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Monday, March 7, 2011

Memoirs - of sorts

I've been putting together a fictional story (based on the few facts that I have) of my maternal grandmother's emigration from Ireland to America in 1904. The story is more emotional than factual, but it is dedicated to her courage and spirit. I find it fascinating that she - who knew nothing of cities or of much beyond the small plot of land where she grew up on the shores of the Atlantic - could walk away from everything she knew, and face a huge world of unknowns. Yet she did. And she was under twenty years of age. Here is an excerpt from that story, Voyage of Dreams.

"The setting sun glowed on the horizon. All about her, the flowers were in bloom and
gave a yellow glow to the hillsides covered with scrubby wildflower bushes. The magpies
argued amongst themselves as they flew in circles and made their nasty noise. Tess stopped
for a moment and let the sun warm her face. It was home. It was. A sweet warm wind blew 
off the sea and filled the air with a restless song. She lifted her voice and sang, and it 
filled her heart with joy and with life itself. There was goodness here, and she would 
never leave it."

I hope to finish the story some time this summer. This one has to be good. Neither my grandmother nor my mother are alive; but somehow I know they would approve. And perhaps in some other dimension, they will be able to read my story.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Guest Blogger

My dear friend Linda Rhinehart Neas has done some incredible things in her lifetime. I've asked her to tell you about her remarkable book.

The Story Behind - Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered
By Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
This article first appeared on Silver and Grace on July1, 2010.
Four years ago, two things happened.  I became a grandmother for the first time and my life was touched by the writing of a young Australian doctor, who later introduced me to the Gogo’s (grandmothers) of Swaziland.
Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke is the co-founder of Possible Dreams International (PDI), a non-profit organization that brings aid to the Gogos, their families and communities.  My connection to the Gogos grew through posts on his blog, his poetry and the photos sent from his visits to Swaziland.  After all, as a grandmother myself, I could empathize with their fears and joys half way around the world.
Last year, when PDI was first established, I began brainstorming ways I could help support the efforts of Maithri and the team in Swaziland.  My greatest talent is my writing, but how could I use it to benefit the Gogos?
Interestingly, a trip to the local historic society gave me the answer I was looking for at that time.  There in the museum store was a book written by a local other.  The author stated on the back cover that all proceeds from the sale of the book would go to the museum.  Immediately, I knew what I would do.
Coincidentally, the Poem-a-Day Challenge had just begun.  The facilitator suggested that we write our poems with a theme in mind.  Swaziland came immediately to mind.  Each day, I would look at the prompt for the view of the people and places in Swaziland. 
Some of the poems illustrate the pain and suffering of the Gogos and their communities, some tell of the beauty of the land and the creatures there and some tell of life in Swaziland.  I tried to paint a full and holistic picture of this land I have yet to visit.
When inspiration was slow in coming, I would look at the pictures of the Gogos with their grandchildren gathered around them.  Almost immediately, the words would come pouring out.  By the end of the challenge, I had a book of poems.
Through contacts, I learned about, through which I published my book.  It was a great self-publishing experience.  They give you the software to set up the book.  They even offer a program for books that are fundraisers.  Readers can get a sneak peak at:
It is my hope that this book will educate, enlighten and inspire others.  All of the profits go directly to PDI.  It is amazing how far a small amount of money can go in helping the Gogos and their communities.  To learn more about PDI and the Gogos, go to
Postscript:  I had the privilege to hear Bishop Desmond Tutu speak at the college I was teaching in last year (2010).  I had hoped to hand off one of my books to him, but I could not get close enough to him.  My beloved suggested that I mail the book to him, which I did, enclosing a brief note explaining why I wrote it.  I never thought he would actually get it.  After all, he is a Nobel Peace laureate and a very busy human rights activist.  What a delight to receive an email from his office saying that not only had he read my book, it was now part of his personal library!