Sunday, November 16, 2014

A New Phase in Life

It has been many months since I posted anything on this blog - twelve to be exact. 

I have the desire to write, but life has rushed at me like a level five hurricane.  Five months ago, I was working, taking classes, and taking care of my husband who was very ill.  During all this chaos, my beloved husband passed away.  In a single instant, life as I knew it changed forever.  For the following six weeks, I packed, sorted, and gave away a large portion of our belongings in preparation to move from Northern Nevada to Texas.  They say you shouldn't move or do anything important for a year after a spouse dies.  That wasn't an option for me and this was the second move within seven months. 

During those agonizing first six weeks, I was also dealing with a dog who was old, deaf, blind, going to the bathroom in the house, and occasionally, trying to bite me.  The vet had mentioned it might be time to consider putting him to sleep.  It was a hard decision.  He had protected our home and been a loyal companion for fourteen years, but in the end, I had no choice.  Numb after all I'd been through, it was another hard blow. 

In spite of all I'd given away or thrown out, one twenty-six foot U-Haul truck wouldn't hold everything so we had to rent another one.  My son drove one truck and pulled my car on an auto transport.  I followed behind him in the second truck, driving twenty-three hours across country. 

By the time we reached my other son's home in Texas, there were no words to describe how tired I felt.  I slept for weeks, only to wake exhausted and emotional each day.  It seemed there had not been time for grief in the mad dash to tie up all the loose ends and move, and it finally caught up with me.  This is the hardest and worst journey imaginable. 

It has been three months.  I believe the better the marriage, the harder the grief.  That means this won't be over any time soon.  So instead of writing a story, I journal to force the pain out onto the page, hoping that getting it out on paper will relieve some of the anguish in my heart.  No man that wonderful should ever be forgotten.  As I packed up our home in Nevada and found photos of my husband, I gathered them together and put them into a small photo album.  I look into his eyes and kiss his face daily.  When someone has been such a good part of your life, it is hard to let go.  I know at some point I will have to in order to move forward, but for now, it is too fresh.  I am no expert on grieving, but recently took a week long course.  The most useful statement to me was that there is no rush.  Every person grieves differently and each relationship is different.  It takes as long as it takes.

Will  these events enrich my writing?  I hope so.  We are all products of the experiences we have in life, whether good or bad.   

In a little more than a month, I witnessed the last breath of the love of my life and a family pet.  I can honestly say now that I am not afraid to die.  Like most people, death used to scare me, but facing it up close and personal and having a strong faith, has left me with an anticipation of seeing my husband again rather than fearing the unknown. 

The moral of this post is this:  Life is short.  Cherish your loved ones and don't take them for granted.  Live each day to the fullest and let the important people in your life know you love them.  Don't worry about having a perfectly clean house or keeping up with the Jones's:  spend time with family instead.  Build great memories.  Take lots of pictures.  Remember what's real and what's really important in life.  You'll never regret it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Decline of America

Every now and then something happens that seriously riles me.  Hearing that the schools will no longer teach cursive writing is one of them.  Apparently some schools are fighting back after they heard that cursive would be dropped from the curriculum.

Over the years, our history books have been changed, obliterated, white-washed, and diluted until kids don't have a clear picture of our history.  Granted, with each generation, there is so much more history to learn, they can't teach every single thing, but the high points should be left intact.

You may have seen an email or article of what an 8th grade exam was like in 1912.  Most high school seniors would fail this exam today.

Back to cursive writing though;  I see so many problems with not being able to write.  Some people choose to print, even as adults, and that is their choice, but most probably know how to write in cursive.  Cursive is so much quicker, and I for one, would rather use a day planner and write down notes, to do lists, and grocery lists by hand.  It's much faster and I don't have to plug in my planner to charge it up.  The younger generation may consider that old school, but they appreciate typography.  Beautiful handwriting from days gone by is all over the internet these days in craft projects and decorating.  These could be as simple as a grocery receipt, but the handwriting is so beautiful, it is used and appreciated as art.  I don't think generations to come will be printing out old text messages to use in that way.  Word abbreviations, slang, and sideways smiley faces aren't nearly as decorative as French typography.  For that matter, where will we learn our history?  We've learned much of what we know of the past from letters.  They told the stories of current events, daily life, and the emotions of the people who wrote them. 

The day of letter writing is almost extinct.  Few people even write thank you notes these days, and that's a shame.  It's a form of courtesy that is also dying, unfortunately. 

When you compare that 1912 8th grade exam to todays tests, it is clear that our schools are dumbing down.  America used to be a nation that everyone looked to and aspired to be like or a place they wanted to live. 

Many schools today are nothing more than day prisons and the teachers are the wardens.  Parents believe their children to be angels when they are anything but angels.  I don't have an answer for how to change this, but one thought is to start moving the curriculum back toward the way it was in the past. 

Don't stop scoring a game if one team is beating the other one, 'so no one gets their feelings hurt.'  Life is hard and sometimes you lose the game.  The sooner kids learn that, the sooner they can learn to be graceful losers and to try harder. 

Since many parents are failing in the manners department, that should be taught in pre-school and enforced through high school.  You will go much farther in life if you are kind and polite than if you are demanding and abrasive.  Foul language should not be tolerated.  Too many parents let it fly at home and are shocked when little Johnny says the "F" word at school.  Teaching kids to reason out a problem is important.  They need to be able to see the consequences of their actions, so they can choose the best course of action for the best result.

I could go on and on about this, but I'll get off my high horse and let it rest. 

I learned cursive handwriting in 3rd grade.  At eight years old, we used our cartridge fountain pens to practice writing.  Perfect cursive letters were written in white on a green background and bordered the top of the room in our classroom.  I looked forward to writing lessons.  It was almost like drawing, which I also liked doing.   Did you notice in the top picture that handwriting was called slate work back in the early 1900's?  We have come a long way since then, but not all progress is positive.  In some ways, we have gone backwards.

My grandmother was born in 1897.  I have her McGuffys' Reader.  This is the first grade reader.  Each lesson includes a sentence to write and the handwriting example was gorgeous with swoops and curls.  It was an art form taught early back then and I hate to see it disappear. 

What if your iphone needs to be charged up and you can't write?  Oh No!!!  What can you do?

I refer back to my comments on reasoning and common sense.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School

Bobbie Brooks via Pinterest
Public schools resumed classes on Monday here in Reno, Nevada.  It's a little earlier than normal.  Each time I walk into a store and see shelves of notebooks and crayons, it takes me back to when I was a girl.  That's been a few years, so I know it is a strong memory. 

I always loved new notebooks, new crayons with sharp points, and of course, new shoes, but the best thing was new school clothes.

Every summer before school started, my brother and I spent a week with our grandparents.  They lived a couple of hours from where we did and it was an annual event to spend time with Ma and Papaw.  They entertained us as much as they could.  This included lots of our favorite foods: peach cobbler, ice cold watermelon, and plenty of 7-Ups and ghost stories that Papaw would tell us while we sat in the big rockers on the back porch in the dark, with only the eerie glow from his cigar and the lightening bugs to illuminate the blackness.

Before we went home, there was the yearly trip to Belk Department Store for school clothes.  Papaw took my brother to the boys department and they were done in about fifteen minutes.  From there, I think they went to the barber shop for a haircut and a "sody". 

Meanwhile, my grandmother and I took our time and I tried on everything to make sure it fit right.  Fall is, and has always been, my favorite time of the year.  Fall clothes were something to look forward to because of the quality, fabrics, colors, and textures.

We would leave the store with bags loaded down with Bobbie Brooks wool skirts and matching sweaters and blouses, bras and underwear and slips.  In those days girls were required to wear skirts or dresses to school.  That was before skirts got so short and school boards decided that pants would be a better alternative.  Then they allowed pants suits only - no jeans or casual pants and certainly no shorts!

I saved for months to buy a pair of Lady Bostonian Kiltie Loafers like these. 
This is the only picture I could find and they are men's shoes, so imagine them in a little more feminine version.  Apparently, the Lady Bostonian line of shoes is no longer made - only Bostonian men's shoes.  All the girls were wearing Lady Bostonians at the time and they were very good quality shoes with leather insoles and soles and the top leather and finish was beautiful. 

Times change.  Oh how I long for good quality clothes like the ones my grandparents bought me.  Now when I go to the mall and see all the see-through, low cut, unflattering designs and cheap inferior fabrics, I mourn all the beautiful clothes I owned as a child.  Younger girls don't know why a slip was worn and have never been fortunate enough to wear clothes like this. 

Last night, there was a fashion test online.  I took it just for kicks.  They showed outfits and you were supposed to click on the best accessory to go with the outfit.  My conclusion was if it didn't match and made you look shorter or like you'd gotten dressed in the dark, that was they one they believed to be the correct accessory/shoes/bag for the outfit.  If looking pulled together makes me out of style or old, so be it.   I'd rather look like Audrey Hepburn than Lady Gaga any day.

***Please note:  I am not dissing Lady Gaga.  The lady can really sing!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back In the Saddle

Writing has been on the back burner for the past few months, but I'm back to it again and hoping to have a finished product before long.

I have a lot to learn and am working on that.  It reminds me of when I took piano lessons at twelve years old.  Nothing was so boring as playing scales.  I wanted to skip straight to Chopin, but we all know that can't happen without practice.

That's where I am with writing.  Who are these people whose first novel becomes a best seller?  How did they leap that chasm to the other side?  So before I get the nerve to make that big leap, I'll keep practicing and reading and learning and writing. 

On another subject, since I'm "back in the saddle again", I chose a beautiful western saddle to make my point.  The gorgeous squash blossoms carved into this saddle are absolutely beautiful.  This is an art form that not a lot of people know how to do.  I've often dreamed of a handbag covered in this kind of tooling, since I don't have a horse.  Ralph Lauren has a gorgeous one in their spring 2013 collection for a mere $4,500.  That's a bit much for a handbag, but I'll keep dreaming.

Happy Trails.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jack of All Trades


Let me preface this by saying that I love to do anything artistic or creative.  As a child, I wanted to learn everything I could from my grandmothers.  From their knees, they taught me cooking, sewing, crocheting, household chores like laundry and ironing, and many other useful things.  My mother encouraged my love of creativity.  I was constantly singing, drawing, playing house, imagining my own house by raking leaves into house plans or dressing up in all sorts of colors, silky fabrics, and jewelry.  My love of purses lives to this day.  “Do you really need another purse?”  My husband asks skeptically.  “Yes!!!”


A few years ago I discovered a love of writing.  It’s not so different than painting with words.  Instead of conveying a subject with textures, colors, and light, you use words, emotions, and cadence.  I learned that just because I had a new passion, the others couldn’t fall by the wayside.  I’m still passionate about painting, sewing, crafting, and numerous other crafts.


The past few months have been spent enjoying a new sewing machine and making all sorts of colorful, creative things for my new granddaughter.  Trust me.  If you haven’t had grandchildren yet, everything comes to a halt for them.  They are indeed grand and supremely wonderful.


Now that the baby sewing frenzy is over, new things beckon me.  I have the opportunity to sell some paintings, which have not been painted yet.  I want to sew a list of things that don’t include baby things, but wait; mothers to be saw photos of the baby things I made my daughter-in-law and they want some.  Do I open my own Etsy shop? 


I am jerked back to reality by the fact that I have not yet done the taxes.  Uuuggggghhhh!!!  Is there anything less appealing to do than taxes?  Maybe, but taxes are way at the bottom of my list down near having a root canal or major surgery.

 Something like this - natural stone that fits in with the setting around the house.

In my dreams, I have a house in the country.  Behind the house is a bubbling brook and there is a glassed in porch that opens up in mild weather to hear the birds and the rushing water.  Lighting is good and in one corner stands a grand easel and loads of art supplies from oil paint, acrylic and watercolors, paint brushes, a large table for scrapbooking and drawing, and a built in rack for oil paintings to dry undisturbed.  The house is stone, one level, with a basement and a big safe room to weather any storm.  The kitchen is, of course, enormous with black quartz counters, white cabinets, a walk in pantry with a window, a big island with lots of stools so my grandchildren can gather round and learn from me like I learned from my grandmothers.  The laundry room is quite large.  It may even have two washers and two dryers.  There is a tall folding table island in the center of the room.  This doubles as a place to fold clothes, storage, and a comfortable height counter to cut out fabric without causing an aching back.  The sewing machine and ironing board are in this room, quietly tucked away so the mess isn’t spread all over the dining room table like it has been at all the other houses where I’ve lived.  I realized when moving once that I have much more “stuff” than your average person.  It’s all the craft and art supplies, sewing materials, and an excess of kitchen supplies that I use regularly.


Consequently, there is usually a mess somewhere indicating a project in progress.   I once drew an ideal house plan.  When it was finished, there was more square footage in storage areas for all this stuff than there was in the rooms.  


Tastefully painted chest

Another passion is refinishing furniture.  The trend today is to paint everything.  I cringe at the thought of painting a valuable antique, yet every day I see people doing just that.  A beautifully constructed chest with dove tailed drawers made from fine wood is painted turquoise with white chevrons zig-zagging across the front.  I’m not totally against a painted piece of furniture as an accent to a room, but painting everything just because you can makes me feel sick at my stomach.  Certainly, damaged furniture or something that was repaired and has two different kinds of wood should be painted and can be done tastefully.  Maybe I should open shop and show them how it’s done.  Another big sigh…


Years ago, I was in a decorating program to become a decorator.  That’s another passion since I was a child.  We moved away and I didn’t finish the program, though I tend to think you either have it or you don’t when it comes to taste and decorating.


My mind is all over the place and writing plays a part in all of it.  This morning, while watching a series on William Morris, I could relate to his love of architecture, design, texture, colors, and the thought that one shouldn’t put things in their home unless they are useful or beautiful.  Collections of things can begin to look like clutter and dust catchers.  Remember the 1980’s when “country” d├ęcor was big?  Hardly an inch on the walls or surfaces was without a wreath or figurine.  Curtains were stuffed onto curtain rods and piled onto the floors.  It was a decade of over-the-top excess in many ways.  Curio cabinets were filled to bursting with tiny glass figurines by Hummel and Lladro.  Each piece on its own was a piece of art, but dozens of them made the room look more like a gift store than a home and it was hard to appreciate any of them because there was so much.  My first thought when I see a collection is that it must take all day just to dust it all.  I have more important things to do.
100 %

Where am I going with all this?  I don’t know.  An aptitude test told me that my brain is one hundred percent creative.  This is not to say I can’t balance the checkbook or have no common sense.  In the common sense department, I have an overabundance and anyone, if disciplined, can do mundane things that have to be done in this life to survive like balancing a checkbook or cleaning the bathroom. 

This leads me to ask the questions:  Am I alone in flitting from project to project and from one medium to the next?  Do you have several things you love doing?  How do you balance it all? 




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Important Things First!

Writing has taken a back seat lately.  When I found out I would soon have a new grand baby, that's all I could think about.  So the past few months, every spare minute has been spent making baby things and dreaming of the day I will hold that precious gift from God in my arms.

Every baby needs a cloth book to occupy them in church and keep the noise level down.  This was loads of fun!


Next I tackled a Tumbling Block quilt.  Talk about a brain stretcher!  Several ultra sound technicians told us the baby is a little boy.  Since I have three sons, I knew I was in for a treat.  I made or purchased several blue items for a baby boy.  Then in the 6th month, we were told it is a little girl.

So it was back to the fabric store to buy something more girly looking.  Meanwhile, I had sewing machine trouble with both of my machines.  I was in a panic and purchased a new machine.  So now I am sewing machine poor, but rich in love for this little girl that I will meet soon.

Once I get my head out of the clouds, I'll get back to writing. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kindred Spirit

Let me begin by saying that I'm 57 years old.  I have two friends I've known since grade school.  We all live in different states, but have stayed in touch all these years.  Occasionally we work in a girl's trip somewhere and suddenly, though we have thicker middles and a few wrinkles, we are teenagers again, catching up on everyone we all knew back then, and giggling like time has swept us back to 1973.

Sharlene, one of the girls told me I should connect with Linda.  I didn't really know Linda back then.  Our paths rarely crossed and she was an acquaintance only. 

I emailed Linda and the dialog began.  All that time, we were kindred spirits and neither of us ever knew it.  I've loved to decorate my whole life and had decorating notebooks when I was twelve filled with different styles, color swatches, and pictures of furniture and accessories cut from magazines and catalogs.  Linda's parents had a shed with some old furniture in it.  Every week she rearranged the furniture and decorated in her mind.  As we talk, we discover more and more things that we have in common. 

Have you ever met a person like that?  I've met two others in my lifetime and it is the most amazing feeling when things start coming out and you feel like you have a clone.

Now, we email each other pictures of beautiful rooms and talk like we've been old friends forever.  We exchange recipes, advice, decorating ideas and stories.  I'm sorry for all the years we didn't know each other, but glad to have the ones ahead of us. 

Between the four of us, we live in four different states.  I'm thankful for all the ways to communicate these days and for my new friend.  I hope all of you have at least one kindred spirit.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Constitution Day

Today is Constitution Day and I had the opportunity to participate in the Carson City Constitution Day Walk on the beautifully manicured historic grounds of the Silver State's Capitol building.

It is a beautiful day today.  The walk started in front of the Nevada State Legislature building.  I led a group of very sharp, well behaved sixth graders along the hour long trek through mostly shady paths to learn about the U.S. Constitution, how it was formed, and influential people who made it possible for us to live in the land of the free, home of the brave.

School groups began arriving shortly after 9:00 this morning.  This walk is open to anyone who wants to learn more about the Constitution.

The grounds are beautiful with native trees indigenous to the area marked along the wide paths. 
This shady spot was a favorite stop along the way.  "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" was an informative lesson and those who answered questions correctly were given Smarties candies.
We walked all the way around the Capitol building.  This walkway is directly in front of Gov. Sandoval's personal parking spot.
This station was to highlight the Military Oath that all the Military personnel take when they enter into service.  The wall behind is a memorial to Nevada's Military.  It was a moving tribute to them.  The flag in the triangular box on the chair was flown at the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor and again at the 9/11 Memorial.

The children read much of the information presented to them.  This placard has the oath that immigrants take to become a U.S. citizen.  They must renounce their own country and have no reservations about doing so. 

General George Washington talked to them about the Continental Congress and passed out water to the thirsty groups.
This young woman played the part of Emily Geiger, a young teenager who played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War.  She is seated in front of a statue of Kit Carson.
When they were finished, some of the students posed for a picture and then shouted a hearty "Thank You!" to everyone who made the Walk possible.
You can read about Emily Geiger, and others whose contributions to this country may not be widely known, but whose stories are incredible, miraculous, and moving.  Their stories are on this blog under the American history tab.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sex or Romance

A while back I was taking a Romance writing class.  The instructor had many published novels.  Before the class began, I purchased one of her books to read.

To put it delicately, the book had a cute story, but the writing was vulgar.  She could have left out several of those scenes because they added nothing to the story.

My daughter in law is an avid reader and we frequently recommend good reads to each other.  She's a young twenty-something, but even at her age, is turned off by some of the scenes in "romance" novels.  We discussed this at length and here was the general consensus between the two of us:  even though we are from two different generations, we both feel that vulgar raunchy sex takes away from the story.

The picture above is one of the covers for the book Shanna.  This was the first romance novel I ever read and it made me read many more.  The cover is subtle, with the photo of a couple inset within the flowers.  Covers have changed over the years and now many show ripped torsos and couples going at it.

I haven't read the Fifty Shades of Gray series.  As soon as television reports said they are pornographic I tuned out.  As a Christian woman, it just doesn't seem like something I should be reading.  A few women I know have purchased the books.  One said she read part of the first one and just couldn't get herself to finish reading it.  Another one said the story is good if you can get past the explicit scenes.  I'm not knocking the author or anyone who has read them.  It's just not for me.

During that Romance writing class, I commented that you could write a romantic scene without being crude or vulgar.  The instructor was incensed at that, but the rest of the class agreed.  I believe a book that makes you feel the love between two characters is much more effective than one that gives you explicit down and dirty sexual acts.  Meaningless sex is just that: meaningless. 

What do you think?  What do you like to read when it comes to romance novels?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Slice of History

I began first grade in 1961 in a small rural school in Arkansas.  It was one of a few one room school houses still inexistence. 

My Aunt Shirley taught grades 1-5 in that little rock school.  I’ve often marveled at how she did it and how tired she must have been at the end of the day from running around the room giving instructions and assignments to each age group.  She would give us work sheets or reading assignments to complete, and then move on to the next grade and on around the room until she’d worked with us all.  If we finished our work before she got back around to our grade, we were to sit quietly.  First graders were allowed to sit in the floor and play jacks or color or draw.  The only stipulation was we had to be quiet.  There were three of us, all girls, and we sometimes had to be reminded to whisper.

The main room was a good sized room, heated by a large wood stove.  There was an indoor bathroom, but I don’t ever remember using it.  There were also “his” and “hers” out houses at the back of the playground.  A milk man brought white and chocolate milk in glass bottles with paper tabs on top to hold the milk inside.  There was no lunchroom, so everyone brought their lunch.  In the winter, Mama sometimes gave me a small jar of soup to sit on top of the wood stove all morning.  By lunch it was warmed up and ready to eat. 

There was another room in the building that served as a storage room most of the time, but there was plenty of room to play in there if it was raining at recess.  The playground had swings and we had a box full of jump ropes and balls. 

The road in drier times.

Once it rained so much, Daddy had to take me to school on the tractor because the bus couldn’t get down the muddy gravel roads.  I still remember what I was wearing that day:  a white blouse with a peter pan collar and puffed sleeves, a mint green and white checked full gathered skirt with wide waist band and straps that crisscrossed in the back and tied in a wide sash.  The skirt had a built in petticoat and I wore it with white socks and brown and white saddle oxford shoes.  The skirt was one of my favorites, though I had two weeks’ worth of new dresses when I started school that year.  Little girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school at that time.   I very carefully sat on the tractor fender, tucking my skirt and sash underneath me to keep the mud off them.   It was about a mile to the school.  The road was filled with rocks and soupy mud.  By the time I got to school, I had two small splatters of mud on me; one on my sock and one on my skirt.  I can tell you that it ruined my day.  I hated getting dirty and still do to this day.

In spite of having students who hadn't been to kindergarten and having to share her time with four other grades, Aunt Shirley gave me a strong educational base.  We started with the Dick and Jane readers.  I read them just to look at the wonderful pictures.  My love of art was already developed and inside the covers of those little readers were beautifully drawn pictures of my new friends, Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and Puff. 

I only went to the rock school house for one year.  The following year, our rural community school was consolidated with a larger town.  In first grade at the one room school, there were only three students, but second grade in the town school, had four classrooms full of second graders and we had a cafeteria that made hot lunches in the building and the playground had not only a swing set, but teeter totter, monkey bars, merry go round, and an enormous fenced yard.

Aunt Shirley moved to the town school too, but I didn’t have her as a teacher again.  I believe there was some sort of rule that you didn’t teach relatives, which was poppy cock because she had been a wonderful first grade teacher to me and each and every other student that she taught.  Within that little one room school house of approximately twenty three students in the 1961-62 school year were students who became teachers, doctors, nurses, and airline pilots, among other things. 

Looking back at the experience, I know there aren’t many people my age that went to a one room school.  It’s something I’m grateful to have lived through – a little slice of history that I’ll never forget.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remembering Thomas

When I read that the Texas Board of Education had cut Thomas Jefferson out of the history books, I was stunned.

Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.  He was most eloquent when writing, and along with the others, his clarity of purpose, foresight, and dedication to our nation helped create one of the most important documents ever written.  This document declared the colonists split from England.  It was the beginning of the Revolutionary War, as well as the birthing pains of our country. 

Jefferson was the nation's first secretary of state (1789-94); second vice president (1797-1801); and, as the third president (1801-09), the statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.When asked who I would like, living or dead, to have dinner with, Thomas Jefferson is invariably the name that pops into my mind first.  He wasn't a perfect man, but I've never met one of those.  His interests were many and varied.  Aside from politics and his work as a statesman, Jefferson was very knowledgeable about many topics including horticulture, architecture, art, and culture.

It is inconceivable to me that a man of such importance to our country could be cut from the history books.  Jefferson died on July 4th, the same day that John Adams died.  His tombstone reads simply:

"Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University Of Virgina."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Caesar Rodney

Those of you living in Delaware are, no doubt, well aware of Caesar Rodney and his contribution to our country.  If not for Rodney's sacrifice, we might not be living in the United States of America. 

Caesar Rodney began his life of public service at the age of 22 when he was commissioned as High Sheriff of Kent County Delaware.  His duties grew over the next few years to include registrar of wills, recorder of deeds, clerk of the orphans court, and justice of the peace.  By age 30 he was elected as representative in the colonial legislature, a position he held for some 20 years.

He was a delegate to the Continental congress along with two other Delaware delegates.  These men knew the Declaration of Independence would have to be ratified by all thirteen colonies.  The other two Delaware delegates were deadlocked in disagreement and Caesar Rodney, was not in Philadelphia at the time.  He was traveling around Delaware gaining support for the Declaration and preparing the people of Delaware for a new government. 

Rodney had booked passage on a ship for England to have surgery for a deadly form of skin cancer on his face, when he received word that he was needed in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.  He missed the surgery in order to sign the Declaration and rode hard through inclement weather to reach Philadelphia in time.   When Rodney signed, the other two delegates agreed to sign the Declaration, making it unanimous.

In 1778, he was elected as President of the State of Delaware, This was a three year term which he served at the same time he was Major-General of the Delaware Militia.  Delaware had a record of meeting or exceeding their quota of troops and provisions throughout the Revolutionary War.  The Continental Army operated on scant supplies for much of the war, but thanks to Caesar Rodney, Delaware did its part. 

Rodney saw his colony through the war at the cost of personal neglect.   He was elected to the National Congress in 1892, but was forced to decline the position for health reasons.  He continued to serve as Speaker of the House of the Upper Delaware Assembly until his death in office in 1784.     

Caesar Rodney is commemorated on the Delaware State coin, riding his horse to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ramblin' Karina

It has been a while since I've posted here. I'm working on dicipline to write each and every day. I wrote an entire book and then decided to change the tense, so I'm editing and there is much more life swirling around me these days that cut into what I'd like to be doing. I'm new at this and writing articles that are profound and informative doesn't come easy.

I've been looking for a full time job. It takes time to find a job and in this economy, I haven't had much luck. I wish a paycheck would just appear in my bank account each month so I could spend my time doing what I love - and even then, I'd be running in all different directions because I'd be decorating, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, being crafty, cooking, gardening, and lots of other things. Home is where my heart is.

So I find myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to do it all and feeling exhausted most of the time. You probably feel much the same way if you are married, work, and have children.

Today I'm getting ready for Easter Sunday. Hope you all have a good one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slipping Through the Cracks

Sometimes I feel like the Word Police. We live in the era of the e-book explosion. As a result, many books are published as e-books without the benefit of an editor.

Recently, I've read several books that had a common glaring error. When the word should have been 'disdain', the authors typed 'distain'.

Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines disdain as: a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior : scorn

And distain is defined this way: a verb with an archaic meaning of stain or dishonor.

There are many more words that are frequently misspelled or mispronounced and mistaken for other words.

Your/You're (when written)

Humongous/Humungous (not a word)

Didn't/ Dinen't (mispronounced) and Couldn't/coul't or wouldn't/wouln't, shouldn't/shouln't(leaving the d out of these words when spoken)

Passed/Past - how did this one slip through into the book?

Here is a list of the 100 most mispronounced words in the English language.

These are the 100 most misspelled words in the English language. Misspelled is one of the words on the list.

When I lived in another state, I was in the local Walmart store and repeatedly heard someone paging an employee to come to the "jury department." They must have meant the jewelry department, but I was chuckling inside.

This brings me to another point: Often, words are mispronounced so often they become the accepted way and make their way into the dictionary as a revision or alternate pronunciation a few years later. Newscasters, journalists, and many people in the public eye are guilty of these faux pas.

As writers, we want to put our best work out there to build credibility and gain a following. If grammar isn't high on your skill list and you can't afford an editor, ask a friend who is good at language skills to read the book and suggest appropriate changes. Join a writer's group and help each other. Someone who is good with words may need your help with a plot.

Spell check is great if you've made a typo, but it won't help if you've typed an actual word, but it's the wrong one. Brushing up on these words and putting out the cleanest writing possible can help move your work up a notch or two in the public eye and gain you the respect you want as a writer.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Women to Women

I had the honor of being interviewed for a local cable show by Carol Paz. Carol recognized that there are many women in our area of Northern Nevada who are doing good things for their communities. The show is called Women to Women and these women are living proof that you can make your dreams come true, that perseverance pays off, and that you can have a second career even after retirement. Their stories are incredible.

I am flattered to be included with them. Here is the link for my interview:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Farewell, Jan Berenstain

This week we lost one of our own and it's a big loss for all of us. Jan Berenstain who wrote 300 books with her husband, Stan Berenstain passed away on Friday.
Children's authors don't always become household names, but the Berenstain Bears books were read daily at my house when the kids were little. These little books with the adorable pictures taught valuable lessons and helped reinforce the lessons I taught my children about manners, how to behave, how to treat others, and sharing.
Michael Berenstain worked with his mother and will continue the line of Berenstain Bears books. Stan and Jan will live on through their books and I will continue reading them to my future grandchildren.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Ok, I'm going to come right out and say it. I've spoken to others who feel the same way. What's the point of Twitter? I look at my account and see a bunch of people desperate for the lime light and each tweet seems to say, "Look at me! Look at me!"

The more people you follow, the more tweets you get each day. My eyes glaze over just looking at it all. I'm trying to follow people who might have something valid or useful to say, but there is so much "stuff" it's hard to find the one tweet that I'd really care to read.

Can someone convince me otherwise?

Monday, February 20, 2012

John and Abigail Adams

John Adams was an American statesman before he became the 2nd President of the United States. As with many of our founding fathers, he spent a great deal of time away from his family, traveling between America, Europe and England, in order to establish America as a free country.

He knew if they were not successful in their attempt to separate this country from England, their very lives would be at stake. Yet he and the other statesmen risked it all for freedom. His sacrifices have benefited each and every American today.

John and his wife Abigail wrote letters to each other while he was away. In their letters, they expressed the importance of the work he was doing, as well as their love for each other.

Abigail wrote to John:

“Dearest John, It feels as though we have spent a far greater portion of our marriage apart, than together. Strange how the sun rises and sets whether you be at my side or not. But in this cause we build a future – it is our legacy – freedom is the best gift we can impart to our children. We shall fight for the rights of men and women, and shall prevail against those who would deny us this agency. I possess no doubt, that with God on our side, we shall have no need to fear what mortal men can do.”

John’s response to her was:

“My Dear Abigail, It is hard indeed to be apart. The price we pay is dear – I marvel that our family remains intact and strong despite this grievous distance, and we both know the dire consequence we will face if we are unsuccessful in our endeavors – but this good work is ours to do – for in our sacrifice we lay the foundation of a nation that will endow all men with equality and the ability to reach their greatest potential – and fill the measure of their creation!”

If they had not been successful in their quest for freedom, they would have been tried for treason. The punnishment for treason was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered with their body parts being sent in different directions. There was no room for error, so they put their full and complete trust in the Almighty to see them through, and as Abigail said, with God on their side, they had no fear for what mortal men could do.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bulletproof George

Bulletproof George

George Washington was a young Lieutenant during the French and Indian war. At one point, his regiment fought a two hour battle with the Indians in a field in Pennsylvania. They were wearing the British red coats at that time and the soldiers lined up shoulder to shoulder with their muskets, and began marching toward the Indians in the typical battle form of the day. All the officers, including Lt. Washington, were on horseback. The Indians began shooting and aimed for the officers first.

When Washington's horse was shot beneath him, he got on another horse and continued the fight. The second horse was shot beneath him as well. Still, he remained. The ground all around was covered with dead soldiers and all the other officers were killed. Washington stood alone, his red coat daring them to shoot him.

Finally the Indian Chief commanded his warriors to stop firing. “This one is under special protection of the Great Spirit.” He said.

One Warrior said, “I had seventeen clear shots at this man… and I could not bring him to the ground. This man was not born to be killed by a bullet.”

When the fighting was over, Washington looked down at his coat. There were four holes in the cloth. He pulled it off and examined the skin underneath the bullet holes. There was not a single scratch on his skin.

In 1775, fifteen years later, Washington was chosen to be the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. It didn’t seem right to accept a salary from an army that barely could feed its soldiers, so he declined their generous offer of pay. Before his commission began, he went to the field where he'd fought with the Indians.

The Chief who he’d fought against, came to pay his respects. He said, “I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far Blue Mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, ‘mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe--he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do—he himself is alone and exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies.’ Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss. Twas all in vain. A power mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man.” He pointed toward Washington, “and guides his destinies--he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”

George Washington stood a head taller than most men and was a formidable figure in his uniform and epaulettes. His demeanor and stature gave him an instant air of authority, though he was a humble man.

If you'd like to learn more about the father of our country, I recommend reading 1776, by David McCullough.

Foundation of a Nation

Last night I attended a Lincoln Day Dinner at the governor's mansion. The event was centered around stories in the play I wrote entitled Foundation of a Nation. As you can imagine, it was a gala that I'll remember for a long time with food, stories, music, the ROTC color guard, and lots of socializing. I'm honored to have the recognition of my work and for the appreciation that people have shown. As I've mentioned before, they are stories that used to be in school text books, but aren't any longer. This is the good stuff.

If educators want to light a fire under students and ignite their interest in History, these stories would do the trick. I'll be passing them on to my children so they know them, and posting them here so you can read them as well.