Category Archives: Articles

Vermeer

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Johannes (Jan) Vermeer (1632-1675) was one of the foremost Dutch artists of the 17th century.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
My favorite Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which also inspired the 1999 novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier, and the subsequent movie.

He remained relatively obscure during his lifetime and until the end of the nineteenth century, mainly because he produced only about forty-five paintings (of which thirty-six are known today) during his brief lifetime, primarily for a small circle of patrons in Delft. Most Dutch painters turned out hundreds of pictures for a much broader market.

The Milkmaid
The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer

Vermeer’s father trained as a weaver but eventually became an innkeeper and art dealer. The art business exposed Jan to the formal conventions of past and current masters. Due to his father’s debts and death in 1652, Vermeer had to essentially train himself rather than study with a master. During most of his short career, his paintings earned high commissions and he was able to support his large family (he and his wife had eleven children), but the dismal Dutch economy of the early 1670s made his last few years challenging.

Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid
Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid by Jan Vermeer

Vermeer’s paintings often feature a domestic world occupied mostly by women, whose postures, behavior, and expressions invite close study and sympathy. His works often hint at some connection between a figure and the viewer, making one feel like a voyeur.

The Astronomer
The Astronomer by Jan Vermeer
The Art of Painting
The Art of Painting by Jan Vermeer
Mistress and Maid
Mistress and Maid by Jan Vermeer. Oh, the light!
Vermeer
Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window by Jan Vermeer. This painting was recently restored, revealing a painting of Cupid on the wall behind the girl.

Images and information for this article came from Wikipedia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. If you’d like to go down a Vermeer rabbit hole, check out the Essential Vermeer website.

Oops! I Goofed.

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Oops! I Goofed.

I meant to post “Andrea in Song” today, but by accident it posted yesterday instead. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s here.

Claude Debussy

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Claude Debussy was born August 22, 1862, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. He was a highly influential composer of the 20th century. His melodies and harmonies did for music what the the Impressionist painters of his time did for art. He is sometimes called the father of Impressionist music, a title he distained. His major works include Clair de lune (“Moonlight,” in Suite bergamasque, 1890–1905), Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894; Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), the opera Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), and La Mer (1905; “The Sea”).

Listen to this piano roll recording of Debussy playing Clair de Lune:

Debussy showed his musical gift on the piano by the age of nine. In 1873 he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano and composition for eleven years.

While living with his parents in a poverty-stricken suburb of Paris, he was hired by a Russian millionairess, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, to play duets with her and her children. He traveled with her to her palatial residences throughout Europe during his long summer breaks from the Conservatory.

In 1884 Debussy won the Grand Prix de Rome with his cantata L’Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Child). He was awarded a three-year stay at the Villa Medici in Rome to pursue his creative work. He fled from the Villa Medici after two years and returned to Paris. He associated with several women of dubious reputation. His first wife, Rosalie (“Lily”) Texier, a dressmaker, whom he married in 1899, shot herself, though not fatally.

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun:

In the course of his career, which covered only 25 years, Debussy was constantly breaking new ground. He said that exploration was the essence of music. His single completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande (first performed in 1902), demonstrates how Richard Wagner’s concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art work,” which encouraged artists to draw on different art forms to create a cohesive whole) could be adapted to portray subjects like the dreamy nightmarish figures of this opera who were doomed to self-destruction. Debussy and his librettist, Maurice Maeterlinck, said that they were haunted by the terrifying tale of Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher. In his seascape La Mer (1905) he was inspired by the ideas of the English painter J.M.W. Turner and the French painter Claude Monet.

Debussy’s work cannot be judged on the musical level alone. “One must seek the poetry in his work,” said his friend, the French composer Paul Dukas. There is not only poetry in his music; there is often an inspiration from painting. “I love painting [les images, a generic term that might apply to the whole of Debussy’s work] almost as much as music itself,” he told the Franco-American composer Edgard Varèse.

In 1905 Debussy’s illegitimate daughter, Claude-Emma, was born. (He had divorced Lily Texier in 1904 and subsequently married his daughter’s mother, Emma Bardac.) Debussy’s spontaneity and sensitive nature are particularly noticeable in his piano suite, Children’s Corner, which he wrote for his daughter, nicknamed Chouchou.

Seong-Jin Cho plays “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” from Children’s Corner:

Debussy did not adhere to the harmonic practices of the 19th century. He formulated a “21-note scale” designed to “drown” the sense of tonality. Debussy also challenged the traditional way orchestras used instruments. For example, he rejected the idea that string instruments should be predominantly lyrical. The pizzicato scherzo from his String Quartet (1893) and the writing for the violins in La Mer, conveying the rising storm waves, introduce a new concept of string color. In fact, in his music, the conventional utilization of the orchestra, with its rigid woodwind, brass, and string departments, becomes deconstructed sort of in the manner of the Impressionist painters. Each instrument becomes almost a soloist, as in a vast chamber-music ensemble.

Le Mer:

Debussy’s life was cut short by cancer on March 25, 1918.

Information for this article came from the Britannica website.

Keeping Track of Submissions

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Keeping Track of Submissions

Writers, how do you keep track of your submissions?

In the 1990s, I used an Excel spreadsheet, but I never really grasped the functionality of the program. I constantly revised it, but it wouldn’t restructure itself the way I thought it should. It was tedious and unwieldy, altogether too much effort.

When I got serious about submitting my writing again after resigning from teaching, I started recording my submissions the low-tech way, in a steno notebook.

Around the same time I discovered Querytracker, which I use specifically for manuscripts that I submit to agents. (I’m still looking for a literary agent to represent me. Anybody out there interested?) Querytracker maintains a database of literary agencies and publishing houses and links to their websites so you can check out their submission guidelines and what they are looking for. At first I used the free option, and I liked it, but that only works well if you have a single project that you’re sending out. As soon as I had multiple projects, I invested in the subscription option. It’s well worth the $25 a year to keep track of all the places you’ve sent each manuscript and document when and how you sent it and what their response was.

I have lots of smaller projects that I submit to publications: articles and short stories and poems. I enter a lot of contests, and I submit to literary journals. All those I write down in my notebook. Some pages of my notebook are for miscellaneous submissions. I include the date of the submission, exactly which pieces I sent, the name of the publication, the name of the contest, when the deadline for submissions is, and when I can expect a response.

I go through these periodically and make sure that I’ve gotten a response for them. Usually, when I get an email about a piece, I’ll record the decision, and if it’s a rejection, I look over the piece again, see if there’s anything about it that I want to improve, and send it out to a different publication.

elements of fiction
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Poems are tricky. I usually send them out in bunches, and each publication has different guidelines and different fees. (Most contests have a fee; many literary journals also have a fee for non-contest submissions. This is customary, because they operate on a shoestring budget. Sometimes they’ll give you a subscription as well.) So sometimes I send one poem, sometimes three, or five, or ten, depending on the guidelines. Most publications will not accept poems that have been published before, even if it’s only on my own blog. So I’m constantly checking—have I sent this one (or this group of poems) to this magazine already, did I send it in a different grouping, did I post this one on my blog, etc.

For my larger projects (my poetry chapbook, for example) I have separate pages, so I can see at a glance all the contests I’ve already entered it in.

A lot of the contests and publications I submit to prefer to receive submissions through Submittable. I love that, because Submittable shows me everything I’ve submitted through their database, and what its current status is. Most of the time, the contest or publication will respond through email and also through Submittable, so if I miss the email (you know how emails accidentally get deleted or languish in your spam folder) I’ll eventually see the response in Submittable.

My system is not perfect. Sometimes I can’t locate what I’ve sent to a particular journal in the past, as happened just this past weekend.

Now it’s your turn. How do you keep track of your submissions? What features have you invented that work especially well for you? What tweaks would you recommend for me? Please share your experience and ideas in the comments below.

Research for Fiction Writers

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Research for Fiction Writers

When I was a high school student, research papers were my downfall. For weeks I’d diligently scour the reference shelves at the library and take copious notes by hand on index cards (these were the days before photocopiers), and long before I ever exhausted my sources, I’d realize I only had a day or two left to actually write the paper—and no idea how to distill all my notes into a cohesive narrative.

Research is one of the trickiest activities for fiction writers. It’s necessary, because if your details are inaccurate, it will tick off your readers-in-the-know, and give them a reason to dislike your work. (I know there are a lot of stupid people out there, but people who read are smart, mostly.) This is not an exhaustive list, but you might need to do research if:

  • You’re writing historical fiction. You’ll want to understand what the world was like during the period you’re writing about—the political climate, the fashions, popular culture, common names, what the setting would have looked like, etc.
  • You’re writing science fiction. Even though it’s fiction, it’s based on science. You have to know how the science works. Even if you’re creating your own world, in order to be believable, it will have to submit to the laws of physics, or you may have to provide an explanation of why it doesn’t or else risk losing your knowledgeable readership.
  • Your characters are using technology, current, future, or antique. Your readers will expect your characters to use instruments, devices, and terminology properly.
  • You haven’t lived in your story’s setting. Ideally, you should travel there and spend some time. If your situation won’t allow you to do that, you’re forced to depend on other persons’ descriptions and photographs, or create a fictitious but believable setting of your own.
  • Your characters have an occupation or belong to a specific organization. An FBI agent will have a different sort of workday and responsibilities than an elementary school media specialist. Don’t give them authority they do not have.

In order for your research to be successful, though, you will have to avoid these research pitfalls:

  • Over-researching. Do too much, and you’re just wasting time that could be spent working on your story.
  • Under-researching. Do too little, and your writing will lack authenticity.
  • Researching the wrong angles. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. You expect your research will uncover certain things, but it seems no one has ever documented them. And you’re in danger of bypassing the whole forest while hunting for the elusive tree.
  • Looking in all the wrong places. We are accustomed to depending on search engines online to find answers to our questions. Sometimes that’s all we need to do. But sometimes research demands we leave the comfort of our homes and travel to a destination. When that’s not possible, it might be necessary to interview, remotely or in person, someone who is familiar with the location or the issue we need to learn more about.
  • Getting side-tracked. Ah, this is the pit I fall into most often. While looking for background information about one thing, I often discover an equally interesting side-topic, one that spawns lots of what-if ideas that beg to be developed into the next shiny new story. This leads to huge detours where I read just one more article and just one more article until I’ve squandered my writing time and haven’t made any progress at the task at hand.

How to keep your research on track:

  • Set a limit. This can be either a time limit or a page limit. You might devote two weeks, or two months, or even a year or more, depending on the project. Or you might decide that as soon as you have 50 pages of notes, you will get on with it.
  • Make a list of specific items you need to find out about. Important events in the lives of prominent people who directly or indirectly impact your story. The year the trolley first ran down Main Street. What the temperature in your setting was during the winter of 1963. Headlines from the area newspaper during the timespan of your story. Write down everything that you think you might need to know. You won’t use everything you uncover (nor should you), but the more you know, the better prepared you will be to write. And if you do miss an important detail, you can always look it up later.
  • Where and how will you be most likely to find out what you need to know? I always start with a Google search. Choose your search terms carefully. If your search doesn’t yield fruitful results, tweak the terms. Also, if your local library has a research librarian, she can steer you to possible resources. Think about people you know who have knowledge about people, places, and things related to your story. They may be able to direct you to authorities on certain topics. Also, movie documentaries and even dramas and novels with elements in common with your story can reveal information you need to know.
  • Think about how your research will inform your writing. What path will your story take, depending on what learn? Maybe the ending you were planning won’t work, based on what you found out. You may need to re-map your idea. Maybe different complications will yield a more realistic outcome.
  • What to do with the interesting but unrelated stuff you unearth. If you find information that is sparking your imagination with ideas for new projects, by all means, write yourself some notes (or take a picture with your phone). But then put that information someplace else. Don’t keep it with the notes for your current project; it will be a constant distraction.

Happy researching!

Richard Wagner: Genius and Jerk

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When I was in high school and college, I disliked Richard Wagner. To me, his music felt very brass-heavy, thick.

Funny, isn’t it, how life changes you. A few years ago I discovered that Wagner’s music is exceptionally lush. Hearing it live in person gives me chills. This is my favorite:

Talk about strong, beautiful women!

Wagner (1813 –1883) was a German composer, theater director, and conductor best known for his operas (or “music dramas”). He wrote not only the music for each of his stage works, but also the libretto (story line and words). He was also notoriously opinionated, an outspoken socialist German nationalist and anti-Semite. His personal life included political exile, torid love affairs, poverty, and debt.

From childhood he loved opera and knew he wanted to write for musical theater. He pursued music lessons as a means to that end. He was particularly influenced by Beethoven’s music, which he studied and analyzed. He even transcribed Beethoven’s ninth symphony for piano.

Wagner married his first wife, actress Minna Planer, in 1836. In May 1837, Minna left Wagner for another man, but she came back the following year. Their marriage continued in this on-again-off-again manner, due to infidelity and financial problems.

Wagner finished his fourth opera (and first very successful one), Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), in 1843, and Tannhäuser in 1845.

Der fliegende Holländer is about a ghost ship whose ghost captain is cursed to roam the sea forever. The only way to end his everlasting voyage: Every seven years the waves will cast him upon the shore; if he can find a wife who will be true to him, he will be released from his curse. Listen to the overture, hear the waves:

Here is the Grand March from Tannhäuser, arranged for brass and percussion:

Wagner played a minor supporting role in a political uprising in Dresden in 1849, and when a warrant was issued for his arrest, he fled to Switzerland, where he remained until 1858. He had just finished Lohengrin, and he corresponded with his good friend Franz Liszt, begging him to have it staged in his absence. Liszt conducted the premiere in Weimar in 1850.

You may recognize this famous theme from Lohengrin:

While in Switzerland, Wagner conducted a sexual affair with the wife of a friend of a friend. He even planned to run off with her. Meanwhile, his first (and current) wife Minna lapsed into a deep depression. Later, after she discovered he was having an affair with yet another woman, Wagner and Minna separated.

In Switzerland, Wagner worked on Tristan and Isolde and three of the four great dramas that would become the Ring cycle, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Sigfried.

This is archival footage of Jessye Norman singing the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde in 1987, Herbert von Karajan conducting:

Wagner spent the next part of his exile in Venice and Paris, while Minna returned to Germany. She visited him in Paris, and they tried to reconcile, but were unsuccessful.

In 1862, Germany lifted the ban against Wagner, and he returned to Germany, settling in Biebrich. Minna visited him there one more time, but they parted for good. Wagner supported her until her death in 1866.

Wagner began work on Die Meistersinger von Nürmberg. He also tried to have Tristan und Isolde produced in Vienna, but in rehearsals it was deemed “impossible” to sing, and the opera never opened, which added to Wagner’s financial problems.

Wagner’s luck changed in 1864, when King Ludwig II succeeded to the throne of Bavaria at the age of 18. An ardent admirer of Wagner’s operas, he invited the composer to Munich. Ludwig, who was homosexual, expressed his love for the composer, and Wagner feigned reciprocal feelings so he could milk the relationship for opportunities and benefits. Ludwig settled Wagner’s debts and proposed staging Tristan und IsoldeDie Meistersinger, and the Ring dramas. Wagner began work on his autobiography, Mein Leben, at the King’s request.

Tristan und Isolde premiered at National Opera Munich in June of 1865. The conductor of this premiere was Hans von Bülow, whose wife, Cosima, had given birth in April that year to a daughter, named Isolde (whose father was Wagner).

Cosima was 24 years younger than Wagner and was the daughter of the Countess Marie d’Agoult, who had left her husband for Franz Liszt. Liszt initially disapproved of his daughter’s involvement with his friend Wagner. The affair scandalized Munich, and leading members of the court were suspicious of Wagner’s influence on the King. In December 1865, Ludwig was finally forced to ask the composer to leave Munich.

Ludwig installed Wagner at the Villa Tribschen, located beside Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne. Die Meistersinger was completed at Tribschen in 1867, and premiered in Munich in June the following year. At Ludwig’s insistence, “special previews” of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were performed in Munich in 1869 and 1870, but Wagner dreamed of presenting his first complete cycle at a special festival at a new, dedicated, opera house designed to his specifications.

Meanwhile, Cosima begged Hans von Bülow to grant her a divorce, but Bülow refused. He consented only after she had two more children with Wagner; another daughter, named Eva, after the heroine of Die Meistersinger, and a son Siegfried, named for the hero of the Ring. The divorce was finally granted in July 1870. Richard and Cosima’s wedding took place a month later. The marriage lasted to the end of Wagner’s life.

864px-RichardWagner
Richard Wagner

In 1872, the Wagners moved to Bayreuth, where his new opera house would be located. The town council donated a large plot of land—the “Green Hill”—and the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festspielhaus (“Festival Theatre”) was laid. Wagner initially announced the first Bayreuth Festival, at which for the first time the Ring cycle would be presented complete, for 1873, but since Ludwig had declined to finance the project, the start of building was delayed and the proposed date for the festival was postponed. To raise funds for the construction, “Wagner societies” were formed in several cities, and Wagner began touring Germany conducting concerts. By the spring of 1873, only a third of the required funds had been raised; further pleas to Ludwig were initially ignored, but early in 1874, with the project on the verge of collapse, the King relented and provided a loan. The full building program included the family home, “Wahnfried,” into which the Wagners moved in April 1874. The theatre was completed in 1875, and the festival scheduled for the following year. Commenting on the struggle to finish the building, Wagner remarked to Cosima: “Each stone is red with my blood and yours.”

Wagner created several theatrical innovations at Bayreuth; these include darkening the auditorium during performances, and placing the orchestra in a pit out of view of the audience.

The Festspielhaus finally opened in August 1876 with Das Rheingold, at last taking its place as the first evening of the complete Ring cycle; the 1876 Bayreuth Festival  saw the premiere of the complete cycle, performed as a sequence as the composer had intended. The 1876 Festival consisted of three full Ring cycles (under the baton of Hans Richter). At the end, the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg thought the work “divinely composed,” but the French newspaper Le Figaro called the music “the dream of a lunatic.” Friedrich Nietzsche was bitterly disappointed by what he saw as Wagner’s pandering to increasingly exclusivist German nationalism. However, the festival firmly established Wagner as an artist of international prestige.

Wagner was far from satisfied with the Festival; Cosima recorded that months later, his attitude towards the productions was “Never again, never again!” Moreover, the festival finished with a huge deficit. The expenses of Bayreuth and of Wahnfried meant that Wagner still sought further sources of income by conducting or taking on commissions.

Wagner’s most important stage works continue to be performed at the annual Bayreuth Festival, run by his descendants.

Richard Wagner is the earliest composer most specifically associated with the concept of leitmotif. His Der Ring des Nibelungen uses hundreds of leitmotifs, short melodic or harmonic themes often related to specific characters, things, ideas, or situations. While some of these leitmotifs occur in only one of the operas, many recur throughout the entire cycle. This practice is used today extensively in movie soundtracks. John Williams is a master of leitmotif.

I have never sat through one of Wagner’s operas, though I’ve heard excerpts at the Phoenix symphony and seen scenes on TV and online. I’ve discovered that Opera North in England has filmed the entire Ring cycle and posted it on its website. I want to watch it. All of it.

I am seriously considering issuing a challenge to ARHtistic License readers to watch the entire Ring cycle. We’re all busy, so maybe we could do it in segments, one opera per month, and post our reactions. Would you be interested? If so, let me know in the comments below, and give me your suggestions about how we could do this. If by the end of June we have at least ten people who want to participate, we’re on!

Happy May Day!

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Falling midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, May Day, May 1, celebrates the fullness of spring. It started centuries ago in western Europe, and has many different traditions associated with it.

One is to gather flowers from your garden into cone-shaped baskets, hang them on your neighbor’s doorknob, ring the bell, and run away.

Another is to dance around a maypole weaving intricate designs with the ribbons.

When I was a girl attending a Catholic elementary school, our May tradition was that each morning a different girl brought a crown formed out of flowers from our home gardens. We processed out of the school building singing a hymn such as “Immaculate Mary” and the chosen maiden of the day crowned a statue of Mary on the school grounds. Then we sang another hymn, “Queen of the May” in Mary’s honor.

Have you ever participated in a May Day celebration?

National Poetry Writing Month

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by yeongkyeong lee

April is both National Poetry Month and National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). Also Global Poetry Writing Month (GloPoWriMo), if you live somewhere other than the United States.

For the last few years, I’ve been on the poetry writing bandwagon, writing a poem a day (well, I try to, anyway) during April and October (OctPoWriMo). I invite you to join me this year.

There’s a number of ways you can participate. Check out the official website for the NaPoWriMo challenge. Or, join Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer for his Poem-A-Day challenge. You may find other poetry writing challenges online. You can use the suggested prompts if you wish, or not—they’re meant to be a starting point to get the juices flowing, but you can take off in any direction. You can post them online if you want, on a blog, in website comments, on social media. Or you can write them in your notebook and share them or not. You have incredible latitude.

I only became serious about writing poetry a few years ago. I’ve always loved poetry, but my early attempts at writing were so bad that I gave up. A book titled poemcrazy gave me some direction, and I love writing poems now. I mean to write a poem every other day year-round, but life interferes. Poem-a-day challenges help me be more intentional, although some days I can’t write a poem to save my life.

You can also celebrate National Poetry Month by reading poetry. Go to the library and check out a couple of anthologies. Or visit the two websites linked above (and ARHtistic License!) to read the daily offerings. Dissonance also posts daily poems. Poets.org has a poem-a-day page (you can sign up to have them email you a daily poem). You can also sign up for a morning poem email from The Paris Review. Or read poetry on Instagram.

Whether you read poems or write them, don’t let April go by without celebrating them.

Tasks That Can Be Accomplished in Just a Few Minutes

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It used to annoy me when I’m ready to go somewhere but my husband is not. “I just have to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth.” Instead of being mad or drumming my fingers or making impatient noises, I now try to use those waiting moments to accomplish something, anything. Often, I do things I’ve been procrastinating. It doesn’t take long to:

  • Move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer.
  • Take out the garbage.
  • Write a “thinking of you” card. (I have a friend who is medically fragile and has to limit her contact with people. I miss her so much and think about her all the time. A few times a year, I go to the dollar store and buy as many sweet or funny cards as I can find, and send one to her every week or so. I keep them in a plastic bag on my desk along with an index card with her address on it. Every time I realize it’s been a week, I dash one off to her. It only takes a couple of minutes.)
  • Wipe out the microwave.
  • Scrub the sink.
  • Dust one room with a feather duster. (Now you have an excuse to buy a feather duster.)
  • Do some lunges and stretches and yoga breathing.
  • Play some scales on the piano.
  • Sanitize the counter.
  • Brush the toilet.
  • Send up a prayer. (Can’t think of anything to pray about? Just say thank you. A spirit of gratitude improves your day and your relationships.)
  • Drink a full glass of water. It’s good for you, and sometimes we don’t drink enough.
  • Make the bed.
  • Change a light bulb.
  • Sweep the kitchen or laundry room or front porch.
  • Sew on a button.
  • Pet the dog or cat.
  • Tickle a child.
  • Comb your hair.
  • Make sure you’ve got your phone/wallet/keys/sunglasses.

Every time I’m able to accomplish a little chore in what could have been wasted time, I feel positively virtuous. When I’m stuck waiting away from home, I’ll pray or do some small exercises (neck rolls, tightening my abdomen, etc). And I always bring a book if I’m going to a doctor appointment.

Now it’s your turn. How do you deal with waiting? Are there activities you complete in random moments? Share in the comments below.

Hattie McDaniel

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Hattie McDaniel was a groundbreaking actress, the first African-American to win an Oscar for best supporting actress. Here’s her story:

I knew about Hattie McDaniel’s role in Gone with the Wind, but I didn’t know she was also a singer. Here she is in 1943’s Thank Your Lucky Stars, singing “Ice-Cold Katie”:

McDaniel costared with James Cagney in Johnny Come Lately in 1943:

Here is McDaniel with Ruby Dandridge on The Beulah Show in 1952. She passed away from breast cancer later that year.

Here she is in her most famous role: