American Dirt – Leaves Dust

Every once in awhile you come across a great read. That page turner that you just can not put down. Days after you devour the book it is still on your mind. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is that book for me. I have heard many stories from my students about their journeys to the US from Central America and Mexico. The stories they tell are reminiscent of some of what is in this novel. While this novel is a work of fiction some of the poignant moments will evoke real emotions and tell stories that have happened.

This story starts fairly quickly with the murder of sixteen family members by the local cartel. Lydia and her son Luca are the only two that were not killed. This murder takes place at a family quinceañera, a celebration of Lydia’s nieces 15th birthday. In the Mexican culture this is a formal transition from childhood to womanhood. This is a party where the young woman would likely wear a long formal dress. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents the entire family comes dressed up to celebrate. Jeanine Cummins has the ability to transport you to the scene in the book.

I was enthralled for the whole story. Beginning at the murder, through the journey Lydia and Luca embark upon to escape the cartel. They ride trains, cars, trucks, buses and hire a coyote to get them into the US on foot. Having heard stories from my students I know the stories are unbelievable to those of us that live in relative peace in our own country. While we may not like the party that is in leadership, we have an intact government. In some parts of the world this is not the case.

Imagine, right now you have two minutes to leave your house with only what you can carry. Times up you have to leave you can not think, you leave, you walk away to survive. You are not leaving for an appointment that you will return from. This is it you are gone, gone from your house, your school, your church, none of these places will see you again. It is not safe you run and hide. You are on the streets with your eight year old son. This is the story told so eloquently in this book.

I do not want to take away your experience in reading this book. I want it to make you think and ponder. To. Imagine and try to make sense of how and why someone would just leave their country. How bad would it have to be for you to leave? How awful and corrupt would the government need to be? What amount of lawlessness must exist? Just how close does the drug cartel have to be to your doorstep. Ponder these things and the plight of those coming into our country from our neighbors in the south; Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaraguan right down to Venezuela. These things you have pondered are not imaginative for many, they are reality! I continue to be touched by this book days after I finished it! Grab a copy and enjoy the read!

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Eiffel Tower

What is Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower?  Enough to said? I will tell you if you are using a cane or otherwise handicapped you can go to the second level, but not all the way to the top. I highly recommend going early to beat the crowds or doing a tour with a specific time. The lines can be daunting!

The view is wonderful, go on a pretty day! There is something about this historic monument that will draw you to it and up it!


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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 790 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Snow Angels and a Blessing?


My Snow Angels Hope and Millie

Remember, when you were young and it snowed? Remember, when  you could not wait to go outside to play in the snow? Recall, you and your friends and siblings would gather to make snowmen, have a snowball fight and make snow angels? That was my childhood idea of great fun in the snow.

Today I discovered the new definition of “Snow Angels” and an even better feeling in the snow. We had nine inches of snow overnight and as a home health nurse I had patients that had to be seen. I had bundled up to go outside and dig out my car to go to work. I walked out the front door to discover two of my dear neighbors had already shoveled the sidewalk in front of my house, the walk to my house and they were working on digging out my car! I felt so blessed by these two angels!

I had hurt my back helping my sister move a couple of weeks ago and it was finally feeling better. So, I was not looking forward to heaving a shovel full of snow.  My dear sweet neighbors reminded me what it feels like when someone gives you a blessing! It was such a wonderful exhilarating feeling! It took all the drudge out of work today. I was able to tell all my patients about the blessing I had received.

I frequently tell my patients to let their friends help them after surgery. I tell them if they do not allow someone to help them they are robbing that person of a blessing. I believe we are blessed when we help others. In helping others we feel good about ourselves. The hard part for many is in being the recipient of the blessing. I know it was a huge blessing to me today this small act of snow removal. Both Hope and Mollie were so kind hearted and they both had big smiles at having helped me. Hope said, “I do not want you to hurt your back and not be able to see those sick patients.” I felt blessed all day, I pray that Hope and Millie felt blessed all day for having helped me.

So remember, some times we are blessed and sometimes we are to be a blessing to others! Now go and bless someone in some small way!

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Rising Writers Workshop March 29, 2014


Rising Writers Workshop is March 29, 2014  Hosted by Write by the Rails

Register now for the Rising Writers Workshop, a one-day event for high school and young adults, on Saturday, March 29 from 10 am to 4 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street in Old Town Manassas, Virginia. Only 60 spots are available.

This workshop is Speakers and panelists leading interactive discussions on poetry, publishing, science fiction, punk writing and more will include:

Charlottesville poet Sara Robinson, Cricket Design Works copywriter Sarah Crossland, fiction writers Robert Scott and Matt Iden, poetry and prose writers Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt and Zan Hailey, cyberpunk author and musician Nick Kelly, holistic health doctor and author Stacia Kelly, BristowBeat.com executive editor Stacy Shaw, and humor writer and marketing pro Kelly Harman. The workshop is sponsored by Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club in conjunction with Woodbridge Senior High School’s Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) Creative Writing Program.

Lunch will be catered by Old Town Manassas coffee shop Grounds Central Station.

Students and alumni from the WSHS Creative Writing Program will lead afternoon mini-sessions in free verse, hip hop, spoken word, the punks, fan fiction and more. The workshop culminates in an open mic session with great door prizes and giveaways.

Registration is only $25.00, including lunch and snacks, thanks to partial funding provided by Prince William County. Download a registration form, due March 22, atwww.writebytherails.org. Questions? Contact Linda Johnston at 703-926-4229 or email swindon53@gmail.com.

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