Tag Archives: Life

On birthdays, memories, and top 5 lists

This past week I celebrated another birthday.  It was a milestone, being number 55. This year events coincided that made the day just a day.   My wife recently had back surgery and is recovering at home (doing well, but still has pain).  My eldest son is busy with work projects and a new baby.  My youngest son lives elsewhere and had to work (though he did call and we had a great conversation).  Good friends had other family obligations or were traveling.  I worked all day.  In fact, this is one memory of my birthday that will go down as being one of the most unremarkable.  For that alone, I will probably always remember it.

I will count the small kindnesses/gestures along the way:  The balloons shared by coworkers who recently turned 55 this month and like to tease each other about who is older.  We now have a special club – and I will always get used balloons because of it.  The blueberry pie made for me by a family friend who was looking in on my wife as she recuperates.  The phone call from my youngest son to wish me a happy birthday. The adorable phone call from my parents singing “happy birthday” in different keys.  Note:  My parents are career musicians and are never off-key.  Greetings shared on social media (FB) from friends and family – far and wide- hoping that I had the greatest day – the best day.   Yet, it was just a day, and I guess there is nothing wrong with that.

I reflected on past birthdays  and wondered what made a day the best day – the greatest day.  I’m not sure I have the answer, but I did dredge up some good memories of birthdays.

  1.  On my eleventh birthday, I received my first vinyl album as a gift from my parents.  It was Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles.  I had recently been introduced to their non-mop-top music by a school friend, and was immediately smitten with the lyrical genius of John Lennon on I am the Walrus.  It would be the first of many vinyl albums I would receive on my birthdays/Christmases.
  2.  On my 13th birthday, I had a sleepover party with 8 friends. I think this was my first and only sleepover birthday party. We ate hotdogs and hamburgers, played badminton, wiffle-ball and touch football, then roamed around the neighborhood after dark – playing  ghost in the graveyard.
  3. On my 27th birthday, I received my PhD.
  4. For my 40th birthday,  my wife purchased third base line tickets to a AAA baseball game in our city.  We went with some dear friends (one each of our children share a birthday) we had recently reconnected with.
  5.  On my 50th birthday, I was traveling in Germany with my eldest son and my father.  We were in Nuremburg on that day and visited Coburg Castle.  Facebook likes to remind me of that day every year and I smile.

There are memories of other birthdays,  but all the things that make days special are there in that list: meaningful gifts and gestures, landmark events, good food and fellowship, and exciting adventures in new places.

They are still just days – though,  and I hope you have a great one.

 

 

 

Triple threat

Three of them, wandering off at the barbecue:
Jonathan, Allison, Rebecca Williston
didn’t remain for the hot dogs and chili sauce
wanderlust leveled a lure at this crew.

Sauntering off to the swing-set and whirl-around
all of them squealing with joy in the afternoon.
Allison yelled for the first swing and Jonathan
called for the whirly-gig-jumped with a bound.

Rebecca resigned then to pushing them both again.
First, she shoved Allison hard and with all her might
ran to spin Jonathan round and round – in a flight
back to the swing she indulged dear sweet Allison.

This storm continued for minutes and seconds
till Allison’s comment “I’m too high – the altitude!”
Jonathan’s face was awash in pea green –
Their mother called out-“Your birthday cake beckons!”

Rebecca took off – leaving the other two.
Both of them reeling and dizzy and tottering.
Neither felt well enough to eat their birthday cake.
A couple of pieces Rebecca could choose.

This is the tale of the Williston “triple-lets”
How they react and the things they indulge.
Jonathan, Allison both overdo things, and
Becca – Rebecca – she takes what she gets.

I am working at it

Please forgive me if my poetry wanes a bit over the next “while.” I feel as if NaPoWriMo 2015 exhausted me. For a writer who generally lets things stew a bit before committing them to characters, 31 poems in a row takes it out of you. I don’t know how the poem-a-day folks do it. You could tell by the end of April, I was grasping and relying on simple forms to get me over the line. They might turn into bigger things someday.

Further, I’ve got a lot of life juggling going on right now. The good news is…I’m back to work. YAY! After 9 months of slogging away in the job market (it is no picnic), I received a job offer from where I least expected…and wasn’t even considering- my former employer. I am very grateful and hopeful for a better direction than my previous position offered. I am excited about learning new things. It’s a little weird going back to work at a place from which you were dismissed. Even if the reasons are business/budget/headcount-related – getting let go is painful. But, it is going to be fine.

Just to keep in the habit of writing, I thought I’d post a bit about my unemployment “by the numbers.”

9 months unemployed
which translates to 276 days
1 remodeled/refloored bathroom
3 painted rooms
1 repainted front door
23 donations made to charity via closet and basement cleaning
70 Beanie Babies donated to worthy causes
24 loaves of bread baked
15 new recipes attempted
4 batches of salsa made and consumed
3 batches of green tomato salsa made and consumed
3 batches of tomato sauce made and consumed
1 book of poetry assembled and self-published
> 200 jobs applied for
7 different versions of my resume’
2 site interviews
1 online video interview (weird experience)
7 multiple phone interviews
150 loads of laundry completed
26 VHS home movies copied to digital format
3 seasons of Rat Patrol watched
4 seasons of Warehouse 13 watched
4 weeks employment at a Home Improvement Store
81 blog posts (including 31 days of NaPoWriMo)

I think it was a productive time, though filled with doubt and stress at times. I definitely felt the support of friends and family, especially my wife and two sons.

So, if you are going through something like this: Stay busy, putter, focus on what matters, give yourself some time to grieve and move on, allow yourself some fun, learn something new, don’t give up.

Good things happen all the time.

recurrent

I’m thinking about rivers

and how they flow away
-unsettled-
pressing the tall grass
and shearing
against the shoreline.

How they wash out the mud
and stir up silt
-channeling it all downstream.

Downhill rolling,
carrying the devices
of their own undoing,
they splay out
into the mud flats

stagnant

leaving behind

implements
that shape
and mold
the landscape,

accrued as the water slowly fades.

and somewhere,
a trickle of water
is dreaming of a torrent.

What’s on the horizon?

I’ve always liked horizons.

They hold a lot of picturesque beauty. Whether it’s a mountain range, a sunset on the plains, the moon rising over a cityscape, a thunderstorm over the ocean…you get the picture. And that’s it, isn’t it? The picture – the still life of what is most beautiful in our day or on our journey, the horizon is a promise of something good. We wonder what is there, and how long it will take us to arrive.

I went for a walk one afternoon this past week. The weather was reasonable (for January) and I felt a bit of cabin fever, so I set out on a quick walk on the bike path that weaves through our township. I noticed as I was walking, that my head was always down, looking at the ground just ahead of my step. This was out of necessity, as the winter condition of the path is not good – it’s muddy, and there is a lot of goose poop. We are on the migratory pattern of a multigenerational gaggle and they make a huge mess along the common areas in my neighborhood. Anyway – with my head down- I couldn’t really tell where I was going, I was only focused on where my next step would fall. I trusted that I knew where I was going and I would end up back at my house. But the truth is, if I never looked at the horizon to get a bearing on where I was, or where I was going, I could have ended up in Pennsylvania (it might have taken 2 or 3 days, and I would be incredibly stubborn for not ever getting a reality check on my location).

There is something of a life lesson in this. While going through our daily routine, we tend to focus on the details and tasks – the places where our feet fall to avoid the goose turds and the mud puddles. If we never look up to see a horizon – to view where we want to go and give vision to a dream- some day we’ll stop and look around and realize we have no idea how we got to where we are. There is no memory of places along the way, only memories of steps and missteps, avoiding puddles, and hopping over fresh goose-shit.

I am vowing to look up more at the horizon and to enjoy the view. I might end up with a little more mud on my shoes, but the view will be worth it.

Do you stop to look at the horizon, or are you always trying to avoid the goose-poop?

Bavarian Alps, Germany May 2014

Bavarian Alps, Germany, May 2014

Divination

I’ll set out to find a chair, one that plushly – sitting there-
holds the moments that we share in a room otherwise bare.

One where lounging legs are strewn over armrests- fabric-sewn-
a soft and tufted, royal throne, this chair I dream of…want to own.

A fitting place to read a book over chores we once forsook:
Laundry, cleaning, or to look for recipes you meant to cook.

Would you like to find this seat, where love could coo, thus replete
with passion’s coverlet so sweet – an unobtrusive place to meet?

A cozy, spacious sincere stand, neither is austere nor grand
a sanctum with no harsh demands for time and memories – some unplanned.

Such as that I wish to see- not a fancy couch/settee-
Simply placed, for you and me, a place to live and laugh and be.

chair

Setting anchor means you will stay for awhile

in a place where you must take a ferry
to get to the airport, and there are no
roads into or out of town, one must be
able to deal with the structure of life
as it begins and ends each day. rivers
flow downhill to the ocean, clear fresh
water pushing the salt water away, over a
mile or more off shore. i saw Pegasus made
of ice, half-submerged, attempting to make a
single jump out of the water just ahead of the
whale that spewed a spray from its blowhole, and
in the background, someone says something about a
repositioning – that which moves from place to place
for a need. the waitress has been speaking about her
dreams for travel. she has very white straight teeth
that smile without any help from her red lips. her nails
are neatly manicured with fleshtone polish, a continuous
shade. The sea is blue when the sun is out. i want to know
to know how she does it; how she remains in such an isolated
place and look up to ask the question. hanging from her neck is
a silver and onyx pendant with an anchor embossed on the front
and i understand.