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My Response to a Writing Prompt

Think of your childhood home. If you had several, pick one. Write a detailed description of walking into that house. Which rooms were where? What stories are sparked by writing that description? (Courtesy of Patti Digh)


As I stand looking at my grandmother’s house, it seems smaller than it did as a child. The single step up to the sidewalk remains the same although a few cracks give away its age. The hedges around the porch are gone, but the memories of that porch still live. As I look up I see the ceiling of the porch is still painted a pale green and the ovoid shaped, textured light fixture still hangs there by the same three rusty screws. There is no longer a glider, but I can still sense it there and can almost hear the sound it made as it moved back and forth.

I place my hand on the doorknob and a memory shoots through me of all the people whose hands turned that knob through its life. I feel the familiar texture of as it slips into my palm. As I turn it I remember watching my grandfather lubricating the lock with a puff of graphite from a squeeze bottle. Before I can even step into the house, I hear the pendulum clock ticking on the mantlepiece. I see my grandfather, his hair stark white, slowly winding it with the key kept in the tiny door at the base of the clock.

Immediately to my right are the stairs leading to the bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs. I remember pretending to be mountain climbers with my brother, scaling the stairs turned mountain peaks. At the base of the stairs is a bullet hole in the wood, put there when my father was a young boy. I see the banister and remember this was our makeshift pulpit when we played ‘church’.

The walls have been painted but they still have the spongy texture of some material I fear might have contained asbestos. The brick around the fireplace has been painted in a contemporary style, but it does not keep me from seeing the red brick hearth and the chestnuts nestled into the coals to roast. My grandfather’s red recliner sits near the fireplace, occupied by my grandmother after my grandfather passed away. I see her stockings rolled up at the base of her knees and she is playing the ukulele singing the song “Little Mohee”.

Under the stairs is the same little door and the same latch that led to the storage area where my grandmother stored her paper supplies she used to make paper flowers. I suddenly remember pulling one of the boxes and finding silverfish scurrying through the paper. Under the stairs the wall phone, the first one we ever had, no longer hangs on the wall, but I can still see the long tangled cord stretched by too many adolescent phone conversations.

To my right is my grandmother’s bedroom. I still see her dresser, covered with a silk dresser scarf, a neatly lined row of delicate bottles, and a round container of powder with its huge fluffy powder puff. I can still see her in front of the mirror getting ready for church. She wore pillbox hats with netting, dotted with miniature pearls, secured to her hair with long hat pins.

From the same spot, I look into the dining room with french doors that always stood open, flanking the double door entry. I always dreamed of closing those doors, but was told the floor would need to be sanded down before that could happen. To the left was the brown Siegler stove that heated the house. The long dining table was tucked into an alcove with a wall of glass divided into small windows by white molding. Beyond the window was the view of the back yard, with the large forsythia bush where my grandmother swept away the snow under its branches so she could feed the birds.

Beyond the dining room to the left was the kitchen. There was a small free standing refrigerator with a small radio on top. There were small corner knick knack shelves where my grandmother displayed her collection of ceramic birds. Inside the far cabinet was where my grandfather kept his medicinal liniment from which he swallowed a tablespoon every morning. Tucked away in a corner cabinet, was where my grandmother squirreled away her little glass jar of Tang she drank for the vitamin C.

Outside the kitchen was the closed-in back porch with a freezer and a small table. In the freezer was always an old Maxwell House coffee can filled with cookies easily defrosted for an unplanned treat. The windows were covered with rolled bamboo shades that could be lowered to block the summer sun. The door led outside into the side yard.


I could have written so much more. So many memories I revealed that could easily have taken me down multiple rabbit holes. I did not even go through the upstairs in the house.  This reminded me of things I had not thought of for years. Such a good exercise for opening the doors to memories lying dormant for so long. I recommend it if you are so inclined.

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WDIIA – Monday, April 6, 2020

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Pull up a chair and join me for another episode of what I am doing to maintain my sanity otherwise known as ’What Day is it Anyway’, brainchild of fellow blogger Linda Hill.

The weekend was pretty good. The sunshine really helps. I am able to spend some of my day outside soaking up the rays and the vitamin D. Gardening efforts are going well. My peas are getting close to the transplant stage and that’s exciting. My sunflowers are growing and just walking outside listening to the birds is therapeutic!

Over the weekend, I saw a few posts about National Poetry Month. I am not a poet, but I loved the book spine poetry and thought I would give it a go. It was amazing how the book titles really told the story of our current situation. Here’s what I posted on Instagram:

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Okay bibliophiles, this is your moment. In honor of National Poetry Month, stack your books and tell a current day story with your book spines.  Write a poem if you like, or let your titles tell the story.

“What  are the rules for aging, when all hell breaks loose?
After the worst hard time of our life,
can we bounce back and celebrate a new earth?
Girl, wash your face and get ready to start anew.
Let this be the first step to a new and happy life.”

It was very therapeutic, so why not give it a try?

Today, I started a new writing class led by Patti Digh, a local author – Writers in the Pandemic. It is an affordable two week online class to write about the issues we are all experiencing. Today is the first day, so there is still time to join if you feel it would be helpful to you. (I am not sure if the free offer is still valid, as this is the second iteration of this course she offered. It is reasonably priced either way.)

Writers in the Pandemic

When we had all our floors redone two years ago, we packed up my keyboard and stored it. Hubby brought it out yesterday and it is another uplifting way to spend some time during the day. I am not a pianist. I put the headphones on and experiment just for me. It is a nice stress reliever.

I hope you are all doing well. I appreciate you all so much.

 

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JusJoJan – Our Values and Our Roots

I am taking an online course led by Patti Digh, author of “Life is a Verb”. The course, “First 37” covers the first 37 days of the year by exploring our goals and intentions for the year. The number 37 figures in much of Patti’s work. In 2003 her stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died 37 days later. It caused her to ask what she would do if she knew she only had 37 days to live.

A common thread seems to be thinking about our values. We are provided with a list of 230 personal values. Just thinking there are 230 different values to which we attach meaning for our lives makes me realize just how different we all are. How we find our own way in this world is one thing, but how we ever find common ground with others is another.

I have never dedicated time to sit down with the intention of writing out my personal values. Have you? I will go through the list today and see what resonates with me. I am also sure through life experience that my values have changed. As a young girl, there were so many things in this world I was not even aware existed. Now those same things I feel deeply about. This class has been a valuable journey.

I also attended an hour-long workshop last week inspired by the poem “Where I’m From” written by Harlan, Kentucky native George Ella Lyon. The workshop was about writing a similar poem based on our own lives. There are a number of templates and ideas used by teachers and they are easy to find online. I will post my poem here when I have completed it. I have also asked my brother to do the same.

Where I’m From
George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree

Source: George Ella Lyon Writer & Teacher. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2020, from http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

Last year, NPR did a callout for submissions of poetry using “Where I’m From” as inspiration. Ms. Lyon responded:

“I was amazed and delighted to hear you read part of ‘Where I’m From’ on Morning Edition Monday. My poem, written in 1993, was inspired by a poem of Jo Carson’s. Her poem took off from something she heard somebody say,” she said. “So ‘Where I’m From’ has been a pass-it-on-phenomenon from the get-go. Here’s to the power of poetry and place, and to the voices in all of us that long to be heard.”

Source: Noenickx, C. (2019, August 28). ‘Where I’m From’: A Crowdsourced Poem That Collects Your Memories Of Home. Retrieved January 16, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/2019/08/28/754698275/where-i-m-from-a-crowdsourced-poem-that-collects-your-memories-of-home

Both of these writing projects have been very revealing for me. A little self exploration is good for the soul.


This post is part of Linda Hill’s Just Jot It January. Today the inspiration word was provided by Dan – visit his blog ”No Facilities”.

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