Thursday, July 07, 2016

Glossy anti-programming

I remember when my young daughter's new doll gave her an insight of searing truth: "Mom, this doll doesn't do all the commercial says it does!"

Yesterday at work, my intern who is enrolled in a government summer jobs program, reported that she still hadn't been approved for work, after 11 weeks of submitting paper work and waiting on them to "process."

She had done everything right. Even being on the autism spectrum, she had self-advocated to her limits even as a young person.

I still had the government jobs program's glossy fliers on my desk. Need a job? Want pay? Have a barrier of sorts? We can help!

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's the false marketing pretense of doing something for those on the autism spectrum. We experienced this on a college visit to a campus in Arkansas -- beautiful descriptive web site page, brochures, program outline. Yet upon arriving, we found out how few it served, and I personally heard insensitive remarks from the program coordinator in the presence of my son.

Well, I got on the phone yesterday, on a pursuit. I heard excuses from a higher up. But, I did not confront her and agreed to wait while she talked to the right person.

My intern only has a few weeks to now work since the government program has forced her to wait and waylay other summer funds she could have earned. They effected the opposite of what they purported in their glossy brochure -- they contributed to lack of financial independence and work.

A good lesson for those who are trying to help. Programming is difficult; words are easier. Be authentic stewards as much as possible.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Sunrise somewhere

I woke up at 3:15 a.m.; a former student of mine has died.

He was quiet, athletic, and stricken with disease at about age 19. However, he died unexpectedly in his early twenties. Surely his family rocks with grief.

But life continues. Prayers are prayed. New goals are made. I went walking with my friend at 4:30 on the track. She talked about forgiving, dealing with illness in her family. The lanes lightened from the rising golden-pink sun. All the shadows on the bleachers left. I admire her and glad we stepped this morning out into our alive day, sorrowful, but joyful track.

I started The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck. He's justifying his summer trip now, when he left on a mule train down the trail beginning in St. Joe.

Wanderlust. Crazyass passion, he calls it. You have life, find it. Some don't.

If I did something wild and free, it would involve movement too -- hiking, playing music, going on a caravan with a bunch of crazy bluegrassers. Getting good, real good, living in a sound dream.

But, it also involves the today: forwarding the nonprofit I started into years ahead. Daring, moving forward, being hit by the reins (I'm the mule!) in order to pull on. Each day, moment, tells you to expand the ground you see. Keep going, look around. Notice that bountiful mercies abound.

Giddy'up and good day!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Learning environs

Billy Collins' poetry books are stacked up (yes, this sounds so pretentious! but, if you really know his writing, you know he is one of the least pretentious modern poets out there). Thank you, God, for this introduction which was me just nosing around internet poetry one day.

The Music Man Pandora is on.

My little wonderful student KB has two of her school pictures peeking out from a clay pretty pot I use as a pen holder.

Other students "Welcome!" pictures are on my wall. All but three of eight are gone from my lovely tutoring office which I don't focus on much with the start of a nonprofit.

I am cleaning and finding sweet notes: "Thank you for being my teacher. I love you!" "Thank you for basically starting the writing club and keeping it going!" I must say that the gifts and trinkets from teaching are far and few in between, but I keep each note or doodad given. If truth be known, my love language is in things. I rarely receive them (except for husband at Christmas or birthday) and so each one is so special to me. I tear up now just thinking about sentimental gift things.

When my father died, I was the only one in my family who did not receive flowers or some tangible thing-thought or a friend who showed up from my 3.5 hours away town. That was hard. I know I have friends, many, however, it was Thanksgiving weekend and rainy and difficult.

When I returned, I was sad and sulky at so much. I sat in my office one day, still grieved in multiple ways, and a man appeared with beautiful flowers in his hands for me. I had spoken at his service agency group, and a semi-drunken man had said a few strange things out loud to those around him (not concerning me). The man had felt so badly about the rudeness that he decided to gift me with flowers.  Of course, I knew I was gifted from Grace with Flowers and my immature sulking was noticed (thanks God again).

Back to my office. Here I've laughed with students. On Mondays, I teach my minimally verbal guy with autism some mandolin. He tells me each time what he had to eat during the weekend. I love entering into his dignity, his into mine. Sometimes he's frustrated but his motor skills have improved wonderfully. Also, I meet a teenage boy late Monday afternoons, feed him snacks, and we read Animal Farm. He's not a reader, but he likes politics, and his discussion can move from his familiar concrete to the abstract. (I hope he learns to write like Orwell.)We enjoy our discussions of this book, and I can really grimace and "omg" out loud as it connects too closely to our current politics! I think we have fun; I know that, even though he would rather be on the couch playing video games, relaxing, doing what he wants to do, that we enjoy ourselves in the relationship of learner to learner, and teacher to learner.

There are other students including my bright KB who has an amazing inner joy. She was adopted from a far away island; it's like the sun has never been extinguished. She has been with me for about three years, and I've seen her grow in girl beauty and talent (a smidgen in math too!). I do wish her mother wouldn't worry about her so much, but her worries bring her here and to other people who can pour individually into her. All mothers should be the same!

Time to hand clean another spot on the wood (aka linoleum) floor.

It makes me happy to remember students.

Social media identity throes

Recently a nephew of mine posted something that I felt could hurt the deep feelings of another relative. I sent him a private note, not angry, just asking him to think of these. Of course, he answered defensively saying that he didn't care about other's feelings nor who he offended. He said that I got off easy in his reply and that he would post what he wanted. Of course, what was I thinking to make him change his way of caring about someone else's feelings? This he prides himself on and has alienated key family members from himself and son. He also mentioned that he knew that we thought he was a backwards ignorant redneck. But, he said "love ya" at the end. I answered back kind of defeated in succumbing to the temptation to take care of someone else's feelings and thus separating myself from relationship with my nephew. I apologized and said to post what he wanted, and I wouldn't comment. I said "love ya" too. He read and unfriended me.

Ah the drama of Facebook!

I've been thinking about a couple of things after this.

First, I admire him in that he is showing who he is to the world. Yes, it's uncouth, uneducated (yes, it is), uncaring to the feelings of others, all of which I do not admire, but it is who he is without regard or double sided appearances.

Second, I need to be more like that. I often hide my lefter leanings, my intellectualism -- this especially since some of my family seem to take it as a personal insult to their intelligence no matter what I do with it; my artistic side -- again, my family doesn't understand and I've been hurt by comments, and my version of God's truth -- inclusive. I need to be more open about taking care of people's feelings too. What's wrong with that!?

Therefore, I decided that I need to stop hiding so much. To be good with who I am. So, this sounds contradictory for being more open, but I've created a custom list of friends who are from New York, Seattle:), who like plays, who like art, who like to think, some whom I don't even know very well, and here I can be myself if I feel like expressing that side of me. Unfortunately, I have no family members on this list. My mother would probably be fine, though. My son, yes. My husband, yes but not too interested. My daughter, not interested or appreciative either, this isn't her thing.

For the general FB posts, I can stick to safer subjects like bluegrass, God bless America, pictures of family, and recipes. Of course, this is not being braver, but it's realizing that I should be myself in some kind of social media format. (Some would say -- therein lies the problem of social media, glossing, glazing, misinterpreting. It's true, yet my great-aunt, third cousin, nephew's wife can like the predictable. It's all good!).

My first blog about social media throes. And on modern life goes.

Stanzas behind but catching up

Listening to harmony, Gillian Welch Pandora, the harmony always sticks out more than the melody to me. The harmony feels more like a place, fresh hay, when all senses are in the barn, and you reach up to the rafters and float outside for even more.
I've been reading a book these last two days by Oliver Sacks. Why haven't I read him before? This has become recently tragic to me! But in my find, found by many before me, lagging behind banging a milk bucket against my knees, I recently read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Each chapter tells of a patient he has had as a psychiatrist, hopefully of the old school who doesn't reach for the prescription pad only after 15 minutes like today's cohort with drug companies.
There's much concerning psychology/neurology and music. Memorable characters who, void of a multi-feature of cognitive normalcy, can relate to music, can be absorbed into music, and can perceive the musical sense behind everything.
We have a music lobe in our brain, and I do not know much.
However, it's good to be reminded that our brains whirl, dance, and remember every single musical memory that we've etched into our own vinyls. There's the woman who had an epileptic seizure of her musical lobe who then had loud Irish tunes playing in her head, bringing her back to an emotional place in her early toddler years when her parents were still alive: I can feel my mother's arms around me, she said as she happily listened. That is one example of what I've read and learned. Another woman had displeasing songs; they seemed, though, to be oriented differently in life. Joy, acceptance, resistance, pain.
Many more good things in the book.
And, it's the 4th of July today, and the United States is still celebrating!

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Four chairs held up tautly against
the double-knit square. My grandmother,
and her fiery house smell of fabric,
yarn, and Pentecostalism, directed.
"Insert needle into the square's center,
pull up, out, clip, knot, and spread."

We worked quietly, two sisters unified,
hoping for a cookie or necklace while
Grandma and friend chattered, the
heavy ticking of the heirloom clock
interrupted and spat Time, Time, Time.

"All signs point to the end of times,"
Grandma said looking up at us two
who only wanted a small future for
boyfriends. Who fought that morning.

Each yarn tat begat a Scripture as she
spoke. Earthquakes, drought, L.A., rape.
Time, Time, Time, pull up, out, clip, knot,
and spread. "Are you ready?" she'd ask.

Ready to go home.


Writer's note:  These were the memories and the associations mixed in with quilting at Grandma Faye's house who always brought up the end times in a scary way. I'm not sorry for Grandma's apocalyptic fervor -- it really laid a memorable foundation for some literature I've read. Plus, I would forever have a gentle, kinder regard for Revelations. Now, I think of it as the one book in the Bible that is hot to the touch, like an ember, waiting to blaze out in the form of horsemen going to battle, waiting to grab onto my throat and make me repent!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


Your stomping stokes something
Strange. So insane that you followed.
Carrying those lashes up the hill. You,
Despised by our modernity of love,
Shackled by your ignorance of era,
Grabbed and misled those eyes, those
Boyhood lights of your only blessed
Light. Up to the depths of faith where
You strapped your makeshift sheep, your
Plight upon the stones. Flames and rod
Drawing closer, breathing heavier for the
Kill. You were led. Your knife imagined
The tender skin, the horror in his small
Unimagined eyes, the sorrow of the bow,
The sorrow of the bow. The sorrow of the
Bow. Mary fell heaped at the ruin. A
Cancer dissolves a skin. A crash puts out
A hope. Holocaust. Inquisition. End.
A ram tangles, and again we begin again.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What They Say

Penciled ancestors taped on a wall row
Hold eyes steadier than mine. Familial
Stories have been told of murderers, preachers,
Slave-owners, and a patriarchal thrower
Of stones. Lives tangled, lives-gospel-straightened,
Lives curling like vines. Once lived, now
Singled out, once upon a time died.

They stare ahead immobilized by an aunt's
Careful sketch; I wonder of their float
Between life and life-Next. Besides
The mustache on lips, the lacy frock around
Neck, the jacket and tie for portrait worn,
What deep regrets were released into the last-
Gasped air? Or, were they sick or unaware?

Notorious and common, like me,
Did they wonder too why they were meant to be?

Without their life on a string, I would not be strung.
I would not have had a daughter or a son. Thus,
I could use their faces as a dartboard, or I could
Color their starkness with care. For they tell me
Within each lifeless stare about the fate we share.

I wonder what picture will be used
When I am taped or nailed upon a wall.
I wonder who will be the new wonderer
Upon my trumpet call. Hello!
Enjoy your colors! Exhale!
For wherever you end up eternally going
You're embodied to dance

TWW 7/3/11

Friday, February 19, 2016

A plea

A graveled path smothering
the weeds with measured stones.
Measured stones, each shape,
granule, thrown for me to go.
Go, upon the graveled path,
open your eyes to see majesty,
squalid scenes, drab mundanity.

I go upon the graveled path
upon the enumerated stone
where hairs are counted, lilies
clothed, and heads are bound
to roll. I hear voices moan in
the bordering weeds, moaning plight,
sight, moaning helplessly.

Oh, Stone-Layer, please wind
your path around. Wind around some
wrists. Wind to help them out.

Wind, wind, until you flow like wind
to rustle out those pained
and in the bushes hid.

I go upon the graveled path where
you've placed me to be.
But, Father, Stone-Provider,
pave some paths, I plead.

TWW 7/15

Notes:  This is not a perfect poem; some of the rhythm is off. But, I wrote it when I was wanting God to do more to alleviate suffering. It's kind of a "Where are you? Show thyself, more, please" poem.  A little bit demanding underneath, but it's okay to be this way. There is a lot of suffering, groaning, and it gets tiring; you feel helpless; you call out for God to do something. But, does he? I guess he provides a path, but a paved path could be the not-promise. Yet, still, I would love to perceive more presence at times, but this could be my own blindness, distracted by much.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Play in Peace

I have an aunt hot in pursuit
of my DARdom.

I have a cousin who fluffs up
her hair for pictures while
you look flat and brunette
to the side.

I have a sister with whom
nothing's wrong except
a wedge a lake depth long.

My mother is good, and she
would frown to see the word
"ass" written down.

And then there's my gentle
brother who drove our dead
man to town.

Which leaves my father.
Who got whom?
I hope you and the final buck
have your word and, like in a
Disney film, take turns
poking and laughing and tumbling
in the grass, sister, brother, mother,
savior, lion, lamb, blood, water,
silhouetting as a marker:
enemies may become best friends
if one ushers & follows.


Writer's notes:  I know this is a strange poem, but I'm not to a point where I can write a more conventional one about the passing of my father. So, I write this darkly humorous one, but also one that has sadness and hope. The sadness is that my loved family member is gone; the hope is that Dad is happy-full in heaven. Dad would like this kind of humor, especially about my mother, and the fact that he and a buck could be eternally entwined. I can see his dimples and eye-glinting now to pick up on this strand of strange humor joy. Thanks, Dad, for getting it, and I hope you and your new friend are enjoying your time together with Jesus. :)
** DAR -- Daughters of the American Revolution

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Flat&Scruggs: A PocketPorchFest

In today's i-world, I have a

banjo in my housecoat pocket, along

with a willing flat picker,

responding with a boogie-woogie.

Then the mandolin like a

youth left behind brothers

makes a show, screamin',

hollerin', tremblin' up a

storm until Momma comes

bowin', the fiddle sweepin'

up nonsense as Dad

appears on the porch; he's

pickin', he's grinnin', and

all the neighbors of Foggy

Mountain come runnin'

to hear the night's Special.

TWW 2/14/16

the two souls declare a road trip and flicker to life

However, each route ended in a cul-de-sac,

Or a dead-end down a long, perilous dirt road.

And, the souls, once again, fell to the tricks of earth

Which promises heaven but leaves an empty space.

Although the sound of the crickets, the smell of the river,

The tune of some old Ernest Tubbs track, train-trapsing from

The transistor about love almost, almost snagged them

Into an endless longing for paradise before they turned

Around to encounter what remained for them to fully find

Outside and upside the dusty and tried and disloyal roads of life.

TW 7/21/13

Writer's note: This is in response to a prompt from a writer's group with former students. We wanted to play with words and our prompts came from our creative talks. Although I was their teacher, I was so grateful for their dutiful desire to stay by my side for a couple of years after our school writing group where we tossed words up to blow where they would; we laughed; and we also wrote songs and sang them and ate my homemade ice cream which I didn't make for hardly anyone else. Most of them have gone on to college, but I am happy knowing that they are making furrows in fields and planting creative words and thoughts. I am happy for my time in their lives and theirs in mine. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Still Life '77

A regular morning here
But there cows heaved,
bacon sizzled.

A Zane Gray western splayed the floor.
The Today Show thump-tinkled the air.
The backdoor slammed; the barnboots thumped.
Heavy steps circled the skillet -- time to get up.
Small woman, big man, uncertain girls and boy
Rounding the silent table, nameless shames, sounds.

We grabbed homework, trumpet cases, track shoes,
Jumped off the porch, intercepted Bus number 3
Horse-stumbling-hard up the blacktop hill.
A driver, silent farm kids, bus-pus smells.
We were driven off to dump in town,
struggle with science, be tormented
By loves, learn how differently others live,
Expand our views, or contract the flu.

Behind we left the small woman, big man,
Lots of dogs, bones in the yard, cow moos, house
creaking, bacon sizzling, sounds of shoes 
leaving and still-living 1977.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Church Women of the Clefs

I made the effort to know & be known.

But, you Women of the Clefs,

Looked down, fastidious

And righteous in Codas.

I pulled out my little folk

Instrument, hesitant, glad

For my high school band

And madrigal experience

And I looked down too

And read and hoped the

Flats would translate

Into my finger tips.

You all had inside

Musical jokes which

Caused some look-ups.

I smiled gripping my

Little folk instrument.

Maybe one day I can

Become a Woman of

The Clefs too unless I

Go home all lonely

And sob into my

Sound hole and

Pluck an Em and

Decide to quit.



Writer's note:  I tagged this as humor, although, true! I struggle with fitting into established groups. And, these women really do take their music seriously, very task focused; it's not a relational time. There are expectations and hopes though that I always carry in and then the situation is not matched. To me, it becomes funny as I cope with my relational loneliness which we all have, I suppose.  I really liked writing "little folk instrument" a couple of times because there I find true intimacy. :) The Em is the universal plaintive sound that me and my high school girl writer musicians group acknowledged. There are some inside jokes here which make me laugh. And, the "Women of the Clefs" will just be how I see this tribe. Maybe one day, I can be on the inside. But, then, maybe one day, probably, I'll still be someone who shows up periodically. To be on the inside, I would need to commit time to be in the choral groups on Sunday mornings, and I can't do that due to bluegrass. Ah, it's the little folk instrument's fault after all. Em!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

~~~  Flight School ~~~~

Even now, as I look at my past earnest notes, my
Head swirls. Math. Science. History. Find Scott
Joplin resources. Something about President Cleveland
Not being able to read his inauguration paper.

You had a piano teacher named Ms. Shaw. I taught
You guitar and Constitution at Lamppost Co-op.
On Tuesday, you were supposed to watch a
Star Trek show before Taekwondo and then,

Suddenly, all my plans end, and there’s blank
Page after blank page. During this phase of
homeschooling, we must have been
jumping, jumping, jumping. ADHD trampoline

homeschool. Do you remember Whoever got
Pokemon toys Chicorita&Poliwhirl off from a hard
bounce -- also Pooh and a big marble or two –
Would win? Over and over they sailed up

Newton's-law-lesson to thump down on the ground.
I’d have a book nearby and we’d read history
Told in stories and lie there looking up at
The clouds floating by, moving, not required

To be static, meandering, sliding, untied
To the earth or chair. I learned to do
A side aerial flip with you my little boy
wisp as we flung ourselves up unwired.

copyright TWW