Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fond Memories of a Volkswagen Bus

When I read that Volkswagen was going to bring back the microbus, I felt a surge of nostalgia.
For almost ten years, from September through May, Yvonne Council, my sister-in-law, and I drove a micro-bus around the countryside in east Dougherty County, Georgia, picking up little-five-year olds and taking them to Humpty-Dumpty Kindergarten. Yvonne and I owned and were co-directors of this school set in a three bedroom house with a large fenced back yard.

Yvonne had taught kindergarten for another company in Albany, and she observed well. She learned how to run this kind of business and when she decided to open Humpty-Dumpty, she became successful right away. My younger sister had begun the business with Yvonne, but I bought her share and Yvonne was happy with the deal.

We left home early and made a number of stops in our micro-bus until all seats were filled. Part of our route included housing area on the U.S. Marine Base. Most of our students were military and naturally we included all races in our student body.

VW micro-bus like the one we drove, but the paint on our bus was not so new.

We arrived at the school before the parents who dropped off their children arrived. I still think that five-year-old children are the most precious and precocious. They love without question and show their love. I remember the hugs I received as they left to go home with their parents. After those children were picked up, we loaded up the microbus again and dropped off the little ones into the arms of their mothers.

The years Yvonne and I ran Humpty-Dumpty Kindergarten were the happiest working years of my life. Having taught for five years in elementary school where frustration with rules of administration wore on me, it was a joy to recognize the needs of children and be able to specialize my teaching to help children with those needs. Parents paid for their kids to come to Humpty-Dumpty so they were invested in their education.

This was in the seventies and public schools in Georgia did not include kindergarten. We didn’t get rich, but we made enough to matter and both of us totally enjoyed our work.

During those years we worked together, Yvonne and I grew very close. My sister, Gay, had moved away and Yvonne and I became best friends. I miss her. I miss those afternoons in May when she and I drove out in the country and clipped limbs with magnolia blossoms to line the stage for our kindergarten graduation. We piled them into the VW bus and I was almost overcome with the fragrance before we unloaded them at the nearby elementary school. My partner had the mind of a decorator, but we had the budget of a soup kitchen. She made the stage beautiful with the blossoms and in that large auditorium, I could handle the overpowering sweet odor of the magnolias.  

That evening about 45 children, wearing their graduation clothes, sat in front of their proud moms and dads who made pictures before, during and after the ceremony. Of course Mrs. Beall and Mrs. Council had to pose with the children.

We had been rehearsing for months the songs and little poems performed by the children. Our Mrs. Barker played piano with her swinging beat. Oh what would we have done without Mrs. B.? She lived right next door so she could walk over every morning for our music time.

Those years at Humpty-Dumpty were also the early years of my marriage. Yvonne and my brother, Hal, lived next door and we spent so much time together. They had parties at their house and we always attended. Those two were really fun people. Often I would visit with Yvonne in the afternoon while she cooked dinner for her family. She would insist that I call Barry and both of us eat with them.

Finally the school board included kindergarten in the public schools, and we lost most of our students. Yvonne was ready to sell out, so I bought the school and that included the micro-bus. The blue paint had faded, lost its shine, like the color in an old man’s eyes, and each day I wondered if it was going to make the route. 

We enrolled four-year-olds to keep the school full, but I refused to become a daycare center. No babies, no diapers, and baby beds. Four-year-old children are adorable and eager to learn. Some were not ready for numbers or letters, so I changed the curriculum. I and my teachers read stories and we played educational games. 

Just walking into the school each morning made me smile. I worked all afternoon in the office planning lessons and creating interesting work for the kids. My cousin, Ethel Wright, was one of the teachers and her students adored her. Her husband, Bill, made some wooden shoes with shoe laces so we could help the children learn to tie their shoes. 

We did all we could to keep going, but after a short few years, I had to close the doors. We just did not have enough students to pay the bills. My teachers and I left the last day with heavy hearts. We loved what we were doing and, those parents who sent their children to us, knew that. We heard praise for Humpty Dumpty many years after our doors closed. In fact, just recently I received an email from someone on Facebook who asked, "Are you the Mrs. Beall who taught at Humpty-Dumpty?"

The micro-bus had seen its best days and we sold it. I didn’t need it anymore. But for years when I saw a VW bus, I felt a pang of yearning for those days at Humpty-Dumpty. Maybe when the 2022 electric micro-bus comes out, I’ll be ready to give up my Ford Escape. I might be ready for another micro-bus.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My Labor Day weekend - fun and exhausting at the same time

I hope my faithful readers had a terrific Labor Day weekend. I did. We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday with friends. I love it when we get together. We have been enjoying each other's company for 37 years. We have some wonderful and some sad memories. But when we get together we laugh like crazy and have such fun. 

Do you have friends or family that you have fun with like that? We try to have our gatherings each time one of us has a birthday. That insures we don't let other things get in the way of seeing each other since we all live in different places. 

On Friday of last week, I became foster mom for a couple of small squirrels whose nest had been blown down on my deck. Their eyes were not open and they were squirming around cold and wet. So I brought them inside not knowing one thing about caring for the little creatures.

My first instinct was to get them dry and warm. I put them in a shoebox with shredded paper from my shredder. Then I found a cotton glove and filled it with dried beans. Tied it off and heated it in the microwave for minute. I made sure it was not too hot before I placed in in the box with the babies. They loved it! 
See this picture shows how they loved it. 

See them cling to the warm "bean bag" I made for them.

I felt they needed nourishment so I went online and googled how to care for baby squirrels. I found all I needed to know. I put a tsp. of salt and three tablespoons of sugar into a quart of warm water. I found a 2 cc syringe in the house and began to give them a little bit of the water from the syringe. They loved it. I could tell they were dehydrated because I pinched a little of the skin on their backs and, like with humans, the skin did not quickly fall back and flat. According to the directions online, the most important thing to do at this time was keep them warm and give them the water about every 2 hours. 

I did a good job with them until I went to sleep around midnight. I set my clock to wake me up every two hours, but I woke up before the clock alarmed. All night long I fed the little sweethearts even though they did not appreciate my waking them. I wiped them down with a warm cloth each time. That was to wake them up as their mother would do, and to stimulate them to urinate and defecate. It worked! I reheated the bean bag glove each time as well. 

The warm wet cloth was similar to the mother squirrel's licking them, it said in my directions. By morning I was exhausted. I can't function without sleep. 

Gratefully, I handed them over to a writing student of mine, Kathy Knapp, who has raised a wild squirrel and loves animals. Before the day was done, Kathy and her husband found a man who would rehab them and one day let them go to the wild. My friend, Sarah, wanted to keep them and raise them, but her husband nixed that idea. She even went out and bought formula and a tiny feeding bottle. I didn't know there was formula available for baby squirrels, but it seems the same formula given to tiny kittens can be used for the squirrels.

Needless to say, I was still tired when my house guests arrived on Sunday afternoon, but rallied quickly and we had a grand old time on Monday. 

I hope no more squirrels build nests in trees over my house. I saw a new bird nest today in a rhododendron bush and I told my sister, I will not look at that nest or the area under and around it because I don't want to see any little birds on the ground or needing help. 

This week I hold my last writing class for the summer here in my studio. On Saturday we host the last guest instructor for this year. My work then will center on the tribute NCWN and NCWN West will hold in honor of Kathryn Stripling Byer on October 1. I hope everyone will come to the Jackson County Library in Sylva, NC for that event. She deserves all of the praise and attributes for her outstanding life of writing and working with writers. 

Have a good week and I'll see you next time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ginny and the Butterfly

Virginia Urani, an artist who paints and teaches, is a frequent guest at Wildacres, a fantastic retreat in the northern part of western North Carolina. I hold the place sacred because that was where I went to figure out my life after my husband died in 2009. There I met Virginia and many others who paint, write, make pottery or quilts.

Recently Virginia was there and had the most unusual experience. This is what she wrote:

 A couple of weeks ago when I was at Wildacres a butterfly landed on my hand, delicately walked up my arm and shoulder, up my neck and across my face ... finally resting in my hair. After about 15 minutes, I stood up and carefully walked down the steps into the painting studio. and I gently placed him on a bouquet of tulips and wildflowers which had served as my models.  He stayed on the bouquet of flowers the entire time I was at Wildacres.  

He fluttered about a little but returned to my flowers.  One day I took him outside … it was sunny and warm.  He flew to the side of the painting studio and stayed there for an hour or so.  The sun turned to clouds. I found him on the ground, so I took him back inside and placed him on the flowers.  The days were cool and nights cold and there were storms so I didn’t put him outside.

When I went to the Painting Studio on Sunday morning and packed to go home, it was raining and cold. I couldn't bring myself to put the butterfly outside, so I carefully placed him on his bouquet of flowers in a big basket which I put inside a plastic bag and put him in the car next to me. Once home I put him in my studio and brought in fresh flowers. He seems to be doing well. I did some research and I know lantana flowers and petunias are favorites, and I had already discovered he LOVES wild mustard flowers. He has been with me over a week and they only live  2 weeks. He flutters about my studio a little and sleeps a lot. 

Last night I couldn't find him nor this morning. I spent about an hour in my studio organizing and throwing away stuff thinking that he could be ANYWHERE or maybe he died or sneaked outside. Then, there was a little flutter at my feet and there he was. He climbed on my finger then on the front of my T-shirt. I took him to the pot of lantana and he became one busy little butterfly. I have thought of taking him outside  but John reminds me that he won't live very long and it is once again cold, rainy with thunderstorms. 

So, for right now he will stay in my studio with flowers and plants and room to flutter about. I don't think he was ever very strong ... no healthy butterfly would ever have crawled up my arm, across my face and nestled in my hair.      This is a link to pictures of Virginia and her butterfly.

Let us know what you think about this story. Just go to comments and write your text. Click on publish. Your comment will NOT appear right away. I have to monitor the comments and then I will publish it. Be patient. If you don't have a Gmail account, you can publish as anonymous, but leave your name in the text box. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dusk, Twilight or Gloaming?

In a recent post I asked readers "What do you call that time between sunset and when darkness falls?" This is my favorite time of day.

We call it dusk or twilight, but recently a student in my class referred to that time as gloaming. Although I have read it in poems and historical prose, and I knew it was an English word, I looked up the definition to see where it came from originally.

Here is the definition.
If "gloaming" makes you think of tartans and bagpipes, well lads and lasses, you've got a good ear and a good eye; we picked up "gloaming" from the Scottish dialects of English back in the Middle Ages. 

The roots of the word trace to the Old English word for twilight, "glōm," which is akin to "glōwan," an Old English verb meaning "to glow." In the early 1800s, English speakers looked to Scotland again and borrowed the now-archaic verb gloam, meaning "to become twilight" or "to grow dark."

The sun has set and left its glow in the gloaming on the farm in southwest Georgia

I like the reference to glowing which is what I see at that time of day. Here in the mountains, the sun drops behind the peaks and leaves its glow in the sky and over the earth. Sometimes that glow is breath-taking.
Let's bring back the word gloaming. I like the sound.
The glow on the lake at the gloaming

On the farm in the flat lands of south Georgia, I remember walking west as the sun dropped behind the tall pine horizon. The gloaming was so powerful to me that I did not want to turn back. I walked until darkness fell around me.

What is your favorite time of day? What do you like to do at that time?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Peaceful Photos - They bring memories that make me smile.

John C. Campbell Folk School - a peaceful place to write and enjoy the view
A Sand Crane? I found this fellow in Palmetto Florida across the road from where I was staying.

One of my favorite places on earth - Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. I think I would love to live there, at least in the summer.
From the Marriott Resort where we stayed in Hawaii - another of my favorite places. I will add more Hawaii photos this fall.
My deck garden. I can sit inside and enjoy my flowers
Silhouette of cows at the pond at sunset on the farm in SW Georgia, taken by my nephew, brings back memories of all the years I lived there with the cows, horses, and family.
A golden field in Clay County in early summer. Peaceful and quiet. 

Sunset over the mountains with all the pinks filling the sky as the sun disappears and my favorite time of day begins. What do you call that time of day between daylight and dark?

Monday, August 7, 2017


I recently read an article on compassion in the workplace. That made me think of compassion in any area of our lives. It seems to me that our culture has changed in the past few decades. I think the twentieth century was more compassionate than the twenty-first. Or, maybe it just seemed that way. 

It has become popular to step on those who are already down. Homeless people are considered to all be drug users or just lazy. We are quick to judge others when we have not a clue what is happening in their lives.

Women who feel they can't carry and birth a baby for whatever reason, are practically stoned and thrown out of the tribe on social media and by some people I know who attend Christian churches. There seems to be no compassion for a family where another mouth to feed means such a financial threat that the parents fear losing their home or one parent having to quit work and cutting the basic budget so much they can't pay the mortgage or buy groceries or medicine for other family members. The majority of abortions are for married women. 

I hear from wealthy people who never had to wonder if they could pay for the next meal, that there are jobs available, but people are just too lazy to work.
What about those women, usually, who have to quit work, move in with their parents to care for them? Care-giving is a huge responsibility. Many of them give up their own lives to make sure their mothers and fathers don't suffer, don't go without food, and that they get the proper daily care. Older people on a fixed income of social security, even if they have a small pension cannot afford to hire someone to come every day to take care of them.

I delivered Meals On Wheels for a while here in my county. 
I felt such compassion for the elderly, many who lived alone in a mobile home, who did not drive and never saw anyone but the person who delivered their free meal. In one of the richest countries in the world, it seems such a shame to see sick people with so little help.

At the time, I was healthy and strong, but imagined myself in the same situation one day. Now, much older, I wonder if I could end up the same way. As our necessities grow more and more expensive, and our income doesn't grow at all, many of us could be in the same boat. 

Also, people with invisible illnesses are often criticized as being lazy and living off the government. Where is the compassion for those people? Mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and other illnesses can prevent the patient from holding a full-time job. If they have to quit work and take disability, they are scorned because they don't look sick. They are afraid to take a part-time offer or do anything where they get paid because they could lose the disability which they desperately need. Our laws force some people not to work. 

We can't always judge by looks. I have diabetes, fibromyalgia, and MCS, none of which can be seen when looking at me. All of these cause extreme fatigue, and I use a handicap parking place when I can't manage the long walk from the parking lot. I ride the mobile cart in the grocery store. Invisible issues make us sick but don't always send us to bed. We trudge on as best we can. I wish people were not so quick to judge. That is God's work, not ours.

We as a people seem to have lost compassion for others. 
We openly criticize and hurt feelings. Shaming has become a way to hurt others. Remarks about looks, weight, clothing, and any way to find fault is used to make a person feel ashamed. If someone is different from us, we dislike or hate them. We hear so much now about the cruelty to children. If they dress differently from us, we accuse them of horrible things even when they were born here in the good old USA and are as American as apple pie. 

Social media has given a platform for mean-spirited people to spew out their ugliness without consequences. Name calling has become a huge problem. Even the president during the campaign called his opponents hurtful names for no reason. He got away with it, and I think that has brought out even more lack of compassion in our country. I have heard people defend him by saying, "Oh, that is just the way people in New York talk." I hope that is not true. I have friends from New York and they are not cruel to others. If they were, they would not be my friends.

The lack of compassion from people at the top is the worst. That is why I am a fan of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. They use their wealth for the good of the downtrodden, to fix major problems in the world. That is why Jimmy Carter is my hero. This man, and his wife, Rosalynn, show their compassion and empathy. He has even stood up to the Southern Baptist Convention because he feels they don't give women the same rights in the church as the men. The Carters have spent their lives doing for others, giving voice for those who have no voice in this world. Most recently he has been a voice for women who are abducted and used as sex slaves. 

Here is my example of the difference between people with compassion and those who have no compassion. A social worker complained about some who try to obtain government help when she feels they don't deserve it. She thinks the programs to help the poor should be discontinued. She voted for Mr. Trump because she thought he would cut out aide for the people who can't make enough money to feed and house their families. 

Another person thinks, this program helps so many people who need it, I think we must improve it and keep it even if some take advantage. This person has compassion for others. 

A man on the street is begging. He holds a sign, will work for food. If I give him a few dollars will he use it to buy food? I don't know. But he is probably hungry and I would rather give him a little money than wonder all day if I denied him nourishment. I have compassion for anyone who is homeless or has to resort to begging. I am not overly religious, but I remember from my years in church what Jesus did. He had compassion for those who were in need. I don't remember reading where he made people prove they were in need before he helped. 

Some say they have more compassion for dogs and cats than for people. They have contempt for the common man. I wonder what caused such distrust in humanity. But I know that just because a man is poor financially doesn't mean he is poor in character. How many times have we seen a person from a poverty- stricken home become a highly respected person as an adult, and many times it was because of the hard times lived through. He likely faced shame, humiliation and wondered if he ever would make it. When we give a hand to those in need, we often make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.

Perhaps if more people stopped to think, there but for the Grace of God go I, kindness and compassion would become the norm in our country. I like the TV show about the boss who disguises himself and goes to work in his stores or factories to see what the people do and think about the company. He walks in the shoes of those who do the menial tasks. He learns his shortcomings and how he can help those who are loyal even though they are barely hanging in there financially. The boss learns compassion, I think, by talking to his employees who do not know who he is, and he hears their personal problems.
Homeless Shelters
Most of the people in homeless shelters go to work every day. So it is not that people are not working. The problem is they can't make a living wage. They can't save up enough money to pay two months rent up front on a place to live. I recently overheard a clerk in a retail store say that she worked three part-time jobs. "I have to find a full-time job," she said. "I can't keep on like this working day and night."  

If you have not looked at the cost to rent a decent apartment in your town, why not check it out? The renter has to pay a deposit and then a first and last month rent before he can sign a lease. With most people in our country only having about six months emergency fund in the bank, you can imagine if one of the parents loses a job, how quickly a family can become homeless.

Homeless children are the saddest of all to me. My compassion level rises up and up when children have no place to call home and often don't know where they will sleep each night. It takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem and their trust of people in general. Sometimes they never get over it.

I have been on my soap box today and I hope you forgive my long-winded post. I hope you show compassion for those who are hurting, who are lonely, and who are in need. We might not be able to give money, but we can call or write a letter or share something we have. We can all give love and caring. That costs us nothing. 

What do you think? Is the world suffering from lack of compassion? If one shows compassion, does that imply weakness? 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Written on Thursday, August 3, in honor of Kay Byer

This week I am honoring my friend, Kathryn Stripling Byer, who died on June 5, by posting some of the photos I've made over the years and some from her blog.

Her family is honoring her at The Community Table in Sylva, NC on Saturday, August 5, 3:00 p.m. Her husband, Jim Byer has selected some of her poems to be read and her favorite music to be played.

I am sure the place will be filled. Kathryn was absolutely loved and admired by, not only writers and poets, but everyone who knew her. 

On her Facebook page, her admirers have poured out their heart-felt sadness at her passing, and they have told stories of her generosity. I and others were often surprised when she brought us gifts from her travels around the country. She was thoughtful of others even when they were not present. 

She had a heart way bigger than almost anyone I know. When I told her of a person in serious need, she promptly sent a check to help out. But it was her caring and giving of herself that I will always remember. It has been evident in the past couple of years that she was an advocate for those less fortunate and those who did not have a voice. She spoke out for the underdog and demanded her government representatives speak out as well. 

You can find a number of videos of her reading her poetry and talking about poetry on You Tube.  Just search for Kathryn Stripling Byer.

As Poet Laureate of North Carolina, she broke the glass ceiling. No woman had ever held that title before Kathryn. She visited schools, traveled and read poetry and talked to groups from Murphy to Manteo, NC.

Kathryn had a special blog for her laureateship. And she wrote a monthly column as well.

This is one of her columns.
Roots and Bedrock 

By Kathryn Stripling Byer 

Labels can corral us and keep us from thinking outside that enclosure. Most Southerners,

for example, pride themselves on being conservative, yet few seem to remember the root

of the word itself. When people speak of “conservative values,” they are using a catch

phrase that refers hardly at all to what the word really means. When I remember how my

grandmother saved every button, every recipe, every morsel of food left on the table, or

how my grandfather cherished and cared for every square inch of his farm, I know that

this is where real conservative values begin. (read the rest of the article here.)
Here Where I Am is a great place to  learn about poetry, about how to  write poetry and what poetry meant to Kay Byer.
In Voice Lessons Craft Tip and Prompt she praises Diane Lockwood's book, The Crafty Poet. When the latest edition of it came out, Kay sent me a copy. Just another example of her generous nature. She loved promoting other writers and poets on her blogs or Facebook or wherever she could.  

Kathryn Byer made a difference in the lives of many writers whether poets or novelists, beginning writers who needed encouragement, older writers who needed help with modern publishing, or those of us who needed to reach a writer in North Carolina but didn't know him or her. Kay was my  go-to person for all things literary in our state or in the country. I miss her.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pelham Lady Goes to Her Reward - My Grandmother

As I was going through stacks of papers in my office, trying to separate writing from genealogy and personal information, I came across a copy of my grandmother's obituary in the Pelham Journal. She died in 1930. I believe this was copied by my cousin Peggy Ann Whitley when she and her mother, my aunt Mildred, went to Pelham and surrounding area researching our family many years ago.

If you are a family historian or if you are interested in genealogy as I am, finding an obituary can be very helpful for your records. I learned several things from this one.

Pelham Lady Goes to Her Reward

Mrs. Lula Robison, wife of W.H. Robison died suddenly at her home in East Pelham Saturday morning at ten o’clock.

Funeral services were held at the Hand Memorial Methodist Church Sunday afternoon at four o’clock with Rev. Guyton Fisher and Rev. C.C. Kiser in charge. Interment followed in Pelham cemetery. Mrs. Robison was widely known and loved throughout this section and surrounding county.

Her passing was a source of much sorrow.

She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Jones of Grady County and was borned on September 18, 1870.

She was married to William Robison of Cairo in 1887. Into this union were borned eight children. The oldest being H.A. Robison of Blakely, Ga., Mrs. J.M. Blitch of Cairo, Mrs. A.S. Blitch of Pelham, Ga., Mrs. A. G. Green of Clearwater Fla., D.L. Robison of Albany, Ga., W.R. Robison of Americus, Ga., Mrs. C.L. Council of Pelham, Ga., Mrs.  J.L. Whitle,(Whitley) of Pelham, Ga. She is mourned by a number of grandchildren, also five sisters and three brothers.

Card of Thanks
We wish to acknowledge with grateful appreciation the many expressions of sympathy and kindness shown us during the recent death of our darling wife and mother. Also the beautiful floral offerings.
May God bless each of you is our prayer.
W.H. Robison and Family

The above was copied from the Pelham Journal dated November 6, 1930

I copied the words just as they are on the page so borned is what was written. Although my mother had told me that Lula, her mother, died of a heart attack while sitting at the breakfast table, I did not know what day of the week it was. I did not know how widely known and loved she was by the community. I did not know that H.A. Robison, my uncle Avon, was living in Blakely GA at the time, nor did I know that Uncle Rudolph, W.R. Robison, lived in Americus, GA. When I knew these uncles they lived in Albany, GA where I lived. 

My cousin, Rob Robison, shared his genealogy records, which included this obit, with me when he came in May. I am so glad to have this in my records now. Thanks to Peggy Ann and to Rob I now have this writing about my grandmother who I was named for but never met. 

Mother told me about her father holding her hand and walking to church at Hand Memorial Methodist when she was a child. He was a Methodist and there was no other Methodist church in Pelham. In East Pelham, where she lived, there was a Baptist church which she attended often with her friend, Mary Ella Brock. Hand Memorial is named for J.L. Hand, the wealthy man from up north who came down south and built himself a town. The entire center of the town was a huge building, Hand Trading Company, which my father said carried everything anyone would need, from the cradle to the grave. My grandfather, William Henry Robison, was maintenance  man for all of Mr. Hands buildings including the houses where the workers at his cotton mill resided. Mother said her daddy was the best chimney builder anyone could find. That was a talent very much in demand back in those days. 

All of the Robison children moved away from Pelham once they married. The two Blitch families moved to Miami, Florida, the Green family moved to Clearwater, Florida.The others ended up in Albany, Georgia where I was born.  

Have you ever found some document about your family that you had never seen before?
Do you know much about your family history?

Monday, July 24, 2017

If you have written and published a book you know how  difficult it is to get word out to readers. 

Tara Lynne is extremely knowledgeable about marketing online and she will have many tips to offer you. In this class you will learn how to use newsletters to promote yourself and your book. It isn't as easy as just sending out an email. There is more to learn about this.

I look forward to this class because I know how important it is to have a good contact list and I want to learn the best way to use it to promote my writing.

Visit my website:  and read more about this class and the terrific instructor, Tara Lynne Groth.   You can pay the fee of $45 by check or by PayPal. Don't wait.
We only have this week to register and space is limited. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Because I have been too busy to keep up my blogs, I will write a short post tonight.

Today I had lunch with a former student, Barbara Gabriel, and her husband, Brian. Two of the nicest people I know. Barbara was one of my first students when I opened my studio after Barry died. She was the perfect student. It was obvious she was already a writer, but she had not written, she said, in years.

Today she said, "I consider you my mentor. You brought me back to writing and changed my life."

Well, that touched me deeply. When someone says I changed their life and they are writing again and enjoying it, I feel very blessed.

Someone did that for me way back in 1995, so I understand perfectly. Also, she mentioned that she promotes other writers as I do. That really made me proud. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of my students and my followers online. Barbara has many who follow her on Facebook and she is in writing groups online. I am happy for her that her writing is such an important part of her life, and she has a supportive husband.

I am teaching a two hour memoir class each week and have a class of adults who have great stories to tell. It is hard for beginning writers to accept feedback at first and often they don't realize that they will get emotional when they read their work out loud. It is hard for those who have been writing to see how much more they can learn about the craft. At first they might feel defeated, but I try to encourage them to stay with it, to persevere even when it might be more work than they had thought it would be. 

C. Hope Clark said in her newsletter today that most people don't have a clue how hard it is to write well, to get published by reputable publishers and in good magazines and journals. Her father calls and asks if he is interrupting her. She says she is working. He says are you working or just writing?

People don't often respect the time and effort we put forth because they have never done this work. It is hard for writers to tell their family, "Don't bother me for the next two hours. I am working." I think it is harder for women to do this. Most men will take the time and write even if it is late at night after work or early in the morning. Women do that, too, but so many times children and spouses feel that they can interrupt the mother/wife because she isn't doing anything important.

Although I have worked for the past two hours on a talk I will give tomorrow, I am still writing and I am behind with my deadlines. Never a dull moment around here what with Lexie wanting to play, the telephone ringing, and email to answer.

What do you do that keeps you busy? What do you feel you never have enough time for?

Remember it is easy to leave a comment. Just write as anonymous if you don't have a gmail account or email me. I love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

I have spent this hot weekend indoors with three precious dogs. Yes, I am baby-sitting for Gay and Stu who are attending a wedding.

Dogs have different personalities. Sunny, the Maltese mix, is cute as can be, but she lets everyone know she is Alpha Dog. If Smokie, the sweet little miniature Schnauzer, comes near where she is sleeping, Sunny growls like she is going to have Smokie for lunch. 

Sweet Smokie
Alpha Dog, Sunny

Now throw Lexie in the mix. Lexie is not afraid of Sunny and challenges her for Alpha status. But Lexie is younger and is more interested in playing than in fighting to be top dog. While I sit at my computer they all sleep in their respective places. Lexie loves her crate and sleeps curled up in a ball. Sunny usually sleeps on a pink blanket on the floor of the dining room where I am working, but today she has taken over Smokie's bed just to my right. 

Smokie, who challenges no one for authority, sits on a mat and looks at me as if to say, "Can't you make her give me my bed?" 

I try to encourage Smokie to come past Sunny and take the pink blanket, but as soon as Smokie gets close to Sunny, the boss leaps up in her face and growls like a lion in a cage. So the schnauzer goes back to the mat and finally curls up there and sleeps. 

Last night as I was preparing for bed and getting ready to let all three of them stay with me, I heard the fiercest of battles begin behind me. I turned and Sunny and Lexie were on the bed going at each other. I yelled at them, but they did not stop. I then tried to reach and pull Sunny toward me so Lexie could jump off the bed, but no, Lexie had decided that no one was going to take her place on my bed next to me. I think it was all a bit of jealousy, but they really frightened me. Even after I held Sunny away from Lexie, my little one would not stop attacking Sunny. 

I never had a problem with my dogs and Gay's and Stu's dogs, but in the past I always had a male. My male dogs never challenged their female dogs for their food or attention. Rocky let Smokie chew on his legs and his neck when she was a puppy and he never even growled - not once. I think it is jealousy that upsets the apple cart with these girls. 

Rocky licked Smokie to show her how much he loved her

Lexie is used to having all my attention and not sharing me with anyone. Sunny is used to being the top dog and doesn't plan to give that position up anytime soon. Sweet Smokie just sits and looks at me with those pitiful eyes, and I feel guilty that I don't take her in my lap and hold her. I know her mom would do that. But I have been at my computer and cannot type and hold a pup.

Well it is time to feed them. They are good about eating together, but I have to watch Sunny. She will take Smokie's food if she gets a chance. And I will be sure she doesn't try to sneak any of Lexie's. I don't want another dog fight tonight.
Lexie likes to be near me even if she is  on the chair beside me. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The end of a great weekend

My nephew Jon Beall and his son, Bryant, came to visit me on Saturday and right away asked, "What can I do for you while I'm here."

I quickly gave them a list: Take the rocking chairs on the deck to the garage. Take the Gazelle to the garage. Take this and take that. Now my deck is not cluttered and I can see my deck garden from my chair.

I made some lunch and then Jon wanted to know what else he could do for me. He has always been the most caring and kind person. He reminds me of Barry with his easy going nature and he never seems to get angry. His six-foot-three son, at seventeen, said very little but seemed willing to help. He removed the little twigs and leaves hanging on my gutter over my front door.

Before they put their boat in Lake Chatuge Saturday afternoon, they had cleaned out and organized my garage and taken two loads to the garbage transfer station. Now I can see what is in there and decide what I need to keep and what can go. Jon told me to sit and he brought boxes over for me to go through. What a huge relief! 

Jon and his sister, Paige, spent lots of time with Barry and me when they were little. We loved having them. I was Paige's first baby sitter when she was a tiny little thing. Often at Easter, they and their mother spent the day with my family on the farm. They hunted eggs with the kids on the front lawn.

Jon calls me fairly often and we keep in touch. He is married to a fine person and has a daughter, also. I am sharing one of the last photos made with Barry in 2008. Jon was almost named for Barry. His mother wanted to name him Jon Barry, but I objected. I wanted to name my first son after Barry. How silly and young I was then. 
Barry, sitting, Jon behind him with arm around Bryant.
I am touched deep in my heart by the kindness of Jon and Bryant. I just wish I could have made the fish bite for them.