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The tale of a wonderful dog, Jumper
My Dad and I picked him
out of a litter at the animal shelter.
He was probably a sheepdog.
When he was a pup
he could jump off the floor
into my lap.
We named him Jumper.
And he could run, too.
He was fast.
I loved to watch him run-
he’d spot the school bus
and run to meet me,
his black and white fur rippling.
He was loving and affectionate,
not vain at all.
There was no guile in him
and he showed me an example
of social success;
be happy to see people.
But his speed I loved most,
and his love of speed
when his legs moved so fast
they blurred underneath him.
And his sympathy-
when I suffered at school
I’d come home and he’d be there
And he was a protector-
I’d been swimming in a pond
and when I climbed out of the water
a rattlesnake coiled up
there on the bank.
Turning to retreat fast
back into the water
I saw a blur leaping
like some kind of spirit
landing on the sand
between me and the snake.
It was Jumper
attacking and killing
and getting bit.
It’s no wonder some philosopher said,
“The domestication of the dog
is the greatest feat
of the human race.”
I held my dog in my arms
while Mom drove us to the vet,
and in a few days he was back running-
running fast, fast across the field,
meeting me when I got home
from being taught civilization in school.
I felt him- his nose and face in my hand,
his tongue licking me.
Steve Jackson is an internationally published poet.
His poems have appeared in The Salmon(Ireland),
the California State Quarterly and a multitude of
“An Affair in the Valley” Amazon.com
Quilts that inspire
Quilts that Inspire
Getting past difficult times
Getting past Difficult Times:
A different evening. The air is cooler tonight. The sun has disappeared behind the house. I can sit in my favorite chair on the patio. I hear all sorts of bird voices. They are having lots of lively conversations. My sweet dogs Ozzie and Heidi are sitting near me just relaxing at the end of the day too.
I just read an article about a lady who was in her 40’s, without children, a successful career winding down, feeling how invisible she was becoming. We are always in a process of change. I am 66 and in my 40’s I was chasing after kids, helping my parents, trying to keep my business going. Exhausted most of the time. I don’t know if I thought of myself as visible or invisible. I was a single Mom so I did not have a husband to boost my visibility. Being a Mom to teenagers can be a thankless job. Most of the time you feel totally at odds with your kids. Thinking, “God, I have to be the adult in the room.” I may feel the urge to throw a tantrum. But a tantrum from a middle age Mom is not the least bit attractive nor effective. And like the writer of the invisible story, we do have our ego pride that wants to be maintained. But children grow up and create their own lives. Even with a husband or partner the relationship over time changes with the cycles in life.
I am always quoting my Mom. She lived to be 96 and always had advise for any situation. When I was going through my divorce and it all seemed so dark and gloomy. The world that I had known was ending. In divorces you are not given that grieving space as you would if it were a death. I always felt I had to present a positive face. As if I knew what I was doing and where I was going. Of course I did not have the slightest idea how I was going to get from one day to the next. But smile, I could do that. I even read an article that said if you are unhappy, simply start smiling. Your body does not know the difference and pretty soon you will be feeling happier. I decided to not be overly cerebral, so this method helped. Mom at this time had just lost her husband of over 50 years, my Dad. I was so absorbed in my misery I am sure I did not appreciate what she was going through. But being true to form,she realized we were becoming a couple a grumpy old ladies with very sour dispositions. I am sure she realized that I, her daughter would never find that nice companion in this state.
Mom’s philosophy was always looking for signs that are around you. She felt certain if you are trying to understand what is happening and how to go forward,we would be given signs. We just had to be open to seeing them. She was also always reading books. Scads and scads of books. Serendipity happened that at this time she was reading about how using your hands, as in crafts was a great stress reliever. We also saw a notice in our Church newspaper that told they were wanting to start a Prayer Quilt Ministry. Off we went to their first meeting. I had sold my sewing machine so how I was going to make anything? That did not dampen our enthusiasm. Mom was convinced that by using our hands to make something lovely it would help both of us out of our doldrums.
I am not sure if it was actually the making of the quilts, or the absolutely beautiful people we met, but magic began to happen. Mom had other friends who were becoming widows and feeling very alone. A close friend, Joe Prinster, came to visit Mom and brought a truly amazing woman came with her, a Sister Joan Eble. She was a Catholic sister. Maybe 15 years younger than Mom and Joe. Mom and I thought of ourselves as marginal Episcopalians. They had nuns too. But Sister Joan was one of those signs that Mom thought came into our lives to give us guidance. She and my Mom immediately bonded for the rest of their lives and she gave us the light to see out of our own darkness.
Her solution was simple. She gave us a challenge, if we made quilts she had lots and lots of people who would love to receive them. The prayers would give the quilts special importance for people who needed healing and comfort. She had lots of people who would be helped by receiving the love and prayers that the quilts represented. Mom and I jumped into quilting with real fervor. I got a sewing machine and Mom did the hand sewing. Sister Joan was quite an artist too. She designed a special label that we would put on the quilt. It showed an angel holding a quilt. A lady downtown that had a sewing machine store volunteered to digitalize the drawing and make up the labels. They were adorable. What particular faith was of no concern to Sister Joan either. She worked in all the hospitals, the VA hospital and nursing homes and care facilities.
Mom also had a fearless quality about her. She always had spoken in front of groups. She never hesitated to express her opinions. -Even when she was expressing an opinion that was not accepted by the group she was talking with. She was always willing to stand up and tell it like she saw it. This made her the perfect candidate to be our public relations person. She would go in to any Church, or group and show our quilt and tell how it represented out collective love and goodwill and prayers for the recipient of the quilt. The quilt did not come from us, but from all the loving people who would tie ties in the quilt and pray for healing. We went to most of the Churches in Grand Junction. No one ever asked us about what Church we attended. Mom would stress that the quilt was about prayers and healing.
So I feel that it is by stepping out of our own personal sorrow and helping someone else in their struggle do we begin to heal and go forward. After we would hear the stories of the people who were being given the quilts, we never could spend much time on our complaints. The positive energy from all the groups of people we went to gave us such a feeling of love. A whole group of Mom’s friends got involved and we all saw more smiles and enthusiasm.
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Steve’s Memories, “Rock n Roll”
Steve Jackson has been in the music business since the 70’s. I want to share today one of his stories.
It is about meeting Kris Kristopherson.
I used a bit of poetic license in the story
to try and enhance what I felt about him.
I’ve never heard anything bad about him.
In LA in the 70’s
i was in his dressing room
with some people
and some guy came up to him
telling him about a woman
in Nashville who was in straits
and Chris said,
“Well I bought her a washing machine..”
or something like that.
Another time I saw him leave
a 100 bill as a tip for a bartender.
Leigh worked with him once
and said he was a “No nonsense, straight shooter.”
He had a big country hit in the 70’s
“Why Me?”, a religious song that
crossed over into pop and was in the top 10
best selling pop songs for that year.
(“Why me Lord, what have I ever done
to deserve even one
of the favors you gave?”)
His second album cover is a double exposure
of him with him standing there
and the double exposure silhouette kind of whitish like a soul.
He was almost shy and curious in his attitude to me
and his wife Rita Coolige was the same way.
They both seemed to sense I was in pain
and wanted to fix it.
One guy, a song writer in LA, all agitated
and obviously a bit deranged
came up to him and told him how hard it
was to get a break and find someone to buy.
Kris patiently listened to the guy
and finally after a few minutes said
in a kind of patient drawl-
“Well you can contact Howard such and such(can’t remember the name)
in Nashville, I don’t know if he still does,
but he used to listen.”
Steve’s book, “An Affair in the Valley” is on Amazon.com
I was going to go sit on the patio after dinner. I walk out and realize the chairs are still in the sun and the heat is oppressive. I come inside the family room and look out on the patio. No direct sun and yes, air conditioning.
It has been such a difficult 24 hours. When will a new normal feel normal. Life is of constant change. We expect that. Growing up, becoming educated, trying to find a purpose and a career, marriage, children. We step in to each of these stages with enthusiasm and to be honest, equal trepidation. But the flow seems so natural, comforting and nurturing as it gently pulls us along. I remember when my Great Grandmother Johnson died. We had gone to visit her. I had never known her in any other way but as a very frail, elderly lady- with twinkly blue eyes and gorgeous loving smile. She would reach out and hold on to each of her great grandchildren. Hugging us so firmly for such a small body.
Now I think back at my own Grandmother at that time. Perhaps in her late 40’s early 50’s. I thought she was older but not old old. My Mom was in her 30’s. She was the adult/parent class. I would watch my Grandmother gradually get older and frailer as my Great Grandmother had. But I was sheltered by youth and could not feel what this process was all about for either my grandmother nor my mother. I never thought the process would happen to my vibrant, beautiful Mother. As I grew older and she grew older we would laugh and chatter just like we always had. Full of ideas, dreams and enthusiasm. She took a fall on a snowy icy day and from then on we both entered that elderly, aging process. That was about 15 years ago. Mom had always been healthy, full of energy person. I could never let myself see that she was in the same process that I had seen my Great Grandmother and Grandmother go through. I am sure if I just kept thinking of her as she was she would remain as she was. And, to a large extent she was. Especially mentally. In each other eyes I was the silly young woman and she the adult woman inquisitively looking at life. We never stopped to think that our bodies, our bones would grow more fragile and often were filled with pain. After her fall Mom had to go to the Nursing facility for a time to aid in her healing. It was meant for healing, but it was a horrid place. Sadness and sorrow was everywhere. The staff presented some sunshine, but it did not seem real. She could never walk unaided again. Fears of falling were always on both of our minds. I am sure we went through every emotion fighting with AGE to stay away and leave us alone. The most effective process was simple denial. If you don’t think something is true then it can’t be, right? Mom went through her 80’s keeping inspired about our next adventure with my kids and our crafts. I the silly daughter and Mom the wise adult. But definitely not old- never.
And there we stayed for many, many years. My daughters would grow into young women and mothers. But Mom stayed in that same place that did not, could not age. Denial is strong. We were not about to let that thought get remotely close to us. It worked too. We became more careful of Moms body and movements. It was tethered to her ever young self. Full of enthusiasm and spirit. We knew we had to accept that the body may get weaker and need more care. But never did we let the old age thought in to our reality. Great Grandmother Johnson was old and even Nana became older, but not Mom. We kept that door firmly shut and locked!
We all know in our inner most selves we become, we grow and we return. Our molecules are programmed, imprinted with the process. We read it in literature and see it in movies and in our own realities. But until someone who is so close to our heart walks this journey do we really feel it. I could feel her anguish, anger, frustration as she drew closer. The denial door stayed locked. But as with all of life that firmly held door was just an illusion- as is all life. Our words and thoughts would deny its presence, but it still came and got closer and closer. I wanted to make it go away for both me and Mom. If I held her long enough, if we laughed enough, dreamed enough it would be ok. One of the last memories I had of Mom was the two of us sitting on the couch watching movies. Winter was all around us. Mom was always needing to be bundled up a bit more to keep away the cold. When I would sit next to her I would sit as I had when I was a girl next to her. My feet curled up on the sofa too. Mom would become as concerned about my feet getting cold as her own. She would take blankets we kept for her and wrap them tenderly around my feet. She would say I must always remember to keep my feet warm. I felt the tenderness of the young mother with her child, totally wrapped in love.
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