Monday, May 28, 2007

The Birds

I have to admit that since graduating, I have felt just a little burnt out. I've been passing the days playing the game of "catch-up," trying to get all those little things done that I hadn't had time to do before. And while there have been lots of things I wanted to write about and post on my blog, I just haven't been able to get around to doing it. One of the topics I wanted to write about was my zebra finches (new to my household) and the adorable racket they make all day long. Thanks to LDS, I thought that a poem was the best way to express how they make me feel. And what better poet to do this than Edgar Allan Poe? I thought I would parodize his famous poem "The Bells" to that purpose, but since I'm so tired and all, I've figured out an easier goes!

The Birds

Hear the sledges with the birds-
Silver birds!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the birds, birds, birds, birds,
Birds, birds, birds-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the birds.

Hear the mellow wedding birds,
Golden birds!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the birds, birds, birds,
Of the birds, birds, birds, birds,
Birds, birds, birds-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the birds!

Hear the loud alarum birds-
Brazen birds!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now–now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the birds, birds, birds!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the birds-
Of the birds-
Of the birds, birds, birds, birds,
Birds, birds, birds-
In the clamor and the clangor of the birds!

Hear the tolling of the birds-
Iron Birds!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people–ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the birds!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the birds!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the birds-
Of the birds:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the birds-
Of the birds, birds, birds-
To the sobbing of the birds;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the birds-
Of the birds, birds, birds:
To the tolling of the birds,
Of the birds, birds, birds, birds,-
Birds, birds, birds-
To the moaning and the groaning of the birds.


Friday, May 18, 2007

What's Up With Grey's Anatomy and ER?

As my own update and response to What I'm Watching Lately, I want to say that I'm ticked off at NBC (again, what's surprising about that?) for cancelling The Black Donnelley's. Just when I was getting into the show, it disappeared, and being the Technologically Savy Chick that I am (finally), watched it online. The nerve of NBC! Where's good ole Jimmy Donnelley when you need him to wack a couple of network execs anyway?

Misery needs no company with Desperately-Sucks Housewives...that's all I've got to say... Yuck!

And what's up with Grey's Anatomy and ER? Christina and Burke don't get married and Meredith and McDreamy are like breaking up -- what's wrong with stable relationships Shonda? and they just had to go and chop off Ray's legs! Come on, I mean it couldn't get any worse! Perhaps the writers are a bunch of drunken monkeys after all -- my cat could write better story lines than these. Or better yet, why don't they hire someone like me for a dose of good Western Michigan Reality.

Merry's New Year's Resolutions 2007

or Why I’m Still Just as Lazy as I Was in 2005 and 2006
and Still Just as Nutz
and Now Almost Officially a Super-Procrastinator

Resolution #1
Eat More Chocolate. Hey, you only live once! Why should I give up something that is potentially healthy for me?

Resolution #1.5
Relax More and basically Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Believe me, the older I get, the smaller stuff gets.

Resolution #2
Blog More. Last year I resolved to blog daily, but since that never happened (It’s a wonder why! Can you say, Circus Ringmaster boys and girls?) I think this year I shall endeavor to just blog more frequently. Is it working?

Resolution #3
Eat Better. (yadda-yadda-yadda…) This should not be read as “more” but “healthier.” I will continue to make “smart yadda choices” like smaller yadda, quality yadda – no junk, no sweets, no fast yadda – more water, and no snacking in between yadda. Exceptions to this resolution are for beer or chocolate (please see #1). I consume these products liberally and whenever available because, besides wondering what the horrendous side effects could be if I didn’t consume them, life’s too short and a girl’s gotta have fun. (yadda-yadda-ditto)

New Year’s Resolution #4
Exercise. Ummm….no comment at the present, but I have been walking more.

Resolution #4.5
Take overall better care of myself: get more sleep, pamper myself more, take advantage of each opportunity to laugh and have fun, paint my nails, be a girl, drink a cup of tea, read a book, burn candles, spend time with the people I love, and just enjoy life! (Okay, so color me an optimist. Have I really been taking better care of myself? I hardly think so, today I fell asleep while watching Shrek III at Mega-Movie Theater. For cripes sake, you’d think I was an eighty-year-old by the way I’ve been passing out!)

Resolution #5
Get writing! I am trained. I am ready. I am an artiste! Whassamadder already!

Resolution #6
Get organized! (hahahahahaha) This resolution is a permanent joke! To date I have done nothing and I think the Health Department will be paying me a visit soon.

Resolution #7
Have a Nervous Breakdown, Go Completely Crazy, Whack Someone, or Jump Off a Bridge while trying to achieve Resolutions 1 through 13. (I have been contemplating playing with matches as opposed to cleaning the house…)

Resolution #7.5
Be an all-around better person.

Resolution #8
(Recycled from last year…but still just as pertinent) Play with my children more, do more activities with them that are low-cost or free, focus on helping them to develop their creative and athletic abilities. I will continue attempting to read to them at least once a day. I will continue to try to set a good example by being a good role model. And despite spinning through potential Vortexes of Confusion I will try not to shout unless completely provoked and utilize my reasoning skills even when they are being completely unreasonable. Overall I will try to spend more quality time with the screaming, fighting little heathens. Lord help me!

Resolution #9
Continue keeping a journal, but dang, if it doesn’t take up so much time! And I would keep doing it if I could only find my journal (what did I do with it?) and a pen that works (drat those kids!). It must be around here someplace, if only I could start Resolution 6.

Resolution #10
Ditto: Work on all my creative projects like poetry, screenwriting, short stories, and artwork in between laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking while trying to live up to Resolution 8 and experiencing Resolution 7.

Resolution #11
COMPLETED! Graduated from Grand Valley in April. I am no longer a Perpetual Senior, and now must jump into…

Resolution #12
Get a Real Job in the Real World after completion of Resolution 11. I have been scanning the Morons Wanted column in the local Swamp Valley One Wipe (hey, my Dad coined that one, so I’m gonna use it!) and there are jobs out there for writers, believe it or not. Now to apply and convince someone that they need to hire me. I still want to work as a Best Selling Author, and wonder, if anyone out there is reading my blog, could they please offer me a job doing freelance? It would be nice to be able to work from my Domestic Dilemma Command Center.

Resolution #13
Resolve to do all the things and reach all the goals (even those I have forgotten to include) listed in Resolutions 1 to 12, and probably end up repeating them all for next year! Wish me luck, this gal’s gonna need it!

The Kindness of Strangers

I took the kids shopping for groceries the other evening at the local Waldo’s store, which is a feat I don’t normally undertake. Any parent could tell you that taking children to any store, for any reason, is like taking on a suicide mission. It’s something nobody wants to do because Real Life isn’t like the movie The Bridge On the River Kwai. But because I couldn’t go during school hours and because there was absolutely nothing to eat in the house and just as William Holden had to blow up the bridge, I had to go to the grocery store.

Typical to my kids, they were shouting, arguing, and jumping all around and that was just in the car on the way to the store. Once our feet hit terra firma, my son commandeered the cart and proceeded to crash it into the Exit door as he tried to enter Waldo’s. Once corrected he nearly ran over a little old lady, two kids, and a dog as he steered toward the Entrance in his haphazard way. Fortunately for us (and them) we made it in unscathed and, upon doing so, he announced, “Now, let’s see…what’s on my list?”

“Your list?” I asked, surprised.
“Yup! I have a list in my head.” That was news to me.

The children immediately began their scavenger hunt, tossing items like chips, candies, and sugar cereal into the cart. General Mom stepped up and brought the troops to attention, “One item per recruit!” I barked.

“Aw, Mom!” they moaned. “Can’t we get more than one thing?”
“I have three things on my list!” says son, disappointed.
“No, just one,” I said firmly. I had to stand my ground.

We commenced shopping and because each child had already selected their one item (from the first aisle), they were bored with shopping and began running to and fro, singing, tussling over who was going to bring which item to the cart, and generally just being themselves: two out-of-control maniacs. (Can’t you tell how patient I am?)

When we rounded the corner of the second aisle – the aisle filled with gadgets and other child-enticers – they ran amok in ecstasy, picking things up, drooling and begging me to buy them. General Mom was close to losing it. The troops were going A.W.O.L. in a bad way. I issued commands in rapid-fire succession, “Company, halt! Forward, march!” They tried to follow orders, putting the coveted extra items back on the shelves, moving their over-excited feet to my chant of “Hut, two, three, four!” but the temptation was too much. They kept breaking formation to pick up another item, and then another, and another, all the while begging and pleading. Fifteen minutes had passed, the General was sinking into a Swirling Vortex of Confusion, and we still had two and a half isles to go when a man in Army casuals stepped up to attention.

“Permission to speak, General Mom,” he requested.
I eyed the stranger warily, then sighed. “Permission granted, soldier,” I said. “At ease.”
“If you would allow me, Ma’am-Sir, I have something that will calm the troops.”
Even though my head was throbbing, I was intrigued. We had been sidetracked on our mission and were close to losing The Battle of The Waldo. A diversion might be the saving grace and as nothing could hurt at this point, I acquiesced, “Fire away,” I sighed.

In the meantime, the kids were running in circles around me, passerby were having difficulty navigating past, we were receiving those “looks” from most everyone, and you know what kind of looks I’m talking about. The situation was embarrassing, to say the least.

The man opened his shoulder pack and extracted something long and skinny and rubbery. He stretched it back and forth rapidly between his hands as he said, “Hey, kids, look at this,” and placed one end of it to his lips. The kids rallied to attention and watched with wide eyes and gaping mouths as the soldier blew up a black balloon.

Once inflated, he knotted the end and twisted it into shape, producing a mighty sword. He turned to my son and said, “Do you promise to use this sword only for good? To defend the universe against the powers of evil? And not to hit your sister or anyone else with it?”
My son nodded, dumbfounded.

He extended his hand, and just as my son grabbed for it, he bopped him on the head, “You promise?”

“Yes!” he shouted overenthusiastically, “I promise!” It was almost too much to take for his six-year-old self.

All the while, my daughter, who had ceased running in place, was watching the transpirations, eyes wide and mouth agape. The man rummaged in his pack again, producing a pink balloon. We watched, amused, as he proceeded to inflate it and twist it into shape, producing a princess wand.

“You,” he said, handing it to her, “have my permission to hit your brother as many times as you’d like with it.”

“Really?” she asked (it was way too good to be true), and just as she was reaching for her prize the Soldier added, “I was just kidding!” Then she knew it was too good to be true, and being the trooper she is, my daughter shouldered her disappointment, and sacrificing her desires for the greater cause, accepted her trophy.

And General Mom, what did she do? Well, I just stood there flabbergasted and amused and pleased, looking on.

“You deserve a commendation, Soldier,” I said.

The Soldier replied, “It was the least I could do General Ma’am-Sir to save your mission.”

“Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it.”

That day, thanks to the kindness of a stranger, the Battle of the Waldo was a success. The Soldier faded into the distance with his shopping cart and I finished my shopping in peace because the kids were happily busy with their new prizes. It wasn’t until I was checking out and exiting the store that I noticed the Kind Stranger once again, this time fashioning another sword for another wide-eyed and open-mouthed boy whose joy was apparent by the bliss written across his face.

The Wheatlake House

The other day I decided to read my saved emails and I came across this one, written to my mother by my Big Brother Jim as a response to her telling us siblings that our childhood home was scheduled to be torn down. Of course, unless you had lived there you wouldn't know what he was talking about, but there are some memories that anyone who came from a big family or lived in a big farm house can relate to and I thought it would be nice to share it here...enjoy!

"June 21, 2004


Despite the condition of the place, my memories came flooding back when we walked into the place. I remember the warmth of the place, even in the cold of winter, when we came in the back door and the smell of supper cooking on the stove. How we waited for Dad to come home so we could tell him what we had done that day and to be together for dinner. I do so miss having dinner anymore, as we are in such a rush in this day and age. I remember Sammy dog licking Dad's smelly rotten feet in the front room and the nights we sat and watched TV and ate ice cream together. The time the guy shot the house from across the room. Coming over the hill from the east and seeing the Walsh Hilton lit up like a Jew church. Cutting hay and milking cows. Building the barn and swimming in the back pond. Eating apples with the cows in the back pasture and all those many trips out exploring the neighborhood. Drinking coffee and seeing deer run across the field to the west, with everyone jumping up and running out the back door to catch a glimpse of what they were. George Geib and Georgie Barns coming over. Hiding from Frank Barnes and his family till they went away. Plowing snow for hours just to get enough room for Dad to get in the driveway. Taking care of that worthless Taffy horse for Frank B. Fighting with my brothers and sisters, goofing around in bed at night till Dad threatened us with immediate death and dismemberment if we didn't shut up and go to sleep. Ted Geib falling off of the picnic table in the garage after drinking too much brandy after snowmobiling. The memories go on and on. What are treasures for us, are nothing for others that can't remember or just plain don't care about the past.

Till I die, I will remember.

Someday, I will write these things down so my kids and grandkids can remember too.

Take care,
Love, Jim"

Saturday, May 5, 2007

It's Official!

It's official...I graduated! After a whirlwind tour (five years, no less) Grand Valley finally deemed me ready to graduate and I took The Walk across Commencement Stage on April 28th.

Here I am accepting my diploma and really enjoying it (I guess - I can't remember, actually, it was all pretty overwhelming!)

I have my Bachelors Degree in Writing and with honors (no less) Now what will the future hold? Hopefully a job! Wish me luck!