Monday, October 31, 2022

Who Revealed the Hiding Place of Anne Frank, Her Family, and the Others?

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia...

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast that talked about the Anne Frank House. It's the office building that housed the Secret Annex that hid eight people in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam from July 6, 1942 to August 4, 1944 (twenty-five months) including Anne Frank and her family. It's now a museum and a place of remembrance, research, and education as Dr Gertjan Broek, Senior Historical Researcher at the Anne Frank House, shared recently on the Warfare Podcast.

July of 2022 was the 80th anniversary of the Frank family and three others going into hiding. The eighth person joined them a few months later.

When the Anne Frank House decided to branch out into researching the lives of the fourteen protagonists of the Anne Frank story, Dr Broek, already employed by the Anne Frank House at the time, became the primary researcher of the lives of those eight people hidden in the Secret Annex as well as the six people who took on the responsibility of keeping the Franks, the Van Pels, and Franz Pfeffer hidden, fed, and occupied.

One of the things Dr Broek said was that a lot of us (the general population) have, for whatever reason, believed that the Franks' presence in Amsterdam was a last minute thing. In fact, the Franks had moved to The Netherlands some years earlier due to the economic downturn in Germany where they were originally from. In the ensuing years in Amsterdam, Otto Frank, Anne's father had established a network of associates and friends. These are the people he turned to when deciding to place his family into hiding.

Over the course of the two years they were hidden, the stowaways helped keep the businesses in that office space operating--if those companies had gone out of business, then the office spaces would have been cleared out and then rented out again, and those folks in hiding would have been found much sooner.

The other thing that Dr Broek shared is that there's really no evidence that any one person revealed the secret hiding place to the Nazis. A handful of people have been suspects over the years, but investigations have never turned up definitive evidence linking any one person as the anonymous tipster. His belief is that nn unfortunate series of events including increasing raids in the area and a crackdown on the trading of ration vouchers is the best working theory. 

If you're interested in learning more about the people who surrounded Anne Frank during those two year, visit the Anne Frank House website.

Take care and have a great week...

* * * * *

Sources for this post:

Thursday, October 27, 2022

National Frankenstein Friday


As it seems to annually, the encore showing of National Theater Live's 2011 stage production of Frankenstein played once again mid-to-late October. I'd always wondered why October and now I think I have an answer.

The last Friday in October is apparently National Frankenstein Friday. :0) That's tomorrow.

DD and I attended this year's encore showing. We were all supposed to go as part of DH's birthday celebrations as it showed on his birthday this year and I didn't want to miss it, but DH wasn't feeling well and, sadly, opted out.

She liked it okay, but said she wouldn't watch it again. Honestly, I go for Benedict's performance, which never ceases to amaze me. I've never read the actual book, but am now curious about how aligned with the book this production is. The other thing that struck me--for the second year in a row, actually--is how one of the soliloquies in this adaptation addresses a few things we're still dealing with in 2011 when this was first performed as well as 2023--acceptance despite one's looks, one's education, one's background; a person's need and desire for love, for basic human decency; and that hatred is taught/learned by one's experiences in the world. The performances express it way better than I can.

If you get a chance to see this next year, you definitely should. Sign up for a Fathom Events Newsletter and be notified of all the really cool things that get get aired in the theaters besides just brand new films. And remember it'll be October in conjunction with National Frankenstein Day and just prior to Halloween.

On a related side note...the story of how Mary Shelley even came to write Frankenstein is quite an interesting one. Mary Shelley, then still Mary Wollonstonecraft, and her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley, her step-sister, as well as Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were on holiday in Switzerland during the year without summer--1816.

Due to a volcanic eruption from Mount Tambora in Indonesia earlier that year, plumes of volcanic ash had traveled the globe and significantly cooled world-wide temperatures affecting food production and regular seasonal climates.

While stuck indoors due the unrelenting rains over Lake Geneva during their visit, the party started out taking turns telling ghost stories but then challenged one another to come up with their own tales of horror.

The result? Not only "A Modern Prometheus" aka Frankenstein, but "The Vampyre" which inspired the writing of "Dracula."

Are you a fan of the original tale or of the many subsequent movies and characters?

Have you seen the particular performance reference at the beginning of this post? If not, why not?? As you know Benedict Cumberbatch is AMAZING! :0)

Have a super end to your week and a great weekend. Take care.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Something to Dig My Nerdy Teeth Into...
Or Drive Me to Tears of Frustration

Image courtesy iStock Photos. writers group recently disaffiliated from its parent organization. As a result, we've had to change our name. And that meant a new domain name. Which lead to the decision to also revamp the website.

Now I've loved messing around with website for years, decades maybe.

It all started with a fan site for the TV show The Guardian. I didn't create the site, but I took it over from the person who did and I fell in love with the coding. I learned HTML and CSS in order to manage the elements.

Then I became a fan of the TV show JAG and joined the fansite band wagon yet again, going from creating the original incarnation of my site called JAGNikJen's JAG Archive to The JAG Archive's final design as I honed my skills. There was a version in between, but I can't seem to find it in the Wayback Machine.

Fast forward twenty years and I still dabble. Mostly as the website director for the above mentioned writers group for years because I'm one of the few people who seems to understand how websites work on the back end or is brave enough to learn it/dumb enough to take it on.

But let me tell you--I hate WordPress with a passion. I was hoping to walk away from it, but DH convinced me it was easier than I found it (which I disagree with) and now I'm frustrated to the point of tears again.

Unfortunately, the platform I'd prefer to use isn't as inexpensive--we've got trim our budget as well--so I've been researching other alternatives, but mostly to no avail.

In the meantime, I'll keep fiddling with it to see if I can't make nice with the world's largest website builder...keep trying to make sense of it, but it's not as intuitive to me as maybe it should be.

On the other hand, the theme we've decided on--diversity, basically--is fun. Which isn't a theme really, but a mindset. The term "theme" come more from the whole series of vector images I found to use on the site. A series that includes people all shapes/sizes/colors/ages, and all created by the same artist so they "match." As soon as I saw them, I got soo excited and knew that theme and those images were the way to go.

The fact that there are so many images is a double edged sword. While we have a lot to choose from. it's going to be hard to narrow down our choices to just a few. And by a few I mean at least ten, max twenty-four. When you have approximately 600+ images to choose from, 10 to 24 is definitely going to be a challenge.

Image courtesy iStock Photos.

There are so many people--diverse groups of people: young, older; thin & curvy & in between, varieties of skin tones and ethnicity. Just the type of writers group we want, so we need to show those interested that we welcome all kinds of folks, and this image set will show that but also give off a fun welcoming vibe.

Have a great week and wish me luck with WordPress...

Thursday, October 20, 2022

National Make a Dog's Day ~ Saturday, October 22

"Make A Dog’s Day began as a way for Subaru to say thank you to the pets who support us, love us and make our world a better place.” Alan Bethke, Senior Vice President, Marketing of Subaru of America, Inc.

It's now a national thing apparently.


Currently my aim is to make the last days of my own dog's life as good as they can be... As mentioned on Monday, she was diagnosed with cancer. We're holding off on putting her down until the Thanksgiving break so we can grieve unfettered by work and people.

Between now and then, I'll be taking some afternoons off (instead of just working from home) to spend outside with her--or really to let her just be outside while I work on tidying the yard.

But I saw a commercial for "Make A Dog's Day," and I cry every time because they're showing dogs with disabilities and encouraging people to adopt shelter animals rather than get new a new puppy. And I'm all for that, but it's heart-rending when I'm facing the loss of my own dog and trying to re-home my mom's animals...

* SIGH * 

And I don't want any more dogs. Despite having had dogs for two plus decades, I am not a dog person. 

So if you have any sort of pet, not just a dog--make its day on Saturday.

Take care.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday

The Boys in Victory Green Are Back in Town!

DD and I enjoyed everything the Dallas Stars home opener had to offer this past Saturday--most especially the win!!

As mentioned, for the first time ever, we were able to attend the opening day Victory Green Carpet Walk. After a lunch out (thanks to a gift card and no out of pocket $$ spent), we lined up along said green carpet and waited. And waited. And waited. Things didn't get started until about twenty minutes after they should have.

We got got stuck behind people who kept pressing forward against the "rope" and blocking our view. This really sucks for a short person. And DD has a few inches on me, but she's still on the short side.

But I was able to get my phone mostly in good position that it could see what was coming and I was pleasantly surprised a few moments later.

After being there way early and the things not starting on time, DD and I didn't stick it out for the whole thing. We were both hot and tired and very thirsty, so we left before everyone had walked the carpet. We only missed a couple of faces we would have liked to have seen, but we got the really important ones.

Jamie Benn, the captain:

Tyler Seguin, the super model:

Jake Oettinger, the new number one netminder:

And this dapper fellow here, is Luke Glendening. I thought he just looked so charming with his bow tie.

After our return to the car for some cool air and cool drinks, we returned to the arena. Not to our former season-ticket-holder seats, but close enough. But sadly we were in a set of seats that saw a lot of traffic by lazy people. It ended up being a lot of up and down to let people pass. Lesson learned for future games.

But the game was exciting and we won again a division rival. As is my wont after a win, I got a picture--no, have the whole video!-- of the Reunion Tower Ball lit up in Dallas Stars colors:

* * * * *

Cleanup in Aisle 9!

Okay, not really, lol.

But my Walmart did get new shopping carts yet again. They're a little unusual, but with a couple of cool new features: A phone holder on the left of the back of the child seat, and a cup holder on the right side of the seat back. As a short person, the push handle is a little higher than I'd prefer, but what are you gonna do? At least all the carts will push properly for a while--no wonky wheels yet.

* * * * *

The Sun's a Hot Star...

Did you know that Venus and Uranus rotate east to west when all the other planets rotate west to east...?

There are some theories as to why and you can read those here, if you're so inclined.

Uranus also spins on its side, which those who are fans of the original Blue's Clues would know.

I did note that the animation had Venus and Uranus spinning in the correct direction!

As a side note, the original Blue's Clues was a staple in our house for many years as Sonshine was a wee little lad when it first aired.

* * * * *

Rayna Payna fo Fayna

A very young Rayna...

Last but not least...

Our family was given sad news last week.

Rayna, our dog of eight years (she's 10), was diagnosed with a very fast growing bone cancer on/in her left shoulder that could easily metastasize to her chest. The best (but not likely) prognosis, even with aggressive measures (amputation and chemo) is two years.

Unfortunately, the cost of treatment for only the possibility of a two year reprieve doesn't make any logical sense. And we still wouldn't know if she's in any pain and how much. Or what her quality of life would be. So the plan is to give her another month of the best life we can offer and then euthanize her over the Thanksgiving week so that DD and I can both be emotional and not have to be at work while doing it.

A teenage/young adult Rayna...
Our girl as she is now...

Have a great week...

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Back to Writing...Sorta


I'm not diving straight into the deep-end. Maybe I am. I don't know...I don't think so really.

As I mentioned a few ago, I really would like to finish the two series I've got going on. In each series, the next book is currently in progress. In the case of the Face Off For Love series, I'm working on book five of six with a vague notion of what book six is going to be about. As for the Linzer series, book two is in progress (although less so than the other WIP) and I have a plan in place for book three.

After that, I have ideas for at least two additional Linzer trilogies...

Not sure I'll ever get to those, sadly... But I digress...

I love Nate and Wesley, the heroes of hockey book five, called Finders Keepers (cover above), and I do want to tell their story. Nate is a goalie and he finds Wesley and in the end, opts to keep him.

I had two documents--one a revision of the other one with, I thought, a lot of duplicate text.

My first exercise was to read each doc side by side, paragraph by paragraph, and compare. To decide which text, where it's different, I wanted to keep and then to copy/paste into the correct document. 

That process went okay for the first 30-33 pages...then I reached a three-page section that was different and I liked both scenes. So the question became...could I keep both and in what order?

That meant note-carding the scenes. Which I did.

Turns out, not so much duplicate text after all.

As I moved farther through each document after that three-page section, I realized the two documents weren't as similar as I thought. One adhered more to the original plot thoughts than the other, and I was happy to find that that was so. I've often had the thought that I'd veered to far from my original concept.

A resolution to a major plot problem that I'd been struggling with also finally presented itself. When the time comes, I'll be able to rewrite with minimal impact to the dominoes that fall because of that one sticky wicket. I haven't tackled revisions, because I'm still working on the note-carding process, but I know some of what to do now and that's definitely a relief.

I'm working on it a little every day as my brain and my body build up the stamina once again for this kind of work and effort. I had put my writing endeavors in the freezer for safe-keeping when I left for Oregon in mid-March. The thaw and preparation is slow, but that's okay.

Real life has a few things going on that need my attention, I'm still pondering life going forward a bit, and I'm still working in my post-parent-loss grace period.

And fall is lovely; I'm trying spend a lot of time outside enjoying it.

Here's to a lovely weekend for one and all.

Monday, October 10, 2022

One Hundred Things ~ Decluttering

Image Courtesy Angi

I came across the list of the one hundred things I purged from my house four years years ago and thought, "It may be It's time to do another wave of de-cluttering."

I started the One Hundred Things Challenge in late 2018 and did a bit of Marie Kondoing in 2019 and it all felt really good.

When making arrangements for Mom to come, I did a bit more purging. Not as much, but some, and now that she's gone, and we're getting the house re-oriented, I'm really feeling the desire to clean and clean out. Also fall and nice weather and open windows!

I'd been doing a bit here and there, and DD and I hauled off a car-ful of stuff a couple of weeks ago, and I'd taken most of Mom's clothes and some of her stuff a couple weeks after she'd passed.

But when I saw that list a week or so ago, I was hit with a more solid, strong desire to really get down and dirty and de-clutter and have a clean slate. So I got started. :0)

I think I might have mentioned this before, but maybe not--

Anyway, in a blog I'd read a while back about the Swedish Death Cleaning (I think), the person said that all the brick-a-brack you have that needs to be cleaned adds a weight to you.

That really resonated with me.

And you all know by now how much I already struggle with housekeeping. Getting rid of stuff, especially stuff that gathers dust, sounds really good.

I inadvertently started with the hall closet a couple of weeks ago. One of the hall closets surrounds our master bedroom shower stall on two sides. The result being--we have a closet with a very deep left side that I can't quite reach the back of. Like one of those under-bed storage containers will fit length-wise!

As a result stuff just gets shoved back there. The bed sheets were in a huge pile, but what's king size for my bed and double for the guest bed?

(Honestly, I know which is which based on color, but you get my point, right? :0) 

So here's the closet...

To the right, where the blue arrow is pointing, is a book shelf full of fall decorations and puzzles and other random things that I do need to go through; below the shelves you can see, where the green arrow is pointing, are two wrapping paper storage containers stacked on top of each other sitting on the floor in that recessed space.

Now, here's what came out of those two shelf spaces, along with probably eight bed pillows that were bagged and shoved at the back.

The only two things that weren't actually in the closet are the top two items, in the far corner of the bed--bedspreads for my bed. One was in the laundry and one is new and was in a box.
And then when I was working on dusting the shelves in my office last weekend, (not this past weekend, but the one before,) I got ruthless, and when all was said and done, I went from this:

To this:
And boy it felt good.

I'm not 100% done...the G.I Joes at the top will get listed on eBay and that garland will probably come down too. Two things are getting packed, some things were just moved, some were tossed, and several things are slated for Goodwill or eBay. The One Hundred Things "count," not including the G.I. Joes or the garland came to seventeen at that point.

A grand start, I'd say.

And now, every time I've open a drawer or a cabinet in the past week, I've been temped to sort through whatever's in there. But then I'd derail my entire day, and I need to have a better, more controlled approach.

Now this past weekend, I worked on the glass / mug cabinet, the bathroom towel cabinet, and the food storage container cabinet. That's by grouping: mugs vs. travel mugs vs. canning jars.

The result, even thought there are glasses and whatnot in the dishwasher that will fill that empty space on the bottom:

I've added ten more things to the list--so I'm up to twenty-seven now. Yee haw.
I do like my stuff, but I could definitely get used to having fewer things to clean...

How about you? Minimalist or maximalist? lol

Have a great week.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

End of an Era ~ #amsad

The house where I spent so many wonderful summer days with my writer peeps is being sold... The owners are moving on from supporting a lake house to the next phase of their lives and so I won't ever see the house or spend time there again.

It's an especially sad pill for me since I missed this year's retreat since I couldn't leave Mom.

But that's life, right?

And so, my writer friends and I will just have to brainstorm some creative alternative locations. Time for us to move to a new phase of our lives as well.

It was a good run, though.

A few more pics and then we'll call the Memorial Service complete...

Thanks, Lake Conroe house, for some wonderful memories.

They will be treasured and you will be missed.

* * * * *

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people and animals and businesses affected by Hurricane Ian...

God bless you and keep you...

Monday, October 3, 2022

Third Quarter Review

I'm sure you can guess / imagine how I did with my goals in the third quarter.

Not very well.

Not that I was really focused on them since Mom took a turn for the worse and then died.

I'm giving myself a complete pass.

The only two things that got done were reading and sending postcards to my grandma, including the terrible news that Mom--Grandma's only daughter--had passed. Yeesh.

But as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had/have pondering to do. And boy have I been pondering.

In reality, a majority of my 2022 goals were things other than writing. Okay, barely a majority, but still a majority. Six of ten, to be precise. So most of them can and should remain in play. 

I'll still write to Grandma.

I'll definitely be working on getting our eating habits back on track. 

I'll be (sloooowly) working on trying to fit exercise back into my routine. Recently it's consisted of upping my average daily steps count and pulling weeds, but as the weather finally cools off I may want to spend less time with the weeds.

And housework ... better / more housekeeping is always the intent. I'm slowly, slowly getting things done again. There's no real schedule, which I need, but now that I have a few extra hours at home every day, I have the time and energy to get things done.

I'll always be a reader. Always.

I definitely won't get the Etsy inventory doubled as planned, but I'll keep plugging away at making new patterns. I'm not sure it's worth all the work to be honest, as least as far as the hockey jerseys are concerned. My best seller is still the Harry Potter Spells Sampler... I can create a hockey jersey to order in a day or two, so spending my time on those will probably come to an end. Little to no return on that investment of time.

* * * * * *

As far as the writing--that's really where the pondering comes in. I recently watched a YouTube video by one and only guru, Becca Syme, of the Personality Strengths for Better Faster writing and other things. And what she said...completely true and in context of her that most books don't sell.

Now her topic and specific point are of no consequence, but the fact that most books published don't sell at all or don't sell at a sustainable rate is important in my decision making.

Do I want to keep writing? Do I want to keep spinning my wheels for little or no return?

To date, I've published twelve individual books and one box set of three books. I've spent close to $4000 on all twelve between cover art, editing, and ISBNs. I've also paid for conferences and travel. I've bought SWAG and taken out advertisements. I've paid organizational dues. At this point, I'm still $650 in the hole after first publishing in November of 2017.

At this point, I'm not planning to attend anymore conferences. There's not enough ROI to justify them. If I do events, they'll local with minimal costs: gas and maybe a small fee, depending on the event & venue. But there's still no ROI for my time and I've discovered that if I don't have physical, print books for these events, then I make zero sales. If I decide to invest in print copies...well that's racks up my expenses amount, doesn't it?

My expenses are at a minimum this year and I'm making enough monthly, that I might bring in just enough to finally break even by the end of the year. Except I'm sure there are things I've paid for or bought that I missed in my original calculation... But neither here nor there.

Do I still have books I want to write? Yes. I'd at least like to finish the two series in progress. That's four more books, two in each. After that...I'm just not sure. My process isn't working as well as I'd like, which has been an issue for a few years. Unless I improve the process some way, some how and make it a little smoother and easier, I'm not sure I'll want to keep going.

I feel like there's a switch on something that needs flipping. But where that switch is or what it turns on--I have no clue. Which is a bit of a problem.

But maybe I can catch up on all my reading / watching / listening to blog posts, podcasts, and webinars about the craft of writing for enough light bulbs to go off that I'll feel comfortable and ready to keep writing after those four books are written and published.

* * * * *

As an aside, I bought my 2023 planner a little early. I wasn't planning on buying it until November-ish, but I couldn't wait. The upcoming year is a clean slate with a few things already lined up to look forward to. I haven't done much but log family birthdays, though, because those are never gonna change. It's still a little too soon for much else just yet. But I just wanted it...

* * * * *

In other news, the annual encore showing of the stage production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller is coming along in a few weeks. DH and DD have agreed to go (it's the night of DH's birthday, so I asked if he'd be interested and he said yes! So then I asked DD so we could make an evening of it, and she said yes as well. So yay! I hope they enjoy it as much as I do. This'll be my third viewing... :0)

And that, my friends, is all I've got.

Here's to a great week. Catch you on Thursday.