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We thank you, God, for today, for this

Time in which we are living

Here in this place we call

America. May we

Never forget to

Keep the light of freedom

Shining for all

Generations. In this place

Individuals may raise their

Voices in protest or in praise; in this place

Inclusion of all classes, creeds, and colors is our goal.

Now we lift our hearts to you

God, the Source of all our lives and liberty.

We thank you, God, for today.

Madelyn F. Young, 2004

 

 

Many of my friends here in the Village are thrilled about the presidential election results. This is a strongly Republican community. Other friends are despondent.

I voted for Hillary, too, but after the initial shock last week, I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I’m waiting to see what our President-elect will actually do now that he’s “caught the bus.” His words and actions so far are mixed.

Last night Hillary spoke at the Children’s Defense Fund Dinner, her first public speech since her resignation last week. That’s been an organization dear to her heart for many, many years. It’s a group of like-minded folks who care for and work diligently for the welfare of children.

I thought about Trump’s campaign rhetoric—his strong, animated statements about deporting all undocumented immigrants—and I thought of the millions of children who are terrified now of losing their parents.

We must NEVER let our government tear innocent families apart.  I will do all that I can to speak to and write to our representatives, urging them to stand up against any such action.

Whether we are happy or sad about the election, it’s time now for all of us to come together to support common-sense immigration reform. Our children deserve better!

Open Mic Night

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before. I participated in my very first open mic event. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but John Swinburn, one of my Village Writers’ friends, spearheaded the show, so I decided to try it.

For the past few years, the Unitarian Universalist Village Church has been hosting open mic events at their church. However, they decided to give it up. That’s when John said he’d like to attempt a renewal, perhaps hold it in Coronado Community Center, and advertise it throughout the Village. He enlisted the help of the Unitarians and others to get it off the ground, and the Hot Springs Village POA provided free rental of the Coronado Center auditorium. They also furnished a cash bar, and John Chapman, KVRE announcer, emceed the program. Admission was free.

We had a great turnout! Members of the audience were seated with the performers at nine or ten large round tables, and, as our names were called, we participants made our way up to the lighted stage to do our thing.

I read a short memoir story, “Crime Scene,” about an incident that happened to me during the early 1990s when Robin and I still lived in Mississippi. Other participants also read original stories and poetry. A Carousel Readers’ Theater ensemble performed a humorous skit. A quartet from Crystal Chimes, a women’s barbershop group here in the Village, sang several numbers and advertised their upcoming holiday show, Cocoa, Cookies, and Carols. To close the evening, another talented duo from the readers’ theater group performed “Ring, Ring,” a hilarious skit written by one of the actors.

John hopes to have a second open mic event in January with even more acts. If you live in the Village or close by, keep your eye out for more publicity. You’ll have a fun evening visiting with friends, and you’ll see and hear many talented folks.

Photo Memories

One day I happened to mention to a new friend that I was posting recent photos in our family albums, and we talked about how people don’t do that much anymore. Instead, they’re using their phones to snap pictures, and then they’re posting them on Facebook.

However, I began keeping our family album/scrapbooks way back in 1958, the year Robin and I married, and now it’s a “tradition.” I can’t stop! Would you believe we’re now up to Album #78? That’s kind of mind-boggling, even to me. We have a family history recorded in these albums—all the events we’ve experienced for almost 60 years now.

Last night our friend came to supper, and she said she’d love to see some of those old pictures of Robin and me. We dragged out Album #1, and we all had so much fun, laughing and remembering

One picture shows me in a strapless formal with a full skirt, crinoline petticoats underneath, corsage at my waist, sitting in a swing at a sorority dance. Robin is standing behind me in a suit and tie, hands on the ropes of the swing. He has almost a full head of hair, although even then, in his twenties, it was beginning to recede.

Another picture shows Robin and me as newlyweds, standing in front of our first little apartment in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was attached to the side of the owner’s house. We had a tiny living room with a half-wall divider separating it from our bedroom, with only space for a double bed and small dresser. The bedroom opened to a tiny bathroom. We also had a small kitchen. The entire apartment was about the size of our living room now— our first little “nest.”

Later, I showed our friend a more recent album. This one features mostly our grown children and their families. The years go by. Someday, these albums will pass into their hands to share with their children and grandchildren and friends.

 

Robin and I have fun recalling all the “8’s” in our history.

Today, August 8, 2016, is our 58th wedding anniversary. We were married on the 8th day of the 8th month in the year 1958. August 8 was also the date of my parents’ wedding. They were married in 1935, and the “3” and “5” in their year also add up to “8.”

Our first child, Steve, was born on August 26, 1962. There’s that 8th month, again!  And the “2” and “6” in his day and the “6” and “2” in his year each add up to 8.

Our first grandchild was born on March 18, 1998. More “8’s” in that date.

Recently, our daughter, who has 2 daughters, married a man with 2 daughters and 4 sons, so now they have 8 kids, just like her dad’s family. Robin was one of 8 children.

Robin will turn 84 this year, and I will turn 78.

Who knows? These lucky “8’s” may just keep coming. “Double Lucky Birthday 88,” here we come!

On Monday, July 25, I led a two-hour writing workshop at Coronado Community Center here in Hot Springs Village. About 35 writers and would-be writers attended, and we had a great time together.

The “five secrets” we talked about are not really “secrets,” of course. These five essentials to writing a good short story are well known. But we all need to be reminded of them from time to time:

  1. Create complex characters.
  2. Develop the story arc.
  3. Show, don’t tell.
  4. Write realistic dialogue.
  5. Maintain consistent POV.

I spent the first hour giving pointers and presenting examples to illustrate each of these. After a break, we came back together during the second hour and heard Village Writers’ Club member John Swinburn read a short story he had submitted for critique following our club’s writing workshop in May.

We all discussed his story, paying special attention to the POV. From whose “point of view” was this story told? Was it from the perspective of the female protagonist, Faith? Or was it from the perspective of another important character, Lucius? The story seemed to slip from one character’s POV to the other’s. That kind of “head hopping” is a common mistake that novice writers make. Normally, a well-written story has a primary POV character, from whose perspective the complete story is told. That helps a reader become emotionally invested in that character.

However, we noticed the opening paragraph seemed to be written from the author’s perspective—he spoke directly to the reader, asking the reader a question. Also there were other parts of the story where the author presented information about the characters, and the story did not appear to be written from either character’s point of view. Finally, we decided this story must be written from an omniscient POV—a viewpoint not often used in a short story, but one that is still a viable option for a writer if he wants his reader to view the characters “from a distance.”

We closed our workshop by reading and discussing a piece of historical fiction written by my longtime writer friend Ellen Withers, from Conway, Arkansas. She had given me permission to use her story, “Discovery at Idaho Springs.” Ellen used every one of the “five secrets” to skillfully develop a truly memorable short story.

Many thanks to all who participated in the workshop and to John and Ellen for sharing their stories. Now, I hope all who attended are inspired to sit down and soon create a tale that will entertain their readers. Happy writing!

Last Monday, Robin had a pacemaker inserted at National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs. The surgery went fine, and he’s had a good week. He’s wearing a sling on his left arm to keep him from raising it above shoulder level or stretching it out too far—can’t do anything that might pull out those wires inserted into his heart! He’ll be limited to light exercise and no driving until after his follow-up appointment with the doctor on July 14, but by then he should be completely healed and free to get back out on the golf courses. He can hardly wait!

Those of you who have been following this blog know the ups and downs he’s had the past year—with episodes of sudden drops in heart rate, light-headedness, and sometimes fainting. His memory loss has also been a problem, due in part to his fluctuating heart rate and lack of steady blood supply to his brain. We’re hoping the pacemaker will remedy many of these problems.

Today is Father’s Day, and I’m so thankful for Robin! He’s been a wonderful husband for me and a great father to our three children. The verse on the Father’s Day card I gave him was perfect, I thought. (I wish I had written this!)

To My Husband on Father’s Day

Our lives have changed

and so have we

since all those years ago,

when we were young

and full of dreams

and loved each other so.

 

But through the changes

that have come

and made us more mature,

there also is serenity

a feeling we’re secure

in knowing that our love survives

through everything we face,

and this great love we’ve shared so long

could never be replaced.

 

That’s why, as I remember

that the years are passing too,

I don’t mind growing older,

sharing life and love with you.

 

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there today!