The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Prompt #8 – I do not choose to

The suggested prompt is: All good things must come to an end. That one way too close to a death and finality for me today so I say, “I do not choose to write about that,” which brings me to a story I can tell you about I do not choose to.

August 25, 1996 The Clinton family stopped in Riverfront Park Ashland on a whistle stop tour on their way to Chicago to accept the party’s renomination for Bill.

“The president is here in Ashland, Kentucky, first stop of his campaign train trip to Chicago, where he’ll accept his party’s renomination of the Democratic convention. His mission, to explain to Democrats and to Americans all over the country why he should be reelected and why Bob Dole should not enter the White House.” from an interview with CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/news/9608/25/clinton.interview/interview.shtml

Ashland is a river front town where the railroad tracks parallel the river.  A flood wall built a block or so away from the river protects with gates that can be open and shut at the streets that cross it.

The town rose to the call of the event.  Clean up.  Paint.  Build a speakers platform and podium.  Chairs.  Bunting and banners.  Celebration.  For several weeks, secret service men, yes, in trench coats, wandered the streets obviously not “from here,”  but setting up observation posts.   Our town was honored, decorated and safe.

After much anticipation, the train pulled from West Virginia where Hillary had spoken that morning and stopped just past one of the street openings of the flood wall.  Maybe 14th Street??

My step-ex-mother-in-law (that is a whole other story!), a long time Democrat, got tickets in the VIP seats via our friend, head of the Democratic Party at the time.  Juanita was beyond excited to attend the event, however, her physical health was such that she couldn’t walk great distances.  I picked her up early so we could get a parking place close to the speakers platform and her seat.  We that happened!  We found our seats, talked and visited all morning with all those gathering.  We watched from the center the frenzy of a Presidential visit to our small town.

The only other time a President graced us was when Nixon came through Russell to receive an illegal campaign contribution from Ashland Oil.  We, then, lined the streets for a glimpse.  Nixon didn’t stop to speak, just breezed through with his hand out.

I digress.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/1974/12/31/archives/170000-in-illegal-gifts-admitted-by-ashland-oil-special-to-the-new.html

So, the chugging train arrives as the anticipation grows.  And the President of the United States of America on stage with our local heroes and politicians speaks.  A fabulous speaker, Bill Clinton.  He smiles.  He offers promise and hope.  He entertains in an eloquent political speech.

When the podium empties and the applause stops the crowd is directed to leave through a street a block down from where our car was parked.  The train would stay parked while while Clinton does an interview with Wolf Blitzer.  CNN was so brand new then.

Juanita and I stand, speak to people leaving, wait until the crowd thins a bit.  When we leave we are directed to walk past the open flood gate where our car sits just on the other side to down to the next street.  Like from 14th Street to 15th.

“But my car is parked right over there,” she points to just a half a block away.

“Ma’am, this gate is closed now,” replies the secret service man very kindly.  And he turns to walk away but stops when he hears her speak.

“Sir, we came early to  park close so I wouldn’t have to walk far to get to and from my car.”

The man comes closer to us.  “I understand that, Ma’am.  But this street is closed for as long as the President’s train is parked.  I am going to ask you to walk this way,” and he points towards the crowd that is flowing out of the next street.

“And I am telling you I don’t choose to.”

“Ma’am, this street is closed.”

“Well, look, at all the other people using this street.”  She points behind him.

“I see them and each of them are an authorized part of the team here to protect the President.  Now, would you just walk on to the next block and exit.”

“I don’t choose to,” she firmly states.   “My car is parked right over there and I am going to walk straight to there from here.”

I look behind her to see several local officials now aware of and watching this conversation.  The Ashland Chief-of-Police is standing with his arms crossed and I suspect he and the mayor and council men have just placed a bet on who wins this one.

“Perhaps then you need assistance, Ma’am.  I can get you a wheelchair or I can call for an ambulance?”

And I knew at that moment, no matter what kind of weapon was under that coat,  the secret service man had lost his cause.

“Sir,” she took a step forward, “I can assure you I do not need assistance.”  And she took my arm.  “Let me remind you, sir, you are in my town only for a brief passing and I am going to use the streets in my town to my benefit.  I am going to walk across here and go to my car and you may arrest me or assist me.  Now, come on Susan.”

I see the local authorities smiling and I put my hand on her hers and we start to walk.

The man in the trench coat shrugs his shoulders, turns and says to the locals, “This is one tough crowd.”  And he follows us across the railroad tracks to our vehicle.

The text of Bill Clinton’s speech is:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=53232

 

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Prompt #7 – One great party

My surprise 40th birthday party. And I thought was old then!!

My second husband, Ian, and I had lived in Lexington for almost a year.  I was settling into a house bigger than I’d ever lived in before.  The spaciousness, no longer intimidating was filled up with “us.”  One daughter at UK and her best friend in the guest room for the semester.  My younger daughter in high school.  My stepson in high school.  And I was also in school at UK finishing my BA.  Lots of studying at our house.

Ian said we were having birthday dinner at a lovely spot,  Merrick Place.  My sister came for the weekend.  While we dressed up for a celebratory meal, the girls and Charlie chatted and giggled a bit more than usual.  “Let’s go,” Ian calls out. And to my surprise – a limo is parked at the front door!  Whoa!  I walk on air to take my seat.  Lots more excited giggling.  The crowd of us creates quite a stir as we exit in the thrill of the limo ride and present ourselves for the reserved table.  We happily laughed, talked and ate.  Ian had a remarkable way of entertaining and 3 teenage girls or Charlie never let the chatter lag.  And my sister has a way in injecting just the right comment to make us all laugh.  We ate dinner and did the whole candle thing for dessert.  People at other tables clapped.

Leaving the restaurant, many diners wished me a happy birthday.  One woman pulled me aside.  “It’s my birthday too, only I am older than 40.  Do you realize that September 30 is nine months to the day from New Year’s Eve?”

Well, fodder for thought!  “Then, I believe we were conceived in celebration and joy.”

Riding home the giggling didn’t stop in spite of the full bellies.  The driver drove down a street full of cars and was barely able to find a parking space. I walked up the sidewalk and into the house to find 20 or so familiar faces to greet me!  Surprise.   Peeps from our previous residence, Ashland, that I had been missing terrible traveled to help me celebrate.

The kitchen table was laden with food.  Beer in coolers.  Flowers smiled up the place!  My house transformed in a matter of hours into a party spot.

I quickly changed from dress up clothes to comfy so the weird Happy Birthday blinking necklace thing matched better.  And the celebration continued.

Long time friends in our new location.

Thank you all again!

 

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Writing Prompts Day #1 – Books

I am challenging myself to write with an email prompt for 31 days. To sharp my skills, to force myself to write. Writer’s write. So if I want to publish again, well… pen in hand, Susan Rea.

The first prompt is: Write about a beloved book and relive your memories of the time spent entranced by a wonderful story.
Being the Libra poster child, I can’t pick just one. So here is my response.

The first novel I read was Old Yeller by Fred Gibson. I cried so hard. That dog became as personal to me as Dusty! I learned then the power of the written word. I was hooked. Give me a good book and a quiet spot from my early teens.

From a family of storytellers , now wishing I had listened and could remember some of them better, I thank you Uncle John for the snippets in the bundle of letters we found in your desk. I am trying to take it from there, writing little personality bio’s for the faces I have represented in the archives I have assembled.

Another book I well remember is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Life changing. The book really changed my belief system. The Goddess connection spoke to me and drew me in – connected with me. From this reading, I experienced possibility and earth spirituality. This didn’t strike me as fantasy but a reality channeled through an open mind.

The Hobbit and trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, while much more action packed and violent than I usually read, held me spell bound. I propped these books in the window sill to read while I was washing dishes! Heroes, with every character flaw and self-doubt, faith and courageous curiosity. By the way I think Samwise is the hero of this story.

I love books where the historical characters come alive, are given personality. Historical fiction – I suspect many are channeled or directed in some part by divine syncronicity. The focus of the writer on a specific character can often be too intense to not connect with the energy of that character and time. I believe it’s possible.

When I read The Invention of Wings, which I read because Sue Monk Kidd wrote it and I loved The Secret Life of Bees and the strength of the female community, I was entranced, fascinated and so angry.

Thoroughly intrigued with the book and insulted that my history lessons had not taught me, not mentioned or considered important the Grinke sisters, Handful and her mother Charlotte important enough to include in it’s references. (See my previous blog post from July 2015.) Grossly unfair to our culture’s story in both areas of race and gender.

Maybe that’s why I tend to female writers. Louise Erdrich. Barbara Kingsolver. Isabelle Allende. And…Mary Oliver’s poems. Sena Jeter Naslund’s, Ahab’s Wife. Of course, Anita Diamant’s Red Tent.  My list does go on and on and on.

That being said, I have read many Tony Hillerman novels and love them all.

I am fascinated by books written on Mary Magdalene, her history and the theory that she was the most beloved disciple and wife of Jesus. Also, Anna, Jesus grandmother and the Essenes.

I also love stories about the English Queens, their strengths and limitations.

I enjoy young adult literature, but not the fantasy, so much.  It’s concise entertaining, blatantly real.  I did enjoy Harry Potter.  Even though – even his Owl got killed off.  Gezzzzz.

So, I am practicing with writing prompts to bring Hazel and Uncle Ira alive for those who will someday care to peruse what I have archived.

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The Camino

I walked 5 days of the Santiago de Compostela, commonly known as the Camino.  It’s been a dream of mine for 10 ? –  12 years.   Since maybe my 10th Artist’s Way class when dreams are floating in the air to be recognized, when I want to are being identified.  I was having dinner with a neighbor from my teenage years who just returned from her second Camino walk,  this time with her granddaughter.

I was captivated.  I read books.  I watched, The Way. I included it in my wish list every subsequent time I hosted the Artist’s Way.

The Camino door opened a crack when I signed up to go with my granddaughter and daughter on the school trip to France.  I was so close to the Camino.  Already across the Atlantic.  The countries right next door.  I pushed that door open.  I figured it out.  I arranged plane transportation.   I got my cousins to sign on to walk with me.  I made it happen.

I walked my Camino. Five days. 50 miles.  Planes, trains, buses, taxis and feet! And a great deal of determination.

From the plane flying from Nice to Madrid, above the clouds the terrain looked like I could be anywhere.  Irregular forests, angular fields.  Roads.  Rivers.  Hills and prairies.  No language barriers.  Few differences.  From above all looks equal, similar and peaceful and I stare out the little window wonder why we humans can’t figure out how to get along with each other.  And I was so stressed about going to a foreign country alone (meeting my cousins later that day at a prearranged hotel for the night).  And I found them.  And I overcame all the waterfall of fears the scenery did not reflect!

I met my companions and we had dinner in old Madrid surrounded by a huge Gay Pride celebration.  Rainbow flags and clothing and fountains.  A solid initiation.

The next morning we took a taxi and a 5 hour bus and another taxi to Portomarin where we joined the peregrinos/pilgrims the next morning.

First Camino lesson I learned was that backpacking is way more advanced than walking.  I am a walker, an occasional hiker NOT a backpacker.

I learned that an experienced backpacker can carry extra items for the unprepared.  Brenda and Kevin helped carry my load.  I had worked and worked to get small in my baggage ans still, my backpack not one for a hiker was not doable.

We began our walk across a bridge and up a hill.  And the hills never stopped!  And neither did the scenery.  We walked an incredible path, often feeling I had been transported back centuries to a much simpler time when one was much closer to the earth.

Be in the present moment. Love the present moment. Carry your burdens courageously. Keep walking. Discard what you can. Be in the moment. Listen.

I learned to keep searching for what you want and if the hills get too tough – rest.  Include rest in the journey.
Several times the music called me in. The owls. the journey song. The bagpipes.
Bless the trees for providing shade,
the farmers for providing food,
the cooks for sumptuously preparing it,
the housekeepers for clean rooms,
the baristas for cafe con leche,
the centuries of peregrinos for paving the way.

For those who walked before me and those to follow, dedicated to the Spirit of the human condition.

I heard no news, no political discord, no my side or your side.  Only the focus of the walk.  Where are we right now?  Santiago the goal.

Buen Camino to those resting, to those pacing ahead, to those in service to peregrinos.  The kinship of the shared journey, breaking barriers of language, age, gender, race.  it’s all bout the journey.

We shared the wide path with those who were driven and fast paced.  We shared the wide path with those who were meandering; with those  who were limping and those peddling, cruising or pumping.

Each vista was new, waiting to be unfurled upon searching eyes.  Each hill presented and conquered.  Each downhill achieved.  The straight stretches – a gift.  Remembering to look out and up, not just down.  Finding a comfortable pace.  Passing and being passed.  One foot in front of the other.  Buen Camino to each pilgrim on their own walk.

Groups of every size and individuals.  Irish.  South African.  German.  French.  Asian.  Spanish.  Oh, the strong legs.  Each focused on the goal, Santiago.

Sticks and hats.  Back pack packs and water bottles. Clicking, pacing across path worn footsteps from centuries of seekers.

I witnessed a culture that is strongly attached to food.  Every homestead in the villages and hamlets and many in the cities grew gardens.  Not just flowers but food gardens.  Beautiful gardens.  All through the villages and hamlets were chickens, lots of chickens, cows – the smell so natural there was no offense.  There were goats and sheep.  Cats and dogs.  Seldom did we share a path with motorized vehicles.

Evidenced by the structures, people lived close to the land and used what nature provided.  Stone roofs.  Tree branches for fence posts.  What I loved were bed springs for trellising!  Laundry was dried outside in the sun in the country and in the cities.

No matter how rustic or empty of human habitation our basic needs were absolutely provided for.  Crystal clear spring water ran from  fountains all along the way.  Cold and refreshing and clearly delicious. Rooms were sparse and clean.  Cafes offered plentiful and fabulously fresh and full of life food and cafe con leche.  Ham and cheese.  Eggs and veggies.  Bread.

We saw stone houses with the barns attached.  Bridges made of huge rocks.  Roman bridges.  Crosses and religious symbolism  stood to mark “the way” like sentries, guides or guardians.  The little churches offering shade, beautiful art work and holy water in dabbed on my heart and head – yes, and on my knees!

Many of the columnar directional markers with the shell and arrow were adorned with rocks, pieces of memorabilia, worn out shoes, notes and encouraging graffiti.  One section bore the words, line by line, of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Through the rain, the sun, the exhaustion there was no place to quit.  No choice but to continue on.  Forward towards the goal.  And that goal was sometimes the next cafe!  Quit, however, not an option.

Yes, there were moments of WTF Camino? and not Buen Camino.  Is my lesson here that around each corner life brings another big hill, another difficult section to struggle across?  Pounding heart?  Tired legs?  Why did I want to do this?  Who am I fooling?  I’m definitely too old to do this.  I can’t.  Rest and look around and reassess.  Water from the fountain down my neck.

One foot ahead of the other.  Being the present moment.    I am in the present moment.  All I have is the present moment.

Yes, I can.

Yes, I can.

Yes, I can.

And while I walked “only” 5 days/50 miles, I can not compare my journey with those walking 100 miles in 8 days, or walking 500 miles for the third time.  Or finishing the walk after doing sections every summer for the last 10 years.  My Camino is mine.  Just like theirs is theirs!

We taxied to the city limits of Santiago from Arua because we wanted to make the noon mass celebrated each day for all walkers.  I am not Catholic and it was awesome to share space and sing with a thousand other people from all over the world in an ancient structure with it’s ancient ritual.  Sacred in a community way, unlike the sacredness of the small, quiet places of worship and community we had passed through

Even the camaraderie of the Camino didn’t last far into Santiago, past the noon mass.  Few Buen Camino’s.

As we mingle with tourists and locals the focus is blurred, the goals now to varied except to share a common space, entranced by a common marvel of ancient engineering, worship and geography.  We are here and the so are the tour groups.  Some  dazed looking walkers still hefting backpacks, sticks and blisters.  Many tired pilgrims refreshed and bathed, now shopping and eating and celebrating. Resting in the city.    The bikers mingle with police who carry automatic weapons  The beggars and the souvenir sellers. The tourist and those who live by the tourist’s visit.  Movement but peaceful still, a hushed chatter not a still quiet, as sacred as in the forest but hushed sounds of sacred space interspersed with street musicians, laughter and traffic.  Delivery trucks.  Commuters.  Street cafe’s and relaxed eating, rest and proceed to the next stop.

Home? or onward to Finesterre?

I am home.  And grateful.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago

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Why I March

I will march with women as long as my feet will carry me. In my 67 years I have worked my way through many a gender equality issue.
I married young because I believed it “the thing to do”.

After 10 years, I became a single mother and discovered that in spite of having complete control of the finances, I was without any credit rating. After my second divorce, and while, indisputably, not the primary bread winner in either marriage, yet being again in charge of the finances, I was AGAIN without any individual credit rating.  Yes, even with the 7 years of living single between marriages. Credit ratings were attached only to the male and because my single days were previous to the 2nd  marriage they disappeared.

I worked as a banquet waitress (my second job) carrying heavy trays wearing high heels because it was the dress! Why haven’t males been expected to wear high heels to be sexy?

I lost a job once because my commissions paid me more than the boss made for a quarter of that year.

I was any number of times sexually harassed in my job. I was in sales and I certainly encountered sex for business offers. One, in particular, from a  man who was a friend of my father’s, albeit, my father was deceased.

I’ve bought make up, had my nails polished -many women color their hair (I don’t. My hair is still red!) -to step correctly, ie young and perfect, into the cultural acceptance of beauty. Has a man?

So, we, across the board, earn less and we spend on looking culturally acceptable.. (I LOVE YOU, PAULA ANN, my dear friend who does nails and throws in the loving counseling because that is the kind generous soul she is). And, I really do like to have my toenails polished in the summer!

And whose is benefiting from the sale of all that make up and cream and beauty enhancer that we are force fed by our culture? A marketing plan that tells us to be who we are and shine through our God given faces?

Why isn’t there a male word with the same connotation as  misogyny?
mi·sog·y·ny — (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
“she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny”)

Why is hysterical and hysterectomy from the same root word?

Why is is history and not her-story? Because I think they would write differently.

How many years has it been since women were chattel? Not so many.

Why isn’t there male genital mutilation?

Why is there still a sex trade using young girls as bartering tools?

Why were the girl children killed in China?

Why was there foot binding?

Need I go on?

Yes, I sill go on and I will march for the freedom/equality path I have and will continue to pave for my daughters and my granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters.

Take nothing for granted. The freedoms we have now, someone has protested to provide.

Why is this permitted?

Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

 

 

Thank you Donald Trump for bringing our issues to the open and letting us examine our values in front of the world, our neighbors, ourselves.  I am certainly more and more convinced of my beliefs – the truths I hold to be self-evident.

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Joseph’s Journey

Joseph’s Journey is a novel I have worked on for a long, long time.  Because of the generosity of my Uncle John I was able to take a year’s sabbatical and write.

This novel was given to me through a storyteller who spoke to me every day at the same time.  I got up, got my coffee, sat in my chair (another blue chair) and translated what went through my head. Channeling.  What I discovered was an incredibly beautiful story of a man, an everyday carpenter given a huge God-task.  Going against all the dictates of his society and way out of his comfort zone he said yes. And what he finds is that through divine synronicity he is not alone, the “world” begins to work with him. He gets money and a wagon for Mary to ride in.  All along the route the needs of Mary and Joseph are met by total strangers – grassroots, kind, and generous people.  Just like who we, mostly,  are today – although the news doesn’t cover the millions of stories of daily kindnesses or the “miracles” of divine syncronicity.

I did lots of fascinating research into this story.  I make huge mistakes in self-publishing and I still have little knowledge of marketing.  I just know that the first publications weren’t as perfect as I would have liked yet, I hit the button to Publish.  Knowing the imperfections maybe kept me from much marketing.  Whatever.  Now, Christmas season 2016, I have been through the text with the help of a fellow blogger and friend, Jerri and I think it is done.  Jerri blogs at:  athursdayschild.wordpress.com.  Thank you, Jerri.

Well,  Joseph’s Journey where it is in this moment!  And I am proud of the new cover that Jerri designed, and the type style and the new size AND I love this story.

I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.

Kindle version:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7U6EYM/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Hardback at: CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6672305

 

Enjoy the song and know that Joseph didn’t get much press!!  And yet, his service was great.  In gratitude for the storyteller who whispered this story into my ear.

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A most Subversive Act

A sweat bead drips off her nose as she prays for wholeness and health for the peach eaters and providers while canning peaches which are so perfectly formed – 36 each without a single bug – she knows they are perverted with pesticides.  Still they are juicy and sweet and sensuous to the taste buds.  There is an ummm in every bite.

As she dips and peels she considers the mega production of food to bring 100 cans of peaches to every Kroger store every week.  Just how many peaches is that?  She averages 2 per pint jar.  The perfect amount to heat with a little nutmeg and heavy whipping cream in the dead of winter when a peach she had prayed over tastes like hope.

She wonders at the fears circulating among her most respected friends and colleagues that the grid will go down, the system must break in order to be fixed.  So she will eat peaches while the world struggles in chaos.  She won’t say I told you so because she doesn’t want the scenario to play out, but she does preserve  food, has water purification tablets, candles and kerosene, matches and gas for the grill and wood for the stove.

She reflects on the law of attraction and knows that attracting Mason jars and seeds is easier  for her than attracting cash.

She remembers her mother and the ladies at Florence Christian Church gathering in the kitchen basement of the Disciples Church each bringing their harvest to preserve food together.  Lightening their load in a kitchen big enough accommodate the process with a play ground big enough to entertain the kids.  Coffee in the big pot, sandwiches, peanut butter crackers to feed in the present moment.  Corn, beans, tomatoes and networking in loving fellowship to feed in the winter.

She ponders the pioneer woman isolated on the prairie.  Hungry children and no amenities.  Not even a fan, much less air conditioning and running water.  Carrying water to boil from seed to jar to the table.  What if Pioneer woman hated cooking? Or had a headache?

She angers at the thought of big corporations refusing to label honestly and big agriculture putting poison in foods.  And she wonders if, as a progressive society, we have gotten too lazy to even feed ourselves?

Are we lazy?  Spoiled?  A new lifestyle in this progressing world where someone else does it cheaper and more effectively and we aren’t chained to the daily feeding of ourselves.  Yet do the producers have the consumer’s interest as a priority? Or their bottom line?

Canning is no longer a necessity but a choice and, somehow, it’s one of my favorite “chores.”  No matter how much I sweat.  And, I could turn on the air conditioner, but the smell of the rain and hearing the pattering on my roof makes me happy.  Plus, the food growing in my back yard is being fed.

A most subversive act, organic veggies from my own yard.

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Where Susan Rea Caldwell is from

Hello everyone who reads my blog!  It’s been a long time~a long time~ since my last post.  This poem keeps telling me it wants recognition not only for myself but because it will encourage you, the reader, to create your own poem about your self.

My poem is modeled after George Ella Lyons’ poem Where I am from.  George Ella is homegrown and her works, her voice certainly makes Kentucky Proud.  She is the Poet Laureate of Kentucky this year.  http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

If you read the article you will see that this poem is a favorite among her students and has been a call to writers/poets in Kentucky to honor her position this year.

I challenge you to write the poem about yourself and your past.  It’s enlightening and fun and really interesting.

I find I could write a poem about each decade and really measure the changes.

So here goes.  I am not a poet!

Where Susan Rea Caldwell is from –

I am long awaited
Kentucky Proud
Since before statehood was declared.

I am a Baby Boomer – Class of ‘67

I am from many names so reissued
The tree becomes brambles
William – John – Mary
Directly I am from
Glen Gordon and Lorel Kelly
William and Hazel Gertrude – Betty Rea and Asbury

I am marriages with unique stories
Surnames grafting to twist the branches.

I am red curls from the X and Y
Hazel and Philadelphia.
I am Scotch Irish freckles and sunburns
Forbidden to wear pink, orange or red.

I am 2nd generation from leaving the farm to become
entrepreneurs, cooks, seamstresses, bankers, beauticians,
bookkeepers, salesmen, writers,
homemakers bringing the farm habits to the suburbs.
while keeping the family rooted at regular gatherings and reunions.

I am 5th generation Disciple of Christ.
from Sunday School, choir, Brownies, Girl Scouts and Wa-Kon-Da-Ho.

I am from National Clean-up Your Plate Day,
Patience is the Prince,
God is Great,
Peace, and
Save it, it might be worth something someday.

I am from safety
nurtured and supported in a loving tribe,
running streets with no fears.

I am from a yard full of adventure and
and neighborhood housing mystery and playmates
duck funerals, pink chickens, kick-the-can, tag,
dancing with garage poles, forts, Jacks and Barbies,
the practical green bike, not the shiny pink one
A younger brother and sister (She really is not adopted).

I am from a well storied and often shared oral history

laughter and card playing
cocktails and cigarettes

I am from widowed grandmothers –
the grassroots independents
who produced we bra burners.

I am from Kanebrak and Town and Country
fried chicken from cold oil served in baskets
to fine upscale dining.

I am from practical jokers — and cancer, which is NOT –
I traded a parent for a daughter
5 years apart.

I am from being married to my step-brother and my children being my nieces.  (Figure that one out!)

I am from 3 last names
2 college degrees
I am from learning how to make ends meet when no end was in sight and
death that came too early too many times in waves of 3’s.

Yet, the shrinking tree now expands with names and faces I know only on Facebook.

I take my place as an archivist of my ancestral history from unidentifiable tin types to digital where the paper trail ends and void where the fire destroyed.

From 1-11 my history is recorded in 3-ring binders – linear – to prove that
I AM and how I got to right here!

 

Thank you for reading.

6 Comments »

A female response to “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

I just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s latest book “The Invention of Wings.”
AMAZING book. AMAZING.

http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Wings-Notes-Oprahs-Book-ebook/dp/B00H58VGIA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434981799&sr=1-1&keywords=the+invention+of+wings+sue+monk+kidd

The slavery issue is a deplorable time in our culture. And so is the continued effects of racism and equality. Kidd’s tale describes this time period in conjunction with the gender aspect to weave the two issues that created upheaval and much needed social change in America. The book is amazing. I think I already said that! The power of the book is the cord of inequality it strikes within me.

My issue: Why wasn’t I introduced to Sarah and Angelina Grimke’ in my history classes? Why was the history of women only slightly dealt with and so obviously left out? Why weren’t these women as important as Betsy Ross?  She did her part. She created a flag we continue to honor and respect.  Yet, the brave women Kidd brings to us are, in large part, responsible for bringing about change that gives African Americans and Women the right to vote and to have status as human beings. (Can you imagine that is even an issue?) Are their stories brushed over because of the shame in a race and the gender that brings with creation/birth/continuation of the species being designated as chattel? Or because we accept the narrow minded belief system which continues to control the history writers?

We can’t change the past. What we can do is learn from it.  Honor it and decide if we want to continue that behavior or change it. We learn. We change.

The Grimke’ women fought through a system that offered them NO protection, few options and NO voice. The women were slaves to their own aristocratic culture. Yet these brave sisters stood their convictions and created freedoms through which we all (no matter is black or white or male or female) define and live our interests and truths.

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/slavery-and-anti-slavery/essays/angelina-and-sarah-grimke-abolitionist-sisters

Is there equality in pay and opportunity? Is there equality in freedom?

Only a hundred or so years later do we women take our hard fought recognition and freedom for granted?While no longer legally property or chattel the female remains a blatant sex symbol all over advertising and music…Is this the progress we want or is this continued slavery? Do you, young woman, want to grow up to be a sportscaster and have the bare minimum clothing on while your male counterpart sits beside you covered to the neck in layers of clothing? Or have a basketball player looks down your exposed chest when doing an interview.

Are we not aware of how powerful a gender we are and what we can achieve for social change together? Demand equality. Stand in your equality. Insist on what is right for you. Be who YOU are and if you don’t know – keep searching. It’s your right. You don’t have to march and protest and go to jail. Just be equal in your home and your job and your church and your schools.

Another book I learned a lot from is “Cane River” by Lalita Tademy. A fascinating story about individual rights combining women and racial rights.

Our rights were not easily attained by our ancestors. Salute our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters for the hard fought road they paved for us by honoring and growing yourself from any cultural slavery into FREEDOM

http://www.amazon.com/Cane-River-Oprahs-Book-Club/dp/0446615889

Sing it to me, Aretha!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0 RESPECT!!

5 Comments »

Pomp and Circumstance – The Class of 2015

Pomp and circumstance makes me cry. From my own graduation – The Class of 1967 – Russell High and after a few decades UK and Marshall. Then to my daughters high school and college graduations.  I still know the separation anxiety from back then. Uggg. And now, now? How did this all happen so quickly – my oldest grandchild’s high school graduation? The Class of 2015. So many changes.

William, who I held all night when he was 6 weeks old through a glorious Christmas Eve with a full moon on snow; who taught me to play trucks and then to read maps. I would pick him up at day care and after feeding him (because school makes a kid really hungry) he would draw a map. In actuality it was scribbles on a piece of paper but when we went outside he would follow the lines and we’d walk around town following his detailed instructions, explainations and directions.

I tried to understand Pokémon and listened intently but never really latched onto their collective significance. He left me with his extensive capabilities with Legos. Although I did spend many hours in ToysRUs agonizing over which box to buy.  Can you say Star Wars up the walls of his bedroom?

I sewed the official flag for Sector 7. We had road trips, one to buy a ridiculously expensive organic free range turkey for Thanksgiving. He navigated, perfectly through road construction. (Maybe it was the training from the  kindergarten map game. Hummm).

He liked to spend the night and we would talk about life’s maneuverings about soccer and bullying team mates. He helped me build labyrinths. I saved him from having to ride the school bus more often than not. “Gram, don’t make me ride the bus today.  Please come and get me!”

I took him all three times to drivers license testing. And then he was off – launched via a plastic card into his own world – friends, engineering classes, soccer, clubs,  and girls. No more exploring with a grandmother.
While Grandmother status eliminates the daily responsibilities of child nurturing, it is also a generation removed from the intimate dependency of parent-child. My link with William (and the other four) a generation removed. So I was “re-placed” by the growing up and away options. And while I know this is for sure, absolutely, positively the way things happen, I miss him.   And I know for sure, absolutely, positively our blood connection will never change nor will our history together and thus the influence we have had on each other is genetic and a part of who he is.

Life is ever changing. Like the DNA strands people, situations, places and things come together and separate. We come together and we grow apart while coursing through the mutable rapids of life where we hold tightly onto love and relationships while writing our stories a chapter at a time.  This is the unchanging part, the foundation part.

And I do not wish to stop you, William, or hinder your growth, or keep you from experiencing that which peaks your curiosity. I miss your childhood. And I do know that no matter where you go and what you do I will always be your grandmother – your favorite grandmother in Scott County. I am the one who rocked you that Christmas Eve when we talked of the life ahead. And I am the grandmother who once bought you a popcorn pan for your birthday and I am the one who lost you in the lobby of the hotel in Florida when you were two years old. And, yes, on my watch you only fell down the stairs once.  Only once. Oh and then there is the curling iron event.

Yet you did grow up, in spite of it all!

(Changing the words by inserting boy for girl, obviously!)

May your warrior heart be guided by compassion, tenacity, joy and love. And may the pitfalls be pot holes not sink holes.

I love you, William. Always.

4 Comments »