I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme is open-ended. My goal is to write daily posts using each letter of the alphabet in April (Sundays off for good behavior and to make it work for the alphabet). I’ll be writing family stories, memoir or journal prompts, reviews about theatre and food, maybe a visit from my sock puppet characters Millie and Willie, and using photos I’ve taken along the way. Enjoy!

LI am a life long learner. I liked school. I was gleaming with excitement when I sat on the piano bench for the first time to learn, from a teacher, how to play piano. I’d already been learning by watching my sister and putting tape on the keys with the note names on them. I think an ideal “vacation” is to attend writer’s conferences, like the one I did through the Highlights Foundation back in 2010. I wrote a post on what I learned here. I seek information. I long for stories. I listen intently when people tell me their stories. 

I write reviews for theaters, in the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and locally. I am most satisfied with the experience if I’ve learned something. One of the most recent productions I’ve seen that I loved was Nina Simone: Four Women at the Park Square Theater. Christina Ham wrote a play about the famous blues singer and three other women who are feeling the aftershock of the bombing of a church in Birmingham, AL, September 1963, that killed four young black girls. The music mixed with the history, and the emotional impact of the event was searing. Other people must have agreed with me. The show set record breaking attendance at the theater. 

20160412_105850_resizedWhen I read books, I am also drawn to stories that offer something new. In Stephen King’s historical novel, 11-22-63, the main character Jake Epping, aka George Amberson, goes back in time to try to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Of course, he also lives out his life, forms relationships, and bridges information between his real time and the past. It was fascinating, told in a way that the master storyteller Stephen King does. It’s not his usual horror genre, which is too grim for me, it’s something more. I learned more about the climate of the world and the USA at the time, and about the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. I listened to the book on Audible. The reader, Craig Wasson, is amazing. He draws you in with his voice, and is able to give each character a distinct vocal trait. He even did Kennedy. Wow. 

Don't be intimidated by the heft of this book. It's worth reading the 842 pages, or listening to the 30+ hours. It's a journey.

Don’t be intimidated by the heft of this book. It’s worth reading the 842 pages, or listening to the 30+ hours. It’s a journey.

One more book recommendation. (I’ll have to confess right here that sometimes meetings, or workout sessions, that I attend, turn into book discussions.) Last year, during our library’s Wine and Words fundraiser event, Nadia Hashimi was one of the guest authors. She described her books, set in Afghanistan,and the characters that populate them. I bought her first book, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell. I finished reading it last month. It was fascinating, heart-breaking, emotional, descriptive, and at times harsh, then tender. I want my book club to read it because I know it will make for good discussion. (Whoever has the book club bag checked out from the Brainerd Public library needs to return it. It’s overdue. And, I want to bring the books to our meeting tonight!) The main character is an Afghan girl who is married off at age 13. Hashimi links her story to the girl’s great-great-grandmother, who also suffered because she was a woman in a horribly misogynistic culture, yet survived. It’s a story of survival.

Nadia Hashimi and Mary Aalgaard, at the Brainerd library's Wine and Words event. Nadia signed my copy of The Pearl that Broke Its Shell.

Nadia Hashimi and Mary Aalgaard, at the Brainerd library’s Wine and Words event. Nadia signed my copy of The Pearl that Broke Its Shell.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What have you learned lately? Any good A to Z blogs out there that are full of interesting information? I’ve been enjoying Shells-Tales-Sails by Sharon Himsl about pioneer women in aviation.