Sued51's Blog











{April 7, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Make Me Smile

This daily prompt could be answered by some of the same things that I listed in the Singing the Blues post. But because it is spring, and I love to hear the birds sing…here’s a cheery song for today that makes me smile:

In case that doesn’t work,  how could I NOT smile looking at my relaxed and trusting kitty??

cat sleeping

Relaxed and Content Cat




Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Imperfection

 

Does this happen to you? Books seem to appear just when you need them? And they all tie together?

A co-worker dropped this off at my cubicle with the caveat: “My friend loved this book and gave it to me…it didn’t do anything for me, but I thought you might like it…if you don’t, pass it on.”

I will admit that my co-worker and I have had book discussions, so she has some idea about what books I like to read, but…I REALLY needed to read this book…NOW.

I have been struggling to embrace and accept my imperfections for a while (including the blurry photo at the left, which I took several times. I figured as long as you can see it and read it…it doesn’t have to be PERFECT). It fulfills its purpose as is.

I recently had a get-together with some wonderful supportive friends who love me and see me as gifted, talented and creative. I read some poems for them, including one I had recently, with trepidation, brought to a workshop. I was sharing with them some of the comments (which actually were mostly good and quite helpful). I told them “when it was finished” I was going to submit it. They thought it was fine the way it was. We laughed about how nothing was ever “finished” for me. I now know why: I believe that there is ONE thing I will create that will be THE thing that will prove my worthiness…if I keep working at it and never finish it…then the magical piece of work might still exist (like believing in Santa Claus…or the Elusive Comic Book!) I guess it is my way of believing life can change overnight. Though this appears to happen to some people, it is for the most part, not true. It certainly is not something I can will or force to happen. Life happens when you live it.

This book helped me understand why I can’t create a body of work. Perfectionism is a big, bad monster for me. I am “hustling” for my worthiness as Brene Brown says in her book. (I LOVE this phrase…I picture myself walking the streets, begging people to appreciate me.)

The book is broken into ten guideposts that represent ways of thinking you need to let go of in order to embrace your imperfection and believe in your own worthiness. Guidepost #2 is “Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism”.

And my favorite (V8…knock in the head) moment while I was reading the book was when the author wrote, “I think everyone should read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist — I try to read it at least once a year. It’s a powerful way of seeing the connections between our gifts, our spirituality, and our work…and how they come together to create meaning in our lives.” WHAT?! I recently wrote a blog about that book!

I just love when the dots connect!

BTW…I submitted the poem last week…with some of the workshop suggestions. :-D




old portrait

My Great Aunt Edie

My mother has a treasure trove of family portraits. Many were passed down by my grandmother (my father’s mother) who labeled as many as she could before her memory was completely gone. I have met with my father’s cousin a couple of times, and we have shared some photos and information. She has been working on a genealogy of my grandmother’s Swedish family for many years. I also have a first-cousin who is doing her best with my mother’s side of the family. I think every family needs an archivist, and I hope to be the one who performs that service for my generation. I sincerely love the old photos; to me they have a special beauty, especially the sepia ones.

This particular photo is of my great aunt. She died when I was still a child, but I do have some memories of her. We used to have family cookouts on Sundays at my grandmother’s house. My aunt Edie lived two doors down so she was also in attendance. Until I found some of the photos I have found, I thought of her as an old lady who DID NOT want her picture taken. I have a copy of some family movies that my brother had transferred to a VHS tape, where she appears ever so briefly before hiding her face.

To me this photo is beautiful. I don’t know the year, but she is wearing her wedding ring so I don’t think she is what I would term “young” in the photo, but certainly a lot younger than my childhood memories (when she was in her 80s). As I look at it I wonder what the occasion might have been for the taking of the photo. Unfortunately my grandmother is not around to ask and she did not write down a year, simply “Sister Edith.”

It makes me think about the generations after me looking at the photos we have taken now. Most are digital and informal. We tend to document children’s lives at least annually (even if it is just school pictures), but beyond college, other than wedding photos, it definitely tails off.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I don’t have many pictures of myself as I have aged. The older I get, the more I become like the Aunt Edie I remember…”don’t take my picture!” But on the other hand…it is only going to get worse…I should get a picture taken while I am still youngish…

Looking at these old photos makes me ALMOST want to go out and get one taken for posterity. But of course I would then have to get my hair done, buy and put on some makeup, find a flattering outfit…hmmm.

Maybe not…:-D

 




 

The cats know when I need them...

The cats know when I need them…

This prompt is timely. I am having one of those days today when I feel like a cartoon character hanging off the cliff by that one skinny little branch…

I usually have to do a LOT of different things to get out of it. A combination of activities usually does the trick.

My number one tactic is to pet and play with my cats. They always know when I need them.

Another tool is to read uplifting materials…and yet sometimes the opposite helps: singing the “blues” as the title says. I listen to sad music, cry and get it out of my system. A couple of songs that are guaranteed to make me cry: “Sparrow” by Simon & Garfunkel or Lyle Lovett singing “Texas Trilogy.” (Below is the original version…couldn’t find a YouTube video of Lyle Lovett performing it. The last song in the trilogy, Bosque County Romance, is the one that sets me off.) A sad movie can do the trick as well.

Walking is always good or yoga, or meditation using a positive message like “God loves me” or “Serenity” or “Abundance” can help.

Writing about it: blogging and knowing that others feel the same makes me feel less alone. Writing/reading a gratitude list. I still haven’t completed the whole alphabet but I work on it periodically.

Sometimes looking at old pictures of happier times can make me smile. Taking new pictures is sure to get my attention off of myself and my life and onto an activity I enjoy.

Finally, just going about my day and being present during simple tasks can sweep the blues away and allow me to toss them in the bucket and look forward to tomorrow.

It IS Friday after all. :-)




Cee’s topic this week is Texture. I can’t get outside right now, so I looked for texture in my apartment.

embossed chair

 

 

bedspread and pillows

 

bed post

 

If you want to join in, click on the icon below:

Cee's Fun Foto



{March 24, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Sixteen Tons

Geez…this prompt gave me an earworm I couldn’t get rid of all day: “You load sixteen tons, whadda ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt…”

I once worked with a guy who put notes to himself on his day calendar every few weeks. Just when he might not be thinking about it, he would turn the page, and there it would be: “You are still there?? Are you kidding me?” or “Do you have any soul left or has it been completely sucked out?” He showed me a couple one day. I thought it was pretty funny, in a dark way.

I wrote a pretty dark poem myself many years ago when I didn’t like my job. I thought it fit the prompt, so here it is:

Monday Morning Hike

 When I park my car

the music stops.

I shuffle to the front door

of my brick purgatory

a little late,

head down,

watching my feet

go through the motions.

At the front steps

a pack is

put on my back–

every soldier’s companion;

gravity pulls

my shoulders earthward;

a groan slips out

as I yank open

cumbrous glass doors.

With every step

down the stale hall,

my pack gets heavier.

I imagine the silent

figures I pass

loading me up

behind my back,

as I struggle along,

bound for my trench.

By the time I reach

that terminus

my canteen is empty;

any weekend peace

it held drained away.

Another deadend

week has begun.



{March 20, 2014}   The Pit Man

The Pit Man with his TruckThe Pit Man

The rumbling truck sound

sent us running on little girl legs,

between gushing giggles:

“The Pit Man’s Here!”

Funny how things turn up when the time is right.

I’ve been thinking about writing about the man I called, “The Pit Man” for years. I had started a poem that was never finished (see above). Then, over the weekend, my brother and I were back to sorting through boxes of old stuff at my mother’s. My brother found this solitary picture in a box of random stuff. He pulled it out and said, “Hey, is this the Pit Man?” I snatched it out of his hand excitedly and showed it to my mother. “Yes,” said my mother, “That’s him!”

When I was a child, my grandfather owned 18+ acres of land next to where we lived. He had owned the land our house was built on also, but gifted/sold it to my parents to start their family. The rest of the land was next to and behind our house and was leased out to a sand and gravel company. My parents ended up building their “retirement” home where the driveway to the gravel pit was. fifty years later the remnants of the chain are incorporated into the tree, and the rusty old cable is still coiled on the ground.

Chain incorporated into tree

Nature Devouring History

rusty cable

History’s Remnants

The arrival of “The Pit Man” was akin to a trip to the zoo for two five-year-old girls looking for something to relieve the boredom. He didn’t come every day, only when somebody ordered gravel, so his arrival was unpredictable and exciting. He would have to stop the truck in driveway to unlock the chain that protected it from unauthorized visitors. That gave us time to run over and greet him. He would always smile and spend a couple of minutes talking to us before proceeding with his work.

My memory is of a “James Dean” character: handsome, trim and tanned. The man shown in this picture resembles my memory that way Barrack Obama resembles Denzel Washington…NOT! I remember him in the heat of summer in a t-shirt: I remember staring at the tattoo on his sweaty arm while he smoked during a cigarette break…exotic! He didn’t speak like us. He spoke slowly; he said his “R’s”!  A  child’s first crush on an adult is a memorable life event. Funny how different our memories can be from reality, isn’t it?

Nowadays a mother would have to be wary of her daughter being around such a man; there seem to be so many brazenly bad people ready to hurt children. But back then, it was a different world. It was a small town; my parents knew him. (Funny that they even had a picture of him!) Finding it gave my mother the opportunity to tell me what she knew. His name was Lloyd; he was originally from the Ozarks in Arkansas. She doesn’t remember why he ended up in New England — that would have been a big move back then when people were less likely to move so far from where they grew up, but it was likely economics or because of a marriage. She said he would often speak of his birthplace with affection and wistfulness, and he hoped to get back there someday. He never did; he died quietly in our small town. But he is remembered fondly…

Maybe I am meant to finish the poem…my tribute to what he meant to a small-town five-year-old girl.



{March 14, 2014}   Time after Time

Last week one of the Daily Prompt topics was “Time after Time.” It was meant to be about rituals, but when I read it, I immediately heard the words to Cyndi Lauper’s song in my head. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to sit down and write that day. But the song has been in my head since then, so I decided to write a post about it.

Cyndi Lauper at The Metro, Boston in the 1980s

Cyndi Lauper at The Metro, Boston in the 1980s

I went to see Cyndi at the Metro in Boston back in the 80′s. As you can tell by the photo, I managed to watch the show from close to the stage. The song “Time after Time” was an extremely popular one; it was nominated for a Grammy award as Song of the Year in 1985. In case you haven’t heard it in a while, you can listen below:

This lead me to “All Through the Night,” another of Cyndi’s hits, that was actually written by one of my favorite songwriters, Jules Shear.  As I prepared this post, I rediscovered Jules and decided to take you along on my little journey.

Below you will find Cindi’s version of the song and the original version recorded by Jules (and produced by Todd Rundgren!). The discussion following Jules’ version on YouTube is an interesting one. Some people HATE it, they compare it to a polka, and call it smaltzy. What do you think? Before you respond, play the final live version of Jules singing the song just last year in someone’s living room at the bottom of the post. Shows you the work done by a producer, don’t you think?

The other day I had a conversation with an acquaintance who LOVES country music; she goes to festivals and knows every up-and-coming star before they hit the big-time. We talked about songwriters vs performers (this posts shows you can add producers to that list as well). I have always loved and respected great songwriters. If they can perform as well as write…THEN, they get my hero-worship.

As a baby boomer, I think some of the most amazing musician/songwriters were in my generation: from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen…the list goes on and on for me. But everyone knows those people. When I was following music in the 80s and 90s (the way my friend follows music now), I delighted in finding brilliant but less famous songwriters: Difford and Tilbrook from Squeeze, the Finn Brothers from Crowded House, Andy Partridge from XTC, Robert Smith from The Cure, and Robert Forster and Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens are just a few of my favorites. Jules Shear is in that category for me. His voice is an acquired taste to be sure, but I think he can pull it off.

Somewhere I have his autograph on a slip of paper; here’s my story. Back when I was working at the Orpheum, Elvis Costello (speaking of brilliant songwriters!) was doing a tour with a “spin-the-wheel” element. His songs were listed on a giant game show wheel on the stage, and the song list was different every night based on people spinning the wheel. On this particular night, special guests were performing that function. It so happened Aimee Mann and Jules Shear were a couple at that time and they were in the house to spin the wheel. My later-to-be-husband spied them sitting in the audience, and knowing my admiration for Jules, bothered him for an autograph for me. I’m actually a big fan of Mann’s now too, but he didn’t ask her at that time. It certainly was a nice surprise when he gave it to me. It would be more precious to me now if I had actually spoken to him and gotten it myself.

So here’s a recent version of Jules’ singing “All Through the Night.” A good song is just a good song, right?




Though ABANDONED  was the topic of the Weekly PHOTO Challenge, I thought it was a good topic for my writing blog.

When I was a child, we never had to buy pets; they just showed up. Strays and abandoned cats and dogs seemed to see an invisible sign on our door that said, “welcome.”  Some stayed with us, some were found homes elsewhere, and some unfortunately did not survive the crazy busy street we lived on. I have written previously about my cat, Breeze, who just showed up one cold November morning and after some manipulation on the part of my brother and I, in cahoots with my father, became part of the family.

But today I wanted to write about a couple of abandoned dogs that were found: Trash and Freebie. I think their names tell you how they were acquired. :-)

boy with puppy

Trash

Please excuse the quality of this scanned photo; it’s quite old and the only photo I could find of a dog who didn’t live with us for very long.  The little boy in the picture is my youngest brother.

My father worked at the town dump and recycling center for a time between jobs. One day he noticed that one of the trash bags dropped off seemed to be moving and making a noise. With further investigation, he found an adorable puppy. The puppy came home with him that night, and my father dubbed her, “Trash.” Not a particularly flattering name, but believe me, my father had a heart of gold and wasn’t trying to give the puppy psychological problems. Unfortunately at the time we already two dogs and a cat, too many children and not a lot of money. My mother said Trash couldn’t stay. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for my father to find “Trash” a home with someone down the street. I never knew what her new name became or saw her again, but I was happy that she was saved and had a home.

Years later my father found another puppy that he dubbed with an unequally unflattering name who ended up living with our family and becoming a beloved pet. Freebie’s story began this way: my father was working temporarily out in California; my mother and younger brothers were living out there with him. One day my father came across a German Shepherd-mix puppy tied to a pole on a street in California. The dog was thin, but friendly. My father checked around; no one knew who she belonged to or where she came from. As my parents and brother were due to drive back home to Massachusetts within a week and they couldn’t find her owner, they decided to take the puppy with them. My father’s thinking was that someone who would leave her tied to a pole on a hot day in the city didn’t deserve her.

puppy,

And so she was dubbed “Freebie” and traveled across the country from California to Massachusetts. She initially was my brother’s dog, but as he was in his late teens, he soon moved out, unable to take Freebie with him. But he still paid for her food and visited with her. Freebie contracted heartworm when she was only 3 years old, but my brother, managed to scrape up a few hundred dollars to save her life.

Meanwhile she had become very attached to my father. My father would go for walks on the acres of land that he owned at the time and be gone for a while, but my mother knew how to get my father to come home. She would say, “Freebie, where’s Earl?” Then she would let Freebie out to go and find my father. Whenever she showed up, he knew it was time to go home.



{February 25, 2014}   Daily Prompt: We Got the Beat

Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

Great topic for the daily prompt today! I guess it is a story I have been intending to write for a while. There’s definitely more than one post here for me, but I’m off to work now and time is short.

I had a songwriting phase for sure, and I think I was actually good at it. When I was young and constantly in the throes of unrequited love, the lyrics came easily. I usually had a tune in my head when I wrote them, but I was not truly a musician. I was a writer who liked music. Thus when it came to the band part, I was doomed to fail.

When my friend Jane and I started singing together it was a blast; the two of us sitting on the bed or the floor with her guitar and a tape recorder. The hours would race by. Each time I wrote something, I would appear at Jane’s house with my scribbled ballads begging her to write music from my pitiful singing. Jane was a true musical talent; she sang and played her guitar on the local talent show “Community Auditions” when she was 6 years old. It always amazed me that she could listen to a song and then just play it on her guitar; she had an ear. When I got to be a nuisance with my lyrics, she said, “Why don’t you learn how to play the guitar and write your own music!” She was half-joking, but I took her seriously. I went out and signed up for guitar lessons. I did well with my lessons…intellectually I understood keys and I could read music. My teacher said I learned the music theory faster than any student he ever had…But being able to do that, does not a musician make.

Jane and I sang at a friend’s wedding, and performed at a small get-together at her house. Our friend Chris, who played bass guitar, wanted to play with us. We got my roommate and friend Julie involved; she didn’t play an instrument, but had a strong voice and personality, so she became the lead singer. I couldn’t sing and try to play the guitar at the same time…that was the first thing that bummed me out. Then when we tried to play together I found out how NOT FUN it was for me. Jane and Chris would jam, while I would be saying, “What key are you in???” I couldn’t hear it…I just did not have the ear. I soon quit with my tail between my legs, while they went on to play together for several years, under several different band names and with the addition of Julie’s husband and a few different drummers. But I soon gave up the guitar and song lyrics for photography and poetry, much more my style.



et cetera
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