Friday, July 17, 2015

The House that Jack Built

The things we earn along the way are not always what we expect to learn.

In the middle of a reader's theater project the most unexpected thing I learned was that children under ten cannot hold a binder with one arm comfortably. Therefore it is hard to hold a script with one hand and turn pages with another.

Also, while reader's theater is prop and costume free, it is not without it's own set of challenges, the least being the actual reading skills of the children. My class consists of excellent readers, even the youngest, who cannot read fluently but certainly keeps up his end of the part by memorizing and lip syncing with the others.

I also think I figured out who Jack is. If you're interested check out the poem The House that Jack Built and see if you agree. Then place your comment here.

It Takes a Village

If Hillary Clinton is - hey whatever happened to the Rodham? - famous for one thing it is the phrase that begins like this. She didn't make it up, but rather used an African proverb for the title of her book by that name.

I'm going to pirate it once again to make a point in another direction.

It takes a village to keep an American comfortable.

Having been a comfortable American for over five decades, and having traveled to the Middle East and Europe I feel quite certain that comfort is the core of the American dream. One of the first things that jarred me to reality while visiting foreign shores is that there are certain things I feel accustomed to enjoying that are exclusively American. Many of these are indeed enjoyed all over the world, but not to the extent that I have taken for granted here at home, nor were they available to the generations before me.

Each morning when I wake up, I can count on the following:

A state of the art sewage system will quietly take care of my morning's business
The water from my tap has been through countless filters and is certifiably drinkable
Electricity is delivered to every outlet and appliance in my house
24/7 internet is available
Phone service is uninterrupted
Weekly garbage trucks remove refuse and monthly street sweepers clean my street
The mail is delivered 6 days a week to a box that is secure
If I call 911 someone will answer, emergency staff is on the way
There is an abundant supply of fresh food at competitive prices at my grocery store
The streets I drive on are equipped with traffic lights that prevent accidents by controlling the flow of traffic
There are at least seven churches within a five mile radius of my house, all of whom operate without government restriction
There are gas stations in every point of the city, with pumps that are regularly inspected
I will be notified regarding my voting place and registration
A local library holds nearly any book I want to borrow, for free, without censure
I may choose any number of schools in the area for my child
I may sell my personal items out of my own garage
I enjoy free speech wherever I go
My bank is backed by the federal government and I enjoy a free checking account
Public bathrooms are free

These amenities of my modern life  represent tens of thousands of everyday Americans doing their job, often without thanks. I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to the unseen person, for the internet call center person who resets my box, the post office person who sorts my mail, the electrician who wired my house 30 years ago, the dispatcher for the garbage company, the engineer who planned my local streetlights, the school board chairperson who oversees education in my area, the person who cleans the MacDonald's bathroom, the person who keeps the gas pumps safe, the anonymous donor to the library - I'm just scratching the surface...

You get my point. I am indebted to so many that I will never see. Living in the lap of luxury sometimes finds me grumpy when only one of these things temporarily hits a snag. Wow. Really? I'm resetting my attitude of gratitude here and now.

Count me one thankful American in the village.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Partial Disclosure

Nothing gets me doing housework like planning to write.

There are a thousand things to be done before I sit down. This is why, perhaps, I am not a currently publishing author.

Lest you get the wrong impression and think that my house is always clean, I feel I must offer a disclaimer in fairness to, well, truly clean housekeepers everywhere. Wherever they are. I usually stay away out of guilt.

I learned a new word last month. I shall use it here if only by example. If you can guess the word (I did manage to throw it onto social media once, so if you follow me you may have read it) please do comment and let me know.

So about the writing. (currently exhibiting new word)

A free verse poem ran around in my head as I was walking the dog at the park, which is by the way an excellent place to write as an alternative to actually sitting down at a keyboard, music or otherwise. This is inspired by one of my daughters, whose own writing craft cuts like an exacto through life's most poignant moments.

I offer a rough draft here:

It's a long road
that road with bridesmaid dresses
Friday nights with dinner for one
moments of dire self-doubt
going places to see things
to find people
and shaking the dust from the boys that walked away off your feet

But I traveled it once

At the end of it I found myself 
sitting across from your father
learning that he was Mr. Right
perfect for me?

Keep walking 

I would be lying if I said that I didn't thank God for the boys that walked away. Not because I didn't love them, but because they were doing the right thing, only we can rarely see that when our eyes are clouded by tears.

This is perhaps the reason I try to do anything other than write. It turns your life inside out for the scrutiny of your readers.  I think I have a floor I need to vacuum.