IS A CULTURED LIFE WORTH PURSUING? (Spring Break Reading)

Shameless Advertising:  Have you bought your books yet for Spring Break? Go to Drusilla Tieben on Amazon.com and look for Silver Element, Silver Storm and Buck Jones. I promise a great escape if you buy them! And, if you’re ever in Colorado I’ll autograph them for you. (Also available in eBook – don’t know how to autograph those, however.)

Here is something I have been pondering of late:

Apparently, I do not belong amongst the ranks of cultured people. Recently, I saw this great list from a UK site and wanted to reflect on what they listed for being a cultured person. Here is the list. (The ensuing comments are all mine):

SO WHAT EXACTLY MAKES YOU CULTURED? THE LIST IN FULL

  1. Go to the theatre This one is tough. However, I have been to a few shows at the Arvada Center.
  2. Can recognize paintings/art Yes, and I did take one Art History class in college (almost flunked it but I got through).
  3. Visit local heritage sites Does the Louisville, CO Heritage/Miner’s Museum count? (Seriously, I have been to many of these in many different states.)
  4. Listen to classical music  Truthfully, not much.
  5. Go to the ballet  – Well, does the Nutcracker count from one Christmas, a long time ago?
  6. Know what wine goes with what  – Not at all. Didn’t even try since I don’t even like it.
  7. Don’t skip the news when it’s on TV  – Are you kidding? With people so crazy out there. Not going to do it, nope, nada.
  8. Watch documentaries  – Sometimes if they are interesting and are on BBC or Nat. Geo, or HBO.
  9. Can read music – Southern Expression: Used to could…. My son can so I’m set.
  10. Take an avid interest in politics  – Only local stuff anymore. Not interested in the crazies right now.
  11. Read daily newspapers  – I leave this one up to my senior neighbors.
  12. Take countryside walks – I grew up in the country so I did this for many years. Now there’s open space! Yeah, this is a good one!
  13. Read a book before bed – Avid reader, yes, yes, yes! (And before breakfast, during lunch and any other times….)
  14. Choose city breaks over beach holidays – Nope. I’ll take a vacation in Hawaii anytime over cities….
  15. Watch Question Time  – I’m sorry I don’t know what this means….  My kid questions me about everything. Does that count? —-OK I looked it up. It is a UK thing: http://www.parliament.uk › About Parliament › How Parliament works › Daily business Question Time is an opportunity for MPs and Members of the House of Lords to question government ministers about matters for which they are responsible. These questions are asked at the start of business in both chambers and are known as ‘oral questions‘. We may have something similar but I haven’t found it….
  16. Host dinner parties  – Only happens with other kid’s friends’ parents and very seldom.
  17. Know about cheese – I was allergic to dairy for so many years. Today I like cheddar and Swiss, does that count? (Don’t go to any fancy cheese shops, though, can’t afford it – we’re saving money for college.)
  18. Enjoy crosswords or Sudoku – Nope. Does Solitare count?
  19. Go to vintage markets – I left this up to people who live in Boulder.
  20. Know about cuts of meat – Meat good (grunting sounds).
  21. Watch tennis or cricket – rather have a bullet in my head…. Sorry….
  22. Read a book before the film comes out – Yes! This is definitely a good one. I do this a lot more than going to the movies. I usually wait for the DVD.
  23. Watch Antiques Road Show – Is this still on PBS? Never watched it.
  24. Own a library card – The whole family has one. We love our library!
  25. Watch films with subtitles – Nope.
  26. Visit farm shops – Farm Stands in the US. Love our local farmer’s market and the peach stands on the side of the road! So,Yes!
  27. Use chopsticks over a knife and fork – Tried it but when my Japanese Aikido Sensei broke a white kid’s pair at the restaurant and said to him, “You’re an American! Use a fork!” I’ve never picked one up again.
  28. Drink ‘proper’ coffee – not instant – Don’t even like coffee, so no….
  29. Know how to pronounce ‘quinoa’ – Yes I know how to pronounce it and even cooked and ate it. Didn’t like it, though. A bag of it is still sitting in the back of my pantry just in case some of the vegan people dine with us….
  30. Grow your own fruit and vegetables on an allotment – I grow my own vegetables in my back yard. We have a very short growing season so it is “hit or miss” with how much I get out of it. Lots of tasty tomatoes for sauce, though!
  31. Go to music festivals – I can’t say if I’ve ever been to one. Some of my sister’s friends went to Woodstock, does that count? We do go to a nice concert now and again.
  32. Collect music on vinyl – Oh good grief! Had it – didn’t keep it. Now it’s all digital and I can play it on my smart phone!
  33. Read Wikipedia articles – A most unreliable source although I do use it sometimes in researching an article.
  34. Only eat local produce – In the summer, yes, a beautiful bag of green beans, mushrooms, onions, etc., from the Farmer’s Market; sweet Olathe corn and beautiful Rocky Ford cantaloupes, but not in the winter. Can you honestly say you shop at Alfalfa’s or Whole Foods for everything? Have you seen the prices on this stuff?
  35. Get the conundrum on Countdown – Nope. Apparently it is a UK thing…. I don’t even like jeopardy, etc.
  36. Wear bow-ties or brooches – Nope. Bill Nye the Science guy wore a bow-tie. My grandma and primary school teachers work brooches.
  37. Get food from supermarket ‘finer’ ranges – Does this mean from Alfalfa’s or Whole Foods? Or the Private Select brand from Kroger. I can say yes to Kroger….
  38. Drink herbal tea – Nope. Hate it.
  39. Put on an accent to pronounce foreign words – I took French in High School but don’t pronounce anything in it. Too strange so I’m going to say “No (French pronunciation).”
  40. Avoid generic superstore furniture – OK, does IKEA count? I’m sorry but I order from Amazon and go to IKEA so that would be a no.

So I was able to answer true (or yes, or acknowledge that I did these things) 18 out of 40 on the list or 45%. But, in my defense, several of the questions were specifically British so I had to say, “No!”

These are the things that make me who I am:

-Writing fun and mysterious reads, not always erudite, but interesting and different

-Getting my hands dirty in the soil

-Working hard and loving it trying to understand all of the generations from Boomers to Millennials

-Reading the wrong stuff (according to the culture list)

-Being assertive with my point of view when I need to be, but respecting others and listening to theirs in a polite manner and hopefully having real discourse

-Worrying about the future

-And living out west with an independent spirit.

If these ideals do not qualify me to become a cultured person and as some people think, “High culture in America [and the UK] is in serious decline,” I’m okay with that. Still, it’s interesting to know what some people believe makes you cultured. Enjoy your life the way you live it and try to always do the right thing. Enough said.

______________________

If you’d like to read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3240407/Owning-library-card-watching-subtitled-films-skilled-use-chopsticks-traits-make-cultured.html#ixzz4bF1yTgdz Article written by Flora Drury, 09/18/15, published in Dailymail.com

The Cultured Life, and Why it is Worth Pursuing, Article written by Joseph Epstein, 3/20/2017. At http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/the-cultured-life/article/2007147

A PLUG FOR INDIE WRITERS

Buy our books.

For some reason when people hear we writers are independent press, they tell us, “Oh, self-published,” and dismiss us as viable and really good at what we do. We are creators, writers, editors and publishers. And many of us do all of our own artwork. There is no staff. We are everything. The downside is it takes hours and hours and our own money to produce a work, and then hours and hours of making sure it is a publishable piece. The upside is that we have complete control over our books. We own the rights and they will never go out of print.

It doesn’t matter that big publishing companies have not put their rubber stamp on our works. There are so many amazing writers out there who never got the chance to publish with a big house, so they chose to go the way of independent press. Many of us make it to the top 100 in sales through Amazon, but they get that way because people like you and me buy their books, relish them and review them positively. And, we can charge less so readers can afford them.

So, buy our books and enjoy the beautiful and great stories being told. We live and breathe by readers like you. So, let us own and sell our own works and let the author get the rewards, not the publisher. Trust that there are many many good books in the sea of not so good books, just like with traditional publishing.

A GOOD DAY FOR DYSTOPIAN WRITERS

DYSTOPIAN – relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

I heard on the news this morning that our illustrious leader ordered the EPA to cut the climate change page from its website as well as any tweets, comments, etc. on government sites, literally denying the existence of climate change science. He also plans on wiping out any climate change initiatives proposed by the previous administration. Finally, he has signed orders for reviving the pipeline projects, furthering the devastation of the environment.

He also will be directing federal resources towards construction of the border wall in his attempt to crack down on immigrants.  So far, he has carried out two of his promises to benefit his friends and phobic supporters. Very sad…..

I never write political blogs but I have made an exception here. I hope people will wake up and see what is happening. It is a sad day for the environment and for our future. It is a field day for all of the dystopian science fiction writers out there.

DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE

On Sunday, we all felt a disturbance in the force. All of the Jedis were saddened when we learned that our dear friend and colleague Kayla Feeney lost the good fight and passed away this past Sunday. She was a young vibrant woman that I had worked with for years. When she smiled her dimples were deep and beautiful. I remember giving her a knitted yellow scarf and she was so happy because she told me it was her favorite color. Her life stories brought laughter and tears to all of us. She was a fan of all of those reality shows back in the day when the Jersey Shore was popular. Everyone at night identified with one of the characters except me. She would tease me and say, “Oh, Dru, you are so out of it and you don’t know the half of it!” and, “The stories I could tell you about my life.” I am sad that I never got that chance to write about her other than using a bit of her past and creating a small character in my first book. I will miss her and all of the crazy times we had together on the night shift. In her world of vampire stories such as the Twilight Zone – Team Edward vs. Team Jacob – she never understood me but tolerated my references from science fiction (no vampires or zombies for me!) and heavy metal. She put up with my tie-dyed shirts, air guitar and obscure jokes. I’ll always love her laughter and joy of life. I will miss you.

Goodbye and we’ll meet again!

PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT: SILVER STORM AND BUCK JONES

DRUSILLA TIEBEN is proud to announce the publication of SILVER STORM, the second in the Caitlin Ferguson Mystery Series. Caitlin and her friends return and take a trip into the depths of the Grand Canyon only to discover a bizarre murder scene.

The women attempt to return to their normal lives but someone and something is not allowing them to. When students go missing from the University of Colorado, Caitlin enlists her old friend Tiny, Sgt. Tamera Schuman of the Boulder Police Department. Foul play is suspected and a killer is out there. With her help, Caitlin and her group of women each with their own unique skills track the evidence only to discover more gruesome scenes in Boulder and Louisville. But the killer always seems to be one step ahead of them.  Once again, Caitlin encounters the glowing lights and strange displays of the supernatural in the foothills of Colorado which leads them back to the Grand Canyon. Caitlin continues to battle her visions of the future and the increasing chaos that seems to surround her. A mysterious message and the investigation into murder take them on a journey back into the Canyon. From the depths of the Grand Canyon to Boulder, to the little town of Louisville, Colorado, and back again, Caitlin and her girls have made it their business to catch a killer. Silver Storm is a work of fiction—mystery and fantasy, with elements of the supernatural set in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, Boulder and Louisville, Colorado.   (You may also want to take a look at the first mystery in the series, SILVER ELEMENT, before reading Book II.)

I am also happy to announce the publication of BUCK JONES, the first in the Silver Rangers Mini-Series.

Buck Jones left his life in Boulder, Colorado to become a ranger in the Grand Canyon. His days are filled with riding the trails and keeping stray hikers out of danger. But sometimes, the hikers don’t turn up by the end of the day and it is up to him to rescue them. He had chosen this lonely, solitary life and falling in love was not high on his list. But when he gets a call from tribal policeman Dahali Regaldo, he rides into the Havasupai Nation to help out in a very unusual missing person’s case. They have discovered a woman who disappeared years ago while hiking into the depths of the Grand Canyon. He never expected to become so engrossed in a minor case, but the victim’s story is uncanny. Buck and his friends uncover the unbelievable facts and he realizes he is falling in love.  Buck Jones appears in Silver Storm, Book II of the Caitlin Ferguson mystery series. This is his story. This is a work of fiction—mystery, romance and science fiction set in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Please feel free to visit my author page at:

https://www.amazon.com/Drusilla-M.-Tieben/e/B00ET98OVA

HAPPY AND SAD

It’s almost fall and I am in a reflective mood. The other night I mentioned to a friend that I made a list of what I was happy and sad about. I said it was an exercise to see where my brain and emotions were at the moment. His reaction was a little odd. First he said that I should never be sad, and not to think about sad things. When I explained it was an exercise in reflection on my current state of mind, he said that I worried too much. Huh?

I think we all have to take inventory ever so often. After all, some people use prayer to put it out there. Writing makes sense to me to put it all in perspective.

I am:

 -Happy that everything is going as well as expected and that my son is growing up; sad that my son is growing up with all his moods and figuring out the world, and him thinking that Mom doesn’t always know best.

-Happy that men are more sensitive; sad that society has labelled the stronger step-it-up masculine qualities as a bad thing.

-Happy that I am starting to figure out my life and the world around me; sad that I am aging with all of its aches and pains.

-Happy that I can let some things go; sad that I still remember everything bad that happened to me.

-Happy that I am safe and loved; sad that I still have anxiety and worry about the future no matter how much I prepare for it.

-Happy that I have a house and savings; sad that I worry it might not be enough.

-Happy that I had a great career and life in my past; sad that I feel I haven’t done enough and am not doing enough right now.

-Happy that I have no regrets; sad that I do have regrets.

-Happy that events in the world are making change and righting wrongs; sad that not all things are right in the world.

-Happy that I have a place in the Universe; sad that I keeping striving for a higher place in the Universe.

-Happy that I can still do all the things I can do; sad that I am impatient with those who cannot do the things I do.

-Happy that I have given all I can give to my family; sad that I feel it’s not enough.

-Happy that my son is growing up; sad that my expectations are too high.

-Happy that I know a lot of things; sad that I don’t have that quick wit.

-Happy that I can wax philosophic; sad that I still get mad at pushy people.

-Happy that I have better vision than I have ever had in my life; sad that I don’t see all things.

-Happy that I have more time to do the things I want to do; sad that I don’t always do them.

-Happy that I am a great cook; sad that I eat too much.

-Happy that I am more open-minded than anyone I grew up with; sad that I am not as accepting as I’d like to be.

-Happy that I don’t ever forget anything; sad that I don’t ever forget.

Living life seems to always be about the choices we have made in the past and the choices we are currently making. The harsh reality is it is also about the money which is again another choice. We have to choose to live well but within our means. When we think we are saving enough we need to save more. Even if we have the zombie apocalypse, we still need something of value to get to the places where we think it will be safe. (Maybe buy a big truck and supply it like those super survivors? Or, maybe not.) All we can do is live in the moment and save a little more for whatever the future holds. The best advice I can give me is:

 Expect nothing; learn to love and live in the moment; enjoy what is given; and forgive and forget….

DANIEL TIEBEN’S CHOICE FOR PERSON OF THE YEAR

This was a school assignment and I had to post it. How cool is my kid?!

I think Dru Tieben should be the person of the year because she is a great speaker and she can speak in front of a big crowd plus she is loving and kind so she can help people who need help, like the homeless. Also she is great at medical because she was a cop and she knows a lot about that.

She is a great cook and she can cook lots of dishes and desserts for the food kitchen and people can enjoy the delicious food she makes. She knows some about pets so she can work at the pound to take care of the dogs and cats and other pets because we have two dogs. And if you like mysteries and novels you will like Dru’s books she has them on Kindle and Amazon. And she can do a lot of things at once like take care of me and work at the same time on her book.

Also she can fix dog toys if they get busted and the same thing for stuff animals. She is a great cleaner so if you have a dirty bathroom she can clean it in 30 minutes or less. And if I am having trouble she can help me with anything (unless it is very hard math the I need my dad) writing some math and sewing projects.

And if you need to borrow a recipe just go to her because she has all the recipes in the world. So that is why I think Dru Tieben should be person of the year.

 Thanks Daniel. You are a gem.

NEW YEAR’S BLITZ

January blues have set in and winter is storming away. Snow welcomed February with an overnight accumulation of a foot and a half in our little town. So, my reflections on the New Year have gotten off to a slow start.

Throughout my adult years, I’ve learned to cope in many ways. Life has changed and is so busy at our household. We tend to bulldoze through, even scaring my son with my driving to get to basketball practice, slipping and sliding through stop signs, shouting a few…well, whatevers… all the way on the dark and frozen streets. And as always, I run home, make dinner and have to go back again to pick him up after an hour. All in all, crazy days and late hours.

I usually don’t make resolutions in January. Instead, I start telling myself in September of the previous year to do better each month. So, I ignore the crazy blast of resolution-makers on January 2nd (since I have started my routine in early September). I’ve set my goals at home and the gym and keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve aged another year, but I’m keeping up with the crowd.

My house is in order. Over the holidays, we remodeled the master bathroom, (a tiny little affair but now it’s bright and cheerful!) with so many trips to Home Depot that my son now knows where to find anything, anywhere!

I went into the spring cleaning mode, early, so I could give myself permission to get back to writing. Cleaning the house is a necessary evil for me. It’s exhausting, but it releases me to get back to creating.

The family has all gone back to school and work, and although it was a joy to be with them, now there is a peaceful rhythm back into my daily routine. I don’t have a 24-7 entertainment and work schedule.

Tax season is also looming so I’ve prepared all the necessary paperwork and sent it off; a great relief to be done with it!

And, the political arena is in full force with elections this year. I try to be open-minded with people and not get mad at them – a lot of crazy, scared people out there, so it’s hard not to get sucked into the drama. When the time comes to vote, I’ll vote. Everyone should do the same. ‘Nuf said.

Finally, a note on winter reading:

  • Read or re-read A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson, and see the film. Robert Redford did a pretty good job playing Bryson. You really had to read the book to understand the movie, though, but it was fun and inspiring. Bryson’s books are a delight and take you to places you may never go to.
  • Read the Frontline series by Marko Kloos – Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure, and Angles of Attack. Good science fiction – a great action-packed escape. You can also order his new one which will be out soon – Chains of Command. (No, he didn’t pay me to review his books, but they are so cool I had to mention them.)
  • Marcus Sakey completed his Brilliance trilogy – Written in Fire is a great page turner. He finished with a both a positive outlook and a scary take on what could come if he wrote another. And, he had a few noteworthy quotes for our times – check this out: “When people are scared, it’s easy for them to decide anything different is evil. To forget that everyone is basically the same, that we all love our families and want regular lives….[People] make others scared on purpose, because they know if they do, everyone will start acting stupid. I love his writing style and the personality of Cooper! Thank you for a great story!

So instead of making resolutions that you may or may not keep, every year, no matter how old you are, make a list of all the fun things you want to do during the year and start the list on your birthday! One of my son’s teachers turns 50 this year so she has a 50 fun things list for this year. How cool is that? I’m not sure I can come up with 60 fun things but I’m certainly going to try.

FACEBOOK AND FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

If you are a Facebook fan (I am not) you’ll notice that everyone is shouting and no one is listening. When did hate and fear solve anything? When did we stop listening to each other?

I believe Facebook was originally created to send happy messages, post pictures and generally keep up with you friends and family. Lately, it seems to have taken on a dark side. Some people are getting into long diatribes about their religion, their politics, negative statements about race and sexual orientation, causing others to defend their side of things. It upsets me to know that we have lost our reasoning skills when it comes to these world problems and that we have forgotten how to just sit and listen to each other. We can agree to disagree but without hate and threats to the opposing party.

No one agrees with everything you say. They are never totally on your side. And sometimes you might be wrong in your thoughts. But to work up such a lather about what the other party is saying is a loss of perspective on what is really being said and why it is being said. We get so wrapped up in our own beliefs and defending this knowledge that we forget to look at the underlying causes of these conversations.

These people who spew forth misinformation and hate are probably just sad and lonely, waiting for a reaction from others so they have contact. What they really need is real contact with the outside world. I really wish they would think about what they say before they fire it off in their anonymity. Or, maybe they should just join a group or something outside of their house.

Weird Al Yankovic may be right in his song, First World Problems. Some people fixate on all the little things that are wrong in their lives: WiFi reception, not being able to order off of the Breakfast Menu after 2 pm because we got up too late, having a big house so we get lost, having gluten-free food, and all of the woes not understandable to a Third World person. We tend to forget that we have shelter, food, safety, and way more disposable income than the majority of the world. We can’t expect someone whose lives are at stake every day in a war zone to understand us. We can’t understand what it is like to live like that. We forgot to care.

So, what’s the solution? How do we get the happiness factor back in our lives and share it with others? How do we color our lives with a caring personality? Is all of this negativity an external force? Did someone create a presence on another planet and send all these negative vibes down to our earth via the media. Was it planned like we saw the movie Tomorrowland? Can we get over the blaming and get on with the doing?

I am committing to try a little harder to understand others and at least listen, even if I don’t agree with them. I am committing to do a good deed each day, even if it’s just a smile for a friend or customer, and laugh at a good joke, and enjoy each moment. Maybe people will think I’m being a d…k sometimes, when I talk to them about something uncomfortable, but I certainly won’t be an a…hole. (Thank you, Peter Quill, or Star Lord, for that sage advice. OK, seriously, you didn’t get that? From Guardians of the Galaxy, of course!)

HAPPINESS AND THE HOLIDAYS

Last week was crazy, wasn’t it? We tried to fit it all in: the baking, the cooking of a bountiful meal, the Zoo Lights, the cozy feelings, family being ever-present, and of course, the shopping. And we were happy, right? Well, most of the time.

How are we supposed to maintain that frantic happiness that the media hypes for the holidays? The answer is we can’t. We do our best, we try to be grateful for what we have. But, when everyone gets cranky, we bundle up, get everyone out of the house and take the dogs for a walk (in 15 degree weather-yes, the dogs have sweaters, and coats, too). When we return home, we encourage them to take a nap afterwards, or watch a stupid movie. And, when they’re all asleep or otherwise occupied, we run. We escape them for a few minutes to regain a sense of peace. We leave the house and go to the gym, away from all of them.

We come back with a sense of perspective. We’re thankful for having a cozy home and a loving family. We’re thankful for peace and not having a war raging in our backyard. We’re thankful for all the food we’ve stuffed ourselves with.  We go out and do some good deeds for the less fortunate. And, we stop worrying. Or at least, that’s what I do. After all, happiness is a state of mind created by me.

Happy Holidays everyone!