Monday, March 22, 2010

what a friend we have in Grandma

Memories of my Grandma Elizabeth inspired me to write this little retrospective. What grandparent memories do you have to share?

In the days following the baby's death, Helena often wondered what she'd do without her mother. Her mom brought her tea on a tray, helped her wash her hair in a speckled basin beside the heater, and took care of four-year-old Aaron. She often sang as she worked: Welch ein freund ist unser Jesu. What a friend we have in Jesus.

Helena's mom's hair was a wavy river, brown at the waist, graying as it approached her face. Every morning Helena and Lenny watched her brush it by the heater. "Don't roll it up, Grandma," Lenny pleaded as the practiced hands gathered the river and braided it into a bun at the back of her head. "Let it hang down."

"Too much to do," said Magda, inserting the imprisoning pins and rhinestone studded combs.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

random useful websites for writers

Invitations to submit to anthologies, notices about contests and writers' conferences, etc.

Free downloadable English dictionary and thesaurus [I have it on both my computers and wouldn't want to be without it]

Jobs of yesteryear

Friday, March 5, 2010

giving credit for sources used in your writing

If you're writing a book for publication and you quote directly from another book or other source, you should either cite your source right there or use a footnote number. If you use a footnote number, place a corresponding list of sources at the end of each chapter or at the end of your book. If you quote more than a sentence or so, you need permission from the copyright holder of the source from which you quoted. Getting this permission is often not a big deal. Just request it, telling how you want to use the quotation, and they may give it to you for nothing—or they may charge a fee. If you think the fee is too high, you can try to negotiate or just not use that particular quotation.

On the other hand, if you refer to several sources and use what you learn to write your own stuff in your own words, you don't need the footnote numbers. However, it can be a good idea to list your sources in a bibliography, often placed at the end of the book. Listing sources gives credit where credit is due, i.e. acknowledging that you found them informative. It can also lend greater credibility to what you write, i.e. suggesting that your work is based on reliable sources. The standard format for bibliographical entries is illustrated in the following invented examples:

Grainger, Thea. Massachusetts history inside out. Boston: Seabreeze Press, 1999.

Millet, Petunia. "Stone circles of the western plains." In Regina Times, May 2010.

Nesbitt, Edgar, editor. Saskatoon berries: Presbyterian pioneering stories. Calgary: Zimmer Publications, 2010.

Sommerfeld, Sonia. Salt sage. Coyote, Montana: Windham Press, 2003.

Note that in the last case, the place in Montana is small and not well known. Therefore one adds the name of the state or province as the case may be. The Chicago Manual of Style is a standard reference regarding such matters. It provides other examples covering other kinds of cases.

Monday, March 1, 2010

history of aprons

My husband's Aunt Ev Jeck is a source of lots of fascinating information including retrospectives. She just sent me this "history of aprons." I've shortened and adapted it slightly.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath. Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for  removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped her apron around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folks knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.