Category Archives: Writing

WP Photo Challenge: Yellow

Yellow seems to creep into every picture even when I don’t focus on it.  I looked for a folder that might show a lot of yellow where one might not expect it.  I first opened “Market Research.”  In this photo trip, I explored what sold books.  Compare the picture with more yellow.  What do you think?

Yellow 1RT
With

 

with less
with less

I actually could not find a bookcase with NO yellow.  Yellow makes the other colors pop.  Which book in the next bookcase draws your attention?  Which ones would you choose to read looking at the cover?  What about if you just looked at the spine?

Yellow 3

Yellow needs another color to offset it, but a bit of yellow goes a long way, wouldn’t you say?  The book I remember reading from this entire post – 9 months later is The Dark.

For more choices click the WP icon

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Images of America: Three Tips for Researching and Writing Historical Captions

Marsha's knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
A symbol of Marsha’s knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America: Woodlake. (Courtesy of Google.)

You’ve seen pictures of the brain lighting up when ideas enter and make connections to random ideas. Pathways get brighter as the brain connects similar knowledge and experiences until eventually superhighways light up the scan.  You can reach the superhighway of understanding your topic quickly by following these tips.

Hanging with friends1
Woodlake Foundation Fundraiser featuring Courtney and Haley Hengst eating Vince’s Spamtures. (You don’t want to know – trust me!)

 

Tip #1 Offline Research:  Start with Friends – Be Social

You can’t research a community without talking about your project to as many people as possible.  You might as well have fun doing it!  Friends will know something interesting, have a resource you need, or know someone you should contact.  Those synapses will start to spark.  Next be brave and move into unfamiliar territory – schedule appointments.

Bob and Linda

Afterwards, take a walk with your friends and tell them what you learned, and how much you appreciated their lead.  Your conversation will sparkle because everyone wants to know all the gossip you learned – even if it is over 100 years old!  :)

final cover proof

Tip #2   Offline Continued:  The Scanning/ Interview Appointment

Once I got this proof back from Arcadia Publishers, my step-son suggested that I print it up with the first few pictures and captions I had written.   It worked great! The proof primed the pump and assured strangers that I was a legitimate author.  Interviewees helped proof captions, gave more information about  pictures I already had, shared a different perspective, questioned my facts, or confirmed what I knew.

To prepare for the appointment pack your car with what you might need.  Include: your camera, scanner, a thumb drive (don’t forget this!), cell phone, and a computer for taking notes. I took lots of notes on the proofs I printed, too.  If the person I interviewed didn’t mind, I recorded parts of conversations on my cell phone.  Many times interviewees also had written material about their pictures as well:  interviews or newspaper articles, which I scanned.

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Bob Hengst really was a rocket scientist in high school! (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

 

A great purchase to make better use of this information is Wondershare PDF Editor Pro.  This software package is about 1/3 of the cost of Adobe Acrobat, and will convert your PDF document like the one above into a searchable document.  Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until I almost had the book finished, but you don’t have to wait that long if you have read this post!  :)

Abe Dinken's Shingle Factory in Elderwood,  CA  (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)
 (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

Tip #3  Online Research

Some pictures showed people in occupations I didn’t know much about, like tenting orange trees in the early 1900s.  I found a U. S. patent by Abe Dinkins and Abe Upp for a scale that is still used today for weighing grapes.   Some schools, businesses and service organizations have a history blurb on their website. Google taught me about pesticides and the various methods used throughout history, what and how industries use steel containers, tuberculosis, how to tie grape vines, and many other useful tidbits of information.

Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

California Council for the Humanities transcribed interviews of least 7 Woodlakers about World War II, agriculture, and their lives in general, including an interview of Alice (Hawkins) Mitchell.  These documents gave me interesting stories to use with pictures that were hard to describe interestingly because I didn’t know enough. (It might be hard for some to believe, but I didn’t attend school as early as 1923!)  Alice Hawkins is on the right hand side, third row up.  If I had used this picture, I might have quoted her California Humanities interview in the caption about this picture to preview  Alice’s future.

Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)
Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)

Research is the key to writing good captions as much as socializing, following up on leads, and appreciating your friends’ help is the answer to gathering MANY usable pictures.  Follow these tips, and your new synapses will glow brighter than your Christmas lights! :)

After researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
Marsha’s brain (popping)  after researching for Images of America: Woodlake (Courtesy of Google.)

If you like these tips join me on my writing journey and LIKE my Facebook Page, TC History Gal Productions.   :)

 

Images of America: Woodlake; Gathering and Organizing Images

 My 600th post! 

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A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period.  (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

Arcadia Publishing has specific requirements for the photos in your Images book.  You receive a written guideline and an editor that answers questions promptly.  Your success is practically guaranteed – once your get the photos!

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The Edmistons (Courtesy of Robert Edmiston.)

Images of America books are not family history books, so even if you grew up in a community, you must gather pictures.  Multiple family’s pictures in the book are essential to telling the story.

Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes.  (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes. (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

In the case of a small community, probably the library will not have enough images to fill your book.   You might have a small museum or historical society that stores pictures.  Even though our museum is not open, one woman has pictures in her home.  Here are the ways I started from 0 and gathered the 200+ pictures I needed for publication in 6 months.

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A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period. (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

 

  1. Our local Kiwanis magazine put in a free ad for me. – 1 direct call and one referral from her
  2. I walked the streets of Woodlake and talked to business owners, City Hall and Woodlake Police. – 2 donors
  3. Talking to friends in the grocery store  – 1 prospect
  4. Following referrals from friends – 30 donors
  5. Cold calls to businesses – 1 potential donor who googled me to make sure I didn’t have a criminal record or wasn’t a sex offender before he called me too late for publication.
  6. Following referrals from referrals – 3 donors
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The community northwest of Woodlake called Elderwood in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Laura Spalding.)

Organizing was important, and took quite a bit of time as I processed the photos.  These are my steps.

  1. As I started scanning photos, I put the PDFs into files in my document folder labeled by donor’s names.
  2. Next I created a “Woodlake PDF” and put in all of the donor folders.
  3. Each photograph sent to Arcadia was a TIFF file, so I processed all most files, and put them into a separate file with the donor’s name inside a large folder that said, “Woodlake TIFF.”
  4. I didn’t write about every picture.  In order to write, I used an unpublished blog account, because importing each picture to a Word file made Word crash.  It is hard to write about a picture when you can’t look at it as you write, so the blog was perfect.
  5. However, that created another step.  TIFF files are huge, so I resized each photo I used (or thought I might use) in the book and saved it as a JPEG, and created another Donor file and put it inside – you guessed it – the “Woodlake JPEG” file. Then I could upload those files easily to my blog, and the ones I didn’t use in the book I could post to FB or in my  blog.
  6. Then I made files for the chapter titles and copied only the TIFFS into those files, numbering them for the book.
  7. Finally I copied the entire folder, “Arcadia,” onto an external hard drive.  I started to copy all of it to the cloud, but it was very time consuming.
  8. After I submitted the manuscript and pictures, I began copying the JPEG files only to Picasa.  I’m still not finished, and I hope it is worth the effort!  I have them organized by subject rather than chapter, and I have one folder for all the images used in the book along with the caption, so that if I do another book, I will use different pictures, or be sure to credit the book as well as the donor.
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936.  Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936. (Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall)

That’s it.  That’s how I gathered and organized hundreds of pictures in six months.

Images of America: Woodlake; Steps to Finding the Vision That Drove the Book

Just like good sex, writing, even bad writing, starts in the brain.    Before the first word ever appeared on my computer screen, questions etched their way into my consciousness.  Before I even wrote an outline, I questioned the existence of Woodlake. I pictured this foothill community without a town.

Woodlake Becky 6 Sevenson Ad

  1. Guiding Questions  I started with the question, “What makes Woodlake unique, and why did it become a town?”  The vision developed.  I wondered if the people who ranched here, and the Native Americans, the Yokuts, whose culture had survived the early settlers’ arrival objected to Gilbert Stevenson’s dream of a town.  Wondering prompted a several tasks.
  2. Research:  Reading & Interviewing In step two I sought answers the basic questions, and got a feel for Woodlake’s uniqueness.  This was an ongoing task, of course, but first I needed to get an overall vision of the book’s focal points. I could do both tasks simultaneously on Facebook which put me in touch with between 1,000 and 2,000 group members.  I quickly made some friends, only to discover that they lived clear across the United States.  That was bad for face to face interviews, but great for the Woodlake Foundation when it comes to marketing!Woodlake on FB
  3. Create a timeline to identify iconic events and people that contributed to the vision.  Events blurred in my brain, so I started a timeline.  The first years were easiest to order because they had already been documented in two books, and published and unpublished articles.  The later events still remained fresh in people’s mind, but the middle episodes remained fuzzy, except that everyone seemed to LOVE Woodlake and love living here in the 1940s to 1980s.  As events became clear, so did iconic individuals.  After reading entries on FB, Gus West assumed a bigger than life place in my brain.  He was the one man police force starting in 1941.  Most of his clients were naughty boys that did bad things to street lights and outhouses.   He seemed to know just how to deal with them.  I pictured Andy Griffith of Mayberry, and the more I read, the more central he became to the story of Woodlake’s lost middle years. Printable pictures of  Gus seemed non-existent, but his influence pervaded my thoughts, and guided the story of Woodlake.  I wondered, “Would I EVER find a picture of Gus West?”
  4. Rough in an outline of the book.  In a small town life-changing events, patterns and iconic people surface quickly.  In Woodlake the last major event that everyone mentioned was the high school fire.  Since history becomes valid after about 25 years, this 1980 blaze marked the latest date in the book.  At that point I didn’t have any pictures of it, and didn’t know who did, but the vision of what I needed was clear.  Since this was a picture book, all I needed to do was find a source.  Friends recommended the name of a photographer, who was gone.  The search for pictures is another topic, but photographers became somewhat iconic, too.WUHS 1980 FireT
  5. Determine Structure of the book by examining similar books.  Many of the Images books are topical, but my brain works chronologically.  So I combined the two approaches.  Chapters 1-4 are chronological, while the last two chapters deal with influential topics that adhere to the vision. The theme that Gilbert Stevenson and Gus West both wrote in history had a dreamy quality.  Stevenson saw a tourist town.  West protected it.  Celebrations attracted attention to it, and Churches and Schools gave it the solid foundation it needed to become reality .
Woodlake ElementaryR
Woodlake Elementary, built in 1923 at 300 W. Whitney.

 

Finding a vision for the book emerged through the questions that arose in my mind.  Finding answers to the questions, and finding 200 pictures to convey the story created another series of tasks for another post.

 

Images of America: Woodlake, Step One

 

castaway-laptop2

There I was, minding my own WordPress and Blogger blogs, trying to Twitter, connecting to LinkedIn, finding friends on Facebook, and deleting hundreds of emails that I signed up to get.  Everyone had an offer for me to make me better at all those things.  It was offer overload.  I’m not sure why I didn’t delete Ginny’s Wednesday, May 28, 2014 email asking me if I wanted to write a book about Woodlake.

My name is Ginny and I am the California acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing. We publish local or regional pictorial history books as part of our Images of America series. I’m interested in starting a similar project about Woodlake and came across your blog while researching potential authors. You’ve got a great style and voice and your experience and knowledge of the area would make you an excellent candidate to author the book. Is this something you might be interested in?

I fell for it almost as hard as I did for my first my spammer compliment on WP.  She sent some attachments about the company, so I wrote her back.

Hi Ginny,
That would be so fun!  Let me look this over, and I’d love to talk to you!
And my friends say I’m shallow!!! hahaha
She called me the next day, and I remember talking to her for quite a while.  She gave me a six-day deadline to complete a 10 page proposal including a book outline with 10-20 sample pictures and captions.   Only she forgot to send me the proposal form!  On Monday she wrote,

Hi Marsha!

I just realized I had not gotten the proposal to you last week as promised! It is attached to this email. The most important sections are the Author Information, Book Information, and Schedule – everything else can come later (including sample images/captions). Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to speaking to you soon!

The due date was still Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Among other things the proposal application asked about my background, community involvement, businesses that might carry the book, and dates that might affect the release of the book.
roping1RT
Woah!  Intensive!  I guessed a lot! So I sent her one picture I had scanned from a neighbor, and wrote a caption for it. (This wasn’t it, but it’s awesome, don’t you think?) I wrote a 200 word summary of what I thought I might write, and spent the rest of the day completing the form.  Looking back over the proposal as I write this, I see I missed a question.
Business name Contact person and affiliation to business (if known) Address/City/State/Zip

Phone ###.###.###

Local insight and personal connection
Joe’s Drugs

(pharmacy)

Joe Smith, owner

 

321 S. Main Street

Anytown, DC 98765

(123) 456-7890

Town pharmacy that carries local themed products. Owner Joe is my brother-in-law.

I made my June 4th deadline.  On June 12, 2014 I received this reply along with  450 more words and two attachments of instructions.

Hi Marsha,

I hope you are doing well! I am pleased to inform you that your proposal,Woodlake, has been approved. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with you in adding Woodlake to our Images of America series!

I had my first opportunity to publish history, starting with 4 scanned pictures out of over 200 necessary.

I hope I won’t bore you, but I want to spend a few posts outlining the steps I took from start to finish to write this book so I don’t forget it.  I sent my final draft in with all the pictures on Monday.  I need something else to do!  hehehe!!!  Along the way, I hope it will help some of you in your writing journey.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement along the journey. NOW, I write histories!  :)

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

For being such a 100% gorgeous day, Saturday, November 29th turned oddball early on.  First of all I called my friend’s dad, Clarence.  I know his name is Leonard. I only said it wrong twice. Leonard Hansen was Woodlake’s famous World War II POW.

hansen with flag

He was on the Tulare County Office of Education Board of Education.  I worked there.  I’m Tulare County’s History Gal.  We filmed a video about his experiences.  I called him Clarence.  It promised to be an odd day.

Woodlake Farm

Then I picked up Robert Edmiston.  He had promised to show me landmarks in Elderwood that I didn’t know.  So we went to the Woodlake High School Farm.  I couldn’t see a single crop.  How odd was that?

trees

The 100 year old palms listed oddly

Bill Ferry

California is  in the middle of a drought.  Hardly a drop of water sits idle.  Sally, Linda and I easily amble around the circumference of Bravo Lake in an hour.  Farmers pumped Tulare Lake dry over 150 years ago. The only ferry in Central California is Bill Ferry.

Easter Island of Elderwood

Someone in Elderwood replicated Easter Island. This individual wanted to redevelop the Mini-Ha-Ha Ranch and destroyed the 100-year-old stately palm trees that lines the access road by setting them on fire.

Easter Island2

Palm tree trunks don’t burn well.  This violent act clearly disturb the Plane Gods.

Elda School 2014

Someone left the door open at Elda School.

Blue Oak's last stand

The only native stand of blue oaks left is not in a nature preserve, but sits in a hog wallow field across from an orange grove in Elderwood.

Converging signs

The signs are all there, but where’s the road?  Robert pointed out Lone Oak Mountain in the background.  The lone oak died.

TC history gal bites the dust

I don’t think I forgot to put the car in park.  Sometimes my Prius doesn’t turn off when I press the off button.  Sometimes it doesn’t go into park.  Even so, it shouldn’t have gone backwards.  Usually, when it doesn’t turn off, it goes forwards while I’m still in the car, and I press it again.  This time it sat still as though it was really in park, so I got out and took a picture.  Then I looked around to see the car starting to take off!  I ran towards the car as it moved gently backwards and tried to stop it, but I fell out of the car as I tried to get in.  I don’t know how Robert got in the driver’s seat.  The car didn’t crash.  I bit the dust, but the car didn’t run over me, nor did the open car door jab me in the face.  My camera, which I threw on the ground as I fell,  could still shoot pictures.

Blurred vision

The autofocus doesn’t work any more.  Thanksgiving paid it forward for me.  Another one of my X# lives with only one little scratch on my elbow!

022714-odd-ball Yesterday was odd ball.  Click the icon to see more odd ball responses.

 

 

Black and White Challenge: Glass

I live much of my life behind glass.  My 2006 Prius has  over 215,000 miles, my husband’s 2004 truck has nearly 200,000 miles, and his “new” car, a 2010 Prius has nearly 80,000 miles on it.  Usually I drive and can’t take pictures (or shouldn’t). On our accidental vacation, we had to stop.  So did everyone else.

SFW TAV Herd of Elk 6

Nonetheless, my husband wanted me to stay behind the glass.  Glass protects.  For this picture, he pulled off the road.  Elk grazed on both sides of the 2-lane highway.  Other brave souls came out from behind the glass.  I did too, and fortunately the elk were more interested in the grass than in us.  :)

Randy on Glass

You don’t want to test glass beyond its protective endurance.  Fortunately there was more to this floor than just glass because a few weeks after we took this picture, the glass busted!  Those squares weren’t patterns on the carpet, they were tops of Chicago buildings.

Notre Dame BW Glass

Glass does more than protect.  The University of Notre Dame collected more French stained glass than anywhere in France.  It would take days to notice all the beauty in these glass windows.

Chicago_0462

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but what about people working in glass buildings?  I guess they can throw anything they want during the daytime.  You can’t see in anyway.  I could have seen a reflection of me throwing a stone off the tour boat, but I was more than a stone’s throw away!

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If you’re not glassy-eyed by now. Click on the icon to view more of Cee’s friends’ photos.

Word Press Photo Challenge: Achievement – Zoom Zoom

This isn't Alex, and yes, I really did this, but next to last place is not an achievement I'm proud of.
This isn’t Alex,or me, but yes, I really did this.  However, last place is not my proud achievement.

I achieved something today.  I overcame an annoyance that, for many months, demolished my joy in blogging.  To you bucket list – high achievers, I hope this post won’t destroy what little respect you might have for me when you see how little it takes to make me feel successful.  To Alex Gustafson thank you for showing me the way to success.

Achievement Zoom zoom 1
This may not look annoying. It didn’t to Alex.  But, believe me, it was!

 

So the problem was, my font got too big for its britches on my dashboard.  It took a scroll just to see my stats!

Achievement Zoom Zoom 2

When it came time to post, I felt dyslectic trying to read the names of my former posts.  Even Ed—————- …it was on two lines!  Alex said everything looked normal to him.  Hmmmm… Right…

“Try adjusting the settings on your web browser,” he told me, and gave me a link.  That’s link, not wink!   https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/96810?hl=en

So I gave it a try.

Achievement Zoom Zoom 3T

Don’t you wish that the buttons they tell you to select had a big sign on them like this???  At any rate, I felt very intelligent that I was able to find all the buttons in the article.  And it worked.  My browser was the culprit all along, and now I know how to fix it if poltergeists every come in and switch it again!

Achievement Zoom zoom 4B

So what underwhelming achievement have you accomplished recently?  Make me feel better, and I won’t tell you the struggle I had putting a border (simple, simple) on this last bit of media.  Poltergeists, I tell you!  :)

Wait for it!  Wait ....  She's coming...  Keep waiting...
Wait for it! Wait …. She’s coming… Keep waiting…

For more stunning achievements click on the WP icon.

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I Write Histories

How does that sound for a marketing line?  I am 99% finished with my first published book, Images of America:  Woodlake.

final cover proof

I hate to SOUND so proud, but I AM proud.  I can’t believe this is really happening.

Edmiston 2-15R

In the process, I have found that so many organizations, even schools, don’t know anything about their history, and don’t know where to find the information either.  As I dug for Woodlake history, I found some amazing treasure chests of people, who were just waiting for the opportunity to share what they had with someone who could use it.  I now have more adorable pictures than I can use, but with permission to share them, they can go to the library and to the museum, where other writers (or me) have access to them.  My new friend Robert Edmiston calls me with new finds and new questions.  His enthusiasm for this project has increased the fun exponentially.

Sally Pace BD941

Sally Pace and I walk often, and she shares new leads almost daily.  I love Sally.  I have followed them all – more treasures, one of the most recent – Lisa Kilburn who just sent me 155 pictures that her father took.  This picture from one of Sally’s birthday parties in the seventies is much too risqué to go in the book!

Mill Inn-4

Ellie Cain took the time to put together a book and send it to friends and relatives.  Robert Edmiston shared it with me.  I contacted the address pasted in the back of the book, and she emailed me.  She is sending me a CD of pictures for my book.  Her family will live on, and people will be blessed to enjoy adorable pictures like this one.

1 Southern Baptist-2b

This picture was glued on a poster board in 1984.  The ink from notes written on the back has soaked through.  These pictures were all the church had to share with me.  Only one of the 14 churches in our little town have their history written.  The little church my first husband pastored – no history that I know of – (but I have tons of pictures that no one knows about).  One church took a picture for me, and one church gave me pictures a book and video about the history of their church.  Which one got the most face time in our Woodlake history book?

So I see a need, and maybe you do too in your neighborhoods and areas of interest.  Organizations need a history.  CCSS has one book of our history.  Yeah!  SJVCSS does not.    Huge need!  Without history – even if we are still there, no one knows who we really are.  I guess that’s good if we are dishonest, but for most organizations, they are just too busy to take the time.

I Write Histories

That’s where I can come in. How does that sound for my new business venture?  What new ventures are you trying this week?

Long Time Users Learn More About Using Facebook

Civil War Revisited1R
I think Mrs. Robert E. Lee knows I’m a Yankee. Confederate President Jefferson Davis doesn’t is more interested in the photo op. :)

History gals can learn new tricks!  Out of necessity, I have become one of the Facebook queens. After three years of using it regularly, I still find that I constantly learn something helpful.  I use Facebook in three ways.

  1. A personal page.  This is the easy first step to Facebook. I joined with a valid email account, and I post pictures and make comments.  I don’t really care ( and by that I mean report to anyone about) about statistics other than it’s a nice pat on the back when someone comments or likes something I post.  I have to admit that I like likes.  :)
    1. What sets this account apart from the others is how random it is. Whatever strikes me at the moment, I post, from a lost dog picture, to Christmas photos, blog entries, unusual weather and trips.
    2. I try to avoid posting yawn topics like, “I got up at 6:07.48 am and brushed my teeth.”
    3. Something that can be disconcerting is that a personal page can be full of personal messages might be better sent as an instant message, which is private.  But it is my page, and if I don’t care if the world knows that my all my underwear was locked in the washer full of water for three days, then I guess ….
    4. This account is important in a business situation when I want to reach someone and I don’t have their email address.  Today I searched on Google for for presidents of state councils for the social studies when I didn’t have a website for the state.  I found two or three people that way.  They don’t always respond, but I try to be open and let them know who I am, and most people respond eventually.

Info

  1. A professional page.  I’ve started several of these from my personal page, and I’m not sure how to do it otherwise.  As an administrator, I can invite others to be administrators.  Only administrators can post on these pages, but viewers can comment.  I was frustrated at first because no one posted or interacted.  In my experience this page is more for pushing information than interacting.  This account is focused – or it should be, but it can still be personal.  The face of the company or organization has personality.  If a member of our organization has a good experience at school that they post on FB, I will sometimes share it.  I have to cut and paste their post or it shares on my personal page.  Usually the biggest hits on this account are upcoming events with a flyer or any information about legislation that affects us as an organization.
Sentinel Butte Ranch
This might be interesting to the group “You Know You’re From Woodlake If…”
  1. The group page.  I joined groups as an administrator before I really understood the purpose of groups.  Since then I’ve been involved with a writing group and several groups from my town of Woodlake.  I have found this form of Facebook most interactive for several reasons.
    1. There is a moderator of the group.  What impressed me most was when the moderator introduced themselves and welcomed me personally and asked others in the group to do the same.  Several of them did.  Then some of them became friends with my personal account.  I also get a lot of likes on my personal page from some moderators.
    2. There seems to be more open dialogue on the posts, almost like a personal account, but more focused.  People don’t necessarily know each other when they start talking, unlike on a personal page, but they get acquainted quickly.  Sometimes the conversations veer from the topic of the original post, but usually an outsider can read it and know what’s happening.
    3. Because group pages are moderated, the moderator can delete comments that might not pertain to that group.  I have deleted posts and ultimately people from the group who post advertising on our California Council for the Social Studies group page because their ads don’t fit the purpose of the group page.  The moderator can also add questions, comments or contests that will encourage others to participate.

All three types of pages have their uses, as do other types of social media.  The trick is using the right page for the right impact.

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

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The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

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When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
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What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  :)

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well.  This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. oregon trip 201320130915_0021138We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.”  Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. oregon trip 201320130914_1105230R When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. SFW Wildflower class20130420_93R These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home.  I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches.  These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked.  It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.

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I apologize for the quality of this picture.  I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have.  In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.

The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet.   The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet.  If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles.  The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter.  It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley.  (Tilchen, Mark.  Floods of the Kaweah)

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To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above.  :)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wood

The rich element of wood surrounded us as we drove north on Interstate Five towards Oregon.  The abundance of evergreens that grows in Oregon starts here in the northern part of California near Mt. Lassen.

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Besides the Sequoia Redwoods that grow a few miles east of Woodlake, the Redwoods offered tree displays that exist nowhere else in the world.

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Once logged, only imagination limits what wood will become.

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Wood protects our heads from Oregon moisture while at the same time moves us to tears.

oregon trip 201320130913_0090116Families build memories at tables made of wood.  Myrtle wood grows only in Southern Oregon and Israel.  We stopped at the North Bend Myrtlewood Factory to see the array of Myrtlewood products.

cees-fun-foto1I hope you enjoyed this post, and it didn’t seem too wooden to you.  :)  Thanks Cee for the inspiration. To see more entries, click the icon above.

 

Don’t Read Sad Books, Then Talk On The Phone

The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.

LaurieShe read it and posted on Facebook how good it was.  When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun.  I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.

The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on  Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.

The back yard 1

Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California.  Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture.  The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me.  In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.

Indianapolis street
I am driving up a street near our former home in Indianapolis, IN.

I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book).  I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home.  These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.

Who names their kids Hazel?  Grandma Morris had a sister,  Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something?  It’s so Hoosier.

Hoosiers
Can you find Grandma Morris? Aunt Hazel is probably there, too.

In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation.  They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting.  The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.

“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders.   “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call.  Could you please call her?”

My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee.  You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”

I’m the emotional one.  Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory.  She is not there.  I have to look up her cell phone.  She answers after a few rings.

“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.

“I’m in Utah.”

“Who are you with?”

This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point.  I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it.  Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk.  I wish I had listened to my gut.

“A couple of ladies from church.”

I’m at a complete loss.  Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little.  It turned out that she knew.

“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.

“OK,” I replied and hung up.  I never felt dumber and more useless.

Moral:  When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.

Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s amazing.

Best News Ever – Well In The Last 24 Hours

You have all been so faithful reading and visiting while I my creative juices dried up.  Thank you so much.  I think they are going to start flowing again soon.  I’m at the beach.

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Oh yes, the good news.  Even though my book, Girls on Fire, is on a break pending more rewriting and editing, I had a request from a publishing company to consider writing a book about our local area.  So I’m checking it out.

Changes: The Constant in Life

We love seeing old things.  They may be beautiful or ugly, useful or not, but they are interesting because we have changed.  In order to for things to remain viable, we need to make changes to them from time to time.

New Castle 1r

I have changed my blog, and moved it to iPage.  I loved the chat service that WordPress offered with their premium package that I bought, but it was more expensive than I wanted to pay this year.  So far I am very impressed with iPage.  Eva called me to see if there was anything I needed, and sure enough, I had let my domain name expire.  So I changed that, and now I’m renewed, ready to go.  There may be changes on my site, that I don’t understand yet, but I’m still alive and well, and hope you are too.  :)

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.

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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 with Eunice

Eunice’s mother asked her why she was going to meet a “perfect stranger.”

Eunice and Marsha

Eunice answered that I wasn’t a stranger, and I added that I’m not perfect either.  We had so much fun getting better acquainted.  She picked me up at the Kennedy Presidential Library where Manny and I spent a couple of wonderful hours browsing at our own rate through the exhibits.

Manny at JFK Library
Boy did Mom make me watch a lot of movies in there!

From there we dropped her boyfriend off at a park where he could search for hidden treasures.  He found a cross.

Ron's hunting gear

I threw the stick for JT.

JT and her stick
That’s what I’m talking about!

Manny tried to ride her, but JT thought he was her toy.

JT meets Manny
Yeah, put him down here. (hehe)

She didn’t bite Manny, but it was clear that she would rather have Eunice throw him so she could play fetch than have him ride on her back.

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Really, he’s not a toy? What good is he then?

JT finally got a little disgusted at having to pretend to be friends with Manny, but don’t tell Manny that.  He was a little amazed that someone didn’t immediately think he was better than opening day of clam season in Boston.

JT and Manny3
Come ON, Mom. Do I have to be nice to this bear?

We had a wonderful lunch at Chili’s near Braintree, MA, then picked Ron back up at the park by the JFK Library.

Manny visits the USS Constitution She suggested that I start my Freedom Trail hike at the USS Constitution, so after some parting pictures, we went our separate ways.  Thank you Eunice for such a wonderful adventure.  It was a great treasure meeting my second blogger friend in person.  :)  See you in November!  :)