Kim Chinquee

July and Domestic Adjustments

This month, the fear of everything closing down again served as an impetus to get things done. We replaced our king-sized mattress with two extra-long twins and installed an air conditioner. Both were objectives we kept putting off and now that we’re both getting a good night’s sleep, we wonder why.

We put in another step on the walkway down to the south lawn. The Chipmunk of Doom was warned it was going to happen, but he doesn’t seem happy about it, does he?

Husband finished up the remaining drawer fronts in the kitchen.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I believe this is a picture of the last bouquet I bought. Cheap flowers from grocery stores were one of the few things that kept me sane this spring. Now, it’s blooming season and these beauties greet me every time I walk out the door.

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The lilies take turns showing off their soothing brilliance.

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And the wildflowers in the far back are a delight. I brought this one in to identify and haven’t yet – but if you know what it is, please don’t hesitate to tell me at TLSherwood01@gmail.com

As ever, the garden is what it is and currently, it’s well weeded. The peas were wonderful and now the beans and squash are here.

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Inside, I made new cases and transferred the feathers from my pillows into them. It’s so nice to have plump and cushioning ones again. I’d used Husband’s sewing machine. In a flurry of texts, that to me still feel unreal, I’m the proud new owner of a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet. Many, many thanks to the marvelous XO Man for the amazing offer and gift.

It’s setup in the bedroom and when not in use it serves as a new writing spot and I’ve even used it to set up the tablet for a Zoom session with Gina and Mary.

Speaking of Mary, she sent a ticket for virtual Crab Con and I went to check out the platform she used. I stayed for the Baby Crab Cam and some interesting discussions as well as a video. It was fantastic! She also let me do a bit of ghostwriting. Thank you!

I managed to submit seventeen pieces this month and am thrilled to say my piece “The Thinnest of Veneers” will be published in Cathy Ulrich’s amazing Milk Candy Review later this year. It started from a prompt in Kim Chiquee’s Hot Pants Office. I’ve knocked out at least five rough drafts for new flashes and an essay. A few things happened that have given me fodder I plan to explore soon. It’s been a while since I’ve felt competent in my writing. (And as soon as I wrote that, I received a rejection. Ugh!)

The library reopened and so far I’ve read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and  The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. I’m catching up on stories in the New Yorker, too. I grew brave on a perfect day and visited with the spectacular Nina Fosati – outside and six feet apart. Not giving and getting hugs saddened me, BUT hopefully soon Covid will be in the past and we can all get back to whatever we choose to be a brighter and more humane normal. In the meanwhile, this creature tempts me to pet and to play, otherwise I’m sure I would have done even more this month.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Remember, you are AMAZING and I probably miss you!

In the scheme of things, isn’t less more?

Years ago, at a launch for Queen City Flash, which was edited by Gary Earl Ross, I read my piece and I didn’t do it well. I was stiff, awkward, just awful. I organized and hosted readings at West Falls-Colden Library and when I introduced writers, I did it quickly because I wasn’t comfortable.

I started attending the Hamburg Writers’ Group, and they offered me an opportunity to work on those skills that I lacked. Without the help and encouragement there, I never would have been able to do as well as I did last week. I have so much gratitude to all the writers who cycled in and out of that group. Thank you to all of you!

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And I again want to thank Kim Chinquee for the incredible honor of including me in the Drop Hammer reading series at Buff State.

It was an amazing experience made even better by Christina Francis being there and the surprise attendance of Linda Dinger — both HWG members.

The incredible Gina Detwiler also read and then afterwards, we stayed and talked to Kim’s class about writing, publishing, and writers’ groups. We had a delicious late lunch at Cole’s with Kim and Peter Ramos, then Gina and I extended our “author day” by going to Larkin Square’s Author Series to listen to a conversation between Lauren Belfer and Mark Sommer. Mark’s Book “Rocky Colavito: Cleveland’s Iconic Slugger.” I’m not a baseball fan, but the book sounded intriguing.

Speaking about new books… Last month, I attended Gina’s book launch for “Forgiven” at The Hub in Orchard Park. It mixed music with the presentation and I found it quite fun. Well done, Gina and all those talented musicians!

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The recent running around had me taping shows on the cable box upstairs since the one downstairs doesn’t record. When I went to watch them, I had to deal with Husband’s chair. It was a horrible, cobbled together mess. Office Depot’s had a sale. Now, we can both watch television in a comfortable chair. The old one was broken up and is now stacked on top of the wood pile waiting to go in the fire. Not quite “burning in hell,” but that’s as close as we can get.

Another household change was in my library. Now that the family is scattered, it can really be my library. The pullout couch was moved out of there. The light fixtures with glass covers that had been in there hung low and I feared hitting them with a dumbbell. My request for different fixtures resulted in compromise on going with fluorescents but I also had speakers installed in the ceiling. They have an on/off switch and a volume control. My red chair is in there now, too, so I’m set for reading, writing, and Pilates whenever I want, even if we have company.

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It’s been getting chilly at night and I’d love to start a fire, but Husband has nixed the idea. Other than that, life here has been pleasant as of late. The wood is up and with the back of the woodshed being cleaned out, I’m not as nervous about putting away the swing and benches since there is not only room to store them, but a clear easy pathway to do so. The daytime weather has been a perfect range of temperatures with low humidity. I’ve spent most of this week outside. The front lawn is mown, the trails tended, mulch applied. Yesterday though, was a long, uninterrupted writing day. I haven’t had one in a while and it felt good. I’m still feeling this new book out, but the ideas and characters are swirling. I have a project book where I’m storing character notes and themes I want to explore. I’m generally not a planner, but this book is following its own path into a hero’s journey setup. Perhaps that will help when I eventually have to write a synopsis…

I’ve gone back and forth with an editor on a longer piece recently. I’m waiting to hear whether the last round of changes were enough. I do hope it is accepted for the anthology! I’m reading a ton of submissions at Literary Orphans while I refresh my own queue. Besides the work on the book, I’ve gotten a few new flashes drafted. I’m trying to keep busy so I don’t fret and worry. I’ve submitted to several competitions and many will announce their results soon. Knock on wood, my pieces do well; if not, out they’ll go to other venues.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, (Hi Alex! Hi Rach! Hi Nina!) you’ve noticed I’m posting once a month instead of twice. I think that’s the way it’s going to go — at least for a while. Let’s face it, it’s better for all involved. Less for you to read, less for me to write and then there’s the possibility I’ll write deeper about things I post.

Anything is possible…Kudos to the Climate Change strikers! You’re inspiring the world to get it together and change!

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As always, thank you for stopping by and for the read. I do appreciate it! And I appreciate YOU!

June is gorgeous with words and flowers

What can I say? The writing news has been shockingly good recently. In case you’re not bored to death from my Facebook posts, here’s a recap: I placed second in the latest On the Premises mini-contest (#42!), which can be read here. I thought I’d only made the Micro-Madness Long List – and I was so happy with that – but then, last night, I saw that I was shortlisted and published here(June 13)! (And if you’re anal-retentive like me, you’d do the math and see my story was in the top 10!) 101 Fiction Issue 23 was released with my story in it. I wrote it during a Kathy Fish Fast Flash Reunion Workshop. Another one is coming up this weekend and I’m excited as all get out.  I also received an email from the Strands International Flash Fiction Contest…and I’m on the short list. Plus! The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature took a story of mine and it will be out in March of 2020. Like I said, shockingly good news on the writing front which has been quiet the balm for the rejections which have also tumbled in to remind me I’m NOT all that.

The yard and garden have been keeping me on my toes. I had a Disney Princess montage! I went out to plant willow near the road. I put three in and turned around to see a black butterfly with amazing blue iridescent spots. I walked around to the next section and found a yellow swallowtail butterfly on the pale pink lilacs fluttering about. Then, walking to the next section, I heard a ruckus. It turned out to be a duck squawking for the baby ducks to get in line. All of this happened in like 6 minutes. It was amazing. And of course I had no camera at the time.

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This is the pale pink lilac bush. I wish there was a way to have you inhale the aroma. Wild roses are blooming nearby so it’s heady on that path.

Monday, I had a lovely time in Springville at Café 49 catching up with Kim Chinquee and Wednesday morning found me at Spot Coffee in Orchard Park with Mary Akers. I wrote and she worked on Crab Con details. And I got my swag bag!

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Tuesday I did more yard work since the weather is spotty and found the slim irises are also in bloom.

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And back on 31 May, even though I told Husband he didn’t have to, I was honored to receive roses from him to commemorate 19 years of being married/20 years together. (Isn’t he sweet?)

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Anyways, and all in all, this is one of the happiest posts I’ve ever gotten to write. Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

What’s a marriage without an anniversary fight?

The above picture shows exactly how far the annual putting up of the screened-in tent proceeded until we were both hot and sticky, then pissy enough to walk away. That was on Memorial Day; it’s rained every day since then so there the parts lie rusting. I can only hope the canvas isn’t growing mildew. I don’t know why. We put this up annually, it’s the same parts, yet every year we find a way to have it not go together smoothly the first time. This year was particularly awful. Husband was on the ladder, holding the top while I was to run around to all the corners and slip in the posts…and I found we’d assembled the panels incorrectly. Everything needs to be undone and reassembled. Good times…

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The long weekend was productive in that the garden bed I’ll be using is tilled and after years of having them, the gates are all on so I can dump compost in there without the dog deciding that some bits weren’t ready for the heap.

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I missed the blooming of the crab-apple tree, but the lilacs are out and so are these purple flowers though I’ve forgotten their name.

The weekend before the ugly one, we had a lovely time over lunch at Julie’s with Robert Little. He was in town for an impromptu visit from Chicago. Jim and Julie Tuttle joined us, as well as their grandson. (The dumpster photo involves a joke I’m not going to explain.)

I haven’t been writing too much, or submitting, but after a drought, I have an acceptance! Thanks to John Xero at 101 Fiction, my piece born from a Kathy Fish Reunion prompt called “Landscapes” will go live on 2 June 2019. I also received word that “Firstborn” written from a prompt in Kim Chinquee’s Hot Pants office on Zoetrope made the long list in this year’s Micro Madness Contest for National Flash Fiction Day NZ in conjunction with Flash Frontier. I guess my so called writing career isn’t dead yet…or is it? Check back soon to find out for sure!

🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Crocuses and Siren Songs

I had a birthday last week and it was not the best, but I survived and am looking at it thus: Bad starts lead to the best finishes. Since then, things are looking up. The crocuses have bloomed!

The car went into the shop and I’m allowed to drive it for a while. We’ll be traveling to my Aunt’s 80th birthday party this weekend and I’m glad we’ll be going in the car –not Husband’s truck.

Last Friday, I had the best time with Tamara Grisanti. I went with her to the Exhibit X Fiction Series. Kim Chinquee and Christina Milletti read at Hallwalls. After, we attended the reception at Christina and Dimitri Anastasopoulos’ home.

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I’m still reading the books I mentioned last time and added “Daisy Jones and the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid to the mix. So far – page 118 – not bad. I’ve also read many of the award winning flashes and micros from the lists that have recently been announced. There is so much great writing out there and so many contests and opportunities! Tamara sent an email about the Berlin Writing Prize. I let everything roll over me – birthday wishes, the readings, the theme of circus – and I pounded out a story on Saturday. Thank you SO much Tamara for the inspiration! And thank you once again Nina Fosati for being such an amazing, honest, and thoughtful first reader. Tamara and Nina, you both ROCK!

Speaking of things looking up, this lovely thing arrived the other day. I’m rather fond of it.

We took a walk in the back forty this weekend and found this stray.

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The frogs are in the pond.

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Our Christmas tree is now planted.

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I am thrilled to be able to walk out back again with ease. Scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, I found other calls and I am competitive – with others and myself. Always trying to write better, learn more, find typos…so I’m off to polish, possibly submit, and definitely read while listening to the siren calls of spring and submitting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bits of Spring with a Cartoon Sheepdog Impression at the End

There’s a meme floating around that gives a rundown on “spring” and how it takes several stabs before it actually arrives. Creekside, we’re at the spring where the snowdrops appear.

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They are a welcome sign. I’ve also spotted tulips and hyacinths emerging.

Later today I’ll be transplanting the roma and cherry tomato seedlings to pots so yes, for me, spring is here, and so far it’s fabulous. Happy birthday to XO Man because it’s his birthday. Mine is coming up soon and I’ve already gotten a gift, Mr. Fishy fish!

Isn’t he adorable? Mary Akers made him and I’m using him as a tea bag holder. She gave him to me (Gina got one, too) yesterday at SPoT Coffee on Transit. There, I started a new story. On the way home, Ben’s check engine light came on – right in front of Goodyear. They plugged in the scanner and it was an oxygen sensor so I drove to the Hamburg Library. I returned “The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez. Great book, but a bit harsh toward memoirists of trauma, I thought. I picked up the books that I had requested: Coetzee’s, “Disgrace,” Brautigan’s “The Abortion,” and Saroyan’s “Boys and Girls Together.” I’ve been waiting on “The Abortion” for months and the copy I received also has “Revenge of the Lawn” and “So the Wind Won’t Blow It all Away” in it. After I read the others, I might take up the extras. “Disgrace” was referenced in the Nunez book. I read “Boys and Girls Together” yesterday. It has been touted by Jim Miner in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for a long time. Now I need to find out what why. I’m on the fence about finishing Cathleen Schine’s “They May Not Mean To, But They Do.” She had the biggest blurb for the Nunez book, and I adored “The Love Letter” but I’m on page 83 of this novel and can’t figure out why agents and editors thought it was important to publish. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I finish it. Maybe it’s not coming to me at the right time…

On the 17th, Husband was being loud with the kitchen renovation which pushed me to get dressed and drive to Rust Belt Books. I wish I had left sooner so I would have had more time to browse, it’s an enchanting space. There, I saw Kim Chinquee read from her latest, “Wetsuit” and Joey Nicoletti read from “Thundersnow.” Afterwards, some of us went to the Gypsy Parlor for dinner and drinks. (Tonic for me – it is Lent after all.)

I met Nina Fosati at the Comfort Zone on Wednesday the 20th.   We had a lovely meal then drove to Kleinhans Music Hall to see Min Jin Lee.

She was funny and bright and the question and answer question section with Barbara Cole was a delight.

The story I’ve been writing for the SMOLDR contest is finished. I cannot thank Nina Fosati enough for her help. Her insight and sharp eye were paramount in getting the piece as good as it is. I also want to thank Mary Akers for spotting the tense shift in the third section, James Wood for his “action verbs,” everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group who has listened, commented, and suggested tweaks, and Gina Detwiler who read the final version yesterday and said it was, “So Good,” funny, sweet and clever. Let’s hope the judges think so, too – knock on wood.

So those are the highlights from the past two weeks. I’m off to do Pilates, transplant seeds and write. If the weather holds, I’ll probably take the dog out again for an extended walk. Notice his resemblance to the sheepdog from the Road Runner cartoon.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

A Thursday in December

It’s only the 6th of December and I’ve already attended two Christmas parties. I’m not complaining, I just saying…I’m having a lovely time. Last Saturday, Husband and I attended the KiRST Construction Annual Family Bowling Christmas Party at Legion Lanes. We played against Nancy and Harry and it was fun. I hadn’t bowled since last year’s party and it showed.

The mail recently has been delightful. Out of nowhere, I received Shot Girls from Kim Chinquee!

I can’t wait to dive in to this collection and my copies of the Coffin Bell Anthology arrived. It’s just stunning. Tamara Grisanti and her team at Coffin Bell did a fabulous job and I’m honored to have a story included in it. Thank you Tamara!  And as an interesting “small world” coincidence, William R. Soldan has a story in there. I was his 700th Twitter follower, and because of that, he wrote a poem for me here: One More While the Wind Blows

Monday night had me visiting the Eden Library for the first time. It’s a lovely space. I was there for Christina M. Abt’s reading. She spoke about her book, Beauty & Grace  as well as how Mary Jo Hodge had not only inspired the book, but was the reason the book got finished at all.

Tuesday was more fun at the School Board Meeting. This time, it was surreal at the end where a fog seemed to have descended and no one knew what was going on. #electedpeopleatwork

Wednesday was the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Woman’s Association Holiday Dinner and Auction. The dinner was delightful as well as the company.

And today…is #PitMad. To all that see my tweet, retweet it only – unless you’re an agent. If you’re an agent, please heart it! I am grateful to this competition – it helps me focus on the PR aspect of my book…and my next one. I do love how the more I interact with other writers, editors and agents, the more I understand the business side of publishing.

This year I participated in The Common’s Weekly Writes Workshop. I doodled a few pieces, hoping for an amazing fiction piece to emerge. What happened? A few essays. I tend to shy away from those because I go too deep. Anyways, I worked on the strongest one and asked the amazingly talented Nina Fosati to look it over. She came back with great suggestions – many of which I agree with – and I submitted it. Now I wait, as I do…

And for a final bit of good news —– I tend not to dwell on or talk about the insane amount of rejections I receive — I’m happy to say The Remington Review got back to me recently to say they accepted “Anniversary Plans.” Look for it soon! I’m signing the contract today!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

It’s snowing and my snow tires are on

Who knew the first “real” snow of the year would be in December? It’s been falling steadily, but so far, the accumulation isn’t much. It’s covering things, making the outside world cold, but pretty. I love the first snowfall of the season most of all, but I’d send it to California if it would help the fires.

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It took forever to get tires on the car. First the wheels were too big, then I had an alignment problem, which led to replacing ball joints. . . All this car ownership fun I’ve missed for 15 years? I didn’t miss that at all, but I truly enjoy being able to go and attend events. One of the first was driving to Buff State for a reading by Joan Wilking. Afterwards, I went out to dinner at Cole’s with Joan, Kim Chinquee, Tamara Grisanti and a few others. There, I learned a piece I sent to Elm Leaves Journal was accepted for the Blues issue. It was a great time and Mycology, the 2016 Wild Onion Novella Prize is a great read. I literally gasped at one part. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

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Last Saturday was the Kirst Christmas party held at the bowling alley in Hamburg. It was fun, but so strange to see people I only once a year. Scott “the bee guy” recognized me, but he grew a mustache and I didn’t realize that was him. Husband and I bowled with Don and “not Eric.” I don’t think I’d met “not Eric” before, but that’s what I misheard and now I don’t remember his real name. Husband was given a plaque for working there 10 years. Somehow, it feels both longer and shorter than that.

We went to the community meeting about the possible round about on Route 240 and 12 people – out of possibly 100 – were loud and opposed to the idea. No one else was willing to say they wanted it. When the one man left and returned, I honestly feared he’d gone and got a gun. That’s how pissed off and irate he was and how scary and uncivil this town has become. Well, probably the nation. Talking about possible solutions no longer seems possible, it’s the loud mouths with guns who hold all the power. Some America this has turned out to be. . .

Otherwise, I’ve been rewriting a few flashes and I’ve submitted 10 pieces this week. I’m nearly ready to go back into the new novel that I started in November. I know, I should finish it first, but I’ve done that before and I recognize that every book of mine gets written differently, so this is the way this one is going – with fits and false starts. And so it goes . . .

Oh! I nearly forgot! This is how the tub area turned out. I am loving the light, the tiles, and even the grab bars. I now have a place to hang my washcloth. It is the small things in life, after all, that make life better and easier to get through, especially when the world’s gone mad.

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Thanks for stopping by for a read and as always, these are my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.

 

Words. Oh so many words . . .

I’m day two into NaNoWriMo and day four into the fabulous Kathy Fish Fast Flash workshop. So, I’m writing. A lot. On top of this, there is the reading I’m doing. There are 14 participants in the workshop, so each day there are those to read on top of my normal reading, work reading at r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, and because I just don’t get enough, I’m a reader for Best of the Net this year. My group was assigned 46 stories to read. I’m up to 14 and there are two I like. It’s an interesting process to read so much, in so many styles on so many subjects.

Before NaNo began, Husband and I went out to dinner at Julie’s and then we went to the antique shop that Jody owns. I ended up with earrings – now I need to earn them.

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Local Authors Live at the West Falls-Colden Library went incredibly well.

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Again, many thanks to Mary Jo Hodge, Mary Akers, Kim Chinquee, Jeff Schober, Gina Detwiler, Deb Madar and Barbara Early for their stellar work.

Okay, I’m off to immerse and ignore the rising creek.

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Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.

Changes like Ben

This year’s autumn has brought a few changes. The upper greenhouse window that was broken last year now has a replacement.

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Bonus, these windows open!

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And Ben has come into my life. Everyone, meet Ben, the Grey Subaru.

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Isn’t he fierce? This is the first car I’ve had in 15 years. I picked him up and got him registered on Wednesday. Thursday morning, he passed his inspection so he’s official and legal and it’s so weird to look outside and see a vehicle here. I need to start thinking differently, too. Last night I said something to Husband like, “Well after you get home on Friday I can go -” No. I don’t have to wait. I can go. My thoughts went to all the places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do and see and I had to stop. Priorities must be determined and the biggest and the best one is coming up this weekend!

Gina Detwiler, Jeff Schober, Mary Jo Hodge, Deb Madar, Barbara Early, Mary Akers and Kim Chinquee will be reading their work at 1:00pm at the West Falls-Colden Community Library on the 21st. You’re invited, so why don’t you come? It would be great to see you there! It’s autumn, the leaves are turning color. Gorgeous drive! What a great combination!

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Last week, Nina Fosati and I attended the Terry Temple Williams lecture that was part of the BABEL series. It was equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.

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I know, bad shot, but that’s what I get for not thinking ahead. What was neat was that Jeff Schober and Kim Chinquee were there, too. Buffalo is such a small town and now that I have a vehicle, I bet it grows even smaller.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.