The Last Wagon Wheel Rug

Leaning in a forlorn way against the wall, the final wagon wheel rug remained unfinished. It would have been a beautiful rug with the subtle shades of gray, taupe and cream blended together.

Unfortunately, health problems followed by the death of Clyde and a year later of Gail meant the unique rug was never completed. Few people knew the skills needed for this kind of rug-making.

2007-01-10 mom's camera 009

Still pinned to the wheel, it was relegated to the dusty garage where it rested on the cracked, concrete floor. When the estate sale was held, someone purchased the partly woven rug on its wheel.

I hope they had an interest in learning the craft and went ahead to finish the weaving. I hope they had the vision to see what a beautiful rug it would be.

Learn more about the wagon wheel rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin.

More recently, a Wagon Wheel Weaving Facebook group has organized and the members are helping each other master the making of these rugs. The folks would be delighted to know that it has over 250 members.

Self-Publish a Book of Your Poems

If you’re a poet wanting to share your poems with friends and family, think about turning them into a book. Here’s my experience with this.

My sister writes great poems, but she wanted a way to showcase them. I assembled them into a self-published book that she loves. It is available for her friends and family to order a copy online without excessive cost to her.

Collect and Sort the Poems

If you’re an organized poet, maybe you already have all of them in one place. If not, then gather your scraps of paper and get the poems typed into the computer and saved in a word processing program.

Edit and Polish the Poems

Look the poems over to be sure you’re happy with the wording of each one. Read them out loud to check the flow of the words and the resonance of each. Have a friend, whose judgment you value, review the poems and query you on unclear wordings.

Cover for Ride a Stick Horse

Cynthia Ross – The cover for her first book of poetry.

Paste the Poems into the Book Software

I recommend where you can download their BookSmart software for free. You can also use any of the photo book programs out there that you might like such as Shutterfly. Get the poems into the publishing program that is going to turn it into a book.

Match the Poems to Pictures

You don’t have to have photos or artwork with the poems, but I think it makes a visually appealing book with them. Make sure the photos and artwork are your own or that you have permission to use them.

We used my photos with her poems. Being in color, it did make the book cost more. You could use black and white photos or smaller photos if you want to keep the book more affordable.

Blurb Books inside prairie woman poems cindy book

Two pages of Cynthia Ross’ book, Prairie Woman Poems

Rearrange and Check and Publish

Read through the book in draft form to see that the topics of the poems flow in the way you want. With my sister’s poems, I grouped pages of poems on topics like childhood, writing, relationships, etc.

Spell-check and get several people to look for typos, design mistakes, and other errors. Upload the book to the publisher. Order a copy for yourself and tell all your friends where they can order a copy.

Prairie Woman Poems by Cynthia Jo Ross Blurb Books

Self-published poetry book by Cynthia Ross (tips for how to do this)

What to Say in a Sympathy Card

Sadly, I’ve been writing sympathy cards nonstop for the past week. Fortunately, I keep a pretty good stock on hand. The losses seem to keep on coming. I may have to restock my selection of cards.

Put the right words on paper - Writing a sympathy card.

Put the right words on paper – Writing a sympathy card.

I used to get tongue-tied trying to express my sympathy but am getting more fluent these days. Perhaps practice helps or else I’ve absorbed the words from Hallmark and other greeting card providers and that’s what flows from my pen.

Here’s an example of what you can write:

  • “Our hearts are sad for you and your family at this time of great loss. (insert name) was so special and loved by many who will miss him/her very much.”
  • Tell a story of a good time or memory of that person.
  • “Try to find solace in your many memories of the good times you shared. Sending hugs across the miles.”

Here is another example:

“Thinking of you at this sad time and wishing you comfort in the days ahead. Keeping you close in our hearts and in our prayers.”

(Article first published on Niume by Virginia Allain)

Decorating for Thanksgiving

Nature celebrates the harvest season and cooler weather with a burst of color. Bring some of that color inside your home to enjoy. Here are ways to do that.

thanksgiving fall bouquet

Oranges and yellows – perfect for fall or Thanksgiving decorating.

Pick up a few pieces each year after Halloween and Thanksgiving when autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, chrysanthemums, and other traditional fall decor goes on sale. Even jack-o’-lanterns can be used beyond Halloween if the back view is a plain pumpkin. Just turn it around. Over the years you’ll build up a good-sized selection to fit your seasonal decorating needs.

Store the items in a large bin with heavier items on the bottom and more fragile items like silk flowers and leaves on the top. Bring out the bin when it’s time to decorate for fall.

Look around for areas to enhance with the fall items. Fill the traditional places like mantels and tabletops. Add a swag or wreath to the front door. Don’t be shy with the groupings and colors. Put enough pieces together to catch the eye.

Thanksgiving display

The cardboard pilgrim figures are easy to store for next Thanksgiving.

I like to change the feel of my entertainment unit with the seasons. By creating autumn vignettes on each shelf, it makes a colorful wall in the living room.

As Thanksgiving draws near, add some pieces that relate to that holiday’s traditions. Think turkeys, pilgrims, and cornucopias.

Decorate outside the home too with corn shocks, pumpkins, and scarecrows.

Tips & Warnings If you use candles, be sure they are set apart from anything that could catch fire (silk flowers, leaves, etc.).

Post by Virginia Allain

Forgotten Heritage

forgotten heritage pixabay

Forgotten Heritage – a poem by Gail Lee Martin

Old abandoned school houses
left to rack and ruin.
windows broken, porches sagging,
surrounded with trash and tall weeds.

Built so long ago by our ancestors.
now no one cares that they once sheltered
the children of sturdy pioneers
who labored to learn from McGuffy readers.

We’ve flown to the moon,
talked across the seas and
can fly faster than sound and this
knowledge came from those humble beginnings.

All those old schoolhouses should be
shrines to our ancestors whose
thirst for knowledge of a better life
led us to fame and prosperity.

comments on the poem pixabay

  • Posted 02/11/2007 by Carol J Garriott – Very nice, Big Sis! It’s always a treat, in my ramblings, to come across a still-standing school house, abandoned and crumbling tho it may be. As I stand here fiddling with the camera, I wonder if what I hear is the wind in the tall grass or echoes of children’s voices.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by Virginia Allain – Oh, I like this! It’s always so sad to see buildings like an old school, a railway station or church allowed to fall into ruins. They would have so many stories to tell if they could talk.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by K. L. Farnum – I agree, I think, what I hate or dislike the most is to see forgotten farms, and barns falling in. I loved it when the family farms were the place to go for fresh eggs, and veggies.
  • Posted 02/09/2007 by Susan Hammett Poole – From the advantage of time, I agree with you that the “old ways” held many, many good things and should not be tossed out with the trash. We are products of all that existed before us. Even if the old buildings are no longer there, it is well to remember and to tell their stories. ~ Susan
  • Posted 02/13/2007 by Karen Kolavalli – I love the story you tell with this poem. Like you and Carol, I’m drawn to abandoned buildings from our past and wonder what stories they could tell us. I’m a big fan of “If Walls Could Talk” which airs on HGTV–these are stories about what folks learn about their houses when they restore them and find out their history.

(Originally published by Gail Martin on the Our Echo website)

November Memory Prompts

November Memories
Think back through the Novembers of your life. What did your parents have to do to prepare for winter when you were a kid? Describe the November weather in your area.

Memory prompts for November

Think back to November days from your early life. Write about those times.

What type of heat did you have? What activities changed with the weather? Baseball to basketball or snowballs. What were the roads like when you were young?

Of course, the best of November is Thanksgiving Day! I would like everybody to timeline their Thanksgiving Days. Maybe remember one every ten years, starting at the age of ten.

The children's table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975

The children’s table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975 (Gail Lee Martin’s grandchildren)

I described my memories around the age of ten in “We Gave Thanks Prairie Style” but need to add to them as my family life has changed through the years. Try to include the menu, cooks, the carver and the guests. What else did you do besides eat fabulous food?

(This is part of a monthly series of memory prompts created by Gail Lee Martin for the Our Echo website)

Memories of Korea Before the War

Korean War Poems by Monte Manka

Monte Manka wrote a variety of poems about his experience in Korea. Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia, finds people’s memories of great events important to save. She created this page to feature Monte’s memories of that long ago time. Monte Manka grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the 1930s, not far from where Gail Lee Martin was raised.
Monte Manka - Army days

1945 – Monte Manka (and friend) – Army Days

Here’s the younger Monte at the time these writing were inspired.

An Octogenarian Writes Poems about His Experiences in Korea

Monte Manka went off to Korea in the 1940s as part of the occupying forces after growing up on a Kansas farm in the 1930s/40s. His experiences in Korea triggered some poetry that’s entertaining and insightful.

Now in his nineties, Monte keeps writing those poems about being a Kansas farm boy and about adjusting to the very foreign culture of Korea and the restrictions of the military. Enjoy his poems and be sure to leave a comment for Monte.

Army Training Camp Poetry – by Monte Manka

You can read Monte’s poems on the Our Echo website. I’m linking to individual poems so they will be easier for you to find.

Learn More about the Korean War with These Stories and Poems

Most Americans have a very vague concept of what happened during the Korean War, how it started and how it ended. I admit that most of what I know came from watching episodes of MASH on TV.

Learn more about this war that made such an impact on this Kansas farm boy.

“World War II ended when I was headed for the invasion of Japan. We were called off the troop train in Kansas and told that Harry had dropped the bomb and the war was over. Can’t take any credit for any battles, strictly Occupation of Korea. I was in Korea during the occupation, the “Police Action” started after I left for home.”

— Monte explains his role in Korea

Korean Woman with Parasol – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean lady - war years 1945

Korean war – woman with parasol umbrella (Do not use this photo elsewhere. It belongs to Monte Manka.)

Poems about the Korean People and Culture – by Monte Manka

These are available to read on the Our Echo website.

  • Little Nell Two-Ten-Yen (If you ever bargained with a Korean over eggs, silk or hammered copper pans The bidding always started with a bid of Two Ten Yen.)
  • Hiking out in the Korean Boonies (A poem with more adventures in meeting the Korean people. It has great photos with it.)
  • Buddha Intruder (Another poem about exploring in Korea.)
  • Korean Wash Day
  • Stroll to a Mystery (Three soldiers going for a Sunday stroll Monte, Mac and Don With Addie Dean, the Red Cross gal tagging along. I carried Mom’s Kodak 116 ready to take any photo of some pretty mountain scene)
  • Rice planting in Korea (Fascinating photos with this poem.)
  • Cruelty of The River Han (The people build their huts close to the River Han To do their laundry and water for their cooking pan)
  • Break Time at the Shrine (here’s a snippet from the poem.)

Break Time at the Shrine

While hiking in the Korean boonies
I spotted this old Shrine
I stopped to take a picture
Of a forgotten time

I wanted to get those stone steps
Mismatched and rough
Walking up these stairs with heels 
Would be mighty tough

Timbers on each side of the doorway
One a log one hand hewn
The whole doorway
Slightly out of plumb

Resting in the doorway
Was this toothless old Momason
Holding a long Korean pipe
That she was puffing on

Korean Shrine – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) - read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) – read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean Women Washing Clothes in a Stream – Photo by Monte Manka

korean women washing clothes in river

Korean war women washing clothes in a river

A Sampling of Photos Showing the Korean War

Korean Farmer Carrying a Heavy Load – Photo by Monte Manka

korean farmer carrying heavy load - Photo by Monte Manka

a Korean farmer carrying a heavy load (all rights reserved on this photo)

I close my eyes

Seems like yesterday

When I was in Korea

Thousands of miles away.

monte korea (2)

Where Do People Come from When They Visit This Page?


Counter added May 28, 2012.

Betty – 7 years ago – “My Dad was in the Korean war too; in the Army. Thank you for your service, Monte & for the great poetry you’ve shared with us.”

Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

Gayle – 7 years ago  – “Mr. Manka–I enjoyed your poems! I was too young to know very much about the Korean War but your poems gave me a personal insight into that time and war. Thanks for the real-life glimpse of how it was!”

Joan Haines profile image

Joan Haines – 7 years ago – “I have read only your first poem about the kind and creative leadership of your Captain Knight. “Little Nell Two Ten Yen” is a great story. I am sending a link to all these poems to my daughter in South Korea. She is there teaching English. Thank you. I look forward to reading the rest!”