Friday, May 21, 2010

Poetry Friday and Published

I had a short article accepted over at Inspired Mother Magazine. My thanks to editor Jennifer Hogan Redmond who has done a wonderful job with this online magazine. So stop over and read my article, Letting Go, then stay and browse for a while.

Since I'm on the topic of mothering this week, here are two poems from Ruth Bell Graham.

Oh, time! be slow!
it was a dawn ago
I was a child
dreaming of being grown;
a noon ago
I was
with children of my own;
and now
it's afternoon
--and late--
and they are grown
and gone.
Time, wait!

May she have daughters
of her own
to care
when she is old
and I am gone.
I should have loved
to care for her once more
as I did then
long years before.
I was a mother young
and she--my child.
Caring was joy. So when
she is old and I am There,
may she have daughters
of her own
to care.

More poetry Friday poems at Laura Salas' Writing the World for Kids.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dental History

It is occasionally startling to realize that I lived my childhood in an era that is now considered historical fiction material.

Last week I went to the dentist.

Those two sentences seem to have no connection, but in reality there's a nasty thread that weaves them together.

I grew up going to a dentist who didn't believe in using Novocaine. I didn't know modern dentistry existed until I was in high school, where I heard stories of friends who talked of shots in their mouth. After years of gripping the arm rests of the dental chair while the metal bit ground into my teeth, I could only imagine shots in the mouth as some sort of terrible icing on the cake of torture.

When I was about 18, I revolted (maybe bolted would be more accurate) from the family dentist and tried a modern guy. My days of sick anxiety the night before an appointment didn't go away immediately, but eventually I learned to stop gripping and relax.

My dad told me last week that when he grew up, dentists believed you couldn't use Novocaine unless you were going to pull a tooth. He grew up gripping the chair, too. Once when the dentist wouldn't let him spit out the water in his mouth, he coughed it up into the man's face. I laughed. His mom didn't. She nearly wore him out!

So I guess my childhood dentist was a throwback to those earlier days. As a result, I'll probably never "enjoy" getting my teeth cleaned, like my very sweet dental hygienist friend, but at least I'm not living in ancient history any more.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry Friday: Why Shouldn't I Sing to Myself?

While browsing my poetry shelves this morning, I ran my fingers across an old copy of "Straw For the Fire." It's a compilation of bits and pieces from Theodore Roethke's notebooks. Roethke is one of my favorite poets, and understanding the poetic process of poets I like is generally eye-opening, often inspiring, and always fun.

Roethke left 277 notebooks behind. Most of them were spiral bound notebooks that he filled with random phrases, bits of dialog, jokes, and all sorts of fragments. Whatever was on his mind. He also left about 8,000 loose sheets of paper. Apparently he moved from the notebook to loose sheets attached to a clipboard as he began to compose. David Wagoner, who selected and arranged the bits in the book, says that Roethke "let his mind rove freely, moment by moment in the early stages of composition, from the practical to the transcendental, from the lame and halting to the beautiful, from the comic to the terrible, from the literal to the surreal, seizing whatever he might from he language, but mulling over and taking sounding of every syllable."

Here are a couple of bits and pieces from Roethke's process:

All day, all day the wind whirled me out of myself.
I saw the sea rolling there in the field...

Lack-love, sing some sweetness into your bones.

The stony garden of the spirit grows
Things never harvested in ordered rows.

Should I forage the stones like a bird
Picking for seeds?...

Stick out your can, here comes a lesson plan.

Acting one's age is just a form.

Why is poetry scary?

I learn by the way of the fool,
The moth, and the child,
My two eyes embracing all,
Ingenuous, wild.

What you should know is that none of these bits ever made it into one of Roethke's published poems. He culled back through his old notebooks often, looking for pieces that were usable, thoughts that he wanted to recapture.

Are you inspired yet?

For more Poetry Friday posts, stop in at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why Do You Write?

My son introduced me to He recently forwarded the link below. There are applications for writers on multiple levels.

Why do you write?
Why are you writing this project?
Why are you sending to a particular publisher?

It's worth taking a few minutes to watch. You may as well procrastinate on whatever project you're working on for 18 more minutes.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Video on

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Land of Red Barns

Most of the barns here in the deep South are unpainted, worn, gray wood. In fact, for a while there was a craze in the decorating market for barnwood picture frames. They weren't red, just plain old weather-beaten boards. Last week, we drove through Wisconsin, the land of big red barns. They're not bright red, like in young children's books. They're blood red shades leaning almost to purple in some places. Colors like burgundy, mahogany, brick, and maroon dot the landscape like embroidered flowers on quilting squares.

I kept wondering why barns are red. Why not blue or yellow? Wouldn't those colors stand out just as easily as red? Who decided barns were supposed to be red? After some minor research (I could probably find more details if I looked longer), there are a couple of reasons that popped up.

1. European farmers preserved their barns with linseed oil. The oil produced a dark red color when applied to the wood.

2. The ferrous oxide in red paint acted as a preservative for the wood.

3. Red paint was cheaper. (I don't know if it is any more. Didn't check.)

4. Red was just a popular color.

How Stuff Works says that wealthy farmers added blood to their paint mixture, causing the paint to change to a darker color. I still don't know why they did that. There's probably a plot line tucked away in that idea somewhere.

So my curiosity was at least appeased, if not totally satisfied.

I had a lovely week with my grandchildren. The deer park was a huge attraction for a two-year-old. He never hesitated for a moment, just kept shelling out those deer wafers to the critters that followed him around.

We rode the Wisconsin Ducks, the World War II vehicles that maneuver over land and across water. The Dells careen over the sides of the Wisconsin River. When we got home and relayed events of the trip to the great grandparents, Cliff's dad told of his adventures crossing the Rhine River in the "Ducks."

I didn't do any writing while I was gone. I did read through some research on the plane, but the grandbabies kept me occupied for the week. I did do a bit of pleasure reading. I finished Wicked Will by Bailey MacDonald. I met Bailey (aka Brad Strickland) at our Southern Breeze conference in February and came home with his new mystery about the young William Shakespeare. I enjoyed discovering the many ways he wove details from Shakespeare's plays into an imagined childhood. The story moves along at a fast clip incorporating many plot twists found in Shakespeare's work. Nice work. Enjoyable read.

I came home to find that the woodpecker tree across the creek finally crashed down into the woods. A couple of crows have taken up residence somewhere in the canopy and they're chasing the owls off. Maybe they're guarding a nest of baby crows. I think I like the eerie "two-whoo" better than the raucous "caw-caw."

I think I'm caught up for the moment.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's a Dell?

Cliff and I are in the Wisconsin Dells playing with our grandbabies. Today we took the Wisconsin Ducks trip along the Wisconsin River to see the dells. So what's a dell? That what my question. Before I got here, I thought it was a valley, you like hills and dells. Wrong. A dell is an Americanization of the French word dalles, pronounced dah-lay. It means "high layered cliffs." They're made from sandstone and probably cut into these layers by glacial movement. It's a beautiful place.

And of course, my grands are quite beautiful, too.
I'll be back next week.