Friday, October 31, 2014

Not in the Mooood

I am not in the mooood to blog today. I'd like to throw on a cow suit and traipse around town with "moos" and "boos," but, in the spirit of going-through-the-motions and putting one hoof in front of the other, here is my next blogging assignment.

  • Read Chapter 11, Editing,  in this bad boy and summarize it.  Here goes...

I didn't have the oomph to throw on a suit,
so I threw the book in the bin.
This chapter discusses the editing process as it pertains to text, images and video. It's contradictory that the author, Sean Morey, titled the chapter "Editing" but then goes on to say, "Although you might lump terms such as proofreading, editing and revising into one group, the three activities are quite different and will be addressed separately..."  Um. OK. So those three are different, and editing is only part of it, but it's still all called editing. Sounds about like the Holy Trinity.

I've thought of these three in writing because I've had plenty of writing over the years. As I've written more blogs and columns recently, though, I've become reacquainted with the three in a slightly different context.   

I've had about fifty columns published since I started 18 months ago and I'd characterize my personal editing process as "dynamic." Not as in, "wow!" but as in "fluid and constantly changing."  The newspaper editor(s) don't edit my material. I'd like to think it's because my pieces are fantastic and editing is unnecessary, but it's more likely because they don't have time and the columns are a commentary any way.

I have a collection of friends that I call on for edits and proofing before I submit piece. The more political or opinion-focused something is, the more effort I put into making sure someone else's eyes see it before I send it. I have one due at 5:00 today and I haven't started yet. This is going to be a happy-go-lucky column because I've not left much time for the editing process, and I can't expect my friends to fit it in either. Good editing takes time.

I'm constantly working at becoming more adept at the revision process. My best columns and blogs have been ones that I've begun with a stream of consciousness flowing freely from my mind to the keyboard and then allowed myself time to go back and cut and rework. Trying to nail down the perfect and exact 600-800 words at  the onset rarely produces a great work. I've gotten lucky a time or two, however, but that's usually been when I'm filled with so much emotion about a topic that the piece practically writes itself. (This blog is not going to be one of those lucky times.)

In addition to discussing the process of editing text, the author extends his instruction to editing images and audio.  Now I'm learning somethin'. 

Sure, I've played with some bare-bones photo editing in Picasa and on my iPhone, but I've not even ever used photoshop. What I've done is considered part of the revision process or the proofreading step, but not necessarily editing. I thought it was interesting to learn that for journalistic purposes there are rules and standards for how much a photo can be edited while still maintaining "journalistic integrity."  I don't have the photo editing skills yet to produce images without journalistic integrity, but I'm learning!

We have an assignment due in a few weeks to produce a video essay. I have no idea how this is going to go , but I feel slightly better after reading this chapter and having a class discussion about it.  The key points I need to consider while editing are transitions, cuts, close-ups, and tempo, When I get to the proofreading step, continuity errors, factual errors, holes in the message, inadvertent reveals or visible equipment. So, not a selfie-style video? Damn.

I warned my professor that I would be really irritated if what we've discussed and what I'll learn in creating video media disrupts my enjoyment of Scandal when I finally find time for a date night with Kerry Washington and my DVR. I do not have enough of an interest in becoming a good videographer to ruin my enjoyment of what little TV and movies I watch. He assured me I'll be okay. I have an idea he's right, but by golly I'm not going to go above and beyond on this next assignment to risk it. 

I'm late in turning this assignment in and the bummer is--I actually read the chapter early. Work, school, life, exercise, writing...they're all getting in the way of each-udder and I hope I can wrangle my time better mooooving forward--not just for the video essay, but everything.  This chapter was a great reminder. It's not just editing. Good anything takes time and I need to be better at time before I can be better at anything.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cupcakes, Cancer and a Cow

I got to see some good today!  And I'm pretty sure--as in positive--that the cow suit is responsible for the opportunity. Hooray Cow Suit!

My friend Paula Ames runs Cake Creations. She is a masterful cake artist who creates the most beautiful and tasty cakes and cupcakes you'll ever experience. Truly. Her creations ARE an experience.

On her Facebook page on Mondays, she asks her fans for nominations for her Tasty Tuesdays surprise cupcake delivery. She picks a different theme each week, and since I've known her, she's recognized teachers, first responders, law enforcement officials, kids with courage, and cancer survivors to name a few. Throughout October (which is known as breast cancer awareness month) Paula is asking her fans each week to help her recognize people in any number of cancer's insidious circles. 

Today's nomination request read as follows:

I would like to recognize the people who SUPPORT the people who have this awful illness. Not the doctors and nurses, but the friends and family that are always there, that drive to treatments, that make meals, that provide a shoulder....

Paula was set to leave on vacation today, so my cow suit and I got to make the surprise deliveries for Tasty Tuesday! I was supposed to pick two, but I begged her to let me pick three. She obliged.

Eben Curtiss
My first delivery of the day was to Eben Curtiss at Hawthorne Middle school. I went to Hawthorne middle school as a kid. Today's walk up the steps, despite the cow suit, was comfortable and familiar. I asked one of the young boys raising the flags to open the door for me and he only snickered a little bit as he beat me to the entrance. I love it when kids are courteous to the cow.

I checked into the office, and the secretary led me to Eben's class.  This is what I wanted to say about Eben that appeared in a nomination from his mom Kim and sister Tenly.

He has been the best brother a little girl could ask for! He never left her side for a minute! He has gone to every doctor’s appointment and MRI, and CAT SCAN. He held her hand for many pokey needles and endured a few hospital stays and being away from home- ALOT! He empties puke buckets and has helped change sheets and clothes when she couldn't make to to the bucket. He is a bit of a worry wart. Sometimes I feel the poor kid takes a back seat when things with Tenley get crazy and he has never once complained!!

Cupcakes may be small little tokens but they can sure bring some sweet sunshine and happiness to people dealing with the mess that cancer makes. I was leading into it, I glanced up. I was afraid that I was going to make Eben too sad with all of those words, so I talked about how he shows courage and support and how embarrassed he must be to have a cow call him out in front of his friends. His class clapped and sighed and I encouraged them to show good to others like he has shown his sister.

A Hiccup for the Heifer
My second delivery wasn't home!!  I was so sad. I'm still so sad. Sad enough in fact, that I've written a card to the nominee (a cow card) and I'm going to tell her about my trek through Chubbuck, standing on her porch and ringing her doorbell in my cow suit while her neighbor was pulling out of his driveway. She has a child with cancer. 

As I was leaving her house full-handed with a dozen cupcakes, I was torn with what to do. I texted Paula--what are the rules? WHAT ARE THE RULES?  I'm a cow who sometimes struggles with freedoms outside the corral. She said, "do whatever you want."  I rolled my cow eyes at her.

As I was driving, names and faces of friends I've known for years flooded my mind. I was involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for over seven years with our team Cows for a Cure and then Ryleigh's Herd.  I thought of my entire team and their individual stories of supporting their loved ones through treatments, battles and losses. I was overwhelmed and couldn't make a decision. I thought about Bob. He'd love them and then I wouldn't be stuck in the judge's seat. 
My dog Bob admiring the maple cakes the night before delivery.
Patricia Barnhill
But then--because of where I was in Chubbuck--it hit me!  My pal Pat Barnhill! She lives just blocks away from where I was, so I called her.  
Pat and I in our coordinating autumn attire
a couple years ago on her birthday.
"Hi, Pat. This is Billie. Hey, I know you've got a book group today. Would you like some cupcakes?"


"Well, actually. I'm two minutes from your house, so I'll be in your driveway shortly in a cow suit with some cupcakes for ya. I'll explain when I get there."

Thankfully Pat already knows about and accepts me for my cow suit shenanigans so this wasn't too weird. Although I thought she could "use" the cupcakes, Pat is exactly a testament to what Paula hoped to recognize today.

At 85 years old, Pat has seen a lot of cancer. She herself is a survivor and her husband Ken died more than a decade ago from lymphoma. She was absolutely Ken's support, but the thing about Pat that makes her so deserving of today's treat is how she reacts when she hears of people she knows going through treatment. 

Pat always cooks a meal or makes a cake and rallies the troops. She no longer drives, and as frustrated as she gets about how that affects her , I know she feels great frustration because it's affected her ability to help and serve others. She still cooks, though, and finds people to be her courier. She makes phone calls and writes letters (old school, real, handwritten letters) to help and comfort however she can. She is relentless in reaching out and so are the ladies in her book club. 

Pat is also humble as all get out and she's probably going to scold me for all of this, but hey--at least I didn't use the picture I have of her in cow horns.

When I got there, Pat was still getting ready for her day & preferred
not to have her picture taken, so I snapped the room
where all of her book club ladies will be in a few hours.
Dr. Michael Callaghan
My final delivery today was to Dr. Mike Callaghan at the Portneuf Medical Center Cancer Center. Dr. Callaghan championed the development of a guest house for patients who have to travel for treatment. 

Look how Dr. Callaghan holds the box
so the pink in my ears just pops! Bam!
Although Paula's instruction for today's nomination was intended to "steer" folks toward supporters outside of the medical profession and focus on friends and families, Dr. Callaghan's efforts facilitate precisely that. With a guest house close to the cancer center, families can be together at times when they need to be the most. A high level of emotional support is critical in cancer care, and thanks to Dr. Callaghan and PMC's new guest house, more people can be the kind of support their loved ones need.
As I was finding a parking place, I noticed the campers
that some families still use while loved ones are
going through treatment. Especially in the winter months,
a guest house is invaluable.
Paula and Cake Creations do Tasty Tuesday to encourage people to think about and see the good in people. The good around us. The good in life. I'm usually pretty good at seeing good, but I'm grateful to Paula for lending me her Tasty Tuesday lens to see good a little differently today.

You don't need a cow suit...Go see something good! Go be something good!
(ahem) One of the business cards I was supposed
to remember to hand out today with my delivery.