Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Writing Group Haiku

Just a little haiku specifically tailored to a few friends from an online writing group.


The frosted window
Reminds him of his favorite,
Seasons of the snow.


Prolific author--
Inspires other writers--
And loves her minions.


Need some help with style?
Watch for the latest fashions,
Just follow her blog.


 Mystery woman
With a great sense of humor--
 So hilarious!


Creative woman--
She can write you a story
Or give you a perm.


Fascinating mom,
Supportive words of wisdom,
Uniting mankind.


 Fireman who writes,
About funny things and love,
Or chasing the storm.


A poetic lark,
Singing with understanding--
Of the fickle heart.


Floral desert grace,
Reaching far above the clouds--
The sweetness of space.

Do you have supportive online friends too? Are you in several writing groups? 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memoirs Inspired By Classical Music

A musical piece came on the radio the other day and like many romantic pieces it brought tears to my eyes, but this—these were different tears—perhaps different because of the type of tears –as in onion slicing versus matrimonial-bliss-tears at a wedding or despondent-tears at a funeral. It’s a piece of music called “The Graduation March,” or “Pomp and Circumstance,” by Sir Edward William Elgar who wrote it back in 1901. When I think about this unique music so different from pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Liszt or Brahms, I appreciate the royal fervor and the aristocratic nuances of the talented, British composer and the massive declaration of achievement it represents.

Upon hearing the music, I thought back to the playground scuffles, the cold school bus rides, the children who teased me for wearing glasses or for wearing a hairnet while working in the school cafeteria. I recalled a mélange of teachers who did or didn't understand me and scary tests.  Exams about everything and one minor crisis after another in elementary school and junior high school band which was the first time I had the honor of playing this music. We graduated from eighth grade, walked down the aisle and received a paper that looked like a diploma but it was just a figurative stepping-stone to high school.

In high school band, we marched early in the morning around the muddy field and I was always late to my first class. As I ran into class and slipped into my seat, the teacher yelled at me using my last name. For three and a half years, I marched around that track and played at all the graduations. I remember bad times and good times. I remember marching at football games and dreamy football players. I remember a mean girl wanting to punch me out because I kissed her boyfriend but I also remember two boys fighting over me in the quad. I think of my English teachers often and my Driver’s Education teacher and I remember being embarrassed in the locker room during physical education. By the time I graduated, I didn't play in the band but I stood tall when Elgar’s music filled the stands.

In college there, it was again: A testimony to late afternoons in a chilly library, cramming for finals, Cliff notes and dangerous boys. If life became unbearable, I wrote my angst filled teenage poetry and rode the bus to work. When I finally donned the cap and gown, it felt like the weight of the world had somehow floated onto the campus green, off my shoulders, for a dance to Elgar’s uplifting and inspiring music.

Later, much later, after years working in the newspaper business, I took a chance and entered graduate school where I remember a professor who said our grades would go down from 100% every class if we didn't participate. By the time I figured out that this woman meant what she said, I was already on the second class and sitting on a B. (Fortunately, she let me write an extra credit essay and it brought my grade back up.) Still, I remember the younger students, the older teachers, the long papers and the struggle to keep up my grades after a long day at the Times. Yes, the ‘Pomp and Circumstance Graduation March’ played that sunny day when I received my diploma. I had marched four times to that music and this time my tears were some strange conglomeration of pride-ego-thankfulness-joy-love-happiness and probably more pride.

The notes were a stamp of confidence laced with encouragement for the future swirling with a magical potion that made the past melt away--perhaps like the pain of childbirth or the excruciating last step up to a mountain peak where the hiker  inhales and can’t believe it’s over. Because it’s NOT over. The peak is simply a sense of accomplishment that will drift in and out of phases in our lives like this march.
This music makes it all worth it. Every step, every grade, every pound of weight in our backpack and every research paper or mathematical dilemma....Like the chalkboard eraser, this ‘Pomp’ wipes away the schoolyard bully, the mistakes, the embarrassing moments, the perspiration, the missed opportunities and emotional struggles, replacing everything with hope.  It's the BEGINNING!

If you ever ran after the bus as it pulled away from the curb... if you forgot your library card or broke your heel running to class because you wanted an education.... If you remember your anxiety at the pop-quiz but realize now that though possibly insignificant, it was a cog in the entire process. Part of the formation of your perspective and just a step through a giant obstacle course called learning.

Thank goodness, music isn't graded on a curve, but if it was, this could possibly be the best composition ever written. Thank you Sir Elgar. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to education, confidence and optimism.

 Do you, my friends, remember this march? Does it remind you of everything you are and all you will achieve?  

Facts about Sir Edward William Elgar
June 2, 1857-February 23, 1934

Besides being a voracious reader, he was a prolific composer who wrote tone poems, symphonies, concertos and marches. He played organ, violin, bassoon and was one of the first to record his music on a gramophone. Knighted at Buckingham Palace in 1904, he held degrees from Yale, Cambridge, Durham, Leeds, Oxford, Aberdeen and Western Pennsylvania. He loved cycling, was an amateur chemist and his face used to be on the 20 pound note. There are also three locomotives near London with the name Sir Edward Elgar and several statues portraying his gentlemanly demeanor.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Garden of Talent-(poem)

 Pre-Summer Harvest
By Eve Gaal

Forbidden fruit,
Art of desire--
Reach beyond what you see,
Stretch a bit higher.
Avoid the obvious
Easy branches--
Sweet but sticky
Immediate pleasure,
Instantaneously gratifying,
Low hung,
Possibly worm-infested,
Splashes of juice--
Filled pieces of heaven.

Take your time—

The sun-dappled ripeness will be worth it.
Stepladders...connections... mentors... prayers.
Lessons learned,
Sweaty secretions,
Long breaths.
Wait for it.
Fill your cup.
And gallon jugs.
Practice getting it on tap.
Thirst quenching flow.

But go....
It’s attainable.

To say it’s a faith thing makes it sound commonplace,
Perhaps trite and ordinary and it’s not.
This indelible unique moment,
Exceeds the average human’s grasp--
Where neatly trimmed,
Manicured orchards beckon,
Without taboos—
Or prohibitions because

Your talent is welcome.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day Poem

My mother—a gorgeous, brainy architectural design engineer in 60’s stiletto pumps and lipstick who inspired me to think. To interpret correctly, to re-read and find the truth lodged between desperate lines of poetry. To sing sad songs, not because we’re sad--but for the simple reason that certain songs stir our soul—thus becoming meaningful. Warning us that while experimenting we should be prepared for criticism, because she was ready to offer advice and newspaper clippings supporting her point of view. Though I fall shy of her wit, her beauty and above all her knowledge, I am still in awe of her strength and the profound grace that made her my mother.

Of course she inspired my writing and here's a poem about that process. As a 'word-engineer', I'm hoping this inspires someone to see how something new can be created from our past experiences.
Little Engineer

When I was just a tiny girl,
I did many naughty things,
I played with mommy’s curlers,
And daddy’s funny springs.

Then one day I went to school,
Read everything I saw.
Listened when it wasn’t cool,
even learning how to draw!

One day doodling,
Something suddenly sprang!
It whirled, twirled,
Purred, hummed,
In magic levitation--
It practically sang--
The zing of...
first creation.

By Eve Gaal

Saturday, May 3, 2014

April Challenges Wearing Us Out

It's all my fault....

I signed up for the A to Z challenge in the middle of our move, while floor tiles were replacing carpet and the curtains weren't up yet. Sometime in the middle of April, we ordered a brand new refrigerator because even though fast food was a novelty at first, it's generally not our thing. Meanwhile, two precious creatures couldn't use the backyard because of my bright ideas regarding backyard landscaping.  Oh, and did I mention it's 99 degrees here and we don't live in the desert anymore, where it's a balmy 104? The heat makes me want to return the refrigerator, so I don't have to cook... but can a person with hundreds of cookbooks and back issues of Gourmet Magazine change into a burger-KFC-pizza loving maniac? ...Maybe?  

Anyway, the routine last month was:blog--walk around the block with naughty chihuahuas--unpack lots of books, hang pictures, push furniture around and unpack more books--at least 60 boxes of books and crash into bed. Crazy, weird move but it will be worth it.Right?

Tonight's dinner was homemade Shrimp Jambalaya with Chicken Andouille sausage. Too spicy for a hot evening but still delicious. It's the third of May, the A to Z Challenge is over and most of the books are in place. So why am I so exhausted?

"Fiona, want to go for a walk?"