The naturals . . . . .

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So. This is the way we looked last night, Bill Smith’s friend Jewel and me, out for dinner with Bill and my son John. It was a quaint but lovely place, LaMarianna’s out on Sand Island. The lady who established this place years ago filled it with interesting items from earlier bars and restaurants in Honolulu, as they closed. So the place is full of memories of Hawaii in it’s romantic memorable past.

There was great music by a threesome of Hawaiian men who, I would assume, are making great  use of their retirement years. I would bet it’s something they have always wanted to do, and they did it well. It was Jewel’s birthday so she was called to the front and given a beautiful orchid lei and special music for her dance with Bill.

After our excellent dinner, one of the musicians came to our table with a lei for me as well, and a large rose for each of us, in full bloom. And a hug. Only in Hawaii.

For some reason the rest of my night was full of thoughts but little sleep. One of those nights when I pull up every thing I  could re-examine and replay while trying hard not to worry.. One of those nights when good ideas come as well. And out of the blue came the answer to a question I have often been asked but could never quite find the right words for the answer.

People ask me why I named my first book Playing Life by Ear. Yet, if you remember, I wrote in the beginning of the book the subtle answer that I was born with the ability to play the piano by ear. Just as that was a natural talent, so were others that I displayed quietly in my early years. In time my natural abilities became more important than anything I ever learned in school or college, and so in using them I have been playing life by ear and not by advanced instruction.  For instance, although I have a college degree I never at any time took a course in writing. I’m glad that I didn’t, actually, because what I write is me and presented in my natural style without contamination of intellectuals.

How many times I have heard people say “I always wanted to do (a certain thing) . . . but . . .   And yet many people do rediscover that natural talent and put it to use. The energy that comes with it is strong and things can move fast.

I know.

(For some reason there is a long space after this post. Please keep scrolling down to see other posts, and you can read to your heart’s content from four or more years of writing.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Interview . . . . .

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What did you first write on?

I believe it was on the edges of a page from the Sears & Roebuck Catalogue

Where did you study writing?

In an apple tree, reading books, eating green apples.

Does anyone help you with your writing?

Most certainly. Voices speak to me with ideas I had never dreamed of.

And what do  you enjoy most about writing?

Listening.

 

 

Old Pictures, young times . . . . .

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Somehow, people think that old people spend their time looking at old pictures and remembering how wonderful things once were and sighing over how horrible things are now. Not. How wonderful kids once were and how awful they are now. Not.

Somehow, when we look back and see all the changes in our society we can know for certain there will be that many changes again, over and over. To predict what direction these changes will take is impossible. To speculate which changes are bad for the society and which may lead to better things is impossible.

When I look at old pictures I just remember the good feelings from those moments and I know that people today experience those same good feelings in their lives and will one day look back at their pictures and enjoy them. And people today have so many more pictures than we ever did, photos snapped anytime, anywhere with no limit . . . and no cost to develop them . . and no need to put them into photo books with little black corners to hold them (the activity that we often put off for years.). That indeed is one of the reasons we don’t have so many pictures from our lifetimes . . . the cost not only of the cameras and the film, but the cost of development and cost for copies. For young people on low incomes it was a luxury we could not afford.

I have so few pictures of my wedding, and the ones I have were taken by friends with good cameras. I have so few pictures of my babies, but I remember every moment with them and can bring up those pictures in my mind at any time. Bathing the babe in the kitchen sink . . . capturing his/her amazement under the Christmas tree . . .overseeing the first bicycle experience.

Even though times have changed, parents still experience those moments, and they record them. One day they will look at pictures, just as we do, and they will assess what was happening, what they were learning, in those years. And they will thank those kids who came into their lives and taught them.

Almost 20 in the 40’s . . . . .

I ran across an old picture, from 1942-1946, and I realized it is a good thing to inspire yourself by reminding that you were once young, you were once slender and straight as an arrow. This boy was not my date but I was about to dance with him. If you think he looks very serious you will not be surprised to learn that he became a judge. And if I look serious I usually was.

Still, I do have a gardenia, the flower that was often brought by a date, or perhaps was delivered that afternoon. And I think I see a boy’s Air Force wings on my lavendar jacket. He was just a friend but was overseas and hoped after he came home from the war that we might be more. That never happened.

You may notice the guy behind me who is in uniform. The Air Force was training cadets at our college and we had to give our dormitory up to them. Dances, however, were very rare, and we had given up football games when the whole team went to war. In time we became pretty much a girls’ school.

You may be surprised to hear that alcohol was not part of our college life. If we had parties they were not the kind young people have now. But during the war there were no parties. Many of us were working our way through and out earning money when we could. I waited tables, baby sat (at 20 cents an hour), one year earned my tuition by being  telephone operator in Main Hall, and one year by being editor of the school newspaper. Once I typed an entire book for a professor for $25.00. A malted milk cost 15 cents, but I usually did not have 15 cents.R-8

In our free time we did things for the war effort . . . collected and made balls of aluminum, wrote letters, sent cookies, etc. And we mourned when a message came with the news that another friend had died in Europe or the Pacific. I was still in college when we heard on the radio that the war had ended. What a day that was.  Didn’t have TV yet, so any pictures we saw were in the newspaper or in newsreels before the movie in theaters.

The boys came home and most of them came back to school. We were so excited. At last we could taste real college life and perhaps there would be dances again, and dates. But me and my friends were seniors and the boys preferred the cute little freshman girls. For  the Senior Dance in our honor neither me nor my friends had dates. We went to watch briefly from the balcony, then went home to study. Life had taught us not in how to be playful but how to be serious. And so we were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Days and Bad Days . . . . .

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This picture has nothing to do with today’s post except, perhaps, that we have our good days and our bad days. That was a bad day in Nebraska recently while I was having a good day in Hawaii.

But today, not so good.

You know that creepy little 4-note song we hum a phrase from when we sense something creepy going on? I usually give it words:  do-do-do-do,. I  hummed it just this morning.

I received a notice that my monthly bill had not been paid, the one that covers my phone, my cell phone, and my computer service. I thought that strange because it has long been paid automatically by my Visa card. That is my United Explorer card and it is handled by Chase bank. So I went to chase.com and they did not recognize my password. or my I.D. and said they had no record of me, even after I gave my credit card number to a spooky voice. I then called United where I listened to a spooky voice giving me choices that didn’t fit my problem and then returned me to their really spooky squeaky version of the United theme song that used to sound so beautiful as we took off for Hawaii years ago, the years when the stewardess, yes I said stewardess, wore a muumuu and flowers in her hair and they passed out macadamia nuts. <sigh>.

My credit card has no record of me?  Did I perhaps die and don’t know it yet? I made calls but no human was available either because it is the weekend . . or because we can’t deal with humans anymore.  And machines do not listen when I say “But you don’t understand. I’ve had this number for years. It is me that has this number and it has always paid this bill. I have not cancelled it and the card is good yet for several years.”

Really, are you not sick of dealing with recorded voices that don’t offer an extension number that fits your need?  And recordings that sound creepy because you are on the line with someone In the Philippines or Jamaica?

Hm. If the credit card company has completely lost its record of me, yet still charges me  it sounds a bit like the government. Something creepy has crept into our systems in this country and we receive notifications that leave us saying “Whaaa . . . .??)

It’s got to be the devil himself screwing things up, since we have such wonderful systems now for doing just that. Imagine how quickly you can convince great numbers of people that they are losing their minds when you tell them every few weeks that their password is wrong on every account and that no one has ever heard of them.

What if I decide I’ve had enough of earth life and want to go home and I put in a call for an escort service to see me out and I’m met with a voice that says “Please enter your password.” ???   I put in my name, and a voice says that is not recognized as my password. And then, although I’m a good girl and never swear, I give a big sigh and say “Jesus!”   And then begins a ray of light.

Waikiki and me . . . . .

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This is a very old picture we found once in an old store. It was on some kind of rough paper. So it is a bit rough, yet it captures the feeling of the beach and Diamondhead. I wish I had been here when it was that simple, when the beach was that wide and not crowded. It’s still nice, of course, but I don’t sun there anymore or go in the water. The waves come in very strong and you have to be strong as well to handle them. Furthermore, in a bathing suit I don’t look as good as I once did, and getting from a lying position to a standing position is something you wouldn’t want to watch.

But I sometimes sit on a bench in the shade near the water and enjoy the scene. There is something healing about the ocean, just to be near it. It is something you feel but cannot describe. Looking out over the water takes you into dreamland and breathing the salty cool breeze renews you. It is the best of both worlds when the sun is warm and the breeze is cool . . and that is Waikiki this time of year.

I have written about the fact that there was no body of water near me where I grew up in Iowa. (See My Half of the Conversation) and even my first view of a lake was astounding to me. I envy those who are at home in water, who are strong swimmers and have no fear of going out too far. I envy the fun they have in water. Yet I have athletic friends who are just as curious about how at home I am onland with a piece of paper and a pen. That is yet another world where the mind roams in spaces many never experience.

Choosing our nature, our background, our interests, our abilities, our future,  may not be something  that just happens. It may be something we carefully planned. What an interesting thought.

 

 

 

Wondering about wonders . . . . .

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One thing that didn’t make sense to me as a child is the fact that the earth is round. . and it is rotating. It would seem that people might fall off it at times. So it seemed to me.But then I have never understood electricity or what makes a plane stay up in the air or how the words and music come through a radio.

I wrote a poem, I think in my first book, about seeing the horizon as a car coming over the hill or the sun going down. But here, in my little home by the ocean, I see a sight that really shows me the earth is round. It is a large ship approaching. I can tell it is on a curved surface because first I see just the tip of it, a tiny black spot on the horizon. And then very gradually it rises until I can make out it is a ship, seemingly small. But as it comes entirely into view it grows in size, and when it sails into the harbor it is, as I might say, humongous.

But then, to explain a rainbow, something we see here so often. How the light breaks into colors, very uniform, always the same, and spreads across the sky and curves in a grand display. This is awesome and it affects people that way. As many times as I’ve seen rainbows I will always stop whatever I’m doing to give it my full attention,.Then again I have to wonder how you can mix all colors together and get white.

Another thing I experience in awe is lightning. At home, whenever there’s a storm, I try to be where I can watch the show in the sky without really being in danger. A summer storm in Nebraska is almost as good as the fourth of July. We don’t often have storms of that kind in Hawaii, but in the past few years I have seen it a few times. When lightning strikes over the ocean it is indeed a light show.

Our lives on earth are so full of wonder-filled moments. People hug trees and so love flowers they use them always to express love they can’t put into words. They climb rocks and mountains to go higher, explore caves to go deeper, and travel in water channels they did not create.

I do think, when we get to the place in our lives where we have, for the most part, fulfilled our responsibilities, we see our world in new ways because we have time for it.I remember, as a child, how I explored the farm every day, discovering new things and stopping to appreciate them, in awe. I believe these are the feelings that return when we are old. It is a good thing.

Today I’m posting some pictures that show Roxy when his owner Bill Smith from Texas took him to see some awesome sights in Honolulu a few years ago. The big ship was ready to dock in the harbor by the Aloha Tower. The small boat was in the harbor because of the annual Chinese celebration.

Roxy and dragon

 

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