Lorraine is the challenger for this week’s Saturday Mix. She has offered three possibilities to stir up our writing egos. I was most drawn to the 25-word challenge based on the picture. But you may enjoy the other two as well. So if you like writing and want to stretch yourself a little, take a look at the details of the challenge here.
My story is below the picture.
FROM THE CELLAR
A twelve-year-old, I gaped at the twister roaring toward us, tossing houses and livestock like matchsticks. From the cellar, I watched my world change forever.
Cee’s Share Your World challenge is a great way to get to know fellow bloggers and let them get to know you. If you’ve never participated, try it. You’ll like it. Besides, it gives you a chance to talk about yourself all you want and not feel guilty for doing so.
Question # 1: If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work?
Definitely with yard work! I hate to do yard work, and my yard needs it desperately.
Question # 2: What makes you laugh the most?
Myself. No —- just kidding. I’d have to say Old Andy Griffith shows that featured Don Knotts. I can just be thinking about some of those scenes, and I’ll start laughing right out loud — even though I can quote some whole scenes line for line, I still find them hilarious. (See video at end of this post for a sample.)
Question # 3: What was your favorite food when you were a child?
Okay, I know you all EXPECT me to say chocolate. But I’m not going to do that. The truth is that I just like food — lots of food — and almost all kinds of food. About the only things I can’t stand to eat are turnips, hominy, and head cheese. I honestly don’t remember if I had a favorite as a child, but if I did, it was probably potatoes, because, to this day, I love potatoes in any shape or form. I can eat them hot or cold or even lukewarm — boiled, fried, baked, mashed, or hashed.
Question # 4 List at least 5 favorite flowers or plants.
Okay some of my favorites — in order of preference — are as follows:
Blue Spruce Trees
Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the coming week?
I’m grateful for all the chocolate Easter candy that was on sale for half price or less last week.
Next week, I’m looking forward to having some time off from teaching so many classes at one time. Everybody needs a little rest now and then, and maybe, with my “spare time,” I can finish the novel I’m posting one chapter at a time on here.
Sometimes when I’m feeling sad and this ol’ world starts to creepin’ in on me — heavy-like — I take myself away from other people and huddle down in my old creakin’ rockin’ chair in my bedroom. I sit by the window just rockin’ away and lookin out — not seein’ anything in front of my eyes, but seein’ all kinds of things in my memories.
And at times like these — when I’m hurtin’ powerful bad in my soul — I like to remember Izzy best of all. Her real name was Isadora Bradshaw, but none of us kids ever called her Isadora — not me or my sister or any of our friends who came to visit. In fact, nobody I knew back then called her Isadora. She was just Izzy to all of us who loved her.
She was the best of the best was Izzy. About 200 pounds of love and laughter. Her full, round, black face would get all shiny with sweat whenever she was scrubbin’ the floors or haulin’ big loads of clothes from the wringer washer and carryin’ them out to the clothesline — or when she was standin’ at the ironin’ board with her feet in the tub of ice water.
Yes sir, I have to chuckle every time I think about it now. The picture’s still just as clear in my mind as it was every ironin’ day in the summer. Izzy said ironin’ on a summer day was the hottest one job in the whole world. She said it always made her think about how hot hell must be gonna be, and it made her want to go read the Good Book before she went to bed. Izzy loved that Good Book. And she loved the Lord. Gosh-a-mighty, I can still sing every old hymn that sweet ol’ black lady taught me.
But back to the ironin’ days: Izzy said she sweated so much the sweat would drip on the clean shirts she was ironin, so she decided to start standin’ in a big tub of ice water, and that way it kept her cooled down. When I was a little squirt, I didn’t understand how dangerous that could be, but when I got a little older and had learned a few things about electricity, I told her, “Izzy, you’re gonna electrocute yourself standing in that tub of water while you’re plyin’ that electric iron.”
“Lordy, Honeybear,” she’d say — she always called me “Honeybear” — from the day I was born I guess — but she’d say, “Lordy, Honeybear, if I was a goin’ to lectrify myself doin’ this, it would have done happened years ago. Now, you stop you’re worrin’ bout your old Izzy. If the good Lord did see fit to take me home while I was a ironin’, I don’t suppose it would hurt a thing — ceptin’, of course, you and your pa’s shirts would still be all wrinkled.”
I finally got to the place that I just laughed with her about it. And later on — when she was too old to work as our maid any longer and pa had a little three room house built out in the back for her to live in for the rest of her life, she and I would sit and remember those days and laugh ’til there were tears in our eyes. That was several years after I had finished high school and moved about a hundred miles away to take a job. I’d never been one to hanker after college, and I landed a job doing work that suited me and just stayed with it. I always made time to come home a couple weekends a month to see the family. But I got to be honest. It was Izzy that I really came home to.
Why that dear old black woman was like a second mama to me. My real mama was a good woman, and I know she loved me, but she was awful busy durin’ my growin’ up years with all of her society doin’s, and it was Izzy who made my breakfast, who listened to me read the stories in my grade-school reader, who listened to my hopes and dreams and fears when I’d spill ’em out non-stop the way a growin’ boy does when he’s goin’ through those years of change and uncertainty about life.
And it was Izzy who prayed for me all the time. I heard her prayin’ many a night. After she finally got her work finished up, she’d sit out on the back porch and talk to the Lord, and I’d sit by my bedroom window listenin’ to those prayers. Back then, I didn’t know the Lord yet, and my heart yearned for the kind of easy, lovin’ relationship that Izzy had with the God of the universe. And, of course, it was Izzy who finally led me to give my life to the Lord.
That one act made all the difference in my life, of course, but one of the most important things it did was to make me even closer to Izzy. She said once I was a Christian, that made her and me real family. Of course, to me, Izzy was always my family, but I eventually came to understand what she meant.
I came to understand a lot more than that too. Eventually, I realized that Izzy was a woman caught in a transition time in our nation. She wasn’t a slave. Nobody was a slave anymore. But she had been brought up by a family who had known slavery. Her own great grandparents – in their teen years – had been among the slaves freed after the Civil War. And livin’ in the deep south as they did, they just couldn’t seem to get more than one step away from it in their thinkin’ – mostly because the rest of the south couldn’t get more than one step away from it either. Their world revolved around an unspoken cast system, and Izzy and her family were still on the bottom.
She should have had opportunities for education and a career. She shouldn’t have been relegated to doing all the cooking, cleaning, and every other kind of drudgery work for someone else in someone else’s home. She should have had a home of her own with a good man and a passel of kids and a place in society where she could be involved with the rest of the world — just the way mama was able to do. But Izzy wasn’t a revolutionary. She wasn’t out to change the world. She took what came to her and thanked the Lord for a family to work for that she could also love.
By the time I understood all of these truths, Izzy was 78 years old and finally livin’ peacefully in her little 3-room house behind our big house. Most people called our house a mansion, but to me, it had always just been our house. And with Izzy there, it was all I needed for those growin’ up years.
I finally married, but we didn’t have any kids, and eventually my wife and I went our separate ways. I never took the chance again. Sometimes I wish I had, but wishin’ about it now is wasted energy. After the divorce, I used to sit and talk with Izzy about what I thought had gone wrong. She listened, but she never passed judgment on me — or on my wife. She just loved me, and that was enough.
Well, Izzy’s gone now — to live with her dear Lord. And me — I’m old and tired — and lonely. My family’s gone, and I miss ’em: my sister Ella and Mama and Papa. I miss the visits to the old home place. I live here in this place they call a “senior facility,” but it ain’t what I call really livin’. The truth is I’m just bidin’ my time until I go on home to be with the Lord too. Some days I have pain in my body, but most every day I have pain in my soul. Somethin’ in me still yearns to do things and go places and try out a few more dreams. But the will isn’t enough when the strength isn’t there.
So while I’m waitin’, I sit here in my quiet room, rockin’ and lookin’ out my window and rememberin’. And it ain’t so bad really — as long as I sit here and remember Izzy standin’ there at the old ironin’ board, her feet in that pan of ice water, and us laughin’ together to beat the band . . . and singin’ the old hymns, and . . . .
A girl’s cooking lessons need to start at a very early age. Of course, the fact that I’m obviously trying to look into an oven that has no glass window in the door might make one think that I was not an apt pupil. However, since my mother was a superb cook, I did learn to excel in the kitchen.
After a hot day in the kitchen, of course, we had to sit out on the porch and relax in the fresh air. We lived in a very old and very small apartment in Fort Wayne, IN, at the time — while my dad was in college. The war had been over for only three years, and since he had joined the Marines at 17, he’d had no chance to continue his schooling until he was discharged. He was finishing work for his degree and writing for the Fort Wayne Sentinel newspaper.
But little girls do eventually grow up — and mommies too. It’s pretty easy to tell by the flowery dress I’m wearing that this was very late 1960’s.
My mother went to be with the Lord more than 30 years ago, but I still miss her every day. I do not grieve, but I am just aware that my life is a little less bright because of not having her sweetness, her graciousness, and her sense of fun actively in my life now. However, I know I will be with her again when I finish this earthly journey, and that makes all the difference.
To all of you mothers out there who are still sharing this earthly life with your children, I sincerely wish you a happy, blessed, fun-filled, and memorable Mother’s Day, 2015!
I’m way behind withNaPoWriMo, but I thought I’d jump in and get my feet wet again anyway. I wasn’t too thrilled with the prompt for today, so I went back to yesterday’s prompt. It was to write an Erasure poem. The process involves taking a poem or some other text that has already been written and begin erasing words, but leaving the remaining words in the same order as they appear in the original. Then put those remaining words together (still in the same order), creating a brand new poem.
I actually did the experiment twice. Both times I used a poem I had written in the past. The first piece “Yellow” turned out to offer a light, rather lilting new poem, but it’s just a little quirky and requires a new title and new picture to fit the change.
The second piece “Snowchild,” amazingly allowed me to erase a whole bunch of words, yet say exactly the same thing in the new poem that I had said in the original. Wow. That surprised me a little because I erased a LOT of words.
Hope you enjoy both experiments.
YELLOW (Original poem)
Yellow sun, yellow moon,
Yellow ribbon on yellow balloon;
Yellow crayons for coloring,
Yellow bird that chirps and sings.
Yellow squash ripe on the vine,
Yellow daffodils — all mine.
Yellow hair, with cheeks so pink,
Yellow lemonade to drink;
Come on — hop over to Cee’s blog and find out how to join in the fun of sharing your own world. You know you want to. You’re just itching to answer the question about ketchup and mustard, aren’t you? Then go ahead!
Question # 1: List 2 things you have to be happy about.
1 — I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
2 — I get to tell other people almost every day how loving and merciful Jesus is.
Question # 2: Do you prefer ketchup, or mustard, or mayonnaise?
Now, for me, this is sort of an unfair question, because I like all three. It just depends on the mood I’m in. I don’t use one or the other all the time on any particular kind of sandwich — with the exception of tuna. I do stick to mayonnaise for tuna. And I never use mayonnaise for eggs. But just about anything else — sandwiches, eggs, cheese, french fries, steak, and corn dogs — may get a healthy dose of ketchup one day and mustard the next — or often a dose of both those condiments mixed.
Question # 3: If you were to paint apicture of your childhood, what colors would you use?
Blue, Yellow, Red, Green, and White
Question # 4: Do you prefer a bath or a shower?
A Shower. It’s quicker and cleaner.
Bonus Question: What are you thankful for from this week, and what are you looking forward to in the week ahead?
I’m very, very, very thankful that my knee is showing almost total manifestation of its health again after the fall two weeks ago.
This next week, I plan to tend to a couple things in my yard. I really do not like yard work, and I will be very proud of myself when I get that done, so that will make me happy.
We recently had a weather forecast for snow and other wintery precipitation in our area. I was feeling all the usual negatives that come with that kind of forecast, while hearing children and a few friends exclaim how much they were looking forward to it. Their attitude put me in a worse mood, and while sitting looking out the window, wondering when it would start, this poem came to me. I hope it strikes a chord in a few of you, my readers. The photograph is of my gorgeous Blue Spruce tree in my front yard.
When I was a child, I thought as a child,
And snow was a thing so delightful!
From school we were free; we got wet to the knees,
And our mom’s day was thrown all off schedule.
But now that I’m grown, I must do on my own
All the chores Mom and Dad used to dread:
Stock up food by the loads, drive on slippery roads,
Shovel snow, and repair that old sled.
Now I look with dismay at the skies leaden gray
As I trudge to the store for supplies.
De-icer and salt sell out fast with no halt.
I need new boots to tread on the ice.
The wind from the north is bitter and harsh,
But my temperature, still it is rising;
I am in a foul mood, for I see nothing good
That can come from a snowstorm arriving.
But then the flakes start, and I feel in my heart –
Watching white, fluffy, wonderful, wild
Filling all of my world with such beauty unfurled –
That in truth I am still just a child!
“Will you read me a story?” Just how many times I asked that question of parents and grandparents during my growing-up years I’ll never know. But ask it I did, because I loved stories. In fact, I loved the whole idea of someone being able to pick up a book of pages filled with letters, and being able to understand those letters to such an extent that they told a complete story that I could then understand and enjoy.
Reading. It was one of my fondest dreams and proudest accomplishments when still a very young child. Along with learning how to write those same letters on a page myself so that they would make sense for someone else. To say that I was fascinated with books would be an understatement indeed, and I have since spent my life pursuing the adventure of devouring written matter in virtually every form in which I could find it.
Now, in my middle-age season, as I work toward getting more of my own written work published, I’ve naturally been looking into all the various media currently available for getting written material into the hands of the public. With each passing day, I’ve become even more aware of the fact that I am now living on a new planet — Computer-World. Virtually every kind of transaction and correspondence is carried on via the internet, and even a good deal of our entertainment and recreation is now often found in the hallowed halls of the computer terminal.
But I’ve been especially concerned personally with understanding the whole electronic book media, since it is gaining more ground every year. One of the young men who was working with me a few years ago in the development of a publishing enterprise threw me for a loop when we were talking about my getting two or three manuscripts to him in order for him to help critique and edit the material. He suggested that I just send the manuscripts by e-mail. I looked at him in surprise and said, “But then you’d have to print them out yourself, because you wouldn’t want to have to sit in front of the computer to read whole books.” He gave me what I call a sympathetic but condescending look, smiled sweetly, and said, “We’re a new generation . . . we read off the screen.”
I’m sure my face registered my shock, and his words stayed with me for weeks after that conversation. (Now, I think I should add here, for the sake of any writers out there who are working on editing their work on the screen: Be sure you print out a hard copy of your manuscript and do at least one edit from that. Every good editor knows that you will inevitably find errors that simply do not come to your attention on the screen.) But back to my main thought: I began to ask myself, “Is that what we’re coming to then … a time when nobody will want to pick up a book and hold it while they read the words printed on the pages?” Something deep down inside of me answered, “No.”
Shortly after that, I spent a couple of hours talking with the owner of three large independent bookstores, and I asked him if he thought there would be a total shift to electronic books soon. He said that he could see a slight swing in that direction, but he believed it would be another four or five years before it made any major difference. It’s now all those five years later, and it has made a definite difference, but it still hasn’t emptied the hardcopy bookshelves enough to see the dust on them.
So still the question has been hanging around in my head … and in my heart. I say in my heart because the idea had made me a little sad … like realizing that instead of sitting with friends and being able to touch them while you visited, you’d have to just listen to their voice over a phone line. There’s just something about picking up a book and holding it in your hands … feeling the weight of it … smoothing your fingers over the cover … whether it’s made of fine leather, soft paper, or some other material … it doesn’t matter … it’s a book. And then there’s the expectancy of opening it for the first time … or even the hundredth time … and moving through the pages, smelling the scent of paper and ink that no computer will ever be able to simulate.
Those experiences are the appetizers, leading me into the bountiful main course of the book itself, which is followed, of course, by the sense of being satisfied and replete at the end of a magnificent meal. Nothing else can quite compare to that sense of fulfillment and that gratified smile that accompanies the reading of the words, “The End” at the conclusion of a good book, and the feeling that I’ve truly completed something worthwhile when I close the back cover for the last time.
But then I thought, “That experience can’t be the only reason I prefer to hold a book while I read it.” And as I meditated on my reasons, I came to this conclusion: I enjoy television programs and movies; I see a real merit to using audio books if one has a vision problem, or is driving for long periods; and I can understand the value of e-books scrolling across my palm pilot if I’m sitting in a busy airport or bus terminal and don’t want the fuss of several heavy books to carry. However, it’s a fact that when I’m actually holding the book in my own hands and reading the material, I’m somehow absorbing what I’m reading and becoming a part of it more completely than I do when I’m just looking at the words or actions on a screen.
Then I began to think about how blessed I feel to be able to walk into a bookstore or a library and let my eyes feast on aisle after aisle of shelves covered in beautiful books. I thought about all of the excitement and joy of choosing from all of that bounty and wanting to hurry home, quickly getting other chores out of the way, so that I can sit down and open my treasure and … read.
So I’ve decided: No, I don’t believe that any other media will ever totally replace reading a real book. No other media will ever be able to give the joy and total gratification that is ours when we hold a book and let our eyes search out and devour what resides within it. Or when our children or grandchildren cuddle up with us and lean in close to see for themselvesthose printed words that make the special magic when we “read them a story.”
So now, although I’m going with the flow – Facebooking, blogging, online news reporting, and formatting my own books for digital readers – I’m also committing myself to help the “new generation of screen-readers” to discover and understand the unique satisfaction and thrill of picking up a book and reading it. I’m making it my job to encourage them not to get so involved with trying to get in touch with their computer that they get out of touch with books. Even those friends of mine who feels that man’s best friend is the “mouse” can benefit from taking a break and picking up a book.
So let me offer this personal invitation to one and all. Take some time to visit your nearest library or bookstore and wander through the aisles of beautiful books. Choose one; take it home; sit down in a comfortable chair and prop your feet up. Smooth your hands over the cover a few times; smell that sometimes new — sometimes musty — but always unique scent of a book. Open the cover, and turn the page. Give yourself the gift that no one else can give you: read a REAL book!