Poetry Apprentice

The story my mother told me goes something like this:  When she graduated from high school, her father told her she had to make a choice.  Either get married or go to college.  He was not paying for college if she was going to get married.  She chose marriage over Brown.

She also, however, told me she should have been a nun.  This proclamation never made much sense to me no matter how many times it was stated.  My mother was not Catholic, or any other denomination I could discern.  She drank, smoked profusely and gave birth to 3 children.  I never witnessed any sort of repentant behavior that even remotely gave me pause that my mother would have been suitable for convent life.

What my mother lacked in true religious fervor was robustly atoned for by her love of all variety of writing.

When she was in sixth grade she was given a poetry book for perfect attendance in Sunday School.  Yep, Sunday School.  I was told that this poetry book was the only good that ever came out of church.  I do not know if that included the Bible.  I was a preschooler, who was I to question.  Let me rephrase that.  I was a smart preschooler; I did not question.

The book has always looked like this.  I never asked why or how the cover was lost.  My mother would have had it about 48 years, and I have had it about 28 years.

Being a compliant and good natured child, my mother set about instilling in me a love for all manner of writing as well.  While she made it abundantly clear David, the oldest child, was her all-time favorite, I was the youngest, the only girl and of a sensitive nature.  This sensitivity mixed with my mother’s authoritarian rule actually made for a healthy contrast where poetry was involved.  Instilling her admiration for poetry would not be difficult, because her enthusiasm was contagious and oh! she could recite with such passion and soul.

We dove right in, my mother and I.  And I am pretty sure I was the only 4 year old in my neighborhood who could recite around a hundred poems from the 19th century.  I recited “The Duel” (Eugene Field) on command:  “The gingham dog and the calico cat, side by side on the table sat…”

When I was quiet or withdrawn, my mother would look at me.  “The world is too much with us; late and soon.”  (Wordsworth).

If she needed me to help her:  “Will you walk into my parlor? said the spider to the fly.”  (Mary Hewitt).

When she finished a book that she really enjoyed, she would recite the whole of “There is no Frigate like a Book…”  (Emily Dickinson).

And every spring:  “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”  (Joyce Kilmer).

Thanks, Mom

 

Apprentice

Take Your Hat Off

Baseball cap
Trucker hat
Snapback
Whatever you call that thing
On your head,
At the dinner table,
Take your hat off.

Respectful
Politeness
Civility
Whatever you call that thing
Regarding admiration and tradition,
At the dinner table,
Take your hat off.

Undisciplined
Sloppy
Disorderly
Whatever you call that thing
My Marine daughter observed on leave,
At the dinner table,
Take your hat off.

Show some courtesy
Hold some regard
Observe some honor
Whatever you call that thing
My WWII Navy veteran father would expect,
At the dinner table,
Take your hat off.

Goodbye, April

Later will be May, so I will
Pause and reflect on April.

Prudent scientists marched as Trump is on the
Cusp of cutting funding for research and parks.  Thousands
Championed climate change while a few are still in
Denial, but those people are
Outliers in a tumultuous world that needs to
Heal from war, famine and assault.
Tenacious aid workers and others do not go
Blindly into situations.  Focus and help before it all
Unravels.

Pleased that Spring is in this hemisphere, arriving in a
Timely manner.  Take
Measure of good and sweet.  No time to be
Cranky as the flowers begin
Climbing the trellis.  A
Jolt of warmth pushes through
Opaque clouds and moods of late winter.
Chuckled as I read the menu at the ballgame Friday.
Fried Oreos and Twinkies will surely
Spike your sugar and cholesterol.
Harmony reigned as the hometown team won.
Avid fans cheered.

Zip through cable and turn
Gray as we discover the
Roots of lies about Russia.
Blanket statements that enrage or confuse the rest of the world leave us
Knackered, too.  Oh for the sweet
Perfume of truth.

Yarn for April is complete.  Brought to you by the letters C (5 words began with C) and P (4 words).

Yarn

4 Elevenie for World Book Day

What I am reading today.

Poet
Dreams verse
Art on paper
Emotion and illusion elevate
Vulnerable

Novelist
Creative typist
Life is fiction
Enchantment and suspense commence
Exhaustion

Playwright
Life’s narrator
Tragedy and comedy
Plot and scenario entwine
Applause

Journalist
Reports news
Hopefully the facts
Cable news and interviews
Editorial

Moss (x4)

Primordial moss
Area rug for the trail
Easter Sunday hike

Moss and rock
Green and agate
Five miles on Sunday

Spring green moss
Cushions the trail
Sunday hike

Moss
Green carpet
Path

 

Cranky Little Turf War

Four hummingbird feeders.
Two in back;  two in front
For two pair of
Ruby throated works of art.
Or, rephrase that…
For two pair of
Cranky territorial warriors.
Instead of a plentiful season of sharing
A five month turf war raged
With civilian casualties.  We
Hapless humans were scolded and
Pummeled by iridescent bandits
Careening full tilt
Around the northwest corner in
Crazed hot pursuit of rival invaders.

Hot summers in Tennessee
Necessitate frequent nectar changes.
Kevlar armor is not readily available here in the suburbs.
Four feeders have been deemed
Too dangerous and high maintenance.
Risky and potentially perilous as it may be…
Down to one feeder this year.

 

 

Cranky

Outlier Worries

To be an outlier in a retail environment means a.)  Your store is so far out of the district’s main territory that the DM does not visit much and b.)  Your store will have to be on an outlier call, which is a “come to Jesus” thrashing where you better explain why the store did not meet sales, did not meet credit, did not meet payroll, did not meet receiving, did not meet training and generally did not meet, just, well, “did not.”

Retail is more than shopping.  Retail is more than Black Friday.  Retail is more than racks of clothes, shelves of toys, appliances and electronics all set to a corporate plan-o-gram.  Real people with goals, hopes, dreams and families work retail and sometimes their lives do not fit in a plan-o-gram.

Here is what it was like to work HR in an outlier store of a major retailer:

An all too common and, sadly, often repeated conversation with my married, 47 year old boss who perpetually and pathetically pursued 20 year old women associates went something like this:
Me:  Why is she texting you?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  How did she get your number?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  This does not reflect well on you.  This is making other associates uncomfortable.
Boss:  -blank stare-
Me:  Well, just stop it or it will need to be documented.
-I leave-  His behavior was documented on more than one occasion, but corporate did nothing.

Every month the P&L would print.  One sheet, tiny print.  The store stubbornly entrenched in the bottom 10% of the company.  Every month I would stare at this paper with the tiny print looking for something positive.  Every month I would bring the paper with the tiny print to my boss who would wearily smile, because he knew what was coming next.  I would proceed with my thoughts on how we could, maybe, with hard work and dedication, get ourselves out of the bottom 10%.  Every month he would tell me the same thing:  “You don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”
Toward the end, in desperation, and totally disobeying the company policy of not giving proprietary information away, I brought the P&L home to show my husband.  My husband knew we were breaking rules looking at this paper with the tiny print, but he was probably as weary as my boss and simply decided to take a look.  My husband has a finance degree, 30 years of management experience and has mentored dozens of interesting, fabulous people, so surely he could help me lift the store up, set us straight and, if nothing else, for God’s sake, tell me what all these tiny numbers mean.  With his best patient smile, he went line by line, category by category and percentage by percentage until he finally said, “you don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”

When former employees see me in Kroger, after they give me a hug, they say, “you probably don’t remember me.”  Oh, but I do.  Your daughter was getting her master’s degree in education.  Your husband was in a car accident.  You had to leave at two o’clock to pick up your grandson.  You liked working in jewelry, but not returns.  You had diabetes, but still drank a liter of Pepsi at lunch.  You wished your ex-husband would reconcile.  Your mother-in-law fell and broke her hip.  Oh, yes, I remember.  I was with you.

I was in charge of attendance records.  Your dog died.  Your aunt died.  Your third cousin died.  Your neighbor’s hamster died.  Any relative, friend or acquaintance you ever knew, did not know or even remotely heard of died.  All of them.  Everyone of them died four times over.  I was with you.

I was in charge of store morale and psychiatry.  Would I call someone to cover your shift?  Can you take a leave of absence and still get paid?  Do I think you should buy a house or get a dog or have a second baby?  How do I establish my credit?  Would I look good as a blonde?  What would you do, Ms. Diane?  I called corporate looking for employee assistance when we had a tornado.  I called corporate looking for medical bill assistance when a baby was born premature.  I bought birthday cakes, retirement cakes and anniversary cakes.  I was with you.

I worried myself into a promotion.  A promotion I did not even apply for, because I spent so much time worrying about whether I should apply…or not.  And when I accepted the new position, I was told I would need to do my old job, too.  When a new individual was hired for my old position I would need to train them, and by the way, it would be great if you would coordinate the corporate volunteer program.  But there was still that pesky P&L with the tiny print.  When I expressed concern about the challenges of trying to attempt three jobs and raise the tiny print of the P&L, I was nonchalantly told, “oh we never meet those goals. You don’t need to be worrying about that.”

 

 

Outlier

Have You Ever Seen A Turtle Run?

My husband called me
from the mall parking lot.
Someone left a turtle
in a box.
Come get it
he instructed.

Red-eared slider
what a beauty.
Big, too
maybe ten inches across.
Shifting about in the box
as we leaned over to admire.

Turtle rode shotgun
in my Maxima.
Jostling around, agitated
wanting out of the box.
Maybe he was thirsty,
thirsty for freedom.

I plopped Turtle
in the warm, green grass
near the warm, green pond.
Off he went!
Sprinting toward that mucky water
surely setting a turtle land speed record.

Have you ever seen a turtle run?
I have.

 

Sprinkles and Seeds

Decided to be goofy this week.

 

Dense

Saturdays Are…

Saturdays are for meditation.

Here are a few facts on the history of meditation:   Meditation is believed to have been practiced in India and China over 5000 years ago.  Meditation is a part of many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism.  The etymology of meditation comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means “to ponder.”
https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/meditation/meditation-for-you/benefits-of-meditation

Here are a few health benefits of practicing meditation:  Meditation lowers blood pressure by increasing the compound nitric oxide that helps open blood vessels.  Meditation changes gray matter in our brains that can help with learning, memory and perspective.
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm  Meditation helps us remain focused and improve attention spans.

Just pick up your phone:  There are meditation apps galore.  If you have no experience with meditation at all, but are curious about beginning a meditation practice, you could try one of these apps.  They are free for the first few lessons and will give you a feel for what kind of meditation may be most comfortable for you.  Mindfulness, body scan, walking and lovingkindness are types of meditation you will find on these apps.  Here are 3 well-known meditation apps:  Headspace, Calm and 10% Happier.

My personal experience:  Just like running and writing, you need to make a commitment to find the time to meditate.  Luckily, just 15-20 minutes a day will be all that is needed when beginning a meditation practice.  When I began meditation, I was always seated, always had my eyes closed, always in my house and always focused on my breath.  I love to be outside (even in the cold or gloom), which is part of the reason I like to run (I’m not much for a treadmill), so I tried taking my meditation outside.  There is a park in my neighborhood with a walking path that my husband tells me is 2/10th of a mile long.  The first loop I do a body scan.  How do my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, neck feel…you get the idea.  The second loop I listen to the birds.  Bird songs fill me with a sense of wonder at the diversity in nature even in my little neighborhood park.  The third loop I focus on my breath.  I practice walking meditation about twice a week.  The biggest surprise for me has been the benefit meditation has had on my running.  Unfortunately it has not made me any faster!  However, my concentration/focus and breathing have improved.  I have been able to find a rhythm between my legs and lungs that allows me to focus on my posture/core or enjoy the scenery.

The path in the park in my neighborhood.
Snowy morning at the park.