Easter Musings and Orchids Blooming
Well, I am a day late and dollar short once again. Things have just been demanding and time has fled from my grasp. I hope you all are having a wonderful Easter Sunday.
My next book, Tips, Tricks & Techniques. A Self-Directed Search for Easier Learning should be available within the next two weeks. I think this book did not want to be written. I have been trying now since the first week of December to get it out. I seem to be the only person really thinking it should be printed and available.
If you are a female in the arts field (music, dance, visual arts, writing) look up National League of American Pen Women, Inc. (www.nlapw.org). We have and Atlanta Pen Women chapter and meet monthly (second Wednesday at 10 am). Pen women is very encouraging to artistic women. If you would be interested in joining, send me a note (email@example.com).
Founded in 1897, the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. (NLAPW) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that supports and promotes professional women in arts, letters, music, and allied professions.
I have just accepted a position on the Board of Directors for Southeastern Writers Association. they have the best conference each year at Epworth by the Sea (St. Simons, GA). If you are a writer, check out this group. It is wonderful.
Here is a little piece I wrote this morning. I hope you will enjoy it. Now I need to go water all my indoor flowers, the orchids are blooming!
Antique or Vintage?
It is my birthday. I am not sure which category I fall into, antique or vintage. I suppose if something has to be 100 years or older it is an antique. That makes me vintage. Like a fine wine, but a bit tangy, occasionally sweet. Perhaps even a tiny bit bitter. I suppose it could be worse—dried up bottle of dust.
Our tractor is celebrating its birthday, too. It is one year older than me. So is my husband Snell’s favorite car, a Cadillac Sedanette. Both were born in 1948. Snell has kept all three of us going for years.
1949 is really the year of my birth. Easter Sunday at 5:05 pm. Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta, GA. I am not sure where the Ford tractor or the Cadillac were born. Anyway we have all arrived in Georgia, the land of slow vowels and beautiful springs.
1949 is the Year of the Ox on the Chinese calendar. I thought I was a hog or a rat, but I am an ox. Well, I guess I am kind of shaped like one now in middle-old age. I am going for longevity here. 74 is middle aged if you live to be 150.
Oxen are described as “industrious, thrifty and clever, and they make careful calculation and strict budgeting for everything. Also, they never do the things beyond their capability, so they seldom suffer losses; they attach great importance to the fairness of benefit distribution. They are destined to have average luck in early years, favorable luck in middle age, and excellent luck in old age.” Still waiting on some that to mature! I need to learn to say “no, thank you” more often.
And I am an Aries. According to the information I found Aries are the trailblazers. Passionate, independent, loyal, smart, and impulsive. They always have multiple projects on their mind, and won't be satisfied until their work, social life, and personal lives line up exactly with the dream life they've envisioned. Aries are all about initial attraction. They can sense chemistry in the first sentence uttered by a potential partner. (This is true. I knew on our first date when Snell kissed me goodnight that I would marry him. That was in 1975, still together. I had to work on him though!) Forthright and unabashed, an Aries will do everything in their power to go after someone they want.
A combination of an ox and a ram. No wonder I am who I am.
Another truth, I am a liar. I lie about my age. Lots of people do. When I first started teaching I had a student who was only a year younger than I. When asked about my age I lied. Sometimes I would be ten years older, other times twenty.
I haven’t formally taught in many years and trust me there are no students even close to my age now. No reason to lie, you think. There you are wrong. I add ten years to my age. I look good for some in their mid-eighties, not so hot for mid-seventies.
So middle-elderly aged, fat and sassy, blessed with a wonderful husband, a great son, who is regular middle aged, dear friends, and an old tractor that still works—happy birthday to me.
In researching this I found a quote in the Aries description. It is my new motto.
"When you know yourself, you're empowered. When you accept yourself, you're invincible."
(Marlene is an award winning author who is available for speaking engagements. Her books are available on www.scribblersweb.com and www.amazon.com. You can reach her through www.MsRatWrites.com or MsRatWrites@gmail.com)
Learning Styles Tips & Tricks
I am have been pitiful about keeping up with anyone. I would like to say it was because I have been very productive in all kinds of things.
It ain't true. I don't know where my time goes, but it isn't for very productive things. We're clean. That’s about all I can say!
I did finish writing a book on learning styles. I have sent it in, but haven't heard back from the people who will do the publishing. I think I am going to go through Amazon for it. Tips, Tricks, Techniques for Self-Directed Approach for Easier Learning is the title.
I am in the midst of getting the publishing on my first book back over to me. It is still under the publishers imprint.
I am about to recreate the book I lost, Finding Home. I have 14 chapters, though not in order, that I retrieved.
My favorite short story is The Caretaker. I am submitting it to a contest this month. Keep your fingers crossed for it. No, you haven’t seen this one. I wrote it two or three years ago. It is long and therefore not acceptable to most contests. I hope to get a book of short stories out this year. It will be in there.
I had oral surgery on Thursday. I have one side of my face swollen and I look like a monster, but it is getting better.
Bless Snell, I have slept pretty well all of Thursday and Friday. I have a meeting on Sunday with one of my writing groups. I hope my face will be less swollen and my headache and mouth pain will be better. It has greatly improved this morning. I am president of the Southern Sisters in Crime group so I hate to miss.
I am watching a huge pileated red pecker on the suet block this am. He is beautiful. All the smaller birds are there and just ignoring him.
James has branched out with his glass blowing and is making these incredible squids on rounded ball. The legs are very delicate, but just lovely. I included his fox as well, these are his two newest interests. I hope the pictures comes through.
Hope all is well with you and your's.
A New Year—A New Me
Once again we have sung Auld Lang Syne and made our plans for an exciting new year. What shall we do? What shall we change? Should we change?
Do you make resolutions? I never made them with any sense of seriousness. I guess I knew I would never hold to them all that well. There were flashes of losing weight, exercising regularly, being more organized. Yeah, they still don’t work. I don’t even write them down. Actually, I am short and fat and although I was once an athlete, I am now an old woman with way too much to do in my life.
I once was very organized. I never left work that my desk wasn’t clean and things were filed in the proper place. All I had to do the next morning was pull one basket toward me and take out the first item. I had left things in proper sequence from the evening before. Today, I have three baskets, overflowing. Three calendars to be updated and checked and no way do they match up.
I would like to be more organized—like I used to be. When I was working 8 to 10 hours a day, I had to be organized. When I left work there was another world I had to take care of. Now I work 12 to 18 hours a day and you can’t tell I’ve done a dern thing. (Dern, that is southern for damn.)
Time has a way of taking care of a lot of things. Given enough time my whole house will be filled with cat fur balls, enough dust to write the Magna Carta in, twice, and a short, fat, old woman with still too much to do.
Maybe I should have only one New Year’s Resolution. Saying no. No is one of the hardest words for me to pronounce. My friends know this. That is why they call. Sometimes I wonder if I hear from these people because they want to see how we are or if they just need something. I know that isn’t true. When Snell and I were so sick with Covid and he thought he had the right to die on me, friends dropped off food, gathered out mail, and offered help.
“No, I appreciate your asking.” “No, I’m sorry I wish I could.” “Thank you for thinking of me, but no, I can’t.”
How hard was that to write? Not at all. How hard is it to say out loud? REALLY hard. I must practice.
Whatever your new you is, smile and think with pride “I am me. I have another day to be the best me I can be.” That is the best resolution.
The picture in this article is of Rich’s Great Tree. The lighting of the Great Tree in Atlanta was the beginning of all things holiday. Everyone watched on TV or went downtown to see the annual phenomena. Time magazine featured it on the cover of December, 1961. It was a world impressing event.
The tradition began in 1948. An Eastern White Pine at least 70 feet to 90 feet tall would be selected each year for Rich’s event. Television coverage of the tree being felled and transported to Atlanta was on the news coverage. We would see the cranes lifting the tree from the street to rooftop some eight floors above.
Once in place, the decorating would begin. Balls five feet in diameter would hung with huge ropes of garland and lights. The top star had to be 10 feet tall and shown like it was leading all of us to Bethlehem or Holiday shopping nirvana. The tree could be seen for miles.
Parents and children would walk through Santa’s Workshop on the way to visit with Santa Claus. Inside the store, was "Santa's Secret Shop" which was off-limits to the adults. The "spirit of Christmas" started at the street level with animated window displays. Moving mannequin handing out gifts, trains transported them to other windows, dancing couples, and angels playing violins. It was magical.
The roof top home for Santa would be opened for children in awe of the great man. Eight reindeer would live on that roof top from Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas. A miniature suspended monorail “flew" from the ceiling of the toy department, outside the building to a rooftop Christmas village that surrounded the Great Tree. The original Pink Pig was named Priscilla. A second pig, named Percival was later added to meet the high demand to ride the pig. After completing their journey, riders received a sticker that said "I rode the Pink Pig.” I still have one of the prized stickers.
On Thanksgiving, crowds would start to assemble in the streets. TV personalities would begin the countdown. The four floors of the Crystal Bridge would gleam with local choirs, decked in robes and best voices. There were eight choral groups performing. Each would be featured for a few minutes. Christmas carols could be heard all over Atlanta. A local celebrity would read the Christmas Story as anticipation of the moment built.
There were hours of entertainment this night with the music and lights. But suddenly, all was still. All was silent. Someone threw the switch. The entire city of Atlanta and through the state through their TVs would let out a mighty “OOOOOHHHHH--AAAAHHHH.”
And it was OOOHHH and AAAHHH inspiriting. The dark sky lit up and the Great Tree shown with a magnificence not to be seen for another year.
Alas, neither Rich’s nor The Great Tree exist anymore. Several moves to other store locations were tried. It was never the same. And now the “Great Tree” is a much smaller artificial one. It has lost it greatest. Somehow for those of us of a certain age this dims our excitement of the season’s start. Anyone can put up a tree and put glittering balls and lights on it. Only Rich’s could have a 70 to 90 ft. beacon of the season.
Stores do not decorate for the Holidays as they once did. I guess it is too expensive or offensive to someone. It isn’t as exciting to visit the Malls and see the holiday beauty, because there really isn’t a lot of lovely, spirited decorations.
No matter the décor, welcome to the holiday season and the tying up of all those loose ends of the year. We have so much for which to be grateful. We all can get lost in the demands of the season.
Take a minute. Make a gratitude list. List everything from the smallest to the largest. Now this is hard part. Make a list of those people you need to forgive. Oh yeah, include yourself. Be grateful and be gracious to yourself and others.
I am grateful I saw Rich’s Great Tree many times. My best friend and I never missed the occasion. I remember it with fondest and that wonderful childhood memory brings a glow to my heart. I wish you could share one of the Great Tree lightings with you.
Hold your memories dear and your dear ones close.
This is something my son told me one day when we were discussing Christmas and if he would be eligible for presents or a sack of switches. “‘Tis the season and Santa knows if you have been naughty or nice.” I said. “Well, I have been naughty, but at least I was nice about it. I told you before I did it.” Replied my honest little boy.
(Rich’s Department Store opened in 1867 and was dominate retail center over the southeastern United State.)
Celebrate the Good Times
I am a bit behind on everything, not just the October news. I think I have more pies than fingers and I am up to elbows in sticky stuff.
If you are in the Snellville area, I hope you can stop by the Elizabeth Williams Library this Saturday (11/3/22). Local authors will be there to talk about their books and writing. We also have the opportunity to sell our books. It begins at 1:00pm
On Nov 19, from 2-7:00pm, I and my friend Lynn Hesse will be at the Walnut Grove Festival at the City Hall. Stop in so see all the beautiful decorations.
Dec 3, three of my writing friends and I will be at the Snellville Performing Arts festival. The program begins at 9:00 and ends at 2:00 pm.
I wish I could say I have finished another book, but I can't. I am trying, very hard. I have Tricks, Tips, and Techniques for Using color to Enhance Learning and Study Skills. I need to edit it and then send it on to someone who is a much better editor than I. Working on the title. Suggestions? Send your ideas to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If your title is chosen I'll send you a book as a gift.
I need only to organize and edit another book like Life is hard. Soften It with Laughter. I am struggling for a good title. It is another collection of humorous essays based on the foibles of life. Please send me your suggestions (email@example.com). If your title is chosen you get the first book off the press as a gift.
If God is willing and the Creek don't rise, I hope both will be done by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I think the Creek have sharpened their arrows and are lurking in the back yard.
Are you a writer? Monroe Walton Center for the Arts in Monroe , GA has opened up an Author's Guild and will sell your books. You must be published and you must join MWCA. For more information contact Barbara Barth (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take care.
Celebrate the Good Times
Is it really time for Thanksgiving? At Thanksgiving dinner people will often sit around the table laden with great
food. They will laugh, smile, and tell each other all the things for which they are thankful. They will declare their friendships, loyalties, and love for one another. What a wonderful time of the year.
But wait. Why must we wait for a holiday to take a minute to list those things and people for whom we are
thankful? It is so hard to get family together these days. Sharing love and thankfulness while you have everyone
together is a wonderful thing. Maybe we should take a minute each day to remind ourselves for whom and for what
we are thankful. It is just an affirmation of the positive side of our lives.
Busy? Oh yeah. Who isn’t? Find a minute to flash a face or an event through your mind. Just say “Thanks.” Before
falling asleep let your mind wonder to the good things of the day. It could be your cat being silly, a memory of a
good friend, a rainbow. What does it matter? It will end your day on a positive note and your thankful thought will
guide you into sleep. Isn’t it best to have positive thoughts?
It is important that I take a few minutes every night to be thankful for the day I had and for the people I love.
Sitting around a table once a year to declare my appreciation is just not enough. We need to be thankful in our minds daily. And we need to smile. Life is hard, a smile and good thought can perform miracles.
Book Clubs and Fairs
Here it is at the end of August. I would love to tell you that I have been working hard on completing the book I lost, but alas, t’ain’t so. Somehow that get up and go, got up and hasn’t come back. I have been doing some short essays. One follows a few announcements. I hope you will enjoy it.
Marlene Buchanan and Lynn Hesse will be presenting at the Walnut Grove Library Book Club on September 7 at 11:00 am. Visitors are welcome Lynn Hesse and Marlene Buchanan will be selling books at the Monroe Festival on October 8. They will be in front of the Monroe Walton Center for the Arts Building.
Monroe's Southern Sisters in Crime meets the last Sunday of each month at Monroe Walton Center for the Arts. If you are interested in writing or reading mysteries, join us. We meet in person from 3-5 pm. Contact Marlene Buchanan
for more information email@example.com.
On September 29, 2022, Georgiana Fields, Lynn Hesse, and Marlene Buchanan will be at the Book Festival at Gainesville Library from 3-98 pm. This is a program reserved for local authors.
Monroe Walton Center for the Arts is developing a new program for writers. Although they offer several classes for people who wish to write or perform, the BOOK NOOK will feature published authors. It will become a place for you to
sell your books, hold book fairs, book launches, meetings, etc. If interested in participating contact Marlene firstname.lastname@example.org. The MWCA committee begins developing this new Author Featured program this September and hope to be fully underway in October. The cost--only a membership in MWCA ($25 for one year for seniors, $35 for others. special student price and family prices).
205 South Broad Street
Monroe, Georgia 30655
Blackie, the Patrol Officer
My father was a City of Atlanta Policeman for over thirty years. The last twenty
plus were spend as a School Detective. What we think of as Resource Offices started out
in 1956 as School Detectives. There were two organizations. The city of Atlanta and the
Atlanta Police department in 1954 decided to join forces and establish a unit assigned
only the schools. In 1956, the money was allocated and the division was established.
Sargent J.D. Nash was placed as the unit commander. Daddy and Julian Stephens were
the second and third men hired, eventually six Atlanta policeman were assigned to the
School Detective Unit.
These men focused on crimes against the schools system and children. These men
were dedicated to providing a safe lifestyle for the children of Atlanta. Trust me, I have
been in the office when one of the detectives would be hot on the trail of child abuser.
Determination was strong. I don’t know about now, but for18 years Daddy held the
record for highest number of crimes solved.
My grandfather worked on the train that ran from Atlanta through Stone Mountain
Village. I have the lantern that Daddy would wave and his father would slow down and
my Grandmother would hand him dinner. Then he went to work for the Atlanta Police
Department. He solved one of the biggest bank robberies to happen in Atlanta.
But this story is about a dog named Blackie. Black was a black mixed breed dog
who lived in Bellwood, a division of Atlanta like Buttermilk Bottom and Cabbage Town.
Daddy was a foot patrol man when he started with the Atlanta police department.
Sometime in 1937, Patrolman Ratledge was assigned to a beat in Bellwood. He
asked for the beat route and was told, “Stand at the call box and wait for Blackie, a big
black dog.” Those were his only instructions.
Daddy reported for duty at the call box. A few minutes later Blackie reported for
duty. Blackie walked through the entire beat, stopped at each door that needed to be
checked, introducing his new partner to the store owner and residents.
Although most of the store owner has a little something to give Blackie, Daddy
began bringing an extra dinner with him. They shared their meal and then went back on patrol.
Apparently Blackie belonged to the neighborhood, not one person. Everyone knew
him and treated him kindly. The officer with Blackie was treated with respect and appreciation.
When it was time for Daddy to move to the motorcycle unit, he bade Blackie
goodbye. He told the new patrol officer “Check in at the call box and wait for Blackie.
That is all you need to know.”
Hope September brings you great happiness and wonderful health.
Hugs to you all,
Marlene, AKA Ms. Rat
Gloom, Despair, Agony on Me
Here it is at the last day of July. Tomorrow James returns to full time work. He grumbles but he is excited to be back with his “Ladies” at work. In December he will have completed 17 years at Cooper Elementary School.
I graduated from East Atlanta High School in 1967. It doesn’t seem like 55 years have passed. I was terrible shy in school and really didn’t have many friends. Those whom I was close to have moved far away. We keep in touch with face book and email.
One of those friends, Darby is coming to our reunion at Manuel’s Tavern. We have been friends since kindergarten at H O Burgess. That is 67 years if my math is correct. My best friend growing up, Dotti (AKA Pickle) and I have had 71 years of friendship.
Someone mention something that happened such a long time ago—1983. I thought, that isn’t a long time ago. But if you born in the 1980 or 90’s I guess it is a lifetime ago.
It has been so hot that the yards now belong to Mother Nature. We had the truck and all the lawnmowers go down at the same time. With all the shipping issues and people not wishing to work, it took four months to get the part for the truck repair. We are trying to reclaim the yards, but I think I will let the pastures grow up in wildflowers and pines. Gwinnett County messed us up by forcing a sewer line down by the creeks and the lower edge. I think I just might let them maintain it.
Snell is doing very well. He sees the heart doctor in August. I really liked his original heart doctors but I fired them. I wrote the doctors a very nice note about how well I liked them, BUT you could not get a return call from that office. You couldn’t get an apt scheduled to save your life. We moved to the doctors that took care of Mama. I am very pleased with Snell’s care.
Here is a little story I put together. Writing has been hard for me to get back into doing. I am writing some short pieces like this one, but loosing this nearly completed book has done me in.
I am going to try again to get my newsletters and stories on the webpage. I don’t know if I am not crossing my eyes and holding my tongue just right or what. So far, I haven’t been successful.
Happy August, y’all. Take care. And let me hear from you when you have a minute.
Gloom, Despair, Agony on Me
Do you remember the TV show Hee-Haw? It was a variety show that showcased many
country-western entertainers and other stars of the times. There was always a segment that
included my new theme song--
Gloom, despair, agony on me.
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
Gloom, despair, agony on me.
That’s me this morning. I save the books I am writing on thumb drives. I have three in the
works. One is all finished except for a few editions and editing. One is a good start with concepts
and characters, but only about 6,000 words, quite a ways before it is done. Then there is Finding
Home, the title of the book I have been concentrating on. It was three-quarters complete in the
writing. Something like 60,000 words. I would have finished it this week. I WOULD HAVE
finished it this week. Gloom, despair, agony on me.
Until this morning, I could insert the thumb drive and open up my story. Everything is
gone but part of the first four chapters. I really don’t understand. I thought I was saving it to both
a thumb drive and to the computer program. I “save” at the end of each chapter. My computer
guru said my thumb drive may have been old and it just failed. Well, guess what? If it weren’t
for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
I had printed out a full copy of everything. I do that so my husband and I can read it. It is
my way to check that things are flowing in the book the way they flow in my head. Isn’t that
brilliant? A paper copy I can retype into the program. Yes! NO!!! After making the changes from
paper to the thumb drive I tossed the paper copy. “Oh no, you didn’t?” You say. “OH yes, I did.”
I wale in deep, dark depression, excessive misery.
So—four chapters saved. Basically, the intro. Three thousand words in and I had just
announced the victim. Twelve or fifteen hours of my life. Only 57,000 words to be back where I
was. And I can’t seem to recreate those 57,000 words. My brain just fizzled. Do I start over? Do
I just go on to another project? Right now, my plan is to pick up the story at chapter four and
write from there. So far what I have done has been a struggle. I think I must set it aside and let
the cloud of despair lift. In the meantime, I will continue to hum Hee Haw’s song as that is the
only thing circulating in my brain right now.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Y’all
Ms Rat Writes March, 2022 Newletter
Rabbit, Rabbit, Y’all
The chant of “Rabbit, Rabbit’ said upon the waking on the first day of each month brings you luck. Sometime in the early 1900’s this tradition started. No one knows where or when or who, but saying “Rabbit, Rabbit” supposedly brings good luck due to the rabbit being a symbol of spring and renewal.
I am not superstitious. Not very much. I like black cats. The number thirteen doesn’t scare me. We married on December 13, 1975. So far, thirteen has been good to us.
I am not scared to walk under a ladder, but why take chances. My best friend Pickle (AKA Dotti) walked under a ladder, fell down and had a black for a week or more. Why tempt fate?
Superstitions are interesting, but not dangerous. Knock wood.
If we are together and you hear me mumble “Rabbit, Rabbit”, it isn’t superstition so much as a trying to get any good luck I can. Oh wait…. Okay, I like superstitions that bring good luck, not bad. So I guess I am a little bit superstitous. Aren’t you? Just a little?
Spring arrives March 20
Spring is almost here and I am ready. The daffodils are amazing. The pear and cherry trees are starting to bloom. Things just seem happier and more maneage in the srping.
The Hummingbirds are the way to our area. 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water makes a great nectar. Change it every other day. Do not add color. The birds are attracted by smell not the color red.
Soon, I can start bushhogging. My favorite past time. Please note the other matching pair of boots is in the bottom of the pond. Neither boots nor golf carts float. You’ll have to read Life is hard. Soften It with Laughter to get that story.
Did you know? The Colors of Spring and Easter are yellow and purple. I was born on Easter Sunday—many Sundays ago. Purple and yellow are my favorite colors. I wonder if it is just a coincidence.
I have been invited to speak at several programs this spring. I hope you will join me. All of the programs are designed to be light hearted and bring a smile, if not an outright guffaw! (I hope).
Please consider me for any of your gatherings. You can reach me online. (I’m cheap. Just let me sell my books.)
Our son James will be 40 in March. How did that happen? I swear I still feel the labor pains. I know I haven’t lost all that baby fat I put on while pregnant. Here he is at DAY ONE with his Granddaddy, James E. Ratledge.
And here he is pushing 40. Dang, time moves quickly.
A New Book
Finally, I have a title for the next book. Smile! It smooths the Potholes of life. It will be another collection of essays based on the foibles of life—yours and mine. I hope to have it out in May. Keep your fingers crossed and Rabbit, Rabbit.
In the works is a collection of short stories? I don’t have a working title yet. They will be ghost stories with humor. I was thinking about Boo, Y’all.
Anyone want to read my stories as they are written for corrections and cohesiveness? Let me know if you do. It is almost like being an editor, but not quite. You get to have your opinion and your advice heard by me. I don’t think I am hard of hearing.
A Huge Thank You
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my newsletters. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
I write regularly for the GwinnettCitizen.com. My column is Hey Y’all, and can be found under the Opinions section.
Please check out my webpage and sign up for my newsletters. www.MsRatWrites.com
Happy Spring, Y’all
(Please forgive any mistakes. I know I make them. It just proves I am human and don’t have an editor.)