Sunday, March 27, 2011

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter please let go.
Release us from your chilling grip.
My body aches for warmer air.

Our forsythia bushes are standing bare
but for one tiny flower.
The lilac bushes have no buds of spring.

The birds are chirping "I'm here, I'm here"
against a backdrop of gray cool looming skies.

I'm lying in bed this morning treating my sore aching shoulders
to the warmth of a heating pad
and listening for a story.
You've worn out your welcome Old Man Winter.

My bright yellow daffodils stand lonely against the gray
like a painting that has no background.
A pair of robins begin the music early each morning
just at dawn.
From high atop the barren brown trees they perch
and begin to twitter.
In a moment the chorus joins them.
The cowbirds and blackbirds chime in with their own twits
while the cedar tree quivers with tiny birds chirping their needs.

A pair of robins think it's spring.
At daybreak they take their passionate tango to the air.
They flutter, chase, and somersault
exemplifying the dance of spring.

Old Man Winter even though you hang on pushing our limits
and testing our patience
the birds remind us that spring is here.

Spring is hidden just below the surface.
One day soon I'll be listening for a story
and hear the tulips blooming and the leaves opening.

Old Man Winter you are keeping my walks short these last few days
but you can't hold off spring.
She's here in my heart, my bones, my soul.
She's just resting, giving you one last hurrah.

Hurry spring and finish the artists palette with backgrounds of green, yellow, pinks, blues, violets and more.
Show your painting to the world.
Let us judge your beauty.
Hurry Spring Time Lady, Hurry.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dancing with the Stars or Not

Ok, so maybe I can't dance with the stars, but I can dance. I just don't have the dress. Monday night I was wooed by dresses, I know that's suppose to be by the dances, I know the difference, but like I was saying, Monday night I was in awe of the dresses of Chelsie Kane, Karina, and Lacey. I also know how old I am, and no matter what, my mind and imagination take me back to "the Loretta Young Show." All that means, for those of you younger than Kirstie Alley and me, is that since childhood, I've imagined myself walzing down a curved staircase in a long flowing dress and high heels, without falling. Then like Loretta Young I would delicately touch the banister and swirl like a lady touching her skirt and smiling at all of the gentlemen in the audience watching me.

Realistically, I once owned and wore a fitted dress with the skirt cut on the bias, three quarter inch sleeves folded up, a collar that could be turned up at the neck like a blouse, and the dress complimented by a wide black belt. I felt like the queen of the dance when I wore my Loretta Young dress to school. I think even the kids felt the swirl when I twirled into the classroom, smiling. It made me feel like a woman, not unlike a mother, a wife, a lover, a teacher, an athlete, just a woman who loves to dance through life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Miami Memories: Tornado alley

In my wanderings this morning I was playing with words and rhymes. The sun barely breached the horizon and cast a golden red glow in my room causing an old rhyme to echo, "Red sky in the morning sailors take warning." "This is the green day," I mumble to the world, "Top of the Morning to all of you and Happy St. Patrick's Day." My mind casually ambled playing with green rhymes (while the chicken boiled over!):

Green clouds brewing
Tornadoes building
Sirens blowing
Dead man walking
Run for shelter.

With that last line I was taken back to Roosevelt School on Gst. Northeast, Miami, Oklahoma, and my fifth grade classroom with Miss Garman. We had tornado sirens starting that year I entered fifth grade; we had KGLC broadcasting music, sports, and weather; and we had one basement in the block, next door to us, at the Broderick's. It's purpose mainly was to store canned goods. The wet cement walls were lined with shelves and one window well gave light from the West. (I would have preferred the Searle's basement which was a cleanly lite apartment, but it was a block away. Fear and torrents of rain usually kept us near home.) I don't know which scared me the worst, the cold damp dark basement, the threat of tornadoes, or my imagination that snakes would slither out of the walls.

Several times that spring we all found ourselves running for cover and standing face to face dripping wet and shaking in that basement. As much as tornadoes frightened me, clouds and weather patterns fascinated me. Because we were often outside playing golf and just playing my dad taught me what to watch for when the weather began to change. On the playground that spring day I felt static in the air, as I swung back and forth watching the green clouds boil and build in the Southwest sky. I noticed the teachers eyes were watching the skies, I thought with the same fascination. Inside our flat blond brick building the radio blared from the office and Miss Garman, our teacher, had placed her radio by the window to listen for any warnings.

Our fifth grade windows faced the East and tornadoes generally battered us from the Southwest, so I would not be able to watch and warn people. I walked up to Miss Garman's desk and spoke quietly in her ear, "If you will let me go out to the playground I can watch for the storm and warn everyone." She smiled and said, "No, don't worry. We'll send you kids home who live nearby if it gets bad." I thought that was a great idea since the school had windows on all sides and no real shelter.

Within minutes the winds began to whip up the dust and tangle the trees. KGLC announced that a tornado was on the ground in Welch, Ok., and for residents to be prepared to take cover. Nervous excitement built in the classroom. At some point Miss Hamilton, our principal, walked room to room with her high heels clicking telling us if sirens blew that those of us who lived nearby and had basements close would be sent home. Then with her beady eyes and shaking finger she pointed at us (we knew who we were) saying, "You are to go directly home to your parents first, then go take shelter. The rest of us will take shelter in the kitchen."

In an instant, sirens rang. Ivan Lee, the neighborhood bully, fled from his 6th grade room screaming while the rest of us, David, Diane, the two Jeanne's and myself ran in giggly delight. The blowing torrents of rain had hit just as we left the building. The two Jeanne's were the first ones home, we turned to run up the alley with Ivan Lee already out of sight. I was running so hard one of my moccasins flew off. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, I was so scared. My mother, holding my little sister's hand, met me in the backyard near the alley. We immediately dashed over to the Broderick's basement. Off and on siren warnings blared that afternoon and evening. Each time frightened eyes stood and faced each other while mother's tried to calm us. We learned that tornadoes had touched down out by the fairgrounds and then East of town, but not near us.

I knew we were all scared that day, even the bully, Ivan Lee had shown fear in his banshee scream and tears. What I didn't know was that there would be another spring day, soon, when the skies turned green, and Ivan Lee and I would come face to face with our fears.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loosey Goosey

How would I have ever become a writer without my faithful dog,
Lucy, creating havoc wherever we walk. In the nearly four years she has lived with us her nicknames have changed regularly. For the most part we call her Loosey Goosey just because she plows headlong into bushes, deep grasses, furniture, beds, chairs with people sitting in them, and then bangs her head on tables as she attempts to sniff for food. 

In the beginning she was a frail pitiful lost soul of a dog. Sadly, my youngest cousin, Gary, had died quite unexpectedly and my sister and I drove to Altus, OK for his funeral. During the funeral services family and friends had an opportunity to share a memory or story about him. Gary worked in the plant department at Wal-mart where he was deeply and sincerely loved by his co-workers. The store manager spoke in near tears as he recalled my cousin. The manager, standing near the back of the funeral home, with his eyes glancing at us and then upwards as if searching for a bird spoke, "Whenever I was having a rough day, I could always go out and talk to Gary. His genuine smile greeted me. As I began to lament my problems, he'd listen then cheer me up by asking me to listen to the birds chirping. I'd just stand and listen and before long my frustrations floated away. Gary loved working outside with nature and his birds that came to rest in the garden area...We will all miss Gary and his smile." With those words the pews of friends and family were wiping tears from their eyes. 

As our family gathered later for a meal we began telling our own
Snow Fall 
Gary stories. In the end the one serious note was left. He had owned four dogs, three of which would go to rescue homes because of their breed and personality, but one lonely scared dog would be put down unless one of us could find a home. It seems as though this dog was terrified of people and no one would take her. My cousin Patty had already picked the dog up from the shelter but had no place for her. Our dog, Woofer, had died that fall and our home seemed empty. I had taken one of Gary's dogs years ago, little Poco, who lived only a few short years with us, but they were good years. So here I was saying, "Let me just see her. Surely no dog can be that sad and scared."


With a slight lease on her neck we attempted to get her to walk to my car, but she shook so badly we carried her! And so began the drive back OKC with my sister and an unnamed terrified dog. By Lawton, we thought to call her Birdie after the story about Gary. I stayed in OKC for several days with family and during that time I changed her name back and forth between Birdie and Trembles. Her tail began to wag ever so slightly on the day I drove home to Kansas. From the rear view mirror I thought I saw her grin when I told her we were going home. At home she cowered and hide from my husband, but she was my constant "Shadow" another nickname. Little by little she began to seek us out. She just acted so strangely we started calling her "Goosey" then just like that it was "Lucy." To honor Gary I wanted to keep the "Birdie" but it just didn't rhyme. Finally, I remember how much I admired Lady Bird Johnson and her daughters Linda, and Lucy. By the end of May our "Lucy Bird" was official.

That summer when we'd go for walks Lucy didn't know she was a dog. In one attempt to chase a squirrel she literally leaped and crawled up a tree, sliding back down, she took a flying leap into the ditch. We were stunned, sorry we didn't have a video of it, but also laughing out loud at our "Flying Goose." After several attempts at climbing after squirrels and cats she decided that whatever she was it might be best to stay on the ground. She hadn't, yet, learned to bark.

On a warm fall day, I was outside under a shade tree reading The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller when our neighbor stepped outside to work in the yard. Apparently, Lucy decided he was too close to me. Barking erupted from her belly like a volcano spewing ashes scaring her almost as much as it scared me. She looked at me for moment asking what had happened, then she turned back to Roger, our neighbor, and barked some more. So Lucy, the cowdog, blue healer-mix, was born. Jack and I became her only two cows. We've trained her to carry a "chew" in her mouth when she gets excited, so she doesn't accidentally nip us. She must think she has a tremendous burden in keeping her cows corralled. One of us leaves, another leaves, one returns, another returns, or sometimes we both leave. When we leave she is the drama queen, lowering her head nearly to the floor, crossing her legs in front like a broken ballerina. Oh, how far our dancing, barking, flying "Lucy Goosey Bird" has come since those shaky trembly beginnings.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Golf Gypsy: Orchestrating the Swing

I felt the quiver and tremble on the practice tee that first day in La Quinta. No earthquakes were reported, but I knew my body had made a seismic shift from the bitter cold winds of Kansas to the warmth and sunshine of the Coachella Valley. My body was stretched from pilates and was warming on the practice tee with the sun on my back.

My practice routine is simple: stretch and warm up those muscles first; then swing the short clubs and listen for the swish of the club sweeping the rye green grass; only then do I advance to hitting a practice ball. I enjoy watching the arc of my golf ball when it's struck solidly by a short iron. Once I'm comfortable with the rhythm of my short shots, my body and head orchestrate the music for the day. Singing simple songs to a four/four rhythm clears out those negative words and keeps other thoughts from tangling up my swing. Yes, words can reek havoc on a golf swing.

At last my body is ready for the big swings of my woods. Instead of the beauty of persimmon woods my eyes now watch geometry in motion. My 5 medal wood (what ironic wording) is a 3D triangular shape with the base being large enough to make solid contact with the ball and the tip pointing along the target line. The 3 medal wood is square, who would have thought a square club could work so well. But my medal Driver is the beauty in the bag. Her black sheen glimmers in the sunlight and her shape is like the waxing moon, threatening to return. Oh, does she shatter the silence when she strikes the ball squarely. The new medal clubs nearly create their own band of music on the golf course. Even errant shots off the heel of the clubs broadcast sharps and zingers off key.
Palm trees can keep a ball forever!

The last stage for practice comes on the sloped putting green where my eyes notice the shade design of the palm trees standing nearly still as sentries guarding the tee box. For a time my mind and eyes wonder. I gaze toward the dry rocky mountains, and then to the south where the mountains disappear and the Salton Sea captures the desert. I hear in my mind, "All putts break to Indio." Indio is a small town on the way to the Salton Sea and seems to be a more rhythmical rather than mythical answer to missed putts.

I bend over with putter in hand and drop three balls onto the putting green, one "pinkie" and two nondescript white balls. Playing golf with colored balls is like filling the pages of a coloring book when a child doesn't always stay within the lines. They give me just a little lift! Sometimes "pinkie", as my balls take on nicknames, travels 18 holes and returns to the bag, but in time even "pinkie" strays out of the lines and finds the mesquite bushes, tall grasses, desert cactus, or fresh streams of water.

I laugh in my mind as I write for here on paper, as on the golf course, my mind rambles and I digress from putting. On the green, sometimes the putter pings just right and I know my ball will remain true to the line. In golf as in theatre there are interludes, and for whatever reasons my rhythm changes and my putter sounds dull as it thunks the ball too softly to reach the hole. The ball rolls nearer the hole but not near enough, so I putt again.

Letty, Peggy, and Manon on PGA West.
Suddenly, my friends call from the tee, "let's play golf." I pick up my balls and saunter to the tee box. Game on.