I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
A Bluepete Poetry Pick [Attribution]
Every single year I would start out with one short poem for my second grade students to memorize and by the end of the year, every one of them knew this poem by heart. Memorization is a skill that is sometimes overlooked and yet it is one that not only adds to "brain power" but is something that when used, stays with a person forever. I can only hope that teachers have their students memorize poetry.
Every time I was at the beach, this poem would come to me. I could feel John Masefield's words in his truest sense and yes, "Sea Fever" is still one of my most favorite poems ever.
A couple of years ago I was sick and didn’t feel like doing anything except watch television. By chance, I stumbled upon “The Lifetime Movie Network.” And I was hooked. After watching movie after movie, I came to the conclusion that every single movie had similar things going on and so I kept watching to see if there were something different—but there wasn’t.
Here is a list of what I observed and if you watch these movies, I’m sure you will agree.
There is a cast of actors and actresses who always play different roles but trust me, it is always the same ones.
Wealthy people always live in magnificent lofts or mansions: Nothing in between. And their dwellings are always isolated—like way out in the country or in the city near nothing.
Poor people live in shacks or horrid apartments.
There are either wealthy people or poor people: No middle class.
The main character or the one who turns out evil always has an art gallery or is having an art show at a swanky place. Always. And the people in attendance are always drinking wine.
When cooking, a man or woman is always fixing spaghetti sauce and nothing else. And yet when dinner is served, the table is full of food.
All of the adults always drink wine—nothing else ever. [There must be a slew of cheap clear wine glasses behind the scenes!]
A character is either simply divine or a horrid person with a criminal past.
Lavish parties are always given and everything goes without a hitch.
Relatives are either wonderful or simply awful and they stay a long long time.
The villain is usually one who has been nurse and hides a hypodermic needle for usage and when used, the villain knows how to use it with a fatal result.
If a character has a gun, no matter what, that gun gets knocked to the floor and is recovered by a good person—always.
There is always a happy ending which is predictable.
Children are either perfect or demon-possessed—no in between.
Planned trips are always to somewhere divine and costly: Yet no one whines about the expense. Money abounds.
A strange person who is introduced into the story always winds up as a long lost relative.
I’m sure I could expound upon this list as could you. These are just my observations about these movies. Predictable? Of course! And yet I watch them all of the time. Maybe it’s that sense of “I know what will happen” that keeps me watching—it has to be! I don’t drink [except for wine on some occasions] so I use a wine glass for my iced tea while watching and always develop a strong craving for spaghetti. How could I not? It’s the only food that the viewer sees being made –the spaghetti sauce.
If you watch these movies see if you don’t come up with a list similar to mine! And get out that wine glass. After all, you know what will happen!
After just writing "The Trade," I have to tell you this story for it happened the very next year.
My parents made the decision to move to Charleston when I was in the middle of the eighth grade at St. Albans Junior High School: I was devastated. Didn't want to move and leave my friends or the house but a twelve year old girl has no say in the matter. Moving was a blur but my parents and I did move and I found myself going to Lincoln Junior High School.
It was quite a bit of a culture shock coming from a laid-back school and surroundings to a new junior high school. And the kids here dressed far differently--they were more grown-up in dress [not that St. Albans Junior High was that laid back--it was just different and I missed it.] And I had that one straight skirt as I had written about. Over the months, I made new friends and had gotten a new wardrobe and styles had changed somewhat.
Every week in the fall, our school's football team had a game during school time and I remember boarding a bus with all of us crammed inside [there were lots of buses and lots of kids!] and the bus driver taking us to a field in Kanawha City somewhere.
Here I was screaming at the top of my lungs with the other people and it was so much fun!
Even better was that after the game, we were driven back to school and then told to go home.
After a couple of football game adventures, I was having the time of my life.
My parents had divorced and my mom and I lived in an apartment. She still wore glorious shoes and clothes and one day came home with a cobalt blue cashmere coat. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or touched! I was forbidden to wear anything of my mom's: That point had been proven when I took her alligator shoes for a trade. And yes, I had nice things to wear BUT not a cobalt blue coat. Ever.
I guess I should say that even in grade school when I was a student, we had a half hour recess in the morning, an hour for lunch and we could go anywhere we wanted to and a half hour recess in the afternoon. In junior high school, which is now middle school, we lost the recesses of course but kept the hour long lunch period. Either I went with friends to eat somewhere at lunch time or I went home and if I went home, my girlfriends came along with me.
It was one of those football game days and I had gone home for lunch with my best friend. Who knows what got into me but I took out my mom's cobalt blue cashmere coat and wore it back to school. After all of us got off of the bus for the game, I felt so special in that coat! We were on the bleachers screaming when I heard a rip! I looked at the coat and the entire seam under the left arm had come loose. Horror struck me like lightning. Took off the coat, put it over my arm and can't remember a thing about the rest of the game except getting off the bus and runnning home. It occurred to me that there was a seamstress who lived up the street from my mom and me: She had done alterations on some of my clothes.
I ran like lightning to her house and then realized I didn't have a nickel to my name. But I rang her doorbell praying she would be home and luck was with me! She was. And she fixed the sleeve of my mom's coat and didn't charge me a thing.
Rushed home, hung up the cobalt blue cashmere coat in my mom's closet and kept my cool.
Nothing was ever said about the coat to her: I just couldn't. And I never did even when I became and adult and was teaching. Somehow, I had locked that experience in the back of my mind. In all those years, she never knew and I wish I had told her: It would have been hysterical at that point in our lives. After the trade and then the blue coat, I never took another article of clothing from my mom without her knowing it or anything else for that matter.
My mom passed away almost ten years ago. I have lots of her coats and can't wear them for I became much taller than she. Odd twist of fate wouldn't you say?
*This was published in the Charleston West Virginia Gazette
When I was eleven I was in the seventh grade at St. Albans Junior High school and besides that I was at the height I am now which is 5'7". All of the older poplular girls had just gotten straight skirts and oh how I wanted one! But here I was stuck in full skirts or dresses and having to wear white socks with saddle oxfords. And I hated it every single day.
There was an older girl who lived up the street from me and we went to the same junior high school. She had a straight skirt. And so I got gutsy and asked my mom if she would buy me one: Her reply? "Absolutely not! You are too young for one!" I was heartsick and yet determined by hook or crook to get a straight skirt. Calling my grandmother on the phone didn't help either. She wouldn't go along with my plight but I thought she would go in with my conspiracy. No way and she probably knew that my mom would jump on her.
Days upon days went by and I was still lusting after the idea of having a straight skirt to wear and then I came upon a idea! I would go up the street to the older girl's house [we were about the same size] and see if she had an extra skirt I could wear. How was I supposed to know that this older girl was also devious?
I went up to her house and she brought out a straight skirt--it was brown and wool.
Yes, she would give it to me but she wanted a pair of my mom's high heels in exchange. That was my first hint of unforseen lurking trouble. Told her I'd think about it, went home and did the usual stuff and went to bed--still thinking about what she wanted and what I wanted.
The next day after I got home from school, I did it! I went to my mom's closet [both of my parents worked] and got out her brown alligator shoes. Those would work, I thought to myself disregarding any idea of how expensive those shoes were and in reality, I had no idea.
I rushed up the street with those shoes tucked under my blouse, knocked on the door and the girl handed me the skirt and grabbed my mom's shoes and promptly closed her door.
Ran like I had wings on my feet down to my house with such a thrill of securing my very first straight skirt that I think I was comatose. Later, I wish I had been.
Hid the skirt in my closet and when my parents got home, I acted like nothing had happened at all. But it's hard to conceal something that you know in your gut is wrong.
I was soon to find out for my mom, after setting her things down, went into the bedroom and was in her closet looking for a pair of house shoes to put on when I heard my name being screamed at the top of her lungs! "Sharon Lynn, where are my alligator shoes?" How was I supposed to know that she always inventoried everything everywhere?
With a look on my face like the cat that swallowed the canary, I confessed as to what I had done. Within minutes, she made me get the ill-gotten skirt out of my closet and she marched me up the street to the older girl's house.
By this time, the girl's parents were also home and a loud discussiion ensued between her mom and mine. But the skirt was given back and the shoes were handed to my mom and we walked back home and I felt like the world was going to end right there and then.
Grounded? Of course and punished. What I had done was in essence "stealing" and I hadn't gotten away with it either.
A couple of months passed by and one day when my parents got home from work, I noticed that my mom had a big box with her. You know what was in it--a straight skirt for me! And like the other girl's, it was brown and wool. I was in seventh heaven and looking back, must have worn that skirt at least twice a week to school.
How stupid it was to have traded something that was not mine and at that time cost over one hundred dollars for a five dollar skirt? Pretty stupid in retrospect.
The lesson was learned the hard way; oh but there were still more to come for the next year, I did something similar but got away with it. That's another story and again, it involves something I took of my mom's--but it wasn't shoes.
Sometimes a song will come into your head and you can’t get rid of that tune. You know how that is. Happened the other day to me and it was a song I sang in grade school—“Ole Dan Tucker.” As a child of the fifties, I can remember singing so many songs in the classroom that dealt with the west such as that one as well as “Clementine,” “Good Bye Old Paint,” “The Erie Canal” and on and on. Never questioned why. Just like the other students,
we sat there and sang for what seemed like forever. Remember my teacher getting out a pitch pipe, blowing on the tone and then we would imitate that tone and sing a song that she selected.
Fast forward way ahead in time and I became a teacher. And what was the first thing I had to buy at Moore’s Book Store? A pitch pipe, of course.
My first teaching job was in the fourth grade. And low and behold, in the music book were the very same songs that I sang. Incredulous! Here I was again singing those same songs only this time I was the teacher and not the student. And this time, I was also the one using a pitch pipe. The songs seemed so normal to me for I grew up with them.
And yet, these songs I mentioned above were products of the late 1800’s.
Maybe it was some unwritten code that they had to be passed on for posterity’s sake. I don’t know. But for some reason, every year thereafter, those same songs were in the children’s music books. Forever or what seemed like it.
In the years in which I taught, I noticed that these old songs of the west started disappearing from music books. And so did a teacher’s use of the pitch pipe—that was one thing I was grateful to discard, even if I did take piano lessons, it was getting harder and harder on my part to read the notes for the pitch.
My three grandchildren have never heard of the songs I mentioned. They had never seen a pitch pipe until I brought mine home with me when I retired from teaching. “What is that?” they asked. And I would go into a long explanation, which bored the wits out of them.
“Ole Dan Tucker” was one of my most favorite childhood songs as well as the other ones I mentioned. Sad, for in retrospect those songs are now lost forever. They belonged to a different time long ago and I am still not sure why they carried over way into the 1900’s at all. Now, I wish they were back. But would they fit into today’s world of hip hop, rap and songs that children sing? Of course not.
In the song, “Good Bye Old Paint,” the first lines are: “Good bye Old Paint, I’m leaving Cheyenne…” Old Paint was a horse and the song was a western song no doubt sung by cowboys all over.
Those songs are long gone but at least I still have memories of them and every once in a while, I catch myself singing one of them to myself. No way would I walk down the street singing one. But if you are like me and know these songs, weren’t they something special? “Ole Dan Tucker” sure was!
Someone sent me this strange picture of these dogs dressed up like the flying monkeys in the movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” My first thought was not of the dogs but those terrifying monkeys in the movie: They scared me far more than the wicked witch ever could have! It was their grabbing people and Toto that frightened the wits out of me and also the fact that some of those monkeys were human-sized [of course they were but as a five year old I was clueless.]
If you were to ask me how many times I have seen “The Wizard of Oz,” I couldn’t tell you except to say, “Too many!” When I was teaching school, my co-teachers and I would show the movie when we studied weather: Fit in perfectly. And there I was watching those flying monkeys again and after all that time, they were still frightening--not as much but nonetheless, frightening. But I noticed that I liked the flying monkeys’ jackets.
If you were to know me, you’d know that I have several jackets very similar to them. But mine came from a former shop here in town that sold out of the norm type clothing: I just had to have three jackets of course. When I wear one of them, I wonder if others perceive it as a "flying monkey" jacket? I do and try not to think of the monkeys.
Back to the picture of these pitiful dogs dressed as the flying monkeys: I’ll bet that they were absolutely hysterical at having those outfits put on them. Look at their faces—they look scared out of their wits! I can relate. I know that feeling all too well. But I do like the jackets!
There is nothing like the smell of dried clothes taken down from a clothesline--nothing. And yet, hardly anyone hangs out clothes to dry anymore: Reason? With the advent of dryers and advanced technology plus a new age of people, hanging clothes out to dry has gone by the wayside. Excuses are: It takes too long, I don't want to do it, have no room outside and on and on. And it is becoming such a lost art and activity.
I well remember both my grandmother and my mother hanging out clothes on the clothesline to dry. Both of them used a clothespin bag that hung on the clothesline: It was full of wooden clothespins. Whether I was at my grandmother's house or at my own as a child, I loved hiding behind the sheets and catching that wonderful smell. Indescribable unless you know it.
Remember in winter, that my mother would bring in a wooden fold-out clothes dryer and place this near the floor furnace. She had to for if it were freezing outside, clothes wouldn't dry.
Oh and there were rules as to how to hang clothes on the clotheslines too; if they weren't hung just right, you would be forever scorned. Heaven forbid!
Here are some old clothesline rules:
You always took the wet clothes and bedding out of the laundry basket one by one and shook them before hanging them on the line. You always hung sheets together--never randomly. Ever.
Shirts were clothespinned from the bottom of the shirt--never from the top. Never.
Before you hung any clolthes at all, you had to wash the lines with a clean wet cloth.
Underwear was hung behind sheets for it was considered risque' then.
You had to check frequently to see what clothes or bedding was dry.
Definitely you had to hang clothes straight--never sloppy.
If company were coming to your house, you had to scurry outside and take down the clothes, fold them and put them out of sight. When you took all of the clothes and bedding off the clothesline, you folded everything, put it back into the basket and brought it all inside. Later would come the task of ironing all of it.
When I first got married, we lived in an upstairs apartment but it did have a clothesline on the porch. And I well remember my mother in law telling me that I had hung some clothes wrong. The guilt trip was on and stayed for a long time.
When we moved into our first house, it had a big backyard complete with clotheslines: I was in heaven! But I was also about five houses up the street from my mother in law which meant that everytime I hung out clothes on the line, I felt like someone was staring at my back.
In the house where I live now, there are clotheslines downstairs in my basement and yes, I do have a dryer! I hang up things that are delicate and would be destroyed in the dryer. Were there clotheslines outside? Yes, they were on the carport and the former owners had installed wooden blinds to keep the viewers from seeing the clothes: Worked for me too for years.
No outside clotheslines here now and oh, how I miss them. Times are so different and yet, I do have several friends who hang out their clothes and ask me if I'd like to have them do my sheets. My answer is always a resounding "YES!"
If you have room in your backyard, try having some clotheslines installed: You'd be surprised at how wonderful your clothes smell, how wonderful it is to see sheets taking an almost flight and you'd be reliving a dying tradition.
Forever, I have had a love affair with paper. Can’t remember a time when I didn’t love it! My mother was an executive secretary and I remember her bringing home spiral bound steno tablets and of course, I got some. Ah! My dad was an insurance adjuster and he used big tablets of paper to document car accidents. Do you think that I got any of those? Of course!
From the get go, I loved not only the feel of paper but its smell: It’s unforgettable. With my two sources above, I had my own little office as a kid: I would staple paper together to make books, cut up paper for who knows what and write or draw on every single piece.
Best of all was going to my mother’s office: She would take me into a room that had a huge closet full of office supplies. I would just stand there in a zombie state and wish that all of it were at my house.
Over the years, I have written on or used thousands and thousands of sheets of paper in all forms—first in school, then in college and in my former profession of teaching. Addicted still only this time it is printer paper, scrapbook paper and watercolor paper; however, I still have a love for tablets. In my case, I would call this addiction a good one, wouldn’t you? Can’t imagine a world without it!
There is nothing about April that I don’t love. True, it’s a month of rain off and on but this month brings forth March’s sprouts into bloom. And although many flowers and plants bloom, lilacs are my favorite—always have been. Forever, it seems, every April in my classroom, I would put up a big poster with Langston Hughes’ poem, “April Love Song.” Not only did I love it but so did my students; I caught them many times reading the poem to themselves.
APRIL RAIN SONG by Langston Hughes
Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—
The other favorite thing I love about April is the blooming of lilacs: They seem to appear magically, have a heavenly smell and their stay is brief but what joy they bring to the finder!poietes.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/grace-in-small-things-33/poietes.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/grace-in-small-things-
Like everyone, I keep watching tv and the photos and the latest news from the area of Japan--and it's unbelievable. A huge earthquake would be horrific enough but also a tsunami? And now there's another radioactive meltdown in one of the power plants. It's like watching hell on earth. I try to tear myself away from the news and yet, I can't help but watch. The plight of the residents and the ones who are arriving to give aid is hard to fathom: How can so many be helped with such a magnitude of dire straights?
My heart goes out to all of them for it something like that were to happen here in the United States, it would be as there: Unmittagated chaos. But it's far worse there for as you know, Japan is an island. And we don't have huge tsunamis here and never have had them.
Wish that the above angel could take flight amid other angels and help out the horrific scenario.
Sending prayers to all of those in Japan who are affected by this terrible situation.
I have. In fact, I’ve had three jump on me in my lifetime----so far!
When I was little, I heard that if a bird got in the house it was a sign of a death. That was enough to strike fear in any kid.
But what was the sign for a bird jumping on a person? And to this day, I really don’t want to know for it has happened to me three times.
The first time, I talking on the phone, had my hair in rollers and my entire head covered up with a scarf except for my bangs. All of a sudden, I felt little feet on my forehead. Scared out of my wits, I threw the phone down with the person still on the other line and ran screaming around the house which was empty except for me and my 18 month old son who was asleep upstairs. Finding a mirror, I looked and saw a bird sitting on top of my head. As I screamed it flew around somewhere in the house.
My next door neighbors had four sons. I ran over, told them the predicament and they came over. In a minute’s decision, we decided to get my son’s Tinker Toy cylindrical box and lid. One of the boys found the bird hanging onto a picture in the living room; he trapped it in the box and took it outside.
I thought I was safe forever from having a bird on me.
Years later and being a teacher at Robins, my class among others was at Stonewall Jackson’s track for an entire “field day.” It was hot as all get out, as it usually was. I remember having on all brown: brown shirt, pants and ball cap. While cheering for my students, I felt something hot and pulsing hit the back of my neck. Scared to look [and I couldn’t turn my head around a la Linda Blair], I screamed; my co-teacher ran over and had to pull a big brown bird off of my neck and throw it onto the bank. It wanted, apparently, to be attached to me.
The kids thought it was funny and said since I had on all brown and was tall, that the bird thought I was a tree.
Time went by.
It was two summers ago and my granddaughter who was 8 at that time and I were out in the yard. All of a sudden I felt something gigantic [or so it seemed] hit my back. She screamed and I was running around in the street with who knows what on me!!! I heard her say “There’s a parrot on you!” No way I thought. Who has a parrot around here? And why would it decide to perch on me?
I can tell you why.
I am one of those unlucky people in life who attracts, literally, birds. Have no idea why and don’t want to find out.
The parrot flew off of me, thankfully, and I was able to hold it on my hand. My granddaughter went into the house and came out with a large, decorative birdcage that I have: we wrangled with no success to get the parrot in it. It was flying around like it had batteries when my daughter in law arrived to pick up my granddaughter; the parrot then decided to jump on her.
She screamed so loudly that it flew off and across the street.
Later, I found out that some people I didn’t know, who live up the street, were the owners.
About a week later, the parrot’s owner’s kids screamed at me: “You’re the one who tried to flush our parrot!” I have no idea who intended to do that; certainly wasn’t me. Holding a parrot is not on my top ten list of things to do------ever, much less even having one on my back.
It is said “The third time is a charm.” Let’s hope so at least for me with my experiences with birds. Love to look at them but never, ever want another of any bird species on me! And then there’s the story about a bunch of chickens that jumped on my bare feet while I was at our family farm---I was four. But that’s another story in itself.
Crystal Gale made that song popular a long time ago. But in today’s
world it seems fitting regarding what we see on tv for what we see is not real.
Consider two popular female actresses who have hit tv shows, Kyra Sedgwick and Holly Hunter. Do you think that their hair is real? Of course not---it’s either part wig or mostly extensions added on to the scalp. The makeup artists have used some really super holding glue apparently for in the action scenes, if the extra hair weren’t glued onto their scalps, if would fall off.
We see people with short hair and then the next day it’s long and wavy: is that realistic? It’s frightening that today’s children think that it is real.
Every person who is in the media’s attention no doubt wears colored contacts. Do you really think that seeing a person’s picture with glazing green eyes is real? I don’t think so! If you look closely, you will see people in the entertainment industry or on tv with several different eye colors in one week.
Yet, it seems that this specific point isn’t noticed at all: It’s overlooked.
And let’s not forget dazzling snow- white teeth that everyone on tv is sporting. It is not real but veneers put on by a dentist and it costs thousands and thousands of dollars. But again, to children and young teens, it is perceived as real. And what will happen when they grow up and don’t have them? That makes everyone who doesn’t go around sporting them, appear part of the “unbeautiful” people. And so these children and young teens reaching adulthood will simply have to have the veneers: It is the thing to have.
Photoshop, a computer program, is another handy fool the eye tool for it can alter a person’s picture and change that person from dull to glamour in a hit of a computer key. The result might look great but once again, ah it isn’t real. We see these altered pictures of famous people and think that they actually look like that and then are in utter shock when we see them in person or see a real picture of them.
Add plastic surgery and anyone can look like anyone else. It’s a scary thing to think that eventually all people will look the same and there will be no individuality at all: It will be a oneness. And that is what is happening so fast.
No one wants to look old or older. Everyone wants to stay looking the same as they do in their early forties and it’s possible with money and expertise.
Add a personal trainer to stay in shape and a dietician to prepare precise meals and body perfection sets in—that is for the wealthy or those who simply have to stay the same.
It reminds me of the movie “The Time Machine” where Rod Taylor meets a world of young blonde people who are all the same age. Where is the distinctiveness that sets one person apart from the other? Where is the sign of age? Not there as anyone who has seen that movie knows.
Had Mona Lisa been a real person she would have not survived in today’s world: She would have been picked apart, forced into plastic surgery and had her hair changed and absolutely, been told to wear a different color of contact lenses so that her dark eyes wouldn’t show. Yet to the world she was considered beautiful with her auspicious stare.
Movie stars of the thirties and forties aged right before people’s eyes in movies and this was accepted. Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn and hundreds of stars accepted their aging as did the public. Heaven forbid seeing
Walter Cronkite on television sporting jet black hair, no moustache and those glaring white teeth: It would have been more than jolting to the viewers.
Technology can be an amazingly awesome tool: It has changed us all in one
way or another whether we welcomed it or not.
Technology is gaining its fastness and either we choose to go with it or say “Stop!” Superficial is here to stay and for those of us who have chosen not to follow its path are looked down upon for as we age we will not be the “beautiful people” anymore. And that makes my brown eyes blue.
Today is “Fat Tuesday” and oh how I wish I were in New Orleans! I have a very dear friend, with whom I went to school, who lives there. We send emails back and forth and when the weather is bad here, he worries. When the weather is bad there, I worry. But I wonder if he worries about how much I’d love to be right smack in the middle of Mardi Gras? It would be my wildest dream come true to be there. Heaven only knows what I would wear but it would no doubt be something that would fit right in with the crowd—if you were to know me.
He has no idea of my secret desire at all. Have I ever told him? No. Should I tell him now? Probably not a good idea considering that here we are in for snow: The weathermen aren’t saying how much yet for when they predict, it isn’t always right as you know. I could just picture my boarding a plane only to be stuck somewhere forever during a wild snowstorm: That would not be my idea of fun at all. And that is no doubt what would happen if you knew my luck!
I’ll just have to send him an email and tell him of my secret desire to be at Mardi Gras and perhaps next year, I can go to see him and be a part of that grand party. And so, I will just have to celebrate “Fat Tuesday” here in Charleston, West Virginia: I’m sure that there are celebrations here somewhere. But will it be the same as being in New Orleans? Of course not. No point in attempting to contact “Scotty” of the show “Star Trek” but wouldn’t it be wonderful to be beamed down there? I can only wish.
Odd but sometimes certain things conjure up so many past memories. Yesterday it was snowy and cold. And as I looked out my steamy kitchen window my thoughts went back to when I was sitting at my grandparent’s metal kitchen table with my grandfather. He and I were eating hot beef noodle soup and I remember him handing me crackers. I was all of four years old and yet, to this day I can distinctly envision every detail of that lunch.
I adored him and he adored me: You could sense the love between us. And perhaps that is why I took in everything that my mind could hold. That specific time was special for although I ate lunch with him every day until I was five, it was one of those moments when all was right with the world.
Those are the type of memories that we hold dear to our hearts forever—when we have shared love with a grandparent and felt safe and secure. Any time I fix beef noodle soup and take a whiff of the aroma, I am instantly transported back in time to that lunch with my grandfather. And what a great memory it still is of that snowy cold day, the steamy windows, soup with him and love. Nothing grandiose and yet it was one of the best times of my life.
As a mother of two grown sons, a grandmother of three and a former teacher, I can't think of a time that Hans Christian Andersen's stories haven't been in my life--or theirs. In fact, when I was little, I well remember reading his "Tin Soldier," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Little Match Girl" and all the rest of his wonderful fairy tales. They stay with me even now and that is the result of the pure magic that Hans Christian Andersen possessed. Not only was he a great story teller but his stories were alive with characters that no one will ever forget.
When I was five I remember my mother taking me to the movies to see "The Red Shoes." All I remembered after seeing it was that it was frightening and the ballerina's red ballet shoes and I had no idea that Andersen wrote it. As a young adult, I viewed this movie over and over: I felt the main character's pain between chosing love or her love for dancing. Her tragic end was understandable for she realized that love was the choice and she was so immersed in that thought of being with her lover that she was oblivious to the rushing train below. Tragic.
And yet, that is what Andersen wanted: He wanted a story that would stay with us forever. Had it ended a different way, it wouldn't be the classic it is today.
Long ago, I found a big article about Andersen in National Geographic; saved it.
And I showed it every year to my second graders for they could not only see what he looked like but the actual photos of where he lived. He had even invented a mirror that in today's world would be like a side mirror on a car: He attached this mirror to the outside of his window. It gave him many views of what was going on down below in the streets below his large apartment. Amazing.
In today's world, Hans Christian Andersen's works still shout out loud for they are pure magic. And magic is so much needed with all of the crisises that keep rearing their heads all over the world. I wish I could have known him. Wish I could have met him and yet, vicariously I have. My only hope is that today's parents, grandparents or friends will take time to introduce Andersen's fairy tales and the movie, "The Red Shoes," to their children. He was way ahead of Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings--he started his stories of magic and heros and heroines long before these two blockbusters apppeared. And he has staying power--isn't that the supreme goal of a great writer?
I forgot to add one other blatant change in the English language and how did I find it? Was typing a story and writing "The man who..." when a red line appeared under who. What, I thought to myself and so I changed "who" to "that" and Word accepted it. Made absolutely no sense to me at all.
When did who become that? A person isn't a "that."
I thought back to a couple of old movies whose titles are: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "The Man Who Came to Dinner." The movie titles were correct in the usage of grammar. But try typing in either title on your computer --better if you have Word and see if you don't get a big red line under "Who."
I'm sure that this change has happened for people are never sure whether to use who or whom. But to change either word to that is ridiculous!
When I was in college, I remember reading an article in the “Reader’s Digest” and it stayed with me forever. Did I ever try to do this? No, not after reading it but I wish I had been as clever as this guy.
Here’s how the story goes: A college professor gave an assignment for all of his students to write a two-thousand word theme. And he wanted it in three days. Come the day of the themes to be turned in and the professor was flipping through them, after his classes were over, and he saw the usual thing—that is until he saw this guy’s folder.
When the professor opened up the folder, he saw one big picture pasted on the left side and one on the right. Below the picture on the right, the guy had written: “It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are two thousand."
Needless to say, the professor gave the guy an A for creativity.
But extremely doubtful if anyone else ever attempted to do that. Still, not a bad idea is it? And believe it or not, this story was true!
Something very wrong has happened to our English language. And it happened quietly and quickly; worse is that what was considered correct is now considered passé. For those of us who had English grammar pounded into our heads and know correct usage and pronunciation, what can we do? Not much it seems and there is the scary part!
I blame it on today’s society of high tech this and high tech that. Don’t get me wrong for I am writing this on my laptop. Who would ever want to go back to a typewriter? Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” stated that he still uses his typewriter. Oh my.
Words have become shortened due to texting. Today’s writers for television shows are young and they go with what they hear. And the actors or actresses have to read and learn the lines as they are written. But the bad thing is that a lot of these words are pronounced wrong and are becoming acceptable. Within the last month, I have heard two local weathermen pronounce a word wrong! Heaven help us all. Both of these men said “Short lived” with the word lived pronounced with a long i. No one has ever pronounced those two words together like that –till now.
And now the news commentators are saying “compare—able” instead of comp/arable. Where did that come from? It’s not right and it bothers me as does “badly” as in this sentence: I feel badly. No one feels badly: They feel bad.
Worst is this: “Let’s just keep this between you and I.” Wrong! It should be, “Let’s just keep this between you and me.” And I keep hearing the wrong statement over and over--grates on my last nerve.
My late college professor who taught “History of the English Language” is probably rolling over in her grave. The biggest problem with pronunciation of English words is that who is minding the store? Surely someone with the sense of what is right or wrong should stand up and speak his or her mind. I just did and hope that you, the reader, will help with this dilemma before English language as we knew it goes down the drain.
A friend of mine, Rick, who lives in New Orleans sent me this photo. It was taken during Mardi Gras of this year. He entitled the email, "I thought of you!" Of course he would for he knows I have always worn high heels.
Didn't wear them as a child or in junior high school but started wearing them when I was about fourteen--and not gracefully either! No, I didn't wear them to school but two of my girlfriends decided to go buy our first pair of heels at Butler Shoes and we wore them down the main street,Capitol, in Charleston, West Virginia. [My mother had always bought and made me wear expensive flat shoes from Palmer's or Arnold's shoe stores. She had no idea I was doing this on this specific day.]
I will never forget that day--ever! My friends seemed to be doing fine while I was staggering and managing to make it from one parking meter to the next all the way down the street. Looking down Capitol Street [which I knew by heart] seemed endless. But at fourteen, girls want to look cool and besides there were always guys who hung out on the street for one reason and one reason only: To look at girls! In retropsect, I must have looked like an idiot while trying to keep composure.
Our goal that day was not only to buy our first pair of high heels but to make it down the street and get on the bus to get home. Heaven only knows how we made it but we did.
When the bus arrived, I had to take off my heels: My feet were on fire. And I sat on the bus barefooted. I don't think I could have gotten those heels back on to save my life. Rode all the way home barefooted, got off the bus before my friends did and managed to get home in my bare feet which were ablaze with heat! Of course, when my mom got home I got the speech about how "cheap shoes" would destroy my feet and so on. While she was giving this speech, she was standing there in her high heels.
In my senior year of high school, my girlfriends and I would wear high heels to football games. Were any other senior girls wearing them? Of course not--just us.
While at my first year at Marshall University, I wore "Weejuns:" They were loafers and what all girls and guys wore. But I had heels to wear to --you guessed it, football games and the like.
Two years later, while still in college, I started wearing heels all of the time. Graduated a year later and landed my first teaching job. And throughout my entire teaching career, I always wore high heels unless I wore flats, which only after several times, made me fall; heels did not make me fall! I haven't worn heels at the beach however: I always wore flip flops or sandals and no way was I tripping through the sand in high heels.
I come from two generations of high heel wearers: My grandmother always wore them as did my mother. In fact, as I'm writing this, I have heels on--the backless type.
Now the high heel torch has long been passed to my thirteen year old granddaughter: She started wearing mine when she was five and walked with such grace that I was more than astounded. Unfortunately, she now can't fit into my heels: She wears two and a half sizes bigger than me. Despair!
The love affair with high heels will never end for me, even if I'm not supposed to be wearing them for my doctor jumps all over me! But I just can't walk in flats and have no desire to fall in those. Makes no sense, I know and yet, it is as it is!
Long live high heels!
*This story was published in the WVGazette of Charleston, West Virginia
Photo from Rick; shoe picture of KreweMuses in New Orleans
When I was little, I watched my grandmother cook. She never used a recipe--ever! It was just a cup of this or a pinch of that. Of course, my mother also cooked the same way but since she worked full-time, she knew a lot of shortcuts.
These are some really simple recipes and there is no measuring: It's a matter of fixing it so that you like it.
EASY PEA SALAD
Ingredients: One can of peas, drained
Onion cut fine [about 1/4th of onion]
One tomato cut in pieces
Directions: To the drained peas, add the chopped onions [as you wish,] tomato pieces and some mayonnaise to mix it well. Refrigerate till chilled. If desired add salt and pepper. You may need to drain before adding more mayonnaise if desired. This is so wonderful, easy and other ingredients can be added. And you can double or triple this recipe if serving for more than two.
HOT DOG TOPPING
Ingredients: One onion chopped fine
Directions: Put the chopped onions into a bowl, Add a small amount of mustard and then ketchup: You may have to add more--you know you have the right amount when the two together turn orange.
Chill briefly. Add salt and pepper if desired. Just terrific on hotdogs!
EASY THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING
Sweet pickle relish
Directions: Again, there is no measuring. Put four or five tablespoons of mayonnaise, add ketchup and stir till it's orange. Add a small amount of sweet pickle relish [easy on the juice], stir and you will have easy thousand island dressing.
You may chill this or use at room temperature. Add salt and pepper if desired.
The above three recipes have been used by me over and over: They are not only easy but taste great.
I have always loved St. Patrick's Day and even more when I became a teacher.
For thirty years I taught second grade. Every year, the day before this holiday, my students would get so excited! I told them that they had to wear green on St. Patrick's Day or they would get pinched [no one ever got pinched! Ever!]
And every day before this holiday, I would make a graph: The graph was to count how many students believed in leprechauns. Every year almost every student would raise his or her hand but as always, a few were reluctant!
The graph was always displayed in the classroom and maybe one student didn't believe in leprechauns.
Also, after my students left for home on the day before this holiday, I would overturn some desks, sprinkle glittery shamrocks around and write on some students' papers. And the next day, they just knew that leprechauns had been in their classroom! They would scream with glee and look for any leprechauns that might have been hiding. But alack and alas, they never found any.
We would do our normal classwork but come the afternoon, all were treated to green donuts, green jello and green vegetables. Sadly, the donuts and the jello are not allowed anymore but it is understandable.
Although I retired from teaching, every St.Patrick's Day, I wear something green [BUT not those St. Patrick's Day socks!] and go out and buy those green donuts! I know exactly where to find them: X marks the spot. After all, you have to keep up with tradition!
When I was eight and in the fourth grade, I joined the Girl Scouts; didn’t want to join the Brownies because I thought you had to go to camp. Nixed that idea. No sooner had I joined the scouts when it was time to sell the proverbial cookies. Yes, I had eaten them before but had never sold them in my life—till this time came.
Selling them was not at all like today—not in any way, shape or form. I had to go door to door to take orders and worst was the hill on which I lived: It was steeper than steep. After I got all of the orders, I took them with me to the next Girl Scout meeting and gave them to the scout leader. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the cookies arrived—in big cardboard boxes with cardboard handles on them. Each cardboard box had a girl’s name on it as it was her order. I remember that I had about twelve boxes and there was no way I could have carried those up my steep steep hill.
My dad drove me down to the girl scout leader’s room [she used a room in a local church in St. Albans] and he carried out the boxes and brought them and me home! I was so thankful. But the WORST was yet to come! I had to carry several of those boxes together to deliver them and I can still feel the pain I felt as the cardboard handles dug into my hands. After the last delivery, I was so thankful that ordeal was over—till the next year.
Today’s Girl Scouts have no idea what my generation or I had to endure to sell cookies. My hands wouldn’t function right for several days after each time I had to deliver those horrible cardboard boxes with the handles. And just about as bad was all of that walking and going to complete strangers’ houses. In today’s world? No way would any parent let her daughter do that but it was a different time—one that was safe and one that young daughters did what they were told.
Today I know how to order Girl Scout cookies and pick them up. Oh how times have changed and for the better!
March is like a fickle woman: She can’t decide from one day to the next what she will be wearing or how her mood will be. She can conjure up ferocious winds that take kites soaring but she has the power to move objects on the ground. March doesn’t have one particular form of weather for she can produce warm days, rainy days and snowy days. She is the month that makes buds appear on trees, jonquils reach up out of the ground and put a start on regrowth. Her attributes are many and so many past poets have written about her. March carries with her the Ides and St. Patrick’s Day—from one frightening past history day to one of green, leprechauns and happiness. You can always tell March is here by feeling her gusty winds, seeing forsythia burst open in bloom and watch the buds appear as well as jonquils and daffodils. No matter what, March is a month of hope long overdue after winter and we welcome her with arms open wide.
Below are some poems about March.
Compiled by Karen and Mike Garofalo
Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
Nothing is getting done in my house. The carpet isn't swept, the dishes aren't done and there are no clean clothes to wear! I am at my wits end. What can I do? All I do is watch news day and night on tv.
My brother is wearing all of my clothes when I am not home! Every time I come home, I find my stuff thrown all over my bedroom. And when I try to find something I really want to wear, it's not there. What should I do to my brother?
Suzi something is wrong with your brother. Surely you know that by now!
Buy a padlock, put it on your door and wear the key to it around your neck.
Things are just so bad. My food supply is running out and I hardly have any water to drink. No one should have to live like this. What can I do?
T. in Maryland
Dear T.in Maryland: You don't tell me how old you are or if you are a boy, girl, man or woman. Yes, you situation is very bad. But I need more information in order to help you. Please write back and tell me more. I'll be waiting!
Reply from T. in Maryland:
I'm the one who wrote to you that I hardly have any food to eat or water to drink. What am I supposed to do? Get in the car and drive to the store?
I can't do that. Cats aren't allowed to drive and besides I don't have any money.
Dear T.in Maryland: You are the first cat who has written to me. I'm so proud that you know how to use a computer! Your owners must be really bad is all I can say.
You need to go to youtube and post a video of this horrible plight. And things will be so much better for you.
Things are not going well at all. When I'm in my car, I have to go 90 mph just to get home. I can't take this much longer. And when I get home, I have to close all of the blinds and leave everything off. No one should have to do this.
The Rock in Detroit
Dear The Rock in Detroit: When is the last time you checked with your parole officer?