Category Archives: judy Dykstra-Brown Prose

Uprooted

Uprooted

“Can you get even closer to the tree?” he said—so I went inches from the trunk of the tallest of the trees, crowding the fern that reached tentative tentacles from the tree’s shade into a ray of sun that escaped the fast-collecting clouds. “I’ll protect you,” he had said years ago, when we declared our union. But now, in this time of the approaching storm, I wondered about both tree and one who over the years had been in turn protector and threat. In times of gentle rain, a shield. In times more volatile, that sudden bolt that left bruised places easily hidden. I saw the tree’s scar, devoid of bark, burned at the edges––that place now easily overlooked in the shadows. And I moved away from the tree, walking with new confidence to the car. Uprooted, finally, after so many years.

 

Italicized line is from Sharon Olds’ poem, “Pine Tree Ode.” For the dVerse Poets Pub prompt–to develop a prose piece of 144 words making use of a line from another poet’s poem about a tree. Go HERE to read what other writers did with this prompt or to participate yourself.

 

A Roadtrip Through Five States (Cee’s Share Your World Prompt)

Click on any photo to enlarge all:

Today I’ve been a lazy passenger as Forgottenman has driven us from Alabama through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. In one 45-minute period, we crossed 4 rivers: the Cumberland, the Tennessee, the Ohio and the Mississippi and saw two huge dams––the Kentucky and Barclay—both TVA projects I had studied about in the sixth grade. We have gone from 77 degrees in Huntsville to 53 degrees and rain. We’ve seen 13 dead deer along the interstate and over a dozen stalled cars as well as countless huge tire strips from semis—more than I’ve ever seen in a day of travel before, although Forgottenman thinks that is about par for the course.

The trees of every size, shape and variety as well as every hue of green, gold, yellow, red and brown have been spellbinding in their beauty. I don’t know that I’ve ever taken a ride through an autumn landscape this varied and extensive. Would that skies had been sunny and clear, but nonetheless, it has been a wonderful ride. In a little over an hour, we’ll be home and I can share photos of my day. Until then, I’m gritting my teeth on this rain-slickened two-lane road with no shoulders and fairly heavy traffic. Forgottenman is a good driver and “Mother,” our GPS, has not led us astray so far, although I must admit she has in the past.

Now that it is nearly dark, the traffic has thinned and the puddles on the road deepened. I can hear the water splashing against the undercarriage, as though we are driving through a car wash. Bug splashes on the front window that I’ve been trying to shoot photos around all day have been abolished by heavy rain and windshield wipers, but too late, too late. A stiff neck slowly Improved over the past two days again starts to seize up in the tension over oncoming car lights, unceasing rain and deepening puddles.

I’m glad I’m not driving and glad a good driver is, although I am wishing he was not using the cruise control. We’ve had this discussion before with me maintaining that it should not be used in rainy weather, he insisting this is an old wives tale. Since I am neither a wife nor old (in some eyes, namely mine) I reject once more his statement. But he is driving and so I surrender the argument in his favor, not because he is right but because he is driving.

Forgottenman is anxious to get home so he can look at a map to try to understand why Mother has directed us off Highway 62 onto this hilly, winding tiny two-lane road. More of a technophobe, I never go anywhere without a map along, but he is more trusting of the powers of technology to steer him aright, in spite of a number of experiences in which she hasn’t. In less than an hour, all mysteries will be revealed. In the meantime, I’m going to close my eyes and pretend I’m anywhere other than where I am.

Ha!! Finally home seven hours after we started out from Huntsville. We unloaded the car in a light drizzle, thankful for the fact that it isn’t the heavy rainfall of the past few hours. Cold wet grass made us grateful for a dry carpet and relatively warm house inside, as well as Wifi and electricity so I can post this message. We had a wonderful time with old friends but there is no place like home.

 

Cee’s questions for the week:

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice? I’d rather take an unorganized tour–going where I wished to.

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing? I lived across from the playground for my entire growing up years.  I loved swinging and hearing the sounds of the swings across the street when I was at home lying in bed or in the grass.

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school) It is wise not to say everything you think and to think about everything you say.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. See above!! And, there will be more tomorrow.

 

For Cee’s Share Your World prompt.

 

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

IMG_0472

This picture was taken two sunsets ago from the porch of the beach house I’ve rented in La Manzanilla, Mexico. Not a bit of color editing has been done.

She felt the small disk glance off the steering wheel and land on her lap as they jolted over the rutted dirt road. She picked it off her leg before it was jostled off and onto the gray carpet covered with dirt, gravel and slips of paper containing quickly-scribbled lines of inspiration for future poems.  Quickly, she glanced at the words printed on its front. “My karma ran over my dogma.” What did it mean, this button she now stabbed back into the sun flap over the steering wheel of her dusty van?

She had thought it hilarious when she saw it pinned to the poetry sweater of the stranger at the reading at the L.A. coffee shop almost twenty years ago, and now here she was, driving eleven young men, one young woman and a puppet theater complete with sound system and fifty 3/4 scale puppets to a tiny village on the other side of the largest lake in Mexico.

This simple button had led her to this and now the man who wore it for every poetry reading they’d attended for 15 years was fulfilling his karma on another plane while she fulfilled her own in the life she’d planned out for him on this one. So had this entire adventure of living in Mexico simply not been part of his karma, or was karma such an intricate tapestry that it was impossible to untangle yours from that of those near and dear and even strangers met in passing?

Surely, the unbelievable interplay of serendipity was more than coincidence. Some force that is called karma by some, fate or synchronicity by others, and God, Allah or The Great Spirit by others, may be what determined who walked into your life; but it was up to you to decide whom you let walk away, whom you let stay, or whom you refused to let go.

“The school is here, Judy,” said Eduardo, as he pointed to a dull gray building much-enlivened by a huge mural no doubt painted by the students themselves. She pulled up in front of the school and  Isidro, Jose Luis, Mario, Roberto and the other young men who formed the membership of the loosely-jointed cultural council of her own small pueblo started to assist the husband and wife team who constituted the entire backup cast of the puppet theater to unload their equipment.  When their own truck had broken down enroute on the other side of the lake, villagers had told them to call the leader of this young band of artists, poets and dancers, and inevitably, she had been the one they called.  How many times had she proven to be their backup player when plans, money or a vehicle had been needed to further their plans for the cultural enrichment of their small town?

Here in this life she had fashioned to be free of the regulation of a job, applications, shows, schedules, boards of directors, groups, clubs and all of the “have to’s” of her former life, she had not resisted the charms of synchronicity and so had allowed herself to be pulled into the slow current of life in Mexico that, although it was not free of obligation–to family, friends, community–was nonetheless contingent on another sort of energy not so dependent upon schedules or clocks or calendars.  Here things happened because they happened and you were drawn into them because you were present or known or because you had been willing to be drawn in in the past and so were known to be someone open to chance and willing to play along in this great jigsaw puzzle known as Mexico.

She had planned it all out.  Her husband, sixteen years older than she, was wearing out fast, she could see. They would move to Mexico to live simply so he could retire. They found the town, bought the house, sold most of their worldly goods and packed their van. It was only then that they’d received the results for his final checkup before they hit the road.  Cancer.  He’d lived three weeks.  She dealt with what needed to be dealt with and hit the road for Mexico.  Who knows, from day to day,  whether we are part of someone else’s karma or whether they are part of ours?

The Prompt: Karma Chameleon–Reincarnation: do you believe in it?

THE EGG AND ALL: FIVE PHOTOS, FIVE STORIES CHALLENGE

DSC00387

THE ORCHIDS AND AMAZING LEMON SOUFFLE ACCOMPANIED THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR DIANA–A NEW FRIEND OF MINE AND A LONGTIME FRIEND OF SHARON, WHO PROVIDED MOST OF THE EGG-ASSOCIATED PLOT POINTS FOR THIS STORY.

DSC00395

SINCE SHARON HAD SPENT ALL DAY BREAKING AND BEATING EGGS AND SQUEEZING AND ADDING LEMONS, NOT TO MENTION DRIVING ME OFF IN PURSUIT OF GIANT LIPS TO PHOTOGRAPH, SHE REMAINED UNCHARACTERISTICALLY SILENT AS JOANN REGALED US ALL WITH TALES OF FILM MAKING AND DISTRIBUTION. SHE’S A GOOD STORYTELLER, AND JOHN (AS WELL AS THE REST OF US) LISTENED WITH PLEASURE.

DSC00397

DIANA, WHO WAS BUSY TRYING TO RECOVER FROM A CASE OF SHINGLES, WAS A VERY GOOD EGG AND SEEMED TO BE ENJOYING THE EVENING HELD IN HER HONOR.

DSC00399

MEANWHILE, SHARON, ALTHOUGH SILENT, HAD BRAIN ACTIVELY ENGAGED, PROMPTED BY JOANN’S TALES OF A HORROR MOVIE SHE PRODUCED AND DIRECTED YEARS AGO. NURSING MOTHERS MAY NOT WANT TO KNOW THE PLOT, BUT SUFFICE IT TO SAY IT INVOLVED A BABY WHO PREFERRED TO NURSE ON BRAINS RATHER THAN OTHER PARTS OF THE ANATOMY. THAT SET SHARON TO THINKING ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT SHE HAD READ ABOUT ABOUT HOW TO SEPARATE THE YELLOW OF EGGS FROM THEIR WHITES. SHE VANISHED INTO THE KITCHEN AND RETURNED WITH TWO EGGS SANS SHELLS AND AND EMPTY WATER BOTTLE. MY RUM AND COKE WAS PUSHED TO THE SIDE.

DSC00402

JOANN, WHOSE CAREER HAS INCLUDED WEDDING ART AND SCIENCE THROUGH INTERACTIVE ART EXPERIENCES FOR MUSEUMS AND ZOOS, WAS ESPECIALLY INTERESTED AS SHARON SUCKED THE YELLOWS OF TWO OF THE EGGS LEFT OVER FROM THE SOUFFLE CONSTRUCTION UP INTO THE EMPTY PLASTIC BOTTLE.

DSC00401

VOILA! EGG YELLOW REMOVED UNBROKEN FROM ITS WHITE. TURN BOTTLE OVER AND IT SQUEEZES OUT THROUGH THE NECK INTO THE CONTAINER OF YOUR CHOICE. DIANA WAS ENTERTAINED!!!

 

DSC00406 - Version 2

AND SHARON COOKED THOSE EXPERIMENTAL EGGS FOR BREAKFAST THE NEXT DAY. (P.S.–YOU SQUEEZE AIR FROM THE BOTTLE, PLACE ITS LIP FLAT AND GENTLY ON THE YELLOW OF THE EGG, THEN RELEASE SIDES OF THE BOTTLE AND WHEN THE AIR RUSHES IN AGAIN, IT SUCKS THE YELLOW OF THE EGG UP INTO THE BOTTLE WITH IT. )

 

Thanks to Cee Neuner for inviting me to participate in this challenge.  You can see her blog here.  It is a daily treat!!!  http://ceenphotography.com/2015/04/21/five-photos-five-stories-challenge-day-five-oceans-fury/

See other stories of wanderers, including mine, here: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-happy-wanderer/

*

IMHO

 The Prompt: IMHO–Link to an item in the news you’ve been thinking about lately, and write the op-ed you’d like to see published on the topic.

IMHO

I gave up reading the news years ago. I just got too depressed when I did so. Certainly, stories filter through and then I hear the pertinent details or look them up online, but gone for me are days spent listening to and watching repetition after repetition of the same facts, many later found to be untrue or exaggerated.

So, this prompt is one that sent me out into the news Internet, looking for a story. The first one that came up was of the French pilot who it seems deliberately sent his plane careening into the Alps, killing everyone on board. Then I found a story about Korean twins, separated at birth, who never even knew of each other’s existence but who found each other over Facebook. Then a story about a woman who transforms abandoned Bratz dolls that look like hookers back into dolls that look like little girls.

Then back to President Obama’s Iran negotiations, a small girl born with two heads, The Voice finals in Australia, a letter of thanks gone viral, written by the mother of an autistic child to a businessman who had put away his papers and played with his seatmate for the 2 ½ hour flight. I flipped through dozens of other stories on the way: about the royal family, dogs, cats, a cow furnished with prosthetic legs and saved from slaughter. This hodgepodge was heartwarming, heartshattering, overwhelming, and two hours later, I had still not chosen a news report to write an op ed piece on.

I guess, instead, I will write it on how the internet seems to be substituting for our lives. This flood of information furnishes the vicarious existence once limited to The Soaps: The Edge of Night, Another World, General Hospital. I still remember the day Joan Lenzi came running into our room in college, tears streaming, shouting “Laura died, Laura died!” My heart flipped over in dread as my mind searched madly for a mutual friend named Laura, only to discover, once Joan had collected herself a bit, that a character on our favorite Soap had just departed our after-lunch afternoon.

No more skipping Astronomy to experience the next vicarious thrill. Without Laura, who was Luke? With no further excuses to skip, I dropped Astronomy, insuring the necessity to attend summer school to catch up.

Now it is harder to avoid excuses. When one internet heroine or villain passes from sight, there are ten thousand others to take their place. Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, OkCupid, Match.Com, Christian Singles, Pinterest, Blogster—ad infinitum. There is so much to fill our lives and furnish excuses for what we don’t want to do that it is no longer really necessary for us to assemble a life around ourselves at all. So long as we can somehow manage to feed, clothe and house ourselves, the rest is available online.

When I suffered a debilitating migraine lately, the first to know it were internet friends. My Skype near-romance phoned my oldest friend, now rarely communicated to other than through Skype or online Scrabble games. She talked me down from a near-panic attack and I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I wrote about it (Here) and had a flood of sympathetic comments from blogging friends. Another friend who lives in the town where I live Facebooked me the name of a medication that might forestall future headaches. No neighbor arrived on my doorstep with chicken soup or offered to feed the dogs, but cyber friends gathered round, giving me that warm feeling formerly reserved for a down comforter.

I had to look up IMHO before I wrote my response to this prompt. It’s a term often used in the past by my Skype near-romance. But every time, I forget this initial-speak. It’s as though life has been shortened enough. Emails have become Tweets and emoticons have replaced phrases of opinion, affection, disgust or frustration. Hyperlinks replace restatements and hashtags replace the social organizations where we used to gather for coffee or a coke and a good old-fashioned in-person gab session.

In my humble opinion, everything is finally short enough. If we become any smaller, we are going to implode. Computers now fit in the palm of one’s hand and I’ve heard of technology where one day they will be implanted into our eyeballs and transmitted to our brains. At that point, what do we become other than human robots? Perhaps it is all a plot by the machines of the world to be the next step of our evolution. Perhaps what the most far-out science fiction writer once imagined has become our world. In my humble opinion, we have gone far enough. We are able to know too much by doing too little. Experience too much by doing nothing at all. The time has come where observing life is more interesting than making it happen. Time to stop!!! But that is just “my humble opinion,” expressed as a full statement—railing out against this too-short world.

Note: Once more, my NaPoWriMo and Daily Prompt subjects seems to have intersected, so to read my other short post today, go HERE.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/imho/

Now, Voyager

                                                          209a3984-32bf-375b-99f0-3a7c774a75b0      Now, Voyager

I love transformation movies: ugly ducklings turned beautiful, wallflowers who become the belle of the ball, villains turned saviors, shady ladies turned good girls, wild horses tamed.  If you can name one famous example of each from the movies, you win the prize, but for me the top entry in the first category would have to be Bette Davis in “Now Voyager.”

I’ve always been surprised that they haven’t done a remake of the film, but on the other hand, I don’t think they could probably equal the romantic pathos of the dowdy, overweight, aging and submissive spinster Bette Davis, living with her dominating mother, her one rebellion–cigarettes sneaked on the sly.  As her mother slips the noose of control ever tighter, Bette is “saved” by a nervous breakdown and a visiting psychiatrist who persuades her mother that she must be sent to a “rest farm” where the transformation takes place.

The resultant makeover, sea voyage, love affair and. . . but wait . . .  I’ll tell no more, for if you haven’t already seen the film, it is a must-see and I don’t want to issue further spoilers.  As a matter of fact, if you have seen it, we should both probably see it again.  The last time I saw it was in VHS form ordered from Amazon twelve years ago and yes, I still do have a VHS player hidden away somewhere in the highest reaches of my house.

At any rate, I have been diverted by the film review when my real intention was to talk about the title and plot itself and the significance it has in my own life; for I, too, seek a transformation.  Just once I would like to be that stunningly glamorous, thin mysterious stranger who turns all heads.  Yes, superficial, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to experience being that woman who could have any man in the place.

For too many years, books and movies seemed more real than the world around me.  My boring existence in a small town could not be all there was to life.  Surely, if it were, then all those exciting books and movies would never have been written, for where would they have come from except from the patterns of other places and other lives that contained more possibilities than a small dusty town in the middle of South Dakota prairie?

Yes, I did eventually voyage off into life and I found places more exciting–more in line with my own interests.  And although I had love affairs, married the man of my dreams, had careers I felt adequate at, traveled to exotic climes and never had trouble making friends, at age 67, I have still never been the femme fatale of my childish and teenage and middle-age dreams. I have made starts and even accomplished some of the goals.  I’ve lost weight, found the perfect haircut, bought more stylish clothes.  I’ve gone to clubs and danced unabashedly, joined internet introduction clubs, gone to singles parties. But still, at my best, there is some quality lacking in my makeup–some ineffable clue that I am available, sensual, smart and fun to be with.  What is it?  My entire life I have wondered why, with a few notable exceptions, I will invariably be the last woman at the table asked to dance. For years I believed it was because of my weight and at present that may be so, but even at my skinniest, there was some signal I sent out that made me unapproachable or unappealing or uncharismatic to most men, and as old and wise and introspective and analytical as I have become in my middle-to-old age, I do not know what it is.

Have you ever known someone who is doing something wrong and who just can’t get it right?  Everyone knows what it is but no one tells them, for fear of hurting their feelings.  And so they go on in life, never quite getting what they want and not having a clue why that is.  Why don’t we just tell each other?  It would be so much simpler.  But, the truth is that we probably would not listen even if our friends told us.  We would find excuses. We would not believe them, no matter how many people told us the same thing, because there seems to be some radar causing us to become who we are–strengths, talents and faults all combined.

A complete stranger sitting next to me at a banquet once said to me, “You don’t need that!” when I reached for the dessert held out to me by the waiter.  I was astonished, insulted, irate.  I wanted to take two desserts and put the bastard in his place! But the truth was, maybe he was that one person in my life who decided to tell me the truth.

Today when I got up to let the dogs out and give them their morning meal, I saw the dusty blistered card of diet pills on the kitchen island.  I broke one off and swallowed it with a long drink of water.  Perhaps I’ll start again that journey towards sylphdom.  I’ll lose dress sizes, get a facelift to deal with the resultant sags and wrinkles, fit into sexier clothes, go back on OkCupid, meet another stranger grown familiar through words over the internet.  Maybe it’s still not too late to be an object of desire. Or, perhaps I’ll just write about it.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/642826/Now-Voyager-Movie-Clip-I-Met-A-Doctor-In-Rio.html

The Prompt:Silver Screen–Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/silver-screen/

Strangely enough, this post also ended up answering today’s prompt so I’m posting it there as well: But No Cigar–Tell us about a time things came this close to working out… but didn’t. What happened next? Would you like the chance to try again, or are you happy with how things eventually worked out? https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/but-no-cigar/

Love Times Three

                                                                  Love Is

Letting go when you’d like to hold on because you know it would be better for them.
Overlooking hurt because you can see motives through their eyes as well as your own.
Validating their goals, desires, morals, taste, choices even if they are ones you don’t share.
Enabling their progress through the life they choose.

Learning who you need to be to further your relationship.
Opening your heart even when it frightens you.
Venting your anger in a way that will not destroy them or your love for each other.
Enduring the hard times your relationship will inevitably go through.

Letting it be sometimes.
Omitting parts of the truth that will hurt more than they will help.
Veering off the straight forward path of yourselves to create a mutal path somewhere between.
Earning their love by being that best person both of you want you to be.

                                                                    Love is Not:

Letting go of essential & important parts of yourself just to please them.
Overlooking harm they might bring to you or others.
Validating unacceptable behavior because you fear they will not love you if you tell the truth.
Eating the rest of the chocolate–including their share!!!
Looking away to avoid seeing the truth.
Existing in a world apart from your true self just to be with them.
Scheming to keep their love no matter what.
Setting a goal in life and expecting them to follow unresistingly because they love you.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/i-want-to-know-what-love-is/

The Prompt: I Want to know What Love Is–We each have many types of love relationships–parents, children, spouses, friends.  And they’re not always with people; you may love an animal, or a place. Is there a single idea or definition that runs through all the varieties of “love”?