WordPress Photo Challenge: Letters

The Pennsylvania Railroad Museum didn’t bother to post their rules in any language but English.  That may have been their downfall.

Manny can't read

Sometimes the letters aren’t right when you take a picture, and you have to make some changes.

Fugitive Manny2

For more stories and pictures about letters click on the WP image.

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Word Press Photo Challenge: On Top

I like to be on top of things.  So does my cat, Scardy Kitty.

Scardy on top

Other animals feel the same way.  Maybe they feel safer if they are on top.

on top of the piling

To be on top signifies power, visibility, and with-it-ness.  Seldom is there a church or a government without a spiral or a dome.  We look up to and admire the tops of those buildings.

Church Top

Here is a church tower I saw at the picturesque town of New Castle, DE

Old South Meeting House

This Bostonian Congregational or Puritan church, the Old South Meeting House, where Boston’s citizens met and demanded their rights from the British officials has an aspiring top.

on top of the MA Statehouse

Governor Samuel Adams presided over building the new Massachusetts State House in 1795.  At the time leaders claimed that this beautiful building held the top, most prominent position in the nation. Notice the gold dome.  No one knows how much it cost; they probably paid top dollar for it.

Top2

Workers like to be on top of their work.

on top of the train

 Supervisors like to be even higher.  We stood on top of a bridge at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum overseeing the work of these workers chipping ice into the cooler car.

on top of the horse

Manny is growing up to be a top-notch bear.  He loves to climb on top of things.  Hal suggested that he needs velcro to stay on top.  Maybe that’s what we all need.  What do you think?

Click here to see more examples of “on top.”

Book Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Writing the romance novel in November, ushered me through a hidden door from a room I thought I knew well, the Writing Room. My scores on tests throughout my training and career in education, convinced me I knew how to write, spell, and that my knowledge of grammar probably out classed Strunk and White – a good argument against multiple choice tests.

A romance site that helps new writers write the genre of romance recommended Stephen King’s book, On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft.  I devoured every word, making more notes and highlights that I have ever made in my kindle.  I noted vocabulary and description.  He writes honestly without worrying who might be upset reading it, as long as it is true to character.

skonwriting

Stephen King started writing at about the same age I did, around age 10.  I entered a writing contest looking for new talent.  When the rejection slip came back, I wadded it up and threw it away.  Not Stephen King.  He began his lifelong collection of them.  He nailed them to his wall, and counted them as a step up to the next level of achievement.  What I learned from Stephen King is that you have to push yourself to publish.  Eventually you learn what you are doing wrong, if you keep working at it. I wonder what might have happened if I had kept trying to publish my writing.

Stephen King’s advice shot me right in the forehead.  In my first composing enthusiasm, I opened myself for the inevitable criticism that accompanies first drafts.  (duh) I was so excited when I wrote Girls on Fire that I sent it to anyone who was kind enough to take a look when it was fresh off my fingertips.  I discovered that it put one person to sleep, the grammar appalled another reader, and my main character had way too many character flaws.  That’s all good information, but there was more eye-opening to come.  After reading several books on how to write, I shudder because I know there are many MAJOR errors remaining after the fifth or sixth draft.  Master writer, King operates differently.  “Write with the door closed… When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. … Once you know what the story is and get it right – as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”

“Let’s say you’ve finished your first (fifth or sixth, in my case) … If you have someone who has been impatiently waiting to read your novel… then this is the time to give up the goods … if, that is your first reader or readers will promise not to talk to you about the book until you are ready to talk to them about it.” (p. 210)  Then he tells us impatient novice writers to let it sit at least six weeks before we start talking about it with the reader(s).  Finally, it’s time to do the real editing work, most of which has to do with character motivation.

King noted when to ignore your first readers.  “Some will feel Character A works but Character B is far-fetched.  If others feel that Character B is believable but Character A is overdrawn, it’s a wash” (p. 216).  Leave it be – yeah!  Another hint, “As a reader, I’m a lot more interested in what’s going to happen than what already did” (p. 224). “Everyone has a history and most of it isn’t very interesting” (p. 227) (No wonder my reader fell asleep!)

King’s wise words made my fingertips itch, and my brain dry up for the moment while I try to absorb his advice. In my humble opinion, every new writer, and some of us experienced ones, should read this book.

Boston in Mourning

Boston mourned April 2-5 for two firefighters who lost their lives battling an apartment fire on a windy day.  Many people came by to drop off flowers read the memorials left behind to honor their heroes.

Fire fighters memorial1

Firefighters pulled Lt. Edward Walsh 43, and Michael Kennedy, 33, from the basement at the rear of the building.  Both Walsh and Kennedy worked on Engine 33/Ladder 15 out of the station at Boylston and Hereford Streets, less than a block from the Sheraton Hotel where we had our NCSS meeting. 90.9 WBUR.

Firefighters 2

Fireman’s Prayer

When I am called to duty, God, wherever flames may rage, give me strength to save some live whatever be its age.

Help me embrace the little child before it is too late, or save an older person from the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout, and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling to give the best in me to guard my every neighbor and protect their property.

And if according to your will I have lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand, my children and my wife.

Station 33

When Matt picked me up, we drove by the apartment on the way out of town.  It amazed me that fire devastated the brick building.

fire

Sometimes I take life for granted.  Tragedies make me take stock and think about the gift of life I have.  My prayers are with families who lost so much as a result of the fire.

Boston Herald

The Oldest Original Church Structure in the United States Still Used for Worship

Old Swede church 1

Spring arrived in Delaware coaxing daffodils and crocuses to bloom in the ancient cemetery outside Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.  Sun warmed my bare arms, and a light breeze rearranged my hair as we ambled among the crumbling tombstones towards the large stone church.

old swedes church 3

Colonial settlers may have built earlier churches, but those buildings fell down or out of use. Hal and I missed the 300th Anniversary Celebration at Old Swedes Church. This original stone structure, cemented together with crushed oyster shells mixed into the mortar, sprang to life in 1698.  The pattern of small stones, hand-carried by women parishioners, added strength and sparkle to the walls.  The pattern reminded me of ships or rafts in a fast-moving river.

 

old swede church2

Graffiti artists began working on the edifice in 1711 making it their own.

Some things never change.
Some things never change.

Calligraphers etched their marks in the door as well as the stone walls for over one hundred years.

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I couldn’t substantiate this 1697 piece of church gossip, on the internet, so it must be true.  In a church bustling with young life, when the new twenty-nine year old single pastor, Erik Bjork, arrived from Sweden, he began a building program.  Of course, he needed his own parking space.  We entered the church through what had been his reserved “barn door.”  He drove his carriage inside the barn door entrance to the church.

Old Swede church 9

According to our guide, his ride attracted the most eligible bachelorette in the congregation.  Other carriages drove under the front overhang, dropped off the riders, and drove on through.  Bjork stayed with his Christina congregation for seventeen years before returning to Sweden.

old swedes church 7

Inside the church, nearly one hundred years passed before artisans added stained glass windows.  This one attracts interest because young Jesus appears to carry a cross.  We approached the window so we could see the measuring marks along the t-square Jesus must have used as a carpenter’s apprentice.

Old swedes church 8

As we moved through the church, the guide fed us more facts that I could digest.  He and Hal discussed the abundance of eagles adorning Episcopal pulpits.

Old Swedes church10

“An ornamental eagle sales agent must have passed through all the New England churches in the early 1800s,” Hal suggested.

We stayed over twice as long as the 30 minutes needed to tour the church recommended by the Triple A Tour Book for Delaware and New Jersey.  We enjoyed many personalized stories we couldn’t read online.  We finished by meandering through the graveyard photographing crumbling tombstones of individuals who made history in early Delaware.  We wondered what made some famous, earning them shiny big headstones, and others remained obscure.  More questions drove us home to research in silence.

M.B. may have been the first person buried here, but no one knows anything about him or her.
M.B. may have been the first person buried here, but no one knows anything about him or her.

“Thanks to you, I learned a lot.” Hal told me at 9:30 in the evening.  Then he punched me in the ego.  “See what I found out about the new National Park in New Castle,”  he said as he handed me a new printout.