Play Ball!

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David climbed to the top bench of the falling-down bleachers at the old baseball field. When he was a child, he played Little League baseball here with all his buddies. He looked to his left and saw the dugout. It was in disrepair. He could see behind it from  his vantage point. Even the yard was grown up. Who was taking care of this place? No one? He knew the field wasn’t used anymore. Kids today would rather play video games or surf social media on their phones.

David had done well in life. He had an idea. Why not get his buddies together and raise money to repair the field. Try to start up the Little League teams again. He started making phone calls. HIs buddies were interested. They went to work.

The following spring, flyers were up all over the city advertising Little League. On sign-up day, the field was beautiful. There were long lines of young boys anxious to try out for Little League teams. David’s hometown, once again, had a thriving Little League program thanks to David and his friends.

The words, Play Ball, sounded wonderful to them and to the entire town.

#SoCS – 08/19/2017

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What is on my mind as I write this post? The ocean. The way I feel when I look at the ocean, when I’m near the ocean, when I breathe the salt air. I’ve never understood how someone from a landlocked state like me, who didn’t even see the ocean until I was 21 years old, could feel so connected to it. I felt like this the first time I ever saw the ocean, that time the Atlantic. After a time, I had occasion to spend significant time in South Carolina, off and on. Looking out at the great Atlantic was as much of a thrill as it was the very first time.

Later in life, I saw the beautiful Gulf, both from the Florida peninsula, the port of New Orleans, and the port of Galveston. I then spent a very special day, once upon a time as if in a fairy tale, on gorgeous Catalina Island in the Pacific, a visit I will never forget with someone I will always remember.

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to happen upon, totally by chance, an island in the Gulf of Mexico and I fell in love with it. It’s not the type of island most people might find appealing. It sits below the frost line and is tropical in most ways. But, it doesn’t have the requisite sandy beaches. It has beautiful sunsets, incredible birds, an array of wildlife,  rampantly growing tropical vegetation, and incredibly temperate winters. I feel more myself when I’m there than anywhere else in the world. The Gulf waters surrounding my island are usually calm and full of fish that I’m just learning about.

This year, I will have guests visit me when I’m at my island. Family, friends, and several friends live nearby. Fun!

What draws me to my island is the feeling in my soul when I’m there. I seldom find myself at peace. I have a restless soul, a restless heart. I’m at peace when I stand and look out at the ocean from the shores of this magical island.

I can’t wait to return.

 

Congress Does Not Represent the People of the United States

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The U.S. Congress, the legislative branch of the government, has become corrupted. This is the branch, of the three branches of government, set down by the Founders, that is supposed to represent the people of the United States. Do you think that we are fairly represented by the U.S. Congress? I am here to contend that we are not.

We only have to look as far as the current Senate Health Care Bill and the debate surrounding that bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the primary senator pushing the bill. He is doing so became he is being pushed by the President, but that is not the only reason. Since 1989 and to date, five of the top industries contributing to McConnell are: Health Professionals, Insurance, Hospitals and Nursing Homes, Pharmaceuticals and Health Products, and Health Services and HMOs. Can McConnell truly be unbiased?

Mitch McConnell represents the state of Kentucky as a senator. He is supposed to represent the people of that state. Kentucky is a poor state. A high percentage of the population, particularly in the Appalachian region of the state, use the Medicaid program. For example, in Kentucky, children represent 19 percent of all Medicaid spending but 43 percent of its enrollees. The Senate Heath Care Bill, pushed by Senator McConnell, would take away these benefits for many or most of these children who are not even the driving force of the Medicaid expenditures.

I ask you. Is Mitch McConnell representing his Kentucky constituency? Perhaps he is, instead, representing those five health care industries that contribute to his campaign funds? He is lobbying to take away the Medicaid benefits from his constituency.

The McConnell example is only one example of a senator who is not serving his constituency. Congress is supposed to serve as the voice of the people and the states to the federal government. Do you really think it is currently, or has in the recent past, been fulfilling that function?

Congress is also supposed to serve as an oversight body on the Executive Branch of government; in other words, the President of the United States. That, to me, is laughable at this point in time. Yes, there are committees in place to investigate the dealings of the Trump administration and I fervently hope they are doing their jobs. I count on the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee those committees at this point in time. The Senators and the Representatives are too worried about losing their own jobs to really serve as oversight on the President.

Congress now, instead of representing the people, represents money. The money they can make from the lobbyists of corporations like health care corporations if they follow their agendas. There is only one way to solve this problem. Term limits. Limit the terms of the Senators and Representatives so they don’t have time to become millionaires through lobbyists and on the backs of their constituencies, the taxpayers. Only then will we have something approaching a representative Congress again.

Song Lyric Sunday – 7/2/2017 – Free Bird

Our theme for this week, considering it is the Fourth of July weekend, is “freedom.” The song I instantly thought of was “Free Bird.” Here it is. Enjoy!

Free Bird

Lynard Skynard

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.

But if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change, oh, oh, oh, oh.
And this bird you can not change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows I can’t change.

Bye, bye, baby, it’s been a sweet love, yeah,
Though this feeling I can’t change.
But please don’t take it so badly,
‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame.

But if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you’ll never change, oh, oh, oh, oh.
And this bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows, I can’t change.
Lord, help me, I can’t change.

Lord, I can’t change.
Won’t you fly high, free bird, yeah?

Songwriters: Ronnie Van Zant, Alan Collins

 

Dedicated to Betsy:

Fly, Betsy, Fly

Free as a Bird

No More Pain, I Was to Blame

You Were My Sweet Love

Song Lyric Sunday

 

Father’s Day in the U.S. And Other Countries

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My dad has been gone for 34 1/2 years and I miss him as much today as I did when he died. Particularly on Father’s Day, the third Sunday of June in the United States. My dad was a fun, but hard-working parent, never aimless. I miss the twinkle in his eye when he saw me and the spring in his step when he carried me to bed! This poem reminded me of him.

Father’s Day was first celebrated by Sondra Dodd in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. She had lost her mother in childbirth and her father cared for her. She wanted to show her appreciation for him. Sondra’s dad’s birthday was June 5, so Father’s Day unofficially ended up in June. The movement to establish a day to honor father’s grew and in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge became a supporter. He did not declare it an official holiday.

Father’s Day was celebrated in June. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared it an official holiday and designated the third Sunday in June as the official date for Father’s Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon declared Father’s Day to be a national holiday.

There are some interesting and fun facts about Father’s Day in the U.S.

There are over 70 million fathers in the U.S. And 2 million of them are single. It is the fourth busiest day for sending greeting cards. More than 214,000 men are single fathers.

Other countries also celebrate Father’s Day. Canada celebrates it like the U.S. but unofficially. France celebrates Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. They used to give their fathers’ Bic lighters but now they substitute other small gifts. Germany celebrates the day on the last day of the Easter holiday.

In Asia, India celebrates Father’s Day much the same way as we do, but Thailand celebrates the day on the birthday of their king and everyone wears yellow. In Australia, Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of their spring which is September.

Now, I’m going to go and start the dinner I’m preparing tonight in honor of my dad. Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there!

 

Writing Resources and Triumphs

How does a writer reach their first triumph? I was not trained as a writer, but i’ve been writing and submitting stories to magazines since I was a child. Even though writing was not my major in college, I took writing classes. My first triumph was a publication in a major magazine. I know many writers who can tell the exact same story.

Then there are writers who are classically trained. The basics may be a little easier, but they still have to break into the major markets. I’ve found the Internet makes it easier, but it’s still hard.

Blogging is a wonderful platform. Be sure and put your best product out there on your blog. I’ve found that you never know who is reading it. I’ve had queries from a variety of online and offline magazines asking me to write articles for them. They found me through my blog.

There are some good resources out there for writers. If you are a beginning writer, take a look at Udemy . They offer courses in writing that could help you. Writer’s Digest offers both paid and Free resources for writers. Take a look at Writing ForwardReference for Writers, and OEBB Writing Resources.

If you want to be a serious blogger or writer, some of these resources will help you obtain your first triumph!

Continuity

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“It was Momma’s summer house,” Miranda said to the real estate agent, “Don’t you think a buyer would love it out here?” Miranda continued.

“No,” the realtor responded, “I know it’s your family home, but the demographic who might buy it work all the time and wouldn’t be interested.”

Dejected, Miranda walked in the house with the realtor. His phone rang. He turned to Miranda and asked if he could show the house in just a few minutes.

 

A young woman and her husband bought it on the spot. She was a gardner and loved the summer house.

Distant

When I saw today’s writing prompt, something instantly popped into my head. A term. That term was “extended families.” It makes me sad that extended families are, in today’s time, distant from each other. If I look at my own family, and the families of many of my friends (but not all), there is geographic distance, but there is also emotional distance. This is true, at least in the United States.

Geographic distance will cause emotional distance but does it really have to be that way? My answer is no. With the electronic communication tools we have at our disposal and cell phones with unlimited talk and text, can’t we find a way to keep up with the lives of our aunts, uncles, and cousins? I say we can.

Cousins may not be able to play with each other every weekend like they could when I was growing up, but cousins can still keep in touch. Sisters may not be able to see each other often, but they can talk and message and text.

What do we have except our families and that includes our extended family? Let’s shrink the distance.

Imaginary

If you are a writer of fiction, you have to have a good imagination. You have to be able to create imaginary characters, stories, settings. Fiction is a work of good imagination.

Children have the most wonderful imaginations. They let their imaginations run wild and free and create whole worlds in which to play. As adults, we have become accustomed to reining in our imaginations. We have to be an adult, act like an adult, and use our imaginations only in controlled circumstances, like writing fiction. We can’t live in fantasy worlds lest we hurt other people.

When a writer embarks on a work of fiction, it is a difficult transition to make. They are suddenly allowed to let their imagination, at least as it relates to the story they are writing, run wild and free like a child’s imagination. It has to be a bit more controlled in order to tell their story.