Saturday, May 2, 2020

CORONA by Carol Creswell

I studied the sky
I shielded from the sunlight
Cleanse the pestilence God
Make us whole again
Infuse me
Bless the Earth
As you gave us the rainbow
Send us the sunrays of cure

Gray Sky by Terry Le Feber

I looked at the sky
It turned gray
Filling me with sadness
Rain began to fall
I thought
That’s not rain
It’s God’s tears
Tears to cleanse the earth
To make everything right
God’s tears stopped
A rainbow appeared
And all was right, again

Saturday, March 7, 2020

WATER by Carol Creswell


Bubbling, trickling, sprinkling, deluging, spraying, life giving water.

Waterfalls in Hawaii, blissfully remembered.

Azure blue lakes with waves lapping the shores in Michigan.

Thundering, tumbling rollers in the Atlantic Ocean in Florida.

Flavor and fragrance of summer remembered from my teen years on the shore of Saginaw Bay.

Dad, in the beach fire’s light, swigging whiskey and digging with an oar, shouting and singing, “YO OH HEAVE HO, vodka!”

He was laughing and calling it, “The Song of the Volga Boat man.”

Oh those golden days in a rented cabin with sis and mom and dad. He daily drove many miles, commuting to work each day back in the city, just so his family could have a vacation on the beach.

So many beach fires, so many picnics, so many boat rides and fishing and swimming in the cold bracing waters or sunning and broiling on the dock as the gulls wheeled and the jet skis whined.

Memories sustain me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Coming to America by Maija DeRoche

For the first twenty years of my life, I lived in Finland, a country of night-less nights in the summer and  Northern lights in the winter, a country that offered countless riches and comforts.

In the 1950's, a television set came into our house, and with it, Leave it to Beaver. I was fascinated with Beaver's, or Theodore's, mother, June Cleaver, who was ever-so-elegant with her hair carefully coiffed . She was wearing high heels and pearls while vacuuming her house and had a slightly raspy quality to her voice, while speaking a language that flowed smoothly and effortlessly. June Cleaver lived in a white clapboard house with a picket fence surrounded by flowers. She was home all day while her husband went to work. As a 10-year old, I decided that this was the life for me.

I set a goal for myself to become a high school English teacher in Finland. Through the years, I became efficient in translating text describing the installation of the Transatlantic underwater cable, or the spreading of the Reformation through Scandinavia. However, I could not give simple directions in English to a lost tourist looking for the nearest restroom. A trip of language immersion was necessary.

On the first Monday of September, 1967, I boarded a Pan Am flight to New York. After eight hours of sitting in heavy cigarette smoke, I went through customs and handed to the officials a sealed envelope with my confidential medical information, necessary for a year's study in the United States.  The Customs officials looked at each other quizzically and then at me. I had put the envelope next to my passport in my purse, and left another sealed envelope with my electric bill for my cousin to take care of.  Needless to say, as there was puzzlement at JFK , there was equal bewilderment at the electric company of my home town, when my cousin attempted to pay my bill with the miniature X-ray of my lungs. After a visit to the airport infirmary, a new, very large X-ray under my arm, and missed connections to Upstate New York, I was admitted into the country.

I slowly settled into dormitory life. After the death of my parents, I had held an auction, sold my house, and become an adult too quickly. The antics of the freshman students away from home for the first time were surprising entertainment for me. One day after Anthropology 101, a classmate said to me: “I need to hurry, cuz I have to watch All My Children.” I was impressed that she had children and found time and energy to be a college student. I later learned about soap operas.

American friendliness impressed me from the beginning. I was often invited to various events and get-togethers. One such invitation was to a person's house where we were to talk about squash. I prepared myself by studying the many varieties of winter and summer squash, only to find out that the topic under discussion was a sport.

At first, I struggled to answer questions such as, “How are you?' I quickly realized that this question is synonymous with hello. People did not really want to know about the boils on my butt, caused by the change in water, or the Sitz baths I had to endure for their cure.

It took a while to master the skill of small talk, a foreign phenomenon to a Finn.  Idioms were a great challenge as well. I learned that it was not appropriate to inquire about the cost when some one had “bought the farm.”

As I adjusted to the culture, the language, and the customs, I started to feel quite American and more comfortable on this side of the Atlantic and decided to stay, got married, and had a family. 

I never became an English teacher. I did want a career where I could be a help to someone. As I had decided early on that mathematics and science were too defined in their answers and chosen not to like them, my path to a medical career was blocked. Instead, I became a Speech and Language Pathologist, a pseudo medical field, where I was not at risk of killing anyone, even by mistake. My exposure to speech pathology taught me that June Cleaver's soft, yet raspy voice was, most likely, a result of vocal abuse, as pleasant as it sounded to me as a child.

Although I do not have June's picket fence, and the deer are eating all my flowers,  I will now go home, slip into my high heels, clasp on my pearls, and vacuum my house.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Marnie by Linda McIlveen

When I first met you, you looked me in the eye, when the others didn’t. I saw it as a sign of love. You meant it as a challenge. I took you home thinking how wonderful it would be. We would play with your toys, take walks outside, you'd give me sweet puppy kisses, and when we were tired there would be snuggling on the couch.

Reality soon bit me in the face. What few toys you actually bothered to play with you destroyed in minutes. The bones that were supposed to ease you through the teething stage were spit out and abandoned. Fingers, wrists, and arms were much more satisfying to chomp.

You flunked out of puppy class. You almost bit your vet technician, who recommended I give you up as you obviously had issues. An experienced trainer told me, I would probably never be able to pet you, and I should just keep you as a guard dog. That’s not what I wanted for either of us.

Exhausted, covered in black and blue marks, and feeling defeated, I almost did what I swore I would never do, give up one of my dogs to a rescue. My sister didn’t want to let you go. You had managed to work your way into her heart.

When we reached the place of the surrender, the volunteers were all playing with you, and saying they wanted to be your foster. They even offered to trade me a well trained calm adult, but then I looked at you, and all I could think is I don’t want another dog. You are my dog. The people at the rescue understood, and made arrangements for us to work with a certified master trainer.  She admitted a few times that you were the most stubborn puppy she'd ever worked with but she said, if we wouldn’t give up she wouldn’t either. It wasn’t easy but we turned the corner. I am not saying there weren’t incidents after, like the time you pulled me down and I broke my finger because you wanted to chase the deer, but they became fewer.

You quit using me as your chew toy. We invented our own form of dancing. It mainly consisted of you holding onto a bully stick while I dragged you around the room but, hey, it was to music. I will always remember how you’d stop whatever you were doing and go and get that stick whenever music started to play. We finally started to share naps and you rested your head on my knee. That was the most comforting feeling in the world to me. The same vet technician that had declared you vicious even said she couldn’t believe you were the same dog, as you were now a big sweetheart.

It was perfect but then the world shattered. Cancer entered your body, and, like the stubborn brave girl you always were, you tried to fight it, but it was a battle you could not win. So I made the decision it was time to say goodbye. This time there was no changing what had to be done even though every part of me wished there was. I let you go to the place where there is no more pain.

There will be other dogs, but not to take your place. No other could.  I wouldn’t trade a minute we had together despite the early struggles. I also meant my last words to you as you closed your eyes for the final time. I will love you forever, Marnie. Thank you for looking me in the eye that day to let me know you were my dog, and you always will be.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Listen to Your Seashells by Gavin Spanegal

I wonder what it’s like to be a
Fish out in the ocean…
A stingray, stingrayin’ out at sea.
You must never get thirsty for water.
At least that’s one good thing.
I guess it’s on my mind because
I know that there is a place for me.
I guess I miss grace.
Gracefulness runs rampant
Out in the lakes and rivers and whereever danger lurks. 
It comes and goes in the most beautifully
Elegant and creative movements.
Scaled walls caving in on other
Scaled walls and nut shells that probably
Taste like cinnamon once you get in.
Your menu must change…
Depending on where you are
I’m getting into it now.
Laying down wripples of green
As we swirve into the deep.
When we listen to our seashells.
We’re returning to sounds
All our ancestors heard the same way
Not to many things we hear now-a-daze
Can make that statement.
Fishing for an answer to
Oceans old question of
“How do you figure it out?”

Sunday, August 4, 2019

THE OAK TREE By Carol Creswell

When light’ning struck the oak tree and the trunk was torn to shreds
I saw that most of life was gone and soon it would be dead.
I sighed and told the children that I feared that growth was gone
But still they must now cling to hope and pray it carried on.
And summer came, and rain and sun graced every nook and cranny.
The little tree just bravely grew; it truly was uncanny.
It stood there on the leeward shore. ‘Twas bathed by sunbeams large.
The lake waves thundered o’er its flanks and Nature led the charge.
The sunrise kissed it every morn, the sunset laid its rest.
And every day it grew and grew. In winter took its rest.
I feel as if it is my fate, though buffeted by strife,
To cling to hope, as if reborn, and cheer on precious Life.
Just like that tree out by the lake, in lonely solitude,
I’ll wave my branches, drink my fill of sun and rain and food.
A metaphor: tenacity and perseverance true.
If that small tree can cling to life then maybe I can, too.