Category Archives: Seasonal Reflections

2015 – A New Blank Page

Another year of my life – and yours has just slipped away. A year in which I did much, but not nearly enough of what was on my maybe-unrealistic annual to-do list. But being of the self-flagellating persuasion, I just re-read my motivational post written exactly a year ago. No, the year did not fail me, nor I the year. But the overflow from last year’s projects and intentions will be more than sufficient to fill 2015. In this new year the emphasis will be a different one.
It will most definitely be on the writing. In fact, I’ve just been invited to join a secret society of writers, the sole purpose of which is motivational. Nothing like encouragement from other like-minded people to get you onto your backside in front of that computer (but, no, NOT on social media!!) to work at those stories brewing inside your being, to get them flowing from brain to arms to fingers tapping on keyboard. Thank you, new friends, for including me in this venture!
To other friends who find making plans and setting goals either futile or too daunting, I wish you a year that changes your mind. And maybe, in reality, those goals and plans do exist. You just aren’t opening your eyes.

dchubbardwrites

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Happy New Year to everyone out there in the blogosphere!

Last night we were invited to a party with old friends, good food, freely flowing inebriants and a fireworks display, solely for the purpose of celebrating the advent of the New Year. No doubt a great many of you did the same. And a great many of you (I won’t include myself since I was the designated driver) woke up at midday a bit worse for wear. Never mind. Who’s counting anyway?

Backtracking to 12:30 a.m, when the hubbub of cracking explosives, kissing and hugging, and the slurping of bubbly had subsided to a virtual quietude amongst the guests, I asked the fatal question:

Has everybody made their New Year’s resolutions?

And what exactly was on their lists?

The response was a deafening cacophony of denial. No one had bothered to make – or even think about – what they…

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Filed under Beginnings, Endings, Fiction and Other Truths, Seasonal Reflections

PEACE ON EARTH??

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The Peace Bridge author is getting ready to shut down this device for the Holidays and do lots of real-time interacting with family and friends for the next couple of days.
I’d like to wish you peace for Christmas. It is such a precious commodity for its being so rare. Every year the situation on the world stage seems to deteriorate that much more. Or are we just more aware of it, with our never-ending flow of news – BAD news!
There are brief flashes of good news. For example, two grandbabies have just been born – one of them is a friend’s, the other is our very first.What kind of legacy will we be leaving them?

Since I don’t believe in praying to God, I’m praying to you to reach out with a simple act to make the world a more peaceful place. You and I won’t be able to influence world politics to any extent, but if we start close to home, in our neighborhood and in our towns, maybe small kindnesses will swell into larger ones.
I’m thinking specifically of the refugees flooding into Europe from the countries that are war-torn and sinking into chaos. I’m thinking it’s time to do something hands-on to help make them more welcome in our societies which must appear so totally foreign to them. I’m thinking 2015 is the right time to pitch in with more than words. How does that old saying go?

Many hands make light work.

Yeah, that’s it!

Wishing you peace on earth.

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Filed under Beginnings, Christmas, Seasonal Reflections

INERTIA

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My last post was all about grabbing 2014 by the…hair on its head and making it count. Since I wrote it, I’ve read some other views on resolutions and must conclude that the word carries with it much too much hopelessness. Resolutions are made to be broken.

Going through my own private and personal “resolutions” for the New Year, I discovered I hadn’t even used the word when writing them. I’d written about GOALS, a more positive term, one associated with actually getting things done, a term used by businesses across the globe. So if I mean business, I must talk GOALS.

In the first few days of the year, I have to admit that exhaustion overcame me whenever I looked at the list of goals I’d saddled myself with. Everyone’s worst enemy (Well, it’s at least near the top of the list of the worst enemies we have to face…) is INERTIA. I spent 2013 NOT getting on with some very important goals. I blame it on inertia. I did, indeed, have some pretty good reasons for part of my inactivity. But they were not really good enough.

When I did have time to act, inertia was keeping me from getting that ol’ ball rolling, making me think: I really ought to get on with________ (insert any goal here). However, the project in question loomed on the horizon as an insurmountable mountain. So what have we got there?

Newton’s First Law at work! Our long-dead but favorite physicist Issac Newton (1642-1727) formulated it for us with scientific precision:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Newton’s first law describes an object’s desire to resist a change in motion. How often does that describe any one of us, busily doing our couch potato imitation?

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So do we give up and keep reading the newspaper or zapping the TV remote? That’s one conclusion we can draw. But somehow I discovered, if I could just bring into play the above-mentioned “unbalanced force”, maybe I could move my tushie.

I’m not exactly sure which force finally unbalanced my inertia, but something seems to have done so. Fourteen days into the New Year, I have actually started several of the projects  that are written in indelible computer screen ink. Sometimes all it took was a phone call or an email to set off a chain reaction that forced me to follow on with the necessary next step. Whatever works.

What this means, of course, is that the second part of Newton’s First, about an object in motion staying in motion, has now got me moving. And suddenly I’m thinking, INERTIA is probably my best friend. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Filed under Beginnings, Fiction and Other Truths, Goals, Seasonal Reflections

2014 – A Blank Page

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Happy New Year to everyone out there in the blogosphere!

Last night we were invited to a party with old friends, good food, freely flowing inebriants and a fireworks display, solely for the purpose of celebrating the advent of the New Year. No doubt a great many of you did the same. And a great many of you (I won’t include myself since I was the designated driver) woke up at midday a bit worse for wear. Never mind. Who’s counting anyway?

Backtracking to 12:30 a.m, when the hubbub of cracking explosives, kissing and hugging, and the slurping of bubbly had subsided to a virtual quietude amongst the guests, I asked the fatal question:

Has everybody made their New Year’s resolutions?

And what exactly was on their lists?

The response was a deafening cacophony of denial. No one had bothered to make – or even think about – what they could do with 2014.

It could be that I’ve been reading far too much motivational material to help psyche me for the work at hand, but I was surprised, and a bit disappointed at their reaction. Each of us goes to such lengthens to extend our lives, but to what purpose? Not that I’m suggesting we all have to take on unrealistic, unachievable goals, but maybe we should become more aware of the passing of time and how profligately we throw it out the window. For suddenly, we may find that the commodity we most cherish has run out on us.

A few days ago I took stock of 2013, how it let me down and how I let it down. Then I began thinking about my priorities for 2014. These kinds of assessments are very private and personal. They don’t have to be shared with anyone. So I don’t have to confess at the end of the year whether I succeeded or whether I fell short. Unless I want to. And as a typical member of the human race, I am more inclined to share the successes rather than the failures. But if I think about it, failures aren’t written in stone. I can keep working at those issues and maybe I can move them to the positive side of the balance sheet.

If I keep my eyes on my priorities, I can transform the blank page that is 2014 into a worthy story.

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Filed under Beginnings, Endings, Fiction and Other Truths, Seasonal Reflections

Clarification

…on yesterday’s post!

Someone emailed me and said there was a notice on the post saying “Comments are Closed”. No idea where that came from. It was not intentional, at any rate. Maybe I’ll succeed in making this mini-post were comments are, indeed, possible. Because I love your feedback, whichever way the wind blows.

My second clarification is to do with the content itself. Yes, I was bemoaning the letters from the charities. But hopefully, upon careful reading, it was clear to the reader that it is RIGHT for my conscience to be awoken at this time of year, as it needs to be all year long. And not only that, I have so many blessings in my life – even if I don’t accredit them to a god somewhere – that when asked what I’d like for Christmas, it seems a travesty to ask for anything while so many others do not have the simplest necessities for survival.

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Filed under Christmas, Seasonal Reflections

Deck the Halls

 

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It’s that time of year again when our heads are full of sugar plums – or at least the modern equivalent. To put it another way: We’ve got Christmas on the brain and can think of nothing except all the stuff needed for making it a great holiday for one and all.
It’s a bit of a spoiler, though, getting all of these damn letters looking for donations. The Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, ad infinitum. I made the mistake of reading one of them about the homeless young man in Hamburg who was probably going to freeze to death for lack of a warm jacket and any hot nourishment. Or the elderly lady whose pension is so small that once the rent and utilities are paid, there’s no money left for food. Then there are the Syrian refugees, desperate to be somewhere safe and also in need of food and clothing.
How dare they ruin my fantasy of the wonderful world out there, full of colored lights, Christmas trees and good times for all!
In fact, the damage is done. All those letters have made the rot spread in my brain. So whatever you do, don’t ask me what I want for Christmas. I’ve got more than I need of everything. Please make a donation to the organization of your choice instead, even if it is small and you feel like it couldn’t possibly make a difference. All those small contributions add up and will help. We must believe that! Of course, if that’s all too impersonal for you, maybe there’s someone in the neighborhood who could use a helping hand.

MERRY CHRISTMAS *****HAPPY CHANUKAH******

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Filed under Christmas, Fiction and Other Truths, Seasonal Reflections

MORTALITY

Call me morbid….

…if you like, but when November arrives, I, like many people, start thinking about the year’s demise. All around us, nature is delivering the same message, telling us it’s time to go inside, build a fire, eat nourishing hot food and uncork a bottle of red. Around us the politicians are still wrestling with their coalitions, with budgets and policies, with fiscal and Euro crises. As for me, I’m ready to hibernate like the forest and its inhabitants, ready to hunker down with thoughts, good books and good stories to tell. So indulge me this poetic post. I’ve been fiddling with this poem for years, this being its latest incarnation.

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TRANSIENCE

Like lovers bedded ‘neath night’s cloak,

Mist caresses Earth,

Till crows heralding dawn

Cry with startling  mirth.

They screech, they circle,

Black dots in the haze,

They light on the oak,

Bare and wizened with age.

Their conclave is brief,

Suddenly they scatter.

A lone duck quakes,

Settling the matter.

Fog fragments rise from folded hills,

Like remnants of a dream.

They disappear when daylight breaks.

They’re seldom what they seem.

Wind whispers through nearby woods.

A scarlet leaf breaks free.

It mounts and hovers, it pirouettes.

A gust carries it off to sea.

My lungs are filled with limpid air.

What scents do I perceive?

Dank leaves embracing forest floor?

Roses hoar-frost filigreed?

Orchard strewn with o’er ripe apples,

Their gifts to Mother Earth?

Crushed chestnuts tread along the path,

Not knowing their own worth?

What weighs upon my heart so heavy?

One more breath, I’m not deceived,

The heady scent of mortality

Is the shroud enveloping me.

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Filed under Endings, Fiction and Other Truths, November, Poetry, Seasonal Reflections, Writing

Rabbie Burns – another thought

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With the success of Burns’ Suppers across Germany – and I believe in lots of other places, too – it makes me wonder exactly why this event has become so popular.

Surely the significance of Burns’ poetry from over two centuries ago, mostly written in a dialect that needs translating for even us native English speakers to understand it, can’t be the true reason. With growing globalization, where more and more countries and peoples are becoming “homogenized”, Anglo-Saxon-ized, and losing touch with the culture that is their natural habitat, does it indicate a need to return to traditions almost lost? Or is it in itself a part of the globalization process? Are we successfully being sold a product, a lifestyle?

Or is it just a great evening out, a chance to dress up and drink whisky? What do the Scots out there have to say? Or anybody else, for that matter.

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Filed under Fiction and Other Truths, Poetry, Seasonal Reflections, Traditions

Rabbie Burns Rules Okay – a Foray into a Familiar Foreign Culture

Some men in bow ties and dinner jackets, others wearing skirts shorter than most of the women have on. That was the scene Saturday night at the Masonic Lodge in Frankfurt (Main) that has served for 5 years running as the place to be come late January around the date of Rabbie Burns’ birthday.  On this evening real-live-Scots and some wannabes, plus fans of Scottish country dancing and, above all, lovers of whiskey, donned their glad rags for a humble supper of haggis, neeps ‘n’ tatties.  For the last four years, we have attended the Burns’ Supper, organized by the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany, and think it a grand event for kicking off the year. Of course, a true Scot would have already done that on New Year’s Eve by celebrating Hogmanay, but this serves us foreigners magnificently.

As guests approach the Masonic Lodge on the Kaiserstrasse, they are greeted by the sound of bagpipes and drum. The next greeting comes in the form of a golden nectar served in the foyer. I’m not a whiskey drinker – although I love sniffing it – but this time they are offering a Glenlivet, a  smooth and mild tipple that even I savor.

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Besides being a sociable evening with friends, the event revolves around Celtic traditions and the veneration of Scotland’s best-loved poet. Robert Burns (1759-1796) is a cult figure among his compatriots. Despite his short life and his modest roots, he wrote poetry and lyrics in the Scottish tongue but also sometimes wrote in a more accessible dialect or standard English.  Rabbie was especially known as a lover of lassies and good whiskey. Which may partly explain his early demise.

Back to the haggis: For the uninitiated a haggis is a sheep’s stomach stuffed with ground innards, oatmeal and onions that is boiled in water and served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). Considering I don’t generally eat innards, I find it tastes surprisingly good. Which must mean it tastes nothing like liver, heart and whatever.

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After the soup it’s time for said haggis. The piper pipes, the drummer drums and a procession enters the hall with the cook carrying the haggis aloft on a silver tray decorated with super-sized sparklers to electrify the darkened room. Then Clark McGinn, a genuine Scot flown in for the job, takes center stage and addresses the haggis by enacting Rabbie’s poem (“reciting” would be too understated a term). For us mere mortals, the only hope of understanding the words lies in reading the text in the program as Clark holds worth. (Sometimes the German translation is the only clue to the meaning.) Yet that would be a shame. Far better it is to  listen to the sound of the archaic words and their musicality and watch the performance by a master of the art. At that moment the actual meaning is secondary.

After hunger has been satisfied and while thirst is still being addressed, the speeches begin. Andrew McNeill is the man of the evening. Andy is the incarnation of everything Scottish: full dress kilt, jacket and sporn. A beret is perched atop his white mane that flows unstoppably into his long fluffy beard. I spoke to him in the foyer at the outset and he told me he’d be speaking but it would just be ad lib. Well, he may be a Scot, not an Irishman, but he sure possesses the gift of the gab. He entertains us regally. His tales of Rabbie, spoken in a Scottish that even I can comprehend, are interspersed with the poet’s songs sung by Craig Herbertson, a man with a perfect voice for Burns’ music.

The next tradition follows: The address to the lassies by Clark McGinn,  followed by the address to the laddies by Sarah Kelso. Both speakers understand their subjects and gladly tease and cajole with faint praise and well-aimed barbs. There’s nothing more to be done but reconcile the opposite sexes on the dance floor. The Frankfurt Scottish Country Dancing Club takes over and instructs the many willing participants in various choreographed dances. What feels like chaos at the start becomes a lilting dance experience. And the American in me clearly identifies the heritage from whence our square dancing developed.

But end the evening must, and how else but with a circle of guests singing Auld Lang Syne.

For some inexplicable yet understandable reason, Burns’ Suppers are proliferating all over Germany. Let’s charge our glasses and raise them for a final toast to Rabbie who made the world a more entertaining place and to the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany – especially to Susan Tackenberg and Neville Anderson – who sponsor and organize the event each year. Thanks so much for a glorious evening.

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Filed under Poetry, Seasonal Reflections, Traditions

WINTER DESCENDS UPON US

And we thought we’d get away with it, not having a freezing White Christmas, not needing extra layers of protection. No, Siberia has moved in from the east to send shivers up and down our spines. So while you await pronouncements on more significant matters such as gun control in the US and Britain’s love/hate affair with the EU, I suggest you ponder this baffling question: when will DC Hubbard finally settle down to work on her next novel? If that doesn’t do it for you, consider this ditty from last February’s arctic spell.

FEBRUARY 2012

 An ill-tempered diva

Comes late to the ball

Making bloody-well-sure

She’s seen by all.

She arrives from Siberia

On Putin’s east wind.

She’s set me ashiver

Right down to my skin.

The Land’s now as frozen

As my ancient computer,

The ground dry and shriveled

Like a seventy-year-old suitor.

The woods are snowless

Their breadth and their length,

Paths lit by sunrays,

Devoid of all strength.

Mummified me,

Sheathed in layer upon layer.

Thank God for Thinsulate.

It’s a real lifesaver.

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Filed under Poetry, Seasonal Reflections