Books and Magpies

I just found this post (unpublished), so I shall combine it with Tessa’s picture challenge at Magpie Tales as the second part of the post. It has simply been so long since I have blogged that I had forgotten how to actually enter a post! I hope that this finds my friends in the blogosphere well. I do believe that I have finally settled in and actually “feel” this to be home for a change.

I am excited about a project for which I have volunteered. I hope to be doing a writing project with a group of veterans should our Central Library be able to pull together a group. This is meant to take place during January and February. I was also to be a part of a new Haiku Group, but I have found that my commitments are def (as Brian would say) too many. As a result – no haiku group.

When I was a child, I read Mummy’s books. Her book plate stated: “Books Are Like Friends”. And they, (books) have been that way for me for a lifetime. We grew up with a library. It was the most beautiful room in the house. It was filled with leather bound books from the 1800s. They had been my great, great grandfather’s books. I never met him. The books were meant for me one day. Unfortunately, my mother chose not to heat or air condition this room, in Vermont of all places. The books were a complete loss – except for a very few.

David and I bought our first house in 1983 because it had a library. Well that is overstating it a bit. It had significant shelving in one room that became the library. I do not have that here, as we are only 3 rooms, albeit more square footage than our first home. I do have bookshelves enough to place one half of my library into. Leaving the other half of my “friends” behind was difficult. Choosing who to take along was very hard indeed. Quite! Anyway, my books are all in the shelves hodgepodge. Now that I am finally feeling at home I look forward to organizing them. Below please find two haibun. The second is for Magpie Tales.

Haibun
Books have for so long been such very good friends to me.
Leaving one half of them behind during our move was
gut wrenching, like leaving family or old friends. I do
so hope that they feel at home with their new owners.

I have forgotten
yes forgotten my friends
left to dustiness

For Magpie Tales # 247:
Thank you Tess for Maurice de Vlaminck’s Snowstorm. Unfortunately I cannot seem to upload it – ah well.

Haibun
I grew up with snow. A lot of snow, in Vermont. In 1965 when I was 19
I moved to NYC. The biggest snow storm of my life took place. My family
sent me photos of snow above the roof line as they tunneled out.
This is November of 2014 and there are places today
that have had this kind of snowfall.

thick strokes of snow
brackish sky dwindling lights
in the outer world

For Magpie Tales # 247

Au Caire

Haibun

Au Caire is French for Cairo. We flew to Cairo in 1991 for the most exciting trip of my life, a place I had wished to visit since childhood. We do not take cruises and have always navigated foreign lands on our own. We were to cruise down the Nile. Before cruising we visited the three main pyramids of Giza just outside of Cairo. I travelled upon a camel and my husband went upon a small horse to the pyramids. In Egypt we not only took our first cruise but we engaged the assistance of guides for a few of our adventures. Several days later we went to the extraordinary Tomb of the Bulls deep underground. There were many empty, huge sarcophagi that once had held sacred bulls along with their many missing jewels and the stench of urine to which at that time I felt the need to add to. We also visited a famous ziggurat, a pyramid made of many steps from bottom to top unlike those at Giza that once had flat sides. I was delighted with myself for having the courage to visit Kan el-Khalili market on my own, one of the largest in the world. It was a maze of colorful tents with every item under the sun for sale. This bazaar was founded in 1382. There is no place like it in the world.

We found ourselves in a dilemma about how to travel the Nile. Do we take a cruise or do we sail down the Nile in a felucca? The felucca originating in Italy and now a popular Mediterranean sailboat is offered to tourists as one option for traveling the Nile. We would have been on our own with two to four crewmembers. We were not sure of our personal safety, so we elected to join Hilton’s newest, largest and spiffiest cruise ship on her maiden voyage down the Nile. It was quite exciting with many stops at archeological sites along the way. My favorite was Com Ombo recently excavated. I came home with an old English print of Com Ombo before excavation.

The personal success of any cruise depends upon the people with whom you choose to spend time. When we made this trip I was forty-five and David was forty. We teamed up with a fascinating group of Israelis and a doctor and his wife who were from Syria. It was a cohesive and wonderful group. The Israelis each of whom were in their late seventies and eighties were from different European countries having successfully fled the Nazi invasion of Europe and the Holocaust. The physician and his wife were in their early thirties. She was pregnant. No one spoke English accept for the Syrian doctor. We each communicated magnificently. I even got to try out my exceptionally poor and rusty French. Their stories were mesmerizing, unforgettable. We did all activities together. At one point in the Valley of the Kings one of the Israeli men became quite ill, our Syrian doctor brought him through until we reached shipboard and the medical facilities on board. The doctor had saved his life. I will never forget any of these people, their loving kindness, their goodness, and their stories.

En route to our cruise we flew to Aswan to spend a few days and then board ship. Aswan is a major center of Egyptian commerce and was a fascinating jaunt. Traveling the Nile was an experience of education, fun, elegance, refreshment, serenity and natural and archeological beauty enhanced by the company we kept. I do not remember how many stops we were able to make along the way. I do know that Com Ombo was our final stop before our ship sank necessitating a rescue by the Egyptian Navy. Tragically this cut short our cruise by many stops. The ships engineers had thought of everything except for navigating the locks. It was in the locks in which we were stuck for nearly eight ours that the hull of the ship was ripped open. One must remember that although the Nile is quite shallow at this point, the ship could have easily listed and capsized. We all sadly boarded buses and were shipped off to hotels. Upon reaching our hotel separated from the others with no real chance to say goodbye we caught the much more dire equivalent of Mexico’s Montezuma’s revenge. The next few days were NOT pleasant. But the trip stands out among all places to which we have traveled. I keep a photo of our Israeli friends on my chimney piece.

cooling off – evening breezes along the Nile

Posted with gratitude at Poets United Poetry Pantry

Little Bits Of Humor In Life (very little)

Haibun

Conrad Dobler

My question is this, should this very short piece be marked as sexually explicit or tagged as humor? I am going with the latter, with the sincere hope that I don’t offend anyone.

For no apparent rhyme or reason the strangest things come out of my mouth … we are speaking words not creatures. One summer afternoon many years ago immediately after my husband and I had made wondrous love, I sat straight up, opened my mouth and shouted: “Conrad Dobler.” After such warm and intimate moments one might expect sweet nothings for that matter sweet something’s to come out of one’s wife’s mouth. I at that time had no idea who Conrad Dobler was. I learned that he was a professional football player Needless to say my husband was shocked and then went into immediate fits of extreme laughter. This morning many years later I awoke with this man’s name on my mind again after dreaming about him. Why, I ask? That’s rhetorical by the way – please don’t answer.

one layered kimono – good for summer love making

Served up at dVerse Poetry Pub.

Your Life Path Number is 7

I have been alone much of my life. I am a natural loner. Perhaps that is why I never dated. I always blamed my “not dating” on my parent’s behavior. But maybe it was just me, and their behavior assisted me in becoming who I was meant to be. Surely my first marriage one of extraordinary abuse left me terribly alone. Then after my divorce I chose to be celibate for 5 years, a spiritual decision. At 28 as a woman of the 60s that was not only unusual it was damned near insane. I was very lucky throughout this period for guys actually took no for an answer and befriended me. Then I met a man to whom I was NOT attracted! And I might add he was definitely NOT attracted to me at all. We became the very best of friends over a period of two years, eventually seeing each other every day and every night just as friends. He too was a bit of a loner. We have now been married nearly 31 years after a two year friendship and a 3 month dating period and living together for 2 years.

neath the waterfall
a lone wet moth surviving
one’s lifes path fulfilled

Loving placed at dVerse

The All-Star Game

Baseball Memories

Everyone is there, except my husband. My first husband is in Okinawa and I am happy at 20 that he is not in Vietnam. I am living with my in-laws, kind people with a comfortable home and room for both myself and the baby. It is 1967 and I too would soon be in Okinawa. But for now I had found the Saint Louis Cardinals and pretty much had fallen in love. I never missed a game. I could rattle off every stat. Even today, I prefer a baseball game on the radio to TV.

I listened to the All-Star game last night. The lead up was grand and all the emotional stops were pulled out for me, there were many tears. The razzamatazz was wonderful and took me back in time. I went back to my very young adulthood and the love of the game. Then I went back to my childhood. We had left Scarsdale, NY and moved to Vermont. We had to be quiet as it was The World Series and Mummy and Pup seemed to live for The World Series. God, how I love that sound. Of course the Dodgers and the Yankees were playing. The Dodgers had not yet moved to LA. I don’t think it was 54, the Yankees lost the series that year, no, it must have been 55 or 6. It is so hard to remember. We were in the back of the house. Pup was removing the paint from the house. Everyone was working and the radio was jerry-rigged to the electricity coming into the house up in the righthand corner of the terrace under the eves. Mummy and Pup were rivals when it came to the Yankees and the Dodgers. It kind of ended for my father when the Dodgers moved to LA. He was broken hearted. I can still sense his great loss. It was very few years after WWII. I know that his grieving over the loss of the Dodgers was his way of expressing grieving for loss experienced duing the war. I am just sensing this real loss as I write.

summer evening crack of the bat – roar of the crowd

Shared with gratitude at dVerse Open Link Night

Flight …

Haibun
There have been a couple of times when I have “taken flight” in a airplane. No, I am not speaking of travel something that David and I have enjoyed a good bit of until recently. I mentioned earlier taking the controls of a little dark red two-seater as we went in between the Green Mountains one morning with a friend when I was sixteen. There was a second time. It was 2005 in November. I had just been through the biggest spiritual experience of my life. It took six – eight weeks, it was exhilarating and exceptionally painful. It would leave me dazed and confused. And I knew full well that it looked like I was having a nervous breakdown. I sensibly engaged a bodyworker who worked with my energy and a exercise therapist. I did this to assist with keeping myself grounded. It was the hardest thing that I have ever been through. It changed my life and taught me a lot. However, I had no idea initially what it was that I was meant to do. What came to me was that at 60 years of age I was meant to learn to fly an airplane. This TERRIFIED me. I found an old grass airfield with wonderful old hangars from the 20s, and a little flying school. I learned to fly a 1947 Luscombe 8 Taildragger. I loved that little plane, I used to come over to the airfield and wash it … ha … lying on one of those things that mechanics lie on so I could get under the fuselage, in linen and pearls. I really loved it when I learned to take off and to land. I did not get a license, this is a wealthy man’s sport, no bones about it. Buying a plane is a very expensive operation. And the buying isn’t the expensive part, it is the insurance, the hangar space and the upkeep. What was actually taking place was that I was facing my ultimate fear of heights and my growing fear of flying. Even if one flies a good bit it is not unusual to acquire a fear of flying as one ages. I did exactly what I was meant to do at the time.

persepolis far away in persia – quick flight

Posted with gratitude at The Poetry Pantry #158.

The Inn

Haibun
I loved the Inn At Weston where I grew up. This small country inn was the center of our small Vermont town. There was a pool, no land, just a colonial white clapboard building. As Weston’s history began in the late 1700s I believe that this building was quite old. Today it is gone. Another place has been named The Inn At Weston. I learned that it had burned to the ground sometime in the 70s or 80s. For me it was devastating. It felt as if a part of my life had been destroyed, eliminated. I had worked there from the time that I was 13 until I was nearly 19 during the summer months. One summer when I was 16 and it was about 10 AM, I ran up to Jack’s bedroom that doubled as the office very excited about my flight with Bruce. I burst into the bedroom so excited, for I had just flown a plane in between the Green Mountains and over the Inn. Jack and Hugh were in bed together. I knew Jack was gay, although I am not sure that this was a term of parlance in 1962. I was not embarrassed – I just shared my story and excitement then I left. We were family. Jack was like a dad to me. I truly loved him. Because of that love my reaction was simply one of happiness for him.

fireworks danger and excitement – festival time

Shared with gratitude with the wonderful poets at dVerse OpenLinkNight

It Was The War

Haibun
Mummy died in 2000, Pup in 2003. I had the tasks of property management and medical care management for my father utilizing the services of 8 employees between the time my mother and father died. I returned to Vermont from the Midwest more times during that first year of oversight than I had visited in the last 34 years. I would oversee the administration of two estates while attempting to manage my own business at home. All done while my siblings would attempt to sue me. I was soon to discover two WWII scrapbooks of my mothers. They were astounding. She served in London in the European Branch of the OWI. The Office of War Information was the Propaganda Wing of the US Government. I have no idea what she did. A while back I read something within these books that makes me believe that she was at one time behind enemy lines in Europe. She endured bombings of London. I do know that it radically changed and reshaped her forever. Today I fully understand her ghastly mothering.

screeching kingfisher
dives and skims the cool water
minnow for dinner

Haibun
“The War was the most exciting time of my life” she said to me in 1998 on the phone. I could only think: “who finds war exciting?” War is grim, grotesque, horrific and evil. I lived through the fears of the Vietnam War Era. I did not relate to Mummy’s nostalgic trip back in time at all. In 2005 I had a spiritual experience that initiated me into my parent’s world. Willingly, I placed myself inside the mind of a Vietnam War Veteran, a stranger. This experience one of shattering pain and one of pure ecstasy lead me to (among other things) study war. The experience in its entirety taught me things that I otherwise would never have known, nor understood about life. It was a truly life altering experience.

firefly lightening
stretching across the meadow
like doodle bugs

Doodle Bug was the British name for the Flying V-1 Bomb(s) dropped on Great Britain By Germany during WWII.

Haibun
I was the apple of my father’s eye when I was born in 1946. Tragically this love ended around 1951. The destructive results of WWII were catching up with both my parents. They each retreated within as two more children were born. The loss of my father’s love would shape my life to come and dominate it for many years in a most un-positive manner. Following my 2005 spiritual experience, I was to experienced my father’s love as it washed over me for the next couple of years replenishing and nourishing all that had been taken away.

little cicada
shedding its summer body
soon too it shall die

I am discovering that this desire to write my memoir through haibun, haiku, haiga and other forms of Japanese poetry will be very difficult. As all know there are many RULES to follow when writing Japanese forms of poetry. I wish to comply however, I must not only write poetry, I must tell an interesting story … or many interesting stories. And I have so many photos. I have removed from these scrapbooks 1/3 of the contents, leaving 2/3 left to with grave difficulty remove, clippings, postcards, letters, dance cards, dinner dates … all sorts of things. These scrapbooks are now 74 years old. Fragile. Each item must be removed with care and then I must have them scanned … by a commercial organization. All when I am not ill – hopefully. I wish to move forward, it is such a slow pace however. I will get there I keep telling myself. Thank you for reading, for your support and for following me.

Please comment critically. As relates to the paragraph just above, I have now written 5 haibun. A haibun is a paragraph of prose about a place, an object or person. My initial 2 haibun were longer – more about me. I wish to get the story across, each story in one short paragraph. I have shortened these 3 above, made theme more concise. Are they two short? Do they tell enough? Do they actually hold your interest and would they make you wish to read more and finish the book (that will be filled with photos? I don’t know. Please you let me know what you think and feel. You won’t insult me. I wish to create a thing of beauty. Remember this will largely be filled with WWII memorabilia. It will tell one how war effects those born into new generations far away from the war experienced by the generation before. It will be a book that I hope will be placed upon the coffee table.

Shared with Poets United for the Sunday Poetry Pantry.

The “N” Word

Haibun

I grew up with the N word. I do believe my mother may have been the most racist person I have ever known. Her racism however did something positive to me; it gave me great empathy for those different from myself. This experience made me seek diversity as I grew up. My mother didn’t like Jews, African Americans, the Irish, and Italians; come to think of it she did not like anyone. My family did not have television when we were children. One summer I was sent to Maryland. I was at that time showing an interest in boys and apparently behaving badly. I was placed upon a Greyhound bus in Manchester, Vermont and got off somewhere in Maryland. With my little transistor radio close to my ear I listened to the news regarding the March on Washington. I was deeply moved even enraged by the injustice that I heard. Oh how I longed to get off that bus and join Civil Rights Workers as they marched on Washington! This was a defining moment in my life.

yellow butterfly
alights upon the barley
distant lightening

This is gratefully shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry

Forgive me. I had not realized when I wrote this that we had a Disney theme this week.

it is poetry to my ears

I have been floundering, excited about writing my memoirs but not happy about loosing contact with my poet friends, really, really not happy! So, what should I do? Should I write all of the time? Should I write memoir one day and poetry the next? No, for I haven’t the time. Then I came upon a solution that evolved from a thought that I had last year. Most of you know that I absolutely love Japanese forms of poetry. I was ill for more than 1/2 of last year (yes, it appears to be perennial) during which time I studied Japanese poetry, especially haiku, haiga, haibun, tanka. I committed myself to writing one haiku per day during my illness. This act was a spiritual discipline. That is part one. Secondly, the photos from my mother’s WWII scrap books are the real inspiration for this memoir. I wish to honor her work in London during the bombings. She was an awful mother and I did not like her. I came late in life to understand that her poor mothering was in great part a function of the war. For this reason I can tell you that war reaches down through the ages and effects those of new generations. I have finally concluded that this story can only be told through the lens of my own life. I say why not write it using Japanese forms of poetry? How does that sound? I think that it solves all of my problems! It sounds absolutely perfect. It is poetry to my ears. I do not think that it has been done before. The only thing that even comes close is “Walden Pond” re-done in haiku. Tell me what you think. Am I going out on a limb? And oh, one is supposed to start out with a bang, a whopper of a first sentence, or in my case a whopper of a haibun. You are meant to draw one in to your story. For those who may not know, a haibun is prose followed by a haiku. Traditionally this prose speaks of a place, a person or a scene and today memoir. A haiga is art with a haibun or haiku. the art of which I speak is photography.

Haibun

I was nine years old. I walked into the employee’s cloakroom of my mother’s place of employment. I was a very little kid. I rifled through all of the coat pockets. In one pocket I found $1000. Wow! I stole it. This was 1955. I knew that I had done something really bad because of the feelings of dread in my tummy. But it was a great feeling to have some money. I went to the general store and I bought some candy. I understood the power of money at that young age. I understood it because I had none and my parents had a good bit which they did not share. It was as if we three kids were poverty stricken. Today I remember little else of this episode. I was confronted and caught by my parents. I am not sure how, but I suspect showing up at the general store with a $100 bill in a town of 500 was a dead giveaway. I cannot remember my punishment. My father remedied this situation by giving me a room in the Big Barn. We had the Big Barn and the Little Barn. The horses, the tack room, our riding ribbons, trophies and a large collection of carriages and sleighs were kept in the Big Barn. In my new room in the Big Barn filled with hay and pigeon droppings he put a small roll-top desk for my use. Perhaps this act was in recognition that everyone needed a room of one’s own. I remember nothing else about it. Years later in the 90s I spoke to my mother about it. She was mortified by these memories. Shame wove a deep, ugly and tight thread through my family. Shame is something that follows one for a lifetime unless one both changes and forgives oneself.

smoldering June heat
night cicadas loud above
gentle breeze leaves move

It takes a long time to perfect a haiku. This one was written last night and needs much reworking.

Liz at five - seven years of age.
Shared with fellow poets at both: Poets United – The Poetry Pantry and dVerse’s Poetry Jam where Kelvin of Kelvin’s Poetry Blog has challenged us to use two idioms to inspire our poetry today. I have used my title and “going out on a limb”. Thank you Kelvin.