Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hurrah for Poems-Long and Short

Even when I was growing up I loved writing poems. Some were short and funny. Others were long and serious. When playing in our chicken coop clubhouse my cousin and I would write poems. One my cousin wrote remains a favorite from back then: 'Bees make honey-They make it so funny-You'd think they'd say it's a funny day-But it's not-It's not even hot-That's what they say!'
We'd laugh every time we'd recite that little ditty.

Since those days I've learned there are different types of poems, each with their own rules. I still enjoy writing poems. They make you think. They lighten your load. They offer you an avenue of expression. Since April is National Poetry Month I'd lke to share a few with you and remember-'Poems make you giggle-They make your tongue wiggle!' While I don't remember what type of poem each of these represents or what rules they follow-I hope you enjoy them!

'Tall and lanky swaying in the breeze-Carrying on laughing with the trees-Making every day bright-They are truly a sight-Always smiling without saying Cheese!'
"Let's go fishing," said the big, cat fish.
"Perfect," thought Cat, while making a wish.
Watching Fish grab a worm-Cat pounced and made Fish squirm. Cat went fishing for a Fish-de-lish!'
'Tomatoes red-Asleep in beds; Potatoes white-So hard to bite; Zucchini green-So sleek and clean;Squah yellow-A curvy fellow!'
'Asparagus swords-Defending the beds-Carefully swaying-Watching their heads; Fighting off each deadly foe-Including the farmer-with his shiny steel hoe; But once fully grown-They go down in defeat; For they taste so good-When ready to eat!'
   and one more for now...........
'Wet drops falling from above-Giving the garden lots of love-But if the rain keeps falling down-It will saturate the ground-Turning beans into boats-And off they'll float!"

Saturday, April 27, 2013

'The Snowman Maker'-a Christmas story

As I was writing 'The Snowman Maker'-my next Christmas novel to be released October, 2013, I found myself again drawing from childhood experiences of growing up in the country and weaving some of those threads into the storyline. Of course when the story is fiction, the possibilities are endless for the plot and for the characters who-by the time the last word is written-have become part of the writer's family. It's funny when you create characters their lives are in your hands. You decide their hair color-gender-views, etc.-but most important, you decide their fate. Scenes where emotions run high-run high for the writer as well. There have been scenes in both 'The Reindeer Keeper' and this upcoming release where I've laughed-cried-and felt anger towards a character. And when I found I had to write something into the story that caused such emotions, after it was on the page I'd have to get up and take a break. And once the book is published and out there for all to read, it's like putting one of your own children out for review.

I remember playing in our chicken coop clubhouse. Pretending was always part of the play as was reading Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Louisa May Alcott-and taking pieces of paper, folding them, and 'pretending ' to write a story. They say what you did as a child is where your heart lies as an adult. A part of my heart will forever remain out in the country-the perfect place to draw from when writing fiction and weaving storylines.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Man in the Top Hat

My grandfather died when I was in the sixth grade. Any memories I have of the man are of when he was older so when I came across this photo showing him with two of his six daughters I couldn't take my eyes off him. I don't know how old he was when this was taken. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that it offers me a glimpse of my grandfather as a young father-dressed up and obviously on his way somewhere with daughter Ruth on his lap-and my mother in her little knit hat and buttoned-up coat by his side. It looks like they are in some sort of a sleigh with blankets. Wih that top hat and wool coat, my grandfather reminds me of Abe Lincoln-minus the beard. I remember him to have been tall and thin with Beech-Nut chewing tobacco in his back pocket. I remember him wearing suspenders and reading at night in the front parlor.

Besides showing my grandfather as I'd never seen him before, this photo offers another glimpse of the barn I always write about. The more I find pictures with that barn included the more I realize the role it played over the years, from one generation to the next, from one season to another. I've heard the stories about the horses it housed and the mean rooster nicknamed Baldy who ruled the barnyard and the bull who almost did my mother in if it hadn't been for my grandfather and his pitchfork. But by the time me and my cousins came along there were no horses or bulls or mean roosters-just a barn offering us a great place to play and pretend.

Family farms peppered the landscape back then. It was hard work seven days a week from early morning to late at night. Sadly, most family farms like my grandfather's have been sold or boarded up and abandoned. Many farms are big business now. It makes me wonder if kids still play in barns or ride on the back of hay wagons like we did. Although he didn't wear his top hat, it was our grandfather driving his old Ford tractor and pulling the hay wagon to the barn. We were so lucky! Trouble with that-you don't realize how lucky you were until looking at a photo of years gone by.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Certainly Not a Designer Kitchen

I love this old glossy photo of the kitchen in my grandparents' farmhouse. I only wish it showed more. It was a big kitchen but then it had to be with the meals being cooked and breads and cookies being baked and produce from the garden being cleaned, cooked or canned. You can see how the wood stove was the focal point. That pot in the forefront was the main one used for cooking just about everything. Behind it is the tea kettle always full of water. Up on top you can see a pie cooling. It was fun watching my grandmother bake her pies. Of course the crusts never came from a box in the dairy aisle like mind do. They were mixed and kneaded and water was added along with the Crisco and flour and a dash of salt until the consistency was just so. Then the dough was shaped into balls, rolled out, and filled with apples or raisins or pumpkin or mince meat or lemon pudding eventually topped with the fluffiest meringue ever. And this was done in-between everything else she had to do.

The cupboards in the kitchen were not brand name nor was there an island with stools or walls painted in designer shades to match a wood floor or carpet. No. The cupboards were white enamel. The floors were basic except for braided rugs my grandmother made from strips of fabric she'd braid together and then tack. The back door was not custom-made but it worked. It took us out to the barn-the backfields-the chicken coop turned into a clubhouse-the creek where we'd ride our rafts made from telephone poles all summer long and skate on all winter long..

In the end, a kitchen is not defined by designer this or that. It is defined by a feeling it evokes. You can't buy that or install it. That farmhouse kitchen felt like home because of a woman who worked her wood stove like a ballerina performing on a dance floor, making boiled dinners and soups and the best pies ever!