This poem was written about why I decided to take a break! It may be a while before everything settles down and I am fully back on WordPress. When I get the computer up to speed, I look forward to reading and responding to more posts.
The new lawn guy is great!
Robert installed new shower doors a couple of weeks ago. I am still finding an occasional piece of broken glass.
The electrician was here most of today, and the lanai kitchen, where most of our food is cooked, is fully operational.
Robert has an appointment with a cataract surgeon at the end of the month. We don’t have a date for surgery yet.
The roofers will be here next week. I hope we don’t get another tropical storm before they finish the repair!
We have invited family groups to visit in the fall and early winter when Florida weather is nicest.
July 4, 1776 was the day delegates from the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence from England. Those who signed the document did so at great personal risk. The bloody American Revolution followed under the leadership of General George Washington, who later became the first president of the United States.
To celebrate Independence Day, Americans will fly flags, watch fireworks shows, sing patriotic songs, and tell the stories of our history. Cookouts and picnics are also traditional.
Today, though we are celebrating our country’s birthday, the Global Community is uppermost in my mind. We are suffering from a worldwide pandemic, wars, and widespread racism and violence. Environmental problems threaten all of us.
Today I would like to share song lyrics that express my thoughts about our Global Community.
A flock of five loudly shrieking swallow-tailed kites flew by as I was sitting on the front porch one morning last week. Kites live in wetlands and along rivers and canals in the Southeastern US and Central and South America. They feed on lizards and other small reptiles. We live between two canals and there are vacant wooded lots with many pine trees across the street. I have seen individual kites there many times, but a flock of them flying by was a very exciting experience!
My father never had any sisters. He grew up a wild boy skipping school to swim in the creek and trap skunks. In high school he was a basketball star very popular with girls, several of whom wore his class ring on a chain around their necks. He was a skilled hunter and fisherman and helped put food on the table. From time to time, he worked in his father’s siding business. When World War II began, he lied about his age and joined the navy at seventeen. He was, I think, a “man’s man,” always more comfortable in the company of men than in the company of women.
My birth may have been a disappointment to my father, my being a girl. I was also a lot like my mother, with whom he had little in common…imaginative, creative, a lover of art, poetry, and music, uncoordinated and not very good at sports. Still, he was proud of me, ambitious for me, and he was my hero!
My brother was born two years after me, and when I was four, my sister was born. While my mother was in the hospital, I remember Dad trying to make Shirley Temple-style curls in my hair one Sunday morning. I remember his consternation when the ends stuck out at the bottom. I must have been quite a sight going to church with my hair looking like that!
My father’s first assignment as a minister was to three little country churches in Pennsylvania. While Mom went home with my younger brother and sister after the first Sunday service, I always continued on with Dad to the second service. I listened to every sermon three times, never tiring of my dad’s wonderful stories. I remember standing beside the piano when I was five and singing my first solo.
Visiting my grandparents when I was four or five, we went to the swimming pool in Wheeling, West Virginia. My father asked me if I would like to dive with him. With my arms tight around his neck and holding my breath, we went off the high dive together. My father was my hero!
When I was seven, I started piano lessons, which continued for nine years, although I had little musical talent. Eventually, I played the piano and antique pump organ at church when no one else was available. I wasn’t very good! I sang in the choir for years, often performing solos and duets. When I was eleven or twelve, I would put my hair up in a French twist and go with my father to hymn sings at neighboring churches. With my hair up, I thought I looked older and hoped people might mistake me for Dad’s wife. Of course, that was pretty silly!
Mom persuaded Dad to include his daughters, as well as his son on his hunting and fishing expeditions. Though I didn’t shoot, I enjoyed going with my father and our dog, Lady, to hunt quail, and I was always the one to prepare them for cooking. When we went fishing, I was usually the one to clean the fish.
One day, Dad took my brother, sister, and me to fish for bluegills in a farm pond. I got my line hopelessly tangled. Trying to break the line by pulling against my foot, I embedded a fish hook deep in the calf of my leg. My father cut it out with his pocket knife. I was very brave. “You are lucky I just sharpened my knife!” my father said. I still have a little purple scar on my leg.
When I was in high school, hunters sometimes stayed at our house. They would get up at four in the morning to go deer hunting with my father. I also got up early and fixed them a hearty breakfast. I enjoyed listening to their hunting stories and fish tales.
Like his mother, my father was a talented gardener. His huge garden helped to feed our family. I remember Dad teaching me how to plant beans and pull weeds. We all shelled peas, snapped beans, and husked corn. In the early years, my mother canned, but when I was about six, we got a large freezer, and my parents kept it full of vegetables from the garden and fish and meat my father brought home. My father also raised beautiful flowers that my mother and I enjoyed making into arrangements for home and church.
My mother was an excellent cook and baker. Mom turned the abundance from the garden into delicious meals and baked pies, cookies, and cakes. Dad had been a cook aboard a ship when he was in the navy and was always reminding us that the best chefs are men! When it came to preparing deer steak or frying trout, Dad often did that job.
Always the athlete, Dad never played a sport he didn’t like…darts, bowling, ice skating, roller skating, skiing, hiking, swimming, college football…When I was in high school, he used to outshoot teenagers on the church basketball court. My father, brother, and I got our Red Cross lifeguard certifications together. They scored higher in the water test than I did, and I scored higher on the written exam! In his seventies, Dad was still skating with the church youth group.
The youth group activity I enjoyed most when I was young was hiking in Shenandoah National Park.We would pile into the back of an old hearse and head for the mountains. After the hike, we enjoyed burgers and hot dogs cooked over wood coals and we roasted marshmallows.
One day, without my parents’ knowledge, I wore my bathing suit under my clothes. Our group hiked to the top of South River Falls, a tall waterfall with a pool in the middle that was reported to be bottomless. Many people have died walking near the waterfalls in the park. Luckily, I didn’t die. I just climbed down through the middle of the falls and swam in the pool at the bottom. Oddly, I don’t remember being punished for that episode. Maybe Dad saw himself in me that day!
On another hike, I walked through a yellow jackets’ nest. Swatting the bees as I ran, I knocked my glasses off. Days later, my father returned to the trail and found my glasses. Remarkable! My Hero!
When I was in high school, my parents’s marriage, always a mismatch, began to steadily deteriorate. Life at home was often unpleasant because of the conflict between my parents. Also, I found the restrictions imposed by my parents unbearable.
I had a brief, but very unfortunate experience at a religious boarding school. The repressive and malevolent attitudes and the rampant hyprocricy at the school made me question religion. I became an atheist at age thirteen. Though I continued to participate in church activities for many years, I think my parents were aware that I no longer accepted their beliefs. Stubborn and independent, as both of my parents were, I obeyed them for the most part, but was pretty outspoken with them about my views.
My father was as frustrated as I was, I think. He had trouble seeing me grow up and was reluctant to relinquish control. When I was seventeen, he did several things to me that were very hurtful. I think he later regretted his actions, although he never said that he was sorry. He was much less controlling with my younger sister as she grew up.
After their children were grown, my parents went through a very messy divorce. Dad and I both made efforts to maintain a relationship until the day he died, but I could never fit his mold. I always loved my father, and he loved me, but, like Humpty Dumpty, our family could never be put together again.
My father died at age seventy-five in 2004. I have many treasured memories of my dad and a few memories it took me years to forgive. Fulfilling his wishes, family members sang some of his favorite hymns at his funeral in a little country church where he was the pastor. My father had “died with his boots on!”
To all the fathers everywhere, you will never be perfect. Don’t stress over it. All any of us can do is our best! We love you. We will always love you!
This Sunday, May 9, 2021 is celebrated as Mothers Day in the US. Wherever you are, feel free to join in! Tell your mother you love and appreciate her. Spend time with her if you can. Call her, bring her flowers or candy, take her out to dinner…whatever is in your heart to do. If your mother is no longer alive, take a moment to remember her and all the good times you spent together.
Your support and encouragement mean the world to me! You have helped me to get through these dark days of the pandemic, the isolation, and the health issues. WordPress bloggers are talented, inspiring, kind, and helpful…friends who have treated me like family! You are appreciated!
Kritika of “Valorous Bird”, thank you for discovering my website and encouraging me to start my blog. I will always remember.
My first post was on June 18, 2020, and this is post number 112. As of today, I have 505 subscribers. Thank you all!
With our allergies and our declining energy levels in mind, we re-landscaped our front entrance, hiring landscapers to do the heavy work. The palm tree’s expected ultimate height is 10-12 feet. The plants are low maintenance, drought-resistant perennials, and the river rock is an inert permanent mulch. The one high maintenance exception is the red-flowering Dipladenia vine, which likes frequent watering.
Foxtail ferns and a Dipladenia vine, Photo by Cheryl Batavia
This historic bridge over the scenic Peace River in Arcadia, Florida holds fond memories for me. My father used to fish in the Peace River when I was a child, and our family vacationed in Florida. The Peace River flows into the Gulf of Mexico not too far from where we live now. Robert and I have walked along the river at Arcadia a number of times. Last year, my daughters and I took a breathtaking boat tour on the river near Arcadia.
Arcadia is a town that once had a fine train station and an opera house. Many historic buildings are now home to restaurants and antique shops. Mary Margaret’s Tea Room is one of Robert’s and my favorite restaurants located in an historic auto dealership and garage and furnished with antiques.
It is a tradition to go to Mary Margaret’s on my birthday, missed for the last year two years because of the pandemic. The restaurant has changed hands since the pandemic began. We want to visit again after it is over. I hope they still have our favorite crab Louis, quiche Lorraine, turkey sandwiches, flavored tea, and tea biscuits!
I have attempted to paint the old Peace River bridge several times over the last couple of years, but I could never quite capture my feelings for the place. I will try again, and post it if I get it right.
This poem is a Ziggurat, a form created by Paul Szlosek and presented by Eugenia at Eugenia’s Causerie. It consists of 14 lines and 4 stanzas. 2 lines, 2 words each, 3 lines, 3 words each, 4 lines, 4 words each, and 5 lines, 5 words each. The rhyme pattern is aa, bbb, cccc, ddddd. This was a fun form to work with.
I am sorry that I am so far behind with reading emails. I really wasn’t intending to take a break, but I have had a worsening fibromyalgia flare over the last few weeks. Though I have had fibromyalgia for over thirty years, flares are rare and usually only last a day or two. I have been dealing with some stressful issues and trying to do too much.
The good news is that energy and mental clarity are starting to return. I need to take it slow, but I will do my best to keep in touch. Thank you for understanding. ❤
I have a test and a couple of doctor’s visits coming up this month. It seems we may have found dietary solutions to the digestive issues. Too much caffeine and chocolate seem to be behind the tachycardia and palpitations. Time will tell. I finally got my first covid19 vaccine.
My Mom, Marian Nicholson (1924-2015) always encouraged me in a love of nature, art, and poetry. At the age of forty-five she fulfilled a lifelong dream and graduated from nursing school. We were very proud of Mom. As she grew older, my sister and I increasingly looked out for her. The last thirteen years of her life, she lived near me and we did a lot of things together. This poem is about the last four years of Mom’s life, when she was in an independent living center suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a sad time, but it gave us both pleasure to spend a great deal of time together.
I celebrate Women’s History Month by posting this poem in honor of my mother.
Texas is experiencing unheard-of back-to-back blizzards and below-zero temperatures. This may be one of many examples of extreme weather events due to global warming. Increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes and wildfires, craters forming in Russia’s Tundra, and melting polar ice are some other possible examples.
Texas is not well-prepared for blizzards. Items such as Snowplows and snow tires are in short supply. The low temperatures are overtaxing the power grid and causing power outages. Some people’s water pipes have burst. A few areas have orders to boil water. Many people are stuck at home with a dwindling supply of food and without heat. I am grateful that my daughters and their household have experienced only a very brief power outage.
This quote, as described in Plato’s Apology, is from the trial of Socrates, where he was convicted of “corrupting the youth” of Athens. Socrates believed so strongly in his philosophy that he chose the punishment of death rather than exile, and died by drinking poison hemlock. The “Socratic Method” teaches by asking questions and is still used today.
This poem contrasts the “unexamined life” in the first half of the palindrome with the “examined life” in the second half of the palindrome. I believe that we should not drift through life, accepting conventional wisdom without question. We should take responsibility for our own lives by asking the difficult questions to discover our true purpose. A purposeful life is meaningful and is in service to others.
For the last couple of months, I have been having increasingly severe cardiovascular symptoms. I am not sure of the cause, but suspect so-called “long covid.” I had a mild heart attack in 2007 and have two stents in my heart. Maybe one is blocked.
I will let you know when I find out about what is happening. Until then, I will carry on the best I can. I would rather talk about ideas, emotions, family, the environment, nature, culture… and not my health! I just wanted you to know that if I don’t read as many posts as usual, it is not because I don’t want to.
The change of seasons is subtle in South Florida. Times given vary, but are approximate for where I live.
In Florida, most trees and plants are green all year, but some are deciduous. Red Maples and Virginia creeper are among Florida’s deciduous plants. Their leaves turn red in late December and fall around New Year’s.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and grow well in South Florida. They typically bloom in December, and their red bracts stay on the plants for several months. Pink and white are other popular poinsettia colors.
As is true in many places, winter sunrises and sunsets tend to be especially vivid.
Male cardinals get their bright mating plumage in mid-January, and the woods, which have been silent for a while, are alive with bird songs. Spring and baby birds will not be far behind.
Looking forward to 2021, I think the situation looks very fluid. We will need goals, but even more, we will need to be flexible. I usually make New Year’s resolutions; this year, I have settled for good intentions! 🙂
My late husband, Drew, and I adopted Katey and Joe from Russia in October, 1995. We lived in Miami Beach, and Drew, AKA “Papa,” was a very devoted father until his death in January, 2003. Katey now lives near Dallas, Texas with her older sister Ellen, a cat, a dog, and two other roommates. The new Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, just joined the household.
The acrostic is an old fashioned staple of school and Sunday school programs. Each child holds up a letter and recites his “piece.” The letters often spell MOTHER for Mothers Day, HAPPY THANKSGIVING or MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights that commemorates the rededication of the second temple. There was enough oil in the temple lamps to burn for only one night, but miraculously, it burned for eight nights. “A great miracle happened here!” is the message conveyed by the Hebrew letters on the dreidel. A dreidel is a top that is spun in a traditional gambling game. Our children and their grandma played for pennies.
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. At sundown, the Hanukkah menorah is lit. One candle is lit on the first night. Another candle is added each night until, on the eighth night, all eight candles burn. Children receive a present on each night of Hanukkah.
A traditional Hanukkah food, latkes are grated potato pancakes fried in oil often served with applesauce and sour cream. The oil symbolizes the oil that burned for eight nights in the temple lamps. Hanukkah gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Our family also enjoyed chopped liver on matzos (similar to crackers) and matzo ball soup at Hanukkah.
This poem is based on a true family story as told to me by my grandmother and my father. The first three verses are an imagined conversation showing how the Sunday school class decided to send the cactus cat to my father in the hospital.
The cactus-tailed cat is ready to send to my daughter, Ellen, in Texas. Ellen is an ordained Baptist chaplain and is taking seminary classes. She has taught Recovery classes for several years and is an administrator for the program.. I am not sure what her future plans are.
Disclosure: The cat is posing for this photo with an improvised cucumber tail. She is looking forward to getting a new cactus tail when she arrives in Texas.
Harvest festivals have been observed all over the world since ancient times. Several States claim to be the site of the first Thanksgiving in the US, but Plymouth, Massachusetts, though probably not the first, is the most well-known. Native Americans rescued several struggling American colonies in the early days. The Wampanoag befriended the Pilgrims at Plymouth, teaching them to grown corn and celebrating Thanksgiving with them.
The history of our country, as in many countries, has been blemished by racism, persecution of indigenous peoples, slavery, and religious intolerance. Many people have fought these evils, and many wrongs have been righted. The fight continues. The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is a hopeful example of brotherhood and peace.
This poem was written in response to Ingrid’s EIF Poetry Challenge #8, and was awarded third place. My sincere thanks to Ingrid for posting the challenge on Experiments in Fiction and to Jaya Avendel of Nin Chronicles, who judged the challenge.
The following poem may be disturbing to some readers. The examples given are fictional.
Some people seem to have everything we want and don’t have. We might not be eager to change places with them if we knew their secret heartaches.
Many people have problems we don’t know about that would explain their negative behavior. Some may need professional help in solving their problems. Others could benefit from just a little kindness and understanding. Judging them isn’t helpful.
Although people must be held accountable for their actions, some circumstances call for a little leniency. Everyone accused of a crime deserves due process.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — supposedly Mahatma Gandhi said that. (Isn’t this picture of him great? He’s drafting a document at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. My novel-writer side can’t help but wonder if he knew that writing longhand enhances creativity — and I bet intelligence!) First off, he didn’t….
Second off, if anyone said it, is it true? I love animals and have followed a vegetarian diet for years. All the same, I’m definitely nowhere near a saint, particularly given my now-and-again deviations into the hypocracy of eating fish. My father was wicked to his family, yet tears rolled down his cheeks when he heard that local geese were slaughtered. Hitler and was a vegetarian for the last part of his life. And he adored his dog…
If you are a student, please don’t do as I did! Or as my father did, either! Find the balance between earning good grades and educating yourself about the things you want to know. Take it from someone who learned the hard way…Grades and following your interests are both important!
Remember to be kind to your teachers. Karma may get you if you are rude to them! As a teacher in inner city schools, I got back a little bit of what was coming to me. So, if you are ever tempted to give your teachers a hard time, remember my advice, and don’t go there!