The oft-blamed bugaboo “writer’s block” can be (and often is) an unfortunate misnomer. A recent email from writer/editor Katie Holmes spurred my thinking about this designation. Editor Holmes referred to my 2012 post in which I fessed up to a lack of production disguised as “writer’s block” but was (is) more precisely my intractable distractibility!
One of the discussions hosted by Editor Holmes at Outwittrade.com offers helpful tips for (and from) writers on the topic of writer’s block. Holmes provides an excellent distillation of hints, work-arounds and motivators designed to help a writer work past his/her perceived lack of production. The tips are practical and constructive for the new writer as well as for experienced writers. Continue reading “Intractably Distractible”→
As a tribute to my dear mother, I’ve been compiling certain documents in my possession that add depth to and understanding of her life. A separate section of this blog is titled Blood Type / West and under that heading, I’ve attached a couple related documents. (More documents will follow in time.)
In 2006, we celebrated Mom’s birthday with much more fanfare than usual. We threw a party, Hats Off For Ruthe, and as part of the celebration, I created a book about her life. Given she lived another 14 years, the book is somewhat dated as regards her children and grandchildren. Still, it’s a good record.
Another tab in the Blood Type / West sub-section offers some background information about the boarding school my Mom attended. It was an amazing place for a young girl who came from a modest background and was suddenly bereft (having lost her father) while her mother was thrust into the workforce.
A couple times, I had the privilege (with my Mom) to visit the location of this school (in Newtown Square, PA) which shuttered its doors to students in 1977. The buildings are still there, repurposed. We were able to enter the imposing administration building as well as the inviting stone cottages where students lived under the oversight of a dorm “mother.”
A previously coddled child myself, it was difficult for me to imagine my mother as a six-year-old being brought to this cottage and entrusted (by her own mother) into the care of strangers. It was (no doubt) a crucible for the development of strong character. She could have felt the bitter sting of abandonment; instead, she learned gratefulness for God’s unique provision. She also learned the value of self-reliance.
In large part, the person my mother became reflects the transformation of tragedy (the death of her father) into beauty, as she received an excellent education within a safe environment where multiple benefits (usually reserved for wealthy families) were available to her. Thanks to the generosity of an unknown philanthropist (who’d been dead 20 years when my mom was born), young fatherless girls received a wonderful start in life. Though I wasn’t one of those girls, I’m certainly a beneficiary of aforementioned philanthropy … and how thankful I am.
Experts. We rely on them. We make life choices based on the advice of experts. Before having a vehicle/appliance/roof/computer repaired, we consult the expert, someone who by reputation has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise worthy of respect. In fact, we so highly value their abilities, we pay them.
We crave the wisdom of medical experts. A highly-respected figure who’s both a physician and immunologist, for instance, would logically command attention and even admiration. Or a government official (less an expert but we listen nonetheless) may yield information worthy of consideration.
Unfortunately, mistakes happen. A physician could remove your leg instead of your appendix. Your computer guru could delete 30,000 emails instead of a virus on the hard drive. (It could actually happen!) In the real world, human beings – yes, even experts – can be miserably inept. Continue reading “Educated Opinions”→
If you’ve been stuck on a cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic (or alternatively, locked in video-game-quiescence), you may be blissfully unaware, so I’ll break it to you as gently as I’m able:
APRIL IS CANCELLED
Thanks to suspended schedules and cancelled seasons, sports fans may find their only social-distancing alternative is Tiddlywinks. Concert-goers don’t get a pass. Business owners won’t be conducting business as usual. Conferences? Nope. Spelling Bee? Nope. Any pretense of normalcy? Are you crazy?
No matter who you are and what your areas of interest, it’s safe to say the time has come to crawl back into the groundhog hole now and make yourself as comfortable as possible. We’re in this for the long haul.
It’s not a question of seeing one’s shadow. Despite the arrival of Spring-like weather assuring us of Winter’s end, it’s contrived. It’s a cruel fiction. The lush and exhilarating month of April is officially, unceremoniously cancelled. Continue reading “The End of the World Has Arrived”→
Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say but . . . few things raise my ire as much as careless (or ignorant) use of language. Yesterday, this video (below) by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) received attention on various web services and blogs. Referring to her as the “Bronx Bolshevik,” Biz-Pac Review ridiculed her cringe-worthy assertions.
One of AOC’s Democratic challengers, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said: “keeping AOC in office makes us (the citizens of NY-14) look like fools.” Twitter posts were amusing and predictable. I leave it to others to express their reactions as they may.
For me, my first impulse was to ignore the video. I dislike contributing additional views to any video I consider inane. But AOC’s statement irked … specifically the repeated use of that non-word: patroning. My spell-checker rejects the nonword, and so do I!
My ninety-one year old mother lives about six hours away. Given her disabilities (she’s nearly blind and doesn’t hear well), she no longer drives – which means in order to spend time with her, I must first travel to her home. On those occasions when my Beloved makes the journey with me, the distance is the same but traveling together makes the trip both sweeter and (seemingly) shorter. Time alone on the road is generally more tedious.
During my last couple trips though, I’ve been accompanied by three young fellows (unbeknownst to my Beloved). These guys couldn’t be more chatty and when we travel together, I’m certain to be entertained as well as challenged to consider the world from a different point of view.
Earlier this month, I posted a video of the most honest “commencement” speech young graduates of today should be required to hear. Almost every day this week, I’ve talked with at least one person (most of whom were educators) who expressed his or her deep concern about the current state of education and learning in our country.In my state, there’s been an ongoing discussion about Common Core and the state Board of Education has been re-evaluating. Earlier this week, it appeared they’d be adopting another curriculum. However, decision-makers have ruled against the recommendations of a review committee and the process is dividing educators and reviewers. Continue reading “Where Is Excellence?”→
Yesterday in this space, I saluted my brother and sister-in-law on the occasion of their 48th anniversary. They enjoyed an anniversary getaway in a town near us and because they were nearby, that allowed us to meet for lunch. Since they are both talented artists, we settled on the perfect meeting place, the spectacular Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
When I say this is the perfect lunch outing, I’m not kidding. Lunch at the museum was delightful and a splendid first course (if you will) before the entrée – feasting on world-class artwork in gallery after gallery. There’s never enough time to relish it all, but the atmosphere (and menu, if I may continue with the food metaphor) invites one back for follow-up visits. Continue reading “Poetic Artistry”→
About the time our grandson entered his second year of college, my Beloved and I began having serious doubts about young people (in general) seeking a college education. It wasn’t our first time to entertain these doubts. Back when our older son was in college, we noticed he was less engaged than we thought he should be.
A number of years ago before he became president, Bill Clinton used to say he wanted to make it possible for everyone to attend college. Even then, we disagreed with him. Not every high school graduate, in my opinion, needs to attend college. Then and now, a good number of young people would be better served by attending vocational schools or community colleges. Continue reading “The Cost of College”→
Imagine you’re standing in a gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Artsin Philadelphia. As an ardent student of history, you’re transfixed by Benjamin West’s 1772 masterpiece The Treaty of Penn with the Indians (shown below). This work seemingly invites you to step into it, to hear the speakers and to witness the Quakers and Indians reach agreement.
Now … imagine it’s possible to virtually step into the painting! Your eyes dart to the left and the right, noticing what’s beyond the picture’s frame. In fact, you have a 360º virtual view of the scene! Are there boats on the river to the left? Are there buildings to the right? What else did the artist see (and choose to leave out) that your virtual tour permits you to view? Continue reading “Mad Indulgence”→