Sunday, May 17, 2009

Honors and Awards--Again!

Spring seems to be honors and awards time for many organizaations, associations, and volunteer groups. At least four of us here at The Clare have received awards this spring, and there may be more.

This year, I was again surprised and honored to receive awards in the Illinois Woman's Press Association's Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest. Multiple awards were presented at a luncheon yesterday at the Union League Club. I had been notified that I was a winner, but I was expecting not much more than honorable mention this year; I did less writing than usual in 2008.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive two firsts and one second on my three entrees. Lightening struck a third time when my third book, Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters won first in the "Creative Verse: Book or Chapbook of Poetry" category. The other two won firsts in other categories in 2007 and 2008. So now I'm not only a writer; I'm a poet! Now if the literary world would only take note. This book has sold even less well than Reinventing Myself and Seniorwriting. I know of only one person outside my family who has read all three of my books: The Clare's Dining Room Manager. Thanks, Carl. I'm glad I donated a copy of each book to The Clare Library.

Here are the anonymous judge's comments:

"Poet Styne ably summarizes the strengths and joys of her work in the final poem of the tome. Lovely!" (I'm not sure that a 50-some page book qualifies as a tome, but then I am a woman of few words.)

Of course you're not likely to have read or remembered that final poem, so here it is:

My Rictameters

Great art?
No, not these poems
Of mine, and yet if they
Just make you ponder, wonder, think
Or dream, consider your own life or write
A story, draw or paint the truth,
Learn who or what you are,
These poems inspire
Great art.

My other first place award was for "In Defense of Self-Publishing"--Parts I & II" published in my other blog, "Write Your Life!" The category was "Writing for the Web: For Hobby or Special Interest Sites."

The comments on this:

"The author uses the platform well to successfully create an easy-to-read explanation of self-publishing. With clear and focused writing the author put forth good effort in content styling for emphasis, scannability for reading and linking to provide context and additional resources. Excellent potential for more interacftivity through chats or issue focused discussions boards."

You can find these entries here:

Finally, my second place award was for two book reviews here on "Never too Late!": "Aging, Life, and Death: A Book Review" (on Where River Turns to Sky, by Gregg Kleiner (Avon 1996; Perennial paperback 2002) and "Realities of Alzheimer's: A Book Review" (on Measure of the Heart: a Father's Alzheimer's, a Daughter's Return, by Mary Ellen Geist (Springboard 2008). Find these reviews by clicking on the "Book Reviews" label toward the bottom of the sidebar. The category was "Writing for the Web: Commentary (reviews)."

These may be small-time awards, but they make me feel good. Never underestimate the power of honors and awards to make people--especially elders--feel appreciated.

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Friday, May 15, 2009

Success! The Clarion has Been Published

I wrote earlier about my efforts to begin a residents' newsletter here at The Clare. I'm happy to report that the first issue of The Clarion has come out to raves from residents and staff alike. I received an ovation from the exercise class and congratulations from nearly everyone, including the doorman and the desk clerk. I have a new feeling of elation!

So how did it turn out? There are five pages; participation is limited thus far, so there's too much about me in this issue, but people are now interested. This issue features a short article on moving to The Clare, a report from the chair of the Dining Committee, and introductions to five resident artists and their works, from sculpture to drawing to embroidery. The resident interview is my own self-interview (no others were available yet), and four residents receiving honors and awards from various organizations this spring were mentioned. I even promoted the June 6-7 Printers Row Lit Fest (formerly Printers Row Book Fair).

So far, I have found an art editor and seven interested participants, although not all have had time to contribute yet. I'm planning a staff meeting on June 2 for the June 15 issue. I'm optimistic about the future of The Clarion; I almost feel like I have a job again, and I love it!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Please listen, Oprah!

Ronni Bennett, of Time Goes By ( has taken the great Oprah Winfrey to task for her emphasis on youth and staying young. Bennett features a video by geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas appealing for fairer medfia treatment of the aged. She suggests that Dr. Thomas should appear on the Oprah show, and I second the motion. Check out Bennett's post and the video at

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My New TV

I got a new TV set this week. I'm still old enough to remember a world without tv, and then the tiny round screens, all the way up to the monster sets that extended backwards and took up a lot of room.

I've lived through the old console sets, the black-and-white pictures, and the flickering screens, not to mention the age of huge entertainment centers, one of which I donated to charity when I moved this year. I've never been one to demand the newest and best, but with encouragement from my brother, I decided it was time for a new flat screen model (since he doesn't have one yet, I questioned his motives; he doesn't live close enough to enjoy my TV.) Anyway, he visited last weekend, and we went to a giant electronics store.

I don't think I'd ever taken HDTV seriously; I seldom visit electronics stores, and my gigantic eight-year-old Sony provided a great picture. However, the minute I reached the TV section of the store, I was hooked. There's something about those HD pictures that is amazing. My resolve to buy a smaller set disappeared quickly; the salesman and my brother insisted that nothing less than a 40-inch set was worth buying. I know better, but I'm weak.

Unfortunately, I'm not rich, especially these days. But with the magic of a credit card, I became the proud new owner of a Sony Bravia 40-inch set and a new HD cable box--the store had a representative from Comcast on the premises, and she arranged it all. Of course my monthly bill increases, too.

I don't know what lessons I learned from this experience. Perhaps I'm weak; I'm not usually a big spender or a demander of the newest and best. Maybe it's this old age thing; my attitude seems to be changing from "I don't need it" to "Why not?" I'll have to fight this attitude. At least I have a beautifal picture of life rolling out before my eyes, and I've done my part to jump-start the U.S. economy. If you haven't checked out HDTV yet, be careful; you may be hooked as I was. Not that I'm complaining, at least not until my credit card bill arrives.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Thanks for the Newsletter Advice

I want to thank everyone who responded to my request for help as I begin the new Clare newsletter. Fortunately, I soon found Microsoft's Newsletter Wizard, which seems to be fairly easy to use, as a softwaare base for the project.

I want to comment on Steve Gurney's comment. Here it is, in case you haven't read it:

"You do a fantastic "newsletter" with this blog! I would recommend that you follow a similar model for The Clare. If you feel like you really need something in "print," simply print and copy a 1 page summary of the elements that can be distributed in everyone's mailbox much less expensively that will drive them to the site. If residents don't have a computer, they can gain access on the computer in the common area which I hope The Clare has. This is the model that our nations newspapers are following to reinvent themselves, don't revert back to 'old media'."

Thanks, Steve, but The Clare has had a residents' web site for quite a while, and it is largely ignored. Mine (a different one) is the only blog there, and the number of computer users seems small, despite training sessions. Yes, there are computers for public use here. I realize that seniors are becoming increasingly computer literate, and I'm certainly in favor of that, but so far, the Clare group has been resistent. Perhaps I can use a print newsletter to encourage more computer use.

When I stop to think about it, I realize that computers are still foreign objects to many of the older residents of The Clare (the oldest resident is 101, by the way). Many retired before computers gained popularity, and of course none of us grew up with computers. As a person who embraces computers, but still likes to read a printed daily newspaper, I am willing to rely on "old media" for a while. It seems the only way to reach an audience right now. I see Steve's point, but I'm a realist.

The first issue of The Clarion (that's the name for now) should come out in mid-May. I'm hoping that the first issue will inspire more people to join me; so far, the staff is small. I'll report on the results soon.