Archive for April, 2013

A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing. (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

I should have known my son Greg would grow up to become a stand-up comic. Actually, both of my boys had a knack for making me laugh. When Steve was in grade school he sneaked items like “a pony” onto my grocery list, somewhere in between milk and cereal.

Once, when the two were teenagers, they were watching sports as I left for my weekly shopping. Snacks and drinks were scattered on the floor by the living room couch.

“Be sure to have this cleaned by the time I come back,” I told them.

“Sure, Mom,” they said.

The fact that neither one of my sports enthusiasts blinked could have been a clue. The scene didn’t look any better when I returned.

“It’s okay, Mom. We’ll take care of it. Turn around,” Greg said.

“Uh huh.”

“No really.”

Sure, I sensed a conspiracy, but I turned around anyway, for about ten seconds. The boys grabbed an old throw rug and covered their dirty glasses and bowls with it.

“I don’t understand it,” Greg said. “It works in the cartoons.”

I’d been had. However, they repaired the damage. They probably brought the groceries inside—after I finished laughing. That part of the story isn’t part of the punch line. Good kids create a great family, but don’t add much to a joke.

Now Gregory Petersen is awaiting the summer publication of “Open Mike,” Martin Sisters Press, a fictional story about a comic on tour. Michael Clover delivers quick-wit lines that make his audiences laugh—most of the time. Self-healing takes more than a joke at another person’s expense.

Laugh on one page. Cry on another. Yet, each scene fits the way the ocean yields to high and low tides. It’s life in fictional form.

Please note: my son’s book is one-hundred percent fiction. We are not a prototype of the Clover clan. And I am grateful. In fact, Greg has told me that he can’t make it as a full-time comedian; his youth wasn’t horrible enough. He works a day job.

Ah, well, I am thankful for all the fun my sons continue to provide. I am blessed and know it.

laughter words to inspire the soul

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Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold. (Leo Tolstoy, novelist and philosopher, 1828-1910)

A song I wrote recently runs through my head as I hunt for something I lost—the steroid inhaler I use to prevent asthma attacks. It was on my dresser. Now it disappeared, melted as if it were some kind of metallic ice, and then evaporated. The repeating song has an uplifting tone; my spirit doesn’t want to go there. Is this just a walk along a city street or is this a way of seeing? The words explore attitude. Do I notice soot-stained curbs or bird-filled trees? All a matter of attitude.

My attitude wants to sink, throw something rather than systematically search. No, I am not facing immediate danger. Discomfort? Yes. And I am missing my writing time by organizing areas where I could have accidentally placed it while doing a bad job of multitasking. This wasn’t in the day’s plan. Moreover, my effort delivers nothing. Yet.

The song continues to play through my skull like the hold music that comes after, “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line. There are 615 callers in line ahead of yours.”

Okay, I hear you, song. I’ll try to find the good in the moment. Ah, what is this, hidden on the side of my dresser? Something that I was absolutely certain I put somewhere else—and I need it in three hours. Hmmn, yeah, well, I guess that could be called good news. And I finished organizing an area or two that’s needed it for months.

You can stop that incessant singing at any time now, Terry, I tell myself. I got the message! Oh well, I guess it’s better than the old camp favorite, “A thousand bottles of beer on the wall,” especially since I don’t drink anything stronger than orange juice.

Ear plugs don’t help in this situation; one step at a time does, maybe with a little rhythm added.

pic from Positive Inspirational Quotes

stumble part of dance  PIQ

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Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is the way you can both hate and love something you are not sure you understand. (Dorothy Allison)

The computer is my friend—most of the time. And, I suspect it is the buddy of anyone who browses the Internet. Explore the world in pajamas or old scrub-the-house clothes. At any time of the night or day. Between wash and dry cycles or in the ten minutes before guests arrive for dinner. The night before a paper is due or at a whim. Just what is the derivation of the word derivation, or what is the area code for Boise, Idaho? A laptop opens within seconds; it allows access to a desired page with the click of a mouse, and finds places and information that once took a seeker, usually a student, hours in a library.

Even now, years after college, I recall the huge, sturdy cabinets of Dewey Decimal System catalog cards with the miniature yellow pencils and papers at nearby tables, pieces small enough to hide in the palm of my hand. The cabinet at the downtown library in the late 1960s and early 1970s housed the world’s knowledge. It looked like a square castle without a moat. Imaginary alligators swam in the invisible space around the cabinet, but they bit just as deeply. I called that space ignorance. Just where do I go for my answer?  If I was looking into history, but selected an artist, was my pot-of-gold answer supply in art or history? Sure, the cards supplied clues, but I wasted time wandering anyway when the area around the cabinet was crowded with fellow seekers.

If the material happened to be reference, I copied the search info on the tiny paper and took it to a librarian behind a central desk in the appropriate department, who relayed it to someone in the basement. If the material was found, and someone else wasn’t already using it, I wrote all the facts on three by five inch cards, noting source for reference at the bottom of the page on my paper. Usually, I forgot a page number or part of a name and hoped and prayed that somewhere in the research that information was repeated. My own handwriting also caused problems. Uh, was that an h or a b in Harvey Whatsbisname, creator of the fudge factor?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_catalog (for a picture of an old catalog)

The work finally reached line-paper, written-out, ready-to-be-typed form—on a manual Royal typewriter. On onion skin paper that smeared ink as if it were cheap black lipstick. In the basement of my house. With a single-bulb light hanging above, papers blurred by tears as I made impossible-to-repair mistakes on the last line. I had to retype the entire page.

The good old days? Maybe not.

However, I suspect that even the tech savvy utter a curse or two at least, through clenched teeth, when problems arise.

And they do appear. Several days ago I spent hours fussing, changing passwords, talking to some fine folk on the other side of the globe, via a local call transfer. And still, I hold my breath as I enter this Internet space and then that, feeling uncertain all the way.

No point in droning on about the details of electronic hiccups. They happen. I wrote the above for contrast. No, I don’t understand the world of 0’s and 1’s connected to this keypad, but they are an integral part of my life now. Keep the old typewriters behind glass and the old library systems in accessible articles.

The past doesn’t exist anymore. Let’s see what happens today. Maybe even celebrate it.

(where I stand in technological development)

baby at laptop

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Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. (Leo Rosten, author, 1908-1997) 

My day’s plan is to walk through the woods and take everything in without judgment, A meditative stroll, without the need to put anything into words, without thinking about work that waits at home, no thought of time. Jay and I don’t even have a camera with us. Spring has arrived, finally, and the sun is cooperative. My lightweight coat is unzipped, baseball cap on, hiking boots laced.

Nature does its part. However—I have scarcely trudged fifteen minutes before I notice how many beech trees there are along this trail. Their parchment-white leaves left from last summer break through my resolve not to capture the experience in words. Oh, I didn’t promise to stop writing. Just pause long enough to commune with nature, let it talk to me before I express an opinion.

Yeah, trees, I forgot. Your turn to talk and my turn to listen. And the wind sways the branches, teasing me, begging me to define them. The old beech leaves curl, like cocoons, without butterflies, no need to prove anything. Yet, they have withstood snow, bitter temperature, and harsh winds.

You sure jabber to yourself a lot, an old oak calls, silently of course.

I beg your pardon.

Meditation requires quieting of the mind, not analyzing, even if your conclusions create poetry. The best art mimics life; it doesn’t recreate it.

The tree hasn’t been running around, trying to find its place in creation; it already knows.

I nod and continue along the trail until my husband and I reach the lake. He takes my hand and we watch the sun play along the surface of the water.

My mind doesn’t calm easily. It asks for results, generally immediately, or at least quickly, even though I have had a lot of experience working on projects that have taken years. Not all of them have been successful in the world’s eyes. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn. Or that I am not learning from standing still, watching water move in slow mesmerizing patterns, on an ordinary April day, as if there were nothing better to do but be aware that life can be both beautiful and good.

knowledge has no end

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My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn. (Louis Adamic)

I feel ridiculous. Sure I know how to tune my guitar. Strings get out of tune—all the time. I did this last night in forty seconds. Too much warmth and the wood swells; the sound becomes sharp. When the temperature drops the wood contracts. The E string goes flat and the others drop out, too. But, I’m using a different kind of tuner. The Snark works even in a noisy room. The room is filled with conversation, shouting, laughter. I’m the one distracted, not the electronic device.

Fortunately, a few deep breaths and minor adjustments remind me of the obvious. Externally, I appear calm. All I have to do is tell my internal self to do the same. I have at least thirty minutes of music prepared. Won’t need anywhere near that much for the few minutes I have at the YMCA senior luncheon, before and after the speaker. Today’s topic: “The Wise Way to a Healthier Brain.”

My part of the preparation feels like studying for an important exam: sixty hours of an intense mental workout for an hour’s worth of questions and answers. But then music is different. It is something the soul gives itself, for its own sake. The music lover doesn’t count practice hours. Actually, I have no idea how many hours I have spent getting ready.

Several years ago I stopped playing for months, many months. During that time my hands succumbed to arthritis. When I came back to my Big Baby Taylor, my fingers didn’t want to do what they once could handle easily. So, I did what anyone else who is foolish would do, I scheduled a gig, and forced those digits to cooperate. They did. Somewhat. However, since this girl didn’t pluck a string until she was in her mid-fifties, she can hardly be called a professional. Stubborn? Well, that is another matter. I have sat on my bed and played, paused, and then thrust my hand into a warm wrap to recover before continuing.

Come on, you can do it, I think. The arthritis pain is low right now. My middle finger on my right hand suffers most. But, my friend, Antoinette, did healing touch on it yesterday, and showed me how to send warmth to the swollen site. Here is one of the suggested techniques: http://www.spirithospital.com/Article–Healing-Mudras.html So far it is working. Positive thinking, more than a concept.

“The sound is ready. Go ahead,” I’m told.

Well, the sound could be better. I do what I can and give my best anyway.

Oh, very little in life is perfect, but several folk ask for the words to my original work. That is a plus. Seniors don’t applaud unless they mean it, and they clap with enthusiasm. My three-year-old granddaughter waves to me from the back, but doesn’t try to run from Grandpa and leap on stage. Perhaps the size of the group is too intimidating for that move. There are at least 150 people at the luncheon, not that I would stop to count.

I started awfully late in life to become a great musician, but if all I wanted was perfection I would miss out on a lot of joy, a lot of opportunity, and find regret instead.

Smiling, I pack my supplies after the event ends.

“We’ll have a better sound system for you the next time,” the set-up person says.

Okay. I guess there is going to be a next time. A few inflamed joints can’t win yet!

pic from The Optimism Revolution

music feelings The Optimism Revolution

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