Our own Walking Purchase: Forest Bathing

I asked Gayle if she could think of an outdoor, quarantine-appropriate activity for the three of us— herself, me and the teenager.

She suggesting “forest-bathing” at Salisbury Township’s Walking Purchase Park.

According to Gayle’s research, forest-bathing is:

Forest bathing is the practice of slowly moving they the woods involving all senses. As you gently walk you breath deeply and it reduces stress, increase positive thinking, and energy levels.

Why not?

The park features several trails. We walked part of the yellow “Sweet Delight” trail and part of the red “Lenni” trail.

Gayle was disappointed we only walked about 2.5 miles, but I think the last mile was straight up hill— about 18 flights of stairs according to the Apple Health app.

Forest-bathing yielded a very Thoreau sounding journal entry for me.

I am surrounded by unblooming May flowers hearing the buzz of gnats as they swarm into my ears. There are birds chattering like squealing monkeys. The train hollers in the distance: a choo-choo bird.

A breeze cascades across the woods, a floral wave of rain drops and sunlight. I revel in the stillness.

The woods around me has a conversation, but as a human, can I learn the language?

When we got home, the teenager baked her grandmother’s famous corn bake— a recipe I believe she got in high school home ec classes. So it’s got to be 50+ years old.

Kicking off my birthday

Many things happen in May that I look forward to, primarily the blooming of my lovely pink roses and Lily of the Valley (both fragrances I adore.)

Lily of the Valley, May’s flower

Warmer weather normally arrives (though this year we had snow). The school year is winding down. And there’s an anticipation akin to the new year that good things are to come.

My birthday arrives smack dab in the middle of this week and I know it’s significance will be dulled by major work deadlines and the pandemic. We do have a three day weekend coming for Memorial Day, all of which was why I had hoped to take vacation the last week of May.

Nala and I: Nala’s New Trick

That issue has not been settled, so I decided to have some mild fun to at least acknowledge to myself my birthday. Which is #45.

I ordered a sit down hot meal last night, instead of my usual stress meal of 2,000+ calories of pizza. My dear friend and editing client William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series suggested that the teenager and I deserved the treat. Ironically, it was the same restaurant my husband picked for my birthday dinner last year, Two Rivers Brewing.

More on Bill and his BDSM-themed crime novels: Sunday evening briefing: My Time of Debauchery Ends

Last time I tried Two Rivers delivery service: Two Rivers Brewing Delivery

I ordered a crowler of the Banker’s Brown ale, the breathtaking peanut butter bacon burger, bacon apple mac and cheese, and Brussel Sprouts. My daughter and I feasted like queens.

Speaking of queens, I started watching Hulu’s The Great, loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. The costumes and sets are amazing. The script is witty and allows much thought of life and politics in that time period. I watched 5 episodes yesterday while doing housework.

The teenager had deserved a good meal as she had resecreened one of my bedroom windows.

She’s on the roof

A friend of mine texted early. He said it was a shame that people couldn’t celebrate properly because of the pandemic. But I pointed out that really nothing has changed. The teenager plans on baking me a cake— might be trying lemon cardamom this year. Cards still come in the mail. My friends and family have phones. And most restaurants have curbside or delivery.

I think the pandemic just removes a lot of the pretentious notions of what we need to survive and highlights how outdated the 40-hour workweek is. Employment for a lot of fields could be based on project completion versus time occupied at a desk.

I treated myself to a self-purchased birthday present today and thanks to the pandemic it comes with a free mask!

Dolls Kill

And this morning my mom surprised my with a few fun edibles (not THAT kind of edible) and a pair of tights.

Mom and Nala bonded and she approved of the teenager’s efforts in the garden.

So here’s hoping I can clean up this house and get my spirits to where they need to be to start the work week— and my birthday week— with enthusiasm.

Editing a new novel

I’m so excited. My dear friend William Prystauk has asked me to edit his upcoming novel, Debauchery, the third in a detective/erotic series that crosses genre lines and pushes boundaries while exploring themes about human relationships, our need for acceptance and love, and exploring our sexuality.

It’s some well-written, nail-biting stuff with a heart-wrenching gooey side. At least, that was my experience of his first two novels.

So when he lamented that his regular editor was too busy to serve him, I quickly raised my hand. Pick me! Pick me!

The manuscript arrived today.

Bill and I met more than a decade ago at an after-party for a book signing. A typical strange six degrees of separation story connecting us with mutual interests with intersecting paths.

I still remember the first time we exchanged samples of our written work. Sharing literary endeavors is the true test of whether a friendship between writers will work.

He sent me a chapter from Bloodletting which featured a murder via crucifixion in a church; and I sent him what was then chapter two of my working manuscript which featured two witches performing violent, bloody sex magic on an altar in a church.

Neither one of us knew the other was sending such sacrilegious work. Yet, we both sent samples of the most disturbing things we could think of to do in a church.

So Bill can trust me with his baby. Working on this manuscript will be my reward. And if any of you have questions for Bill, drop them in the comments. He’ll be glad to take a look. He also has a very cool podcast that has won some accolades.

For more on some of my adventures with Bill: see Samples of projects with Bill.

For my work on Bill’s horror movie web side: see Reviews by Angel Ackerman

A challenge for my readers

I keep a list of potential blog topics on my phone. That way if I feel like writing and don’t have an idea— there is one waiting.

But I’ve had a bad stomach ache for a while (I blame the food choices I’ve made over the last 24 hours) and I just don’t have the motivation to write.

For dinner last night I had half a medium pizza from Dominos (spinach feta), with Cheezy Jalapeño sauce from Little Caesars, half an order of BBQ bacon wrapped specialty chicken, half an order of Parmesan bread bites, Sweettart jelly beans, Yuengling, and Diet Coke. (While watching Hoarders.)

I had chocolate coconut cookies and peanut butter eggs for breakfast and the remaining half of the pizza smothered in crushed red peppers for lunch. And dessert was several handfuls of Tums and have a bag of generic jelly beans.

And several cups of coffee.

I have my first official library board meeting tonight, of my official library comeback tour, via Zoom but first a challenge…

First person to suggest a topic in the comments— I will write it.

You can take an idea from my list OR suggest your own.

Some of my ideas:

  • Anything related to Tarot
  • My parenting philosophy regarding teens and behaviors like drugs & sex
  • Eminem
  • My daughter’s observations after having her adenoids removed (hint: she “regrets” the surgery)
  • Cute cards with cats
  • Cats vs dogs
  • My stuffed animals
  • an overarching review of Gordon Ramsay’s television shows

Ready… Get set… GO!

March Library Excitement

My family has been involved with Mary Meuser Memorial Library for most of my daughter’s life.

From her preschool days to 2014 I served on the library’s board of trustees, including a couple years as president.

The Pennsylvania state library board urged libraries to enforce term limits on their boards and so I left after my second term, but my husband filled my post for the next six years. He also served as president.

Now his seat is open. So I reapplied. I will be rejoining the board of trustees this month.

In addition, my daughter (with her father’s support) hosts a writing workshop and open mic at the library on the third Thursday of the month. They have asked me to lead the workshop.

To promote myself, I submitted to their weekly poetry blog. See it here: Angel Ackerman featured on Stick Figure Poetry.

I will be hosting an interactive workshop on editing for word count, specifically on how to convey the most meaning with the least words.

The workshop begins at 6 pm, March 19, at Mary Meuser Memorial Library, 1803 Northampton Street, Easton, PA. In the annex.

For more about our library visit: Mary Meuser Memorial Library

Stream of consciousness: real talk

It’s almost 8:30 on a Saturday morning. This post will probably be babble, but I have a feeling it might resonate in a “real life” way. Like let’s not talk about Facebook perfect lives or fun on YouTube.

This is life with a teenager, a stressful job, three cats, three budgies and a Goffins cockatoo.

This is life. I have had the divorce papers in my possession for months but I just don’t want to sit down, fill them out, and file them. Not because I want to save my marriage but because it’s one more thing to do. It sometimes feels like my choices boil down to “file for divorce” or “do the dishes.” Neither situation will resolve without me taking the lead.

I can’t even articulate the chaos swirling around my head right now, let alone the chaos in it.

I have two parakeets flying around my head. One still timidly standing in his cage singing, not ready to come out. Wink, the blue budgie, has decided to eat the molding above my bedroom door (luckily not the visible side but the top) and fling chunks to the floor.

The big dumb cat raced into my room to sleep on my bed, and he looks just as perplexed as Nala does that critters are flying over head.

I did learn parrots can be potty trained. If you’re interested in that: Parront Tip: Potty Training. I also learned parrots need a lot of sleep. I should probably move my supper time to 6:30 or 7 so I can spend time with her and then put her to bed before I eat.

Today, I crawled out of bed at 6:30ish. In part, because Nala already knows when I get up for work and plucked a feather and screeched. The night before I had a bout of insomnia, not sure if it was hormones, work-stress or home stress but I only got five hours sleep. So getting seven hours last night felt magnificent.

Nala pooped on me right away, and all I had on was a t-shirt and underpants. We went to make coffee, feed the cats, and I made her tea. She pooped on me again. Time for a clean t-shirt.

I stepped on the scale and saw that I am almost back to my pre-holiday weight. I’m happy with that. I’m in a comfortable range. Now I just need to get back into routine with my weights.

I read one page of Zazi in the Metro (which I bought more than a month ago). The book club meeting is Friday. So much for that new social activity.

Booboo keeps investigating Nala. Speaking of Nala, between her and the kitten (whom the teenager now firmly believes is a boy) I think I have to cancel the trip to DC I was planning next weekend. I’m really disappointed. I know the teen can stay home and care for the pets. But it’s too soon for me to leave Nala. And I can’t take her to be boarded because that’s where I got her and she’ll think she’s been abandoned.

And I also noticed she’s not banded. Most birds are registered and have a band on their ankle. Nala does not.

Update: The progress of 2019

In late October, I made a list. There were several progressive steps on that list.

1. Buy a car.

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8t with 21,000 miles on it. That car has been 95% as comfortable as my Nissan Ultima 3.5se. But exponentially better in the snow. The trunk is ginormous. My phone syncs.

2. Find a professional job.

I recently accepted, started the paperwork and applied for my fourth set of clearances to work with ProJeCt of Easton as their development coordinator.

I have had a great time pulling my professional wardrobe out of storage.

3. Write (and publish) more.

Okay, so my most recent publishing success was my ditty on Dime Show Review’s “Ten Word Stories.” I also have a recent essay on the horror website Crash Palace Productions. And more in the works.

In an editing related endeavor, my friend Gayle and I are advertising our joint services, editorial and graphic design, to the attendees at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group The Write Stuff Conference.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.

This one has been hit or miss. I eat pretty well, but I like going for the extra vegetables and more fruit. I’m not a big fruit eater.

And on the honest side, I need to stop stress eating refined carbohydrates.

5. Get more serious about bodybuilding.

Now I will never be athletic, and even my most competitive side would never have the dedication and patience it takes to truly body build. But I like working on it, and since I am changing jobs I need someway to maintain my muscle tone and weight.

6. Be consistent with the pets.

I have parakeets now. And we need to brush the cats’ teeth more.

And poor Opie, he recently had his left front leg amputated. So, yes, I now have a three legged cat.

How’s your 2019?

Book review: William Prystauk’s Bloodletting

It has felt like ages that I’ve wanted to read William Prystauk’s Bloodletting—  so I purchased this new edition with great anticipation.

The book description and cover make it quite apparent that Bloodletting merges genres and has its own style: part mystery, part love story, quite erotic, yet all romantic. The character of Denny Bowie and his viewpoint present a man who won’t compromise who he is, brimming with intelligence, counter-culturalism, passion and curiosity. 

Denny’s lifestyle won’t appeal to everyone and his fantasies and desires may make some readers squeamish. In the end, Denny merely wants to find the person(s) who accepts him and loves him for who he is. 

The mystery combines murder, sex and greed. Prystauk artfully and ingeniously uses multiple techniques to weave a first-person narrative that includes information and scenes that Denny did not witness.

The characters throughout the story never fall flat. Every one of them has a flaw or a trait that builds them as real people and not the stereotypes they could be because of their involvement in the BDSM community. 

By the end of the book, I had to know the answer to the mystery and even once that was revealed there was still the emotional denouement of what would happen between Denny and his love interest(s).

Dime Show Review has my ten word story live

Last weekend, I got the news that Dime Show Review will publish my ten word story, “Stoicism.”

While still working in the newsroom, I earned the reputation of “word count goddess” so I thought a ten-word story was a challenge I could enjoy.

It’s now live, so check out Dime Show Review.

https://www.dimeshowreview.com/stoicism-by-angel-ackerman/https://www.dimeshowreview.com/stoicism-by-angel-ackerman/

Journaling across generations

I started keeping a journal after a writing workshop at University of Pennsylvania that I attended as a high school student. I kept them faithfully for at least a decade, tapered off in my consistency after the birth of my daughter, experimented with forms (most recently adapting a bullet journal style) and renewed my habit in the last few years but still not with the same devotion I once did.

I used to fill a standard cheap journal in a month. Larger, fancier volumes took longer. I color coded a lot of my text. One color for fiction, one color for poetry and another for personal experience. That sort of thing.

The blank ones included sketches. Briefly, I used calligraphy pen and even briefer a fancy fountain pen.

My current fascination is Alphabooks, blank journals in the shape of alphabet letters. I found the A on clearance. My husband had recommended his mother buy me the N for Christmas as it is the second letter of my name, but I fooled them and mentioned if I had the chance I would continue the series with B and write alphabetically.

I also have an affinity for Sharpie pens. I bought a set in August 2016 and they are still going strong.

Eventually, my journals ended up in a box in the attic. Or, several boxes, more accurately.

My now 13-year-old daughter has always been captivated by the written word, always written in notebooks, constantly starting projects and ripping out pages (and never finishing). She has started working on her own stories, but journaling hasn’t held her interest.

 

But she keeps asking to read my journals. I cringe.

I tell her she needs to remember that journals have a lot of angst in them, a lot of unfiltered, unedited thoughts and that what I say in these journals might not always be… well… nice or even what I would say on a different day. And some of my tales might color her opinion of the people she knows, even her own family.

But she keeps asking.
I bought her a nice journal for Christmas. And a HUGE set of Flair pens. She has journaled for 15

days straight. She starts on her journaling journey as I wonder if mine has been worth it. Who wants to read that drivel? There are so many volumes are they worth sifting through? Do I say hateful things?

She asked again. She volunteered to get them from the attic. We sorted through the boxes and at some point I had labeled the cover of the journal with the major events of that time period. I selected a pile of about ten I said she could read.

She started with the journal that included when her father and I got married.

She’s read me excerpts: story ideas I’d forgotten about, adventures and misadventures,

my life as a vegetarian. My favorite thus far has been a poem about my nephew when he was about 3, and a page where he scribbled in my journal. Then my daughter found a journal where she was 2, and I let her scribble in my journal.

So I guess those journals are worth something.