On Writing Poetry for Fame and Fun

A couple of years ago I enrolled in some WordPress classes. They were free, and served to help in learning the WP system, and meeting new like-minded people online. Short stories, flash-fiction, various forms of poetry, and educational or informative opinion pieces. Photography classes were fun and instructional. All of the classes were interactive, no pressure—there was a daily assignment and interactive chat rooms and commentary. Students were free to do a project that was “assigned,” do something else, skip the exercise altogether. There was no judging, no right or wrong, everybody’s work was respected no matter what.

My favorite was Poetry Class. I suppose I learned some poetry forms back in literature classes in high school, but most of that information I either ignored or filed away back in my file-cabinet-brain. To this day I love reading poems out loud. There is something about poetic meter that is as deep as song, and pulls me out of the doldrums or self-pity-dumps within my soul.

My favorite example is in these first six lines of the classic account of the famous (if factually lacking) poem by e.e.cummings.

The first poetry that comes to mind to this very day is e.e.cummings’ classic account of the famous (if factually lacking) poem about Christopher Columbus. Hear are the first six lines

(Here we go: let our eyes glide over the words of the opening line::)
“In fourteen hundred and ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.”

(Now, let’s try it again, with emphasis:)
” In FOURteen HUNdred NINEty Two
ColUMbus SAILed the OCean BLUE!
He HAD three SHIPS and SAILED from SPAIN
He SAILED through SUNshine, WIND and RAIN
He SAILED by NIGHT; he SAILED by DAY;
He USED the STARS to FIND his WAY.”

Doesn’t that metered rhyme add a poke and a jog to the reading?

[to be continued…]

The World According to Me– Part 3 of “Who am I?”(originally posted 3-21-15)

{Having outlined important features of my life at Age 6, and again at Age 11… through early childhood,  into World War II and out by age 11, what follows here is a rather well-edited version  of the highlights of my life during the decade of 1945-1955.}

[THE END OF WWII ]

On the last day of World War II, when the armistice was signed with the Japanese, the official word report for that the war was indeed over, came from 11-year-old-Me…at least for my elderly neighbor, Mr. Myers.  I proudly delivered the news report, standing in the front yard.  He was the only person that I actually discussed the war’s end with, as my parents were not into talking of important world issues with kids.

Next followed several years of childhood and Junior High.  This half dozen years or so was a very difficult time in my life, in which my school life was marked by depression and questionable educational progress.  The less said about that era the better.

[THE LIBRARY BOOKMOBILE]

One of my favorite good memories was of the library Bookmobile.   There was not a branch of the regional public library in our town, but the Bookmobile did come around once a week.   It parked in an area at the center of town, behind or adjacent to a new car dealership.  During the war car sales had slowed to a stop, and it was a couple of years before new vehicles began to appear–once the resources and manpower needed to produce new cars became available as the soldiers returned from the war front and went to work in the factories again.

Anyway, the Bookmobile was a highlight of my young life.  The vehicle was an old bus that had been made over into a make-shift library, with shelves built into the sides and some portable shelves that were moved out into the  parking lot when the weather permitted.   Even today I can recall choosing books from the shelves, with guidance from the librarian, who was kind and liked to read.   She knew about books and the types of books children liked to read, and supervised the avoidance of inappropriate materials.

I seem to recall sitting on the steps at the entrance to the Bookmobile, but that memory may be an embellishment of my active imagination.  At any rate I sat there and read for hours, and always went home carrying an armload of books that the library lady had approved and recommended.  My library card was one of my favorite possessions, and my goal was to read every book in the Bookmobile.  I modified that goal shortly to include reading all of the books on certain shelves stocked with age-appropriate materials.

When the Bookmobile was not there, I had another hang-out where I could go and spend afternoons–high in a cherry tree in the field at the back of our half-acre lot.  That tree was a refuge and a joy for me, as I was the only person in the world who knew about that particular tree.

But I want to get on with it, and so I’ll skip to junior and early high school.

[THE COLD WAR]

Although The War was over, the Cold War had begun.  This time the enemy was the Russians, or more specifically the dreaded Communists of the Soviet Union, and Red China.   We kids and teenagers were still very well aware that we were within the easy sights of instant annihilation, and soon there was another war demanding our allegiance–this one in Korea.    My primary remembrance was the Korean War (er…”conflict,” it was never a declared war) was that a lot of our schoolmate boys joined the service as soon as they could, and one of my best friends…a mild-mannered red-haired guy who went off and never came back–died when  the army tank he was riding in over in Korea  hit a land-mine and exploded.    The military draft was in effect, and many of the boys in our school joined up with one of the branches of the service.   It was permitted for them to quit school at age 16 as long as they went into the military.  My brother joined the U.S.Navy at age 17.   My boyfriend, who would later become my husband later, quit school and  joined the army, but was sent to Germany instead of Korea.

MARRIAGE OR CAREER?

The first half of the 1950s saw us growing up, and the girls all got jobs in offices or shops, although a few did manage to go off to college to   There really were not any other viable choices for girls: nurse, teacher, secretary.   Oh, there was also the opportunity to join one of the Womens’ Services: the WACs, WAVEs, SPARS…with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard.

I wonder now why I never thought of joining up myself.  It would have been a great job and something that I would jump at the chance––NOW–-to do.  Well, I could have gone to nursing school I guess, but my nonexistent math skills and absolute disinterest in school in general would have made that option unlikely.

A word about Girls of the era:  it was common to be planning one’s wedding at the same time as graduation.  A few girls got –OMG, pregnant– which completely destroyed any educational aspirations.  Even high school was out of the question.   Most of us who did NOT get into “trouble” and graduated high school were sent off to work in offices.  At least I did have secretarial skills which landed me a job and provided a respectable occupation.  Typing and Shorthand were the skills to have.  I did not qualify as a stenographer (who was proficient in secretarial skills–especially Gregg Shorthand, which was a mark of distinction.)  I was classified as a “clerk-typist,” which was higher rank than “file clerk,” but not as high as “secretary” or “stenographer.”

[OVERSEAS AS AN ARMY WIFE]

In 1954 I got engaged, got married in August, and on Christmas Day 1955 landed in Bremerhaven, Germany to meet a train which transported me to Frankfurt, and Giessen, and a U. S. Army base  in a small town called Butzbach.     I was 21 years old when I went to Germany on a troop ship which had been partially converted to transport officers and dependents.

That was an experience…at 21 I had no clue.  Spoke only a little bit of German, and had never been farther away from home than about ten miles.   The trip across the Atlantic Ocean was wonderful…I spent every waking moment on deck soaking in the atmosphere of the sea air and the turquoise water churning at the bow of the ship.  I absolutely loved that journey, and while my fellow dependent wives languished in their small cabins or crowded “theaters” aboard ship, I stayed on deck as much as possible.  My tiny cabin was shared with two other women, and two two-year-olds in cribs.  Yikes!

My German never did get beyond some rudimentary grammar and basic Berlitz self-study.  We lived in a German apartment for one week, maybe two, then moved into U.S.Army quarters into a brand new apartment building in Butzbach, near Giessen.   Most of the people I came in contact with were Americans, except in the commissary (grocery store) and shop-keepers, most of whom spoke English.   My two closest friends were American wives from US southern states, one of whom was still quite incensed at General Sherman’s March to the Sea after the U.S. Civil War… not the best company for a Yankee gal like me.

We played a lot of Scrabble, Canasta, and Pinochle…especially when the troops/husbands were out on maneuvers and we wives were left to entertain ourselves.

I often remember with some regret that my year and a half in Germany was pretty much squandered, in that my interaction with the Germans pretty much involved buying things… haben sie haferflocken? (Do you have oatmeal?)  And ordering and paying for things like bread, rolls (still warm, hung in plastic bags on our doorknobs,) and beer.  (Yummy beer, in green bottles with the bale stoppers…delivered by the case to our apartment door.)

That was also my introduction to hostility…as the locals were not crazy about Americans in general, and snotty young-girl-wife Americans who showed up to re-claim their soldier-husbands in general.  When we got to the area  there were still burned out buildings and huge piles of rubble everywhere in the cities, children that did not want anything to do with us, old lady widows dressed in black…riding bicycles…who hated our guts.     The town near us was especially bombed-out, as according to local lore, some American fliers were killed by farmers armed with pitch-forks as they parachuted from their shot-down planes.  The story was that the allied planes on return flights from Frankfurt back to London routinely “saved a bomb for [the town].”    Very logical, and the town was really in shambles.

In March of 1957 my husband and I returned to the States, via the MATS, Military Air Transportation Service, because I was pregnant.  I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to returning to the States by ship.  The plane ride (I think my second flight ever) was long and boring–and we didn’t even have a window to look at the Atlantic Ocean.     We retrieved our car from the port in New Jersey, then drove home to Ohio, enroute to new military orders shipping us to Fort Hood, Texas.

Thus began the next phase of My Life…

coming up soon…GRADMAMA2011

Me and The War, reblog, Part 2 of Who am I to have an About Page?

[This post was the second installment of the life history of… well, Me. The first time it appeared was in 2015. For my VCBs: Very Cool Bloggers, this post will be a re-run, please bear with me if you’ve read it before, and please enjoy it if its new.]


In the first installment of this feature, Who Am I to have an About Page? https://mumbletymuse.com/so-who-am-I-to-have-an-About-Page-?/   I started out as a newcomer to the world on a Friday the 13th, and by the end of Part One I had been to California and back, eaten part of a persimmon and part of a gourd, and had finished Kindergarten.  Which pretty much sets the stage for the second part of my life story.

Part Two:        ME AND THE WAR

That would be the Second World War, WWII, The Big One– the catalyst for the rise to world dominance of the United States.  I was eleven when the war ended in 1945, and I must say that I was one patriotic little girl.  I was so proud of the accomplishments of my country, in which we had emerged mostly safe and sound (those of us who had not been killed during the war years, of course) and had the distinction of being THE leader of the Free World.

But let me skip the rhetoric and get on with MY part of the War, which began in 1941…along with the arrival of my baby sister when I was eight and a half years old; my brother was six.  It was just us three until near the end of the war in 1945, when another sister joined our merry band.

One thing I recall about grade school is that there was a Congresswoman who regularly was permitted to leave fliers advertising her prowess in the U.S. Congress on our school desks.  She would come in and talk to us about how important it was for our parents to vote for her. Despite having been told, on my very first day of first grade,  by the teacher to “go home and never come back again,” as I explained to my parents when they picked me up walking home from school about an hour after classes began,  I did indeed continue with my education.  I remember well the adventures of Dick and Jane, Baby, and Spot, the stars of our first level readers.

The main thing going on everywhere was THE WAR.   We went to the movie theaters, and were treated to black and white newsreels showing bombs dropping from airplanes, Hitler’s marching troops in huge showy choreographed formations, and in-coming shipments of USA- flag-covered coffins.  We recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and read The Weekly Reader, a newspaper produced especially for school children at various levels. My grandfather taught me about television.  He had a floor-model radio, which had a large window area for tuning various stations on the radio, and he said that some day, after the war, we would be able to look at windows like that and see actual movies and real people talking and singing and the like.   I was properly impressed…this was undoubtedly the source of my great love of electronic stuff.

Then the newspapers, The Cleveland Press, The News, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer told us every day how many soldiers had been killed in battle, and kept us well informed about the terrible evil enemies of the United States on all areas of the world.   Toward the end of the war there was news about Hitler’s atrocities, and the Japanese cities evaporated by TWO atomic bombs.  The pictures were everywhere in magazines and newspapers. The newsreels at the movies were relentless in presenting the horrors of war, and these were incomprehensible to American kids, who had thankfully never had bombs dropped on them.

Movies themselves, presented on monster screens in huge movie theaters that always reminded me of palaces (not that I had ever been in a palace) also presented the great block-buster films of the 40s…complete with horror stories about the war. So this brings Me to the end of the Great War, and the beginning of the phenomenon known as THE COLD WAR.

The newspapers treated us to daily headlines screaming of annihilation and pending doom.  A particularly horrible series presented by the newspapers contained in part a huge bulls-eye, with segments indicating the extent of the death shadow that marked Cleveland…with its four NIKE missile sites forming at once a horrible defense capability of retaliation.  The center of the bulls-eye, of course, meant instant end to everything…out in the suburbs the threat lessened sequentially until by a distance of thirty miles out some percentage of life might survive.

BUT that survival would depend on bomb shelters, which might delay death by radiation by a couple of weeks. As children we were conversationally proficient about hydrogen bombs, pros and cons of including guns among bomb shelter supplies, and just how bad radiation poisoning was. So that was pretty much what one little girl knew about THE WAR… The next era of MY ABOUT PAGE    will be coming up soon:  THE 1950s

please stay tuned…

Writings from the past

On my “writing shelf” there is an assortment of notebooks and journals, which surface now and then and entice my writers’ eye to once again peruse the long forgotten, ignored, or awaiting rediscovery, and perhaps publication, of some of my literary works of yore.

As I struggle to surface from my self-imposed sabbatical, or writer’s sulk… it occurs to me that these scraps and bits of pencil-scribbled wisdom, born of a deep need for self- expression, may deserve to be brought to a venue where they may be read if anyone chooses to do so.

Word for Writers:
The worst thing you’ll ever write
is better than
the best thing you’ll never write.
(Sol Saks)

…………………………………………………………

This item was part of an exercise designed to find a point to start writing. In the center of a page write a word…this one I used was AFRAID. Then connect with arrows various thoughts pertaining to the key word, until a viable prompt starts your writing. (This was February 23, 1984)

Here’s my effort, using the word “Fear” as my prompt:

“The biggest fear I have is that I may run out of time to do what I must, which is simply, to write—that the day that marks the end of my life will come and I will say “no—not yet!” I’m afraid of sadness, of my own feelings of inadequacy…of the sadness of my children…the inability to do those things that I want to do, yet not to find the time—or inclination to do so. To be, to write, to fulfill my own destiny. I spend too much time worrying about the “children” who are not children at all, but worrying about them, yet most of all worrying about myself and the fear of not becoming what I must become.”

That’s it, what I wrote back then. 46 years ago! Good grief. Today those children are grown…so are their children, and THEIR children are teenagers. I still worry about them all, though they are no longer my personal responsibility. I still worry about my self-proclaimed goal as a “Writer.” Yes I have been a writer of sorts all through my life, at times even a professional newspaper writer. Now I’m a blogger…and I worry and fret about not writing.

Yep, the more we change the more we stay the same.

………………………………………………………

{More from the Green Notebook:]

I had just acquired my first computer in 1983, and I was enamored of it to the point of writing this:

“What does a square, cold, metal blox with a few strange things called “chips.” offer to a middle-aged woman? The answer is … the future, the past, the beginning and the end.”

That ancient Kaypro II was really was all that to me. I supported my five kids for awhile single-handedly as a single mom, as a newspaper reporter. Earned supplemental income as a newspaper writer. Then worked my way through my college degrees … and even now I blog and write. Not the same computer all those years of course…I’ve never been without since that first machine arrived.

The rise of the machines has had real meaning to me all through the last four decades…and beyond. In fact one of my early blogging attempts is extant, entitled “Rise of the Machines” or something like that here on Sometimes. A search of “computers” should locate it.

This is fun, I think I’ll do some more meandering backwards through my notebooks and computer disks… I’m having some writers’ block issues after my almost four years of “not writing much.” I love being back at SOMETIMES, and getting reacquainted with many of the “old gang” of the bloggersphere…

children are

My 2018 cat shelter (Part I)

Time to update the outside cat shelter.  Lots of straw, tarps, assorted crates and wood…and a big table… plus more to come.

Barbara, for faithful followers’ information, is the wild Calico Cat that lives outside and was rarely seen…until the greenhouse where she hung out for years was torn down last spring, leaving poor Barbara rather confused and homeless.    But now she has apparently decided to move into the shelter on my back deck.  She is not afraid of me, and comes out when I call her name.  All of the cats locally defer to and respect “crazy Barbara” as she is sometimes called…they make room at the food dish and water pan, and apparently tolerate the tough old lady.

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Barbara, an old soldier, three feet, feral, numerous kittens. Bad foot is from being hit by a car, we didn’t know until later.

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This guy doesn’t really live here, but is a frequent visitor who apparently likes the food..

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Fluffy staked out this nest early on.

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An early arrangement, under temporary cover.

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This big grey tarp from “mail away” covers the entire deck and stays up year round. There will be at least one more heavy tarp draped over the umbrella. The temps could get down to Zero degrees Fahrenheit later in the winter…or not. This is Ohio, we try to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

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early rain protection, the plants have moved into the house.

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under construction

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This is the house the APL Lady, Joyce, made a few years ago. It was Peggy’s house but now two or three cats call it home. It’s a big tub like for Christmas trees. I put new straw inside this year, and checked out the inside…very impressive, built with ledges and windows to allow light, fully lined with insulation.

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Fluffy

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View from the kitchen, the shelter will include the swing, several tarps and assorted boxes. It was still green outside when I took this shot.

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a view inside, the light in back of the tarps is coming from heavy plastic “windows” in the back of the right side, so it isn’t just a dark hole.

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The (R) edge of the tarp will come down to anchor the main part of the shelter.

 

Cat Decisions

 

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Now what?

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Pearl isn’t sure.

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Bob considers the situation.

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say what?

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Closer, so we don’t have to shout

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Time for a nap.

(photos ©Sometimes,2018)  The colors in these shots are overwhelmed by the bright sunlight coming in the windows…except for Pearl, who is completely black and requires different camera settings to see her face.   The green paint is prettier than it appears, but could use a fresh coat of paint.   (The very thought of painting scares me!    and yes, I know we should have painted before we put the flooring down.   yikes!)

No more kittens…but here’s a possibility

 

The latest kittens from next door.   Barbara has been featured in this blog before…she is a rough and tumble lady that appeared from thin air long ago; she lived in the now defunct greenhouse across the road.   Not sure where she lives now, she is very illusive.

[all photos ©Sometimes, 2018}

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going next door

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Barbara, an old soldier, three feet, feral, numerous kittens. Bad foot is from being hit by a car, we didn’t know until later.   Approach at yer own risk!

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Little Sister kitten

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Barbara & Son

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Here he is: Little Grey

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Little Grey posing

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beautiful markings

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hmmm…what’s over here?

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Nosy Little Grey

A Word About Words From the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary remains THE word bible of the English language.   The OED is available online, with a Word-of-the-Day feature to which one can subscribe without cost.   A full subscription is beyond my budget, and I do respect the OED’s the prohibition against re-posting in its entirety.   Anyone can subscribe to the daily word post  through the OED web site at http://www.oed.com/ to receive the without-cost daily.

Often these selected words grab my attention for various reasons, not only to find out what they mean, but also as discussion topics.

A recent word that intrigued me especially is  —  dis-candy — which means literally liquifying or melting candy (lemon drops, or life savers for example,) from its candied/solid state to the sticky gooey mess that sticks to everything when melted.

Shakespeare used the word to good advantage, with a metaphorical meaning, as taking the overly-sweet or romantic useage of cleaning up “purple prose” or misplaced or just overstated descriptions in a line of poetry or speech.    English teachers often like to “dis-candy” students’ writing.

My wonder isn’t really the word itself, but the prefix (DIS -candy. )    Some substance that starts out as a sticky-sweet solid that  deteriorates into a liquid, or disappears; or a cringe-worthy saccharine sweetness in speech or prose.     Upon consideration I suppose that (DE-candy) would have a different connotation, perhaps meaning some of the  ingredients or adjectives of said substance (i.e. lollypop,) or line of spoken words would be present originally, but removed from the final product never having existed.

Beside the point, neither of my two little desk go-to-dictionaries: The New Oxford Spelling Dictionary, 2014;   nor  The Merriam Webster Dictionary New Edition, 2004 include the word dis-candy.     My criteria for go-to-dictionaries is that they are small paperbacks that sit on a shelf above my computer and can be retrieved with one hand.