The Dancing Master

IMG_0253.square

 

By Catherine Browning

 

When I attended high school, everyone learned the basic dance steps in PE class. This included the waltz, two-step, polka, and some square dancing. All right! I admit it was somewhere back in the dark ages. But when you were asked to go to the prom, you knew the steps. More important, your partner knew the steps, too. At the more informal dances, we all learned the twist, mashed potato . . . well, you get the idea. 

My grandson is a senior in high school. I asked him if he intended going to the prom. 

“Probably.”

“Do you know how to dance?”

“No.”

“Does whomever you will ask to be your date know how to dance?”

“No.”

Now I ask you, what are they teaching students at school these days? I’m allowed to ask this question because I’m a teacher. As of a few years ago, I just do substitute teaching, but I still qualify. 

So I asked my grandson if anyone actually danced at the dances. 

“No.”

So I offered to teach my grandson and his choice of dates how to dance. Place your bets now as to whether or not that will happen!

My daughter informed me I was too old-fashioned and that she didn’t even know the present day dances. Perhaps my granddaughter-in-law could teach him to swing dance?

March Book News

march 2019 bk news

The quirkiest of quirky holidays in March

Here are a few of the whackiest special days, but be sure to check out the full list on HolidayInsights.com.

*March 1 Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day
              *March 2 Old Stuff Day                              *March 3 If Pets Had Thumbs Day
*March 6 National Frozen Food Day                          *March 9 Panic Day     
*March 10 Middle Name Pride Day                 *March 11 Worship of Tools Day
                 *March 13 Ear Muff Day            *March 15 Dumbstruck Day       
*March 16 Everything You Do is Right Day            *March 18 Supreme Sacrifice Day
         *March 20 Extraterrestrial Abductions Day          *March 20 Proposal Day  
*March 25 Waffle Day                    *March 27 National “Joe” Day
*March 22 National Goof Off Day                    *March 23 Melba Toast Day
*March 28 Something on a Stick Day                 *March 28 Weed Appreciation Day

*************************

 

 

My Inner-Children Have Issues

Sis. McCaffrey    By Janice McCaffrey

In my early teen years I envisioned myself as a best-selling author of “THE great American novel” until . . .

Mrs. Foster’s 8th grade English class when we were assigned to write a descriptive paragraph. My imagination took over and I penned what I thought a fabulous portrayal of a Regency Era carriage.

The next day, expecting an A+, I sat at my desk straight backed and proud. Then Mrs. Foster handed my paper to me and instead of an A+ there was a huge red D; the paragraph riddled with red ü marks. In that horrifying moment, my writing career ended. I never received explanations for the check marks. And pretty much saw grammar and good writing over my head and out of reach. Yes, I could identify and properly use the basics: subjects, predicates, nouns, adjectives, verbs, and past, present and future tenses, but never grasped the finer points.

But then I’ve never been a quitter. So as a young mother with an infant I signed up for a fiction writing correspondence course. Yes, the one advertised in match books. I didn’t like following the formulas taught and eventually one instructor told me that before you can be a novelist you needed something to say. Obviously, I didn’t have anything to say.

very few years, I’d try again; receiving rejection letters from popular magazines (i.e. Redbook, my Bible of womanhood).

Then, as life would have it, in my retirement I found a good friend who just happened to be a published author. It took a few years of her encouragement, but I’m back to my early writing goal. My friend is my mentor, critique partner, and . . . a retired English teacher.

Now when she gives my papers back to me there are no red checks or grades and, in fact, there are often comments about good ideas, writing or scenes. But every now and then I hear “You have a dangling participle.” And there I am sitting in Mrs. Foster’s class holding that D paper. My mind freezes.

Then my 10-year-old inner-child comes to the rescue with humor erupting with, “Who the heck made up these words?” We laugh. She tries to explain in a way I can understand as I attempt to calm my inner- 8th grader. I go home, study grammatical rules and lingo and rewrite.

After several of these interactions, my friend loaned me Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto. I found the explanation of the word participle: “Greek – shares or partaker. Latin to English: Capture or participate.” An online dictionary says: “a participle is a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective or a noun. In English participles can also be used to make compound verb forms.”

And you’ve guessed it, my 8th grader’s brain froze and my 10-year-old shouted, “Who the h— thought this stuff up? My inner-children continue their habits whenever they hear grammatical terms, but thank Heavens I have a patient friend and mentor who parents these headstrong children with kindness and humor.

Thank you, my friend!

 

April Book News

fiction writer


LESLIE BUDEWITZ
: Oh, how true those pictures are! With spring, I’ve made an effort to clean my office, but you know how that goes—every file and pile is a day’s worth of projects, aTreblend while I’m busy with those, more pile up. Writing and revising, and talking about books, are much more fun than cleaning! I’m getting ready for the launch of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, the fourth Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, coming June 8 from Midnight Ink—you can pre-order it now. And I’m finishing up the fifth installment, set at the magical time of Christmas in the lakeside resort community of Jewel Bay, Montana. Meanwhile, there’s a terrific ebook sale, for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other formats! Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village series, is 2.99, and Crime Rib, the second is 5.99. My first two Spice Shop Mysteries are also on sale, Assault & Pepper for 2.99 and Guilty as Cinnamon for 5.99. And the audio book of Death al Dente will be out April 30!

Later in April, I’ll be at Malice Domestic, the annual fan convention celebrating the traditional mystery, in Washington, D.C. It’s great fun—five hundred readers and writers, including book bloggers, booksellers, and librarians, plus some agents and editors, attending panel discussions and interviews, teas and charity auctions, and constantly chatting about reading and writing.

I hope spring is blooming with books for you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MORE APRIL BOOK NEWS:   Deborah Epperson

It’s true what they say. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel.  For me, that light is FINALLY finishing up a novel I started over a decade ago. SHADOWS OF HOME will be available on Amazon later this month. It is a southern romantic-suspense set in the bayous around Caddo Lake in NW Louisiana in 1970.

After five years of city life, Elita Pearl Dupree is going home to the mystical land of her birth, the mysterious waters of Indian lore called Caddo Lake.

She’s determined to find out the truth about her father’s mysterious death, and while she’s at it, hopes to rekindle her relationship with her first love, Royce Sutton. Elita soon discovers that things and people can change a lot in five years, and not necessarily for the better.

SHADOWS OF HOME

A woman with questions. A man with secrets. A bayou without mercy.

eBook cover - Shadows of Home - Deborah Epperson

 

My Scary Starry Scar

 

Sandy Oitzinger

     Guest Blog

By Sandy Oitzinger

 

 

 

My Scary Starry Scar

Before March 24th of this year, the name Merkel for me was loosely associated with my misgivings as a global citizen about mistreatment of the nation of Greece.  Post March 24, however, it looms personally larger because of its part as an identifier of a dreaded skin cancer known as Merkel Cell Carcinoma.

As a self-fancied wordsmith, I am deeply affected by the lyricism in the medical community.  The lesion between my right cheekbone and jaw line had to come out, of course, but who knew that there was a “sentinel” node positioned at the angle of my mandible.  With our Firetower landmark, what Helenan would not be impressed by a “sentinel” node?  I was also impressed by the descriptors used to describe cancers.  Did you know that some cancers are “indolent,” while others are “avid.”  I don’t mind my sportsmen being avid, but I prefer that my cancers be slothful lay abouts,  please and thank you.  On the upside, there are cancer fighting weaponry drugs we can brandish that inhibit a protein known as the “Programmed Death” (PD-1) cell.  The drug prompts the immune system “to get up out of its rocking chair” and go attack the cancer,” says Paul Nghiem, an investigator with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who led the Merkel cell study.[i]

As a kid, my Sicilian last name, Scire, pronounced “skee-ree,” drew lots of hilarity from the neighborhood kids.  Many thought it should be pronounced Scary as in Sandy Scary-Face.  No big leap to change the appellation to Sandy Scarry-Face, and I’ll tell you why I am just thrilled to do that.  My dermatological nurse and I decided we would do a deep punch on the nodule on my cheek.  It seemed like no big deal at the time. A week later the labs came back and we learned that a wide-extraction along with removal of a small lymph node was needed.  Why? 

Well, the Merkel Cell beasty likes to metastasize into the lungs, brain, liver, etc.  The lab also said the markers for lung cancer were not evident, so my hope was that we caught it early.  In order to avoid a 4-hour only mildly sedated surgery, we opted for a quickly scheduled one-hour surgery under general anesthesia at St. Pat’s in Missoula.  Sentinel lymph nodes material was negative, so we thought we were home-free.  Pathology said there was not enough of a clear margin in the depths below the tumor, however, so a second surgery was scheduled. 

This brought to mind the lesson in tenacity shared by my first college accounting professor, Charlie Mandeville of Carroll College.  He was asked “suppose it’s only a dime?”  His answer:  “You gotta keep lookin’ for that son of a buck UNTIL YOU FIND IT!”  Another upside, we headed off the beasty, by removal of the nodes, and my dermatologist says my healing inflammation may kill off the remaining cells.  We can’t know that though, so another .2 cm must come out. 

Truly, I don’t want to whine about this, but just Google “lyrics with face in the title.”  I lost my uterus 22 years ago, and honestly I barely missed it.  But sheesh, I was just getting to like this face.

In keeping with my usual penchant for itemization, there are many up-sides to this:

  • A neighbor who says: “Your face is still pretty, and now you look so mysterious.”
  • Using up the saggy bits on the right side, a one-sided facelift, if you will.
  • A kind of dimple, though honestly, not that well-placed.
  • When you’ve got this scar thing going on, it’s really an incentive to up your game hair-wise.
  • And BEST OF ALL, there is a very good chance that I may well avoid the kind of cancer that is more likely to shorten my life.

So that’s why I choose to emphasize the planetary part.  For now, at least, my facial scar looks a bit like a descending shooting star.  Or alternatively like a waxing crescent moon.   So if you want to take a picture of me, be sure to take it from the scary, starry side.  That’s the good one.

[i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/04/19/breakthrough-cancer-therapy-shows-growing-promise/?hpid=hp_no-name_immunotherapy-940am_1%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Sandy Oitzinger has written a novella series, a memoir and several humor books.  Her service as Helena City Commissioner from 2001 through 2008 informed her work and family life at the time.  In retirement she remains active enough in her community to annoy any number of people, her adult children chief among them.  Sandy received word on June 9, 2016 that her two facial surgeries to treat Merkel Cell Carcinoma worked, and she is now cancer free.