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.

 

 

 

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.

Veterans’ Day 2015

memorial day

By Ellen Leventhal

A little history lesson and food for thought today.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918,  an armistice was signed, and the fighting between the Allied forces and Germany ceased. Although The Treaty of Versailles wasn’t signed until June, 1919, most people consider November 11, 1918 the end of World War I.

A year later, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first Armistice Day. This day was to honor those who served as well as to commemorate the armistice.

Of course, although some called WWI “The war to end all wars,” this was not to be. And it was certainly not the end of US Veterans coming back to a different home from which they left.

In 1945, a WWII vet named Raymond Weeks came up with the idea to honor all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. Thus Armistice Day was changed to Veterans’ Day.

We still celebrate Veterans’ Day, but what does that mean in 2015? I asked a group of third graders for their definition of a veteran. One said, “Someone who retired from a war.”

Another said, “An alumni of a war.”

Still another said, “A man or woman who fought for our country, but they just need to be in the military. They don’t need to fight in a war.”

All good answers but my eye was on one girl deep in thought. She stood up and said this. “A veteran is someone who fought for our country, but isn’t respected when he or she gets home. It’s very hard to come back home and go back to your normal life. People need to be nicer to them.”

Hmm….out of the mouths of babes.

This is not a political post. I’m a teacher and a writer, not a politician. But I am a human. And as a human, I find it difficult to understand why some of our veterans have to stand on street corners and beg because they cannot find jobs. It pains me to see some having to wait months or sometimes years to be seen in a Veterans’ Hospital. And my heart breaks when I see veterans turning to drugs just to stop the pain…both physical and emotional.

So what does that say about our celebration of Veterans’ Day 2015? I’m not sure. But I would like to think we can do better. Please join the conversation.

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!

The Thanksgiving Hold-Out

by Monica Shaughnessy

pumpkin-pie-1372787-mI love Thanksgiving. It’s the pause between sugar-fueled Halloween and credit card-fueled Christmas. But if retailers got their way, I think we’d skip right over it. The local radio station is already playing carols, half my neighbors have their trees up, and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing old St. Nick. As one of the last of the Thanksgiving Hold-Outs, I REFUSE to rush my seasons simply because retailers are in a hurry for us to buy, buy, BUY!

I get it. This year, Thanksgiving falls at the end of the month. This gives people less time to shop, decorate, etc. if they wait until the last gobble-gobble of Turkey Day. But as Americans, we don’t just rush through holidays, we rush through life. We’re always in a hurry to get to the Next Thing.

It starts when you’re a kid. You want to grow up and be a teenager. When you’re a teenager, you just want to go to college. When you’re in college, you long to graduate. Then you’re in a hurry to “settle down” (or avoid the altar!) and get a career. When your kids are born, you tell yourself, if I can just make it past their potty training or get them into kindergarten or junior high, then things will be grand. When they leave home, you’re just hoping and praying for retirement. In fact, the only stage of life or “thing” people don’t want to rush is death.

All we really have is a single moment on earth, this one right HERE. Your last one doesn’t exist anymore and your next one isn’t guaranteed. So why waste it? (And by the way, thanks for spending part of that moment on this blog!!!!)

As you’re heading into this holiday weekend, slow down a little. Enjoy your friends and family. Delight in the last few days of fall. Tell a story, say a prayer, make a connection. Take a deep, deeeeeeeep breath before Christmas and renew your energy. Thanksgiving comes but once a year.

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I am thankful for many things, including you, dear readers. Have a great Thanksgiving!