By any other name . . . . .

I moved my blog because for some it was hard to find.  Not everybody uses Google or cares to.  And the name I chose . . Doris Open To Young Elders . . made no sense without the capitals.  To most people it probably made no sense anyway.  So I decided to put part of my name in my new title, and keep it simple.  Now I am trying to find a page with larger print and darker ink.

I remember some years ago I was asked by a very wise teacher “Have you lived up to your name?”  I wracked my brain trying to find something meaningful in Doris.  It was years later that I realized he was asking “Have you made your mark on the land?”

I probably am leaving more than one mark, but I hope that the weak ones are easily erased by the winds of time and that the strong ones are indelible.

I’ve known people who were uncomfortable with their names and had them changed legally.  But here’s a funny story.  I won’t use the person’s real name but will make up something similar.  I learned of the daughter of an old time friend who was named Pricilla Tinkle.  She hated her name so much that when she was a senior in high school she went through the court system to change her name legally.  She changed Priscilla Tinkle to Barbara Tinkle.

We used to hear the phrase “we will go when our name is called. .”  I believe that refers to death.  But in life our name is often called for other reasons.  Here is one of them:

                                            Wait!

                    In waiting rooms I’m often vexed

                    When I am not the one who’s “Next!”

                    Unless I’m there to get a shot

                    And then I’m very glad I’m not.

– Doris Markland

Look Alikes

Have you ever noticed that girls on TV all look alike?  Well, they do.  And through the years we girls have always fallen into the habit of wearing our hair as others do.

Here is my mother’s graduation picture from 1920.  Notice that EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE CLASS is wearing the same hair style.  Can you imagine that a bun on each side of the head was supposed to make them look pretty?  My mother said it was accomplished by “ratting” the hair.  (I will speak of this again later.)

Mom's Graduation

In the 40’s, my time, the girls wore their hair long with a roll on top and the sides brought up and pinned.  We put curls into our hair by “putting it up” with pincurls  every night.  We did this by putting a finger on our scalp and then winding a lock of hair around it and securing it with a bobby pin.  Our heads would be covered with bobby pins and we would sleep on that all night.  Anything for beauty.

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Yes, of course, that is me.  And in the class picture you couldn’t tell one girl from another (except for color, of course)

In 1970 girls wore their hair shorter, puffed up slightly by rolling the hair up around orange juice cans for a while, then, then sweeping a lock onto the cheek.  It was cute.  I thought my daughter was the cutest.  In the  class picture they all looked pretty much like her.

Sara 70.

Now my granddaughter and my great granddaughter look pretty much like the girls you see on TV.  Beautiful.  (But the hair does tend to get in the way of seeing, speaking and eating, particularly on a windy day)  It will change soon and you can be sure all the girls will fall into line.

Oh, the ratting.  We did that in the 60’s and 70’s, only we called it “back-combing”.  We pushed hair back into hair with a special comb until it looked like a helmet (according to my daughter).  We did it because it stayed all day, never blew in the wind, never needed a touch-up.  We must have been crazy.  I have destroyed all the pictures,

Please come and sit with me again.  I have some things I want to talk about.  I need you.

Write and Wrong

   October 2013

So.  I just want you to know I could write good poetry if I set my mind to it.  I think.  But here’s my explanation for writing as I often do:

Almost Free Verse

I like to write verse that rhymes
Because it comes to me that way
And it’s a lot of work to convert
That into something so simple
You have to search for its meaning.
Also, I hate to kill that instinct in people
To watch for certain rhythms
And for words that bring a climax
Of a sort because they sound like another
And complete a cycle of anticipation.

It’s true I don’t win prizes
Or kind words
From editors back east,
But kids like my stuff
And older people often rave
And say now that makes sense,
I like the way it sounds.

The sing-song verses
That my mother read to me
Could be her careful teaching
That nothing good is free.

You see?  I just can’t stop from eventually rhyming.  But, truth be known, simple rhymes about everyday topics are the ones that people ask for copies of.  (Because of age, I reserve the right to end a sentence with a preposition)

Here is one of those poems:

The Granny Nest

Now that I’m older
I have my own chair
That nobody sits in
But me . . they don’t dare.
And next to my chair
Is a very strong light . .
A window for daytime,
A floorlamp for night.

And next to my light
Is a very fine table
That’s loaded with thimbles,
A guide for the cable,
An emory board and
A nail undercoat,
My tissues, my fan,
My own TV remote,
A puzzle or two
With the answers in back,
A book of short stories,
Some fruit for a snack.

I’m no longer looking
For men or old geezers,
But always I’m looking
For glasses or tweezers,
My lotions, my letters,
The things I like best . .
So I’ve gathered them up
And I’ve built me a nest.

It’s here I create
With my needles and pins
And, when no one is looking,
Pluck hairs from my chins.

– Doris Markland

Note:  If you are Grandma, you are smiling.  If you are not Grandma please copy this and take it to her.  She will be smiling.

Chapters in the book of life . .

October 2013

The third day of blogging, and looking back I saw that I had made a mistake on day one and on day two.     I thought I had proofed . . but I goofed.  Once published on Blogpost I could not change those words.  But now in another life on WordPress  I can make those corrections.

I’m often making mistakes when on the move, and sometimes, with luck, catching them later, probably after a sleep.  And then there’s the decision of whether to backtrack and explain my mistake.  Sometimes a lifesaver, sometimes better left alone.

In recent years my mind has been been reviewing the things I had written with my life.  Now I see the good things, but I also see mistakes I made, with my words and with my actions through the years.  My mind takes me to the scene where, in pure exasperation, I struck a child, to another scene where I helped a child when he would have learned more by fending for himself, to another scene where I withheld necessities because I didn’t have them as a child.  How clear the alternatives seem now.  But I can’t live in retrospect.  I can’t color over those mistakes . .but I can thank them for their teaching.

When we see elderly people sitting in the sunroom, smiling at nothing, are they reviewing their lives?  I like to call it regrouping, and it starts long before that.  I find myself regrouping as I wash the dishes, sitting on a plane or while I wait in a reception room.  I’m seeing the good but seeing clearly now the things I would change if I could do it over again.  This often happens on nights when I can’t sleep . . and perhaps that’s why I can’t sleep.  But I don’t whine.  I’m thankful for the honest version of my movie.

If you are on the same page with me, you will not find such discussions boring or offensive.  In my blog there will be a lot of happy happy.  And there will be a lot of thoughtful thoughtful  Sometimes they intertwine.

Tomorrow I will tell you why I write bad poetry that some people think is good poetry.

–  D. M.

For a few days . . .elegance . .

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The hardest decision I ever made in my life was the decision to sell my house and almost everything I had accumulated through the years.

The lightest I have felt, in several ways, is NOW in my new smaller space.  I brought nothing with me except those things I would need and would use.  Housekeeping now is a snap.  Cozy has a new meaning.

But the move brought surprises, and a most notable one popped up this week.  I looked out the window one morning and noticed the trees on my lawn.  I knew they were there . . nice little maples . . .but I didn’t know the leaves would turn to gold and then bright red.  They are brilliant.

The realization came to me that I own these trees.  They are mine.  They came with the house.  I have owned trees before, but they were old and rather overgrown, needed trimming, and filled the lawn with leaf litter.  My new trees are a fine symbol for my new life.

I love trees.  I fell in love with trees as a child on the farm, where I crawled up and onto their branches to pick mulberries, to eat green apples, to hide away for an afternoon with my book.  I loved the sound of the wind in the cottonwoods.

Er . . correction . . I just realized that the person in the other half of this house probably owns one of the trees.  Okay, I own one tree.   No . . there’s one of another kind near the garage.  Okay.  Now I own two trees again.

So much has been written making comparison with trees and our lives, so I won’t need to write about trimming branches of the young, or caring for the ancient ones.  But here’s a thought that did occur to me one day and I wrote about it in a highly unprofessional way . . which I will explain in a future post.

Dekarmalizing

We’d like to be lady
And lord of the manor
With acres of land
That we own free of debt.
We’d like to be smarter and
Thinner and tanner
And think that old age
Isn’t creeping up yet.
We’d like all our kids
To be handsome, athletic,
And brainy enough
To place first on the list
And then to go on to
Executive stardom
And marry just once
To the best one they kissed.
But life has a way of
Repeating a pattern
So apples that fall
Remain close to the tree
And the children we raise,
Although smart and good looking,
Repeat all the faults
That as children they see.
So we watch for improvement
As age comes upon us
And hope that our kids
Will reverse all the trends
And erase all the burdens
Of family karma . .
Make history maybe,
At least make amends.

– Doris Markland
 

Welcome . . . Come in . . Sit down . . and share with me.

 

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This picture was taken on my 80th birthday.  I am now 88, but I don’t look much different at all . . except that my hair is whiter.  I am in good health, living alone since widowed two years ago, and have just sold the big family home and moved into a sweet brick-front townhouse in an area with people just like me.  We are adjusting to a simpler life and discovering some new opportunities.  We still function, still drive cars still laugh, and still search for the meaning of life.

I was in my early eighties, sitting a long wait in Ohara Airport, when I was approached by a young lady who came toward me with a smile on her face . . and bending down to face me and with a cooing voice some use for children . .she said “Oh, isn’t that great!  You know how to use a computer!  I’ll bet you are playing a game.”

I smiled and closed the lid so she wouldn’t see that I was buying and selling some stocks.

At one time, and for several years, I wrote verses for Hallmark Cards.  I was, in fact, a special assignment writer, tossing ideas when urgently called upon.  I had light verse and light articles published in magazines, mostly nostalgia magazines, but sometimes The Saturday Evening Post, etc.   But it was so much work . . not the writing, but the selling.  It occurred to me that posting on a blog would cut out the middleman and allow me to talk directly to anyone who wanted to listen and, perhaps. to share.

I would like, in time, to share some of my writing, in between the everyday thoughts.  A few years ago I gathered up poems I had written through the years and stuck in crannies and books.  Not that I’m an Emily Dickinson, but rather that I am not highly organized.  But anyway, I put together and printed (on my printer) a book for my children to keep.

This is what I wrote on the first page, and I think it makes a good beginning for my blog:

“If you find just one thing that has meaning for you, it will have been worth my time and effort  I hope sometime you will tell me just which one it was and what it meant to you.

Here is my first entry:

The Good Hug

The good hug
Draws you gently
Into light,
Asking nothing but
Time out for peace.
It does not intrude
But meets halfway,
Touching softly,
Spreading love as
Butter on warm toast.
The giving and the taking
Flow both ways to smooth
The rough spots of the aura
As the good hug
Brings two souls
Not face to face
But heart to heart.

– Doris Markland

Please come back . . and tell your friends, your sister, your mother, and your grandparentss . .  . any of those who can still walk and talk and love life . . and can use a computer . . theirs or YOURS.

– D. M.