Happy Eclipse Day!

Monday mornings always inspire me. I like the feeling of a fresh start. A clean slate. A whole week to accomplish the things I wanted to do last week but didn’t get around to. Well, we’ll see about that one. 🙂

Today we’re looking forward to the grand spectacle in the heavens, 10:30am -1pm our time. It’s a glorious day here with clear blue skies, so we can expect a good views of the eclipse. Right where we live they’re saying it will be 70%.

If you’d fly over the Canadian prairies today, you’d see that harvest has begun in Manitoba. Around where we live the golden fields are waving in the breeze and farmers are greasing up their combines. Our goldenrod and Canada thistle are coming into bloom — the first signs of autumn. Our nights are cool. The hummingbirds are still coming to our feeders, but it won’t be long until they’re on their way to Mexico.

Blog-ographically, you are going to see some change here, too, more book reviews in the next few weeks. Over the past two years, while I’ve been recovering from my illness, I’ve read quite a few books. I know all writers appreciate a (hopefully positive) review on Amazon and Kobo so, since I’m writing them anyway, I’ll post them here as well.

“What goes around comes around,” they say. I’m hoping when Silver Morning Song goes live on the vendors’ sites folks will review it, so I should be ready to do the same for other authors. As I write this, my book of short stories and poems is being formatted for download to the net. I’m getting excited to see it for sale on Amazon and Kobo!

One thing I should mention:
If you do purchase any e-book from Amazon, be sure to read, or at least skim through, the whole book. Unless they’ve changed their policy recently, they don’t pay an author unless most of the book is read. If you’re paying them for the book it seems only right the author gets their share, even if the book isn’t that hot.

I’ll kick off with this review:
One star — but I’ll give the writer credit for having a terrific imagination.

510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers
by Jonathan Wright
Kindle edition sold by Amazon Digital Services

“To each his own,” they say, and this book of prompts is NOT my cup of tea.

Usually I can find something that interests me in a book of writing prompts but I skimmed through the whole book looking for what I’d call a normal scenario. Nada. These are all the sensational types. If you write sci-fi, horror, thriller, paranormal, zombies, etc, this book is full of prompts for you.

“Going to the Dogs”

Today my mind has been tumbling bits and pieces of the latest news and all the implications, real or imagined, for our world today. A rather unprofitable pursuit, since my mulling makes not a speck of difference in the grand scheme of things.

But we do hear news that disturbs us. Then my mind went back to a song recorded in 1965, “The Eve of Destruction,” and I had to smile just a bit. We were in the Cold War years and someone pushing the button and wiping the world out with atomic warfare was everyone’s dread.

Back 52 years ago. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nam war, the KGB. We lived through all of that. We here in Canada lived through the Quebec Referendum and were not split into two nations. Then the world survived Y2K. About the time we thought things were going well 9/11 hit us all pretty hard. Air traffic around the world was frozen and we in the Western world wondered what would come next. Now President Trump is leading the US and I gather from recent reports that we’re on the Eve of Destruction again.

Yes, we’re facing serious matters one doesn’t want to take lightly, but I did think of this little poem. It pulled my mind out of the whirlpool of dark thoughts, so I decided to post it, hoping it will give someone else a glimmer of hope.

GOING TO THE DOGS

My grandad, viewing earth’s worn clogs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his house of logs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in the Flemish bogs
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his old skin togs
said things were going to the dogs.
There’s one thing that I have to state:
the dogs have had a good long wait.

Author Unknown

Dog worried.jpg

 

Blog Alert: Posts Can Disappear

One day last year I wrote a limerick to fit with a cute picture I’d found and I posted it on my old blog, Christine’s Reflections. Yesterday I thought of that poem and decided I’d post it again so I did a search of my blog and found the Post title: “Bad Hair Day.” The title is there, the Likes and Comments are still all there — even the WordPress ad is there — but the post and image have disappeared!

Well! What happened?

Guess I’d better find my own stored copy. So I searched through my word processor and two flash drives looking for a copy and turned up Zilch. Nothing. I must have written it on an impulse, posted it, and not saved a copy. Foolish me!

I wondered if I could find that post by going through my blog’s media file. Sure enough, the image I’d used for the poem was in my media library. It gave the attachment page as “Bad Hair Day” with the date and the link. So I do have a record that I posted it August 29, 2016. Clicking on the link got me back to that title — and the empty post.

This is the second time this year that I searched for a post and found the main part gone. I’d e-mailed the link for one of my short stories to another blogger back around April, he’d read it and commented. A couple of weeks later when I wanted to find that story again and pass on the link, I found the title, the Likes and Comments still intact but the story itself had disappeared. Thankfully I had a backup copy in my file storage.

So what happened to my posts? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I consulted the folks at Word Press and they say I must have deleted that post — which I definitely did not. I wouldn’t have because I wanted to reblog them someday. Besides, when I’ve deleted posts before, everything is gone: the title, Likes, Comments. There’s no trace it ever existed.

So either there’s some glitch in my/their system and it slurps up post texts, or someone has snitched them. Not just copied, but totally removed.

I was ready to give up hope that my poem would ever show up again when I had a bright idea. My dear husband, bless his heart, subscribes to my blog — and he never deletes his incoming e-mails. I verified the date of the post, went into his In Box, searched through his e-mails for that day — and there was my poem! Sure, it’s not anything brilliant, but we writers are quite attached to our offspring scribblings and don’t want them disappearing.

Note to self: ALWAYS SAVE a copy! that’s why DropBox and flash drives were invented.

Given my own experience I’d advise other bloggers: subscribe to your own blog and save posts when they pop into your In Box. That way you’ll have a record of having posted this item if it should ever disappear and/or show up as someone else’s work. Or partner with a blogger friend to save each other’s posts, at least the poems and stories you may want to use again. Having a record could turn out to be very important.

Copyright reminder to all bloggers:
It’s against the law to help yourself to anyone else’s writings and claim them as your own. This is THEFT and can lead to PROSECUTION. Everything posted on anyone’s blog is automatically protected by international copyright laws; copying and saving someone else’s work without permission — never mind complete removal! — is a crime.

Respecting someone’s work, and giving credit where credit is due, is a basic human decency. Most bloggers are reasonable people and if you ask permission to copy something, assuming it’s for some good purpose and you give them credit as author, they’ll give it.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering about the poem I’m making all this fuss about, I’ll post the picture and limerick in my next post. It may be a silly little verse, but it’s mine. 🙂

Sympathy to our Friends

Our sympathies go out today to our dear friends Robert and Sally, who lost their son-in-law Tyson Koehn in an accident two days ago. We also extend sympathy to his wife and the children. We lived in the same area for fifteen years, then spent two years in Montreal together with their family doing church work. So we knew Shana all her growing up years, have met Tyson, and attended their wedding. Now they have five children. I can’t imagine how devastating his sudden death must be!

There’s been quite a bit of news coverage of the death, and some variation in details. But according to what we’ve heard, the 41-year-old father took four children, his two sons and two of his sisters’ boys, out boating on Lake Erie near Kingsville. They weren’t that far from shore and his two boys got out and began to swim.

Seeing the younger one floundering, Tyson jumped into the water to save him. He managed to hold the boy up, but he himself sank — or was sucked under. Exactly why he went down hasn’t been determined — at least not that we’ve heard. Rescuers came from shore to help the boys but it took searchers about an hour to find Tyson’s body.

We just got word that the funeral will be on Saturday morning in Leamington, Ontario. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Getting a Handle on Better English

Verbs and Objects, Active and Passive Voice

I wrote these examples in connection with a writing class I took in 2010. I decided to post the lesson here, hoping it might help will someone who’s learning to write English.

As we learned back in school days, there are two types of verbs:
Transitive – verbs that transfer action:
Bess ate the cake; The child spilled his drink; Tom punched the pillow.

–Intransitive – verbs that cannot transfer action
To be is an intransitive verb–it cannot transfer any action.
You can be grouchy (adjective modifying you);
you can be in a hurry (preposition modifying you);
you can be a sweetheart; you can be on the ball,
but you can’t be (as in transfer action to) the ball.

Other verbs are seldom used in a transitive form:
She yelled at her sister; the babies cried for their milk;
the leopard leaped on the deer; the deer ran from the leopard
Take the sentence, He walked on the grass.
On the grass is a prepositional phrase used to modify the verb walked.

To have is a transitive verb, as are most others;
you can have the ball; you can toss the ball; you can bat the ball;
the leopard can chase the deer; Dad can mow the grass, etc.

To complete their meaning, transitive verbs must have an object:
The boy kicked the fence because he was angry.
But…
The child kicked and screamed. This is an intransitive use of the verb.
To be transitive, he must have kicked something: the floor; his mother.
But he couldn’t scream the floor, or scream his mother.
You can scream nasty words to somebody, but it wouldn’t be the clearest phrase to use.
You can toss or hurl nasty words at somebody and be grammatically correct — but very wrong socially. and dangerous if the somebody is bigger than you.

The passive voice is formed by turning the sentence around.
You start with a transitive verb and a direct object:
He hit the ball; she knocked the glass off the counter;
Tom slapped his sister; Mother kissed the cut on the child’s arm.

And you turn it around. To put the object first you would say:
The ball was hit by him;
The glass was knocked off the counter by her;
His sister was slapped by Tom;
The cut on the child’s arm was kissed by its mother.
But I will warn you that editors do not like passive voice.

There are also indirect objects, the to whom or to what:
He hit the ball to his sister; she lent the book to her friend;
the teacher handed the papers to the students;
Mother took the children to the zoo.

It’s harder to form passive voice with all these objects in the way:
The ball was hit to his sister by Tom;
the book was lent to her friend by her;
the papers were handed to the students by the teacher;
the children were taken to the zoo by Mother.

So the “by who”–the actual subject–tends to get dropped altogether.
The papers were handed to the students.
The children were taken to the zoo.

Adding another clause may confuse things even more:
While we were playing ball, Mother took the children to the zoo. Active voice, very clear.

Passive voice: confusing:
The children were taken to the zoo while we were playing ball by Mother.
(You were standing beside Mother while playing ball and someone else took the children to the zoo?)

While playing ball, the children were taken to the zoo by Mother.
(Now the original ball players are lost from view and the children seem to have been doing that.)

While playing ball, Mother took the children to the zoo.
(In the middle of her ball game, Mom left for the zoo?)

This is why editors don’t like passive voice and writers will mostly avoid it. There’s just too much potential for confusion. The time passive voice comes in handy is when you don’t know who did the action or it doesn’t matter.

A parrot was spotted in the park. (No one cares who saw it; it’s the parrot that’s important, though you could say “Someone saw a parrot in the park.”)

The bank doors were locked every day at 5pm. (It doesn’t matter who locked them.)

While the employees were on lunch break, the store was robbed. (No one saw who did it.)

The Secret to Being a Model Teacher

We’re heading into August and all too soon summer holidays will be over for school students around the world. Recently I have found a couple of inspiring articles about being a teacher and have permission to reblog them so you can be enthused, too.
Let’s all try to encourage our teachers whenever we get the chance. With the situations they face every day they really need someone in their cheering section.

Classfired

teachingministry

Some of my most memorable moments in high school surround a teacher. Pretty strange, isn’t it? I remember her quite vividly – light brown complexion, almond eyes, wavy shoulder-length hair, radiant personality proportionately mixed with an aura of sternness. Mrs Clarke was a model teacher. She brought life to English Literature – a subject often labelled as dull and boring. She always found refreshing ways to engage us. We would view films based on the novels we were studying. And there was that time she had us memorize entire portions of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar so we could perform in class. She even made us mimic that southern drawl while reading Huckleberry Finn. I didn’t realize it at the time but she was my role model.

As much as she was creative with teaching strategies, that’s really not what stands out in my mind the most. What really touched me…

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Just A Clueless Tourist, Sir

Guilty As Charged

A writing exercise one day was: tell about an adventure you had while traveling, focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a scene from when I drove my daughter to Mississippi for a Teacher’s Summer Class.

Twelve years ago our daughter wanted to attend a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less. She didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. I was excited about the trip, having never been to the Deep South before. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I knew the chain gang was passe but I’d read some pretty awful accounts of arrests at gun-point and strip searches, etc. Not to mention fines and fees for a US lawyer.

A few minutes later we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50? As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I drew near yet another 55 mph sign, I wondered,  “Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Can they arrest me if I don’t just meekly follow? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?”

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser — we didn’t have cruise control so I kept one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!— I saw in my rear-view mirror that other cars had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when no lights started flashing they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?