Lest We Forget

2013-05-27-08-27-45On May 3, 2000, President Bill Clinton released a memorandum from the White House regarding the National Moment of Remembrance.

In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.

Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance (Program), to promote a “National Moment of Remembrance” to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day.”

I hope you’re having a lovely Memorial Day, celebrating with family and friends and furry companions. And when 3:00 rolls around–or really, any time today– maybe you could take just a minute to say thank you.

Thank you to those who are putting themselves in harm’s way right now so that we can be safe. Thank you to the young veteran who’s next door, mowing her lawn or diapering his baby. Thank you to the fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, grandparents and godparents who never speak about their service but sacrificed so much so that I could have so much. And thank you to all those who’ve gone before, who gave their all so that I could live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Lest we forget, we’re celebrating Memorial Day because of them.

One Good Teacher

When I was a sophomore in high school–I attended St. Vincent’s Academy, an all-girl Catholic school in Savannah that’s still there today–I grew about ten inches that year.

220px-AbsalomAbsalomNot literally, but it felt that stupendous. See, I had a teacher, Sister Michael Mary, who blew open my mind with books like All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner. Absalom, Absalom! It was the tenth grade, y’all, and we were a pretty sheltered group of girls back then. Not to mention that Sister Michael Mary had to explain nearly every page to us. That entire year, we read brain-busting novel after novel, each one painstakingly explained to us by this nun who had such a passion for literature. It was so hard and frustrating and confusing and yet, it was exhilarating, too.

Years later, lots of years later, I saw Sister Michael Mary at my Tybee Island church, but we recognized each other immediately and spoke of high school days. I told her what I most remembered was Faulkner and Absalom, Absalom! and she burst into laughter. What was she thinking, she said, having us read Faulkner?! She was new to teaching, she said, and had a lot to learn about tenth grade English classes. I said how much I’d loved her class and all those novels.

What I didn’t say–and wished that I had–was that she made a difference in my life. That she broadened my mind and introduced ideas and themes that were completely new to me. That she challenged me, challenged all of us to think of a world beyond our 15-year-old boundaries. Even if she had to explain every single page to us.

Though even with all that explaining, she managed to make me, and I suspect most of us in that class, feel capable and smart and up to the challenge of grasping most of what these literary giants had written so eloquently. And when I moved on, I wasn’t the same girl. I was someone who believed she was more than she’d dreamed.

The best teachers are like that, I think. It’s not so much the facts or figures you learn–honestly, I remember very few of the details of Absalom, Absalom! –it’s learning that you can do more, think more, be more than you ever imagined. A good teacher’s influence far surpasses the walls of any classroom ….

You know what? I’m about to get myself choked up here. So I will just say that I shared another teacher’s influence over at The Muffin today in Here’s to You, Mrs. Robeson and I hope you have time to read another personal story. It’s more about teaching, not so much about writing. But it did involve a letter so I think that counts. And I hope you had or have a teacher that you can count as a blessing in your life.

Everyone needs at least one good teacher.

Earth Day (Or It’s A Jungle Around Here)

adventure-blur-close-up-346885 (1)Monday was officially Earth Day but around the Hall House, every day is Earth Day.

Not so much because I’m recycling and saving the environment and such (though I do recycle and I’m all for cleaning up our rivers and lakes and oceans and air). But what I seem to be particularly good at is protecting our wildlife (though I didn’t exactly plan to be good at keeping all kinds of critters safe).

Here’s how you, too, can become good at protecting wildlife right where you live: create a natural habitat in your backyard!

So I should probably add that I didn’t so much as create the natural habitat as let it happen. And I suspect the Homeowners Association around here might not refer to my backyard (and honestly, it’s beginning to encroach upon the front yard) as a “natural habitat.” They might, in point of fact, call my yard an “eyesore” and other unmentionable words. But they’d have to be able to see my yard in all its natural jungle beauty and I keep a fairly solid fence in front so it’s all good.

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Why, yes. Yes, it is. That’s a (baby) possum on my deck.

The wildlife have a pretty big yard, as well as the green belt forest and a river behind the yard, where they can hang out and do whatever they want. But for some inexplicable reason, they find my deck and screen porch tantalizing. And so I regularly sweep snakes off the deck,  birds out of the screened porch, and the occasional possum away from the flowerpots. The deer insist upon jumping my back fence and lounging about my yard, sometimes strolling through the front yard and down the street.

I mean, this is some pretty emboldened wildlife around here. A few weeks ago, I opened the screen door to let Libs the Tiny Terror who delights in chasing down deer, possums, raccoons, and snakes, out for her morning constitutional. But there was an owl perched on the old swing set. We both froze. I hollered what I thought might shoo an owl away  like, “Scoot, Mr. Owl! Off you go, Mrs. Owl!” because how was I to know the gender of that owl? Mr. (or Mrs.) Owl did not move. Not even an inch. Just stared us down. I’m pretty sure he (or she) was licking her lips/beak, waiting for poor little Libs.

The point is, the wildlife is not just protected around here. It rules.

Don’t tell the neighbors.

(P.S. I wrote up an Earth Day writing post over at the Muffin. It’s not about recycling, though that’s a fine thing and I hope that you recycle waste as well as  words. It’s about something totally different so off you go! And yes, I know that didn’t work on the owl. I’m hoping for better results from you.)

If It’s April,Then It Must Be the Black Snake

Here it is April already. And the snake is back.

So basically, we’re going to be talking about snakes today. And I wanted to put it right out there for you so you’d know what was coming. Furthermore, if you do not want to see a snake, you should probably click out of this post right now. Although…

The snake tied in remarkably well with my topic over at The Muffin today and I’d hate for you to miss out on some terrific writing tips just because of a snake. But yes, there’s a snake there, too. The post is called “First, You Need a BIG Black Snake (Or How to Grab the Attention of Agents, Editors, and Readers)” so you gotta have a snake. But at least you know the snake’s there. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, y’all. Although…

BIG black snakes are good to have around. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to my original point. Which is BIG black snakes and April. This is the snake that Libs alerted me to the other day:

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You’ll note that this snake is on a walkway of my deck. And though it doesn’t look like much at first, you’ll see that in point of fact, it is a BIG black snake, even if it’s all twisted up.

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(It was stretched out next to the house and I had to disengage it and so it responded by coiling into itself.) But the minute I saw this snake–I was walking on the deck/walkway and talking to Youngest Junior Hall who was telling me about the bear (Yeah, I said bear. What is the world coming to?) that had broken into the golf cart barn where’s he working now–I recognized the snake.

Oh, yes, friends. I knew this snake. In fact, I’d documented this snake right here on the blog. So I went back to find the post where I’d discussed this very same BIG black snake and there it was: “If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Time to Post.

The snake had nothing to do with that post, except–and this is really what the post, “First You Need a Big Black Snake...”  is all about: every single comment on that year-ago post was about the BIG black snake.

Anyway, as I was proving, you’ll note the date of the first appearance of the snake was April 18, 2018. So clearly, this snake has a nice, comfy home somewhere under and/or around my deck and walkway. And I’ll bet you five bucks right now that in that home, possibly next to the front door, you’ll find a calendar with April circled.

After the Conference

business-conference-learning-7095Just wrapped up a conference around here–well, technically, it was St. Patrick’s weekend–but it takes a few weeks to wrap up things, right?

Or maybe that’s just me. I’m one of the behind-the-scenes people at the conference now and oh. My. Word. Lots going on behind those curtains!

Of course, all most attendees see is the smoothly flowing conference, the practically perfect workable AV system, the charming faculty and helpful volunteers. It all goes mostly like clockwork, the gears fitting together nicely to make a great conference. But it takes a lot of grease to get that job done and so I need a lot of rest after the conference to recuperate.

I’m not sure I needed almost three weeks back in the day but I’m not going to dive deep into that pondering. I’m just going to thank my lucky stars that my legs aren’t cramping anymore (and someone, please remind me not to wear new boots to a conference). I’m reading one of the books I purchased: Ranger Nader and the Sunstruck Phantom by Kam Karem, (pseudonym of friend, TK Read). Take a look here for more on this fast-paced science fiction adventure. And I’m fixin’ to deliver all the board books I purchased for all my friends with babies/grand-babies. (There are four of ’em!)

And very soon, I’ll start writing again, applying everything I learned in between running around like a chicken with my head cut off. For now, I was able to write a post at the Muffin: “What Kind of Conference Attendee Are You?” and…um…this post right here.

And I feel pretty darn good about that.

(Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels–thanks!)