Showing posts with label Kathy Cooney Dobbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathy Cooney Dobbs. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bible , A Source For Writers

Kathy Cooney Dobbs



Allegory, parable, poetry,
dialogue, discription, characterization;
Plot, narrative, conflict; and the resolve thereof.
Writers can glean much about writing from what
some call the greatest book ever written, the greatest story ever told
 - the Holy Bible.

The treachery and heartbreak of Good Friday
gives way to the glory of Easter Sunday and the Risen Lord.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

P.L. Travers, Walt Disney & Mary Poppins

Kathy Cooney Dobbs


   I was one of many moviegoers watching Disney's  popular musical , Mary Poppins  when it opened in theaters in 1964,  and like most, fell in love with the practically perfect Mary , the Banks family and chimney sweep, Bert.                                                   

   While I knew nothing about the author, I enjoyed the  book Mary Poppins , and was a  huge fan of Walt Disney -  a child of the 1950's , I grew up with The Mickey Mouse Club , Zorro, The Wonderful World of Disney and movies Old Yeller, Bambi,  Dumbo, Toby Tyler, Pollyanna and The Parent Trap . Living in Southern California allowed me , along with my family to visit Disneyland every summer. When I graduated high school we even had our all night party at Disneyland!  Walt Disney was like an old friend.                                                    

     Not until I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks, the Disney account of  P.L. Travers and the  tug of war, what Travers referred to as 'uneasy wedlock' ,  between her and Mr. Disney  and the making of Mary Poppins, did I learn something about the author. That she was a   somewhat difficult,  determined woman, one without much  humor or joy. Her biographer, Valerie Lawson portrays the same in Mary Poppins, She Wrote  - The Life of P.L. Travers. Travers being a  rather humorless, difficult  woman, but also a woman with talent, imagination and fortitude. And most protective of what today she might call 'her brand' - her beloved Mary Poppins.

 
    Lawrence writes her search for Pamela Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff) began with the discovery she was Australian, and  "like myself had been a dancer, actress and writer. For me, Travers became more fascinating the more I learned of her mystery."

    Travers began writing as young girl and wrote several poems , including  Mother Song published in The Triad in 1922

Little son,
you must be sleeping;
Baby stars are peeping,
One by one.

'Time for bed !"...
Hear the Dustman crying,
As he comes with flying
Wings outspread...

    Lawrence writes 'Mother Song' was an unabashed piece of sentimentality (I think it sweet) , notable only for its mention of stars , the theme of so much of her later work, the phrase 'time for bed' , one of Mary Poppins favorite orders, and  the idea of the flying angel in the form of the Dustman.

    On March 20, 1926 the Christchurch Sun published  "The Strange Story of the Dancing Cow" , accompanied by a panel boasting "Miss Pamela Travers, who writes this story of the Sun is rapidly winning fame for herself in London. Few writers  today can equal her in the realm of whimsical fantasy. Read here in the Old Red Cow who awoke to find herself smitten  with star fever." In the first Mary Poppins book, published in 1934 , Mary told the same story of the cow and a king within a chapter called , "The Dancing Cow."

    During one interview Travers  says, " When I was in my teens, I wrote a small story about someone named Mary Poppins putting children to bed. I can't remember what paper the story appeared in, but the name was a long  time a-growing, a long time in existence, perhaps."  While during her lifetime no one ever discovered when she created Mary Poppins, and she certainly didn't tell, one can surmise Mary Poppins was always part of P.L. Travers. I'm sure that's one reason it was so hard for her to relinquish any control to Disney for the movie adaptation. Mary Poppins belonged to her.

     Travers admitted she liked the movie, but was always peeved with the title screen,  'Walt Disney's Mary Poppins' and felt it should have been  Mary Poppins arranged for the screen by Walt Disney. In the end one might say, it was the  magic of Travers and the magic of Disney that brought Mary Poppins long lasting life, and generations of fame.






Monday, April 14, 2014

Green Tea & The New York Times

Kathy Cooney Dobbs



    Yesterday after church, I had the pleasant experience of sitting in Starbucks drinking a refreshing glass  of  iced green tea while casually reading through my two favorite sections of The New York Times - Book Review , and Arts&Leisure.

    I don't often read print editions of the newspaper, I primarily  read articles on line now, most often The Spokesman-Review and Los Angeles Times. But having the paper in my hand with its  newsprint smell and inky feel reminded me of how important reading the daily paper once was to me, especially the Sunday paper. Turning actual pages, seeing the layout, perusing each headline.
 
    Statistics show print media is struggling , subscriptions and readership are down.  Many reasons are cited , not the least being the immergence of the internet .  But yesterday while browsing the paper ,  I thought how newspapers  once provided fertile ground for  young writers to hone their skill. Learning to work with an editor, rewriting and editing a story, and the pressure to  meet a copy deadline.  I thought of my own long ago days when I was one of those young writers just out of college , and was hired to write feature  stories for a community newspaper in Southern California. The editor  stressed what my journalism instructors did about writing a news story, the importance of five W's and H - Who, What, Where , When, Why and How.   

    The same  can be helpful for other genre's as well. In the telling of any story , fiction or non-fiction the reader is wanting to know who the story  is about, what is their purpose , where are they, when is the time frame, why did the characters act like they did,  and how any conflict is resolved. 

    Prior to the internet  and 24 hour cable, Newspapers were a primary source providing  news and other information for the average person;  Crime stories, society, sports, politics, obituaries, opinion, food, theater, advertisement.

    In yesterday's New York Times I found many articles informative, and interesting,  including Laemmle's List: A Mogul's Heroism , a biographical sketch by movie critic, Neal Gabler about Carl Laemmle, a founder of Universal Pictures and East Meets West, Over Cocktails - a history and recollection of vanished Chinese nightclubs. I was surprised to learn during its heyday in the 1940's, the Forbidden City in San Francisco billed itself as "the world's most famous nightclub" which often included celebrities like Bob Hope and Lauren Bacall in the audience. Then there were the Display ads touting Broadway shows, an upcoming movie release, and the American Ballet Theater.

    I discovered drinking green tea and reading The Times makes for a happy union, and rediscovered the pleasure of reading the Sunday paper - something I plan to do more often.



 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Ides of March and March Madness


  So many interesting dates fill the calendar this month. Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent was March 5, March 15  we mark the Ides of March, on the 17th is St. Patrick's  Day, two days later, the Feast of St. Joseph, when the swallows return to Mission San Juan Capistrano. And of course, March Madness when  for two weeks college  basketball (NCAA Men's Division) is the all the rage and talk of the nation (Go, Zags!) . Not to overlook Daylight Savings Time March 9,  and the first day of Spring March 20.

It  seems to me March makes a perfect month for a writing marathon. As writers,  we all need to be inspired, motivated, and find material for what we want to write about. Stories and characters  could be developed around  Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire,  the wee leprechaun and Irish folklore, or a study about the miracle of the 'Swallows'  that takes place each St. Joseph's day at the most famous mission in California.

In his book, the Daily Writer, Fred White provides mediations to help writers, and has chosen  several helpful themes for March, including Establishing The Journal-Writing  HabitObserving the Details, and Exacting the Unusual From Everyday Experiences .

His mediation for March 14 , Writing To Preserve History was thoughtful when he offers for further reflection:

      Writing is essential to preserving history. Not only that, the quality of the writing - its precision, its depth of coverage - determines the quality of the historical record. If you plan to write a historical event , you must be faithful to the historical record and correct inaccuracies in the existing record.

It's still early March, I encourage all you writers,  pick  a theme and start writing !










Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Many Books?

     The other day I was  perusing  a list of best selling books printed in the newspaper, and  for some reason  tried to imagine all the books , in all the world , throughout all time  and pondered how many there could be. I decided it's a question that can't be answered.  Okay, I thought to myself, narrow it down to how many books about writing have been written?  Again, no answer. I'm guessing there must be hundreds of thousands.  In my  personal  home  library are forty-five.

       Some of the titles include: Your Life as Story, The Memoir Book, Word Painting, The Careful Writer, The New York Times Everyday Reader's Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words, Strunk and White The Elements of Style, Write Right!, Stephen King: On Writing, Writng Down the Bones, The Art and Craft of Poetry, A Guide to Query Letters,  and so many more.  
                                                                                       
 
      While I've been published in newspapers and magazines, I have  yet to write memoir or novel.  That's why all the helpful, how to write books on my shelf.  I long to be a better writer, and have my book published, so I look to the experts for guidance and instruction on writing  - whether it be sentence structure, plot, description or correct grammar.  

       I must admit I haven't read every chapter of every book on writing I own, but have read through most, and find all to be helpful, not only for the moment, but as a continual source of reference and study. As useful as a dictionary or thesaurus .  

       One helpful tip came from Story Craft - The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Non-Fiction by Jack Hart 
 
                                                                                          
       "A resolution. Resolution is the ultimate aim of every story. The resolution releases the dramatic tension created as the protagonist struggles with the complication. It contains the lesson that the audience carries away , the insight that the story's readers or viewers or listeners  can apply to their own lives."

          As an example, if I were to write about  a woman wanting to attend a get together with a group of friends from high school,  but  her  friends chose dates that included her  mother's 81st  birthday, while they seemingly worked around  dates to suit their needs,  it would present struggle and tension - complication.  As the writer ,  I would have to let the reader know the protagonist overcame the struggle, and give insight to a lesson learned. In this case, perhaps , the mother's own unselfish attitude so her daughter could  freely participate with her long time girlfriends, from long ago.

           We may never know the exact number of how many books have been written thoughout the ages , or even how many books have been written about writing, but I encourage all writers to build your own personal reference library of books that will be helpful to the betterment of your writing skill. 
          








       
   

     

   










Monday, March 3, 2014

The Preposition

This past weekend I attended Winter Camp with  a group of women I became friends with last Fall while we paddled  the shores of Lake Coeur d Alene in classic war canoes - the 104 mile adventure was a fund raiser for Camp Sweyolakan on Mica Bay. It's an achievement we're all proud of.

Winter Camp was somewhat of a reunion , not only to reminisce about our paddling adventure , but make new memories, too. We played  marathon games of Progressive Rummy and  Mexican Train ( a Domino game) , cooked and shared meals together, and laughed a lot.  The conversation was never dull,  we covered many topics , including the proper use of prepositions when writing a sentence.

Prior to their retirement, some of the women had been educators. I listened with interest as they lamented the fact so many young people  today don't know how to construct a sentence. I thought how  easy for any of us today to  fall into lazy habits, especially when using email and text, so  I decided to review what a preposition is, and how  and when it  should be used.


Referencing one of my old textbooks, Voyages in English from grade school ,  a preposition is a word or group of words that shows the relationship between a substantive and some other word in the sentence.

    The paddlers  relish song at camp.

The most commonly used prepositions are : about, above, across , after, against , amount, around, at, before, behind, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during except, for, from ,in, into, near, of , off, on, over, past, through, throughout, to toward, under, until, up, with.

The preposition may be a single word or a group of words used as one preposition

     Laughter came from the houseboat.
     The canoe stayed in spite of the schedule.

Groups of words that are considered one preposition when used with a substantive include the following: on account of, instead of, in addition to, in regard to, in spite of, in front of, because of, by means of , for the sake of.

The object of a preposition is a noun, a pronoun, or a group of words used as a noun. A noun or any word that takes place of a noun is called a substantive.

      We cannot paddle without Huck's help . (Noun)
       Scottie gave the recipe to her. (Pronoun)
       From across the lake came the paddlers. (Prepositional phrase)

Sometimes there can be confusion as to the correct use of a preposition. For example, 'different from'  and 'different with'. Differ with denotes disagreement of opinion. Differ from denotes differences between persons or things.

        I differ with you about the scoring of the game.
        The banners differ from each other in width.

After the adjective different use from, not than.

         The writing is different from hers.

Or 'angry with and 'angry at'. Use angry with a person; angry at a thing.

          She is angry with Barbara.
          We were angry at the result

 I'm grateful for my weekend at Winter Camp and  camaraderie of  these women who taught me  how to paddle, play Progressive Rummy, and make the best ever blueberry waffles,  and yesterday  reminded me  of the importance of a preposition.

***  http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/prepositions

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Beauty of North Idaho & Local Authors

                                                

    What comes to mind when you think of north Idaho? Is it fishing at Dawson Lake in Boundary County? Snow skiing at Schweitzer?  Sailing on Lake Pend Oreille,  or perhaps paddling the deep blue  waters of  Lake Coeur d Alene?  Is it the pristine beauty of Priest River,  and picking huckleberries in  late  summer? Maybe the rich heritage of the  Coeur d Alene Indians or   historic Cataldo Mission, the oldest standing building in Idaho - also known as the Mission of the Sacred Heart, founded by Jesuit priest, Father Pierre-Jean De Smet  in 1848.

    How about the  Route of the Hiawatha Trail, the old Milwaukee Railroad line making its way through Wallace ,  now a popular mountain bicycle trail popular with locals and tourists, or Camp Sweyolakan, one of the oldest resident camps in the United States with nearly 300 wooded acres on the shores on Mica Bay, with one of the largest fleets of classic war canoes [for more about Sweyolakan, see my stories "Two if  by Sea" IDAHO magazine, September 2012 and "Paddles Aweigh - Around the Lake in Ten Days" IDAHO  magazine, December 2013].

      North Idaho has long been touted for its beautiful rivers and lakes,  rich forested land and  abundant wild life - elk, deer, moose; Red Tail hawks and the majestic Eagle soaring across a  smog free sky.

      I have travelled in Mexico, throughout Europe, western Canada and many parts of the United States, and still find north Idaho to be among the  most magnificent landscapes I've ever seen. What some might call,  'God's Country'.  But there is another hallmark here, too. Something worth noting. It is a fertile environment for the creative mind, the daydreamer, the artist, the musician, the writer.

     While there isn't space  here to recognize every author from north Idaho and their books, several come to mind:

       Marianne Love. After reading her,  Pocket Girdles and other Confessions of a Northwest Farm Girl, an uproarious collection of autobiographical stories  about rural life in the northwest,  I decided I wanted to write memoir, to tell stories  like she did, in a humorous, heartfelt way. It was after attending one of Marianne's writing workshops, and her encouraging words about blogging I started my own blog, 2 lane highway( http://2lanehighway.blogspot.com).   Marianne remains one of my favorite writers.
                                                     
        
     Nancy Owens Barnes. Moose for Breakfast Outdoor Poems & Essays  published by Rushing River Press gives picturesque view of north Idaho living through Nancy's colorful words and prose. Nancy is winner of the 2008 Zola Award for Poetry and was 2007 Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year. Her book South to Alaska From the Heartland of America to the Heart of a Dream of one man's dream of living in Alaska fulfilled after he builds a 47 ft. boat in his Arkansas backyard begins a journey through a watery world he knows little about, to a world he cannot forget.
                                                   

     Elizabeth S. Brinton. "We landed with no thoughts of religious freedom in mind."  So begins, My American Eden / Mary Dyer, Martyr for Freedom. Chris Peck , editor, the Commercial Appeal writes, She captures with grace the gripping human story of a remarkable woman of faith who dared to challenge the dark side of an emerging America. Brinton uses her grasp of history and politics to help us better understand what happens when the line between government might and what is right is blurred.

     Phyllis HorneThe Carnival Girl - One Woman's Journey Through the Carnival Life tells how the author ran away from home at 14 and became a carnie - a carnival worker at the Pike in Long Beach, California. Hers is a story of brushes with the law, broken relationships and family trials until she eventually overcame those challenges and eventually owned her own business in Idaho.
                                                   

      Ana Parker Goodwin.  A former psychotherapist and lecturer turned writer, Anna writes a fictional account of Dr. Faythe Bradington , a Clinical Psychologist, shocked to learn that an ex-client is suing her for implanting false memories of childhood sexual abuse in  Justice Forbidden - A Dr. Faythe Bradington And L.P. Sanborn Novel. Ana is also co-author of renowned textbook on Sand Play Therapy.

                                         
       

     D. Faye HigbeeThe Dog Paw Chronicles/The Autobiography Of A Writer chronicles the authors life in short story form, with the addition of canine philosophy by Red the Dog.

    Michael Marsden. Author of several books, including The House in Harrison and The Black Dog Bed and Breakfast, Michael is a long time member of Idaho Writers League. His favorite quote is  one from E.L. Doctorow, "Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it's raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."

     Not just published book authors, but scriptwriters,  magazine writers, copyrighters, and bloggers as well.   Mary Jane Honegger recently won first place at the Sandpoint Film Festival  for her screenplay, Root Bound ,  a short film of how complications arise when a young professional denies his Idaho roots when he is hired by a national television show.

     Jenny Leo and Jennifer Rova are contributors to Writing North Idaho, and currently working on a novel.

    As writers we have a tendency to only look to the J.K. Rowlings,  Steven Kings  and other renowned authors far away for inspiration,  motivation and instruction,  when  local authors  very near can often provide the same right where we live, and write


* Note: All book titles mentioned in this blog can be purchased on Amazon
    

 

   

   

   

    

     





    

    

    

     

      

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Value Of A Letter? Consider Martin Luther King & His Letter From Birmingham Jail

 
                                                                                      
   Alexandra Stoddard, in her book Gift Of A Letter, quotes Sir Walter Raleigh when she writes , The appeal of a study of the great letter writers, is that it introduces us not to literary works but rather to individuals, who satisfy our innate curiosity about other people's lives and emotions.

 
  
    Stoddard also suggests,

   Writing has permanence  and requires discipline, which makes it stimulating to our minds and senses. Whenever we extend an effort, we become aware or the mysterious workings of our brains. Writing is active. We are the creator.

    As writers, I think   we sometimes forget the value of letter writing, and how letters contribute to the subject we choose to write about,  no matter the genre: Biography, Romance, Mystery, Memoir.  Letters can help develop character, and motivate story and plot. I can't say for sure, but I bet hundreds of novels have been written because of the influence of some old letter read, some  even  lead to social change .
   
   Consider Martin Luther King's letter in 1963 from Birmingham Jail. The letter written in response to public concern of eight white religious leaders of the South, became a corner stone of the civil-rights movement.

     King wrote:

      I am in Birmingham because of injustice here....I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly affects all indirectly.

      While not all of us who write letters may instill the passion and impact on society King did, our letters can serve as  tenders of memory and past events, or illicit hope for the future.  And some may simply relay a kind word and  happy greetings to a friend.

     The following  was originally posted  January 12, 2014 on my blog 2 lane highway (http://2lanehighway.blogspot.com)

                                     Is Letter Writing A Lost Art?

  A sweet, lovely gift arrived in my mailbox Saturday, a letter  addressed to me from my dear friend, Phyllis.  Letter writing is considered somewhat of a lost art these days, so it was with great delight I opened the lengthy missive to  read the salutation that began,  Dear Kath

     I curled up in my favorite  comfy chair and sat leisurely in  front of the warmth of the fire to read, to digest the newsy details of a family Christmas, a grandchild's  soccer game,  a younger brother living in Oklahoma , and  movies. It had the easy, natural telling  so familiar between trusted friends.

     Phyl also expressed her thoughts  about an article she recently read in the Los Angeles Times titled A love letter to the letter where  featured columnist, Simon Garfield laments  the loss of letter writing , and what society misses  by only texting, tweeting  and email.  I , too, lament the loss of letter writing and have blogged on this subject before.  Garfield rightly points to Keats and Dickinson suggesting what we know about their lives , their creative talent  and style wouldn't be known without the  personal letters they wrote.

    The same holds true not only for people of fame - authors, poets, politicians, but those within our own life circle.

 
     I thought about the box of letters I have from family and friends dating back to the late 1950's , and  how they describe place and time, activities and adventures,  mood and emotion . Sometimes they express encouragement, other times great sadness.  But what they always do is  leave a history , if even a glimpse,  of who we were, and how we lived.
 
    To write a letter takes some effort, it is sharing, a giving of oneself. There was a time, for  30 years or more  I received a letter from my Grandmother Vera Cooney every week. She was always interested  in how we were doing - mother,  my brother, and me. Then  she'd  write about her  activities - catering a big wedding and decorating cakes,  China painting, church,  an Altrusa club meeting, and  news about aunts, uncles and cousins, and about the weather in Council Bluffs.   I always looked forward to a letter from Grandma, and am happy I kept so many of them. There are other letters in my box - from Grandma Blanche, Aunt Nor, Dad, Uncle Lloyd,  Grandma Viv, and many cousins , including  Shauna and Nicole, and  long time friends who wrote about their summer vacation  at the beach, or some feeling of great angst or  delirious  joy.  Each letter important, and held very dear. Each one a small  part of the larger story of family and friends.
 
    I once considered myself  a good letter writer, too,  but must admit in recent years have fallen victim to the  quick and easy text and internet as so many others have,  where texts never linger long, and email deleted. In his L.A. Times article, I appreciate what Garfield writes:

    And if we replace simple letters with their instant always-on alternatives, we relinquish so much epistolary architecture too. The elegant opening address and sign off, the politeness of tone and the correct grammar and spelling. And before this there is the nice flowing pen and the stationery, and after it the scuttle for the stamp and the rush to the last post.

    Receiving Phyl's letter helps renew my hope for letter writing.  I'm grateful to my friend for her letter, and the joy it brought me,   and because of my friend's letter, I'm  prompted  to  take pen and paper in hand   and  write a letter, too.

To read Simon Garfield's complete article visit
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-garfield-letter-writing-20131229,0,2646801....

Martin Luther King/Letter From Birmingham Jail
http://www.uscrossier.org/pullias/king-jr-letter-from-birmingham/

 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lincoln's Proclamation

    Speech writing has a flare all it's own, sometimes to rouse an audience, other times to calm fears; it can provide information, outline a goal or give hope. Many believe there was no better speech writer than the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  He had an eloquent way with words, and knew how to string them together as perfectly as a seamstress threading a needle then stitching a straight line. Lincoln knew precisely how to use a sentence, a phrase to get his message across.

   Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation  is a fine example of his speech writing , expressing his lofty ideals, and calling a nation to give thanks for their bounty and blessing.  As an admirer of President Lincoln's writing skills, and in the spirit of our Thanksgiving holiday, I share his Proclamation with you now.

Abraham Lincoln's  
1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation  

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world.  May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

A. Lincoln
October 3, 1863

Monday, November 25, 2013

To Write About John F. Kennedy

   Below is essay I posted Friday November 22 on my blog 2 lane highway (http://2lanehighway.blogspot.com)  in memory of President John F. Kennedy. I share it again, on Writing North Idaho not only because  his meaningless death occurred a week prior to Thanksgiving, and for many of us of a certain age, Thanksgiving and the death of the  President of the United States  seem to intertwine in some surreal way, but  because as writers there is a mountain  of material left to write about    President Kennedy, his family, his politics, the assassination, the 1960's, his legacy and the impact  he had on the folks of  that era, and the continuing  influence he may  have  on future generations.



   Fifty years have passed since President John F. Kennedy was killed. It hardly seems possible so many of us, who were so young when the President was shot on November 22, 1963 , are now older than he was when he died, and yet we remember that horrific day and where we were like it was yesterday.  Several 'friends' on Facebook  posted memories :

*    I remember the day like it was yesterday! I was in choir and Mr. Salter talked to us after the PA announcement. Then we gathered in the cafeteria. No one was eating, and you could hear a pin drop.

* I was standing in the East Quad when I heard the news on the PA system. No one spoke, many shed tears, and most of us held our breath hoping it wasn't true.

* I was in P.E. and walked into the gym and saw Mr. Taschner sitting in the bleachers with his head in his hands, crying. I don't think I had ever seen a grown man cry before.

* I remember being in science class. It was such a sad day. I remember going home watching TV, and crying for days. I still have the newspapers from that horrible time. No matter the politics, everybody loved Kennedy.

   Yes ! I remember too, I  was in 8th grade  at St. Rose of Lima school in Maywood, California,  and  can see in memories eye,  an obviously sad, teary eyed  Sister Mary Agnesine tell the class the President had been shot, and feel  the solemn silence that followed like a darkened room after the lights are turned off. Then we prayed.

    That following Monday school was closed so students could be at home to watch the coverage of the Presidents funeral procession.  Perhaps the image of Mrs. Kennedy and her two children standing in front of the White House, and little John-John's sweet salute as his fathers caisson passed by has left the most lasting impression on us. So tragic, yet so tender.  If the bombing of Pearl Harbor joined our  parents generation together , the assassination of President Kennedy, the first Catholic elected president ,  certainly bound ours. And television played a big part. For the first time as a nation we not only grieved singularly , or within our own community , but collectively as a nation, witnessing together on live TV the killing of a president, his funeral and burial, then the murder of his assassin.

                                                                                               

     In a recent New York Times Book Review article titled Kennedy, the Elusive President,  Jill Abramson, executive editor of the Times wrote , An estimated 40,000 books about him (JFK) have been published since his death, and this anniversary year has loosed another vast outpouring. Yet to explore the enormous literature is to be struck not by what's there but by what's missing. Readers can choose from many books but surprisingly few good ones, and not one really outstanding one.

  Whoa! That 40,000 books have been written about President Kennedy is amazing to think about, but what strikes me more is Abramson's contention that none are worthy, that not one is really outstanding. She sites biographer Robert Dallek as saying historians are not really impressed with him , they see him more as a celebrity who didn't accomplish very much.

    In  the scheme of things , I suppose  a thousand days isn't all that long to accomplish goals set out in campaign promises.  But I would submit Kennedy's mark isn't necessarily his political imprint, but the imprint he left on the American psyche, and how his glow, and positive outlook  attracted young and old alike. And today, let  his  words sound loud and true,  Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Perfect Fall Day, and Apples

   Today was a perfect fall day. I had the luxury of idle time and sat out on the back deck in a cushioned, comfortable chair.  The air was crisp, the sky brilliant blue. However, my  thoughts weren't of the lake in view or fir trees all around , but of apples.

  Apples and fall go together like spring and chocolate bunnies or summer and corn on the cob. I  remember  when I was a grade school student at St. Rose of Lima , my mother packed a red apple every day in my metal lunch box. Apparently mom believed in the old adage , 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' .  And dunking for apples and candied apples were always a hit come All Hollow's Eve.
                                       

   While sitting under a cool sun, and enjoying the silence about me, I thought of paintings I had seen by famed artist's  Van Gogh and Cezanne,  and how their  still life images brighten the soul. Then  I wondered about writers and apples. Of course the first, and most famous story about an apple is found in the book of Genesis 2:7 when God tells Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit. Then Johnny Appleseed came to mind, a legendary character who went about the land planting apple seeds. And a poem by Robert Frost

After Apple - Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward  heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough

   Apples are like a sweet tonic to me, when I was just a little girl and didn't want to eat vegetables , my Grandpa Austin would tell  me , whatever food I objected to, was applesauce , then I'd  happily eat what was on my plate.  Through the years it became a family joke, whenever  something was served for dinner I thought I didn't like, someone would say, "It's applesauce" .

    Edgar A. Guest writes in his poem The Apple Tree

There 's nothing damn has builded with the
    beauty or the charm
That can touch the simple grandeur of the
     monarch of the farm.
There's never any picture from human
      beings brush
That has ever caught the redness of a single
      apple's blush.

    Just as the artist portrays the image he/she sees,   like the beauty of the apple, with paints on  canvas,  perhaps as writers, we can do the same with our words. The next time you see an apple in a bowl or on the ground, fallen from a tree,   take a closer look, then describe its essence in prose or story, to reflect the  sweet memory it invokes.

 


 




 



 




 
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

OCTOBER

While Summer brings fun in the sun, and carefree days
And Winter is joyous with the blessing of Christmas , and family cheer
And Spring? Well, Spring is like seeing something beautiful and
new for the very first time - brilliant blue sky and budding flowers.
Still,  Fall  has always been a special time of year to me - the month of
October especially so,  perhaps because it is the month I was born. When
my world greeted me with welcome arms and loving heart. The
feeling of wonder and change seems to permeate the air. Harvest colors, and a harvest moon; Red delicious apples and candy corn.
                                                

Three  favorite  poems come to mind that  describe for me  the aura and atmosphere  of  the  tenth month -

Dylan Thomas' Poem in October, in remembrance of his own birth day month , and this verse:

Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wondered and listened
   To the rain wringing
   Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me

October by Robert Frost

And this one, October's Bright Blue Weather by American poet and novelist, Helen Hunt Jackson

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone wall
Are leaves of woodbine twining

Not only Fall, but each  season with its changing landscape,  helps prompt us  to reflect on nature's beauty, and weave it into our own  story of life and love.


***Note: Helen Hunt Jackson  (1831 - 1885) is most famous for Ramona, a novel about a Native American orphan facing discrimination and prejudice. Ralph Waldo Emerson was an admirer of her poetry, and used several of her poems in public readings. To learn more about Jackson visit  http://www.poemhunter.com/helen-hunt-jackson/biography/










Monday, October 14, 2013

Holiday Magazine & Travel Stories


    For those  who regularly read my posts for Writing North Idaho, know I am drawn to nostalgia , and find pleasure in reading novels, stories, essays from  long ago. So, last week while I was with my mother browsing thrift stores in Lewiston for used books, I came across one titled, Ten Years of Holiday that  peeked my interest.



    To my surprise, I learned Holiday was a popular travel magazine published from 1946 to 1977. The magazine, published by Curtis Publishing Company, the same company that published Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal, would grow to more than  one million subscribers in its hey day. According to some, the reason for the magazines success may be because after World War II, travel overseas became more appealing to Americans, and the editors of  Holiday honed in on their passion to travel. I  believe another  reason may be because of the high quality of writers the magazine enlisted.

  Writers like : Frank O' Connor, Richard Llewellyn, Alistair Cooke, E.B. White,  Arthur Miller, C.S. Forester, Cleveland Amory, Irwin Shaw, James Thurber.

    And one other, Phil Stong , who is most known for his novel State Fair, which was later adapted to the famed Rogers and Hart musical of the same name. In the 1952 December issue of Holiday, Stong wrote Christmas in Iowa. That was the first story I read in the Holiday anthology. I think because Iowa is the birthplace of my family, and I have so many happy memories of living there myself at a very young age. What struck me in Stong's story is it wasn't about travel on foreign shore, but right here in America. He not only wrote  of his  hometown Keosauqua, Iowa as it was then, after he had lived away twenty years,  but as it was when he knew it best, during his childhood years, and the memory it invoked.

    It made me think of how travel writing doesn't always have to be about far away and distant places, but  towns close  and dear, the local cities we grew up in, and helped shaped  the people we were, and would become. I thought of my own home town of Bell, California. In the 1950's and 60's a small bedroom community in southeast Los Angeles, where folks were familiar with one another and felt safe in their neighborhood of modestly built homes.  Teenage boys pumped gas, checked oil, and cleaned auto windows at the Shell station on the corner of Gage and Wilcox. Other young fellows  would box groceries  at  Arvo's Market on the opposite corner, where I mostly remember buying an oversized grape  sucker for a nickel, then would go back to  the park to play tether ball with my friend Linda.  Parents weren't afraid for their kids to play outside. In Bell, we'd go  out early morning  to ride our bikes, roller skate, play Hide n Seek and Make Believe  and wouldn't return  home until late afternoon -  sometimes after    watching a Saturday matinee at the Alcazar Theater or swimming at the pool. I remember it as a happy time, the  best time. When life was good.

   I have lived away from Bell for many years now,  and only recently returned. It is not the same as I knew it then.  The Alcazar is gone, so is Arvo's Market. and Jim's Hairhouse, where so many I knew  used to get their haircut. Don's Hamburger's - 5 for a Dollar-   on the corner of Heliotrope and Randolph  is now a taco stand. But the library and the high school still stand, and my early place of worship, with its Spanish inspired architecture, St. Rose of Lima Church.

    Although I have travelled abroad, and throughout the United States, I've never seriously considered writing about my travels. But after reading some of the essays in Ten Years of Holiday, I may give it a try-  to write about places I've visited, especially those I know best - the cities where I lived.

    As writers, I suggest we all have 'travel' stories we can share. Whether past or present.

   For more information and history  about Holiday Magazine,  check out this well researched  and informative article in  Vanity Fair Magazine http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/05/holiday-magazine-history

  

   

     
    
  

  



  

    

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School & Writing Assignments

                                                             

  This past week many Facebook friends posted pictures of their children and grandchildren on the first day of school. Some even posted old black and white Kodak prints of their  own first day of school long years ago. All  very endearing and sweet,

   When I was a kid I seem to remember there was a happy anticipation at the start of each school year, like something new and good was about to happen. Students seemed to understand , sometimes grudgingly so, the summer season was over, and it was time again to study and learn.  One thing that always seemed to be the same from grade to grade  was sometime  during the first two weeks of school the teacher would assign the class to write about their summer vacation .

   While I don't recall each essay I wrote, two come to mind. The first one was about visiting my Grandpa Cecil Cooney at the Veteran's Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. He was very ill and no longer recognized many people he once knew,  but when I walked into the room he recognized me, and smiled. I adored my Grandfather and was so glad to see him. I took his hand and held  it against my cheek. Grandpa was my hero, we had shared so many happy times together. He always called me his 'Little brown-eyed sweetheart' . When Grandma asked if I wanted to help feed him , I quickly nodded yes , so grateful I could do something for Grandpa after all he had done for me.

   The other essay I remember   about summer vacation was when I was in 8th grade . Sister Mary  Agnesine instructed the class to write a descriptive story about something we did over the summer. I wrote of my first experience riding a Honda 50 . After Jim,  a dear family friend gave me  instruction  on how to start the motorcycle  and shift gears, I did just the opposite of what he said, and started  in high gear. Then,  faster than a locomotive,   I soared over the side of the bluff , dropping 30 feet into a dark murky lake,  like a  dive bomber crashing into the sea.  Honda and all. After hitting the water I floated to the top, but the bike sank straight to the bottom. I wasn't injured, just stunned and scared.  It took several dives before Jim eventually was able to pull the Honda from the water, but sadly,  it never ran the same  again. Sister wrote a note on the top of my paper that mys essay  was well written, but I didn't follow instructions as it was to be a 'true' story. I had to take some extra time after class  to explain it was a true story.

   I don't think educators have changed much over the years  - they still  assign  essays about summer vacations.  Last week I pulled a notebook from a chest downstairs  to re-read stories  my son Gavin wrote about his summer vacations , our family  trip to Disney World when he and his dad stood for an hour in the Florida heat to go down the slide at the water park,  and another about he and I spending  the day at Northtown Mall in Spokane.

                                                             
                                         

   In my opinion , that kind of writing exercise is beneficial to students of all ages, helping them to develop sentence structure, description,  and dialogue, and to tell a story in their own words, and style.  The same could be said of  writers, too. No matter how long we've been writing, it might be worth our while to think back on some of those  old school day  writing assignments , and put them into practice again.  Summer is passed, the new school year has begun,  why not write about one  experience you had during the summer. Perhaps a trip abroad, kayaking on the lake, a family reunion, or barbecue in the backyard. Decide on one special summer moment, and see where it leads you !



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Self Help Books & My Brother, Walt


   I venture to say most reader and writers when thinking about genre,  first consider mystery, memoir, fiction and non-fiction, and give very little thought to Self -help books.   Yet, year after year  Self-help books are often on best-seller lists,  and actually provide what they  claim - inspirational guidance, motivation and help.


                                                       

   Rudyard Kipling, Marjorie Holmes and Hugh Prather. What do they have in common, you may ask ? Each in their way  were self help writers; They  were also  favorites of my brother, Walt Cooney. From the time my brother was a little boy our mother  read to  him  over and over again Rudyard Kipling's great poem, IF

   If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
      Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,  
   If neither foes or loving friends  can hurt you,
       If all men count with you, but none too much;
   If you can fill the unforgiving minute
      With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
   Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it ,
       And - which is more- you'll be a Man, my son!

   Walt knew this poem well, and when caught in a challenging situation often recounted it to help guide his path, and bolster his spirit.

    In 1974 when I was to take an overseas flight to London with my very dear and  long time friend, Mary Kay , and   was scared beyond measure to fly such a long distance and be away from home for three months,  my brother gave me a book he came across titled, I've Got to Talk to Somebody  God  by Marjorie Holmes.  He inscribed it

     To my sis, Kathy on her 1st trip abroad.  Luv, Walt.  Kathy, read 115 when you're on the airplane. Love you always

       I can  honestly tell you, I read page 115 many times over during that flight, and indeed was greatly comforted . I at times still read it today:

       The Lord is my friend and my companion. How can I ever be lonely so long as he is with me? He walks along a country road with me and opens my senses  to loveliness never noticed before; The glitter of gravel beneath my feet, a tangle of sun-sweet grasses, a dust colored toad - all remarkable and fresh. He accompanies me along the busy street (or flying across the ocean -Walt's words). I am happy and at ease, for my Lord is also there.

    In the early 1980's  when Walt lived in Arizona, working for a carpet company  and was faced with the things of life many young people face, he read  a book that would become one of his favorites , Notes to Myself -  My Struggle to Become a Person by Hugh Prather.  I was unfamiliar with the book then , but knowing how much I enjoyed reading, Walt was excited to share with me  a  particular passage that moved his spirit:

      As I look back on my life, one of the most constant and powerful things I have experienced within myself is the desire to be more than I am at the moment - an unwillingness to let myself remain where I am- a desire to increase the boundaries of myself- a desire to do more, learn more, express more- a desire to grow-improve, accomplish ,expand. I used to interpret this inner push as meaning that there was some one thing out there I wanted to do or be or have. And I have spent too much of my life trying to find it. But now I know that this energy within me is seeking more than the mate or the profession or the religion, more even than pleasure or power or meaning . It is seeking out more of me; or better,  it is, thank God, flushing out more of me.

    My brother was born September 4, 1954. Today would be his 59th birthday. He was a much wanted, and loved baby boy with bright blue eyes, and blond hair. Named after his maternal  grandfather, Walter. Mother wanted Ronald, after our father, for his middle name, but dad didn't much like the  name Ronald at the time, so they settled on Rod, a name starting with the letter R, as in Ronald.  Walt came into this world with high energy and great love of life. By all accounts he was a happy  and good fellow.



    While Walt wasn't a recreational  reader of novels , I doubt many of his friends, or family  knew he was a reader of  Self help,  inspirational, and educational  books,  as he was always looking to grow and improve himself, or share something that might be helpful to someone else, like me .

    I don't know what prompted Marjorie Holmes or Hugh Prather to write, I'm just glad they did.  I didn't know their  books  until my brother shared them  with me all those years ago, books that remain fresh in my memory, books that keep us connected,  even though he's gone from this earth.  That's the power of the written word, and the impact they can have .


*** Info on how to write a  self help book
 http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130811/arts/arts2.html
 

http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Successful-Self-Help-Books-Writers/dp/0471037397/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378305936&sr=1-1
 


                                              In Loving Memory
                                               Walter R. Cooney
                                        Sept. 4, 1954 - May 30, 2010       
     


     




   

   

  
 
 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Writing





Summer for me

is joyful play,
fun in the sun
lazy days -
relaxation.
Cooking hamburgers
out on the grill,
kayaking, hiking,
eating watermelon.
Reading and writing
(no arithmetic, please)
Trying a different
genre, one I 
haven't written 
before: A mystery, 
history or play.
Or maybe a 
poem, an essay,
or personal story
about an old 
heirloom or weathered
barn; A road trip 
or circus show, a 
day at the lake, a 
walk in the woods; A 
family reunion or 
grunion run. It
matters not the 
topic or theme, only
that I write in summer


* In Fred White's The Daily Writer 365 meditations to cultivate a productive and meaningful writing life, White's  entry for  July 24 suggests writers TRY THIS-

Practice writing descriptions of objects using as many different kinds of sensory impressions as possible . Start by describing these objects in enough detail for them to come to life in the reader's mind.
 
  > thick steaks broiling on a mesquite grill
  > freshly baked pastries in a bakery window, from the viewpoint of a hungry,
     homeless person
  > a forest path during or just after a rainstorm
  > a dank, moldy cellar late at night

   ** While many prompts and summer writing ideas on the  internet  are aimed at younger school  children, some  are still helpful for writers of all ages such as keeping a summer writing journal.   Summer will be with us for another several weeks,  so I encourage you to make your own 'Bucket List' of summer writing ideas, and write something every day.



Monday, July 22, 2013

Writing Modes, & Importance of The First Sentence


    Maggie Smith , the acclaimed star of Downton Abbey on PBS,  won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1970 for her role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,  the same year I started my career in journalism  at the Pico Rivera News in southern California. The  editor,  Bill Schlapper was like a college professor giving instruction and guidance to his fledgling reporters.   When writing a  story, Bill said  I should  choose  the topic,  and carry its theme throughout  - not to become distracted with emotion and extemporaneous happenings outside of what I was writing about.

    Bill was an early mentor  whose counsel served me well in the feature articles I wrote for the Pico Rivera News, and later when I took at job  at the Herald-American/Call Enterprise. Along with the basic writing rule  of journalism - what, who, when, where and why, Bill often alluded to  the four  writing modes and their different roles,  how each had a specific purpose.  Expository, Descriptive, Narrative, and Persuasive. The one time editor of the Pico Rivera  News would be pleased to know textbooks today still list  those modes.

   Expository writing communicates knowledge. It provides and explains information; it may also give general directions or step by step instructions on any activity.

   Descriptive writing can make a person, place or thing come to life.

   Narrative writing tells a story, either real or fictional, and holds the reader's attention by presenting interesting characters in a carefully ordered series of events.

   Persuasive writing presents an opinion. Its goal is to make readers feel or think a certain way.

   With each type, there are several  questions particular  to the  modes  of writing a   writer  should  ask   of him or her self.   One in common for all,  "Is the opening paragraph interesting, does the first sentence get the reader's attention?"  For me, that opening sentence is always the most difficult to write.  Where to start ? How to begin? I think back to those many years ago,  long before personal computers and word processing  when I  sat behind a Royal  typewriter to do a story for the newspaper. Always  close to deadline,  it would take me  the longest timeto compose that first sentence. I would eventually get up from my chair, pace the floor back and forth until something came to mind. A habit I continue to this day when working on an article for magazine  or blog post.

 
 

     According to one  internet writing site, to write brilliant first sentences,  writers should   pick up favorite books and read the first sentence carefully and think about what makes them so effective. It is often judged  the best opening sentence is short and snappy, and sets the tone of the story.


     For example, read the first sentence of  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark's novel published in 1961, later adapted to stage play , then movie :

      The boys, as they talked to the girls from Marcia Blaine school, stood on the far side of their bicycles holding the handlebars, which established a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, and the impression that at any moment the boys were likely to be away.

      It's not   boys talking to girls that draws the reader in ,  but a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, that describes the scene, and makes us wonder about these particular boys and girls, and what happens next?     It shows how a  well written first  sentence  helps  motivate  the reader to read on.

   

     

 

 

 

   



Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day

    For Christians, God the Father holds a vital importance  - the first person of the Blessed Trinity,creator of all,   in  the book of Genesis  the Lord tells Abraham he will be  father of many generations, and Americans refer to George Washington as the father of their country.

    The name father has always held a special significance.   One who is protector, provider,  role model, counselor, guide - one who disciplines , but also forgives; One who helps their children be the best they can be, and loves unconditionally.

     I was surprised to learn Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington  at the YMCA in 1910 , but wasn't until  1966 , President Lyndon  B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating  the third Sunday in June as Father's Day, and   wasn't until  six years later President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.  

     This Sunday as we commemorate Father's Day, I think of my own father, Ronald W. Cooney,  and   the positive way he has influenced my life.  I am his oldest child, in some ways you might say we have grown up together,  sharing the twists and turns of an unpaved road., marking our own way as we drove along. No matter my age, or what I was doing dad always encouraged my endeavor and told me I could succeed if I persevered , like he did when reaching out his hand to me when  I was still a toddler taking first steps off our front porch. I felt confident knowing he was there.


     Dad's motto is not to wallow in misery and past mistakes, but strive ahead and make the next day better. It's a motto that has served him well, and has been a good example for me.

     For writers of memoir,  stories about fathers are a wonderful avenue to pursue.

     Through the years many  books have been written extolling the virtues of fathers , including :

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. While the author tackles the topic of race relations,  she also depicts,  in an inspiring way the loving relationship between father and daughter.

Little House on the Praire. Laura Ingalls Wilder tells of the hardship of pioneer life while exploring the bond between the girls and their pa.

Fatherhood by Bill Cosby , the  1987   bestseller shares the authors tales of his life being the father of five.

    And one of my personal favorites, Life with Father by Clarence Day, Jr., first published in 1936.  I have read Day's account of   his exacting, humorous father more than once, and have watched the beautifully adapted movie staring William Powell  and Irene Dunn  several times. It is pure joy.

      In 2007 my dad gave me a book titled How to Write Poetry and inscribed it with many notations,  among them , 'To Kathy, my favorite poet" ( see what I mean about dad giving me encouragement ?)  Then he wrote :

I read in this book: "Sometimes a few beautiful  well-constructed lines are more powerful than any thousand page novel could possibly be."  So this book challenges you to always seek  the  "few beautiful well-constructed  lines."      My love, Dad

                                               

                Happy Father's Day, Dad ! With love and gratitude  from  your daughter, Kathy.
     


 
   

    

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A June Wedding, Graduation & Anthologies

     Yesterday morning my cousin, Elizabeth posted a picture of her parents on facebook . It is one of those wonderful   photos from a time long gone showing a young couple clearly in love with one another. In my opinion this is one of the great  photos, and  without prejudice think  Aunt Myrtle (Suzy) Cooney and Uncle Bob Breedlove look movie star glamorous !  They were childhood sweethearts growing up in Council Bluffs, Iowa,  and married June 11, 1941. Along with their three children, Aunt Suzy and Uncle Bob shared an exciting life together - living in Germany, New York, Maine and Mexico.


     My aunt and uncle were soul mates, and by all accounts their marriage was one made in heaven, they were a very dear couple,  perfectly suited to each other.  Perhaps ,  that's why they chose the month of June to make their vows.  June is named for Juno , Roman goddess of marriage. Ever since  Plurarch in the ancient  days of the Roman Empire  implied June was the most favorable month for weddings,  June has been considered 'bridal' month.

     June was also  considered  commencement month in years past,  when seniors  graduated high school.  After breakfast this morning  I  pulled  The Treasure Chest from my book shelf - an anthology of 1,064 familiar and  inspirational quotations, poems, sentiments, and prayers from great minds of 2500 years.  It's a book I often   browse through , but this day I took extra time in reading the inscription, Kathleen Cooney Graduation gift from Grandma Cooney  June 13, 1968. 




   The first thing that came to mind was, "Oh, my!, can it really be  45 years since I graduated high school!".  The next thing I studied was the inscription written in my  grandma's own hand, and how familiar her cursive writing  was to me. I  thought about her love of poetry, and her  joy in  sharing that love with others, especially her children and grand-children.  It's  a rich heritage she left to us.

    From The Treasure Chest are two  that touch my heart.  I'm pretty sure they would be favorite's of my grandmother, too.

To reach the port of heaven we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it 
- but we must sail, not drift or lie at anchor   Oliver Wendell Holmes

    My Creed  by Howard Arnold Walter

I would be true, for there are those
who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care.
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer,
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
I would be friend to all - the foe, 
the friendless;
I would be giving , and forget the gift.
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up  - and laugh - and love - and lift

    According to Wikipedia,  anthologies became important in the twentieth century as a part of poetry publishing, i.e. for English poetry, the Georgian poetry series was trend-setting; it showed the potential success of publishing an identifiable group of younger poets marked out as a 'generation'.   Some publishers  found anthology publication a more flexible medium than the collection of a single poet's work.  I have several in my personal library:  Anthology of American Poetry, A Treasury of GREAT POEMS English and American compiled by Louis Untermeyer, Idaho's Poetry A Centennial Anthology edited by Ronald E. McFarland and William Studebaker.

    Another favorite anthology is one belonging to my mother, Lenora - one  given to her by Grandma Cooney  in the early years of her marriage to my dad -  books she still cherishes, and reads.    Memorial Edition Anthology of the World's Best Poems compiled by Edwin Markham Vol 1-6  . I was still a very little girl when mother  would read poems  to me each night from  one  those  small maroon  books with the  gold leaf binding. It was from her sweet voice,  I first   learned of Eugene Field's Little Boy Blue, and  Wynken, Blynken,  and Nod, and  The Duel staring the gingham dog and calico cat who side by side on the table sat, and was completely  enthralled.

 


    Anthologies shouldn't be overlooked as a source for writers - they provide a wide range of expression and writing style. The anthology may be a collection of essays, short stories, poems, or plays, and are a worthwhile addition to any home library.