Looking Bullied

I worked in a toxic environment. I worked for a bully. She tried every tactic at her disposal to make my life difficult to impossible. She took delight when I would struggle. I was set up to fail at every turn. BUT I am tenacious. I persisted. I vowed that every challenge would be overcome, every obstacle removed, and I would become better for it. I told Sparky at one point that no matter what, I would out last her. And I did. Three years after she was forceably retired, I retired on my own terms on my own schedule. I was bullied and I survived. In fact, it is precisely because of the relentless assault of my character and abilities that I became so very proficient. It honed my organization, my patience, and my ability to keep my own counsel. So here is my tribute to bullying: a Cyhydedd Fer, which is a Welsh form of rhyming couplets with 8 syllables per line. Not a really difficult form except for the pronunciation of the name!

A bully tried to make me cry
But I grew wings and I did fly
Though I strove to make ends meet
I did not stumble o’er her feet
Her taunts attempt to cause me pain
Her losing efforts were my gain
I am fearless, brave and stronger
Her attacks won’t last much longer
A bully’s friends are never true
I fought back, they abandoned you
All alone as you fell from grace
What you saw was my smiling face
You mocked my life in your conceit
I’m still laughing at your defeat

Looking Inflated

I decided to make a larger orb. To do this I use a technique that involves rolling out slabs of clay to 1/4″ thickness and placing them around an inflated rubber balloon or punch ball. I used to make these all the time. But it had been awhile. In my tool kit I had several dollar store punch balls. My favorite was a large one that when blown up was almost the size of a beach ball. I never took it to its maximum capacity, usually stopping at the 10″ – 12″ diameter size. It was to my dismay that upon removing it from the protective plastic sleeve and attempting to inflate it, that there was a leak. My first thought was that if the leak was small, I could patch it with some tape. But the hole was large – almost as if someone had bitten off a chunk. Carrying it to the trash was sad. We had been together for over 15 years. I was forced to pull out the back up balloon. The yellow one was stiff. As I pulled on it to make it easier to blow up, it disintegrated in my hands. My first thought was that I’d have to put my project on hold. As luck would have it I had a brand new, never used one in green. It was stretchy. I managed to get it to the size of a small soccer ball. It didn’t take long after that to get the clay around it and the seams smoothed out. I wanted to do this one with constellations but it wasn’t to be. Instead it was decorated with flowers and leaves. I did make it a pierced form and there is an opening to insert the lights…
   
I used a white stoneware clay for this one and Asian mums are glazed in Atomic Purple and the smaller flowers in Super T with the leaves done in Grass Green. The background is Phil’s Celadon. I attempted to use some underglaze chalks but most of them burned out. I’m going to touch up the leaves with some “room temperature” glazes since the Grass Green was a little splotchy. Anyway it really throws some beautiful patterns on the walls and ceiling when the room is completely dark…

Looking for the Payoff

He’s a risk taker
Rides his bike dare-devil style
Laughs in danger’s face
He lives on the edge
Makes his living with music
Lives life as a song
Has totaled three cars
And has walked away unhurt
Thanks his lucky stars
Likes video games
Takes on villains, tries to fly
Counts on respawning
Invests in Bit-coin for fun
Gets a lucky break again

It was about 6 years ago that I first heard about crypto-currency. Seems Son#2 had invested in Bit-coin. Now, I’m not a risk taker. When he told me about this purchase, I was skeptical and had this nagging feeling that he had been scammed. Well, come to find out he made a wise investment. He soon traded his Bit coin for Doge-coin (one Bit-coin for 1.4 MILLION Doge coin). Then as the price of the Doge-coin mounted, he decided to sell a small portion of his Doge-coin fortune. He received enough money to pay off his portion of the house he bought with his brother. He paid off his car. He paid off the remainder of the new viola. And he will put aside money he will owe in capital gains. This makes me breathe a little easier as he has a monetary cushion as he settles into his new place and eases into his new job in a new city. His father thinks he needs to diversify his investments into safer vehicles instead of the volatile crypto-currency market. Me, I’m just glad his investment has paid off.

The above poem is a Haiku Sonnet. It is 4 haiku verses with a closing couplet of either 7 or 5 syllables per line. This results in the standard sonnet length of 14 lines but unlike the traditional sonnet, there is no rhyme because, well, haiku!

Looking Brave

Someone told me I was brave. I’m not sure what their criteria for bravery was but I certainly didn’t think I fit into that category. Being called brave gave me pause. I pondered this designation laid at my feet or perhaps it was heaped on my head. When trying to come up with some instances where I might have been brave or at least braver than those around me, I came up blank. I just couldn’t figure out how I was brave. Sparky agreed I was brave but couldn’t think of any specifics. So with some serious navel gazing I came up with a list:

1. Had 2 children without anesthesia.
2. Had a dental filling done without Novocain.
3. Stood my ground when accused of wrongdoing at work.
4. Stood up for a coworker who was wrongfully terminated.
5. Captured a squirrel in the toilet and released it to the wild.
6. I watch when being stuck with needles.
7. I cook new things and try new recipes.
8. Rode in a boat despite being terrified of water.
9. Walked across swamps, deserts, bug infested prairie, tiptoed across creeks with a stiff upper lip.
10. Had stitches done without a local anesthesia.
11. Rode in a sky gondola/sky tram and actually breathed in and out.
12. Befriended the new kid.
13. Was the new kid and made friends.
14. Accepted a new religion.
15. Held my head high amid ridicule.
16. Held up others in a time of grief even though I was grieving too.
17. Confronted a bully.
18. Retired early.
19. Sent my sons on Scouting Adventures to do dangerous things.
20. Wrangled dangerous dogs and cats, horses, cows, opossums, ferrets, hamsters, rats, rabbits, and snakes.

I suppose some would call me brave. I’m more inclined to say I am calculating – I’ve weighed the danger against the benefit and chosen the safer alternative. Are you brave??

Looking at the Faucet

We have very hard water. We had lime buildup around the shower head. But it was especially bad at the kitchen sink. Sparky decided to de-lime the sink using that all natural and disgusting smelling substance known as vinegar. It worked great. The lime around the faucets on the counter top disappeared. Sadly the lime was acting as a sealant holding them in place. Upon further examination, we discovered that the nuts holding the faucets in place under the counter top had corroded to the point that they are just ornamental! So I had a free floating faucet and spray attachment! Everything was “loosey-goosey” and we needed a repair. It was a foregone conclusion that we needed a new faucet assembly. That was the easy part. After discussion, consultation with the wider family, and some investigation, it was determined that our choices were DIY installation or pay a plumber $$$. Sparky procrastinated but managed to install the new faucet. He used some colorful language and required a little assistance from me but managed to get it done in one day. I’m very pleased. A few years ago we had an issue in the bathroom off the master bedroom…

The rhythmic sound will drive me mad
Echo from the water dripping
You can’t hear it so it’s not bad
Call the expert to fix the thing
All your fixes are not working
The tap is broken and I weep
The plumber comes, my hands I wring
Please fix it soon so I can sleep!

This is a Huitain, a French form consisting of a single stanza from a Ballade. That is a single 8 line stanza with 8 to 10 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of a/b/a/b/b/c/b/c.

Looking at Dirt

For many years I used the term dirt and soil interchangeably. Then my son took some geology courses and informed me that there was a difference. The definition of dirt is any unclean matter, such as mud, dust, dung, trash, debris, etc. where soil is the mineral and organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. With the raised beds for the gardens, I also learned that there were different types of soil and each type had a different texture and composition. Which brings us back to dirt. Specifically I am talking about the “black gold” of mushroom compost. I’m sure you have heard stories of mushrooms being grown in manure. Well, that is partially true. Mushroom compost is made of organic materials such as hay, straw, corn cobs, and hulls, and poultry or horse manure as well as added gypsum, peat moss, lime, soybean meal, and various other organic items. The mushroom farmer mixes in the mushroom spores and grows the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are harvested, the used compost is scraped together, bagged and sold to eager gardeners like Sparky. The description of it as gold is not just because it is a primo fertilizer and soil enhancer but it is expensive!

This isn’t the first time he’s used the mushroom compost. But it is still a surprise to me every time. The stench of that stuff is beyond revolting. And it travels. The first time he bought some, he loaded it into the back of his car and brought it home. After about 30 seconds he had rolled all the windows down. After removing it, he realized that the smell was now permeating his car. That was because the bags were oozing a noxious milky substance that had seeped into the carpet lining his back hatch area. There was a lot of hosing and scrubbing and use of disinfectants to remove the smell. It finally required the purchase of an odor neutralizing enzyme and several applications of Febreze. Now he uses a tarp.

So he purchased some of this special secret magic to grow his garden this year. He managed to transport it without destroying the car. He worked it into the soil in his raised garden beds. Here it is mid-July and his tomato plants are thriving and his greens are growing out of control. AND every time it rains I can smell that awful, stomach turning, stink emanating from the gardens.

Looking Hungry

I am rather organized. (And I can hear those of you who know me in person snickering. And yes, I can hear the eye rolls too.) I decided to alphabetize my list of poetry forms into a much easier to use 3″ x 5″ card file. I had a steno pad (was in a “FREE” box at a garage sale) filled with various forms and poetic devices. As I stumbled upon a form, I’d write it in the pad. I ended up with 143 forms on 28 pages in no particular order. Then I ran out of pages (it was a thin steno pad). Instead of trying to copy all of them into a new pad, I opted for the 3″ x 5″ cards. The process of transferring the forms to the cards meant I was reading them and mulling over the differences and similarities. Many of the forms were old friends. I’ve used them over and over because, well, because I like them. Then there were a few that I’ve used and thought “Well, I’ve manage to retain my sanity/sense of humor/equilibrium.” Finally there were some I’ve never attempted or have done once and muttered under my breath “Never again”. Mostly I was nudged by the memories of someone on WordPress having written using a form and thinking perhaps it is time I give it a chance. Which is akin to having asparagus on sale at the grocery and deciding that the pretty spears need to be tried, just once more, because maybe they will taste better this time. The key though for new foods is that you should be really hungry…

Sevenling: (Three Square Meals)
Three square meals served right
Morning, noon and night
You eat everything in sight

I prep and clean and cook
Know your hungry look
Youth, pride, honor you took

For dessert you gnaw on my bones

This is a Sevenling. It is a form consisting of 2 three line stanzas and a single last line. The first stanza contains an element of three connecting/contrasting or list of details/names/possibilities. The next stanza should similarly contain an element of three that connects directly/indirectly or not at all. The 7th line should act as a narrative summary/punchline or unusual juxtaposition. There are no metrical rules HOWEVER being a short poem there should be some meter, rhyme, or rhythm. A title is not required but if one is used it should be “Sevenling: (followed by the first few words of the first stanza)”. The tone should be offbeat and/or disturbing.

Looking Floral

I am not a gardener. Let’s just say I have a garden plan, a philosophy, and a husband willing to do my bidding. I am completely enamored of “low maintenance” gardening. Never heard of it? It is the put it in the ground and walk away. I have no desire to fuss over plants – either flowers or shrubs. I will confess to seeing some of the beautiful gardens and outstanding roses and other gorgeous flowers and having a twinge of wistfulness. In the end it is not enough to spur me to make the effort to cultivate those type of gardens.

All my flowers are perennials. I have at least 5 different varieties of hostas (they are very hearty and grow quite well with the evil walnut trees). In addition, I have 3 varieties of day lilies. One is the common “Indiana Ditch Lily” which grows wild along most Indiana country roads. These are protected and it is against the law to dig them up. Of course that didn’t stop people a long time ago so there are plenty of them being grown in flower gardens all over the place! I also have a mutation of the ditch lily which is quite spectacular. And then my beautiful and misunderstood, “Mary Todd-Lincoln” lily in a brilliant yellow. It is not very hearty and I have it tucked away from the others. In the last 5 years it has grown from a single flower to being able to put out several stems supporting about 5 flowers total. These are massive flowers and so heavy that I keep thinking I should cut them before they snap off!

The rest of my “floral” display could be considered invasive. I have Lily-of-the-valley which refuses to remain in the confines of the garden. It has spread through the yard. Same with the violets. The violets love the shady areas where even the grass has a hard time growing (those walnut trees are a true pain). So we leave them. Currently they are thick and lush and when they bloom it is magical. The daffodils, lilac, forsythia, and mock orange have not thrived but at least they are still alive.

What prompted this post was a trip to check out my lilies. The Mary Todd is nearly done. The Ditch lilies are still putting out their color. But my mutant lilies are blooming in profusion! Without further ado – my Lily Explosion!

Looking But Not Seeing

How many times have we looked for something and not been able to find it? My mother would usually be able to walk over and pick it up, hand it to me with the comment, “If it had been a snake, it would have bitten you.” I learned to be observant. I met a young girl in the checkout line. She was blind and has been since birth. She lacked a point of reference for color. She couldn’t understand distance, perspective, horizon. Her experience of the world was limited to what she hears, smells, tastes and most importantly, feels immediately under her hands. Her mother spends lots of time giving her the opportunity to experience her world – foods, outdoor walks, visits to the lake and beach. She took her to a florist to smell different flowers. Her mother was telling me all of this as we waited in an extremely long checkout line. She was describing the candy, the way the conveyor belt moved, the number of people and what some of them looked like to the girl holding tightly to the cart. Her mother wished that she could give her daughter sight. She would be willing to give up her own so that her daughter could see. I am currently grateful for my ability to see.
The following is a sonnet (14 lines written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of a/b/a/b/c/d/c/d/e/f/e/f/g/g).

My child if I could show you what I see
As dawn breaks darkness to scatter the night
Reveals the joy of birds and bees so free
With clouds of angel wings rise up take flight
I would display the many wondrous beasts
The ocean fish that jump through sparkling waves
Hooved that wander through grass and flower feasts
For you a pink hued sky for vision saves
If in my power I would grant you eyes
Every word for color you cannot grasp
You could see the day and not think it lies
Creation’s wonder would make your soul gasp
Instead I paint with words this world so fine
Describe what’s seen holding your hand in mine

Looking for Lost Friends

The internet is a wonderful thing except when it isn’t. I am not a big fan of Facebook but out of necessity I have an account. Well, I actually have 2 accounts but only because I was locked out of one and in a fit of pique I created an alternate account. But that’s another story for another time. Back to the existence of Facebook and why I have one – it is solely to keep tabs on my mother and sisters and the extended family (Sparky’s and mine). Several years ago, more like 15, I tried to find some people who had been important to me in high school and college. I searched and low and behold I located several. It was odd to see the different trajectories their lives took. I attempted to connect but it went nowhere. There had been one friend in particular that I wanted to catch-up with. After a few brief messages she disappeared from FB. As in vanished – her account was deleted. She didn’t show up in searches. We had been very close in college and for several years afterward. In fact the last time I saw her in person was at my wedding. After that we exchanged Christmas cards and birthday cards until one Christmas. That year her card was returned as “Addressee Unknown”.

Guess what? All of a sudden I got a FB friend request – she’s back. It feels different though. That easy communication is gone. I no longer anticipate her next sentence. Time and distance have made us strangers. Her life experience is completely foreign to me. Her disappearance was due to her marriage – one that involved physical and psychological abuse. She is now single and sadly estranged from her children. She is a recovering alcoholic and has only been sober for a year. Although she is my age and should be preparing for retirement, she is not financially secure and will no doubt work for many more years. It seems so sad that the ease of reconnection is not really the kind I was hoping for. I guess what I’m trying to say is that keeping in touch is made easy with the internet but unless you take advantage of it, it is no better than an old fashioned letter. And like the “pen pal” of bygone days, you have to respond to the letters on a regular basis to be able to develop a friendship. I’m much more connected to the people on WordPress and even some former Xangans than with the people I’ve located on FB.

Have you found long lost friends via the internet? Were you able to recover the feeling of comradery??