Home again

Hi everyone,
Spent Saturday on the road and decided to dine in that night (in Grenada, Mississippi) on cheese, crackers, and dip. Not the best meal, but not so bad after so many hours in the car, and safer than going out. We arrived in Springfield yesterday afternoon. Two months in Florida were good but it’s always wonderful to turn into our driveway again and see Goose Lake waiting. We were blessed to have Robin and Jeff join us for the last of our stay at the condo to help make new memories. And Jeff drove all 800+ miles of the trip back to Springfield. Talk about a gift!

Today it’s back in the wheel for me. Progress so far on the Rasinski/Fresch books has been steady and on schedule, but I’ll have several activities in the coming weeks that may slow things a bit. As announced earlier, I won’t be posting much for a while but will be in touch as I can.

Still smiling

Hi everyone,

I had a fine day yesterday celebrating my birthday with Sandy, Robin, and Jeff. Thank you, Tim, for loaning us your wife, and thank you, Jennifer, for loaning us your husband. And thank you to everybody who took the time to send me birthday wishes. I did the best I could to keep up but if I missed thanking you, forgive me. I loved each and every one.

Associating for the fun of it

Hi everyone,

I’ve written about the use of association to discover ideas for stories and poems. You start with a single word and make a list of 6-10 other words and phrases it reminds you of; choose one word from the first list to start a second list and jot down 6-10 words and phrases that one makes you think of; choose one word from that second list to start a third one and list 6-10 words and phrases that word makes you think of. Normally it doesn’t take long to finish three lists and have a total of 18-30 subjects to consider. It’s a quick way to charge your imagination and find something you want to explore further with a poem or story or perhaps a nonfiction piece in mind.

But this exercise also makes an entertaining mental game when you need something to do for a few minutes. Like this: Last night Sandy and I ate lakeside at a table between our two hackberry trees. While we ate and talked, I noticed what first appeared to be a small toad perched among the leaves of the tree closest to us. “I see a toad in that tree,” I told Sandy. “It’s a leaf,” she said.

I immediately thought of Valine Hobbs’s wonderful poem, “One day when we went walking.”
One day when we went walking,
I found a dragon’s tooth,
A dreadful dragon’s tooth.
“A locust thorn,” said Ruth.

I was in the first house we ever owned. It had three levels, was brand new, and an elf peeked out at me from its hiding place in the grain of the the door leading down to the lowest level. It didn’t reveal its presence to everyone. To some it was merely a swirl in the wood. I was in the back yard, putting up the fancy swing/play set we bought the kids. I’m not blessed with natural talent for assembling such things and Robin and Jeff’s help didn’t help. Years later I would record that event in CONNECTING DOTS.

SONG OF THE SWINGSET

The three-headed creature
huddles together in the yard.

In the space between the big head
and the instructions on the grass,
the helper heads bob in and out.

The three-headed creature sings to itself
two simple songs at once.

When are we going to get to swing?
Stop playing with the screwdriver.
When are we going to get to swing?
Where did you drop the washers?
When are we going to get to swing?
Let’s look for Section C.
When are we going to get to swing?
Why don’t you play with Mommy?

In that same back yard on a different day, Robin splashed some gasoline in her eye and screamed with pain and panic. I grabbed her in my arms and raced around the side of the house, through the garage, and to the back door. It was locked. I broke through it and got water into my daughter’s eye in time to soothe the pain and prevent damage. I watched Sandy’s concern and was in a hospital room in Atlanta.

WAITING FOR ROBIN

Eyes wide
She stares at the ceiling.

“You all right?”
Dumb thing to say,
Of course she’s not,
But what can I do?

She grabs my hand
With startling strength,
Hair plastered, face wet.

Should I kiss her?
Bad time.
She looks at me
From somewhere else.

Waiting for Robin
Is all there
In my wife’s eyes

Sandy. I was in high school. I had an awful crush on this girl who stopped me in the hall. Sandy was fifteen and selling raffle tickets for a puppy to raise money for her sorority.

THE WINNER

“Buy a ticket?”
She’s smiling at me.

I smile back,
hoping to say the right thing.
“What do I win?”

“Maybe a puppy.
It’s for a good cause.”

(Stalling for time),
“Promise I’ll win?”

Her eyes tease,
“How could you lose?”

I think to myself,
It’s not the puppy
I’m interested in.
I already feel like a winner.

I’m sitting at a table beside the lake in Springfield. How long was I gone? Seconds, no more. Sandy, mother of our wonderful adult Robin and Jeff, takes a sip of wine, tells me my toad is a leaf. She believes what she believes. I chew my food, wink at the leaf. The leaf winks back.