Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Mother Taught Me to Love Poetry

When I was small, I loved poetry and nursery rhymes. I think I sought it out because my mother read them to me. It became a sort of shared, private thing between us. Once, she was going shopping, and she asked me what I wanted her to bring me. I immediately answered, "A book of po-try (poetry)." She found a large, rich volume with many kinds of rhymes and poems and she read them to me often. Over time some of them became standards for my bedtime reading.  Many of the shorter ones were committed to memory.

When I had children, I continued the custom. Robert Louis Stephenson was a favorite and some of the rhymes that I had loved came back for the second time. Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of mine and theirs. I still love the rollicking joy of the Pokey Little Puppy. I was never able to fine  one of the poems I loved when I was little to share with them even though I looked through all the children's collections I could find. I remembered it as "The Sheep Song," but that was incorrect.

 The Internet is a wonderful resource.  With a little research I found "The Sleepy Song" and it helped me call back the blessing of my mother's voice, the comfort of warmth and peace at bedtime, and the love of those who laughed and loved me when I was four. You will find it reprinted below.

Read to your children. It may be a blessing to them all their lives.

The Sleepy Song   
by   Josephine Daskam

As soon as the fire bums red and low
And the house upstairs is still
She sings me a queer little sleepy song
Of sheep that go over the hill.

The good little sheep run quick and soft
Their colors are gray and white
They follow their leader nose to tail,
 For they must be home by night.

 And one slips over and one comes next
 And one runs after behind
The gray one's nose at the white one's tail
The top of the hill they find.

And when they get to the top of the hill
They quietly slip away
But one runs over and one comes next
Their colors are white and gray.

And over they go and over they go
And over the top of the hill,
The good little sheep run quick and soft,
And the house upstairs is still.

 And one slips over and one comes next,
The good little gray little sheep.
I watch how the fire burns red and low,
 And she says that I fall asleep.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Images of Bogata

This building used to be the bank in Bogata,Texas. My father worked in it for about 30 years. Bogata was a little town built on the dividing line between the Blackland and the sandy land of East Texas. Blackland is a clay type soil that grips the wheels of a car or tractor tightly when it is wet. Walking in it becomes impossible because soon the the clinging black mud will outweigh the traveler. In the summer heat, the black soil may form cracks large enough to swallow a part of the road or the garden. Children that lived on the Blackland were often not counted absent from school because the buses could not run when weather conditions were bad.

It was always a thrill for me to visit my father at work. The counters and furnishings of the bank were of a style that recalled the formality and seriousness of the bank's business. The tellers stood behind the tall counter and spoke to the customer though gated bars. The work tables on the far side of the room were tall and convenient for standing rather than sitting with tall stools to rest on. The furniture was heavy polished, oak that reminded me of libraries and dusty silence. I was impressed with reverence when I entered the bank.

The best thing in the bank was the safe. The huge door was set by a timed lock and could not be opened until the preset time arrived. Sometimes customers would be found talking and laughing about how they couldn't open their cash registers because the bank wouldn't let them have any money. I loved to enter it's cool depths. It smelled of metal and money. I never thought about money having a smell until I remembered the safe. The safe deposit boxes were there all lined up with two key holes--one for the bank's key and one for the customer's key. I thought it was marvelous. 

To be allowed to explore some of the mysteries of the bank, to sit on the tall stool and view the tables where my father made careful notations on forms and ledgers, was a world I found both romantic and mysterious. I remember it now as rare and valuable time of sharing my father's life and experience. 

Why Do I Write?

Why or Whatever was I thinking 11/21/07 Brookl...
Why or Whatever was I thinking 11/21/07 Brooklyn NY USA 1:55 p.m. (Photo credit: larryosan)
When I first began blogging, I thought I'd have lots of people reading my stuff. Arrogance and pride never die. I am so full of it that I have to remind myself of all the blogs out there that are so much better than mine with so much superior material. There are lots of writers with great content to claim people's time and energy that I rarely get a jump in the stats.

Somehow it doesn't matter. I still get to say what I want to. I still get to express my opinion or make my observations. To be successful you should want to have many readers, but that's not the only reason I write. Yes, it would be wonderful to have lots of readers and get many comments, but I write because I want to say something and even if I just get one reader, I have shared the concept or idea, and maybe the important thing is to craft the thought in a way that pleases me. I want it to be read, but my first obligation is to write it, or think it, or express it, or observe it.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Role Models for Getting Old

Doppio fossile stradale
Doppio fossile stradale (Photo credit: giovanni_novara)
My mother failed to warn me about getting old.  It's not her fault-she died when she was 38, so she never dealt with that experience. I found the people who did the research and encouraged me that getting old is O.K. I kinda like it. There are a few problems with it that cause me and most of the people I know some headaches. Memory slips, aching joints, and recurring boredom with new styles and stupid song lyrics remind me that I'm not one of the young people anymore. But on the whole, I like me now. I like the things I've learned along the way, and I like that I am still seeking things to learn and study and explore. This summer I learned to make some really cool paper airplanes, and I have found some new kite designs I really like. 

I don't bake a lot anymore, but I'll never exhaust my interest in making bread. The problem with that is that standing for a long time will cause my feet and legs to cramp all night. I either need to to it more often or eat bought bread.

After making the airplanes, I decided I might like to engage in origami. And I'd like to make some beaded jewelry-sounds good for Christmas projects. I also want to refresh my Latin verb conjugations and study the Hebrew alphabet. I love to study family history and genealogy. I hope to get a new project done in time for the Family Reunion next year.

Getting old is O.K. I remember people who knew my mother speaking of her as witty, intelligent, and adventurous. I'm sorry she didn't live to realize the potential of a long life, but I'm so blessed that I am there now, and I remember her and I'm blessed by her influence.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Got Inspiration?

I have written about my daughter Carol in this blog before.  She has some problems and is disabled.  Her right arm was amputated because of MRSA after a surgery which was not successful to replace her elbow.  Arthritis has ravaged her body, but she is a tough cookie.  A few weeks ago the preacher used the parable about the man who had one talent and didn't use it.  He buried the talent(money) in the ground so that he could return it to the master.

Carol immediately identified with the one-talent man: she said her talent was cooking and serving food.  Now that she is limited in her activities, she considers that her talent must be expressed in the creation of new recipes and and special menus. Earlier in July she decided that we needed to prepare supper for youth of the Church who meet on Wednesday night. Her daughter and I do the beating and chopping, but we credit her with all the glory. She does not make it hard on purpose, but sometimes it is hard because she wants it to be good and prepared right.

Last night we prepared supper for ladies of the church.  We didn't have as big a crowd as we planned for, but we had a wonderful time.  The food was light summery--salads, sandwiches, mousse and cookies.  The decorations were rich with tropical flowers and bright colors.  I was inspired by her efforts and thought in planning. 

Sometimes when she was in pain or infection was racking her body she has prayed for God to take her out of this world because she felt he was a burden instead of a blessing.  She didn't think she could be useful to her family or to God.  Lately, she has received comments that her presence and efforts are inspiring to others. The preacher said one day that he didn't feel like coming to Church, but then he remembered that Carol would be there, and he reconsidered the issue.  "If she can make it, I surely can," he thought.

Now she is looking for someone who paints T-shirts to make her one that says, "Got inspiration?" Maybe she has more than one talent.  

Carol Is my Fifth Child