Tuesday, April 30, 2019

IWSG: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 ~ The Power of a Word

It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh are:
Lee Lowery,  Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.


Every month the IWSG that members can answer with advice, insight,
a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is:

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?


Happy IWSG Day, Everyone!

Last night my husband went to turn off an outside light
and spotted a package on the porch step:
My preordered copy of Masquerade Oddly Suited had arrived!

The Newest IWSG Anthology
Just Released
Insecure Writers Support Group

Terry's turning off lights meant that it was late in the evening,
and I could squeeze in only the first story before sleep claimed me:
L.G. Keltner's Masquerade Oddly Suited
from which the anthology derives its title and cover illustration.

This tale of a masquerade date in a high school production
of a game show is a funny and poignant love story,
alive with the angst and awkwardness of being thrust
into close proximity with someone you're crazy about,
but who views you, at best, as a good buddy.

I reluctantly closed the anthology last night,
and I can't wait to read more of it tonight.

The anthology arrived just in time, 
because the night before last I had finished 
Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker,
and I was ready for a new book.

Tonja is another talented and published IWSG member
whose  juvenile fiction book I thoroughly enjoyed.

Music Boxes begins with twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay
and her family moving into a Manhattan apartment
after leaving their farm in wide open, blue-skied Nebraska.
Lindsey's eight-year-old sister Bridget, a precocious violinist,
has been accepted to study at The Juilliard School,
and their parents have moved to New York 
so Bridget can pursue her musical dreams.

Lindsey has dreams of her own; she wants to be a ballerina.
However, her dreams have taken second place to Bridget's
and she will have to take ballet lessons at the local community center.

On her way to pick up pizza for the family, 
Lindsey encounters a small, yippy terrier tied to a post.
This seemingly chance meeting opens the door
to an opportunity for Lindsey to advance her ballet dreams.

Lindsey meets the dog's owner Madame Destinée,
who just happens to own and to teach at a top dance school.
Madame DestinĂ©e offers Lindsey an irresistible deal:
free dance lessons in exchange for performing in the school's midnight shows.

When something seems to be too good to be true, it usually is,
and Lindsey soon finds herself caught in a sinister mystery.
If she can't solve it in time, Lindsey will likely meet a horrific fate,
being trapped in a perpetual pose as a tiny ballerina in a music box.

Will Lindsey succeed or not?  
I recommend you read Music Boxes to find out.

This month's IWSG question immediately sent me back to the fall of 1955,
to my father's den in our Charlottetown apartment
and my newly-arrived-in-kindergarten self,
to the moment I was about to learn the power of language.

Yours Truly
Edward Street
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Circa Fall, 1955
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Yours Truly ~ Up Close
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My father was working under the light of his goose-necked lamp
at his cluttered desk in the corner of his den.
His desk stood below a large, framed photograph of University Hall
at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

At five, I already knew that after kindergarten came school,
and when I graduated from school in the distant future,
I would go to university at Acadia.

I remember seeing my mother through the door to the kitchen
where she was drying the supper dishes.
When she finished, it would be time for my bath and my bedtime story.

I also knew that I shouldn't bother my father when he was busy at his desk,
but I was curious about the reading, writing, and typing
he often did late into the night,
so I sometimes watched from a respectful distance.

However, this evening we were chatting about my day at kindergarten
as he folded papers and stuck them in envelopes.
I don't remember what I was saying, 
but I do remember my father interrupting my prattle
with a startled, "What did you just say?"

I looked from my father to my mother
who had set down her dishtowel and hurried through the kitchen door.
"Nothing," I said, acutely aware that I must have said something very wrong.

"You said "f**king," my father answered for me.

"Where did you learn a word like that, Weesie?" 
said my mother, kneeling down beside me so she could look me in the eye.

"What's wrong with "f**king?" I asked in bewilderment through welling tears.  
"I learned it from one of the boys on the playground at recess."

"It.   Is.   A.   Very.   Bad.   Word!" explained my father.

"Nice people don't use that word," added my mother,
whom I later came to understand substituted "fiddlesticks"
for that very bad word when a situation called for a strong expression.

"Why is it bad?  What's wrong with it?"

"It's a swear word," said my father.

"And good girls don't swear," added my mother.  "Ever."

"And, if I ever hear you use that word again," said my father,
"I will wash your mouth out with a bar of soap!"

I didn't doubt that he would.  

I've never forgotten that experience:  the lamplight, University Hall,
the cluttered desk, the dishtowel, and the rack of dishes,
the power of a single word bringing my busy parents to a full stop.
I never had my mouth washed out with soap; 
although my brother did once when he forgot the power of words.

My father and mother taught me many lessons about the power of language
over the years, as my parents and my teachers; 
but surely this one has stood out above all others in my memory.  

Happy Writing in May!
I'm looking forward to visiting around!

Me and My Beloved Scottie MacBeath
Not Long After Graduating from Acadia
Westport, White Bay, Newfoundland 
March 26, 2019
Photo by Terry Barbour
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh dear, to think one word can be so devastating. I remember our Pharmacy manager at the public hospital where I worked, his son came home with the same word, and he had to write out 100 times,I cannot say **** ever again, or words similar. Why the 100 times I don't remember, but even to me it seemed a lot of lines for a small boy. He is all grown up now, and a talented Geologist.

    1. Great news about the anthology arriving. Enjoyed the post and the photo's are great. Have a lovely month of May.


    2. Hi, Jean! The poor kiddo! That would be an excruciating punishment for an active little boy! Our school district had a policy against having kids write lines as a punishment, one I heartily agreed with. I had to endure that a number of times growing up. I'd start with "I" and write it down the page in a column. Then I'd start on the second word "will" in another column, and so on. Total and ineffective waste of time! I'm sure that New Zealand inspires many people to study geology. It is a geologic wonder. Have a lovely day, my friend! Big hugs to you!

    3. Hi, Yvonne! Wishing you a lovely month of May too! We're still not safe from snow. Snow fell in a series of thick-flaked showers late yesterday afternoon and into the evening. The ground was warm enough to melt them quickly. It's clear, bright, and chilly this morning. I always am happy when people enjoy my photos. It certainly beats having them hidden away in boxes for decades.

  2. Awesome you got your copy of the book and enjoyed the first story!
    I think we all remember the first time that word slipped in front of our parents. However, I was a teen and knew exactly what I was saying.

    1. Hi, Alex! I was well into adulthood before I ever said that word again in front of my parents. However I did use it judicially and sparingly for effect while growing up. To this day I refuse to use "fiddlesticks!" Diane's Freedom Fox Press delivered my copy, securely wrapped and before I expected it. It was another late night for me getting this post up last night, but I enjoyed reading "Sea of Sorrows" by Anstice Brown and "The Dark Charade" by C.D. Gallant-King before conking out. I was guessing which title was the Newfie story, because Newfoundland is dear to my heart, and I stumbled into Anstice's bittersweet story of sea sirens in wildest Scotland. Then I found Gallant-King's fun story. Duh ~ Gallant is such a Down East name ~ LOL. Of course, I loved it too, for its setting, characters, and ending! (I'm trying not to put in spoilers here.) I shall read the rest in order. Enjoy your day!

  3. I remember when that was the worst word one could ever say, too. Now it's every second word in today's parlance. How times have changed!

    1. Boy have they ever, Debra! I won't say I use the word daily in my parlance; but, having lived in Newfoundland, I use it a lot more than I should!

  4. You narrowly avoided that scene in A Christmas Story with the soap.

    I'm happy to hear your book arrived yesterday. I'm also delighted you enjoyed Tonja's book so much.

    1. Yes, I did, Diane; likely, because I was a serious child and tried to be a good one, especially around adults. Also, Christmas was coming in a few months, and I was aware Santa was watching me. I suspected that he lurked a lot in my father's den, and I was quite certain I once caught a glimpse of his bearded face in the corner of the ceiling adjacent to my father's desk.

      My preordered anthology arrived securely wrapped by your shipper and early. I was happy and pleased!

      I wish I had had Tonja's book while I was teaching. For years a colleague and I had an after school literature and art group for gifted and talented third graders. I would have loved using her book which was certainly accessible and appropriate for my advanced students to read. I'm already imagining the music boxes we could have crafted for fun to accompany the story or their portraits as dancers in a music box.

      Heck, I'd have likely read the book aloud to my entire class. I had many girls, in particular, who studied dance, including one who became a ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre in New York. Unfortunately early on, she was injured when her partner dropped her in a rehearsal. But, always a fighter, she went on to a successful career as a Rockette.

      I am having so much fun reading books by IWSG authors!!!
      Have a good one!

  5. Glad you avoided the soap in your mouth. Thanks for sharing your pictures. Diane is right. Times have changed some on getting upset about swear words.

    1. So am I, Natalie! I can't imagine how awful that would have been. I don't think parents today threaten their children with such consequences. Enjoy your day!

  6. Words are so powerful. I feel like we should think before we speak. Love your photos and story.


    1. Thanks, Teresa! I know I should think before I speak, but sometimes my mouth runs ahead of my brain ~ LOL! Thanks for co--hosting today. I'll be by shortly!

  7. A bar of soap for powerful words...it made me smile at the memories. Which is funny because soap honestly tastes terrible (we had ours washed out for lying too). I can't wait to dive into a copy of Masquerade, especially after hearing it kept you up. And I'm so glad you enjoyed Music Boxes! Thanks a bunch for the shout-out. It means the world :)

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Tonja! I stayed up late reading your "Music Boxes" too! It is a great story that I think would appeal to a range of ages. As I told Diane Wolfe, I wish I had had your book before I retired from teaching. I definitely would have read it aloud to my third graders, as I often read them books that pushed them to want to read beyond their grade level. Oh the fun we could have had with that story and enriching activities. I loved too, that it had a female protagonist and featured dance and music, so encouraging to young girls at a critical time in their development. As an older adult I enjoyed your book from the perspective of my young dreams and flawed judgement. I've often joked that I made it through growing up because of good luck. I wish you great success with "Music Boxes!"

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anna! I hope that you are having a great day!

  9. I love your f****** story! Love the photos, too.

  10. It is amazing how early experiences stick with us forever. I remember once at the dinner table, at an early age (early, because my parents were still together), I raised my beverage glass and said, "let's get together with a glass of shits . . ." My father nearly came undone, while my mother assured him I meant "Schlitz", from the then-popular beer commercial. "Shits" remains forever in my mind as a word not appropriate for the dinner table.

    1. Thank you for sharing this hilarious memory! I am laughing so hard that my stomach hurts! Cheers!

  11. haha you at least knew how to get their attention and make them drop everything. Good you avoided any soap. I got threatened with soap, but never got any. I don't think I ever got caught saying it in front of them until way later, when I was an old fart and it didn't matter. I remember I heard damn as a kid though and said it every other word and they kept trying to get me to stop.

    1. Haha right back at you! I heard "damn" a lot, too, and once I called my father on it. He told me that he was saying "dam: d . a . m" which was a perfectly fine word. After that, I used "dam" a lot; and Dad had to admit that he'd given me that comeback. He recognized a losing battle when he saw one. Have a good one!

  12. You got your copy of the anthology. Awesome! I grew up Navy around sailors. My language was considered "colorful". I was made to sit in the corner of many a class rooms moving around as a navy brat growing up. Great post! Happy IWSG Day!

    1. I'm laughing at your comment, Adrienne! As a Navy brat, of course your language would be "colorful." Definitely "salty!" I spent a lot of time in classroom corners, not because of my language, but because I was a great talker and very social. A corner is not a fun place to be, so you have my sympathy. Happy IWSG Day back at you! I hope you've had fun!

  13. that 1955 photo is gorgeous!!
    I love your memory abut swearing. So amusing. Kids will hear everything and pick up all the wrong words.

    1. Thanks, Lynda! You've got to love kids! They are such wonderful human beings! Have a good one!

  14. Wonderful photos!
    I wish I could say I had a similar experience, but the f-bomb was the only one not allowed in our household, so I didn't really learn which words were swear words until I went to school and got in trouble for calling another kid a foul name. I didn't have to go the principal's office only because the teacher believed me when I asked her which words were swear words and which weren't. I really didn't know. There are a few words I didn't get in trouble over for many, many years and so there are a few left that I forget about more often than not. For me, the choice not to swear is a greater freedom than swearing.

    1. Thanks, Tyrean! I enjoyed reading your comment. You had a perceptive and wise teacher, and I'm glad that she listened to you. I try not to swear. I really don't like it. But I find myself swearing a blue streak daily at the news on the tv. I worry about Alexa might be recording ~ LOL! Enjoy your day!

  15. I loved seeing your pictures. I also love how vividly you shared your experience with us in words. I remember a similar experience but not with such vivid detail. I love the way you parents handled it in such a loving but corrective way.

    1. Thanks, Juneta! I was fortunate to have wonderful parents@

  16. Oh dear Louise you look like a very special ,promising and wonderful pretty princess :)))


    books from your writing group friends sound just great to me

    when you start to tell your childhood stories i want world still and silent around me ,right now my both sons younger and the youngest are playing xbox game and making bit noise along but when i started to peeking into your mom's kitchen and dad's table along with your cute appropriate behavior i was lost in your world totally !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    yes we were so blessed and lucky to have such parents who taught us about power of language with the idea of RIGHT AND WRONG

    but unfortunately now it's rare ,almost no more

    many times i stop watching the show or movie because the word you mentioned is spoken more frequently than other normal words ,it disgust my stomach and i quit the program
    immediately by thinking that where is media leading us

  17. Hi, Baili! You always warm my heart with wonderful and uplifting comments! I hate when movies are overloaded with that word, too! I shall always be thankful for my wonderful parents, as you are also! Sending you a big hug, my dear friend!

  18. Both books sound like fun reads! I am glad you are enjoying them.

    B***H was my first swear word, and I strongly recall the taste of the bar of soap my mama wedged between my teeth after I used it in front of her. I was 4 at the time, and believe you me, didn't think of using swear words in front of her again after that. I can't help but be reminded of soap taste every time I see a can of Dr. Pepper since it wasn't something we were allowed to have at that age, but mama let me wash the taste of the soap out of my mouth with a huge swig of it after I had learned my lesson.

  19. I've had my mouth washed out with soap and it wasn't even my fault! LOL!
    I have to admit, I do use that word, but not that much. My oldest brother uses it all the time and I have to admit, I don't like it. Not saying I'm "Miss Perfect", LOL, I just don't think it's a world that should be used so much, but it is these days! Big Hugs!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.