catnipoflife

Observe life at its best, listen to life’s songs, embrace life’s bounties, breathe the breath of life and savor life to its fullest!

The Power of Simple Words Presented Correctly

QuestionHow many times have you been engrossed in a conversation to find yourself at some point totally somewhere else, in your mind anyway? What made you completely lose interest leaving only a blank stare on your face as you try to recover? The only thought remaining – what is this person talking about? Now, I ask you, is this feeling of being lost limited to only the spoken word?

Flip the coin.Reading

How many times have you been engrossed in a book offering a great plot, exciting characters, vivid imagery, only to STOP before reading it in its entirety? Perhaps you were at the beginning, maybe into the most exciting part, perhaps even near the end, but you still STOPPED reading. WHY?

There is a ton of power in the spoken and the written word. Both have the power to paint the most vivid picture, the purest essence of abiding love or the most morbid replication of horror. Word choice can make or break a scene but that is not where it stops. Within the verbal word, we are able to evoke emotion simply by a change in the pitch or tone of our voices.

But what determines the voice of the written word?Exclamation_Mark

Ah-h-h! It is not only the word choice but the nature of the grammar incorporated. Yes, the exclamation mark does make a difference! And, the comma, the period, the question mark and of course, correct spelling. Without the correctness in presentation, concentration is broken, which results in rereading, rereading, rereading to the point of total loss of interest.

Bottom line…

EditRemember to edit. Find someone else to edit. Have that someone else find someone else to edit. Never leave your writing riddled with outrageous errors or wording that requires a thesaurus to understand. After all, your objective is to entertain, not frustrate!

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Chicken Soup by Kenneth Weene | The Write Room Blog

See on Scoop.itSizzlin’ News

“What a pain in the ass.” Trudy put her iPhone back into her pocketbook.

It wasn’t much of an expletive or very loud, but coming from the lips of my wife it was enough to make me look up from my snack, a piece of Trudy’s latest chocolate-pecan pie, and ask, “What is, Dear?”

What happens next you can only read at The Write Room Blog! Do leave a comment :-)

Sharla Shults‘s insight:

Whoever thought trying to share how to make chicken soup could be so comical! Hilariously funny!

Kenneth Weene is a great writer with just the right twist to keep his readers reading with anticipation for an often unpredictable ending! Ken sees life as very much a laughing matter. You can find more of his writing at http://www.kennethweene.com

See on www.thewriteroomblog.com

6 Comments »

For All Writers Out There …Rethink the haibun and haiku!

Penny @TheWhyAboutThis threw out a line this evening complete with bait and hook. I bit! She talks about A writer’s gift – yours! Then presents a challenge surrounding an image prompt. Thank you, Penny, for offering an opportunity to stretch even further wielding the mighty sword of the pen.

Clouds

My view out the airplane window glimpses cotton candy clouds bringing about nostalgic thoughts when once a child. The fluffy white puffs glide effortlessly against a backdrop of clear blue sky. I see a puppy with its floppy ears and stubby tail much like my little Snookie who lived with us until old age. Hey, there’s Mickey Mouse. Can’t hide those ears, Mickey!

I smile and giggle inside not to disturb any of the other passengers. One lady glances my way with a sneering look that snarls “What are you smiling about?

I would like to tell her what I am smiling about! Life. Love. Laughter. Tears. Sorrow. Happiness in tomorrow. Everything that makes living worthwhile. Helping. Lending. Comforting. Mending.

I look her square in the eye and grin. A Cheshire grin! Then, turn back toward the cotton candy clouds of my imagination.

Clouds glide mid-air
Rippling motions, life emotions
Aping a lazy stream

11 Comments »

Heidi

HeidiWhat was my favorite book as a child? That is a question which requires little to no pondering. The one which most impacted me is the story of Heidi written in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. Now don’t get confused here…that does not mean I was a child in the late 1800s. Let’s see, that would make me 133 years old. Nah! Not yet ❤

If you are not familiar with Heidi, it is a story of a young girl who at five years old was placed under her grandfather’s care because of the early deaths of her parents. Suddenly she found herself living in the Swiss Alps in the clutches of an old man who really did not want to be bothered. Her grandfather was a reclusive. Events of the story, however, warmed the old geezer’s heart and his life forever changed. Heidi became a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air marking the end of a secluded life.

It has been a lo-o-o-ong time since I read this little story but it will always have a place in my heart. I think I was saddened from the beginning because of the loss of her parents. I could not understand what life would be like without parents since I was so close to my dad and mom. Then, of course, there was the imagery. I can still envision the beautiful mountains, the grassy hills as Heidi playfully ran, the goats and simply the essence of serenity. Even Heidi’s room is vividly planted in my mind with the tiny single window through which she viewed her wondrous new world.

Anyone reading this brief memory about Heidi is encouraged to find a copy for your child or perhaps grandchild. It teaches compassion within a simple life without any of the modern amenities of today. It is childlike innocence in its purest form. Having written this, I find myself wanting to read Heidi again, only now it will be as a grandmother reading it to my granddaughters.

I have always had an affinity for Switzerland and I attribute my feelings to reading this heart-rending story as a child. In the early 70s, I did get the opportunity to travel to Europe. During my travels, one of my most memorable sights was the Matterhorn. Perhaps sights of the Swiss Alps were calling me home to memories long ago established but never forgotten.

 What’s in a Book?

Bookworm

Pictures, stories, poems and more
A world opens up to explore
Animals, insects and frogs thrive
Visions of numbers come alive

Bedtime stories and fairy tales
Sugarplums and fairies cure all ails
Mystery and amazement to ponder
Imagination makes one wonder

Lessons to be learned, places to practice
Respect, charity, humility and justice
Love and honor, experiences to encounter
Emotions bring tears or laughter

Travel back in time, forward into the future
Much to explore about life and nature
So many questions, where to find answers
Turn the pages for new adventures

Watch the gleam in a child’s eyes
For a ‘novel’ idea, try this exercise
Find a book every chance you can
Place it right into a child’s hand

Echoessm

©Echoes 2004
Sharla Lee Shults

What was YOUR favorite book as a child? I would love to hear from you!

13 Comments »

Awakenings: 7 Writers Get To Strut Their Stuff (The Seven-Line Challenge)

See on Scoop.itAmerica & Beyond

This is a little different post for Awakenings but yet is representative of a form of awakening befitting of any culture: awakening of the senses. An excellent way to awaken emotional senses is through the written word. Writing is an art: An art enjoyed by those who are the writers but most importantly its readers for the written word is only as good as the message received when read. The online environment is totally dependent upon writing presented within varied avenues/genres. A question that often arises is, “Which ones are worth reading?”

Sharla Shults‘s insight:

If you missed the 7-line challenge at catnipoflife, here is your chance to be introduced to some great reads @Awakenings. Seven authors from various genres are featured with links to their blogs where you can gather more information about their writing and books.

See on awakenings2012.blogspot.com

Leave a comment »

Daisy Award, for you and for me!

It is on rare occasion that a connection is available to the creator of an award. This time the beginning link in a chain of unknown number of recipients is Subtle Kate. In Kate’s own words on June 28, 2012, “I would like to start a new award. It’s called the Daisy Award.  Daisy’s are very sweet flowers, but they are stealth with hardiness. They’ll come up anywhere and beat the frost.  This award is for the brave.”

So with out further ado… there are of course rules to follow:

Number1Thank the person who nominated you. Thank you, Claire Cappetta .

Claire is a creative writer having recently retired from the financial world to concentrate on the dream of publishing a first novel. That dream has just come to fruition with the release of A Broken Ring. CONGRATULATIONS, Claire! (Read the First Chapter.) Claire’s story follows a woman’s journey through relationships, domestic abuse, inspiration and empowerment. Although a difficult topic to cover, the story is heartwarming and inspiring.

Number2Tell your readers seven unusual things about yourself. Alright I’m having a tough time with this! Because what is unusual about me?! There are ‘things’ that we all like and dislike but it is the word ‘unusual’ that has me stumped. I don’t have six toes (on one foot) nor one eye in the middle of my forehead! But, I DO have. . .

1. one grey streak in my hair that has been a part of me since I was a teenager

2. the wasp waist of the 19th century

3. Morton’s toe

4. a love for cappuccino but my morning coffee must be black – NO cream, NO sugar

5. a fondness for iguanas

6. an affinity for cats that is hard to explain

7. the heart of a tomboy

Number3Nominate several worthy bloggers: Since my ‘number’ is 5 I have elected to bestow this award upon 5 brave bloggers. As I pondered the recipients of this award from catnip, the following immediately came to mind with reasons why they are the bravest of the brave:

1. Serendipity: Marilyn Armstrong tells it like it is…no fluff, lays it on the line, whether you like it or not, tells it like it is. She will tease you with her humor, enlighten you with her photography and will shower you with tidbits of knowledge just to test you and see what you think. She has endured her own personal hardships being a cancer survivor.

2. A Hairdresser’s Diary: Chris Hannon is a victim of a major car accident that took her livelihood away as a hairdresser, make-up artist and model. She is a self-taught artist who learned to paint to help her deal with daily chronic pain. She is also a poet and has published a new book ‘Versify’. Amazing stories of her life as a hairdresser are published in her book A Hairdresser’s Diary.

3. A Writer’s Journey:  Micki Peluso began writing as a catharsis to heal the wounds of the death of her 14 yr-old daughter at the hands of a drunken driver. She has recently released her first book, a memoir – about her daughter’s death – . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG. It’s a funny, poignant celebration of her daughter’s life more than a eulogy of her death.

4. Northwest Photographer: Bob Milke is a veteran. He served his country, your country, my country in Vietnam. He is also a great photographer. He makes you feel you are there when you view his photos. He frequents the Portland, OR Zoo and I do believe the animals await his visits. You will see what I mean when you visit Bob @ Northwest Photographer. Check out the expressions (‘smiles’) on the animals’ faces!

5. Taylor-Made Thoughts & Doodles: Taylor Fulks’ story is one of turmoil through a childhood of sexual abuse. Her debut novel My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal has just been released. On her blog, Tayor hopes to share the bits of information gleaned from her journey and encourage others, hopefully, to share their knowledge and expertise.

CONGRATULATIONS brave souls and keep writing!

11 Comments »

Free Write Friday #8: Halloween Haunting


Today is Friday and that means another opportunity to ‘free write’ and on this day I have decided to do just that…FREE Write! Halloween has passed but memories of its haunting still linger. On Wednesday Kellie Elmore placed a call for submissions asking for Halloween photos and a chance to have a well-chosen image offered up as this week’s FWF prompt. The winning photo was taken by Missy Upton and pictures Oak Alley Plantation, which was the location for the movie Interview with the Vampire. The photo is displayed at the bottom of the writing.

Thank you, Missy for a great photograph and Kellie for the opportunity to use imagination to write. [OOPS! Being the educator that I am, I must admit I did correct some of the errors along the way.]

Here is my contribution. . .

The Haunting

Rain, pelting the road and windshield, was unrelenting as the drive seemed to be never ending. When we left home, it wasn’t so bad, except the sun had already begun its decent and shades of deep purple projected an eerie feeling to this already spooky day. “Why did we decide to get on the road on Halloween?” I ponder. “And, of all things, now it is pouring rain and getting darker by the minute.”

“John, do we have to go to Aunt Mary’s?” I ask in a trembling voice. “You know I don’t feel comfortable in that big old house of hers and the weather, well, it is terrible and frightening.” At that exact moment, lightning bolts zig-zag across the sky followed by sharp, loud cracks of thunder. “Please, let’s go back home. Please!”

“Settle down. Not for you to worry your pretty little self, my darling, I am driving and all you need to do is lay your head back, close your eyes and we will be there before you know it. Give Aunt Mary a chance and think of the house as a historical landmark. Step back in time. Just think, you would make a great Scarlet from Gone With the Wind! The way you are acting one would think the house is haunted for Pete’s sake!” John laughs as he tenderly takes my hand and presses sweet, tender kisses across the top of my fingers. “I love you,Scarlet!”

No way was I going to relax. Absolutely no way was I going to close my eyes! Too many visions within blood-curdling scenes scream thirstily as they whirl around and around with eyes wide open: knives, axes, scissors, villainous apparitions float effortlessly through the winding corridors of my mind. Understand it isn’t that I don’t like Aunt Mary or that she herself is frightening. She is wonderful and loves to cook and every year at Halloween she tries to outdo herself from the year before as she concocts the most unusual Halloween treats. It is the house…it seems to cast a spell as though dear sweet auntie is Bloody Mary. “Snap out of it!” I slap myself subconsciously.

Thoughts begin to turn away from tales of ghostly encounters and unexplainable happenings that had been reported from one generation to the next in THAT house. I began to surmise whether they are true or simply the fabrication of chilling whispers within the wind of souls crying out to be released. Some say fact, others proclaim fiction. Me? I don’t know but I do know one thing for sure I don’t want to find out on this night.

Oak Alley Plantation

“We’re here!” John exclaims as he slows down to make the turn into the driveway. There it was…Oak Alley Plantation. Nestled back off a private drive, the secluded house stood hauntingly still. The gaze down the driveway becomes absorbed in massive oaks stretching outward forming a canopy of moss-laden limbs. Shadows creep along the driveway as the wind wrestles with the moss clinging to the oak limbs. The scene is like arms above and below reaching for anything along their path to bring into the clutches of its grasp.

We are not ten feet into the driveway when the car begins to shake. Spine chilling, hair raising, heart pounding sounds howl within the night wind. Rattling chains, feet dragging along the driveway, freightening moans and groans pierce the air synchronizing their echoes with the thunder as it claps in the distance. Are the chains symbolic of slaves owned by the former plantation masters? Do the sounds of feet dragging mimic those of the tired workers coming in from the cotton fields? Are the moans and groans typical sounds of constant hunger and thirst for something better?

Now, I ask you: Is it real? Are the haunting tales of horror coming to life? Is the plantation truly haunted or is it Uncle Harry playing a practical joke?

What is your perception as to the ending to the story?

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing
guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity
is self-doubt.”  ~Sylvia Plath

35 Comments »

Free Write Friday #4: The Road Less Traveled…

FreeWriteFridayBadgeHere we are at the end of another week and the beginning of the weekend! The story below is my contribution to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. As a writer of poetry, Kellie’s writing prompts have afforded me the opportunity to write outside the poetic box. Thank you, Kellie! The writing prompt for this Friday . . ..

********************************************************************

Talk about a time you took the road less traveled and the differences it made…road less traveled

I was born to teach. I knew that from the time it was even possible to know life carried with it a special purpose.  Even my baby dolls were my ‘students’ and when in school, I always volunteered to teach a lesson whenever the opportunity arose. Never minded getting in front of the class and welcomed the challenges when questions were asked.  Sometimes my classmates would come to me to explain a math concept because they simply did not understand the teacher.  Math – that was my favorite, just like my granddaddy!

Upon graduation from college, of course, I got my first ‘real’ job as a classroom teacher. Oh, dear, the position entailed teaching physics, chemistry, physical science, geometry and general math. Did I ever get my feel wet in a hurry! Here I was barely 21 years old and some of my students were approaching 18! At the end of that first year, of course, I looked for a different position, one which did not require five preparations!

I taught for four years undergoing quite a number of changes in my life that led me to make a move to another state. Requirements were different, certification was different and the pay was definitely different, much less than I needed (Notice the word need, perhaps a better word would be wanted.) Anyway, a position was found that kept me struggling just to keep up with rent/utilities on an apartment and a car payment. At least it wasn’t too far from ‘home’ and I could make a quick trip for food and staples. Nothing like Mama’s cooking and Daddy would always slip me a five dollar bill to help with gas. That five dollars went a LONG way back in the late 60s and early 70s!

Anyway, to the crossroads. . .Teaching was going great and my classes were relatively good. There were always war stories and the classes from hell but that goes with the territory. I was living alone and barely getting by with nothing, absolutely nothing, to carry over from month to month. New clothes were a thing of the past and thrift stores were looking more and more promising. Then, entered the possibility of a roommate. . .

With this roommate came the beginning of a new career that would have never, ever crossed my mind. I was a teacher. That’s all I knew, teaching. My education prepared me to teach. The ubiquitous they say that money is the root of all evil but when I found out she made in one week what I brought home in one month that looked pretty good to me. Evil thoughts went out the window; survival was at the top of the list.

So began the career with the Bayline Railroad in Dothan, AL. Diesel engines, wood racks, box cars, open hoppers, consists and waybills were the tools of the trade now, no more daily lesson plans, in-service meetings, state standards, books, compasses, rulers, and protractors. Instead of walking those hallowed halls, I would now be walking the railroad tracks, climbing on and off railroad cars that needed to be waybilled to their next destination. The sad part was that this job did not require a college education where with teaching the minimum was a four-year degree.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was just the beginning of a new teaching era that lay a decade ahead.

I could have chosen to stay in teaching for that was the field in which I felt prepared or I could take the road less traveled and take a chance on something different. The Lord works in mysterious ways and had it not been for the decision to leave education for the railroad industry, I would not have gained the real-world experience so necessary for effective mathematics teaching in the future nor would I have met my soul mate. Had I stayed on the narrow path I started I would have probably ended up back home living with my parents, making lesson plans, grading papers and feeling secure in my teaching abilities but never fulfilling my potential or walking through windows of opportunity that I did not know awaited but He did.

Be sure to read the poem, An Echo from Yester Year.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever taken that road less travelled?

23 Comments »

Free Write Friday #2: The Street I Grew Up On

FreeWriteFridayBadgeIt has been awhile since catnip participated in Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. When I read the topic for today’s writing, The Street I Grew Up On, I could not let it pass by without a walk down memory lane. As thoughts shifted back and forth in memory, several images passed through my mind. In the poem below I do hope I have captured the essence and sadness of East Fourth Street.

* * * * * * * * * *

East Fourth Street
(Donalsonville, GA)

Similar street in Donaldsonville, LA
(Interesting coincidence in town name)

A narrow street
First began as dirt
Straight as an arrow
Always on alert

Watchful as children
Walked to and fro
Kicking up dust
Without shadow

Bumpy along sides
Longing for rain
Rutted and worn
A rough domain

Through the years
Change remade
What once was dirt
Now was paved

Where once I walked
Now a bike trod
Over gravel and stone
It plod and plod

A quick turn
Slid across stone
Cuts and bruises
No broken bone

Gravel and rock
Did meet its fate
Covering of asphalt
Brought it up-to-date

Lined with oaks
Massive on scene
Intense in beauty
Regal of queen

Forces of nature
Hurling all around
With mighty fury
Ripped the ground

A narrow street
Barren along each side
Bears only ghosts
Where mighty oaks once thrived

©2012
catnipoflife

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”
~From the television show The Wonder Years

28 Comments »

e-This & e-That

A reflection on today, yesterday and tomorrow. . .

Oh, my! How will I ever get caught up? I think the term ‘catch up’ only holds true for that thick, tomatoey goo that cloaks my French fries and oozes between the hot hog and hamburger buns!

Here it is 6:00 AM and I check my email to find an inbox of 25 messages. Not bad, I can tackle that in no time. Ah-ha! BUT each one of those leads to another link which may or may not stop there. By the time I read maybe five messages and their outlyers, I return to my inbox and now there are 30 messages. Hey, I just read five, why isn’t it down to 20? Now, I am on the verge of getting agitated. I take a break just to calm down and return to an inbox of 50 messages! Will it ever stop?

Side Note: Would you believe I found a message today referencing the e-Notch? Ever heard of it? Well, I had not either but then discovered it has been around way before the age of technology, before even the idea of any technology, maybe even before the word itself. Recognize it from the picture? It is the cut out found on the end of an arrowhead. Go figure!

Then, there is Twitter. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet – what a charming little sound while sitting on the back porch as I have my morning coffee. Not this bird! It tweets and tweets and tweets and…never stops!!!! 24/7 this little nuance sings. Since e-mail already has me in a tizzy I decide to access Twitter. Um-m-m? Maybe 20 to 30 tweets. Most of these little birdies have not started chirping since it is now almost 6:30 AM. So I briskly scan the messages, retweet a few and favorite one or two. My husband walks in and says ‘hubby’ time, get off the computer. I close everything out and happily leave the online conversations to buzz away in cyber space collecting more and more messages while I am away. Of course, you know what I find upon returning – 128 tweets with new ones popping up as fast as kernals of corn releasing their energy in a popcorn popper!

Exiting the bird cage and re-entering the world of electronic mail, I find someone (more like somebodies plural) has repinned one or more of my bulletin board pins on Pinterest. Now, this is probably my favorite, next to blogs because it is a virtual picture world. Being more of a visual person, I enjoy visiting all the ‘sights’ posted by others. I hate being just a number on someone’s board of followers so I try to return the favor as often as possible. Some I click to Follow in hopes of returning to explore more of their boards. Doesn’t happen! Time is definitely out the window by this hour and I am only getting started.

Computer time is interrupted by pre-scheduled doctors’ appointments that I had rather miss than grace their hallowed offices. Doctors have no sense of time except their own, especially during two-hour lunch breaks, and have no regard for anyone having to wait, wait, wait. Reminds me of the story when the doctor made the house call and was told to wait until grandpa returned from the field! Love it! Anyway, three hours later after visiting Dracula and the Vice-gripper, I stop by a Quick ‘n’ Handy for some awesome chicken salad and return home.

Needless to say, after engaging hubby in some interesting (you know exciting) conversation from the doctors’ visits, I get back to the computer. I am already tired but realize that I have not even touched upon LinkedIn, Goodreads, Bloggers.com, Amazon Author Central or Klout. At this time, there are 87 messages in my inbox and close to 200 on Twitter (I know that is just pittance to some!). It is now fast approaching 9:30 PM (EST) as I complete this blog post. Oh, dear! I forgot my new venture – “Voyage en éphémère.” That will have to wait until tomorrow. . . more on than later, my friends. There is no end to this virtual world of hours. “In a minute, Babe. . .”

In closing, we have e-M, e-P, e-G, e-B, e-A , e-K and of course e-T. ET? No wonder! We are all in the clutches of aliens with powers to weave in and out the microfibers of cyberspace absorbing our thoughts and passing them from e-This to e-That. . .

Are all the avenues worth exploring or is it just a numbers’ game?
How do you handle them all? Any secrets?

Would love to hear your thoughts. . .

“By Thursday morning, we’d gotten over the worst of it.”
~William Scranton
“Thursday may be only the beginning in the virtual world.”
~catnipoflife
26 Comments »

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