Game Over...

I apologize to the group, but we must take time out to play a game last week. You see – once again – I realize I have not gone by the rules.

"Oh, no, this isn’t going to be another self-analysis thing, is it? Production hasn’t even got up-to-speed since that last tangent."

Of course not, Ann. Though I will admit there is more than one lesson to be learned from this experience. At any rate, it occurs to me I wanted to read what others had taken the time to list, without doing the same thing, myself. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize it was necessary. I mean, nobody ever comes here but us, so what would be the point.

"Then what exactly is the point?"

Integrity. If one says they are going to do something, they should do it. Builds integrity. Actually has a bigger benefit for the person who speaks up than the one who simply hears. No one can survive in any circle these days without at least a moderate amount of integrity, so let’s get to it. We are to go to page 123 of the nearest book at hand that we are currently reading, count five sentences down the page, and then copy the next three.

"Whatever for?"

I have no idea. Except that there are a lot of people who refuse to even get involved in this stuff. The majority, in fact. Which is a good reason to re-evaluate. It’s just that the three lines on page 123 of my current reading book moved me to tears, put me in my place, realigned my priorities, and made me want to be a better person. Which tells me I have been entirely too self-absorbed lately if the only vehicle through which I am open to receiving inspiration is a game of tag. Why, Lilly – whatever is the matter? I haven’t seen you cry in years.

"Those three lines on page 123, I’ve just been looking them up."

Let’s get on with it, then…

"So I lagged behind and made a circle over the town, and it was burning, all afire; it looked like Stalingrad had looked. Besides the streamer itself, we penned a letter to the Borisov Party Council. The letter said that we wished the inhabitants to restore the city, to flourish, continue peacetime jobs, and help people survive, while we continued our job at the front."

Taken from A Dance With Death: Soviet Airwomen in World War II by Anne Noggle

Of course, I had to read the entire account (which there isn’t time to go into) and here is the point that struck me like a lightning bolt:

How much impact can a word of encouragement carry? Especially in the face of such heavy losses and utter destruction as this town was experiencing? Even the highest declarations of comfort might be perceived as insult under these circumstances. Who would even dare to speak up at such a serious time?

Her name was Mariya Dolina, and she was a captain in a women’s combat squadron. Her fellow pilots had been so moved by the destruction they had seen that they risked reprimand (for which Mariya was later arrested) to throw a streamer with this message of hope down to the suffering people below. Was it worth it?

If you were to visit the Minsk Museum in Russia, you would still see this streamer with its original message on display today. Signed by Mariya Dolina. Only now she is referred to as, Captain Mariya Dolina, pilot, deputy commander of the squadron, Hero of the Soviet Union. She flew 72 combat missions and survived the war.

So, I make a pact with myself never to pass up any opportunity to encourage others – I must practice! Less I should one day find myself in such a moment…

And not even see the need.

What’s happening on the farm today: Spring fever! The weather is gorgeous, Pops is raking and burning leaves… and giving me five more minutes before I simply MUST get out there and enjoy some of it. Ahhh, Sundays!


Starting Rough...

"Thank heavens we can skip the rough draft and go straight to the good stuff! It’s such a drudge figuring out all that motivational detail."

Lilly, I have no intentions of skipping the rough draft. You wouldn’t build a house on top of the dirt without first putting down a foundation, would you?

"How big of a house and how long would you want it for?"

We’re not skipping the rough draft. It’s where all the treasures are hid. The most exciting part of the creative process, if you ask me. You look up something to check on accuracy and – boom! -- discover an entirely new possibility that threads in perfectly. Takes me beyond my own ideas. Too flat and confining to have to depend solely on my own scope of imagination. Besides, I’m way too dependent on those intricate details of other people’s lives to breathe life into a character without them. Those little nuances that have actually happened to somebody – no matter how bizarre -- make fiction more real, somehow. I love that.

"But we already have the rough draft for this one."

Well, it’s outdated.

"How could it be outdated if it’s set into a specific time and place? What do you think, Ann? Have you even been listening to a word we’ve said? You can work on that list anytime. Who knows when D. Ann Graham will show up, again?"

"What? Oh. I’m going to have to agree with Lilly. We did a lot of research on this one, and I don’t see how the word ‘outdated’ can even apply to research. Unless you’re talking methods. Which is the Professor’s department."

"Ann, we’re talking about rough drafts, not research. Pay attention, will you? I think D. Ann Graham wants to start the rough draft all over, again."

"Well, then it wouldn’t be a rough draft. It would be a rewrite."

Mere technicality. I’m calling it a rough draft for the simple reason that we seem to have entirely lost the original copy.

"Oh, good lord – not again! I thought Ann was backing everything up."

"Whatever was there, I backed up. It must have been lost before we put in the new system. If that’s what you meant by outdated, I agree. But don’t worry, Lilly, it won’t take long because it isn’t really lost. Just percolating around in her brain somewhere. So, you’d better get to work on your accessories and details, because I have a feeling… you see? She’s gone already."

What's happening on the farm today: Another spring day smack in the middle of winter -- even Nature doesn't seem to know what to make of it. Bugs are hatching, birds are house-hunting, and the leeks are popping up in the garden already. Why, I had a beautiful one to add to the chicken soup, yesterday. Weather predictions are for a freeze tomorrow... but today, I'm going to hoe in the garden!


On Your Mark...

How’s it going, everybody? Big things happening in here, no doubt, because they’re looking pretty good outside, too. So, where are we at, Ann?

"I rather think you should tell us, since there’s a new project in the number one position and I don’t recall putting it on the list. In fact, I don’t recall anything about this project, period."

"Personally, I think it bears a striking resemblance to that Africa thing she started way back during our island farm days. Ah, those were the days!"

Very perceptive, Lilly, and right you are. It suddenly sprang to life all by itself – with the knots worked out and perspectives on a dead aim – I couldn’t do anything but run with it.

"What about the magazines? Are they relegated to the bottom – at last?"

Hardly not, Ann. They’ve got such momentum of their own at this point, I’d get run over if I turned my back on them, now. But I think I’ve hit on a plan. Worth trying, anyway. I’m going to work on both projects every day.

"Good lord – you’ve never been able to do that before!"

I realize that, Lilly, but I’m more mature these days.

"Who ever heard of age being a guarantee of maturity? It’s not in your psyche, if you ask me. But you’re the boss, so I suppose we’ll have to give it a go. I do wish the Professor was here to give us his input, but he’s sticking to his guns about his alternative fuel thing."

"Not completely sticking to them, Ann. He let the cousins out to visit with that Laurie person, didn’t he? And that little WK is always going back and forth with errands for the PBS contest he’s got everybody talking about. Maybe if we knocked quietly on the laboratory door and said it was an emergency--"

Certainly not. One of the first ways I’m going to be able to work on more things every day is to stop getting involved in shenanigans like these. Entirely without purpose. But I would like help dredging up some of the research on the Africa project. Anybody have any objections to that?

"As long as you don’t mind us keeping a running account of how you handle it all, and a good supply of aspirin. You be in charge of the aspirin, Lilly. And make good and sure it’s just aspirin."

We’ll start tomorrow, then.

"What about our account?"

Go ahead with it, but don’t let out any secrets.

What’s happening on the farm today: A glorious day! Seventy degrees and springtime, when only two days ago there was snow on the ground. I realize it was all probably brought about by global warming, but never-the-less it does wonders for cabin fever. Pops and I tramped though the back pasture and made all kinds of plans…