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Posts from the ‘About Me’ Category

28
Oct

On Writing Poetry… with a nod to Miss Edwards

I have always been a writer.  At age twelve, more or less, I wrote a novel.  Although I don’t recall any details of the plot, or characterization,  I do remember a name…Joyce Reena Phane.   That was to be my pen name, I believe.  To me that name was beautiful, and the very essence of sophistication.   I was quite proud of my novel, such as it was, and when my aunt asked to read it I was delighted.   Aunt Jada was a writer herself, and was working on a novel dealing with a group of Kent State students during the Vietnam War.  She loved my novel, and was impressed enough to talk with her sister, my mother, about it.

That was the end of that.    My mother was a very practical and down-to-earth woman, whose no-nonsense beliefs had no room for frivolous or non-productive pursuits.   As far as she was concerned no one made a living from writing books, especially if they had no college education–and the prospect of ME going to college was out of the question.   Besides, my writing was childish, the plot far-fetched and the characters unrealistic…and the pen name I had chosen so carefully was silly and unlike a name any real person would have.  The early….and only…draft of that novel consisted of several notebook paper pages, which no longer exist.

I did continue my creative writing, with encouragement from my seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Wilkinson.

I have some early poetry written in a brown notebook, one of those old dime-store notebooks  that were cheap and plentiful.  In addition to my own works of poetry, I have in those pages the complete Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven, copied in my neat and even cursive handwriting.   Also much of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s masterpiece which had also been immortalized as our high school play.  I was so enamored of that classic that I saw fit to enter much of the original play into my notebook.  There is also some poetry that I can still recite in part this many decades later…I was quite proud of my poems which also immortalized some of my early loves in my handwriting.   I used a fountain pen with real ink, and when I made an error I ripped out the notebook page entirely and started over.  I still think that the handwriting on those pages are perhaps the most endearing aspect of the whole brown notebook.  I wish I still loved my handwriting as well as I did then.

As for Shakespeare, my exposure to his works were in my Junior or Senior year of high school, when the truly marvelous reading by our English Literature teacher–who was also the school principal–sends shivers up my spine to this day.  I always stayed on Miss Edwards’ good side.  She was a small woman in stature, tough as any marine sergeant, and did not need any police personnel to maintain order over her classes–or her school.  One of the things I liked about Miss Edwards is that she liked my writing…she is definitely one of my mentors who had a positive effect on my life.

Ah well– I will never make it as a poet, but as long as I like my poetry and other bloggers occasionally say something nice about it as well–it is worth the oft-times lame verse that escapes my fountain pen….er, keyboard.

28
Oct

Photographer or Pitcha-taker?

Once, decades ago, the Chief Photographer at the newspaper where I worked  asked me a question that has remained in my thought-processor to emerge every once in awhile:

“Do you want to be a Photographer?  Or just a Pitcha-taker.?”

At the time I had only recently began providing photos to accompany my news stories.  I had a Yashika-Mat camera, which I had bought for the purpose.  It cost $85, which was a considerable amount of money for me, but in retrospect it was a good investment, because during the years I used it,  the Yashika paid for itself many times over.   I was supporting five children with my earnings as a reporter  for the newspaper, and for two years in 1970-1972 my meager pay was most of the time my sole source of income.

At that time I had no formal education beyond high school, although fortunately I had some ability to write cohesive articles and took to news reporting like an Owl to being a bookstore mascot.  For 18 years my career as a Journalist survived without higher education.  I’m a quick learner, more or less, and passed my trial-by-fire–a tax levy meeting by our local Save Our Schools (SOS) committee and the school board.    This was a momentous occasion in shaping the rest of my life beyond then.  That meeting coverage, and a feature story anout  a meeting at the State Prison Farm, directly led to my position as a reporter.

In October of 1972 (he 28th, forty-three years ago today, in fact) I got remarried.    I continued with the newspaper part-time, until my decision to enter community college…to see If I could cope with all that entailed.   But that’s another story…

Back in the day of film cameras…which was really not so long ago…my work film was developed and printed by the newspaper photo lab, and I did not do much private family/kids/travel work on company time.    Most of those photo shoots featured my late husband’s photos taken with his Konicas and/or others of his cameras…he had been into photography since he was in France during World War II, and did his own developing and printing back then.  (Before my time.)  Then when we began traveling extensively, we bought roll film and sent it away to be developed and printed.  It would take a few days or a week to return.

My skills at photography never really excelled, for a couple of reasons.  One is that I did not take the time required to learn technical details of appropriate exposure techniques.  The cost involved with print film was also high, so I did not experiment with the camera like I do now in the advent of digital photography.  So that meant that the best photos we had…and the greatest number…were Bob’s.  We did some Sunday spreads featuring his photography, and my writing.

Photographer or Pitcha-taker?     The difference being that a photographer will take the time and effort to acquire as much knowledge and practical skills as possible, and apply it to his or her work.  The Photographer works toward capturing the nuances and minute details of the subject, and fuss about color saturation and light conditions, etc., in order to produce work that is as esthetically pleasing as possible.

A Pitcha-taker, on the other hand, points the camera lens at the subject–and shoots.  The Pitcha-taker has albums which include coat sleeves, sun-glare, hands in front of faces, cut off heads, weird colors, and pictures of Aunt Bessie with her eyes closed or her mouth out-of-joint.  Over-exposed, under-exposed…all kinds of issues that ruin their photos.

Not to say that the Photographer, even professionals, don’t make mistakes…they just discard the “bad” shots, rather than showing them off to audiences and apologizing for their bad quality, as the pitcha-takers do:   “Ok, this should have been a really good photo, but this lady moved out of the frame too quickly…see her hat?  It was really a nice blue.  Sorry its blurry..”

25
Oct

Namesake

Some have a sailing ship named for them, with duly lauded verse

Others have a baby relative named in their honor, for better or worse

For me they named a hurricane Patricia…and I’m simply blown away

(with apologies to Mexico…)

20
Oct

Some True Facts and Confessions About Blogging

Today I managed to spend the entire day blogging, with exceptions for hauling the son around and feeding the cats.   By “blogging” I mean visiting lots of other bloggers online, trying to get my photos to cooperate, and writing in my blog.

All my writing life I have felt guilty and self-indulgent when I spent time writing for pleasure.   Sure, I got paid for it in various venues, and wrote lots as a student, and even sneaked in some time writing short stories or novels that I never finished.  I still have four novels floating around aimlessly, with characters and everything.  That kind of writing has always been, to me, more of a treat…a sort of stolen pleasure, so to speak.

Not so much that the Writer’s Life is considered glamorous and exciting and adventurous.   When I was a girl I had aspirations to be, in no particular order: an Exotic Dancer, a Singer, a Nurse, Psychiatrist, Police Woman, and I should have added– Foreign Correspondent to that list.  The main reason I never got far with any of my ambitions was a deep-set idea that “people like us never went to college,”  Also, I trip over my own feet and even though I took dancing lessons once (torturing the poor instructor,) and gave up that idea.  Furthermore, I was always too fat, as well as being uncoordinated, to qualify as an exotic dancer…I would have tripped over my feathers.    A singer?  Well I admit that except for a very brief glimmer of hope at being the Star of the Christmas Pageant, the only audience my singing has ever attracted consists of Cats.

Being a nurse was sort of ruled out because of my aversion to blood.  In an emergency I stand around saying “oh my God!” and feeling sick.   Three of my daughters are nurses, but not me.   Psychiatrist was ruled out because of rule one about people like me not going to college, AND my zero-capacity for Math, and illiteracy in Science (proven by a C I got in Geology once…they tricked me on the rocks, so I didn’t do well on the final exam.)     The possibility of Police work never really came up.

I might have been a News Correspondent, in fact I was, on a medium-size newspaper covering the wilds of city council and school board meetings.   Those affairs can get pretty wild sometimes, I’ll admit.   My ideal, my role-model,  I might say, when it comes to Foreign Correspondents would be Christine Anapour, CNN’s all-over-the-world War Correspondent.   She always looks so darn cool in her flack jacket!

OK, I seem to have really gotten off-topic here!

Me, Posing as a Photographer

Me, Posing as a Photographer

My point?   Oh yes.   The reasons I love blogging are many-fold,    But most of all I appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to write about all of the things I have wanted to my whole life.   I enjoy having other bloggers and writers “follow” me, and am very thankful to have had interesting and write-worthy things happen in my life.   I follow the works of many other bloggers because their experiences and wants and rants are similar to my own, or offer nice change of pace distractions.   I love all of the blogs–even the ones that don’t have A Cat featured prominently on the first page.

I especially enjoy the classes WordPress offers frequently, the topics and prompts, wide-open field for subjects and for photography–and especially the other bloggers that I meet.   This may sound self-serving, and I suppose it is in a way…but I think that I offer as much to the others in my classes and in the Blogger Community, and the thing here is the interaction. (I know I already said that, but its SO hard to choose from among clauses and paragraphs. )

Every class I have taken has had a different, unique character.  Some are new bloggers just getting their feet wet, others are seasoned photographers (doesn’t that sound swash-buckling!) and writers who have their own reasons for doing what they do.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think it has to do with the sense and atmosphere of Community.  Mutual support is of course a major ingredient, and for me its the Armchair Travel of visiting exotic places now that I am no longer able to do the things I used to do.

So anyway…those are some true facts and confessions about Blogging.  🙂

19
Oct

How Stupid Can We Be? commentary on common sense

uh…what a loaded question is that!

In the past half hour, tops, I began to wonder anew…how stupid could Stupid Be?   I turned on CNN fully expecting to getting some clues to that question, and was not disappointed.  (No dig at CNN…the completion is much worse.)

One– American fighter pilots have been told to ignore “agressive” Russian pilots over in Syria.  Actuallly, I thought they had been instructed to avoid each other.   Just as an aside, has anyone else recently become of the opinion that Washington, the U.S. military…maybe even the Rrussians…and especially the news media led by internet news are almost giddy at the prospect of renewed Cold War hostilities?

I have seen Top Gun numerous times, its one of my favorites, and I saw those bad boys making obscene gestures to other fighter pilots…while flying upside down, no less!

Since the Iron Curtain lifted in 1990, an entire generation has missed out on the Cold War daily horror…may we say terror…heaped upon the American public.   I have written elsewhere about this era of watching anxiously for the world to explode.  http://mumbletymuse.com/2015/03/21/the-decade-194…my-life-part-3/      this post is written pertaining to my experiences as a child living in the shadow of Nuclear Bombs.

Two, the news is presenting shocking reports that hackers have invaded the files of the heads of the CIA and Homeland Security!   WHAT? is no one’s email or private secret records sacred? Furthermore, the alleged hacker has SPOKEN to CNN.  Good grief…  One would think that the secret service agencies could locate the hacker…maybe even recruit him to work for us.  Don’t they watch cable news?.

And Three… DRONES.   CNN reported that there are now a MILLION drones in use by the private sector.  Flying around in air traffic lanes, scaring military pilots who are minding their own business…and they have managed to approach critical facilities like…almost…the White House!    And—there is no regulation or registration, or anything.   Just go in, pick out yer drone, and send its on its merry way doing gosh-knows-what.  Law enforcement agenices like the police have been able to apprehend drones which have crashed or otherwise fallen into official hands–but they just have the DRONES, which remain anonymous.  If ya ask me, anything that resembles an electronic mosquito should be closely monitored by the Feds.

So that was it for the six o’clock news.   Rather amazing, I think.

13
Oct

There’s Work to be Done…but Poetry is SUCH Fun!

Writing 201: Poetry, Day Six — Faces, Found Poetry, Chiasmus
(what the heck is Chiasmus?)

just a few books

just a few books

            Booksellers Lament

Books in order means order in books
to find them is the key
with thousands of books the ONE that is wanted
is the one nowhere to be found.

Well, it MUST be somewhere unless it was sold!

If order is everything and if everything is in order
the book business thrives, sporadically
(at least theoretically)
but only if you’re listing, they keep insisting
books on the shelves can’t sell themselves

an order’s an order but books MUST be in order
to fill the order–when there’s an order to fill.

1
Oct

A Thousand “LIKES”…Wow! (Thanks and a photo of ME)

Yep…just got the notice in my message box–the one with the little bell that shows up when I hear from a follower.    This is very encouraging.

cropped-dsc035871.jpg

This is a photo of ME…trying to hide behind my camera.

One of my experimental shots…me taking a picture reflected in the glass door.

<eye roll>

19
Sep

What Do Readers Really Want?

So far I’ve published 105 posts, covering all kinds of subjects from poison ivy to politics.

Hmmm…do I see a pattern here?   Just kidding.  Poison Ivy is real and annoying, and Politics–surreal and ridiculous sometimes.

I’ve written about myself…mostly adventures and quirks.   Other posts featured butterflies, Cuba, TV shows, Will Smith, the Aztec Calendar, and the Word Police.   Even after studying the list of posts, I am still at a loss to say what my readers really want.  Articles that I personally like are almost never the ones that Readers like….or at least leave comments about.

Computers, specifically my personal love/hate relationship with  the “machines,” seems to be something a lot of readers relate to.  I think this is due to the us-against-them attitude most of us have.  Most readers, as most writers, use computers these days.   Few comments (or posts for that matter) are of the type of people that are embarrassed to say they love computers…or for that matter make the ridiculous claim — “I am not computer literate and proud of it!”   Or even more idiotic–“what would I do with a computer?  I have no use for one.”   This last comes regularly from acquaintances–and relatives or occasional friends–who actually in real life would get the MOST out of surfing the net and communicating with friends and family on email.

Well, ok—I should talk.   I resisted getting rid of my wringer-washing-machine, and had “no use” for a microwave oven.   That lasted for about two minutes each (20 years apart) before temporary sanity took over.

Now and then I post a politically-oriented comment.   I admit to having strong opinions, and like my Grandma Myrtle,”– always have something to say.”   OK.  I admit it.  I am as Abe Lincoln would say “four score and one years old.”   (I don’t want that silly “young” applied.)    I am an Historian, specifically Latin America, and United States History.   My degrees and advanced study qualify me to comment on historical matters, in my humble opinion.

I have had very few, if any, comments to my political posts.  Other current events are also things I post about now and then.   But these are usually not the posts my readers comment about.

I love to write about and post photos about lighter issues–like my garden, and my great-grand-kids.   Flowers are especially popular–and I do understand why.  My own favorite blogs and posts from the people that I follow, are travelogues, adventures in wild places that I can no longer hope to visit, and the flowers, birds, trees, sunsets, miscellaneous subjects.

Raising children….I no longer have any young children that I am personally responsible for.  My grandkids have kids, and they do a fine job of raising them.  But I LOVE the mom’s who write about daily adventures raising their children.  These blogs have stories and issues that I can personally relate to–even back in the day.   Being a Mother is not easy, and part of raising future generations is a great job.   I know…from experience.  Many of the worst problems of the world could be, or can be, solved by the Moms’ addressing of such things as male dominance, and general respect for women as equals.

I like to read about other bloggers adventures in Blogging, too.    There is a lot of camaraderie among bloggers, facing the same triumphs and tribulations.

In other words–I am personally and as a blogger interested in just about everything…and my own Blogging reflects that general interest.

10
Aug

More About Me…a sort of Newsletter

[Writing an ABOUT PAGE always reminds me of the “Holiday Newsletters” we used to get from relatives and friends—some welcome and fun, others not so much and more of an obligation to read.   I hope my About Page is informative, not obnoxious.   I offer these facts about my life for some kind of context for my Blog.]

I have had a full and exciting life so far, with lots of great opportunities and varied experience.

Sure, after high school I got to hop on a Navy ship and cross the Atlantic Ocean on a ship and spend a couple of years in Germany, living in new U.S. Army quarters.  It was right after World War II, and there were still bombed-out buildings in many of the cities and towns.   Back home in 1957, we lived at a number of military bases.

Then I fell in love with Tucson, Arizona…which to this day is like home to me.

Had five kids over a period of about ten years: one in Texas, two in Arizona, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Ohio.

Divorced and remarried in 1972.  My second husband was  Fire Chief in our Ohio town.

For awhile I dabbled in politics, worked for my pal the late U.S. Congressman Don J. Pease (D-13th Ohio) on campaigns during the mid-70s.    As Clerk of Council in my town, and secretary of planning and zoning boards, I used my writing for official purposes.

Worked for 18 years as a newspaper writer and reporter.

Decided I needed a “higher education” when I turned 50…half my life spent, the other half would be for Me.   So I enrolled at our wonderful Community College, and earned my Associate Degree in General Studies in 1988.

Then transferred my credits to Cleveland State University, and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in History, 1990.   I was accepted at the University of Akron, awarded a graduate assistantship in the History Department, and received my Masters of History in Latin American Studies.     Subsequently I entered the doctorate program, completed required academic work for a PhD, and then worked for ten years on my doctoral dissertation.  I did not complete the final version of numerous drafts, ran out of time, and–for reasons of procrastination–remain at the ABD, (All but Dissertation,) stage.

Let’s see…in my lifetime so far I have been fortunate in “falling into” wonderful opportunities.  Some I accepted, some not.   .

The single thing that has unified the threads of my life is — WRITING.   I have always been a writer since I was old enough to hold a pencil.   The writing has taken different paths, from fiction, school papers, university research projects, newspaper writing and reporting, and now writing on my WordPress blog.