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I entered the world during a baby shower for my mother. The women had purposely picked a Thursday evening for the shower, since that was my father’s bowling night, but to no avail. Paging a man in a noisy bowling alley wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but when my Dad finally got the message he finished the third game–there were only three frames left– and then rushed to the hospital. And there I was. A girl baby. My father claimed he didn’t care, although that wasn’t quite true. Silently, he gave up daydreams of fishing and golfing with a son, and he put up with me. On the other hand, my mother had desperately wanted a girl, so her joy was indescribable. Inspiration # 1. Nothing like a mother’s love.

After I am born we come to the first obstacle. My mother was a devout Baptist and my father was a practicing Catholic. (Those Catholics always practicing like they hadn’t quite got it right.) There was a rather heated discussion on whether I would be a Catholic or a Baptist. Catholic won out and so I was raised in Catholic schools by nuns. Inspiration #2. This may be hard to believe, but I was taught by the most liberal women I’ve ever known, who just happened to be nuns. I got a great education and l was taught to think for myself. They were also great proponents of the arts, and started me on my voyage of loving to create.

Once I was old enough to walk down the stairs to my grandmas’ home, I went there often. I played underneath my grandmother’s dining room table, a large table that she used where she made draperies for the store down the street. The cloth would cascade down to the floor, making walls for my house. My dolls and I occupied the under table world for quite a few years. Inspiration #3. My grandmas’ gave me permission to play, a gift I have managed to carry with me throughout my entire life.

As I got older, I was given little tasks in the sewing room–winding thread or skeins of yarn, or learning how to sew a straight line on the old Singer sewing machine. And eventually when I was much, much older, I was allowed to dust my grandmother’s set of miniature shoes which were carefully ensconced in a large glass cabinet. The china cabinet in the hall held more than 600 shoes from around the world and the United States, and it was quite a job to unload the shelves, dust the shoes and shelves and reload. I loved doing it, handling each shoe, looking to see if I could tell where it was from. Some had tiny tags on them telling the giver’s names. Those were my favorite. Inspiration #4 also belongs to my grandmas’. They taught me that work is necessary, but one can make work fun. (Many years later I would inherit that shoe collection. My grandmother astutely knew I was the only true lover of the shoes, and everyone else only loved the money the auctioneer could get for them.)

In elementary school, my first grade teacher was Sister Rebecca, one of the most caring people I have ever known. She taught me how to read and write, and I learned quickly how to devour books and make them my friends (when I was poorly needing friends.) Inspiration #5

I remember the last day of school in 8th grade. I remember that especially. My grandfather went to check on my great-grandmother and found her dead in bed. That was my first experience with death, and I mourned her silently but deeply. She had been my confidante over the years as I grew up in the big house, and I always knew her as my beacon of safety. I now felt adrift in a big sea. I loved my great-grandma the most of all the people I knew. She taught me (in absentia) how to mourn and how to come out to see the rainbow at the end of a long storm. Already listed as inspiration #3.

My first year of college was spent in my hometown’s college, living at home. I hated living at home. In desperation, I spoke with my advisor, Father Eugene Middendorf, and asked him what I should do. He suggested I go to the library and look up the colleges and universities that had physical therapy programs to see what was out there. I researched catalog after catalog and found a state school that had a PT program. Father Middendorf and I spoke with my parents and they hesitantly agreed that I could matriculate at an away college for my sophomore year. Inspiration # 6. He trusted me and gave me permission to spread my wings and fly.

After 2 years at the state college, I was admitted to Northwestern University for my final 16 months of study in their physical therapy school. I also worked in the kitchen, feeding the students of Northwestern, to earn my spending money. It happened that I met a guy who worked as the cook named Bob. He was a first year law student, and we became friends.
One weekend the dorm cleared out since many students took a road trip to see the Kentucky Derby. When Friday evening came, and my work shift was over, I asked Bob if he’d like to go for a pizza and to see a movie. We must have hit it off well, because I kept dating him and the next June we were married. Inspiration # 7. Bob has taught me how to share a whole life together while loving each other. He has taught me that family can go through unbelievable trials and survive.

When we decided to start our family, I had little trouble getting pregnant, but a harder time making the pregnancies stick. I had two emotionally painful miscarriages before we finally struck gold. Gold came in the way of Jeanne. Three years later, after two more miscarriages, I had my second baby, Jeffrey. Then Bob took a new job and we moved across the state. There we completed our family with Amanda’s birth. My inspirations #8, #9, #10. They taught me everything else I had yet to learn, and they still continue to inspire me to be my very best. They encourage me when I am in a slump and proclaim my victories when success comes around.

Oh, excuse me. See that table in front of the fireplace. All of the people who have inspired me are sitting there. Look. They’re waving at me to come. There’s one chair still empty. I must go. I need to give everyone there a big hug of thanks.

Barbara Fahrenbach

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Night sky glitters with flaming stars
While Eros drinks his purple wine,
Golden tongued poets murmur in memory
On the parting Muses for whom they pine.
Bittersweet desire lies on the altar,
Tokens of moist lotus trail in the dawn,
To sing and dance in the sea as they bathe
And caress the desire for She whom they yearn.

Wild girls heard singing in ecstatic tongue
Daughters of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love,
Who drink the bee’s nectar from the heavenly urn,
Then lie on the earth with the red-fingered dove.
Heart broken poets burn incense at twilight
Walk down from the mountains in procession and song,
Find sweet ambrosia to quench dry, parched lips,
Then dance in Her grove a-cloaked all night long.

Soulsister

When the subject for this post came up, I grabbed an index card and pencil and made a list of creative influences. By the time the index card stack was up to the height of the desk, I knew I couldn’t pick just one “most” influential person. And one I couldn’t leave out–this group. From the day I arrived, I knew I’d found my tribe. But we all feel that, so I’ll give props to all of you and not natter on.

One of the influences that makes the most differences in my creativity is finding someone who thinks completely differently from the way I do. When I see how they tackle problems and solve them, I’m amazed. When this new kind of problem solving makes sense to me, I’m intrigued and push myself forward. When it is amusing, clever, and simple, I begin to drool.

Jessica Hagy is a person who explores and explains life with charts and Venn Diagrams. That explanation would make doors slam in my head. Luckily I stumbled upon her site, and saw what she was doing before I had to explain it. So I’m adding two of her images here for an appetizer. For a full meal, visit Jessica’s blog, Indexed.card6941.JPG

The first one is called “Not Rocket Science” and the second one “You can buy friends! With T-bonds!” For our international readers, T-bonds are treasury bonds in the U.S. which are actually a promise to repay the nation’s debt. So people who own T-bonds own part of our nation’s debt. If you own only a few, no problem, but China holds about one quarter of America’s debt, and that gives them power over the economy. card6874.JPG


Quinn

Hmm.  Influential people, effecting my writing…  Where to start!  There have been quite a few. Anyway, one of my favorites…  This needs a little background info, so have patience.  It’s a combination of two different pieces of my life–the Intensive Journal and the theater.  Back in my college years, I was part of a theater production of 1776, a Broadway musical about the Continental Congress and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  (By the same person who brought you the musical about the Titanic!)  For an excellent overview of 1776 go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1776_(musical)   I loved doing the play and I go to any production I can.  The character which I most admired was the main character  (John Adams).  Over the years, lines from the play appeared in my journal writings.  Also, over the years I attended Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal workshops.  One of the main journal techniques Progoff uses is dialogues: dialogues with people, events in our lives, our bodies, etc.  One section is Dialogues with Inner Wisdom Figures (real/fictional, famous or not).  See www.intensivejournal.org for more info.  When I began writing Inner Wisdom dialogues, Mr Adams started showing up.  And what follows is one of those dialogues.  The characters in this dialogue include myself as the writer; Mr Adams; Andrew, the Intensive Journal workshop facilitator; and RB/LB, alter-egos of the writer.  The primary dialogue is in quotation marks.

Cheshire

11/19/95      (Intensive Journal Workshop Dialogue)
 
 “How Quiet The Chamber Is. How Silent, How Silent The Chamber Is. Is Anybody There?”

 “DOES ANYBODY CARE?”

 “Mr Adams!”

 “Yes.”

 “I was hoping you’d come. I need to talk to you.”

 “Ever, your obedient listener.”

 “Old Gloom & Doom is back. I received some very disappointing news yesterday. Sending me back into my fears and uncertainties. I need your support.”

 “Now and always. How can I help?”

 “Just talk to me, John. About commitment to goals.”

 “What commitment is faltering, Miss J?”

 “My sense of things-of life working out in a positive way.”

 “Positive meaning without mistakes or pain?”

 “No. That’s wishful thinking. Positive as in meaningful. Also in being able to take care of myself. In being an adult.”

 “You don’t feel-adult-when things are difficult?”

 “Sometimes. Sometimes not. It depends on the issue.”

 “How are you feeling now?”

 “Small, John. Foolish and-damn-here come the tears. I’m sorry-”

 “Do not apologize. Honest tears are not a weakness.”

 “Right. And I won’t melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, from crying.”

 “The Wicked Witch of the West?”

 “I’ll tell you the Wizard of Oz story another time.”

 “Maybe you should tell me now. Here. Sit beside me. Tell me about the wizard and the witch.”

 “On second thought, it is a musical.  Singing and dancing.”

 “I like it already! Tell me.”

 “Well, a girl named Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are swept up and away by a tornado to another place–the land of Oz. Over the rainbow. The story is about her journey to return to Kansas. She meets dangers, witches, etc. No story without dangers, I suppose.”

 “Or a life.”

 “Or a life. Along the way she meets first, a scarecrow. Who wants a brain. Secondly, a tin man who wants a heart. Then a cowardly lion who wants courage, of course.”

 “Of course.”

 “And a horse of a different color in the Emerald City. But the horse isn’t a major character—”

 Just a bit player!
 RB!
 Sorry. Couldn’t resist!

 “Anyway. Dorothy, the scarecrow, tin man, and lion go to the Emerald City because that is where the great & powerful Wizard of Oz is-er-resides.”

 With the horse of a different color!
 Right Brain!
 That tone of voice. She means business. No more horsing around.
 RB
 Yes, I know where I can go.
 NO!
 OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD! 
 WE MAY SEE MURDER YET!
 Which brings us back to John Adams. To return to your story, Miss J, the great and powerful Oz…

 “The great and powerful Oz will help our heroes if they do one dangerous task–get the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

 Who’s the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East.
 Please
 Who died when the house from Kansas fell on her!
 RB!
 DING, DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD!
 A certain redhead will be dead soon.
 The Witch of the North didn’t die.
 I’m not talking about Glenda!
 I know. Okay, I’ve done my duty as irritant. Let’s go on with the story. Mr Adams must be in unbearable suspense. Our heroes are off to the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West to get her broomstick.

 “They get it and return to the Emerald City.”

 Whoa! This is a point you can’t skip over. Otherwise your earlier comment to John about not melting like the witch won’t be understandable. Tell him how they got the broomstick.

 “One of our heroes–the scarecrow, I think, since he was made of straw–is on fire and Dorothy throws water at him. Some of it splashes on the witch and she melts.”

 Now you can go back to the Emerald City.
 Thank you.
 Where the horse of a different color is!
 Yes.
 That tone of voice again. I’m good at my job, aren’t I?
 I will not say what I am thinking in front of Mr Adams. I want to keep his good opinion of me. Later, we will talk.
 I’m in trouble now!

 “They return with the broomstick and the whole point of the story is revealed. The great & powerful Oz is not so great & powerful. He’s a man not a real wizard. And he can’t give our  heroes what they want because they already have it!  Scarecrow is intelligent, the tin man has a heart full of feelings, and the lion is brave indeed. They didn’t recognize it or have external validation of it. So the wizard gives the lion a medal, the scarecrow gets a diploma, etc.”

 “And Dorothy?”

 “Dorothy has the ability to return herself to Kansas. End of the story.”

 “It’s a wonderful tale.”

 “They show it every year. It’s over 50 years old now. I watched it many times during my childhood.”

 “It’s not just a story for children.”

 “Yes… And there’s probably a reason it appeared in the middle of our dialogue.”

 “Indeed. Like Dorothy at the beginning of the story, you have been feeling lost and uncertain. About events and your goals.”

 “Yes. So I thought of you. You represent my sense of commitment. Despite great obstacles/dangers, etc.”

 “I must confess, I am like the wizard. Only a man. And I can’t say more to you than what he said to them. You have what you need, Miss J. Recognize it.”

 “On one level I do. Otherwise we could not be speaking like this. But I’m not feeling it.”

 “The feeling will come and go. Rely instead upon the values you hold so dear, the goals you choose, and the commitment needed to continue.”

 “You underestimate yourself, John. You’re not like the wizard at all. Those were wise and good words. Said from your heart.”

 HEY, LB! Brainstorm!
 Oh, God!
 A cast exchange. Franklin as the cowardly lion, Jefferson as the scarecrow, and Mr Adams as the tin man.
 Not now, RB.
 You’re smiling though! I’m half way out of trouble.

 “Then I should say such words more often.”

 We got her, Mr Adams.  She’s blushing.

 “The bloom on your cheeks is most becoming.”

 What a remarkable felicity with words.

 “I see old Gloom & Doom has been vanquished. A penny for your thoughts.”

 “Just a very silly thought, John.”

 “Tell me.”

 Tell him, Dawn.

 “I insist.”

 The Great & Powerful Adams has spoken!

 “John, it’s really not…”

 She’s laughing now! I’m almost out of trouble.

 “I must know.”

 “No.”

 “Yes.”

 “You won’t give up, will you?”

 “I am a stubborn man.”

 “I know.”

 Stubborn. Another word for committed?  Hmm. “One of the things I admire in you.”

 “Flattery will not divert me, Miss J.”

 LB, question
 Footnote it. I am talking to Mr Adams.
 Really? I agree with John. You’re stalling.
 Yes.  Hasn’t there been enough embarrassment today?
 I think he would appreciate the humor.
 Perhaps.
 I’ll tell him if you don’t.
 I knew that line was coming.
 Mr Adam’s not the only stubborn one around here.
 I’m well aware of that.
 He’s waiting, Dawn.
 You enjoy this too damn much.
 There’s not been enough enjoyment lately. And you’re–

 Ahem.

 “Oh, John. I really don’t think it will be as amusing to you. You haven’t seen–”

 “So, I am an unsophisticated 18th century man and therefore incapable of comprehending the comedy of the 20th century?”

 “No–”

 “I am a Harvard graduate and well-versed in–”

 “John! I-I’m not thinking that at all. But I see I’ve offended you. My apologies.”

 “What so amused you?”

 “It was only the thought of–the vision of Dr Franklin as the cowardly lion, Jefferson as the scarecrow, and you as the tin man. I’m sorry, but it fits–visually. The lion was portly, with long-um-a mane and the scarecrow was tall–”

 Dawn, stop babbling. Look at John–he’s smiling. I told you he’d–hey, we can show him the video next week!
 WE?
 You expect to go to Boston without me? Silly you. But I agree to give you and John some privacy. I’ll find–
 How about some privacy right now?
 All right. Mr Adams has forgiven you, so I’ll bow out at this point.
 Thank you.
 Bow out
 That means good-bye, RB. We’ll talk later.
 I’m still in trouble.

 “John–”

 “You must tell me more.”

 “Yes, but not today please. Enough energy has been stirred up already.”

 “I beg your pardon?”

 “Nevermind. I want to thank you for helping me cope with old Gloom & Doom again.”

 “I am glad to be–”

 Oh

 “Someone is playing the violin.”

 That devious little–bow out indeed.

 “I am unfamiliar with the melody. Do you recognize it?”

 “Yes, Mr Adams. It’s from the Wizard of Oz musical.”

 “Shall we dance?”

 “In the middle of the afternoon, John?”

 “We’re not in Boston!”

 “True.”

 “One, two, three, one, two, three!”

 “Yes, we can waltz to it. Amazing!”

 “What are the words?”

 “SOMEWHERE, OVER THE RAINBOW, SKIES ARE BLUE!  BIRDS FLY OVER THE RAIN–Oh!”   Andrew is calling time. The next journal exercise. To hell with it! I need to do this kind of exercise!   “One, two, three, one, two, three!”

I would invite Vincent & Theo van Gogh, and would buy them both absinthes, and I would tell Vincent of the tremendous impact he’s had on art and artists (including myself), a lasting impact of the kind that he would never believe, not in his time or this time or the next.  I would tell him that the fires he saw in the sky and the voices he heard in his ears and the force that drove him to paint and paint and paint as if there weren’t enough time to paint it all were the fires and voices not of mental insanity but of creative insanity.  I would tell Theo that his devotion to his brother and his willingness to support him (despite their differences) allowed the receiver of one of the greatest gifts of divine artistic fire to create some of the world’s finest masterpieces before he burned out.  And that Theo’s devotion gives us a model for giving and acceptance and selflessness that we can but stand in awe of and desire for. 

The lights of the Taverna are burning low and Vincent and Theo prepare to leave us.  But Vincent’s final words to us are the words he wrote in a letter to Theo in June of 1877:  “Not a day without a line*”; by writing, reading, working and practicing daily, perserverance will lead me to a good end.”  These are words that Vincent lived by, and believed in, and proved true in the course of time.  While we may not all burn with the same fire, we can warm our hands and our hearts with those words of advice and our own daily manifestations of it.  And one more glass of absinthe.

(*The quote is by Gavarni, an illustrator and artist)

Visit me at http://marimann.wordpress.com or www.madeleinemoments.com.

Albert

 

Many prominent people stop by the Taverna for a bite to eat and to swap stories and songs. If you could invite to the Taverna a person who has significantly influenced your creative work, whose voice may be heard coming from your writing, whose vision emanates from your artwork, who would that person be?

The individual(s) can be anyone–  a writer, artist, philosopher, scientist, theologian,  politician, teacher, friend, family member, sinner or saint.  The person can be famous or not, alive or dead, a real person or a character in a book.

Just tell us why and how your creativity has been touched by this person. Comment below or post to category “BS 23.02.07 Influential People.

If you need to be signed into the Taverna, just let me know.

Lori

Poet
aged and lonely
riding gently over the sea
The ferry woman dips
her paddle
singing the song
the song of her fathers
westerly, westerly
we go to the Island
where your beloved
is waiting for thee

Fran

phpj7se0tam.jpg

Oil Pastel & Sharpie 18″ X 24″

Literary Bohemian

Inspired by the prompt, The Black Madonna

When the foreshock hit, Marilyn barely noticed. She felt a brief rolling sensation and for a moment she had the recollection of being on a gently rocking boat. She steadied herself by reaching for the elevator’s railing, and she gave it no further thought. Her attention was focused on the illuminated numbers as she sped downward to the P-3 parking level deep beneath her office complex.

To the rest of the story…..

It’s been too cold to walk for more than a week. Today it was above freezing, and right around sunset, I headed out. The moon was two days past new, and tilted in that winter’s way. Venus was below, bright and big, as if it had rolled out of the moon cup. (c) Quinn McDonald , 2007 Venus haiku

Silver moonlight falls
upon ink darkened water
boats drift out to sea
breeze carries a memory;
clinging together as one.

Soulsister

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Metaphor Seeds Imagination

From the formless void
Motes, particles, miniscule molecules of matter
Slowly began to stir
Drawn by an invisible procreative,
Primordial force
They gravitated
Clinging together tenaciously
Swelling into a giant cluster
A sensual shape with
Dark raven wings

Inflaming, arousing desire, Raven
Spread her wings
Dancing, gyrating provocatively
Upon Wind’s fingertips
Wind and raven’s coming together
Borne of frenzied passion
Was a union, an act of love?
From which was birthed
An exquisite silver, moon egg
Swollen with life.

Curled within the silver womb
Amid deep silence
Lay the Goddess of Love,
Goddess of erotic love, fertility
Wrapped in the very wings
Upon which would ride, ravenous
Procreative inspiration
The all powerful
Creative energy
That fuels the universe

Heather Blakey

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image courtesy of Susan Seddon-Boulet Trustees.

In the beginning the world was a great shapeless mass.

First there was nothing, just wind and the dark abyss. In the immense clefts of nothing, the deeper Abyss, Raven formed and with her dark raven wings, she flew to wind’s arms and their passion, this procreative force, became known as Chaos.

Raven gave birth to wind’s egg. From this egg rose the Goddess of Love, the one who arouses desire and fuels creation. This Goddess who represent the spirit of love,fertility and creation, was the oldest and at the same time the youngest of the Goddesses. It was the Goddess, the matchmaker, who agitated(libido) and paired heaven and earth, ocean and and the land. Before Her no immortal beings existed. From the Goddess of Love came libido which in turn birthed the immortals who sprang to life on the wings of ravenous love.

It is the Goddess of Love, the procreative principle(libido) that permits the work of creation to continue. The ability to bring something new into existence is fundamental to the creative process. Reference is often made to somebody’s ‘fertile mind’, or to an inhibition of this creativity as ‘creative sterility’.

Many successfully creative people use procreative metaphors in saying something about their experience because, as artist’s know too well, when a person’s performance, work output or art doesn’t have soul it lacks passion or libido. Without passion or libido, without the inevitable tension of opposites, the artist lies, wretched, impotent, sterile.

by Heather Blakey

I am just beginning to exhale
The breath that has been held in a
Life stifled by responsibilties and must-dos.
A new voice calls through the wind
Flying through my mouth and down my throat
Before I can close the shutters of my soul.
The crystal castle shakes and rattles,
Its foundations crumbling.
There is a mad woman in the attic
Screaming ”Let me begin”.
And so I let the stale air out,
The breath that I have been sucking in
For years, until it finally feels
As if my lungs should burst
Leaving my life scattered in bits and pieces
All over the front porch.
Someone else would have to clean it up.

 

 

 

 

 

Satin Flower ferry woman
hastens to the jetty
fearing lest the whirlwind
damage her vessel
A fragile word maker
awaits her coming

Fran

A different sort of love story.

My Mama: Manda’s Story

My mama. She sits on her bed with her legs crossed, hugging herself hard, rocking back and forth, never stopping, never hardly talking. Sometimes she slows her rocking and glances at Dad’s face when he talks. I don’t know if that’s really listening or not. I think she doesn’t know how to listen much. Sometimes she looks at our mouths moving and then she moves her mouth. But there’s still quiet. I hate her quiet. I hate her. I hate everybody who has a real mom.

She didn’t even flinch when I yelled those words in her ear. Her eyes just glazed over and she looked like an ancient blind woman, but she’s only 43. She’s not an old woman at all.

Dad’s gonna get her a rocking chair. He’s gonna put it in their bedroom where she can look out the window and where she can rock herself and not look so crazy. I feel bad thinking my mama’s crazy, but what am I s’posed to think. I can’t even let anyone into the house for fear someone will see Mama. Maybe start to wondering how our Mama takes care of Jeff and me.

But no one need wonder or worry ’cause we’re not little kids anymore. I’m 10 and Jeff, why he’s almost 15. And anyway, our Dad takes care of us when he’s home. And Martha who’s Mama’s day worker, she watches us a little. And you might be surprised at this, but when we’re doing something wrong, why Mama will start rocking her body so hard, I’m afraid she’s gonna fall over. I think that’s her way of telling us she knows we’re being naughty.

So don’t worry none about us. We’re used to Mama’s rocking. We don’t hardly notice it. Most of the time, I’m sorry to say, we don’t hardly notice her. What we do notice, though, is when Mama stops rocking. Then there’s trouble. One day I was sitting next to Mama on her bed, and I started rocking. I didn’t even know I was rocking, but Mama went ballistic. Fire in her eyes and she turned red all over her flesh and she couldn’t breathe. She stopped rocking. “Stop,” she said to me in a raw, edgy-sharp voice I never, ever want to hear again.

When I told Martha, she yelled at me. “You rock like that, they’ll think you’re going on like her. They’ll come take both of you away, and I won’t be doing nothing to stop it. You want that?”

“No, m’am,” I whispered, and went and sat on the stoop ’til Jeff came home from baseball practice. Jeff’s about the only person in the whole world who understands what goes on in our house.
But there is one more thing I want to tell you about Mama. Kind of a normal thing. Pa put a swing in the back yard. It’s all fenced in, so no one can see in. He walks Mama outside and sits her in the swing. He pushes her, back and forth, and sometimes she laughs in a funny sort of way.

See. She’s just our Mama with a sickness in her brain. A mess of garbage in her brain that causes me to get a sickness in my heart. I just don’t know what to do to make her get better. Jeff says there isn’t a thing we can do, but I don’t believe him.

My Ma: by Jeffrey A. Bachmann

Manda’s right about one thing. None of us get exactly what’s the reason Ma’s so sick. But there sure is something sick about her, even if I don’t know the name of what she’s got. Dad talks about chemicals in Ma’s brain. How she doesn’t have enough chemicals in her brain.

Maybe that’s why she rocks so much. So she can spread the chemicals all around in her brain. Nah. I know that’s not the way it is, but I sure wish something would work on those chemicals. She even gets extra in those little pills her doctor gives her. Personally, I can’t tell the difference, whether she takes those pills or whether she doesn’t. Maybe I could give her some of my chemicals in a transplant, or whatever.

Dad drives Ma to the clinic every month. We all went in to meet Ma’s doctor once. Her doc seems okay. She’s pretty old, but I know for sure she was one foxy lady when she was younger. Doctor B. has a picture of herself on her desk –one of her doing some mighty fine dancing in a mighty fine dress. Her hair’s flaming red and piled on top of her head. Her eyes were so green they made me feel all funny inside. Now that’s how a mother ought to look.

Ma never misses her appointment with Doctor B. I think she likes her. We all drop her off at the clinic and then we hurry and go grocery shopping or buy other stuff like baseball shoes for me. That seems like the only time we act like we’re a family.

Ma’s been going to see Doctor B. for nearly 10 years. Dad says Ma’s a lot better than she used to be, but I can’t figure that out. She must have been mostly dead to be worse than she is now.

In fact, she acts pretty dead right now. Well, not always. There is a time when Ma seems to listen. That’s when Manda starts talking weather talk. I probably haven’t told you all, but Manda’s an honest to goodness weather girl. She loves all the weathermen on TV, but she especially likes this guy called Kevin. Manda’s always going on, “Kevin this” or “Kevin that.”

Dad called the weather station once, right before Christmas, to see if they had any promo stuff on this guy. He was gonna give it to Manda, but they laughed at Dad. See. Just shows you how crazy normal people can be.

Anyway, Ma listens to Manda speak her weather words. She looks spellbound when Manda throws her weather words around — cold fronts, dew points, record rain falls. Manda’s always telling Ma what city had the highest temperature or the lowest temperature. All those words most people don’t care about, but Manda goes on and on. I know Ma listens some, because once in a while she’ll answer. Ma likes those high and low temperatures something fierce.

Amanda says “Now I’m in Billington, Montana where the lowest temperature is -14 degrees.” And sometimes Ma repeats her. “Low,” she says. I don’t know why she says that. She barely talks when Dad or I am there. We have to stand at the doorway to hear her talk. Personally, I think it wastes the words Ma can say. I want Ma to save some of her words for me. I’ve got important conversations to talk to her about. But no, Manda uses them all on the weather.

Listen to this, if you don’t think Ma’s got stuff working in her brain. On Easter Day, Ma sat by the window, and stared at the sky something fierce. She looked and looked and she said “snow” clear as clear can be. Everyone heard her say it, so I’m not making this up. Now the sky was a blue blue color and white clouds floated right along. But Ma watched out that window all day long. Wouldn’t even have dinner with us and Dad cooked ham and sweet potatoes and chocolate cake for desert. She just rocked and waited.

Then evening came and the sky turned thick with gray clouds. The wind picked up and it started snowing. And how did Ma know about that snow. Why, a couple weeks ago Manda was reading the Farmer’s Almanac. Mind you, a couple weeks ago. And Manda told everyone, “It’s going to snow on Easter.” Now, who would believe that. Snow in the middle of March! But darned if it didn’t happen just the way Manda said.

So then Manda turned right around, right around where Ma was sitting and she said, “You’re right, Mama. I told you that, didn’t I?” And Ma looked right at Manda and she waited a bit. “Yes.” That’s what she said.

Then Ma stopped rocking and leaned forward and patted Manda on the head. Manda grabbed Ma’s hand and plopped a big kiss on the backside. Ma laughed and laughed, and Dad and Manda laughed. But not me. I felt like crying inside.

Ma looked at Manda, all satisfied like. Ma’s brain is definitely there. I’m not exactly sure where, but that’s proof Ma’s got brains working. Maybe she needs more practice at thinking and talking and paying attention. Maybe at paying more attention to me.

I try to talk to her when Manda’s not going on and on about the damn weather. She gets that blank look on her face and rocks herself. Sometimes Manda and Ma make me sick with all their talking special weather crap.

But I keep on trying. I really do. “Ma,” I say. “Listen to me. You don’t really drive me crazy. No, you don’t.” I talk louder and louder to get her to look at me and listen, but she just ignores me.

Ma always listens to Manda, but she never listens to me, and I’ve got important things to tell her. I want to tell her about my baseball team. I made Varsity and I’m only a sophomore.

“Do you hear me Ma? I made Varsity. I’ll get my baseball letter to put on my jacket. I might go to the University and play ball on scholarship. Maybe play on a Big 10 team. Ma. Ma. Listen to me!” But she won’t give me a smile. She won’t even look at me. I love my Ma and she won’t even look at me.

Finally I got an idea. “Ma.” My voice felt strangled, stuck right in my throat. “Ma. You want me to read to you about the weather? Here. Here’s the paper. The high temperature was 74 in Fort Myers, Florida. You hear, Ma? 74. That sure is pretty hot for it being March.”

And my Ma, well, she looked at me. Looked right at me and then she smiled. Do you hear that? She smiled at me! And so I kept on going, on and on about the weather. When I finally stopped, she stopped rocking and she leaned over and she patted my head!

I guess I’ll take those smiles and pats, no matter how I get them. I’ll wait on baseball for the time being, ’cause I’m reading the weather reports right now.

Barbara Farenbach

Official Lemurian Tavern


Authenticated by le Enchanteur

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