Outtakes 220


By Cait Collins

I grew up with a group of kids: Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroder, Sally, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty, Marcy, and a dog named Snoopy My friends are the wonderful children, and dog, created by Charles Schulz. I can’t really say why the Peanuts gang has meant so much to me. Basically they are such a diverse group of personalities, it’s a wonder they get along at all. Maybe it’s because they are all a part of my personality.

Snoopy is so many characters: the World War I flying ace; Joe Cool, a scout master; a writer, an ice skating coach, and a loyal dog. He’s an actor playing all these parts. He appeals to my actor side.

Lucy, Miss Know-It-All, always ready to dish out advice and a knuckle sandwich. Okay, I don’t dole out advice and knuckle sandwiches. I just dream about doing it. She’s opinionated and pushy, but she’ll stand by her friends.

Linus is a philosopher with a security blanket. Yes, sometimes I do spout my beliefs and hopes, and dreams, and I do have my own security items. Not a blanket mind you, but a silver cross, my husband’s gold wings, photographs, and books.

Schroder and Peppermint Patty are lost in their own worlds. Schroder has his music and Peppermint Patty is into sports. Neither of them see much beyond their own interests. Don’t we all have our self-centered moments? I know I do.

Sally, sweet Sally is so much in love with her Sweet Baboo. Wasn’t first love so wonderful? But Sally is no pushover. Deprive her of “tricks or treats” and she can be a she-devil.

Woodstock never gives up. His flying skills aren’t quite there, but he keeps trying.

Marcy is practical. She sees the world and people for exactly what they are. But does she see herself with unbiased eyes.

And finally, we have our hero, Charlie Brown. I like to think of him as the eternal optimist. No matter how many times Lucy pulls the football away, or how many kites he loses to the Kite Eating Tree, or how many rocks land in his tricks or treats bag, he hopes next time things will be better. Next time he’ll get to kick that football. Next time his kite will fly high, and next year, he’ll get goodies in his bag. And maybe if he’s very lucky, he’ll get up the nerve to ask the little red-haired girl to have lunch with him and she’ll say yes.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the appeal of Peanuts is that we see ourselves in these characters. We dream, hope, mouth off, fight, and make up, and we go on. As the years passed, nothing changed. Snoopy still flies off to fight the Red Baron. Schroder sits at his piano playing Beethoven. Lucy’s psychiatrist booth is open; 5 cents please. And Charlie Brown still has eyes for the little red-haired girl. And best of all, they never grew up. They will forever be young.

Charles Schulz’s masterpiece of wit and wisdom debuted on October 2, 1950. Happy 65th Birthday, Peanuts, and thanks for the years of reading and viewing pleasure.


It’s a Real Job

Outtakes 54

It’s a Real Job

“I always thought about writing a novel. I think I could do it.” I hear that statement 99% of the time when folks find out that I’m a writer. I’m sure most authors have heard similar responses. If people really understood what it takes to write that novel, they might reconsider their responses. Do these well intentioned folks really think writing is easy?

What does it take to be a writer? Some would say talent is the key component. Of course there is a certain degree of talent involved. However, there are thousands of folks who have the ability to write, but never start. I have a nephew who has talent, but he doesn’t write. Why not? Because he prefers music to the written word. He devotes his energy to perfecting his skills on the various instruments he plays. Simply put, talent comes into play when the writer has the desire to write.

The desire to put words on paper propels a talented person to begin the journey. He buys the right books, studies the craft, experiments with a few ideas. He might join a critique group and a writers’ group. As he presents his work to his peers, he receives kind but honest feedback on his writing. He rewrites, but his critique group still is not satisfied with his efforts. Frustrated, he packs the first novel in a box and shoves it under the bed. The book is never completed.

A successful writer combines his talent and desire with bulldog tenacity. No one is going to convince him it can’t be done. He plans his writing time; places his backside in the chair and writes. He listens to other writers’ critiques and does the necessary rewrites to produce a better product. The writer risks rejection when he submits the finished novel to agents and editors. A writer doesn’t expect overnight success or instant wealth. Instead he will take the free short story publication to enhance his writer’s resume. He will volunteer to help at a conference or present a program to students. He keeps up with current trends in publishing. Deep in his soul, he believes he will be a successful writer and he works for it.

Writing is a real job.  It requires talent, desire, effort, a thick skin, risk, confidence, and tenacity.  No one component is enough. Even Snoopy concedes “Good writing is hard work.”

Cait Collins


by Sharon Stevens

“If I were a rich man…yubby dibby,dibby,dum…”

In “Fiddler on the Roof” you can just hear the music building, see Tevye dancing and waving his arms as he sings of what he would do if he became rich? With his glee you forget that his horse is lame, and he has had to pull the milk wagon home with the harness around his own body. At this point you don’t know that when he enters the barn there will not be enough feed for his animals, or when he goes into his house that along with his wife cooking a meager Sabbath supper, that she is also cooking up grand ideas with the local matchmaker to marry off the eldest of their three daughters, and the means to do this without a dowry.

I bet he wishes he had a band-aid.

When our oldest daughter was born, my husband’s co-worker passed on a simple tradition to a new father. He said to always carry band-aids in his wallet, ready for any emergency that may befall a child. He told him that he raised two daughters and these came in handy, and he continues this tradition for his grandkids. Ever since then when anyone needs a band-aid I know I don’t have to scrounge through every drawer in the house littered with useless odds and ends. I can go straight to my husband and he will reach into his wallet and share what he carries within. It may be a strip of Snoopy, or Batman or just plain, old, everyday adhesive. Any will do the job. On a side note, he knows he doesn’t have to worry about exposing his cache of money for me to raid, there isn’t any there.

Our oldest daughter, Andrea Keller, carried this tradition out to Camp Kiwanis as a Girl Scout counselor. Every year we packed a supply of band-aids for her stash. She noticed early on that so many girls were home sick or had an imaginary hurt that needed some attention. All it took was choosing a band-aid and applying it to the site of the damage, and the girls instantly had something to cover their so-called wound, but now also had something to show off to her fellow campers.

All of us in the Wordsmith six blog write differently. There is room for all. I write of tradition…simple joys…family memories. Precious stuff to me. But so many times I harbor a rage, a pain, a sorrow, a wound that slices deeply, unseen to the naked eye. I alone know it is there. The cut only comes from an outside source, never from within. I need to keep this in mind when I feel the stab fester and fill with pus until the angry edges explode spewing everyone within range with the stench of filth, decay, and death. If only I had kept it covered from the beginning. One, it would have healed quicker and not scared as badly. Two, no one would have known it was there in the first place. You don’t question a band-aid.

From now on I will apply an imaginary strip of adhesive as a cover. When I write of the wonder and blessings that surround me, under the surface I may feel doom and despair. But knowing I can stick on a band-aid to provide shelter, and that this will shield me with the love of my husband and the sweet memories of my daughters, and also my friends, neighbors, teachers, mentors and community already lessens the pain. I feel I can be at peace knowing that this can protect the wound, no matter how ugly it has become, and will also hide what others perceive only visible to them.

Shawn Smucker came through with the invitation of Jason Boyett and spoke at the Palace Coffee Shop in Canyon. His blogs, “Writing Across America” share of his travels with his wife and children. His most recent blog was concerning cutting his journey short to make it home to be with his failing grandmother. While he was here we made up a gift basket from all of us. Bless Stevens Flowers for always going the extra mile sharing the gifts God gave them in putting this together. We filled this basket with everything we could find about our community. I even put in a patchwork, bling hat that Nikki Stevens Sams crocheted. At the last minute I found a package of colorful band-aids on the counter and asked Debbie Stevens to tuck them in, having no clue what they would be used for. Well of course I knew of their primary purpose, but as a writer I imagined the thought would reach much farther and deeper than the words on the package. You don’t need printed directions to apply or for the adhesive to stick. I just hope and pray he received the message.

I remember reading when Phebe Warner’s husband, Dr. W.A. Warner came in from making countless house calls as the only family doctor for miles around. He told Phebe that these pioneer women “weren’t sick, but homesick and what can we do about it.”  This could only mean they longed for family and memories and neighbors close by. Phebe began the first libraries, and the first Federated Womens clubs in the entire area. She along with Laura Hamner formed Panhandle Professional Pen Women now Panhandle Professional Writers for just that reason. As the wife of a doctor and his personal nurse as well, she was applying band-aids long before they were invented.

I know band-aids hold no magical potion. There is no way they can heal long festering damage already done. But in my thoughts and with their eternal image I know I have absolute proof of a greater healing power.

In the July issue of Reader’s Digest I came across a Memoir in the Book section about “The Secret Life of Objects” by Dawn Raffel that relates how simply powerful any object can be. This also reminded me of my blog written about “Insignificant Objects” and the Blue Bird Restaurant and “Needful Things” next door in Centerville Iowa.

Father’s Day is this weekend, and I invite everyone to give their fathers, along with the tie, or the grilling apron a simple and inexpensive gift. Go to the store and choose a packet of band-aids that they can put in their wallet to carry with them daily as a reminder of whatever they need. Share with them the story of any memories when as a child you needed help. Your mother figure probably was the one in the family who may have applied the band-aid, but it was the dad who provided the means to cover the pain. Also get your dad to bring up thoughts of when he hurt as well. In this day and time I am sure he has many open sores. I, for one will remember when J.D. could have whispered the fire out of a burn.

Continue to make this an annual tradition and tangible evidence to show your dad he means so much more. It will remind him he is quite a wealthy man. “For without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” Yubby, dibby dibby dum.

Sharon Stevens