The last month has been an emotional roller coaster. My mother fell and went into the hospital about three weeks ago. From there to a rehab nursing home. This week my dad and brother and I had to make the decision for her to remain in their care. It has been very stressful, but we are confident that this is the best decision for her and for my dad, who also suffers some health issues. I am so grateful for the kind staff who has worked with us to get her situated.
So aging has been much on my mind lately. My husband and I have four living parents in their eighties. Three are aging gracefully, minds in tact and bodies simply slowing down. Not so my mother. It saddens me and makes me think on the days that remain in my life, the words yet to be written, the joys yet to be lived, the struggles yet to be faced. I want to live them well, to bring honor to the Creator who put me here, to recognize "the million masks of God" and do what I can so that "when I come to autumn," the leaves are gold.
Lo! I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.
In youth I sought the prince of men,
Captain in cosmic wars,
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant, to the stars.
But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.
In youth I sought the golden flower
Hidden in wood or wold,
But I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold.
When writing for young children, I often need simple definitions to include in the text or in the glossary. Some publishers have their own preference for dictionary usage. In my most recent biographies for Rourke Publishing, my editor wanted all the definitions and pronunciation taken from the Scholastic Children's Dictionary. I have several dictionaries on my shelf, but I didn't have that one, so I ordered it from Amazon and added it to my collection. But I often use online dictionaries while I'm writing.
These are my favorites:
I usually start with Wordsmyth . It gives me the option to choose from beginner, children's, or advanced definitions. It also has a box that shows the words that come before and after a chosen word, like looking at a page in a print dictionary and a box for multi-word combinations.
If I'm not completely satisfied with my definition, I'll check Word Central ,which is powered by Merriam-Webster and Yahoo Kids Dictionary with references from the American Heritage Dictionary. Sometimes it takes a combination of several definitions for me to settle on the best one for a particular project.
I recently discovered Fact Monster. While the information here is written at a higher level, I like the way this website offers multiple definitions of the word as different parts of speech.
RhymeZone requires an extra step if you're looking primarily for a definition. A drop down menu beside the word entry lets you search for rhymes, near rhymes, synonyms, antonyms, homophones, definitions, quotations, and a few other choices. It even gives you the option to search for your word in the definition of another word, like a reverse dictionary.
My office, as editor of the Infantry Bugler, sits on the second floor of the new state-of-the-art National Infantry Museuem. A parade field behind the museum, sewn with the soil of historic American battlefields from all over the world, is the site of weekly graduation ceremonies for basic trainees.
Platoons of soldiers often gather on the sidewalk in front of the "Follow Me" Statue. From my window I can see them, at ease with their choices, at least on the surface, marching double file back to a barrack or a home where, hopefully, there is love. I grew up in this town full of soldiers, home of the Infantry, and now, the Armor. Young men in their dress blue uniforms walking the highway to the mall is a common sight. It's common for a stranger to pay for a soldier's meal. Common to place a hand on a uniformed sleeve and say thank you. Common to whisper, "God keep you safe, Soldier."
If you know a soldier, say thank you today.
For Poetry Friday on the Veteran's Day, I hope you enjoy "Chats with Eleanor." There lots more poetry to be found at Teaching Authors.
CHATS WITH ELEANOR
by Pris Campbell
Fairy Godmothers with ample laps
and June Cleaver faces slid down the rabbit hole
of old dial-up phones, ten cent colas, Betsy Wetsys,
and scratchy LPs an innocent lifetime ago.
Try strutting about nowdays in tiara and starched skirt,
waving a wand---the madhouse will open its jaws
and swallow you whole, but
my fairy godmother is clever.
She dresses like Eleanor Roosevelt,
talks like Eleanor, looks like Eleanor,
says she is Eleanor, back from the dead.
Each night she brings me hot chocolate, sits,
tell stories about quiet fireside chats,
her husband’s withered legs and how much
she thought he loved her before Lucy.
She reminds me to floss every night
and to be sure to carry an umbrella
should sudden thunderstorms threaten.
She emphasizes that one must learn to
1. Deadlines are great for getting some serious writing done.
2. Family emergencies make writing almost impossible. Even with deadlines. My mom was in the hospital and is now at a nursing home rehab facility. She's doing better.
3. I love riding my bike on a warm fall afternoon. Realized I can actually ride it to the nursing home to see my mom. It's about six miles on the new rails to trails.
4. Went on a shopping spree with my totally helpful, classy, designer nephew, who then came home and rearranged all my closets. I'm hoping some of that style savvy rubbed off on me.
5. Had a wonderful weekend writer's retreat with four other FABULOUS writer friends--Ashley Parsons, Ashleigh Halley, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Kara Bietz--where we got lots of words on paper, laughed till our bellies ached, and generally nurtured our writing souls.