The Art of Communication

I have been working on our Art of Communication classes for our Summer Scholars this past week and since June 1st looms heavily ahead, going through the step-by-step lesson plans has brought to my attention that we are definitely still on the proverbial upward learning curve. 

We teach the little darlings that once upon a time before history – in the era of early man  – in cultivating a culture – there was a lot confusion, apprehension, misunderstandings and down-right frustration.

Much as it is today.

Hmm, what do we know about culture?

We know that in order to cultivate a culture, you first must survive, and if you are now stealthily observing your fellow man from afar, you must have that first foundational pillar of culture in the bag.  

Yes, you have survived, but you grunt a lot.

You grunt when you work, you grunt when you get up, you grunt in response to whatever you see  – remind you of anyone?

And what happens when you run into another new-to-you human?

I know for ages, the grunters would simply grunt – some still do – but what about attempting to express a thought or a need.

We can wave our arms about and grunt in an ever-deafening sound pattern or perhaps we might simply stop for just a moment and – think!

Imagine that – to think a thought – and then to develop a plan – such is the art of communication.

Yes, after incessant flailing of appendages while pitching low growls to high squeals, a thought is born and a line is drawn.

A line in the sand, if you will – and so our language begins – the second most pillar of strength to our culture.

And what about that line?

A work of art one might say – Eureka, another pillar of our culture is formed where we express our wants and needs through artistic endeavors.

And as lightning strikes before us, technology is born.

Lonna D. Kingsbury

Hopping On My Rocking Horse

This post was written by Mike Staton.

I got a rocking horse for Christmas one month after turning four years old. I have some pleasant memories of riding that wooden horse.

Young Mike liked to ride the horse in the living room of his family’s house in Wadsworth, Ohio, as he watched the Mickey Mouse Club. That’s the first incarnation of the mouse’s TV show, the one with Annette Funicello, Tommy Cole and Darlene Gillespie. I’m trying to pin down the year. Probably 1955.

How many of you can recall riding a rocking horse while watching TV? I did while watching the Mickey Mouse Club and cowboy shows.

That’s the year the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won the World Series, but I wasn’t a baseball fan back then. Three years later, the Dodgers would move to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until 1961 that I became a Dodgers fan and began collecting baseball cards.

But this post isn’t about baseball card collecting. It’s about rocking horses, and if my memories aren’t deceiving me, I sure loved mine.

Spin And Marty was one of my favorite TV shows back in the 1950s. Remember it?

Like I said, I liked to ride mine as I watched the Mickey Mouse Club, especially the ‘Spin And Marty’ TV show. To sum up the plot: spoiled rich kid Marty is sent to live on a dude ranch after being orphaned. The show, which debuted November 4, 1955, starred David Stollery, Tim Considine, and Annette Funicello. In the 1960s, Considine starred with Fred McMurray on ‘My Three Sons.’ Funicello co-starred with Frank Avalon in the hugely popular beach movies of that era.

When the kids on ‘Spin And Marty’ rode their horses along the dude ranch’s trails, I loved to clamber onto my riding horse and pretend to ride alongside them. A boy’s imagination at age four can be quite rambunctious. It’s easy to slip into an alternate world. I think that’s why role-playing games for adults are so popular. When I lived in Leesburg, Florida, in the 1980s, I enjoyed drinking strawberry daiquiris and playing Dungeon & Dragons games with a cadre of close friends.

When I was in my 30s, a group of Newsroom friends enjoyed playing D&D role-playing games. It was an off-growth of reading fantasy novels.

That rocking horse opened my imagination – and led to Dungeon & Dragon games and writing sword and sorcery genre novels. Without that rocking horse, who knows what I’d be doing today?

A little 19th century boy dressed as a pirate riding a hobby horse and chasing ducks down a country lane. From “Schnick Schnack – Trifles for Little Ones” published by George Routledge & Sons, London, 1867.

It’s not surprising that the history of rocking horses can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Back then a popular children’s toy was the hobby horse, a ‘pretend’ horse’s head attached to a long stick. Children would place the stick between their legs and in their minds ride the horse around. Those ‘stick’ or hobby horses can still be bought at department stores and online. Good ideas never fade away. When you get down to it, kids are kids – regardless of the years of their childhood…1322, 1622, 1922 or 2022.

# # #

Retired now, I’m the author of a fantasy trilogy and a historical series set during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction years. Most days will find me at my laptop working on book 3 of my Civil War series. Check out my Amazon Author Page: Michael Staton: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

Armed Forces DAy

by Neva Bodin

“On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.” (Accessed 5/19)2022)

Armed Forces Day this year is May 21st and celebrates all men and women who are serving in all six branches of the military. According to Wikipedia, those branches are the Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard, Space Force, Air Force, and Navy. It is not a federal holiday, but on March 18, 1961, President John F. Kennedy made it an official national holiday.

I have not been very aware of it, or have forgotten it, and maybe I’m just not into the news stories enough, but perhaps it has gotten lost in the mix of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. I wouldn’t have known about Armed Forces Day except it is labeled for the 21st in my schedule book this year.

According to the U.S. Veterans Magazine, The first Armed Forces Day was held on May 20, 1950.

We also have a Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans, living and dead, who have served in the military: The first World War, “known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany, went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” …In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice (Accessed 5/19/2022

Armistice Day has become Veteran’s Day.

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, and began as a tradition to decorate the graves of those who had died in the wars. It began after the Civil War in America and also happens in May. It is the day we now buy poppies in memory of the bloodshed of World War I. And that’s another story.

Anyway, I hope I got these all straight, as it seemed a bit confusing to me. I do see people honoring veterans who are serving and who have served on regular, non-holiday days also. It is heartening and moving to see someone buy a veteran a lunch, give them a gift, or just a pat on the shoulder with a thank you.

But let’s not forget Armed Forces Day this weekend and honor those who defend us.

Just Flipping

By S. J. Brown

It’s that time of year again horseshoe crabs are headed to shore to lay their eggs

No, they aren’t the cutest critters, but they have a very important role to play in nature. Their eggs are consumed by numerous shorebirds, some endangered.  Sea turtles also gorge th4emselves on the eggs when they can. 

The new moon in May is their signal to head to shore.  Riding the tides to land often they land upside down and can’t flip themselves over. That’s where the helping hands of strangers are needed.  For many years now I have made the trip to the Delaware Bay to flip horseshoe crabs.  If I time my trip just right I can flip a hundred horseshoe crabs in one day, with the help of a few friends of course. 

Each horseshoe crab we flip helps this species survive.  In dozens of locations along the Atlantic Coast, other volunteers are flipping horseshoe crabs as well.  Some are nature enthusiasts like me.  Others are birds who know how important the connection between the crabs and many bird species is.  Others just think it is a fun way to spend the day.

Although Horseshoe crabs look kind of scary they are harmless.  That long spike-like tail will not sting you.  Since most of their eggs are consumed before they hatch each adult horseshoe crab is important.  They have been part of the ecosystem for thousands of years.  Since the late 1950’s they have played an important role in medical research.  So this ugly critter is pretty important and I am glad to give them a hand.  


S. J. Brown     

A Different Plane

Funny, with reading all of your blogs – and once again – I apologize – I did attempt to comment – and I have managed to do so before, but for whatever reason – our site would not allow me to comment on Cherely’s limerick or Mike’s Fickle Daydreams or Neva’s Peace in the Family.  I am sure it could not be operator error (sigh).

As I attempted to comment on Cherely’s piece – I have written my share of limericks, most of which were composed during or after a rather fluid night of indulgence with other like-minded individuals, but not appropriate for normal consumption, I am sure.  And, Cherely, I would like to read more of your poetry.

Mike, it’s too funny – how we all are interacting – yet on different planes – I never wanted to be a baseball player – I was the biggest, egg-headed klutz that ever was.

And the closest I have ever been to an astronaut is when I followed Neil Armstrong (their secret Guest of Honor) at the Mason Veterans’ Memorial Dedication where I had the honor of composing and reading the poetic walk-through.

I was so nervous – of course it was outside and all of the speakers had to simply walk  up a set of metal steps connected to the riser and sit down until it was their turn.  

I kept telling myself “All you have to do is to hold onto this piece of paper, keep your heel from locking into one of these ornamental steps and do not lose your voice.”

More easily said that done.

It was one thing to go there throughout the building of the memorial, hard-hatted and jeans-clad, jotting down my thoughts and feeling like I might capture the moment, but as it grew closer and closer to the event – the enormity of the occasion became a tad overwhelming.

I am still amazed that I made it through that day.

And as to that momentous day – I made it up the steps without incident, held onto my poem and waited for Mr. Armstrong to finish his speech.  My mouth was getting dry.

It was a windy day.

A great gust came through.  Mr. Armstrong’s papers were on the podium.  They flew.  Rob Portman went after them.  The pages were not numbered.  Mr. Armstrong ended his speech right then and there.

I was on and I had a voice.

I promise next Friday I will have some unscheduled time and learn to maneuver about this website.  And I will actually attempt to add a photo or two this time.  And I know that I have a video somewhere. Keep your fingers crossed

And then I may actually work on getting more content to my webmaster for  

My photos didn’t copy, but here is what I wrote for the memorial . . .

We gather today

to dedicate

in Honor

as Citizens


remembering those

who unify




Serving in Peace

Serving in War


brick by brick

hallowed ground

supporting proud

eternally our flag

each branch who fights our fight 

  — thank you,Freedom’s Five

Air Force




Marine Corps

at rest in meditation

following profound


we all salute

benched in common ground

Loyalty to God and Country

Perseverance to each cause

Honor in Self – resounding through Duty

Courage compounding America’s pride 

Dedication to all freedoms 

Sacrifice throughout all time

each branch, each guardian

we salute you 

thank you, Freedom’sFive

Through every war and conflict

with pinnacles raised high

in tribute to each sacrifice

so we may freely live our lives

for every date and time inscribed

 —thank you, Freedom’s Five





Spanish American

World War I

World War II




Operation Iraqi Freedom

For whom each bell has tolled and tolling

know as we survive

in memory of every loss

–thank you Freedom’s Five

and know we all remember

the day where terror blocked our sun

as cowards struck our innocents

September 11, 2001

To our first and last defensive wall

united beyond any fear

of every branch of service

we dedicate our tears

etched within our hearts of hearts

inscribed upon this hallowed wall

for each and every fallen soul

who’s answered freedom’s call

We who live our lives

thank you, Freedom’s Five

United we stand – today 

sharing our pure eternal flame

seeking the truth

for brothers, for sisters

those near and dear and named

Missing in Action

Prisoners of War

as hearts cry out aloud

praying for justice, missing each soul

know that we are proud

We who seek a sign

thank you, Freedom’s Five

And as it is with vision

our gathering safely today 

November 8, 2003

in Mason was long ago gained

by those who gave their ultimate

defending every right

and those who give their ultimate

continuing our fight

so we may freely dedicate

our simple pillar of hope

sharing knowledge

handed down

from then 

to now

to what 

will be 

in tribute to commitment

in homage to each  veteran’s life

praying for peace for all who serve

We Thank You – Freedom’s Five

God Bless You – Freedom’s Five

Lonna D. Kingsbury

Fickle Daydreams

This post written by Mike Staton.

Children and young adults love to daydream. With their lives in front of them, they can turn their daydreams into reality or at least have fun trying to attain their life goals.

When I was 10 and playing in the San-Ri Little League in Rialto, California, I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, perhaps playing for the LA Dodgers. Obviously, that never happened, but I did enjoy those Mike-as-Koufax daydreams.

A weekly newspaper would need to cover agricultural news.

Later, I became fascinated by the US space program. Whenever astronauts rocketed into orbit or flew to the moon, I’d cut out photos from news magazines and paste them into a photo album. But I grew up, and conceded I’d never become an astronauts and ride a Saturn V into orbit or fly a lunar module down to the moon’s cratered surface. My outer space daydream faded away.

A weekly newspaper reporter would be expected to double as a photographer.

At an early age, I learned that I loved to write stories. When seven years old and home sick, I wrote a SF tale about an alien visiting Earth. I read it to my mother. Through my youth I continued to nurse that daydream of me writing for a living. This time the daydream did not fade, but became reality. I went to Ohio University and majored in Journalism. After graduation, I worked as a journalist for newspapers in Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina. In 2010, a novel of mine was published . Since then, I’ve had four more novels go into print.

Starting a weekly newspaper means purchasing computers and software including desktop publishing software like InDesign.

Here I am now at age 70 – and I’m still daydreaming. I live in a village of 1,500 people in Southeast Ohio – Beverly. This latest daydream, though, will always remain a daydream. I’m not working actively to make it come true. What is it? To own and run a weekly newspaper.

Putting out a weekly newspaper for the first time means buying a press or — more likely — finding a printer willing to print each edition for the publisher.

Were I 50 years old and not 70, I might actually try to transform the daydream into a real weekly newspaper. I know what I’d face. I’d have to find financial investors willing to help bankroll the endeavor. If I could secure the financial backing, I’d need to contract with a daily newspaper or printer to print the weekly. Next, I’d need to hire a couple of reporters to cover high school sports, farm news, town and county government, and society news. And of course, I’d need to find a sales person to sell ads and get people to subscribe. Plus, I’d have to buy various software packages and laptop computers as well as cameras. Oh, I nearly forgot…I’d need an internet guru to put each edition online.

I worked as a reporter for a weekly from 2010 to early 2014. It’s hard work – seven days a week and long hours. Yes, I know what running a weekly would entail. At 70, it terrifies me. That’s why it’s going to stay a daydream. Instead, I’ll stick to writing novels.

# # #

Retired now, I’m the author of a fantasy trilogy and a historical series set during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction years. Most days will find me at my laptop working on book 3 of my Civil War series. Check out my Amazon Author Page: Michael Staton: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

Let’s Have Peace in the Family!

By Neva Bodin

Perhaps the two hated each other because one was born into the family, and one was adopted. For whatever reason, the staring, stiff posturing, and howling, low throated growl would commence when the two were near each other, and sometimes the nearness was planned.

At any rate, this bothered the other resident and guardian of our farmyard—a Blue Heeler/Shepherd mix known as Smoky Blue. He considered himself in charge of all farm animals.

The two grumps were the feline inhabitants of the yard. Penny, the calico couch potato, was born into the family, as her mother’s family had belonged to the farm for generations. Bitzy, the tiger-and-white hunter, was dropped off as a very tiny kitten by someone passing by, and showed her gratitude for being adopted into the family by catching all manner of vermin, even bringing two small dead weasels to the front door for me to admire.

Their bickering was too much for Smoky Blue, the cow-dog. He wanted peace in the family.

I didn’t realize how much it bothered him until one sunny morning, I looked out the kitchen window, and noticed Penny slowly, and obliquely, picking a path that headed toward Bitzy, who was daring Penny’s continued approach with a sizzling stare of hate. Trouble was brewing.

After studying the situation for a minute, Smoky began walking slowly toward the converging path of the two cats. As they got within a few feet of each other, Smoky walked between them.

Both cats began walking also, giving each other the evil eye, and Penny tried to edge closer, perhaps planning to add a slapping paw in Bitzy’s direction. Smoky was having none of it.

As they moved across the yard, Smoky’s black nose started nudging Penny away from Bitzy. Not giving in easily, it took him a walk of about 50 feet before the cats realized they’d been out-maneuvered, and the plan for a fracas would have to be abandoned for now.

When the dog realized he’d succeeded, he stopped and watched as the two headed in opposite directions, then he trotted back to the house to lay by the front step.

I couldn’t resist going to the front door to pat his velvety, black head, and praise his accomplishment. He probably didn’t know what brought that on, as he was only doing his job as he saw it. But he looked up with a doggy grin, and I could imagine him saying, “Aren’t they ridiculous?”

Smoky did not like conflict

Oh Baby

By S. J. Brown

Pictures of baby critters are always popular with people and publishers. After all they are cute.  Baby animals haven’t developed a fear of people so, in theory, they should be easier to photograph.  In reality, Mom and sometimes Dad are generally close by, and they are very protective of their young.

Springtime is a busy time of year for photographers. There are flowers blooming, trees budding, and baby animals everywhere.  So our biggest challenge is picking a location.  Then we need to get down on their level to get the best shot before we are discovered by the parents. 

Most critters are active at sunrise and sunset so this time of year I dress in layers.  As my day progresses I shed layers, then put them back on later in the day.

My routine in the field is to be at my first location before the sun comes up, and wait to see who shows up.  Baby critters require a lot of food for their growing bodies, so most wild families are on the move early searching for breakfast. 

As the day progresses little ones get energetic and harder to photograph, but they are still pretty cute. By sunset me and the critters have had a long day and are ready for a little rest. 

What baby critters have you encountered? 


S. J. Brown

Happy Mothers’ Day 2022

An amazing day, it was, it was.

From the phone calls to the beautiful greenery, to the candies, messages, cards and flowers – we are truly blessed.

To all my friends and family on social media, know that we are one today – in spirit, heart and deed.

Mother to child or to fur baby (or for all of my  zoo-keeping / animal-loving friends), for those of you who mind your charges with scales, claws, fins and beaks – for all of you care givers – for the greatest of grand mamas, for those always-protective yayas, for the aunties, for the sisters, for all the friends and nurturers – whatever gender each proclaims – we alone together – acknowledge and behold those worthy of this  yearly recognition  – through the simplest of actions – the simple act of love.

Simple, pure, protective – this truth we know and share.

Especially during these days, we know that we must acknowledge this common bond between every living creature.  

We must continue this truth and share our guidance as we have each been guided by our own personal mentors – either from those still celebrating with us today or from those included through remembrances that guide us now from their higher realm.

Yes, today we bond together – each in our own fashion – to embrace our world just a little bit tighter, sharing our gatherings  just a little bit longer, stronger from that simplest of truths which guide us through our day. 

We break bread – together – either at home or out and about – dressing up or down – kids in tow – or perhaps our youngest yet-to-come is simply growing near the momma’s heart – but today of all days  – we pause, embrace, remember – this simplest act of love.

Lonna D. Kingsbury

Yoyo Frustrations

This Writing Wrangler & Warrior post written by Mike Staton.

I was never very good at mastering yoyo tricks such as walking the dog and the creeper. All I could manage was the basic up and down technique. Anything else proved too daunting. Oh, I tried, but my efforts invariably became failures.

Back in my elementary school days in Rialto, California, I’d take my newly purchased yoyo to school, and at recess me and my friends would make our yoyos dance on their strings. Sometimes, a kid or two would actually demonstrate a trick. I found myself thinking: did the fellow stay up all night practicing? Or maybe he was a natural born a yoyo master?

Yep, I was one of those kids who wanted a yoyo, but never was very good at doing the tricks.

Do kids today play with yoyos? Or do they prefer to play games on their cellphones and computers? I believe you can still find yoyos for sale at big box stores like Walmart and Costco. So some kids must still enjoy the challenge of mastering yoyo tricks. Perhaps mom and dad will surprise a boy or girl with a yoyo as a birthday or Christmas present. I think that’s how I got my first yoyo.

In the ’60s, yoyos became a craze, then they faded. When in the fad stage, every boy and girl from Wilmington, NC, to Santa Monica, California, wanted the toy. It was like the ’58 hula-hoop craze. Every department store seemingly had them for sale. When my fraternal grandpa, grandmother and her two sisters came to visit us, they bought a hula hoop for me. I found it easier to master than the yoyo. It didn’t take me long to have the hula hoop twirling around my hips. If I tried it now, I’d end up in the hospital.

Yoyos have been around for centuries. It’s a toy that even fascinates adults.

Yoyos aren’t a 20th century development. Baby-boomers weren’t the first kids to beg mom and dad for a yoyo. An ancient toy, the yoyo has been around since 500 BC. And not just kids like to try their luck with a yoyo. Paintings show men and women playing with yoyos in earlier centuries.

If you google to learn how a yoyo works, your head will spin. You’ll read paragraph after paragraph about fundamental physics including potential energy and kinetic energy. On the basic level, it’s a toy that consists of an axle connected to two disks, and a string looped around the axle, similar to a spool. But someone who has mastered it can make it look like it’s an object of pure magic. Not me, though. I was a klutz. But I had fun with it – and that’s all that really mattered.

# # #

Retired now, I’m the author of a fantasy trilogy and a historical series set during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction years. Most days will find me at my laptop working on book 3 of my Civil War series. Check out my Amazon Author Page: Michael Staton: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

%d bloggers like this: