Monday, August 24, 2009

Behold the Turtle...

...He never makes any progress until he sticks his neck out. After attending a meeting of the Arkansas Inspy writers on Saturday, I realized that's where I am right now. In Turtle mode. I'm happily writing my monthly column (and posting it here), occassionally writing a haiku, and ... that's about it. The characters from my past,present and future works in progress still wander around in my head. They're becoming good friends of mine, but their stories are still untold.

During the meeting, I realized that I'm not a beginner. I know most of the tricks, and can write pretty well. My only hold back is to stretch out and try. After all, sometimes, it's much safer to huddle in my little shell, and say, oh well, I'm doing the best I can. But that's not really true. My best is much better than this.

I've missed the contest and conference season for this year. But right now, I'm declaring 2010 the year of sending out submissions. I need to polish a little, get things ready, and send, send, send. Get ready post office. Here I come. It may be painful at times, and there's a risk of getting out in the middle of the road and getting smashed, but I've just got to go for it!

To whomever reads this- hope this prompts you to peek out of your shell too! We're all in this together.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lessons learned at Granny Camp

Lessons learned at Granny Camp

 The second annual session of Granny Camp has come and gone at the Carlisle house. Once again, memories that will last a lifetime came out of simple, everyday events.

 This year, we had the same camper, one year older and wiser. As Camp Director, I’ve learned that the requirements for this fun filled week are simple. First, the camper must be able to take care of his/her own bathroom duties. Secondly, he/she must be willing to leave the “comfort zone” of home for a week. Finally, naptime or bedtime is when the Camp Director says it’s time. As a two year veteran, this camper had no problem with any of these. Next year, there may be at least two, and maybe three arriving. The potential applicants are getting bigger every day!

Lesson learned from the first year- the fewer structured activities, the better. If the camper decides he wants to sleep late, watch cartoons, have pancakes for breakfast, the staff is more than willing to comply. Some days, particularly in August, it’s just too hot to go outside for more than a quick visit with the dog who lives in the back yard. However, having a swimming pool accessible gives us more options.

Another lesson learned about activities: Croquet requires short grass. The camper willingly attempted this classic game, but the colorful balls kept getting stuck. At least he now knows the difference between a mallet and a wicket. The dog also learned very quickly that the wooden orbs are not designed for a game of fetch.

 Organized field trips are always great. However, joining other Grannies with their own campers should be limited. When all have their own list of favorite things to do, and a limited time to do them, things quickly become complicated. Our camper seemed to enjoy his trip to Little Rock, made some new friends, and showed off his expertise with riding the trolleys. Then, of course there was the pampered poultry in the big hotel. As the duckmaster says: “Once you’ve seen the Peabody ducks, you can go on with the rest of your life.”

The highlight of the week, at least for Granny, was a trip to Heifer Ranch, right here in the Ouachitas. You’ve probably driven by the entrance near Perryville on Highway 9, but unless you’ve ventured closer, you’ve missed an Arkansas treasure. Here, we learned some valuable lessons about the way to really help your neighbors. The visit started off with a history lesson about the founder and his inspiration for the now well established non-profit effort.

Heifer Project volunteer to our camper: “This man was trying to help hungry people in Spain. He noticed that at the end of the day, after passing out a cup of milk to each hungry child, there was never enough to go around.” Camper nods sadly.

  HP vol: “Jordan, what would be better than giving each child a cup of milk?”

  Camper: “A bottle of milk.”

   HP vol: “Very good. But what would be even better?

  Camper: “A bigger bottle of milk.”

  HP vol (smiling): “Yes, but what about giving them a cow?”

  Camper: “Yeah!” 

   Camp Director (internally): “He really gets it!”

  The tour, in a chauffeur driven golf cart, showed off the gorgeous mountain scenery, and the rather exotic animals who call it home. The camels, llamas and donkeys were sticking close to the shade, but the water buffaloes were enjoying wallowing in the little spot of mud they’d constructed in their yard. By far most impressive was the walk through the model homes from around the world. Jordan decided he could live with chickens and ducks under his porch, and walls inside the house weren’t always necessary, but it was nice to have some on the outside, and a roof was a really good thing.

 Back at home, we both learned that the day went better when we made our beds each morning, picked up our toys when we were finished, and took some time to read a story or memorize a poem each day.

 The end of the week was hard, as always, but this year’s camper was already thinking about next year, and how much fun his three year old cousin would have once he reached the magic age of four.

 Oh the memories we built, along with a few pages for the family scrapbook! Priceless.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summertime transitions

Since the Martins have moved on,

Dragonfly platoons

Maneuver in our back yard.