Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rounding The Corner

    How in the everlovin' world can it be August the day after tomorrow? August! (If you keep looking at that word for several seconds it begins to look as if it couldn't possible be spelled correctly. Ha! You begin to think: shouldn't there be a different vowel in there someplace? Written language is so silly.) Yes, the heat, and cooping myself up inside all afternoon, every afternoon, may be driving me over the edge. As the British would say: it has been bloody hot here. I should plan a trip for next summer, beginning the Monday after the 4th of July and continuing until after Labor Day.
     Speaking of which: I do not like Labor Day. Actually, Labor Day has always been one of those holidays to which I paid no attention whatsoever.
      During the 1990s there was a big push in music education to revisit the patriotic music of America.  When I quizzed my students at that time, I discovered that they didn't know the words to any of them except the Star Spangled Banner. Sports is big here in the Sooner State. They had no idea what the Star Spangled Banner was about, but they knew the words and were sad to learn that the words 'Play Ball' were not part of the lyrics. By the time they moved up to Middle School they not only knew all the words to all the verses of the Star Spangled Banner, but could also tell you the entire story of the battle of Fort McHenry, in detail. So there's that. I was often queried about whether I was teaching music or history in my classroom.  How can you teach music without the history with which it is surrounded? Please. (By the way, did you know that Fort McHenry is a star shaped fort? It is quite beautiful.) Okay, I wandered off topic.
     Am I imagining things or did school begin after Labor Day at some point?  Maybe that was me engaging in some powerfully wishful thinking….for my entire life. I realize, and can hear some of my readers thinking, most jobs are the same for the entire year: not so in the public schools. From the time I was four years old until I retired from teaching at age 58.5, my year always included summer vacation during June and July. That time was sometimes filled with farm work, cattle and wheat, field work, gardening, etc… or it sometimes included summer teaching jobs in town.  What matters here is that it was something different and I had lots of time with my children during those two months.  I thought then, and still do, it was wonderful and a blessing.  I loved my job but always experienced a sickening drop of the stomach when August rolled around. August 1st meant it was time to head back to school and get the classroom and the lesson plans ready for the kiddos. I loved it once we were rolling, but change…you know all about change. One tends to hang back, content with the familiar. These days all  the days roll along like a giant snowball, picking up things and speed as they go. There are lots of days when I don't even know what day of the week it is, nor do I care.
     All this talk about school is not what I indeed to write about when I sat down to the keyboard. I was going to tell you about the shriveled leaves on the tomato plants, the locusts that rattle in the Cottonwoods all day and into the night, the heat that takes my breath away when I step out the door, the brilliance of the stars in the night sky.
     One more month of days filled with the year's brightest light, heat, insects, green leaves everywhere and then we walk round the corner as Earth leans away from our sun and the light shifts..
     "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Poem: The Collective We

Our hands instinctively shield
and comfort us,
noticing the slightest change
in this wonder that clothes,
gently massaging,
exploring, assessing,
as we rush ahead,

The hands are not, however,
the seeing eyes,
the glorious, vulnerable kidneys,
the beating heart.

Every part is unique
and essential
to the body entire.

We have such
of one another.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Frogs and a Review

     For several years I have been moaning about the lack of frogs and toads.  Granted, we have been in a statewide drought. This year we had a rainy May and have had random thunderstorms every two weeks or so, AND we had the hugely successful tadpole relocation during Farm Camp.  This morning I decided to see if I could drive the lawn mower. I could without any problem. Hooray! The shoulder is healed and, in therapy I am working on strength training now.
     While I was mowing I saw many, many frogs and toads, small to medium size, hopping out of the way of the mower.  I slowed down every time and swerved away from them. Oh yes, I am a friend of the frogs.  I was delighted to see so many alive and well and to notice the differences in types.  Could these, or some of these, be our baby tadpoles grown up and thriving? Happiness all over the place!
I also scared up some mice and rats and a baby rabbit or two. I am worried about Little Timmy.
    Sadly, the Johnson Grass is winning in Maggie's Wood this year.  Since my surgery I haven't been able to keep up with it.  I am trying to keep the front two thirds beaten back but have let the south acre go completely…well, I am keeping the running path mowed, just in case.  What is there about a secret path disappearing round a curve that so entices? The unknown that awaits discovery is a Siren.  There is also a path leading to the hay bales, even if it is much too hot these days to do any bale running. One of these days the heat will break away and let the cool flow back into our days.  I am thinking like a Boy Scout.
    I read Harper Lee's new book, Go Set A Watchman. I admit to being concerned about what the author might have done to the character of Atticus, since all the prerelease press was vicious towards her take on him as an older man, casting him as a racist.  Was that marketing? If so, it could easily have gone both directions, and probably did.  It was so good to hear Lee's voice again and to laugh out loud at the audacious language and spunk of our beloved Scout.  Atticus was fine, as it turned out and I was delighted to read much more about his brother, Jack, in this book. The 'meandering' in the book (much maligned by some reviewers) served to support the central tenant of the work, in my opinion, and was not wasted ramblings.  In my mind I said to the reviewers, "Me thinks thou doest protest too much", as the Bard himself would say.
       I highly recommend reading the book, keeping in mind that it was written in the fifties, not today.  Fifty years is not a long time, in the grand scheme of things, but it is a goodly amount of time.  We are still grappling with many of the same issues today as we were in the sixties, but I believe we are making progress. Yes, we have far to go in the area of race relations.  I believe we will get to a good end, over time.  What can you do to help? Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.  Make changes in the your own attitudes and actions, affect the space in which you live and move.  That is a good place to begin. A people does not change; people change, one by one.  I agree, it has taken longer than it should have taken and we are not yet finished. The fires of injustice and hatred sear hearts and minds and the scars never fade.  We need to keep working.

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Update on The Pirates

    There is an imaginary pirate ship rocking at anchor in my bedroom.  When there are no grandchildren about, most of the crew stays at a local inn. From time to time there might be one or two onboard the ship but it usually sits empty.  After all, when the captain is gone there is little to be done.
Here is the crew, or most of it.

From left to right, beginning at the back: Mary and Jesus, Jangle, Abbey (our cook), Jingleboy, The Queen of France.
Row 2: Mary (the other Mary) God, Belle and Beardie. (God and his Mary have bells and Jesus and his Mary do not. In case you were wondering. All the crew were named by the Captain.)
Barney and Benny, the boy with the fireflies, Moolly and the little Snowman were on shore leave when we snapped this picture.
Brendan, Maggie, Everett, Rowan and Myself (and any Adult or child who is willing to play along) are part of the crew as well and Zane is Captain Jack.  Moolly, the boy with the fireflies and the Little Snowman are the lookouts.
     This weekend the entire crew was called back onboard and we sailed around the islands a bit. We met and fought some bad guys, skirmishes only. Everyone agrees it is too hot for full blown pirate battles. The Captain was lightly wounded and had to be sewn up by TQOF, our resident doc. He's fine now.
    In "new business", we discovered a brown bear stowaway under the ship. We have named him Ring-neck and welcomed him as part of the crew.  He doesn't have much to say thus far. I thin he is traumatized from being down in the hold so long. The biggest news is: Beardie and Belle are sweet on each other, but it isn't smooth sailing apparently. They were discovered kissing each other last Saturday, but the next morning Beardie had thrown himself into the ocean and had to be rescued by the Captain.  That same evening we found Belle head downward in a vat of soup. They are both okay now but are not talking about any of it with anyone.  Who knows.
      Jingle and Jangle are not a permanent part of the crew, by the way. They only come aboard now and then for vacation days. They are currently waiting for their next big trip abroad. Maybe cousin Kristan would take them for a tour of Paris once she gets settled in. Jingleboy has already been to Paris, twice. I have not been even one time. A fact that needs to be remedied ASAP.


      Thunder and lightning off to the west this evening. I hope we actually get some rain out it. We are extremely dry again. That seems unbelievable  since we had rain the entire month of May, but it is true. The soil in the gardens is rock hard.
      I had lots of company over the weekend and loved every minute of it.  Oh, this guy is having some problems with extreme headaches lately. He could use your prayers and some holding in your heart. Thanks.  Heading back to the doc tomorrow for more tests.

                                       B at the OKC Zoo this May

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Mouths of Babes

    I want to share a conversation I had with one of my 5 year old grand kids. He and I were driving past a certain neighborhood in town, on our way to his house. I said I liked the houses in that addition and might like to live there. His response was to quickly tell me I couldn't move from the farm, and why.
    His first reason was very logical, coming from a child who has moved several times: "We could never get everything out of your house." He's probably right. That flat truth was followed closely by this startlingly perceptive statement: "No one else wants to live there." (No kidding.) And then came the words that touched my heart: "Who would take care of nature if you moved away, Grandma?" I didn't tell him nature can and does take care of itself.  We drove on in silence for several minutes. Finally he spoke again, "I like to go there…and there's a tree house…and the pond...and your cats. Who would feed the cats?" Another long pause. "You can't move."
     After such a well constructed defense, I told him I agreed and would stay.

     I love having conversations with kids. Their logic unfurls like silk on a breeze. It delights me. Who am I to impose adult logic onto their innocent lines of thought? If they ask me questions I answer them honestly, but I try not to throw roadblocks or unwanted structure in front of their ideas. I might ask them a question now and then, but mostly I like to listen. I like to watch their hands and eyes.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shadows Galore

One bonus of a sunny afternoon is shadow play.
Block the sunlight and dance hand in hand with yourself.
Imagine it is another who knows your every move;
perfect synchronization.

Call in the cousins,
create a mural in still life.
Five little dumplings
shadowed on a fence.

Next time we'll try it
with music
     and streamers
         …and ship the penguin south.