Tag Archives: writer

Life Interrupted — Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Life Interrupted — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Our new editor at The Townships Sun, Rachel Garber thought it would be a great idea if I wrote about our late editor Barbara Heath. Normally it would be an easy task for me, but in this case I had never met Barbara. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t know her– but in reality, we knew each other. They say to have a close friendship you need to meet each other first which helps strengthen the bond. Barbara and I did not need that, as we easily exchanged over a 100 emails between each other and felt like long lost sisters.

I first met Barbara years ago when she emailed me about a story I did about the rumoured 30-foot- long monster called Gog, Manaloo, Memphre, the Anaconda, or the Lake Monster of Lake Memphremagog. Somehow she had seen it on Facebook and asked if the Townships Sun could run it. Since I had spent the first  night  of my honeymoon looking out the motel window which faced Lake Memphremagog searching for that creature; it was a story that was near and dear to my heart.

And so, as they say, began the online friendship of Linda and Barbara. I had been writing for years in the States for publications about celebrities, murders and pets and she assured me that history was my thing and she was right. She encouraged me to keep writing with my heart, and to pursue my potential. It’s not like I needed anyone to encourage my prolific writing, but even though we were the same age, it was like someone putting their arm around you. It was always that way between us. She represented a part of my self-identity.

Barbara under the CIBC sign.

We both believed in saving heritage like the Tomifobia church which is a short distance from Stanstead, Quebec. The poor wee church was sold and abandoned for years and it left a mark on both of our hearts. She was a fighter like myself and we both stood up for the wrongs in our communities. Barbara with the closing of the CIBC in Stanstead and me with stormwater management ponds and supporting local business. It doesn’t matter how slowly we now moved along, we just had to make sure we didn’t stop. Neither of us kept our feelings in a drawer to be forgotten.

I am heartbroken and I should have known her health wasn’t getting better. In March she sent me two beautiful jewellery artifacts that belonged to her mother. She said in a letter, 

“I hope they bring you joy and show your spirit. You are certainly a valuable member of the Sun Family.”

Barbara did not wish to have any services, like myself. We both had figured out that lots of things happen after you die and none of them involve the deceased. I had told Barbara that when I die, cremate me and stick a tree on me. I wanted absolutely no headstones so these genealogists I have been writing about for years will come looking for me. She always thought that was funny.

Barbara,

We never met, yet we knew each other well, almost like we were friends before, 

We never met, but we both grew up in the Eastern Townships and loved and breathed history,

We never met, but you sent me letters from those that enjoyed my writing in the Townships Sun and told me never to stop writing. 

We never met, but you were a friend and a mentor, and for that I will be eternally grateful and never ever forget you.

I wish there was email in heaven.

Linda

Also read-Mary Louise Deller Knight — Evelyn Beban Lewis–The Townships Sun

Here Comes the Sun! The Townships Sun

Painting the Memories with Written Word –Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Painting the Memories with Written Word –Linda Knight Seccaspina

Painting the Memories with Written Word –Linda Knight Seccaspina

None of my generation has probably forgotten the year 1963. I already had suffered a loss on September 27th of that year when my mother Bernice Crittenden Knight died from lymphoma at the age of 34. The months that followed were not happy ones for me, but no one could have prepared us for what was to happen on November 22nd of 1963.

I will always remember the somber words of our principal Mr. Bowen over the intercom that Friday. He announced to the students of Cowansville High School that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, had been assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. I remember we sat there quietly in our classrooms and then went home to our families.

From what should have been a well-remembered incident, it somehow turned into confusion for me today. Every member of every generation recalls a historic event which in some way affected the world and perhaps their lives: taking them back to that day, that hour and where they were. A lot of hope dissolved that day Kennedy was shot in Texas for a lot of us.

Any time I remember the assination of JFK my two good friends John and Judy Manchester come to mind. Had it really happened? John had mentioned that his father had written some sort of book about President Kennedy early on in our friendship. I had no clue who his father was, and frankly, I never asked.


Later on I found out that John’s father was William Manchester who had written “The Death of a President”. The book was published in 1967 by Harper and Row and became one the great American Classics. Seeing that my likes consisted of celebrities, Madonna, and Sweet Valley High in those days I brushed it all off. All I knew was that these two friends that I called “Muse and his Musette” were great people and we could discuss the world of writing and the hamburger chain IN N’ Out Burger like Olympic champions.

John wrote a blog about his father and how his dad spent 95% of his time locked away writing ”The Death of a President”. For 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, he conducted over 1000 interviews to write about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I read the blog three times, rolled my chair back, and began to think about my daily writings.

Even with 6 published books and 6300 blogs– I will never become even close to becoming a great writer like William Manchester– but I do know one thing. I have figured out that I can tell stories with my words just like the folks that sat around the pickle barrel a long time ago. Actually, I am quite content with that. John told me I got right to the point with my writing – that point being to express emotion. He also reminded me I  minced no words in nailing those who deserve to be nailed and praising where praise is deserved.  But, behind all of those feelings, I always anchor my feelings with love.

John Manchester was a real writer and his words later made a difference to me and everyone else about the life of Kennedy—and that my friends is what it’s all about in the very end. To be able to write well enough to make a difference in someone’s life. Everything else is just icing on the cake. 

That long nightmare weekend in High School after Kennedy died etched my brain forever and still gives me chills when I think of it. It wasn’t possible, it couldn’t have happened — but it did. Memories in our lives and of the continuation of printed words continue the remembrances in life. It just keeps yesterday alive. The written word continues to endure.

Photo- Linda Seccaspina Market Street San Francisco

John’s words to me when we wrote on Open Salon

Lunch with Linda – Love on Haight Street

FEBRUARY 24, 2011 2:07PM

As promised, Mrs. Muse and I shared lunch with Linda Seccaspina at Magnolia Pub on Haight Street.  She has already offered her lovely account.  Due to my nature, mine is more prosaic. Ah well.

The food was great. The company was better.

I have been privileged from time to time to meet people whose work I admire. They fall into two camps. In the first are artists who are a letdown to meet. Whatever spark in their work has opened my eyes, ears or heart is nowhere in sight once I meet them. They seem cold, closed, uptight. Maybe they are just shy in public. But I wonder if it isn’t something else – that it’s only through their art that they can allow a part of themselves to flower.

In the second camp are artists whose work is a natural extension of their lives.  Meeting these people I watch what was just notes, colors or words blossom into a life.  It feels good.

Linda falls firmly in the second camp. We recognized her across Haight Street (her hair is very red!) standing in front of the Magnolia Pub. She smiled and we ran across the street and Linda who loves to “rate with hugs” gave us big non-virtual hugs.

Linda gets right to the point with her writing – that point being to express emotion. Not to vent, or to whine, but to make us feel what she clearly feels so strongly – joy, anger, sadness.  She minces no words in nailing those who deserve to be nailed and praising where praise is deserved. And she’s funny as hell.

Behind all of those feelings she expresses her anchor feeling. LOVE.

She sat before us and I watched all those words I’d read transform into the person who radiated that love.

We had much in common – two sons, nasty exes followed by the miracle of current keepers. Less than perfect parents.  Linda has been dealt a lot of junk from the bottom of the deck, dealt with her share of jokers. But she’s made a fine hand of it.

Linda told us of someone she knows who’s very religious who likes to tell Linda she’s not going to make it to heaven.  Linda refers to this artfully as “going to the beach.”  As far as I can tell she’s already there, as much as any of us get.

She surprised me with gifts, saying she liked the bottles. I like them too, which is why I post them here:  I’m sure they will be even more enjoyable once we uncork them.

I first came to Haight Street the summer of 1970.  Mrs. Muse got there earlier, though she can’t remember the year (!)  We both had the same experience – of looking on every corner for something that wasn’t there, that had gone, or never been there in the first place.

What were we seeking? Little things. Joy. Peace. Enlightenment.  Above all, LOVE.

We finally found it in each other.  And we found it yesterday, finally, on Haight Street.

Linda wore a great big heart on her jacket: Not as big as the one inside.

Odes to Steve Sherman

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This morning Steve Sherman’s wife Kathleen emailed to say that Steve passed away on Thursday from cancer. Most of you would have known him as Another Steve on Open Salon and Steve S. on Zoomers Canada. Since Open Salon closed, Steve has always been part of an internet foursome which included: Tink, myself and Creekend UK.  It wasn’t really the writing that kept us together; it was our friendship which was always the main course, and we shared our lives on a pretty regular basis.

So, today I celebrate the life and writings of Steve Sherman with all of you. I have posted his favourite blog, and his very last. I am going to miss you sweet friend. To quote Bill T. Jones: ‘Living and dying is not the big issue. The big issue is what you’re going to do with your time while you are here.”  Steve, you spent it well, and I am proud to say you were my friend. The world will miss you, and I miss you already. 

 

 

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The, ahem, Mature Employee
Open Salon will disappear from cyberspace over then next two weeks, according to Salon Media Corporation. Jason and I published blogs on Open Salon in a time long ago and a place far away when blogs and bloggers were a big deal.
In memory of those times, I am sharing my best post from Open Salon. This was my personal favorite. Other people must have liked it as well; it generated over 58,000 unique views.
________________________
With Apologies to Lewis Carroll and Robert Southey
“You are old, My Employee,” the young Boss said,
“And your beard has become very white;
And yet you show up every morning for work—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“Your great age,” The Boss continued in fun,
“I feared it might injure your creativity;
But now that I’m perfectly sure you have none,
I need staff a bit nearer their nativity.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “your potential too flat
For projects beyond the straight line;
Yet you act as a mentor to our most promising staff,
With their respect, which by rights should be mine!”

“In my youth,” said The Employee, “I took to my work,
And each day I increased knowledge deep”;
While in his mind ran the thought, “This is all for naught.
It’s my last day to work for this creep.”

“We have talked for two minutes, and that is enough,”
Said The Boss; “You have wasted our air!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Here’s a bag, pack your things, Now Downstairs!”

______________________________________________________________________________________

Lewis Carroll inserted his “Father William” verse into “Alice in Wonderland” as the caterpillar’s required recitation. Carroll’s nonsense verse was a parody of a moralizing verse by Robert Southey. Today, Southey is remembered for little other than being the object of this parody.
In a sense, my verse is a parody of a parody.

I wish my poem was nothing beyond a nonsense parody. Alas, I have lived through The Employee’s experience. As I am sure have many others

 

 

 

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Photo by Steve Sherman on Zoomers: Eschscholzia Californica- April 29, 2014 at 6:57pm

 

When I’m Feeling Sadly I Find a Song and Play it Badly
Posted by Steve S
on April 10, 2015 at 11:00pm

It’s music that does the best to pick me up when I am down. Irish Whiskey, bourbon and beer are tied for second.

Isaiah was quoted in the bible as saying,”Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Although he always struck me as an old grouch, I always liked that.

When I feel down, I like to play a little music. I try to do that when no one else is around, since I am not a great musician. Most of the music I like to play is old. It varies from old hippie era to Renaissance era.

I have spent most of 2015 dealing with a painful health problem. After a discouraging doctor appointment I stopped at a local music store and bought a ukulele. I’ve played winds for years but I decided it was about time I learned a string instrument.The uke has gotten me through some painful times (for me and anyone within listening distance) and I am starting to figure it out. The uke has also pushed me into singing, which I gave up when an puberty made me a bass voice.

 

From his wife Kathleen:

After a gracious journey down this last, difficult length of his life’s path, Steve died on Thursday. Thank you all for the many ways you walked that journey with us. I am grateful for the love and support each of you gave, as was Steve.

Steve believed that you live while people remember you. So…

“Say not in grief that he is no more, but say in thankfulness that he was. A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come” ~Rabindranath Tagore.