Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mark Koopmans: Where I Live and Why I Like It

My guest today for "Why I Like Where I Live" is a popular blogger who actually lives in paradise, and his answers to the questions prove it. Mark Koopmans is a writer and blogger whom I've followed for two or three years now. His blog Aloha! Mark Koopmans says Hi from HI is always entertaining. Being from the island James Joyce was from, it should be. He's a stay-at-home dad of three boys. I can imagine the joy and happiness they share on a daily basis. Those are three lucky boys. But, enough from me. Let's let Mark speak for himself.

1.      Geographical Information:
Country: USA
State or Province: Honolulu
City or Town: Honolulu
District within City or Town: Pearl Harbor

2.      Is there any place in your area that’s considered a pilgrimage site, such as a religious shrine? If so, have you been there?
There are several, but probably the most famous is the USS Arizona Memorial. Apparently, it is the #1 free tourist attraction in the state of Hawaii, and after visiting there many times with friends and family, it certainly is a must-see.
3.      Is there a site that has special meaning for you?
One of the most recognizable landmarks on O’ahu is Diamond Head

I can see the extinct volcano from our front door (it’s not very close, but I can see on a direct line!) To me, this is one place that symbolizes the history of Hawaii.
4.      Is this where you were born and/or grew up? If not, how did you come to live here?
No, my wife is active-duty U.S. Navy, so we’ve been here on O’ahu for three years – and have one more left before we head to places as-yet unknown. (I’m originally from the island of Ireland – “only I’m not on my island” (name that movie for 10 bonus points :)
5.      What do you like best about where you live?
It never, ever, not once snows.

6.      Do you plan to live here the rest of your life?
 I wish.
7.      Do you have family in the area, or have you ventured out on your own?
No official family, but have made friends with other military families.
8.      Are you happy where you live?
See question #5 :)
9.      For tourists, what would you recommend seeing?
If you can get access to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, I would check out the historical sites on Ford Island

The Bishop Museum is amazing,

 as is the Polynesian Cultural Center, and if you want a quiet(er) beach than Waikiki—check out White Plains Beach.

10.   What do you do for entertainment where you live?
I’m a stay-at-home Dad, so we go out on field trips several times a week. There’s no professional soccer or baseball team on Oahu, but there is so much else to see, including a drive to the famous North Shore.
11.   If you’re a writer, have you included where you live in the settings of any of your stories? If you’re a painter, have you painted any of your area’s features?
Not a painter and haven’t included anything of Hawaii in current WIP, but if the chance comes up, I will.
12.  Would you recommend others to move to where you live? Why?
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to live in Hawaii?
 Feel free to add any other relevant information you might want to mention.

Thanks, Richard, for including me as a guest blogger today! Blessed with the chance to live in paradise, we will always look back on Hawaii with very fond memories :)

Thank you for sharing a bit about your life with us. BTW, I'll be in O'ahu next week looking for a place to stay for a couple of weeks. What's your address? Just kidding. I think you do live it paradise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm in a funk, a writing and painting funk

I'm in a funk right now. I can't seem to write or paint. The last painting I worked on made me want to gag. Do I dare post it here for you to gag on as well? They say misery loves company. I'll think about it as I write this post.

My last short story presented to Critique Circle garnered some comments for improvement that means I'm actually going to have to work on the story again, actually do some serious re-writing, if I want to make it better. Of course that depends on whether I agree with some of the criticism I've received. I've yet to really concentrate on it, because I'm in this funk and can't get out.

I have one more story to present to Critique Circle, but, because I'm in this funk, I just can't go through the simple steps involved. One of the problems is that I filled up my jump drive and had to change it out for a new one. In order to post the story to C.C. I'll have to plug in the previous jump drive, but I'm in too much of a funk to bother with it.

Add to that that my printer quit working and has been down for about a week, and I was seriously thinking about buying a new printer, for which I have no money, it has added to my funkiness, and my reluctance to write, because I must have a printer to write. Yes, in this electronic, paperless world we nominally live in, I must have a printer in order to work. I have to hold something in my hand to read that I can actually write on, scribble on, cross out, add in, and crumple up and throw in the trash can if I don't like it (I don't want to throw my computer in the trash can if I don't like what I've written.) I know there's an electronic trash can I can throw the document into on the computer, but I need the tactile sensation of crumpling it up first.

I was fooling around with my printer, trying to figure out what was wrong, when I came across a page that gave me the option of chatting live with someone to troubleshoot and fix my printer (maybe), so I chatted with someone in India, no doubt, and I believe he fixed the problem. The only problem is that I'm out of black ink (I wasn't out of black ink when I began the chat session) and must buy another canister of it before I can test the printer to see if it really works. I've got to get enough out of this funk to go buy another canister. That means I have to leave my house. That's something I like to do--leave the house--because it gives me an excuse to avoid working, which I need because I'm in a funk anyway.

Any suggestions on how to get out of this funk?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tanya Reimer: Where I live and why I like it.

My first guest post for my new series 'Why I Like Where I Live' is by my longest blogging friend: Tanya Reimer. I met Tanya through the Agent Query Connect website maybe three or four years ago. We've critiqued each others work and shared some personal family stuff. But there's still more I'd like to know. Her guest post today has helped me to get to know her a little better. 

Here are Tanya's answers.

Where do you live?

Canada, Saskatchewan, “On the Prairies”.

What makes our community so unique is that it’s not a city, town, or even a village. It’s a rural community, which means most of the population lives on farms, not in the hamlet itself. In fact, only about 40 people live in the “hamlet” part, yet the school has over 85 students and when we throw a community festival we see around 200 people who come from farms or surrounding towns.

Is there any place in your area that’s considered a pilgrimage site, such as a religious shrine? If so, have you been there?

Religion has always been a big part of this community. It was the French Catholic priests who encouraged settlers to found it in the late 1800 and early 1900s. Over the years, it has seen three churches, having one lost to a fire before it was even finished.

As for shrines, there is a pretty cool one. It was built back in the 1950s. We call it La grotte (the grotto).

There is also the Saint Maurice statue that stands in the shadows at the cemetery. It’s symbolic. When the settlers first moved here, they used St Maurice in the name to identify that the town was not the same one as their hometown in Belgium.

Is there a site that has special meaning for you?

I think of my community in terms of feelings, not spots, which makes it hard to brag about. There’s the spot under the trees by the school where I bring my friends when they need to cry because time stands still there.

Oh! And the path I took when I had a breakthrough in the world’s most complicated plot.

The creek is always a nice place to visit when I need strength. It is full of life from turtles to beavers. 
If I brave walking in it, there are insects and fish that freak the heck out of me.

And of course, there’s the cemetery where I go when I want to feel the wisdom of all my ancestors. Because even if I didn’t know them, living here makes me a part of their lives, because each one made this place home and that means they left a trace of themselves behind in the school they built, the rink they worked in, the church they tried to save…each one is a story I wish I could share.

Is this where you were born and grew up? If not, how did you come to live here?

I feel like I did all my growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We live here by choice. My husband and I went on an adventure after we finished school and found a city we liked. One night we were sitting on our tiny little step overlooking a ‘green space’—well not our step, we were renting a room in a basement that was not home—and across the way, children gathered. With a content sigh, we said to each other that one day our children could play in that park…only there was no laughter or running, and the children were not smiling, in fact they were up to no good which we found out soon enough. I don’t even remember a debate. We packed up and moved to our new ‘home.’

We bought a house that needed love, but it has a huge front step that overlooks a play park. Yup, we live here by choice. Some say it has nothing, yet when we sit on our steps, we see children playing and running and laughing and, somehow, it has everything.

What do you like best about where you live?

The connection I feel to the prairies.

For tourists, what would you recommend seeing?

This really depends on the tourist. One guy said, he was shocked when he heard silence for the first time in his life. No ticking clocks, no humming fridges, just…silence. I had no idea that was a tourist attraction…but he was amazed by it.

I see some who park on the side of the road and take pictures of wheat fields, pump jacks, sunflower fields, grain elevators, deers…and they are enthralled by these common things.

Others need a little more excitement and for them, learning to drive in a blizzard is more what I’d recommend. (Just kidding. Don’t drive in a blizzard, grab a book and stay warm.) Seriously though, if you like adventure come in the winter, it’s much busier. Hockey, curling, dances, violin concerts, and snowmen to build…we’re busy.

Now, there are a million treasures out on the prairies. Every year we go for an adventure to discover a new one. We loved the tunnels in Moose Jaw, and the Native American dancers at White Bear. Oh! the settlers village at Cannington Manor and the dinosaur bones at Eastend were great hits,too.

This year we’re going to Fort Walsh and to discover a few more of our parks.

Saskatchewan is really BIG. I remember visiting a lake when I was a kid by a volcano. It was beautiful and I want to take my kids there, but no one remembers where it was in Saskatchewan! LOL.

If you’re a writer, have you included where you live in the settings of any of your stories? If you’re a painter, have you painted any of your area’s features?

As a writer, I find the tranquility of the prairies haunting all my stories. I find that even nature has a personality all of its own. The wind reacts to the moods and sets the tone. The storms stop or push the plot. Even in the quiet of the fall, the Northern Lights seem to whisper secrets as they dance across the skies.  Nothing is more romantic than sitting on a square bale with snow lightly falling and the skies coming to life for my hero’s enjoyment.

Would you recommend others to move to where you live? Why?

I would, but dang, if ya’ll move here where the heck will I go to hear the silence?

You can learn more about Tanya at her excellent blog Life's Like That.
Also, I'm a guest on her blog today, answering her questions about where I live.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Photos I took at Neptune Beach as Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur passed by perhaps 100 miles off shore.

With the storm passing by I thought it would be an excellent chance for some good photos. The storm did not let me down. My camera is a simple Kodak digital point and shoot. It's my only digital camera. Someday, I'd like to upgrade. But you can take good photos with a simple camera. 

It was quite breezy and hot and the waves were more rapidly approaching than they were high, though they were high enough. There were quite a few people at the beach. Not like there'll be today, though, or this July 4th weekend. Having a swimming pool in my backyard, I don't frequent the beach as much as I would if I didn't have one. But, the beach is a special place, as these photos suggest. I must go there more often.

Passing through the sand dunes to reach the beach is like a rite of passage. It always raises my sense of expectation.

Then you step out onto the beach, and there it is.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
(John Mansfield, 'Sea Fever')

Need to rest for a moment on the path to...?

There are some beautiful homes here.

Want to meditate for a while, while looking at the rising sun?

Van Gogh would have loved this place...

and this place too.

I hope you enjoyed looking as these photos as much as I did taking them.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What I Like About Where I Live

Through blogging and other internet activity, I 'know' many people whom I would like to know better. One day I came up with the idea of having guest posts by my national and international internet friends about where they live.

Where we live, what we like about it, with whom we live, what we like to do for recreation, so on and so forth, tells us a lot about ourselves.

The response to the initial invitations has been excellent. I've already got several people lined up for guest posts. (If I've invited you and you responded 'yes' but haven't heard from me, then I didn't receive your answer. Please resend it.)

I hope that through these guest posts we all get to know each other a little better. And don't be surprised if one day you receive a request from me to tell us about where you live and what you like about it.

My first guest post will be on July 7th.