Posted By Susan Bernhardt

summer
 

MIDSUMMER

I wake early in the morning,
and go outside to greet the dawn. 
The grass is covered 
with tiny diamonds sparkling in the sun. 
It's a joyous day! 
The air is filled with warmth. 
I soak in it. 
I wash my face with the first morning dew, 
and taste its sweet freshness. 

Today is the summer solstice, 
midsummer 
There is regrowth, 
the earth is green. 
Nature has truly come alive 
in the buzzing bees,

the blooming flowers and trees, 
in the black ants climbing up my pole beans. 

I don't take myself so seriously today. 
I twirl a few times 
among the trees and flowers of my backyard. 
The birds sing their songs 
in the celebration of the day. 
I can hear the laughter of summer.

______________________________________________________

MIDSUMMER
by Susan K. Bernhardt

 

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Sunflowers

What a day for a daydream...Thinking about what to write for my 
April blog, I glance at my cheery sunflowers on the kitchen table and 
admire their simplistic beauty. The sunflower in art has become nearly 
synonymous with Van Gogh. He characterized his fondness for the flower
in the spiritedness of his sunflower paintings. My eyes veer from the 
splashes of yellow, out the kitchen window to the sparkle of pure 
white, untouched snow from our Wisconsin winter.

Under the snow, blossoms a daring spring. --Terri Guillemets. 

I daydream of my garden flowers in unabashed brush strokes and 
dabs of greens and purples and whites. The memory of their 
fragrance fills me with pleasure and lingers in my mind and heart, 
even on this cold morning. The blossoms of our flowering crab tree 
will soon unfold a cloud of color, brilliant pinks amid the 
greens; prime subject matter for the impressionist. 

The sentiments of those who tasted the world with their eyes, are 
painted in a favorite poem, written by William Wordsworth who 
conveyed the movement of art through words. 

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

And now I'm lost in a daydream... 
 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Pushing Water
 

 

Your new release Pushing Water occurs during the French Colonial Government in Hanoi in the late 1930s. What prompted you to write this story? What research did you do for this book?

I have always been curious about the history of Vietnam preceding the American/Vietnam War. As a young person during that war, it felt like the confrontation just popped up out of nowhere. Several of my friends were drafted. I lost touch with one young man that I’d been dating after he went to Vietnam. I have no idea what happened to him. Fifteen years ago I began to read about the history of that area of the world. The more I read, the more I was hooked. Soon characters began to reveal themselves to me. Then a plot surfaced. I did plenty of research, digging into old periodicals, newspapers, and dusty archives. I even went on line and purchased several very old and out of print history books. Since beginning Pushing Water I have visited Vietnam and several other Asian countries. The process has been interesting for me and I hope that those who read the novel find it an enjoyable read.

The title of my novel, Pushing Water, comes from a quote in Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Lotus In A Sea Of Fire, A Buddhist Proposal For Peace: “In a river current, it is not the water in front that pulls the river along, but the water in the rear that acts as a driving force, pushing the water in front forward.”

What's the best thing about being an author?

Probably the best thing about being an author is when the writing is going so well that it’s as if I’ve discovered a totally unknown world going on in my head. The hope is that if I type fast enough the magic and drama can be captured. It is an elusive experience that can often be interrupted by the mere barking of a neighbor’s dog, but when it happens, it is delicious. Most of the other time, being an author is work, work that I love to do. 

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

I've read and enjoyed many of your posts that are accompanied by fabulous photos of NYC. http://www.pushingtime.com/.

Taking photographs is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. But it wasn’t until I started a blog that I began to see how my photos were also telling stories. When I look back and read my early blog posts they sound and look awkward. I don’t think I knew what direction I was going in when I first began to blog. Now I see what my unconscious was trying to tell me. I guess I have a story telling gene.

What's next for Margaret Mendel?

My first novel Fish Kicker that was published in 2014 as an ebook, will be coming out as a paperback very soon. I have a short story collection, Patches, scheduled for publication sometime the end of this year. I’m in the process of completing a novel, Wild Mushrooms, about a woman who gathers wild mushrooms for a living. It’s been in the works for a while, and well, it’s time to finish the book and get onto the next writing adventure.

Blurb for Pushing Water:

VIETNAM, 1939. Sarah, an expat, working as an Archivist for the French Colonial Government in Hanoi, is devastated when she finds a Vietnamese co-worker murdered.

Determined to find the killer, Sarah suspects she knows what prompted the murder when she discovers a secret document in a packet of poetry the co-worker had borrowed from the archives.

The papers include a secret colonial communication outlining a direct order that will bring about devastating hardship for the Vietnamese people.

Sarah’s life is further complicated by the arrival of an old friend, Julia, who brings with her remembrances of a past Sarah would rather forget. Then Albee, Sarah’s part time lover comes on the scene. He claims to be an archaeologist working on a dig in China, though Sarah suspects he is a fulltime communist revolutionary.

Sarah attempts to deal with her problematic personal life, wishing for her solitude to return, when a friend is arrested and executed for revolutionary activities. Heartsick, Sarah decides to return back to the States. Though there is one more hurtle to overcome. The world is in a chaotic mess and within one devastating day nothing will ever be the same again.

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Former ballerina, Irina Curtius, lives on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Everything that the great city has to offer is at Irina’s fingertips; museums, restaurants, galleries, not to mention the beautiful Central Park. There’s no reason for Irina not to be ecstatic about her home and she isn’t. New York City is the perfect place to live.

For the past 20 years Irina has been teaching ballet to little girls in her studio, Little Cygnet’s Ballet Academy, with her college friend, Jerome, playing the piano for the school. Irina loved her professional career but she loves teaching the little ballerinas and watching them progress.

Her condominium is an ivy covered brownstone on West 87th street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenue built during the late 19th century. The rooms have beautiful crown moldings, the windows are large, and yes you can hear the traffic on the streets but so what? The city itself never sleeps and its inhabitants like to be as active as the city.

Irina has some nice neighbors too. Her best friend, high school English teacher, Margarite, lives in an apartment right down the hall; Celeste who lives on the floor above; and Stephen Kramer, his wife Tricia and Tricia’s sister mystery writer, Alice, live on Irina’s floor. But something has changed with the Kramers.

Irina, Stephen, and Tricia always got along well but since Tricia’s sister Alice moved in the dynamics kind of changed. First of all Stephen started to look ill. He still manages to go to work where he’s up for a promotion and to play racquetball with his business associate, Alex Rankin, but Stephen looks very bad and Irina is quite concerned about his health. The strange thing is that whenever Stephen leaves town for business he returns looking fit and healthy but as he stays home he gets sick again. Tricia, his wife, says he has the flu and her sister, Alice, gets very annoyed at Irina whenever she inquires about Stephen’s health.

But life goes on and Irina, with the sneaky ways of friends Margarite and Jerome, is soon reunited with her college boyfriend, Robert. Forty years earlier Irina and Robert were living together and just before they graduated college he broke her heart and ran off to marry one of Irina’s friends.

So there’s a lot going on in Irina’s life but things get more hectic when a rash of burglaries breaks out in her neighborhood and then neighbor, Stephen Kramer, is found dead in his apartment by wife, Tricia. So when irina’s Police Lieutenant friend, Charles Whitney, tells her that Stephen’s death is being ruled as a suicide she decides she has has to find out the truth because she suspects that Stephen was murdered.

“A Manhattan Murder Mystery” is yet another great novel by Susan Bernhardt. Susan lives in Wisconsin so I wondered just what she knew about New York City. Since I’m a native New Yorker which means I’m always ready to fight any outsiders who think they know enough to write about the New York I read this book with my boxing gloves on ready for a good brawl with Ms. Bernhardt. It never happened.

She not only described the Upper West Side to perfection with its neighborhood stores and the pre war apartment buildings but she somehow got the feel of what living in New York is all about. Most writers who don’t live in New York don’t get that but somehow Ms. Bernhardt did. “A Manhattan Murder Mystery” is like a love letter to this great city and it’s obvious that the author respects New Yorkers and how we live here.

You’ll have a great time reading “A Manhattan Murder Mystery” and will not be disappointed in this excellent story.

 

 

 
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