Sunday, October 23, 2016

Evaluation request declined

There is no scale to evaluate the brightness of a soul,
Only the reflection you receive as you view your own.

There is no scale to measure the heartfelt caring
that comes with the gift of giving encouragement to others.

There is no scale to judge the value of Glenda's Beall's worth,
as she inspires writers, new and old, to reach for the stars.

Therefore, I respectfully decline this assignment.  😊

With love and thanks,
Kathy Knapp

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Evaluation Sensation by Roger Carlton

When asked to write an evaluation of my classes at Tri-County Community College, Roger, who now writes articles for the Graham Star, felt poetic and gave me a chuckle with his verse.


A great and worrisome darkness
Settled on the land of Wes-Nor-Caro
Intelligent and interesting writers
Were no-more-o
Good writing was a-dwindling
And most deserved to be kindling

Seeking to fulfill its mission of enlightenment
The gods of Mount TCCC-us
Sent out missionaries to find someone to teach-us
Like Socrates they held a lantern
Like the prince they held a glass slipper
Like conservatives they sought a Gipper
Like a jacket they sought a zipper

One day there appeared a North Star and they were guided
To a ray of light multi-sided
Approached to teach she consented
And to an extra tuition they relented

And the word went out across the land
That new skills would be provided
Flock they did to where she resided
Wondrous stories of railroad cars, beloved squirrels
Rusty Ramblers and beloved Irish grandmas were provided

Then from Mount TCCC-us came a pronouncement
 In the form of an announcement
The muse of words synonymous
Must no longer remain anonymous
Evaluate her for transfer of enlightenment
And do this with excitement

So from me to Mount TCCC-us
Let it be known that Glenda was illuminous
My skills from poor to great they went
And many thanks to Glenda are sent

Written by Roger Carlton
October 11, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Animal Hospital late at night

Wednesday, July 27 

I sat on plastic covered benches waiting for word on my sister's little dog, Smokie, who had quickly become very, very sick that afternoon. When her regular vet's receptionist told me they could not see her until the next afternoon, I rushed her to  the emergency animal hospital. (Just a  word of warning. If you have to do this, bring lots and lots of money.)

After the doctor had spent an hour examining Smokie, he came out and told me it would take a while to do lab work and diagnose her.
I sat and listened to Bill Clinton speak on TV. A noisy family arrived with their dog that had been bitten by a copperhead snake. They had just moved to the area and were immigrants from the far east. The children spoke English fluently,  but the father spoke with a heavy accent. 

While he cut tall grass that afternoon, he disturbed a snake, and the dog attacked it. Bad idea. The father did not see the bite, but heard the dog yelp. He killed the snake and identified it. 

The vet said he would keep the pet and watch it over night to see if he needed to give anti-venom. I  thought if anyone was bitten by a snake, the cure was to give anti-venom. 

The father spoke loud to be heard above the five kids who were jabbering like magpies. "I never saw where the snake bit him, but I heard him yelp.
The doctor said a copperhead bite was painful and not as deadly as a rattlesnake or some other snakes." 

I never thought I'd get a lesson in snake bites while sitting in an animal hospital at 10 o'clock at night. 

The receptionist, an older woman smiled and spoke in a gentle voice, understanding of my situation. We talked for a time. She didn't need to tell me she enjoyed her job.  She had quit work a couple of years ago, but could not handle retirement. She came back to the pet hospital and works all night, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m.. As I  listened to  her on the telephone and with people who came in with their pets, I wished our young people who work in a situation where they must communicate with the public could take lessons from this lovely woman. 

 I heard that her husband died when he was 49 years old and left her with two small children. She said she thought she was going to die, and without help from her family, she was not sure she would have made it. My heart hurt for her. 

I picked up Smokie at 7:30 a.m. this morning. She still had bloody feces and I was given a bag full of fluids for her regular doctor to continue her care. I was told to take her directly there where her records are in their files. The Emergency Hospital FAXED a  report.  

I arrived at the vet's office before it opened. I stood there holding the little Schnauzer in a  blanket in my arms. When the doors opened at 8:00 the young woman behind the desk told me the veterinarian would not see her until later because I didn't have an appointment for the morning.

"Would you like to leave her with us?" She asked.

"I was told by the people at the emergency hospital to bring her here now and they would FAX her records over. Do you have her records?"

"Oh, let me see." She  pulled some papers off a machine and read them as if  she wasn't sure what they were.

"Is this  Smokie?" 

"Yes," I said, tired from having climbed a long ramp carrying Smokie to get to the door. No one offered to  help. 

I was  shown to a room and after talking to another young woman who put notes into her computer, Smokie was taken from me. I asked to speak to the doctor, but was told she was not available. I was told that I would be called later.

I wish the older woman at the ER could take the first young woman and give her some lessons in how to behave to a client, how to communicate with a caring attitude, and how to recognize when an older person is in distress. 

I would hire a receptionist with people skills to represent the face of the business. I never met the veterinarian, but her staff did not make a good impression. I pray that she is a good doctor and that Smokie will get all the help she needs. 

I was called by one of the techs to pick up Smokie that afternoon. I still did not see the veterinarian or even get a call from her. Thankfully, by the time my sister and brother-in-law got home from their vacation, Smokie was doing fine. After they heard my story, Gay and Stu sought another doctor for their dogs, one  they feel is caring and understands the owners as well as the pets. And - they like the staff.

What do you look for in a doctor's office staff, for you or for your pet?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Teaching Adults to Write about their Lives - fascinating and fun

Dana Wildsmith, excellent writer, poet and teacher, writes about her week at the John C. Campbell Folk School, and for a few minutes I long for those times when I taught there, when I ate at the family-style dining tables and talked with strangers I would likely never see after the week ended. The folk school is a magical place, and if there are ghosts, I know they live in those buildings and walk those grounds so lovely in the evening and early morning fog.

At the end of this post by Dana she tells us what her students say about taking her class and writing personal essays. Like me, Dana teaches students to write about themselves, tell their stories and put words to paper on subjects they would never have thought to write about had they not registered for her writing class.

Tonight my group at Tri-County Community College was thin as one student had to drop out and another was absent. But the writing by those present was thick and heavy with family stories and happenings from their youth.

“I would never have thought of this if it hadn’t been for you,” Roger said as he explained how he came to write the story, The Smell from Hell. He was a stock boy in a store, just a teenager, and worked for $1.00 an hour in south Florida. In a short page of writing he entertained us, made us laugh, informed us of what life was like back then, and enlightened his readers with knowledge and history of gender specific jobs and how in today’s world a stock boy has a new politically correct title – inventory engineer- or some such thing. Roger has written serious, thought-provoking articles as well as hilarious stories of his youth. He submits opinion pieces regularly to the Graham Star, his local newspaper, and he is a political news junkie.  

Diane also wrote a humorous piece for tonight. She chose the prompt, Write about stories that are told and re-told in your family. She took us on a trip across country in an old VW Bus loaded with a bunch of kids and her Aunt Elaine who confronted a bear in the campground one morning. The trip changed Aunt Elaine’s life forever. Diane has writing experience, but in this class she has learned to take her skills further and deeper as she explores the use of the five senses and includes details as well as dialogue in her creative nonfiction. In another story she wrote, we all fell in love with her Irish Grandmother.

Kathy brought one of her children’s stories – What if?  Kathy is a dedicated writer who will one day be well-published. I can see this manuscript illustrated by a good artist and in the hands of children who will love it. Kathy has also brought us to tears when writing about her pet squirrel.

Like my mother and my sister, June, I delight in hearing the unique stories about the lives of others. I think June enjoyed her life at Assisted Living because she met so many people and heard their personal stories. I liked for her to tell me about them and often I had the chance to meet them as well. 

I thrive on seeing my students’ work improve each week. I will miss these creative writers over the winter. My next class at the college is scheduled for Fall, 2017. But I hope to teach at my home studio next summer.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Memorable Trip Brought Back by a Blogger's photographs

 Today I was reminded of when Barry and I and Gay and Stu went to Alaska in 1985. A vacation I will never forget. 

The four of us took many trips together, and our cruise to Alaska will forever live in my mind and heart. Not only the scenery of Alaska, but our few days in San Francisco before we boarded the Princess ship, made me feel I had left this world and gone on to a magnificent setting where I might never want to return. We toured the coast of California south of San Francisco, ate our lunch perched on a cliff above the Pacific, and listened to the surf pounding the rocks below us.
I wrote a poem about that experience.

 We Celebrate our 25th at Big Sur

High above the scene,

we picnicked on cheese and wine.

The wind swept up the cliff

and kissed my face with droplets

from the great Pacific which crashed

on rocks one hundred feet below.

Wind tossed our words up to the gulls

who shrieked them back at us.

The day, dazzling in its brilliance,

refreshed our love, not young, now renewed.

We dreamed, made promises,

that perfect day - a perfect place,

away from all the world. ---- by Glenda Council Beall


I stumbled upon an Internet site today where my memories of those days in Alaska, seeing the Mendenhall Glacier and rafting on the Mendenhall River popped back into my mind. I could hear us laughing, the water splashing all over us, Barry in his red down jacket, his arm around me, assuring my safety should I have any trouble staying on the bumpy raft.

We stopped somewhere along the way and our guides brought out champagne which we drank from paper cups. They served us smoked salmon on crackers, and my sister says she has never had any smoked salmon as good as that we had standing on a sandbar on a cold damp day in Alaska with tall evergreens towering over us. Our young guides pointed out an eagle's nest way up in the top of a tree, then we saw the eagles soaring in the gray sky.

The writer and photographer here: posts photos and then writes about them as he walks and explores with his dog, Aki. What a place to live. I know it must be extremely cold in winter, but even then, there is this unspoiled beauty as far as the eye can see. I plan to return to this website often to see his photo essays and remember.

Do you have a favorite vacation that sticks in your mind? Tell us about it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bill Elliott's poem is about the record-breaking heat and what we have done to our world.

After one of the hottest summers ever, I am concerned about what is to come. William Elliott wrote about this today.
"In the midst of all the shouted lies that fog our public life these days, there is an unassailable fact, an “inconvenient truth.” The planet is heating up at an unprecedented rate. This is the third straight year of record-breaking heat."   

Friday, September 16, 2016

MEMOIR - where do we start and what do we include?

As I teach my memoir class at the junior college in Murphy, NC each week, I am delighted to see how much my students improve in their writing and in seeing what is good and what needs work in the writing of their fellow students.

In this advanced class we are discussing finding the theme of our memoir. It is easy to write just the facts of our lives. "I was born June 5, 1970 at 2:30 a.m. in Austin, Texas. I attended Marlin Elementary School. My mother was a nurse. My father worked for a moving company."

We can tell where we were born, the date and time and we can tell where we lived when we were in elementary school. It is easy to tell how many siblings we have and where they went to school. 

But the reader will quickly become bored if all we give are the facts. We want the stories of our lives, the truth as we remember it, and why the stories are important to us. In memoir we have the opportunity to reflect on our memories, our lives and write about our thoughts then and today. We ask ourselves why did this happen or why do I still remember this?

We write our true stories with elements of fiction such as plot, setting, characterization, action and dialogue. Dialogue is the part of a story that no one skips. We can't make dialogue carry the entire scene in our personal narrative, but we can use it to move the story along. 

Writing about my family, it is easy to use dialogue because I know each of my characters so well, I hear their voices in my ear. 

My story is unique as my family and my life are unique. No one else can tell my story like I can. Your story is also unique and you can tell it best. Begin now to leave the story of your life for the next generation and the next and the next. 

This is a prompt to start you writing your story: Think about a house where you lived when you were a child and draw that house showing rooms, porches, and yard on your paper. Imagine walking through that house and stopping in each room. What do you see? What do you hear or smell in that room? What would you touch or taste? Try to remember something that happened in that room or something you remember when you think about being in that room. Write about it. Get all your thoughts on the paper or on the screen and don't stop to correct anything. Corrections can be made after the entire story has flowed from your memory to your finger tips. 

Book Fairs at Franklin and Waynesville in November

We have been told that the libraries in Franklin NC and in Waynesville, NC will be holding book fairs on November 5. Franklin in the morning and Waynesville in the afternoon. Authors can contact the libraries and sign up for a free table and the opportunity to sell your books at no charge!  How good is that?

So many times we find that we have to pay more for a venue table than we make selling our books. Some authors said that was one of the reasons they did not go to the great Bookfest in Hendersonville. 

I applaud these libraries for their generosity and support of local writers. I hope I can attend one of these events. Years ago when I went to Waynesville for a book fair at the old courthouse there, I must have spent over 100 dollars on books and I had a great time meeting and talking with so many writers. 

It was there I first met Fred Chappell who was so cute and fun. He let me make a photo with him. Thanks Wally Avett for letting me know about the book fairs. Maybe our local library could hold a book fair with our help, of course.