PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

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PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

PERSPICACITY


PERSPICACITY

by Sharon Stevens

 

I just hate research. I hate it, HATE it, HATE IT!! Can I tell you how much I hate it. Let me count the ways.

I just start out with one note, one page, one idea and before you know it I am thrown in a million different directions. Take today for instance. We had a gentleman come into our Buffalo Bookstore. He and his wife are retired professors from Buffalo New York. They were in Ireland visiting the national park of the Adair family. They came across information about the Adairs and the connection to the Goodnights, and then found where they could research at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Voila, they were here.

You cannot imagine the journeys our conversation traveled. We talked about the town, the heritage, books, the community here and there. We discussed their passions, our passions and everything in between and found connections with every connection. Unbelievable!

So this evening I was researching in the book “The Panhandle Plains Historical Society and its Museum” by Joseph Hill and came across the word “perspicacity”. I had never heard or seen this word and had no clue what it pertained to. I read it in the context of the sentence but unsure of the true meaning. So of course I had to look it up. And then I had to look it up with the next definition and the next. You know how they have Wikipedia and free this and free that. Well you know the rest of this story. No one needs a rocket scientist to tell you the name of that tune. This means I had to spend the better part of an hour or more going back and forth searching for the perfect definition for my blog that would make the most sense. I AM a writer you know. Well actually I was working on my story for the Llano Cemetery Walk hosted by the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on October 19, 2013 from 3-7:30pm, but that’s another story.

Back to my original thought,… nope,… can’t go there yet until I copy, paste, and file away for future reference something interesting that I found in the book that surely I can use someday, somewhere, in my next endeavor. So proud of me. That time it only took thirty minutes out of my lifetime. And if you are really dying to read, this is what I came across. I can’t help but to share. I know you will find it just as interesting as I did. So sad you can’t make it to the library to look it up yourself so I will do it for you. Glad to do it. Ask me anytime. Glad to be of service. This is what I live for. No trouble at all … “And here we have the pattern that really built the institution-a clear vision of the possibilities, a strong conviction as to its merit, unselfish devotion to a challenging undertaking, a good public relations program, a co-operative spirit on the part of all interested people, an annual fellowship meeting around a banquet table, and a sound and aggressive leadership.”

Before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written the body of the text, just the definition at the top of the page. There is nothing I can accomplish with just one word. It takes all of them put together to make a functioning, viable statement. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, back to research. If there is one thing I need to change in my writing career is that I need to take a topic, follow just one thread, or one connection, for a focused amount of time and immediately get back to the basis of the article. I cannot spend all my time with “research” and neglect what brought me to this idea in the first place. Oh well, I’ll try to do better. I just wish DeWanna Pace and Jodi Thomas had shared how to limit my research time years ago when I took creative writing from them. My life would have been so much simpler.

But in all honesty, I so love research. It brings me such joy! I just wish I could control it more.

And the definition of the word perspicacity…you will have to look it up yourself and choose your own definition. I have too much writing to do.

POSTCARDS


POSTCARDS
by Sharon Stevens

This week I came across a postcard from Colorado that a dear friend and neighbor sent me a couple of years ago. We were watching their home for them while they were gone on vacation. They knew our neighborhood had been having a skunk problem, so the postcard they sent us had the cutest baby skunks on the front. The note they wrote on the back was personal and timely about the fun they were having and the sights they were seeing. The title on the card was, “It stinks when you’re not here…”

Our Buffalo Bookstore will be hosting a book signing for Tim Lewis and his book, “Forever Friday” at WTAMU Homecoming on Saturday October 5, 2013 from 9-12:am. Lewis’ wonderful story celebrates the life and love of a Gabe and Puck, and connects with postcards in a unique way.

You wouldn’t believe the number of tourists from around the world that come through asking for postcards with a little piece of Texas. We have teachers following with students, grandparents with “Flat Stanley’s”, business people sending cards home, and those with loved ones in the military for a reminder of all they treasure on the home front. Even though the premise of these cards has not changed in over a hundred years, the picture postcards are not dead by any means.

As writers we have to write so many things. Along with the body of our story there are also dedication pages, acknowledgments, blurbs, reviews, and also those we write for others. Tough gigs all across the board. But what if we had to write our entire life in the tiny space allowed on one side, and the address of our friend or beloved family on the other. How can we ever focus so simply? What words will fit or what will you discard? How many thoughts are empty? What will your heart share when it is full?

Today when I picked up this particular postcard from two years ago, I was instantly transported back to the skunk problem and the smell that accompanied it. I remembered a dear friend that shared this particular memory and how we laughed together when they returned home. It may only have been a cheap card, but to me it meant the world stretching across the miles.

So please take a moment and think of what you will write in a couple of sentences on your own postcard. Use it not only as a writing exercise, but as a reminder of why we love what we do.

Tim Lewis’ book signing will be a simple affair as we are a simple book store. His book is not gang buster’s and violence. You won’t find horror or blood within the pages. What you will find is a great love story, but not a sugar sweet concoction either. Gabe and Puck are real, as well as Adam Colby. They live in a reality of life with trials as well as treasures stretching across the war years to a time right here and now. I loved Tim’s story and connected to it in so many ways. There is also some nursing home shenanigans I chuckled with that I remembered when I was a young nurses aid at our local home. Watch the trailers for the book and listen to the music as this is a song that Tim wrote and performed for his wife Dinah.

We welcome everyone to stop by and visit with Tim about his book and celebrate the legacy of a postcard and a love that withstands the “long division”. The WTAMU Homecoming parade is always stupendous and we have great viewing in front of our business. We will be having cookies and lemonade, and Tim even shared “Gabe’s” favorite chocolate cake recipe. We hope that “Puck” will be proud and that it tastes as good as what they remember.

And let this be a reminder to never forget of the love you truly share with a simple memory, even on something as the words on a postcard.

And on another sweet note…Natalie Bright just returned from a book signing at the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene. Her story, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” was included in the anthology “West Texas Christmas Stories”. According to Natalie’s web site, “this is a collection of heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories all set in West Texas by West Texas writers.”

Wonderful story and what a way to share a simple gift of the holidays.

Natalie is a good friend and fellow blogger at Wordsmithsix. She is also one of our founders of the Jodi Thomas Fan Club now celebrating 10 years. Natalie took her first writing class from Jodi and has been writing ever since. Her book, “Oil People” has been published. Also “Gone Never Forgotten’ is on e-books and soon will be in print. She has several more in the works. Natalie has been a guest speaker around the country on writing and feels it is so important to donate her books in school and public libraries everywhere she speaks.

And on a final note I want to take a moment for reflection on the passing of Tom Clancy. Here at our Buffalo Bookstore Clancy is one of those authors whose books are ones traded most often. They never go out of style, and his unique genre is the most popular through the cycles of readers. He will be missed, but he will always be remembered as long as books exist on this earth. And I think that will be for eternity. New readers are being born every day.

POSTCARDS


POSTCARDS
by Sharon Stevens

This week I came across a postcard from Colorado that a dear friend and neighbor sent me a couple of years ago. We were watching their home for them while they were gone on vacation. They knew our neighborhood had been having a skunk problem, so the postcard they sent us had the cutest baby skunks on the front. The note they wrote on the back was personal and timely about the fun they were having and the sights they were seeing. The title on the card was, “It stinks when you’re not here…”

Our Buffalo Bookstore will be hosting a book signing for Tim Lewis and his book, “Forever Friday” at WTAMU Homecoming on Saturday October 5, 2013 from 9-12:am. Lewis’ wonderful story celebrates the life and love of a Gabe and Puck, and connects with postcards in a unique way.

You wouldn’t believe the number of tourists from around the world that come through asking for postcards with a little piece of Texas. We have teachers following with students, grandparents with “Flat Stanley’s”, business people sending cards home, and those with loved ones in the military for a reminder of all they treasure on the home front. Even though the premise of these cards has not changed in over a hundred years, the picture postcards are not dead by any means.

As writers we have to write so many things. Along with the body of our story there are also dedication pages, acknowledgments, blurbs, reviews, and also those we write for others. Tough gigs all across the board. But what if we had to write our entire life in the tiny space allowed on one side, and the address of our friend or beloved family on the other. How can we ever focus so simply? What words will fit or what will you discard? How many thoughts are empty? What will your heart share when it is full?

Today when I picked up this particular postcard from two years ago, I was instantly transported back to the skunk problem and the smell that accompanied it. I remembered a dear friend that shared this particular memory and how we laughed together when they returned home. It may only have been a cheap card, but to me it meant the world stretching across the miles.

So please take a moment and think of what you will write in a couple of sentences on your own postcard. Use it not only as a writing exercise, but as a reminder of why we love what we do.

Tim Lewis’ book signing will be a simple affair as we are a simple book store. His book is not gang buster’s and violence. You won’t find horror or blood within the pages. What you will find is a great love story, but not a sugar sweet concoction either. Gabe and Puck are real, as well as Adam Colby. They live in a reality of life with trials as well as treasures stretching across the war years to a time right here and now. I loved Tim’s story and connected to it in so many ways. There is also some nursing home shenanigans I chuckled with that I remembered when I was a young nurses aid at our local home. Watch the trailers for the book and listen to the music as this is a song that Tim wrote and performed for his wife Dinah.

We welcome everyone to stop by and visit with Tim about his book and celebrate the legacy of a postcard and a love that withstands the “long division”. The WTAMU Homecoming parade is always stupendous and we have great viewing in front of our business. We will be having cookies and lemonade, and Tim even shared “Gabe’s” favorite chocolate cake recipe. We hope that “Puck” will be proud and that it tastes as good as what they remember.

And let this be a reminder to never forget of the love you truly share with a simple memory, even on something as the words on a postcard.

And on another sweet note…Natalie Bright just returned from a book signing at the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene. Her story, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” was included in the anthology “West Texas Christmas Stories”. According to Natalie’s web site, “this is a collection of heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories all set in West Texas by West Texas writers.”

Wonderful story and what a way to share a simple gift of the holidays.

Natalie is a good friend and fellow blogger at Wordsmithsix. She is also one of our founders of the Jodi Thomas Fan Club now celebrating 10 years. Natalie took her first writing class from Jodi and has been writing ever since. Her book, “Oil People” has been published. Also “Gone Never Forgotten’ is on e-books and soon will be in print. She has several more in the works. Natalie has been a guest speaker around the country on writing and feels it is so important to donate her books in school and public libraries everywhere she speaks.

And on a final note I want to take a moment for reflection on the passing of Tom Clancy. Here at our Buffalo Bookstore Clancy is one of those authors whose books are ones traded most often. They never go out of style, and his unique genre is the most popular through the cycles of readers. He will be missed, but he will always be remembered as long as books exist on this earth. And I think that will be for eternity. New readers are being born every day.

ECHO


ECHO
by Sharon Stevens
I was watching Josh Groban on “America’s Got talent” as he sang with the finalist Forte‘. The song they sang together was “Brave” from Groban’s ALLTHAT ECHOES album. Josh said that performing with the three talented men for him was a full circle moment. The producer for AGT is Houston Howell who is a local son. His parents are teachers from the Canyon area, and tell me that they are overjoyed when they see their son appear on screen doing his job.
At Wal-marts a few years ago I was buying ingredients for homemade cookies for a celebration at our Buffalo Bookstore. Sugar, flour, more sugar, more flour. I kept checking my list over and again. This would go in for making Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, sugar cookies, ginger snaps and any other cookie recipe I might find between now and then. I thought I had everything in my basket. What was I forgetting?
The lady who was checking out the groceries was always one of my favorites. She would smile, and chat, if only briefly. But this time it was different. She saw all the sugar and just had to share a story. She said that seeing the sweet brought up the most precious memories. Her mother had died when she was thirteen and being the oldest of the siblings she had to take responsibility for everything in the household during the years of the Depression before World War II. Her father didn’t drive so he traded all his gas rations for sugar as his children liked this on their cereal. He said this is what he could do. I could only imagine what this meant to her as she remembered not only the heartache of the loss of her mother, but the simple gesture of love her father shared with his children.
When she shared this with me I knew it was only moments out of a lifetime for the both of us. She needed to connect, and what better person to link with than me. I so love a good message.
I noticed the cashier who shared this with me, Jeanine Trout, passed away this past week. When I saw her obituary in the newspaper I was struck with how privileged I was to know that in a brief moment in the checkout line at Wal-Marts I was given a priceless gift. An echo coming full circle.
This past week celebrated International Dot Day. Another treasure! I purchased little scissors at Wal-Marts to cut out my dots. I will never forget visiting with our daughter’s kindergarten teacher before the first day of class. Mrs. Baker told us to be sure and purchase a GOOD pair of scissors. She explained that if we got the rounded, cheap scissors that the kids got very frustrated. They couldn’t cut, took more time, and the edges were ragged and chewed the paper or tore it to pieces, and it wasn’t worth it. The teacher told us that she would teach the kids how to use the better scissors so they wouldn’t harm each other. She knew that this simple advice would carry Andrea through her lifetime, in whatever she pursued. And it did.
I remember this when I bought my cutters for Dot Day and the teacher was right. They cut beautifully, easily and completely in moments. Another echo.
As writers we are given so many special moments of echos. How can we ignore when they are dropped into our lap. We might not connect right then and there, or tomorrow, or the day after that. But we know when the time will be right to gather these back into our souls, until we open our hearts to share them again.
And for a special note. This next week I will be celebrating 20 years since my first creative writing class at Amarillo College with Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace. In fact, I spent the evening of September 23, 1993 at Llano Cemetery while Jodi shared all the echos of those buried beneath our steps. I can’t tell you what a tremendous journey and gift this has been!
And for the final note: We have witnessed so many tragedies this past week with the flooding in Colorado and the shooting at the Navy yard in Washington DC. In the coming days we will hear so many wonderful stories of those lost. We need only to collect and protect them for another day.
Echos every one, coming full circle.

ECHO


ECHO
by Sharon Stevens
 
 
I was watching Josh Groban on “America’s Got talent” as he sang with the finalist Forte‘. The song they sang together was “Brave” from Groban’s ALLTHAT ECHOES album. Josh said that performing with the three talented men for him was a full circle moment. The producer for AGT is Houston Howell who is a local son. His parents are teachers from the Canyon area, and tell me that they are overjoyed when they see their son appear on screen doing his job.
 
At Wal-marts a few years ago I was buying ingredients for homemade cookies for a celebration at our Buffalo Bookstore. Sugar, flour, more sugar, more flour. I kept checking my list over and again. This would go in for making Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, sugar cookies, ginger snaps and any other cookie recipe I might find between now and then. I thought I had everything in my basket. What was I forgetting?
 
The lady who was checking out the groceries was always one of my favorites. She would smile, and chat, if only briefly. But this time it was different. She saw all the sugar and just had to share a story. She said that seeing the sweet brought up the most precious memories. Her mother had died when she was thirteen and being the oldest of the siblings she had to take responsibility for everything in the household during the years of the Depression before World War II. Her father didn’t drive so he traded all his gas rations for sugar as his children liked this on their cereal. He said this is what he could do. I could only imagine what this meant to her as she remembered not only the heartache of the loss of her mother, but the simple gesture of love her father shared with his children.
 
When she shared this with me I knew it was only moments out of a lifetime for the both of us. She needed to connect, and what better person to link with than me. I so love a good message.
  
I noticed the cashier who shared this with me, Jeanine Trout, passed away this past week. When I saw her obituary in the newspaper I was struck with how privileged I was to know that in a brief moment in the checkout line at Wal-Marts I was given a priceless gift. An echo coming full circle.
  
This past week celebrated International Dot Day. Another treasure! I purchased little scissors at Wal-Marts to cut out my dots. I will never forget visiting with our daughter’s kindergarten teacher before the first day of class. Mrs. Baker told us to be sure and purchase a GOOD pair of scissors. She explained that if we got the rounded, cheap scissors that the kids got very frustrated. They couldn’t cut, took more time, and the edges were ragged and chewed the paper or tore it to pieces, and it wasn’t worth it. The teacher told us that she would teach the kids how to use the better scissors so they wouldn’t harm each other. She knew that this simple advice would carry Andrea through her lifetime, in whatever she pursued. And it did.
 
I remember this when I bought my cutters for Dot Day and the teacher was right. They cut beautifully, easily and completely in moments. Another echo.
 
As writers we are given so many special moments of echos. How can we ignore when they are dropped into our lap. We might not connect right then and there, or tomorrow, or the day after that. But we know when the time will be right to gather these back into our souls, until we open our hearts to share them again.
 
And for a special note. This next week I will be celebrating 20 years since my first creative writing class at Amarillo College with Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace. In fact, I spent the evening of September 23, 1993 at Llano Cemetery while Jodi shared all the echos of those buried beneath our steps. I can’t tell you what a tremendous journey and gift this has been!
 
And for the final note: We have witnessed so many tragedies this past week with the flooding in Colorado and the shooting at the Navy yard in Washington DC. In the coming days we will hear so many wonderful stories of those lost. We need only to collect and protect them for another day.
 
Echos every one, coming full circle.

HOODIE


HOODIE
by Sharon Stevens
Letter to the Editor
Today I was reading the letter to the editor in the Amarillo Globe News from Kathleen Hess about Paula Deen and repentence. Then I was reading on facebook the blog Shawn Smucker wrote that connected to the ugliness of the headline news of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, but with a wonderful twist reflecting Temarr Boggs and heroes.
From both spectrums I was reminded of so much.
I remembered a time several years ago at our family owned business, the Buffalo Bookstore. We sell Scantrons for taking tests at WTAMU. They are only a quarter apiece and sometimes the kids come in wanting to pay for their purchase with a credit card. It costs us more to swipe the card and we don’t want them to miss taking the test so we tell the kids to bring back the money another time.
One day I was working by myself at the store when a young black man came in the door. He had a dark hoodie pulled over his head with his hands deep in his pockets. Please understand that we are rarely frightened. We have every nationality, color, culture, size and religion come into our store. We see hair dye and body art of all shades of the rainbow, piercings we can see and others we are glad that are hidden from view.
What scared me about this particular young man is that he wouldn’t look me in the eye. He came in downcast with shoulders hunched and head bowed. So what happened next was unexpected. As he got closer he began to pull one hand out of his pocket. Not sure whether to run or collapse I stood rooted to the spot as he silently held out his hand, and opened his palm in which lay twenty five cents with two pennies for tax.
He was paying for a Scantron he owed for. His discomfort was because of his embarrassment in returning a debt he owed, not sure how he would be received or what he would have to explain.
Ever since that day I have wanted to write a letter…a letter to the editor, or maybe a letter to his mom, dad, teachers, pastors, grandparents,Sunday school teachers, scout leaders, or for anybody on his journey who would listen. To tell them they had raised a good man, that they should be proud of him, and that they taught him the lessons in life that would stay with him forever. This young soul has since graduated from college and I am sure he is now somewhere out in the world. I would have loved to have written a letter of recommendation to his future employer or the corporate executives. I think anyone and everyone should have known of this man and what he would mean to their company. He would be a good and loyal employee his entire working life.
So many years ago after the death of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa I wrote a letter to the editor reminding readers of the Canyon News about all of the people we celebrate that touch our lives. They are not celebrities, do not make grand speeches or hold office, but they mean so much just the same. I mentioned J.C. Newton and what he had meant to so many in our community even though he had been gone for several years. I received the nicest note from his wife Fern thanking me for remembering her husband. I then called her to thank her for sending me such a sweet letter and she told me how she became a teacher. I was so touched and will always remember such a wonderful gesture from the heart.
As writers we are so focused on our novels, or a story, a character, a completed work and even every chapter. We get so lost in our efforts. Many times we should step back and celebrate the simple things. What would it hurt to sit down and write a letter to the editor regarding something that piqued our interest? No one says they have to be sent or exposed or even revealed. We can bury them deep within our computers never to see the light of day. But then again they can be a reminder of what we are feeling at the time, what is in the headlines, and who is involved in our government. But even more important, this may bring up feelings of ugly hatred, sweet joy, intense pain or exciting elation. Who knows what we might feel when we look back over our letters. This might just be the catalyst that can break a writer’s block or something that can add richness to our efforts, a wonderful tool to aid us as we journey through this life.
Speaking of tools, did I mention that we give a free pencil every time we sell a Scantron? They can’t take the test otherwise.

MIRACLES


MIRACLES

By Sharon Stevens

As I am writing this tomorrow will celebrate the 4th of July. Amazing that it comes around every year at the same time of the month, year after year. Each cycle falls on a different day, but the meaning is the same regardless whether it occurs during a week day or weekend. Red, white and blue are the same colors through centuries and generations. Uncle Sam never ages.

I read General Colin Powell’s Fourth of July wish, and was caught by something he wrote. “Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th of July as we once again celebrate the MIRACLE of our democracy, and the WISDOM of our founding fathers.

Miracle…Wisdom…Two words that you wouldn’t associate with fireworks and festivities. But then again these expressions are the perfect reminder of why we celebrate our American Flag and our Freedom. I was rereading the Bill of Rights and Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and by jove, these are miracles. When you think of what it took for a group of men to come together for the Common Good, and then to write the first draft, and the second, and the third until they got it right, you can appreciate what a miracle this truly is. These people left the comforts of their home and the love of their families to travel, and then to argue together to find the wisdom shared together. This must have been monumental even for them. I can’t imagine the fireworks of these spirited souls.

Tomorrow I will watch the parade from the vantage point of our local business, the Buffalo Bookstore, surrounded by friends, neighbors, family, tourists, visitors, WTAMU students, and everyone in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that I will cherish the MIRACLE that is my Freedom, and treasure the memory of the WISDOM of the founding fathers.

As a writer, AND as a citizen, they are NEVER just words to me.

I can’t leave this blog post without celebrating the life of Margaret and Ples Harper, and Margaret and William Moore, the founders of the musical drama TEXAS. Both of these families were veterans of World War II and professors at WTSU, now WTAMU. Margaret Harper read an article about Paul Green in the July 1960 edition of Reader’s Digest. She invited the Moore’s over for supper and they discussed if it would be possible to do an outdoor drama in Palo Duro Canyon. They decided to write to Green and ask him to come to see what he could do. The date of the original letter was July 3rd 1960. I can only imagine the pageantry that they were anticipating as Canyon prepared for the next day festivities. They must have agonized over their correspondence until the mail went out after the fourth. I wonder what date Paul Green received this simple note at his mailbox, and if he knew where Canyon Texas was?

Truly a MIRACLE any way you look at it!

Happy July 4th everyone. Celebrate family and community, please be safe!

BARE BONES


BARE BONES

by Sharon Stevens

 

I inherited so many cases of books this past week. A friend with a passion for history and heritage was moving and needed to unload instead of transporting to the new home. We packed them up into boxes and I took them to our Buffalo Bookstore until I could sort them out. The actual number of tomes doesn’t matter. My husband says there are too many, and I think there is never enough. But he didn’t see all the treasures I put in the box.

One of the books in the mix was Don Taylor & Jeanne Smalling Archer’s book, “Up Against The Wal-Marts.” This wonderful book was written by a man who was strong in the Canyon Economic Development Corporation in Canyon Texas, and works toward helping small businesses compete with the mega-giants by simple and basic means. I found an interesting quote in the chapter on survival strategies… “Remember that when you misspend one dollar you really wasted two-the dollar you misspent and the dollar you could have spent well.”

Another gem I found was the 75th Commemorative Edition Special Anniversary Issue of the July 1997 New Mexico magazine. One of the stories was written by Sheila Tryk with photography by Ralph Looney. “O’Keeffe’s World” celebrated thoughts of O’Keeffe with interviews and insight into her life. The story briefly mentioned when she taught in Amarillo, but didn’t mention her time at the college, which is now WTAMU or where she found her passion in Palo Duro Canyon. I found it interesting that later on after she married that she left her husband in New York for months at a time while she pursued her passion at Ghost Ranch.

Each year, when O’Keefe went back into her husband’s orbit, she took mementos of the West. Stones, weathered and worn smooth. Artificial flowers, (“They were popular then, and there were some very lovely ones being sold in the country stores here.”) And desert bleached bones. “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know,” she once wrote. “To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around—-hair, eyes, and all, with their tails twitching. The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable—and knows no kindness with all its beauty….I took back a barrel of bones,” she says now, her eyes amused at the recollection. “I remember it cost me 16 dollars by freight.” One wonders at her husband’s reaction to this delivery.”

O’Keefe was able to find her passion within bleached bones. Anyone who has ever seen her paintings of skulls knows what she sees within. Just like my boxes of books, I can find treasures among the words. Whether its a quote, passage, or sentence…all pull me to a story or memory, a sweet reminder of what touches my heart day in and day out. I take nothing for granted, and never overlook a single moment.

I truly believe that to me if I leave a stone unturned, that it represents a misspent dollar that I could have spent well. As a writer, just like O’Keefe as an artist, I can take an object and use my imagination and creativity to weave it into a story with tangible ties.

Even though O’Keefe used bare bones and stones to express her soul, I just happen to cherish anything I find in a box of books.