A little preview from new book, out soon . . . .

Direction

.

When things go wrong,

when life goes off the script

and I say “what the . .?”

 

When the story takes

a sudden turn and people

that I didn’t cast walk on,

 

When the set is being

damaged while I sleep

or take vacations

 

I may wake up just in time,

get back into my canvas chair

and pick up the megaphone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bw directors chair

Flowers wilt, but not the memory of the one who sent them . . . . .

I’ve been going over pictures in my computer. So many of them! Partly because for years I have brought my photos over from one computer to another, never wanting to give up a one of them, and somehow they multiplied.  I bought a new computer this week and I must assume it could well be my last one, so I don’t want to fill it up from the start. Some  pictures have to go.

Oddly, working all day at this, I did not find the task too difficult. Pictures that would have no meaning for my family, but pictures that were precious to me, were already memorized in my mental hard drive. I can pull them up at any time and see exactly what a scene looked like, what people looked like. So it’s not really a time to get sentimental about my favorite pictures.

This is the gift of vision, which we all have to some degree, and it happens to be my strong one. In my new book, which I just proofed and sent off for publication, I will speak of this and other spiritual gifts that we use and take for granted but which give us a great deal of help through our lifetime.

My children, perhaps like me,  have books and computers and discs full of pictures, and are already wondering what to do with them.  In fact, they have more than I do. In my early years we did not have money for “extra” things, like cameras

Probably the photos I should leave are the ones of things my children never saw, the people who formed our family background and the things they created from nothing. . . . the brave people  who left everything and came over here in a boat and made a life. The ones who fought in a war or built a business or saved the farm.

If my kids inherited anything I hope it is that kind of ingenuity, faith, and ambition.

Flowers may wilt, but not the memory of the ones who sent them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School days, School days, dear old Sunday School Days . . . . .

Click to enlarge each picture

People ask me when I started writing. I don’t know. As a child I wrote something on square coarse sheets of paper my mother was given to use when she reported local news to the newspaper in the county seat. None of my scribblings were kept, of course.

I think I was the only one, but I loved writing assignments in school. In college I wrote a poem that was published in a national magazine. The next time I had time to write was in my years as a young mother. That is when I entered contests, writing why I liked a product in 25 words or less. They won me lots of wonderful prizes, but the biggest one was what I learned  how to say a lot in few words.

Not that I always do it. I’m born wordy. But I can do it when I need to.

At some time in those years, as a freelance hopeful, I sold poems to Sunday School papers. I ran across two of them the other day and thought you might like to see them. Now I must tell you this did not make me rich, but I was actually paid money for these.

It was later that I wrote for the greeting card companies, especially Hallmark Cards and Buzza-Cardoza, but some to Gibson and others. Most of them I never saw, but I do have a few that I ran across in stores. I’ll see if I can find them

Meanwhile, if some of you also like to write, send me something you have written.  And have a good day, all!

It’s raining words . . . . .

 

 

Image result for words

 

There’s a new civil war underway.  It’s not like any war we have known and, of all things, it is in no way civil.

The war is between believers and unbelievers and is based upon what each has seen, has heard, has read, has lived, has absorbed. And the problem is that each participant has seen, has heard, has read, has believed and absorbed something different…. something that fit his idea of life and, often, the beliefs of his parents or those who surround him. It seems that people can inherit both ideas and attitudes or acquire them by osmosis, and they become set in time.

When their ideas are questioned or are threatened they respond in anger and take up arms. Today’s weapons cost nothing. They are offered online, on television, in publications, in offices, in coffeeshops.

Today the weapon of choice is words, and while some carry truth some carry dark intent and misleading poison. Well-known people have the best shot at directing their words, while quite ordinary people watch and listen and swallow their thoughts. But quite ordinary people often have extraordinary thoughts because they live in the middle of the culture and can see both ways.

Some leaders in the past made great promises to better our circumstance, to heal our divisions, to solve our problems, to grow our economy. But at the end of their time our problems were greater, our economy troubled, and our divisions wider, the debt deeper. Their most lethal contribution:  empty words.

Other participants in our civil war have been false newsmen who used borrowed words,  hurtful words, doubtful words, and doctored pictures to illustrate those words. They have thrived on rumors and proved none.

Then the war moved to the street where people, incited by words they’d heard or read or seen, wrote those words on signs or shot them from their mouths at others, all with angry faces and some with destructive and evil intent. They took the “s” from the end of WORDS and switched it to the front to form a weapon.

The war continues. It is growing, encouraged by words that we read, words that we hear, words that get under our skin.

It is a war of words, and no longer a civil war. It has become a very uncivil war, that can only be healed with guess what. With words, of course. And with love instead of hate.

Well, all write! . . . . .

2 chairs by ocean

2 chairs by ocean

People ask me when I write, what I write, and how I write. I thought about that this morning when I woke at some ungodly hour and couldn’t get back to sleep. As I sometimes do, I got up, made myself a cup of cocoa and had it with a thin butterfly-looking cookie I buy at Dollar General. By then I was too awake to go back to bed so I just said “Well, all write.”

I have never been a morning person. I have always stayed up late, so I usually sleep until 8:00. Yet, in these past few years, alone, free from many burdens and free to do as I please, some of my habits have changed.  Early and fresh from sleep and not yet hammered with negative news, my mind is open and there is room there for new ideas. So if I should just happen to put my laptop in my lap, where it belongs, my fingers go to the keys and ideas start to flow. I know I’m getting some help because I’m not smart enough to think up some of this stuff.

This morning I wrote letters to librarians in eastern Nebraska, asking if I could visit and give a reading from my new book or, in some cases, from both books. For me, this is fun, and I am amazed at how many people show up for readings. It is great to meet them, and it is helpful when they purchase my book, since I bore the cost of publication. Sometimes they buy extra copies for gifts.

My Half of the Conversation, my new book, is ready now to publish and I am choosing the cover. I have narrowed it down to three, a cover designer is putting the words on all three, and then I must choose. If you would like to help, please choose the cover you would most likely be attracted to in a bookstore. Remember that this is non-fiction, a book of thoughts and ideas, with no sluts. I’d appreciate your opinion on the cover, which I must choose soon. Write your choice here in “Comments.”

Mahalo.  (Thanks)

D. M.

August . . . . .

 

 

Something about August is sentimental. I think it is the sound of the cicadas. The sound brings back memories. As a child and even as a teenager, that sound was exciting to me. It signaled time to get ready again for school. I liked school, and summer was wearing thin. We went to town and bought a big Red Chief tablet, 2 pencils, some new pen points and an eraser.

When I was in grade school and high school (all in one building) the scent that met me on that first day of school was the freshly oiled wooden floors, and probably fresh paint as well. In grade school I was moving up to a new room and a new teacher. In Junior High I was moving up to new choices. In High School I was moving up to new privileges and new responsibilities. It was challenging.

We had gone through all these years together, and girls and boys had become like sisters and brothers. We wouldn’t think of dating them, nor were they attracted to us. Unless we somehow met a boy from another town we probably didn’t have dates. We just played games or drove around town or had a few awkward parties, but for the most part we stayed with the girls and the boys stayed with the boys. Out of all the kids we went to school with very few ended up together.

I was lucky to grow up in a time when families were close and we were not embarrassed to be seen with them, to travel with them, to have parties with them. Get-togethers often included people of all ages and we had certain party games that were hilarious. Some of them were a means of introducing the younger ones to new games and new jokes. And perhaps while we played them, others were out on the lawn turning the crank to make homemade ice cream and there were always pies and cakes for get-togethers.

There is one game that stands out in my memories. Picture this: We took a leaf from a table and placed it on the floor with two catalogues at each end, holding it up off the floor. Then we asked if anyone wanted to take an airplane ride. (They all did). So we had one young one come alone into the room stand upon the table leaf. and we blindfolded him. We asked someone to stand in front of  him, and the rider was told to place his hands on this person’s shoulders to steady him for the ride. Then we had an adult at each end of the leaf, ready to grab it and lift it higher and higher.

They actually lifted the table leaf very very slowly, shaking it a bit for reality, while those in the room who were  in the know, were saying things like “Oh, you’re going so high!” or “Be careful . . you’ll hit the ceiling.”  And to the person having the ride it felt as if he could indeed because, unknown to him, the person standing in front of him for support, was gradually squatting lower and lower. Having experienced this myself I can attest that to the one taking the ride it really does feel as if you have gone very high.

Then, the lifters tell the rider he must jump. The rider thinks that must be impossible but soon the whole room is telling him he must jump, right now. When he finally does he probably jumps three or four inches to the floor. Then all have a laugh together and they bring in another candidate who has waited in another room for his ride.

This sort of parlor game was passed down, I think, from generation to generation in those days. Was it just for small town farm families? Did it come from the “old country?”

Would kids today put down their iPhones and play a game? I don’t know. I just know we were friends with the older ones and still friends when we left home. And everyone laughs at the memory of their plane ride.

I will be 92 in August. Is it not amazing that I remember things like this but can’t remember the name of a neighbor I met an hour ago? Well no, it is not amazing. It is just normal.

Tell me if you played games like this too. And if August is full of memories.

And if you liked school. And even adults.

 

Doris Markland

Cutting out the biscuits . . . . .

 

I don’t know why, but I’ve had baking powder biscuits on my mind lately, the high golden ones my mother made and that were so good for breakfast, with butter and jam. I loved them so much I would even eat a cold when I came home hungry after school.

In the summer she sometimes made a huge one, split it and put it back together with sugared strawberries between and over the top. People argue about which is best, the biscuit or the cake, with strawberries . . and either whipped cream or ice cream.

I found a recipe online that looked superb, the biscuits  raised high with a golden crust. I saved it, and this morning decided to give it a try. I would have it with bacon and eggs and an excellent raspberry jam I bought cheap at the day-old bread store. I put them together with anticipation, but took them out of the oven with disappointment. The crust was golden,and crisp, but the inside was doughy.

I remember how quickly my mother and my grandmother put their biscuits together, how easily. Maybe because they did it so often. But, really, I think I could have done better if I had a table full of hungry people sitting at the table waiting for the biscuits. I was a fairly good cook once, but there’s something about cooking for one that just isn’t the same.

Here are two of my favorite shortcake recipes. Neither is for biscuits.

Shortcake  (This is our favorite) 

½ cup sugar

½ cup soft butter

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup flour

1 egg

½ cup milk

Mix all ingredients lightly and pour batter into 8 x 12 prepared pan.  Sprinkle generously with ¼ cup sugar, and bake at 375 degrees until brown, 20-30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold with fresh berries, topped with whipped cream.

Strawberry Shortcake

½ cup plus 1-1/2  tsp  butter

6 T plus 1-1/2 tsp sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

grated peel of 1 lemon

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

7 T milk

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, salt, lemon.Fold in dry ingredients.

Bake 345 for about 40 min.

This recipe was taken from The Great Scandinavian Cookbook. Odd amounts

are because of conversion from Swedish measurements. This recipe is good also

. . less cake-y . . in taste and texture a little like the old fashioned

biscuit recipe our mothers used.

 

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