All posts tagged: volunteer

Searching for Springtime Scares

I like to align a lot of my writing with the seasons, since I take a lot of inspiration from nature. Spring is usually a challenge for me, as I prefer darker themes and imagery. How do you make sunshine and budding flowers scary? I might be able to take some tips from a hugely successful horror movie that premiered last March. Jordan Peele’s Us featured warm weather, picturesque settings, and children. Peele contrasts these elements with dark tunnels, and a nighttime confrontation between the protagonist’s family and terrifying, murderous versions of themselves. I can also take  literary inspiration from some classic short stories.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is centered around a sunny room. And of course, Shirely Jackson’s famously unsettling The Lottery, detailing the horrifying tradition of a small New England town each June. What’s your favorite spring time scare?

Top 5 Winter Thrillers and Horror Movies

I love horror movies and thrillers set in winter. In some of the best, the winter weather can act as a second antagonist, trapping the hero of the movie. In others, it offers up gorgeous cinematography to serve as a poetic back drop for the story to unfold in. Below are some of my favorites, I’d love to hear about yours. Fargo The Cohen brothers set their thriller/black comedy in Minnesota during the late 80s, and use the expanse of long roads and barren, snowy landscapes in between cities and towns to their advantage. I’ve never seen headlights used as a plot device so well. Insomnia Unlike the rest of the movies on this list, much of Insomnia’s atmosphere relies on the perpetual daylight of summer in Alaska. It haunts Al Pacino’s weary detective relents as he hunts an unsettlingly friendly suspected serial killer. The Shining Based on the classic horror novel by Stephen King, the remote Overlook hotel that provides the setting for the film has an interesting duality. It is both a sanctuary …

Blood Orange Lemonade

There aren’t many fruits that I look forward to being in season during the winter, but blood oranges are definitely one of them. In season roughly November through May in the US,depending on where they are grown, they usually show up at my grocery store around mid January, but I start keeping an eye out for them in December. One of my favorite things to make with them is a flavored lemonade. It’s a little work, but more then worth it. I top mine with Blavod vodka for an extra kick (and macabre color), but it’s refreshing on its own as well. Blood Orange Lemonade: 1 cup blood orange juice – squeezed from about about four oranges 1 cup lemon juice- squeezed from about ten small lemons 1/4 cup orange juice- squeezed from one orange 3 cups water 3/4 cup simple syrup One blood orange sliced One lemon sliced Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and let sit for at least an hour. Top with vodka for an extra kick.

Winter Songs

I like eggnog, but I can’t drink it as is. I always need to add a little milk, or it’s too rich for me. The same goes for Christmas carols. I need to break them up with some songs that just make me think of winter. Songs about winter, that were used in a movie set during winter, or just played a lot during the winter season get mixed in my Christmas playlist to break up all the Christmas cheer. When the holidays are over, they make a great playlist on their own. Winter Playlist: Winter- Tori Amos This Year’s Love- Davis Gray Daughters- John Mayer Transatlanticism- Death Cab for Cutie If I Ain’t Got You- Alicia Keys Palace- Sam Smith Into the Mystic- Van Morrison Ophelia- The Lumineers Poison and Wine- The Civil Wars The A Team- Ed Sheeran I Put a Spell on You- Brigitte Wickens Winter Song- Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson Winter- Josh Radin Alive- Chris Daughtry This is Me- Keisha Rise Up- Andra Day From Now On- Zac Brown Band …

Smoke and Ashes

The first month my husband and I lived in our current neighborhood, we watched a house across road from us burn to the ground. The scent of smoke began to pervade the street around 8pm, and at first, could have been mistaken for a campfire or barbeque. Soon the air became hazier and it was obvious something was wrong. Neighbors and volunteer firefighters walked up and down the street looking for the source of the smoke for a half an hour before visible flames began to shoot out from the house across the road and three houses down from ours. Within another 10- 15 minutes the house was engulfed in flames. I had never met the owners of the house or been inside their home, but I knew they had lived a lifetime in it. I could tell by their back yard. It faced a stretch of the walking trail my husband and I walk every evening. We were  just learning how hard it is to maintain a green lawn, and theirs was thick and …

Star Wars at the Symphony

This past weekend I attended a screening of Star Wars; A New Hope hosted by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Just like a previous showing I attended last November of Home Alone,  the orchestra performed the soundtrack live. Once again, it was a fantastic experience. Every time I see John Williams’s music performed live, I really appreciate how intricate the music is, and how difficult it is to perform live. Seeing the score to Star Wars performed live was also very nostalgic, since I was introduced to the movies by my grandparents as a child. I have a lot of fond memories of watching and re-watching all three films while staying with them for visits. I would highly recommend seeing a movie screening with the score performed live if you ever have the chance. I’m looking forward to seeing the Empire Strikes back in 2020! Give Back: Dress for Success is a national organization that distributes suits and business attire to women across the country. Each client gets a suit, shoes, and accessories to wear on …

Creating a Writing Soundtrack

I’ve always found it difficult to write in silence. Even as far back as high school, if I was writing an essay or report, I needed music in the background or my mind would wander. Now, when I’m working on poetry and short stories, I like to listen to classical music written or featured in soundtracks for movies and TV shows. I’ve been compiling a playlist with a mix of pieces from soundtracks that stand out to me when I first hear them. I keep adding to and rearranging the songs, but I can still remember the scenes in which I heard them. Below is my writing playlist in its current form, let me know if you have any suggestions to add! Give Back: Random Acts of Flowers mission is two fold, to deliver flowers to patients, and to prevent waste by recycling elements of flower arrangements.  Consider donating funds, or volunteering at a local branch. Read:  If your a fan of spoken word poetry, read this comparison of Ann Sexton’s two performances of Music …

How NaPoWriMo Completely Reshaped My Blog

Last year I made the impulsive, last minute decision to participate in National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaPoWriMo is a month long project occurring each April in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day the entire month. Participants post a link to their website or blog to the NaPoWriMo website to show off their participation. Although I had made myself a resolution to restart my creative writing, at about this time in 2018 I had not made any moves to fulfill it. The turning point for me was stumbling on a fellow blogger’s post about NaPoWriMo. It gave me the structure I needed to get started,  accountability, and support. The daily prompts provided invaluable inspiration, I began to connect with other writers, and the daily writing habit I gained carried on long after the month was over. Ultimately it completely changed the focus of my blog from a hodgepodge of travel posts and photography to a writing blog that also catalogued my inspirations. I started with …

Shades of Grey

At the end of winter it can sometimes feel like spring is a fairytale instead of a season. We have the expectation that winter will immediately give away to warmer days but the reality is for many, spring is weeks of rain punctured by a few days of sun and flowers. Things have felt especially great for me lately. Whether it’s the actual rain clouds over my head, long days at work, deciding if I can still listen to Michael Jackson’s music or not after watching Leaving Netherland, or tracking down the missing clothes my laundry service misplaced, it feels like the sun is never going to come. But there is no need to lose hope just yet. The sun peeked out today from behind the clouds. I have plenty of musicians to admire. My laundry was found, and I have a five day weekend next week. Winter always ends. But if you need some extra greenery, consider any of the five films listed below. Some are longtime favorites of mine (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) …

Spring Training

When I was young and still attended church regularly, Lent was a big deal. I remember a priest referring to it as Spring Training for Catholics. I would get my forehead anointed on  Ash Wednesday with my Grandparents, and discuss at length with my sisters what to give up for the six weeks of sacrifice. Which is probably way I have continued to observe lent long after I ceased to become a regular church goer. Other than Christmas, the solemn period of Lent, and celebration of Easter is the only other Catholic tradition that holds a lot of positive associations. Although now it has become more a period of self reflection, where I cleanse  my house of clutter that can be donated, try to shop less, and of course think of something to give up. Give Back: As is the case with other natural disasters, the best way to help victims of last weekend’s deadly tornadoes is to donate to established charities, like the East Alabama Chapter of the Red Cross. Read: It has been …