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August Newsletter: Audio on the Go

Audio on the Go

Glenda Bonham

Many won’t be able to remember when driving while reading a newspaper was actually a fad. In the pre-audio days of the 70’s it was common to meet drivers on the highways in West Texas with a newspaper spread over the steering wheel. I used to stay on alert for a width of white, visible through the windshield of oncoming vehicles. The distracted reading-while-driving motorists would be cruising at speeds between 70-85 MPH on two lane highways reading the local news on the steering wheel. These were the days before seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, and electronic warnings in cars. If there was a state law on the books prohibiting reading-while-driving, I was never aware of it.

Fast forward to present day, and be thankful for the technology that delivers entire books on audio for drivers. Not only can you listen to a new book on a long drive, you can study a second language, dictate a letter, listen to a text message, get driving directions, and a score of other topics, without taking your eyes off the highway.

Downloads from the internet are inexpensive and many libraries offer audio books for check-out free of cost. There are new laws in place against texting and driving for good reasons. If you tend to get lonely on long drives, take along a better form of entertainment than your phone. You will be much safer and you might even learn something.

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July Newsletter: I Just Don’t Have Time to Write by Glenda Bonham

I Just Don’t Have Time to Write

Glenda Bonham

Have you ever said this to yourself? Most of us who write have probably said it at some point. We’ve said things like, “I’d just love to write, but I feel more important things demand my attention.” So, we procrastinate and tell ourselves “Maybe someday I’ll have the time to sit down and write something, but now I have children at home, or I have a job, or I need to do housework, or yardwork, or…” The list goes on and on.

There are in truth two major causes for us not to write. One is lack of self-discipline to sit and do it. The second is a lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. Which is your greater nemesis? If you can identify it, you can start now to overcome it.

Here is one solution to both stumbling blocks for starting to write. Set your alarm clock for one hour earlier than usual. For that one hour, your house is quiet and your brain is rested. Use the one hour as “my time.” When behind the keyboard, or with pen in hand, you have complete privacy and space. You are free of all demands of your daily life.

What you write need never be read by anyone else. These words are your thoughts, your imagination, your venting, your joy, and your reflections. Consider your writing time as your personal guiltless pleasure. There is no failure. You are the only editor, and the only judge of your work. The only failure is not to write at all.

I certainly won’t discourage doing research online, or reading other sources on the topic of creative writing. There is a wealth of information available, but reading about writing will never replace practical experience. If you want to learn to write, you must practice writing. To improve your writing, you must write.

If in time, you want to show your writings to someone else, that is your option. However, don’t try to write to please someone else. Write for yourself. In doing this, you will develop your skills and your own writing style. Be your own voice first. If in time, you get lucky and sell something you’ve written, and need to re-write to please a professional editor, only then be concerned about pleasing someone else. For now, just enjoy your writing time. Yes, you can make time to write. In doing so, you will discover one of life’s simple pleas- ures. You’ll also find a hidden piece of yourself.

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June Newsletter: Shug

“Shug” ~ By Jody Day

 

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 1.43.31 PM     My dad sat me on his lap the night before my first day of school. “Keep your mouth shut. That way you’ll know everything you know, and everything they know, too.”

I didn’t listen. But it’s a wonder I got a word in edgewise, because he loved to talk and tell stories. Born in Louisiana, the family eventually settled in Jasper County, Texas. They had a maid named Arvetta, and she gave Daddy the nick-name “Shug” as in “Sugar.” Dad talks about being just a tyke standing on a box flipping burgers during the depression. He had an ornery streak. Their Christmas stockings were full of fruit and nuts, and maybe some penny candy. Daddy would wait until everyone ate all their goodies before he started on his. His siblings would beg for a piece, and he loved saying no and having them all watch while he ate his. Such a nut!

He had debilitating asthma but joined the army anyway during WWII. He ended up in Hawaii, where most of his pictures show him on the beach. Not bad, but they had to send him home. His brother was killed two weeks before the war was over. Daddy didn’t talk about it much.

He worked for the railroad, but multiple sclerosis made him a stay-at-home dad, while my mom worked as a telephone operator. He loved to cook and make lunch bags full of goodies for my grandchildren. He would throw his head back and sing his favorite song. “Down in old Joe’s bar room, at the corner ooooooof the square…”

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My dad always told me I could do anything I wanted to do if I worked hard at it. He was right. He gave up drinking, and then smoking in his later life. He loved to freak the grandkids out by taking out his teeth. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. We all miss you.

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May Newsletter: May Day

May Day

By Vea Anna Hooker

The earliest form of May Day seems to be the Festival of Flora, during the Roman Republican era. Flora was the goddess of flowers and linked to spring, fertility, and youth. The festival lasted for several days at the end of April and first part of May. Forms of celebration included drinking, the wearing of flowers, lightweight, brightly colored garments, and farces and mimes, especially those of a bawdy nature. It also has ties to Beltane, an Irish holiday that marked the beginning of summer. Rituals were preformed to protect the cattle, crops and people and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled and the people and cattle would walk around and even jump over the fires or embers. They would have feasts and decorate a May Bush with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. If you washed your face in the morning dew on May 1, it was believed you would have beauty and stay youthful.

As Europe became Christianized, pagan holidays were absorbed into Christian holidays or lost religious significance. May Day became a secular holiday, with its celebrations including the gathering of wildflowers to weave into decorations that were often used to crown a May king and queen, as well as for decorating a May tree or Maypole. People then danced around the tree. These rites were probably intended to ensure fertility, and its celebrations involved joy and light-hearted fun in the outdoors as the warmer weather of spring and summer began.

In America, the Puritans of New England considered the celebrations for May Day to be licentious and pagan so the holiday never became an important part of American culture. In later times, it became a popular tradition to give May baskets – small baskets filled with flowers or sweets. These were usually given anonymously to friends and neighbors. This tradition had all but died out by the later part of the twentieth century.

On a personal note, as a child growing up in Iowa, we would prepare construction paper cones with a handle and try finding a few flowers to put in them. Since Iowa has intense winters, by May 1, about all we could find was a few dandelions and a handful of violets. We would usually fill the bottom of the cone with popcorn; add a couple candies and two or three of our pitiful flowers. We were encouraged, by our sweet mother, to hang them on the doors of elderly neighbors, knock and run like the wind. Simple pleasures, but we took so much joy in the doing.

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May Newsletter: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day – Richard McGee

 

May brings warmer temperatures and colorful flowers and it also brings Mother’s Day. It’s a special day to thank the mother in our life for all she does and tell her how much she has meant to you. My mother passed away a few years ago, so I will tell everyone how special she was.

My mother was the twelfth child of thirteen born to a German immigrant on a farm 45 miles north of Dallas, Texas. She completed an eighth-grade education, all that was available at her local school. When she married my father, she gained an eight-year old son from his previous marriage. She later had three sons of her own.

My mother entered the university under a probation program for non-high school graduates. Under that program, she was required to maintain a B-average. She got only one B and the remainder all A’s on the way to getting her BA in education, and began teaching elementary school. Later she got a MA degree and taught for 28 years.

My mother loved and accepted everyone. Going through the racial turmoil in the late 1960’s, she would just shake her head and say, “Why can’t we all just get along.” She had no biases against color or sexual orientation, she just saw all humans as beings of God.

     She was my moral compass and the rock foundation in my life and somedays I really miss her. If your mother is still living, make sure to tell her how special she is to you this Mother’s Day.