Wisconsin Wednesdays

During summer I’m amazed by the beauty of Wisconsin, especially the rural areas where I live. It comes fast and furious because there is a finite number of sunlit, warm summer days here up north. All of us appreciate each of them and spend as much time out in the fresh air and sunshine as we can. To showcase that beauty, I’ve decided to do post pictures each Wednesday highlighting some aspect of Wisconsin. I hope you’ll enjoy what I choose to show you. I’ll also use the hashtag #RuralAmerica, so if you want to post your own pictures in the comments or on Twitter, I’d LOVE to see them!

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These are my purple cone flowers or Echinacea purpurea, a perennial flower in the sunflower family. In my garden it is one of the easiest plants to grow, and it also grows in the wild here in the Midwest. Most of these I never even planted. They came up from seed form the original two or three plants, but they look so pretty where they were that I left them there. They have blessed us with numerous blooms that attract lots of honeybees and butterflies.

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Two of our “neighbors” who live within a couple of miles of us raise honeybees, and my cone flowers are a great source of nectar for the bees who pollinate them each summer. I wish you could smell them; I wish I could make a perfume of their scent!

Cone Flower with Honey Bee

Cone Flower with Honey Bee

 

 

 

 

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This Literary Child of Mine

Yesterday my husband and I were talking after a relaxing weekend, and he said something that gave me pause. We had spent a lovely weekend together and were rehashing how nice it was to spend time with a good friend and not have a deadline to meet. We spent Saturday with his college roommate Andy, who had come to visit. We spent most of our time outside either up to our necks in the river to stay cool and keep the horseflies off our skin or sitting on our back porch watching the fading light of sunset while we ate barbecue and homegrown salad greens. When it became too dark to see, I lit candles, and we continued talking well into the evening. It was a lovely day. Sunday my hubby and I took Stella for a long walk and spent a lazy day together doing nothing in particular.

Sunday evening as we were both dreading the start of another work week, hubby said, “I can’t wait ’til you get published and I can retire and you can spend all your time writing. I’ll make the hotel and airline reservations for your book tour and manage all that sort of thing for you.” What aspiring author wouldn’t fall head over heels in love with that kind of confidence? I love his unshaken conviction that I will be finish this book and it will be good enough to be published. When I doubt myself, I only have to remember his confidence in me. Hubby’s roommate also asked about my project.  He asked where I was was in the process. My answer? “I’m revising again.” That seems to be the only answer I give any more. I had a goal to polish this, my first book, and begin my second one before the end of the year. I’ve begun my second, but only just, and I am still plugging away at polishing this first one. I have a list of agents I’ve researched ready to go, but I know I’m not ready to contact them yet.

 

Even as I sit writing this post, I feel like I should be working on my book. I’m like a pregnant mother who is well past her due date and can’t wait to give birth to her new baby. I feel that same sense of restlessness and angst knowing I have a little while longer to wait, but I think perhaps that is not the only thing bothering me. I think maybe I’m a little afraid of what the next phase of my writing journey will bring. Will this be my only book? Will it be good? Will people like it? Will my students be proud of me or disappointed? Will it sell? If it does, will I find success like my husband envisions? If I do, I’ll be overjoyed, but I know the odds are against that kind of success, though it does occur. I know I need to hone my craft; I feel it in my bones. When I read some writers’ work and get chills at a description or a few lines of dialogue, I know I’m not yet there. But I will be.

The blessing in this whole sense of dissatisfaction is I love the creative process. I love feeling the words form seemingly of their own volition. I love feeling that only a few minutes have passed as I’ve been writing and looking at the clock to discover that a few hours have passed instead. In fact, I miss that. I think that is why I haven’t been able to polish this first book completely yet. Whatever the reason for my not achieving my goals as yet, I know I will succeed. I am ready to birth this book. This literary child of mine will be born this year, revised, polished and ready to go to a new home with a good literary agent who sees its potential. I am ready for the next stage of nurturing it. I’m ready for my book baby to take on a life of its own, a new life separate from me but always a part of me. Perhaps it will find the kind of success my husband believes is possible. Wouldn’t that be awesome!

Media Speak

Have you noticed anything about the stories the media reports on the evening news ? Well, if you haven’t, perhaps you haven’t been paying too much attention, or maybe you don’t watch mainstream news. But I do. I live out in the country and don’t get cable. I could have a satellite dish, but that seems like overkill. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a TV at all. I know I’m a dinosaur or at least a Luddite about many things, including…grammar. I am an English teacher after all, and that is perhaps why this trend bothers me so much. Here’s an example from ABC News just this morning, a video example, but if you prefer to read the transcript, I’ve provided that in the post. I could have picked any news show; they have all adopted this trend. I just happened to be watching ABC this particular morning. I’ve italicized the parts that bother me. (The names of some of the people may be incorrect. Just chalk it up to my distracted state from listening so closely to this grammar transgression.)  See if you can guess the reason for my irritation.

Here is the transcript of the above link. Rhode Island Beach Explosion Raises Safety Concerns

Robin Roberts: With that mysterious explosion on a Rhode Island Beach, the blast so forceful it knocked one woman onto the rocks, sending her to the hospital. This morning that beach is back open and we’re hearing from that woman.

Actual Report from Linzie Janis:
Janis: Good Morning Robin. That woman was sitting in her beach chair with her toes in the water, when suddenly the ground beneath her exploded, throwing her up into the air and sending dozens of others scrambling to safety.

Janis: This morning the beach goer thrown into the air by a mysterious explosion speaking out, saying she has no memory of the incident.

Danise, the Beach goer: It was a beautiful day. The beach was busy. There were a lot of people there. The last thing I remember was reading my book.

Janis: Investigators still trying to figure out what caused the apparent explosion on this crowded New England beach.

Unnamed Eyewitness: People started screaming and running.

Janis: The powerful blast ocurring along this jetty on Saturday, seemingly coming from under ground, launching 60 year old Kathleen Danise into the air, and slamming her down onto the rocks.

Friend of the beachgoer: She was like a human cannon, just four feet up ten feet out, smacked on her torso.

Janis: Paramedics carrying Danise away on a stretcher with two broken ribs and a concussion. Authorities then evacuating the popular beach, calling in the bomb squad.

Bomb Squad member: We know that it wasn’t man-made.

Janis: Officials here mystified.

Larry Mouradjian: There appears to have been some ground disturbance. There is definitely something that happened there.

Janis: Some beach goers said they smelled gas after the explosion, but the gas company said there is no line under the beach, and the US Geological Survey telling ABC News there was no seismic activity in that area.

Lucy Jones, Ph. D.: You aren’t going to see an explosion like this from a geologic source without a seismic record.

Janis: But Danise’s family still concerned about safety on that beach.

Danise: We went back there this morning. There was no caution tape up, and having kids climb the rock walls

Janis: This morning it’s open to the public, but Danise says she’s not going back any time soon.

Danise: That was my favorite location. Until we know what actually happened, no.

Janis: Now the blast left a hole in the sand, but within 24 hours authorities had filled it in and reopened this beach even though they still have no idea what caused the explosion. Robin and George, right now they won’t even say they have a theory.

Did you guess? The news is using participial phrases to speak. What?! Yes, and it is driving me crazy! I want to know who started this trend and why. Is it only to vex those of us who actually still care about the English language and the way we are perceived in the world. Is it to bring immediacy to the news, as though it is still happening, so we should care about it right now? Why?

I have a really hard time teaching my students how to write because the media constantly misuse words and phrases. This time they are speaking in phrases rather than complete sentences. If you don’t remember what participial phrases are, check here.  Please, someone who has far more power and influence than I, make them stop!!! If not for me, then for the sake of my students. If nothing else, take pity on me and other English teachers in the country who sincerely try to teach students to write and speak correctly. Set a good example for the students in the United States, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Linzie Janis. Start a media revolution; speak in complete sentences rather than phrases! For the love of English, do it. Please?