Friday, February 28, 2014


     Last night I launched my older sister by thirteen years into the Pinterest world via long-distance telephone.  "Baby steps," I repeated like a mantra every time she tripped and felt frustrated.
     "Right," she said, "baby steps. I'm baffled, but okay. I can do this."
     Patience persevered on both ends of instruction. She is launched and excited, while knowing she's only begun her learning curve. She'll get there in small steps for two reasons: 1) she feels left out of this dynamic social media site all her friends preen about, and 2) because she's fascinated with the possibility that hand-selected, colorful images will tell the world what she is about.

     I declare unabashedly––I love Pinterest!
     My venture into this wonderland of pictures was prompted by spilling-over files of pictorial ideas for home-improvement projects. It took techie skills that left me dry-eyed *..* mostly because I don't own them, but I got the venture up and running. Magazine and newspaper clips, how-to's, notes, cut pictures were trashed, manila folders recycled, and file cabinet space freed up. Jubilation! Pinterest founders should be given one royal pat on the back.
     In the beginning, my philosophy was "100 of 100"--100 boards of no more than 100 pins.  That lasted until I reached 100 boards, and then I looked at what I had wrought. The number of Boards had swelled along with their content. They were all good, mind you, but it hadn't occurred to me that they had become as self-revealing as they did. The growth spurt resulted from a personal mix of serious pursuits, wit, and insight. They represented deep abiding interests. I began to tweak them, and continue to do so.
     But Pinterest is more than an online scrapbook of pictures, or more than a mirror of its creator. Pinterest offers broad learning opportunities about topics, ideas, and interests. All that is required of the Pinner is to open an image to find reams of information. Much like peeling an onion, the Pinner keeps penetrating down to a source, and often that source will offer much more than the zillion pixels found in the online photo.
     If you browse my Pinterest Boards, you'll find headings related to beekeeping (we've two double-stacked hives), piano (proving it's never too late), and pools, porches, and water features––all for the garden.
    For writing purposes, I created insightful boards on how to write something right, where to find a reference, tools to write with, or what my dream library would look like, and even a chuckle or two. A recent post, Hotels for Bibliophiles, sprung from the Board "Booking"a Stay. For more Boards related to literary matters, please feel free to visit book fairs,  home libraryquotes about writing typewritersgrammar and punctuationindie book shops, and more. An introduction to my blog, Flying Pages, can also be found, because blogging along with Pinterest and Facebook are my social media/writing platforms.

Do you use Pinterest? Is it fun for you? If you can, tell me what you like about it? Do you use it to serve your personal interests only, or do you have a professional part of your life involved with it?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ponderings in mid-February

     The Olympic Games of 2014 will finish Sunday. I hum an Alleluia. Every now and then it's good to take a break, and the last two weeks were that. My family awaits the Olympics with great anticipation knowing dust bunnies will collect, sleep-deprived puffy eyes will arrive, and many pizzas will substitute for family dinners.
     But it's time to stop rationalizing why writing goals slipped this month. It's time to re-enter reality, and repower the creative engine. But, oh my, over these last two weeks there was so much to admire, so much talent, and wonderfully-crafted commercials. There were many athletes to root for, plenty to be grateful for, twinges of compassion for Bob Costas, and opportunities for reflection.
     Monday I will pick up fountain pen and notebook to re-ignite the engines. Most likely, I'll begin by jotting down tidbits of this and that––observations, snippets of news pieces, or a new-found word. It's inevitable I'll stall, go to check on the honeybees (now there's a model work ethic!), and Monday is laundry day. Indeed, I predict I will suspend my creative re-entry until an inner voice bellows NOW!
     I write. I am easily distracted. I putter. I lollygag. It all goes together like close siblings––this desire to write, the ability to procrastinate. In a compare/contrast, I wonder if it could it be any different for the Olympic athletes? I don't think so. Pushing through each day of creative writing or athletic practice is a major accomplishment. It takes perseverance, and perseverance incites awe because we all understand what it takes. Discipline, time, sacrifice, self-doubt, loneliness, worry, fear, grinding work, and grueling disappointments. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and chant over and over "I mustn't stop trying." It's a learned process.
     Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day I will suck up as through an intravenous tube what it takes to be a winner, and to push through the days and weeks in front of me with athletic perseverance. I will borrow a page from the Olympic athletes––those who won medals, those who didn't––and hope I can match them. And I will tell you what I have long-ago learned: No one can do it for me.

I leave you with this: We're all in this together––by ourselves.  Lily Tomlin

Friday, February 14, 2014

What's In a Name

     Recently, I sat in my dentist's waiting room biding time until summoned for my checkup. Side tables were topped by magazines and newspapers for complimentary reading. One table had the White Pages telephone book. I picked it up and let it fall open. Then I read the roll of names.
     I read telephone books for fun, but it's also an occupational hazard. I read these books when I dry up on names to christen new characters, or to re-christen others. I log them into my iPad for future reference. The possibilities and combinations are endless; their histories more so if I do some digging.
     Some surnames are just that––the last name of a family carried for generations differentiating one family or neighbor from another. Time, distance, and generations of marriages have lost the attachment of meaning or symbolism to names. Time changes much, and that reflects the bulk of family names. The richness of generation after generation carrying a family name has been diluted.
     Many surnames convey a legacy of trades or crafts, and many of those names stuck like logs. Historical or genealogical records are sometimes needed to deduce those occupations, but not always. I once knew a family in Georgia whose neighbor came from a long line of crop farmers. The elder's name was Sam Cabbagehead. In the online version of History Today, I found an interesting article by C. M. Matthews titled Surnames of Occupation. Check it out.
     Then there are family names that hint of a future, but time and hindsight are needed here. To wit, I personally know a librarian named Connie Brain and an arborist named Ken Roundtree. A recent newspaper article discussed breakthroughs in fusion power involving high-speed physics. The name of the lead author in the study is Omar Hurricane. Today's issue of The Wall Street Journal, featured a piece about a Miami landscape architect who "dreams up dense, thickly forested canopies ... for high rises and million-dollar residences." His name––Raymond Jungles.
     Combining first and last names for the sake of a laugh, however, smacks of what-were-they-thinking––fodder for the comics or humor writers. Legalized name changes would be in order for some of them. Names like Vinny Smooz, Bea Bee, or Chan See. I'm not sure how real these people are, and many names defy reality, but you can judge for yourself by looking into The Anomalous List of Unusual Names. You will chuckle for sure.
     However, if you want to give meat and bones to newly-found characters' surnames, to the stuff of your daydreams, seek out reference dictionaries of surnames. All cover origins and meanings with several giving detailed information on name-forms and how they have changed over time. I list a few for starters: A Dictionary of SurnamesPenguin Dictionary of Surnames, and American Family Names.

So what's in a name? As you can see, a lot. 
If you haven't done so, pick up the White Pages and skim the names, even addresses. You might find inspiration at best. At the least, you'll be fascinated by the variety of names or their derivatives. You might also want to know more of their histories for the building of your own characters.