Posted by: penpatience | September 30, 2019

YOUR SWAN SONG – DO IT ALL YOURSELF

WRITERS WORDS: “There’ll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read ‘em but all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ‘em” – Kevin Welch

OCTOBER 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

YOUR SWAN SONG – DO-IT-ALL YOURSELF

Do you have a planned, final Swan song? A Swan Song is defined as a song of great sweetness sung by a dying swan or final act or pronouncement. Most often a Swan Song is perceived to be a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort or performance just before death or retirement.

A personal swan song is not a topic most individuals choose to pursue or think about on an everyday basis. Most human beings are not geared to focus on death and dying, but on birth and living everyday life even with its many complexities.  However, when should we focus on personal demise?  When we are chronologically considered old (approx.65-80+ years), hair faded to a salt and pepper grey, arthritis cursing fingers, knees, backs, hips and additional maladies that can target the aged. Hmmm….is there ever a good time for this reflection?

Well, I recall that two of the most read Musings to date were “Do It Yourself Obituary” and “Do It Yourself Funeral.”  Although published in earlier years of Pen and Patience, I was surprised because many individuals usually prefer not to contemplate on their demise. When you think about it, like it or lump it, it’s the one journey each and every human being must take regardless of life span.

So, when should we face the music and ask and answer questions that need to be addressed? Will family members or designated others be saddled with an unwanted burden? What would be your preference–a Short or Long Published Obituary or No Obit in the local newspaper? Perhaps you might have noticed many individuals print their entire life stories from birth to death in their obituaries at considerable line by line cost?  Hey, do you want your tired old body cremated and ashes strewn over a favorite area or prefer a traditional burial complete with embalmment, casket and car queue to a favorite or family cemetery. You did purchase the plot, didn’t you? (Note, I must interject here after reading Police Procedure & Investigation, A guide for Writers, Chapter 10-Autopsy and The Funeral Home, by Lee Lofland, a former police detective with nearly two decades of law-enforcement and crime-solving experience.) In my opinion, neither is palatable, but digesting that chapter’s information and for other personal reasons, I have chosen cremation. I choose to burn than bury😊 Most important, regardless of choice, if you are a veteran and served your country in any capacity you deserve and should have full military honor consideration.

Assuming you have a Will and chosen Executor(s), it’s hopeful these individual(s) are informed and will execute your desires down to the last detail. Think about this. Too often, siblings or other family members have different views and religious connections that might cause arguments or familial rifts that may never heal. Special items, regardless of monetary or collectible significance must be bequeathed to the designated person. It would be up to that person to pass on great grandmother’s ugly bone china dated back to the early 1900’s. Final considerations are tasks that many folks would prefer to sweep under the rug, but it’s imperative all of us make these, sometimes unpleasant decisions whenever possible.

I muse. Wouldn’t you like to plan ahead for your exit singing your personal, beautiful Swan Song or depart croaking like a frog😊.

To all writers and readers: Here’s to your good health—Be well!

A helpful site: www.obituaryguide.com/templates

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2019

WRITERS & DOGS – A GREAT COMBINATION

WRITERS WORDS: “ Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend, inside of a dog it’s too dark to read” –Groucho Marx

SEPTEMBER 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

 

WRITERS & DOGS—A GREAT COMBINATION

I was afraid of dogs growing up especially large dogs. Leash laws were not legalized at that time and an unfortunate dog fight between two large dogs raging too close to me, knocking me over left an indelible scar.

That said, I love and have devoured dog stories from early youth to the present. Some of my old and new favorites are “Lad, A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune; “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London; “Marley and Me” by John Grogan; “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron and “The Art of Racing in The Rain” by Garth Stern. Also, a favorite and early TV series dog, Bullet, The Wonder Dog was Dale Evans and Roy Roger’s adventurous savior on Saturday morning programming. I recall many children loved watching the heroic pursuits of Lassie, a famous Collie during that same era. Additionally, I contributed a short essay titled, “The Siberian Queen” published in “Puppy Love 2015,” an Anthology collection celebrating our Canine Friends, by Zimbell House Publishing, LLC.

I note that dogs’ lives today have changed. No longer are dogs relegated to outdoor doghouses (perish that thought!) or put down (euthanized) for diseases and conditions untreatable years ago. Today dogs are beneficiaries of veterinary medical treatments and advances. Most important, dogs are no longer allowed to run loose in many U.S. communities and are usually considered integral family members. I muse. When I spent time in Southeast Florida, it was not uncommon to see pampered small dogs I nicknamed “cheweenies” groomed in hair bows, elaborate collars and pushed by owners in small strollers.

Writers continue to write stories about their favorite pets and there is a tremendous amount of references on dog breeds and behaviors to peruse for these projects. My thoughts often center around huskies mushing in the Annual Alaskan Iditarod Race, dogs leading the blind, therapy dogs assisting and offering solace to the elderly and special needs individuals and “sniffer” dogs trained for military reconnaissance, drugs recovery, locating cadavers and lost individuals. Unfortunately, dogs are sometimes misused and abused, a sad tale in itself, but their rescues could be documented within well-written stories. However, my personal experience is many of our four-legged friends provide unconditional love and loyalty to their Owners.

It may be difficult to achieve dog stories publisher acceptances, however, self-publishing opportunities abound and many have found good homes on Amazon. Also, I note, some published stories (i.e. Marley and Me; The Art of Racing in the Rain) have been made into movies.

About the Golden Retriever dog photo located next to mine. That handsome male dog is my son’s dog. His name is Lancelot and he is a relatively new family member. He is intelligent, loving and already a talented 1 ½ year old pup. We believe he has immense potential but more important, he’s a great and trainable family dog.

One day when Lancelot is an adult and an old doggie, it would be my pleasure to write his story.

DEAR READERS AND WRITERS: DO YOU HAVE A DOG “TAIL” TO TELL AND SHARE? I’d love to read your mini-stories in the Comments!

Here are a few helpful and interesting dog sites: http://www.AKC.org, http://www.thebark.com, and http://www.pointingdogjournal.com.

 

Posted by: penpatience | July 31, 2019

GARAGE SALES GALORE & MORE!

WRITERS WORDS:  “When opportunity knocks, some people are in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.” –Polish Proverb

AUGUST 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

GARAGE SALES GALORE & MORE!

 

Garage sales, also known as tag, moving, yard and rummage sales used to be held most often during spring. Folks, after hunkering indoors during frigid winter months, eagerly attack spring cleanouts with yesterday’s found treasures now considered today’s disposable junk. Today, garage sales flourish from winter’s first snow melt to the following winter’s first snowfall.

Typically, goods in a garage sale are unwanted, but usable household goods, clothing, children’s toys, books, lawn and garden tools, furniture and all sizes and types of items that come under the heading of large and small “knick knacks.” Sellers usually put an ad in the local newspaper stipulating the time frame and date of the sale, tack up garage sale ads in their locales and are usually held on weekends in suburban communities hoping for good weather. A common term most every garage sale seller has experienced is the “early bird” buyer who screeches up in front of your driveway in an SUV or pick-up truck before the sale opens looking for rare, unusual items and bargains that can be purchased, restored and then resold.

So…..Why do folks bother with the time consuming preparation of sorting, pricing and displaying all kinds of unwanted stuff only to return unsold items back inside the garage for further disposal.  Because… a seller does reduce unwanted inventory and it’s a fun way to earn extra money. Why… do buyers attend these sales? Because… Who doesn’t love a bargain and for many writers, it’s a golden opportunity to greet a diversity of visitors who just might spark a future character trait inspiration.

I’ve been both a seller and buyer participant in garage sale mania. Bargaining, also known as haggling on prices, is routine. As a seller, I experienced the bargaining process. If an item was priced at $1.50 the question was “would you take a dollar for it?” It’s also been my experience that some buyers are glad to discover a specific and needed item marked at a fair price and they approach with cash in one hand and the favored item clutched in the other.

There are other “windfalls” other than garage sales that sometimes occur—“Freebies! One spring day last year I was out for a morning walk and while passing a neighbor’s home noticed her dragging all kinds of stuff to the edge of her front yard. A man parked across the street was loading a large, empty fish tank into the back of his pick-up truck.  Flabbergasted, I asked her, “Why don’t you have a garage sale?” She responded, “Nope, I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy moving. Take anything you want—it’s free. Opportunity knocked when I noticed the unique chest. Excited, I sent my partner back for the car while I sent a photo to my son who refinishes pieces as a hobby. By the time the car arrived, I put aside a handmade quilt for a friend, an authentic crystal vase and new, unopened household items for other family members.  One of my Motto’s: “Windfalls should always be shared.”

And, there are what I call “iffy” items (possessions not accepted by local charities) placed at the front curb or yard with the cardboard “FREE” sign attached.  They linger out front during daylight hours only to disappear under the cover of nightfall. (It’s gone! What a relief!)  Also, consider what I’ve witnessed as the scavenger weekly trash  phenomenon. Small disposables peeking out from overstuffed recycle bins or left alongside the container are fair game for trash day diving regardless of community status or location.

I muse. Garage sales serve a valuable purpose in communities. These sales put extra and sometimes needed money in family pockets and new and gently used items are often purchased below new retail prices.  A seller is relieved of Aunt Matilda’s atrocious holiday gift and neighbor, John Jones, is ecstatic at finding this great artifact for his den. My Perception:  Someone’s unwanted junk is someone else’s treasure.  It’s a WIN-WIN!

P.S.   Dear Readers: Don’t forget to share unneeded household or other non-perishable items with the many friends, neighbors, and others that have been unfortunate victims of recent environmental disasters.

Happy Sales to You!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2019

DEAR DIARY – OR IS IT- DEAR JOURNAL

WRITERS WORDS:  “Over the years the content of the journals has broadened to include every aspect of my life. I try to see it all as natural history, and have become a naturalist on the trail of my own life.”  – Hannah Hinchman

Dear Readers:: “Banjo Man, my fiction short story has recently been published in the May 10, 2019 Editon of Page & Spine Fiction showcase (www.pagespineficshowcase.com) and is  available for reading.

 

JULY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

DEAR DIARY—or is it–DEAR JOURNAL?

 

Recently and without looking for it, I stumbled upon my Butterfly Journal. Some readers might recall I wrote about this Journal in the July 2012 musing, the first year I began writing Pen and Patience. I rifled through the pages until I found the latest entry written on July 6, 1917—over two years ago!!! I vowed in the 2012 Musing I would write daily even if it amounted to only 15 minutes per day. Shame on me! I grabbed a pen determined to write something, anything to update the Journal to 2019. I stared at the blank page…and finally began “clustering” words, a writing skill I learned years ago beginning with the word Journal. Eventually, Journal led me to the word Diary. Was there a difference between keeping a Dairy and keeping a Journal?

Diaries are usually handwritten and an individual usually writes daily about what they heard, said and feelings-happenings of a personal nature. Many individuals and especially young girls in the 20th century kept diaries for various reasons. Many desired to maintain records about what they’ve done throughout their lives. When I think about Diaries, I think of the most noted, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” “Her diary is seen as a classic in war literature, and is one of the most widely read books today. The diary had been given to Anne on her 13th birthday. In it she wrote of her life from June 12, 1942 until August 1944 and was only 15 years old when she died.”(Excerpt Wikipedia, June 2019) I wasn’t aware of “The Diary of Anais Nin.” She began a private manuscript diary at age 11 in 1914 and continued her dependence on writing in her diary until her death in 1977 despite attempts by her mother, therapists and others to dissuade her. Despite the huge size and over 15,000 typewritten pages, eventually her diary would be published—over six volumes followed the initial diary covering the years 1931-1934.

A Journal can refer to several things. In its original meaning, it also can refer to daily records of activities, but today, the term has evolved to mean any record of activity regardless of elapsed time between entries. A journal can also refer to published periodicals (i.e. scientific and medical journals), newspapers and some magazines, (i.e. trade magazines.) Journals have a more diversified scope and although some can be handwritten, most journal records are printed.

I look upon diaries and journals as resources for family histories, special events and inspiration for writers seeking to write a life story or memoir on a particular or meaningful stage in their lives. However, memoirs are subject to scrutiny by many readers and may have negative or positive reactions from family members or other individuals. Perhaps the most notorious Memoir was “Mommy Dearest,” the expose written by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of the now deceased and famous actress, Joan Crawford. Christina wrote of her mother’s numerous abuses and ongoing neglect and this memoir caused a huge “brouhaha” when first published and for years after.

When I read a memoir, I respect the contents are written from the author’s perception of various traumas and events. I take into consideration that many memoirs are written by individuals who have a strong desire to share their stories. Whether you choose to record in a diary or journal, why not begin writing down pertinent data and important memories for future generations—-try it! Begin with only “15 minutes per day:)

WRITE ON!

Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2019

BE A READER FIRST – A WRITER SECOND

WRITERS WORDS: “Write what you know. Write what you want to know more about. Write what you’re afraid to write about.” – Cec Murphy


NOTE: “Banjo Man, my fiction short story has been published in the May 10, 2019 edition of Page & Spine Fiction showcase (www.pagespineficshowcase.com) and is available for reading.

JUNE 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

BE A READER FIRST– A WRITER SECOND!

Learning and continuing to read throughout life is not only educational, but an enjoyable and enriching pastime. Reading fiction, non-fiction in all genres opens our minds to unknown joys, traumas, hardships, historical happenings and just about any topic that comes to mind. A wise woman, my Mother, often reiterated to her children “if you can read you can learn and do anything.”

Readers witness other people’s life journeys by reading Memoirs written by existing and former notables along with many other individuals willing to share their stories. Historical non-fiction books reminds readers of eras past and scientific discoveries affecting our futures. There is so much history to read on past and future developments within our world. Geographical changes, slavery, past conflicts and wars, the settlements of pioneers forging west in covered wagons, the first “horseless carriage” giving way to today’s myriad international car manufacturers. Earlier eras, life expectancies were short due to unidentified diseases and various types of hardships. Today, life spans have lengthened and improved due to scientific discoveries and technological advances making everyday life easier. There is a non-fiction publication for just about every topic of interest.  Reading fiction, whether it’s short stories, novellas, novels in paperbacks or hard-cover books, transports us away from everyday routines as we lose ourselves in romances, mysteries and thrillers that leave us relaxed and breathless as we turn the pages. And then, there are Magazines, so many print and online publications today.  There’s the AARP filled with all types of valuable information for folks over the age of fifty. Magazine topics abound-sports, gardening, home improvement, hunting, fishing, cooking and writing– too many topics to name here. Self-help books are many. I especially like the “For Dummies” books. When you need How-To information most likely there will be a “For Dummies” book that will teach you how to do it. Online opportunities for reading and learning are just a Google and You Tube away. I muse and believe, for writers, the more we read the better we write.

I’m a believer that reading subliminally expands a writer’s vocabulary. When we read many different authors’ published work, we learn different successful writing styles and character developments and very often words that send us to dictionary and thesaurus to check them out. Sometimes we even fall in love with specific words and want to use them, perhaps, too often. Years ago I discovered two words –promulgate and extraneous and just liked the way these two words rolled off my tongue. So far, I have not used them in story, but feel comfortable and have used promulgate a few times within my Musings. (Yes, they are darlings and I often think of Stephen King when I kill them when appropriate.)

So….what if you’re not a voracious reader! What if you just want to sit down and begin writing? Well….Would you jump in the lake before you learned how to swim?  🙂


The writing craft is a learned craft like many others. You sink (rejections) or swim (acceptances). Instruction, Study and Education are key elements within the writing curve. I believe success in writing is determined by dedication to learning the craft for optimization of results. Over time, I’ve accumulated many resources I have found helpful in continuing to swim in the writing lake: (a few listed below)

The Writer’s Digest- May/June, 2019 Issue–“The 21st Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers.( http://www.writersdigest.com)

Hope Clark’s-Funds for Writers Web Site: http://www.hope@fundsforwriters.com
The Kill Zone: http://www.killzoneblog.com

Jane Friedman’s site and newsletters: http://www.hello@janefriedman.com

My favorite writer magazines: Writer’s Digest; The Writer; Poets & Writers and the online Authors Publish.

As a wise mother once said, “If you can read you can learn and do anything.”

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!

Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2019

SPRING IS A NEW GREEN!

WRITERS WORDS: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” –Native American Proverb

Note: “Banjo Man,” my fiction short story, has recently been published (May 10) on the Page & Spine Fiction Showcase. (www.pagespineficshowcase.com) click on Story Index.

MAY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

SPRING IS A NEW GREEN!

AH! Spring has finally sprung! The snow in upstate New York lingered far too long, but finally has melted away. Small shoots are pushing up through damp soil, shrubs are shedding their winter coats and barren branches, formerly dormant, are beginning to show tints of green and small buds that will soon become glorious, showy blooms.

I am a gardener. I’ve been digging, planting, and growing flowers and veggies too many years to count. I’m a lover of flora and fauna except when nuisance animals and pests attack my efforts. The birds have returned and I awakened one morning to two red cardinals flying into the bare branches of a backyard burning bush, a bright red vision against a still barren background. I eagerly await the emerging transition into a full blossoming, colorful spring!

I believe my generation was lucky. I learned from my parents the love of the land at an early age. My grandfather owned a parcel of land located behind our family home where my Dad grew vegetables—tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, and garlic. We had perennial rhubarb that came up every year, berry bushes where I often got poison ivy and scratched fingers when picking raspberries and black berries. We had a grape arbor, an apple and peach tree and a fresh salad graced our supper table every evening. I find myself smiling when I see “organic” labeled foods in the super markets. I grew up with healthy home grown food free of pesticides. AND, oh wait! Did I mention we had a chicken coop Dad built behind the garage? We had chickens and fresh eggs were only a short walk away. Sadly, and thank goodness I never paid attention, older hens that could no longer lay eggs…..ended up in Sunday dinner.

What I do find encouraging is a resurgence of community gardens. Residents in many different towns and cities are planting, sowing, weeding and sharing produce among themselves and neighbors in need. Greenmarkets have sprouted in many counties where, once a week, farmers get together and bring home grown vegetables, flowers, baked goods and even prepared foods for sale at reasonable prices.

These past years I’ve learned to appreciate the myriad species of plants and animals sharing our planet. Many species I most likely will never see, but I’m amazed at their unique existences throughout the world. I am not an over-exuberant environmentalist, but I embrace our country’s Native American Tribes respect for Mother Earth and realize we must preserve and protect wild habitats, National Parks, clean water and natural crops for future generations. (PS: The Wolf is my favorite wild animal.) A few years ago I had the opportunity to chat with a matriarch of a local farm in existence for over 100 years. She made a comment to me that was, “Oh so true “and I never forgot. She said, “You can eat crop, but you can’t eat cash.”

And readers, “Please Don’t P*SS on the Petunias.”  This past year, I was pleased to be one of many beta-readers for a first draft of the above referenced book written by Sandra Knauf, Greenwoman Publishing (www.greenwomanpublishing.com). The book is a collection of stories and essays about raising kids, crops and critters in the city. It’s engaging, edgy and often hilarious and now available at Amazon. 

Dear Readers & Writers: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL!

Have a Green Spring!

 

Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2019

ARE YOU A SOUTHPAW?

WRITERS WORDS: “I’m totally left-sided. I am completely left-handed, completely left-footed.” –Elvis Costello

 

APRIL 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

ARE YOU A “SOUTHPAW?”

I muse. How did the term southpaw become affiliated with left-handed individuals? After reading many definitions, basically a southpaw is a left-handed person. “The word was primarily used in baseball, but appears in other contexts as well. But despite its use in baseball, the term almost certainly did not originate with that sport. Use of southpaw to mean the left hand goes back all the way to 1813, long before baseball, as we know it today, existed.” (www.wordorigins.com)  However, it is widely accepted the term originated in the United States.

I’m left-handed. My Dad and one of my sisters are also left-handed. Dad, growing up in the early twentieth century, often told us how his grade school teachers slapped his left hand with rulers and made him change hands when writing. As a result, he learned to sign legal documents with his right hand, but throughout his life, including becoming an accomplished bowler winning many trophies, he did everything else with his left-hand.

Negative connotations abounded during this era and “left-handed facts reveal that left-handedness has been misinterpreted countless times over the course of the centuries as something very negative.” (Left Handed Facts.net) Primitive superstitions followed left-handed people labeling them as witches, criminals, unlucky, clumsy, dishonest and even mentally ill.  I learned approximately 10-12 percent of people in the United States are left-handed equating to 30 million U.S. “lefties.” Further statistics indicate that approximately 400,000 left-handed children are born each year in our country and remain so throughout their lives. There are statistics galore on the reasons for left-handedness in our society. Some indicate gender is indicative of left-handedness–more males than females are left-handed. And, if both parents are left-handed, there is a 26 percent chance that their offspring will be left-handed.

However, statistics and definitions aside, I find specific southpaws more interesting:

Did you know?

Babe Ruth, a famous southpaw, batted and threw left-handed, but wrote right-handed.

Martina Navratilova won all those singles and doubles tennis championships as a left-hander, but she too wrote right-handed.

Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer, played golf right-handed, but performed most non-golfing activities left-handed.

Well-known PGA golfers Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson are left-handed.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William of England are all left-handed.

Bob Dylan, one of the best-selling artists of all time with numerous Grammy Awards, Golden Globe and an Oscar, is left-handed.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” was left-handed

Oprah Winfrey, Jim Hendrix and Bill Gates are left handed.

Deceased notables, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein and, Presidents George H.W. Bush, Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, were all left handed.

Past-Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are left handed.

International Left-hander Day is August 13, 2019!!!

And yours truly, Gaye Buzzo Dunn, mentioned above, is left-handed. I write left-handed. I use a garden trowel and tools with my left hand. I play golf with my left hand. (Two teaching pros advised me to play right-handed) My claim to fame is this. Not only do I write underhand when many left-handers right overhand  from left to right on paper, I also can write legibly backwards on paper right to left.( I began doodling this way one day when words I needed for a story did not materialize) I am somewhat ambidextrous. I iron clothes with an iron always held in my right hand.

Although I was unaware of International Left-hander Day until I wrote this Musing, I feel it’s a nice recognition of southpaws like me who defy a particular “right hander fits all” genus.

However, I say to all “Lefties and Righties” —-Regardless of handedness—WRITE ON!

READERS:  Don’t forget to LIGHT IT UP BLUE-April is Autism Awareness Month.

Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2019

THE CONNECTION: HUMAN RESOURCES AND WRITING

WRITERS WORDS: “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate” – Margaret Heffernan

 

MARCH 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE CONNECTION: HUMAN RESOURCES & WRITING?

It wasn’t too long ago I enjoyed a business career that encompassed many large and small corporations (check out my “About Me” page, if you haven’t already). I cried a few tears when I retired from the various job jars that held many different responsibilities over the years. However, over time I realized I enjoyed the people side of the business versus the operational- administrative areas and before retirement my career focused on the Human Resources within the organizations. Most companies today have Human Resource Departments that include every aspect of the firm’s major resource—its people.

Going forward, I didn’t realize writing Employee Manuals, Company Policies and Procedures, Orientation and Safety programs along with other business applications would also assist in my future passion—writing both fiction and non-fiction stories and articles. Although I considered the writings of manuals and policies dry and sometimes boring, there was no room for error. Everything I wrote had to be factually accurate, checked for legality, typographical errors and, of course, grammar. It was a tiresome BEAR editing, checking and rechecking the various documents. However, today I appreciate the time spent on these monotonous tasks. The repetitive writings assisted me in developing the necessary discipline when I embarked on new writing endeavors.

Employee relations- interactions with employees of many nationalities, personalities, frailties, human emotions, addictions, characteristics and abilities not only was a learning experience, but exposed me to workplace stress, some good laughs and a treasure trove of human characteristics that I continue to draw upon in my works-in-progress. People, our most valuable organizational asset run a wide gamut of visible emotions, too many to list here.

A sample from my Past Treasure Trove:

A female employee in the Accounting Dept. accused a newly promoted Accounting Manager of harassment—a serious accusation thoroughly investigated. I can still recall this young woman sobbing and carrying on in my office to the point you’d think she was at death’s door. However, what initially bothered me was I’d witnessed the two laughing together often and on many occasions eating lunch together. The short story is: She lied. Deleted, incriminating e-mails between her and the colleague were recovered by one of our high tech Managers. Steamy e-mails aside, this particular employee was often late for work and now her casual love-interest became her new Manager. When confronted with the recovered evidence, despite the shock of being caught in a false accusation, she smiled and mentioned she was uncomfortable around this particular supervisor and hoped to be moved elsewhere. Yes, she was fired. This character memory can easily find its way into a future writing project.

Another Example: .Two female nursing assistants were hired for the overnight shift at a large senior complex. One morning, sans my morning coffee, a visibly angry 3rd shift employee awaited me at my office door with her Manager. I kept them waiting while I ran and got my fortification coffee. I could see the contained rage in her scowling face as she spewed out, “I don’t work with queers.”  It appeared that the new hires soon became involved in a same-sex relationship and, in the outraged employee’s words, “causing havoc” on the night shift. I pulled her file and showed her the signed Equal Opportunity Employer statement she and all employees sign during orientation. I reiterated our organization’s policy on equal opportunity and the company included sex orientation in its statements. She had a choice. She could continue to do her best work on the job, or resign. The employee didn’t quit, but feedback from her Manager indicated she sulked for a week during breaks in the employee lounge.

I muse, the unique and distinctive traits of humanity abound. I knew an individual that used disinfectant wipes on most everything he touched. I note the petty Coffee Packet Thief—an employee who pilfered company coffee and tea packets and to this day was not caught. I include myself with the many writers who have become avid people watchers who discreetly notice visible behaviors and actions of others. If we need a “special quirk” in a project, we do not have to look too far for inspirationJ Listed are a few of my favorite people watching locations:

Airports, Super Markets, Beaches, Park Benches, Drivers-Traffic, sports events…..

Yes, there is a beneficial alliance between writing and the human condition.

Dear Readers & Writers: Happy Watching and Writing!

 

Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2019

THE PUNXSUTAWNEY DILEMMA

WRITERS WORDS: “One Touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” –William Shakespeare

 

FEBRUARY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE PUNXSUTAWNEY DILEMMA

Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog. Each February 2nd in the United States he comes out of his burrow to assist in making a very important seasonal decision.  Will the miserable, frigid, snowy-sleety winter continue for another six weeks OR will there be an early spring— a heavy responsibility for a small hibernating member of the rodent family. The 2019 Old Farmers’ Almanac asks why we have celebrated weather predictions from a plump marmot since February 2, 1887.

Historically, Groundhog Day always falls on February 2nd, the date that traditionally marks the mid- point between the winter solstice ad spring equinox. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, sees a shadow due to clear weather, it retreats back to its den for six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.(History.com-2018) Although animal behavior began as a forecast attempt by nineteenth century farmers needing the right timeframe to plant their crops, Ground Hog day remains a time-honored tradition despite today’s expert meteorology.

Today, Punxsutawney Phil has become a national celebrity in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every February 2nd, local dignitaries conduct official proceedings among thousands of spectators. It’s said when the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” immortalized Punxsutawney, a borough of approximately 6,000 people, tens of  thousands of spectators began to attend the festivities.

Punxsutawney Phil has my sympathy. His winter/spring predictions rate is an approximate and dismal 40 percent and yet, tradition and media hype continue to encourage Phil’s exit from his comfy burrow year after year, after year, after year, after year…. If he’s been the star in this annual custom since 1887, I doubt Phil will retire anytime soon.

I cannot help but muse about the fuss Americans make over unique events in our home towns. Recently in upstate New York’s Lake George many adventurous folks participated in the annual “Polar Plunge.” Again, an event that began with about 100 participants in earlier years has now blossomed into many hundreds of people donning bathing suits and plunging into the lake despite winter temperatures that can vary from 10 to this year’s 35 degrees.(proceeds are donated to a local charity)

It’s become an American tradition in itself for many individuals to seek participation in often off-beat or unique events. I believe most of us are celebratory in nature and celebrations, large and small, take our minds temporarily away from personal issues and maladies, political rants, occupational stress and monotonous “blahs.” Most of all, unusual occasions are just plain fun!

This February 2, 2019, Punxsutawney Phil is set to come out again at 7:25 a.m. from his Punxsutawney burrow among thousands and thousands of faithful fans.  If you are interested in learning more about or attend this famous event, check out these sites: http://www.groundhog.org and http://www.weatherdiscovery.org/groundhog-day-celebration-2019

Okay Phil, what will happen this year—Six more weeks of dratted winter or a favored and early spring? 

GO FOR IT PHIL!    THINK SPRING!

 

Posted by: penpatience | January 1, 2019

WRITERS PERKS – WHAT ARE THEY?

WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn NO money.”—Franz Kafka

JANUARY 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

WRITER PERKS – WHAT ARE THEY?

Are there perks for writers? Yes, I believe perks exist for writers in all stages of the writing craft. However, most often when I muse about writers’ additional benefits my thoughts turn to best-selling authors who have enjoyed national recognition, financial success with support from our nation’s largest publishing organizations.(i.e. James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King, etc.)  Many writers may not achieve these lofty goals, but new and established writers do share in a few common perks despite writer status.

Rejection is a special perk for all writers. WHAT!!!! Am I crazy? … No…Think about it! When we first begin writing what we’ve written is sometimes not very good although we think our work is the best thing since sliced bread. Many “newbie’s” and some experienced writers often can’t see the “canker sores” in their works-in progress—a case of “two close to the forest to see the trees” syndrome. I recalled in an earlier Musing, one of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke, had manuscripts rejected a hundred times before he published his first book. These nicely crafted “no thank you s” that bloom like unwanted weeds in online mailboxes can’t help but have various emotional impacts on writers. Anger and disappointment often can be the catalysts to work harder and improve the writing. I believe Acceptance is a Positive Perk that flows from the sea of former Rejections. We don’t get mad—-we get better!

Formerly a business manager, working the day job eight to five on a good day, I had to dress for success in business attire, high heel shoes and nylon hosiery. One of the best perks for many writers is working from home in pajamas, sweatpants, jeans, flip-flops, sneakers, slippers, etc. The necessity for professional or business casual attire most often can be relegated to various writing-related business occasions. Better yet, no stringent eight to five hours apply. A writer can choose to write any hours or days that specifically work within personal family and business commitments. Work hours flexibility is one of the greatest perks for writers.

Most writers are no different than other professionals when it comes to being paid for their qualifications, experience and ongoing writing efforts.  Earning a living as a full-time writer (exceptions-Journalists in commercial businesses, etc) is chancy and difficult especially for new authors and changes in the publication industry that remain in flux even today.  Writers who choose to write content for clients may earn supporting dollars (check out Carol Tice’s site, http://www.caroltice.com) if interested in content writing. However, I believe in most writers’ heart of hearts, along with acceptance the check in the mail is a most coveted perk.

BUT…I muse, what are the very best perks for writers? Perhaps the intangible ones may reap the greatest rewards:

A friend telephones, advises she really loved reading your latest published story, book, memoir, etc.

You can open a bottle of your favorite wine and drink and type at the same time when your work-in-progress is one step away from the shredder.

You get a warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment when you open a publication and see your work and name in print.

When you get a faraway look in your eyes, mumble incoherently, scratch notes on a restaurant/coffee shop napkin the hubby, boyfriend, sister, brother or best buddy know you’re writing a scene in your head and don’t call the paddy wagon.

You recite a passionate, daily mantra:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” to attempt inspiration for the writing project of the day.

Readers & Writers:  Perk Up!  Happy New Year and much success with all your endeavors in this New Year 2019!

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