The Little House on the Corner

(Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters
Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.)

When I was twelve, I was in seventh grade. That would have been during the two years that we lived in a rented house on Killingsworth Avenue in Portland, Oregon. I remember it as having a brick facade, with a pretty red brick chimney that had darker bricks making the pattern of a huge X about halfway up. I had a crush on a boy in my class who liked to tell me, “X marks the spot!” in describing where I lived.

The house was located in a pleasant residential neighborhood, within walking distance of the school where I attended 7th and 8th grades. It was also within walking distance of the library, so it had two of the most important features for me!  There was a park nearby as well, and grocery shopping was around the corner and down the street about three blocks. In fact, I remember that grocery store being robbed  while I was getting the milk and bread my mom had sent me to purchase, but that’s another story.

This is not a picture of the neighborhood we lived in, but it is from a street nearby. It brings back the feeling of the neighborhood for me.

There was a nice yard. The house was on a corner, and in my memory the front yard was small. The back, however, was big enough to set up a croquet game, and to enjoy the clear air and warm sunshine of a Portland summer day. I think there was a garage, although I’m not completely clear on that.

I remember the interior layout of the house very well. What I don’t remember is how it was painted or papered. I have a vague memory of the furniture, because it followed us from house to house. We moved a lot back then, My mom never complained, that I remember, about the frequent moves, but it must have become tedious. I was happy for her when she finally was able to settle into a house she and Dad lived in for over 20 years.

Back to the inside of our little rented house in Portland.

As you walked in through the front door, you entered the living room. Most of the room was to your right.  I remember windows and priscilla curtains, and the old hide-a-bed sofa that had traveled with us from Minneapolis.  It was showing its age by then, and it seems to me it got a reupholstery job somewhere during that period.

If you turned right  inside the front door, you were in the kitchen.  I liked that kitchen. I remember white octagonal tiles, little ones, for the counter tops. I’d never seen anything quite like that before.  I remember that the kitchen was large enough to accommodate more than one cook, which was a good thing while my sister and I were both learning our way around a stove and refrigerator during those years.  Lots of baking happened in that kitchen, and some really good meals as well.

There was an eating area at one side of the kitchen that looked out onto the street and part of the front yard. I remember a built-in buffet that had a mirror that ran the length of it. At one point, my mom had a parakeet name Mac. He was so much fun. He used to like to entertain himself by strutting up and down the length of that mirror, chirping and showing off the whole way.

As you walked through the kitchen to the sink, which was under a window that looked out over the back yard, you turned right from the sink and went to the basement steps. I remember moving down to the basement during the summer because it was cooler down there; also, it was the only time I didn’t have to share a room with my sister.  It wasn’t really a room, but I seem to remember blankets or curtains strung on wire that sectioned off a large corner of the basement.

Now, going back to the living room, if you walked straight across the room from the front door you would enter the hallway that separated my parents’ room, the bathroom, and Dad’s study from the rest of the house. Memory dims here.  I don’t remember much at all about those rooms.

Just before you would get to the hallway, there was a door on the left, near the piano, that went up to the big bedroom my sister and I shared. It ran the length of the house, probably one of the largest rooms we’d ever had. Seems to me it wasn’t quite finished when we moved in–I have a vague memory of linoleum flooring being laid either just before or just after we got there. We had twin beds, and there was plenty of room for each of us to have our own area far enough from the other that we could enjoy what almost seemed like privacy. We did share a dresser and the closet. I don’t remember if there was a desk, but I do remember sitting on my bed to do homework so maybe there was no desk.

I loved Portland. We lived there for five years, between the years when I was 10 and 15.  I loved the climate. It snowed now and then in the winter, but nothing like the Minnesota winters I was used to. It rained a lot, but we learned to use umbrellas and galoshes. The summers were gorgeous. There could be a rain shower in the morning, but usually the skies were clear and friendly after that. I don’t remember mosquitos. I do remember berry-picking, long lazy summer days, walks in the nearby park with a friend or two from school. It was a different era, one in which we never gave much thought to whether or not a young girl was safe walking back and forth alone the mile or so it took to get to the library.

Those were good years, and that little house on the corner is an important part of the memories I have of my junior high years.

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Sunday Dinner

(Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.)

Sunday  dinner was the best idea ever that just doesn’t exist the way it used to. Sundays were always relaxed. We attended Sunday school and church, of course, and then went back for the evening service. Very old-fashioned, I know, but boy, did I look forward to all of it every week.

Prep for Sunday dinner usually started on Saturday, especially if we were having company. Saturday was the day the desserts were made. Cake was always good, but PIE was better because it always came with ice cream–two desserts in one!  My mom made the best pie crust anywhere.  I don’t know how she did it, I’ve never been able to get mine as tender, flaky, and perfect as hers were. For a long time, my favorite was lemon meringue.  I still love it,  Mom could always make the meringue stay glued to the pie crust and not shrink away.

Her best pies, though, were pumpkin, apple, and cherry. Pumpkin was reserved for “The Holidays,” and everyone knew exactly what “The Holidays” meant.  The first time I was offered pumpkin pie  long after  The Holidays, I was completely flummoxed.  Really?  Pumpkin pie?  I didn’t know you could even DO that!

The pies always smelled wonderful, except for the lemon meringue.  That one didn’t get baked. The others, though, filled the house with the glorious aromas of fruit and sugar and crust.  It was asking a lot for us to have to wait until the next day!

Sometimes, Mom baked special dinner rolls.  Of course, nothing smells quite so wonderful as homemade yeast bread. Just before the Sunday meal, one of us would put the rolls in a brown paper bag, sprinkle the bag with water, and put the bag in the oven for about ten minutes.  Good as new.

The meat was the center of the meal.  My favorite was unquestionably Mom’s rump roast. Before we left for church on Sunday morning, all shiny bright in our bobby-pinned curly hair and Sunday shoes, Mom would take a few minutes to make deep slits in the roast and push a clove of garlic into the slits.  The meat would close over the garlic.  Then she would sprinkle the roast with garlic salt and pepper and slide it into the oven to bake slowly while we were singing and hearing the preaching.  Sometimes, she would have us peel potatoes and carrots  that would be covered in cold water and left in the fridge until we got back home. The very first thing she did once she got her coat off would be to place the vegetables carefully around the succulent meat, sliding the whole thing back into the oven to finish cooking while we set the table, made salad, filled water glasses, and made sure there were enough chairs around the table. 

Salad could be lots of different things. My favorite, and one I still make today, was a combination of apples, bananas, and raisins stirred together with–you’ll be surprised–Miracle Whip!  Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!  It’s wonderful.  I often serve it for a company meal, and I’ve had only one person in over 45 years turn his nose up.  Poor man.

If the potatoes and carrots weren’t baked with the roast, then we’d peel potatoes when we got home from church and put them in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes, which would make them perfect for mashing.  Mom had an old Presto!  pressure cooker that had many wonderful meals to its credit. When the spuds were ready, we’d pour off the water, pour in some milk and a big dollop of butter, plus a little salt. We used the top of the mixer to whip the potatoes right in the cooker.  Back then, you could take the top of the mixer off and use it like a portable.  Pretty cool, actually, but I have to admit I like my Kitchen Aide better.

While one person was taking care of the potatoes,  Mom was making gravy. Rich, thick, aromatic gravy  you could eat like soup. Garlicky, yummy.  My dad used to mound up his mashed potatoes, spoon a hole in the top like a volcano, and then fill up the hole with gravy. It was an art. He caught me watching him once, and he blushed. I was fascinated.  By the blush, not the volcano.

What can I say about the roast?  The garlic flavor was subtle; the meat was moist. There is just nothing quite like a good rump roast. I don’t prepare it very often these days, but now and then I treat us to a memory of Mom’s Sunday dinner.  Served up with hot veggies, fruit salad, warm rolls and real butter and topped off with pie. . . .well, it made Sundays worth waiting for.

 

 

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Point of View

(Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View
For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park. Up for a twist? Write the scene from three different points of view.)

The town park was busy. People were there to enjoy the fresh air, the new grass, and budding flowers in every corner. It had been a long, cold, dark winter with relentless snow. People had been cooped up indoors, suffering with what many began to call “the four-month virus.” But on this tempting spring morning, everything was fresh and new. 

Children too young for school were running, shouting, twirling dervishes as they drank in the sunshine and the mild, sweet air. Mothers pushed strollers that had every hi-tech advantage possible, veritable hotel rooms on wheels for their infants.  Old men sat at the picnic tables and played chess or checkers, swapping the same old-but-new stories they had always told. The walking and biking paths were busy. It was the best place to be.

A man and a woman were walking the path, strolling slowly and observing everything around them. They had very little to say to each other. They were neither old nor young, and nothing was noticeable about them. They blended into their surroundings with perfect ease, just another twosome out for a stroll. Unless you were watching very carefully, you wouldn’t have seen the woman subtly brush the man’s elbow with her hand as she reached up to adjust her sunglasses, tucking a wisp of dark hair behind her ear.  You wouldn’t have seen the man’s gaze sharpen as he looked in the direction  the woman had indicated. But someone else saw.

The little old woman sat on a bench facing the trail. At her feet was a knitting bag stuffed with bright red yarn. She wore black sneakers with no socks. Her plain navy dress covered her knees, exposing only a short length of leg above the sneakers. Her torso was encased in a frayed grey sweater buttoned all the way from ribbing to chin. Her hands were busy with the red yarn and a pair of knitting needles, the thread tossed quickly over the top of the needle in her right hand with each stitch. She seemed to be knitting a sweater, but it was hard to tell for sure.  Her movements were quick and rhythmic as her arthritic hands worked, stitchingstitchingstitching. Her sunglasses covered half of her face. It was impossible to know whether she was watching her knitting or the activity all around her.

The man and woman slowed their steps even more as they approached the knitter. She never moved her head or gave any indication that she saw them coming. As they neared, the old woman leaned down and put her right hand into her bag.

“Gun! Gun!”  yelled the younger woman, dodging off the path and executing a rolling somersault before she sprang to her feet behind a towering old elm. The man leaped in the opposite direction, streaking belly-first to reach the shelter of a bush.  The old lady was on her feet now, as well, moving her gun slowly between her targets, backing away from the bench where her knitting lay.

“The first one of you who moves will never move again!  I may not take you both out, but I’ll get one of you! Don’t make me start shooting!  You don’t want anyone here to die!”

There was silence for a heartbeat, and no one moved a muscle.

“CUT!”  came the director’s voice from the right side of bench. “That’s a wrap!  Good job, everyone!”

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Tea Pot Day

(Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs!Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.)

Every year, my daughter and granddaughter take me to a tea room for my Mother’s Day gift. Kaitlyn christened it Tea Pot Day four years ago, when she was four. Today we invited our friend Betty to join us.

There’s something special about dressing for Tea Pot Day. We treat it as if it were high tea in England,  minus hats and gloves.  Make-up, hair, and jewelry all get special attention. We’ve arranged to meet Debbie and Kaitlyn at the tea room, so Betty and I left my house at 11 a.m. We plan on an early lunch and an afternoon of antiquing.

The tea room is on the main street of a small town near my daughter’s house. It’s an old town, with lots of big houses. Some have been transformed into apartments or shops,  and others still shelter families.  Our tea house is painted bright pink. It’s easy to find!

We pulled into the driveway and parked behind the house. The yard is lush at this time of year. A rambling rose covers the  archway, and rich red roses travel the cobblestone path to the rear entrance. The air is perfumed and heavy as rainclouds gather in the near distance. Humidity drops on us like thick fog, making us glad to be inside in the air-conditioning.

We are directed down a narrow hallway to a dining room we’ll have all to ourselves until we’re finishing our dessert. There are several tables set with pastel cloths covered with a lace overlay.Each china place setting differs from the other, delicate china cups set in flowered saucers. Menus waited by each place, offering a variety of flavored and regular teas. We each ordered something different, and later shared them with each other.

The waitress brought us cinnamon-chip scones while we waited for our lunch orders. Thick devonshire cream and strawberry jam came with the scones. My mouth waters remembering the blend of flavors.

We drank tea and enjoyed our scones, chatting about this and that. I spent some time, as I do each year, enjoying the decor.  We sat near a fireplace of white marble. The mantel held a collection of tea pots, dried flowers, and a marble boy holding a pitcher on his shoulder. The walls were papered in stripes of vines, berries, and roses. The ceiling border was pink peonies, and cabbage roses.  There were shelves holding tea pots, cups, saucers, and tea implements.  White lace curtains shaded the windows and provided a genteel feeling as we enjoyed our quiche, tea sandwiches, and an assortment of desserts. It was quiet  and peaceful, and we didn’t want to leave.

There is a gift shop upstairs. We decided to take a look to see if there was anything different from our last visit.  Halfway up the stairs, I glanced up to the top and was startled to see a woman’s face hanging on the wall, similar to the  carving on the prow of a ship, turned to seem as if it were facing us as we climbed the steps.  We all agreed she was creepy!

There were several little girls’ dresses of satin, taffeta, and lace hanging in the upper hallway,  available for tea parties. I imagine there have been many little girls who have enjoyed the fancy dress parties.

It took us a short time  to see that there was nothing we needed from the gift shop, so we trooped back down the stairs to the desk, paid our bill, and headed back outside.  Stomachs full, we were ready to enjoy the antique shops that are ubiquitous in this part of Pennsylvania.

A satisfying day.

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New Counseling Issues Topic: Abandonment

Linda's Bible Study

One of the most difficult emotional problems people carry is a sense of abandonment.  Perhaps one or the other parent left the family with no notice, when the person was a young child. Perhaps there was a sudden and unexpected death. Perhaps a parent was physically present, but not emotionally present, as the child was growing up. There could be any number of other reasons a person grows up feeling abandoned and carries those emotions into adulthood.

Adults who carry this sense of abandonment can show a variety of symptom including guilt, worthlessness, insecurity, withdrawal, bad habits, a need for excessive reassurance, self-complacence, and self-mutilation. They often are drawn into unhealthy friendships or love relationships in which the other person holds all the power. Their fear of being abandoned is so strong that they desire to leave the relationship, but hesitate to do so for fear of hurting the other…

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Temper(ature) Tantrums

(Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take
Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.)

Southeastern Pennsylvania, Spring, 2014

Honey, it’s really cold in here. Did you turn off the heat for some reason?”

“Yup.  Turned it off because it’s May and it’s not cold out any more. We have to cut back somewhere!”

“But– Honey, I’m COLD!  My nose is cold, my hands and feet are cold.  It’s May, but the weather hasn’t gotten the message yet.”

“Put on a sweatshirt or something.”

‘You have got to be kidding me. Look, the temp outside is only 32°!  Turn on the heat!”

“Aw, for crying out loud.   It’s going to warm up to 50° today, and then you’ll be too hot!  Just dress warmer and when it heats up you can shed your sweatshirt.”

“Look, you.  Just because YOU like to be cold doesn’t mean I should have to freeze or go walking around with so many clothes on I look like the Michelin Tire Man!  How am I supposed to do my housework when I can’t even move?”

“It’s not cold. Look, the temperature inside the house is still almost 60° from running the furnace yesterday and overnight.  You’ll be fine.”

“55° is NOT almost 60!  Come on.  Turn the heat on.  If it warms up enough you can turn it off later.  I’m COLD!”

“You must be going through menopause or something.”Image

“Been there, done that.  I’m about to commit menopause on you!  If  you won’t go down and turn the heat back on, I’ll do it myself.  Good grief.  I don’t ask for much, you know.”

“Yeah, well, while you’re warm  I’ll be sweating like a horse. I hate being too hot.   In the winter I’m hot because you need the heat up to 69° and in the summer I’m hot just because it’s hot. Can’t win.”

“That makes two of us. I’ve learned to live with 69° in the winter, but I’ll never understand why you want to crank it up to 74° in the summer. . . . .”

 

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Writing 101, Day Six: A Character Building Experience

(Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.)

In my work, I meet interesting people all the time.  Sifting through them to find ONE to write about is like looking at a child’s kaleidoscope, twisting and turning the tube and watching the colors shift into different patterns, looking for the one that stands out from all the rest.

One does stand out. She’s a small woman, not much taller than I, and petite in size. I was first intrigued by her eyes. A mild, pretty blue, they seemed to carry great sadness in them. Even when her lips are smiling, her eyes are tragic. The lines that crease from the corners of her eyes to her hairline slant just ever so slightly downward. Her eyebrows are scanty, also having a downward turn from the center of her face to her temples.

She has dainty features. Nothing about her face is stunningly beautiful, yet the combination of features is quite pleasant to look at. She smiles often, revealing even, white teeth but nothing about her inner thoughts or feelings. It’s almost as if the bottom half of her face is dissociated from her eyes, so seldom do they send the same message.

I love to watch her face when she tells me things that matter to her.  At first, she was reserved and careful. I could see that she’s been hurt very often. She was sitting on the edge of the sofa, ready spring up and run at the least provocation the first couple of times I saw her.  Now, nearly 20 sessions later, she rests against the back of the sofa. Sometimes she even pulls her shoes off and tucks her feet up under her, like a little girl. I see that posture as great progress in our dealings with each other.

Her face, though, gives her away. When she speaks passionately, her eyes increase in size and intensity. Her cheekbones become more prominent as she seems to release the muscles in the bottom half of her face at the same time she releases emotions that have been capped and controlled for years. Her chin will tremble, and tears pool and leak down her cheeks as she tells me things she’s never shared with anyone else.  I have an almost overwhelming urge to go sit beside her and hold her, but it would scare her to death if I did.  So I watch, and listen, and let her purge herself until she has nothing more to say.

Sometimes I imagine my office as having words piled up shoulder-deep all over the room, with sentences and questions hanging off the walls and ceiling. So many words, She has certainly added her own words to the collection.

On ocassion, she will notice that I have tears on my cheeks. Seeing them always startles her. She  told me once that no one had ever cried for her before.  She doesn’t know what to do with it.

Her story is outrageous, but not one that I haven’t heard before.  What makes her so unique is that she never raises her voice, never shows anger, never seems to seek revenge or retribution. At times I think it would actually be healthy for her to be angry. Her response is that if she allows herself to be angry she fears she would never be able to control it.

She’s not young. She has adult children. She’s a recovering alcoholic, sober for 28 years. She came to a place of great faith in God several years back, and understands the power of forgiveness. Her work with me is to try to put the trauma of her past to rest. She wants to find the peace that she reads about in the Bible–the peace that passes all understanding.

Anyone who has been traumatized repeatedly, over a long period of time, knows that it’s very difficult to put the memories away. This woman’s pain is in her eyes.  I look forward to the day when she can smile with her whole face, all at once.

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Post Script

(Assignment for Day Five:You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.)

I stood with the letter in my hand, stunned by my discovery. The single page flapped in the wind, and I tightened my grip. After all this time, all this wondering, I wouldn’t lose it! The question now?  What to do next. Whether or not to do anything at all.

How did it end up there on the path?  Unopened, so my secret was safe from everyone else except the writer. The mystery writer. No return address.  No post office stamp. Someone local? Someone who had traveled a distance only to discover the letter had been lost somewhere?  Was the writer watching me now, enjoying my confusion and fear? Or was he himself full of confusion and fear, wondering where the letter was and who would find it?

Whoever it was, he knew. He knew what had happened, and he knew my complicity. The letter was clearly addressed to me. The facts were stated in horrifying clarity. Perhaps the most troubling thing of all was that there was no threat, no blackmail demand. Just someone saying, “I know who you are. I saw what you did. I know where you live.”

And that’s all.

 

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Lost and Gained

(Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.)

I was born into a family whose gene pool goes back to Jurassic Park, where the cave people stored up fat in their bodies for the long, lean winter.  It would have been nice if they had adapted to becoming hunter-gatherers, feasting on roots and berries while the pounds melted off, but alas!  It was not to be.

Instead, we just kept munching our way through the centuries, feasting on the fatted dinosaur, steer, pig and anything else that would replenish the calories we used up on the hunt.  Roots and berries were fine for dessert, but certainly not for the main course.

Fast-forward from the land before time began to the 1950’s, and you’ll find my family having come through the Great Depression and World War II, not to mention Korea.  People who survived the Depression looked on leanness as a sign of poverty. To show that you had recovered, you got nice and plump. A typical meal consisted of rich meat, mashed potatoes (plenty of butter and cream), gravy, corn or peas, a salad of some sort with lots and lots of high-calorie dressing, and of course DESSERT!  Yay for whoever discovered dessert.  Oh my.  Cake  holding up a thick layer of buttery frosting; all sorts of pie served with a generous dollop of whipped cream or a couple of scoops of ice cream; puddings, cookies,  fruit cobblers and tarts and tortes and slumps and crunches.  There are lots and lots of things you can do with fruit to make it very unhealthy.

The dinner hour (supper, if you came from the midwest) was a highlight of the day.  It was family time, with wonderful food to glue us all together.  The meal I’ve described already, the rich, satisfying, comfort-food meal, was considered very healthy. No one knew that we were on the verge of self-extinction, if you’re going to believe the food gurus and nutrition cops of today.

So.  I’m only 5’1″ tall.  At least, I used to be. Now my doctor tells me I’m 4’11”, which really just isn’t fair or kind.  I’ve lost height.  That’s loss number one.  Why does it matter?  Well, if you have to ask that I’m guessing it’s because you’re in the tall, lean gene pool and I just really don’t like you.  It matters because the height/weight charts say I have to weigh less than I did two inches ago! I don’t know who on earth creates those charts.  Probably someone from the lean mean gene pool.

Oh, I’ve lost weight. Lostgainedlostgainedlostgainedlostgained–are there any questions?

For the last few years, I’ve been doing serious battle with the dreadful A1C test, which has the sneaky propensity to look back three months and see how much sugar has developed a symbiotic relationship with one’s blood cells.  The magic number is 7.  If you stay below that, you’re considered pre-diabetic.  If you stay below 6, you’re a very good girl.  If you go over 7, however, you’re in deep weeds. You  must lose weight. You must exercise. You must eat more healthy foods. You must give up everything that makes life worthwhile.  I’m talking chocolate here, folks. Ice cream. Pot roast and gravy. Butter.  The list is endless. As your blood sugar increases, so does your cholesterol, your triglycerides, and your blood pressure. You will die of  yummy food overdose.

Bottome line, my A1C went to 8.2 over the winter. I knew it would increase.  I had a lousy winter, health-wise.  I caught a cold in January that turned into severe asthma. Because I had trouble getting a Medicare card (thank you Obamacare) I was uninsured for several months and could not get my meds.  I didn’t sleep well.  I didn’t exercise because I couldn’t breathe. It was awful. I gained weight, and everything just went to pot.

Finally got the Medicare issue resolved and my poor doctor is just now recovering from the hospital stay that was induced by my soaring negative statistics.  Stress is literally a killer.

I’m kidding about my doctor, you know, but seriously, stress IS a killer.  The work I do does not contribute to health. Sedentary and stressful. Not a good combination.

This whole weight issue started with my first pregnancy, and I went on to have three more babies. It’s not my fault. I wish.

So what’s my loss, as per this assignment?  My svelte pre-pregnancy, petite size 8. Lost. Gone foerever, just like Clementine.

And I have no idea whatsoever what I’m going to say in Part 2 of this assignment. Should be interesting to see what happens next!

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Three Special Songs (writing 101 Day 3)

(Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you. For your twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.)

What?  Only three?  How can I possibly narrow it down. . .

Okay.  Music has always been in my head, for as long as I can remember.  I can even sing the advertising jingles from when we first got a television when I was 7 or 8.  Remember, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”?  So the music library in my head needs to be sorted through.  And here is what I’m coming up with:

Tschaikowsky’s Prelude in B-flat Minor, also known as “Tonight We Love.” I have no memory of the first time I ever heard it. I was probably too young to be aware.  I only know that the power and beauty of the recurring theme, with all its variations, is often running in the back of my mind.  I do remember hearing my mom say that it was “their” song when she and my dad were dating and during the early years of their marriage, much of which they spent apart from each other while Dad was touring the South Pacific in a submarine during WWII.  Mom had a pretty, light soprano and would often hum the theme while she was busy about her work.

I wasn’t born until after the war was over, but still those years have a great deal of meaning for me. The patriotism that was proudly displayed, the dependence on God and on each other, the horrendous loss of life when so many of our fine young men went off to do their part, never to return, hold an endless fascination for me. I love reading about the history of that time.  Perhaps my parents’ love for that song is all tied up in my emotions with that era.  Or maybe I just love it because it’s beautiful!

I love to sing.  I’ve been able to hear and sing harmony since I was about five or six. Church was a magical place for me because the music was always so beautiful. I used to love to watch the stops in the pipes of the big organ at the Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  We sang–and loved–the old hymns back then, almost always opening the Sunday morning service with Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” as the whole congregation rose to its feet in reverence and honor to a holy God.  My favorite song then and now, in the church setting, was How Great Thou Art. The harmony was very easy to hear and to sing. I’ve been in many churches that all used that song, and almost literally raised the roof with “then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee!  How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”  Still brings tears to my eyes, and makes me regret the loss of my voice due to chronic sinus issues. I can sing a little, but nothing like I used to.

Finally, a universal favorite from The Sound of Music.   I’m a big fan of most–not all–of Julie Andrews’ movies, and this one harks back to that nostalgic time in the ’40’s that I’ve always enjoyed.  It was the beginning of WWII, and Hitler was in the process of taking over Austria. Very few were courageous enough to openly defy the Nazi machine. It’s an inspiring story of courage and determination.  My favorite song from the movie is Climb Every Mountain.  I love the words and the music, and it has been a motivator for me many, many times over the years when I’ve had some difficult mountains to climb.

Please understand that I could go on for a long time about songs I love. There are pop songs from the fifties and sixties that still pop into my head now and then.  Pat Boone singing Love Letters in the Sand, Perry Como catching a falling star and putting it in his pocket, Connie Francis wondering where the boys are.  So many sacred songs that it would be impossible to even begin to list them.

I’m thankful for music.

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