A Trip Down Memory Lane

I saw an old friend today. Most teachers probably don’t think of past students as old friends, but I do. The years I spent teaching special students like Matthew were among the most rewarding years of my teaching career. This young man greeted each day with a smile, and his laughter lifted up those who worked with him even on even the gloomiest days.

As a writer, I try to make my characters believable, and resilient. No one understands resiliency better than children, now young adults, who have to face a world full of obstacles, day in, day out. When I put my characters through difficult situations, I tend to remember those young people who taught me the true meaning of joy and laughter — the students who looked life in the face and smiled in spite of the hardships they faced.

I enjoyed seeing Matthew today and the smile on his face reminded me of those children who touched my life so many years ago. Every now and then, it’s great to take a trip down memory lane.

 

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Misunderstandings

I am absolutely amazed at the way people misunderstand the language we all speak. There are certain words that seem to have lost their clearly defined meanings. One of them is the word “personal”. According to Bing: per·son·al,adjective.
>1.

of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion.
2.

relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person: a personal favor; one’s personal life; a letter marked “Personal.”
3.

intended for use by one person: a personal car.
4.

referring or directed to a particular person in a disparaging or offensive sense or manner, usually involving character, behavior, appearance, etc.: personal remarks.
5.

making personal remarks or attacks: to become personal in a dispute.
 
So, why is it that personal remarks intended for one person, spoken by one person, exposing one person’s opinion, can be bandied around like public knowledge?
Because, there are no secrets on the Internet! Have you taken the time to read some of the things people post? Do they not realize that what they are saying can be taken out of context, transmitted to others, who take it further out of content, until all hell breaks loose? World wars start that way.
Before you post, think carefully about what you’ve said. can it be misunderstood, misconstrued, or somehow made to be inflammatory? the jokes you post–can they be seen as offensive by some, racist by others?
The Internet is a wonderful way to make friends with people you’d never have a chance to meet otherwise, but it needs care and caution. Guard your words and posts carefully. Nothing is personal or private–not even the so-called private messages. Don’t let your words be misunderstood.
A sneak peak at Lie Down With Dogs:

“Don’t do me any more favors! One of these days, Sloan, you’re going to give me a crappy assignment that I’ll turn into a Pulitzer, just watch and see.” Faye stormed out of the editor’s office, slamming the door behind her, the glass pane rattling in its frame. Her high white blond pony-tail swished from side to side, as she crossed the bull pen to her desk, the hated assignment sheet crumpled in her fist at her side. A society tea? He’d taken away the dog show and given it to Jackson. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, they had. Hadn’t she paid for her damn sins yet? 

She ignored the sly “I told you so” looks on the faces of her fellow reporters and sat down. Journalism was a dog-eat-dog business, and she was still the main item on the menu. She was a crime reporter, not a damn social columnist. She didn’t give a rat’s ass about Fifi or Fido, and was sick to death of playing nice with dog show judges and patrons alike, but she’d had a good idea for a story, one with teeth, and Sloan, that no-good, low-down snake, had taken it from her.
Benjamin Franklin had been so right. “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas, or in this case with your life in shreds.  Her mother had always said she was too kind, too trusting. She’d warned her to be cautious of the company she kept, but co-workers weren’t company, not really, and ex-fiances who threw you to the wolves were no better. She’d made faulty assumptions and look at what it had gotten her..

Holidays Re-energize You!

ImageYesterday, I came home from my camping holiday exhausted. Why? Because the hardest part of camping is setting up and taking down. To fully appreciate this statement, you have to understand that we camp in a tent, albeit a large one, without electricity. I use an adapter in my car to power-up my electric pump to blow up the air mattress, but otherwise, everything we have is propane or solar powered. We use the barbecue and the gas stove to cook, a lantern for light at night, and always have a campfire in the evenings.  When it’s really cold–which it wasn’t this time, we have a tent heater too.

Setting up takes time, and in the heat we had on the 6th of July, we had to take our time. When you set up, you can do that, especially if you camp in the early summer when the days are longer. You can unpack the cars, get the tarps out and set up the tents, have a brew or two, even have a quick dip if you’re fortunate enough to have a water site. Sadly, taking down is not as leisurely a thing. First, you have a deadline. Technically, you’re supposed to vacate the site by eleven in the morning. Secondly, packing the cars is more difficult because you don’t have time to organize things the way you did. Thank goodness Troy was there to help us and take home the humungous tarp we have. It would have been a stretch to try and put it in the car! 25’X40′ is a lot of tarp to handle! Finally, the vacation is over, so you don’t have the excitement and enthusiasm to fuel you.

What made this take down more tiring than usual was the fact that we had a picture-perfect day–just as we did on set-up, and in the heat and humidity, I just can’t move as quickly as I could. Maybe it’s time to reconsider tenting.

Other than take-down, the vacation was idyllic. We had some rain to be sure, but other than a fierce storm on Wednesday night, the weather was great. Truth be told, with the exception of an incredible gust of wind that I thought might bring the tent down, and an impossible amount of rain, the prelude to the storm made the whole thing worth it. The sky was aglow with cloud-to-cloud lightening that lit up the sky, and with the grumble of thunder in the distance, I felt transported into a scene from a WWII movie. Everything seemed surreal. The best part? I have tons of material for my next book!

We have been camping at Higley Flow for many years now, and I used the area in and around the park to create the town of Pine Falls, the location for my second book, In Plain Sight. Anyone who lives in and around that part of New York state will recognize landmarks and roadways. I hope if they do, they’ll let me know about it.

Nothing can beat the beauty of the Raquette River, and we went out in the canoe several times, admiring the landscape and the ducks that call the river home. There was a small family of Canada geese who came by to visit as well. We loved watching the children jump into the river from a rope suspended in a tree on the bank opposite our campsite. We were also lucky enough to see a number of deer in the park, including a doe and a new fawn.

On the final two days, we were joined by my daughter and her family. I don’t think Troy, her significant other, knew what he was getting into, but he was a great sport about it all. The kids spent hours playing in the water, collecting rocks and of course playing on the new park play structure and jumping from the rope. Canoe rides, kayak rides, and smiling faces. That’s why I go camping. Holidays refresh you–even if you come home tired.