Friday, August 29, 2014

Holiday at Home Parade

Labor Day weekend. School was right around the corner. Which meant autumn was coming, falling leaves, and change.

But things would never be different.

Freshman year I was a nerd. As a sophomore I was a more experienced nerd. Junior year I entered school thinking halfway done, only 2 more years of being an ostracized nerd. Finally as a senior, I knew it was my last year. I'd never be popular but forever a nerd. But at least a nerd on her way out.

The only good thing about Labor Day weekend was the Holiday at Home Parade. I looked forward to getting there early and finding a seat along the curb. Friends of my parents lived close to the parade route, so I rode up to their house and parked my bike in their garage. The Centerville Elks marching band and Coed Drill team would be in the parade along with both Fairmont high schools, East and West. Schools from as far as West Carrollton and even ones from Dayton, the big city, might show up. There were the floats and people I had no idea of who they were in convertibles, waving. The Shriners, clowns in miniature cars came by tooting their horns and tossing candy into the crowds. The Shriners also had a bagpipe corp. I often wondered if the guys minded wearing kilts. In fact, the Shriner took up a large section of the parade.

Somewhere in the procession came the mounted police and after the mounted police came the street cleaners!

Several cars carried the Holiday at Home parade court with the Queen and several princesses. I never once knew anyone elected. Or were you born royalty. That's something else I thought about.

I can't recall a time that the parade was cancelled or rained out. In my memory it is always sunny, the parade going on forever, until at last people filed into the street carrying lawn chairs and pulling coolers. Time to go home, turn on the Jerry Lewis telethon, and prepare for the next day. The first day of school.

for the history of the Holiday at Home Parade go HERE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If These Walls Could Talk


I’ve been busy working on another e-book related to writing—and always am intrigued by prompts or how writers can trick themselves into producing something we wouldn’t normally think of.

There is an on-line journal asking for submissions of 375 words maximum—but here’s the catch:
dialogue only.
Dialogual publishes quality dialogue-only stories.
Any genre, except erotica.
However, we do not take anything that has been accepted before, or that has appeared on blogs or similar sites. In other words, we want fresh material. We are looking for stories that say something, but we are not looking for one-liners, two-liners or whatever else-liners. That's only a small punchline best left for something else.
Also, refrain from sending things that tell, such as "Janice said," or "Brian advised."
Basically, anything that is not dialogue-only will not be accepted, regardless of how good it may be. 
We publish two to four times a month, on Thursdays. 
You can send up to 3 pieces. Times New Roman, 12, double spaces, no indents. doc, docx, rtf, odt.
Simultaneous submissions are in okay.
There are also a few themed months. Valentine's February, April's Jokers, Sci-Fi September, Halloween October, and Christmas December.
So take the dialogue challenge. Can you write a story or scene using only dialogue? This kind of challenge is also helpful in establishing “voice”—something essential to strong narrative stories.

Also my writing group partner Claudia Martinez is doing a give-away for her new book, Pig Park.


Here are the details on how to win a copy--the official release date is September 16th. But the give-away is only 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Washing Clothes



Sort of in a sentimental mood today. As I mentioned last week my anniversary is coming up. Twenty-eight years. So I composed this as a tribute, not so much autobiographical but a poetic imagining.

We’ve had a life.


I was thinking about it the other day when I was washing clothes. I took them warm out of the dryer and quick picked the shirts out of the basket. I like to snap them by the shoulders to make sure the wrinkles fall out. I drape them over a bar or hang them on hangars.


We’ve seen and done a lot. 


The hems of his pants are frayed, and we’re both going to need to upgrade our wardrobe just as soon as there’s money. I matched the socks and was careful to fold them over so the elastic doesn’t get stretched out.

Just the other day, he remarked what an old couple we are. Not too old, I replied.

It wasn’t too long ago I was trying to get baby barf out of the shoulders of my shirts or washing tiny bibs stiff with rice cereal or rubbing Fels-Naptha into grass-stained knees. She’s doing fine now and washing her own clothes, though I wouldn’t mind if she dropped by for a visit and brought her dirty laundry.


There’s a ghost-ring around the collar and discoloration at the armpits. Not so old that we still can’t work. 


A lot of hard work to make a marriage. I know quite a few couples who haven’t made it. Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of luck, a roll of the dice, the stars lining up. I hold a t-shirt up to my cheek and smell the lavender, the spring, the ocean tide or whatever fragrance the box claims. But I know the truth. There is something I can’t put my finger on.


The blood, sweat, and tears. It smells so sweet.
                                         Making Pies--Patty Griffin

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Campsite #7 Newport State Park

So we went away for the weekend and outside of coming home to find out my computer had re-started and Internet Explorer had replaced Firefox as my default browser--everything went fine. Great, in fact!

I got several signs. One of which was before we even left and I was packing up the car. It was early and no one was around when I saw 2 cardinals on the fire escape, a male and a female. My husband wasn't quite convinced. What were they doing? he asked. I wasn't sure what the right answer was, so I responded: mating.

Then while swimming in our own private cove on Lake Michigan I saw a bald eagle fly over and settle in the tree top of a dead tree. He watched out over me.

The weather was so perfect--perhaps even a bit on the chilly side--which made nighttime fires so pleasant.




The above pic shows a hearty oatmeal I prepared over an open fire with thimble berries growing wild in bushes around our campsite added in!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

28 and 28 more and 28 more after that

My wedding anniversary is rolling around--the first week in September. This weekend my husband and I are planning a camping get-away. We actually spent our 15th wedding anniversary at the same place--a few days after 9/11. It was a crazy time, to say the least. You felt like anything could happen--because it had. The unthinkable.

We were out by ourselves in the dark woods, which sounds romantic, except not right after being attacked. Well, not me, but the US of A. I was still working through a lot of emotions. And, though, you might think it would be great to get away from the endless news cycle and media loops showing the two towers falling, turning to dust, and thousands of New Yorkers fleeing on foot--it also had the affect of making me feel stranded, without a safety net.

All I wanted was to know everything was going to turn out okay. But I had a feeling nothing was ever going to be the same.

Thirteen years later, we now know that was exactly the case. Two unresolved wars later and after hundreds of thousands of deaths nothing good has come from that blue-sky day when planes rammed into the Twin Towers.

I remember camping by a cove on the shores of Lake Michigan, beneath pine trees. An idyllic spot not withstanding the internal turmoil and fear. It was hard to forget what had just happened. Every moment felt like I was standing on a precipice.

And then, one morning we awoke and not too far out on the water were fifteen pairs of swans. It seemed to be some kind of message. Fifteen for each year we'd been married and cool because I knew swans mated for life. Were the gods of the universe trying to tell me something? I chose to believe they were.

So now, on our 28th wedding anniversary, I'm looking for another sign. We live in turbulent times of financial meltdowns, of aging and dying parents, of our kids struggling to make their way. Nothing is for sure. I guess it never has been. Marriage, especially. So we go hoping for more swans, loons, or maybe a family of racoons. Or simply nice weather.

Thank you universe, cosmos, super moons.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ugly Mugs

Hey! Check out my guest blog called Ugly Mugs at In Some Measure.




AND go out and enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Migrant Mother—She Has a Name



My experience on a clean-up at Lollapalooza this past weekend has helped to remind me of that iconic Dorothea Lange photograph that became known as Migrant Mother. 
  
Dorothea Lange was contracted by the Farm Security Administration from 1935 to 1939 to bring to the nation’s attention the plight of sharecroppers, displaced farm families, and migrant workers. Lange was funded by the federal government and had no rights to the pictures nor did she collect royalties. The Library of Congress titled the photo “Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California.” Lange’s own notes were sketchy and riddled with errors. In 10 minutes she took 6 images and left. She never got the subjects names—only the woman’s age, 32.

It was a photograph that would change lives.

Notices had been sent out for pickers but when the workers showed up they learned the pea harvest had been destroyed by freezing rain. There would be no harvest nor wages for the 2,500 to 3,500 in the migrant camp already starving. Within days, the response from the sorrowful photo rallied the public and the camp received 20,000 pounds of food from the federal government.

The anonymous family in the picture by then was long gone. One of the things Lange got wrong was that the woman and her children were waiting in the camp for her husband and the men folk to come back with parts to fix their broken down truck. True enough she was a migrant worker, just not at that camp. Lange photographed the woman and her 5 children—truth be told she had a total of 10.

It took 45 years for someone to think about tracking down the woman and identifying her. In 1978, a reporter from the Modesto Bee found the Migrant Mother in a trailer park outside Modesto, California.
This from Wikipedia:

Florence Owens Thompson was born Florence Leona Christie on September 1, 1903, in Indian Territory, Oklahoma. Her father, Jackson Christie, had abandoned her mother, Mary Jane Cobb, before Florence was born, and her mother remarried Charles Akman (of Choctaw descent) in spring, 1905. The family lived on a small farm in Indian Territory outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
17 year-old Florence married Cleo Owens (a 23 year-old farmer's son from Stone County, Mississippi) on February 14, 1921. They soon had their first daughter, Violet, followed by a second daughter, Viola, and a son, Leroy. The family migrated west with other Owens’ relatives to Oroville, California where they worked in the saw mills and on the farms of the Sacramento Valley. By 1931, Florence was pregnant with her sixth child when her husband Cleo died of tuberculosis. Florence subsequently worked in the fields and in restaurants to support her six children.[2] In 1933 Florence had another child, returned to Oklahoma for a time, and then was joined by her parents as they migrated to Shafter, California north of Bakersfield. There Florence met Jim Hill, with whom she had three more children. During the 1930s the family worked as migrant farm workers following the crops in California, and sometimes into Arizona. Florence would later recall times in which she would pick 400-500 pounds of cotton from first daylight until after it was too dark to work. She added, “I worked in hospitals. I tended bar. I cooked. I worked in the fields. I done a little bit of everything to make a living for my kids.”

The family settled in Modesto, California in 1945. Well after World War II, Florence met and married hospital administrator George Thompson, which, compared to the previous years of toil, brought more security.

That is sure one hard-luck story. Right out of the pages of The Grapes of Wrath. She had one of the most recognizable faces and yet no one knew who she was. She was a famous model and yet was able to live under the radar for years.

The reporter asked Thompson about the life she eked out for her family. She spoke plainly, with no sentimentality. “We just existed,’ she said. “Anyway, we lived. We survived, let’s put it that way.”
It is a picture that depicts very little hope and a lot of hard work. That’s what I observed on the faces of the women sent out to clear the grounds of Lollapalooza. Tiny little migrant women in trash-filled fields after all the thousands of concert-goers had vacated. I recognized those furrowed brows and the look of suffering on their faces.

I didn’t catch their names.