Friday, May 14, 2010

The land of the free and the home of the brave.

It is cute when we all work together.

The Star Spangled Banner as sung by our past Presidents.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The World is Made New Everyday

Author Anna Quindlan spoke on the Walt Bodine radio program on May 5, 2010. This inspirational conversation is directed to young girls and women of all ages. Her mother died at age 19. She married and raised three children, meanwhile writing a daily column for the New York Times, and writing best sellers in fiction, non-fiction, and self-help. Anna discusses her need to express herself in writing, the influence of teachers, and the trials and tribulations of life.

Anna quotes the New York Times motto that, "The World is Made New Everyday". Her approach to life is one of curiosity at the challenges that are thrown at us in life. We humans like drama despite the fact that real life is often the mundane.

You can listen to this conversation by clicking on the following link. Anna Quindlan on Walt Bodine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


My grandmother Marguerite Chevallier grew up in the village of Graffigny-Chemin, France. The house where she grew up is across the street from the church in this 1905 postcard.

Notice the clothing of the children in the image. Children today are more casual in their dress.

The internet is a useful tool to research family histories. This postcard, for instance, was found by googling French postcards. The website is too can search for old images by selecting keywords and letting Google do the work.

Another good source of family histories is the Mormon church's collection of records online.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Verb agreement

There Was a Crooked Man

There was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat,
Which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
In a crooked little house.

One problem confronting writers is verb agreement. First, verbs should agree with the subject in number.
Sue studies hard.
The singular subject "Sue" agrees with the verb "studies".
Sue and Bob (both) study hard.
The plural subject "Sue and Bob" requires a change in verb form to "study".
Everyone studies hard.
Some subjects which contain more than one individual are singular because they constitute a group. "Everyone" is a group taking a singular verb. There are other words which seem plural but aren't and require a singular verb form. "Family", "all the world" are two examples which require a singular verb form.
My family is big. All the world loves an Irishman on St. Patrick's Day. Is anyone going to go? The staff of the school loves teaching.

A second problem with verb agreement is consistency in the paragraph and the paper as a whole. When we write, we use tenses that reflect when the action is taking place. Present tense for now, past tense for the past, and future for events that have yet to take place. There are also other verb forms such as the passive voice and active voice. Some mixing of tenses and voice are necessary both to reflect the time events take place, but also to make the writing more interesting. But, beware that jumping around too much is confusing to readers.

The nursery rhyme above contains only verbs in the past tense. Suppose we mix it up a little.

There Is a Crooked Man

There Is a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile,
He will find a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile;

He had bought a crooked cat,
Which can catch a crooked mouse,
And they all live together
In a crooked little house.

Mixing up the verb forms brings the rhyme to a crashing halt. So, examine your paragraphs and stay consistent in the use of verb forms. But be careful. Sometimes the writer has to be a detective and match subject with verb.
A long list of assignments, chores, tasks and duties intimidates me.

The subject is "list" and not the several items.

Good luck. Your readers will appreciate it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Springtime in Texas

A Shakespearean sonnet is made up of 14 lines, each line with ten syllables, and written in iambic pentameter. Iambic refers to a pattern of an unemphasized syllable follow by an emphasized syllable. The word "delight" is an example since the stress is on the syllable "-light".

The rhyme scheme in a Shakespearean sonnet is a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. The last two lines are a rhyming couplet.

Sonnet 98
by William Shakespeare (1609)

From you have I been absent in the spring
When proud-pied April, dress’d in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:

Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

Yet seem’d it winter still, and you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

Bluebonnet image by Larry Urqhart

See more Texas wildflowers

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just for laughs


Monday, the old dog said that a crumb would do
Then On Tuesday the old dog asked me to make it two
Wednesday, the old dog said he'd prefer to have fish
And not on paper - he'd rather a dish!
On Thursday, the old dog said it was cold out there
So what about letting him sleep on a chair
By Friday the old dog made it perfectly clear
That he was planning to live in HERE
On Saturday night he took half my bed
And woke me up early to get himself fed
Today we'll have chicken because it is Sunday
I wonder what old dog will enjoy eating on Monday

Author Unknown Dog Poem
Public Domain Archives of Dog Poems

Try adding your own lines. For instance:

Within a week, the old dog was sittin' at the table
Eatin' more than he he was able
By next week, he has his eve on television and cable
I think I'm in for trouble.

Friday, January 29, 2010

the catcher in the rye

J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye died Wednesday at his home in New Hampshire, where he lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91. The Catcher in the Rye was Salinger's one published novel. At the time his book was published in 1951, Salinger was considered to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then shunned success, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous.

The Catcher in the Rye's narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, is a teenager newly expelled from prep school, who then returns to New York City where he spends three days in drunkenness and lonliness. On his first night back in the city, he checks into a dilapidated hotel and has a platonic relationship with a prostitue. His escapades in the city include a visit to a natural history museum where he compares his life to the statues of eskimos on display. Later he sneaks into his parents' apartment while they are away and visits his younger sister, Phoebe. After leaving his parents' apartment, Holden spends the night at the apartment of his former English teacher, Mr. Antolini. Holden and Antolini reflect on the meaning of life. Later when Holden falls asleep, he awakes to find his teacher patting his head acting "flitty." The next day Holden returns to his sister and speaks to her of his desire to leave and go west, but when she demands that he take her with him he tells her he will no longer go. They spend the day at the Central Park zoo and Holden watches at a distance as his sister ride the carousel. On the whole, Holden concludes that the events of the past few days have been inconsequential. He will return to school in September.

The term "catcher in the rye" refers to Robert Burns' Comin thro the Rye* and Holden's idealistic fantasy of being the one who saves children who play in the field and come too close to the brink.

Salinger's novel can be compared to several other novels and stories. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, is the story of the drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim a runaway slave, who raft down the Mississippi River on their way to Jim's freedom. In Stephen King's novella, Stand By Me, four adolescents walk the train tracks on a summer day, searching for the dead body of a boy struck by a train. Finally, in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, three teenagers "jip" school and enjoy a day in the city of Chicago.

*Comin Thro the Rye

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry;
She draigl't a' her petticoattie
Comin thro' the rye.

Comin thro the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye,
She draigl't a'her petticoatie,
Comin thro the rye!

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,[r] Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken?