I Was So Much Younger Then…

I’ve had a song stuck in my head, on endless loop, since it popped up on my playlist during my afternoon walk yesterday. That song is “My Back Pages,” written by Bob Dylan, sang by The Byrds. Dylan recorded it first in 1964 on his album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, but it’s The Byrds’ rendition released in 1967 that I’m most familiar with. And like the best. Dylan was a hell of a poet-songwriter, a master wordsmith, but his singing left something to be desired—in my opinion.

The reoccurring line “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” in “My Back Pages” brings to mind something my daddy told me long ago, something to the effect that the older he gets, the less he knows. When I was a young adult, I didn’t get the meaning of his words, even though at the time, I thought I knew everything. As I grew older, though, I understood that as one matures, one becomes aware there’s so much they don’t know, and what one thought they knew, was often wrong, assumptions based on missing or faulty information. And along with the understanding, realized that in our youth, most of us believe “…lies that life is black and white…” (another line from the song). That’s when I began to think for myself.

The song also got me thinking about the current state of pop music—and I include country because it has devolved into pop. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there’s still good singers and songs out there, they’re just few and far between. Think Maggie Rose and Ryan Bingham, two artists who I think are highly underrated unless you like your music to all sound the same.

60s and 70s music has soul. And to a lesser extent, so do the offerings from the 80s and 90s. But somewhere around the turn of the century, music lost its way, began to sound canned, so to speak, as if it all came out of the same place. Nowhere is the difference more apparent than songs with a message; here, the disparity is quite clear. Let’s compare the lyrics of “My Back Pages” with Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down”—

"My Back Pages"

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow
Ah,but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull, I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy

To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke their word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My existence led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

"You Need To Calm Down"

You are somebody that I don’t know
But you’re taking shots at me like it’s Patrón
And I’m just like, “Damn!

It’s 7 AM”
Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out
But you say it in a tweet, that’s a cop-out
And I’m just like, “Hey!

Are you OK?”

And I ain’t tryna mess with your self-expression
But I’ve learned the lesson that stressing and obsessing
‘Bout somebody else is no fun
And snakes and stones never broke my bones

So, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to calm down
You’re being too loud
And I’m just like

“Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to just stop
Like, can you just not step on my gown?
You need to calm down”

You are somebody that we don’t know
But you’re coming at my friends like a missile
Why are you mad
When you could be GLAAD?

(You could be GLAAD)

Sunshine on the street at the parade
But you would rather be in the dark ages
Just making that sign
Must’ve taken all night

You just need to take several seats
And then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream
About all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay

So, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to calm down
You’re being too loud
And I’m just like

“Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to just stop
Like, can you just not step on his gown
You need to calm down”

And we see you over there on the Internet
Comparing all the girls who are killing it
But we figured you out
We all know now
We all got crowns
You need to calm down

Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to calm down

(You need to calm down)
You’re being too loud

(You’re being too loud)
And I’m just like

“Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!
You need to just stop

(Can you stop?)
Like can you just not step on our gowns
You need to calm down

“My Back Pages” reads like poetry written by a thinking adult while “You Need to Calm Down” sounds like a child’s scribbles. I’m not running down Taylor Swift, she’s preaching to the choir; she’s a savvy businesswoman, knows what her fans want to hear. But tell me this—which song will pass the test of time? (Hint, one already has.)
What has happened to originality? What has happened to heart and soul? Where the hell has it gone? And what has happened to our youth that they accept this pablum? Why don’t they demand more from their songwriters/storytellers/singers?

Or is it just that, like the generations before me, I think everything was better in The Good Old Days of my youth? Hmmm…

Naw, the music sucks.

©️2020 KT Workman

This version contains the two verses not included in the Byrds’ cover:


	

She’s Gonna Blow!

I see it’s been a while since I posted—close to two months, in fact. As to why I’ve been remiss, as I told a fellow blogger, I just haven’t been in the mood to post. And when I started this blog (my fourth), I made myself a promise I wouldn’t force myself to post, that I would only do so when inspiration struck. My previous blogs got mired down because they began to feel like a job: I had to show up at the appointed time and produce or some calamitous event might occur. I’ve never been good with that. Too much pressure. I held down a job for many years and was seldom absent, but in that context, calamity would strike if I didn’t show. Things like losing my house or vehicle, not eating, and such. A blog is another kettle of fish…or whatever.

Shortly after my last post, this whole Covid-19 thing reared its ugly, diseased head. I was in the middle of writing a short story set on an alternate Earth (I’ve written five with the same setting) that just kept going and going, so I decided to take some time off WordPress to complete it. The thing ended up in novelette territory—over 17,000 words. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. Should I send it out to magazines, a process that might take months (or never) to place, with little payment for my time? Publish it in installments here? Shove it in a drawer and forget about it? Any suggestions?

Anyway, after completing the story, my creative juices flowed in another direction. Two directions actually: baking and sewing. In the baking department, I made yeast breads, quick breads, muffins, and other goodies, things I’m an old hand at, before deciding I wanted to try something I haven’t before: sourdough bread. And to make the bread, I needed a starter. I’m trying to grow my own, and so far, have killed one, water too warm, I think, and am now attempting another. I have bubbles and growth, so I think (hope) I’m on the right track.

 

As for sewing, I learned the how-to on my mama’s old Singer treadle machine when I was a wee one, probably younger than ten. I’m not sure about the age but remember making doll clothes on it. And for a good part of my adult life, I continued to sew off and on, but quite a few years ago, except for mending, I stopped. To be honest, I hadn’t broken out my machine for any reason in probably 8 or 10 years, then I couldn’t find the face masks we were all told to wear, no way, no how. No problem, I thought, I’ll make them.

You should have heard my poor machine when I put the pedal to the metal—squeak, squeak, squeak. But I persevered, stitching along a piece of scrap fabric, turn, stitch another row, again and again until my machine was sewing as smoothly and quietly as it had when it had been put out to pasture so many years ago. I would expect no less from a Singer.

To my surprise, I enjoyed making the masks, so much so that I’m now itching to make something. Anything! I need new potholders, so I think I’ll make a few to get back in practice, then move on to something bigger. I haven’t decided yet what that might be, but being mostly housebound for the foreseeable future, I’ve got to come up with something to keep myself occupied and in a different room than Husband. Our marriage may depend on it.

In this time of rabid intolerance, can you imagine being married to someone whose political views are the opposite of yours? Okay, before Covid-19 this was manageable, just don’t talk politics. But with the cable news networks now blasting information/disinformation 24/7, Husband has been stressing out. Combine that with his ongoing TDS, and you have a powder keg about to blow. I’ve already gotten scorched a few times.

Baking, sewing, writing, a lot of reading…what else can I find to do indoors? In another room from Husband, of course.

©️2020 KT Workman

 

Fudge Making

When I was growing up, store-bought snacks were a rare treat. We ate the proverbial three square meals a day, occasionally topped off with homemade yeast rolls, a cake, fruit cobbler, or my favorite: banana pudding. Then there was mellorine, popcorn, and fudge, our main snacks.

In case y’all don’t know, mellorine is imitation ice cream, and according to Britannica, it is “made with less expensive vegetable oils instead of butterfat but utilizes dairy ingredients for the milk protein part.” (I haven’t seen it in stores in years, but think it’s still available in some areas.) I suppose Mama reasoned that if you have a houseful of kids and must make every penny count, cheaper imitation ice cream is better than no ice cream at all. My young self would have agreed; she loved the Neapolitan.

Mama used the big aluminum pan she cooked beans to pop the popcorn. She poured in a bit of Mazola corn oil when the pan got hot, then added the corn kernels, and a sprinkling of salt. Next, the lid went on, and it was shake, shake, shake until the popping stopped. It was a bunch of popcorn, requiring a large dishpan to hold it all. Us kids and Daddy (if he were home) made short work of it. Hopefully, Mama got a little too.

Then there was the fudge…made from scratch with Hershey’s Cocoa, a staple in Mama’s kitchen that’s still available today. The candy required only six ingredients, seven if you counted the nuts, but I wouldn’t say it was simple to make, especially if one didn’t have a candy thermometer, which we didn’t. I remember watching Mama and my older sisters mixing, boiling, and stirring, the stirring going on for quite some time.

We had a large black walnut tree in our yard that provided nuts for the fudge; but getting enough for a batch was as time-consuming as all the stirring. Black walnut shells are hard and thick, and when one finally cracks it open, fishing out the nuts is no easy task. We used a clean bobby pin to dig and gouge out the small morsels, breaking them into even smaller pieces in the extraction process. Fingers were stained, and patience was tested, but it was all worth it; the black walnuts transformed ordinary fudge into a gourmet delight.

My memory is a sketchy thing, recalling little about the first time I made fudge. But I do remember the aftermath: the candy didn’t set. I was so disappointed.

In her own sweet way, Mama lifted my spirits, turned a disaster (to me) into a cherished memory. She told me it didn’t matter, that the fudge would taste just as good eaten with a spoon. And in my mind’s eye, I can still see her and me doing just that: sitting in front of the fireplace, each with our own spoon, passing the pan of half-set fudge back and forth.

Down through the years, there were quite a few instances Mama kindly pointed out that something, which seemed important to me at the time, didn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. More often than not, especially when I was young, I didn’t grasp what she was trying to tell me; I had to get quite a bit older for it to sink in, for me to realize that most of the things I studied on and worried about really didn’t matter. But at least when it came to the runny fudge, when she and I were scraping it up with our spoons, I knew she was right: it didn’t matter, not one little bit.

Click here for fudge recipe

©️2020 KT Workman

Image via Pixabay

Spring

A few days ago, I saw the first sign that it won’t be long until spring in my neck of the woods. Near my patio, a tiny bed of tulips and daffodils are poking up through the cold, damp soil.

My mama always loved spring. She was an avid gardener of both vegetables and ornamental plants. In the growing season, if you went to visit in the daylight hours, most likely, you’d find her outside rather than in. As an adult, I don’t know how many times I dropped by, calling out for her as I let myself in the front door without knocking, only to be greeted with silence. I’d make my way to the kitchen, look out the window, and there she’d be, most of the time, in the garden, but sometimes in the yard tending her flowers.

In late winter, she’d pour over seed catalogs she received through the mail. I’m not sure if she ordered anything—I think not—but she loved to window shop. She purchased most of her seeds and plants at the local Farmer’s Co-op Feed Store in early spring, and as soon as the soil was warm enough, planted her onion sets, potato cuttings, leaf lettuce, radishes, turnips, and other hardy plants and seeds. Soon it was on to cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, carrots, beans, peas, and last but not least: okra. (Please forgive me, veggies, if I left some of you out.)

I know our garden was important in feeding our large family, especially in the early years; but Mama continued raising a big garden long after all of us were grown and gone, long after there was a monetary reason to do so. As the years went by, Daddy helped her more and more. And my brother and sister-in-law, who lived nearby, took over the most backbreaking work, enabling her to continue doing what she loved.

Mama surrounded our old house with all manner of flowering plants and shrubs. She loved anything that grew—she had to. What other reason than love would she have for spending hours tending vegetables, then still carve out time to work her flowers? And all this while holding down a job in town for a lot of those years.

During the last few months of my mama’s life, her mind was slipping away. She died in mid-January when a lot of the days were cold, dreary, and sometimes rainy, as it is here today. Quite a few times, when she was cognizant of the weather outside, especially when it was raining, she’d remark that she wished it would stop so she could get out in the garden. It broke my heart because I knew she would never walk those rows again. I’d tell her it was winter, and the garden was resting, and she should too; that come spring, she’d be out there again.

In the years since she has been gone, when spring comes and everything is green and growing, I take it all in and think how Mama would love it. Sometimes, I cry. Sometimes, I smile. And sometimes, I do both.

©️2020 KT Workman

Image via Pixabay

Glitches

Just a quick gripe here—

On my post yesterday, “The Village of Useless Women”, the comments were turned off. (I have since turned them back on.) I didn’t know until late yesterday when I saw my readers who almost always commented, didn’t. And I remembered a couple of my fellow bloggers in the past telling me they’d had trouble with the like or comment (or both) option not appearing on some of their posts. So I went into WordPress administrator, and sure enough, the discussion tab was unchecked for that post. I know I didn’t do it…so the question is, who did? Or what did? 😳

I guess I’ll just have to chalk it up to the WP Glitch Hobgoblins, cousins to the PC, Mac, and Android Glitch Hobgoblins. They sure are a busy bunch.

If any of y’all have had this problem, was it a one-time thing, or was it ongoing? Was it resolved, or do you have to always make sure before publishing a post that comments are enabled?

Irritating…😬

Update–

And now comments, which I enabled this morning, have been closed (not by me) on my last post. What’s up with that? Did WP think it politically incorrect? Or am I just being paranoid???😳

Surviving a Collapse

I’ve often told friends that if civilization were to collapse, I would survive. Thanks go to my parents for that. I’m sure teaching their children to be self-sufficient wasn’t what was on their minds when we were put to work gardening, canning fruits and vegetables, feeding livestock, milking cows, gathering eggs, etcetera, etcetera; the reason we were put to work was so there would be plenty to feed a bunch of growing kids. And truth be told, us kids didn’t labor long or hard. My parents did the lion’s share, especially Mama since she was left to run the farm/ranch a good part of the year while Daddy worked half the country away.

I learned how and when to plant seeds, how to take care of the plants, and how to harvest and preserve fruits and vegetables. And I learned how to cook meals from scratch—not as tasty as Mama’s, but edible.

And I wasn’t a stranger to the ranch side of our life, the taking care of cows and chickens. My parents stopped raising pigs when I was small, so I don’t remember them, though there are pictures of me and my sister with our pet pig, Red. I was told he tasted good. Yes, Red was slaughtered to feed the family.

I probably sound callous to a lot of you, but I grew up in a time and place when most people were still close to their food sources. Pigs, cattle, and chickens were harvested the same as corn, potatoes, and beans. It was just a part of life. I admit, though, that I have never killed an animal, but I know if push comes to shove, I could.

I have processed many and varied carcasses. When I was small, I helped my daddy skin squirrels and rabbits, and I remember him telling me what a good helper I was. His praise made the fried rabbit and squirrel and dumplings my mama made taste even better, knowing I had played an important part in bringing food to the table.

Then there was the time I assisted Mama with freezing some chickens, an experience that didn’t produce any good memories. Chickens are a horse of a different color, so to speak, when it comes to readying them for consumption. One has to pluck out the feathers, and before one can pluck the feathers, the chicken has to be dipped in hot water to loosen those feathers. I’m here to tell you, that is not a good smell. Add that smell to the plucking, gutting, and cutting into pieces of about twenty chickens, and even a strong stomach can turn. I didn’t eat chicken for a year or two after that.

My first husband had a hand in furthering my education. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. I learned a lot from him in regards to fishing—what made good bait and how to find it, how to recognize the best places to fish, and how to scale and cut up the catch. I learned how to skin and process deer from him. But I never hunted.

I had no problem dealing with dead animals; it’s the live ones I couldn’t deal with, not as food. But as I have learned other things, I could learn to kill. Most people could. Hunger, yours or your loved ones’, is a powerful incentive. Most of us have never known the sort of hunger that would cause us to kill an animal, with our bare hands if need be. And I pray we never do.

But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, to have a little basic knowledge of farming and animal husbandry. Or if nothing else, own a paper book(s) on the subject. And maybe one on survival. Just in case. I don’t look for civilization to collapse, for all our modern conveniences to stop working—ever heard of an EMP attack?—but it’s somewhat comforting to know I could survive without them. What would bring me much more comfort, though, would be to know that my grandchildren could. Sadly, I can’t say that. As are most people their age, they are a product of the 21st century, willingly tethered to the Internet and their cellphones.

We have become a nation wealthy in technical knowledge, but dirt poor in everyday knowledge. Maybe along with the 3 Rs, we should be teaching our children how to plant a garden, raise livestock…and maybe skin a squirrel.

©2020 KT Workman

Image via Pixabay

Contentment

I don’t write to be famous. I don’t write to make money. I write because I have to. The words are there inside me, whispering, cajoling, whining, and sometimes screaming to be let out to dance upon the page.

They’re not always pushy, though. I go through periods of time when the words are relatively silent; and there were a couple of occasions I thought they were dead and buried, but like in The Walking Dead, the zombie words rose again. Guess it would take a head shot to quiet them for good.

I have no illusions anymore of having a novel published (though that was never the main reason I wrote/write), for I’m too old and undisciplined to see it through. I write when I feel like it. To be a successful author, one has to treat writing like a job, show up and do it whether one feels like it or not. Life, whether it’s going smooth or bumpy, can’t get in the way. One’s moods can’t get in the way. Absolutely nothing can get in the way—at least not in the long term. I let practically everything get in the way—books, TV, YouTube, Facebook, walking, shopping, cooking, etcetera, etcetera. And that’s why I’m not successful.

But that’s okay. There’s more to life than being successful. I suppose it’s possible that contentment may make for a better life than success.

Did you notice I said contentment, not happiness? Happiness is such a fleeting thing, coming in short, infrequent bursts throughout one’s life, balanced by bouts of heartache and hard times. Years ago when I was a twenty-something and coming to the realization that my parents were people too, I asked my mama if she was happy. She told me that she didn’t know if she would say she was, but that she was content with her life. Once I passed through middle-age into old, that’s what I started shooting for: contentment. I can’t say I’ve always hit the mark, but I keep striving for it.

I’m content not to be a rich, famous writer. I’m content to write when and if I feel like it. The words are accepting of that. As long as I keep channeling them, let them be heard when they need to be, they too are content.

The new year is almost upon us; in a few hours, 2019 will give way to 2020. Lord, how the years have flown by. I have a lot less years ahead of me than behind, and I choose to spend whatever time I have left being content. I hope whatever your age, you do the same.

May 2020 bring you more sunshine than rain, more laughter than tears, and more happiness than sorrow. May you be content.

Happy New Year!

©️2019 KT Workman

Images via Pixabay

Bah Humbug

I don’t like Christmas—there, I said it.

But to be more precise, I don’t like what Christmas has become. It’s all about shopping, buying presents for family, friends, acquaintances—as well as “deals too good to pass up” for oneself—and trying to outdo one another to see who has the most expensive and elaborate decorations, both indoors and out. And cost be damned! If one has to put it on a credit card that most likely will not be paid off when next Christmas rolls around, so be it.

For many, Christmas has become a secular holiday wrapped up in rampant consumerism—not to mention poor Thanksgiving, which has been co-opted into the holiday buying frenzy). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think buying gifts is necessarily a bad thing; I just think it has been taken to excess. And on top of that, many children, and probably some adults, don’t even know the true reason for the celebration: the birth of Christ.

I wasn’t raised in an overtly religious family. Yes, we went to church on Sunday, sometimes on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and occasionally to revivals; but God and Jesus were not frequent topics of conversation. My parents taught values by example. Both were soft-spoken and kind, but believed in discipline when needed; did their best to teach their seven children right from wrong; worked hard to take care of the family without government help; and were there to help extended family members and neighbors in their time of need. In reality, we weren’t much different from most other families of that era.

Christmas at our house was more of a celebration of family, though we all knew it was Christ’s birthday. And I don’t think He probably minded all that much. Mama cooked for several days to feed her husband and children—and later on, spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—a scrumptious Christmas dinner. When I was still at home, us kids received a few gifts, but nothing expensive. And looking back, something I gave instead of received, is my most treasured memory…

In the days leading up to Christmas, as all kids do, I pilfered around under the tree, looking at presents, looking for my name, and shaking those, of course. When I was about five or six, at a certain point in all the looking and shaking, I realized my mama didn’t have a present under the tree. And that made me sad.

I remember going into the kitchen where Mama was working (she was always working at something) and asking why she didn’t have anything under the tree. I don’t remember her answer, but she must have seen the distress on her youngest’s face. She didn’t tell me that providing Christmas for seven children put a severe strain on her and Daddy’s limited resources; she didn’t tell me they didn’t have the money to buy presents for each other; she offered up a solution instead. She gave me a powder compact she hadn’t yet opened, a small square of Christmas paper, and told me I could wrap it for her.

I still remember how good it made me feel to put that small present under the tree for my mama. And looking back, I think I realized that day that it is better to give than receive, whether it’s your time, talent, donating to charities—something other than buying presents that put you into debt, and/or will be shoved in a closet and forgotten by New Year’s Day. (My favorite charity is The Salvation Army, an organization that helps all regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation—despite what you may have heard or read otherwise).

Some years ago, I quit the Christmas rat race of spend, spend, spend. I put up a tree, cook a nice meal for my family, and in the years that little ones are about, get them a simple, inexpensive gift. My present to all is the getting together of family, which is not always easy to accomplish in today’s busy world.

I am not a religious person, but I am one who believes in tradition. We so need tradition in the fractured society we live in, and I think Christmas affords us that opportunity to come together as a family and appreciate the fact that we are lucky enough to have one. And to look past differing opinions and beliefs, and all the other “differings” of our families and fellow humans, and realize we are much more the same than we are different.

Love and peace to all, and a very Merry Christmas.

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

Nature or Nurture

My sisters, mother, and her mother all read extensively, my father and brother, not so much so. It didn’t dawn on me until I was an adult that only the women in my family were avid readers, and I wondered why that was so. My first thought was it had to do with genes, that only the females in my family had inherited the reading trait-if there is such a thing. Then it came to mind it might be learned behavior.

I don’t recall ever seeing my father read when I was growing up, but my mother was another story. She didn’t have much leisure time, taking care of a husband and seven kids, a farm/ranch, and holding down a job in town from time to time saw to that. But when she did have a minute or two free, it would be spent between the pages of a book.

Most of Mama’s days were spent moving from one chore to the next with no breaks in between; there was no time to read. So she made time. Most nights when she went to bed, she read for a while before turning off the lamp and settling in beside Daddy—if he was there and not working out of state. She traded much-needed sleep for the world of words.

When I was around four, Mama’s mother came to live with us after Grandpa died. Granny was a reader too. I remember sitting by her in the old wooden rocker she favored while she read to me in her soft, gentle voice. I remember wishing I could read for myself, and envying my brother and sisters who had been taught to read at school. I wanted to go to school and learn to read too (Once I got there, I hated it…a story for another time).

I don’t recall seeing my brother read a book. I think he was busy helping Daddy and doing guy things, and picking on me and another sister who were younger than he was. Maybe he thought reading wasn’t manly. I don’t know; you would have to ask him.

I have one child: a son who is not a reader. When he was small I read to him, and growing up, he saw me with my nose in a book every chance I got. Still, he didn’t read for pleasure. (He listens to books now, so I am at least grateful for that.) I wondered where I went wrong. Then all squinty-eyed I looked to his dad, an outdoorsman, and saw the problem. I had produced a child with a man with no interest in books.

I came to the conclusion that either my son did not inherit my love of reading, or by observing his father and other males in the family, subconsciously believed that reading was not an acceptable male pastime.

Nature or nurture, or a combination of both…I still don’t know the answer.

What do you think?

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

Alas, Poor Cursive…

I read a while back that cursive writing has been making a comeback in our public schools. I have to say, that makes me happy.

When the Common Core State Standards Initiative was launched in 2010, teaching cursive was no longer a requirement. The reasons given for dropping it varied, but the two I have seen presented most often are: (1) it takes up too much instruction time, and (2) knowing how to communicate via technology is more important. Both arguments are valid, after all, teachers can’t teach everything. But if less time was spent expounding on social and moral issues (which I believe should be in the parents domain) to their malleable young students, more time could be spent teaching basic skills. — But that’s a topic for another day.

Some of the benefits of learning cursive as listed by Memoria Press are:

  • Improved neural connections
  • Improved fine motor skills
  • Increased retention
  • Improved spelling ability
  • Increased self-discipline
  • Higher quality signature

And one I found listed on various websites: The ability to read old and historic documents, like the United States Constitution, for instance. Think about it—do we really want to be told what is in the Constitution, or be able to read it for ourselves?

All this aside, I welcome the return of cursive. I know not everyone’s handwriting is a marvel to behold, mine included, but there is a certain beauty in the flow of words written in cursive, gliding across the page like squiggly dark waves on a pure white ocean where anything is possible.

Think of the creativity that goes into writing. When I was in school, by 3rd grade all assignments were completed in cursive, so by the time I graduated, I had developed my own unique style of writing. As had my peers. Some wrote tight and cramped, some loopy and loose, some with a light hand, some dark and bold. Some dotted their I’s with a small circle or heart, some mixed printed letters with cursive in their words. The combinations were endless. We all came to know our friends’ handwriting as well as we did their faces.

Some of you younger readers may not know this, but in days of yore, a handwriting expert could ascertain a person’s personality traits by analyzing their handwriting. Criminals could be identified by how they wielded a pencil. Can’t very well do that with a typewritten page.

I know we can’t live in the past, that we’re forever moving onward and forward, and it would be foolish to step off the techno highway and refuse to embrace the new. But I think we should bring with us the things that have served us well, and would continue to serve us well if our modern world collapses. We’ve already left so much valuable knowledge behind. Let’s not leave cursive writing behind too.

Copyright 2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

A Taste of Heaven

When I was growing up, summer was synonymous with blackberry season. I monitored the thorny vines from the first appearance of the delicate white blossoms, through the ripening stage—impatiently eating more than a few of the hard, red, sour berries—to when they were gloriously plump and black and juicy. A little taste of heaven.

Barefoot and wearing shorts, my brother, sister, and I roamed the fence rows and overgrown fields in our search for the most succulent berries, which in many cases were just out of reach. When that happened, we had to go in. There was no passing by those perfect specimens just because of a few thorns.
We learned how to avoid getting scratched and poked, how to gingerly grasp each spiny vine between thumb and forefinger, ease it to the side and slide forward through the tangled mess, over and over, until we had worked our way to the prize. Then we had to work our way back out. Despite our best efforts, many times we didn’t emerge completely unscathed; instead, occasionally we sported battle wounds of bloody scratches on arms and legs. But those luscious berries were worth it. And the inevitable chigger bites were worth it as well.

Mama picked the berries too, but not for herself as did her greedy kids. She canned them in quart jars, and they joined our substantial larder to be made into blackberry cobblers in the winter months. And as long as the vines produced, we had cobblers during the summer too. When us kids could control ourselves, not eat everything we picked, all we had to do was take a pail of berries to Mama, and she’d make a cobbler.

Lord knows how many years it’s been since I’ve tasted blackberries as sweet and juicy as those wild ones of my childhood. My son cultivates the thornless variety, but just like any other plant that scientists have fiddled with, they aren’t on quite the same par as the original. Yes, they’re good, but in my opinion, a bit of flavor has been sacrificed along with the thorns. And they aren’t as juicy; when making a cobbler, one has to squish them a bit before baking to get an adequate amount of juice.

Or perhaps does the blame for the loss of flavor rest with my aging taste buds?

Or the viewing of my childhood through rose colored glasses, where everything appears better and grander?

The only way to know for sure would be to travel back in time and conduct a taste test, pop a few blackberries in my mouth and see if they are as special as I remember. Only thing with that is I might never come back, and mess up the whole space-time continuum. I don’t think the government would let me do that.

Damn government!

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabayhttp://www.pixabay.com

7 Mile Road

Wow! I didn’t realize so much time had passed since my last post—almost four months. Looks like my intended short break from blogging turned into an extended time off.

But I have been writing. Two of my short stories have been recently published, “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are” and “Birds of a Feather”, plus one poem, “Red”, will be later this month. “Come Out, Come Out…” was published in Tell-Tale Press, clicking here will take you straight to the story, and “Birds of a Feather” was published in The Literary Hatchet, Issue # 24. I don’t have a direct link to it, but you can go to their website here and download a free PDF of Issue # 24 if you wish to read it. I also have three brand new shorts I’m currently trying to place, so wish me luck.

And in my WordPress absence I have started a novel in my preferred genre when writing long pieces: Southern Gothic. According to a web search, characteristics of Southern Gothic literature include:

  • Isolation and marginalization
  • Violence and crime
  • Sense of place
  • Freakishness and the grotesque
  • Destitution and decay
  • Oppression and discrimination

I think my novel will include everything on that list, and then some. Truth be told, every novel-length piece of fiction I’ve turned out has been Southern Gothic to a greater or lesser degree. I am drawn to it, perhaps because it’s what I know, especially the sense of place. I am rural Southern through and through.

The working title is 7 Mile Road. And a lot of bad things happen on 7 Mile Road.

On a side note, the title was inspired by an actual road sign I saw on a recent vacation. Traveling along a state highway in Arkansas, I saw a turn off for a road called “4 Mile Creek Road”, and I grabbed my phone and typed it into my notes app (which has taken the place of the pen and pad I used to carry with me). The name intrigued me, and when I got home and sat down a few days later to work on my novel, 4 Mile Creek morphed into 7 Mile Road. I like to put a title to a piece early on; it grounds me to the story. And in this case, it served as inspiration; it cemented the setting, allowing the flow of additional plot details.

I don’t know if this novel will ever venture forth into the world, be it by the traditional route or self-publishing. I just know that it’s in my head, the characters yacking back and forth, wanting their story to be told.

Well, I’ve got some catching up to do on WordPress. I know I can’t read all the posts from all the blogs I follow that I missed. Not enough time. But at least I can get back in the flow. I’m a capricious person, and as such might drop off WordPress again in the future. But at least for now, I’m back.

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay