Minty Fresh

Minty Fresh

Three days away from WordPress (or is it four) has meant three (or four) days away from writing. Not that I’m happy about it, but that’s the way my mind works. ADD. I tend to hyper-focus, and this time it was something demanding my attention.

Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7, including security updates, on January 14th, and I’ve been working on setting up Linux on my laptop. My plan was to make the laptop a dual-boot terminal, allowing me to run Linux Mint as my primary OS and using Windows (while offline) when necessary. There’s a Windows emulator for Linux called Wine, but I’ve read that it’s not 100% reliable.

One specific use for Windows would be when using one of my scanners. It has the ability to scan slides and negatives – I have thousands of slides, my own and my father’s, and I may actually finish scanning them before I leave this earthly plane – and the software interface for the scanner definitely would not be accessible in Linux. Another use would be fine tuning printer settings through the printer interface.

I was able to transfer a large amount of files – mainly documents and photos – from the laptop to a new 4tb external hard drive – freeing nearly half of the laptop memory to create a separate partition for Mint. (Linux totally isolates itself from the Windows partition, meaning that nothing from the old partition can be accessed from the Linux partition, thus protecting Linux from any unforeseen damage that Windows may incur.) While I was at it, I gathered documents and fold

Three days away from WordPress (or is it four) has meant three (or four) days away from writing. Not that I’m happy about it, but that’s the way my mind works. A

Three days away from WordPress (or is it four) has meant three (or four) days away from writing. Not that I’m happy about it, but that’s the way my mind works. ADD. I tend to hyper-focus, and this time it was something demanding my attention.

DD. I tend to hyper-focus, and this time it was something demanding my attention.

ers from other, smaller, external drives I’ve acquired over the years. A future project will be to eliminate duplicates now that they’re all on one drive, but also within folders. I tend to take burst shots with my camera, often forgetting to delete the unneeded photos.

That being done, I created a Live USB of Linux Mint. This allowed me to boot Mint from a thumb drive. I found that I was very satisfied with it, but there’s a loss of speed and no ability to save changes from the USB. With a new partition in place on the laptop, I ran an app from the desktop of that thumb drive to complete the installation on the laptop… with repeated failures.

Everything I read said to partition from Windows. Doing so through the actual Mint installation can lead to big problems. Well, I decided to go back to Windows to remove the new partition, expand the original to its former size, and let Linux do the partition work. That seemed to be the answer.

Installation was completed, and I rebooted the laptop – only to have it start in Windows, again. (When Mint boots, it offers the option to boot with Linux or with Windows.)

During this whole process, I spent a lot of time getting advice from my son, who works in IT for a web hosting firm. Since one of the early error warnings was regarding a faulty drive he suggested it could be my USB or insufficient power to the USB port. Rather than making a new Live USB and possibly having it be the port, I burned it to a DVD. Bingo!

That was last evening, and I’ve spent today configuring Mint, including changing preferences and downloading and installing software, which is easily done through Mint. I rely on LibreOffice, GIMP, and Audacity, among other programs, and many are available to run with Linux. Mint finds the software through a Program Manager, and takes care of the download and installation.

Three days away from WordPress (or is it four) has meant three (or four) days away from writing. Not that I’m happy about it, but that’s the way my mind works. ADD. I tend to hyper-focus, and this time it was something demanding my attention.

Once I got this up and running, I decided to try it out on a laptop I stopped using two years ago. I never was happy with Windows 10, and when it started stalling and freezing I retired it to take on this laptop, which was like new and running Windows 7. Well, I pulled out the old Toshiba, wiped it and did an installation of straight Linux. It runs like a charm.

One other good thing came out of this. Last year, a 3tb external hard drive crashed – I was doing that document/photo file consolidation when Windows said it was inaccessible. Well, Linux has no problem reading it, so I have access to a terabyte of files I thought were lost to me.

This laptop with Mint works fine for me, so I look forward to using it for a few more years. With this incident behind me (hopefully), I can get back to reading and writing poetry.

Ken

Blogger Recognition Award

Winter driving has always been one of my least favorite things to do. Imagine that. It was part of my job before I retired – driving a semi in the Buffalo and Western New York area. I got to do just that last weekend – thankfully in a car and not a semi – as I drove home in a lake effect snow storm on I-86 between Jamestown and Erie. That experience was tempered (just a little) while pulled off the road to clean my windows, when I was pleasantly surprised by a WP notification that I had been nominated by Jim Webster for The Blogger Recognition Award.

Jim Webster is a farmer and an author who writes about his books and about farm life in Britain, as well as about his community of South Cumbria and Britain, at large, often providing insightful observations of human character. Speaking of human character, Jim also has a site where he tells the tales of Tallis Steelyard, a poet with the highest of standards, sometimes exercised in the lowest of places. Tallis has appeared here many times as a guest blogger while on book tours, telling tales of Port Naain society, as seen through the eyes of a jobbing poet.

I was back home in Missouri, snug as a bug in a rug, when I received notification that Sue Vincent also had nominated me for The Blogger Recognition Award. I started following Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo when I discovered her #writephoto / Thursday Photo Prompt, in which she offers a weekly photo, taken in her travels about Britain. And boy, does she travel, visiting historic sites in Britain, as far as the northern reaches of Scotland, with her colleagues in the Silent Eye, recounting their experiences of visual and spiritual discovery. Her blog also includes poetry, sometimes written by her roommate, Ani, a canine with a most astute nature.

The rules for The Blogger Recognition Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

I started this blog in April 2014, when I wrote a poem for each day of the month to participate in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I started following a handful of poets, but once April was over I slacked off, both in posting and reading other poets. I participated again in 2015 and realized I needed that motivation to write. I started reading the poets I followed, adding more as I went along. I found that, by the end of the year, I was writing on a more regular basis, often inspired by the words I was reading, as well as in response to prompts provided by some of those bloggers. I’ve discovered a very welcoming community on WordPress and consider many of those with whom I interact to be friends, people I would enjoy meeting. A stop along my recent trip home showed just how possible that is.

Occasionally, I’ll post a blog with photos I’ve taken while kayaking, hiking, or traveling, but poetry continues to be my main focus.

I’ve had this blog for more than five years, now, and last year I switched to a paid plan on WordPress, for two reasons. First, to have the option to include audio files in which I read some of my poems; and second, to remove the ads from my blog. Occasionally, I will create a video poem, which I embed after posting it on YouTube.

If I were to offer advice to new bloggers, it would be to reply to the people who comment on your posts. As you interact with them, both on your blogs and in comments on theirs, you’ll find a community opening up before you.

As a second bit of advice: We all need encouragement. Even a simple “Like” lets us know that others have seen what we have to say, so do the same for those you have read. And comment, when possible. Sometimes I struggle to find the right words for a comment, but I will do so when I can find those words.

Normally, I don’t take part in blogger awards, so I’m going to forgo nominating other bloggers for this. Regardless, please take the time to find out what Sue and Jim (and his alter ego, Tallis) are all about.

I’ll add one more thing: I wish I could follow more bloggers, but, as it is, sometimes I find it hard to keep up with those I do follow. Real life gets in the way, but that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Ken Gierke

The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl

The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl

Once upon a time, there was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl who spent her days and nights in many ways. She dressed up as a potato. She rode through a pumpkin patch. She went along the ocean shore, talking to a starfish.

Each of these events was a story in itself, and each event was typical for the eight-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl. And, it is almost certain that there were many more such “typical” events in her life.

But, one day, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl was visited by an event that was not so typical, and it would change her life forever.

For a couple of weeks, she had been feeling sort of tired. It wasn’t like her toes were snoring while she was doing her tap dancing routine – although they did snore when she was sleep walking. It was just that she seemed to have less energy.

Except in the middle of the night. She was having some terrible nightmares, and she woke up several times, screaming and crying. She couldn’t decide if her tummy was hurting her, or if she had just broken her arm on an amusement ride. She just knew that something inside of her did not feel right. Each time, her mom or dad would hold her and soothe her until she fell back to sleep.

And thirsty? Boy, was she ever thirsty! For those last two weeks, she was drinking everything in sight. Every time she walked by the aquarium, the goldfish would hide behind the plants, in case a straw should suddenly appear in their midst.

That was when her mom decided it was time for her to be tested. She took the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl to see her doctor. When the doctor saw the results of the test, he decided that she should go right away to the hospital.

So, off she went with her mother to the hospital. But, first they went home to get jammies, in case she would need to stay overnight.

When they got to the hospital, it was a little scary, in a nice sort of way. All of the doctors and nurses were cheerful, but they gave her shots and put tubes into both of her arms. They attached a clear bag of fluid to one of the tubes. They used the other one to take blood samples for testing. But, she was feeling better, and she had more energy.

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl knew that something pretty peculiar was going on when the doctor told her she would be staying for the night. And when her dad came into the hospital from work, she definitely knew that something was up.

In all, she stayed at the hospital for two nights, and her mom slept right in the room with her! How special was that?

When she was in the hospital, she learned why she had been so tired and thirsty. The doctor told her that she had diabetes. That meant that when her body needed energy, it used the food that she had eaten to find glucose, or sugar, just like everyone else. But, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl did not have enough insulin so that her body could use that glucose for energy. That’s why she was so thirsty. Her body was using everything she drank to flush the unused sugar out of her body.

Since her pancreas was no longer making the insulin her body needed, she would need to have a couple of shots of insulin every day. They even showed her family how to give the shots, or injections, at the hospital.

Once the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl went home from the hospital, she had some new routines that were a part of every typical day. She had to prick her finger four times a day. This was so that she could put a drop of blood on her glucometer. That was a little electronic box with a computer chip that could measure the amount of glucose in her blood. And, every time, she would write the numbers into a log. That was a book to keep track of the numbers.

The way she ate her meals was now different, too. Before her hospital stay, she was sort of a grazer. She would not always finish her meals, because she would eat little snacks throughout the day.

Now, breakfast, lunch, and dinner had to be at set times. She also would have to eat a snack between meals and at bedtime. Everything she ate would have to be measured, until she and her family could figure measurements by looking.

That was because they had to keep track of carbs. Many foods are carbohydrates, and carbohydrates include sugar. So, if they knew how many carbs she was eating, and they made sure she was getting the correct amount of insulin from her injections, they could make sure that she continued to be a healthy blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl. (That is, until she grew up to be a healthy blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman.) It wouldn’t be long before all of this became second nature.

She also would know when to watch for low blood sugar. This would happen when she was active, and her body used more sugar than was usual. It almost seemed odd to eat or drink something to raise her glucose level, when high blood sugar levels usually were her problem. But that was all a part of having diabetes.

So, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl’s life was changed forever. Finger pricks throughout the day. Injections before lunch and dinner. Careful meal planning. Diabetes was something that she would have to adjust to, but she knew that it would not get in the way of her typical activities.

Like wandering through a cornfield looking for a lighthouse!

“The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl” is the last of the eight short stories in Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Adventures, a collection of stories about my daughter’s adventures, written for her twenty years ago. This was written after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which occurred two month before her ninth birthday.  The book finishes with a poem, “Sweet Dreams.”

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spud
The Tiny Princess
Blue and Blonde Sprinkles
Jenny Comes Home from School
Smiles in the Pumpkin Patch
The Happiest of Birthdays
The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish
The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl
~~~
Sweet Dreams

 

Ken Gierke

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Come sail with me on chocolate seas,
Beyond the coffee grounds,
Where gummy fish grant every wish,
And sweetness still abounds.

Now close your eyes, a sweet surprise
Awaits you while you sleep:
Fancy tales of licorice whales
Within the ocean deep.

With jellyfish in every dish
Of peanut butter pie,
And just a hint of peppermint
On every mermaid’s sigh.

’Cross seas so cold with marshmallows,
Like icebergs on the waves,
To tropic shores with toasted s’mores
Buried in pirate caves.

Through salty gales with toffee sails
We’ll search for tasty treats.
In far off lands, the muffin man
Will sweep you off your feet.

At stately balls in castle halls
Composed of gingerbread,
Pink bubblegum and sugarplums
Will dance within your head.

Then dawn will break as you awake.
Oh, how your eyes will gleam!
These words were said beside your bed,
Then came true in a dream!

“Sweet Dreams” is the final entry in Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Adventures, a collection of eight short stories about my daughter’s adventures, written for her twenty years ago. This was written after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  For the longest time, I had wanted to write a bedtime poem for her.  She had just turned nine when I wrote this, but we still recited it together many times before bedtime.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spud
The Tiny Princess
Blue and Blonde Sprinkles
Jenny Comes Home from School
Smiles in the Pumpkin Patch
The Happiest of Birthdays
The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish
The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl
~~~
Sweet Dreams

 

Ken Gierke

I’m also posting this to Open Link Night #252 at dVerse

The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish

The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish

Everyone knows that starfish come in a variety of colors. There are red, green, and brown… there are even blue and yellow starfish. But there was only one blonde-haired, blue-eyed starfish, and one summer was a very exciting summer for that starfish.

One day, late in the summer, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed starfish was sitting in the shallow water at the very edge of the ocean. She had just finished telling her starfish friends how much she enjoyed the bright sunny day, just above the surface, when an extra bright sparkle caught her attention.

She looked closer and saw that it was the sparkle of bright blue eyes and the sparkle of shiny blonde hair. It was then that she heard the laughter of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl who was pointing at the starfish in the water. The sparkle of hair and eyes danced before her eyes, while the music of laughter sang in her ears. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed starfish knew that she had to see more, so, for the next week, she swam up and down the coast of Maine as she followed the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl.

Sometimes she was walking along the shore, and sometimes she was swimming or paddling a canoe. Other times, she was farther from shore, riding in a car. But always, the sparkle of her blue eyes and blonde hair let the blue-eyed starfish know that she was near.

It was a wonderful time, and when, at last, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl went back home, far from the ocean, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed starfish knew that they both would have some very special memories to last the rest of their lives.

“The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish” is the seventh of eight short stories in Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Adventures, a collection of stories about my daughter’s adventures, written for her twenty years ago. What could be more special than finding a starfish while vacation on the shore s of Maine?

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spud
The Tiny Princess
Blue and Blonde Sprinkles
Jenny Comes Home from School
Smiles in the Pumpkin Patch
The Happiest of Birthdays
The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish
The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl
~~~
Sweet Dreams

 

Ken Gierke

The Happiest of Birthdays

The Happiest of Birthdays

Once upon a time, there was a birthday. This wasn’t just any old birthday. It was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed birthday.

Now, as everyone knows, there are hundreds of days every year: three-hundred sixty-five, to be exact. And, every one of those days has thousands and thousands of birthdays. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed birthday was one of them.

Each of those birthdays, year after year, has a special place. Sometimes it’s a roller rink or a miniature golf course. Sometimes it’s a little kitchen holding smiling faces as pursed lips blow out candles.

But always, there is a special home for those birthdays. It might be the heart of a grandpa who wonders how many more he will see, or it might be the eyes of a two-year-old child who marvels at all the attention.

Well, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed birthday had a very special home, and that was the heart and soul of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl.

And every year, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed birthday was the happiest of birthdays because the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl was the happiest little girl when she saw all the love that her family and friends had for her.

“The Happiest of Birthdays” is the sixth of eight short stories in Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Adventures, a collection of stories about my daughter’s adventures, written for her twenty years ago. Birthdays are a special time for little girls, and hers were no different.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spud
The Tiny Princess
Blue and Blonde Sprinkles
Jenny Comes Home from School
Smiles in the Pumpkin Patch
The Happiest of Birthdays
The Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Starfish
The New Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Girl
~~~
Sweet Dreams

 

Ken Gierke

Twin Banks

Twin Banks

I’d like to say it went off without a hitch, but, truth be known, I choked up (as expected). What could have been three minutes of poetry during my daughter’s (and, of course, her husband’s) wedding seemed like a lifetime, as her life-to-this-point flashed before me. I have been called a romantic, and I won’t deny that it’s true. Her happiness always has been one of my foremost concerns. They have been a couple since high school – more than a third of their lives – but I was overwhelmed by the significance of that moment and the happiness they will share.

Afterwards, the father-daughter dance did go off without a hitch. (I guess the lessons, followed by practice with my wife every night during the month before the trip, paid off.) Our plan was to alter the tempo of a waltz to fit with Billy Joel’s Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel), and it worked. Yes, it was emotional, but I had expended that energy for the reading, and the dance became a moment of delight paired with a song about the lasting bond of a father and his daughter.

At the reception, I was told by many that my reading brought tears to the eyes of some there. I’m sure that my own reaction had something to do with that. Here is that reading:

Celebration of Love

friends gather
to witness a vow
shared by two
as their love
becomes a celebration
a life together

From an early age, I encouraged Alyssa to have an interest in poetry. What better culmination of that than this poetic moment – the union of love?

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali musician, artist, and poet, and there is inspiration in much of his writing. He said,
               “Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.”

We see the perfect example of freedom in a butterfly. It goes about, fulfilling its life, with not a wasted moment. In fact, Tagore also said,
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”

That quote inspired me to write a haiku.

momentary pause
between silent beat of wings
butterfly alights

If we think of Reed and Alyssa as the butterflies, where do they alight?
It is this moment, here and now.

while dancing on air
paired beating of wings and hearts
butterfly finds mate

I have one other poem I’d like to read.

Twin Banks

Consider the banks of a river.

Far from separate
or opposite, they complement
each other as they embrace
the river flowing through them.

That river is life, and within it
there is a current, love, its depth
revealed with each passing moment.

It is that love which brings them here
today, the love that will carry them
through all their tomorrows.

It truly was a celebration.

Ken G.