Weekend Coffee Share, Summer Travels

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share,  hosted by Natalie the Explorer. I’m on vacation this week! Bixby is back home with my mother. He’s going to smell another dog on me when I get home, which is sure to be interesting! I’m on the back deck at Hannah”s house, and I’ve witnessed a sunrise in a new city ( working my way through a bucket list item). 🙂

Sunrise on the back deck!

My coffee today contains hazelnut milk, and is stronger than usual. We are walking every day there is not rain, so I’m using up the excess energy! Enjoy your beverage of choice and pull up a virtual chair on the back deck. The weather in Rochester, New York is pleasantly cool today with chances of rain.

The art in this place is amazing! It has a small town feel with an art school and several museums within walking distance of my friend’s apartment. It seems like a wonderful Arts community as well!

The door to the Memorial Art Museum.

Another place of interest was Erie Canal. It made me think of Holland, a place I’ve never been. It was just nice to see it. We sat with a drink and took in the views and breeze. The next day, we had dinner thereoverlooking the water while a jazzy band played outdoors.

At Erie Canal, outside Lock 32 Brewery. Grapefruit Sessions was awesome!

My friend was so kind to invite me to stay here this summer, and her dog was also an excellent host and play buddy!

I really have enjoyed Hannah’s sweet dog, a big, affectionate mixed-breed. I do miss Bixby, though.

I made sure Hannah got a signed copy of Detours in Time!

There is not a whole lot of writing going on right now, but I am getting inspired! 28 days of Ellie, my current writing plan, paused at day 6, and I’ll return to it when I’m back. For now, there is a lot of walking, taking in new sights  and laughter with an old friend. I believe anything that warms the heart can inspire a writer’s soul!

Thanks for visiting me for a weekend coffee share! I hope all is well in your corner of the world. Have a great weekend!

Aladdin’s restaurant at Erie Canal.

Best of the Year! #BOTY2020

     Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season’s Greetings whatever holiday you celebrate and where!  2020 has been quite a year. I would say my proudest work accomplishment this year as a Middle School English teacher was putting a focus on Socio-Emotional Learning in my classroom by trying to learn what personally motivates my students with various learning abilities from standard, advanced, to gifted learners.  I’m working on building community.  One personal achievement I reached this year was maintaining a connection with my students during COVID lockdown in Florida from March to June.  I would say that it was really rewarding during a time of uncertainty.   

      

Teaching during COVID Lockdown, Spring, 2020.

                       

     This year, I published one book titled Malachi, Ruse Master. It is not specifically sci-fi, but focuses on a character that connects to characters and events in my Detours in Time series.  I really enjoyed writing this one, getting into my character’s head and writing about the struggles of finding your identity when you are a young adult. He works in an unusual job that serves to help him discover many things about himself and his own ethics. If interested, it is on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086VYJYZX

 In 2020, I suffered a frozen shoulder and recieved physical therapy for it. I’d been through PT at the end of 2019 for my back and still use some of the principles and exercises I learned. The shoulder recovered, I’m glad to report. In the process, I read and discovered a lot about how our mindset contributes to pain. Some of it is automatic and takes much work to change, but I am working on the mindset constantly. There are many people who helped me and worked to understand me this year, and I am filled with gratitude. I am trying constantly to extend my circle of gratitude for every little thing someone does for me or every attempt at understanding me. It makes me smile more, which makes people respond more positively to me. It seems to pay off for everyone.

I wore my pearls to honor RBG on voting day, 2020!

COVID anxiety has been a struggle for me, but I’d say it comes and goes, and staying busy or exercising seems to really help.  I struggled with anxiety and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder even before COVID became a concern for the United States this year, so fortunately, I was already working on the problem before lockdown occurred and cases skyrocketed.  It’s odd to say, but the diagnosis came right on time. I’ve read and studied many books on the subject and took an online CBT course this year.  I feel that knowledge and acceptance of our own flaws are both very important.  One thing I do regret is my lack of focus, which really got worsened from COVID lockdown.  I am able to focus on my work but cannot seem to focus also on writing a book.  Never fear! I have an idea in the works, but it will take longer than my former books.

My social life has suffered probably as much as anyone else’s. I have a writer friend I would invite to the house a few times over the summer for coffee and a chat, distanced, of course. My boyfriend and I maintain contact and even went to socialize with some of his friends outdoors on their patio this summer. I had two Zoom meetings with some of the ‘gals’ from work, one of which carried on into a FB group video chat and included some fun app affects!

At least I have my family, I have an understanding significant other, and I have some longtime, trustworthy friends. My mother has had an extended stay at my brother’s house due to COVID concerns, but I am getting her this week. My 24-year-old son and I have been co-existing gracefully, and he is becoming such a generous soul. I remember his teen years, ugh. He certainly has had his own struggles and still has some effects from them. Still, he is finally growing into the person I’ve been trying to teach him to be in the most important ways: gentle, generous, kind to his family members and not so self-centered.

 My biggest lesson learned this year is that our mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It immensely helps a person’s mental health to tell someone about what is bothering them. I have a stressful job, and just discussing with my boss some of the things I have to go through to get organized and handle certain situations provided such a relief. My anxiety, especially in the holiday season, hits at unexpected times, and I’ve even explained to some of my classes that I feel claustrophobic if too many of them come up to my desk. It has helped. I also cannot concentrate if two people ask me a question at the same time. In my everyday life, I’ve been practicing not keeping things in and speaking my mind in a calm manner. 

I also asked for help, unashamed, from a good work friend before taking the drive to South Carolina. When asked if she’d ride along with me and maybe take turns driving, she said yes without hesitation, looking forward to time away from ‘mom’ duties. I am so thankful! Having her to talk to on the way up was great and kept me calm when I went 20 minutes past the exit for I-95. We laughed it off and kept on going. When traffic was congested in South Carolina, as usual, I said, “I hate this road,” and she said, “It’s okay, we’ve got this.” It was very helpful, as congested traffic makes me feel boxed in, a result of a car accident I had in 2016. Why am I not over that? Why ask why, just make adjustments as needed.

I know there is a little risk involved there.  So, appropriately, my favorite song of the year has been Caution by The Killers.  Okay, it’s a love song, but I want to love my life and ponder predominantly on the positives, so it works! The beat and the lyrics are so inspiring! 

So, I say, speak your mind, throw caution to the wind! Take a risk.  The worst that could happen is that you may not feel accepted by that person, in which case, they don’t deserve your openness. Talk to someone else, then. You will soon find someone who has felt the way you do at some point in their lives. So, I have learned to own my life, my personality, and not be ashamed to share what it means to be me. I may not be able to travel right now, and life and activities may be COVID limited, but I am still going to grow. 

This Best of the Year tradition was first brought to my attention by my global blogger friend Beaton. You may visit his blog at becomingthemuse.net and his Best of the Year at https://becomingthemuse.net/2020/12/17/what-2020-taught-me/ You are invited to share your own, and use the hashtag, #BOTY2020.

In my tradition, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and Best wishes for 2021!

Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Character Background: Tabitha and the Professor. #pointsofview

 

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Tabitha and Milt are characters from the award-winning time travel novel, Detours in Time.  Why are they such good friends?  Follow Tabitha on a typical day and get a dose of what goes on in her mind.

“Tabitha, Tabitha? Have you heard anything I’ve been saying?” Candace raised her voice to be heard, frustrated at her friend who was gazing out the window vacantly.

“Yes, yes. Of course I heard you,” Tabitha replied, a little too insistent.

“Okay, so what’s his name?”

“Um, Walter?” Tabitha offered.

“No. His name is Matt, and you are not listening! If you’re not really interested, just tell me. I don’t want to set up a meeting and have you disappoint him.”

“I guess I’m not really interested,” Tabitha answered.

“It’s been years, Tabitha! You’re thirty and you’re going to turn to dust!”

Tabitha snorted in laughter. “No, I’ve got some time left. Seriously, you exaggerate a bit much.”

“What’s going on with you and the doctor?” Candace asked slyly.

“Dr. Braddock? No, um, nothing. I mean, I have been working with Milt more lately.  Instead of just cleaning I’m also helping him organized his office, but nothing has come of it; it’s just work.”

Nothing had come of it, except learning that he was researching quantum physics and how to travel in time. Not that she’d ever tell anyone. When she came clean and told him what she had seen, he begged her to promise not to reveal what she knew. In fact, he confessed that he already discovered the secret to time travel. Tabitha couldn’t deny that they were growing closer. She’d proven herself indispensable when she created a filing system for keeping his lab notes in order. It was obvious he appreciated her. Despite the age difference, she found him intensely interesting. Still, they’d probably always just remain friends.

“We’re just friends, Candace. We work together well, that’s all. I’m really organized; he’s not. He’s totally brilliant; I’m not.” Even in her denial, she couldn’t forget the dream she’d had about kissing him. She shook her head to dispel the thought. “Just friends.”

“You don’t even seem convinced of that.  And–I noticed how you call him by his first name!”  Candace smiled deviously.

“That doesn’t mean anything, Candace. Stop trying to read my mind. I’m just not, I just don’t need a man right now. Is that all right with you?”

“Okay Tabitha, that’s all you had to say. And don’t knock yourself; you are pretty bright.” She glanced at her watch. “Oops, gotta go. I’ll call you tomorrow!” Candace blew a kiss on the air and grabbed her jacket as she jogged out of the cafe.

“Okay, later Candace!” Tabitha had someplace to be as well. Dr. Milt Braddock needed help that evening organizing his tax papers. I could use the extra money, Tabitha reasoned. That’s all this is about.

She strolled out of the cafe slowly, picturing the smile lines around Milt’s eyes.  Smiling, she walked into a young couple.

“Sorry!” she called as they laughed and walked on.

“Daydream much?”  one of them replied.

I have got to get a grip, she thought.

**Read Detours in Time and learn what Milt and Tabitha discover together in the future. Available in Kindle, K.U., or paperback. Universal link:   Detours in Time Amazon link

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Holiday. #FFfAW

Photo credit (c) Dorothy

Everyone was boarding the boat early, except for these two.  They weren’t discussing anything.  The young man looked at ease, the girl, a little bit nervous.

The young man watching them briefly felt a twinge of envy.  They had each other and were sure to be embarking on a journey that would never be forgotten.  He had no one.  His friend had found the love of his life and was going away on a one-month honeymoon across the ocean.  Yes, this feeling was envy, but also a slight insecurity that his best friend was being stolen away, wouldn’t have as much time for him, and would completely change in his evolution from individual to husband.
“You all aren’t changing your minds, are you?”  he called.

His friend turned and smiled.  “No, no way!  Bailey’s just never been on a long boat trip.  Tell her it’ll be okay.”

With that, the young man walked up and hugged them both, praying they’d get back safely.

*163 words

Visit  Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  for other responses to this week’s photo prompt or to join the challenge, which ends today.  The story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words).   Thanks for reading!

Do Not Pass. #amwriting #FridayFictioneers

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

The boys were now both eighteen, and they celebrated with a trip to the Canadian Rockies.

“We’ve got to go to Edmund’s Pass!” Roma exclaimed.  “A friend in the forum told me about it.”

Billy rolled his eyes.  The forums.  Still, he had agreed to go.  Until he saw the sign and the overgrown dirt road.

“Come on, Billy!  There’s been a UFO landing there.  Let’s see it for ourselves.”

“By foot?  Hmm.  Forums,”  Billy chuckled, shaking his head.

“You’re only young once,” Roma stated, his eyes lit up.

“Onward!’  Billy raised his arm fearlessly.

Roma beamed and moved forward.

*100 words

*Friday Fictioneers is a weekly photo prompt challenge to write a Flash fiction piece of 100 words or less with beginning, middle, and end.  It is hosted at https://rochellewisoff.com/  Visit this week’s challenge and view the other offerings at  Rochelle Wisoff !

 

Tomboy. #FFfAW #flashfiction

 

Photo (c) Enisa

Tomboy, by Pamela Schloesser Canepa.  (c) 2018

It was a good memory.  Until it wasn’t anymore.

The sun shone vividly and bounced off of the rocks and the shallow water.  I admired my next door neighbor, Rolan, so much.  He was a little older, but I was a tomboy.  I was like a younger brother.

Yeah, right.

That was the day I became a woman, and there was no hiding it from Rolan.  He seemed disgusted.

“Now we gotta go home!”

“I’m sorry,”  I said.

“You need to quit tryin’ to be something you’re not.  You don’t belong out here with me.  Go to the mall with the other girls.”

On the way back, the tears burned my dirt-streaked face.  I hated that.  I was acting like a girl.  Maybe he was right.  I didn’t belong there.

Needless to say, we were no longer friends.  So I started going to the creek with Henry.  I choose where I belong.

~Approx. 163 words

 

Visit Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  for more information about this Flash fiction challenge!

“You Call this a Vacation?” #amwriting Friday Fictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bulltot

 

“This used to be a hospital?”  Roma asked, pictures flashing through his head.

“Yes, in fact…” the guide continued.

“Big deal,”  Billy grunted.  He should’ve known better than to come all the way here with Roma and his hippy mother and foreign dad, from, where was it again?  To stay in a room with no cable t.v., no pool, no cell service…

“I love History!”  Roma jogged over to a tour guide in costume.

“Let me tell you the horrors of this inner chamber!” The man said, ghoulishly.

An hour later, Billy emerged from the building a converted History buff.

~100 words~

 

**Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle at https://rochellewisoff.com/ and restarts every Friday with a new photo prompt.  Flash fiction stories are to be 100 words or less, with a beginning, middle, and an end.  Proper credit must be given to the owner of the photo.  Add your own by clicking the Inlinks button at the Sept. 1 post at rochellewisoff.com.  Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sisterly Love, Stated. A Poem.

Sisterly Love, Stated. A Poem(c) Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Here’s to the girl who pulled me out of my hard shell cocoon in the corner of the classroom, and dared me to break out and find another side of me. I love you.Don’t forget my friend from our old church school, who still prays for me to this day, though our lives have gone such separate ways.We are still some kind of sisters.And the one whose identity was a mystery to me. Oh, the questions I asked, ……….Please view the rest at Source: Sisterly Love, Stated. A Poem.

*Photo credit, Pixabay (Creative Commons)trust-649465_1280

#weekendcoffeeshare Merry Christmas/Hannukah!

coffeechristmas-1895053_1280Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Welcome to my #weekendcoffeeshare, hosted by parttimemonsterblog.com!  If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that the fact that today is both Christmas and Hanukkah is an astounding, symbolic uniting factor for our world, something we so desperately need right now!  Instead of focusing on differences, we should focus on what unites.  And because the coffee is so good and the coffee shop music so enlightening, I would truly feel this.  I am, at heart, a true optimist.  Sure, I fight negative feelings at times, but I always believe it is a battle worth fighting.

I’d also tell you that I’m still writing, though I told a friend the other day I felt very unfocused right now.  (I did, but that was a work issue.  My job challenges me so much right now).  Yesterday, I added 500-600 words to my latest full manuscript.  That’s a big deal, because it tipped me to over 48,000 words and I’m closing in on 49,000.  I won’t accept any less than 50K.  I allowed myself to extend beyond November, but I won’t allow stopping short.  (Get the Seinfield reference?):)  I did another flash fiction story; you can read it at http://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/flashfiction-this-time-shortstory-fffawchallenge/  I also discovered some new uses for the Author’s Den website.  I have never felt successful there, but they are showcasing Christmas poems and stories right now.  What’s a girl to do?  Write a Christmas poem and tag it as such!  So I did, and people have been responding to it! (This is after I figured out the Author’s Den password).  I also got all Christmas gifts wrapped yesterday, slacked around a bit, read a little, watched the IT Crowd, begrudgingly renewed auto insurance, and crashed, fatigued by 10 p.m.  Anyhow, here is the Christmas poem, as it reflects on my feelings of this season:

Christmas is in the Heart

copyright 2016

Gifts are wrapped,
hair is done
I’m ready for the arrival
of the chosen one.

To celebrate,
I’ll wear my best dress,
but it doesn’t really matter,
I must confess.

I’ve gotten all caught up
and I’ve lost sight
of the things most important
on this Christmas night.

Did I open my heart gladly
to someone in need?
It matters more
than the glitter on my tree.

And if I decided
that I could take time
to chat with a friend,
perhaps the joy is mine.

So if I am haphazard
with the wrapping of gifts,
decorating the tree,
or fulfilling each wish

Please understand
I, in my own way, take part
Christmas isn’t in the wallet,
but in my heart.

Friends, I wish you all the joy this holiday season can bring, whether from your family,  a loved one, a fuzzy dog or cat, or the joy you may bring to another unexpectedly.  Thank you for stopping by!  Please also visit http://parttimemonsterblog.com to see the other #weekendcoffeeshares and to submit your own as well!

Not for Me, the Wives’ Social Circle

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*Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Have you ever felt like a caged bird?  I’ve even felt that way in the midst of several other people.  They didn’t seem to be caged.  At times, I was just accustomed to it, and I made do, laughing and enjoying myself.  Though I must admit, there was always an underlying feeling of being trapped, and perhaps, a knowledge that I chose this trap myself.  This entry is not about marriage being horrible, and it is not to rant about the atrocities of my marriage, nor is it to slam the wives I was acquainted with while married.  It is just my experience, brought up by a thought that popped in my head after eighteen years, “Where are they today?”

This social circle of wives was something that formed whenever our husbands all went out together, or when there were celebrations, such as my son’s second birthday, or someone moving to a new house.   We bonded when our husbands made long treks to refill on beer or liquor so the party could go on. It made sense, though.  Most of our husbands had worked together in the Navy.  Many of them got out in their early twenties to pursue education, a job, a life in one place.  This was the age when we were getting engaged and married, and then pregnancies and babies came along.  We were all around the same age.  I was cut off from my high school friends.  Part of it is how shy I was in high school, another is, I never really attempted to keep in touch with any but maybe two close friends.  I can gladly say I’ve gotten better about that, though.

I started thinking about our little group of wives lately.  I just wondered about “The Millers,” whose baby was born weeks after I took my toddler with me and left my husband.  I even spoke to Mrs. “Miller” after leaving him, trying to be friendly by phone, explaining my side of the story since my husband was incredulous as to why I’d want to leave our marriage.  She gave advice.  Lots of advice, that mentioned seeing my husband, dating him, but living separate.  I was not interested in seeing him or dating him; I was interested in piecing my identity back together without him.  He was not to be trusted with my deepest thoughts; it seemed he would always twist them and use them against me.  I spoke to one other wife, “Mrs. Smith,” whose husband left her a few months after I left mine, and it was mentioned that they were partying together, hinting that maybe my husband’s newfound freedom looked good to him and influenced him to leave.  They also had a child, a one year old, at home.  Now, all of these friends drank heavily.  I am not implying that Navy men are heavy drinkers.  There are some who are not.  My ex-husband simply did not seek them out as friends.  I think I heard him refer to them as nerds, or too straight arrow.

It is not surprising that Mrs. Miller would encourage me to stay with my then husband; her own husband had already put her through all kinds of financial hell, and she stayed, for whatever reason, and that’s her own business.   Not surprising either that Mrs. Smith hinted at my ex-husband’s influence in her husband leaving her.  You see, it came out that she never trusted my husband.  She mentioned his “beady eyes,” and that when he came around (before we met), she knew that he and her husband were going to get drunk and rowdy.  What must she have thought of me?  Did they all think that?  Poor Pam, quiet, patient, she has to put up with all this.  Why does she put up with all this?  She must not feel she deserves any better.  I was a part of a circle of wives who looked down on me.  Who could blame them?  I sure didn’t choose my own friends.  There were many times I felt fear and desperation that I could share with no one, but my mother.  She herself worried that I had no one to really confide in.  At least, toward the end of our marriage, I was chummy with a young woman at work, and a man, who was married and I had no intention of fooling around with, yet it buoyed my spirit being his friend, and feeling I had an identity out of what my husband would choose for me.  Yes, I told my husband about these friends.  Needless to say, they were never invited over for dinner.  He tried to make me feel guilty for having a male friend, and to convince me the young woman must be too wild, because she hangs out at a certain country bar.

So, it is apparent that the wives’ club was in existence for convenience.  Throwing a party meant my husband’s friends and their wives were coming over. It was nice to have gals to talk to that were in similar experiences as mine as far as house buying, family planning, new parenthood.  But when I left my husband, it became apparent that they did NOT see me as a person separate from him.  I could not befriend them.  He would always be a fixture in our conversations.  When my best friend from high school moved back into town, as her husband’s job took them all over the Northeast for years, we’d get together and talk about what a loser my ex was, and yes, hers too. (He eventually became her ex).  We’d talk about what we wanted in a man, without any guilt.  We’d share book recommendations of women standing up for themselves and starting new lives.  That is what a true friend does.  When you envision ill-fortune befalling your ex, it’s so good to tell someone, and have her laugh with you, and say, I get it.  You are not judged; you are encouraged to share.  One good, understanding friend; that is better than belonging to any group of women.

It is only with a small hint of sadness that I think of them, and where their children are now.  College?  Marriage?  Good lives?  Hopefully not trouble?  I don’t pick up the phone or try to contact them on Facebook.  I am a different person now.  I will leave that life behind.  If I should run into them, I will smile and ask all the details about their children; I will truly wish them well.  After eighteen years divorced, I have developed my own circle of friends, through work, church,  former employment, even some high school friends with the help of Facebook.  That, again, is better than belonging to a circle of wives.  I may or may not be a wife again, and there’s nothing negative I imply about being a wife.  The point is, what I want to be is a loving person, a friend, a writer, a lover of life, dog lover, poet, and maybe the best I can be as a teacher.  That’s it; it is all I need to be part of, and I meet many lovely people in my life, several that I would call friends!

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