Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Poem Or Two

The portfolio for Journal Writing/Storytelling class is proceeding...roughly, but at least it is finally going!  Though the second is still a work in progress, here are a couple of poems for early review.  Both are freshly written...

Soon to come--another work in progress--posting on The Big Read!

Best Wishes For You, My Friend

Courage to be true,
Honor in all you do,
Integrity you never rue,

Forgiveness for all,
Understanding not to fall,
Nobility to stand tall,
Grace for big and small;

Never forsake these, my friend. 
God grant you strength for each here penned.


A Fairy Tale World

The even sky is hidden, clouds hang unbidden. 
Rain begins to fall, shadows do grow tall. 
Behind a pane glows a light, in a room not too bright,
With a blanket clutched tight, its patches  not quite right,
There huddles a little boy, his face lit with joy.
His hands cradle with glee a special key.
This key—special!  Rare and like no other!
He turns it again; look, there he is!  In a glen far from this lowly den!
He stands straight and tall, to wield a sword, no longer too small,
The doer of many a good deed, and owner of a handsome steed.
All his dreams have come true, a dragon he just slew.
Miles away in a city house, one with many a mouse,
And other little critters of the night, shines a different light.
This one is smoky and dim, in a room no less grim.
Outside another pane, sounds ceaseless rain;
Close to something she holds,  heedless of her tears and cold,
A little girl bends, as a prayer she sends,
For the key she has to work—just one more time.

Look!  There she is!  No longer covered in grime, but with beauty sublime!
Her gown is long, around her crowds an adoring throng.
Her cascade of curls is adorned with pearls.
No other is so fair, or so stately—anywhere. 

Just a city section away, is a tall house of grey.
A light shines here too, a here that has nothing in lieu,
A place of plenty; satin and silk, cookies, cake, and milk,
Where all is warm, no matter the storm,
(Which is hardly heard in a place so grand, with everything name brand!)
Here lies a little girl lean and gaunt, who never leaves this haunt.
Her sickness cannot wrench away what she holds before she turns it!
Is that the small lady of wealth?  There with a glow of health?
The one with the worn dress?  What happened to her shoes is anyone’s guess!
She is smiling, walking, running!  The difference is too stunning…
Is this her dream? To dance in a sunbeam? 

“Stop! What is this key?  Of what you speak, dare you let me seek?” 
This challenge as you throw away your book and give me a look.
“You just had it,” I say.  You laugh. “Nay!
“That book has a verse and no more!  In blank pages, it has a store…”
“Wait.  I’ll show you.” My voice is soft as an adieu.
“In my heart and yours,” reads the script, “Is our very own world,
“Locked away.  Pick up a key, and anything is yours.”
“Here.”  I hold out a pen.  “Here’s my key.  You can borrow it.”

This last verse went somewhat awry.  The ending should be about reading books, not writing...that I must fix.  However, it is now way too late--or rather way too early--and poetry revision will have to wait for another day. Or even later today...just...anytime really, other than right now. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Spot of (Realistic) Humor!

I have been told many times that I am too serious, "about everything." In fact...this is quite untrue.  I do have a sense of humor, and do appreciate it from others.  My brand of humor is simply unique...:-) 

Anyway, I thought I would share this...which, being a library clerk, I found highly amusing..

Since I work in a library, this just struck a chord.  It is almost unbelievable the things that public materials and provided equipment are subjected to.  That especially includes ones that people take home--like Library Cards!  I think maybe a sticker with these kinds of warnings should be put on each and every one.  Just a small number of the most damaging things library cards handed to me have undergone:
  1. Chewed by a boxer puppy,
  2. Run over by a truck,
  3. Used to open a locked front door,
  4. Subjected to a scissors experiment by a four year old, and... 
  5. Ready for the last?  Left on a stove. 
These are just the ones that have undergone structual damage.  I really do not even want to know about the ones that come caked in dirt, or grease, or other unidentifiable goo...  I wonder if people have ever considered why librarians always keep a bottle of hand sanatizer on their desks? 

Just a rhetorical question...what are the cards on your keychain and wallet like? 

A Promise and A Class Journal

I have promised a friend that I would write here about my take on The Big Read, a writers' event in Wichita, Kansas, that featured a lecture by Tim O'Brien.  And I will!  Just not in this posting... 

For now I would like to simply share a journal that is under consideration for inclusion in my class portfolio.  It was written for class, in response to a question about the power of language as an inspiration.  As I decide on them, I may include more entires for the portfolio here. 


It was two weeks before the piano recital—my piano recital, and I was in a lesson.  I could feel my breath catch as my mind took me back just a few days; again, my heart pounded, as I stumbled with trembling fingers through a piece I was playing for an audience of only one friend.  Snapping back to the present, I deliberately forced myself to take a deep breath, and placed my hands on the keys again.  This time I refused to fail. 
I did not know it then, but there was a principle I would learn that very day, before the lesson ended, that would change my life.    It is a lesson that still re-echoes through my mind with my teacher’s voice: “You’re not going to change anyone’s perception of you, no matter how or what you do on that stage.  The people who love you will still love you, and the people who hate you will still hate you.” 

There was nothing that I needed more at that time.  I had always been concerned with what other people thought of me, and had always been sensitive to criticism, but on this occasion, all that I could think about was what my teacher and my parents, if they came, would think.  What if I failed?  Or froze and could not play?  I had never played at a true piano event like that before. 
Her words occupied my thoughts all the way home.  She was right.  The performance was not what mattered.  What mattered was the fact that I did have people who cared about me.  How I did would not really change their opinions of me, or make anyone think less of me.  Inspired by her words, I began to invite my friends and those I knew to attend, including my Tutor, who due to distance, listened over the cellphone.  I was freed to relax and enjoy the moment; I really could live in the moment rather than for the moment. 

When the day of the piano recital arrived, I was not nearly as nervous as I had expected.  My morning and the time before passed pleasantly in the company of my friend, Melisa, who was also performing that day, and when the time finally came, I was able to enjoy performing.  And when I did mess up, was able to recover beautifully rather than freeze.  I believe this was because my thoughts were no longer focused on the opinions of others, but on the personal enjoyment of an opportunity to perform.  Now I have a very fond memory to return to, of a time when I realized that I really had the full support of my family and friends—of those who really mattered—no matter what might happen. 

A Journal Writing Textbook

Within my Journal Writing/Storytelling class, my professor has chosen to do something unique.  She has chosen a book on writing that is not ordinarily used as a textbook, and gone through it, chapter by chapter, with my classmates and I, even permitting some of us to teach a section or chapter from it during the course of the semester.  While I taught from a middle chapter earlier this semester, the sections that have remained most strongly with me have been from the earliest parts of the book.  For those of you who may want to check it out or read it sometime, it is called Storycatcher,and is written by Christina Baldwin. 

For me, there were really two stories, or sections that have stayed with me...the first was a story concerning World War I:

"On Christmas Eve in 1914, two lines of homesick soldiers, one British, one German, were dug into trenches on the Western Front in the midst of World War I.  Between them was a fire zone called no-man's land.  On this moonlit, snowy night, the Germans lifted army issued Christmas trees twinkling with tiny candles over the edge of their trenches and set them in plain sight.  The British shouted and cheered in delight.  The Germans began to sing, 'Stille Nacht...' and the British began to sing along with 'Silent Night.'  This encouraged the Germans, and they set down their gund in the moonlight and heaved themselves from their trenches carrying candles, cake, and cigars toward their enemies.  the British responded in kind carrying steamed pudding and cigarettes.  The men met in the middle of the forbidden zone, exchanged gifts, sang carols, and played soccer.  This seemingly spontaneous truce extended for hundreds of kilometers among thousands of soldiers.  They couldn't shoot each other.  The war essentially stopped.  Horrified commanders on both sides had to transfer thousands of men to new positions until the enemy became faceless and storyless again, something killable, not a brother."--(From Storycatcher, by Christina Baldwin. Preface, pages XI-XII.) 
Portrayals like the one in this story are a touching reminder that people, while possessing unique identities, are yet all alike.  We all have our own joys, fears, loves, problems, dreams, aspirations, and hopes in life, and we all share an equal value in the estimation of Almighty God.  This story presented on a grand scale something that should be remembered in daily life too--give people grace, and have mercy; sometimes it is impossible to understand, or to know all the motivating factors... 

The other section that really stood out to me was the recollection within chapter one of a Grandfather calling his Grand-daughter into his study to see the purity of a jar of honey the family had produced on their farm.  The happiness, contentment, and love permeating this story touched me as I was reading.  The author was so right about how reading the reminisces of others brings to mind personal memories; when I read this passage, I remembered some of the times my Dad or Mother called me aside to show me something special to them.  It seems now that they were not just sharing knowledge of a tangible object, but a piece of their heart too.  It was not just showing me something special, but trusting someone they held in special regard to have a glimpse of what they held dear.  To me that seems the most precious...A flower, insect, gem, or other object, even a jar of honey, may not be intrinsically valuable, but when such an object gains an identity within one's memory, then it becomes priceless.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Unexpected Success

Sometimes things just work out, despite an entire deck being stacked against them...

To my happiness, that happened today for me and my chapter of PTK.  For weeks now, my officers and I have been working very hard to create and prepare presentations for a workshop on computer literacy.  Our goal was to mainly promote the workshop to seniors within the community, and a tremendous amount of work and planning went into our project. Today everyone was as ready as possible, but there was one problem...for the second time, our publicity campaign had been last minute, and there had been only two days between the time we commenced the publicity campaign, and the workshop date. 

The first time we had set a date for the workshop, we had found out one day and a weekend in advance, that the marketing campaign had not commenced.  So we hoped for the best, prepared, and simply held a practice and critiquing run-through when no one at all attended.  This time, we had one more week to prepare and publicize. But everyone was busy, and campaigning was just another thing that had to be done.  So...

With only two days left, three of my officers and I went campaigning on Tuesday, working to place posters, get the word out, and have the workshop announced at local senior centers.  At the nearest center, we were told that it would be announced, but that the Thanksgiving dinner for the center would be held at the exact same time. After conferring, our expectations were not high.  We decided that while some people, a very few, might come, but it was most likely we would have no attendees and simply be to reflect on our failure--again.

That was not the only difficulty; about  a half hour previous to the start time, myself, two officers, and our advisor reached the classroom where our workshop was to have been held, only to discover that there had been a scheduling error, and a class was due to be held in that room.  Our advisor managed to obtain another room, but our hopes were still not too high.  However, we prepared anyway, the first group, mine, in place, and we waited while a few members and officers continued to arrive. 

At five minutes before the time, our first person arrived!  He was an older gentleman, holding a flier for our workshop and a notebook.  He was smiling.  Within the next few minutes, a second person arrived.  Several of us stepped out to conferr--and direct any more possible attendees to the correct room, in case they followed the fliers incorrectly.  Right about the time to start, two more people walked in.  Then another couple, only slightly late!  All together, we ended up having six!  And two of those had heard the announcement at the local senior center, and decided to forego Thanksgiving dinner with friends to attend.  We could hardly believe it. 

As things turned out, it was the perfect number.  We had just enough officers and members there to help each person, and each one had something different they wanted to learn.  We did give our presentations, but we also were able to make sure that everyone walked away with most of their questions answered.  One lady wanted to know about maps, since she was planning a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, my homestate.  Another wanted to learn about email forwarding, and a married couple wanted to know about videos on YouTube and security issues on Facebook. 

All in all, it was a big blessing to have so many people attend with so little advance publicity. And I think if there had been any more attendees, it may have been difficult to provide the same individual attention.  I believe it all  really worked out for the best, even if it was not exactly what we intially had envisioned.  At the end, several officers expressed the same happiness with the workshop that I felt, and it was suggested that we do it again.  I do not know that we will, but I think everyone did an excellent job, had fun, and was able to walk away with a sense of accomplishment.  Though small in numbers, it was a success in every sense of the word. 

As a team, I think we learned a good deal from this project.  I think we all have more confidence now, and have learned to pull and work together as a whole when things come down to the wire.  I thank God that everything turned out as well as it did.  It was His blessing that enabled everything to work out, even with our mistakes and setbacks.  If this time things had not worked out, there would have been not much time to hold a second workshop. So I am really happy that our dire predictions were not even close to the truth, and as President, I feel pride for my teams, my officers, and my local chapter. I think today we did something good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A First Posting

Dear Reader,

As a first entry, it seems this should be a more solemn posting, but on occasion, solemnity seems to abandon her devotees to their own devices.  So with cheerfulness rather than gravity, I bid you welcome to this quiet little corner of the vitual universe! Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you come back often!

Started at the urging of several friends who say I should try blogging in my native language rather than just a second one, this will be a conglomeration of reflections and compositions, with a sprinkling of humor and music, topped off with just a dash of journaling.  Subjects which will most certainly appear here in some guise or other, are reading, writing, linguistics, cultural studies, and classical music.  The lure of an occasional bit of philosophy may also be irresistible...

I hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I expect to enjoy writing it.  Updates may be slightly sporadic, as a full time profession of student and librarian precludes a perfect succession of postings--or the time to write them!  But postings should be fairly regular. 

Glad you stopped by! 

And welcome!