Another sleepless night for me,
why won’t my mind set me free?
Awfulized and analyzed,
chewed over and magnified.
A fear of failure or a desire to win,
what drives my brain to these sins?
I turn things over and over in my head,
when sleep is really what I need in my bed.
The pups are up and in my seat,
looking concerned, but still wanting a treat.
My husbands asleep and snoring away,
he’ll wake refreshed to start his day.
I stress, worry and fret
about things of little importance, albeit.
Calm eludes me, no bliss to be found,
believe me I’ve been looking around.
I stare at the moon and what do I see,
another obligation looking back at me.
A wasted life will be my fate,
if I don’t get some of these things off my plate.
Drink some tea and pop a pill,
these anxieties even they aren’t able to kill.
Sleeps elusive for a worried mind,
tomorrows another chance to turn this tide.
Why do I brood, worry and stew,
with my lust for control I guess it’s my due.
It’s another sleepless night for me,
so I write this poem while I sip my tea.
Maya Angelou passed away yesterday and sadness fell over my soul. I wanted to write something or offer a poem to honor her but all my drafts seemed unworthy. She was such a singular human being with an amazing voice and a full life lived.
A friend of mine shared this from author James Baldwin’s Facebook page and it blew me away.
Maya wrote the poem “When Great Trees Fall” when James Baldwin died, and read the poem at his funeral.
“When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
She existed and we can be and be better for she existed.
Thank you to Random House for maintaining a Facebook Page for the wonderful James Baldwin.
My book-plates and other BookCrossing tools finally arrived and I am so excited to release my first book. I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long, until the package arrived from BookCrossing Europe in the Netherlands. I thought it was coming from Sandpoint, Idaho where the site was started and runs.
I am now trying to decide which book should get the honor of my first release. I am considering “A Girl Named Zippy” one of my favorite books and the first one I reviewed here at Random & Rhyme but there are so many others that I love too.
Do you have a suggestion for the book that I should release first?
The rind of brie is so bitter,
the tang of sharp cheddar I like better.
Oh there is blue and gorgonzola,
but gouda is best to console you.
Feta, camembert and romano
have nothing on the best asiago.
A double G or havarti,
they’re just what’s needed to start the party.
On the counter to age and ripen,
they’ll pair nicely with that pear and melon.
So raise your glass of Chablis and taste that stilton,
because this ode to cheese is now melting.
My first real job was as a berry picker in the Skagit Valley In Washington state. I started when I was 9 years old picking raspberries for a husband and wife that had a small farm that was just about a half-mile from our home. I was one of the few white kids in the field picking berries to make a little money for school clothes hanging out with my sister and having some fun.
But after the second half-assed day on the job, not picking my row thoroughly, Darrel the owner walked down my row before assigning another one to me and taught be a very important lesson. He spoke to me like an adult and explained how my low quality work impacted his life and the life of his family as well as took money out of the pockets of other adults working in the field along side of me to support their families. He told me I needed to decide if I wanted to be a quality worker and stay employed as a picker in his field or if I wanted to go home.
I decided I wanted to stay. I also believe I worked harder for him because he had treated me with respect, told me my options and let me choose. I worked in the fields for him for three more summers, each year getting better at the job and earning more. I would leave the strawberry fields of Sakuma Brothers as soon as the raspberries in Darrels fields were ready to pick.
A recent report on NPR about Anthropologist, Seth Holmes, who spend a year and a half working with migrant berry pickers had this to say about the work in his new book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies, Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.
“Picking Berries At Speed, Duration Required Hurts The Body
Holmes says he often felt a lot of pain in his knees, hips and back while picking.
“It always seemed like whichever position felt the best, I was the slowest at picking, so I always felt like I had to pick in the most painful position, bent over with both knees as far as I could, in order to be as fast as I could,” Holmes said. “And at one point, I wrote in my journal, ‘This feels like pure torture.’”
It was very hard work, sore back, sore knees, sunburns, scratches from the needles on the bushes, I still have scars. My three summers of hard field work turned into 3 more seasons working in his small processing plant, standing on the line picking out the bad ones, dumping flats in to the clear freezing cold water to clean them for the line, preparing berries for jam by adding the exact right amount of sugar to the berries to get the ratio correct, packing the perfect berries for shipment overseas in special little boxes.
Every summer started with a stomach ache too, because the first day I would eat so many of the perfect, yummy berries that inevitably I ended up with a belly ache by the end of the day. But, oh it was so worth it. There is still nothing like a fresh Washington state strawberry or raspberry, no sugar needed.
My work paid for my school clothes each year, my first car (a used 1973 VW 412), school fees, band camp and any fun I had. Those summer jobs helped me in so many ways: it gave me a work ethic, helped me understand the economy of money and helped me appreciate people from other cultures. The migrant Mexican workers were the first foreigners I ever met and all of them that I worked beside over those six summers were kind, funny, hardworking and an inspiration to a young impressionable kid about taking care of your family, working hard and enjoying your life.
A summer job and responsibility should be on every kids resume before they graduate highschool.
Did you have a summer job as a kid? Do you expect your kids to work in the summer?
A wasted day, what can I say,
to be productive was not my way.
A rest, a stop, a nap, a talk,
a glance at the clock, but no where to walk.
A wasted day, what can I say,
with no energy, no not even to play.
A drift to the kitchen for a cup of tea
and a glance out the window to see.
A wasted day, what can I say,
I’m ready to go, but just want to stay.
Up, then down, and around and around,
to and fro and no where to go.
A wasted day, what can I say,
I am feeling so sad, but wish to be gay.
A sigh, a slump and a shrug,
but still there’s no one to hug.
A wasted day, what can I say,
my mood it just can’t be swayed.
But if I’m lucky, tomorrow will come
and my wasted day will be all done.
I am starting our plans for our road trip to California, this will be our third annual meandering down the west coast. The anticipation is starting to build and I can hardly wait to get the dogs in the car, load up the iPod with some great tunes, fill the cooler with snacks and drinks and hit the open road.
We have ended up at least in part at little place near the beach in Santa Cruz where the dogs are welcome, the beautiful beach is right outside our door, we have a little kitchen to prepare meals and an awesome burrito place just 3 blocks away.
Our route has changed the last two years, the first trip involved a trip to Arizona to visit my grandfather at his “snow bird” location in Sun City West near Phoenix, a stop in trendy Palm Springs the same weekend as the Coachella music festival (there were some sites and a crazy price for a bare-bones motel in a sold out town – sometimes timing is everything) a stop in Northwest Portland with a visit to my very favorite bakery in the world, the St. Honore’ Boulangerie for a yummy Croque Monsieur and some pastries and bread for the road.
Our last trip was more of a direct trip to our spot in Santa Cruz with a short stop in Medford, Oregon. We ran into a couple at one of the rest stops in Oregon, they were driving an older VW Eurovan(so jealous) and traveling with their dog. Our dogs had to smell each other, the way that only dogs do, we smiled and said hello and headed back out on the road. We ran into them again the next time we stopped to let the dogs walk and take a break. We laughed and decided to introduce our selves, they were traveling back to their home in Santa Cruz from visiting relatives that lived less than 20 miles from us. Small world. We visted, shared business cards, let the dogs sniff and play for a few minutes and then headed back to the road.
Meeting people on the road is one of my favorite things about a trip, but I have to admit my husband is much better at that (if that is something that can be rated) than I am. He can strike up a conversation with just about anyone about just about anything. I am a bit more shy and striking up a conversation with a stranger is not an easy thing for me, I guess I feel like I am intruding on their lives or maybe that I just have nothing of note to offer them. But when it does happen, I really do love it.
As I begin poring over maps to plan some possible routes and look for dog friendly hotels along the way; my spirit rises, I feel giddy inside and am back to being a kid in school watching the calendar slowly click by waiting for the day school will be out for the summer.
Do you have any summer travel plans or dog friendly hotels to recommend on the west coast?
I was lucky enough to have 4 amazing women in my life, both of my parents mothers and two of my parents grandmothers(besides my mother of course) that helped make me the woman I am today. I learned many things from each of the women;
From my great-grandmother Kate (my mother’s grandmother) I gained an appreciation for music and dancing from watching hours of the Lawrence Welk show with her in her big white leather recliner. My first memory of being empathetic to someone comes from her as well. I was spending the night with her and she was up on the end of the bed coughing, I got up and put my bathrobe around her shoulders and patted her back. I was maybe 4 at the time.
From my great-grandmother Anne (my dads grandmother) who I unfortunately knew for the shortest period of time I gained a love of shortbread cookies, admiration for hard work(she worked in our families plumbing business until well into her 80’s) and a giggle inside whenever I hear someone refer to a child as a wee one, because she always laughed and smiled when her wee ones visited her at her home or in later years in the rest home.
From my grandmother Jean (my dad’s mom), who was one of the most elegant and beautiful women I have ever met; I learned to play chinese checkers, love green peppers and received my first bottle of perfume(Charlie by Revlon).
From my grandmother Buddy (my mom’s mom) who I was so lucky to have in my life the longest I learned; to play Gin Rummy and Cribbage, to pour a drink, to make potato salad and love blue cheese. I flew on my first airplane with her and my rode on my first train. She helped me with my golf game, worried about my love life and always rode my ass about things I was doing wrong.
I really wish I could ask them so many questions, but here are ten I would love ask:
1.) What brought you the most joy in life?
2.) Who was the love of your life?
3.) What regrets do you have if any?
4.) When and where were you the happiest?
5.) What did you enjoy most and least about your occupations? (All of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had jobs outside the home at one time or another)
6.) What advice would you give me now to live a happier and fuller life?
7.) What would you tell me to quit worrying about?
8.) Who was your first boyfriend, your first lover, your first kiss?
9.) How do you make this dish? (each of them had a specialty and unfortunately I only have a couple of the recipes)
10.) What part of you do you see in me?
If you have special people in your life, ask the questions now don’t wait until it’s too late.
If you have lost someone special in your life, are there questions you wish you had asked?
I travel to my brothers party,
ready to laugh loud and hearty.
His daughter today has made the grade,
and now it’s time to throw her parade.
He brings her friend since second grade,
to grow the fun that they have made.
A suit and tie he does not wear,
for a picture made with flair.
She slips away from the family she knows,
bold and beautiful with a heart of gold.
He stands near his girl with pride,
thinking of the day she’ll be a bride.
The girls a woman now so smart and brave,
my brother’s pride he cannot hide at what he’s made.
The repetition begins at an early age,
with competition to make the grades.
It’s early to rise, to knot the ties,
sip your coffee and monetize.
The work is hard, but still we strive,
because a new toy is in our eyes.
Do we love the work we do,
so often only the lucky few.
To pay for the life that we live,
our sweat we must give.
I have gotten on a rhyming bent these last couple weeks. It seems to happen to me when I start reminiscing and thinking about life in a more reflective way. I think the return of my grandfather to Washington, a visit with my parents and sister and then my nieces graduation this weekend all had me thinking more slowly and reflecting on how quickly time passes. Life truly does go by in a blink of an eye and I seem to miss so much of it.
I need to quit working to pay for “things” and rather work to pay for the experiences of life. This week was a great example of what I would like to do more of; I spend time with my beautiful, sweet, talented niece Hailey and her family. I was able to hear her sing in a performance, meet her new college roommate, finally meet her step-dad(who has been in her life for nearly 13 years) and hang out and laugh with my little brother. The four day with airfare, rental car, food, etc cost me $600, for me that was money well spent.
What do you work for and how do you spend money well?