So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Virtual writing classes end for now.

The writing class I am teaching on Zoom each Tuesday evening for the past six weeks will end tomorrow. 
It has been a joy to meet the students in this class. None of them are from my local area, but from the writing they have done, I can see some of them grew up in the same kind of environment I did. 

I felt the love between Kim and his grandparents who helped raise him. They lived a simple rural life much like my parents on the farm. Other writers shared their cast of characters, family members, in short memoirs each week. 

One student wrote about her beloved grandmother. I could see the woman who kept safety pins attached to the front of her dress just in case they were needed. I could picture her helping the elderly lady who was sick and getting her ready to go to a nursing home. This grandmother was a person who taught life lessons by the way she lived. The writer used all the senses to make the reader feel present. 

One of the students lives in southern California and she didn't relate to the rural life stories, but she had her own interesting personal essays that informed and entertained as well as enlightened us. She said she liked the stories about rural living in the last century.

I am always pleased when more experienced writers take my classes. We enjoyed Celia Miles, author of many good mystery novels, taking part in the classes. She has a new book out now: The Secret at the Little Lost Mill. She is wonderful for other students because she comments on their work in a helpful manner. She has learned to be open and free to write the real stories of her life and her family. Writing memoir is different from writing fiction, and Celia is learning how to do that.

Abbie Taylor

We also had Abbie Taylor, author of several books, in this class. She lives in Wyoming. Abbie is a delightful person and she has been a blogger friend for many years. You can find her online at

She is well-published and knows how to promote her writing. That is often the biggest hurdle a writer must overcome. She is helpful to the other students in the class. I think she takes my classes because she has to write something new every week.  I like to take classes to get motivated and often find I have done my best writing in a class. 

Three of my students have visual disabilities, but that did not slow them down. Each week they sent me their work usually based on a prompt I gave them. They taught me so very much. Some of their stories I will keep and read again after the class closes. I hope I gave them as much as they gave me in the past six weeks. 

Teaching virtually is not something many teachers and students enjoy
They prefer face-to-face meetings, but for now, I will only teach online and I am delighted that my students from all over the country seem to enjoy what we do. 

Even though many of us want to think the virus is gone away, I learn every day about someone else who has been infected with COVID. Tonight I learned that a member of my church who was at the service on Sunday has come down with fever and tested positive for this awful virus. The use of masks in public has lessened and I think that might be a problem. 

With all my latest health issues, I still wear a mask when I am out in public.
I will continue to wear one. I have realized that I am suffering from long-haul symptoms of the virus which I had in January. I have lost my sense of smell and taste. It is said it could go on for 12 - 18 months and it might never come back. 

Now I am trying to retrain my olfactory system to smell again. 
Eighty percent of what we taste comes from smelling first. Only five tastes come from the tongue. Sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and savory.  Those are the only things I can taste now. 
I wish I had started earlier working on this retraining. Doctors say that the sooner you begin the treatment, the better your chance of gaining it back.

Well, I hope you, my readers stay well and hope you are enjoying your precious life. I love to hear from you so leave a comment or email me. I will respond.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Three strikes and are you out?

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC.

This past week will go down in history as the week of multiple bombshells never seen before in Presidential elections. We are in uncharted territory as we have been for the past few years. One major revelation this close to the election could swing the results. Three in a row has created shock and awe not just in the conservative world, but in the entire world.

The release of President Trump's tax returns was inevitable whether voluntary or by a leak to a major newspaper. His success as an artful business deal maker has been brought into question. His being smart enough to find every loophole and gimmick to eliminate paying income tax over many years may be smart, but it is not right.

 Many of his supporters who struggle to put food on the table while seeing their paychecks diminished significantly by tax deductions can now wonder about supporting a candidate that lives a lavish lifestyle while paying little or no income taxes. Paying a fair share of taxes does not make one a “sucker and a loser.”

To be fair, his companies pay a lot of state and local taxes - as do we all. The real question to think about is to whom does the President owe, with personal guarantees, more than $425 million coming due during his potential next term and will that burden impact his decision making?  Perhaps we can sum this up by quoting famous author Herman Wouk. "Income taxes are the most imaginative fiction being written today." Problem is that we want truth and not fiction from the leader of the free world.

The second bombshell was the slugfest misnamed "debate." This columnist firmly supports a respectful political discussion about issues. We certainly have an unending list of challenges facing our democracy. My parents and mentors taught me about decorum and decency. If you want to win a debate you listen to your opponent and then disassemble their argument. That is being defensive. Another way to win a debate is to be persuasive with fact-based arguments. Despite preparation by both candidates, the event quickly devolved with interruptions and low blows regarding the struggles of family members. There were also more than 125 untruths and distortions from both candidates. No one won this debate. In fact, everyone lost this contest. It was a shameful eye opener for any thinking person.

There is a saying in baseball that is very easy to understand. "Three strikes and you are out." It remains to be determined if this oft-used quote transfers to politics. Regardless of political leaning, we must all be empathetic to the President, his family, members of Congress and key staffers who have tested positive or been hospitalized for the COVID 19 virus. No caring person wishes this curse to fall on our leaders. 

We all should have compassion for the 210,000 people in the Unites States who have died since this tragedy began to unfold last March. Yet it is difficult to erase from our memories the total mismanagement and disdain for the impacts of the pandemic. The scientists who gave us sound advice were ignored by so many who now suffer from the disease. Can we or should we put that behind us as we start early voting? That remains to be seen. 

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Morality, Murder and A Miracle

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Starr newspaper, Robbinsville, NC

May 31, 2020
What a week this has been. Let's start with the morality of the South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California deciding to defy reasonable limitations on their assembly. The church argued that limitations placed by California Governor Newsom were unfair because other secular places such as factories and supermarkets were not subject to the limitations imposed on the church. The US Supreme Court decided the issue in favor of the Governor on a 5/4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie.

Chief Justice Roberts' opinion was based on his belief that matters of limiting the right to assemble in a COVID emergency were best left to politicians and administrators in each locality.

Roberts wrote, "The precise question of when restrictions on particular activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement."

So, what appears to be a liberal decision by a conservative Supreme Court Justice is really a conservative decision that clearly favors limiting the powers of the court to intervene. This is an important nuance especially in Graham County. There are more than 40 churches in Graham County. That is a large number for a small population. Our folks need their ability to attend church in the normal manner. There is a renewal process that goes on in a religious service. To many, it is sorely needed in these difficult times. The morality of social distancing, mask wearing and caution is so clear while the loss of individual rights is so minute in relation. Thanks to Justice Roberts for breaking the tie and doing the right thing. Let's all respect the temporary rules as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Murder is wrong.

We all know that. When the alleged murder happens at the hands of a police officer, the right and wrong of the situation becomes much more complex. First, a few facts. There are 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, there have been more than 22,000 officers killed in the line of duty. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in 2019 and 1627 in the past ten years. That is an average of one officer killed every 54 hours. This a tough and risky job without even considering the many injuries that occur while on duty. We should not forget that police officers and fire/rescue personnel are our first line of defense against the anarchy we all fear and are currently experiencing,

This does not mean that law enforcement officials can do no wrong. In fact, the pressures of the job, the need to make split second life and death decisions and the growing distrust and disrespect for the uniform cry out for more training in how to de-escalate situations and more transparency in how excessive use of force situations are investigated and resolved. The US Department of Justice provides a Community Relations Service to mediate local issues and deal with hate crimes. Its budget has been drastically cut.

There is searing pain and anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
There are honest people who want to peacefully protest and there are people who take advantage of this anger to loot in the guise of protest. Washington, state capitols and local leaders need to develop programs to reduce tension and provide positive channels of communication. It is appalling that the White House pours gasoline on these conflicts with comments like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." This phrase has a racially charged history dating back to the civil rights protests. The excuse of not knowing the history of the phrase only speaks to not using it.

On a positive note, the successful launch of Elon Musk's Space X rocket in partnership with NASA returning launch capability to Cape Kennedy is nothing short of a miracle. During my career with Lockheed Martin, I was blessed with a tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where a shuttle was undergoing the 60-day turn-around process and an elevator ride up the tower where a shuttle would soon be launched. It was a defining moment to see what could be done when a message of hope and challenge comes from Washington and we all pull together. Frankly, it broke my heart when President Obama killed the shuttle program and we started paying the Russians nearly $90 million each time to launch our astronauts into space.

Right now, we seem to be sinking into a Sarlaccian abyss that threatens everything we hold dear. What comes to mind is Dante's Inferno and a group of politicians and bureaucrats casting about trying to emerge from a never-ending hellish fire pit. Come on folks. We expect our leaders to lead. We expect our leaders to put out fires. We expect our police to be guardians. We will survive until November when it will be possible to change course.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What to do when other people aren’t social distancing

I found this article on WebMD helpful. I realized I took it personally when others ignored social distancing and wearing of masks in public. It made me angry! I wanted to say to them, “How can you be so stupid? Don’t you know that if you ignore these simple guidelines, you can be spreading this virus instead of helping to control it?”
It took lots of time and thinking to realize I can’t control all those people who will not practice the medical advice given to us by the top research people in the world. I don’t understand them, but I cannot control what they do.

I can control what I do.
I will avoid public places as much as possible. I will seek only businesses that offer me safety. That includes doctors and medical offices. I will ask before I go about the measures taken to follow CDC guidelines. I will not gather with other people that I am not sure are safe for me. No public gatherings of strangers at all. Who knows if there is that one person who will infect everyone present? And, who knows if I get it, will I live through it? I am in the high risk category. I will ask anyone who enters my house to wear a mask. I will stay six feet away from others even family members who come to visit.

My brother, Max, who was on a ventilator for days and almost died, will tell you, it is a terrible illness to endure. Being unable to breathe is awful. I watched my aunt die years ago. She begged for help because she could not breathe. All I could do was hold her hand. I don’t want to be in that position. I don't think anyone wants to face that.

Control What You Can says SETH J. GILLIHAN, PHD Clinical psychologist
Trying to make others do what you want is unlikely to work and usually only leads to frustration. Ultimately you can only control yourself. You can’t force your fellow pedestrians to give a wide berth on sidewalks and trails, for example, but you can take measures to stay as far from them as possible. You might need to limit your exposure to public spaces to the least busy times of day, or avoid narrow trails that make distancing difficult.
Remind yourself of the value of accepting the limits of what you can control. This requires a deep level of acceptance, which doesn’t mean resignation. You can care about this issue a great deal, even as you acknowledge that your control is limited.

My readers know, ACCEPTANCE is my word for 2020. Accepting this cavalier attitude by others who could easily kill me is very difficult for me, but I am doing my best. 
Gay and Stu Moring, great family, wonderful hosts, kind and caring
I am finding things to enjoy like a week with my sister and brother-in-aw who are also self-isolating; Growing my deck garden and enjoying the woodpeckers and hummers who come to my feeders; Finding ways to eat foods I like but can’t get now from restaurants; Having my hair cut by my sister who did a good job, I think. 

One of my joys is my little Lexie. Such unconditional love! 
I am also working on genealogy which I enjoy, especially researching a deceased member of my family and discovering such an interesting life. I ordered a book by one of his family and was delighted to find a newspaper clipping inserted in what was evidently a used book. The article was about the subject of the memoir.
So, life goes on and can be fun and interesting while avoiding people as much as possible. I hope your days are filled with interesting things to do and see. We might not be back to normal for a long time, but we can make our new normal what we want it to be and still protect ourselves.

Stay safe and well, my dear friends.