America at Work

By Ellen Leventhal

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Labor Day. People are lining up for sales, barbecue grills  are going  full blast, and some of us are putting the white shorts away until next Memorial Day.

But what is Labor Day really? It wasn’t meant to be an end of summer celebration, and it wasn’t meant to signal the start of school or football season. Labor Day is a day set aside to honor the American labor force. If you don’t know about the divisive Pullman Car Strike, you may want to take time this Labor Day to read about it. In 1894 President Grover Cleveland initiated the holiday as part of the federal response to that strike. But even so, a lot more work needed to be done in order to secure living wages and safe workplaces for American workers. Do you recall learning about the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory? Again, if you are not familiar with it, Labor Day is a great time to learn about it and the Labor Unions which had a huge impact on workplace safety.

The Labor and Working-class History Association put out this list of what they feel are good books about labor. Take a look and see what you think.

http://lawcha.org/wordpress/2015/06/08/twenty-best-labor-books-first-

So yes,  we can take this day to relax.  We can enjoy our friends and family, and we can hit the snooze button a few times.But let’s always remember the meaning behind Labor Day and be thankful to the workers who make our lives what they are.

I HEAR AMERICA SINGING

~ Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day-at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

 

 

 

Created Equal

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is generally understood that when Thomas Jefferson (he was the designated scribe of the committee of five that came up with this document) put quill to parchment, the word “men” meant land-owing white males.

Many of us are familiar with the heroic exploits of our Founding Fathers, but many of the equally heroic tales of brave women are much less well known.

Who could forget the tale of sixteen year-old Sybil Ludington’s forty mile ride (twice as far as Paul Revere’s) to muster the local militia to fend off a British raid on Danbury, CT? You can read about her in Sybil’s Night Ride, Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride, and Women Heroes of the American Revolution.

Cokie Roberts wrote Founding Mothers about the challenges of the wives and other female family members faced while their men were away.

If intrigue, espionage, and cross-dressing are more your cup of tea, you might check out Vicki Leon’s Uppity Women of the New World.

Whatever your Independence Day plans, fresh and novel tales of derring-do make them better!

 

Are You Feeling the Love?

By Ellen Leventhal

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Here we are. It’s Valentine’s Day. Street corners are crowded with vendors selling roses and balloons. Throngs of last minute shoppers are mowing down each other vying for that last box of chocolates. Come on, folks! It’s just a day.  But I get it. It’s hard to resist a fluffy rabbit holding a sign that says “Some Bunny Loves You.”  But our loved ones  know we love them all year around. Or at least they should. So I decided this year that I wouldn’t feed into the hoopla.  Sure, I’d get everyone a card, but the hoopla? Not me.

But then there were puppies. Real puppies asking to be adopted for Valentine’s day. Stuffed puppies calling out for cuddles from behind a stack of bananas at the grocery store. And all those “Dog Gone It…Be My Valentine!” puppies next to the cough medicine at Walgreens. How much can a person take?

I know it’s just a Hallmark holiday. But now I’m thinking. What harm will it do to have some fun? If a yellow marshmallow Peep is ok for Easter, why not a giant pink cookie for Valentine’s Day?

However, not everyone has a Valentine. Some people dread this day. Holidays are not always easy. Society wants us to wear red and smile today. But that’s not the reality for everyone.

So here’s my suggestion. Sure, give gifts and chocolates if it makes you happy. But try to do more. Let’s make sure that today is not just about our loved ones and chocolate hearts. Let’s make this a day of kindness. Kindness to those we know and those we don’t. Reach out to everyone today. It doesn’t take a lot to smile, open a door, or say thank you.  Of course, we should do that every day, but sometimes we need a reminder. So this year, let’s celebrate “Kindness Day.”

Keeping that in mind,  I have to give props to the Space City Scribes. I thank my SCS buddies for all the help they give me. They even put up with my technical ineptitude. Thanks, guys!   And of course, this group of dynamic women  write a pretty awesome anthology! (Like that segue?)

So,  to those inclined, check out First Last Forever. It’s a group of stories about disastrous first dates. They are sweet, funny, and even a bit devilish.  We hope you like them. And if you do, we’d love a review! 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AEDZFMK?keywords=first+last+forever&qid=1452800466&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8

FLF hands FINAL

I wish all our readers a wonderful day with or without stuffed animals. Reach out to someone new, compliment someone, and smile at a stranger. And go ahead and eat some chocolate if you’d like.

For now, I’m off to my son’s house. How can my granddaughter survive without a stuffed dinosaur telling her she is “Dino-mite”?

Happy Kindness Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Another One Bites the Dust

by Artemis Greenleaf

We are in the dark of the year, listening to the death rattle of 2015. Many people are hard at work on shiny New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions that most of them won’t keep for more than a month. So I’m not going to bother. No, this most benighted time of year, the time of the Winter Solstice, is tailor made for reflection. What did I accomplish last year? What do I need to do in the coming year? Instead of resolutions that will fade by February, I’m doing a post-mortem of 2015, and a plan, complete with timeline and schedule for 2016. Looking back on what worked (and what didn’t), it’s easier to refine the plan into something both actionable and achievable. So if you’re among the 8% who actually keep their NYRs, congratulations! It’s working for you, so keep it up. If not, consider making a specific plan with goals and dates. I’m installing project management software (there are a number of free/open source options out there – I’m still researching). This year, be the (wo)man with the plan! And prepare for a fabulous 2016!

 

Holiday Goodies from the Space City Scribes!

by Monica Shaughnessy

I envy you, dear reader. You’ve already completed your holiday to-do list, haven’t you? If not, I bet you’ve completed half. Want to know how many people I’ve crossed off my gift-giving list? Two. TWO. If I didn’t have Amazon Prime, I’d be sweating my jingle bells off right now. And let’s not forget the biggest dilemma of all – deciding what I want for Christmas. People need to know, and they need to know NOW because they’re trying desperately to cross me off their list. If I don’t answer quickly enough (ie, before December 24th), I will certainly receive reindeer leg warmers or a battery operated pen that blinks when you write or a gift basket filled with cheese that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Ho-ho-ho.

So forgive me if this post is quick and to the point.

This holiday season, the Space City Scribes are offering discounts and freebies to our blog readers (and all readers):

Monica Shaughnessy (that’s me!) marked down most of her Amazon.com books to 99 cents for the remainder of December:


Mandy Broughton is offering ONE free digital download from iTunes/iBooks in December, the book of your choice:

To receive your download coupon, email her:
To: Info [at sign] CypressCEUs [dot] com
Subject line: Free Mystery [insert title choice here]

Artemis Greenleaf marked down several of her titles to 99 cents for the remainder of December:

K C Maguire is offering a FREE piece of flash fiction for our blog readers. She manages to blend sci-fi and sexy in this stunning short about a man who’s desperate to please his android partner. Click here to read “Holo Imitation.”


And last but not least, we’ve marked Space City Six: Houston Stories from the Weird to the Wonderful down to 99 cents.

Like the holiday season, our offers end on January 1st.

Thank you for your readership and your support. We hope you remember to treat yourself before the new year. You deserve it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping.

Laboring on Labor Day

by Monica Shaughnessy

It’s a three-day weekend, and you know what that means! Time to do all those nagging house projects that seem too time consuming for a “regular” weekend! So much for Labor Day, a day of rest and relaxation. But I’m not the only one tackling the ‘to-dos.’ By tomorrow morning, nearly a third of the curbs in my neighborhood will overflow with evidence of a labor-filled weekend: the BIG garage clean-up,the home office toss-athon, the game room declutter…you name it. Which means the garbage collectors will have LOTS of fun in a couple of days.

But this is a blessing, I suppose.

Back in 1886, when Labor Day first began, workers were at the mercy of cruel employers and brutal government tactics. One only has to read about the Pullman Strike to understand. These were dark times. And while some of you may argue that employers are still crooked (some are) and government tacts are still underhanded (some are), they are nothing like they used to be back in the “good old days.” The fact that we’re yearning to clean out our garages this weekend, shows how incredibly far we’ve come as a labor force.

So whether you’re doing this today:

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Or this:

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…just be glad you have the choice. Many of our ancestors didn’t.

Happy Labor Day!

Mother’s Day By Ellen Rothberg

Mother’s Day has always seemed a bit superfluous to me. After all, isn’t every day Mother’s Day? The moms, more often than not, are the conductors of the daily life around the house. Aren’t we the ones who wake the children, dress the children, make sure the children have their homework tucked safely inside the blue folder in their backpacks? Oh, I know, Mother’s Day is our day off from those responsibilities, but really, do we ever have a day off? Even if dads are supervising mom’s day off, the potential for disaster is looming in the distance in the form of a missed playdate or, heaven forbid, a lost baseball uniform. So, on this Mother’s Day, I offer the top ten things we don’t want for Mother’s Day. You can call it the “Yes, I’m a Mother ________________. Don’t Mess With Me Day!” official Mother’s Day anti-gift list.

10. We don’t want flowers from 1-800-FLOWERS. They usually require us to do our own arranging which, unless we’re Martha Stewart, we can live without.
9. Don’t BBQ and call it a Mother’s Day meal because we know we will be the ones doing the dirtiest part of the clean up. You know that’s true!
8. See #9 we are not OCD about cleanliness, so we don’t need a t-shirt
proclaiming “People With OCD do it over . . . and over . . . and over”. 7. Breakfast in bed — this is really not necessary since we hardly ever eat breakfast unless you call driving by Starbucks for a Skinny Latte, breakfast. I know it looks cute and cozy on tv, but it is just messy and uncalled for in reality.
6. Bath salts in provocative fragrances. We rarely bathe because we’re too busy trying to do everything else!
5. Like #6, we don’t want perfume in a scent we’ve never worn. Do you know what we usually wear?
4. Here’s a hint — don’t say I’m not your mother and therefore you do not need to do anything special. That’s lame.
3. Anything the children made. I know, that sounds awful, but do we need another clay jewelry holder? How about some new jewelry to place in the fifteen holders we already have?
2. Time for ourselves. Well, we do like that, but it doesn’t mean that we all stay in the house and the family tries to give us some quiet space. It either means that everyone leaves (yes, the father will probably be the driver) or I leave and get a massage, pedicure, manicure or all of these indulgent things.
1. Ah! The number one thing that we don’t want for Mother’s Day is the
total absence of our beloved families. Because we work hard, we totally love hard. Being a mom is the hardest, best job anyone could have and we do it with pride, fierce protectiveness and a sense that in the end, we wouldn’t trade one minute of our family memories . . . Well . . . there was the time the kids ran through the neighbor’s sprinkler as we were leaving for their aunt’s wedding . . . that’s a story for another time.

New Beginnings for Easter

by Monica Shaughnessy
easter-egg-1-1418636-mEaster is this Sunday, Passover begins this Friday, and everywhere, flowers are blooming, signaling the start of spring. It’s a time of re-birth, of new beginnings, of fresh starts and freedoms. How will you celebrate?

Besides eating a ton of chocolate (do I really need a holiday?), I’ll be attempting a fresh start of my own. I worry. A lot. About everything. And right now, I’m in a stressful situation that I can’t control. But instead of agonizing over it, I’m going to attempt to make peace with what I’m able to achieve and let go of the rest. This doesn’t mean I’m going lay down and give up. It just means I’ll try to remain calm throughout the battle because worrying never, EVER changes anything. It just makes you sicker. (and it makes everyone else crazy) I plan on reciting the serenity prayer quite a bit this week!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

In January, everyone’s all aquiver over resolutions. But come March or April, many of these fall by the wayside. We need a little push to rededicate ourselves to change. Spring blesses us with natural momentum – more daylight, better weather, higher spirits. Let’s use this to our advantage.

So be bold this week! Charge ahead! If you could start all over again, what would you do?

Get a degree? Leo Plass got one at the age of 99.

Learn to play an instrument?  It’s easier as an adult.

Pick a different career? Check out this amazing graphic of how many different jobs 5 billionaires had before making it big. (note: you’ll have to enlarge it to see the detail)

Okay, okay, I’m ending with some pretty lofty stuff here. Even if you just decide to clean out your garage or exercise more, you’ll be doing yourself some good.

Happy Easter / Passover / Spring!

Is the Greeting Card Dead?

By Ellen Rothberg
Valentines-Day-2015-Hearts-7-133x90It’s almost Valentine’s Day and stores are packed with items designed to illicit the loveliest of lovers’ romantic dreams. I wonder, though, why I haven’t seen more greeting cards filling the shelves of my local grocery store (where I purchase most of my cards, trying desperately to keep them from getting stuck to the milk). Is the greeting card dead? It’s not to me, but I wonder if I am in the minority now. And if so, how will the demise affect my ability to express myself to my loved ones?

When my husband and I were dating a long, long time ago, he bought me a card one Valentine’s Day that was clearly meant to be from a girl to a guy. I do not consider the comprehension of greeting cards to be higher level, and so, felt it necessary to point out the error immediately. People are sensitive about their choices when it comes to these tokens of love and my then, maybe-to-be-husband, took it very personally. This is not a completely accurate reenactment of the what was said, but you will get my drift.

Me: It’s not a big deal. You don’t have to be so sensitive about it.
Him: I don’t really see this as a guy or girl card. It’s generic.
Me: Well, maybe I just don’t care for generic, love cards that speak to me as if I were male.
Him: Well, maybe I just won’t get you any more cards!

You can tell where this conversation was heading. Although very sad, several years passed before he bought me another Valentine’s Day card. We didn’t talk about it, and I kept buying him cards. My cards were very thoughtfully purchased. I spent a great deal of time reading the cards in the store and trying to decide which one represented my feelings for him the best. I resisted the urge to purchase cards that said the following:

Roses are red, violets are blue,
Didn’t buy me a card? Well, sc–w you!

or

Like the sky above our love is vast;
If you don’t buy me a card, how can our love last?

or

Know how much I love you? (unfold super bulky card with bear image)
Not that much because you didn’t buy me a card!

In all fairness to the guy I married almost 38 years ago, he buys great cards for other occasions. This year he nailed my January birthday with a card that I will always treasure. As I read it, amazed at how well he obviously knows me, I smiled and let him know how much I loved the card and the fact that he took so much time to pick out the perfect one for me. He looked at me and said, “Can this count for Valentine’s Day?”. He obviously will not be saddened by the demise of the greeting card.

I love greeting cards. People who know me, know that I love cards, but I love my husband more, so, I am going to cut him some slack and give him a pass for this year. I will expect a really awesome, you-know-me-so-well Valentine’s Day card next year . . . and a dozen roses wouldn’t hurt either! What is your favorite, can’t live without it, Valentine’s Day surprise?

Celebrate Local Authors!

By Ellen Leventhal

 

local business Maude Marks Library

1815 Westgreen Blvd. Katy, TX

Dec. 6 1:00- 5:00

Help Celebrate Local Authors and Help Maude Marks Library!

 

It’s crazy out there. Really crazy. It’s loud, crowded, and just a little bit scary. Now understand, this is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Space City Scribes as a whole. After all, we are individuals, but this individual is not fond of crowds and pushing and ripping things out of other people’s hands. Let’s be a little civilized, can’t we? You do see the irony of finishing Thanksgiving and then running out on Black Friday to get more stuff, don’t you? I know some people love it, but the idea of camping out overnight to get a deal on a flat screen TV is not my idea of fun. Nor is fighting crowds and knocking over little old ladies to get that must have item for your fifth cousin once removed. But let’s be realistic. We are in the gift giving season, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I love giving gifts. It may sound hokey, but I really do enjoy giving more than receiving. So I say, let the shopping begin….just not the craziness. How about shopping local?
Nov. 29 was Small Business Saturday. Small businesses were celebrated, and everyone was encouraged to “Shop small.” My husband and I were in a locally owned restaurant where the owner talked with us about the importance of small businesses and the difficulties of trying to stay in business in the shadow of mega everythings. I certainly admit to an occasional foray to Costco, but normally I try to patronize small locally owned businesses. It’s important for our economy, and it’s important for our culture. There is something satisfying about knowing that the mom and pop store will still be around with Mom or Pop personally helping you find what you need.
This coming Saturday, Maude Marks Library in Katy, TX will be highlighting local. But instead of restaurants and boutiques, they will celebrate local authors. Maude Marks Library has been very supportive of local authors, and now it’s time to thank them by donating a percentage of their proceeds back to the library. Sounds like a win-win to me. Twenty eight authors will be presenting, discussing, and selling their books. If you’re in the Houston area, come on out and meet us. We’ll get to know you, shake your hand, and sign some books. And I am pretty sure, there will be no pushing, shoving, or knocking down old ladies.