Somber Moments

“This nation was built on an idea . . . the idea of liberty and opportunity for all. We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founders, but every generation has opened the door a little wider.”

            -President Joe Biden, May 31, 2021

flags

 

“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

– Unknown

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My Father and Earth Day

Many years before the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, my father set gardening examples using biblical principles and the Farmer’s Almanac. The earth—a lot surrounding our modest two-bedroom home—was our responsibility, he said. He toiled the ground somewhat like Adam may have done in the story of that downfall in Genesis in the Christian Bible. Only my father had more modern tools like a shovel, a hoe, and a rake. Spring and Fall, he worked the ground behind the house and planted vegetables around the existing fruit trees. He grew a variety of berries to top our cereal when fresh or for Mama to can for fruit pies and cobblers in the winter. He also cared for the nectarine and apricot trees in the front yard that gave us fresh fruit in summer and canned fruit for winter. The black walnut tree responded well, but cracking those nutshells took muscles more toned than mine.

He revered the Farmer’s Almanac second to holy scripture and searched the worn pages for planting times to yield the best crops. He followed the guide and planted aboveground vegetables in the light of the moon and root vegetables in the dark of the moon. His garden flourished while others failed.

I stopped gardening when I downsized from a home on an acre of ground and moved into an apartment. Now I buy my vegetables from a farmer’s market or grocer and depend on NASA to tell me when to enjoy a full moon.

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Working Through Plot Headaches

Lani’s Monday writer’s post is too good to let it go without reblogging.

Lani Longshore's Blog

After listening to Martha Alderson speak at Tri-Valley Writers, I realized my latest novel has plot holes that could double as train tunnels and I have no idea how to fix them. The answer is simple on the surface – keep going. Keep writing notes. Try approaching my muddle-in-the-middle by envisioning the end. Throw in more sensory detail until I really understand the scene and let logic take its course.

But what if I don’t wanna?

What if I woke up in a grouchy mood (for no good reason, mind you) and I can feel my heels start to kick against the floor and a long wail growing up from my toes? The Calvinist in me says get my hinder back in the chair and my pudgy fingertips on the keyboard and write anyway. The coward in me says I should just go back to bed because it’s hopeless…

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Sci-Fi Story Feeds Hungry Families

Long before the widespread Coronavirus outbreak, an imaginary conversation between two people during a pandemic became the opening paragraph of my first Sci-Fi short story. Laura, a travel writer, wanted to leave a protected environment to photograph the Mississippi River, but she was declared terminal and denied government permission to travel. That made her more determined to accomplish her goal. Her wish beyond photographing her travels was to eat fresh blueberry pancakes again, but fresh fruit was absent during the seclusion because of restricted  trade with the outside world. Nathan, a governmental appointed live-in assigned to keep her quarantined, became Laura’s ally and planned her escape from a monitored world. Blueberry pancakes became Nathan’s code phrase when he had new information to share with Laura.  

The draft languished on my computer until the 2020 pandemic until the California Writers Club High Desert Branch announced a statewide anthology for members. My objective was to be published, but my entry was awarded first prize in Survival: Tales of Pandemic.

A major portion of the prize was a $410.00 donation from the anthology proceeds to Open Heart Kitchen in Livermore, California, my chosen charity, that provides groceries and nutritional hot meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blueberry pancakes may not be on the menu, but this contribution will help families in the Tri-Valley escape hunger.

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Call Me Irish – at Least for One Day

Traditions and folklore are fun, especially St. Patrick’s Day. Moore, my Irish surname, often prompts people to ask if I’m Irish. My reply, “I’m the British side of St. Patrick.”

My father was English. My mother was convinced she was a French and Cherokee half-breed—an acceptable term in the early twentieth century that we now recognize as offensive. My DNA shows  me as 53% French and a blend of other races, but no predominate Native American. So why doesn’t anyone ask me on France’s Whit Monday if I am French?

Whit Monday, a national holiday in France, is a quiet celebration following Easter Sunday. In Ireland it is known as Whitsuntide, regarded as the unluckiest day of the year when the luck of the Irish fails. That day in the U.S., an Easter Monday tradition, has been celebrated with an egg roll at the Whitehouse since 1878. That event has been canceled during the coronavirus pandemic.

No wonder we celebrate carefree St. Patrick’s Day when Irish leprechauns throw shamrocks and dance around pots of gold.

 

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A Whine For The Wimpy

I’m reblogging Lani Longshore’s post because it fits my whimpering stage.

Lani Longshore's Blog

We are meeting vaccination targets in my region, so more counties are loosening restrictions on businesses and meetings. This is good news, but as today is the Ides of March I’m looking more at the thundercloud than the silver lining. Specifically, I have to ask if I can do normal anymore. Yes, this is a whine for the wimpy, but after a year of staying home I get nervous if I have more than one errand a day. To be honest, I get anxious if I have more than one or two items on my daily to-do list. If anything out of the ordinary arises I panic first, think later. While I can’t actually blame my lack of writing on pandemic stress (I’ve always found reasons to avoid shackling myself to the keyboard), I know the return of normal life will mean more excuses for missing my writing goals.

Eventually…

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A Poet I Will Never Be

I’ve admired famous poets for years. Mostly the way they cram a full story into a few lines. After I retired, I dabbled in themed Haiku, a novice trying to create a masterpiece in three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. Several of my contest entries were published in newspapers in the San Francisco East Bay Area. The theme for this February 2010 entry was Super Bowl Snacks Poetry in Motion.

 

Guacamole dip

Fritos and buffalo wings

Soothes pain of losing.

~Violet Carr Moore

 

My Haiku have appeared in Northern California anthologies, but my writing strengths are short stories, inspirational/spiritual, and memoir.

I was inspired when I heard Dana Gioia (pronounced joy-a), a modern poet, speak at a conference a few years ago. Gioia was the California Poet Laureate (2015) and the Chair of the National Endowment of the Arts (2003-2009). He received many national awards that propelled him to the top of speaker lists. His words reach writers of all genres, not just poets. Perhaps Gioia’s encouragement at that workshop was what prompted me to be one of the first to register to hear him speak at the Tri-Valley Writers Zoom meeting on Saturday, March 20, 2021. This is a free event, open worldwide to individuals who register by the deadline.

I hope Dana will have some wise words for writers like me who need a dose of inspiration to finish an ongoing project. Perhaps his presentation will resonate with you too. Click here to read about the event and register.

 

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My Father and Noah Webster

The neighbor kids had a method when asking permission from their parents to do something or go somewhere. The middle child said, “Don’t say no.” The youngest child begged, “Please, pretty please, say yes.” The oldest child said, “Maybe?” with a questioning lilt. After a few days, the reluctant parent relented.

My father was a strict, by-the-book person. The book being the family-size Holy Bible King James Version in our living room. His answer to my whimpering. “Couldn’t you just say maybe instead of no?” was Matthew 5:37. “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” If I pursued my quest, he said, “There is no maybe.” Then he quoted James 1:8. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” I had to wait until school the next day to see what Webster had to say about maybe.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The unabridged tome perched on a stand guarded the center of the library like a sentry. I flipped the pages to the alphabetical M section.  Was it may be or maybe? My spelling skills might have been different than Mr. Webster’s proper English.  However it was spelled, I didn’t find it.

I flipped the pages to the preface. I didn’t know what that word meant, but it must have been important or it wouldn’t have been at the front of the dictionary. That’s where I learned that Noah Webster and my father agreed on one thing. They both quoted Bible verses to support their decisions.

 

 

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Groundhog Prediction Fallibility

Groundhog Day has given February 2 prominence since 1887. Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions of more winter or an early spring have averaged 50% accuracy, so why all the excitement?

My father called the tradition hogwash. “If you want to know the weather, look in the Almanac,” he said. My mother gauged spring by when she could hang the family wash on the clotheslines without wearing a coat. A bunch of hooey, one of my brothers said. I didn’t understand all the hullaballoo when flocks of birds flying north seemed a better prediction of spring.

Phil may have lost his sense of the wild, but his handlers have to know that spring, the vernal equinox, is about six weeks after Groundhog Day no matter what Phil’s shadow depicts. They will continue the charade in 2022 because it’s their day in the limelight and perhaps Phil’s only day in the winter air. The rest of the year, he lives in the climate-controlled town library with Phyllis, his mate.

 

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Say goodbye to used to

Remember when you used to . . .

  • attend writing conferences crowded into a room full of people?
  • meet with your critique group to discuss your latest chapter revisions?
  • have lunch or coffee with a friend to talk about writing?

COVID-19 changed that.

The memorial for Used To was a virtual event because in-person events were prohibited during the coronavirus shutdown. The memorial paid tribute to Used To when she was every writer’s friend. We spoke about how we waited in line to pay meeting fees, strained to hear the speaker over a table crowded by attendees crunching popcorn and Chex mix, and squinted at our scribbled meeting notes the next day. Zoom and virtual, best friends, hovered near the perimeter of the burial ground while we carried Used To’s urn to her final resting place next to the Good Old Days.

Zoom wasted no time inviting us to sample a recording of the memorial.

Now  I . . .

  • pay meeting fees online,
  • have a private seat from home,
  • eat my favorite snacks during the meeting,
  • ask questions with chat; and
  • watch the live recording later to check my notes.

Perhaps saying goodbye to Used To is the best thing to emerge for writers during the 2020-2021 coronavirus pandemic. Even so, I hope the day will return when I can attend an in-person meeting to remember Used To.

 

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