O: Old age, opportunity for reflection on my blessings

Viking series

So, it turns out that the gel injection I got in my right knee lasted for 6 months. The doc said, “Six to nine months,” and he was spot on. April 22 to early October is six months. I saw him this morning, just as the knee is getting worse. “And it’s swollen,” is what he saw when he looked at it. When one knee is sore the weight shifts to the other leg causing problems in the “good leg.” He has requested insurance to authorize the injection and then I will be going in for my shot. While it’s a nuisance to have a bum knee, it is far better to have insurance, canes and my handicapped-parking card. This pain is temporary and not all that bad. Below is a poem I wrote 20 years ago during a hard time with the knee. Today is not even close to that, thank God.

The Pain

I fear and loathe the pain I bear

In consternation, dismay, apprehension, hesitancy and panic

I greet the burning in my knee.

In slow feeble steps, watching, and sitting

I’ve lost a portion of my dignity

To this damn distress, and joined a battle I gladly should have missed.

My pride’s been ripped from these strong legs and replaced by stiff timidity.

Yes, I fear and loathe the pain I bear.

Terry Redman (c) 2014

A few more poems to raise my spirits:

nano mug

i wish to stop time

re-gather my energies and be ready

when the next blow, challenge, or disappointment arrives.

i wish to stop time so,

i could go back and undo the pain and harm i’ve caused.

to know I had worth and talents

when cruel taunts stung my heart and

see the insecurity of my tormenters.

i wish to stop time

and have another talk with parents now dead

and friends no longer in my life

and to do more good for them than i did then

and see them all with older, wiser eyes and heart.

i wish to stop time

and let my story germinate, feel the kiss of poetry

dripping from my soul onto digital keys.

to read ideas so unlike my own and

hear the voices of other times (then and yet to come.)

i wish to stop time

and open door after door, to rooms of different civilizations

to dwell with alien and ancestor

when the world was less computerized, more silent.

i wish to stop time and treasure today

before it passes into faded memory.

Terry Redman © 2013

flapper

Plunge

Muse’s laugh echoes across marble walls,

through dark forests sprung from red clay,

filled with people—the residents of my imagination.

“write, boy,” she says.” “make dramas in distant galaxies,

passionate poems, and thoughtful essays.”

held by Obligation i mutter, “so many gotta-do’s.

pop-up appointments and other baggage.”

barefoot, Muse hangs her dress on a limb, and edges toward the water

“life is….”

“i know. it happens while we’re….”

she blows me a kiss. “no. life is now, this moment, this day, this thought.”

Today, now, we swim in the pool of creativity.

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N: Nurses, doctors and respect for science

Nurses: nurses and doctors are on the front line in this battle with Ebola so we should listen to them when they talk about treatment and policy. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) and The World Health Organization (WHO) have been dealing with this virus for years and have learned more than the media and politicians have in in just a few weeks. A nurse who has been directly handling the ill, dying and dead proved she is not afraid to stand up to the governors of New York and New Jersey. She has science and experience on her side. One possible positive outcome of the Ebola situation is that more people will recognize science does not take sides in a political battle. Refreshing, at least we can hope.

Nurses leave for work each day aware the unknown is waiting on their shift. The nurses in Dallas did not know they would face Ebola a month ago. Some of those nurses talked on 60 Minutes a few days ago. Each of them volunteered to work with America’s first patient, two of their friends got sick and recovered. Along the way they the public and health organizations learned on the job. The doctors and nurses who have volunteered to fly to West Africa to help the people most in need know what they are facing and what precautions are necessary.

Naturally politicians are tripping over themselves to wrap their arms around the problem. Image trumped science and prudence as the election nears. As the list of states imposing quarantines grows and the CDC and NIH update their recommendations we are in a state of flux. Bit it will get better.

The nurses who actually treated the patient in Dallas focused on the patient. They said the protective protocol and clothing got better as time went on.

Like the sign said, “If you are alive, thank a nurse.”

M: Motivated

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The topic was “Commit to Writing,” and that’s the reason we show up at the meetings—to recharge the commitment. Wendy Hornsby talked about the non-glamorous reality that to be a writer is to be committed to the craft. Treat writing like a job, schedule when you write, budget time to get it done.The meetings at Writers of Kern are like pulling into the gas station. We stop to get fuel and then go on.

The Reasons why I was motivated by the WOK meeting on 10/25/14

I have not been as committed to a daily word count but now plan to set a #

I need to list and eliminate distractions during my writing time

Hey, I need to set a writing time

Budgeting my time is something I did all the time when I was working but have let the habit grow cold

People ask me when my next book will be done, now I can say I’m working against a deadline

Before I can focus on poetry I need to finish the memoir and get it published

The idea of spending a day with a character sound intriguing; I hope they like coffee houses

When I first joined WOK I did write out the first draft longhand but now I’m more comfortable using the computer

The mystery lingers…what will my finished memoir look like?

This is the talk I needed today.

I have already completed NaNoWriMo once and have the mug to prove it so I can focus on other goals

So what did you write down when Wendy Hornsby was talking?

What is your takeaway?

I earned and paid for this mug in NaNoWriMo

nano mug

L: Lessons, Loss, and Love

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My tribute to a dog I miss still.

Othello, a dog who died too young

 All you ever asked was love.

     You did your part of the bargain

         You were warm and soft,

              You loved me,

                   You didn’t bark much.

          You learned so fast to be a gentleman.

     You endured the car, and shots.

 Had to go to California; work you see.

     Had to drive a thousand miles.

         You’d never approve the trip.

               Then, the cost of finding you a place

 I cried and sought a better way.

I cry now, miss your eyes.

I gave you to the vet–to kill,

               I went home, had a drink.

 Of all my sins, I cannot repair the crime I did to you.

K: Kalispell, Montana

K: Kalispell, Montana

“If it hadn’t been for Grayson, reckon where I’d be….” TOM DOOLEY, by The Kingston Trio

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If I hadn’t been fired from my first teaching job, or taken that plane ride, or gotten that telegram, we never would have met.

IF, suggests choices made on the spot, choices that are life changing. IF ONLY I had not done this or that would I still be back in wherever, or married to someone else and a much different person. The major decisions we make are blind choices, or forced choices, and the future is unknowable. In 1968 I’d barely heard of Bakersfield—it was hot—yet I chose to move here. Like many teachers I met in the 70’s, I planned to teach in Bakersfield and then move to the coast. What I had wanted was to teach in Kalispell MT, a beautiful city and less frozen than where I was then working. That means 10% less snow and 5 degrees warmer.

I foolishly agreed to coach wrestling in Eureka MT and got fired for my efforts. The administration never stepped inside my classroom, but I’d screwed up coaching. Lesson 1: have experience in wrestling before coaching.

My first plane ride was from Kalispell to Spokane WA for an education conference to interview school districts from California to Washington state plus Hawaii. From more than 20 interviews I had been offered a job in Los Angeles and Hawaii. The first offered a good salary and the worst of all possible lotteries for job site. The second offered a great location, even free housing on the most southern site in the United States. The glitch was I would plunge into poverty and debt, have to take summer classes and then get me, and my car, to Hawaii. So I really wanted that job in Kalispell where at least I knew some people. The Kalispell interview went well but I was a slow learner. The job was for junior high and coaching WRESTLING.

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Kern High School District sent the BHS principal and we had a good interview. I was relaxed, the salary was better than Eureka’s and I had those offers from LA and Honolulu in my pocket. Two weeks later I got a telegram from Bakersfield offering a job in Shafter. I replied, YES. Opportunity, choice, and an unknowable future: all the elements for a good drama. Two days later Kalispell called and offered me the job.

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Had I not come to Bakersfield so much would be different and I never would have met Linda or joined Writers of Kern. At 23 I never could have planned this—never even thought of retirement.

Linda and I stayed in Kalispell on our honeymoon, and again 20 years later. A nice place on the shore of Flathead Lake, and snow covered all winter.

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J: Jolted as only California can jolt an audience. A World Series Memory

J: Jolted as only California can jolt an audience. A World Series Memory

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October 17, 1989 the 3rd game of the World Series was just starting in San Francisco: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics. Where were you when this one hit hit the Series out of the ballpark?

The devastation was widespread, millions in damages, loss of life and a lot more than a baseball game disrupted. Now you remember, right?

I know where I was—at home. That was one of the years we decided our kids would be better off if we had no television.

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I recently saw GONE GIRL, so as Amy would say, let me set the scene. Even though I agreed with my wife about the storing the TV into the garage, we got in some argument [my fault] about it so there was no going back. The disagreement was the night before the quake. A friend of mine said his wife’s family had no TV in 1963 so she had no visual memory of the JFK assassination. Until the next day I was a lot like that. Our dog paced back and forth, never stopping for hours. From the radio reports I knew the general outlines of the event: chaos, disaster equipment, a fallen freeway, fires and a whole lot of people trying to get home. This predated universal use of cell phones so communication, even if the towers survived, was nil. My suggestion that the natural event would be educational for the kids was now persuasive.

A few months before our family vacation had been to the Bay area. We included a ride in the harbor, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and other sights. On night my wife and I awoke as the bed shook. We nudged each other and whispered, “Earthquake, let them sleep and they’ll never know.” After a few tremors we went back to sleep. When the real one hit in October we bout said, “We felt the warning shock that night in the motel.”

Again, uh, let me set the scene. A week after the quake I attended an English teachers conference in Yosemite. Hey, even if the talks are poor the scenery is spectacular. At least 3 of the speakers there all had the same story. They taught at Berkeley, SF State, and maybe a Bay area high school. “I’m really sorry. The slides and handouts I had prepared are in my office/room and the building is condemned so I couldn’t get in.” My best guess is they winged it and gave good talks anyway.

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A year later I read an article in the newspaper about a minor incident from that night. A guy at the game went to the parking lot to find his car had been stolen. And that night the police would have really cared. Over the next several months vehicles were and bodies were recovered from the fallen highway and as best they could they let the families know. The guy whose car was stolen at the game got a call from the police about his car. It seems they found it crushed like a pancake with a dead body at the wheel. See, crime does not pay.

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When the 1906 earthquake hit San Francisco my grandfather moved there to work on the reconstruction of the city. He was a paperhanger, carpenter, painter, and a jack-of-all trades. My Dad even remembered being there as a little kid. Snatches of memory—he was about 5.

I: Incessant

I: Incessant

gentleman

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “Incessant,” as “of something regarded as unpleasant) continuing without pause or interruption: the incessant beat of the music.”

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

Thanks to the competitive 24-hour news cycle the major story du jour is repeated INCESSANTLY. You may have heard about the Ebola issue or ISIS when you turned on the television.

I have never been so relieved to find a baseball game on TV, or to relish the silence of no TV in the background.

Hero, Hubris

H: Hero & Hubris and Home Runs

Viking series

“All men are timid on entering any fight. Whether it is the first or the last fight, all of us are timid. Cowards are those who let their timidity get the better of their manhood.”
– General George Patton Jr, “War as I knew it” 1947

I have trouble with fictional “heroes,” who have some mutant power that enables them to overcome ANY enemy. Aside from a dose of Kryptonite, what did Superman really have to fear? He could outrun a bullet, jump buildings and stop a train. Lois Lane really underestimated Clark Kent’s abilities.
I know that Batman has the car, the lab and the money to stand up to the baddies ruining Gotham but at the root of all this is his name. He chose Batman because bats scare the daylights out of him, and they are more common than Kryptonite. The whole story of Batman is how he overcame his fear, retook his rightful place and saved the city (until the next movie.)
Hubris is the character flaw that enables the hero to grow. Hubris is what enables us all to grow. The classical hero cycle is played out in Star Wars, The Lion King and The Odyssey and just about any show on TV or at the movies.

Darth

Luke Skywalker and Star Wars. He has a lot of doubt and fear as the story begins and he tells his uncle that he wants to find his father. He is called to adventure by the robots and Princess Leia. Obi Wan and Yoda teach him and he frequently screws up. Just before he grasps the force, a belief that he can do great things, he reaches the abyss. As he grows in the force he grows as a man and by the time he leads the alliance against the Death Star he believes in himself and he saves Leia and a good portion of the universe as well. Joseph Campbell was as advisor on the Star Wars set. The Lion King is a perfect fit for the hero cycle.

Hero Cycle
Campbell’s hero cycle is important because it is the story of our lives. Think of your first love in high school and how he/she dumped you and how you recovered went on with your life. What about all the failures and screw-ups you’ve done since and how you survived, learned and moved on? We are each the hero in our own story, so it makes sense have the hero’s journey.
So what does this have to do with baseball? People identify with sports teams like The Lakers, The 49ers, Seahawks and USC to name a few. This week and next when someone hits a home run or pitches a shutout he will be called a hero. It’s true, he did something difficult but the penalty for losing is not death. Last season Peyton Manning threw for more touchdowns in one season than any other quarterback in history, he will go to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. But when The Broncos lost the Super Bowl I heard a lot of talk that he can’t win the big one. Three times in the Super Bowl and he only won once. Custer had a better chance at The Little Big Horn than Denver had against Seattle.
I’d rather cheer for Luke and Leia because they have flaws and know they can die. The kid who is battling cancer is a hero and her family is also heroic.

Who is a fictional hero you like or dislike?

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Gone Girl and Pillow Girl

G: Gone Girl

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Have you seen this woman?

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Her husband has questions.

GONE GIRL

The hot book and hot movie at the moment both are titled “Gone Girl.” (GG) I’ve been reading the book on my iPad but was still in the early stages. A friend recommended Gone Girl as a good show to watch. So my wife and I went to see the ads for upcoming movies and eventually got to GG. I knew the premise: on 5th anniversary Nick Dunn goes home to find his wife, Amy, missing. Then the heart of the movie begins. And at the end we learn…you’ll have to read/see it to know but I’ve heard the movie stays true to the book. Not surprising since Gillian Flynn is the author and screenwriter.

I was engaged in the movie by the plot and characters. The story benefits from constant, ever increasing tension, complex characters, shifting relationships and a few stray characters to story in a different direction. The author’s use of diary vs. action to move the story along is clever, almost like a third major character. Every actor played the character flawlessly. There may be some academy award nominations here.

I’d recommend seeing the movie for the reasons mentioned but have a word of caution for the easily offended. There is a lot of nudity—I really know what Amy Dunne looks like and the same is true for other major characters. I guess that when I read I tend to gloss over the F-word and fail to register how often it shows up. “Saving Private Ryan” introduced us to FUBAR and the other times the F-word showed up must have been buried in dialog between characters; I glossed over the word. In this film the use of the word must rival the number of times the writer used verbs. Only the cat skips using the word.

After fifteen minutes I started to get real tired of everyone using it to talk to anyone else. If the heavy inclusion was meant to show depth of passion it became so routine that all meaning was lost. Think of it like the word “very,” used to describe how very much in love the very young characters were, and how very tragically it all played out.

PILLOW GIRL

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Friday morning five college age girls and a guy sat down for coffee at Panera’s. One girl carried a pillow that she put on her lap when took her chair. Her hair was in a single long braid, she had on a t-shirt that could have easily served as sleepwear, and sweats.

“Self,” I said to myself, “this is a grist for a blog.” Self replied, “Take her picture, go over there and ask her name and why she has the pillow.” What? “OK, that’s a bit much,” Self muttered.

Start the story; you have a character and setting. Tell me the first 5 lines.

F: is For Family and Friends

F: is For Family and Friends

Life is a roll of the dice. I mean we have no idea what the new baby will be like, or what she’ll be like in 20 years. Tomorrow is not guaranteed but we plan on it. There’s even a commercial on TV that is filled with the word, “Tomorrow.”

Our ties to friends and family can tug us off schedule at a moment’s notice. About a year ago our phone rang at 3:00 AM. The familiar voice on the other end of the line started out, “Dad I’m sorry to call at three in the morning but I have to take M to the hospital.” Son-in-law had injured his shoulder a few days earlier and she needed us to go over and watch the baby. In a later conversation I assured her she was welcome to call any hour.

SIL’s injury also meant that we had to pick up the slack on childcare since he was on paternity leave. While the arm was being treated he could not pick up his own child. The upside is we spent more time with our granddaughter, a real blessing.

I spent a few months being with a close friend when he was ill with cancer. How could he be the one dying? I was the slacker who was overweight and out of shape. He had always been there to help me so I was glad to return the favor.

Now a friend is dealing with the kind of life and death issues nobody wants to face but are a part of life.

We carry these lines of contact with friends and relatives in part to share the good times. My daughter just sold her house, and both girls like their jobs. My asthma etc. presents some challenges to travel but Linda has adapted. Some vacations together, some apart. We can work it out.

In the natural order of things we have close contact with some family and friends, and not so close with others. The real allure of FB is the ability to connect quickly and easily. My first day on FB I learned a friend was moving to Texas. We had been in a group of 4 couples so a few FB messages and phone calls later we had a going away party planned and set for the weekend.

Is there a message for the readers? No, this is what was on my mind and the issues are universal.Chess 2

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