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

A Plethora of Books

How many books on writing do you own?

If you’re like me, more than you wish to admit, especially considering the money spent on them; and if we are to be honest here, most gathering dust on the shelf, floor, chair, desk, wherever.

Years ago, I routinely checked my thesaurus, dictionary, grammar handbook, and more. All were kept within easy reach. But over time, the internet has pretty much made reference books obsolete. Why turn to a book when with the click of a mouse you can have your answer, which is up to date, not five or ten years old?

To go with the reference books, I have shelves—yes, shelves, as in plural—of books telling me how to write and sell my novel, how to create conflict and suspense, writing the paranormal, etcetera, etcetera. And though I seldom crack one open, I can’t seem to part with them. Just the thought of it hurts my heart.

Digital is rapidly replacing the printed form, and though I embrace new technology, there’s a sterileness to it. A Kindle doesn’t feel like a real book in your hands. A smartphone doesn’t have that ink-and-paper aroma. Curling up with an iPad on a rainy day doesn’t quite satisfy. Occasionally, I have to have that fix, so about every third or fourth novel, I dive into a real book.

But almost all my writing research is now done on the internet. My dictionary and thesaurus are apps on my phone. Questions are answered by a Google search. How-tos are explored through YouTube videos and web sites.

I am a modern writer.

But on occasion, I long for a simpler time…flipping through books and articles, taking copious notes on yellow legal pads, trips to the local library. This is not to say that I don’t ever use paper and pen, don’t ever read physical books, just less and less as time goes by.

I see a future where books will only be published in digital form. I know it’s better for the environment if we use less paper—save a tree and all that—but to me, that will be a sad day. I wonder what books will think when they live only as ones and zeros, having no physical form. I wonder if they will miss the feel of human hands. And I wonder if they will be lonely.

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

A Father

What makes up a good father?

I would imagine there are as many answers to that question as there are people. And I would imagine that most answers would be influenced by what one’s own father brought to the table, or what he lacked in parental skills.

My father was “Daddy” to us kids, and later on, “Pa” to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. His oldest grandchild, Johnny, christened him Pa—probably short for grandpa—and it stuck. It suited my dad; he was an informal man.

To me, he was a perfect father, or as close to perfect as one can be. He got to be the fun parent, and to my mom fell the roll of disciplinarian. Looking back, I can see how it worked out that way. When I was a child, Daddy was gone a good part of the year, working as a lumberjack in Northern California, while Mama kept the home fires burning. When Daddy came home for a while in winter, it was almost like a holiday.

My earliest memory of him is him holding me up in the air, and me looking down at the humongous grin on his face. My last was the final words he spoke, at the age of ninety-four, before he closed his eyes for the last time: “I think I’m gonna go find Ma’am now.” Ma’am (what he called Mama) had passed away a little over a year previously.

And in between, so many memories—

Daddy playing the harmonica, and singing “Bimbo”. Holding my hands while bouncing me on his foot. Rubbing my cheek with his whiskers while I shrieked in delight. Running and jumping onto his lap when I had gotten in trouble with Mama, and him telling her not to spank me, I’d be good. Watching boxing on TV, grunting and shifting in his chair as if he were in the ring. Walking out among his cows, patting their backs and calling them by name. Saying grace over our meals. Laughing when I accidentally drank from his glass of buttermilk (I sat beside him) and sputtered at the awful taste. And many more…

My memories of him during my teenage years was more of a strong background presence that anchored our family. Like most children of that age, I had pulled away from my parents.

After I married and became a parent, I came to appreciate my daddy, to realize how blessed I had been, and still was, to have both him and Mama, two normal people who loved each other, and their children. And who had done their best to give us a good life, a happy life.

My daddy took my husband, who had lost his father at an early age, under his wing, and loved him as if he were his own son. My husband adored Daddy, and took him hunting and fishing, looking after him as Daddy grew older and not as strong and sure footed.

As Daddy got along in years, I remember his stories most of all. My siblings and I, along with our spouses and children, always gathered at my parents house every Sunday afternoon. Sitting at the kitchen table, Daddy spun tales of his childhood, times in California, his and Mama’s courtship, and everything else under the sun. And he was good at it, had us all laughing and asking questions.

There’s so much more to him than I can even begin to relate here. He was more than just a good father; not perfect, but he was a good man, a kind man. He is the standard against which I judge all men. And not many have measured up.

If there is an afterlife, I’m sure my daddy is there, he and Mama raising crops and kids. And I’d like to think he knows how much I love him, how much all his children love him, and knows what an inspiration he was to all who knew him—and Lord knows, there were many. He touched a lot of lives.

As he touched mine.

So on this day, and every Father’s Day since he has been gone, I look up and say, “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy…your baby sure does love you.”

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay