The Power to PowerPoint

I have the POWER, I have the POWER, I am POWERFUL.

Can I get an AMEN?


I’ve been listening to many different motivational speakers lately, both spiritual and otherwise. Why? Because I have really been unmotivated this summer. I have been doing a lot more of sitting around wasting time and less of writing and working.

Yeah, it’s summer, but it isn’t making me a better person.

Then , when I was struggling to come up with a way to present the speech I committed myself to give tomorrow night, I realized I was inspired to try something I have been telling myself I would someday learn how to do. I not only felt inspired to try it, I actually committed to do it and I got my computer out and did it.

Well, truthfully I am still working on it, but I know what I am doing.

You see, I couldn’t figure out how I would remember all my key points and my printer is out of ink, and it’s just too much work to try to go shopping, so I thought I would try the PowerPoint.

I have the Power to PowerPoint.

And you know what? I think it’s pretty good.

I have watched quite a few PowerPoint presentations in my time in classrooms and Toastmasters. I have formed opinions on the proper and improper uses and I will keep that in mind tomorrow.

I will not simply read the slides. I will not put too much information on the slides when it is better for me to demonstrate. I will not rush through the points. I will be in control.

I am excited. I have the POWER!


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Posted in character building, gratitude, Uncategorized

I Found My Way

I don’t really remember what song it was, but I found myself thinking the words of a Frank Sinatra song this morning. I was preparing to start rearranging things in my house and decided that I would find a Frank Sinatra album on my music app.

I have been listening to him all day. I was surprised to know most of the songs. The songs I don’t know still have me swaying as I move about the house. Even now, as I write, I am listening to his swooning. I can’t usually write with music because I get distracted, yet his songs simply calm me.

I have been thinking about my parents all day. I can imagine them dancing to these songs and that brings me joy. I keep thinking the only reason I know the songs is because my parents always sang when we took long trips in my youth. It’s nice to have the memories and even nicer to have been inspired to find this music so I can sway to the nostalgia.

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Showing up for Success

I saw Howie Mandel in an interview recently. He was asked to comment about judging for America’s Got Talent.

I can’t quote him exactly, but he said he was surprised by how many contestants say they don’t sing at home. In fact, many of their friends don’t even know they can sing.  He wanted to point out that the most successful people are the ones who show up.

That comment struck a chord with me. How can I be successful if I don’t show up?

If I don’t actually open my computer or at least take a pen and notebook off the shelf, I will never be finished with the sequel to my first book. I will never be able to call myself a success because I am not showing up in the first place.

That thought led my mind to the idea that showing up is half the battle.

It is. As soon as my computer is open and I start typing, the battle has begun and the victory is imminent. Well, imminent might be an optimistic exaggeration, but it is much more likely than it would be otherwise.

So, here’s to showing up and succeeding.

Have a nice day.

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Flamingos Reach New Heights

Well, well, well,

Our well is not well. In fact, it needs to be replaced. It is one of those events in life when one realizes just how much we underestimate our use of water.

As you might know, getting a new well is both complicated and expensive. It didn’t surprise me that in order to put in a new well, many limbs had to be cut from the trees in These Fair Woods. Fortunately, we were able to rent a machine to help  reach the tree limbs.

At one point in the process the youngest came to me and told me I should come out and see the progress of the tree trimming. It didn’t take me long to notice the mayhem.


It appears that one of the sweet darlings decided to take on new heights. I hear she can see the river quite well.

Here you can see just how high she is.


Before the day was done she had convinced another to join her.



I have decided to put them to good use as they perch in their new positions.

They are now flamingo surveillance officers. They do a very good job. I just wish they would stop waking me in the middle of the night because they see a raccoon.




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I Know Who Said it

My local writing group has been discontinued. This is very disappointing, but I must not let it stop me from writing.

In our last session, I shared a piece I had been having trouble with getting right. I was proud of how it turned out. One of the members told me he was confused because I had used dialogue without always saying, “He said,” or “She said.”

The main reason I did not use the obligatory said was because I did not want to let the reader know the gender of one of the characters. I also felt that, as long as I wrote “He said,” for the man’s dialogue, it would be clear who was speaking because there were only two characters in the scene.

My friend said he was taking an on-line course that taught the student to use said rather than all the other choices (exclaimed, yelled, remarked, etc.). He admonished me, “I just learned the rule and you broke the rule.” 🙂 Of course, he said it with a smile and a laugh.

That conversation has stuck with me since that day. I often ask, “Does the reader know who is speaking?” while I write.

Then I borrowed Robert B. Parker’s book, Chasing the Bear, in audio version. The story was good, but the dialogue consisted of very short statements and each statement was followed by “S/he said.”

I am not quoting from the book because I don’t have it in front of me, but the following is a good imitation….

My wife came home. “Hello,” she said.

“Hello,” I said.

“How was your day?” I said.

“Fine,” she said.

“Want to eat take-out?” I said.

“Sure,” she said.



You get the point. That is a lot of saids. Even more annoying, much of the time the word asked would have been more appropriate.

The audio was somewhere around three hours, if I remember correctly. I was really tired of the word said, but the story was really good. I don’t think it would have bothered me nearly as much had I been reading the book rather than listening.

At one point, I was driving the youngest home and we listened to it together. I had wanted another opinion as to how annoying the saids were. Of course, during the first five minutes, we listened to an action scene with no dialogue.

It wasn’t long after the dialogue started again that the youngest gave me an incredulous look. “Mom, why are you listening to this?”

I explained the story was really good. I paused the audio (thanks to modern technology in my car), and summarized the story.

The youngest agreed. The story sounded great, but the saids  did not seem to entice the youngest into hearing anymore.

I did like the story. I want to make that clear. I just did not like the way the dialogue was constructed.

I think it was a great story for me to listen to because it reaffirmed my belief that the reader should be able to understand dialogue without constantly pointing out who the speaker is.

What do you find most difficult about writing dialogue?

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If Only

If Only I were



More agile, and


I just saw something, from the safety of my balcony, that I don’t remember ever seeing before. 

My human exclaimed, “Look at all the kites.”

Then, we looked closer. They were kite surfing.

This, incredibly talented, being rode all the way to the Edge of the sand, turned, rode the waves and literally flew through the air for an unbelievable period of time.

I could have watched for hours, but he headed north, out of sight.

Oh, if only I were able to play like that!

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Old Friends at the Beach

“The sunrise was beautiful this morning.” said the woman on the elevator this morning.

“Yes, I’m glad we saw it, spectacular.” the man responded.

I was on my way down to the newspaper stand to find Halloween activities. I had slept through the sunrise, so I had nothing to add to the conversation. I am on vacation, I don’t wake early enough to bother with the sunrise.

Still, I went on the balcony and saw this.

I couldn’t help thinking, here were two old friends, sitting on a rooftop like bookends.

I guess they think the view is every bit as wonderful as I do. I wonder if they saw the sunrise. They might have had something to add to the elevator conversation.  

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Old Friend, I Missed You

My old friend and I have not been together for many months. I truly can’t remember the last time we met.

Oh, how very much I missed my friend who makes my breathing easy and sends my soul and dreams flying. 

We have been reunited, and the world is alright again.

Everyone seems to have their own happy place. This is mine.

Thankfully, I am getting back on track. 

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As Long As I Remember

I sat in the area known as “The Square” between all the classes, with a small group of students, trying to help them write essays. One student asked me how to spell volunteer and I started, “V-O-L-“, then I went completely blank. I could not remember what letter came next.

“I can’t remember, I think it’s V-O-L-U-N-T-E-E-R, but I am not sure.”

Truthfully, I think it is good for students to know that even adults sometimes have moments when they are not sure, but still – I was upset that my brain froze.

One of the students wrote the word into his computer to let the spell check do its magic, and declared I was correct. Still, it looked funny to me. Oh well, at least that question was answered.

The thing is, for me, the idea of forgetting is not something I take lightly. I lost both my parents to Alzheimer’s. I remember when my father started to forget words. No, I did not forget the word, just how to spell it, but still –

My parents are not forgotten. They still live in my memories and as long as I remember them, they will continue to be a real part of who I am. I want to remember them and that is the main reason my sisters and I walk every October. We walk for a cure, we walk to raise awareness of the disease, and we walk in order to support the services available for those suffering from the disease and for their caregivers.

Last Saturday was our walk.

It took place in the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware.


It was a gorgeous day, cool in the morning, but it became quite warm – I think in the 80s and I enjoyed the weather very much.


20171021_082932.jpgThis tent doesn’t have anything other than tables, but there was a tent with bananas, pretzels, and  water so we had the energy to walk. There were also tables with reusable water bottles, towels, bags, etc. from the various nursing homes and other service providers.

The most beautiful table was the one with the flowers. Each walker picked a flower based on their reason for walking.



Though there were many orange flowers taken, most were either yellow or purple because, unfortunately, there are few people who are not affected by the terrible disease.

My flower was yellow because I was once a caregiver. I could have taken purple, but my angel garden already has a purple one.

I pray I never get a blue one.

I pray, and pray, and pray…..

This year they introduced a new flower. It wasn’t available on the table, but it was part of the opening ceremony because there WILL come a day when people will proudly carry the white flowers.


I survived Alzheimer’s

Someday there will be a cure.

Someday, I will simply laugh off the idea that I forgot how to spell ‘volunteer’.

Until that day, I will continue to walk, as long as I remember.


A field of beautiful flowers that spun in the breeze.

Every time I saw someone with a blue flower, I felt the anguish of the individual and those around him. Every time I saw a group of people, each carrying a sign of a the face of a loved one lost, I felt the sting of tears in my eyes.

Though I wish to forget the grief the disease causes, I choose to remember because it is in remembering that we find the drive to continue to walk.

It was a beautiful day with a very large crowd.

You know what is always present when a large crowd gathers…..


I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the ambulance because I included one in my last post. I found its presence to be a little poignant as many with Alzheimer’s end up passengers in such vehicles. I don’t think it was used that day.


Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Uncategorized

Back in the Saddle

For most of us, falling off a bicycle is no big deal. As long as we were capable of riding the bicycle well in the first place, it is simply a matter of putting our rumps on the seat and our feet on the pedals. The balancing act becomes second nature. The fall from a bicycle is not a terrible fall, the distance to the ground is relatively short, the bruises minor.

Falling off a horse is considerably more debilitating. Horses are taller than bicycles. Horses are more skittish and they sense our fear, making them even more difficult to remount after a terrible fall.

I never felt uneasy getting back on a bicycle, even after I was hit by a car on one.  Though I have ridden horses, I don’t know if I would be easily persuaded to go back in the saddle after a fall. Were I able to overcome my fear, I would definitely require a saddle rather than try to ride bareback.

Please allow me to use the analogy of blogging as riding a horse.

I was doing fairly well in my navigating the pathways on through the open fields and forests and rivers on my dear horse (thecreationofmaneetrautz) on my trusty saddle. However, I think there was a time I tried to go bareback. I had it in my mind that I was going to be exceptional at it and make the world of a difference. I tried to enter a steeple chase as a beginner.

The competition was overwhelming. I felt inferior. I fell during one of the jumps and I was unable to brush off the grass and dirt quickly enough to catch up with the other horses. I led the horse back into the barn and left it alone.

I am a substitute teacher. Walking into a classroom after a summer off is as simple as riding a bicycle. I had no trouble with it. In fact, I absolutely love my job. I have no fear of incompetence when I prepare my lunch each morning, don my badge, and walk out the door.

Writing, is an insurmountable steed.

Yet, I must write. I must mount that horse again. I may need a steady hand to offer me support, as well as a step ladder, but I will mount that horse again. Of course, I will use a saddle.

You, my dear readers, the members of my writer’s group, as well as my new Toastmaster’s friends,  are all my support. My saddle is a healthy recognition that I can’t be a huge success in the blink of an eye, it takes practice and persistence. I also have to be more realistic in what defines success.

For now, my success is in doing. As long as I write, I am successful.

So, for now, the pathways I am going ride upon my horse will be gentle and well worn. There will be times that I lead, and others when I let the horse lead, Either way, as long as we are at ease with each other, the journey will be sweet.

I will not be trying to inspire and change the world with lofty thoughts. That pompous track was daunting. Instead, I will simply try to inspire by sharing more of myself. I don’t know why I was afraid to write about the person behind the pen name. I would think an author is more enjoyable if we knew more about the person as a human.

Last spring, my human and I went to the horse races. I was going to write something great about it, but I never did. Some day, I might write about my experiences with horse races, but for today, I would like to share pictures I took.


20170519_120357It was a beautiful day for a race.20170519_130015The food was phenomenal, Maryland seafood in all its glory.20170519_141849 The beverage of choice was a Black-eyed Susan, which tasted wonderful and definitely added to the happiness of the day.20170519_141415I don’t know much about how people dress when attending the horse races across the country, but I did know hats were a dominant factor for this particular event. I was fortunate enough to have many willing, lovely ladies whom I did not know, willing to model their beautiful hats.  All were aware I would post them.

The most striking picture was one I didn’t even realize would be so relevant in the post I would write about this event. I understood the importance of the vehicle for the event, but I had never seen anything like it before, and I had to capture it in a picture.

20170519_161037Notice the two ambulances. They don’t look out of place in a fairgrounds where many visitors are expected.

20170519_161047This ambulance is definitely a one-of-a-kind. I have never seen one before, but I am certain it is a welcome sight for many a horse.

I think both my horse and I needed some attending these last few months. Fortunately, we are healing, and  back in the saddle.

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