physical therapist left my parents’ house yesterday after working with my dad for about 45 minutes. “Why didn’t Dr. R ever tell me your dad might benefit from physical therapy?” she asked.

Gee. I don’t know. Maybe he was too busy prescribing antibiotics, inhalers and cough medicine.

In Dr. R’s defense, after the initial diagnostic appointment when my dad started having noticeable memory problems and a neurologist was consulted, an MRI done, and ultimately Aricept prescribed, my parents never really sought medical advice about the Alzheimer’s. And apparently, over the several visits they made to the doctor’s office for one thing or the other, the topic never came up.

In truth, it never seemed like Dr. R was monitoring Dad’s Alzheimer’s treatment nearly as well as he was monitoring his cholesterol levels.

It’s like the walker Mom bought for Dad at the medical supply store where they have been good customers for years. No one explained to her how high the handles of the walker should be. She just brought it home and Dad started using it.

Yesterday when the physical therapist was there helping my dad walk around the house with the walker, he asked, “Did someone raise these handles on purpose?”


“Handles should be the height of the wrist of the person when they are standing upright with their arms down at their sides,” he said.

Dad’s handles were about five inches too high. Sometimes I feel like we are wandering around in a fog.

The medical industry is not kind to people who try to be self-sufficient.

In an earlier post I wrote, “Sometimes when we try to get help for Dad I feel like we are a ball in a bumper pool game. One professional evaluates and then bumps us to the next.”

Dad’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for nearly three years now. It just seems like someone, somewhere along the way might have pointed us in a forward direction every now and then. Fortunately, we finally bumbled our way into the visiting physician, which led us to the visiting nurses, who set us up with the physical therapist, who believes he can help Dad improve his walking and movement. Who knew?

Time will tell, I suppose. And we will have to keep up with the exercises or Dad will backslide. But at least we have a small hope that one of these things afflicting Dad may turn around and start getting better instead of worse. I say, “Halleluia.”

Mom says, “Why didn’t anyone tell us before now?”

December 2010 — My dad uses his walker (before proper height adjustment) to visit family gravesites.

Modern technology — a love-hate relationship

I spent the better part of the day yesterday struggling with my video camera, computer, iMovie, and iDVD.

In the early 1980s, our first video camera was quite large and we had to rest it on our shoulder like the professionals do for Channel 9 News. It took video tapes. The good news was that once you recorded the tape you were done. You stuck it into a VCR and watched the unedited version of the movie you shot with all it’s bumps, quick-switches and views of your feet.

Now I have a small Sony Handycam. It fits nicely into the palm of my hand and records on mini DVD discs. The camera itself is user-friendly. It has a touch menu screen that tells me what I need to do when I need to do it. But then I am pretty much on my own in getting the movie from the little disc, that can only be viewed on or through my handycam, to a more universal disc that can be viewed on someone else’s DVD player, like my mother’s for instance.

When I connect the camera to my MacBook Pro, the video goes straight into iMovie. Which is alright. IMovie has good editing capabilities from what I can tell, if I knew how to use them. I can do a basic select. And I can cut segments to use out of the long, and at times, extremely boring video I shot.

But this takes a LOT of time to go through all the clips and play segments to make sure I’m not cutting out anything important. I was trying to make a DVD to send to my daughter-in-law because most of the video was of our little star attraction over the weekend, our 8-month-old grandson Luke. I decided to just send my daughter-in-law the whole unedited mess.

But I had to figure out how to get the movie from iMovie to a DVD.

And what format should the movie be in anyway, if you want to show it on a regular DVD player attached to a TV? There are about 25 options.

I consider myself above average in the technical savvy department, but geez.

I have now downloaded an iMovie-08 Getting Started manual on pdf. (I don’t think I even have iMovie-08, so that started me off on a new tangent to upgrade my iMovie software, which leads me to another rant about why do we have to keep updating all our software just when we’ve figured out how to use it?)

I have bookmarked an iDVD help page.

Yesterday I managed to burn a DVD of the unedited film that I hope will play on a DVD player, but haven’t tried yet. I also managed to edit out about 18 minutes of the movie to show to my parents today.

All in a day’s work.

I still need to burn the movie for my parents to a DVD. Worst case, I can just drag my MacBookPro up to Dayton and show my parents the video on this, which makes me wonder if some of these companies aren’t deliberately trying to make us more dependent upon their products.

The problem is, with new technology, we can do all kinds of really cool and neat things—but only if we know how. I want to create a jazzy DVD using iDVD, but I will likely have to spend hours learning how to do it. By the time I am ready to do it again, I will have forgotten what I did and will have to learn it all over. Frus – tra – ting.

Today I’m going to search for a Home Movies for Idiots book. If it’s not out there, maybe I’ll write it.