Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2019

BE A READER FIRST – A WRITER SECOND

WRITERS WORDS: “Write what you know. Write what you want to know more about. Write what you’re afraid to write about.” – Cec Murphy


NOTE: “Banjo Man, my fiction short story has been published in the May 10, 2019 edition of Page & Spine Fiction showcase (www.pagespineficshowcase.com) and is available for reading.

JUNE 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

BE A READER FIRST– A WRITER SECOND!

Learning and continuing to read throughout life is not only educational, but an enjoyable and enriching pastime. Reading fiction, non-fiction in all genres opens our minds to unknown joys, traumas, hardships, historical happenings and just about any topic that comes to mind. A wise woman, my Mother, often reiterated to her children “if you can read you can learn and do anything.”

Readers witness other people’s life journeys by reading Memoirs written by existing and former notables along with many other individuals willing to share their stories. Historical non-fiction books reminds readers of eras past and scientific discoveries affecting our futures. There is so much history to read on past and future developments within our world. Geographical changes, slavery, past conflicts and wars, the settlements of pioneers forging west in covered wagons, the first “horseless carriage” giving way to today’s myriad international car manufacturers. Earlier eras, life expectancies were short due to unidentified diseases and various types of hardships. Today, life spans have lengthened and improved due to scientific discoveries and technological advances making everyday life easier. There is a non-fiction publication for just about every topic of interest.  Reading fiction, whether it’s short stories, novellas, novels in paperbacks or hard-cover books, transports us away from everyday routines as we lose ourselves in romances, mysteries and thrillers that leave us relaxed and breathless as we turn the pages. And then, there are Magazines, so many print and online publications today.  There’s the AARP filled with all types of valuable information for folks over the age of fifty. Magazine topics abound-sports, gardening, home improvement, hunting, fishing, cooking and writing– too many topics to name here. Self-help books are many. I especially like the “For Dummies” books. When you need How-To information most likely there will be a “For Dummies” book that will teach you how to do it. Online opportunities for reading and learning are just a Google and You Tube away. I muse and believe, for writers, the more we read the better we write.

I’m a believer that reading subliminally expands a writer’s vocabulary. When we read many different authors’ published work, we learn different successful writing styles and character developments and very often words that send us to dictionary and thesaurus to check them out. Sometimes we even fall in love with specific words and want to use them, perhaps, too often. Years ago I discovered two words –promulgate and extraneous and just liked the way these two words rolled off my tongue. So far, I have not used them in story, but feel comfortable and have used promulgate a few times within my Musings. (Yes, they are darlings and I often think of Stephen King when I kill them when appropriate.)

So….what if you’re not a voracious reader! What if you just want to sit down and begin writing? Well….Would you jump in the lake before you learned how to swim?  🙂


The writing craft is a learned craft like many others. You sink (rejections) or swim (acceptances). Instruction, Study and Education are key elements within the writing curve. I believe success in writing is determined by dedication to learning the craft for optimization of results. Over time, I’ve accumulated many resources I have found helpful in continuing to swim in the writing lake: (a few listed below)

The Writer’s Digest- May/June, 2019 Issue–“The 21st Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers.( http://www.writersdigest.com)

Hope Clark’s-Funds for Writers Web Site: http://www.hope@fundsforwriters.com
The Kill Zone: http://www.killzoneblog.com

Jane Friedman’s site and newsletters: http://www.hello@janefriedman.com

My favorite writer magazines: Writer’s Digest; The Writer; Poets & Writers and the online Authors Publish.

As a wise mother once said, “If you can read you can learn and do anything.”

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!

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Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2019

SPRING IS A NEW GREEN!

WRITERS WORDS: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” –Native American Proverb

Note: “Banjo Man,” my fiction short story, has recently been published (May 10) on the Page & Spine Fiction Showcase. (www.pagespineficshowcase.com) click on Story Index.

MAY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

SPRING IS A NEW GREEN!

AH! Spring has finally sprung! The snow in upstate New York lingered far too long, but finally has melted away. Small shoots are pushing up through damp soil, shrubs are shedding their winter coats and barren branches, formerly dormant, are beginning to show tints of green and small buds that will soon become glorious, showy blooms.

I am a gardener. I’ve been digging, planting, and growing flowers and veggies too many years to count. I’m a lover of flora and fauna except when nuisance animals and pests attack my efforts. The birds have returned and I awakened one morning to two red cardinals flying into the bare branches of a backyard burning bush, a bright red vision against a still barren background. I eagerly await the emerging transition into a full blossoming, colorful spring!

I believe my generation was lucky. I learned from my parents the love of the land at an early age. My grandfather owned a parcel of land located behind our family home where my Dad grew vegetables—tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, and garlic. We had perennial rhubarb that came up every year, berry bushes where I often got poison ivy and scratched fingers when picking raspberries and black berries. We had a grape arbor, an apple and peach tree and a fresh salad graced our supper table every evening. I find myself smiling when I see “organic” labeled foods in the super markets. I grew up with healthy home grown food free of pesticides. AND, oh wait! Did I mention we had a chicken coop Dad built behind the garage? We had chickens and fresh eggs were only a short walk away. Sadly, and thank goodness I never paid attention, older hens that could no longer lay eggs…..ended up in Sunday dinner.

What I do find encouraging is a resurgence of community gardens. Residents in many different towns and cities are planting, sowing, weeding and sharing produce among themselves and neighbors in need. Greenmarkets have sprouted in many counties where, once a week, farmers get together and bring home grown vegetables, flowers, baked goods and even prepared foods for sale at reasonable prices.

These past years I’ve learned to appreciate the myriad species of plants and animals sharing our planet. Many species I most likely will never see, but I’m amazed at their unique existences throughout the world. I am not an over-exuberant environmentalist, but I embrace our country’s Native American Tribes respect for Mother Earth and realize we must preserve and protect wild habitats, National Parks, clean water and natural crops for future generations. (PS: The Wolf is my favorite wild animal.) A few years ago I had the opportunity to chat with a matriarch of a local farm in existence for over 100 years. She made a comment to me that was, “Oh so true “and I never forgot. She said, “You can eat crop, but you can’t eat cash.”

And readers, “Please Don’t P*SS on the Petunias.”  This past year, I was pleased to be one of many beta-readers for a first draft of the above referenced book written by Sandra Knauf, Greenwoman Publishing (www.greenwomanpublishing.com). The book is a collection of stories and essays about raising kids, crops and critters in the city. It’s engaging, edgy and often hilarious and now available at Amazon. 

Dear Readers & Writers: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL!

Have a Green Spring!

 

Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2019

ARE YOU A SOUTHPAW?

WRITERS WORDS: “I’m totally left-sided. I am completely left-handed, completely left-footed.” –Elvis Costello

 

APRIL 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

ARE YOU A “SOUTHPAW?”

I muse. How did the term southpaw become affiliated with left-handed individuals? After reading many definitions, basically a southpaw is a left-handed person. “The word was primarily used in baseball, but appears in other contexts as well. But despite its use in baseball, the term almost certainly did not originate with that sport. Use of southpaw to mean the left hand goes back all the way to 1813, long before baseball, as we know it today, existed.” (www.wordorigins.com)  However, it is widely accepted the term originated in the United States.

I’m left-handed. My Dad and one of my sisters are also left-handed. Dad, growing up in the early twentieth century, often told us how his grade school teachers slapped his left hand with rulers and made him change hands when writing. As a result, he learned to sign legal documents with his right hand, but throughout his life, including becoming an accomplished bowler winning many trophies, he did everything else with his left-hand.

Negative connotations abounded during this era and “left-handed facts reveal that left-handedness has been misinterpreted countless times over the course of the centuries as something very negative.” (Left Handed Facts.net) Primitive superstitions followed left-handed people labeling them as witches, criminals, unlucky, clumsy, dishonest and even mentally ill.  I learned approximately 10-12 percent of people in the United States are left-handed equating to 30 million U.S. “lefties.” Further statistics indicate that approximately 400,000 left-handed children are born each year in our country and remain so throughout their lives. There are statistics galore on the reasons for left-handedness in our society. Some indicate gender is indicative of left-handedness–more males than females are left-handed. And, if both parents are left-handed, there is a 26 percent chance that their offspring will be left-handed.

However, statistics and definitions aside, I find specific southpaws more interesting:

Did you know?

Babe Ruth, a famous southpaw, batted and threw left-handed, but wrote right-handed.

Martina Navratilova won all those singles and doubles tennis championships as a left-hander, but she too wrote right-handed.

Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer, played golf right-handed, but performed most non-golfing activities left-handed.

Well-known PGA golfers Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson are left-handed.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William of England are all left-handed.

Bob Dylan, one of the best-selling artists of all time with numerous Grammy Awards, Golden Globe and an Oscar, is left-handed.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” was left-handed

Oprah Winfrey, Jim Hendrix and Bill Gates are left handed.

Deceased notables, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein and, Presidents George H.W. Bush, Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, were all left handed.

Past-Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are left handed.

International Left-hander Day is August 13, 2019!!!

And yours truly, Gaye Buzzo Dunn, mentioned above, is left-handed. I write left-handed. I use a garden trowel and tools with my left hand. I play golf with my left hand. (Two teaching pros advised me to play right-handed) My claim to fame is this. Not only do I write underhand when many left-handers right overhand  from left to right on paper, I also can write legibly backwards on paper right to left.( I began doodling this way one day when words I needed for a story did not materialize) I am somewhat ambidextrous. I iron clothes with an iron always held in my right hand.

Although I was unaware of International Left-hander Day until I wrote this Musing, I feel it’s a nice recognition of southpaws like me who defy a particular “right hander fits all” genus.

However, I say to all “Lefties and Righties” —-Regardless of handedness—WRITE ON!

READERS:  Don’t forget to LIGHT IT UP BLUE-April is Autism Awareness Month.

Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2019

THE CONNECTION: HUMAN RESOURCES AND WRITING

WRITERS WORDS: “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate” – Margaret Heffernan

 

MARCH 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE CONNECTION: HUMAN RESOURCES & WRITING?

It wasn’t too long ago I enjoyed a business career that encompassed many large and small corporations (check out my “About Me” page, if you haven’t already). I cried a few tears when I retired from the various job jars that held many different responsibilities over the years. However, over time I realized I enjoyed the people side of the business versus the operational- administrative areas and before retirement my career focused on the Human Resources within the organizations. Most companies today have Human Resource Departments that include every aspect of the firm’s major resource—its people.

Going forward, I didn’t realize writing Employee Manuals, Company Policies and Procedures, Orientation and Safety programs along with other business applications would also assist in my future passion—writing both fiction and non-fiction stories and articles. Although I considered the writings of manuals and policies dry and sometimes boring, there was no room for error. Everything I wrote had to be factually accurate, checked for legality, typographical errors and, of course, grammar. It was a tiresome BEAR editing, checking and rechecking the various documents. However, today I appreciate the time spent on these monotonous tasks. The repetitive writings assisted me in developing the necessary discipline when I embarked on new writing endeavors.

Employee relations- interactions with employees of many nationalities, personalities, frailties, human emotions, addictions, characteristics and abilities not only was a learning experience, but exposed me to workplace stress, some good laughs and a treasure trove of human characteristics that I continue to draw upon in my works-in-progress. People, our most valuable organizational asset run a wide gamut of visible emotions, too many to list here.

A sample from my Past Treasure Trove:

A female employee in the Accounting Dept. accused a newly promoted Accounting Manager of harassment—a serious accusation thoroughly investigated. I can still recall this young woman sobbing and carrying on in my office to the point you’d think she was at death’s door. However, what initially bothered me was I’d witnessed the two laughing together often and on many occasions eating lunch together. The short story is: She lied. Deleted, incriminating e-mails between her and the colleague were recovered by one of our high tech Managers. Steamy e-mails aside, this particular employee was often late for work and now her casual love-interest became her new Manager. When confronted with the recovered evidence, despite the shock of being caught in a false accusation, she smiled and mentioned she was uncomfortable around this particular supervisor and hoped to be moved elsewhere. Yes, she was fired. This character memory can easily find its way into a future writing project.

Another Example: .Two female nursing assistants were hired for the overnight shift at a large senior complex. One morning, sans my morning coffee, a visibly angry 3rd shift employee awaited me at my office door with her Manager. I kept them waiting while I ran and got my fortification coffee. I could see the contained rage in her scowling face as she spewed out, “I don’t work with queers.”  It appeared that the new hires soon became involved in a same-sex relationship and, in the outraged employee’s words, “causing havoc” on the night shift. I pulled her file and showed her the signed Equal Opportunity Employer statement she and all employees sign during orientation. I reiterated our organization’s policy on equal opportunity and the company included sex orientation in its statements. She had a choice. She could continue to do her best work on the job, or resign. The employee didn’t quit, but feedback from her Manager indicated she sulked for a week during breaks in the employee lounge.

I muse, the unique and distinctive traits of humanity abound. I knew an individual that used disinfectant wipes on most everything he touched. I note the petty Coffee Packet Thief—an employee who pilfered company coffee and tea packets and to this day was not caught. I include myself with the many writers who have become avid people watchers who discreetly notice visible behaviors and actions of others. If we need a “special quirk” in a project, we do not have to look too far for inspirationJ Listed are a few of my favorite people watching locations:

Airports, Super Markets, Beaches, Park Benches, Drivers-Traffic, sports events…..

Yes, there is a beneficial alliance between writing and the human condition.

Dear Readers & Writers: Happy Watching and Writing!

 

Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2019

THE PUNXSUTAWNEY DILEMMA

WRITERS WORDS: “One Touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” –William Shakespeare

 

FEBRUARY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE PUNXSUTAWNEY DILEMMA

Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog. Each February 2nd in the United States he comes out of his burrow to assist in making a very important seasonal decision.  Will the miserable, frigid, snowy-sleety winter continue for another six weeks OR will there be an early spring— a heavy responsibility for a small hibernating member of the rodent family. The 2019 Old Farmers’ Almanac asks why we have celebrated weather predictions from a plump marmot since February 2, 1887.

Historically, Groundhog Day always falls on February 2nd, the date that traditionally marks the mid- point between the winter solstice ad spring equinox. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, sees a shadow due to clear weather, it retreats back to its den for six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.(History.com-2018) Although animal behavior began as a forecast attempt by nineteenth century farmers needing the right timeframe to plant their crops, Ground Hog day remains a time-honored tradition despite today’s expert meteorology.

Today, Punxsutawney Phil has become a national celebrity in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every February 2nd, local dignitaries conduct official proceedings among thousands of spectators. It’s said when the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” immortalized Punxsutawney, a borough of approximately 6,000 people, tens of  thousands of spectators began to attend the festivities.

Punxsutawney Phil has my sympathy. His winter/spring predictions rate is an approximate and dismal 40 percent and yet, tradition and media hype continue to encourage Phil’s exit from his comfy burrow year after year, after year, after year, after year…. If he’s been the star in this annual custom since 1887, I doubt Phil will retire anytime soon.

I cannot help but muse about the fuss Americans make over unique events in our home towns. Recently in upstate New York’s Lake George many adventurous folks participated in the annual “Polar Plunge.” Again, an event that began with about 100 participants in earlier years has now blossomed into many hundreds of people donning bathing suits and plunging into the lake despite winter temperatures that can vary from 10 to this year’s 35 degrees.(proceeds are donated to a local charity)

It’s become an American tradition in itself for many individuals to seek participation in often off-beat or unique events. I believe most of us are celebratory in nature and celebrations, large and small, take our minds temporarily away from personal issues and maladies, political rants, occupational stress and monotonous “blahs.” Most of all, unusual occasions are just plain fun!

This February 2, 2019, Punxsutawney Phil is set to come out again at 7:25 a.m. from his Punxsutawney burrow among thousands and thousands of faithful fans.  If you are interested in learning more about or attend this famous event, check out these sites: http://www.groundhog.org and http://www.weatherdiscovery.org/groundhog-day-celebration-2019

Okay Phil, what will happen this year—Six more weeks of dratted winter or a favored and early spring? 

GO FOR IT PHIL!    THINK SPRING!

 

Posted by: penpatience | January 1, 2019

WRITERS PERKS – WHAT ARE THEY?

WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn NO money.”—Franz Kafka

JANUARY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

WRITER PERKS – WHAT ARE THEY?

Are there perks for writers? Yes, I believe perks exist for writers in all stages of the writing craft. However, most often when I muse about writers’ additional benefits my thoughts turn to best-selling authors who have enjoyed national recognition, financial success with support from our nation’s largest publishing organizations.(i.e. James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King, etc.)  Many writers may not achieve these lofty goals, but new and established writers do share in a few common perks despite writer status.

Rejection is a special perk for all writers. WHAT!!!! Am I crazy? … No…Think about it! When we first begin writing what we’ve written is sometimes not very good although we think our work is the best thing since sliced bread. Many “newbie’s” and some experienced writers often can’t see the “canker sores” in their works-in progress—a case of “two close to the forest to see the trees” syndrome. I recalled in an earlier Musing, one of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke, had manuscripts rejected a hundred times before he published his first book. These nicely crafted “no thank you s” that bloom like unwanted weeds in online mailboxes can’t help but have various emotional impacts on writers. Anger and disappointment often can be the catalysts to work harder and improve the writing. I believe Acceptance is a Positive Perk that flows from the sea of former Rejections. We don’t get mad—-we get better!

Formerly a business manager, working the day job eight to five on a good day, I had to dress for success in business attire, high heel shoes and nylon hosiery. One of the best perks for many writers is working from home in pajamas, sweatpants, jeans, flip-flops, sneakers, slippers, etc. The necessity for professional or business casual attire most often can be relegated to various writing-related business occasions. Better yet, no stringent eight to five hours apply. A writer can choose to write any hours or days that specifically work within personal family and business commitments. Work hours flexibility is one of the greatest perks for writers.

Most writers are no different than other professionals when it comes to being paid for their qualifications, experience and ongoing writing efforts.  Earning a living as a full-time writer (exceptions-Journalists in commercial businesses, etc) is chancy and difficult especially for new authors and changes in the publication industry that remain in flux even today.  Writers who choose to write content for clients may earn supporting dollars (check out Carol Tice’s site, http://www.caroltice.com) if interested in content writing. However, I believe in most writers’ heart of hearts, along with acceptance the check in the mail is a most coveted perk.

BUT…I muse, what are the very best perks for writers? Perhaps the intangible ones may reap the greatest rewards:

A friend telephones, advises she really loved reading your latest published story, book, memoir, etc.

You can open a bottle of your favorite wine and drink and type at the same time when your work-in-progress is one step away from the shredder.

You get a warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment when you open a publication and see your work and name in print.

When you get a faraway look in your eyes, mumble incoherently, scratch notes on a restaurant/coffee shop napkin the hubby, boyfriend, sister, brother or best buddy know you’re writing a scene in your head and don’t call the paddy wagon.

You recite a passionate, daily mantra:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” to attempt inspiration for the writing project of the day.

Readers & Writers:  Perk Up!  Happy New Year and much success with all your endeavors in this New Year 2019!

Posted by: penpatience | December 1, 2018

WINTER SURVIVAL……WHAT TO DO?

WRITERS WORDS:  “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

WINTER SURVIVAL……WHAT TO DO?

 

DECEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

Winter—it’s not for sissies and definitely not always a wonderland in the most dreaded season for folks living in our country’s northern climes.  We brace ourselves for the onslaught that comes with this seasonal change with some trepidation.  What will it be like this year? Lawn mowers are exchanged for snow blowers, shovels replace gardening trowels and Ice Melt is purchased before the pumpkins shrivel and fall’s leaves are bagged for pickup.  And, baby, it’s getting cold outside.

However, many sports enthusiasts cannot wait until snow falls.  They embrace the season anxious to hit the many ski slopes, snowmobile through snow laden park trails knowing that their favorite hot toddies await their return.  It’s a special time for children of all ages. Bundled up in winter snowsuits, boots with heads covered in warm caps with ear-flaps, they happily glide on sleds, toboggans down local hills and ice skate on frozen rinks and ponds.  What’s not to love?

Well, there’s the challenge of driving in snow covered road conditions during heavy snow storms making commutes a torturous and often unsafe drives.  Snowplows barrel by your driveway after you’ve already cleared the mess and backing up the car. The weather man warns of another “Nor’easter” forecasting potential “mixtures” of sleet, freezing rain, blizzards and blustery winds that pelt exposed skin like sharp, painful needles.  What are winter survival options besides praying for an early spring?

Here are some solutions:

The month of December is filled with good cheer and happy spirits of Christmas and New Year holidays. Families look forward to a White Christmas that also helps Santa’s reindeers navigate  family chimneys. Glad tidings prevail especially after downing Grandma Mildred’s much-loved holiday “punch.”  Tough it out! Winter weather gets a pass in December.

Become a Mini or Maxi “Snowbird” and escape to Florida, Arizona and other warm weather states for a brief vacation or throughout the winter months.  Beach it and hit the golf courses. Note, the number of snowbirds and overcrowded highways have increased over the years.

Take a walk after the streets and sidewalks are cleared. Breath deep and watch your breath visibly fade into the brisk, refreshing air. (I don’t recommend walking in weather below zero and only if your health is suitable for this type of exercise.)

Are you a gardener? This is the season to pore over seed and garden catalogs to plot vegetable and flower garden varieties for next year and decide to replace blooms and plants that didn’t meet your expectations.

Winter is the perfect season to go online and take the A.A.R.P or A.A.A. Defensive Driving Course. New cars have been technologically upgraded and roadways (think roundabouts) have been updated. Drivers of all ages and especially seniors not only become safer all seasonal drivers but some insurance companies recognize this achievement by offering a deduction in their auto insurance premiums. (You’re safer on treacherous roadways and also save $$$🙂

Music lovers rejoice. If the blizzards blow over the weekend, hunker down and cook a special dinner and dessert while playing your favorite tunes and dance around the kitchen.

You’re never too old to build a snowman!

Writers—this is your chance to focus without outside distractions. Grab a glass of your favorite drink, (mine happens to be wine), munchies (cheese and crackers) and cuddle up with a good book or edit a Work-in-Progress manuscript.

So…..Sing along, first verse– LET IT SNOW

“Oh the weather outside is frightful

But the fire is so delightful

And since we’ve no place to go

Let it Snow- Let it Snow- Let it Snow”

Songwriters: Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn  Copyright: Warner/Chappell Music

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

Posted by: penpatience | November 1, 2018

GOBBLE, GOBBLE – ALL YEAR ROUND

WRITERS WORDS: “We may all have arrived here on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

NOVEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

GOBBLE, GOBBLE – ALL YEAR ROUND!

 

Its turkey time again–Time to gather together with loved ones and friends in the special celebration of Thanksgiving. Annually, folks crowd airlines, buses, trains and cars to spend this special holiday weekend together. Most folks spend the day happily stuffing themselves with turkey and all the trimmings, playing catch up on the past year, watching football with many heading off to the stores right after dessert to catch early bird sales in advance of Black Friday. What is especially encouraging this time of year are community members who donate time and money to feed the hungry and homeless insuring everyone has an opportunity to participate in a festive dinner sharing good will and good food.

All too soon this special time of camaraderie, good food and shared memories falls into the shadow of Christmas. The Santa Claus charge begins before the turkey leftovers are stowed in the fridge with the hoopla rush finally ending on Christmas Eve. I contemplated while writing this article on why did the feel good feelings and thoughtfulness evaporate so quickly after a day of giving thanks? Then again, maybe they didn’t.

My mind traveled back to childhood Thanksgivings with family always held at Mom’s house. Dinners were always great, but what resides in my mind is the legacy Mom left to her children. Along with good times we always had home-baked from scratch apple and pumpkin pies for dessert—never; ever did a purchased store pie grace our table. After the families grew and expanded and we convinced our aging Mom to pass the baton, my sisters and I continued to carry on the home-baked pies tradition. Perhaps, a home baked dessert might appear a small gesture to be thankful for, but we were always appreciative of Mom’s special efforts and talents.

I mused. Life is full of unexpected and, sometimes, unwelcome surprises. This past year many tragedies have occurred within our country and abroad. A believer that climate change has and will continue to affect our lives, I note we’ve experienced horrific forest fires out West, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and resulting tsunamis throughout the South, East, Central states and islands overseas. Add in mass shootings of innocent people, political parties posturing in lieu of working together across the aisles and, HEY, what do we have to be thankful for???

Life happens while we’re making other plans. (Still my favorite adage) One day we’re on the GIVING end and the next we’re unexpectedly on the RECEIVING end of assistance. Let’s go back to my Mom for a minute. Mom was always thankful to be on the Giving side of life and she shared with others within her resources. I know, had her situation been reversed (and I was grateful it never happened) she would have been thankful for the kindness and help of others. Too many Americans have lost their homes, their livelihoods and loved ones never believing a day would come they’d become Receivers instead of Givers. Bear with me while I share a saying that “popped” into my head:

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” (we’ve all heard that one) and then I thought:

“A smile a day makes someone’s day” Sometimes a gesture as small as sharing a smile can make a difference in someone’s day whether you’re a Giver or a Receiver.

I believe folks who’ve experienced the good fortune to be Givers and the unfortunate situation of Receivers are more apt to keep generosity alive throughout their lives—what some folks in this generation might call, “Paying it Forward.” Right now, I feel fortunate to be a Giver and hopeful that many folks reside in that “same boat” as quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. in this month’s Writers Words. And… I’m always grateful for a leftover turkey sandwich (forget the diet-don’t hold the Mayo) with a slice of cranberry and a tad bit of leftover stuffing on toasted rye!

Best wishes for a Happy, Safe, and Healthful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2018

WHAT’S IN YOUR LIBRARY?

 

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “He who owns books and loves them is wise.” –Roger Duvoisin

OCTOBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR LIBRARY?

Fall is falling again!  It’s that time of year for the annual bookcase clean-out and precious treasures dust-off. I’m sure some readers might consider this a dreaded task; for me it’s a labor of love. The main bookcase has five shelves and the procedure is to stack the books and accompanying memorabilia in separate stacks on the floor. I attack the wood with Murphy’s oil cleaner, the easy part of the job. The difficult decision is what books to keep, share with the library, donate to charity or (oh my heart!) just discard in the recycle bin. Historically, very few books have left the shelves to make room for new keepsakes. Truthfully, I cannot remember when I last recycled a book.

Here’s the problem. Every time I dust and must decide on a book’s status, I begin to reminisce. I picked up a first book. “There Are No Children Here,” the story of two boys growing up in the other America by Alex Kotlowitz. Mr. Kotlowitz writes about urban affairs and social issues for The Wall Street Journal. His story about two boys growing up in a public housing complex in Chicago disfigured by crime and neglect is heartbreaking but an ultimately inspiring story. I wrote on the inside cover my name and the date August 17, 1991 with a note to myself in 2010: “A keeper, one of my “favorites. I wrote a paper on it.”  No question. Back on the shelf!  On to the next…”Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow with a date of purchase: August 18, 1987.  Hmmm…how many times have I read this book and seen the movie? No, I can’t part with it. Okay, here’s a novel some of you might not know or remember, but the author was one of my Dad’s favorites–“Riders of the Purple Sage,” by Zane Grey. It was Zane Grey’s all time classic and he has been called the greatest novelist of the American West. The note on the inside cover said I purchased it on May 2012 while traveling with my daughter in Payson, Arizona. Original cover price was $3.99. I picked it up at an antique shop/flea market for $2.00.  I wonder if a writer today would pen this sentence: “You can’t save him now,” replied Tull, stridently.” (How can I pick on Zane Grey because I don’t like the adverb?)  You know the answer to this one. Dog-eared and worn-looking, it’s going back on the shelf.

Here are a few more of my favorites that will remain with me till “death do us part.”

“Catch Me If You Can,” by Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. (He autographed the book for me when he spoke at a conference I attended.)

“My American Journey,” by Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico

“Swim with The Sharks, without being eaten alive” By Harvey McKay

“The Bridges of Madison County,” by Robert James Waller

“Empire Falls,” by Richard Russo

“The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses,” two memoirs by Jeanette Walls

“Queen,” by Alex Haley

There are too many keepsakes to list here, but I did choose a few to share with the library:

“Border Music,” by Robert James Waller

“Women & World Religions,” by Denise Lardner Carmody

“The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” (I have two copies)

 

One shelf is dedicated to books on the writing craft. Many times I’ve been tempted to pitch the entire “kit and caboodle” into a dumpster when writing hasn’t gone well or a rejection missile arrives in my e-mail. Discouragement aside, I’ve not yet tossed the books! Here are a few cherished writing craft books that are forever entrenched on the shelf:

“On Writing Well” – William Zinsser; “Fire Up Your Fiction” – Jodie Renner; “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” – Renni Browne & David King; “Just Write” – James Scott Bell; “Bird By Bird” – Anne Lamont; “On Writing” – Stephen King; “Super Structure-The key to Unleashing the power of story” –James Scott Bell; “On Becoming a Novelist” – John Gardner

Last but not least is the bottom “everything” shelf. Although technology has somewhat done away with hard copy dictionaries, I’ve retained two hard cover Collier’s Dictionaries and their Junior Classic collection minus a few  shared with my children I ask myself why I do this chore every year when I rarely discard many reading treasures. I comfort myself knowing, at least, I’ve removed an annual accumulation of dust-bunnies.  However, there is no maintenance required to clean up my E-reader Library—I just hit “Delete:)

Readers, share with me a special book that is a keeper in your Library. I’m always seeking a few new treasures to add to my special shelves.

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2018

CALL IT! – HEADS OR “TALES”

 

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “I want people to understand gambling is not a bad thing if you do it within the framework of what it’s meant to be, fun and entertaining.” –Michael Jordan

 

SEPTEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

CALL IT! –  HEADS OR “TALES”

One day this past August after spending some time in Saratoga, New York, I thought about how Saratoga County comes alive every year during the summer months. Its track season at the Saratoga Race Track, coupled with patrons enjoying the popular Saratoga Casino and Saratoga Lake with neighboring townships happily accepting the influx of equine fans and wealthy and not so wealthy gamblers from across the state and country. A lot of gambling going on….

I mused about Kenny Rogers and his famous song, “The Gambler.” Hum along with me with some song words that are—oh so true!

“If you’re going to play the game, boy, you gotta learn to play it right. You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run…..you never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

Sage advice in that song and many times not heeded. However, I believe, taking chances is ingrained in our American culture. Who doesn’t like to take a chance now and again? Why not take a chance on the horse with the huge haunches, pretty white marking on his forehead, funky but meaningful (to you) name that you  believe will go the distance?  Haven’t we all received multiple invites from Publisher’s Clearing House to fill out forms that will allow us to win $1,000 every week for life? And who hasn’t experienced the Casinos with the frenzied atmosphere of noisy slot machines, the slap of cards on Blackjack Tables, the whirling sounds of balls spinning in Roulette Wheels amid the clink of drink glasses and lost dollars?

I recall an occasion not too long ago when I visited a Casino with a friend. While my friend went off to a Blackjack table I decided to find and play a slot machine. A twenty dollar bill in my hand, (I am not a high roller) I sat next to a young woman, noticed she had a credit card inserted in the machine (Was she crazy?) We chatted a bit and she advised me she came to the Casino because she was a little “short” on the rent money this month (and I’m thinking, my God, she’s betting with a credit card.) I’m of the belief that computers and electronics have removed some of the fun of playing slots. Many of you might remember how years ago in Las Vegas actual coins fell from the machines in an avalanche of quarters when you won. What an “upper” to gather coins in your hands sometimes picking up spillage from the floor!

I often muse life is one big gamble. Every day we venture out hoping the day’s happenings are what we’ve predicted and try not to be disappointed when they don’t materialize. So hum along with me—one last time with Kenny Rogers:

“Every gamble knows

That the secret to survivin’

Is knowin’ what to throw away

And knowin’ what to keep

‘cause every hand’s a winner

And every hand’s a loser

And the best that you can hope for is to die

In your sleep.”

My Dad used to say, “if your ship is to come in, you must put your oar in the water.” He  was lucky enough to die in his sleep.

And remember, just as alcoholism/drugs and smoking, gambling can easily become an addiction. If you think you need assistance in controlling your gambling, here’s a site that may be of assistance: www.gamblersanonymous.org.

 

Dear Reads & Writers: Don’t gamble on your health and safety!  Be safe and well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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