Archive for the ‘Maryjo "Mj" Morgan, Writer’ Category

Ugh, think you have the flu?

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

The Flu I.Q. widget is an interactive quiz to test your flu knowledge.

Hope you don't! It's nasty. Maybe you can prevent getting it by knowing the symptoms.

Be well!

An Astronaut's View

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on EarthAll I can think of is those astonishing photos from the ISS (International Space Station). Seems I clicked "like" immediately on visuals posted by Col. Chris Hadfield while he was up there. I watched his YouTube videos, singing with kids, giving science lessons and patiently answering for the hundredth time how astronauts use the bathroom in a weightless environment. (That question must get SO old!)
Space Oddity is bookmarked because I listen to it whenever I need an attitude adjustment. It always works. There is something about music delivered by a floating guitarist while the earth passes by the window that just stirs my imagination, adjusts my focus and makes my heart happy.
Same can be said for reading An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by - you guessed it! - Chris Hadfield. He is a surprisingly modest person, incredibly focused and determined. He says the same about his wife, to whom he gives plenty of credit for his career as an astronaut.
  • When in my life have I ever raced outside to see a celestial body pass by? (Now - I subscribe to Spot The Station - which tracks the ISS!)
  • Why did I find the astronaut evaluation process interesting?
  • What is it about space travel that reels me in?
How did I become so hooked on space? Maybe it was my brother, who taught science, and had his classes create capsule mock-ups to learn astronomy, geography and science all rolled into one fun but painstaking project. Maybe my choice of reading material has something to do with it; I'm racking up these astronauts turned authors:  Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane and Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys by Michael Collins.
And just maybe it was Col. Chris Hadfield's frequent Facebook posts (with great photos!) while he was on the ISS that ignited this fascination within me. My friends know I am a hopeless Trekkie, and I've never missed seeing a Star Wars release in the theater.  YouTube is full of astronauts now, and I always have to look. Even the book promos are funny.
Hadfield's book is chock full of his self-depreciating humor, his "don't-do-what-I-did" way of helping adjust a viewpoint and his hard-won ability to encourage those around him. I was encouraged just holding his book in my hands. To be my best self. To work toward my dreams and make them reality. To trust the good and be ready for the worst at the same time. You might be surprised. This book is an enjoyable read.
Don't just take my word for it. See Carolyn Kellog's "Ten Awesome Things List" about it in the LA Times.
Trying to remember the original 1972 Space Oddity by David Bowe? Click here for a refresh.

Ignition! Blast off!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I love writers' critique groups. Love the synergy, love the connections with others who love the craft of writing the way I do.

I also enjoy getting newsletters from writing coaches, writers markets and publishing companies. Got one this week - an extremely well-written  first person account by Beth Erickson of Filbert Publishing. Knocked my socks off!

She writes.
She was just diagnosed with cancer.
She has a promising prognosis.

Her words reignited my determination to write more. And often. To somehow juggle whatever I must to spill those words out. I've stored them up for so long, there is a torrent barely held back, sloshing, raging, ready to break free.

I love it when writers write!

Read Beth's blog post. See if you aren't reignited, too.

Does the media shape our society?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Did you know that at the present time, 51% of our population is female? And did you know young girls' interest in careers depends heavily on their role models? Although these clips have been up for some time, they only recently came to my attention. It is worth every minute to watch both the short and longer versions!

After watching these, it made me wonder at the mixed message our youth are getting about who has power and who must submit. The affects of a mindset like that can have devastating results. I am all for promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses in our schools as EARLY as possible.

I am grateful to have had teachers who told me it was OK - as a girl - to be smart, OK - as a girl - to lead, OK - as a girl - to win in competitions with the guys. I hope our youth have similar teachers!

And ... I hope after watching these videos we all will be more aware. We can write letters, vote by withholding and spending our dollars accordingly. Most of all, we can open our eyes and refuse to allow media to strategically dictate our society's parameters to fit their own agendas.

Girls have the right to succeed in their chosen careers. Let's support them as they dive into STEM studies, politics and unconventional arenas.


Cooking from Scratch

Sunday, February 26th, 2012


Aunt Isabelle as painted by her niece Mary Benedetto

Aunt Isabelle

Weekends. They are a great time to sleep late, work on things I need to do without interruption, and cook up a few meals for the week. Yesterday it was Herb Bread (this time I added millet, garlic and fresh rosemary and parsley.). Good loaf. Also tried Borscht for the first time from my new favorite cookbook, "Twelve Months of Monastary Soups" by Brother Victor.

Today, though, I was digging through the pantry and found some pinto beans. Hmmm. A green chili and pinto bean stew sounded good, but of course, since I'd just found them, the beans were not soaked. Thank goodness it only takes a minute googling to find out how to use the pressure cooker to cook unsoaked beans! Jill McKeever  mentioned using a Presto 6 qt. pressure cooker - same as mine - I decided to give her recipe "How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker" a try. She said to  cook the beans longer than my Presto instructions indicated, but I tried it her way. Success. 🙂

Seems I have been cooking from scratch since forever. Actually, I remember exactly when, if I am honest. In her later years, my father's Aunt Isabelle used to take turns staying with relatives for a week or two at a time. We all loved her and would argue whose turn it was next to have her stay.

Stout and shorter than me, she wore her grey hair in long plaits wound like a crown atop her head. She taught me how to braid on her own hair, how to knit, crochet, mend and cook. I never did learn how to turn collar and cuffs to extend a shirt's life, but I did learn about nutrition.

My siblings and I were always thrilled when she came to stay. Aunt Isabelle was a great cook, would help with homework and mending and anything else around the house. Most of all, she brought a sense of happiness where ever she went, so our home felt even more full - in a good way - when she was with us.

When my mother died, Aunt Isabelle came to stay and help us sort out our lives. She emptied the kitchen cupboards onto the counter one by one and went through everything. She had the trash can by her side and quickly filled it despite my protests. Jello. Pudding. Cake Mix. Any foodstuffs in a box. In her Italian accent she explained, shaking her head, "That's-a not-a real food, Honey. I'm-a sorry but you canna-not eat-a that stuff. It's-a bad for you health. I'm-a gonna show you how to cook it right."

And she did. Breads. Cakes. Manicotti. Soup.  Between Aunt Isabelle, Aunt Carol and Aunt Mary, I learned how to cook from scratch. Scratch cooking does not really take that much longer, the fresh ingredients pack flavor like nothing ever could coming from a box, and it makes a house smell like home.


Thanksgiving - favorite fun

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday (next to Valentine's Day) ... it is easy to say why:

√  Weekend off!
√  Gatherings with Family & Friends
√  Weekend off!
√  Good food, good wine, good times
√  Weekend off!
√  No presents required
    (that means - sooo thankful here - no shopping,
    no wrapping, no brain-racking for the most
    perfect thing)
√  Time ... to think, to adjust my attitude of gratitude ...
√  Time ... to list all of the people who populate my life with goodness ...

Every year I am always overwhelmed by the sheer volume of good and abundance in my life.

Yesterday I had fun with Google's Thanksgiving doodle. Mashable and PC World had write-ups about it - and give you more info on how to click n' play. I have to admit, it is fun to sit here clicking and customizing my very own turkey doodle.

PS: you can check out 2009's Snoopy Thanksgiving doodle, and 2010 Dinner-themed doodle complete with a link to recipes.


Going up that stairway ...

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I've always liked the Led Zeppelin logo, the font some combination of Kashmir, Desdemona and/or Dyer or whatever. I like it because it is easy to read yet still interesting. But most of all, it brings to mind the drum beat, the music, the sounds behind my growing up.

There is an image their lyrics conjured up for me ages ago. Once I even calligraphied the lyrics for a client. The double mat framing included the stair-step sawtooth on one side. In my head the song elicits upward spiraling staircases, climbing on the melody as it rises. A bit of Escher's Relativity and a bit of the Grand Staircase in Harry Potter mixed in.

When "Get The Led Out" visited the renewed Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, they said they did not want to be Zeppelin imitators, but rather remain true to the music as written. Robert Plant's vocals are sung by Paul Sinclair. Without apology Sinclair told us  they don't do all the famous Led Zeppelin songs at every concert - they mix it up purposely to showcase the music and its evolution.

Yeah. Right.

But ... as we knew it would ... their encore delivered.

And I climbed that stairway to heaven once again.

Oh yeah.

Go ahead. Give it a listen yourself.

Good Storytelling

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

My Left Foot is story of Christy Brown, brought to life on the screen by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Christy Brown was born with cerebral palsy to a Dublin couple who eventually had 22 children; Christy was one of the 13 who survived.

As with all amazing movies, it leaves you with haunting messages that return unbidden throughout the day. The boisterous family life depicted in the movie is said to have been accurate. There is a short clip in the special features section of Mrs. Brown, Christy's determined mother. Thinking about Christy Brown and how incredibly resourceful and utterly undefeatable he was in his quest for normalcy makes me search deep within myself for any shred of such traits.

It is a huge gift to engage thoroughly with excellent story-telling, and this movie proved to be a Monday night surprise we won't soon forget. For further reading see the wikipedia entry here and the entry here.

The biggest surprise, though, is not only that Christy Brown wrote the book that led to the movie. He also did the illustrations. All with the only limb he could control - his left foot. It is no wonder Daniel Day-Lewis got an Oscar for his performance, which included typing with his toes.

But what brought tears to my eyes was another clip of Christy Brown himself, slipping a new page into his typewriter and typing away - no hands - just with his left foot.


Did I complain when my computer was at the Apple Hospital? Shame on me!

Movies deliver up nice surprises

Friday, June 24th, 2011

One of life's nicest surprises is to become engrossed by a movie, charmed by the characters and drawn in by the plot ... then to find out as the credits roll, this amazing tale is based on a true story! This has happened thrice recently, thanks to Netflix and our love of the BBC and British humor.

I've read enough of Connie Willis to have an idea of what the London blitz was like. Or so I thought until I learned more of the Windmill at the West End in:

Mrs. Henderson Presents

With the inimitable Judi Dench, the story amused and touched me.


I thought I knew something about apartheid but quickly realized the opposite watching this amazing movie. As human beings, we can hold prejudices that fly in the face of we think we believe. Watch the credits!

Kinky Boots

This fun story examines what it takes to keep a business afloat in tough times, why people cross-dress, and gives a fabulous (albeit quick) clip of exactly how a shoe is put together. Fascinating, so be sure you watch the extra feature!

Netflix gives us the freedom of watching movies when WE want to watch them and WITHOUT commercial interruption. Furthermore, we can see the "indie" and foreign movies we find so much more interesting than those in the  mainstream. Often, the stories in the special features, which tell of the "making of the movie" speak to the creative in me. Hearing the book author, adaption and scriptwriter and others' stories of perseverance, belief in the project and passion for the subject simply light a fire in me.

Friends to the Third Degree

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Last night we went out to dinner at Adelita's (Heiditown gives a great review with photo) here in Loveland. The food is good and the atmosphere is more “Little Mexico in My Neighborhood” than anything else. Located off the main thoroughfares but still easy to find in the downtown area, it is a place where the locals meet 'n greet.

Our gathering was an impromptu kind of thing. Our friend Pat's grandson Robert was in town, which was as good an excuse as any for a night out. Pat called us, said Jan was coming, too, and so was Bo. So I called Helen and Phyl, who sometimes join us when we play cards and chickenfoot or Mexican Train dominoes. We know Trudy likes Mexican food, so we asked her to join us.

We sat in no particular order, filling in seats around the long table as we happened to follow one another in from the porch. It was a noisy, laughter-filled dinner. At one point Pat leaned over to me and said smiling, “Just listen to the cacophony around this table!” With all the side conversations going on, we were indeed sitting in the midst of some rather boisterous dialogues. Discussions ranged from who was doing what to what, to mixed drinks or wines we liked, which shots were lethal (Starry Nights!) and specific desserts not to be missed. Which led to ordering 3 desserts (Flan, Key Lime Pie and Fried Ice Cream) and enough spoons so we could pass around each yummy dish.

I looked around the table, eyes resting one by one on the familiar faces, and pondered.

Let's see … going clockwise … there sat Pat, whom I'd met nearly 16 years ago when her dear friend Jan was my boss. Pat and Jan's children, who are now sending their children off to college and beyond, grew up together. Trudy and her first husband knew my husband and his first wife when their children were small. I met Phyl through Colorado Authors' League … or was it a mutual writer-friend? Robert is Pat's grandson, who stopped here on his way to California, and we know him from previous visits. Helen … well, I've known Helen forever, and we became reacquainted through mutual colleagues and writers. She and Phyl are members of the Weekly Writers' Workshop that sits UnderTheCuckooClock each week. Fred is my best friend and partner in business and life, and Bo is Jan's one-door-down neighbor. Their children grew up together, too.

As it ended up, Jan wasn't feeling well, so Bo took take-out back to her. We all signed the top of the take-out box so she'd feel more a part of our little gathering.

I always get a kick out of seeing people who reside side-by-side in my heart meeting one another and forming their own bonds. Facebook calls it “friends of friends.” Linked In calls it “second or third degree connections.”

I call it simply living the good life.