This Song – Not Just for July 4th

Last October Chuck and I waited excitedly for our copy of Closer Than Together on vinyl to arrive. I’d heard a few songs ahead of time, others were brand new the first time we listened. Some songs took a while to grow on me, but I came to love them all, with New Woman’s World being the exception. But, a few packed a real punch. Like We Americans. The more I listened, the more I loved it. A few weeks after our record arrived, we got to hear it sung in concert (and sing along)  in Pelham, Alabama. It was powerful.

The music of the Avett Brothers makes me happy and sad all at once. It will forever be their music that brings me back to these last few years Chuck and I had together.

Say Love

“I Wish You Never Left Me”

jujugrandpa

 

June 13th

As I look at this list of times I’m making tonight, I think back to almost 40 years ago and another list.

Tonight I am keeping track of what time I give medicines. Medicines to try to keep my husband out of pain in this wretched losing battle with pancreatic cancer. In two and three hour intervals I give him the tiny pills with sips of water to try to ease him into sleep and ease his pain.

Many years ago, on the back of an envelope, we wrote down times. These, too, were times of pain, but pain that led to great joy, the birth of our firstborn. I still have that envelope tucked away.

Across the years we have counted minutes, hours, days and years. We marked off days in anticipation of our trip to California. We looked back at years of marriage, and so often my husband would choose the perfect gift accordingly : pearls, agate, ruby.

 

June 15th

Two days after I wrote the above, my husband was gone. It’s been only two weeks and I have wanted to write but I just can’t find the words. My world has been turned upside down. Less than three months ago we were selling our house and planning for retirement. Now I am moving once more, just me and my dog, and starting a life without the one who has been by my side for over 41 years. 

I stayed up until 3:30 one night last week, reading all the texts on his phone. All the little conversations we had about what to eat for supper, reminders to feed the dog, ideas for the weekend, don’t forget eggs.  Then I found a 43 minute clip that was unknowingly recorded. I’m pretty certain he never knew it. It was us – going through a drive-thru near our house, eating fries until we got home, talking to the dog, laughing, burping, just being. Just being together. 

 

June 29th

And though I can’t find words, my seven year old granddaughter found some. Beautiful words. This is what she wrote:

 

Sunshine

You’re the sunshine in my heart

I wish you never left me…

I sometimes wish you are here

Why wouldn’t you stay?

Wait until dawn for you to arrive…

Sunset – you should be here!

I guess you don’t belong here

My heart is beating hard as a drum

Sunshine in my heart

You are part of my family

 

That’s Good

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My Juliette – 2019

Back on April 5th, the prompt for NaPoWriMo  was quite complicated.

“It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following (the list followed)  in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!”

I got most of them in. Stuff like: Begin the poem with a metaphor. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”.   Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person. Use a phrase from a language other than English. And a bunch more.

Here’s the final product:

That’s Good

today is a loaf of bread
the sky’s fresh-baked goodness calls out
and lures you, Juliette, to come and play
to Siesta Key’s pure white sand
today is a pie
it’s chocolate-pecan-apple all over
today is a mere slice of bread
just a taste of life in the sun
I closed my eyes and you were gone, Juliette
it gave me the frissons
the tender band of hope reached out
but it didn’t touch
Juliette, you soar above the ocean
you will rise above us all
Mae watches helplessly
knowing you will come down
but not knowing where
your jellied wings will melt
Ca c’est bon
the pie speaks of love
the bread rises again 

I Walk

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Bring Your Love to Me -The Avett Brothers

Like I said in my last post, God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. Today’s prompt from NaPoWrimo was to write a poem based on a “walking archive”.  Those of you who follow me here or on Instagram  know I post a lot of pictures of things I find on my walks and hikes, so this one was a natural prompt for me.

I Walk 

I walk for sunshine
I walk for sanity
I walk to remind myself
Of Pippa’s song
God’s in His heaven
All’s right with the world
Even when it feels all wrong
I find a dandelion
And think of Ray Bradbury
And The Avett Brothers
And blow my wishes
to scatter the seeds
I observe moss on the rocks
And dream of the fairies who visit at night
Knowing it’s all pretend
Think of how we used to pretend
Give each other different names
Like Twenty-One Pilots
And I hum the song
Wish we could turn back time
I catch the sun
Filtering through the trees
Making shadows on my arm
While the birds sing
A song I do not know
I see beauty in the wildflowers
Beauty in the ruins
And I walk on
Ruby by my side
Man’s best friend
And mine, too.

I wish I could sing, I wish I could play

I’ve been inspired by creative kids to come up with lyrics to fit these trying times.

The song in the video below came to me this morning and I wrote another verse for it. If I could play an instrument or carry a tune in a bucket I’d perform for you. But, here’s my verse for you to sing.

I know a guy who dreams of work

He’d love to be there

About to go berserk

He doesn’t have gloves

He doesn’t have masks

He doesn’t have toilet paper 

Although he asks

He uses Quarantine

Quarantine

Quarantine

 

All the Feels

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I wasn’t sure what to title this or how to start. Right now I am typing on my chromebook as I listen to a virtual concert on my laptop.  I have been a subscriber to Garden and Gun for a number of years. Today as I read their email I found out there was going to be a virtual concert live tonight. I was able to pass the word along to people I thought might be interested, and then I settled in to listen and I’m having a grand time!

http://luckreunion.com/tilfurthernotice

 

This whole COVID-19 thing has brought with it a lot of different emotions.

Joy in the way people have pulled together for the good of all – like this free concert. I did donate a little because I was grateful for the entertainment and generosity of the musicians.

Disgust in the way people have gone crazy hoarding toilet paper, and more importantly, meat and potatoes. What are they thinking?

Gratitude for all who have been kind and offered help to others. Including advice on how to schedule the kids at home and stuff like that.

4:00, wallow in self-pity. 4:30, stare into the abyss. 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one. 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me. I can’t cancel that again. 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing. I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness.” — The Grinch 

Community in the conversations I’ve had when I did venture out.  Like the woman in Aldi who was clearly trusting in Christ and we shared Bible verses with each other.  And the couple in Sprouts – the woman told her husband she was buying “Stress flowers” so I just started a conversation with them. Turns out they were from New Orleans and we agreed that this was worse than how people act when a hurricane is coming. Then there was the lady in the Dollar Tree who told me all about the psychic who predicted all this and then told me all about her bladder infection. I just listened and nodded until I could politely get away. I figured she’d been quarantined a bit and just need to talk.

Doubt about how all this has gone down. Something just doesn’t seem right.

Claude Lacombe:
Mr. Neary, what do you want?

Roy Neary:
I just want to know that it’s really happening.

From Close Encounters of the Third Kind

 

Tell the truth now

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photo By Tomwsulcer

 

My husband recently used one of my favorite songs- Tell the Truth to Yourself– against me. We were discussing our diets and he claimed I put a LOT of cream in my coffee, to which I argued that I did NOT. He grinned at me and said,  “Tell the truth to yourself.”

I must confess I kinda did the same thing months ago with the line “I lied to the doctor”, teasing him because he tries to be so good with his eating the week before he goes in for lab work.

All joking aside, it’s not easy to tell the truth to yourself. To face the music. Lately I’ve had to admit to myself that I am no spring chicken, whatever that is.  I can still hike, but some days I go pretty slow. I have to be careful when I’m playing chase with Ruby. And when I dance in the kitchen.

There is a Bible verse that says “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).  I don’t mean to just take this out of context, but I think the words can be applied here somewhat. Knowing the truth and telling the truth to ourselves seems quite similar. I think that when we are honest with ourselves and with each other, there is a peace and freedom that comes with that truth. 

 

Book Browsings #3: Voices

 

tiaIn Book Browsings #2 I referenced the writing club I sponsored. It was called the Young Author’s Club. I found a copy of the first, and I think only, issue we put together. The girls chose the name Voices for the title. It had four sections: Book Beginnings, Short Story, Poetry and Essay. As I look over the list of contributors I can see most of their faces. Tia was the one who came to me with the request to sponsor the club. I still keep up with her via Instagram and occasionally her blog.  She works in publishing among other things. I still have the scarf she brought me back from China when she visited there with her parents. Her mother, Yulin, was our parent sponsor and a huge help. I can semi-recall the faces of Kylie, Haley, Anna and Jakob who also contributed work to Voices.

One essay, by Anna Rea, came, as I recall, from a short in-class writing prompt. Hers was titled How to Be a Bad Neighbor.  Pretty hilarious! Here are a few excerpts:

Every person in their life comes across a bad neighbor. Why wait for a bad neighbor when you yourself could be a bad neighbor? In a few easy steps you could be the most hated person on the block…

One of the many things to do to be a bad neighbor is to have parties. Now, not just any party. It has to be a loud, all-nighter. …

Another thing that really gets your neighbor mad is having an obnoxious yappy dog…

Step three of how to be a bad neighbor is to leave your garbage cans out for long periods of time….

Finally, the most important part: HOLIDAYS! Around Christmas you have to buy those big, blow-up things… you must buy at least six of them. 

I loved teaching these kids. They were not just smart, but funny, fun-loving, caring, and full of energy. One student, Caroline, really stood out. I got to know her through her writings, but also while visiting her home when we were working on a charity project and meeting her mother and younger brothers. Her mom was just one of many parents who supported me and my students that year. Caroline graduated from Princeton and is now a fellow at  Washington University School of Medicine. She is following in the footsteps of her grandfather who was a prominent and well-loved physician in Jacksonville.

JP is a logistics officer in the Marines and living in Hawaii. Carson, now married, comes to mind whenever I see the scarf he brought me back from his trip to Vietnam where his grandfather was in in the war. Same with Harrison, who brought me playing cards from his trip to Africa.

I will always be grateful for the students who crossed my path and left a footprint. I am thrilled whenever I happen upon good news about one of them.

 

 

amb

There’s Hope For Sure

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Red Mountain Park 2/22/20

 

In the middle of a very rainy winter, when it seems like spring will never come, I welcome the sunshine. I head to Red Mountain Park and am never disappointed. There, amidst the lifeless flora, I can always find some green. Sometimes a flower, even though IMG_7054considered a weed, peeps out below my feet to remind me that spring will come.

I find the abandoned railroad tracks where trees have grown up in the middle.

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When my mind is burdened with thoughts and decisions that need to be made, I can find a calm. Though I return home with those decisions still unmade, the burden seems less. I not only have the assurance of spring, but the assurance that my future is in God’s hands, just like spring.

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See, you can only live one day at a time
Only drive one hot rod at a time
Only say one word at a time
And only think one thought at a time
And every soul is alone when the day becomes night
And there in the dark if you can try to see the light
In the most pitch black shape of the loneliest shadow
Well then you ought to sleep well
‘Cause there’s hope for sure

High Steppin’/The Avett Brothers

 

 

Monday Music #22

I haven’t done a Monday Music in a longtime. Today I discovered some great music and wanted to share it. This group, Cobalt Strings, is a super talented trio of women. Not only that, I discovered them via Amber who is also a very enthusiastic Braves fan!! I love that they all live in Georgia and I hope I can hear them in person someday. Take a listen.

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered