Cookies in the Moonlight

Good morning all. *yawn*  Just to warn you I am writing this B.C. (Before Coffee)

I slept in this morning because I didn’t get home until close to 2am. Last night, the total lunar eclipse was interesting despite the fact that it was too overcast to watch with our own eyes.

lunar eclipse

The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, GA was open for the eclipse, so the kids and I took a trip.  We got to go into the observatory and watch a feed of the eclipse on a television screen. Nothing could be seen through the telescope because of the cloud cover.

My daughter was typical “moody teen force on a family trip“. My son loved it. He learned toby gearsthe phases of the moon with cookies and got to play with gears in the kids section.

All in all it was a good trip. We had a late night but a fun one. Museum memberships are handy things to have.

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A Historic Weekend

jonesboroghHistory seems to be a running theme with me lately. Mostly the mid to late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. This Saturday I went to Jonesborough, Tennessee. It is the state’s oldest town and the storytelling capital of the world. Every year, during the first week in October, Jonesborough hosts the National Storytelling Festival.  I have never been but I have heard that it really is something special.

We took the walking tour of Historic Jonesborough and learned a lot. Jonesborough was the birthplace of one of Roosevelt’s rough riders, and at least three U.S. presidents stayed there for awhile. In the 1800’s it was the last post of civilization west.

The old Inn still stands, where men were packed as many to a room as would fit. That teameans in the bed and in the floor. You didn’t get a room to yourself or even a bed. We were able to look around upstairs at a few of the rooms that had been restored to the Victorian era. I knew about the Victorian fondness for wallpaper but it is different seeing it up close; with the bright blue patterns on the wall and the pink circle patterns on the ceiling.

Jonesborough is a place of interesting shops like Paul’s Pens Odds & Ends where I bought a new writing implement. I can’t call it just a pen because the cartridge is removable and has pencil lead which can take its place. Each item in the shop is crafted with awe inspiring talent. I loved the dragon pens and the ones made from 30,000 year old wood.

Jonesborough was a interesting trip through time. However, on Sunday I took another trip which was just as interesting. The kids and I drove over to Red Clay State Park which was the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the Trail of Tears. This weekend for the first time in 176 years, three of the recognized tribes met at the ancestral council grounds.

cherokee 2015My children got a chance to see a piece of the past. Like many in the area, we are descended from Cherokee. The Irish and the German in our bloodline hides the native blood behind blue eyes and light hair, but it is still there.

My son really enjoyed it. He got to hear how the water spider brought fire to the Cherokee basketspeople and how the Eagle carries prayers to the creator. He got to touch soap stone and see how it is carved. He got to see baskets being woven. We had a fun weekend and we all came away with a bit more knowledge.

In The End, Everything Is A Tale

Watson Story Quote-800wiI love to learn new things. I think that is why I like to read so much. Even in fiction, there are truths to cherish. History and Science fascinate me the most. One is a story of what was and the other is an unraveling tale of what will or could be.

History and Science don’t always give us happy endings but there is still the encouragement to keep dreaming. We know if things didn’t work out well in the past when we did this or that, then that thing is to be avoided in the future. If we experiment and the experiment doesn’t do what we expected, well that experiment failed but what else can the end result be used for?

Shakespeare said:  “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;” 

This is true only because a play is another way to spin the yarn and tell the tale. Sanderson Quote-800wiWe are made up of words and colors, but that is just the medium used to impart meaning. Storytellers are amazing people because not only do they share stories but, because on some level. they realize that we are all connected by the tale.

Writers, poets, artists, actors, playwrights, historians, scientists; they could just as easily be called monks or priests. History tells a story. Science tells a story. We are all just one paragraph in a giant universal tale.

…And that is my deep thought for today.

Labor Day

gear-408364_640This Monday begins a new month and also marks a turning point in history. In the United States, during the industrial revolution, work weeks were often 12 hours shifts, 7 days a week. Children, barely more than toddlers, were working in factories and mines instead of playing games. No kindergarten for these kiddies. The whole family had to work to make sure mouths were fed. Working conditions, especially if you were poor or new to the country, surpassed dangerous and sometimes were just plain deadly.

Labor Unions began to form and began protesting the poor working conditions. In 1867 the government signed into effect a law regulating working hours for federal employees and Illinois workers, changing their shifts to an 8 hour day.  May 1, 1886 there was a movement to include the rest of the nation.

The thing is, they never actually enforced the law. A shorter work day and better pay work-384745_640sounded great to overworked, underpaid employees. So union banners were taken up and the peaceful protest marches began.  Some employers feared a “workers revolution” so they quickly signed on for shorter work days.

May 4, 1886 a rally was organized in Haymarket Square to protest the shooting of striking workers by the Chicago police the day before. The turn out was less than what was expected and the speakers either didn’t arrive or were late. Rain began falling toward the end of the rally which sent some of those who had hung around scurrying for home.That was when the police showed up to disperse the rest and chaos erupted. Someone from the crowd threw a bomb, shooting began which led to the deaths of seven policemen and four workers.

No one was sure who brought a bomb to a peaceful rally, but blood had been spilled so someone had to answer for it. Eight men, (*Cough, Cough, scapegoats) were rounded up and charged. Seven of the men were sentenced to death and the last one was give 15 years in prison.

matchstick-20237_640More strikes and more rallies happened over the next eight years, but it wasn’t until the American Railway Union began a boycott of Pullman railway cars and brought the nation to a stand still, that notice was finally taken.  Pullman Palace Car Company, maker of railway cars, had cut hours and fire union representatives. The workers went on strike and the boycott began. Things got so bad, troops had to be brought in. Which, of course, outraged many and started a wave of riots in Chicago.

In 1894 Labor Day became a Federal Holiday.  So now, on the first Monday in September, we sit around the barbeque with our friends and family enjoying the holiday.  Kids don’t have to go to school and the banks are closed so everyone can have a day off.  (If we aren’t scheduled to work.)

 

 

 

 

 

Reading

iwdayala0240cI love to read.  I read a little of just about everything.  One reason I like to read is because I grew up with parents who liked to read.  My mom read to me when I was little.  My dad constantly had books and science fiction magazines laying around.

Another reason is because of a show called Reading Rainbow.  It was amazing.  As a kid I was introduced to a much wider variety of books than just the ones at home. Science, science fiction, mechanics, fantasy, fairy tales and mystery novels are awesome but there was a whole…well, Rainbow of topics that were not readily available at home.  (My parents were never big on the classics for example.)

reading rainbowI would have missed out on so many wonderful stories if not for Reading Rainbow. And now there is a kick starter to bring this story strong resource to more kids.  True it seems mostly to be an online thing,  but so many kids have internet access today that this is probably the best way to reach the most kids.  It will also be available in classrooms and free to those schools that could not otherwise afford it.

Reading Rainbow still has the magic to encourage kids to read. While I was watching this kick starter video my son was playing loudly in the other room.  As soon as the music started he went quiet and was stand next to me seconds later.  The gift of books and knowledge of the written word is a powerful thing.  With it, you truly can “go anywhere”.

Good Weekends

snoopyI would just like to say that if this post reads like it was written by a drooling two fingered alien, with only a tenth of the mental capacity of the average human…well that’s not too far off.  At least that’s how I feel this morning.  I have a hot cup of coffee sitting here.  I am waiting for it to cool enough for me to drink it.  (It’s instant.  I couldn’t wait long enough for the real stuff.)

Anyway, now that I have the disclaimer out of the way, I had a great weekend.  The kids were out of school all last week for Fall Break, but I had to work until Wednesday so I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked.  Wednesday and Thursday are kind of a blur for me because I was still adjusting back to being awake during the day.  Friday afternoon we went to the library, came home, ate dinner, read a book, and went to bed.

Then Saturday dawned.  My cousin, who is something between a craftsman and a mad scientist, had a booth at a tractor show in the next town over.  I had never been to a tractortractors show so we decided to check it out.  I even donned overalls for the occasion, much to the embarrassment of the kids.  (Picking on my kids is one of main reason I own overalls to begin with.  I am a terrible gardener, I don’t own any live stock, and I rarely work on cars.  Even when I do, it is more of handing my brother the appropriate wrench type of thing.  I do love all of the pockets in overalls though.)

My daughter’s best friend came along and we had good time viewing tractors, petting cows, and climbing on trailers for hay rides.  My daughter’s friend decided to spend the night, so I took all three kids hojack o lanternme to carve pumpkins and roast hot dogs.  The girls stayed outside well after dark and only came in near bed time.

Sunday morning we drug ourselves out of bed for the country fair at Prater’s Mill.  It was a lot like the tractor show but with more booths, less tractors, and more clog dancers.  There were canoes to paddle as well, but with three kids I decided I didn’t want to chance it.  (I know my two are good swimmers but I wasn’t sure about the blacksmithother girl.)  We ate barbeque sandwiches, got faces painted, bought random trinkets and learned about blacksmithing, spinning and weaving wool, and carving wooden bowls.   (We also came home with sunburns, because it is the middle of October and I didn’t think about sunscreen.)

I met some interesting people and decided I really need to invest in a digital recorder.  (Many writers have them to record ideas or to keep notes.)  Murray County Paranormal Investigations had a booth near the face painters.   So while waiting on the kids to be ghost giggleturned into dragons, I introduced myself and had a pleasant conversation. If I had carried a digital recorder with me then I could have interviewed them for my blog.  They were kind enough to answer my questions and informed me that they do ghost tours.

Now I am the first to admit that I am a coward. I do believe there is more out there that what can be seen with the human eye.  I also firmly believe that if whatever it is will stay away from me, then I will stay away from it.

That being said, they are doing a ghost tour this coming Saturday at the Historic Wright wright hotelHotel in Chatsworth, Georgia.  This would not be too far of a drive for me and they said if I come they would be happy to do an interview before the tour.  I would find it tempting except I have to work Saturday.  I may try to go anyway depending on what time it starts.

Another fascinating person I met at the country fair, was an artist by the name of Roland J Rankin.  I fell in love with his paintings.  They were amazing.  You could almost mistake them for photographs.

roland j rankinI spoke with Mr. Rankin for a little while and exchanged contact information.  After I told him I was a writer, he smiled at me and told me to “keep at it” and to not give up.  Words from an almost stranger, but they hit me hard.  I think it was because of the fact that I don’t really know him that the words meant a lot to me.  It’s funny how encouragement comes to us sometimes.

Before I left his booth, he gifted me with some note card prints with some of his work on the front.  I intend to frame and hang them on the wall where I can see them while I write.  roald-dahl-inspiration-quote-motivation-life-advice-believe-in-magic-glittering-eyes-childrens-author-writer

Heinlein’s Rules For Writers and other things I learned at LibertyCon

This weekend I attended LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN for the second year in a row.  I enjoyed it just as thoroughly this time as I did last year and learned even more.  As writers we often spend a lot of time on our own, even if it is just inside our heads.

Insecurities creep up on us because of the solitary nature of our craft.  It is nice to get out there and find other people who experience the same joys and the same set backs.  It is wonderful to know that you are not alone and not the only one facing certain problems.  And when you find those other like you, then realize they have found a few solutions to the problems you’ve been struggling with… well it’s enough to start the angels singing.

This is the reason so many professionals encourage writers to join or form writing groups.  Alcoholics have AAA, writers have writing groups.  They both serve the same purpose.  To offer support.

This is just the first post on my con experience this year. I will post again, preferably after I manage to get several uninterrupted hours of sleep.  It astounds me how often I learn something that is new to me but seems to be common knowledge to many others.  I believe Heinlein’s Rules For Writing falls into that category.  My thanks goes to authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta for enlightening me.

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Rule One: You Must Write

Rule Two: Finish What Your Start

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Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order3

Rule Four: You Must Put Your Story on the Market4

Rule Five: You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold 5