Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stop resisting

When I first started writing, I attended a workshop by poet, Richard Newman, publisher of River Styx. It was the first time I realized there was a market for free verse. Even though I'd only written rhyming verse in birthday cards for fun, I couldn't wait to get home and write a free verse poem.
Then I attended a presentation by two women poets who wrote and read with emphasis and made it seem effortless. If only I could do that. Well, I certainly intended to try.

A few years ago my poem won a Metro Arts in Transit conte$t: Poetry In Motion. It was posted on local Bi-State buses and/or Metro Link trains for one year. That was some honor.
Take a look at these run on lines and see if you can find the line breaks which will result in an eight line poem. Now, try to punctuate it the way you think I did.

Sunbeams bounce off crystal vase splay rainbows around the room I dance and sway with outstretched arms and shed a tear of glee. Single rose with sun-tinged blush passion-red it glimmers ablaze with innuendo radiant in love I waltz with yesterday's memory.
Punctuation, as you know can change entire meanings and is sometimes one of the keys to publication.

A writer reviewed another one of my poems and almost destroyed my self esteem with this remark: "Poem is good but an archaic theme. Nobody will take this."
Did I show her! I sent it right out and received an acceptance the same day. Writing for lit mags requires a combination of some, or all of the following: strong verbs, innuendo, images, metaphor, and wordplay. Here's an example of one I published.

Her knight in dingy armor loaded his gun,
shot off his mouth...
The poem is not about suicide, but verbal abuse.)

Another winning poem opens with strong imagery. An excerpt: 
I stuff the clothes in the washing machine,
dump soap on top of this week's crud, 
cram two quarters in the coin slot,
shove it hard. Scalding water spills.
(could be metaphor for tears)

Now, if you are still here,  let me show you how I set up and punctuated my Metro poem.

                  In Bloom
Sunbeams bounce of crystal vase,
splay rainbows; around the room
I dance and sway with outstretched arms
and shed a tear of glee.

Single rose with sun-tinged blush,
passion red it glimmers, ablaze with innuendo;
radiant in love, I waltz with yesterday's memory.

Those two semi colons make all the difference. Had I omitted them, I would have been referring to the rainbows and rose. Instead, I am referring to myself.
Are you ready to give poetry a try? The more you tinker, the more fun you'll have. Stop resisting and give it a whirl, won't you?


Friday, May 29, 2015

Go for it!

Look at the pride on their faces. George (who will always be Georgie to me) graduated high school with honors. He is an outstanding athlete, state all star volley ball champ, and by nature, he's quiet and gentle, unless he is spiking a ball. That big guy, at 6'5" is a power hitter on two sports teams, and he's traveled the country participating in tournaments.

He is about to chart new territory as he takes a road trip with his buddies to see the Grand Canyon, before heading off to Vassar College in New York. 

When he was born, he wasn't like most newborns who have "frog legs" scrunched close to their bodies. The doctor handed him to his parents.  His dad snugged him  in a receiving blanket. Georgie stretched his legs and kicked his feet out of the blanket....over and over again. He looked at  his parents as they spoke. He turned his head toward voices. He was a big baby, filling the bassinet and our hearts with love. As Grandpa and I walked out of the hospital, I declared Georgie a genius. I was right! He's always been an A student, a brilliant scholar, outstanding athlete, so sweet and tender when he holds a baby, and most of all, always a GENTLEMAN. 

We are so proud of you, George! Your future awaits. Go for it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Last week was my final preschool production of the 3 Brown Bears. Before the play, the children sang songs, recited nursery rhymes, and had the most fun doing a large motor activity, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. They stood with their hands in a karate stance and chanted: (Moving hands  in chopping fashion) Chitty-chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can do karate. (Moving hands and kicking legs) Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, I can move my body. (Arms and legs flailing, bodies in motion as they turned in a circle), Chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can turn around. Chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can sit right down. The 3 & 4 year olds sat quietly waiting to be called for their turn to state their full name into the microphone and walk across the balance beam.

A bitter-sweet moment for me as some stumbled, lost their balance, got right back on. I showed the parents how placing my fingers on their back between their shoulder blades (not holding their hands) gave them the support and reassurance to regain their balance. I know that I have imparted my mantra, and I hope it will serve these children well through their lives: Never say, "I can't." Always say, "I can try."

As I was feeling melancholy looking back over 39 years of Spring Sings and holiday performances, I saw someone in the audience from the older kids' Pre K class. I told the mom I was sorry that this performance was for the younger class, and I thanked her for coming anyway. Then I saw more parents from my Pre K class...and then the back and front doors of the gymnasium opened, and I got a real blast from my past. 

In walked a former Goldilocks, my granddaughter, Ashley. There was my daughter and her husband, my son and his wife, and a former mama bear, granddaughter, Nicole. I  was in my glory when I saw my baby doll, Liam. And then I realized, the people flowing into the gym were not former performers and my family. They were all a part of my life.

There stood little Ryan, one of my former Baby Bears, age 29 now, and at least 6 ft tall, wearing a full beard and his trademark western shirt and bolero. Famous he is! He's a musician with Pokey Lafarge and other bands. I knew he was a genius at age 5. He thought I was, because I'd made a phone booth for my classroom. I'd obtained a refrigerator box, cut a door on one side and hot glued a wall telephone to the interior and cut out bell-shaped windows  (before AT&T, Bell Telephone was the local provider) His brother Alan, 26 towered over me, too. I was carried away by memories of both those brilliant boys.

Oh my goodness, there was Beatrice and Josephine, a former Mama Bear and Goldilocks. Everywhere I looked I saw former students and their families. Most of my kids are taller than I am and smarter, too. Recent college grads, elementary and high school grads, gainfully employed adults, and one young lady who takes three buses to work each day.  I am so proud of these people. One of my young adult girls who lost her father and has suffered deeply, told me I have inspired her to become a preschool teacher, so she too can make a difference in other's lives. Moms told me how I had helped them parent better. An out-of-towner wrote to tell me she became a teacher because of me. Another told me I inspired her to become a writer...another a poet.  

When I saw the Geigle family, I cried. Mom has always been a home schooler, but she sent each of her half dozen babies to me for two years, and she followed me from (tuition based) school to school. The adults were the same little kids in those grown bodies. When I hugged Pam, we cried.

Former colleagues and bosses made me laugh out loud. Summer day camp kids, adults now,  shared memories. YES, I did allow them to throw green jello on the gym mats and make a lime slip and slide on water day. I did frost a balloon with shaving cream and present it to my co teacher for her birthday with a knife to cut it. When it exploded the children laughed and laughed.

I felt like I was at a funeral, seeing people I hadn't seen in years. Every time I turned my head, there was someone else with open arms, accompanied by small or adult children waiting to hug me. The notes, thank you cards and flowers overflowed, as did my tears. It certainly was a tribute, an unexpected surprise retirement party hosted by my coworker Amy Cain, director, Laura Schulte, and so many others behind the scenes. I am still overwhelmed and in awe of how they pulled it off. I am so grateful for that night, and I thank God for the opportunity to have been able teach little dream job. Thanks goes to my mentor, the late Helen Roger, who taught into her 80s, She believed in me, and she groomed me.

Three more weeks of school and then, after 39 years, then...what? Who knows? 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Four out of five's not bad

Spring blahs derailed me, snatched my pen, usurped my desire to write. I was so busy with school stuff in May, I seldom turned on the computer to write, check emails, peruse Facebook, read and reply to blogs. I did it all from my Iphone. But now, I'm baccccck and raring to go. I have 19 school days left. Then I will be writing more.

Four acceptances in five months is actually okay by me. I write this not to boast, but to assure you that good things come to those who wait. I submitted two of those stories in January.

Nice to receive an email stating, "Bethany House has approved your story, The Final Goodbye, for inclusion in our (Christian themed) anthology Supernatural Stories 2."

 I submitted it and forgot about it. That's really what you have to do when you freelance—forget about it—or you will worry yourself silly wondering if, and why or why not. 

Sasee Magazine will publish my humorous essay, When My Bosom Hit the Big Time in the June edition. The editor wrote to tell me, "Your story made my publisher laugh out loud." That remark made me giddy.

On The Tip of My Tongue is a humorous personal essay about memory loss. As I was about to introduce two people at an event, I forgot their names; one was my husband. The editor said, "Head's up, the publisher loved your story; they (not I) will make final determination as to what will be included in my anthology. But it looks like a yes."
Discouragement and negative self speak are a freelance writer's kiss of death. Don't pucker up! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Oops he did it again!

I have so much to tell you, but will start with my oldest grandson's accomplishment. Austin graduated high school on Thursday evening. He came into this world almost two months too soon and spent time in the hospital's NICU. We worried about him then and especially during those
angst-filled teen years. He's come a long way. He's bright, talented, and a body builder with great biceps. But I embarrass him when I say that. I have such happy memories of him when he was three years old singing Oops I Did it Again. Well he's really done it this time!
Over the years Austin has made me very proud. He was offered full time employment at his after school job at a home supply center, with benefits after 90 days. He plans to go to college in the fall. His lofty long-term goal is to become a counselor. He can and will do anything he sets his mind to. That's my guy! 
I wouldn't sit in the bleachers on a football field for three hours for just anyone. The day was warm and sunny when we arrived, but by 10:00 p.m. it was cold and breezy and I'd had enough of the surrounding entertainment. Not just the band and choir presentations with poor sound systems, but the two rambunctious kids behind me bumping me all night as they climbed in and out numerous times. The overly-friendly 80 year old guy directly in front of us from Jersey City, New Jersey turned around and in his "Joisy" accent asked if we wanted to hear a joke. Never smile when someone asks you that. He was on a stand up comedian roll all evening. His jokes, like those bleachers, left a lot to be desired. 

I pray everyday that Austin will have a happy, healthy and successful life, and I ask his guardian angel to fly as fast as he drives, and to stay with him in all situations, to smack him upside his noggin if need be. CHOICES...that's what life is all about.

The world is yours, Austin. Now go forth and make wise choices and a good name for yourself!

Next time I'll tell you about my surprise party. I was STUNNED, not surprised, by what happened  at my preschool end-of-year Spring Sing. Thank you, my friends, for sticking by me and reading my blog. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Growing like weeds

Look directly behind Nicole's head. See that artificial long stemmed flower? It was a gift for Mother's Day. It has a solar powered glass globe that lights up at night with rotating multi colors. I love it, and I love these kiddos.
I cannot believe that Nicholas (13) and Nicole (7) have grown so big. He is taller than I am and so filled with goodness and compassion. I know he is going to make a difference in this world.

Nick loves football but has recently gotten into lacrosse and loves it. He has always been an active child, a mover with good mastery over his body. He met a teammate who he is smitten with. Her name is Sarah and, as we sat on those chairs on the front porch there, he said, "Nana, she's just like me, and we think alike and most of all she is a NICE girl, not at all like those girls who, ummm, well you know the girls who are more interested... well you know, she's a good Christian girl from a nice family and Dad let me go to her house to watch a movie. You want to see her picture?"

"Sure. Well my goodness, Nicholas, you think alike and you even look alike. Maybe that's the attraction."

He laughed at me and said, "Na-Na!"

Nicole loves to sing and dance, everything, everywhere, all the time. She is dramatic. She came right in the house, went to the kids' room and grabbed a big rubber baby doll with jointed arms and legs that is about 45 years old. It drives her parents crazy when she carries it on her hip. (Why do you like THAT doll!) And her brother has nightmares over it, but I love that she still wants to play babies. When Nick left the front porch to go around back to the patio where his parents and Bill were, Nicole sat on a chair on the porch and told me her hopes and dreams. She wants to have eight babies, four girls and four boys. Of course one will be named after me.

Their school year is coming to a close. Mine won't conclude for a few more weeks, but we are going to have FUN this summer!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sometimes I have to shake my head

We attended Bill's brother's funeral on Saturday. It was a sad occasion, but Bill vowed to stay strong, and he put up a good front until the very end when he was asked to be a pall bearer. He had to place a rose on top the casket as it was placed into the hearse. He shed a tear, tried to choke it back. I wrapped my arms around him and he released a sob, then did his best to recover, chastising himself for being emotional. Breaks my heart that guys aren't to "feel."
I cried a lot Saturday, and so on Sunday before my son and his family arrived on Mother's Day, I definitely needed foundation makeup under my eyes. I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror at my pathetic image. I dabbed the make-up sponge into the pot of makeup, then I swiped it gently under my eyes. The first swipe didn't do the trick, so I dabbed again. And again. And again. And again. I thought, Gee I must have cried a lot! It's not even concealing my white bags.
After a fifth swipe I looked into the palm of my hand and noted that I had been swiping the lid!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stand by me

Life sometimes gets in the way, and I am convinced it is the way we approach difficulty that matters. I am thrilled with the summer-like temperatures in the mid 80s we have been experiencing all week. Truly a gift from God to me. I need warmth and sunshine to fuel my creative side. I am back to writing after a serious lapse.

We have had some upheaval in our family, and therefore, my writing submission calendar has suffered, and I have neglected my blog. Thanks to those of you who visited and have stuck with me.

My granddaughter, Liam's mommy, and her husband sold their house almost immediately and found a home they wanted. They drew up a contract, and at the last minute, the seller inflated the price 10K. Seems they did this to a former prospective buyer, too. The realtor suggested the owners didn't really want to sell. Ashley and her husband were crushed. Then they found their dream home. Hubby and I went to see it. We could imagine baby Liam being raised on those wonderful five acres of land, in a gorgeous house, in a safe community. They made an acceptable offer, and upped the closing date a week so the couple purchasing their home could get in as soon as they moved out.

And then she received a phone call ten days before they were to close. The house was an inheritance held by three siblings. The contract had one condition: a replacement roof, per the inspector. Shouldn't be a problem said the realtor. Then came the call. One of the siblings was holding out. He does not want to replace the roof and thinks the insurance company should cover it. Seems they dropped the insurance coverage when the mother passed away and the house became vacant. The brother wants to take the house off the market, invest 20K in a new roof and pass the cost on to the buyer when they relist.

Another deal fell through, and my poor baby girl called me ready for a nervous breakdown. "Nana, we are going to be homeless by next Friday. How could they do this to us with a baby and two pets? What are we going to do?"

They are actively searching this weekend with their realtor, and if they must, they will move in with my daughter temporarily, as she already has a nursery for Liam and a guest room.

The realities of life hit Nana's 26 year old girl hard, and I worried about her. I know that things will work out. It will take many years for her to realize that life is filled with stumbling blocks, and it is the way we handle them that brings a better outcome. Only she can decide the right approach: stop at the roadblock, or proceed with caution? Jump the hurdle and act impulsively? Or sit quietly and pray for guidance? Try to make it happen or allow it to happen? Thy will be done. It is hard to let go and let God...

Bill's brother died suddenly from a heart attack, and the weekend funeral conflicts with an event I had tickets for. That is a minor bump in my life, but my sister-in-law is dealing with a major crisis. Her name is Barb, and she could use prayers for strength and comfort.

Bill received news after his last chest X-ray that he still has a bit of residual pneumonia in one lung, so we are making a conscious effort to avoid smokers and coughers. Life has been a little rocky. But we will navigate and get through all of this.

I am thankful for your visits, and I promise a more positive post next time, maybe even humorous.