fresh breath of cold
sunlight on frosted branches
Copyright © 2019-01-19, by Liz Bennefeld.
Frosty Branches [photo]. Copyright © 2010-01-19, Liz Bennefeld, photographer.
fresh breath of cold
sunlight on frosted branches
Copyright © 2019-01-19, by Liz Bennefeld.
Frosty Branches [photo]. Copyright © 2010-01-19, Liz Bennefeld, photographer.
During September and October, I was taking a six-week photography workshop online from Andy Ilachinski via Shanti Arts. Didn’t get in much off-topic writing during that time. Quite absorbing.
… and wondering how so much time could have gone by. I worked freelance for twice the number of years I was employed by corporations after college graduation. How did I come to be in my seventies? I don’t feel any different.
I take that back. I feel like I am a different me. Can’t remember, really, who I was before I became who I am now. The old refrain…my life is a short, red carpet that rolls up behind me as I continue on.
Perhaps this is a settling. A readjustment to whatever constitutes normal, following the deaths of so many of the people who comprised the framework of my life. And they’ll keep dropping off until such time as I beat someone else to it.
My father, in his later years, spoke often of having lived long enough, meaning, I suppose, that it no longer held attraction for him and he longed to continue on to what comes next. Bored, I think, having lost his context and having no driving incentive to be entertained and having passed the need, interest, curiosity, or necessity for acquiring new knowledge. I share his forebodings but have provided no hostages to fortune. I have reduced the level of external stimulation in my immediate environment. I think that has helped.
Ah, well! There is the matter of NaNoWriMo 2018. I and most of the usual suspects will be attempting to write a new poem for each day of November. Barb will be sending out some helpful (but not mandatory) writing prompts each morning during the month. Those of us who feel inclined will send each day’s poem to everyone on the email group.
I have decided to not clutter this blog with daily poems and pictures, this time around. I’ve done so previously and found it disruptive. What I have done is to wipe out my prior posts &c at theartofdisorder.blogspot.com (after downloading earlier posts) and made a trial run with picture-poem pairings for the last three days of October.
I also have gotten rid of themomentsbetween at blogger.com and am fooling around with ideas for Quiet Spaces with “lizbennefeld” as the URL. I am expecting that the improvements at WordPress may well make it unusable, and so I have discontinued the domain The Art of Disorder, reverting to a free/personal blog there. That should come about by the end of this year. I may also increase my hosting package here and drop the Quilted Poetry domain also, using this space instead for any overflow. Dreamwidth has not so far been a good substitute for LJ, but I am drawn back to it again and again, and I will continue my paid account.
I believe that another cup of hot milk is in order, this time without the added coffee concentrate. I really do have to sleep, tonight.
o my dear!
the flowers refuse to fade
their fragrance cloys
a quiet room with filtered air
a comfy chair and puppies
Copyright © 2018-11-01, by Liz Bennefeld.
if trees had wings—
need not trust to fickle winds
to safely bear their seed
if the heart could hear tomorrow…
choose to go or stay
Copyright © 2018-08-12, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Also published this date on the Quilted Poetry blog and inspired by a photograph (third one from the top) on Thomas Gable’s post: Spring is Near on the blog When Timber Makes One Still.
reflected in the water
the sunset sky
dark clouds dot the surface
stepping-stones across the lake
Copyright © 2018-07-25, by Lizl Bennefeld.
the colors of springtime
the scent of autumn’s falling leaves
non, je ne regrette rien
© Elizabeth W. Bennefeld, 2018-05-31.
Written in response to Mara Eastern’s (maraeastern[dot]com) post on that date on the discontinuation of WP’s weekly Photo Challenge (among too many other things).
the wind rests quiet on the land
faint sunlight shrinks behind
tree branches and blue clouds
pasted on a blue-grey sky
birds sing summonings
then nestle into nests
for warmth throughout
a night with which the cold
returns too soon
cling to the cold, a shield
against the warming days
Copyright © 2018-05-11, by Lizl Bennefeld.
I decided to go back to yesterday’s poetry prompts list and write a poem to go with my favorite grasshopper photograph.
Brewer: “For today’s prompt, pick an insect (any insect), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Praying Mantis,” “Ants,” and “Grasshoppers.” I’ll even except other creepy crawlies, like spiders, slugs, and leeches (shiver). Sorry in advance if this prompt gives you the heebie-jeebies; feel free to use insect repellent in your verse.”
one warm summer day
a debonair grasshopper
dines on a flower
spotting a street photographer
he grins between bites and bows
Copyright © 2018-04-14, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Originally published on The Moments Between blog.
nahaiwrimo:April 26 LEARN
Real life-long learning doesn’t have to be profound or deep or even long-lasting. Doing so keeps us young! While in Boston this last weekend, I learned that I love lobster rolls. I also learned that I love the warm welcoming people I met. Learning something new blesses us all in one way or another and perhaps only in hindsight. Onward!
a water pail
moist dirt between my toes
after a lingering winter
it’s time to plant flowers
Copyright © 2018-04-26, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Today’s prompt, write a closing time poem.
I had thought there would be more feelings about…more active involvement in the act of my dying. Interaction with this new experience. Not simply waiting in the not-silence, listening to my breath in- and outing…all other sounds too far away. I slip into sleep. When I wake, I listen for the sound of breathing, check to see if it’s really mine. Somewhere along the line, it won’t be, anymore.
sounds fade away, approach again…
listening for forever
Copyright © 2018-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Prompt for the day, Cayahoga library: List all the jobs you have had, including volunteer work and other unpaid jobs. Turn the list into a list poem by rearranging, repeating or just titling it. /Or/ write a poem about one of them.
I thought I’d stick to the jobs during grade school and high school, leaving out the gardening chores, since that really was free labor for the common good.
“It’s good for you”
My first jobs, tedious but
character- and muscle-building
picking rocks at springtime
in farmers’ fields
kids’ time is cheaper than repairs
Father rented us out by the day
The second summer job lasted
much shorter than it seemed
which was always and forever
clipping grass around stones
mowing the cemetery grounds
setting traps for ground squirrels
who spoiled painstaking work—
lugging pails of well water
to drown the pests or
drive them out
Should have stuck with the rock picking
The best job of my childhood
was selling door to door
in a small town every household
finds the need for more stationery
cards for none or all occasions
so their children find buyers, too
Pay-off was a week or two
each August far away from home
for private and group lessons,
ensemble, band and choir rehearsals
Brass ensemble work cost extra…
Worth the miles walked to get there
Copyright © 2018-04-24, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Brewer: “For today’s prompt, write a response poem. Respond to whatever helps you get your poem written…”
dry leaves dance above—
leaping higher than treetops
stripped by April winds
green shoots kissed by dirt and rain
pledge autumn one more harvest
Copyright © 2018-04-29, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
This poem is in response to a poem not from this challenge, but one that I wrote for the 2008 SFPA poetry contest; the theme was “Energy”. The poem’s title is “Future Freedom”. It’s the second poem on this page of my QuiltedPoetry.net blog.
Cuyahoga Library prompt: Cleveland poet Russell Atkins describes a backyard that “has hold/ of the throats/ of trees.” Write a poem that personifies your backyard, or the backyard of someone you know, during a particular season of the year.
like an old grave site
the fenced-in garden bed lies
shadowed by bare limbs
last fall’s scattered stalks conceal
shoots of this year’s wildflowers
Copyright © 2018-04-28, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
For April 22, I selected this prompt from naprowrimo:
And now for our daily prompt (optional as always). I’ve found this one rather useful in trying to ‘surprise’ myself into writing something I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise. Today, I’d like you to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then
write a poem in which the impossible thing happens: …” But the phrase that immediately came to mind was “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.
As Far As The East Is
the sun rolls along
west is ahead—east, behind
just a glance away
In bright sunlight, all shadows
are behind me as I face the sun.
Copyright © 2018-04-25, by Elizabeth Bennefeld. [Playing catch-up.]
I love to dance
strong horizontal sweeps
of the tail fin below…
gill covers and filaments
vibrating, my head up
looking at the bright waves
of sunlight as the lights
flow on above me
the water moves
and I am still
Copyright © 2018-04-16, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
Cayahoga library: Katerina Stoykova-Klemer has written, “Often I Wish I Were// a potato.// Eyes opened/ in all directions.” Begin a poem with “Often I wish I were” and complete the stanza with…” and see where that takes your poem.
I sometimes wish I were a garden
filled with roots, berries and such
I would renew both dirt and harvest
sending seeds throughout the Earth
I always wished I had big shoulders
broad and strong to share life’s cares
I’d wrap my arms around the crying
help transform their tears to joy
I often wish I were a spirit
floating high above the world…
I’d watch closely for the hurting
act to foster hope’s rebirth
Copyright 2018-04-15, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
NaPoWriMo Prompt: Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.
A Late Spring
Rabbits have eaten the bark from low Cotoneaster branches, leaving them bare to lingering cold, icy winds, and snow storms. Again this year, the bushes are at risk to dry and die when the heat does come, searing tender leaves. There will be no warm rains to waken grass seed strewn in hope, six months ago. Birds eat the grains, finding no new growth.
dormant flax seeds hide
beneath last autumn’s bent stalks
waiting for summer
Copyright © 2018-04-13, by Lizl Bennefeld.
I decided to go back to April 9, to the Pilgrimage prompt, and wander a bit through the family tree. My mother was a genealogist, among other things, and we kids got to do research, each in our turn.
Who We Were
[still a rough draft]
Our people came from Iowa
by way of the Norman invasion,
Mayflower I and II, the Winthrop Fleet
by way of rivers on diverse craft
neighbors with neighbors
towns moving together
They arrived in the Firelands
then settled in Iowa and
opened South Dakota—farms
were lost behind the dam, so
back to small-town Iowa
Penneys went into retail, catalog sales
A connection of “our” Bennetts sent
Stanley to find Livingston
the Deans made sausage, and the
Gallops (Kolopp, from Alsace) took polls
The grocery store owner in
South Dakota patented a plow
the Carters served in India
as Methodist missionaries
Evangeline Ink wrote an exposé
novel about TB camp swindles
My generation and the next have been
lawyers, executives, freelancers, clerks
writing and publishing books,
poetry. textbooks, and many stories
nurses caring for the injured and elderly,
builders, handcrafters, quilters,
Myself, I grow wild flax
in the backyard garden, take naps
with the puppy dogs, make up recipes
and do the laundry, play piano, and
hold my husband close to my heart
I read only as many books in a week
as I write poems, a photo for most
no children, but a library
gathered over a lifetime
determined to leave no book unread…
always buying more
There’s always time to write a poem…
time to read a book
Copyright © 2018-04-10, by Elizabeth W. “Lizl” Bennefeld.
NaPoWriMo Prompt: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of simultaneity, in which multiple things are happening at once.”
geese cry overhead
the dogs sit up and listen
leaves remain silent
I would fly like those wild birds
fly to be with you again
Copyright © 2018-04-10, by Lizl Bennefeld.
tulips pushing through
loam to newly fallen snow
wait in line for spring
our rabbits, lacking new grass,
nibble tender tulip shoots
Copyright © 2018-04-08, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
We have a lot of rabbits in our yard and the surrounding neighborhood, which we appreciate, since they provide a lot of exercise for our dogs. First thing in the morning, they are eager to go outside and check for rabbits who’ve stayed out eating past the softer light of sunrise. They have such fun! Especially when the rabbits run off in different directions…or taunt the dogs by making an extra detour around the garden shed before slipping out through the fence.
Prompt from NaPoWriMo: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that stretches your comfort zone with line breaks. That could be a poem with very long lines, or very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two….”
when the patterns that you see
do not mirror the observations of others
patterns can be dangerous
the loaded gun can go off
when patterns go askew
things can happen
even when they don’t
flow with the
a lot like my life
Copyright © 2018-04-06, by Lizl Bennefeld.
like a vapor trail
barely visible against
the sky…too far
away to hear a sound
as life begins and ends
Copyright © 2018-01-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.
WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence.
Reading about the excess profit taking on generic drugs by companies centered on fast money rather than service to society, I find myself becoming convinced that for me to purchase and use such products would not be something I could bring myself to do. And then I wonder how much that conviction rests on my confidence of life after death.
In dealing with health issues currently, I avoid certain medications and diagnostic procedures. Some side effects that I know run in the family make me choose no treatment, rather than the certain damage to health and quality of life that would result from preventive medication.
A case in point would be the suggestion by doctor and nurse educator that I should use insulin to bring my blood sugar level down quickly. Knowing myself to be less than attentive or oriented to time and place, I refused that option, deeming the possibility of my killing myself by double- or triple-dosing myself through inattention to what I do to be more likely than effective self-treatment. After twelve months, I am now tapering off the medication that I did accept a prescription for.
That raises another question in my mind regarding motivation. Am I simply adverse to interfering with life’s progression? Do I think that nothing bad will happen to me by avoiding preventive treatments? What sort of internal guidelines/proscriptions am I following.
I feel strongly about the choices that I have been and continue to make. I do not know what my internal driver is. At all. Except that it seems to have something to do with the purpose of and framework for living in this world.
the ticking clock
restless sounds of puppy dreams…
one unread chapter
curtains closed against the dark
stars above adorn the night
Copyright © 2017-12-18, by Lizl Bennefeld. All rights reserved.
being real isn’t hard
you don’t expect today’s
real to be the same
as yesterday’s or
reality changes as
the hours and days journey
through near and distant lands
inner and outer space
and down into the earth’s
core and out again
“real” is this moment—
nothing less and…
“What’s real” Copyright © 2017-12-05, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “back in the day” poem. You might also
call this a “good old days” poem or a “bad old days” poem. To me, back in
the day is synonymous with history–but a kind of personal history (even if
shared among a community).
gold field…harvest time
footprints and downed stalks trail us
our shortcut home
— Elizabeth Bennefeld, Copyright © 2017-11-30.
In childhood, we wandered throughout the neighboring pastures and fields, afternoons and early evenings and weekend days. We swam in the creeks and marshes, rivers and shallow pond, often coming home soaked to the skin and coated with mud. When we arrived home in answer to Mother’s call, she often made us strip at the back door and sprayed us down with the garden hose until we were clean enough to come into the house, put on clean clothes, and help set the table for supper.
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a response poem. The poem can be a response to anything–a piece of news, some art, a famous (or not so famous) quotation, or whatever. However, I thought it might be a cool opportunity to respond to a poem that you’ve written this month. If both poems work, it could make an interesting dynamic to have two (or more) poems that interact with each other.
leaves on edge
dance to autumn’s wind
Elizabeth Bennefeld, haiku: Autumn Dance, Copyright © 2017-10-18
yesterday, leaves fell
today they spiral upwards
reaching for the sky
as nature strives for balance
who falls down, must rise again
Elizabeth Bennefeld, tanka, Copyright © 2017-11-29
red-winged blackbirds celebrate
clinging to his reedy stalk,
feathers fluffed, the father sings
sunshine through leaves
kissed by frost…changing color
Copyright © 2017-11-26, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Prompt: Brewer: shine
raindrops on the roofraindrops on the window paneraindrops all aboutrain came down, this week, in sheetsthat can’t be used for sails
My husband and I have been talking about this writing prompt, how we feel about being remembered after we die. As a writer, I thought at first that I would want my poetry to be remembered (and I would be pleased if people printed out a poem or two that spoke to them, since one does not remember poems, and contrary to popular belief, stuff on the Internet does not hang around forever). And I write too much, too often, to produce comprehensive books of my work.
Ephemeral experiences, however, are worthy of being cherished. So often, I find, people remember me because of my smile…and mention it to me, when they see me again after our first meeting. Smiles. Laughter. Recognition of a momentary rapport with a stranger. A moment of not-aloneness. When I experience that, I feel somehow more real.
Prompt for the 24th: Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “how I’ll be remembered” poem. It’s an interesting question: How will I be remembered? My amazing looks? My incredible personality? My charitable nature? My goofy jokes? The cranky guy who’s always telling people to stay off his lawn? Dive into this introspection today.
If you remember me at all,
recall my joy—my laughter.
Remember me. The one who
looked into your eyes
and recognized a friend.
No matter that we’d never meet again.
Remember me, taking notice of you,
drawing your attention. I laughed…
And you laughed, too.
Copyright © 2017-11-24, by Lizl Bennefeld.
stacks of clothes
worn and freshly laundered
the outside world fades away
when words are singing in my mind
Copyright © 2017-11-24, by Lizl Bennefeld.
songs of birds outside
a window too often closed—
their songs muted
cats cannot fly away…but
birds cannot escape the cold
Copyright © 2017-11-23, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Prompt 172. Write a poem using the following image: a cat sitting on a windowsill looking outside. ~ Donovan, Melissa. 1200 Creative Writing Prompts (Adventures in Writing) (p. 99). Swan Hatch Press.
Copyright © 2017-11-22, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Photographs from an earlier, very “weathery” year
brisk arctic winds
spring clouds from the south
wind sculpted ice
see-through teeth hang from branches
threatening spring tulips
Copyright © 2017-11-22, by Lizl Bennefeld.
WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Transformation
sharp north winds
broken cloud cover
winter…refuge from the heat
cold seeps into these old bones
Copyright © 2017-11-20, by Elizabeth (Lizl) Bennefeld.
banked camp fire
glowing embers toast
the last s’mores
laughter and hot cocoa
childhood memories of love
Copyright © by Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld, 2017-11-15
harvest mountain fogcatch droplets on nets—waterto green the desert
This is a poem that I wrote for the “Ronovan Writes Haiku” weekly poetry writing challenge, for which two words are provided as prompts and synonyms are allowed. Haiku are, for purposes of the challenge, defined as 5-7-5 format…or writer’s choice, which often includes tanka, senryu, and, I expect, katauta and sedoka. Haven’t really kept track of all the variances. I first published this poem on my Quilted Poetry website: Partly Cloudy (Ronovan Writes Haiku).
alluring stars…between dusk and daylightso short a timedreams drift past like cloudssome bring rain and others, snow
water puddle mirror
Copyright © 2017-11-08, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Writing a poem a day during November 2017.
ripples slide onshore
whispering along the sand—
night songs in moonlight
as the restless ocean sighs…
falls more deeply into sleep
Copyright © 2017-11-07, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
NaHaiWriMo prompt for 7 Nov. 2017: sigh
the breath of morning
tints eastern skies … as night’s hand
tucks away its stars
Copyright © 2017-11-06, by Lizl Bennefeld.
I went through a number of variations on this. Still not sure which one I like the best. This, which I mailed in for my poem-a-day group, or the adaptation I used for Ronovan Writes Haiku weekly challenge. Or perhaps one of the drafts that I deleted.
grasping talons…beating wings
Copyright © 2017-11-05, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.
Prompt: #NaHaiWriMo : Swoop
blanket of new snow
puffy clouds hold in earth’s warmth
rabbit tracks melt first
Copyright © November 4, 2017, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.
cradled by blades of grass—
free of dew
one feather fell to earth
together the rest still fly
Copyright © 2017-11-01, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Not a novelist, I intend to write (at least) one poem a day during November 2017, during the 2017 #NaNoWriMo challenge.
crows caw overhead
landing on high branches
taking off again
the loudest bird will settle
only for the highest perch
Copyright © 2017-10-07, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
a poppy for remembrance—
so long ago
his proposal accepted
his startled silence
Copyright © 2017-10-05, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
The waning days of the Japanese Poetry workshop. Far too short!
I like this one a lot, and so decided to put it here, also. This is the last week of “Introduction to Japanese Poetry”, and I’m really enjoying it.
Asian lady beetle on foot
a common sight
air travel has appeal
but no snacks are served
Copyright © 2017-10-04, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.
Written in response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian.
Remembering my parents’ graveside military services as the months progress toward first anniversaries. A year ago, plus a few weeks, my mother entered the hospital, and then into hospice care for two months before her death. Father followed her perhaps ten weeks later.
Two years previous, on September 30, my youngest sister died. She also was in the military. I expect that her son Jesse received the flag from her funeral.
Actually, all three memorial services were filled with crowds of family, friends, townspeople, many stories, much laughter, and overflowing love. As the concrete memories of those events fade in the aloneness of the years that follow, such reminders are blessings.
My remaining sister mentioned in a recent letter the memory of our mother and father sneaking off from the family room for a while to spend time alone with each other, when my sister was young. A reminder of the happiness of our family life and growing up in our family.
I recently woke up from a dream (this week, I think) having just seen my (much younger) mother walking out of and away from the woodworking shop that Al and I are building in the back yard, this summer (and autumn and most likely winter, also). Mom was wearing her favorite red t-shirt with the embroidery on it, which she herself had added, and her blue shorts, and when she looked at me, she was smiling. And so, with the continuing loss, there is also continuing joy.
memorial service programs
their photo montage
folded flags, spent cartridges
their ashes…my shattered heart
Copyright © 2017-09-29, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
I am discovering all over again how much writing about the losses in my life helps with the healing process. Happy memories surface, again, and I can think about our shared past…and the many years mostly not shared. All is understood, now, and where there is understanding, there is forgiveness. I look forward to that, whether it’s literal or only a figure of speech.
The tanka practice in week three of the workshop continues. This is one of the practice poems that I think I will not submit to the workshop leader; it feels like just an extended haiku. I like the flower, though. Seems as though I need a photograph, or at least a picture in my mind’s eye, in order to get started. And I’d always thought that I’m not a “visual” person.
brown on gold petals
poppy flowers bask
in the summer sun
Copyright © 2017-09-27, by Elizabeth Wicker Bennefeld.
It is morning, and
I worry about the honeybees
and the farmers who grow weeds
no longer bothered
Copyright © 2017-09-14, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Beginning on Monday, 11 September, and continuing for four weeks, I am taking part in an online poetry workshop: Introduction to Japanese Poetry. It is a “hands-on”, writing workshop, which I expect to enjoy immensely. I’ve a book by the instructor, Naomi Wakan: Haiku: One Breath Poetry, which I have put aside for the time being, while I am working the workshop exercises.
I enjoyed the prompts. They were not earthshaking, but they served their purpose. The subjects were predictable, but the techniques/methods for addressing the prompts were varied. I was able to bypass the techniques I needed to and choose from alternatives that fit me better. One thing that I tried to do was to avoid responding to every (or every other) assignment with a poem. I think I got away with only 10% being poetry, and the only original-to-the-project poem the Acrostic for Day 13. Since I usually write 3- to 7- or 10-line poems, 16 lines stretched beyond my customary word count.
What I missed with this course, and what made Writing 201: Poetry so rewarding, was the active push to community and interaction that came with the private WordPress form for that particular class, starting and ending at the same time, so that there was a coordination of activities. The #everydayinspiration tag in the WP Reader helped, as did finding bloggers with whom I am familiar who were also beginning at approximately the same time. As my schedule eased, I reached out to a few more, some of whom will end up on my Reading list for this particular blog. (I have a number of blogs, each with a different general focus and tone.)
I also had fun with the Mine Your Own Material assignment, where I chose as my unifying subject “Food”. I located a couple of favorite recipes (a breakfast omelet and a gluten-free cake-in-a-cup). Also, I pulled out an old science fiction short story that I wrote in 2005 for a 48-hour short-story-writing competition; a light romance and a consideration of variations of plants that should be first grown on community/agricultural space habitat. For having been written in two days, I thought it didn’t turn out too badly, considering that I hardly ever write short stories, and have only had one published (in the previous century … in a limited edition anthology … not in the United States).
In between my first and second jobs out of college (computer programmer and computer operations), I lived with a fellow for about seven months, when he graduated from college at the end of summer school and joined the U.S. Army (his number in the draft lottery was 038). During that time, I was going through my notebooks and boxes of papers, time after time, looking for my senior philosophy paper, of which I was particularly proud. I could not find it. What killed the relationship was my discovery that he had taken my paper, presumably retyped it, and then handed it in as his senior physics paper. Evidently he did well, or he would have been panicking about having to (re)write the paper at the last minute or face not graduating on time.
I was a help to him in his adjustment to having to go out and live in the world, as I provided a structure for him that served him well until his death (late winter or early spring of 2014). But as I was writing the blog post about making my own decisions, it dawned on me that I had never forgiven him, even though my actions toward him were loving actions. I refused ever to see him again, finally, some time after his discharge, and suggested that he not phone me anymore, and he made his way successfully in the world, generally. The “aha” moment was when I recognized that recalling him in the process of writing about that particular time period in my life evoked a sudden, powerful rage.
I think that I want to think about that for a while. I think that I over reacted and that he was right to believe that I would not be understanding about his appropriation of my work.
As I continue blogging, I plan to continue being open to what I may learn about myself and others. And how I feel at a particular moment about a situation, a person, or a group of people, does not have to govern how I will act or react. It has not in the past. I think that’s probably a good thing.
Having lost to death seven close relatives within the past eleven months has affected how I feel about planning on/for continuity in our lives. My writing and photographs are on the Intenet, an ephemeral medium. They will not continue to exist past the funds that pay monthly or yearly for my blog space and domains. As I have always written for myself and for the now, I will bear that in mind as I continue. I write because I am a writer, and I trust that those who also might/should look at my photos, art, or writing, will find it. If not, there always will someone else to write, to see the world as effectively as I do, albeit from their own perspective. We are as much or more a collective being, we humans, than individual. Nothing needful is lost.
Perhaps not so much great “reads” in every case. I do enjoy looking at photographs of the out-of-doors and the creatures that live there.
I cannot leave out Mara Eastern’s blog. Her photos in particularly set me to writing off-the-cuff poems to go with them. I strive to restrain myself. But you might take a look at the comments for this blog entry. (My complete poem is here.)
Not likely…Instead, a few pictures with comments.
These photos are from my personal album. My parents took a lot photographs throughout their lifetimes. As we left home for college, we each received a large photo album with a copy of every photograph that included us. Mine is on the bookshelf just to my right as I sit in the front room. This first group is photos taken the first winter in our “new” house. They started out building a basement house, adding the upper story (which my mother designed and drew up the blueprints for) before I finished grade school. My mother’s father took endless correspondence courses, and she and her father took architecture courses together; she also worked at the hardware store until she left for college.
In the summertime, Mother would send Dad and me out of the house, so that she could take care of the younger children and get housework done. (I was an active, precocious child.) I enjoyed going fishing, learning how to remove the scales from the fish, learning how to mark a trail through the “woods” in the pastures along the river, and going out into the fields with my father and his brothers when they went hunting for pheasants. (When I reached the proper age for such, I was the only girl in the school-sponsored Hunter Education Program.) The table at which I am sitting in that last photograph above is a picnic table that my parents built to serve as a kitchen table in the basement. (Mother’s father had a lumber yard, back in Iowa, and she was really handy at planning and building shelves, bedsteads, daybeds and whatever else needed doing. Together, she and I built the furniture for my first apartment after college and refinished some pieces that we picked up at the Salvation Army Store.)
Three more photographs. First is the “gathering of the Wicker clan” for Father’s 100th birthday party, the day after Mother’s memorial service in the home town. The second is a photo that Dad had taken to send to Mom while they were in the service (Army and Navy, respectively). The third is a portrait photo of Mother in uniform.
For this day of “Finding Everyday Inspiration”, I am once again “mining my own material”. “Right-of-Ways” was written in response to a Poetry 101 Rehab prompt (March 2015). The Google Map encompasses various places I traveled to, whether by train, plane, bus or car, or in the 60s and early 70s and short of cash, hitchhiking. As the tenor of this country’s mood has become tense, concerning the Dreamers and DACA, I recall my own dreams and the often treacherous freedoms of my childhood and early adulthood.
Rivers and railroad right-of-ways
were the trails of breadcrumbs
that led me away from home
to adventures in long hot days
of childhood’s summers.
They tempted me to run across the tracks,
then follow until the railroad bridge
spanned a river. Tree branches overhung
a bend where I could fish and dive and swim,
sheltered from the rapid currents.
Later, because one cannot hike or swim
through all the years of growing up,
I saved my allowance to travel the right-of-way.
A commuter train would take me to the city
with its wonders of a Five-and-Dime with escalators.
The right-of-ways felt right. They
ran both ways: between home’s safety
and a world of new sounds and hotdogs with
mustard and tall buildings and people
who didn’t all talk or look like us.
Sometimes railroad right-of-ways
divide a village into two. The ‘right’ and
‘wrong’ divide themselves from one another.
The right-of-way can turn into a wall of
self-defense against humiliation, others’ pride.
We have need of right-of-ways, the trains and
rivers that guide us, move us from traps and tears
to dreams and possibilities. Roadways not barred,
right-of-ways that offer open passage
to wherever we are called to become.
Copyright © 2015-04-30, by Liz Bennefeld.
Favorite Recipes and a Short Story, from previous years of blogging
I like starting out the day with an omelette, a couple times a week. Sometimes they’re simple, and sometimes they’re more involved.
This morning’s omelette consisted of three eggs, two slices of colby-jack cheese, a small handful of Dole chopped salad greens, two sliced baby bella mushrooms, and two small celery stocks with leaves from the very center of the bunch. I cooked them in butter, the greens first, then the well-beaten eggs, and the cheese scattered across the top. Seasoning: generous portions of ground cumin and ground white pepper over all. (I’m not at all fond of salt.)
One time-saving practice is using paper plates and bowls. There is a limit to how much time I want to spend washing dishes. Serving meals on paper plates atop the Corelle plates of corresponding size simplifies cleanup.
In a large cup, mix together dry ingredients
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Add one egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time and continue stirring until batter is smooth.
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Put the cup into the microwave and heat on High power for 3 minutes. Remove the cup promptly and turn out the cake onto a plate.
Variation 1. Using brownie mix that calls for added oil and milk, in place of the sugar and cocoa powder add equivalent amounts of flour. [If you use coconut flour, add an extra Tbsp of milk (or water) for each Tbsp of coconut flour.]
Variation 2. If you have problems with gluten: I use gluten-free flour (or brownie mix) for my own cake in a cup. When my baking shelf is fully stocked, I use 1 Tbsp each of white rice, brown rice, tapioca, and coconut flours.
“By Any Other Name”
a short story by Liz Bennefeld
Elaine sat at the desk, telephone to her ear, nodding in response to the speaker at the other end of the circuit and throwing in an “I see” during the occasional breaks. She hated roses—especially red ones—and the stink that came with them. Useless plants! Let in just one rose with the discretionary planting allotments! There would be fifty different varieties of ornamental roses in the space habitat, and there wouldn’t be a useful plant in the bunch. Even though she knew her hatred of the plants harkened back to early childhood, when she hadn’t been allowed to plant her own little herbs in the only space available, in amongst her grandmother’s prized rose bushes, she could not overcome the distaste the memories brought up.
Rather than poll my readers (hi, Mara!), I turned to the alternatives listed for Day 15 on the Resource Page and selected three related suggestions:
When I was in grade-school, I read “In Hiding”, a novella by Wilmar H. Shiras, and later, Children of the Atom, based on “In Hiding” and two other subsequent stories. (Our village librarian knew that I was into science fiction novels, and I got a steady supply from her and from the regional bookmobile from second grade on up.) The child who was the central character in the book had interests beyond his age and had developed self-protective practices that helped him maintain a fairly normal front to the rest of the world. The novel deals with his finding other children like him and gradually forming community with them and beginning the process of integrating with society.
Because I found it difficult to communicate with peers, with few interests in common, I started developing some of those techniques as a camouflage. That is, I pretty much quit talking to people in general, outside of my family, except for librarians, who could be counted on to provide me with reading material beyond my grade level. I also shadowed a couple of students in my class who seemed to have no other friends, and that gave the three of us a group to be part of: to sit together during school events and to walk with, going from one classroom to the next. I don’t think I formed any friendships as such until my last two years in college. Almost none of those “took”, but at least I knew and was known by a fair number of people. As I look back, I don’t think I was quite so invisible during my college years as I had thought at the time. I still wasn’t paying much attention to anything outside my head.
Another thing that Shiras’ stories and others taught me was to start making decisions about my own life, and not just follow the path of least controversy. In college, lacking only two courses to complete minors in chemistry and mathematics, I started an English major the summer leading into my junior year, and the summer leading into my senior year, I began a philosophy major. The philosophy department arranged for me to take one of the required courses by independent study, so that I would graduate on time. My parents had been set on my becoming a scientist (and making a lot of money with a major corporation). My changes in coursework did not go down well, but since I had previously arranged with my chemistry advisor to have him talk with my parents about my decision, should that become necessary, I prevailed. But had to borrow more money, my senior year, than I’d planned on to pull it off.
Anyway, Shiras provided a “role model” for me that made me comfortable moving through society without more than minimal interaction. After I ended my corporate career to work freelance, I began to meet more people with similar interests. That was really good, being able to have conversations with folks. Talk about almost anything. Sometimes, still, I don’t find the right words to communicate what I see in my mind, but that also doesn’t bother me so much anymore.
When I was very young, I liked to climb from the top of the bookshelf into the casement of the window and hide behind the curtains to read. Ours was a basement house in the early years, and so I could look out the window at ground level. Later, I learned how to open the window from the inside and slide the screen out, so that I could disappear into the horse pasture just beyond our back fence. The village was not well lit at night, and on the other side of the pasture’s windbreak, to the west, I see the sky clearly, the moon (I drew maps) and the constellations (I drew maps). Lovely escape into another world!
An assignment in WordPress Blogging U’s course Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration.
This morning, 7 September 2017, I awoke after eight hours of sleep (or more). I’d practically fallen into bed, last night, before the sun had set. Exhausted, I think. I had fallen asleep towards the end of the afternoon, was awakened by hungry puppies, and did not really come alert, again, afterwards.
Wednesday was a scattered day. I awakened without the alarm, as usual, at 8:30 o’clock or a little after, let the Scampers outside, took my fasting BG test, fed the Scampers, and, picking up my point-and-shoot camera, took the Scampers outside, again. The temperature was in the high 40s °F. There were no open flowers in the wildflower garden, other than the Plains Coreopsis, and so we went back inside to nap (the Scampers), make coffee (for Al), and find something to eat (my breakfast).
I ate, brought coffee to Al, who was still in bed, and settled in to read the news and drink my first cup of Toddy coffee of the day (homemade cold-brew coffee concentrate diluted with whole milk). The Scampers napped. We went outside again at a little after 10:00 o’clock, and the Scampers raced around the yard while I took photographs. The sun was out, the temperature had risen a bit, and there were insects to photograph. Oddly, a lot of them stopped to pose for the camera!
Meanwhile, Al got boards measured and trimmed for the morning’s task of installing the soffits on the south side of the in-progress woodworking shop building in the back yard. I get the tall ladder, so that I have something to hold onto. This project has been an exercise, not just physically, but also in dealing with my dislike of heights. I continued to take photographs, off and on, while Al trimmed the next boards we were to put into place.
After lunch, we went to the mall, where I got my six-week haircut. The salon is being remodeled, and so everything was set up in half of the salon space. I am certain that exposure to the various chemicals quite near to me contributed to my fatigue and breathing problems. Upon leaving the mall, we stopped at the grocery to pick up some essentials (lots of meat, forgot to buy more milk), and then went home, again. I took a nap while Al went out to do more chores, and I ended up in the gazebo for a while before I made a sandwich for supper, drank another cup of Toddy coffee, and went to sleep, again.
Mostly, I write short verse. What SFPA refers to as “Dwarf” poetry (10 lines or fewer). Writing a longer poem than usual would qualify, I think, as playing with the word count. On a whim, I also upended habit by employing a different technique and structure, as well as a change of topic. This was written on a whim, once through, so please forgive any fumbling in the writing.
Lapse Into Winter Sanity
Trees grow along the road
Hiding fields and gardens
In shade and shadows
Safe from brutal winds
Aside the bales of hay
Lurk deer and cattle, mingled
Snug behind the thick, dried straw
Open to the warm midmorning sun
Winter snows pile up
Inside the windbreaks
Leaves insulate foundations
Last service by dormant trees
Peace covers the countryside
As the winter wears on, isolating
Sleeping towns and villages
Spared floods and fear and fools
Copyright © 2017-09-05, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.
Today, express your opinion on a topic or a piece of artwork. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of entertainment that you love or despise. | You can approach this assignment in your own style and preferred format, and write about work in any genre or medium that speaks to you.
This assignment has presented a conundrum. A discontinuity. Critique and review are not the same thing, nor is a critical review or comments on an object of passion or entertainment. In the Resources section for this course, I read the alternative, “Offer your perspective on a topic of your choice (from politics to public education, from feminism to the environment, or any other topic you’re passionate about).” I wonder if we’re just asking, Do you feel strongly enough about some subject to speak about it?
According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, passionate is defined as “having very strong feelings or emotions”. I would go so far as to say that I have convictions. A conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”; synonyms include “idea, stance, thoughts, persuasion, article of faith,” &c. I think that convictions translate more directly into decisions and actions, in contrast to passion, which I associate with reactions, rather than decisions, and less objectively focused with regard to consequences.
I don’t know why, but an incident…a couples questionnaire that my husband and I filled out during premarital counseling, required in order to marry in the church of our choice. The instrument was designed to analyze the family of origin in terms of structure and power. My husband’s family was categorized as rigid and authoritarian, while my environment was described as chaotic anarchy. And so, my opinions are my own and closely held, but I believe that I would be uncomfortable at finding myself among other people like me.
I quietly observe the world around me through the eye of the camera, more often than not.
So far, we’ve found inspiration from our own experiences, images, words, and more. Today, let’s quietly observe the world around us and write about what we see.
the garden’s abuzz
bees hiding in the clover
just a fly in view
“abuzz”. Copyright © 2017-08-30, by Lizl Bennefeld.
What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking? Today, tell us.
A lot of pastimes were interrupted by health problems (approximately 2012-2015) and periodic flooding that caused a lot of upheaval (emptying the basement library/bedroom for a number of spring flood and rain incidents). Adding to that were the stresses of deaths in the family (2013-2017) and both my husband and I retiring in 2012.
I started taking piano lessons at age six, when I was in second grade, and I’ve continued playing throughout the decades. I resumed playing the piano, last year. Basically exercises and beginning pieces, as I rebuild the muscles in my wrists, hands, and arms. I enjoy the movement involved in piano playing. A couple years ago, I gave away my cornet and trumpet, but I still occasionally play my soprano recorder and my harmonica.
I use the elliptical machine in the front room when the weather isn’t suitable for the exercise bike that lives in the backyard gazebo, which is enclosed, but doesn’t have heat or air conditioning. I try to spend at least fifteen minutes, one to three times a day, on one or the other. Recently, I have added my hand weights while I pedal (6.6 lb and 3.3 lb) to develop a better sense of balance (pedaling while not holding onto the handlebars). My goal is to continue rebuilding my arm and leg muscles. To help me get back into other activities I’m used to doing and beginning to pick up, again.
My husband has started building his woodworking shop in our back yard, and I’ve helped in many ways with measuring, raising walls, carrying delivered materials from place to place, and getting on the ladder to hold the siding for measuring and nailing it into place. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable at the top end of the ladder (9-ft. ceiling). It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t really built anything since my mother and I made furniture for my first apartment. The woodworking shop will have room in the back (separate room with lock) for other hobbies, so as to free up basement space.
I haven’t been growing herbs or culinary plants for several years, now, as my initial garden plot was displaced to make room for the concrete slab on which the woodworking shop now sits. The previous summer (2015?) we had work done to raise the ground around the house, addressing the problems with drainage and water seepage. Also, we put in an egress door. I have fencing to install around the new, 50-ft. garden at the bottom of the back yard, next time I’m not hauling around or bracing siding. Also, I’ve been fermenting spent coffee grounds to put in as a base when I dig up the silt around the house in sections to mix it with the peat moss. Also, I will be dividing the tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs/tubers so they’re properly spaced.
The garden was the basis for my formal photography/photo art business from 2004 to 2009; I continued to sell through RedBubble until I collected my last commission check in the spring of 2015. Every morning, when the puppies and I go outside, I take a camera with me. I love taking photographs of the animals and insects, berries on the shrubs, leaves in the grass…I could spend whole days doing that. When my husband and I were going out with our ham radio club for Skywarn storm spotting with the National Weather Service’s weather spotter activities, I would take a camera and photograph interesting cloud formations, trees in motion, and such. I still do that to a limited extent here in town, but Skywarn duty was really fun. I still have my ham radio license and check into the local net every once in a while.
Current serious reading includes Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay, which I had to buy after I read the first volume: The Origins of Political Order. I am rereading some of my favorites from high school and college; the most recent is Buber’s I and Thou (intro. by Walter Kaufmann.) (My mother turned me on to Buber, Barth, Boltmann, Bonhoeffer et al., and my dad handed off a lot of history books and contemporary literature). I am also working my way through Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice. I got interested in bereavement, grief, and counseling while meeting with the grief counselor from Hospice after my parents died. I am fascinated by the concept of non-finite grief and finding the topic addressed in other books that my counselor recommended. I started college in math and the hard sciences, but made the move into the humanities the summer before my junior year. Completed an English major (literature and composition), and then picked up a major in philosophy. I have enrolled in a workshop that will be coming up pretty soon: Introduction to Japanese Poetry. I started writing haiku in 1965 or ’66, and I am looking forward to digging deeper into it. I’ve been reading The Haiku Handbook, this summer, but have on hand to read next a book on Haiku and one on Tanka that were written by the person who’s doing the online workshop.
Currently I am rereading L.E. Modesitt’s Imager Portfolio while waiting for the next book in the series to come out. I also favor Anne Bishop’s The Others series, anything by Julie Czerneda, Doranna Durgin, and William Sanders, as well as Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, and a couple dozen other authors who write science fiction, fantasy, cozy mysteries, “sweet” and traditional Regency romances, and having inherited the family’s Great Books of the Western World set upon our parents’ deaths, including the ten study guides and the inclusive Great Ideas Today yearbooks, I am rereading old favorites and thinking about tackling another guided study. (My mother took a speed reading course at a local college while I was in junior high school, and then sat me down to do all of the exercises; she also took me to the lab, where I practiced the techniques on the speed-reading equipment with a timer. Supposedly, it increases comprehension and retention.)
Before I started having respiratory problems, I was involved in target pistol shooting, including practices for Bullseye competition (with my husband). The other objective of my exercising is to be able to shoot to that level again. Also, with the diabetes, my eyesight has changed. Now that the blood glucose levels are down, I am hoping that my next pair of eyeglasses will allow me to shoot at 50 ft. again. In the meanwhile, I have work on reloading for my favorite guns, because the price of factory ammunition is too high to be affordable. I am building up a good stock, because I will need a lot for proper practicing.
With both diabetes and gluten sensitivity/celiac disease in the family, I spend much enjoyable time cooking for myself, coming up with new and different ways to cook the foods that I select, and collecting good cookware (when it goes on sale, preferably). I spent some time each day reading the community forums on the American Diabetes Association website. It is fascinating, coordinating food, sleep, exercise, and minimal medication to reach and maintain health weight and diet and deal effectively with any problems that arise.
I enjoy playing with the dogs, taking part in activities as I am able, doing chores, and having enjoyable discussions and daily conversation with my husband. An added pastime, this year: I am enjoying the New York Times daily crossword puzzles online. And I do write a lot of poetry along the way. I enjoy the variety in my life and the balance between acquisition, quiet for assimilation, and creative action.
Some might say a post in the form of a letter is trite and overdone. But with the right approach and tone, a letter can tell a great story and get your message across (and it doesn’t have to be negative or shaming — a letter can be joyous).
Today, write your post as a letter. About what, and to whom? Up to you!
As it turned out, I wrote a letter, sent by email, to a cousin who lives out-of-state, whom I have not seen face to face since we both were in high school, if I remember correctly. We have gotten into contact because of deaths in our immediate family: her parents (October and July) and mine (December and February). I wrote to her again yesterday, and I received an answering letter today.
That, of course, has brought to mind correspondents that I have not written to in years. One friend that I exchanged letters with in 2011-2012 has not responded since then, and I did not because of my poor health at the time. The other person? In the midst of all, I totally lost track of time, between my mother’s failing health, coping with the new puppies, and seemingly getting hit hard by the diabetes that was diagnosed this last December. I believe that she was the last one to write.
I don’t care to “reinvent the letter format”. What I do care to do, now that my other sister and I have begun exchanging notes again, is pick up some of the dropped threads. Over my lifetime I have enjoyed sending and receiving letters. It’s a whole different thing from blogging and texting.
That brings me to another thought. The ephemeral nature of electronic media. The intangible nature of it diminishes it, even as it makes it easier to hold onto during one’s life. (I take photos of letters I receive and stick them on my backup HD and a flash drive. My new puppy devours paper products. Loves sheets of paper and envelopes in particular. Especially if crunchy see-through windows are involved.)
Since I have hosted blogs, I expect that almost all of my poetry and photographic art will disappear within a short time after my death.
Ephemeral works of art. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I usually like to be in the midst of things as I write. That means, here, being in the front room, where I’m just steps from whatever I need. Our dogs keep me company, and taking them outside every hour or so is helpful, because I have a tendency otherwise just to sit in one spot. Getting proper exercise has become more important as I age, and so I’ve added an elliptical machine to the front room and moved the (used) exercise bike to the three-season gazebo. I’ve also free weights for exercising my arms while I’m pedaling.
My writing environment is, now that I look at it, designed to keep me from writing or reading to the exclusion of everything else. The “writing” part comes automatically, while thinking is taking place. The Space to Write betters my chances of being able to continue writing in the long run, while making it easier to interrupt the writing to take care of everyday needs for food, rest, recreation and playing fetch with the dogs. There is a quilt for taking a nap, and I’ve got a larger-size lap desk that doubles as a foot rest when placed on the bottom shelf’s Great Ideas Today yearbooks.
Another thing that I appreciate about the arrangement is that if I get restless or just want to lose myself in motion for a while, my piano is within easy reach. I can play familiar pieces, distract myself with trying to learn a new piece, or just let my mind wander while I play arpeggios or multi-octave scales. I no longer have room for the exercise mat in the front room. Moved it out into the gazebo for use during the warmer weather.
Again, I’ve extended the day far too long. We were up and out in the back yard, Friday morning, siding my husband’s new woodworking shop, and so I have added my writing to the other end of the day.
One need not hope in order to undertake,
nor succeed in order to persevere.
— William I, Prince of Orange (1533–1584)
I don’t recall when I first came across this quotation attributed to William I, Prince of Orange, but it’s stuck with me through decades. It connects in my mind with the poem that I wrote for my parents as a Christmas present (see “Born of Love”), a few years after I quit corporate to start my own freelance business. Took a while for the business to take off, but stuck with it.
It has been important to me, in great part, thanks to my parents, that I make decisions on the basis of what seems right to me. “Everybody’s doing it” is not an excuse for refraining from a right action or for following a path that doesn’t lead to where I want to be in the long run. There are no guarantees of success, even if the decision is faultless and praiseworthy. One acts because acting is the right thing to do, or refrains from acting because the action would not be the best. Even when I pick my battles, I sometimes lose them. That doesn’t mean that I should not try. Taking the easy path or “going with the flow” because it’s easier or less dangerous (or doesn’t make me look like an idiot to other people) … well, one just didn’t do that. Even when there’s no path marked out.
Over the decades it’s turned into a pretty solid commitment. A way of living. A way of life. Choosing life. Weighing the consequences is important in terms of ramifications for family relationships and commitments, but that could no longer be the deciding factor. It’s not about winning or losing, but about choosing the right paths and taking the right actions. And accepting that others do not have to understand. Each of us is unique. Each has one’s own paths to follow, directions to go, decisions to make.
And now, my eyes are tired and I can no longer see to write.
Select one word from this list as your post inspiration. Have you always wanted to write about the decision that changed your life? Are you a long-term traveler looking for a place to settle?…
Or, one can look at the list of six words and realize that as a group, they are a poem that wants to be discovered:
loss of parents’
home is no more
comes an abundance
in secret, our hope
each makes the choice
to outrun death
and mourn alone
Copyright © 2017-08-22, by E.W. Bennefeld.
Why do I write? At its most basic, I write to find out what I think, or, what I am thinking about. I write prose to discover, to remember, and to understand. I write poetry/prose poetry to discover how I feel about what I think.
I have journaled since my high-school years. Previous to that, I took in information whole. I don’t recall making any value judgments. Nor do I remember thinking about the emotions I experienced when I was a child. They were exterior to me. Which isn’t to say that I did not experience emotions. They simply did not transfer or communicate the experience to my thinking self.
Secondly, I write because I am not in dialogue with anyone, anymore, except with my husband. Having a joint life, we communicate freely about common and individual interests, thoughts, and feelings. He is so much a part of me/the world in which I daily live, that there seems to be no I/Thou, but instead, us. Dialogue with—dare I say “outsiders”?—serves the same purpose of discovery. I discover thoughts, lines of thought, and deep truths within myself. That I then write, to clarify for myself my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and related values.
Related to writing, I recall Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”, which I do not write in the proper manner, because I get allergic reactions to my hand’s rubbing against paper, and in more recent decades, cramping in my fingers that cuts short the physical experience of writing.* The discomforts derail my trains of thought. Second, I don’t seem to have “unloading” to do. Burdens carried that must be spewed forth onto the page in order to be dealt with and forgotten.
I loved to write letters, but ran out of people to send them to. People who might read them and respond. I suspect that my thoughts are majorly boring, aside from my short poetry. I sometimes wrote letters with no intention of mailing them. It’s almost like corresponding with someone else, because I went back over the letters and reread them. Like favorite books written by favorite authors.
I have discovered—we have, we siblings—that our parents maintained correspondence throughout the war, no matter where they each were stationed, and again when our father was called up during the Korean Conflict. That encourages me, finding out that writing volumes (and also, taking photographs, which we have in plenty from before our parents met and throughout their lives), that my sense of self-awareness and the need to take notice/note of my surroundings and interior life is a family trait. As has been voluminous reading. Reading through letters written between them, I realize how much, how deeply they were involved in each other, through good times and bad, until the very end. And now beyond.
Writing. It’s like talking to myself out loud while taking a long walk through the pastures and thickets and along the river. Everything seems more clearly defined. Manageable, or not, but more real.
* * *
*Our mother, who used to do typing exhibitions at her state fair when she was in school, raised a brood of touch typists, I suspect. She considered typing (keyboarding) to be a survival skill, and her skills transferred over to her computer keyboard.
Copyright © by E. W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.
still, silent in their stark frames–
wait for tears to fall
12 months, too short for mourning …
too soon, the memories fade
too short, mourning. Copyright 2017-08-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.
“i did not want to trouble her”
i would not trouble her
with present reality
the look behind her eyes, knowing
that she did not know,
worrying what she’d once again forgotten
that should always have been remembered
i’d said good-bye a month ago,
then left her undisturbed–
living cherished, not alone
in the simple “now”
i could not trouble her,
let her long-feared flaws and failures
drift by unnoticed
to the end of the beginning
of eternal life
together once again with her mother
and her beloved father
those she never, through it all, forgot
Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
if I do not remember
if I cannot remember you…
my love, let me go
let me not remember either
all the rest
or, fearful, fret
at what i’ve lost
that leaves me with such
losing the clear, sweet memories of you
i’ve lost everything
let go the empty shell
“if I do not remember”. Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
These poems, although I posted the second one today on my poetry blog, belong together. Remembering is a way, I think, to let go of grief by understanding the loss. In this case, the loss of my parents, this last winter.
“To Turn Back the Tide”
…and when the tide had turned,
when waking from long sleep, I found
that all was swept away
Who am I in this new world?
If there are paths
I cannot see them … yet
If I should go to sleep, again–
if I would sleep–
until the tide rolls in, once more,
would the safe, familiar world
that I once thought I knew–
believed I lived within–
be here before my eyes,
to welcome me?
And if not? Then…?
“To Turn Back the Tide”. Copyright © 2017-06-28, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Transition points feel foggy … nebulous … like standing on a piece of ground that cannot be seen or felt. Like wading at the edge of an unknown body of water, depths and currents still to be discovered, with morning mist cloaking the past and future in white and shadows. Memories, the only solid ground.
Inspired by The Daily Post’s photo prompt for this week: Delta.
“Getting it Right”
I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.
There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.
Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.
I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.
I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.
the lake in winter
gentle touch of winter’s cold
water’s smooth surface
the quiet of falling snow
the chime as each flake fractures
Copyright © 27 April 2017, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.
Among the losses that I am mourning is the closure of SFF Net, of which I had been a member since 1997, I think. Believe I didn’t get a newsgroup until the next year. Yesterday I had my first in-person meeting with C., the grief counselor from the local offices of our regional Hospice association. My late mother enjoyed hospice services during the two months that she was in a nursing home, until she died at the middle of November. (Fortunately, the rapid onset dementia protected her from awareness of the national election results.) Our meeting was productive and relaxing. C. is easy to talk to/with/at; she is skilled in keeping conversation going on track, encouraging the general rambling that produces relevant information and genuine emotional responses. And she seems to enjoy my poetry, saying at one point, you’re very good at that—or words to that effect. It was fun to orient her to the members of my immediate family and activities/interactions before any of the children (of which I am the oldest) had left home to attend college.
I have purchased the latest edition of Stress Management (2012, 30th Anniversary), completed the life event checklist for the past 12 months (total was over 300, again), and reviewed the muscle relaxation and imaging exercises for relieving physical stress in my original paper copy.
April is, I understand, national poetry month, and I have, against my better judgment, committed myself to writing at least one poem a day for the next thirty days. A group led by a woman who was one of the members off the WritingChat group that I joined during the nineties. We’ll see just how long that lasts.
The new floor is installed in the kitchen, and I have moved out cookbooks to dedicate one set of shelving to holding the everyday pots and pans. The second, four-shelf unit is holding paper plates and bowls, dog paraphernalia, blood pressure kit, &c. I still need a proper mop and bucket for wet mopping the floor, which is vinyl. May it never overheat!
The temperature is high enough, again, to sit outside in the gazebo (out of the sun) and read the news, watch the dogs play and listen to my husband’s latest wood-working project in progress. I don’t often use this small computer/tablet, and I find that cannot find all of the keys when I need them. I think that I need to find the touchpad settings and make it less responsive. At the ends of sentences, or when I simply pause, I find that when I am ready to type, again, the cursor has returned to the beginning of the line (or page).
I had a nice selection of photographs and things to say, when I retired for the night, but I turned off the lights and went to sleep, instead. This morning I was awakened by a telephone call from a local who had found my phone number on the Internet in connection to my former (as of 2012-12-31) business. I am loathe to give it up, since it’s been my number since I moved to this town in the late 1970s.
I have made connection with the hospice worker, who will be dropping by later in the week for a nice visit. In the meanwhile, I downloaded the current ebook edition of my Stress Management go-to book (30th Anniversary edition in 2012, and I believe I bought the first edition shortly after it came out). I reviewed and went through the muscle relaxing/awareness procedures. Realized as I did them mindfully that I have continued using them over the intervening decades. My life changes for the past 12 months total over 300 points. ::sigh:: I think that I will incorporate mindful practice of the physical exercises in the daily routines.
My puppy is pacing. I must see what he wants.
Monday is so far in the past, I hardly remember it, now.
Welcome! Thank you for dropping by for coffee, this week. There is Toddy coffee, hot or cold, made with water, milk, or both. Many kinds of cheese for nibbling while we visit.
My weekend has ended with a special treat. We went to Denny’s for supper, and I ordered the salmon skillet. Very good, but entirely too much food. I expect to get two or three more meals from it. With restaurants, I know, there may be a broad range experience within the same franchise, but the one here in town usually does pretty well.
My week has been a bit spotty, but I finally managed to brush my teeth without opening up the extraction site again. Still hasn’t hurt worth mentioning, though. I had a nice visit with my doctor to check up on the progress with the diabetes 2. Met the goal that she had set for the A1C when we met at the end of December, which was my ~2-week visit after the diagnosis. The numbers are going down (the A1C by more than 4 percentage points). As is the cholesterol and my weight: I now have lost 21 pounds since December 13th.
I find that I am extremely tired at the end of this week, however. Since getting through all of the rough stuff fairly well, with nothing on the schedule for the next two weeks except helping with the workshop construction in the back yard and getting to the dogs to the vet towards the end of the second week, I have found my thoughts turning back to my parents. I find that my sharpest memories of them are from when they were in their late seventies and going forward. That was, I think, when we spent a lot of quality time together as adults. Mom, more than Dad. When I think of them, I realize that as with myself, they probably thought of themselves as … ageless, or at least in their thirties or forties. I miss them a lot, although not as much as I did during the last years of their lives, when they turned inward and toward each other’s company and mutual support.
I wonder if this is the time to give the hospice organization a call and check on the grief support services available for the 13 months following Mom’s death, she being the one who was under hospice care during the last two months of her life, when she went into the nursing home.
This Weekend Coffee Share post is on a different site. It isn’t set up to automatically feed my posts to the search engines and such.
Hope you have a good week!
Link to this week’s post by our host at Nerd in the Brain. Enjoy!
This year…these past six months have been among the most difficult of my life, taking into account life changes. Both of my parents died, ages 94 and 100. The family home is being sold, although to one of my brothers, who is leasing the house from the estate until the paperwork is done for making the purchase. I’ve come around to good health with a major health issue, only to find a couple more that were stress triggered. And so, I am on a more restricted diet. I need to lose weight in addition to avoiding foods with gluten.
And my favorite place on the Internet, SFF Net, is closing down; I was a member there beginning in the autumn of 1997 (I got a newsgroup the following year). I met and got to know so many wonderful people there over the years, and they helped keep up my interest in writing as I struggled through decades of freelance writing and editing gigs. It is so wonderful to be retired, with more free time to write. Even with the additional aspects of living that I must now attend to, each day.
And, yes, I did need a different blog for writing these sorts of things. A place for me. Another of those quiet spaces in which to write, looking up to see in my mind’s eye the pasture in the distance, the creek and slough and the cottonwood and plum trees and lilacs beyond them. I can/would hear the red-winged blackbirds calling as they hung onto the cattails at the edge of the water, accompanied in the background by a high-pitched chorus of frogs.
Quiet spaces for the mind to see, even though decades (and burgeoning allergies) separate me from the places and activities of my grade school, high school, and college years and beyond. I am back on the exercise machine again, building stamina so that I can take long walks, again, come summer, when the school buses do not pollute the neighborhood air. I am not an indoor person by nature, and I strive to become more active. So far, it’s just the elliptical machine, a cheap one from a chain store, but I also have hand weights to add and some dance warm-up exercise DVDs to return to as I’m able.
It’s good, just being able to relax and write, again. Something besides poems in response to sporadic prompts.