Posted by: penpatience | December 1, 2021

LOVE LETTERS AT CHRISTMAS!!!

WRITERS WORDS: “And the Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons. it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” – Dr. Seuss

DECEMBER 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

LOVE LETTERS FOR CHRISTMAS???

 

Love Letters -appreciative, expressive words written from hearts. They may range from a few words, I Love you, to a favorite poem, prose, an intuitive greeting card, and words hastily scribbled on a scrap of paper. Words originating from shared and special songs may transport past memories into the present for savoring during this special holiday season.  You say, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m not a poet, that’s not my forte.”    Hmm…You don’t have to be a writer to write meaningful words to loved ones or to someone you hope to establish a relationship😊

I muse… When my mother died, along with other memorabilia, was a male photo (unknown to me) with a penned (yes, in fountain pen written in beautiful cursive writing) poem/letter inserted inside. I share a brief excerpt of this beautiful prose titled, “Your Eyes”

“Sparkling diamonds of splendor, glowing with ecstasy; ne’er has a sullen or forlorn reflection ever left those fascinating lights of fantasy. Ever joyous and seemingly thrilling those eyes like rosebuds of June are glorifyingly serene and mellow….it ends: “How more can I express this love racked soul of mine so as to impress you that it is my inspiration to forever hold you before my eyes.”

I also discovered both a Valentine and Christmas card from the early twentieth century. I opened and read the short, but lovely wishes inside, noting they were simply signed “Frank.”  Yes, Mom married Frank.

Many years ago, I also received a poem at the end of a busy Christmas Day, with my young children’s’ toys and gifts strewn about, holiday dinner dishes stowed away with family members returned home. I was sitting and relaxing by the fire in the fireplace with a favorite glass of wine when the hubby handed me a piece of paper. It was a short poem titled “Not Without You.” (I know he didn’t write it. but it was the thought that counted.) A few lines:

If daybreak comes with cool brisk air and shimmering sunrays parting their big puffy white luminous clouds on skies of blue, what would it mean without you? Can my heart find happiness and joy, the beauty of this world? Not without you. So, all that I am or ever wish to be is “Not Without You.”  An unexpected, but thoughtful surprise.

I recall receiving all types of holiday greeting cards from friends and families living far away. Some greetings were long, highlighting the year just past, some arrived with short notes or just signed, Love.  I muse…Somehow, although technology has brought new methods of streamlined   communications, it appears written wishes with pen and paper have gone the way of the dinosaur. Busy lives, busy times in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations. Perhaps Dr. Seuss’s Grinch words “What if Christmas means a little bit more?”  might provide the impetus to take five and write a few words:

TO MY FAITHFUL VIEWERS AND FOLLOWERS:

“What do we love about Christmas;

Does our delight reside in things?

Or are the feelings in our hearts

The real gift that Christmas brings.

It’s seeing those we love,

And sending Christmas cards, too,

Appreciating people who bring us joy,

Special people just like you.

— By Joanna Fuchs

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  BE SAFE!

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | October 31, 2021

HEY FOLKS – ARE YOU LOVIN’ THAT OLE’ TIME COUNTRY MUSIC?

WRITERS WORDS: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

NOVEMBER 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

HEY FOLKS – ARE YOU LOVIN’ THAT OLE’ TIME COUNTRY MUSIC?

Music, according to Meriam-Webster, is “sounds that are sung by voices or musical instruments” or, per English/Oxford dictionaries, “vocal or instrumental sounds combined to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion.” Other definitions suggest not all music is musical, beautiful or harmonious within its many genres.

Country Music began and became a proud American tradition. It is, to this day, timeless.  Every song tells a story.  It offers advice about life, love, and how to get back at your “ex.” Early songs came from the heart with a rich Bluegrass, hill folks’ history. Country fans always understood what artists were saying or trying to say. Singers sang emotional songs and wailed about cheating’, loving, dying, crying and lying!  Who can forget Tammy Wynette singing about her D-I-V-O-R-C-E or Johnny Cash’s “I Walked the Line,” and “A Boy Names Sue.”  My name is Sue, how do you do 😊

The oldest form, Old Time country of North American traditional music, other than Native American music, dates back to 1923.   New Country often emphasizes instrumental background with a traditional country vocal style. What is called the Bakersfield Sound developed in mid to late 1950’s and was significantly influenced by rock and roll.

I muse. I was exposed to Country Music through my father in the early twentieth century. His favorite country group was the Sons of the Pioneers (1935). He played their songs on the family 45 record player, listened to them on the radio and his favorite song was “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”   Our family had a furniture- sized radio, yes, with dials!  Almost always it was set to country music. Through the years we listened to Glen Campbell, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Hank William, Jr., Patsy Cline, Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, Statler Brothers, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson….and so many more artists.

For many years my car radio was always tuned to a country station when I traveled back and forth to work. To this day, my favorite female country singer is Emmy Lou Harris. I believe she has one of the most beautiful and purest country music voice. She is a singer, songwriter and musician. She has won 14 Grammys, the Polar Music Prize, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and numerous other honors.  In 2018, she was presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. My favorite Emmy Lou Harris tune that tells a great story is “Pancho & Lefty,” I enjoy her and other earlier country singers’ albums and play them often.

Currently, my radio station is no longer set on a country music station. I do enjoy many of the twenty-first century artists, but too often, I miss a hot banjo, old-time harmonica and guitar-banjo picking’ to an oldie but a goodie.

If you haven’t yet viewed Ken Burn’s Country Music Documentary that reviews the origins of country music through current songs of today, go to: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/country-music.

And, November is a month when we focus on giving Thanks. This November 2021, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the many woes of our country and world, we all have something to be thankful for…  including that “ole time country music.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2021

PLANET EARTH – HOME SWEET HOME!

WRITERS WORDS: “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. – Stephen Hawking

OCTOBER 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

PLANET EARTH – HOME SWEET HOME!

What word or words best describe a home?  A general dictionary definition describes home as “the place where one lives permanently especially as a member of a family or household.” Basically, for most human beings, home is the domicile where we leave and return on a regular basis, coming and going from various responsibilities and activities. Homes vary in size, description and can range from Apartments, Condos, Houses, Mansions, Townhomes, Tents, Trailers, Lean-tos, Street Corners, Shelters or any applicable residence where we “hang our hats.”

We mortals sip morning beverages of choice usually before leaving our whatever home never thinking while we are drinking, all humanity lives in the same large home – the Billion Years old Planet Earth. A planet that spins in orbit around what we learned at an early age, is the Sun. We learned in Grade School about the Solar System and Universe and the seven planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto) that revolve around the Sun. However, for many people, except the world-wide, scientific communities, we continue with chosen daily challenges blissfully unaware of life on a planet that is continually spinning in orbit. We assume Earth will exist into infinity.

I muse… we are all Earth’s housekeepers.  Some earth residents are environmentally conscious maintaining their abodes and attempt to sweep and keep earth’s “floors” clean. Other residents go about their daily business oblivious to the fact earth’s residents reside in all countries with different environments in one shared, gigantic household.

I consider some mind-boggling history taken from a September 2021 issue of National Geographic Magazine: “In 1543 the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that Earth orbited the sun, and scientists have been expanding our knowledge of the solar system ever since. Digital technology has provided a significant boost in recent decades, helping us identify previously unknown, heliocentric, and highly dynamic objects that shed new light on how our solar system evolved—and how it can be orderly and chaotic at the same time.”

Wow!  Not something that comes into many minds on a daily basis.  Here is additional thought- provoking information again perused from the National Geographic Society:

  • Our star, the sun was formed by the collapse of an interstellar cloud. In the wake of its creation, a volatile and rotating disk of dust and gas was left behind—the beginning of our solar system.
  • There is thought of lurking danger. Objects crossing Earth’s orbit are potentially hazardous. Experts are studying how to use spacecraft to divert them before they might impact Earth.
  • An interesting statement regarding Planet Neptune. Like Planet Jupiter, it has massive storms with 700 mile an hour winds; Its moon Triton has geysers that spew nitrogen.

And…yet, here we are enduring our home’s various twenty-first century’s woes. Hey, don’t we have enough to worry about?  Historically, our Earth Home has endured plagues, etc., but again, our entire world is experiencing and fighting the latest, life- threatening contagion- the Covid-19 virus.  Worldwide, weather traumas continue to plague us–“water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” (I couldn’t resist that statement😊 We get caught up in daily calamities, point fingers, gripe, politicize others actions and beliefs, and this, that and this other thing that might be communicated by over- zealous media.  And our forever Home, Planet Earth, continues to travel in orbit.  I agree with the late Stephen Hawking. Let’s all look up at the stars and be grateful for this wonderful home we all share.

It’s October. Happy Halloween to all!

 

Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2021

LIGHTHOUSES – THEIR LIGHTS STILL SHINE!

WRITERS WORDS: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” – Anne Lamont

 

SEPTEMBER 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

LIGHTHOUSES – THEIR LIGHTS STILL SHINE!

     I love lighthouses.  The tall, majestic, lighted towers have guided mariners in the United States and world waters for many centuries.  It was a first visit to see and climb the Jupiter Lighthouse located in Jupiter, Florida that inspired me to learn about lighthouse history and the devoted Keepers who kept lighthouse lights lit through years past.

Years ago, I climbed the 100 step, circular staircase to the top of the Jupiter lighthouse. Standing there attempting to catch my breath😊, I was captivated by the spectacular views of land and sea.  My thoughts traveled to the many lighthouse keepers who climbed multiple steps, up and down, many times day and night. I had to marvel at the stamina and dedication required to keep the lights burning throughout these historic eras while often living in isolated environments with, perhaps, only immediate family and seas for companionship.

There is an abundance of historical information and data regarding lighthouses, too much to share in this Musing. My favorite and a great lighthouse resource is The Lighthouse Digest Magazine, http://www.foghornpublishing.com ) but here are a few highlights I find especially interesting:

·       The most famous lighthouse ever built, the Pharos of Alexandra, (Egypt-285 B.C.) was the first recorded seamark with a light. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1302, it was considered one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.

·       The first Lighthouse built by the United States government was Cape Henry Light, Virginia, completed in 1792.

·       The oldest lighthouse in America is the Boston Lighthouse on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor, MA. Because this lighthouse is the oldest and only non-automated station in the United States, Congress declared this light always be a staffed station where keepers must still turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. Boston Lighthouse is the only official lighthouse with a Keeper. All others have either Coast Guard staff/families or caretakers to maintain property, etc.

·       Michigan is the State with the most lighthouses – approximately 124-130.

·       Kerosene, in 1877, was the primary fuel used to power lighthouses, but in 1841 the first Freznel lens was imported from France and installed in Navesink Lighthouse in New Jersey.

·       Originally, lighthouse keepers were male, but in the 19th century lighthouse keeping was one of the first U.S. government jobs available to women.  (I muse… and applaud this decision!)

·       The first American lighthouse to use electricity was the Statue of Liberty in 1886.

 

The United States has approximately 600 lighthouses – so little time to see and learn about them all! However, I recently viewed a NOVA, PBS-TV documentary about how the 160-year-old Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, Ma. originally constructed in Martha’s Vineyard in 1796, was threatened and saved by a spectacular move. In 1910, erosion had eaten away soil and clay and a funded investigation began to determine if this lighthouse could be protected in place or moved to safety.

The short story: “The Gay Head Lighthouse Committee worked in conjunction with the Town of Aquinnah and the Martha’s Vineyard Island community to raise approximately $3.5 million to relocate the lighthouse about 129 feet from its former location. The lighthouse was relocated by Expert House Movers and General Contractor, International Chimney.” (Reference: The Gay Head Lighthouse)

I watched the difficult ministrations required to move the lighthouse to its new location. I was awed by this spectacular, well-planned move. You may ask this question. Why go to all this trouble to save this and other old lighthouses? My answer. Lighthouses have guided and saved the lives of mariners and their livelihoods from the seas from the earliest centuries and continue to play valuable roles in today’s societies.

Yes, we have many high-technological advances today, but knowledgeable mariners and seamen traveling well known seas know when they see a familiar landmark beam, especially in this century’s challenging storms, they have renewed confidence in successfully completing their journeys.

I recall an older Motel Six Commercial that became their noteworthy Motto – “we’ll leave the lights on for you.”  Yes, you guessed it…

Lighthouses – “they too, will have the lights on for you!

To Everyone: Safe travels!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2021

TEA TIME AND WRITING – A WINNING COMBINATION!

WRITERS WORDS: “Tea time is a chance to slow down, pull back, and appreciate your surroundings.” – Letitia Baldrige

 

Dear Readers & Writers: My flash-fiction short story, “Leticia,” is now available for reading (a free read) on the story page of Page & Spine Fiction Showcase.  http://www.pagespineficshowcase.com

 

AUGUST 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

TEA TIME AND WRITING – A WINNING COMBINATION!

 

After water, tea (Camellia sinensis) is the world’s most popular beverage. It’s summertime, August to be exact, and I’m not speaking of iced tea, although it’s refreshing and  available in all varieties these days. I’m speaking of a piping, hot black or green tea sans sugar or milk – a straight-up, soothing mug/cup of tea. Yes, tea has many benefits. “Researchers say regular-tea drinking (2 to 3 cups per day) may help lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar promote weight loss, protect against several forms of cancer, boost immunity and reduce inflammation.” (The Old Farmer’s Almanac-2020) So …How does drinking hot tea benefit writers and their craft during the summertime?

Yes, the sun is shining – O Happy Day! It’s the season when writers have many distractions. Beaches beckon, golfers pray for pars, travel vistas await and F is for fun, family, friends and who can deny the old camping hammock hanging between two shade trees. It takes discipline for a writer to pick up pen and paper or sit in front of a computer’s screen hoping words will emerge when your body and empty mind is already eyeing the hammock. But…But…But…A writer writes regardless …. It’s what we do!  So how do we remedy this dilemma when the writing brain remains challenged?

I muse…  one of my best solutions, along with a hot shower or a long walk with headphones, is— Tea Time!  For me, tea-time is simple. It’s usually a cup of Irish black tea. Often, I may treat myself to a scone or favorite home-baked goodie for further inspiration. I sip the brew either on patio or deck with only neighborly noises, birdsong, the scent of blooming flora and squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkeys and an occasional deer seen among the forever wild forestry behind our townhomes. Eventually, the empty mind relaxes and wanders. I never know where it will go or where it will end up!

One such afternoon, I was reminiscing about the many camping trips in the Adirondack mountains. And… that is how I recalled the camping hammock for this Musing. The hubby brought it home with him when he left the Air Force after serving the last year overseas. It came with us on many a trip, was strung up between two trees where he often relaxed balancing a cup of hot coffee while he rocked in relaxation. We grew to love and appreciate the beauty of the various Adirondack campgrounds and lakes, vacation respites we enjoyed for many years. One of the first, short fiction stories I wrote and published, “Rain, Rain Go Away” in 2011, originated from a harrowing experience during one of those trips.  I no longer have a hammock, but I do have Irish black tea😊

Many flavored teas such as apple cinnamon, cinnamon, lemon, chai, herbal, peppermint, vanilla, etc. – are perfect accompaniments to spirited conversation at afternoon tea parties. And anyone interested in a little “Tea for Two” romance?  The song, “Tea for Two” was composed by Vincent Youmans with lyrics by Irving Caesar and written in 1926.  Doris Day and Gordon Macrae (Can you recall these two famous actors?) starred in the movie, “Tea for Two” in 1950. (Do you remember these two famous actors?)

TEA – In a nutshell:

When the world is all at odds, and the mind is all at sea,

Then cease the useless tedium, and brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its fragrance, there is solace in its taste.

And the laden moments vanish, somehow into space.

The world becomes a lovely thing, there’s beauty as you’ll see.

All because you briefly stopped to brew a cup of tea.  – Anonymous

WRITE ON!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | June 30, 2021

DO YOU KNOW THE LEGENDARY KOKOPELLI?

WRITERS WORDS: “It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live-in peace.”.” –Native American Proverb-Shenandoah

 

JULY 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

DO YOU KNOW THE LEGENDARY KOKOPELLI?

 

I’ve made many trips to Arizona throughout the years. During one of my early trips to this arid Southwest state, I first glimpsed a legendary Kokopelli artifact in the Phoenix, Sky Harbor, Airport. Always, I’ve liked Native American tribal histories and immediately fell in love with this unusual “humpback” figure.  I learned Kokopelli was a Native American flute player and I read, (at that time) when Kokopelli played his flute, peace reigned in the valley. I quote, “With all the myths and legends surrounding the significance of Kokopelli, there’s one thing we can deduce from all of them: that this deity is one that made people happy……Kokopelli signifies happiness and hope.” (The Symbol and its Meaning-Mythologian) Ah, yes, music and peace, a great combination. A combination that is more than welcome during this chaotic twenty-first century. Right?

Kokopelli, pronounced, Koh-koh-pell-ee, is one of the most widespread images surviving from ancient Anasazi mythology and is a prominent figure in Hopi (a southwest Native American tribe) legends. Also known as a Magical flute player or hump-backed flute player, Kokopelli was considered an inspirational symbol who brought well-being to the people, assuring success in hunting, planting and human conception.  Hmmm…. Human conception? It’s said his flute had the power to woo women and Kokopelli was praised as a fertility God…bear with me while I quote again about this intriguing Native American phenomenon:

 “Known as a fertility god, prankster, healer and story teller, Kokopelli has been a source of wonder throughout the country for centuries. Kokopelli embodies the true American Southwest, and dates back over 3,000 years ago, when the first petroglyphs were carved. Although the true origins are unknown, this traveling flute-playing Casanova is a sacred figure for many Southwestern Native Americans. Carvings of this hunch-backed flute-playing figure have been found painted and carved into rock walls and boulders throughout the Southwest.” (Kokopelli-Legends & Lore, Indigenous people.net)  My view of Kokopelli is he became an exceptionally influential symbol and brought peace, joy and love with his enchanting musical flute.  What a Guy!

I muse and recall…a special dinner out at a restaurant where an Italo-American violinist wandered among diner’s tables playing ethnic and notable love songs on the violin –a combination of great Italian food and wine with romantic, musical ambiance sure to set the scene for evening “amore.” Perhaps, a similar situation not unlike Kokopelli’s ancient, mythological power. Again, legend has it, villages would sing and dance throughout the nights when they heard him play his flute.  The next morning every maiden in the village would be with child😊

I share a Kokopelli saying:

Play from the heart, the flute is a heart song like a sweet prayer and it will teach you as well as you teach yourself.

My wish for all of us, today, in this tumultuous twenty-first century, with or without a musical flute, may peace reign in your valley.

Postscript: The above photo is a Kokopelli copper artifact I purchased in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kokopelli reigns on my deck every summer.

 

Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2021

WHY NOT PRE-PLAN YOUR FINAL GOODBYE!

WRITERS WORDS: “Goodbye always makes my throat hurt.”  “We only live once Snoopy.” –Charlie Brown

“Wrong! We only die once we live every day.” –Snoopy

JUNE 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

WHY NOT PRE-PLAN YOUR FINAL GOODBYE!

 

Goodbye!  A goodbye can be many gestures: a wave, a handshake, a big hug, a salute, a big smiley nod or even a tear wiped away in elation or grief. A goodbye in any language (Adios, Arrivederci, Sayonara, Auf Wiedersehen, Au Revoir, Tot Ziens, etc.) can be a temporary or permanent separation from loved ones and others we admire for various reasons. Goodbye departures on a routine basis (i.e., from co-workers at the end of a work day) or other events are pretty much commonplace.  However, a final goodbye is just that – Final! Kaput! No second chances to right wrongs, finish goals and like famous crooner, Frank Sinatra, sang so long ago, “I did it My Way.”

Two of my Musings posted in earlier years, “Do It Yourself Obituary and Do It Yourself Funeral” were widely read by many readers.  Birth and death: We are glad to have been born and live life but not so eager to face a personal demise.  Both are painful and expensive😊

Unfortunately, our forefathers and folks living in earlier centuries did not have the opportunities we have today. I also recall John F. Kennedy, Jr’s fateful airplane death (1999). “His ashes were sent out into the vast, incurious sea in a midday service as brief and private as his father’s was long and public. In keeping with the families’ wishes, there was no honor guard to salute aboard the Briscoe in Woods Hole, Mass.  Two Navy Chaplains and a Catholic priest performed the brief, simple ceremony without a Mass.” (excerpt from NY Daily News) I muse…. Would John and his wife, Carolyn, have made these same arrangements?

Planning Ahead. Tina Turner sings, “What does love have to do with it?” Folks in pre-golden and senior years may say, “What does age have to do with it?”  Again, and you’ve heard me say this before, one of my favorite sayings is that “Life happens while you’re making other plans.”

How do we plan ahead for the unknown….?

Do you have a spouse, children?

Do you have a Will?

Do you have legal counsel available to assess your individual situation including estate planning?

Do you have physical assets, favorite artifacts? Will Aunt Mary and Uncle John bicker over the Grand Piano?

Have you secured or inherited from family a reserved burial spot in the family plot?

Do you prefer cremation? Would you desire to have your ashes scattered in the sea, buried, or will you request the urn be located on top of the fridge with Bozo’s, your faithful, beloved Black Lab.

Do you desire a celebration of your life with photos, music, poetry and special prayers?

Do you desire a traditional funeral in accordance with your beliefs?

Etc. Etc. Etc.   So much to think about and plan.

Today, thanks to living in an advanced technological age, there are many options and sites that can assist you in pre-planning a personal and final goodbye should you choose. (Please feel free to reread my earlier posts as mentioned above)

A few websites:

http://www.aarp.org

http://www.funeralwise.com

http://www.empathy.com

http://www.funerals.com

 

And, A Very Happy Father’s Day to all dads and granddads!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2021

WEDDING CUSTOMS: THE OLD, THE NEW AND THE WHATEVER…!

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” –Kahill Gilbran

 

MAY2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

WEDDING CUSTOMS: THE OLD, THE NEW AND THE WHATEVER…!

 

Every culture, historically and to date, has distinct marital customs. Wedding customs are centuries old with older customs outdated compared to more current centuries’ ideals and values. Many customs experienced today have incorporated bits and pieces of both old and new marital rituals, but have become individualized by almost anything goes traditions.  Much has changed since earlier days when a caveman seeking a wife captured her and dragged her away into his cave selecting her for her potential as a good worker and breeder of additional workers! 😊 What are the old, new and, perhaps, atypical customs today?

     About the old…. Arranged marriage was purely an economic transaction, practical merger of labor and property between two families. There is an old German saying, “it is not man that marries maid, but field marries field, vineyard marries vineyard, cattle marry cattle.” Royal marriages were arranged for political reasons with the wedding a sort of treaty to unite or expand empires. In the nineteenth century, arranged marriages helped to expand the American frontier when mail-order brides became available to hard working bachelors in sparsely populated western states.

     The diamond was and still remains a symbol of matrimonial happiness. Originally the diamond was considered an emblem of innocence. Folklore has it, that if a man wants to know whether his bride has been faithful, he need only hold a diamond over her head when she sleeps. Should she turn toward him, she is true, but if she turns away, she has been unfaithful. Folklore does not say if she keeps the gem upon passing the test….!

     And let there be cake. A cake has been a part of wedding celebrations since Roman times. It’s said a thin loaf was broken over the bride’s head at the close of the ceremony. The wheat from which it was made symbolized fertility, the crumbs were eagerly sought by guests as good luck charms. During the middle ages, it was traditional for the bride and groom to kiss over a pile of small cakes. When an imaginative baker decided to mass all the cakes together and cover them with frosting, the modern tiered wedding cake was born.

So, what’s new?  Well, brides (in the U.S.) are no longer “given away” in arranged marriages. Today, brides are usually escorted down the aisle by their fathers or other close male relative, but not given to a groom as personal property.

Marriage by capture now has become courtship. The diamond ring is an engagement symbol of a future nuptial. Men and women no longer have to prove past innocence before marriage. Today marriage is a private declaration by the bride and groom of love and commitment with the desire to live long lives together.  Wedding cakes are often expensive, large-tiered and artfully prepared confections. Brides and grooms often cut the first pieces and some couples may also feed the cake to each other. Many brides continue to wear white, formerly a celebration symbol, again, from Roman times. Centuries later, the custom of wearing white was an indication of purity. Many brides today continue to follow the custom of wearing white dresses or gowns because of the custom and not to embrace the older symbolism.

When I muse about, “The Whatever,” gone is that old saying, “first comes marriage, then comes a Mrs. pushing a baby carriage.” Sometimes, the reverse occurs. The carriage may come before the marriage. Marriages today often reflect individual couples’ decisions. Elopements to Las Vegas, nuptials by Justices of the Peace, marriages, although most still within chosen churches and faiths, are conducted on beaches, cruise ships, backyards, favorite vacation spots, etc. What shouldn’t change are wedding customs that continue to promote joyful marriage celebrations.  And Cheers: to a tradition so old its origin is unsure: Many brides today continue to wear Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue on their wedding day.

 

The month of May honors Mothers:

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOTHERS, GRANDMOTHERS AND GREAT-GRANDMOTHERS!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2021

THE POWER OF A FLOWER!

WRITERS WORDS: “Flowers are the music of the ground.  From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” – Edwin Curran

APRIL 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE POWER OF A FLOWER!

This year’s hard winter with deep snows, high winds, bitter cold snaps, tornadoes plus the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic was enough to give most folks a bad case of the “Blah, Blah and Blah’s.” The month of March, already sprung forward, came in like a lion and went out like a reluctant lamb. April is the first month of Spring, but will its showers bring May flowers?  Hmmm…

I muse.  Perennial flowers (i.e., daffodils, tulips, hyacinths) are brave and trusting, pushing up through thawed, damp soil unaffected by human turmoil. Spring flowering bushes (forsythia), their barren winter branches bursting with yellow flowering foliage dot our dormant landscapes with early colors saying, “Hey! look at me!”  Dandelions begin to proliferate in lawns, along roadways not caring if they’re perceived as friend versus foe. The earth awakens with flowering glory every spring reminding mere mortals of endurance, beauty and yes, their overlooked power.

Generally, we don’t think of flowers as powerful, but blooms are more than colorful stems in a vase. Many flowers are edible. They provide food for human consumption.  Think about the notorious dandelions that we remove from our pristine lawns. Yet, dandelion flowers have a high level of polyphenols and antioxidants.  The leaves are excellent in salads, yet we treat them as weeds, dig them up and pitch them away in the yard recycle bag. During the Depression Era many people lined up in bread lines and ate dandelions during this tragic time. Closer to home many cooks and chefs fry apple and pumpkin blossoms into fritters as occasional delicacies. (Note: always research flower edibility before eating.)

There is a saying that we should “stop and smell the roses” as we traverse through our daily lives. Why would we do that? Perhaps it’s because the enjoyment of inhaling a lovely scent provides a brief oasis from difficult situations and transports us into thinking of the good things in life. Rose bouquets are also a favorite gift on Valentine’s day. Growers, florists and retail outlets enjoy welcome revenue from roses grown and sold each February.

Also, there are many flowers called opiates (i.e., opium poppy) that produce various types of negative effects in human beings. However, on a positive note, Cannabis (Marijuana) has now been adapted for medical purposes.  Negative or positive, these flowers have a great impact on society.

Perhaps the most important power of flowers is the ability to provide abundant food inside and outside our country’s borders. I am an avid gardener and get excited when cucumbers, tomatoes and other home-grown vegetables flower and pollinate. (Love those bees!) The result is fresh, healthy food for many Americans with a benefit of physical fitness from digging, planting, weeding and harvesting the bounty.

And what’s not to love about seeing a morning glory bloom on its vine early in the morning while sipping a first cup of coffee or viewing a sea of wildflowers on the hills, meadows and mountains when driving by.  Flowers are inspirational tools. They have the power to lift spirits and bring joy when life hands us “lemons instead of lemonade.”

 

DAFFODOWNLILLY

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown;

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbour;

“Winter is dead.”

-A.A. Milne

Happy Spring.  Happy Easter and

Happy National Autism Month. Folks, don’t forget to “Light it up Blue” for Autism

 

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2021

WRITER GROUPS: Critique or Criticism – ARE YOU READY?

WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is like a sport, it’s like athletics.  If you don’t practice, you don’t get any better.” – Rick Riordan

MARCH 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

WRITER GROUPS:   Critique or Criticism – Are you ready?

 

What is a Writer Group?  A Writer Group’s principal focus is writers helping other writers. The basic purpose is to provide encouragement and writing improvement for participants. Most writers welcome feedback on writing projects in the form of critique or assistance in choosing the right words on a page.  However, a writer group must have a specific format providing thoughtful critique and encouragement to ensure its success, or good and bad behaviors might emerge sabotaging the group.  And the group will flounder and die.

A successful group will choose members with a similar balance of skills. Will members focus on poetry, non-fiction or fiction in various genres: romance, mystery, thrillers, sci-fi or will it emphasize one or two specific genres?  Writers more advanced than emerging “newbies” might become bored while a newcomer might feel intimidated reading among published professionals. Each writer needs to evaluate the stage of their writing pursuits and expectations when choosing a group. Every member needs to feel equally challenged and this can be accomplished by individual friendliness, positive rapport and mutual respect.  ARE YOU READY?  Ask yourself this important question. Can I accept gentle appraisals or critical assessments of my work or would I feel offended? If you answered offended, I’d suggest you develop a “tougher hide” before joining a group😊.

The most important group element is member feedback.  Critique is usually an informative opinion by members on a writer’s project. Criticism can be a derogatory attack on the work, nit-picking or disparaging remarks made to a reader (all unacceptable responses).  And…. Who hasn’t heard these phrases, “Oh, I like it, I didn’t like it, it’s good, I guess, Nah, it didn’t get to me?”  These responses are not helpful. Feedback needs to be specific and offer suggestions and encouragement to improve the writing.

Avoidance of unpleasant or ineffective interactions can be achieved through Group Guidelines:

Place, time, and how often the group will meet: My personal preference is Face-to-Face interaction. However, pandemic aside, many groups meet virtually through various technologies (i.e., Zoom) and web-sites.

Group numbers: A manageable group allows all members the opportunity to present their work and numbers should be limited to achieve group goals.

Time Limits: Set time limits on reading and feedback. Eliminate reader rebuttals and defensive comments. A sincere thank you is sufficient.

Member interactions: Members should always practice kindness, respect and provide positive feedback together with constructive critique.

Networking: Interaction with peer writers is a valuable experience. Allow time after the meeting for members to share chit-chat, a few laughs, writer resources and helpful web-sites.

Alas…writer Groups are not static. They change and evolve over time. Some members leave allowing new members to join.  Others move on to other groups, depart due to time constraints, personal responsibilities, moving away, etc.  Writers may join and leave many critique groups throughout their careers.

Writers interested in joining a group can locate opportunities through online sites, local libraries or other writers.  A few well- known online group sites are http://www.scribophile.com, http://www.critiquecircle.com  and http://www.writercafe.org.

 

Happy Writing!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

            “May your glass be ever full.

            May the roof over your head be always strong.

            And may you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re

            dead.”    –Irish Saying     

 

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