“Forever Young” sung by Pete Seeger

[Pete Seeger singing Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” with children. This is one of my favorite videos of this music legend and activist.]

At word of his death yesterday, I thought of the influence of Pete Seeger on our society and on the world. I was sad to hear that so many people didn’t know who he was, but I was not surprised because Pete Seeger seemed to be a man who sought no recognition for himself. He seemed happy to promote other’s music as he wrote his own. He was influenced by Woody Guthrie and he, in turn, influenced the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, was a good friend.

From starting out with the “Weaver’s” in the 1950’s and having a #1 hit to being called before Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activity and blacklisted to leading protests in the 1960’s, Pete Seeger led an interesting life. He introduced Martin Luther King to the song, “We Will Overcome” and they changed the lyrics slightly to “We Shall Overcome” because Pete felt it “sung better.” He was at many protests against the Vietnam War and his song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” became the anthem for the war protesters.

We are indebted to him and his fearless life achievements. A simple man, not seeking the spotlight, spread the word of peace and equality in his humble music, using his banjo that read “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” Rest in peace, Pete Seeger, and thank you for your poetic tunes.

February Birthdays

Aquarius by the Fifth Dimension
I used to work in a doctor’s office with two other nurses whose birthdays were in February like mine.

I am a “Groundhog.” Kathy’s birthday is the next day on February 3rd and Mary’s is February 6th.  We no longer work together, but we try to go out and celebrate our birthdays sometime during the month.  Only Kathy continues to work with the doctor, but we still manage to get together.

When Mary quit, we joked that Dr. Moore only hired Aquarians, so that “fact” needed to be listed on the job requirements. We also joked that, Aquarians were needed because we could hold our water. 

So, this year we plan to get together for lunch. I wrote a parody for them that I will give to them at the celebration.
In tribute to my friends and our shared birthdays and friendship:

The Aging Aquarians

 (Sung to the tune of the Fifth Dimension song from “Hair”–more or less)

When you’re living in your seventh house
And your man appears to be from Mars
And peace hasn’t guided the planets
And you can’t see to steer the car
This is the dawning of the aging Aquarians
Aging Aquarians

Aquarians, Aquarians

Rheumatoid arthritis, total knee and hip replacement
False teeth and bypass surgery block the way of golden dreams of
Cystic distal calcifications, and the mind’s screwed liberations

Aquarians, Aquarians

When the moon is in the second month
And GI issues align with schedules
And Medicare will guide your health plan
And love will need Viagra
This is the dawning of the aging Aquarians
Aging Aquarians

Aquarians, Aquarians
Aquarians, Aquarians

       

Beating the Winter Blues

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It has been a tough winter for most of the north American continent.  Many of us are suffering from cabin fever. 

One of my favorite things to do to beat the winter doldrums is to get out to a flower show.  I did that very thing this weekend.  The arts council at the cathedral in town sponsored its annual flower show.  This year’s theme–the South Pacific.

The colors and fragrances reminded me that winter will someday end and spring is just around the corner.

 

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Paying It Forward

Paying It Forward.

LiebsterAward_3lilapples

I just received my first Liebster Award from a fellow blogger. I googled Liebster to find out what it is.

Apparently, it is a way for bloggers to recognize each other. It is a “pay it forward,” a way to promote each others’ blogs. There are no judges or prizes. Just a pat on the back for a blog well done (although that may be a stretch, but since there are no judges, who’s to say?) It is also a way to get to know other bloggers and build a network or following.

Once you receive the Liebster (which is German for “dearest”) you are to select 10 blogs with under 200 followers. These bloggers receive the Liebster award from you. One google link describes this as being similar a chain letter. Others disagree because of the negative connotation of the comparison. There are no threats involved–no promises of wealth or threats of losing cash if you don’t continue the Liebster string. It is simply a way to connect with fellow travelers in the blogosphere. One of the “rules” or suggestions is to ask 10 questions of 10 bloggers. Here are the questions I was asked along with my responses:

Q#1: Who or what has been the biggest inspiration in your creative realm?
It is difficult to pinpoint a specific “biggest inspiration” for my writing. I would start with my grandmother who was a wonderful storyteller.
Grammy Grady peeling apples
Add the life experiences and my curious nature. I enjoy people of all sorts and find my fellow humans to be very interesting. My job inspires me–I see people overcome incredible odds as they struggle to return some sort of normalcy to their lives. My family offers generous portions of humor to draw from. My writers’ group of six women inspire me to improve my skills and to open my creative head and heart.

Q#2: What was the first classic you ever recall reading?
Treasure Island by RL Stevenson. I still enjoy that book.

Q#3: What kind of films do you prefer?
Comedies with a good plot–not the senseless “body humor” ones. One of my favorites is “The Big Chill.”

Q#4: Who’s your favorite superhero?
It’s gotta be Batman. I am the mother of three sons and have dressed up as “Bat Mom” at least twice for Halloween. I wear Bat Mom winged glasses, bat earrings, a Batman t-shirt, a black skirt covered by an bat-print apron, a bat cape or shawl and, of course, I carry a big black purse with the Bat signal on it.

Q#5: Who’s your favorite villain (come on, we all have at least one…)
Probably Moriarity, Sherlock Holmes’s archenemy.

Q#6: If you could delegate one of your least favorite responsibilities, what would it be?
Balancing the checkbook.

Q#7: If you could change the flavor of any food or drink, which one would it be and why?
I would change asparagus to chocolate while keeping the nutritional value. I have never liked asparagus. I think it is disgusting.

Q#8: Name one thing you’ve always wished you could learn to do, but could never find the right opportunity.
I would like to know how to read my cat’s mind.
Daisy and the printer

Q#9: Name the first place in the whole world you would go, if you had no cares about time or expenses.
I would return to Ireland.

Q#10: (If you enjoy the theater) What is your favorite play, musical or show? Which would you like to see that you haven’t?
I love musicals. It is hard to pick a favorite. “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” most of the old Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. I like Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.” I enjoy “Wicked” and “Les Miserable.” “The Christmas Carol” is a seasonal favorite. Too many to choose from.

Oklahoma!_(London_Stage_Revival)_

Making Dialogue Work for You

Critique groups like to use certain words and labels when gathering to discuss manuscripts. POV (point of view), “beats,” “tags” and “show, don’t tell” are a few of our favorites.

A discussion on dialogue tags and descriptive beats came up at our critique group yesterday. There was some confusion as to what each is. One person even thought that the words were interchangeable.

A dialogue tag is when a word is used to describe the manner in which a character is speaking. For example:
“Wait,” Bob shouted.
“Wait,” Sally whimpered.
“Wait,” Grandma hesitated.

The dialogue tag is “telling” the reader how the character is saying the words.

When I was a child in elementary school, our teachers encouraged the use of dialogue tags. It was frowned on to have too many “saids” and “asks” in our stories.

Nowadays, it is believed that the reader doesn’t really notice the dialogue tags, so “said” is preferred. Some editors go as far as to say that dialogue tags are distracting and confusing. The action of the scene or the emotion of the character should be apparent if the writing is clean and concise. There is no need to say “Bob shouted” if the story tells the reader that Bob is running down the street after his estranged girlfriend who has just driven off in his new Corvette.

“Beats” are used to move the action along or to enhance the emotions of the dialogue. No “said” is needed. A “beat” will indicate who the speaker is while showing action. It is “show, not tell.”
“Wait.” Bob ran, waving his arms, as Jill drove off in his brand-new red Corvette.
“Wait.” Sally wiped a tear from her eye.
“Wait.” Grandma stopped as she tried to maneuver her cane through the revolving door.

What techniques do you use to keep dialogue moving?

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I’m Late, I’m Late!

I feel like the White Rabbit this weekend.  I just realized I haven’t done the past three assignments for the Zero to Hero project.  Will I ever catch up?

Procrastination is one of my strengths.  Call me Scarlet O’Hara. “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” So, the cobwebs build up and the webpage sits stagnant.  Hopefully, I can sit down tomorrow and weed it out, clean it up, dust it off, and finish the job. “After all… tomorrow is another day.” 

Best Movie Soundtracks – Gone With the Wind: Tara’s Theme

What do you do when you are behind?  What are your strategies for finishing a project? 

 

Life Interrupted

John Lennon wrote that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  What happens when life gets in the way of writing?

Most writers I know don’t have the luxury of lolling about,  sitting in their quiet private room, or like JD Salinger, hiding away in a secluded bungalow, writing for days without disturbances.  Many of us have children to raise, other jobs to commute to, groceries to buy, errands to run, and  interruptions to contend with.  We struggle to find time to sit down and put pen to paper or pound out prose on the computer.

So, here I am, at 3:15 a.m., at the computer, sorting out my thoughts.  I tell myself, “You can’t do this.  You have things that need to be done later.  You will be tired.  Go back to bed.”  But my brain won’t allow it.  I must write and get it out of my system.

Writing has a way of coming out whether I want it to or not.  It always wins.  If I try to suppress it or put it off, it festers and nags at me until I finally let it happen.  No matter if I spend the day dealing with a repairman or if I work a 12-hour shift at the hospital, the Muse must be reckoned with.  If not, I am miserable and discontented.  Like symptoms in an illness, the words must be expelled.  The gut must be quieted.  The fever must be cooled.  The headache must be massaged.  The thoughts must be regurgitated onto paper, no matter how poorly written or rough.  Once out, I can move on and take care of worldly matters.

It is hard to relent to the power of the Muse.  I struggle to break free from my thoughts, but until they are put into words, I cannot rest.  Sleepless, I write, not knowing if any gems will pour out from my brain, if I will hit the mother lode or if this is just another batch of fools’ gold.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is the act of writing it down, getting it out.

Writing is organic to me.  Since childhood, I have feasted on all that life has to offer.  I create characters based on my past relationships and encounters.  I imagine scenes and “what ifs” to create the background and stories.  I remember distinct voices from the past that lend dialogue to my characters,  I exaggerate characteristics I have seen, adding quirks and flaws in my heroes and heroines.  This magnificent feast of which I have been privileged to partake must be digested and used.  Energy must be released.  If not, my brain becomes too full.  So, I sit here now, clicking away at the keyboard, writing down my feelings and thoughts, trying to make sense of them.  If others share in the experience, so be it.  I am willing to share in my feast of thoughts.  But like going to a new restaurant, we never know for sure how the meal will turn out until we dig in.

Chicago at night _Tribune tower (I think)