A Message from the President: February, 2015

What If?

When my mind stagnates, I will play the What If? game.

As in what if tomatoes were poisonous as once believed?

What if the Pyramids had not been built?

What if the Americas were the hot-bed of civilization, and Europe, etc, were to be discovered?

What if Earth rotated the opposite direction? Or better, what if Earth rotated vertically?

What if we had four legs, yet had two arms?

What if we were faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound?

Ok, I admit that lately I have been hooked on the old TV Superman. Thankfully, I admitted it to certain people. Otherwise I would not have been turned on to Hollywoodland. And never would have known that the reason George Reeves never did anything after his stint as Superman was he, he … well, officially it was listed as a suicide, but the means were questionable.

This leaves me at a few more “What if?” scenarios. What if the movie had stuck with the original script title of Truth, Justice, and the American Way? What if George continued his career? And lastly, what if I had not lived in Burbank as a child?

See ya February 14 at the Special Simon Wood All Day thingie, and see others of ya and your guests February 11 Buyout Fundraiser at Riverfront Playhouse for Harvey.

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A Message from the President: October, 2014

I knew that Halloween was one of the world’s oldest holidays, dating back to pagan times. But to know that it is celebrated today by more people in more countries than ever before? Well, that was news to me. Particularly that world-wide they have fun also. But some remember to honor the dead, as in Latin countries with El Dia de los Muertos.
So, that got me to thinking, which in my case translates to Googling.
The origin of Halloween can be found in the ancient Celtic festival of the dead. The ancient Celts celebrated it as the day when the ghosts of those who had passed away came back to earth. The celebration coincided with the final harvests of the year, the stockpiling of stores for the cold winter months ahead.
In Ireland the day is still celebrated much like it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were centuries ago, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods. A traditional food eaten on Halloween is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat or gift is baked inside the cake that is reputed to foretell the eater’s future.
In some European countries, people will leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp or candles on the table before retiring on Halloween night.
Modern Halloween celebrations in Canada began with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. Jack O’Lanterns are carved and the festivities include parties, trick-or-treating and the decorating of homes with pumpkins and corn stalks.
In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed. An odd custom is to fashion boats of the law from paper. The purpose is twofold; as a remembrance of the dead, and to free the pretas, the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were never buried.
Unlike most nations of the world, Halloween is not celebrated by the French in order to honor the dead and departed ancestors. It is regarded as an “American” holiday, virtually unknown in the country until around 1996. A combination of a love of parties and costume events, and commercialism has led to the rapid rise of the holiday in France.
No matter where, there is the underlying theme of making and offering of special foods dedicated to the dead.
So — remember to let the spirits guide your writing when they reward you for the treats.

A Message from the President: June, 2014

June is a time when most thoughts are about Graduation, or Fathers Day, or finalizing plans for summer. As for me, myself, and I?

Bugs! More specifically June Bugs! Or as they truly are, June Beetles!

Having lived in more places than normal (thanks to my 20-year Navy stint that initially was to avoid the draft, but I hung around because it was fun), I became familiar with many regional variations of what THEY thought were June Bugs. The green scarab beetle that Southerners claimed was far different than the brown Mid-West version, and while it may be green, desert dwellers have a vastly different bug.

A question on the internet asks, “What is the purpose of June Bugs?” Dunno, but reminds me of this old story of an old man whose son, Junebug, would till the family garden, but couldn’t one year because he was in jail. In his monthly letter, the old man lamented that he missed his son, and that he was too old to be digging up the plot, but he was thinking about hiring some lads. A few days later the son replied, advising him to not dig up the garden ‘cuz that is where he buried the loot. That next morning agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding anything; they apologized and left. In the next mail, his son wrote that it was ok to plant, since that was the best he could do under present circumstances.

True??? Dunno, but at the next Writers Forum General Meeting, you may hear something similar. While most thoughts will be on “What to read? What to read? What to read?” there will be polished stories. One only has five minutes to read; that time includes any introductions, scene-building, or explanations of the what, why, who or where factor of your reading. Certainly published or completed-but-not-yet-published works are welcome, but I look at the readings as a test-bed for works-in-progress, or even the idea of “Will this fly?” Remember this tho’ — it is not a Speed Reading contest; read with emphasis. After all, it is YOUR story, and you know the emotions that you’re trying to reach. It is not necessary to get all of it read since the editor and webmaster want to print or post your reading in its entirety (and more).

Until then, keep your ears tuned to the bugs, and pencils sharpened.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: March, 2014

Ah, the Ides of March. All this time I thought they were about the assassination of Julius Caesar. Face it, not being religiously raised, and while I had the complete works of Shakespeare handed down through my mother’s side which I read, I didn’t do any background research on why, who, what, where and when. But now research is my game (Yes, thanks to the Web), and found out that there are Ides of not only March, but every month.

Another revelation I had is that the color blue was originally associated with St. Patrick’s Day. It took more than one thousand years for green to win the masses over.  ‘Sides, Wearing of the Green rolls off the tongue easier than Wearing of the Blue. Celebrated anywhere there is Irish diaspora (and some places where there isn’t), Argentina uses it as a reason to par-tee; neither the Catholic Church nor the Irish community (fifth largest outside Ireland) take part in the organization of the parties.

Another festival in the middle of March is the annual NCAA March Madness. ‘Nuff typed about this…I am sure that someone will approach you about buying in on a pool.

March is also Women’s History MonthHexagonal Awareness Month,  sees the end of Mardi Gras; starts with Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day and ends with National Clam-on-the-Half-Shell Day; and in between are World’s Math Day, Save a Spider Day, World Water Day (unlike Woodstock, I chant “Mo’ Rain! Mo’ Rain!) and I Am in Control  Day.

Man-o-man, the middle of March is a busy time.  Our next meeting after the Nones of March will be just as busy when we will elect officers for the next year.  Once voting is quickly out of the way, we have the opportunity to discover how walking the Mediterranean became fodder for an interactive e-Book by Joel Stratte-McClure.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: February, 2014

January and February mark the annual Crab Feeds as Fundraisers season. Scattered around the North State, most use the Shasta District Fairground. Ranging from small community events, like benefiting the Cottonwood Community Library, to all-out shows like One Safe Place (nee Shasta Women’s Refuge) and various Service Organizations, these raise the sense of supporting local groups; the money raised stays here! So grab your bibs and fav Crab Cracker and chow down. Oh, and a hint: Anderson Rotary has the best Chowder; they contribute it to other fundraisers!

And typing of Crabs (segue here); did you hear the one about a crab walking into a bar? Yep, didn’t get served; barkeep refused cuz it couldn’t walk straight. Now imagine this leading to crabs that live in mangroves, how mangroves look like they have legs, and plants that walk. True dat, plants walking, er, moving.

Beyond Tolkien’s imaginative Ents, there are plants that literally move, seeking a better location. “Nomadic vines” never grow in length, but send thin stems with small leaves to move quickly, and when sun is found, develop thicker and larger to stay there, but leave their trailing parts to wither and die. I have “read” that certain fig trees can “walk” on their stilt roots to escape from a tree that has fallen on them. But Googling has revealed nothing.

Until next month, keep your pen to the paper or your fingers on the keyboard; more importantly, don’t stay rooted in one place.

A Message from the President: July 2013

I just finished a four-week online with conference calls writing workshop for stroke survivors. For some survivors it was the first time they had communicated, let alone write, about their feelings about what happened, what they experienced, what they expected. For others, while they may have ‘let it all out’ earlier, it was an opportunity to learn to use expressive writing techniques to organize and share personal reflections on their recovery.

I got to know other survivors spread across the states. And will get to know others. There were three day/time option tracks; I chose the one that was best for me. Eventually the three will be linked as the last one finishes.

There was no difference in workshop content for the three tracks other than the schedule. Each week two themes were presented with several suggested topics to write about. As we finished, we posted them on a dedicated page of a website to read and comment. Similar frustrations were the norm, even though we ran the gamut from mild residual disabilities to wheelchair-bound, recent to long-term.

The workshops were made possible by American Heart Association’s off-shoot American Stroke Association’s quarterly magazine, Stroke Connection. Debi McGill, the editor of the magazine, was in charge of the nuts-and-bolts of connecting us. It was facilitated/coached by Carol Keegan, a forty-year survivor, who had the idea of developing an expressive writing group composed of stroke survivors. In her own recovery, she had relied on deep reflective writing practices like journaling and legacy letters to help her make sense of how stroke had changed her life. She had found the simple process of finding words to convey her fears and resentments allayed her need to make sense of the experience. When she sat down to write, the paper answered her nagging questions about “Why,” and “How,” and even, “What if.” The more she wrote, the more inner resources bubbled up.
So she decided that her 40th anniversary celebration would focus on finding ways to share expressive writing techniques with other survivors. She decided to develop a writing workshop that would support them through the process of harvesting their individual experiences of recovering from stroke. By sharing their writing with each other during the workshop, they could find a greater appreciation of their own coping skills and more confidence in their capacity to rebuild their lives.

We were the first to use technology to link wide-spread survivors together (the first had been with her local stroke support group).

So…that’s how I started my summer with new hopes for a writing life, getting that needed ‘kick-in-the-ass’ to my in-work-but-stalled “Life without Clots.” Hope you had a great start to your summer.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: May, 2013

This is one great month for inspiring the written word. After all, who has NEVER written a poem about their mother as part of a class project? So…with that lead in, I am off on another of my Almost World Famous columns.

Contrary to the naysayers, Mother’s Day was not an invention of the card and candy industries, though it didn’t take them long to get their pinkies in the candy bowl. Credited to Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day (on the second Sunday in May) is an American invention. Worldwide, there are festivals and holidays honoring mothers occurring anywhere, with the majority from March to May, but it is the singularly possessive form that we celebrate, honoring each and every mother.

Ms. Jarvis was successful in having Mother’s Day recognized as an official holiday when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill in 1914. The initial celebration centered on church, family and letter writing. However, as quick as the ‘20s she was disillusioned by the commercialization.

It is one of the few American holidays not based on an event, and not rolled into a three-day event, much to the chagrin of workers everywhere. Would you sign the petition?

It has become fodder for quotes and poems. And school assignments!

One stood out for me:

“I wrote this for my mom. I have been a jerk to her and lazy around the house.
I LOVE YOU MOM!!!”

Mom’s Special Day

Mom today’s your special day,
And you need to take a rest.
I’ll do everything for you,
To make it the best.

Mom you’re sweet
And you mean the world to me.
You do every little thing
Cheerfully.

You’re too loving and kind,
To do so much work.
I’ll always help out
Instead of being a jerk.

    With that, I will leave you to your writing. This month Writers Forum is featuring pieces around the theme of “mothers”. Keep in mind that Father’s Day is just around the bend (or maybe “fold of the calendar” is more apropos) and Writers Forum will be featuring pieces around the theme of “fathers”, so please submit your pieces to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.

Larry Watters
Writers Forum President