Expanding my horizons– writing a book taking place in Cuba

Are you considering travel to Cuba? Or better yet, have you been there? I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about Cuba. Travel agencies are responding to the high demand for educational journeys to this cultural gem. Cruising to and around the island country is the most popular. I’d love to explore the coast between Havana and Santiago de Cuba.  There’s a nature reserve on Isla de la Juventud, and that is only accessible by sea.  There are getting off the ship points in order to connect with Cuban people and their culture.  Visitors learn about arts, history, cigar production, baseball, and Ernest Hemingway when he lived in Cuba.

Neighbors who told traveled to Cuba a few months ago raved about the sweetness of Cubans. I hope all is stable politically so that we can continue a connection with Cubans and their way of life which is very restrictive under communism.  This aspect is an underlying theme in my book, One Night in Havana, coming soon from Tirgearr Publishing.

Havana

 

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The Juno mission to Jupiter brings new data!

Juno mission to Jupiter delivers first science results last week. The photo below is from the JunoCam, a visible-light camera, about a NASA spacecraft.

Jupiter

This is a report from the Southwest Research Institute. In summary NASA’s Juno mission has been in orbit around Jupiter since July 2016, passing within 3,000 miles of the equatorial cloudtops. The mission was led by Dr. Scott Bolton.

King of the planets even more exotic than expected. “What we’ve learned so far is earth-shattering. Or should I say, Jupiter-shattering,” said Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator. “Discoveries about its core, composition, magnetosphere, and poles are as stunning as the photographs the mission is generating.”

The solar-powered spacecraft’s eight scientific instruments are designed to study Jupiter’s interior structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Two instruments developed and led by SwRI are working in concert to study Jupiter’s auroras, the greatest light show in the solar system. The Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) is a set of sensors detecting the electrons and ions associated with Jupiter’s auroras. The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS) examines the auroras in UV light to study Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and the particles that collide with it. Scientists expected to find similarities to Earth’s auroras, but Jovian auroral processes are proving puzzling.

“Although many of the observations have terrestrial analogs, it appears that different processes are at work creating the auroras,” said SwRI’s Dr. Phil Valek, JADE instrument lead. “With JADE we’ve observed plasmas upwelling from the upper atmosphere to help populate Jupiter’s magnetosphere. However, the energetic particles associated with Jovian auroras are very different from those that power the most intense auroral emissions at Earth.”

Also surprising, Jupiter’s signature bands disappear near its poles. JunoCam images show a chaotic scene of swirling storms up to the size of Mars towering above a bluish backdrop. Since the first observations of these belts and zones many decades ago, scientists have wondered how far beneath the gas giant’s swirling façade these features persist. Juno’s microwave sounding instrument reveals that topical weather phenomena extend deep below the cloudtops, to pressures of 100 bars, 100 times Earth’s air pressure at sea level.

Spotlight on a writer who makes a difference– M.J. Neary!

Let me introduce you to a lovely lady, M.J. Neary who is on my blog for the simple reason that she is Good People.  Yes, that category exists on my blog.  Her birthplace is Russia, but now living in New England, USA, spoils her to Irish-Ukrainian American husband and tiger-moms  (her words) their son.  She’s immersed in democracy to such an extent that she publishes articles on all-things-that-matter for the current administration. M.J. Neary is proud to retain both worlds and with her broad knowledge, pens historical romance.

Where can we find this lovely lady? Connecticut where M.J. affectionately calls Disconnecticut. She confesses that she didn’t invent the word.  With events such as golf outings put on by the snooty crowd, a city such as Stamford doesn’t have the strongly Irish vibe of the past  Neary says young people want Irish rock with bands such as Drop Kick Murphys or Flogging Molly, although some of the younger kids learn Irish dancing.

Let’s get to Molly.  M.J. Neary played the part of Molly in a Wild Geese theater production of BLOOMSDAY. M.J. has also appeared at The Cell in New York City where she performed a 10-minute fragment of the play, THE LAST FENIAN.  The Cell is a marvelous venue. Below are photos of M.J. Neary with Phil Gardiner and one other Ifrom BLOOMSDAY.

Marina3

Marina2

Marina1

Edutainment for kids– Harry Potter camp

Doesn’t every working parent love it when their kids enjoy day care– particularly when it’s during a school break? Kudos to my town’s Woodbridge Community Center for putting on Harry Potter camp for kids eight to ten!  At “Hogwarts” kids will transition from muggles (non-magical folks) to wizards! Each “student” will be taught traditional methods of dueling with ancient spells.  Spells are known as defense against the dark arts.  Also included– mind reading (Divination) and Quidditch!

You remember how the first book began– Harry lived under the stairs.

Harry Potter

After two weeks, a package to my cousin finally arrived!

On April 11th I mailed a bereavement shawl to my cousin who lost someone very dear to her  I hoped this item would give her comfort.  Women in our church knit them and not only donate their time but won’t accept donations.  They just want the shawls to go into the world, and in time recipients often give them away to another grieving person.

prayer_shawls

It finally arrived today.  At one point it almost arrived but then someone sent it back again!

DATE & TIME
STATUS OF ITEM
LOCATION
May 3, 2016 , 10:02 am

Delivered, In/At Mailbox

SIOUX CITY, IA 51109

Your item was delivered in or at the mailbox at 10:02 am on May 3, 2016 in SIOUX CIY, IA 51109.

May 3, 2016 , 5:08 am

Arrived at Post Office

SIOUX CITY, IA 51101
May 1, 2016 , 3:44 pm

Arrived at USPS Destination Facility

SIOUX FALLS, SD 57104
April 29, 2016 , 6:05 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 26, 2016 , 7:20 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 26, 2016 , 3:48 am

Departed USPS Facility

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA 95799
April 25, 2016 , 6:54 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA 95799
April 25, 2016 , 7:02 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 23, 2016 , 9:33 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA 95799
April 22, 2016 , 11:58 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 19, 2016 , 2:25 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 18, 2016 , 11:04 am

Departed USPS Facility

SAN JOSE, CA 95101
April 17, 2016 , 11:18 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

SAN JOSE, CA 95101
April 17, 2016 , 10:17 pm

Departed USPS Facility

SIOUX FALLS, SD 57104
April 16, 2016 , 2:52 am

Arrived at USPS Destination Facility

SIOUX FALLS, SD 57104
April 14, 2016 , 5:42 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 13, 2016 , 1:54 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 13, 2016 , 12:52 am

Departed USPS Facility

ANAHEIM, CA 92899
April 12, 2016 , 10:27 pm

Arrived at USPS Origin Facility

ANAHEIM, CA 92899
April 11, 2016 , 5:05 pm

Acceptance (SSK)

IRVINE, CA 92623

 

To dye or not to dye, that is the question.

Do you think only their hairdressers know for sure? Most do not care. 75% of women dye their hair, and they believe by doing it, they’re boosting their confidence.  Here’s another statistic:  Six out of 67 female members of the House of Representatives show gray but none of the 14 female US senators do.  I admit to falling into the “do” category with low-lights. Between visits, I know two tricks for touching them up.  I smear Vaseline along the hairline and back of ears before stroking color with an artist’s brush.  Low-lights cover about half of my gray.

How do you feel about going gray? Do you feel it’s more authentic?  Emmylou Harris, 64, has let her hair go white naturally.  Do white haired women have more fun than blondes?

Emmy_Lou_Harris

Rolling out for Better Biking

Maribel Mateo and her brother Tony Garcia are youth organizers tackling bike safety in Santa Ana.  While watching clusters of kids navigating traffic and street crossings on Edinger, Mateo pointed out that many people in her hometown of Santa Ana can’t afford cars, her family included. To get around, they take the bus, bicycle or both. She talked about Bike to Work Month, which is May. It’s also the same month for the Ride of Silence, a global campaign for safer streets that memorializes cyclists killed by motor vehicles.

bike safety
Photo courtesy of the Orange County Register

While gathering the information for the grant application, the KidWorks team documented that from January 2011 through this past May, on the 1.7 miles they studied, there were at least a dozen bicycle crashes, most involving cars.

Weeks after their study, Priscilla Vallejo was killed July 13 while riding her bike to school. The 13-year-old died after being hit by a truck in a crosswalk at South Center Street and West Edinger Avenue.

Lynnete Guzman, community engagement coordinator for KidWorks, joined Mateo and Gatica on the sidewalk off Edinger. Traffic noise nearly drowned out their conversation.

As she usually does on her 2.5-mile commute to work, Guzman rode there on her bike. “Why fight over a parking spot?” asked Guzman, who helped the teenagers with the application. Gatica explained he arrived by skateboard because his bicycle is busted after another cyclist hit him.

Mateo said the multimillion-dollar grant will help alleviate some of the dangers. The improvements will take several years to implement.

To celebrate getting the grant, the KidWorks crew went to Knott’s Berry Farm. Still, they continue their work by pushing what’s called “active transportation,” moving by human power. Their latest effort was leading a night bike ride with, yes, plenty of lights.

Both brother and sister already plan careers as civil engineers. Their goal? To help make a safer world.

Spring cleaning– with our planner!

When we think of Spring cleaning, it’s about weeding and clearing, but what about our own lives, our me-time? My planner is filled to the brim. Involvement is a great way to “get out of ourselves” and make a difference. An organization we believe in needs help, and we volunteer, but over-involvement takes its toll.  To-do lists stack up.  As a responsible person,  I can’t just quit or become forgetful with tasks I need to complete.  I am cutting back in ways that benefits me the most.  Do I feel better?  Yes, I do, and I’m off to swim laps in celebration.

Last night my husband and best friend, Gerry, asked my how my sequel to Deadly Alliance is coming along. Slowly, I said, with this, that, and the other thing.  His advice? Cut back, give yourself more time to do what you love.  I’m completing my year as Secretary/membership of OCCRWA, and will assist the person who takes this on.   I get a lot out of  my church and my sorority alum group, Kappa Alpha Theta. I won’t be doing any political work.

pool

 

 

 

I follow the blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune who writes about lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water.

Starting today, the City of Flint is also supposed to begin replacing water service lines for residents at highest risk of lead poisoning. And with both political parties holding presidential debates in Michigan this week (the Republicans today in Detroit and the Democrats in Flint itself on Sunday), we can hope that what happened in Flint will get some additional national attention.

Flint water

Congrats to winner of my Deadly Alliance contests!

Writers need readers otherwise writing wouldn’t be an art form! To show appreciation and connect, I have contests now and then. Thank you to all those who entered the Show it off Saturday Blog and Coffee Brew Contest, both at Coffee Time Romance.  The staff picked the winners, and prizes were items in the book.  The purse jewelry key finder (shown below) represented heroine Amy’s lost purse.  Some items within the purse were part of the package.  Kathy Osborn won a Swiss army knife, a black leather fringe tassel from Lulu;  Debra Guyette,  Jennifer Beck, and Colleen Conklin won key finders.  I sent everyone penlights (shown below), chocolates, and flower pens.

purse jewelry key finder-- little purse

penlight