Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Playlists

 

Rainy weather has offered many opportunities to continue culling and clearing for our kitchen/family room remodel (which has been pushed back yet another few weeks as we make our way through an interminable permit process - oh my, THIS CONTINUED LAMENT will not be the point of today's blog post, I assure you, I assure me). 

Inside a large hope chest (really, a bench in our home), I found a treasure trove of music CD's and cassette tapes, long long forgotten. What to do with all these? 

The cassettes were problematic  - we have nothing to play these with anymore, and by and large, these were handmade playlists. Many of these I simply trashed; but, I made a small container of 'treasures' and we will see if anyone we know still has a cassette deck and whether these cassettes still play. In some cases, we are able to recreate (beloved) playlists again on our computer.




The CD sorting took an unexpectedly long time, as I opened each CD case to check for its corresponding CD, and created numerous piles:

- empty CD cases, requiring a further search through the large compilation cases
- a pile for donation
- a pile for trash (no corresponding CD can be found)
- a pile for each family member 
- a pile of "I DON'T KNOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK?" for everyone to look through

The individual piles for family members really confused me when I realized I had no music CDs for my youngest son; all the boys love music and have varied tastes - where/what/why does he have nothing? Then it dawned on me - he was ten years old when the ipod was created...he has always had music available digitally. Unlike his older brothers, he did not spend hours creating his own CDs for road trips and friends. He has no physical detritus to sort through! Extraordinary to think about.

It is astounding how clearing out this one chest led to a long, sentimental journey through time, remembering. 

It also led to a poem about creating playlists. I had a little fun with its visual structure, as I tried to capture how the technology of music collections has changed over time. Enjoy!


how to create a music playlist


imagine which songs to include? which to record first? which should be last in the set?

create the perfect music playlist romance friendship road trip dance party have fun

thinking this through you’ll need a blank cassette tape one by one spin the tunes

 on the turntable, line the needle up with the track, press record on the deck, &

build the playlist, yes there was such an art to it, don’t forget, hand write, no 

better yet, type the list of songs for the sleeve and if you really want to 

make this a gift, create vibrant cover art for the jacket, use your

imagination. later there were cd’s and computers so all

you had to do was gather songs from various cd’s & 

record an all new playlist on a blank cd 

yes a very similar process as before 

plus you could still create art

on the cd sleeve to add

sentiment and then

poof! there was

streaming &

nothing

at all

to

h

o

l
d




___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Tuesday, May 10, 2022

On the trail again

 

I think hiking might be one of my main writing themes. Certainly, it is one of my favorite pastimes. Yesterday, we went for a hike along a section of the Appalachian trail here in Maryland. It was really nice to be outside in the bright sunny spring weather, after a cold rainy weekend indoors. We hiked near Washington Monument State Park. This monument was the very first built to commemorate George Washington, completed in 1827 by the citizens of Boonsboro, Maryland. Here's a view of the Cumberland Valley from the monument -


We met several "thru hikers," obvious by their enormous backpacks; I always enjoy these conversations, learning insights about different lives in just a few amiable minutes. One guy was from Massachusetts and doing a ten day hike; another was from Australia and had started hiking a couple months back, only to receive word that his 92 year old mother was dying - he went home for seven weeks to be with her, and was just now back hiking the trail again. 

For today's slice, I've attempted a 'tritina' poem about our hike. (In a tritina, there are three stanzas of three lines each, with three end words repeated in varied order; there is one final line - an 'envoi' - which includes all three words in the single line.) 


brief hellos with strangers

we hike together, yet always, try as I might, I trail

my mind wanders with my feet, my thoughts rain

brief hellos with strangers leave me in a happy daze


one hiker, claiming low mileage for the days,

shared of crossing a wild, rushing stream on the trail

he was exhilarated by sun after three days of cold rain


a second hiker confided his mother’s death did reign

the recent weeks alongside her, now a gift all his days

with precious memories guiding him on the trail


rain or shine, there is joy to be found in days on the trail



___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Farmer's market



he’s collapsed at the top 

of the steps I am climbing

flopped like a fish on a dock 

not pretty

not a good smell

not a good look

rough


lured by concern

while simultaneously repulsed 

I drew slightly near


was he breathing


eyes barely open, protesting the bright sun

he groaned

got any money


no sorry I don’t 

I hurried away


so easily rationalized

I’m not fishing for money in my purse right 

on a street in the midst of everyone

I’m not taking that bait


then 

doubt


should I have?


do I have any cash on me

I would never miss the money


let’s be serious

it wasn’t about my purse


I instantaneously shut him down

cast him off

tossed empathy aside

reeled in  

judgment


as if 

I know his needs better than he does

I am blessed to know 

how he swims


who am I?


what if the next dollar he gets is his way 

out of this insufferable tangled net he is trapped within

what if he was laying there 

dreaming of release 


kale spinach onions potatoes radishes

bag ‘em

head back to the steps


he is standing now

our eyes meet

he says

you have beautiful hair



___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Sanity project

 


We're in the midst of a sanity project.
Did I just make this term up?
I may have.

Here's what I mean - 

As we wrestle with our huge home remodeling project, as we -
  • finalize plans, 
  • order materials, 
  • plan out all these moveable parts, and 
  • deal with the unforeseen delays plus new problems, 
I feel very much that I am not in control.

I know this.
I know, too, that this is ALWAYS true - of home projects, of life itself.
I know I'll be okay, we'll be okay, the contractors will finish the work, it will all work out eventually.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it.

In the meanwhile, however, I need a sanity project: I need to do something that has a definable beginning, middle, and end. I need to do something that gets completed. I need to be the one who gets to do it. I need to get it done. I need to feel able. I need to smile at its completion.

Thankfully, my husband understands and appreciates this about me. 

So - we are installing a small flagstone patio in the backyard, Tony and I. I'm so excited! We visited my favorite 'home remodeling' place, our local quarry. We traipsed around that lot, looking at all the different types of stone, until we found the beautiful, irregular pieces we desired. 

Two days later, on a day when we were babysitting our granddaughters, it was delivered to our house. I actually woke the older one up from her afternoon nap (you can see she is still sporting her 'sleep sack'), so that she and her sister could both watch the flagstone be delivered by forklift. They love construction vehicles and wouldn't want to miss out on this. 




They were SO excited! 
We are SO excited! 
Honestly, this is just the work I want to do right now - dig in the dirt, move and sweat, make something pretty. 

Now, my day is not surrendered to others' deadlines, obstacles, delays, setbacks, confusion, forgetfulness...I can make these myself, hahaha, with my new spring sanity project! 

Now, excuse me, I'm going out back and getting dirty.






___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Rabbit holes

 

On my walk this morning, I noticed so many more people than usual on the trail. Quite a few families, in fact, on bicycles or pushing strollers or playing near the creek. It took me a minute to realize - it's spring break week here - students are out of school, teachers have a much-deserved week to themselves. I'm so glad that the rain has let up for a day or two, and everyone can enjoy the sunshine and mild temps. Oh, how I loved April break! Truly, the end of this school year is in sight; those last weeks seem to fly by upon return.

We've been gardening and squabbling here. Sometimes, when I look out at the yard, all I see is what it needs - not what it has. Our yard needs a lot. Something. Focus. Love? It gets plenty of love; it has my husband - and yard work to him is what writing is to me - he piddles and dreams and puts things here, there and rethinks and wanders and tries again. I can't stand the 'in-between process' of the garden - I want it to look like a page from a gardening catalogue. I'm impatient. Thus the squabbling - totally started and stoked by me:

Me - Why did you move all the pavers from under the fire pit? I just did those last fall! 

Him - Well, I noticed they weren't level. So I'm making the pad level.

Me - Oh, nobody noticed! 

Him - I did. I'm fixing it. You don't have to worry about it; I've got it.

Me - Well it looks messy.

Him - Because it's in process. 

Me - Why do we even have that darn firepit? I hate that you keep it covered in the old brown tarp. It looks messy. 

Him - You bought it for my birthday a few years back, remember, hon? It doesn't have a cover and we don't want it to rust. We've had fun with it. 

(This man is too nice for a cranky wife like me.)

I heard the ugly in me. I wandered away and start pulling weeds nearby; I even mulched a part of the yard, soothing this insatiable need to 'complete' something, to have a finished task. 

It just feels like everything everything everything is up in the air, confusing, mixed up. We are in such a state of 'in-between'...we are a matter of weeks away from the start of a major home remodeling (contractor is in midst of securing permits) and inside the house is just a flurry of movement - emptying, culling, shifting, preparing. It feels as if everything I go to touch leads down some new rabbit hole, revealing something more, something unexpected, to do.

Then there is the larger world, which is off its axis. I can hardly bear to hear or read news - which makes me feel doubly bad, to be privileged enough to take it in small, manageable doses. 

It helps to write.
For some, it helps to garden.





___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Friday, April 8, 2022

What binds me?

 

(Yes, I know it is Friday. I'm a day late!) 

Karen Eastland offered today's writing inspiration/prompt - to think about 'what we bind ourselves to' in our spiritual journeys. Check out her thoughtful reflections on this theme, and read the comments for links to other writers and their responses.








bind -
     to tie or fasten tightly

This prompt is so expansive...and a bit of a riddle, really. 

I wonder, 
am I bound spiritually? 
Tied up? 
Unable to believe in new ways? 
What anchors me?

Yes, my meditation on this theme has taken me in a zillion different directions and left me untethered (pun, yes?). 

Ultimately, for this post, I have landed in grief. Let me try to explain - 

A short while back, my sister-in-law died unexpectedly; she was very, very dear to my husband and me. She was his baby sister, and, with him being only two years her elder, she was someone who has always been a part of his world. Certainly, she has always been a part of my world with him; she was one of the very first family members I met, when he and I started dating. So, this is one of those tough deaths that feel 'unfair,' 'too soon,' 'more was possible.' It is painful. 

I decided to simply hone in on one small sliver of my spiritual understanding of the word "bind," which is to ask - 

what anchors me when a loved one dies? 

I offer a poem.




as I grieve


what am I to think 
of the turkey vulture
watching  
from our very roof
when
tears 
stain our cheeks 
welt our eyes
tremor our bodies
with the news 
of your death,
you,
our forager?

then
in the days
that passed
in the mournful
after
there are so many woodpeckers
working
hunting
finding

these are an easier happier perkier beauty
lively little birds
percussive shouts
pauses
further taps
as if
to say
HEY! 
LOOK UP! 
LOOK HERE! 
LOOK NOW!

which is you
which is you
which is you

every woodpecker
reminds
I feel
remember
hold you
in my heart
softly

nature 
mysterious and beautiful
little heavenly embraces 
offering light

as I grieve 

the sun telescopes through a dark gray sky 
a cardinal suddenly appears in the dogwood tree 
lenten roses stretch their freckled ruffled heads and genuflect
a wandering cat lingers on my driveway to greet me
the doe pauses as she crosses the street, looks right at me, 
tilts her head ever so gently
as I grieve 

each of these healing finds
a connection
to someone I hold dear
bridging is and was
a liminal touch

nature holds me wraps me binds me
as I grieve

the drumbeat of the woodpecker echoes my heart
as I grieve







Tuesday, April 5, 2022

On trauma, time, and healing




This past weekend, I walked the Richmond Slave Trail, a three mile route alongside the James river, from the Manchester Docks to downtown Richmond.  It was a spectacular day, sunshine, with temperatures in the 60s - a day to gather together. All along the river, there were many happy people fishing, families and friends of varied ethnicities and skin colors. I couldn't help but feel uplifted. 

Except for the history of the place, of course.

Which left me musing about healing...the trauma we inflict on others, how much pain there is in this world and how much pain there has been. Now there are these relentless and horrid scenes from Ukraine - the killing of innocent civilians, the destruction of homes, schools, land, life itself. 

Why in the world do we choose cruelty, ever?  

How long, how many generations, does it take to get through trauma? 

Does one, does a society, ever really get through trauma, with all its insidious future paths? 

Does land/place heal faster than people do? 




This sad musing led to this poem about my day in Richmond - 



Let's Gather at the River

today, 2022 -
rainbow of families welcoming the river
mothers fathers children in hand
sunhats coolers snacks to go
folding chairs and fishing rods 
plenty of sturgeon in the waters below
sun is bright wind is soft life is good here
come let’s gather at the river
the beautiful the beautiful river

anytime, sometime, other time, 1775 to 1865 -
packed up wedged in suffering on the boat
no mother no father no babies no more
day in day out darkness danger desperation
enslaved Africans at the James River
tied together chained shackled miles 
walking in a coffle along the river 
the beautiful the beautiful river 
to the slave market
come let’s gather at the river
the beautiful the beautiful river

how long 
to unhear the screams
to unsee the pain
to feel the wrong
to heal 

today, 2022 -
rainbow of families welcoming the river
the beautiful, the beautiful river
come let’s gather at the river










___________________





It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!



Thursday, March 31, 2022

SOLSC 2022 #31 - Reaching for the sky

 






It is March 2022 and time for the
Every single day, for all thirty-one days of March,
writers will share stories.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!





Do you like my trees with leaves, Nana?
The trees are in the sky.
A rainbow cloud in the sky.
I made a square.


This drawing and description is from my three year old granddaughter "Frog," and it seemed the perfect closing for this magical month of blogging. 


Thank you 
Two Writing Teachers community 
for sharing stories 

reminding me 

there is a sky filled with 
trees 
rainbow clouds
surprising squares

there is a sky filled with 
writing 

bounteous topics 
many different perspectives 
incredible insight and imagination 
and caring comments, too

there is a sky filled with writing 
and it is endless



I hope to see you on Tuesdays, for weekly slicing!


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

SOLSC 2022 #30 - Zippers

 






It is March 2022 and time for the
Every single day, for all thirty-one days of March,
writers will share stories.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!




Well, it's nearly 8:30 p.m. and there's been nary a moment to write.
So, let me share one little snippet of this day:



A certain someone has gotten very, very good at unzipping everything. Which means, getting out the door has gotten very, very challenging. She is quick! You no sooner get something on her, when she is unzipping it off. 

She practiced this over and over and over, on every zipper she could reach. I had no idea there were so many zippers in the house.

She's pretty good with velcro, too - which makes it tricky to keep shoes on those feet.