Saturday, June 27, 2015

Writers' Group Masses at Giant Supermarket - Poems: The Last Neanderthal - Summer Solstice

Image result for people at concert  I'd watched a PBS show called Secrets of The Dead last nite which talked about the last of the Neanderthals. Europeans but not Africans have Neanderthal blood since homo sapiens mated with the Neanderthal.

The show was made in 2013. Watch it here.

I was on my Diabetes Bike, reached into the pouch, pulled out a pad and pedaling, wrote The Last Neanderthal.

Also knew that I'd write a poem about the Summer Solstice.

Now I just had to find time to write them. Did so in 45 minutes right before our group of five.

Image result for egg roll     Wait a minute! You have diabetes. You're not allowed to have photos of egg rolls on here.

Not only is there a photo, the entire Egg Roll is now digesting in my duodenum. Blood sugar was 194, but rode my bike and it's now a normal 96.

Don't gimme no fortune cookie, I told the woman, and handed it back. Diabetics have no fun.

Well, Allan Heller sure brought fun to the writers group with his two flash fiction pieces.

One was about kids playing hide and seek. The last to be found was the winner. Except, in this story, there's a twist at the end.

He hid himself in the closet of his best friend, forgetting that he was afraid of the Boogie Man in the dark.

When he was found his number had expired.

The Assassin concerned a nice karmic piece where the man hired to assassinate a journalist in Russia killed a bellhop in order to wear his uniform, which was a few sizes too small.

So when he went to deliver room service to the journalist and dispose of her with his traditional bear hug, he himself was bear hugged to death.

He said his wife Tati had laffed when he read it to her and he no like dat.

What dyou think happened when he read it to us?

Image result for laughter

Allan Heller is poet laureate of the little town of Hatboro, PA. The town will celebrate its centennial and our Allan wrote The Ballad of the Billet - complete with catchy refrain - to sing during the program.


He sang it softly and it sounded great!

The Father of our Country, George Washington, led the battle, astute commander that he was.


 Floyd launched into a discourse about Washington, having just finished a bio of the man who shocked England for resigning his command after winning the American Revolution. They were used to military men taking over the country, right Fidel?

Apparently the slaves he owned were his wife Martha's. He freed em after he died. She had been married before and had two children, both of whom pre-deceased her. George didn't approve of the boy who was a slaggard. I believe the girl died of cholera. Too tired to look it up.

Beatriz was good enough to join us. The group always feels complete when she's there. Weak from chemo, she said "I can still get some juice out of the orange."
Linda, arriving last from her job at the Roslyn Giant, brought a poem

Who knows what's gonna pop outa Linda's head, like Athena being born from Zeus. Whew! His awful headache was simply the birth of his daughter.

Image result for athena born from the head of zeus  
Linda's poem Motorcycle Getaway is a gift for her nephew upon buying a new bike.

"You and I become one" - "We crash the laws of physics"

The shocker was she's never ridden on a motorcycle. And probably will not when she sees her nephew.

Floyd led the discussion about motorcycles. The first Harleys were terrible, couldn't compare to the 'rice burners' aka Japanese-made.

Okay, here are my two poems. Then I'm gonna find me a couple good movies to watch, either Netflix or YouTube.

When I spoke to Judy Diaz earlier today - she's in Niwot CO - I told her to watch "What Happened,  Miss Simone?" about the late Nina Simone.

Very difficult watching her slide into a very tragic life. And don't blame it on her bipolar disorder. She had choices about being a mother, about accepting beatings from her manager/husband.

THE LAST OF THE NEANDERTHALS  

Their huge grinning skulls,
masks that could not speak the
horrors of their waning days
are all that remain.

The spacious caves
high and black and
fuming with fungus
were safe from animal
claw and teeth 
They had torn granny’s body
in two. The family watched her
eyes plead for help as
blood spurted from mouth
and limb onto the forest floor
falling onto the acorns they used
for food.

Finally they were down to one.
One remaining sentient being
who knew the truth. With sad
eyes she wandered over the
decaying bodies of her family
too tired to bury them. Tears
slid down her face. With one
last look, she ventured outside
onto the forest floor.

Looked above at the tall gray
sky, the wondrous trees that
swayed with leaves, heard the
call of birds who seemed to say
hello, but they did not know.

She had come to say goodbye.
In her fragile tattered unclean clothing,
she lay down among the short
tender grasses, tiny two-tone
acorns the babies used as spinning
tops, she lay herself down, stared
at the sky, closed her eyes
and awaited her fate.

***

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Monday, this year, always on
the twenty-first of June,
Cleomedes the Greek found it
for his mariners.

Did he have the same thoughts
as me as my ship is bound to
flounder within the next thirty
years.

Did he meet a peaceable death
surrounded by friends? Or, like
fellow Hellene Socrates did he
drink the poison that silenced
every limb?

I shall miss the earth when
the time comes. The maple
in the backyard, softly throwing
its writhing shadow of leaves
upon me as I fill up the bird bath.

And all the books I shall never read.
The flowers in the front yard, pink-nosed
milkweed that never a monarch did
visit and the tasty oregano for my
morning eggs.

The feeling when I awaken in the morning
and stare around my newly painted pink
room, the curtains blowing in the breeze,
How did I get this old, this fast?
Can’t I have one more day?

Image result for orange


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Light in the Kitchen is online

About a year ago, I wrote a short story about a young Marine veteran who came home from The Afghan
and healed himself while living in The Great Outdoors.

Read it here.

In fact, my friend Carolyn Constable just called and I thanked her for being my main reader of the story. She lives in Chalfont, PA.

She and I met at the River Poets Group at the Lambertville, NJ, library.

She now runs a writers' group at Peace Valley Nature Center twice a month.

While we were talking, I walked up n down my street in the dark of the night.

The three-quarters moon was high overhead as I plodded along in my clogs, tho now I'm barefoot.

I posted a pic on FB for Jonatha Johnson, telling her that in the hot weather I sleep downstairs in the lower level, using a quilt she gave me years ago.

Am reading five good books now, a terrible habit, I know. Am waiting for one or more of em to disqualify themselves. They are less than excellent - save for one - but I'll stick with them.



Image result for jf powers look how the fish live

For Father's Day I got my son Dan an OED. All day I waited for the phone call to invite me over. When it didn't come, Scott and I went for a walk in The Pennypack. I was pissed!!!



Image result for oxford english dictionary   And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going upstairs and working on my Inmate story.

Alzheimer's Story Published

 I got several comments on the below story. People are willing to talk about Alz or dementia - who has it in their family - but not about mental illness, which I write about for for the Doylestown-PA based newspaper.

Everyone I quoted in the story was very pleased with it.



Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 12:15 am
 
By Ruth Z. Deming
She was a tiny woman with immense talents. She was a gardener, a baker and a beloved grandmother. 

Her family, with whom she lived, watched in horror as her personality began to change. She became aggressive and lost her power of speech. While she was baking her mouth-watering pecan rolls, her daughter barely stopped her from adding dish-washing liquid to the batter.

This happened many years ago. She was my grandmother, 84 years old. She knew something was wrong, but her doctor said there was nothing to be done. We reluctantly drove her to the assisted living facility, where she would spend the rest of her life. She lived to be 98.
Sponsored
In many ways, my grandmother followed the arc of Alzheimer’s disease. Two-thirds of its 5.3 million American victims are women. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in America and gaining ground with the aging of the “baby boom generation,” according to Amanda Secor of the New York-based Alzheimer’s Foundation and its website (alzfdn.org).

And there’s no cure in sight. It’s frightening to realize that people will experience Alzheimer’s and other dementias in record numbers in the years to come. In 10 years, by 2025, it’s estimated that 7.1 million people will have the disease, an increase of 40 percent.

The good news is that June has been designated Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Walks have been held all across the country and the world to raise money and awareness of this disease, which robs people of their very identities. Imagine waking up in your own bed, looking around and wondering, “Where am I? Who am I? What am I to do?”

“Take the Purple Pledge,” proclaims the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association. Wearing purple, the way breast cancer awareness supporters wear pink, more than 600 communities held walks this past Sunday, “the longest day of the year” — the summer solstice, June 21. In the Philadelphia area, walks have been held since 1991.

“The longest day is how it often feels to a patient or caregiver for someone living with Alzheimer’s,” said Rachel Kaufman of Brandywine Senior Living at Dresher Estates, who works in Reflections, the memory care unit.

Who gets Alzheimer’s?

The list that no one wants to be on includes Ronald Reagan, Rita Hayworth, Glenn Campbell and Malcolm Young, lead guitarist for the Aussie-based band AC/DC. Young states in an Australian newspaper that he has “complete loss of short-term memory.” He is 62 years old.

“The genes you’ve inherited carry most of the risk, an identical-twin study shows,” according to an article on WebMD.com.

An international study of nearly 12,000 Swedish twin pairs, a fourth of them identical twins, finds that 80 percent of Alzheimer’s risk is genetic, findings reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
It appears that genetic influences outweigh environmental ones, said WebMD.

What this means is that close relatives of people with Alzheimer’s are at greater risk of getting the disease than people without such a relative. But you are not doomed to get it, said WebMd. “Genetic” does not mean “cast in stone.”

Family physician James T. Foxhall, MD, of North Willow Grove Family Medicine tells patients things they can do to perhaps help prevent the disease. “I recommend regular cardiovascular exercise, like walking, as the best way to prevent memory loss. I also recommend activities that stimulate the brain such as meeting new people, learning a new language or basically anything that causes a change in the normal routine.”

The Alzheimer’s Foundation echoes this on its website. In addition, stress should be managed. And depression should be treated, since elders with depression have higher rates of dementia. Be social. Eat sensibly and add vitamins C and E and folic acid.

Then you can sing, along with AC/DC: “Shake a leg shake your head / Shake a leg wake the dead / Shake a leg play to win.”

Ruth Z. Deming is a psychotherapist and founder/director of New Directions Support Group in Abington and Willow Grove. To view their programs and events, click www.newdirectionssupport.org or call 215-659-2366. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

While I'm at Scrabble Night at the Giant, the Tornado in South Jersey is wreaking havoc w my family

Image result for tornado in south jersey  My sister Ellen emailed me that my niece Nikki was trapped in the car between two trees with the baby - her grandson David - and Tyler, the baby's father,  picked her up.  Cell phones and phones aren't working. They have no power and lots of trees are down.

My sister Donna called my mom from her new house in Clarksboro, NJ.  Spoke to Mom, who said she thought they might come stay with her tomro.

It's like they're being punished, said Mom.

I gave her a lil argument about that. 

A Light in the Kitchen is a short story I wrote about a year ago. It was rejected many times but was accepted many months ago by O-Dark-Thirty. Read it here.

The story went into a queue to take its place in the online lit mag.

I haven't had the nerve to read it back. If any of my readers wish to do so, please lemme know if it's any good.

Image result for afghan war     It's about a young Catholic kid coming home from the war. He had part of his foot blown off. He's healing himself before he goes home to his family.

When I worked for the Intell, there was a guy there, a former Marine - Lou Sessinger - whose foot was blown off in Vietnam.

My newest art project, Artifical Intelligence, is below.


It's made with the b'ful Yuegling Beer carton, gathering dust in a corner of my kitchen, and egg cartons - both plastic and cardboard.

The beer carton was left over from Scott's b'day party last December.

Scott helped me stick the egg cartons thru slashes in the box.

I used spray paint to decorate the aqua panel on the front of the box.

I thought the whole thing looked like Sputnick, so I named it AI. William Hurt discussed AI on the Tavis Smiley Show, promoting his new TV series.

Image result for william hurt new series     He was a tad boring in the Smiley interview, but when they switched to his new TV series, called "Humans," I think, he turned into a totally different person.... the great actor that he is.

Spent a couple hours completing this LOI this morning and mailed it off online.

Genuardi's has rejected us three times.

What's Einstein's definitiion of insanity?

Jackie and Ed were already there when I got to the Coffeeshop.

Kathy had given our table some doughnuts when she closed up.

Yum!!!

 I walked thru the Coffee Shop offering a couple of tables the doughnuts and finally found a family who was very grateful to have them.
Here's Ed Quinn pondering the board.


His Scrabble dictionary - Y is four points - has nice big letters.

Anil is a shrub.
 Jackie is a new learner and doing quite well under the tutelage (9 points) of Eduardo. 
Ed has a collection of Scrabble boards. This one, with little red nubs, would be good if you're on a bus or train or playing in the car.

I was gonna take a Senior Bus Tour - 14 days - to Yellowstone Park and points north (Mount Rushmore) but when I called to make rez, they were all sold out.

I was relieved.

Image result for hitchcock film with mount rushmore
Otherwise I may have ended up like Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest.

And that villain, James Mason

Image result for hitchcock film with mount rushmore james mason

As we were packing up to go home, I checked my blood sugar.

66

Not terribly low - below 80 is low - but I needed to get some food in me. Deciding against my candy bars, I decided to buy my pretzels.

 Vat's dis?

It's Giant's new scan-it-yourself. Nicole showed me how to do it.

First, tho, I broke into the bag of pretzels and crushed a whole one in my mouth.

As you can see, I also bought popcorn, which is why my fingers are greasy and the floor a mess.

I'll go on my bike and read my J F Powers book of short stories, which I adore.

Had lunch at the Giant today - salad bar - and then sat over by the hearth and finished

Image result for our souls at night  This is Haruf's last book. He died last December, 2014, at age 71.



It's up to you and me, Dear Reader, to Rejoice Alway in the Lord and Again I Say Rejoice.


Let's all stand up and cheer the late Alfred Deller and Son. 

Sing along if you wish.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Writers' Group draws Five Diehards - Two new poems: If I Could - The Peace Garden

Are your windows closed? 100 percent chance of rain this evening. Ah, the rain just started... 1028 pm.
  From Genius.com



 Was good to see Allan Heller. On a single sheet of typewritten paper - front and back - he wrote two short stories, called "flash fiction."

"Where There's One" is about r-ts in the attic.

Religious Jews write God this way:  G-d.

Rat-haters write it this way:  r-t.

A great little story. He didn't see Willard, he said. But, we'll see some of right now.

Hide your eyes, boys n girls.

Image result for willard movie

Watch the whole 90-min film on YouTube.

Thanks, Ruthie, I just may do dat.

Allan's second flash was "Pal's Ticket" about a guy who has an amazing ability to win the lottery. Coincidentally, there are a lot of home invasions near the homes of ticket winners.

Allan's goal - and we all should have goals - what are yours, Dear Reader - is to write 75 flash ficcions (is that correct, Allan?) and then publish them all in a book.

He's up to 47.

He mentioned a huge lottery ticket winner. Linda S. not only won $5,000 but she herself was huge, that awful word 'morbidly obese' plus she smoked. When Allan saw his doctor, he idly asked, "How's Linda doing?"

Dead, said the doc.  Massive heart attack at 42. She had the bad luck of not living long enuf to enjoy her good luck. 

Allan was sorry he missed Donna's housewarming party with its great food. Ruthie! Is that all you think about is food? Yes, and I'm eating my nuts n pretzels as I write.

Donna read a lovely poem about her new life with Denny. Her imagery was new for her.... a grandfather clock, peacocks and a Ferris wheel.

Until 2006, the London "Eye" was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

In Donna's metaphor, the Ferris wheel riders who are dropped off at the bottom are at the end of the ride, the end of their l-ves. (The hyphen is for people who hate thinking of mortality.)
Here's Denny Morrow with his fu-manchu mustache, which hides some fallin-off-the-motorcycle scars.

 Donna used a lovely font.

Linda wrote the next poem for Donna.
Title: Two Hearts Beating as One: Fibonacci Poem.

What? She said when we took our Poetry Class with Lynn Levin she bought Lynn's book of prompts which also told of different types of poems. Read a Fib poem. 

Allan, who never fibs, told us he wanted to take Lynn's class but there were too many lines.

We all wished Allan a Happy Fiftieth b'day. Linda, wearing the Giant green, had just gotten off work. We all liked her poem for Donna.

"Thrifty Flowers" was Beatriz's selection. She wasn't sure she could make the group, since her chemo has her weak much of the day. But - yay - she managed to make it.

Nature doesn't like waste. Nature is thrifty. Excerpts from B's fascinating piece:

The less pollen needed, the more energy is left for other functions. Flowers resort to several strategies to economize on pollen. Some use a method called "explosive pollination, others resort of buzz pollination.

"Both methods are well illustrated by official state flowers."

Image result for mountain laurel  I'll tell you right now. If I were a bee, I'd stick my proboscis deep into the center.

But wait! Here's what B has to say about this. A new honeybee steps into the flower and gets pounced about, so it learns to come in the side door.

At home I was freezing, working on my poems by the fan, so I put on my warm socks, which I wore to the group.

Got 10 pages done of my Inmate Story. Here's a priceless comment by Linda: "Is this guy a scumbag or what?"

Wrote two poems, which I'll edit right now as I post. 


IF I COULD

I would lie on my red living room couch
my thick black socks warming my feet
and watch Charlie Rose interview Putin
who tells lies from his sweet rosebud lips

The cool breeze from the screen door
would rustle my coconut-white hair
and I’d lift another handful of nuts
from the unbreakable bowl which later
topples to the floor
a Little Dipper miming the
big one in the sky

Voices of children rise like
birds at daybreak sifting
through my screen door like
notes on the piano

Every morning in bed
upstairs in my newly painted
pink bedroom, a symphony of
birds exalts from places unseen
I lie there and listen
feeling every part of my body
wiggling my legs and realizing
I’m in no pain. The surgery,
my resurrection.

Will birds enter the kingdom of
heaven? Will I? A good opportunity
to pray, I think, but the words
won’t come out. I’m done with
such nonsense.

Five books need reading. Their
words await me silently in my
upstairs bed. Imagine them
all spinning upwards in a rage of
letters – the A’s, the C’s, the
Th’s – up they go to the
ceiling fan,filling every
corner, stopping only at the
window screens.


Kent Haruf, dead at
seventy-one of interstitial lung
cancer, has crafted a book about
two elders – good word, that! – each
has lost a spouse. The woman goes
over and asks, Will you come to my
house to sleep with me. I need
someone to talk to.

Are you like that? All habit.
When I read Haruf or J.F. Powers
who writes of Catholic concerns,
the radio is off. The huge old-fashioned
fan makes curls in my hair and flutters
my white nightgown, as I feel the
remains of my body, it needs
loving, too. The belly thick with
eggplant, salad with home-grown
oregano, pretzels with salt but no
sugar and a jar’s equivalent of
nuts.

I knead that big belly, remembering
it once held babies. Where are they
now? the one, a rootless fruit of my
womb, the other, attached to his
family, a swelling peach on a tree.

***
THE PEACE GARDEN

On Marlindale she’d be
out in the garden, a small
straight-spined woman with
tiny feet, digging.

I began to hate her
when the beatings
began, knowing, for
all eternity, I was
good inside.

She was my
grandmother who
in later years would
go loco with dementia.
I’d drive her to the
perfume counter at
Macy’s where her
words wouldn’t
come out, only
utterances like
the sound of
magpies.

When I bought my house
I, too, became a
gardener, would squat down
in the earth – our thighs
were horse-strong – each
had birthed two babes
I tried not to think of her
as, cup of coffee in hand – we both
love strong dark black -
as I inspect the troops.

Red poppies I discovered
while walking around the
block at the mental health
agency where clients cried
as I cried with them, finding
solace in walks at happy
places. A black-haired
Asian woman gave me
tiny black seeds
which took, but my gardener
thought them weeds and
razed them down.

The new ones I’ve bought
salute me, as we both
await their appearance
in pink.

The white poppies from
seed open their bonnet
faces, two of them, and
pray to the sun. How can
I show my love?
By looking.

Scarlet pimpernel arrives
just in time. I was filled with
despair at the rioting crabgrass
but the sweet orange faces of
tiny pimpernel made the crabgrass
less crabby.

Bugs abound among the flowers.
What better way to show their
love. I close my eyes and take
the plunge. Tickly crabgrass
kissable faces of purple pansy
white poppy and tiny pimpernel
the pink spikes on the Italian
Heather pierce my nostrils
and make me sneeze
the flowers flutter with
my breath.

I have changed
their ephemeral lives for
the spell of a breath
and made peace with that
grandmother of mine, dead,
with no brain left, at
ninety-eight. Buried, with
full honors in Cleveland.
I was the only one of six she beat.

Image result for scarlet pimpernel flower