Posts made in January, 2013

Farewell My Friend, Until We Meet Again by Kim Justus

I was a child who was told by a 2nd grade teacher that I was “not good at art.” I took that as gospel. I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler. In fact, it became the long running family joke. In 1995, at age 35, I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. At the peak of my game, I was knocked off the playing board altogether. I made a journal of the events during my 6+ month recovery. As my looks began to transform back to my “old self,” after being a “zipper head” due to the major craniotomy required, I longed to put the dreadful experience behind me. I just wanted to go back to “normal.” As an acquaintance said the other day, the only place she has seen “normal” is on a washing machine! That’s another story. I did the old fashion way of copyrighting, mailed my manuscript to myself, tossed it in a plastic storage bin, and moved on for over a decade. I thought, someday, I’d write a book about my incredible experience. In fact, my mom suggested once or twice a year that I “get right on that!” I wasn’t quick to act. Seventeen years passed. Photography had been a long time hobby, but now I was using it therapeutically and even promoting it some. Through a series of divinely inspired events, I had the good fortune in 2010 to be the featured artist at our local, Lauritzen Botanical Gardens. This is a big tourist destination, as well as, a generously supported local attraction. Maybe, I was an artist after all? Thirty-six pieces of my photography, framed, wrapped canvas, presentation board, and note cards filled the gallery for six weeks. It was an unexpected thrill of a lifetime! One image held a feminine statue that I captured. On that piece, I overlaid a poem that I wrote. At the time, a woman named Marty, a new acquaintance, was kind enough to attend my showing. When she saw the piece of art with the poem, she said, “I didn’t know that you could write, too!?” I explained that I had written a lot of poetry in my life and even had a manuscript that someday I hoped to make into a book. Marty suggested I might be interested in her writer’s group and extended an invitation. At the time, my mind was with this art phase. I hadn’t planned on making writing a priority. I asked her where the group met, just making small talk. When she told me, you could have knocked me over with a feather. The monthly meeting was practically across the street from where I lived! Odd coincidence? A couple...

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Rest in Peace, Marty

Rest in Peace, Marty

Special Editors, Board of Directors, Members, and Friends: Marty Pierson died Tuesday evening about 6 p.m. She was sedated to handle the pain of her inoperable brain tumor. After she lost her vision and became blind in December, the tumor was discovered, as doctors were looking at her eyes. Many years ago, she said that since she had no remaining kin she wanted to adopt Fine Lines as her family. She came to almost every editors’ meeting through the years and taught elementary children at each summer camp we had since she discovered our writing network. After teaching at Norris Middle School and Technical High School in the Omaha Public Schools for many years, she retired and devoted her time to helping needy students advance in school by providing scholarships for them, working in the arts, and discovering that she was an artist with words. She was most surprised to find out after retiring that she had something to say, people listened to her, and enjoyed writing. We will miss her a lot. Write on, Marty,...

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Soap Ducks, Sore Backs & Succotash by Randy DeVillez

Soap Ducks, Sore Backs, & Succotash by Randy DeVillez I was an education major for a while in undergraduate school. Several situations led to my switching to a B.A. in English. The first event occurred when my Ed. Psych. teacher, delivering the same lecture two days in a row (not intentionally), while excitedly flapping his arms, spitting (due to his lisp) and drawing an imaginary bell curve in the air, executed a perfect face plant from the podium in front of the lecture hall, landing nose and chin into the lap of the pretty brunette sitting in front of me. Although I was envious, I was not impressed. I also knew I would have to endure other courses with him. The next week, my Introduction to Education instructor told us to bring a new bar of Ivory Soap for carving soap ducks the next class period. He also assigned me (an English-teacher-to-be) to shadow a physical education teacher at one of the local grade schools for my “field experience.” While I enjoyed my time with the coach and really liked him, I can’t say I was learning anything to help me teach college English. When I thought of the tuition I was paying at a small private college to monitor kickball and carve soap ducks, I decided to switch to a liberal arts degree and double up on courses in my major. I skipped education classes and certification, figuring all the extra course work in my major and minor would help me get into graduate school and give me a better background for college teaching. In retrospect, the decision was a correct one, but my lack of training in education often surfaced during my thirty years in the classroom. I learned lessons experientially from my students and colleagues that I wish to pass on to anyone else following in my academic footsteps, anyone who is considering becoming a teacher. ONE: Avoid giving your students a headache or backache. Some students will find it necessary to complain about something. The saying “You can’t please everyone” is not a cliché; it is an accurate observation. One Monday morning (when else?), the Dean of Liberal Arts called to inform me a student had stopped in her office to file a complaint against me. This hurt coming during the last semester of my career; it was the first time I had the dubious honor of a student formally complaining about my teaching. “What did I do?” I asked, bracing myself for her response. “She said you make her think,” the Dean laughed. “I’m sorry. I am so sorry. I promise that I won’t ever do it again. Never. Not only her, but none...

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