Old Songs/New Meanings

50

 

I’ve gone back to listening to some of my old CDs while driving. Listening to Carole King I find memories stirred and songs that seem to have a whole new meaning now. Like “Now and Forever”.

Now and forever
you are a part of me
And the memory cuts like a knife

 

Now and forever
I’ll remember all the promises still unbroken

‘Til death do us part is one promise that is still unbroken. We kept that promise.

And think about all the words between us
That never needed to be spoken

I’ve thought about those last days and how we often sat not saying a word. Sometimes I’ve longed for memories of some long, final conversation. But then I realize there was no need. Talking was what drew us together – we could sit and talk for hours when we were dating. Years later we would sometimes find ourselves lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning having long serious discussions. Sometimes he would just talk and I’d drift off to sleep. And he never minded that I did.

We are the lucky ones
Some people never get to do
All we got to do

IMG_5455 (1)

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

Altering Forces

In the introduction of Here is New York (originally published in 1949) by E.B. White,  Roger Angell, White’s stepson, describes television as, “the biggest altering force of our century”.  This was in 1999.  I’d say now it’s internet and smartphones.

In the 1950s, TV was considered a form of family entertainment. Today it seems rare for  families to sit down watch a show or movie together.

Studies have been made that link childhood obesity and attention disorders  to “screen” viewing. This includes television, ipads, game systems, and especially smartphones. Smartphones — now that’s an oxymoron.

There is much debate about the issue of violence on the screen and its influence on viewers, but my opinion is that it numbs the viewer to reality.

As a substitute in high schools I see the downside of the smartphone. I watch students sitting side by side, faces glued to their screen. When they do converse with a classmate, it so often is just to share and laugh at something on their phone, I am not saying all this in innocence. My smartphone has dumbed me down, my computer has wasted so many hours. I take that back – I have done this to myself.

Please turn it off, I’m tired
Of bang bang bang shoot ’em up movies — Bang Bang by The Avett Brothers 

 

Sense of Direction or Sense of Adventure?

 

lti state park

Kat, my adventuring daughter – Little Talbot Island State Park

 

“Your grandma always had a terrible sense of direction. She could get lost on an escalator.” – – from And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

 

It’s funny that this could describe me and my mother, yet it never stopped her and doesn’t stop me from having adventures. Mom would pack her pistol for protection and her machete for whacking away grass and weeds in the cemeteries she visited and she’d hit the road for Georgia. She would get her sisters and they would visit court houses and cemeteries and woods in search of long lost ancestors. This was all without GPS and, in the beginning, without internet. Finally, the last time she visited my Aunt Betty, when Mom was 81 or 82, she got lost because Aunt Betty had moved to a new place. She decided then that she would not go back again alone. But she was never able to go back again at all after that, anyway. I know my Aunt misses her and her visits terribly.

I , however, have the technological benefits and I still get turned around. I’ve taken much longer then intended hikes and made many an unnecessary U-Turn because I second guessed myself. I am not afraid, usually. but there was this one time when I got a little panicky because night was coming on and my daughter and I were out in a kayak and heading in the wrong direction. We passed some fishermen on a boat who looked familiar (we’d passed them once already) and shouted out to them. They pointed us in the right direction and we paddled like mad to get back before dark and before the kayak rental place closed. We made it, but just barely.

So, even without a sense of direction, my sense of adventure is still intact. And for that I’m glad.

 

Petit Jean

With my adventuring cousin, Paula – Jean Petit State Park

Avetts in October #10: Sadness

AvettTrueSadness

wikipedia

In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I am writing a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.

 

It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.  –  from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

 

He’d smile at them across that distance, and the smile was sad and hard, and it meant estrangement, even when he was with them. – from Home by Marilynne Robinson

 

I never know quite how to describe the music of the Avetts. True Sadness seems an odd album title, but actually it’s pretty perfect. It was the first TAB album we purchased. I didn’t know it had been nominated for Best Americana Album. It’s also referred to as folk and alternative country. It’s all that and more. It’s hope.

 

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams

And I hate to say it but the way it seems

Is that no one is fine

Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find

True sadness

 

 

 

Wise Purchases

IMG_4958

 

I don’t always make wise purchases. Like the time I got gallons of peachy paint only to get them home and realize it would make my house look like Publix.

Or the time I went along with my husband’s idea of buying a double kayak, which he went out in with me maybe three times in the water behind our house. It was too large for me to tote anywhere on my own and we eventually ended up selling it to someone who bought it as a graduation gift for her son.  I don’t remember whatever became of all the peachy paint.

But, I want to tell you about three things that WERE wise purchases and have and still are serving me well.

First is my trusty backpack. I have had it for 15 years and it’s still going strong. It was first purchased for a trip to Ireland, and has been put to use ever since for hiking, carry-on for plane flight, trips with grandkids, to the library, and even to work some days. It’s thin enough to flatten in the bottom of a suitcase it needed. I purchased it from the Rick Steves website, where you can find the updated version.

Second is my Brita water bottle. I’ve had it for about three years, not sure exactly. I actually found it marked down at Publix, but it can be ordered online. It goes with me when I travel. I take it empty through security, then fill it on the other side at a water fountain.  I’ve ordered refill filters via amazon. It’s also used when I hike.

My most recent wise purchase is a hiking stick. I ordered it for hiking, but soon after had knee surgery. I used it to hobble around at work for a short while and now use it whenever I hike up and down any inclines. It’s super lightweight and folds up into its own little bag.

Today I await delivery of what I hope is another wise purchase – a new laptop.  I don’t have a desktop, so it IS my desktop.  My old one (Asus) has served me well but in laptop years I think it’s older than me. If it’s like dog years it’s 70. I use my chromebook (Lenovo now) on a very regular basis, but there are somethings I just can’t do on it, such as edit photos. I’m excited to see if this purchase (Lenovo) will magically improve my writing and photography skills. Time will tell.

 

PAD 2019 #1 – Worst Case

OStock Inventory

graphic-OStock Inventory

So, PAD started on Monday. Poem-A-Day for those of you who don’t know. This is my 7th or 8th year participating – I’ve got to check on that. Anyway, I am super excited and motivated now because for the first time I’ve had a poem accepted for publication in a literary magazine. More on that later.

Tuesdays during PAD are always Twofer – two prompts to choose from or to combine, whatever suits the fancy. This Tuesday it was Worst Case/Best Case. I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately where there is much hardness, tough times, sadness – scenarios I cannot always relate to.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry 

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

 

I began thinking about what to write for “worst case”. I’ve worked many different jobs over the years: babysitter, fast food, retail, home daycare, customer service representative in a credit department, house cleaner, freelance writer, janitor at a school, teacher, substitute teacher, tutor, general office worker. Plus mothering. I remember the worst job I ever had. It didn’t last too long. I found something else, but I don’t remember what. I worked for a company that went into retail stores and completed an inventory. That job inspired my poem.

Worst Case

that time she worked for the inventory company

left her babies to ride in a van

full of people she didn’t know

who laughed over last night’s escapades

and told dirty jokes

for an hour and a half

to a hardware store

in a podunk town

with dust covered shelves

where she counted boxes of nails

and smelly bicycle tires

she couldn’t hold it any longer

so went into the dirtiest

bathroom she’d ever seen

used all her muscles

to not touch the toilet seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorites

The prompt for PAD Day 16 was to write a “favorite” poem. I wrote this using a Bop poem format…

Favorites

What’s your favorite is a hard question
Who’s your favorite is loaded
Say green instead of yellow
Anytime, and no one cares
But if it’s political or familial
Look out and step lightly

I love, I like, I’m a fan

My favorite today may change
But doesn’t just blow with the wind
It grows and evolves
I am allowed to prefer
Southern rock over classical
There’s room in my spirit for both
I can love pie best
Without giving up cake

I love, I like, I’m a fan

The better question might be
What’s your favorite today?
Don’t answer to tickle the ears
Be honest and sidestep
If you must
For who doesn’t prefer peace?

I love, I like, I’m a fan

This reminded me of a portions of the lyrics of Murder in the City by the Avett Brothers.

…I wonder which brother is better
Which one our parents love the most
I sure did get in lots of trouble
They seem to let the other go

A tear fell from my father’s eyes
I wondered what my dad would say
He said I love you and I’m proud of you both
in so many different ways…

 

mebros

“Always remember there was nothing worth sharing

like the love that let us share our name.”

 

 

Adventures in Subbing #3

 

ove (1)

On the other hand he tried to point out her that she shouldn’t give money to the beggars in the street, as they’d only buy schnapps with it. But she kept doing it.

“They can do what they like with the money,” she said.

When Ove protested she just smiled and took his big hands in hers and kissed them, explaining that when a person gives to another person it’s not just the receiver who’s blessed. It’s the giver. – from A Man Called Ove  

Earlier this year I gave a writing prompt to some fourth graders. They had been focused that day on the character trait of “caring”, so I told them to pretend I’d given them $100. But, the catch was they had to give it to someone in need or a charity. Some of the students shared what they had written, and one young boy reminded me of Ove, and of myself in days past. He told of giving to the homeless, but also went on to say some of them would not use the money for food like they should. I remember grappling with this same issue years ago. I now believe that if I give money, it’s between them and the Lord what they do with it. I am not to be the judge.

A few other responses touched my heart from those students. Like the girl who said she would give it to her mother so they could move out of her grandma’s house and get their own home.

The past few years I have learned to give anonymously. Though I long to see the joy on a child’s face on Christmas, I am happy knowing I made it possible for someone. And when I don’t know someone well enough to seek them out for a hug in times of grief or crisis, I can ask God to bless the little I can give, and to send comfort along with it.

(edited/reposted)

 

Do You Remember?

Today I’m thinking about things from childhood that most kids today would not “get”, though a few are having a comeback. How many do you remember?

 

 

  • My first tape recorder was a reel-to-reel similar to the one below
    reeltorell

 

  • My first stereo, bought with money from my job at Burger King, had an 8-track player. It was a lot like this one. 8track

 

 

  • My first roller skates were the kind with a key that fit over your shoes. I never owned the other kind, just rented them at the Roller Skating Rink. I also never mastered inline skates, but I did try when my kids had them. Vintage-Metal-and-Leather-Roller-Skates-with-Key

 

  • Banana seats on a bike were so cool!5667edd8fea45992fcdbdb472bb5a33f--banana-seat-bike-vintage-bicycles

 

  • TVs were so different. Ours had a “bunny ears” antenna, no remote, 3 channels, and the test pattern when the station was off-air.

 

  • My first hose were held in place with a garter on a girdle-type contraption. Quite miserable for a 6th grader, though the pic makes it look glamorous. 986bb0c3a8e26d1f7518712f91bda98e--vintage-burlesque-lingerie-vintage

 

  • Sanitary pad belts – we won’t even go there.