New Horizons Writers’ Group

What is New Horizons Writer’s Group?

Bob Hirt

For the newer members of our group, I thought it appropriate to restate some of the policies and thoughts about our group that you may not be familiar with. I, and most of us, wanted it to be open and casual with one another. We want to encourage friendship that comes with trust and kindness, easy exchange, even laughter. We’re all trying to convey something to one another in a relaxed environment.

1. Keep It Simple: Even though I am the founder, I’m not sure we need a president. If we choose, we might want to have one person as a moderator, on a rotating basis. I don’t think a microphone is necessary at this point.

2. There are no dues: Other groups may feel the need for that, but not us at this point.

3. Critiquing: A Big Issue! Someone mentioned a long-gone professor who “ripped” into folks, insulting them and correcting them without mercy. There is no place for that here amongst friends and fellow amateurs. We each have our own style, but constructive comments are welcome, and especially if the writer invites them. Positive feedback, as well as compliments or a way of saying something differently or a humorous comment, helps. Similar experiences or related incidents by another member are welcome, or a comment or related experiences add to an amicable and positive session. A photograph might even be passed around as a way of sharing.

4. Time Limits: Always an issue, but some time constraints are necessary in the interest of others present, or one may waive their time slot at a particular meeting. I do feel that 7-10 minutes is fair (again, subject to discussion and general agreement). A suggestion is a limit of four double-spaced pages.* Our meetings are limited to two hours for use of that room. Just coming to listen to others without reading can, in itself, be enjoyable or enlightening. One need not have something to read at every session. Needless to say, we do not want salacious writing and harsh profanity.

5. In a small group such as ours, if only two or three people show up on any particular session, it wouldn’t be prudent to have that session, in my opinion. Thus, an early phone call indicating absence would be nice. If we are to remain as a viable group, and I sincerely want that. Just saying, “I was just too busy,” or “Something else came up,” is not satisfactory.

Obviously, as retirees, we travel and travel is excusable, as are emergencies and family sickness issues. We start promptly. Coming late from a job or other meeting is very much discouraged.

6. I believe a small group has its merits, and at this time, we’re limiting our member numbers to 10 – a more recent decision. Members may bring a guest.

8. We meet on the first Monday of every month at 1:00 p.m. in the Oakwood

Clubhouse Library. We are limited to two hours of use.

9. We’d love to remain a viable group. We think the Robson Community loves to see stories in the Splash. Please submit them regularly if you think they’re interesting, funny and good reading. Also, others reading our stories may interest them in joining our group. Submit them to [email protected] (by the 12th of the month) and definitely state that they are being submitted as part of the New Horizons Writers’ Group.

* I am open for your comments, thoughts, questions, additions, subtractions, etc. Everything is open for discussion.

Hold on to your Tiara

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

I, for one, am a worrier. A day doesn’t go by when I am not worrying about something, even the smallest of things. Carrying my worries on my shoulders has been extremely heavy all my life and painful. I worry about everything. Events coming up, past events, and others who want me to worry for them. My family always commented, “Why are you always worrying? It is not going to do you any good, only make you ill, make you nervous and sick.” It’s my nature. At my age, the worrying I do just gets more intense. Achieving nothing. Only pains throughout my body, head, back, fingers, legs, etc. If you don’t think worrying could attack all places throughout your body and mind, you are mistaken.

Most of all, I worry what people say to me, do to me and think of me. Am I worthy? Oh, let me think, should I say something dumb or funny today? Am I smart? Am I thoughtful? Am I loving? Am I working up to my potential? Can I do things others do? Do I spend every single day trying to please others? Do others see me as smart, caring, thoughtful and giving of others? Every once in a while, I look into the mirror and assure myself my imaginary tiara is on straight and not falling to one side. Wearing my tiara on my head is there for a reason … it is “the value I place on myself does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see my worth.”

When people try to discourage me, I just fluff out my tutu and dance away.

Take my advice, hold on to your tiara. You are worth the respect. Don’t allow others to pull you down and try to tip the tiara off your head until it doesn’t exist. Especially if they know they can do it to you. Hold on to it tight.

You are special, I am special. We give of ourselves to others and when they don’t reciprocate, sometimes we get angry and tell ourselves don’t do it again. Then you look at yourself in the mirror and make certain your tiara is up there on your head. You start believing you are a good and giving person, no matter what others think.

There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy.

There are times when someone disappoints me, angers me or tells me I can’t do anything their way and manages to bring me down, so I begin to believe it. I want to act out, stoop to their level of bad behavior and then … I say to myself …

Knowing when to walk away … is Wisdom, Being able to … is Courage and finally … Walking away with your head held high is Dignity.

I am special … This tiara tells me so. Hold tight. Every life has meaning. We are all here for a reason.

Life is like a Camera …

FOCUS on what’s important

CAPTURE the good times

DEVELOP from the negatives

And if things don’t work out

Take another Shot.

The Serenity of Giverny, the Sorrow of Normandy

Bob Hirt

Our ship with a passenger list of some 125 people, most coming from the United States, docked on the outskirts of Conflans, France. We happily disembarked on this stirring eight-day trip to experience the wonders of another world. We languished in the softness and serenity of Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, its small famous arch covered in green vines, as well as the water lilies in the little pond where fish bubbled up thither and yon.

It was difficult to leave and move on to our next stop, Honfleur, with its busy shops. As we left the ship, a carousel nearby was lazily turning, as if beckoning the little ones there to part with their coins. It seems so out of place, sitting there alone near the commercial waterfront. The cute little sidewalk shops are also hard for any woman to resist with their beautiful facades and multi-colored umbrellas, scarves and sundry wares.

From there we sailed on to Rouen, a truly a classic Old-World town with its Joan of Arc site and the many memorabilia commemorating her sainthood. The cathedral there, close to 500 years old, is most inviting with all the statuary made entirely of wood carvings. Two black ceramic cats grace the peak of a nearby church’s roof and angrily challenge each other daily, as they have been for over a century.

While on shipboard, we met new friends from California, as well as an elderly veterinarian from Michigan, septuagenarian twins from Pennsylvania, a younger couple from Ottawa, Canada, and many others. We sat at a different table each evening. All in all, it was such a positive experience that will reign in our minds for years to come.

We went on to Normandy and Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and Pointe du Hoc, the latter strategically perched between the two. The trip to that last site imbued in us a picture of Hitler’s soldiers raining bullets down upon our troops as they were ascending the cliffs at each side from Pointe du Hoc’s concrete bunkers. Just a few days before we had quietly strolled the inviting serene gardens at Giverny, Monet’s home. It can be difficult to juggle the contrasting images in the brain: Hitler’s troops in savage battle with American troops, on the one hand, and the sleepiness, the quietude of Monet’s Gardens not that far away in that very same country!

Our tour guide Nadia explained how Hitler had concrete defensive bunkers built at Pointe du Hoc by slaves brought in from France, Germany and other countries. When someone asked what happened to these workers when the tasks were completed … were they then set free? … She pointed to the open sea and said, “When I tell you how deep and treacherous that water is out there, I think you will have a good idea what happened to them.” A quiet, reflective moment came over those of us next to her. No further explanation was needed.

The impeccably-groomed Normandy American Cemetery, a 172-acre plot high on a plateau, holds the remains of 9,387 American troops. We placed our hands over our hearts as our National Anthem was played and Taps sounded. A lone veteran of World War II stood before us and saluted the American flag at the Memorial there. There were only a few who left with dry eyes as the commemoration ended.

I can only emphasize by way of a dictum, an emphatic pronouncement made when one of our generals was confronted by a French nationalist about America’s “imperialistic nature.” This is what he said, and it is forever carved onto a stone facade at a site in Normandy: “IF EVER PROOF WERE NEEDED THAT WE FOUGHT FOR A CAUSE AND NOT FOR CONQUEST IT COULD BE FOUND IN THESE CEMETERIES. HERE WAS OUR ONLY CONQUEST: ALL WE ASKED FOR. . . WAS ENOUGH SOIL IN WHICH TO BURY OUR GALLANT DEAD.”

One day, we may go back again to Monet’s Gardens to re-balance the emotions of that very trip, a milestone in all of our many travels. But for now, Normandy will remain as a nugget, as a gem of deep dedication and as a measure of America’s enduring struggle at that time for world peace.