Archive for April, 2008

Getting Civilized

Did I share this picture earlier? Dan N’s recent comments prompted this post. I was a course volunteer who stood at my assigned post at Spring at Scarritt and waved to the participants in Springfield Road Runners Half Marathon. It was a perfect day and everyone I encountered was top flight calibre.

There are 51 “barbers” in the Yellow Pages. I know this because I just counted them. I could drive to the addresses of the eight Springfield barbers who’ve cut my hair, starting with Jimmy Drew on Fourth and ending with Mike Duewer on Lawrence. I was surprised last Friday when I drove out for a fresh cut for the 15th Anniversary gathering of a local poets and writers club. He’s always been open . . . . until last Friday. There was a sign in the front door “Closed for Family Emergency.” Today I called to be sure he was there, and he was. So I drove out. He was clearly out of sorts, and when I asked him how he’s doing he explained he’s had three heart attacks since mid March! And here he was, on his feet! He’s not doing well; says it’s all his high cholesterol diet and genetic constitution. If you know Mike, you should visit him and wish him well. Keep those fingers crossed. He’s a good barber and a nice hummin’ bean.

I wanted a haircut for the same reason I put on clean Fruit of the Loom when I leave the house. If something happens, I want to look civil and clean when they start cutting off my clothes. WIth the book behind me, the wilting news that two freaking days before the next rent check and the likely news the renter upstairs will give me her 30-day notice of intent to leave, is effecting me a barking dog ouside my window when I’m trying to enjoy Nova on PBS. I don’t have room in my shrinking periphery for this kind of poo.  So what do I do? I hold onto the tiger. I don’t let go. I MUST FIND AN EMPLOYER because what I need is not going to fall from the sky.

When I was waiting for an elevator to take me to court for my minor traffic infraction a few weeks ago at the County Building, I ran into a valued acquaintance who is connected to the government scene. We had a fine 20 second chat, and the last thing he said was “Come see me.” I couldn’t consider calling him Wednesday to see if he has any time if I had not had the haircut. Now I can, I will make the call.

A few weeks ago, a project I thought was coming together for a regular but infrequent employer fell through. I had done the proposal writing, written some follow-up thoughts, but was sidelined with the aviation book. When I let her know I was ready to go full-bore with our project, I was told she had checked, and there was no money budgeted for it this year, I told her how sorry I was to know that because I had counted on that work to help pay my real estate tax. Her response was (I’m cordially certain was a heart-felt) “I’m so sorry.” and that was the end of it. Bye-bye boundless enthusiasm for the project and the repartee I thought was established. And how do I feel about THIS?

I’m so sorry.

At least I look like a grey-suiter from the ears up.  I like the grey-suit league and have enjoyed my time wearing my blue and green-hued sport coats and neck ware in concert wtih grey expectations. Cross your fingers for future action with the county.  

It’s time for me to do more than hold onto this tiger. It’s time to saddle break him.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

but fust a little ketch up . . .
   Had an “interesting” Sunday. Wrote the review for the Springfield Classical Guitar Society web site, grabbed some groceries and brought my space heater back to the office from summer storage in the basement. Enjoyed the PBS Nature program and the recruiting video PBS ran about life on a US Navy carrier. It seemed an hour of “gee whiz, this is kewl” directed to high school sophomores to keep them from dropping out before visiting their recruiter.  After a short nap starting 30 minutes into it, I resumed work in the office, made decent progress and hit a brick wall. I couldn’t send email! After fiddling with it for more than an hour — NOT the work I intended to engage — I picked up my phone headset and found NO DIAL TONE! More fiddling and no joy.

So I missed the chance to sub teach today DANG IT! FInally made it to bed about 5 am and slept until 9:10 this morning. Drove in the rain to a public phone at Handy Pantry to call AT&T repair in a drizzling rain. I was moderately drenched by the time my button punching was done. Internet service was restored by 1:30 today, but I still have no phone, DANG IT!

Barack’s preacher made a lot of sense today, judging from sound bites from his National Press Club address.. It’s time some thinking hummin’ beans from all colors of the rainbow acknowlege that. I’ll go first.

If you think #43 violates our privacy by tapping our phone lines, that’s not the tip of the iceboig. We have lost the freedom to say what we believe when we are talking with people we consider friends, brothers and sisters of our culture and members of our clubs. Can ANY American speak the thoughts which are the product of his or her life so far to people considered his or her “own” without being assailed by people from outside the circle? Are we entltled to circles of our own?  You would demand the freedom for your circle. Why not allow me the same freedom for mine?

When I hear a poet or aspiring poet make fun of poets who write rhyming poetry, I hold him accountable only to those he was epeaking to at the club meeting. If a prose writer who doesn’t like poetry assails the bloke for disparaging rhymers, I am inclined to say, “You were not invited to this conversation, so please get the fring-frang away from our dialogue because —  though your rampaging vanity tells you otherwise —  we are not having our discussion  so you can bullywhank it.”

Reverend Wright said words to the effect. “I have been called unpatriotic. I served in the (service) four years. Does that make me a patriot?  Dick Cheney never served in the military. Is he a patriot?”

To NOT permit us — Methodists, poets, classical musicians, gardeners, Dale Ernhart, Jr. fans — to talk about our subculture to those who embrace it is to censor us in a way that not even #43 would support, at least as long as we’re all evanglists and like hai lai. Reverend Wright is more correct about more than politicians and spectators have conceded so far. Has he said some really idiotic things? Absolutely. Though he claimed to be a preacher in his remarks and separated that profession from “politicians,” he is very much the politician who must balance people the way judges balance the perceived intent of the Constitutiion. Unless we live in a cave, we are all politicians. He addresses his constituents from the pulpit. The rest of us address our intended audiences from pulpits of our own making.

Walt Whitman wrote, “You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, or look through the eyes of the dead, or feed on specters in books. You shall not look through my eyes, either, nor take things from me. You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”  John Wesley said almost the same.

Here’s an idea. You can talk to your friends without a Spanish Inquisition if I can talk to my friends as freely as you. Deal?

Seems like a deal to me. To you as well?

Live long . . . . . . and proper.


Read Full Post »

Moan My Loen

I have an arrangement with a friend across the street. Because I believe that buying a power mower for a task engaged as rarely — at max 20 times a year –, and because he has a safe place to store a power mower, and because I wanted to be a friendly cuss, I arranged to share my machine with him if he’d store it and keep it filled with fuel. Done deal; everyone’s happy.

Until I waited until this weekend to break out the old mower for a first cut of front and back and discovered it wouldn’t start after twenty or thirty yanks. Not only did friend agree to take it in for a tuneup and blade sharpening, he loaned me the push mower he was given by his almost-other half. As soon as George Stephanopoulus signed off this morning, I picked up the mower. An hour and a half later I finished mowing my front lawn. It’s not a big lawn. WIth a p;ower mower I’m done in 15 minutes tops. But the yard needed the attention, and I needed the excertise. Like voting, I consider yard maintenance a PRIVILEGE for those blessed tith the circumstance and capacity to do it. I’ve never complained about raking leaves, mowing lanss and trimming hedges . . . . . except from ages 10 to 19 when my parents asked me to do it. The power mower should be backinac tion next week. THEN I’ll mow my back yard.

It’s been a productive weekend without the book deadline staring me in the face for the first time since January. I’ve re-filed photos that have been awaiting my attention since 2006. It was a marathon effort, but now that I’m focusing more on aviation history, an essential effort. The filing waiting for me in the basement cabinets would choke a horse . . . . but it won’t choke me. It’s nice down there; cool. I worked up a sweat tidying up and rearranging things Saturday, and I enjoyed it. Made some real progress!

 If I cared to, I could pitch the TV nad do nothing but poetry, songwriting  and aviation things around here for the rest of my life, and I would except for two programs: The American Experience and Charlie Rose.  There are others, but those two are essential ingredients:”the cream in my coffee; the salt in my stew” (as the old Ray Coniff semi-hit used to say.

For the gold star of the week: what line follows that?

I won’t be really done with essential catching up until I write the review of the new Chanson du Soir CD I promised.  I have –as the great jazz artist’s wife Mrs. Davis must have once said — Miles to go before I sleep.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

A Change of Distraction

When I was 15 or 16, I sat down at the dining room table with pencil in hand, and instead of drawing an airplane, I looked at a snapshot of my smiling nephew Bobby Shymansky probably 6 at the time, and drew his portrait. It was a matter-of-fact thing. No walking into the living room and asking dad what he wanted me to draw, no guilty conscience at work beneath the surface; I simply drew him, and the final product – a simple pencil portrait drawn on a scrap of paper — was better than I expected, winning the approval of dad and the thanks of my sister whose son inspired my effort. It was a flash in the pan. I knew I could do that. A few months later, using a set of pastel chalks I had been given for Christmas, I created three colorful artistic pieces on sheets of large paper mom had brought home from work for me. I gave one to Diane Brancato, one to Reverend George Embry and eventually lost the one I kept. It was no big deal. I knew I could do it and I was satisfied; much the same as when my first aviation article written for money was published in the June 1978 issue of Aircraft Illustrated. THAT was a terrific high point of my life (it’s a world-wide-read magazine) but nothing possessed me to follow up with articles to everyone who might publish them. Only when I began writing Art Seen, my local arts column that ran in Illinois Times almost a year, did I think I had a future with the local arts community. My faith was unwarranted.

The column was cancelled for reasons I will share anywhere but here. I tried to capitalize on that “fame” by expanding the web presence I had launched (with the urging of a local artist/poet/friend) but it didn’t work out. I was mistaken to believe I could engineer a future for myself as an arts journalist. 

At my CIVAG web site, in recent weeks, I’ve asked for help to pay for the service; not my time. And following the screams of silence, I’m shutting it down. I have too many distractions, too many interests that take my time away from interests that bear fruit I can eat. I’m a hair bummed out over this. The saving grace of my ending this protracted spree of arts writing and photography for others is the reassurance that the many who didn’t engage me in that enterprise will also not engage me in its aftermath. The few friends from all this — Sonia Lang, Katherine Pauley, Mike Manning, Shirley Caldwell — will have been provided the promised presence they paid for by the time their work disappears from the artists’ web galleries. There will only be comfort and relief from the silence from the rest. At least I didn’t cheat anyone.

My focus now will be JOURNALISM, poetry and aviation history. The SCGS effort will continue, probably at a changed domain address, through the summer, and it will disappear also. I owe Chanson du Soir a review, and I’ll post it by this time next week. I MUST also keep the Conger family genealogy thing going. It’s a blood thing.

I’m bummed out by this. I surely enjoyed the company and conversation with the artists. But their support was more important than the good times I had chatting with them. I was with them, in part,  for the wrong reasons. When I can return — if I ever return to them, it won’t be because I have something to SELL THEM. It will be ONLY because I like them. Life is better that way. No hopes; no heartbreaks.

The story of my life.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

How sweet it WAS. TASTY!

If I experience another evening of poetry half as enjoyable as Wednesday night  (April 23) at the library of MacMurray College, I will consider all I’ve written, all I’ve learned, all I’ve practiced worth every minute! A lot of the satisfaction came from friends going in: faculty member Robert Seufert who recognized something in me worth sharing at his campus, the two students, Brett and Danielle, who came with him to the Museum of Funeral Customs presentation earlier this year (who lobbied to have me come over) and Susan Eilering, who traded e’s with me in the days leading up to the event AND transported me to and from. An incredible combination, not unlike the alligning of the planets, I think.

The audience was small, mostly poets who contributed to the school’s Spring 2008 edition of Montage, their literary and art anthology, revived  recently after some fallow years. Others included two people working at computers in a corner of our presentation room, who didn’t mind our being there, and a library helper who punched off the time clock so he could sit and listen, a nice fellow for sure. Also on hand was Julie, MacMurray’s PR person with a fine Canon EOS camera who took pictures and was an incredible cosmic delight in her own way. They were all planets, every one; not an asteroid or comet in the lot of them.

The plan was to introduce me first. Susan did. I would share poems for half an ow — half an hour if you prefer, , and contributors to Montage  would read after that. Spontenaety intervened, howeverly, and the enthusiasm tracked a different course. I didn’t recite for half an hour; I rambled almost twice that long. We took a break to enjoy a bounteous array of strawberries, cheese, crackers, snack sweets I don’t have names for and soft drinks. Then Montage contributors and Robert Seufert shared their fine writing in a round robin, one poem at a time format. It was great fun.

Immersed as I am in tweaking words I have read probably a thousand times, my listening skills have atrophied over the years that I’ve eschewed the Springfield literati; trading those testy times for the cozy comfort of fading sanity and PBS’ TV. It was terrific to WATCH and LISTEN again, to appreciate the variety of approaches and to share their pride in what they had created. There was no microphone. (I’m telling you, Susan has a good head for this kind of event.)

What did I recite? In order of presentation: Invitation/Conger, The Flute of the Lonely/Lindsay, Throwing in the Trowel/Conger (by request), On the Building of Springfield/Lindsay, A Curse for the Saxophone/Lindsay, Niagara/Lindsay, To the United States Senate/Lindsay, Keep Them Squirming/Conger, Tuff Tookas/Conger, Somehow It Comes Out of You/Conger (by request)  and Serenading the Wind/Conger. Following the fine presentations by the highly esteemed Seufert and dedicated students (alzo highly esteemed) Brett and Danielle prevailed on me to recite Simon Legree/Lindsay, which I did after sharing Vachel’s The Wizard In the Street.

To say, “I could not have asked for” doen’t come close to reality which is: I could not have dreamed of a sharper, keener, library director whose vision for fostering greater participation in the literary arts was a prime factor in the evening; a more convivial faculty advisor Seufert, and attentive, laughing, engaging students. If I had known these people when I had attended MacMurray College in the late 60s/early 70s, I would not have allowed myself to be hired away from school.

I believe that if I can hold onto my house (real estate tax: the Matterhorn of my life, is the only serious impediment) and  find an EMPLOYER in the month ahead or so, I am SURE I will return to Mac for more poetry.  Next time, I’ll take my guitar. 

I told Susan after walking around that fabulous library, that I’d like to come over to just find a table upstairs or even down, and just sit and WRITE. She says I’m welcome any time.  It’s a fertile karma kind of situation there; just remarkable.  All that needs to happen is bills paid and a car that can make the trip. The likelihood of either seems remote on a stormy Friday night.

In the meantime, I have some memories that could not have imagined two months ago, that I will cherish forever. Thank you MacMurray and citizens thereof. I hope we meet again!

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

From little acorns forests grow. Proof positive? When the Springfield’s National Museum of Funeral Customs had its sixth annual reading earlier this year, MacMurray College English prof Robert Seufert (a regular for years) encouraged his students Brett and Rachel (they’re an item) to attend. Afterwards, responding to B&R’s kind words for my efforts and poetry, and their equally- appreciated purchase of my booksof poetry, I recited a few more for them in the lobby and encouraged them to “lobby” Mr. Seufert to hire me to MacMurray College for a presentation of my poetry and Vachel Lindsay’s poetry.

They did. MacMurray’s library director Susan Eilering emailed me a few weeks later and we arranged for me to speak at the college’s gathering observing the publication of the 2008 Montage, a literary arts anthology. I was asked to share my poetry and Vachel’s. There would be refreshments and an honorarium. DONE DEAL!

Because my froggy Ford Escort is not highway capable — every trip east of 24th street or west of Chatham Road is an “adventure” — Susan graciously assented pick up and deliver me home.

I had attended Mac in 1968, fresh from Springfield Junior College through about 1971 when I was hired away from my job at Jacksonville’s Lums restaurant to travel Illinois and Missouri as a trouble shooter for Dennis Serio who owned several and was acquiring more. I know in the past I’ve whined about how stupid I was to stop writing for Springfield Business Journal, but that was a broken fingernail compared to the unrealized (at the time) paralysis of my professional future inflicted by leaving MacMurray College. It’s all sour grapes aged to vinegar at this stage, and I know I can never put that expended toothpaste back into the tube, so I’ll try to leave it at that, at least here in this blog.  I hasten to add that I am equally happy to contribute to Illinois Times whenever I can. The whole IT crew is gold.

Susan is almost as old as I am, and that’s saying something. We’re both younger than numbers on calendars insinuate. At any rate, the conversation about Mac, our careers, her fine family were a brook of reviving conviality. To say it bluntly, I had endured a partucularly SUCKY day substituting at a southeast Springfield middle school earlier in the day. I had been on my feet except for teacher’s prep and lunch, and by the time I came home, I felt like I had been on a 50-mile hike. A few cups of coffee and 20 minutes prone, listening to Fresh Air (a nice interview with Ojibway language translators) took away the compression stress in my back and I was ready to roll when Susan arrived.

For the first time since I wrote it while attending Mac in 1968, I had memorized my poem Invitation for the occasion. On arrival at the library after a nice car tour of the campus, I headed out to see if the willow tree which was the site of a particularly terrific Saturday afternoon was still there. It was located between Kendall Hall where I lived on second floor wing and the rest of the campus north. It was not. A building stood over the place where Nancy Hunt of Chicago and I had communed. There was no hanky-panky; not even a hint of hanky, even. But there had been a hint of hope in that direction, and I still cherish the afternoon though not the outcome.

I walked out into part of the soccer field that now has a fenced baseball diamond where most of it was, as I headed for the willow tree, down the same path, asphalt in 1968; concrete in 2008 to the tree, past the building in its place and across the bridge toward Kendall. The brook was still there. What a beautiful pastoral jewel! Why hadn’t I spent more time there? Yes, I had written a short-lived column for the student newspaper Charybdis, but I had not savored the creek and bridge then as I savored it yesterday! Everything was green, smelled sweeter than darn near anything or anybody I’ve encountered in Springfield.

Ooops . . . . . my sour grapes are showing.

I almost walked to Kendall Hall to knock on my old dom room and meet whomever was there. I’d still like to do that, just for the heckovit. I resisted. I didn’t want to scare anyone. I did visit the student union (now the campus center)  as I headed north, retracing my steps. I entered the open front door, stepped down to where I remembered the campus mailboxes and again, my heart about stopped. There was MY MAILBOX  #1032, just as I left it in about 1968!  I didn’t remember the combination.  Then up the steps to the grill where I had sipped so many cups of coffee, Cokes and muched so many hamburgers and played the jukebox, chatting with friends, writing poems and songs and even studying. Man, I could almost smell Kent Stutzman. The same polished  floor, hand rails, so much unchanged!

I had promises to keep. Back to the library and return to earth from lingering reverie. I found I was mistaken about my glory daze at Mac. They were terrific but they were a peanut butter sandwich compared with the feast I would enjoy during the rest of the evening. I will recall that feast here in tomorrow’s posting.

Live long  . . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Vachel Meets Washington

I did the following as an individual poet; not as an employee of anyone. So if you don’t approve of what I’m about to describe, don’t complain to Springfield School District 186 Superintendentr Dr. Milton.  If you do approve, please let him know.

Last week, for the first time in eight years I’ve been substitute teaching, I was invited to come to a school classroom to talk about Vachel Lindsay and recite his poems. I had encoutered Miss Beard at the end of a busy day at a major east side middle school, told her about my Vachel Pages web site, shared my interest in visiting classes to share my understanding of the man, and she invited me to come to her class.

I arrived about 11:45 today, dressed in my “uniform”  of red shirt, white slacks that signify Vachel’s poem The Wedding of the Rose and Lotus (look it up; it’s a good one) and my “amazing technicolor sport coat,” the same one I wore every Wednesday at Capitol Caffee when I emceed the open mic there. I wear this combination only when I’m reciting poetry for recompense. I had been promised lunch, and that was all I expected.

Miss Beard had worked with her students getting ready for my arrival. They had visited another Vachel poems web site, and copied poems they liked to share with her and to read today. What a terrific idea. The students knew more about Vachel when I arrived than most Springfieldians — dare I suggest most Central Illinoisans and worse, most Central Illinois COLLEGE students! — know in their lifetimes. Nice going, Miss Beard and students! We decided there would be time after my presentation for students to share their poems at the front of the room after I did my thing.

What did I recite? The Little Turtle, Some Balloons Grow on Trees, The Broncho That Would Not Be Broken of Dancing, Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, The Potatoes Dance, When Gassy Thompson Struck It Rich, Niagara (in celebration of Earth Day, of course) The Lion, and The Mouse that Gnawed the Oak Tree Down. Looking back, Niagra was the only one that was a little too old for them. The students were letter perfectly quiet and attentive. (Why aren’t they like that when I’m a guest teacher? Must have been the sport coat! 🙂 )

We also talked about Vachel’s life, I suggested the students visit his house, on Fifth Street, next door to where the govorner used to live, and to visit my Vachel Pages web site. Miss Beard reminded the students to speak clearly, read their Vachel poems with expression and enthusiasm, and four students did just that. It was great to see them focus on the poet and poetry.

When it was time to go — the lunch bell for the class was about to ring, I was offered the choice of eating lunch in the cafeteria or simply taking some cash, and I took the cash. And I thanked Miss Beard and her fine class for inviting me over. I was tempted to stop by McDonalds and make quick work of most of the cash, but I decided to splurge instead with lunch meat sandwiches and iced tea at home. I can better spend my honorarium at the grocery store later this week.

On my way out the door, I stopped by the school office and told the fine office manager/receptioninst that I had just made my first poetry presentation to a Springfield school, that I would be delighted to let my blog readers know it was done at Washington Middle through the initiative, good taste and courtesy of Miss Beard.

And now I have.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Catching My Breath

I wanted to post at Honey & Quinine Saturday after spending nine hours burning aviation history book pictures onto two CDs I’d be sending to my editor Monday, but I didn’t.

I wanted to post here Sunday after writing the final four chapters and a long introduction — where I let it ALL hang out so to speak — from about 11:10 to 8:20  and not even bothering with lunch because I knew if I ate anything I’d become lethargic and not come back to the computer, but I didn’t. I did fire off an e to my editor after two tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (because I’m saving my lunchmeat for Ramen noodles) and the last of three stacks of Pringles I had purchsed Friday late.

Then I packaged some photographs that had been loaned by Corwin Meyer down OcalaFla way, wrote a “thank you” note and set it aside to mail Monday.

Then I discovered I could not log onto my email or the internet. DANG.

I lay awake this morning, waiting for 8:00 so I could call “technical support” at SpringNet1, good people every one. After I heard Jimmy Carter’s voice on NPR for what seemed like the sizth time in two hours of Monrning Edition (that’s really so PBS of them, bummer) I couldn’t take it any more; got up and read the morning edition of the SJ-R.

I’m down to one strip on the Comics page — Doonesbury. I miss Tumberweeds and Boondocks. Where have you gone, Calvin & Hobbes? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you! WISH Opus did a daily in the paper. I’m not complaining as long as Dan Faulkner keeps sending snappy one liners to the Letters to the Editor Page.

I remembered wrong. Tech support didn’t start until 9 but Trish kindly took my number. They’d call when my request came to the top of the tech sup heap. In the meantime, I was stuck at home.

The Substitute Teacher Service called, and I had to decline a gig today. Eighty fripping BUCKS, kissed goombye. I’m a AWTHA, dewn tyu gnew? i couldn’t schedule a UPS pickup because I had to stay near the phone in case tech sup called back. Finally about 11:15 I called back and Trish put me right through. Like I said, they’re good people! Dan solved my prob in 2 minutes.  A tip for my dedicated legion of fan:  when your email and Inet connection won’t work, disconnect the power cord from the back of yoru  DSL box, wait a minute at least, reconnect and try again after your greens settle into solid (not flickering) glow. It worked for me.

BOOM  to the phone to call UPS. Did you know you won’t find them in the phone book? You must go through their internet site which lists the phone number to call for a pickup. It all went fine.  They promised someone would come by between 5 and 7 today, and that meant I would be enjoying my front porch for the first time this year since my office is so far back from the porch, the UPS person could bang all day, and I’d not hear it. They called back. The pickup would be between 3 and 4. Excellent.

So I grabbed a tall glass of Lipton iced, my Vachel poems and set out to enjoy the afternoon porch. Practiced some poems and savored the warmth and productive time. UPS arrived about 3:20; another excellent person.

NOW THAT he’s taken my pictures and I’ve sent all the text to my editor ins big ol’ Word files via e, I am done for awhile with the book. I will be sent a proof to check and correct, and after that is returned to the publisher, the rest is up to them. WHAT A LOAD off my froggy little shoulders! Producing those 209 photo captions by only three weeks after the deadline I set last DECEMBER is my major accomplishment of my literary life. I felt I had a cattle prod doing its thing in a most inappropriate place since mid-freaking-MARCH. Not that I’m complaining, you understand. They asked ME to write the book and I was absolutely delighted to accept. I’m even more delighted to have the really hard work completed!

Another piece of advice for aspiring writers. If you’ve never written a book in the Arcadia format, don’t IMOGENE — maqe that IMAGINE — you know how to set a realistic deadline. WHEEEEEEW.

I have an hour & 40 minutes between now and anyihing I want to see on PBS. So I’m going to brush up my Lindsay.

I will be posting more frequently now that that cattle prod has been removed.

But drop by anyway.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.


Read Full Post »

Gold star for YOU if you know what lyric and song — and composer of lyric and song — that headline apes.

Wednesday I finished writing the last of 209 photo captions for the Arcadia book and sent them in my my favorite Chicago-based editor. It took a whaleofalot longer than I anticipated. The final caption was written by 3:50 but I was from 4 to 6:45 proofreading and reformatting them. Even with my glasses on I like to type in 14 point type and reformat to 12 before sending anything in. So it went with the captions. 

At 7:00 I was making a late lunch (two peanut butter & jelly sandwiches:American cuisine because I AM and American where at Least I know I’m free (don you luff it?). Washed it down with iced tea. LIPTON iced tea. None of that tree hugging hippie tie-die yippy yippy yay swill from Celectial Seasonings, no sirreeee! At least not for iced tea.

I was feeling so good I forgot I had promised mon editor I would not substitute this week. That’s why I called the office to ask them to put me back on the list, and bayh (make that boy) was I surprised when they asked me to teach at a notorious east side middle school! I was delighted! I need the pesos even though I won’t see them until May Juan.

For the first time this year I took no aviation lore for my quiet times. I took two of my books of poetry (which I’ll be offering for sale at MacMurray College next week when I recite there) and my street copy of Vachel’s Collected. I WANT to recite his The Santa Fe Trail, but the poem  takes more than a third of my promised time if I recite that. His Niagara is a definite. Probably A Curse for the Saxophone nad Simon Legree. And I’ll take requests. I know I’ll be reciting my Serenading the Wind, MAYBE Keep Them Squirming and probably Tuff Tookas. They’re giving me time to acellerate up to third gear before I have to turn off the ignition and hit the brakes, and I yain’t complaining. If I can’t convince them to bring me back for more than 30 minutes of reciting, it will be my fault; not theirs. And anyway, I’m just delighted to have been invited. Rehearsing the poems again (for the first time in longer than I care to admit) has me feeling the joy and excitement that I have felt every time I’ve recited them. I feel blessed by their gift of motivating me to recite  poetry. My interaction with them next week will be all icing and whipped cream with a cherry on top after I have savored the sweet cake of reacquaintance and preparation.

At the end of today I had reason to talk with a teacher who volunteered to stay at my room to lock things up after all students had returned their laptop computers to the cabinet. I asked her if she was a Language Arts teacher, and when she said “yes,” I gave her one of my Vachel Pages website cardsj and we had a terrific but all too short conversation. She asked me to come talk about Vachel and recite some poems to her students next week. I told her it would cost her. For one thing, I must refuse to substitute anywhere on that day, so I’m declining a respectable chunk of change if they DO call me. So I told her it will cost the biggest lunch I can eat at the cafeteria, and she assented. If you are a Springfield, Illinois school teacher, the same offer goes out to you. If you’re a civic club leader, the same to you as well. If you’re in higher academe or an event planner, ask about my rates. Anyhoo I’m thrilled to be headed back next week.

In the meantime I have the rest of a book to write.

Live long
and strong…..
and proper,
and don’t let ‘er go if you can stop ‘er.

Read Full Post »

Saturday was as productive as hoped, and my reward was the final concert of Springfield Classical Guitar Society which featured the first vocal/guitar duet in their ten year history. Chanson du Soir, David Isaacs, guitar and Chelsea Camille, soprano gave the most vivacious SCGS concert I’ve attended. A competent vocalist with stage smarts, Camille toucheds folks in the back row as a solo or guitar duo simply cannot. David Isaacs gave a textbook lesson for the role of a guitarist accompanist with arrangements that harmonized with the vocalized melodies without aping them and without intruding. It was a first class concert from start to finish, and I’m glad I attended. An exiting, smiling attendee proclained “Each was better than the other!” (Thank you Mr. Berra.)  I took pictures of course. Look for them at my Classical 6 Images web site in about three weeks if I last that long. I will also post a review of their duo CD. I expect that without the slightly muddling acoustics of Saturday night’s performance venue — a natural occurrence with a strong voice well delivered rattles around in a place as large as First Presbyterian downtown — the CD will be an excellent listen.

Of course I won’t have time for picture posting and reviewing until THE BOOK has been delivered to the publisher. When I began writing picture captions Saturday morning, I was determined to progress as far into the second half of the 204 pictures as I could before cleaning up for the concert. I even delayed lunch until I had passed the half-way mark about 3p. It didn’t help that I had misplaced  resources I had brought into the office months ago: files from the basement I should have (in retrospect) left alone until I really needed them. It took me 35 miuntes of looking through piles of papers to find a critical file. All for naught; I couldn’t find it. So I changed my approach to the caption, and that saved the picture; otherwise I’d have had to substitute another picture, and at this stage of the game, muchacos y muchachas, I yam in no mood for no stinking substitutions!  Other pictures took less time to caption. By the end of the day, I had 110 captions in the bag.

 I’m getting into the pictures I and living friends/acquaintances have taken, familiar material, and even though I expect to post this blog, grab a lite lunch and begin today’s captioning by 1p today, I do not intend to quit until I’ve completed another 50, and that will leave me with less than 50 tomorrow to complete the captioning part of the process. No TV tonight before 10p.  My esteemed editor wants the caption text sent to him ASAP, so with lucl, he will have the file by late Monday.

I have promised him that I will not accept any subsitute teaching assignments during the week ahead. My day in court for driving without my paid car insurance card in the car, is behind me. The judge was kind: no fine, no jail and the whole process from leaving the house to returning took less than an hour. I had two days substituting last week. I WISH I COULD GO IF THEY CALL ME THIS WEEK, but a promise is a promise. Arcadia has been patient with me. So I OWE them. It’s a matter of self respect, and if I have to eat those fripping Ramen noodles one week running (I will always have crunchy Peter Pan and bread for lunch) at least I will eat.

After I finish the captions, the easiest part of the book begins: writing five short (one page,350 word max) chapters and an introduction. Those will be so easy I could do them with one arm tied behind my back.

Look for another posing here in about four days. I will tell you how things went.

Thanks for reading this.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »