Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

“Hidden in Childhood” Coming Soon

Gabriela Marie Milton has put together another wonderful anthology of poems, this time about childhood and how it influenced us as adults: our memories, values, experiences, character, and goals. I am lucky enough to have poetry included in the collection. Published by Literary Revelations Publishing House, the book will be available in late January.

Ciao!

Dawn Pisturino

January 13, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

Hello, Again, in a New Year!

(Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash)

Hello, again, in a new year! Can you believe that it’s 2023? That number has such a nice, odd sound to it. But seriously, here’s hoping that 2023 will be even better than 2022!

We had a wonderful holiday celebration. My daughter visited from California. We scaled back on gifts and decorations this year but dialed it up on food. I made enough roast beef and beef brisket (with all the trimmings) to keep us all fat and jolly over Christmas week. In addition to the main meals, I always set up a smorgasbord of cookies, candy, crackers, summer sausage, and cheese for everyone to snack on in-between meals, so nobody goes hungry and can help themselves. It was all very comforting since the weather decided to turn cold, grey, and nasty with several days of rain. We bundled up in blankets, drank hot chocolate, watched movies, and talked. It was nice to catch up with my daughter in person instead of on the phone.

And we drank plenty of mimosas, French champagne, and Italian prosecco to celebrate the passing of 2022 and the arrival of 2023.

Cheers!

Happy New Year!

Dawn Pisturino

January 2, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

71 Comments »

Christmas Vacation

(Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash)

Hello, Dear Friends!

I’m taking a Christmas hiatus and will not be posting anything until after New Year’s. May you all be blessed with happiness, prosperity, and the fulfillment of all your dreams in 2023.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Dawn Pisturino

December 24, 2022

71 Comments »

Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookie Recipes

(Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash)

[NOTE: I’ve been busy with major housecleaning, shopping, doing Christmas stuff, cooking, doing homework for an online class called “Online Obsessions,” and hanging out with my husband before he returns to work next week (he’s been off for the last three months recovering from a total knee replacement). I’m getting caught up with responding to your comments and visiting your blog sites. I apologize for the delay!]

I inherited these recipes from my mother, and I have no idea where she got them, but these are the cookie recipes I use at Christmas. They also make great cookies for Valentine’s Day. Rich, sugary, buttery, spicy, and delicious!

Old-Fashioned Butter Cookies

3 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter or margarine (butter is best)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp. cream or milk

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter. Gradually add sugar to the butter, creaming well. Stir in egg, cream, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients gradually and mix well. Chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Roll out, one third at a time, on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. (This dough also works well in a cookie press.) Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until edges turn golden brown. Let cool. Frost with powdered sugar frosting and decorate.

Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup shortening (butter works best)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark molasses

1 egg

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar well. Blend in molasses. Add egg and beat well. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Chill the dough for three hours in the refrigerator. Roll dough on floured surface to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Do not over-bake.) Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar or frost with powdered sugar frosting and decorate.

Serve your cookies with milk, hot chocolate, tea, or coffee, and enjoy!

I love the Hot Chocolate Scene from Polar Express:

Christmas is coming! Make it Merry! And today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year! Or, longest night – however you want to look at it. LOL!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2022

38 Comments »

Spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, Writer

(Photo by Vigneshwar Rajkumar on Unsplash)

Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, a dear WordPress friend who lives in Chennai, India. Her passion for reading and writing is unsurpassed. She is a prolific reader with an M.A. in English Literature. She possesses impressive knowledge about writers from various cultures. She also writes wonderful poems and stories that will knock your socks off with their profound wisdom, wicked humor, and keen insight into the human condition. She does not mince words but gets right to the heart of the matter. Aparna is also a strong advocate for women’s rights in India and around the world. Right now, two of her books are available on Amazon.com:

This collection of stories offers valuable life lessons for children and teenagers alike. Aparna covers many topics: cheating on exams, rude behavior towards family, making healthy decisions, coping with harmful friends, bullying, indifference to school, kindness to animals, and others. My favorite story is “Trapped inside a Smartphone” because it is clever, well-written, and thought-provoking. If your child enjoys reading books about other countries and cultures, he or she will find this book highly enjoyable.

Excerpt:

“A maze of wires surrounded him from all the sides. He was lying beside a giant motherboard. The place was air-conditioned. He almost started shivering. He looked around for his family, but couldn’t spot anyone. ‘Can you hear me, mom? Where are you, daddy?’ he screamed his lungs out, panicking. . .”

Aparna writes from the heart in this fine collection of poems. With honesty and openness, she speaks about the loss of friends, her father, and honor and compassion in the world. She fiercely advocates for herself, her daughter, and all women around the world in their struggle for freedom, dignity, and respect. Her hopes and dreams form the foundation of her writing. In spite of the crushing injustices she sees around her, she conveys a spirit of hope that the world can be a better place.

“Is it my dream? Are you really visible to my eyes?

Thirty long years have passed since we met each other.

Now we are chatting over a video call.

What a wonderful surprise! . . .”

~

“Why should women observe silence?

Why shouldn’t they raise voice against domestic violence?

Why should they submit to male chauvinism?

Why shouldn’t they protect their feminism? . . .”

~

“I thank you, Mother Nature, for supporting all forms of life.

You tolerate our misdeeds with a smile while we are busy with the knife.

I thank you, Mother Earth, for enabling us to live.

We have hurt you in many ways; yet, you always forgive . . .”

~

“Let’s tread carefully on this dangerous path of life forever.

These roads are sometimes narrow and slippery.

Let’s try not to lose our balance to their treachery . . .”

~

You can visit Aparna at her WordPress blog here.

Dawn Pisturino

December 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Aparna Jagannath. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

“You Can Have Her” on Masticadores India

I want to thank Terveen Gill for publishing my story, You Can Have Her, today on Masticadores India. Terveen is very supportive of writers, and I encourage you to submit your poems and stories to her. Please visit Masticadores India to read the whole story.

You Can have Her

by Dawn Pisturino

The call came in on his office landline.

       “Tony Blackwell?  We want two million dollars in small bills, or your wife eats a bullet.”

       Tony laughed.  “She’s a whore.  I don’t give a damn about her.  Do you know how many times she’s cheated on me?”

       “Hey, man, I’m sorry, but she’s still your wife.  You must have some feelings for her.”

       “Not at all,” Tony scoffed, and hung up the phone.

       A few minutes later, the phone rang again.

       “Mr. Blackwell, I repeat: we want two million dollars in small bills, or your wife dies.  And don’t even think about calling the police.”

       “Why would I call the police?  I told you, I don’t care about the bitch.”

       The voice on the other end became more insistent.  “We’re not playing around, Tony.  You either agree to fork over the money,

or your wife dies.  I don’t care how many men she’s screwed.”

I would be humbled and pleased if you would visit Masticadores India to read the rest. If you like it, please hit the “Like” button.

Thank you so much!

Dawn Pisturino

December 1, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

25 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn to Winter

by Dawn Pisturino

The old year is fading

and Autumn blows

the misty clouds

of Winter our way.

(A runaway grizzly bear meets Jack Frost and Old Man Winter in this vintage cartoon from 1934. My father loved these old cartoons.)
(My favorite Thanksgiving hymn – “We Gather Together”)
(George Winston playing his beautiful and inspiring piece, “Thanksgiving.” My mother adored George Winston.)

My parents always came for Thanksgiving. Now that they are gone, I always think of them at this time of year.

PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT BE POSTING ANYTHING UNTIL SOME TIME NEXT WEEK.

Have a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

58 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Barbara Harris Leonhard and River Dixon

(Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash)

Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir by Barbara Harris Leonhard (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

Barbara is a retired English teacher (ESL) whose award-winning work has appeared on Spillwords, MasticadoresUSA, and other poetry sites and magazines. Most recently, her poetry appeared in Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022), edited by Gabriela Marie Milton, and a #1 Amazon Bestseller. She currently serves as the editor of MasticadoresUSA.

Penned with heart-felt love, devotion, and pain, this memoir is an honest family portrait that mirrors both the mother and the daughter. The bond between mother and daughter is complex, but Barbara beautifully describes both the comfortable and uncomfortable sides of this relationship. Anybody who has cared for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, will relate to Barbara’s experience. Anybody who has missed out on motherhood and lost a child, will find Barbara’s story deeply moving. But there is no self-pity here. She has written about her life with honesty and compassion. She has experienced trauma and heartbreak. But she accepts what life brings and looks hopefully to the future instead of staying shackled to the past. She presents herself as strong, determined, and willing to learn from life’s lessons. She has written a remarkable collection of poems that are powerful in their very simplicity. Whatever trauma and pain you have endured, her poems will edify and uplift you in a positive way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

In writing about her miscarried child, she says:

“You left my broken womb

as the bloody remains of what

was never to come. I still feel you

in the waves, the flow

of my sacral river – your tears?

Your fears I’ve abandoned you?

No, Honey. No! I’ll never forget you.”

Finally, her experiences with encephalitis and her mother’s Alzheimer’s:

“Not enough that I am

the spitting image of Mom

and her namesake.

We both experienced

a brain injury. The encephalitis

burned away my young memories;

       Alzheimer’s, her short-term ones.”

Barbara has been nominated for a Pushcart award for her poem, Mom and I Play Lassos with Our Hysterectomy Scars, a deeply provocative and sensitive poem which is included in this collection.

Website: Extraordinary Sunshine Weaver

Lost in the Hours: A Poetry Collection by River Dixon (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

River is a multi-talented poet, fiction writer, and publisher at Potter’s Grove Press. His fiction leans toward the dark side. But his poetry is honest, raw, straight-shooting, and direct. The first thing you come to realize when you read his poems is that River is a realist, not an idealist. There are few hearts and flowers here. He writes with power, intelligence, profound understanding, and articulate expression. He shares a healthy cynicism about life and the world in general. I like his poetry because he says what many of us are only thinking. He’s not afraid to criticize the status quo:

“While you drown in a shallow pool

Of only three inches of self-worth

They taught you well

How to hold your own head under

And convince you of rainbows

While they blot out the stars

One by one . . .”

His works are also available from Potter’s Grove Press, along with other avant-garde authors.

Websites: The Stories In-Between

                 Potter’s Grove Press

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

An Incredible Young Artist

(Painting by Samantha Tucker. Copyright 2022 Samantha Tucker. All Rights Reserved.)

I want to introduce to you an incredible young artist, my husband’s niece, Samantha Tucker. “Sam,” as she likes to be called, just turned seventeen a few months ago. She paints with a keen eye and emotional depth that even some adults do not possess. I am very proud of her, and I believe we will be seeing more of her work in the future.

You rock, Sam!

Love,

Dawn

(It’s raining hard this morning, and the computer is acting up. Trying to get this posted before the Internet goes down.)

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 9, 2022

Copyright 2022 Samantha Tucker. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

The Light Keepers

(Point Betsie Lighthouse, near Frankfort, Michigan. Photo from travelthemitten.com)

I just finished reading the book, The Lamplighters, by Emma Stonex, which tells the story of three lighthouse keepers who disappear without a trace. Her fictionalized story is based on a true story. On December 15, 1900, three lighthouse keepers (James Ducat, Thomas Marshall, and Donald MacArthur) were discovered missing from the Flannan Lighthouse on Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The crew which searched the island found the clock stopped, a half-eaten meal, and no sign of the lighthouse keepers anywhere. The popular theory is that one of the keepers killed the other two and then did himself in; but no evidence exists that this is what happened. No bodies were ever found, and the case has never been solved. Stonex’s book maintains the mystery of the original story while providing a plausible solution. If you like history and mystery, I highly recommend this book.

Reading the book led me to watch the movie, The Lighthouse (2019), starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. My daughter had watched it and recommended it to me. The story is about a lighthouse keeper and his apprentice who get trapped on an island by a severe storm and go crazy from the isolation, excessive amounts of alcohol, and personal conflicts. It’s a fascinating movie with exceptional acting, and I recommend it for people who like psychological dramas and movies about interpersonal conflicts. Next, I watched The Vanishing (2018), starring Gerard Butler, which also tells the story of the Flannan Lighthouse and the disappearance of the three lighthouse keepers. Although the movie provides a plausible solution to the mystery, I did not like it as much as The Lighthouse.

Reading books and watching movies about lighthouse keepers reminded me that my great-great-grandfather, Medad Spencer (1836-1919), was a lighthouse keeper on Lake Michigan. A Civil War veteran, he joined the United States Lighthouse Service and manned lighthouses at Point Betsie and Beaver Island. At the same time, he owned a 120-acre farm near Spoonville, which his children ran, and a general store in Nunica.

From 1894-1905, he served as the lighthouse keeper for the Point Betsie Lighthouse, near Frankfort, Michigan. In his later years, he served at the St. James Lighthouse on Beaver Island. His wife, Julia, always accompanied him when he was away from his other obligations. She complained about the blizzards, rain, and isolation on Beaver Island. But when Medad’s health began to fail, she would take his watch for him, which meant staying awake all night. Now, that’s true partnership for you!

(Medad Spencer in his lighthouse keeper’s uniform.)

Although being a lighthouse keeper sounds romantic and exciting, I have to wonder if my great-great-grandparents went stir crazy from the isolation and began to fight with each other. I haven’t seen any evidence that this was the case, but I can’t help thinking about it, especially after reading the book and watching the movies!

Thanks for visiting. Have a great day!

Dawn Pisturino

October 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

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