Tag Archives: summer

Three Reasons Why June is A Great Month for Writing


by Lillian Csernica on June 8, 2018

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All good stories begin with a change in the status quo, the problem situation, that plunges the main character into turmoil. Change is the writer’s best friend, and June is a month full of changes. In many cultures, the biggest changes in a person’s life are marked by rites of passage. June is a great month for two very important rites:

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Graduation

The transition from one level of education to another is always significant. Kindergarten to elementary school, from there to middle school, and then the big move to high school as the launch pad for college. Mainstream students deserve to celebrate their achievements, those who struggle and those who shine. Today’s world places so many demands on children while at the same time burdening them with so many distractions. It’s a wonder so many students can focus long enough to do so well.

Yesterday my family attended the graduation ceremony for my older son Michael. At 22 he has now aged out of the school district’s post-graduate program for seniors in the county special education class. This means leaving the learning environment and the network of teachers, aides, therapists, bus drivers, and the registered nurse who have all been part of Michael’s life since he was 3 years old.

With the help of his classroom aide and one of his adaptive communication devices, Michael made a speech that included a little bit about himself, two of his favorite jokes, and a warm thank you to all the people who have helped him come so far. When you live in the world of special needs families, you celebrate every sign of progress no matter how small. Michael and the 6 other students also graduating today demonstrated the passion, dedication, patience, and love present in the parents, teachers, and administrators gathered there. So many stories worthy of being told.

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Weddings

June is a favorite month for weddings. Clear skies, lots of sunshine, and plenty of flowers make for ideal conditions, indoor or outdoor. Summer weather also means a wider selection of honeymoon destinations. The happy couple is about to embark on a whole new phase of their lives together.  There are all those people, the family and friends, who wish the pair getting married all the best. Then there are those people who…don’t.

I’m of an age now where I’ve been to several weddings. As a writer I know that any large event that brings together intense emotion, lots of money, family dynamics, and alcohol is going to bring out the best and the worst in people. Given that most weddings also drag God and the Law into the situation, there’s so much pressure to meet so many expectations. Put all this together and what do you get? Conflict! The key element of any strong story.

Here’s a quick list of my favorite wedding movies:

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Muriel’s Wedding

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Shrek

Pride and Prejudice (Yes, the one with Colin Firth.)

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The Summer Solstice

Summer is the season of freedom. Long days, short nights, no school, family vacations. We can all call to mind a family vacation where at least one thing didn’t go as planned, leading to the kind of drama that makes a story worth telling.

The Solstice itself is celebrated all over the world. No matter how far we get in terms of advanced technology, everybody wants to make sure the sun keeps rising and setting. The summer solstice marks the waning of the sun. No wonder summer is full of so much partying! Midsummer Eve is known for being one of those occasions when the veil between the worlds grows thin, much like Halloween. Gateways, boundaries, borders, and other points of transition are all natural settings for big changes and great stories.

For more on the folklore attached to the summer solstice, click here.

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Filed under classics, creativity, fairy tales, Family, family tradition, Fiction, Halloween, Lillian Csernica, marriage, mother, parenting, romance, special education, Special needs, travel, Writing

My Stress Managment is Too Stressful


by Lillian Csernica on June 30, 2016

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How do I manage my stress?

  • At the end of the day, I watch TV
  • I go to the library and write in my journal or my work notebook.
  • I get out in the sun and enjoy Nature.
  • I play with my cats.
  • I see my physical and mental health care professionals.

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How do these activities increase my stress?

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  • Are you familiar with the term “binge watching”? There are a number of TV and cable shows available on Netflix, Hulu, et al. Some of my favorites include “Person of Interest,” “Once Upon A Time,” various Food network shows, and a few that try to document paranormal activity. One episode is just like one potato chip. One is never enough. Even though it’s summer, I still have to get up at 6:30 a.m. for Michael’s morning routine.  If I stay up too late watching TV (and I do), I don’t get enough sleep. Less sleep = more stress.

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  • Libraries are no longer the Sacred Sites of Silence. I often find a remote corner, depending on the time of day, but even so, noise travels. Shrieking toddlers, teenagers with no concept of muting their phones and themselves, and the endless clicking of everybody’s laptop keyboards. Makes me crazy. If it’s a bad time of day, I retreat to Denny’s. Yes, it’s noisy, but in Tourist Season, I’m OK with that.

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  • Santa Cruz County is full of beaches and national parks and redwoods. We’ve got artist colonies and museums and aquariums. And yes, this means we’ve also got Tourist Season. Generally speaking, I like tourists. I can take a stroll down the Boardwalk and hear three or four foreign languages being spoken. What stresses me out is the traffic. People who don’t know Hwy 17, Hwy 9, and the major artery streets can get confused, which means they slow down. Then there are the people who insist on going insanely fast no matter where they are.

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  • It’s summer. I have three cats who are all shedding. One is a black longhair who decided to hack up the mother of all hairballs on the stairway landing some time last night. The last thing I want to see first thing in the morning is some big furry disgusting mess on my stairs, especially when there’s a good chance it might be alive. I live in a somewhat more civilized area than I have in the past two towns where I’ve lived, but we still have all kinds of flora and fauna that can and do take me by surprise.

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  • Now we come to the big issue of the moment. I’m having trouble with my heart. Arrhythmia, which is no big deal. At least I hope not. I had an attack today that lasted long enough to make me consider going to Urgent Care. I made an appointment with my doctor. The thing is, my general practitioner is over the hill in San Jose. That means I’ll be driving Hwy 17 tomorrow. Tomorrow is the Friday of the 4th of July Weekend. That means on my way home I will be dealing with everybody on the face of this part of the planet who wants to spend the holiday weekend at the beach. On a slow day Hwy 17 is a nightmare. Just thinking about it stresses me out. I didn’t realize the logistics of the drive until after I’d made the appointment. Doesn’t matter. I have to see my doctor. This is one of those things that just can’t wait.

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Filed under doctors, Family, frustration, hospital, Lillian Csernica, nature, reality TV, research, specialists, therapy, worry, Writing

A Lesson in Priorities


by Lillian Csernica on June 6, 2016

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Ever had one of those days when no matter how hard you try, life just keeps getting between you and what you’re trying to accomplish?

Today fought me from the minute I dragged myself out of bed.  Phone calls, interruptions, distractions, failures to communicate.  This resulted in me being late picking up John at school, something I try my very best to avoid.

When I was a little kid, my mother had occasion to leave me with babysitters or at day care centers.  Either Mom wasn’t good at time management, or life got in her way too, because she was often quite late picking me up.  When you’re six, this causes the kind of anxiety that scorches your little tiny soul for life.  I don’t EVER want John to feel that.

Once I picked up John, he alerted me to the sudden need for two dozen cupcakes.  P.E. class will be having a BBQ to celebrate the end of school.  The cupcakes are John’s contribution to the feast.  OK.  Since I had to drive to the store with the best bakery, I did a few other errands in that part of town.  One resulted in upsetting news.  The other took three times longer than I’d anticipated.

Tomorrow is the Spousal Unit’s birthday.  I also have a group luncheon to attend.  I have to duck out of that early because we’re interviewing new R.N.s for Michael.  Summer school is bearing down on us and we really need more help.

So I’m a little stressed out, right?

I get home with John to discover my sister has rescued a baby robin from the clutches of our male cat, Hunter.  (That’s his name, job description, species niche, and favorite occupation.  Not bad for a single word. )  We suspect the baby fell out of its nest, because it’s too young to fly.  My sister set it on a branch in the camellia bushes out of the cats’ reach and we shut all three feline predators inside the house.

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I fed the baby robin some water with a small syringe.  We watched and waited, hoping its mother would appear.  Even if she did, how would she return her baby to the nest?  This was not a happy situation, especially with John looking on hoping everything would be OK.

Night was closing in.  I took the baby robin to the local native animal rescue.  Finding the place involved a wild ride that is exactly what kept me from getting my own car for so many years.  God and the police must have both been feeling kindly toward me.  I finally found the rescue center, which was part of a private residence.

Now came the hard part.  I had to leave the baby robin there and walk away.  I sat in my car and cried for a while.  I can call in a day or two and see how things are going.  I dread doing so, for all the obvious reasons.

What’s important here is no matter how horrible today was, once that baby bird turned up, everything fell into a very simple perspective.

Save the baby bird.

A while back I wrote a blog post about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.  All the stress I’m mired in right now fell away before that one clear priority.

Save the baby bird.

I’ll let you know what happens.

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Filed under birthday, cats, Family, frustration, Goals, Lillian Csernica, mother, nature, neurodiversity, parenting, veterinarian, worry, Writing

N is for Nowhere (the Middle Of)


by Lillian Csernica on April 16, 2016

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In Everybody’s Autobiography, Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, CA, “There’s no there there.”  This is not true of Oakland, but I have seen many places where there’s just nothing there.

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On one of our trips to Ohio, Daddy decided to take the southern route on I-15, which meant driving through a whole lot of very hot Nowhere in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.  We had to put beach towels on the car seats.  If I didn’t, and I was wearing shorts, my skin would stick to the slick upholstery.  Peeling myself off of that was no fun at all.  Have any of you ever had to do that?

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Off California Interstate 5, just before you get to the Grapevine, there’s a little town called Lost Hills.  The last time I was there (late ’80s/early ’90s), the town consisted of one stoplight, one gas station, a Motel 6, and one lonely tumbleweed blowing around in the hotel parking lot.  I’ve always wondered where the people lived who worked in Lost Hills.  Maybe they all stayed at the Motel 6.

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My mother likes to travel.  This includes booking bus tours out of the local community center or some other local organization.  I’ve always been fond of castles, so when Mom decided to go to Hearst Castle she took me with her.  Hearst Castle is located in San Simeon, CA, two hundred fifty miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It’s in the middle of nowhere quite literally because the ranch it sits on includes two hundred fifty thousand acres!  Hearst Castle also sits atop some really steep mountains, so getting there was a challenge.  I was profoundly grateful to know Mom had the sense to leave the driving to a professional tour bus driver.  If coming home from Pasadena had been difficult, getting to and from Hearst Castle could have been a nightmare!

On the drive back from Las Vegas, where Pat and I had attended KillerCon, it was cold and dark and very empty outside our car windows.  Then a sign appeared, a sign with the three words you see in the photo above.  Out in the middle of nowhere, near the Interstate 15 and Hwy 286/288 interchange, in perfect territory for an alien abduction, stands the Alien Fresh Jerky store.  I tell you, “Hotel California” by the Eagles might as well have been playing in the background.  We had to investigate.  How often does an opportunity like this come along?

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Pat got lost in the hot sauce aisle.  Neither of us had ever seen so many different varieties of hot sauce in one place.  I like Thai food so I’m OK with spicy, but some of the labels on those hot sauce bottles should have included HazMat symbols.  Ye gods!

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Filed under Blog challenges, classics, Conventions, editing, Family, family tradition, Food, Humor, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, mother, parenting, research, science fiction, Small business, travel, Writing

Something Completely Different


by Lillian Csernica on February 28, 2015

 

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My writing has most often taken the forms of fiction and nonfiction.  What most people don’t know is that I have written poetry.  When I was in high school, I decided sonnets were my favorite form, and of the five variations, I enjoy Spenserian sonnets the most.  Alas, I am not much good at writing sonnets.

In the course of my experiments with poetry, I’ve come up with six examples I consider worth keeping.  Given that we are on the brink of Spring, I will share with you the poem I wrote that best suits the oncoming season.

 

 

CHILD OF ETERNITY

Child of the summer dawn

Child running on the lawn

Singing high and sweet and clear

Never known such pain and fear.

Sweetest Babe, O Blessed Child,

Save me from this world so wild

Running free to chase the sun

You’ve no battles to be won.

Lucky child, no age have you

Dancing on the morning dew

Never old, you’ll ever be

Deep within the heart of me.

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