I’m pleased to say that my short story, A Letter on a Train, has been published in The Quill Magazine. This is my first fiction published since the 1970’s when I won a creative writing contest sponsored by the Detroit News and Scholastic. Needless to say I hope this will lead to many more. Check out this fantastic on-line magazine at this LINK.
Words have power. The ability to transcribe stories and knowledge into words transformed our ancestors into the human beings we are today. Words educate, influence, enslave and heal. That’s why it is such a tragedy when words are misused. Lately the word ‘Great’ has been abused and rendered a mockery by the political operatives in our federal government. So, as a public service, I’m offering alternative words.
At the risk of sounding elitist, Roget’s International Thesaurus, a book you should have learned how to use in high school English class, has 278 synonyms for the word Great. Knocking the count down for a few overlaps, there are at least 270 other words besides Great to use to help your reader or listener understand meaning. If books aren’t your thing, thesaurus.com has 136 alternatives.
Slang words like: dandy, marvy, crackerjack, stunning, and serious words like: important, consequential, momentous, significant, considerable and substantial, all do more to help us understand what you are trying to say. Using one word to describe everything is like using one crayon to color. The world is much richer when we use the whole of a language to communicate.
So, the next time some high minded big-wig throws out a corker of a word gaffe, you can snort at their colossal failure in using American English.
I’m thrilled to have won a case of Cinquain Cellars flagship wine, Cinquain, in the latest poetry contest. For those not familiar with a cinquain, it is a five line poem with defined syllables in each line. The first is 2, then 4, 6, 8, and the last back to 2. 2-4-6-8-2
Here is the poem that will be on the back label of the bottles when they are released later this year.
Cinquain melody plays
Harmony crescendos inside
Cinquain Cellars is definitely worth checking out. I love their wine and they are great people.
My mirror reflects a woman,
five feet tall, grey hair,
age spots daubed with foundation,
dusted with powder,
yet still visible.
Ancestors from Britain, Ireland, and Alsace Lorraine
fill my gene pool
But they don’t tell you who I am.
Once the title on my business card
defined the square footage of my office,
the quality of my chair,
the level of respect I was afforded,
but it did not tell you who I am.
Height, age, titles,
allow you to lump me in groups,
bucket me in stereotypes,
but that’s your issue,
that’s not who I am.
I am my dreams.
The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson was published in 1958, my birth year. So, I am surprised to learn this is a Christmas classic and loved by millions. I’ve never heard of it. More shocking to a writer diving into the middle grade children’s literature area, is that this book won the Newbery Award, an esteemed children’s literature honor.
This surprises me because the story contradicts several “rules” of kid lit that I’ve picked up over the last three years in books and workshops: the main character must be a child slightly older than the age of the reader you are writing for, the main character must solve his or her own problems in the story and the adults, if any, in the story must not make everything happen for the child. This leads me to believe that the story was written more for the adults who are reading to children.
I’m bolstered in this thought, by the recognition that Despicable Me, an animated movie with evil villains who attempt to steal the moon, has the same plot; single curmudgeon takes on three small children, learns to love and ends up with a family.
I wonder if the Family Under the Bridge would be considered for publication in today’s environment.
Perched on a bench at water’s edge
surrounded by starbursts of chlorophyll
dark gray skaters glide on liquid green
sunlight flashes across white and orange scales
water melodies trickle down the rocky falls
rustle the surface with irrational waves
How radiant my world above the water must seem
to the koi
as they hover at the bottom
afraid I’m a bird or raccoon about to snatch them
Just as the glorious heavens above
as I await the inevitable hand from an unknown world
to lift me from my pond
and try not to be afraid
When I was just a kid, early teens, I dreamed of living high in the mountains, surviving by my wits and what I could grow. Even then I knew I couldn’t kill anything so I figured if I couldn’t coax it out of the ground or collect it already laying there I wouldn’t eat it.
Thinking about it with the clarity of age, I realize puberty was the primary culprit. Puberty and the seventies. At that time I wasn’t considered capable of holding my own checking account, renting a car or making serious decisions for myself. My age had nothing to do with it. I’m a girl. As hard as it is for young women today to comprehend, until the mid-seventies women had to have a male co-signer on everything. At least in my world, tucked away in Wisconsin and Michigan. The heart of America.
So I suppose it might be a natural psychological response to want to escape. Little did I know how hard the undertaking would have been. Hats off to those Mother Earth News types who homestead their land, grow all their own food and live off the grid. We do only a passing nod to that lifestyle and I’m here to tell ya – IT’S HARD.
With just five fruit trees, fifty grape fines, six nut trees, seven olive trees and two rather small vegetable gardens I spent the better part of six months canning, pressing, freezing and fermenting. That’s not including the other half of the year spent making sure said flora remains alive and producing. Remember I still have a Costco and numerous grocery stores to stock my shelves. The simple life isn’t simple! Yes I know what’s in the produce I grow, my olive oil has as much terroir as my wine, and I really truly appreciate consuming my own stuff. But we don’t do any protein sources (that comes from stores or my neighbor’s chickens) nor do we do dog food, many condiments, cheese (because despite my goal of becoming a cheese maker – I don’t have the set up and well – I had to draw the line somewhere), vegetables I can’t get to grow in my 100 degree, windy summer days and a whole host of odds and ends that make a dinner party pleasant and not a survival demonstration.
All this is to help you appreciate your local grocer, farmer’s market and yes – even the home gardeners who are trying to pawn their overabundance of whatever on you. Take it. Enjoy it. Simply be grateful that you can share in their joy and efforts. If the spirit hits you to try out a more agrarian lifestyle my advice is to go slow. Understand what you’re getting yourself in for before plunking down your 401K on farm acreage. Watch old episodes of Green Acres like documentaries. And if you decide to join us. Welcome – stop by and we’ll share everything we know.