Slender in the Grass

 Sweet
 singer
 of springtime,
sleep on. A glint
of green on rising
 grass,  reed-slender beyond
 all imagining, you cling
 to your swaying, sunlit world
with perfect confidence;  you entrance
our raucous, chattering pond with silence.

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For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem containing ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE and HERE.

Making Room for Christmas

Josephine Baldizzi came to this country as a young girl from Sicily. Her family lived on the Lower East Side of New York from 1928 to 1935, in a small tenement apartment at 97 Orchard Street.

In those depression years, there was no money for Christmas presents or decorations, so her father, Adolfo, traveled  the city, scavenging fallen pine branches from other peoples’ trees. Returning home, he put his carpentry skills to work, drilling holes into a long piece of wood and using the scavenged branches to create a Christmas tree for his family.

Josephine told the story with obvious pleasure. “He would make his own tree, shape it, tie it to the wall, and then get ornaments and dress it all up,” she said. There were glass ornaments, some lights and tinsel for the tree. For the children, there was a tray filled with traditional holiday treats – marzipan, dried fruits, walnuts, chestnuts, and oranges. It was, she said later, both memorable and magical. (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm  Comments (91)  
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The Heart of the Flint Hills

To travel through the Flint Hills of Kansas is one thing.
To stop, to spend time, to await the rising sun and bless the setting moon, to breathe in the remarkable sweetness of bottomland, pasture and prairie or sense the ageless solidity of  undisturbed earth and rock is quite another.
“The lover can see, and the knowledgeable,” says Annie Dillard. My knowledge of the Flint Hills remains limited, but the place and its people have insinuated themselves into my heart.
How deeply, I wouldn’t have known, had I not stopped by the Emma Chase Café in Cottonwood Falls on the morning of my departure. (more…)

Working Fools?

In the beginning, the word we used was “helping”.  Helping wasn’t a burden, a demand or an imposition. It wasn’t a curse or a condemnation, something to be avoided at all cost or valued beyond all reason.  Helping was something people did naturally, and it was the best way for a child to enter the mysterious and utterly appealing world of grown-ups.

Helpers garnered smiles of approval as they trailed behind Mother with a dust cloth or ventured into the yard to carry bundles of sticks for Daddy. Helpers cut flowers that made the house pretty and picked up their toys.  Helpers collected windfall apples in a bucket or pulled low-hanging cherries from the trees. Helpers set the table and dried the silverware, folded the wash cloths and put newspapers in their box. If a neighbor who’d been called away was worried about her thirsty geraniums, a good helper knew to borrow a bucket and carry water to the flowers.

Helping, I thought, was fun. (more…)

Chase Jarvis & A New Paradigm

 

Back in the day, when journalism was journalism, gossip was gossip and propaganda was recognized for what it is, aspiring beat writers learned to begin good news stories by answering six basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?  Useful as they are as a mnemonic device, these “Five Ws and One H”  have a history of their own. At one point they even were  memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in his Just So Stories (1902), where a poem accompanying the tale of The Elephant’s Child opens with this bit of verse.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew).
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Questions which begin with one of the famous words are especially useful because none of them can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no”.  Anyone interested in writing an informative news story, providing a good interview, understanding historical context or carrying on enjoyable dinner conversation knows the importance of the “five w’s and an h”. (more…)

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 12:34 am  Comments (20)  
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