FASHION: 1963

This picture of my husband and I standing in front of the Bloomington Reformed Church the year he was ordained shows a considerable change in clothing people wore to church.

We had lived in Bloomington (our first church) about three or four months when this was taken. Richard is still in his Genevan gown following service. I am wearing a suit I do not remember but would presume to be a neutral light brown, tan, or gray. My hat is red. In the 1960s a woman always wore a hat to church. I am not wearing gloves which were also demanded if you were to be “properly dressed.” I would guess this was taken after the congregation left, so they had been discarded. When I went to church I would also have carried a matching purse. Certainly a new minister’s wife was expected to be properly dressed.

HOW DO YOU WAIT?

HOW DO YOU WAIT?

What do you do while you wait for a doctor to see you, for the person ahead of you at the grocery store, for the pharmacist to fill your prescription, or for the stalled traffic on your way home?

Do you sit and steam because it is now 35 minutes past your appointment for which you left early so you would be on time?

Do you shift from one foot to the other as the person or persons ahead of you in line seem to have all the time in the world?

Do you drum your fingers on the steering wheel and say unkind things to whomever is keeping you from moving?

I could have said yes to all these questions at one time, and as I waited anger would build and I would think of all the things I could be doing. Whether or not I would actually be doing those things is doubtful.

The only way to eliminate the waiting is to leave: not to keep your appointment, walk away and not get what you need, or get out of the car and walk. All of these solutions would have consequences.

Through the years I’ve learned that waiting can be fun and restful.

Arriving on time at the dentist today for my eleven o’clock appointment, I discovered he was at least a half hour behind. I’d planned to buy gas after my appointment, so I went to do that. I returned and in a few minutes I was seated in the examining room. After five to ten minutes, I realized I was in for a long wait. What should I do? I’d not brought a crossword puzzle or a book.

Relaxation is always good for the body. I began with head and neck stretches; I sat back in the chair so my head was on the headrest, my arms on the armrests, my legs stretched out in front of me, I closed my eyes, and began quiet deep breathing. I’ve been known to fall asleep in the dentist’s chair or lying on the doctor’s examining table. Time passes.

After fifteen or twenty minutes today, I felt rested. I began thinking about what I needed to for my writing. I’ve wanted to post a blog for several days, but no topic seemed to blossom in my brain. Now it did. I pulled a little notebook and pen from my purse. This is result.

If you are a writer, the grocery or pharmacy can become character food. One day while I was next in line, I watched a woman in a wheelchair cart with less than twelve items, which someone had already put on counter. That should be quick, right? It must have ten minutes as she told the very patient clerk into which paper bag each item should go, then to put the paper bags inside plastic bags. Then the clerk went around the counter to put them in her cart. I’m sure those  minutes hold a story. Meanwhile, I discouraged out persons from standing behind me in the short line. The next cash register line was moving quickly.

In the car, you can catch up on the news with an NPR station, or listen to the music with more intention. While the music plays on my radio when I am driving, I only half listen. Stopped I can concentrate on what I’m hearing.

Wherever you are waiting you have time to pray. Pray for ones you know. Pray for the hungry and the homeless. Pray for the sick and lonely. Pray for all those you know and those you don’t. Pray for this world torn apart in so many, many ways.

Waiting will no longer be an annoyance, but an opportunity.

 

REVISE, YET AGAIN

Revise, revise, revise. That is the mantra of editors. I’ve thought my novel was finished. It has been revised and revised.

A few weeks ago no one was prepared with a manuscript to read at our writers group. A number of prompts were tossed out to us. I chose “Have one of your characters tell you (the author) why they are upset with you.”

What came out was a minor character spewing forth all manner of complaints. Freddie said all I did was say he was a pest that caused trouble. He wanted me to know that he doesn’t like his home and family much. He has two little sisters and a baby brother and he has to take care of them. Their house so small he has to share a bed with his sisters.

No one cares about him. He’d rather spend time at Johnny’s house up the road. Johnny’s mother makes better stuff to eat too.

After listening to Freddie’s tirade, I feel he deserves more space and recognition in my novel.

Freddie has left me no choice. I must revise, yet again.
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No Blog Excuse

My blog has been neglected in the past few weeks since I posted on my September travels.

Two major items have occupied my time and thought.

Our church is celebrating its 300th anniversary. When the Dutch settlers followed Henry Hudson up the mighty Hudson River to Albany, they brought their Reformed Church with them from the Netherlands.
In Albany, New York, the Reformed Church was organized in 1642; in Kingston (also the first capital of New York) the church came into being in 1659; and in New Paltz worship began in 1683.

In Fishkill, New York, our church met to organize on October 16, 1716, Two events this past weekend capped our yearlong celebration. I had the honor of participating in both of them. On Saturday two performances of a radio play, originally broadcast in 1940 by DuPont’s Cavalcade of America, told the story of Enoch Crosby. Thought to be a Tory spy and jailed inside the church, General George Washington ordered he be allowed to escape in order to deliver false information to the British, which gave the colonies their victory and our freedom in Yorktown.

Sunday morning our choir outdid itself providing music for the regular church service. In the afternoon a banquet was held with many former pastors relating stories of their time serving our church.

A much less spiritual effort occupied me. I redecorated my bathroom. For a couple of weeks I’d contemplated whether or not paint the varnished vanity. How could I know if I’d like it white? My solution was to tape sheets of typing paper on the doors and drawers. Going into the bathroom after dark, I realized how much brighter it looked. I made my decision.

I bought the paint. Before getting out the brush, I needed to remove the doors and drawers and the handles on them. At first I thought I should have my son come and do that. But wait a minute! I have a screwdriver and my dad had taught me how to use it. Maybe I could do it myself. Yes.

On the front porch I spread newspapers over the outside table and using my son’s vibrating sander smoothed the wood and removed varnish so the paint would adhere better. I applied the first coat to the frame and while it dried the doors got their first coat. The frame had dried. It got its second coat. Meanwhile the doors dried. Whoops! I’d forgotten to do the drawers. More paint.

That evening with all the paint dry, I put the handles back on, but waited until Saturday morning to put the screws back in. I worried about getting the doors back on right, but that didn’t pose a problem.

My daughter hung the new shower curtain and Sunday on the way to the church dinner, I purchased new towels and rug.

All this to say I’d had a busy week with no time to write a blog.

Trying it to completion
Trying it to completion

MOTIVATION TO MARKET

This past two weeks I have spent most of my time sitting in front of this computer. I have working on submitting manuscripts for publication. At the top of my agenda are three books I’d love to see published. Books that have been in the writing in various forms for many years—one is a biography of architect Mary Colter for middle school children, a picture book of Mary Colter for lower grades, and a chapter book telling the story of a young girl living on a farm during World War II.

All three of these books have been through several revisions and critiqued by my writing group and edited again. But I have let them sit quietly in my computer. Yes, I did send them out once or twice and received a rejection. No, I don’t like to receive rejections, but they don’t discourage me from writing. I’ve even received encouraging rejections, such as: “I love the story, but it is not right for us.”

How to find that one agent or editor who says, “I love the story, here’s a contract?”

Nothing submitted. Nothing published. I know this.
So this is my New Year’s resolution:
I will submit at least one story to an agent or editor every week.

Perhaps having written this for all to see, I will work to keep my resolution.

ON MY OWN

Newspapers, radio broadcasts, TV news, and every other media that you can think of will undoubtedly have a story or program dedicated to reflecting on the twelve months of 2015.

As I think about the year, I realize it is the first one since 1954 that I’ve been “on my own.” That’s not entirely true because I have a son and daughter, their spouses, and two grandchildren, for whom I’m not responsible, but who watch over me. It is the grand shift from being the parent to being parented. I am not complaining. It is wonderful to feel their care, while leaving me free to make my own decisions about my life.

Good things have come to me during 2015. New friendships have begun. Others have become deeper.

There are family joys. Frequent family parties have been highlights during the year. Tomorrow, my son will treat us to Eggs Benedict to begin 2016 when everyone gathers around my table. My daughter has a new job that she loves as a research nurse. One daughter-in-law has one semester to finish her masters, the other drops everything to fix or help me whenever I call. My older grandson has begun learning to play the baritone, and my younger grandson loves art and books.

I’ve continued to write. Recently, I’ve been enjoying reading and editing a 50,000-word memoir that I wrote in November 2014 on “Being a Minister’s Wife.” Last November, the death of husband the previous March was still very close, which helped me record the details of our life together. Now, I am able to look at those words and determine if they follow the theme and discard the bits that don’t. The memories are as vivid as before, but I’m able to sort their importance to the story I want to tell. My weekly writers group’s members, who have become good friends, help my efforts.

While a minister’s wife, I was never part of the decision making process for the church. That changed in 2015. As an elder, I learned how my new church prepares holy communion, I participated in leading the congregation in new ways for me. Singing in the church choir continues to be a major part of my week.

What will 2016 bring? No one knows, but God, family, and friends will guide me through it.

On Being a Steward

It has been two weeks or more since I’ve posted a blog. The reason is mundane. I couldn’t focus on a single idea. Some flashed through the mind, but nothing settled. Is this writers’ block? No. I’ve been writing, but it has focused on my faith and my church.

This week it has been on stewardship. It is the time of year churches develop their budgets for the coming year. The governing body of the church asks members to contribute to the church financial program. It may include, and probably does, the minister’s compensation, upkeep of the buildings, and mission programs.

This is a very narrow meaning for the word “stewardship.” What does the word actually mean?

A steward on a cruise ship sees to the needs of the passengers assigned to him/her. Passengers tips for their stewardship are likely to be larger when the passenger has received special help or consideration. But again that concerns money.

Steward is also a verb. The dictionary says to steward is to manage. That makes us stewards of life itself. We must steward our health. We steward our homes, our home life and family. We steward our job and our income.

And one more thing we all have. Time. We must manage or steward our time. How do we use our time? It is so easy to fritter it away on next to nothing and then mourn we don’t have time to accomplish our goals.1-Autumn 20040004

Yes, I’ve thought about blogging these past two weeks. But am I honest when I say I couldn’t focus, or was simply not a good steward of my time and energy? I’m afraid it is the latter.

Stewardship. What does it mean?