Thursday, December 31, 2009

Seventh Day of Christmas Greetings!

I think.

I mean, when is it really Christmas--the Christ Mass?

Sextus Julius Africanus, an early historian calculated in 221 A.D. that the Incarnation took place on March 25, Nine months later would be December 25, conveniently four days after the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year.

But there is some evidence, based on passages in Luke, that Jesus was born in late September or early October. Other people claim that He was at other times during the year.

The historical western Church has celebrated Jesus' birth on December 25 since 273 A.D., and many western churches still celebrate twelve days of Christmas with the Feast of Lights (coming of the Wise Men) on January 6. Eastern (orthodox) churches, however, used to celebrate Jesus birth and baptism on January 6 -- and, according to, a few eastern churches still do so. Most eastern churches celebrate His birth on December 25 and His baptism on January 6.

Many Christians rightly note that the Incarnation of Christ -- His conception -- should take precedence over His birth.

Our consumer culture today would have us believe that Christmas begins just after Labor Day, builds in intensity over a three month period, and ends rather abruptly at midnight on December 25.

As a result, we're sick of Christmas by the time it arrives and we dread its return the next year.

How sad.

No wonder, in the words of John W. Peterson, we have:

"No room, here in the hearts of mankind.
No room, no cheery welcome to find.
No room. Surely the world is blind.
No room."

Ah, well. For me, Christmas is December 25 through January 6 -- all twelve days. Advent ("coming") is the time of preparation that includes the four Sundays before Christmas.

For me, Christmas is about Jesus being born within, not just about His birth 2,000 some years ago, so my preparation time begins in the summer when I begin preparing for the Christmas program at our church. In the writing and in the rehearsing during the fall, something new of Jesus is born in me -- a new understanding of this mystery, a flash of insight into His Word -- and something new of Jesus is born into our church family -- people from first service getting to know people from second and third services, a fourteen-year-old discussing Scripture with a fifty-year-old and an eight-year-old leading us in prayer.

My prayer is that something new of Jesus is born in those who attend the programs, usually held the second or third Sonday in Advent.

This year, our home Nativity set went up on the 20th. And, after years of not putting up a tree, I impulsively put up a table-top one on the 24th.

Both will stay up until January 6. And as long as all the packages and cards are in the mail by the 6th, I count myself as being on time with deliveries -- more or less. ;-)

But who's to say Christmas can't be February 10 or May 3 or August 19? Something new of Jesus can -- should? -- be born in us as often as He and we are willing.

Happy Birthday, Jesus -- today and every day!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mountain Mellow Thankful

Left: Loved this sticker plastered to the wall of a BBQ place in Asheville, NC. Check out Hebrews 11:13-16! (This is not a product endorsement--although I like their Web site and they may have a really great product. But I'm not a customer).

Decisions, decisions. Do I play catch-up with dated postings? Or do I leave vast chunks of my life unreported to my faithful readers and unrecorded for posterity?

Hmmm . . . oh, why not.

This last week of 2009 should be about tying up loose ends, right? Any left untied and that come unraveled after January 1st will leave interesting holes in the pattern.

Meantime, my last posting concerned our pre-Thanksgiving Circus of the Arts Pen Women conference in Sarasota.

We struck the circus tents around noon on Sunday, packed up and vacated the hotel premises. From Sarasota to Safety Harbor is about an hour's drive, and I arrived home at 2 p.m. to find Lee packed and waiting for me to unload the van, repack the bags, load up the other van, and head out. Which we did at 3 p.m. -- how's that for a quick transition?!

This time our destination was North Carolina and a week of mountain mellow with Lee's brother and sister-in-law. And Banjo. Can't forget their lovable Labradoodle.

Above: Dave and Lee enjoy a moment of brotherly bonding over a plate of BBQ.
(Mmmmm -- except we thought Dave liked BBQ and he was being polite. Wh
at a good brother.)

So what am I thankful for this season, this year? I'll let some pictures speak for me.

Left: Sign near Grandfather Mountain in NC.

Sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren who enrich my life in so many ways. Who can resist melting a bit when the eyes of a three-year-old light up in wonder when he puts a "CD" in a Sesame Street player, pushes a button, and hears music playing. This is the same grandson who played "have you heard this song before" all the way home from a Rays game -- and actually listened to each song I sang before answering 'yes' or 'no.'

And have you ever heard a five-year-old princess with the giggles? Or played clapping games with a nine-year-old? Or watched a thirteen-year-old play Ninja air hockey? 'Nuff said.

The beauties
of the earth above and below ground . . .

Left: Formations in Linville Caverns, NC

Right: Fall foilage in Asheville, NC

. . . and for the ones that come to earth from above.

Below: Fat, fluffy flakes of snow began falling just as we finished Thanksgiving dinner.

Left: Some of Lee's work as displayed at the Art Arbor Festival at Boyd Hill Nature Park in St. Petersburg.

Lee's continuing forays into the world of clay. Highlights of our trip to NC were visiting Highwater Clays in Asheville and attending a kiln opening outside of Boone. Read more about each of these adventures at Lee's blog, Formed & Fired Creations in Clay.

Left: Nancy's daughter-in-law, Shelley, and I put this puzzle together over Thanksgiving. One of the best designed puzzles I've done in a long time -- odd fittings and shapes. Not that I've had much time for puzzles lately, which made it doubly enjoyable.

Time to play . . .

. . . and time to reconnect with forever friends.

Right: We had lunch with Sandy Houser, a friend from our first days in Florida, and her brother Tom before heading home to Florida.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finding a Magic Island at the Circus of the Arts

Left: Laura Vaughan and I co-chaired this year's conference. See that fuzzy boa she's wearing? One of our members knit a boa for every attendee -- in an assortment of funky colors!
Photo by Helene LeBrun, Gainesville Branch, NLAPW

Clowns cavorted, word acrobats wrote guerilla poetry, improv artists created theater, jewelry sprang from the imagination, and music filled the air -- all at the Florida State Association of the National League of American Pen Women's 2009 Biennial Conference, Circus of the Arts!

Held November 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, the conference allowed members -- professional women writers, artists, and composers of many types -- to connect with colleagues from around the state.

As conference co-chairs, Laura Vaughan, from the Daytona Beach branch, and I, from the Clearwater branch, reached across the state to organize the conference, held in a third location in the county south of where I live.

Talk about a three-ring circus!

The emails flew back and forth, and women from other parts of the state contributed ideas and elbow grease. In the end, it was so worth it.
One of our Clearwater Branch co-president's, Charrie Hazard Moscardini, displays the poster, featuring branch activities, we created for the conference's Parade of Presidents. Photo by Helene LeBrun, Gainesville Branch, NLAPW

We shared ideas about how to market our work, learned how to make our Web sites roar like a lion, and listened to musical compositions ranging from symphonies to songs for children. Our members-only contests drew about 250 entries total, and we distributed about $2,800 in prize money.

So what did I get out of the conference?

Aside from some new friends and great ideas, my most serendipitous moment came Saturday evening when the hotel miscounted the places they set. Instead of setting up six tables of 10, they set up six tables of eight -- needless to say, we had a bit of confusion when our state and national presidents and a dozen or so other members walked in to the dinner and had no seats.

Good humor prevailed, however, and the hotel hurriedly brought in an extra table and squished in other place settings at the already seated tables. But it meant that a few of us found ourselves with unexpected dinner partners.

I joined a table comprised of women from the Sarasota and Southwest Florida branches. On my right, was a woman who, for 18 months, sailed much of the world in a boat built by her husband when he retired. Imagine!

But it was while I was chatting with the woman on my left that I felt my stomach do one of those "Oh my" flip-flops. Readers of this blog will know of my passion for children's literature -- and this woman, Elizabeth Waterston (not the actress), turned out to be co-editor of The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery (five volumes).

Yes, THE L. M. Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables.

Waterston also wrote Magic Island, published in 2008, a readers' guide to Montgomery's work.

Oh my, oh my, oh my.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety-Jig

It's been a busy week in Lake Woe . . . oops, wrong show. Apologies, Mr. Keillor.

But it has been a busy three weeks in Writer-ville. A statewide conference in Sarasota -- I'll tell you all about it and, yes, that's a mustachioed me! -- a week in North Carolina and all the catching up to do once we returned home.

PLUS our church Christmas program is this coming Sonday, December 13, at 9 and 11 a.m., which means a bulletin and PowerPoint to prepare and all the last-minute costumes, mikes, and props to pull together.

Then there's my day job.

"Are you working?" people ask me. What they mean is, "Have you found a job working for somebody else yet?"


I'm a freelance, self-employed writer who works at least 40 hours a week and often more. I write ad copy, I'm in the second round of editing a travel guide to the Tampa Bay area, and I write short stories and articles, some of which get published and paid for. Other work I do is along the lines of promoting myself and my work through involvement with a couple of different organizations, and still other work is volunteer work for our church and elsewhere.

But it's all work and I work hard at what I do. I also happen to love what I do and working.

So . . . the next few posts will be to catch up my faithful readers on my whereabouts and activities as I've been gallavanting, cavorting and otherwise carrying on for the last few weeks. It's been a circus -- and more!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I. Hear. Rockin' in the La-and.

Those are the words with which we, the Clearwater Chorus, opened our Fall concert this afternoon at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Complete with string bass thumping and fingers snapping.

Rockin' in the land a-and ringin' dem bells. Rockin' Jerusalem, rock-in' Jeru-salem, in Jerusalem a-and ringin' dem bells.

André Thomas, director of choral activities at Florida State University, arranged the version we performed -- but if you search YouTube you'll find half a dozen or more videos of choirs and choruses performing a number of arrangements of this spiritual.

Even the performances of the same arrangement differ from our performance this afternoon.

Art amazes me.

The art teacher maintained the bulletin board outside my office at Sacred Heart School, where I worked for twelve years. She gave groups of students the same materials, the same instructions, the same length of time to work -- and yet the variations in each work posted on that bulletin board made each a unique creation. Some were bold, some were subtle. Some students scrunched the materials into a small space, others used the entire background. Some turned materials on end or used them in unexpected ways. Others were more traditional.

Today's performance was like that, too.

A unique combination of songs: Rockin' Jerusalem, Frostiana (a Randall Thompson arrangement of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken), Bach's Sicut Locutus Est, Festival of Lights, Mary's Boy Child, Carol of the Bells, I'll Be Home for Christmas, I Get Along Without You, I'll Know, Hernando's Hideaway, and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year -- and that's just what the full chorus sang. An ensemble group performed almost as many songs and soloists sang an additional half dozen or so.

Sung by not quite 100 vocal musicians from north Pinellas County and directed by Bob Drick, those songs will never be sung the exact same way by the same people with the same accompaniment ever again.

You had to be there. In the moment. Experiencing aural art.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conversation With A Five-Year-Old

"Guess where I got this, Grandma."

She holds up a toy bulldog she has taken from a little plastic toy dog carrier.

I'm stymied, but I play along.

"WalMart," I guess.

"No. Guess again."


"No. It wasn't that kind of store." She opens and closes the plastic carrier door.

I try a different tack.

"You got him from the SPCA -- the dog pound."

"Grandma," she explains carefully, as if I were a two-year-old, "this is a fake dog."

"OK," I counter. "So you got him from the fake dog pound."

She stops and I can see her processing that thought. She looks up quizzically.

"Do they have fake dog pounds?" she asks in all seriousness.

Kids. Gotta love them.

P.S. Turns out she acquired the dog -- a Georgia bulldog -- when they were on vacation in northern Georgia. "At a store near the cabin."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fit as a Fiddle?

No, I don't really use 10-lb. weights -- those are courtesy of Lee. I use 4-lb-ers . . . but they don't look as impressive in a photo.

See that logo? "Jazzercize Fit Club."

That top is my reward for having Jazzercized my little -- OK, not so little -- buns at least 150 times since January 1.

More than three times a week, which was my goal.

I started J-cizing almost three years ago and lost about twenty pounds and almost two pant sizes. I've regained ten of the pounds, but am still wearing the smaller size. Not quite as loose, but hey.

The main thing is that I can sit at the computer most of the rest of the day without my legs going on strike and walking out on unfinished work.

Who knew being a writer meant having to negotiate with one's own body parts? My legs' contract stipulates a workout 3-4 times a week and a walk on alternate days, my eyes get periodic breaks from the computer screen (they've also demanded an increased 'Zoom' ratio lately), and one arm sometimes throws a hissy fit until I slip on one sleeve of a flannel shirt . . . think of a blanket thrown over a race horse so it doesn't catch a chill.

Ah well. Things are tough all over, right?

In any case -- anyone out there looking for a good workout? Jazzercize combines aerobics, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and free weights and an hour of Contemporary Culture 101, as it's all choreographed to (mostly) pop music.

So maybe I'm not quite fit as a fiddle -- maybe a cello?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Get 'Em While They're Young

This past Thursday through Saturday, I attended the National Newspaper Association's 123rd Convention in Mobile, Alabama.

Meeting publishers and editors of community newspapers -- mostly weekly papers -- from all parts of the United States reinforced my conviction of just how vital their work is to the overall health of an area.

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Greer, journalism department chair at the University of Alabama and my master's project advisor, she and I were invited to present the paper and project as part of NNA's Community Building Symposium.

We heard lots of good ideas presented by people doing everything they can to help newspapers find their way to continue serving their communities through a changing economic and technological landscape.

I maintain one key is largely overlooked -- instilling the news habit when kids are young. Common wisdom says you don't wait until your child is an adult before you teach him or her to brush his or her teeth.

The problem is that not much in most newspapers is targeted to kids, is about kids, or is on a child's reading level. Our study showed less than 7% of available news space was targeted to or referred to children age 14 and under -- about 20% of the population.

Material targeted to children is largely puzzles, games, general knowledge articles, and coloring pages.

I applaud any newspaper who does that much. They have invested money and space in those products in an effort to include the youngest members of their communities in the readership of their community publication.

But most of the material we found -- even material targeted directly to children -- was written at a higher-than-9th-grade reading level.

I contend newsrooms can do more -- much more.

Part of a newspaper's responsibility is to help citizens "navigate society," according to Bill Kovach and Ted Rosenstiel, authors of The Elements of Journalism. But how credible is the map if 20% of the population is largely missing from the picture? And how useful is the map to the community's youngest citizens if they can't read it?

Want to know more about how to write real local news -- government meetings, community events, community issues, and more -- from a "kid angle" and in simple language?

Reply to this blog posting or send me an email ( I'd love to talk to you about scaling down local news without dumbing it down.

Our children (and their parents and teachers) can use all the help they can get in finding their way through their local world.

Kid-sized real toothbrushes, kid-sized real news -- makes sense, yes?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Twenty Years, Twenty Plus Stories

"Just Kidding," the lead story in this month's issue of Pockets® magazine for children, a publication of Upper Room Ministries, is by yours truly and marks twenty years since my first children's story was published -- also in Pockets®.

I can still feel the envelope in my hand. Not thick with a returned manuscript of several pages, but thin.

I can still remember reading the letter advising me that a story I had submitted to Pockets® magazine for children had been accepted for publication. Sign the enclose contract card, the letter said, return it, and they would send me a check. Not at publication, but now.

I can still remember thinking, "Maybe I really can can be a real writer."

Since then I've had more than two dozen children's stories published, most in Pockets® and a few in other magazines. The first dozen appeared between March 1989 and October 1991, and were written while I worked with my husband in a construction business we owned.

Then we closed the business, I went to work elsewhere full-time, our three sons hit their teens, and our parents' health began to fail. Writing children's stories went by the wayside.

Writing didn't, however. I wrote/edited a weekly newsletter at work for seven years, discovered drama, and wrote vignettes and plays for church programs.

As I neared age 50, I decided it was now or never if I was going to be "a real writer." I quit my job, went back to school, and went back to writing. I sold some of my dramas to CSS Publishing and began writing for a local newspaper. My second round of children's stories began appearing in 2003, exclusively in Pockets®.

Why Pockets®?

Because they take children seriously. They take God seriously. And they take their publication seriously, meaning the stories are well-written, the illustrations and graphics are top-notch, and the magazine is full of thoughtfully planned content.

There is very little that is "cute" in Pockets®. God is not "sweet."

Instead, Pockets® presumes that children face the same questions we all face: Why am I here? How can I get through today without messing up? What's in it for me? Does God really care about me -- even when life doesn't go the way I think it should?

Pockets® presumes children are spiritual creatures, as well, who talk to God and who listen for God to talk to them.

I deliberately targeted Pockets® magazine for children when I started writing children's stories. Over the years, I have written about:
  • a child who has to repeat fourth grade because of a learning disability
  • a girl who has her head "in a bait bucket," as her older brother says, because she's so focused on a Saturday fishing trip she misses the things that happen "this day"
  • a child with a rambunctious dog
  • a boy who realizes that, if Jesus needed a step-father, maybe it's OK for him to have one, too
  • an immigrant girl whose brother died during a war
  • a boy who doesn't know how to pray for his very ill coach
  • a boy who wonders if God watches TV
  • a child with an alcoholic mother
  • a boy falsely accused of stealing something
  • a child who grumbles that God mustn't want us to have any fun because there are so many rules--things like never cut another kid's hair and never throw food in the cafeteria
  • a child in a group foster home who wonders whether God knows he's there
  • a child who thinks "just kidding" is a good enough excuse to cause mischief
  • a child whose best friend steals something from him
Real children, real world, real God.

It's been a privilege to be a real writer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

This is for all of us who grew up going back to school the day after Labor Day. The First Day of School meant a new school year, a new teacher, new classmates, new books, new room.

Today's kids will mark mid-August as a time of new academic beginnings.

There are other New Year's Days, as well. Later this month, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which has come to be known as the Jewish New Year. Christians begin their religious calendar with the first Sunday in Advent, which is either the last Sunday in November or the first Sunday in December.

Then there's the January 1 New Year we inherited from the Romans. Orthodox Christians, who still follow the older, Gregorian calendar, celebrate Orthodox New Year in mid-January. Later in January (sometimes early February), the Chinese New Year and Tet Nguyen Dan, the Feast of the First Morning, or the Vietnamese New Year, are celebrated in Asia.

There's another Jewish New Year in the spring time. Leviticus 23:5 puts Rosh Hashanah in the seventh month of the year. Leviticus 23:34 says Passover is during the first month of the year. One would assume the new year began the first day of the first month; but, as with our academic calendar versus our civil calendar, that's a good example of assumptions being dangerous things.

And, just to keep things interesting, the Islamic New Year will be on December 18 this year (2009), but was on August 2 in 1989 and was on April 17 in 1999. The year 2008 saw two Islamic New Year's Days -- one on January 10 and one on December 29 -- because the Islamic year is 11-12 days shorter than the Julian calendar.

Because of the number of different religions and ethnic groups, India had 30 different calendars until 1957.

Maybe the point is that every day is a new beginning--the first day of the rest of your life, as someone wisely said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Advice I Ever Got: Know When to Quit

I can’t pinpoint a particular source for this piece of advice. Maybe that’s because it’s one of those maxims applicable to a variety of situations and circumstances.

Eighth grade Home Ec, for instance. I remember making a fruit salad that was held together with whipped cream. In the days before tubs of pre-whipped artificial fluff, that meant beating heavy cream until it thickened and held its shape.

Beat it one turn of the mixer blades too long, however, and the cream separated into butter and whey. No turning back, no turning back. The only thing to do was to start over with a new batch of cream.

Art can be like that, too. It’s tempting to work and rework a painting, a poem, a play before we let go of it. Just another few brushstrokes here, rework a scene there, and it will be perfect, right?

But work it too long and art suffers. Maybe not quite so visibly. But somehow inspiration and technique separate, and we lose the impetus that drives us to share our work. And isn’t sharing our work part of the point of creating it?

Quitting too soon, of course, isn’t good either. Cream not whipped enough returns to its liquid state, resulting in runny fruit salad. Half-baked plots result in stories that fall apart.

Knowing the point at which a creation is ready to be presented to the world is an art in itself. Not too soon, but not too late, instead of being hidden away under the pretext of not being quite finished.

I wrote this for the August/September 2009 "Hoot O' the Owl," the newsletter of the Clearwater Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lazy, hazy days of summer . . .

. . . are coming to an end. Kinda sorta, anyway.

The autumnal equinox doesn't happen for another almost month, but school started today in the Tampa Bay area. And even though I haven't sent kids off to school in more years than I really want to acknowledge, the start of school is still, to me, the end of summer.

I only hope it's also the end of the "could care less, just leave me alone" lethargy that hits too often this time of year.

Maybe the fact that I'm actually posting a blog entry is a good sign!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Catching Up

More than a month since my last post and only one -- gentle -- reminder from my editor.

That's because he knew what I'd been working on. Day and night. Night and day. Marathon writing at all hours to get it done.

What is it, you ask? Well . . .

Check out

I'll get back to Kalends and Ides, I promise.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More On the Ides

Two friends responded to my musings about the ides of March. One posted her comment to the blog itself -- one comment is recorded below, with the author's permission. Thanks to both for adding to my store of knowledge. Stay tuned for more about Ides, Kalends, and more than one way to mark the passing of time. 

"Hi, Anne --

Well, the Ides are only the 15th of the month in March and three other months.  I can't recall the other three right now!  The Ides are the 13th on other months -- maybe June, too?  I think that's confusing enough for anyone, and people can't remember when the Ides are and decide it's not worth it!

I don't know how the Romans were able to follow the calendar, anyway.  You dated things by the Kalends (the first of the month), the Nones, and the Ides (which both varied according to the month -- because one varied, the the other varied).  Any given day was marked as three days before the Nones, never the day after the Ides.  "After" didn't count.  Only "before" counted, or the exact day.  Actually, the day before was the "pridie," or "day before" the Nones,Ides, or Kalends.  Since the Kalends and the Nones happened before the Ides, which fell either the 13th or the 15th,  the bulk of the month was counted as 12 days before the Kalends of the NEXT month.  Boy, that's confusing.

Did I tell you about the the time in Latin class when our teacher had us write our birthdays in English and translate them into Latin?  My birthday really IS the Kalends of September (Sept. 1), and Kalends is literally the only day that's easy to figure out in Latin.  The next day she gave the quizzes back with a stern lecture accusing us of cheating:  "I can't believe how many people were born ON THE KALENDS," and she particularly glared at me!

I think the answer to your question is that Shakespeare was very brave to know and use the Ides at all!  Everyone else was rightfully too chicken!

Thanks --


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ides of June

I'm curious--why is it we speak only of the ides of March and not of other months?

Did Shakespeare's "Beware the ides of March" forever link "ides" and "March" to the exclusion of other months?

This is my research question for the next few days. Anyone out there know the answer or want to guess?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh, the irony of it all

I just posted this entry to the Journalism Education blog on Knowing, however, how few of my faithful readers also faithfully follow Poynter--much less the JE blog on Poynter--I reprint it here for your enjoyment and edification.

During the 2005-2006 school year, Florida Department of Education instructed record clerks throughout the state to code the records of transferring students in particular ways.

[Note: When you start reading through the education bill the Legislature has to review/revise each year, then all the procedural instructions that emanate from the legislation, then all the practical instructions not covered under the procedural instructions, you begin to understand why teaching/learning seems to be last on the list. And you realize that people like records clerks--often pulling double duty as receptionists and other aides--are probably undervalued.]

Back to the FDOE coding during 2005-2006. Here's the instruction given regarding courses a student may have taken to fulfill the practical arts requirement that year ( ):

The Practical Arts graduation requirement may be fulfilled by substituting one of the basic Computer Education (CE) courses on a curriculum equivalency basis. The course numbers that can be used are 0200300-0200380, 0200800-0200810, 0201300-0201360, 0201380 and 0200890. If a substitution is made the Computer Education course should contain a 1 in the Course Flag field. The Practical Arts graduation requirement also may be fulfilled by the completion of the JROTC program 1800300-1800360, or 1801300-1801330, or 1802300-1802330, or 1803300-1803330, or 1804300-1804350. If that substitution is made, the JROTC courses should contain a zero (0) in the Course Flag field. The Practical Arts graduation requirement may also be fulfilled by Journalism 1006300-1006330. If that substitution is made, the Journalism course should contain a dollar sign ($) in the Course Flag field.

You did catch that last sentence, didn't you? :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goodbye April, Hello May

Where did the month go? Where did the year go? Where did my youth go?

Don't feel you have to answer these rhetorical questions. But if you'd care to wax philosophical with me, go right ahead! Isn't that what blogs are for?

Must be the "lusty month of May" syndrome of which Guenevere sang in the Lerner and Loewe version of Camelot.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

All the World's a Stage

. . . and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his lifetime plays many parts." Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II Scene 7

La-a-dies and gentlemen! This Saturday, I direct your attention to Stage Right, aka R. E. Olds Park's Art-in-the-Park in Oldsmar, Fla., where, at 10 a.m. renowned Safety Harbor ceramic artist Lee Anderson presents Formed and Fired, a display of vessels from his prize-winning Pegasus and Therapeutic Pot Smoking series. Also appearing at Art-in-the-Park will be Safety Harbor writer Anne W. Anderson and her NLAPW cohorts displaying their artistic wares and reading selections from their published writings.

On Center Stage at 1:45 p.m., we present Christian and his Red Sox teammates battling the White Sox at the North Brandon Little League Field. Little brother Jackson leads the cheering from the sidelines, while parents Brian and Kristina keep things moving backstage . . . a stage within a stage, as it were.

At 3:30 p.m. on Stage Right, it's Tyler, Caleb, Raelin, and Devon with their Dancemoves friends tapping, jiving, and hip-hopping, by invitation, at the Festival of States' FamilyFest in St. Petersburg's North Straub Park, all under the watchful eyes of parents Jeremy and Jessica.

But wait! There's more!

On stage at Ruth Eckerd Hall this Sunday at 3 p.m. the 100-voice Clearwater Chorus, including alto Anne Anderson, presents Carmen to Candide: A Treasury of Musical Favorites from Opera to Broadway Musicals. It's gonna be GREAT!

Whatever stage you find yourself on this weekend, may your performance be heartfelt and full of joy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain!

Thanking Him who causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike that it's falling here and now, washing the pollen from the air and the dust from the cars and giving our thirsty land a much-needed drink of water.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm writing this from the breakfast room of a Holiday Inn in New York.

No, not Manhattan or even the Bronx. Not New York City at all, although I can say I'm in close proximity to the Big Apple.

I'm in a town called Stony Brook, home of Stony Brook University, where I've been attending a news literacy conference and meeting a marvelously eclectic group of people ranging from a high school librarian from Illinois to a man from Spain who works for the United Nations' media literacy program. Most people who attended are university presidents, college professors and high school teachers. That's because Stony Brook is promoting its News Literacy curriculum and program, hoping to help others to implement it or something similar.

A few industry people were here, most notably Neil Budde, formerly with Wall Street Journal Online and Yahoo! News and now with; Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News; Ted Koppel, now senior news analyst for NPR and a contributing analyst for BBC America; Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of NPR and former senior vice-president for; and Alexandra Wallace, senior vice-president of NBC news.

Some news innovators were here giving presentations about, Link TV's Know the News project, Poynter's NewsU, and other projects including some that reach around the world.

What was the outcome?

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm writing this from home sweet home in Pinellas County, Florida.

I'm still sorting through my impressions of last week's news literacy conference, as well as the impressions of a conference in St. Pete the week before called Journalism That Matters.

Aside from all the interesting people I met from all over the world this past two weeks, and aside from how strongly I feel that the news industry has an important function to fulfill in society, I am more and more disturbed by that same news industry's current definitions of 'news,' of 'journalism that matters,' and of 'news literacy.'

Oh no, I hear some of you saying. This sounds like it may be the beginning of another diatribe or sermon. At the least, another scathing letter to Somebody In Charge.

Monday, February 23, 2009


He loves me . . .

I love him (yes that's a broccoli bouquet) . . .

But God loves each of us bestest of all . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sweet, Subersive Li'l Ol' Me

A few mornings ago I deliberately and with premeditation defaced a store sign.

Inside the store.

I had gone to the store -- which shall remain nameless -- for my biweekly load of apples and broccoli and assorted other items that disappear from our pantry shelves with methodic regularity. Nutmeg. Steel cut oats. Instant coffee.

Even though I carried a list, I strode up and down each aisle, glancing right and left on the lookout for unexpected bargains. Purposeful. Focused.

Stopped short by a laminated sign crookedly hanging above an empty shelf.

"Due to high demands," the sign read, " we are having manufactured out of stocks."

Hullo, I thought. "Manufactured out of stocks" must mean someone is deliberately manipulating the supply system.

Journalist that I am, my investigative reporter mode began to kick in. What nefarious supplier might be plotting to create panic among an already nervous populace by deliberately manufacturing shortages of groceries?

Or maybe, my more cautious and objective internal editor posited, there has been a resurgence of punishment by confinement in stocks and the demand from those so sentenced has created a market for an escape mechanism. But why apologize? Who would be inconvenienced? Unless the empty shelves meant the manufacturer was hoarding the item to inflate the price desperate prisoners would be willing to pay.

I began making a mental list of people to call, sources to hunt down, Web sites to scrutinize.

Then I read the rest of the sign: "sorry for the inconvenience"

No capitalized 's' at the beginning of the phrase and no period at the end.

Was the sloppy script a ruse to distract me from a more sinister economic scheme?

Puh-leeze. My jaded news-consumer self rolled her eyes. Are you that desperate for your definition of front-page news that you have to see plots and perpetrators under every stone?

With that, jaded news-consumer self marched on, turned the corner and resumed hunting down best-buys.

You can't just ignore that sign! shouted investigative reporter and stalwart editor. At the least, there's an entire educational system to take down: Teachers ripping off taxpayers by taking paychecks without fulfilling their contracts to cram grammar and usage skills into their students! Administrators failing to properly oversee teachers ripping off taxpayers!! Legislators funding administrators who fail to properly oversee teachers ripping off taxpayers!!!

You're right, my jaded news-consumer self agreed, halting our progress toward the produce aisle. Something must be done.

So I pulled out my pad of yellow sticky mini-notes from my purse and scribbled a few words. Then I wheeled my cart around and returned to the scene of the partially mutilated phrase. As I passed the offending sign, I reached out as though grabbing something from the empty shelf and affixed the glaring yellow paper bearing this strident demand:

How about apologizing for the bad writing instead?

So far, they haven't caught me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Gershwin. Rodgers and Hammerstein. Leonard Bernstein. Irving Berlin. Richard and Robert Sherman. Lerner and Loewe. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Verdi. Bizet.

Mah-velous, dah-ling.

Clearwater Community Chorus. April 19, 3 p.m.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Date Night

When our kids were little and money was tight, date night meant Taco Bell and the dollar movie -- no popcorn. Our outing cost less than the babysitter's fee.

Then the dollar movie theater closed and a stroll through Home Depot took its place. As long as we didn't succumb to the "wish-I-had's," it was still a cheap date.

Tonight we may have found our newest version of date night -- the hot dog combo at Sam's Club ($1.50 -- including little packets of sauerkraut and all the mustard, relish and onions you want to glop on) or the Italian sausage with grilled peppers ($2.16).

Entertainment provided by myriad shoppers lined up next to the dining area, trying to get their full carts past the one receipt checker at the door.

See you there same time next week?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Anne is talking back to her editor.

My editor tells me I'm not adhering to the spirit of the blog.

That line will sound familiar only to the most devoted of my many readers. That's how I started out my Just A Bloggin' Along post back in September, 2007.

Short, daily posts, he told me then and told me again last night. This whenever-you-feel-like-it stuff has got to stop.

I tell him that's what Facebook is for.

And I remind him that HE doesn't have a Facebook page. So there!

Doesn't matter, he says. Blah-blah-blog it.

Hmmm . . . I think I just did.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

White Socks & New Beginnings

Some years ago, my husband -- whose favorite Christmas decoration is the Bah! HumBUG -- answered the question "What do you want for Christmas?" with "Nothing. If you have to get me something, get me something I can use -- something like white socks."

As I recall, there was more to his response. A bit of a rant, actually, about people buying stupid things that are more about what they think the recipients ought to like rather than what the recipients actually might like and about all the junk we end up with as a result.

If I remember correctly, his sons and I each took his comments to heart. He got a lot of white socks that year. Along with other items that we thought he ought to like.

One of our sons has made that a tradition, every Christmas since giving each of us a six-pack of white socks along with various other goodies.

I've come to look forward each January to pulling on a pair of just-out-of-the-pack, unworn, unstretched, not-yet-dingy white socks. Something about sheathing my calloused, buniony feet in fresh cushy cotton signifies a new beginning. New paths to walk, new trails to hike, new places to explore.

And don't we do that as a nation, too?

Every four years we pull a new fresh administration over 200-some years of walking together as a people.

But -- even if it lasts eight years instead of four, this administration will give way to another one, just as full of hopes and ideals and dreams. We know this administration will wear out eventually, just as the one before it did.

The elastic is going to lose its stretch and the tops will sag around our ankles. Thin spots will appear where our toes and heels have rubbed against our sneakers. Sweat and other stains will dull the pristine white.

For the moment, however, there is change.

There are new socks for new beginnings.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Orange Bowl Half Time

Watch tonight's Orange Bowl Half-time show and look for 12-year-old Tyler Anderson and four of his DanceMoves Studio colleagues, ages 12-20.

He'll be in the '5' of the '75' . . . dressed in silver costume . . . shouldn't have any trouble spotting him or the others. :-)

2006 photo . . . from a standing position in a not-very-big living room.